10 Things You Can Bundle to Score Savings
I don't usually advocate buying more of something just to score savings. For example, I always say no to the "spend-more-to-save-more" pitch from store clerks who tell me that if I spend another, say, $10 I can earn a coupon for $25 off my next purchase of $50 or more. That doesn't save me any money -- it just tempts me to spend more.
However, buying more of an item you know that you will use or signing up for more than one service from a single provider can actually help you save money. By bundling these ten things below -- that is, combining them or purchasing in bulk -- you'll pay less than buying or using them individually or in smaller quantities.
Insurance. Most insurers will give you a price break if you have multiple policies -- such as homeowners and auto insurance -- with them.
Telecom services. You usually can get a discount on phone, broadband and cable when you bundle all three services with one provider. You might have to rebundle these services yearly to keep the discount. (Note: This applies to people who want all three services. You can save even more by ditching cable and using other sources of entertainment. See Budget-Friendly Alternatives to Cable.)
Banking services. More and more financial institutions are tacking fees on formerly free accounts. Signing up for other services that banks offer -- such as direct deposit, online statements (rather than paper) and online bill pay -- can help you avoid fees on checking accounts. And some banks waive fees if you have more than one account, such as a checking account and mortgage or IRA.
Student loans. You can lower your monthly student-loan payments if you have more than one federal loan by refinancing them through the federal Direct Loan consolidation program. Consolidation lets you combine all your loans into one and extend repayment to as long as 30 years. (However, a longer period means you'll pay more interest overall.) For more information, visit the Direct Consolidation Loans site.
Prescription drugs. If you get a 90-day supply of your prescription medication, you'll save by making just one insurance co-pay rather than the three co-pays you'd have to make for the same number of pills if you filled your prescription monthly.
Groceries. Buying items in bulk can be a money saver if you know that you can consume them before they go bad (or if they're nonperishable to begin with, such as toilet paper). For example, my kids like frozen waffles and I tend to buy a package of ten each week -- overlooking the larger package because of its higher sticker price. But when I bothered to check the unit price on the 24-pack, I realized I was missing a good deal: 13.4 cents per ounce versus 18.1 cents per ounce for the 10-pack. We also buy chicken breasts at the warehouse club because the package of a dozen we get there is usually several dollars less than smaller packages at the grocery store.
Hotel stays. Over Memorial Day, Labor Day and other long holiday weekends, hotels often offer deals that let you stay three nights for the price of two. So by booking an extra day, you can stay a little longer without paying any more.
Sales, coupon and free shipping. Waiting for retailers to have sales or using a deal or price-comparison site to find the lowest price on a product when shopping online can help you save money. You'll score the trifecta of bargain shopping, though, if you bundle marked-down merchandise with coupons and free shipping to lower the price further.
Babysitting. Hiring a nanny can be quite pricey if you live in a big city. But if you have just one child and know another family with just one child, you can cut your costs in half by hiring one nanny to watch both kids.
Kids' extracurricular activities. Some art, music and dance teachers offer families a discount if they have more than one child taking lessons with them -- if you aren't afraid to speak up and ask for a deal. For example, when both of my daughters were taking violin lessons, I asked the teacher if he would trim the price a little because I was having to pay for two weekly lessons -- and he did.