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Little-Known Ways to Save Money in Key Areas

NEW YORK -- In this economy, it's all about saving money.

And on "The Early Show" Monday, Real Simple magazine Senior Editor Mary Kate McGrath shared advice on spending less on movies, jeans, home repairs, cars, pet care and medical bills:


Buy in bulk:
You can purchase four-packs of tickets at a discount ($2 to $3 off a ticket on average) from eight different major theater chains at
Costco members can buy tickets at the warehouse club that may be cheaper than a local theater's admission prices.

Redeem credit-card perks:
Call your issuer to see what promos you can use.
Visa Signature users who spend $25 or more on tickets get 20 percent off buying at
And several cards, like American Express (, let you use your points to buy tickets and food at the concession stands.

Cruise to a drive-in:
Many of these 1950s icons are still in business (there are approximately 380 nationwide; find one near you at, and they offer retro prices to boot.
Catch new releases starting at about $7 per person or $10 per car.
The first, Chief Drive In, is opening in Chickasha, Okla. Feb. 4 and others will start in the beginning of March, such as the Stardust Drive-In Theater in Watertown, Tenn.


Choose a dark wash:
Denim companies launder items repeatedly to lighten the color. Deeper shades are handled less, so they last twice as long.
Look for blended fabrics:
Pairs last longer if they contain at least 2 percent spandex. That material doesn't just hug your curves -- it also helps maintain the shape of the jeans over time.

If you have a go-to style or brand, buy online:
It's often cheaper.
Subscribe to the e-mail lists of denim makers to receive insider deals. offers coupon codes good for 20 to 30 percent off an order, plus free shipping on orders of $100 or more, and Gap has offered sales of up to 30 percent off.
Order from sites that offer free shipping, like (on orders over $25) and (yes, it sells more than shoes).


Get free DIY advice:
Go to YouTube and type in "askthebuilder" for how-to videos on simple procedures, like replacing a faucet or a light fixture.
See the videos, "When to Do It Yourself" and "When to Hire a Pro" to help you decide if you should take on a project.

Seek out holes in scheduling:
Ask a tradesman if he has a hole in his schedule, then inquire about a discount if you book during that time.

Learn the lingo:
Before calling a contractor, check out sites like and You'll be better informed-and less likely to get taken-if you can speak his language.


Forget that "every 3,000 miles" rule!:
AAA found that 95 percent of drivers had oil changes too frequently. Only heavily used cars, such as taxis, need one after 3,000 miles.
Normal usage typically requires an oil change every 7,500 miles.

Windshield damage:

Fix windshield chips immediately, because a small chip can lead to a full crack. The cost of replacing a windshield: $500 to $1,200.
A repair can be done in your driveway for less that $100 (search "mobile glass-repair service" and your Zip Code online to find a company).

Independent auto shops aren't always better for repairs:
Stick with the dealership for tricky repairs - it sees the same makes and models, so it can be better than an independent auto shop at fixing, for instance, a mysterious rattle.


Groom midweek:
Friday-through-Monday is the busiest time at pet salons. Many charge 20 percent less for midweek appointments.

Don't skimp on food - Spending more up-front saves money in the long-run:
Cheaper brands have possibly harmful preservatives, such as BHT, and fillers, like corn, that may cause allergies.
These can cause skin reactions and may require a vet visit and a prescription diet. The first two ingredients on the label should be animal proteins, not by-products, grains, or vegetables.
The cost can run to $1 a pound, versus 50 cents a pound for lesser-quality food, but you'll save in the end.

Consider pet insurance -- it pays over long-haul:
Starting at $15 a month for a cat and $22 for a dog, policies at sites like will cover annual checkups, vaccinations, accidental injuries, and some illnesses.
That can translate into major savings, since some ailments cost thousands of dollars to treat.


Request a three-month prescription:
This option, given mostly for medications that treat chronic conditions, like diabetes and arthritis, can reduce costs up to 33 percent (compared with paying monthly).

See a dental student for checkups:
Many dental schools have clinics that treat patients.
Fees are about 50 percent less, and your care is supervised by a dentist.