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The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money

AARP's 10th annual list of great deals starts with all-time favorites

Best of the Best! 

Health

1. Smile Savings

En español | Get dental work for a fraction of the cost from dentist-supervised students.  Contact dental schools in your area to find out what programs they offer.

2. Hear Better for Less

Hearing aids can sell at a retail markup of up to 117 percent. But those prices can be flexible. In one survey, about half of the 14 percent of people who haggled got a better deal. Or buy online: It can save you over $1,000 per pair.

3. Save Big on Health Care

Enroll in a flexible spending account at work and pay up to $2,700 of health or dependent care bills with pretax dollars.

4. Apply for Free Meds

Go to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at pparx.org. Patients who qualify can save hundreds of dollars.

5. Elders' Eye Care 

If you're 65-plus, you may qualify to have a volunteer ophthalmologist perform a comprehensive medical eye exam and provide a year of care with no out-of-pocket cost. Visit EyecareAmerica.org.

6. Help for Vet Caretakers

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a temporary break for caregivers by paying all or some of the cost of an in-home health aide or for the veteran to attend an adult day center. Find details at caregiver.va.gov, or call 855-260-3274 toll-free.

7. Use Online Fitness Classes

Stream classes such as the Daily Burn, Crunchlive and YogaToday for about $20 a month for unlimited access. That's the cost of one in-person class. You can save a couple hundred dollars a year — and you decide when class starts.

Travel

8. Be a House Sitter

The site TrustedHouseSitters.com matches travelers with people who need their pets and homes watched. Save on a hotel room and make a furry friend.

9. Take a Daycation

"Intraday stays” allow the use of a room and amenities — pool, restaurant, spa, sports center — for eight hours or so. Discounts can be 75 percent less than an overnight stay. See HotelsByDay.com and Between9and5.com.

10. Discount Train Tickets

Amtrak cuts 10 percent off most fares for riders age 62-plus. Via Rail Canada offers 10 percent off adult fares for travelers over 60.

11. Free Walking Tours

Visit GlobalGreeterNetwork.info to find out about taking tours with local guides. There's also NewEuropeTours.eu, which offers no-cost city walking tours with locals in Europe and Israel. In the U.S., call the chamber of commerce in your destination.

12. See Parks Free

The National Park Service has free admission dates each year. Check nps.gov and search “free entrance days.” At age 62, an America the Beautiful senior pass for $80 will get you and a carload of guests into any national park for the rest of your life.

13. Tour at a Discount 

First-class train tickets in Europe cost up to twice as much as those in second class, with a minimal difference in comfort.

14. "Restaurant Week Eats" 

These are held during a city's slack season for tourism. You'll eat at top restaurants for a fraction of the regular cost. Be sure to reserve early.

15. Use an ATM Overseas 

Currency exchange booths in foreign countries tend to charge much higher fees than you'd pay if you just used an ATM. Also, stick to the local currency. Your purchase will cost about 20 percent more if you use dollars.


Save even more with tips and advice from the AARP Money Newsletter


Auto

16. Shop Late in the Month

There's a scramble to meet quotas then, and salespeople seeking bonuses may share the wealth with you. Also, AARP's Auto Buying Program can save you big bucks. Check autos.aarp.org.

17. Cost Estimator

RepairPal.com gives free quotes for car repairs and recommends competent repair shops.

18. Buy Gas on Mondays

It's the cheapest gas day in 29 states, according to GasBuddy. Save up to $30 a year.

19. Older-Driver Discounts 

Take a safety course and you may save about $100 a year on car insurance. AARP offers a Smart Driver course.

20. Rent Remote

Choose a location near — not at — the airport for a lower rental rate. Go to AutoSlash.com to track your reservation and apply deals and coupons.

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Tommy Perez

Shopping

21. Max Out Couponing

Use more than one grocery store savings app. Combine Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Shopmium, and save hundreds of dollars a year.

22. Regifting Rewards 

Buy gift cards for up to 35 percent off their face value at CardCash.com and CardPool.com, where the cards are sold by gift-getters who don't want them.

23. Swap Clothes Online

RehashClothes.com has more than 10,000 items of clothing and accessories that its members can swap for just the cost of postage. See something you like? Offer a piece of clothing in exchange. You might save $100 on a nice dress or jacket.

Home

24. Get It Fixed for Free

At Repair Café events nationwide, volunteers will help fix a variety of household items. Find one at RepairCafe.org/en. You could save $100 by fixing that old lamp.

25. Clean Up on Wash Day

The top Energy Star-certified washers can save you as much as $185 a year if your machine is more than 10 years old.

26. Expensive Pets?

Go to HumaneSociety.org for a list of programs offering assistance with pet expenses. Search “affording your pet” on the site.

Borrowing, Saving, Investing

27. Retroactive Refunds

Stores will often refund the difference if an item drops in price soon after you buy it. Get the Earny app or Paribus app to find and claim refunds.

28. Free Credit Reports 

Visit AnnualCreditReport.com once a year to request your score from each of the three credit-reporting companies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

29. Reimbursed ATM Fees 

Most online banks and some traditional banks will reimburse you for fees incurred when you use another bank's ATM. That can save you an average of $4.68 per transaction.

30. Hire a Haggler

Not a negotiator? Companies like Billfixers and Billshark will haggle with your cable TV company or other service providers in exchange for a cut of your first year or two of savings. Billfixers says it saves clients $300 a year.

31. Property Tax Breaks 

Many states offer property tax breaks for homeowners over 65, including rebates, caps on assessed value, and 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.

32. Go All In on 401(k)s

One-quarter of the workers employed at companies offering 401(k) plans don't take advantage of the full company match of the first few percent invested in the plans. That means they are missing out on an average of $1,336 in free money annually.

33. Mortgage Magic

A 30-year $300,000 mortgage at 4 percent costs $1,432 a month. But if you pay $716 every two weeks, you can cut interest payments by $34,000 over the life of the loan.

dollar bill with magnifying glass over it to increase the size of the savings

Tommy Perez

Unclaimed Property

Check states where you lived. They might be holding money from a savings account that you forgot, or an uncashed refund check. Go to unclaimed.org, find your state and enter your name.

Insurance

35. Stop Smoking 

Nonsmokers, exercisers and people who maintain a healthy weight can get as much as a 50 percent savings on life insurance.

36. Combine and Save

Companies charge up to 20 percent less if you get home and auto insurance policies from them.

37. Raise Your Deductible

An increase from $500 to $1,000 can save you up to 25 percent on a homeowner's premium.

38. Buy More to Spend Less on Life Insurance

Life insurers have price breaks at certain amounts, called price bands. When you move up a band, the cost per thousand dollars of coverage goes down. If you're looking at a $450,000 policy, get a price quote for $500,000 — it might be cheaper for more coverage.

Entertainment

39. Get Free E-Books 

You can download nearly 60,000 public domain e-books, including many classics and favorites, at gutenberg.org. Save $3 to $10 per e-book.

40. Cut Cable Costs 

Call your internet provider or TV service to see what it will do to keep you loyal.

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Tommy Perez

Stream Free Movies

Go to kanopy.com. If you belong to one of the 4,000 participating public libraries and campus facilities, you can stream about 30,000 movies for free. You could save about $156 a year over renting movies online.

Technology

42. Prepaid Smartphones

A prepaid plan lets you pay upfront. If you don't regularly browse the web on your smartphone, prepaid plans can save you money. A non-prepaid plan can cost $55 per month. Prepaid plans can go for $35.

43. Bulb Bonanza

LED bulbs have fallen in price in recent years. Replace 40 incandescent bulbs with LEDs and you could save about $1,500 over their 10-year life span.

44. Check Card Policies

Major credit card networks — American Express, MasterCard and Visa — often provide extended-warranty coverage for many products at no extra charge. Be sure to check before buying an extended warranty.

wi-fi symbol

Tommy Perez

Find Free WI-FI 

Download Wi-Fi Finder, an app that locates free Wi-Fi nearby. But be safe: Don't do financial transactions.

46. Cut Microsoft Office 

Download LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice. Their free programs are usually able to open Excel, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files. Save up to $150.

Dining

47. Free Birthday Goodies

The website Thrillist has a list of 83 major food and restaurant chains that offer free items to help you celebrate your special day. At Benihana restaurants, for example, you can receive up to $30 off your bill during your birthday month.

48. Coupons for Meals

Check at restaurant.com. A coupon that costs $10 could be worth $25 off your bill. Savings: $15.

49. Have a Happy Meal

Many bars and eateries offer discounts on appetizers during happy hour. For example, at a Del Frisco's Grille restaurant in California during happy hour on a weekday, cheesesteak egg rolls are $7 (normally $15). Share three such plates with a friend and save $24.

treasure map unrolls and a kids meal menu pops up

Tommy Perez

Kids Eat Cheap

Dozens of chain restaurants have deals for children under a certain age, or when you order from special menus at specified times. Whether you're on the road or at home, you can find spots and coupons at MyKidsEatFree.com and CouponDivas.com.

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