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Five unexpected ways to save more money in 2011

Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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Yonkers, NY - Some 55 percent of Consumer Reports readers said they were likely to include saving more money on their list of New Year’s resolutions. To help you save more money, the experts at Consumer Reports Money Adviser’s January issue offers the following tips:

  • Watch out for extra surcharges on rental cars. If you have a lead foot or aren’t careful about feeding parking meters, you might find unexpected surcharges on your next rental-car bill. Advantage, Avis, Budget, and Hertz bill rental-car customers’ credit cards a $30 administrative fee for violations including parking tickets, toll transgressions, and no-nos picked up by traffic cameras like running a red light.
  • Check if your product repair is free. Before you toss a broken item or call a local repair shop, contact the manufacturer. The item could be covered by a recall, technical service bulletin, or goodwill policy (which means a company decides to voluntarily help a customer). This could make you eligible for a free fix, replacement, or a discount on a part or new product. When it comes time to call a repairman, weigh the pros and cons of using a manufacturer-authorized shop—the shop might charge more than other places. If you purchased the item with a credit card, see if it automatically extends the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Consider energy use when buying a TV. If you’re thinking of getting a new TV in the next couple of months, you might want to wait a bit. By law, all TVs manufactured after May 10, 2011, will have to display the familiar black and yellow Energy Guide labels found on refrigerators, air conditioners, and other appliances. The labels will give shoppers an estimate of how much energy the TV uses and how it compares with sets of similar screen size, so you can factor electricity-bill savings into your price comparison. By July, websites that sell TVs will have to display the labels too.
  • Online travel deal bargains might be buried. Major travel sites sometimes make it difficult to find the lowest prices. If you search for a car rental on Expedia, for example, the initial sorting tool won’t allow you to see all the lowest-priced rentals first. You have to decide if you want to get quotes from the site’s “preferred vendors” or get them from other companies as well. When you reach the second booking page, you can sort the list by the “car view price” to see all the offers. When CRMA searched Expedia for cars on several dates in 10 cities, the best deals were omitted from the initial listings most of the time.
  • Travel bundles can cost more. When you book a flight online you’re asked whether you’d like to add a hotel room or rental car for a package discount. But those deals aren’t always bargains. Take the time to price each component. Also check out DealBase.com, which does the math and lists good and bad bundled deals.

Consumer Reports Money Adviser is a monthly, subscription-only newsletter that answers tough money questions and provides expert financial advice. Its proven information and successful strategies can make any financial decision an easy one. Each month, CRMA provides feature articles and helpful investment, savings, and spending advice that will help prepare consumers for anything life may bring them. For more information visit: www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

 
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