1. Shorten your mortgage. The average mortgage rate in June was 4.78 percent for 30 years and 4.17 percent for 15 years. A $200,000 mortgage would cost you $1,047 a month for 30 years or $1,496 a month for 15 years. Yes, that’s more, but the 15-year loan saves you almost $108,000 in interest, or an average of $7,200 a year for 15 years.
2. Haggle with your real estate agent. There is no law that says agents must get 6 percent of the selling price. In today’s seller’s market, agents might accept 5 percent. Save $5,000 selling a $500,000 house.
3. Sell to Amazon. The online retailer accepts a slew of old items, including video games, textbooks and Kindle e-readers for trade-in, in exchange for a gift card. Search the Trade-In Store and if your item is listed there, print a free shipping label and send it in. Recently, Amazon offered $3 for National Geographic maps.
4. Round up and save. Acorns is an app that automatically rounds up your credit card purchases to the nearest dollar. The extra change gets invested in stocks and bonds. Save and invest $30 a month.
5. Call before you pay. Banks and credit card companies will usually waive the fee for a rare late payment. Save up to $35 for one fee.
6. Use a digital-only bank. It offers better savings rates. The average annual percentage yield (APY) on savings accounts is around 0.08 percent, but online banks offer APYs around 1.5 percent. If you stash $20,000 for a year, the earnings difference will be $286.
7. Swap services. Sign up at U-Exchange.com to trade your talent for someone else’s. You might save $350 the next time you need a plumber if you can, say, handle his taxes.
8. Donate stock, not cash. You might save big, as you aren’t liable for capital-gains tax. Let’s say you give $5,000 worth of stock to your place of worship, and paid $1,000 for those shares years back. If you sold the shares, then donated the cash, you’d owe $1,000 in capital gains taxes if you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket.
9. Seek out property tax breaks. Most states offer some type of property tax exemption for homeowners over 65, including rebates, caps on assessed value, and property tax rate or assessment freezes. New York, for example, will lower your property tax by 50 percent if you make $29,000 or less annually. That break could easily save you $7,000 a year.
10. Dodge convenience fees. Many parents don’t realize until too late that lots of colleges charge a fee averaging 2.62 percent if you pay tuition and other costs with a credit card. Avoid a $1,310 fee on a $50,000 annual college bill to a private school.
11. Cut college costs. State universities charge by the credit hour but accept credits from community colleges. Twelve credit hours at the University of Maryland, for example, cost $4,224. Take the same basic classes at nearby Montgomery College for $1,728. Save $2,496.