Consumer Reports Offers Six Tips for Consumers to Cut Spending By $500 Per Month

To: NATIONAL EDITORS

Contact: Rachel Zuckerman, +1-914-378-2417, rzuckerman@consumer.org, or C. Matt Fields, +1-914-378-2454, cfields@consumer.org, both of Consumer Reports

CRsAugust issue finds hidden savings in finding cheaper auto insurance plans, shopping smart for groceries, changing phone plans and more

YONKERS, N.Y., June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Consumer Reports Money Labuncovered hidden savings in everyday spending that could save consumers up to $500 per month.

Using the strategies outlined in CR, consumers can trim their spending while gas and food prices continue to rise.

Its surprising that there are so many savings opportunities hidden in your budget, said Jeff Blyskal, senior editor, Consumer Reports. You dont have to radically change your life to save $500 a month.

The six tips are featured in Consumer ReportsAugust issue on sale July 1. The report is also available to subscribers at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Savings shown are Consumer Reports Money Labestimates based on what a range of consumers really spend and can possibly save. Actual savings will depend on individual circumstances.

— $65 – Find cheaper auto insurance.Annual surveys of CR readers have shown that many have stayed with the same auto insurer for

15 years. Depending on peoples profiles and where they live,

they might be able to save hundreds a month by shopping around.

For example, a married couple without violations or accidents

but with a driving-age son in Los Angeles can save $380 per

month on standard coverage by switching to a lower-cost auto

insurer.

How to do it:Start at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Web site, at www.naic.organd click on NAIC States and jurisdictions to find your states insurance department. Most provide comparative premium quotes based on standard customer profiles.

— $110 – Optimize your life insurance.Life insurance premiumshave dropped so dramatically since the 1990s; it will probably

pay for you to replace a policy bought years ago with a

comparable new one. A $500,000 20-year guaranteed level term

from Prudential, for example, would have cost a 50-year-old man

about $2,125 a year in 1998. Today the same guy, now 60, could

pay Prudential $1,385 a year for the same coverage over the

next ten years, saving $60 a month.

How to do it:Get premium quotes at www.accuquote.comand www.lifeinsure.com. Dont cancel your existing policy until you have a new one already in place.

— $200 – Shop smart for food.Making different choices in thesupermarket and when eating out can net monthly savings from

$130 to $255. The average family of four can chop its grocery

bill by $190 a month by shifting to a lower-cost mix of foods.

How to do it:Plan menus around sales of fresh poultry, fish, meat, dairy, and produce, and make use of leftovers. Avoid costly prepared meals. Eat more low-priced high-nutrition foods like beans and potatoes. Try less expensive store brands, and sign up for store discount cards.

— $25 – Stop paying bank fees.Banks collected some $39 billion inaccount fees and penalties last year. That works out to an

average of $28 per month per household. But with some planning,

you can pay zero.

How to do it:Bank at large institutions with lots of ATMs in convenient locations. Shop for free checking and strictly adhere to provisions for a minimum balance, direct deposit, or other conditions to avoid monthly fees.

— $35 – Call up phone savings.When CRs experts examined realphone bills they uncovered savings from $15 a month for budget

callers to $55 per month for heavy users.

How to do it:Peruse your last few months phone bills to assess how many minutes you typically use on landline and wireless calls. Comparison shop among cellular service providers, the local phone company, and your cable TV company. Dont buy more than you need, such as an unlimited cellular plan if you rarely go over 900 minutes per month.

— $65 – Pay off your credit card.On average, consumers who carry a balance owe $2,200, on which they pay 15.2 percent in annual

interest charges. Eliminate that and save $28 per month. Some

15 percent of consumers carry balances of $10,000 or more; they

can save $125 per month by paying off their debt.

How to do it:Stop charging, then pay more than the minimum required each month until its paid off. Dig up cash for this from your U.S. Treasury stimulus check, garage sales, or extra work part- time.

AUGUST 2008

Consumers Union 2008. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

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