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And here I thought I was through with new year super savers only to discover a few more tips from Real Simple magazine. (To be honest, I felt pretty foolish when I realized my own guilt at ignoring some of this advice.)

"Gray charges." I bet many readers make and then forget certain reoccurring charges, such as agreeing to renewals of magazine subscriptions when their period runs out (as I do) or holding a gym membership but failing to utilize the facilities. Unfortunately, consumer apathy affects too many of us and ends up costing Americans several billion dollars yearly. One answer is to outsource deletion of these charges to apps Trim or Truebill - free apps that that sync to both credit card and bank accounts. Trim even sends its clients a monthly text listing those reoccurring charges and cancels subscriptions we don't want.

Clip cable. I've written about cable bills in the past but, since streaming is even more prevalent than ever, it's definitely time to save some bucks in this area. Whether it's the giants Netflix and Amazon, Hulu, Sling TV, or other services, watching streaming sports and movies is much cheaper than subscribing to the big cable networks.

Avoid late payments. I would venture a guess that all of us have been late paying a bill at least once and, thus, incurred a late fee. Worse, if significantly late and particularly on a large amount, our credit could be adversely affected to the tune of higher interest rates and maybe even a snub when applying for a new loan. One way to avoid late fees is to place everything on automatic payments/online banking or auto-charge to one credit card; be sure for these payment forms to put a reminder on the calendar for that one, monthly, due date.

Security alert. Utilizing items such as security cameras and smoke detectors can make a difference in one's homeowner insurance payments. Save as much as 15 percent through State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide and others.

Spend Flexible Spending Account (FSA) monies. Too many subscribers lose an average of $172 per year for failing to spend their FSAs before the deadlines expire. Be certain to set a due date to buy staples, such as bandaids, glasses, and other medical incidentals; go to FSAstore.com to view the thousands of items available and that are guaranteed to be covered. Check your own policy as some might allow you to carry funds over or even allow a grace period to spend the remainder bucks.

Stop smoking. Six Southern states average the lowest cost places in which to smoke. Before my smoking buddies shout "Yippee!", get this: your out-of-pocket costs are still over one million dollars in cigarette financial burden; in fact, in Tennessee alone, according to statistics from a Chattanooga Times Free Press report, smokers accounted for $1,460,661 in lost revenue for each smoker over his or her lifetime. And it's not just monetary expenses, either but, most importantly, folks' serious health problems (many concluding with death) are associated with smoking.

Reject name brands. Many families can save in excess of $3,000 per year when they opt to buy no-name brand items. All grocery stores now carry their own brands, as do drug stores and the like. Consumer Reports explains we're able to save 25 percent of our grocery shopping budget by purchasing generics. (Look at the difference between brand prescriptions and generic drugs as a prime example.) Check the internet site Brandless.com that offers a plethora of items for a measly $3.00!

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com

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