To have Validas analyze your cell phone bill, go to www.FixMyCellBill.com. It costs $5 for feedback on a single bill, and a bit more to analyze multiple bills. But right now, Validas is offering "GMA" viewers a 20 percent discount. Just enter the words "Save Big" in the promotional code box, and any service you use will be adjusted down by 20 percent.
Cash Back Credit Cards
Carrying credit cards that fit your lifestyle is also important, sort of like the pattern = plan advice for cell phones. People who carry a balance should get the lowest interest rate cards they can. (If that is you, don't be discouraged. There are clever ways to pay down that debt faster and save money doing it and they're here and in my book, "Save Big.") But once those cards are paid off, you want to switch to cards with rich rewards. There was a time when Mike and Kim Strickland had credit card debt, but they are fortunate that they don't anymore, so they should be taking advantage of rewards cards that give you money when you spend money.
Click here to learn where you can find a copy of "Save BIG" by Elisabeth Leamy, ABC News Consumer Correspondent.
Click here for more savings resources available on Elisabeth Leamy's Web site.
Their existing cards offered trinkets and miles that they never redeemed, so I recommended a cash back card that pays 5 percent of certain purchases and 1 percent of the rest. This card also has no annual fee, a huge improvement from the $395 a year the Stricklands were paying for their main card. There are a couple of Web sites that can help you select the ideal credit card for you:www.BillShrink.com is one. www.LowCards.com is another. If the Stricklands continue to put the same amount of expenses on their card that they currently do, I calculate that they will get $1,599 a year in cash back with their new card.
"Sounds great. I guess I can afford to take you out to dinner," Mike said to Kim when I told them.
Price Matching for Groceries
Food for this big family of nine costs about $300 a week -- $15,000 a year -- simply because there are so many mouths to feed. Kim shops at a Super Target that carries groceries, but she didn't realize that Target just started offering price matching. All you do is find the best sale items in all the competing store circulars, and Target will honor them. Click here to read the details of Target's price-matching policy. Walmart also price matches. And there is usually at least one local store in each town that does as well.
I showed Kim a quicker, easier, better way to price match. Poring over store circulars can be counterproductive, because they hype "2 for $5" and things like that, but you don't necessarily know if that is a good deal or not because they rarely state the percentage off the original price. I suggested Kim start, instead, by going to www.CouponMom.com, a free Web site that is valuable even if you don't use coupons. The site shows all the deals in most weekly store circulars. More important, it lists the percentage discount you are getting, so you can cherry pick the items that meet your idea of a bargain. I like to focus on those that are at least 50 percent off. You can print out a custom shopping list from CouponMom.com, then just take the circulars, whole, to the store with you as proof.
"Are you willing to put in just a little extra work to save as much as 40 percent -- $6,240 on your groceries?" I asked Kim.