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Helpful tips for challenging times

Tips from our readers

What things do you do to save money every day? We asked our readers to provide their tips. Read the best responses.

About the series

Spending Smart is a weekly series designed to help you stretch your dollars further in these uncertain times. Each Sunday we'll feature a new article.

Chat

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky

Finance writer and Today show contributor Jean Chatzky took reader questions.
Transcripts

Advice

100 ways to save

100 ways to save

Bankrate offers these tips to cut spending and save this year.

Resources

America Saves

America Saves

This campaign is trying to help Americans pay debt and build wealth.

Tools

Budgeting tool

Create a budget

Bankrate's handy budgeting calculator helps you allocate your income.
High-def video in a flash

High-def video in a flash

The latest advances in camera technology allow high-definition video cameras to record video onto tiny SD flash memory cards.
Gifts any mom would love
May 2

Gifts any mom would love

The Globe found five useful gift ideas that serve as a reminder that your mom is cool — even if she does crank Celine Dion on her iPod.
Navigating the market
Apr. 25

Navigating the market

Americans who retreated from the stock market during the recession are slowly making their way back. Here are some tips for rebuilding your portfolio.
Thin screens, light wallets
April 18

Thin screens, light wallets

During a recession, a second television may not be a priority. As the economy recovers, though, buyers might find a little extra money to splurge.
How to avoid the lemons
April 11

How to avoid the lemons

Buying a car can always rev up some angst. But buyers today have to navigate a choppy sea of car recalls and mea culpas from automakers.
Don’t buy into a money pit
April 4

Don’t buy into a money pit

First-time home buyers looking to take advantage of the low-interest loans and federal tax credit should consider costs beyond the purchase price of a home.
Organizing your photos
March 28

Organizing your photos

A lot of people still think the best way to see their photos is to run a memory card to the corner drug store and wait for prints. That isn’t the case anymore.
HD filming made easy
March 21

HD filming made easy

Pocket cameras have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past two years.They're inexpensive and make shooting high-definition video easy.
Affordable desk options
March 14

Affordable desk options

Your desk says a lot about you. From the color to the size to the material, your workspace can be an extension of yourself and your own personal taste.
Slim PCs gaining ground
March 7

Slim PCs gaining ground

The latest compact systems have enough computing power to make you think twice about buying a traditional tower PC.
Avoiding an audit
Feb. 28

Avoiding an audit

Here’s a short list of potential red-flag items that taxpayers should keep in mind while filling out their 2009 returns.
Budget sites catch on
Feb. 21

Budget sites catch on

In tough economic times, budget-tracking websites help give users a sense of where they’re actually spending their money each month.
Free e-mail that works
Feb. 14

Free e-mail that works

Looking to clean up your inbox, delete old address book entries, cut down on spam and find a better free e-mail provider? Several Web gurus offer advice.
Listen for less
Feb. 7

Listen for less

Since Shawn Fanning created Napster while he was a student at Northeastern University in 1999, Boston has been a nexus of digital music downloading.
Check out luxury resorts before you check in
Jan. 31

Check out luxury resorts before you check in

Want to find out if the luxury hotel you booked for your vacation is as pristine as it looks in pictures? Listen to the people who've stayed there.
Get in shape on the cheap
Jan. 24

Get in shape on the cheap

Staying fit doesn't have to mean breaking the bank with pricey gym memberships.
Promises you can keep
Jan. 17

Promises you can keep

Money management is the most common resolution for 2010. But for financial resolutions, one size does not fit all.
Online, not on campus
Jan. 10

Online, not on campus

Getting an advanced degree with classes over the Internet can help some balance work, school, and family. For others it is just a better fit.
Shopping
Jan. 3

You can get it cheaper

Outraged by retail prices, I logged onto eBay, my favorite place to shop for accessory bargains. There are options, including an offering from Amazon.
New Year's
Dec. 27

Cheer on the cheap

Trying to throw an inexpensive New Year’s Eve party? Scratch the ‘Pabst and Doritos’ theme and plan a swanky soirée.
Tip
Dec. 20

How to tip in tight times

The tight economy is not reason enough to skip tipping. Nancy Mitchell, of Etiquette Advocate, suggests a token of appreciation and a handwritten note.
Ring
Dec. 13

Get engaged, not broke

Savvy shoppers can find the perfect engagement ring without draining their bank account. Here's how to save.
Tires
Dec. 6

Is your car shod for winter?

The onset of winter weather makes many drivers aware that they're driving on four bald tires. Shop around this season to make sure you don't get taken for a ride.
Router
Nov. 29

Time to update your router

As more and more people turn to faster wireless networking, the router you used back in 2001 won't cut it anymore.
Business packing
Nov. 22

Straighten up and pack right

Business travelers cringe at this scenario: You're called to a last-minute meeting in another city, and you're on the next flight out of Logan International Airport.
TV
Nov. 15

Way beyond rabbit ears

Even with Hulu, YouTube, and iTunes bringing programming to your computer, sometimes it's just nice to be able to tune in to your favorite channel.
Jay-Z
Nov. 8

Ticket resale market booms

Where you buy has a lot to do with how much you'll pay - and how confident you can be in your purchase.
Glasses
Nov. 1

Look for waves to save

Buying new eyeglasses doesn't mean you have to blow through your paycheck. There are good bargains out there for thrifty shoppers who want to see in style.
Soundbar
Oct. 25

Sounding off on soundbars

So, you have your 50-inch plasma television, Blu-ray video player, and high-definition cable. But what about the sound? That's where soundbars come in.
George Foreman
Oct. 18

The ticket for frugal foodies

Hard-core cooks sometimes spend lots of money on kitchen toys. But those gadgets can blow a budget. These lower-cost substitutes can often fit the bill.
Donations
Oct. 11

The hunt for more funding

Financing is available in a recession, but securing it can be tricky. Here are tips for getting cash your small business needs after savings accounts are tapped out.
EEE
Oct. 4

Save money with a netbook

Netbooks are all the rage these days. For half the price of a regular laptop, you can buy an ultra portable, ultra small netbook that does the job nicely.
NuVal
Sept. 27

A new look at groceries

Braintree-based firm NuVal calculates the nutritional value of foods and beverages into easy-to-understand scores by examining more than 30 nutrients.
Myine
Sept. 20

Capturing the hidden music

You know about radio and CDs, satellite and MP3s, but did you know the biggest music selection is streaming over the Internet? And you can hear it all for free.
Grants
Sept. 13

Don't go broke going back

How do you sort out the loans, grants, and tax incentives that could make midcareer schooling affordable?
Car repair
Sept. 6

Keep cool about car repairs

Studying up before a visit to the auto repair or oil change center can cut consumers' costs and frustration.
PC deals
Aug. 30

PC deals are easy to find

Bargain-hunters can find cheap, used computers up for grabs at Internet auction sites and flea markets.
Printers that do it all
Aug. 23

Printers that do it all

By the time you buy a printer, a scanner, and a fax, you'll start to see that an all-in-one device can be more efficient.
Store data in a flash
Aug. 16

Store data in a flash

The way we store our vital personal data and downloaded media has evolved faster than arguably the computer, itself.
Hybrid
Aug. 9

A guide to hybrid autos

During a time of recession and high gas prices, buyers have more options of fuel-efficient vehicles than ever.
Also Comparing hybrid cars  |  Video Hybrids head-to-head
School supplies
Aug. 2

Edhance enhances deals

Cash-strapped college students looking for discounts without the hassle of coupons and mail-in rebates can tap into a website to score exclusive deals with merchants.
Worker
July 26

Keeping workers happy

For businesses that can't offer monetary perks, there are other cost-effective ways to improve worker productivity during the summer months.
iPod
July 19

Electronics upgrade

Consumers who want a new cellphone, flat-screen television, or iPod every six months to a year can get them from TechForward Inc.
July 12

Cellphone savings worth research

When we looked into switching cellphone companies recently, we were soon drowning in options.
July 5

Hunting for secondhand bargains

In this economy, one market that remains jam-packed with shoppers is the flea market. And there is no shortage of vendors and hagglers in Massachusetts.
savings
June 28

Downsizing your life

Like many of you, we are scrambling to downsize our lifestyles. Peter J. Sander offered professional help at whittling away extra costs.
earbuds
June 21

Make your iPod sing

Audio companies lining up to push their products as alternatives to the white earbuds that come with your iPod. But are they worth it?
Shoppers of the world, unite
June 14

Shoppers of the world, unite

Get on the computer and buy with friends - or even strangers - and receive deep discounts on local products and services.
Put garage sale on Web
June 7

Put garage sale on Web

Garage sale season is upon us. Time to surf the Web. Auction sites and online marketplaces give sellers a way to unload unused items.
Car care can pay off
May 31

Car care can pay off

Staying current on maintenance, paying attention to spending, and making small changes to your driving habits can help keep costs down.
Less bite out of your wallet
May 24

Less bite out of your wallet

To entice price-conscious diners, fast-food joints to high-end establishments are now offering promotions that would have appeared almost extreme a year ago.
Stay in touch - on the cheap
May 17

Stay in touch - on the cheap

When the tough economy forces families to find ways to save money, the telephone bill can be one of the most vexing places to look for cost savings.
Five tips for lower grocery bills
May 10

Tips for lower grocery bills

Is your high grocery bill getting you down during this recession? Here are five ways you can cut back on food spending.
Give time instead of money
May 3

Give time instead of money

Don't have extra cash to give to charity during this recession? You can still donate your time.
A big-day dress, a little expense
Apr. 26

A big-day dress for less

When you're shopping for a wedding dress, don't forget to look for second-hand finds.
Spreading your iPod's music
Apr. 19

Spreading an iPod's music

When shopping for an iPod docking station, look for strong midrange output and avoid the extremes.
Cheap chic's not so shabby
Apr. 12

Cheap chic's not so shabby

You can dress chic, and still be cheap. To prove this point, the Globe went on a shopping spree at the local Goodwill Outlet Store... and scored.
Putting words in your mouth
Apr. 5

Now you're talking

Several computer programs allow you to learn a foreign language at home, but choose that program carefully.
Capture memories without hassle
Mar. 29

Easily capture memories

Affordable, hand-held digital camcorders are now common, but fancier videocams deliver a wealth of options.
Scrimp on money, not fun
Mar. 22

Scrimp on money, not fun

If your social life is taking a toll on your budget, these five ideas can help you entertain at home on the cheap.
A better view for your PC
Mar. 15

A better view for your PC

Four monitors offer something for everyone - but how many bells and whistles do you need?
Former economist economizes at home, earning the title of most frugal New Englander.
Mar. 8

Yankee thrift, personified

Former economist economizes at home, earning the title of most frugal New Englander.
Do-it-yourself tax software
Mar. 1

Do-it-yourself tax software

You have to do your taxes. The question is how are you going to get them done. These programs can take some of the pain out of preparing your tax return.
25 tips on spending
Feb. 28

25 tips on saving

For the last day of the series, we leave you with a clip-and-save list of 25 things you can do to save money, including some great tips from readers.
Big screen, small bucks
Feb. 27

Big screen, small bucks

Want to find out whether "Slumdog Millionaire" deserved all those Oscars? Is Kate Winslet all that? Here's a guide to how to pay less for a visit to the cinema.
Swap till you drop
Feb. 26

Swap till you drop

Coupledom is often a day-and-night exercise in sharing, whether it's splitting bills or DVR space. But for some lovebirds, sharing a life also means sharing apparel.
Snap up art at a discount
Feb. 25

Snap up art at a discount

The art market is resetting itself after years of virtually unchecked growth. That means works once snatched up immediately are now available.
Make a minor adjustment
Feb. 24

Make a minor adjustment

You won't see Zdeno Chara taking a slap shot or Randy Moss leaping over a defensive back. But you won't feel guilty about buying a bag of peanuts.
Cut the landline
Feb. 23

Cut the landline

Do I really need a landline since I'm always on my cellphone? That's a question on a lot of minds these budget-cutting days.
There's help to rein in drug costs
Feb. 22

Reining in drug costs

These days the price of prescription drugs can seem harder to swallow than the pills themselves. But generics and mail order can help you save.
Run from gym contracts
Feb. 21

Run from gym contracts

As fitness centers struggle to hold on to customers in the down economy, members can - with a little work - negotiate better deals for themselves.
Feb. 20

For gadgets, patience pays

Who wants to go first? Not me. When the next new thing in consumer electronics comes along, I step aside for the teenage geek with the broken piggy bank.
Dating on a $40 budget
Feb. 19

Dating on a $40 budget

True love is priceless, but in these tight economic times, romance is subject to a budget. Here are 8 great dates that cost around $40 total.
Feb. 18

Negotiate your medical bills

If you can't afford your medical bills, you can, and you should, negotiate directly with the billing department of a hospital or clinic to have your bill discounted.
Travel on the cheap
Feb. 17

Travel on the cheap

If there is a sliver of sunshine peeking through the storm clouds of this recession, it may be: There might never be a better time to travel.
Feb. 16

Think long-term

Your 401(k) plan is bloodied, the Dow keeps diving, and you're wondering what to do next. Forget about wealth. Right now, we'd happily take survival management.
Feb. 15

Stay calm over rate hike

If you've gotten a letter informing you that your credit card company has jacked up your rate, think twice before you cancel the card.
Don't be a broke Valentine
Feb. 14

Don't be a broke Valentine

Even after Valentine's is over, plan a romantic day with some tips on saving money without losing the loving spirit.
Feb. 13

Feast on a tight budget

The challenge was simple: Cook a good meal for a family of five, and spend no more than $10.
In praise of clunkers
Feb. 12

In praise of clunkers

It might not have a built-in iPod adapter, or even, in my case, a CD player. But an old car can offer something a new car can't - low costs all around.
Worried? Take a second job
Feb. 11

Worried? Take a second job

In this downturn, we're not just losing jobs. We're working longer hours, having our wages frozen, and taking pay cuts.
Feb. 10

How to cut down on baby-sitting costs

There is a way to have baby-sitting and a cheap night out. It just requires a little effort, ingenuity, and some community spirit.
Fine wine on a budget
Feb. 9

Fine wine on a budget

How can you scale back on your wine costs without sacrificing quality? Here are some tips, such as attending wine tastings to figure out what you like.
Feb. 8

Point. Click. Bank. And save.

Save money and avoid annoying fees with online banking, which also makes it easier to shop for better rates and incentives that earn you cash.
Gardening is easy, thrifty
Feb. 7

Gardening is easy, thrifty

Home gardeners who plant lettuce and other vegetables can save more than $400 per season over grocery prices.
Get cultured for free
Feb. 6

Get cultured for free

Going to a performance by Buffalo Tom leader Bill Janovitz (above) is one of many things you can do for free in Feb.
Call for cable discount
Feb. 5

Call for cable discount

Knowing that cable companies are desperate to hold on to customers, it may pay off to hit the phones.
Making cheap the new cool
Feb. 4

Making cheap the new cool

Jeff Yeager, a former chief executive with various nonprofits in Washington, D.C., launched his career as "the ultimate cheapskate" five years ago.
Feb. 3

Energy audits can cut bills

Each year, in January, our first serious winter heating bill arrives. It is not a happy day. So naturally, I was eager to sign up for an energy audit.
Feb. 2

Food shopping online curbs impulse buys

With online grocery-delivery services, you're less likely to buy items you don't need.
Saving on auto insurance
Feb. 1

Shopping auto insurers

A Massachusetts Insurance Federation survey found that 3 in every 4 drivers hadn't sought better deals.