In the never ending battle to cut household expenses, I quested to find the cheapest car insurance. Speaking as a witness to the claims service from premium local, premium national, cheap local, and cheap national car insurance carriers, they’re all the same. Really. And if there is a margin of better or easier service from the premium carriers, it is certainly not hundreds of dollars worth. When I had an accident and was insured by a top “cut-rate” insurance company, they were amazing. So why would I pay any more?

It was with that in mind that I was reluctant to switch from that company. I am not without a loyalty bone and it made me feel bad to cheat on them. Then I remembered they’re a company, not a person, and I felt better. I got several quotes and the best one, by only a few dollars at base level mind you, was Progressive. We were looking to get my partner and I on the same plan for both saving and simplicity, so this move was already saving a couple hundred dollars a year.

Then they told me about their Snapshot tool, which is a little thing you plug into the car and it measures distances driven, times driven, and braking patterns. You keep it plugged into your car for 6 months and based on the first months patterns you get a prorated refund based on your good driving behaviors plus up to a 30% discount on your next bill. I couldn’t see a single reason not to try it.

AND BOY ARE WE GLAD WE DID! I just got the results back on the first month and my car qualified for a 29% discount and my partner’s qualified for a 30% discount. We got a $150 rebate and will save $204 dollars on our next 6 month policy (assuming that the driving patterns continue to be typical of what the device has already tracked over the rest of the 6 months). So, now we are basically paying for both cars what he was paying for just his car. Just like that.

The moral of this story is that it’s always a good idea to review these kinds of policies and get quotes, even if you are not discontented with your current provider. It’s just insurance, don’t give them any more money than you have to!

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With my car aging rapidly from a long work commute, I am less and less likely to take it on long road trips these days. Whenever I do, she punishes me with hugely expensive parts replacements. I am forever lamenting the steep increases in the prices of the train and bus, both of which I enjoy for different reasons. I have basically abandoned the bus because there are few deals and it takes so much longer than the train for about the same price. Ten years ago the difference in price made up for it. Try to remember back when fondly and move on.

So, I needed to book a bunch train tickets for New York Comic Con and, as is my custom, just before I clicked the submit button on the payment I did a search for promo codes. All I can say is “Who knew?!?!” There was a 20% discount for Vermonter line travelers…each way! So our tickets went from $100.00 round trip to $80.00. That’s no small change when rolled into a trip budget, and totally beats the bus price, so no need to justify!

Of course, it’s not like Amtrak makes it easy for you to figure this stuff out, but Railserve.com does! It breaks promos down in a number of ways, but the most useful is by region. Most of their promos totally beat the AAA discount of 10% or the Student Advantage discount of 15%.

So, you might be saying to yourself, how can you save money on groceries  buy buying coupons. You might also wonder if I will EVER post about libraries again. Promise, I am running out of savings to share!

Anyhoo. Here’s the deal. If you are thinking about getting into using coupons seriously, or already do use them and want to increase the savings, you really need to buy them from a coupon clipping places. Think about it:

  1. The Sunday paper costs money and unless you actually READ the paper, totally not worth the expense. (PS – it’s free online, and if you use RSS readers, more up to the minute.)
  2. The coupons you get from the paper are all over the place. When I was clipping, I think I maybe kept 5-10 of over 50 coupons each week because they were for all kinds of things I don’t use.

Since I started buying coupons, I am saving no less than $20 more a week in groceries, and usually closer to $30-$40. Of course, this is in combination with sale items from the circular and writing a weekly list to keep on task.

My best coupon victory to date was buying 10 $1.00 off  Compact Florescent Lightbulbs coupons for $1.60, then waiting until they went on sale at Price Chopper. When they did, they were on sale for $1.99, and since Price Chopper doubles coupons up to $1.00…yeah, even I can do that math. That’s $70 worth of light bulbs for the bargain price of $1.60.

So, now that I’ve sold you on it, I use two sites for buying coupons:

Cents Off – This one is my favorite. It’s a one time $7.50 to join and $8.00 per 50 coupons, plus $1.00 per 50 coupons for shipping. You get to PICK the coupons you actually use, get multiples if you like (up to 50), and if these coupons were only $0.50 each, you’d still have more than paid for the cost to buy them several times over. Plus, if you go someplace that doubles coupons…I’m sure you get the picture. I use this company first for all my coupon needs.

Coupon Clippers – I use these folks next. They have a different pricing scheme  (a percentage of the value of each coupon) and often require you to buy no less than 5 if they have a lot of them, which I find wasteful unless I am definitely going to use them all. They do, however, carry some different coupons from Cents Off and I regularly use them to fill in the gaps.

And if you’re not ready to start buying them, be sure to take advantage of the free printable coupons out there! There is one on the Coupon Clippers site, but here’s a few more. They’re usually the same coupons, but since you can only print once a day at each site, if you want multiples, you’ll have to visit a couple of places:

Coupons.com

Cool Savings

The Grocery Game

Working Mom.com

I could go on here, but the point is that there are only two places out there that manage all the printable coupons no matter what site you visit. Just Google “printable coupons” if you want more sites because you must have one more Green Giant coupon! It’s easy.