Save Over $150,000 With Elisabeth Leamy's Consumer Tips

One way to save big is to bid for groceries instead of buying them. Grocery auctions specialize in overstock items and dinged and damaged packages. They also carry some foods that are close to their expiration date.

Here's how it works. The auctioneer gets people bidding on a grocery item. Once the price will go no higher, that's what everybody at the auction who wants that product pays.

We attended a grocery auction in Indiana and compared the deals there with prices at a chain supermarket. We found that the savings were 66 percent. The average American family of four spends $10,692 a year on food, household supplies and personal care items, according to the IRS. A 66 percent savings on that total would be $7,056, assuming you were able to do all your shopping at grocery auctions.

How to get in on the game:

Search for grocery auctions near you. You can do this on the Web site of the National Auctioneers Association. Click here /∂=Part%20IV

Don't overbid. New auction-goers can get caught up in the excitement of "winning" something and pay too much. Make sure you have a feel for what the same merchandise costs at your regular grocery store, so you don't pay too much.

HEALTHCARE: Hire a Medical Billing Advocate

Sample Savings: $6,858

A shocking 80 percent of hospital bills contain errors, according to Medical Billing Advocates of America. Medical billing advocates are trained to find them and fight them. Best of all, many work on contingency, so you don't pay them a thing unless they're successful.

"It was like a miracle that we found her," said Cynthia Kulp, who hired an advocate to help after a hospital overcharged her for a lumpectomy. Billing advocate Holly Wallack found all sorts of inflated and mistaken charges on Kulp's bill. She negotiated with the hospital and saved Kulp $6,858. Cynthia was uninsured at the time, so this service was particularly crucial to her. But even people with health insurance can easily owe thousands of dollars in copayments for a major hospitalization.

How to find an advocate:

Know the lingo. Medical billing advocates are also called claims assistance professionals, medical claims professionals and healthcare claims advocates. It helps to know all those terms when you go searching for them.

Try these leads. Finding somebody to help you fight your hospital bills is not always easy, only because these professionals' services are not well publicized. That's why I did the work for you and compiled a list of sources where you can find one. Click here∂=Part%20V.

So there you have it, a total of $152,114 dollars in surprising savings! Now that's what I'm talking about when I say "Save Big."

To put it in perspective, one of the most common tips for economizing is to cancel your magazine subscriptions. That's fine, but you would have to give up 6,084 annual magazine subscriptions at $25 each to save the amount of money we demonstrated here.

I've given you the nuts and bolts of how to pull off these five savings strategies right here in this article. For even more detailed guidance, please check out my book, "Save Big."

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