Better Business Bureau’s tips to save money all year-round

CROMWELL — You can substantially lower your monthly expenses and save money without making sacrifices, according to Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut.

Start by taking a hard look at how much you spend each month or year on fixed costs such as your mortgage, entertainment and communications.

“In many cases, all you have to do is make a list of your monthly expenses to see where there is wiggle room to reduce those costs,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.

“There are all sorts of monthly and annual services you can reassess to make sure you are getting the lowest price possible. Insurance policies are a good example of how you can save money by shopping around.”

Insurance companies have many different pricing plans for the same coverage. Consult an insurance agent to see whether you can benefit from any new markdowns, such as a safe driver discount. You can also lower your vehicle, dwelling and umbrella coverage by opting for a higher deductible. Premiums decrease significantly if your deductible is high. Your insurance will cost less if you agree to pay for the first 3 thousand dollars out of pocket instead of $500.

Another potential for saving money on utility bills is to purchase new, more energy-efficient appliances. “Smart” thermostats can reduce electricity consumption by learning your habits and putting itself into “night mode” or “away from home mode” and automatically lower the air conditioning and heating.

A tempting way to reduce the cost of a big ticket item or a full shopping cart is by signing up for a store-branded credit card. Retailers will typically offer a discount of about 15 percent on the day or your purchases if you sign up for their card. The downside is that the interest rates are higher than other credit cards, and if you don’t pay off the balance or miss a payment, you can get hit with charges that can outweigh the savings at the time of purchase. Another downside is that an additional credit card can lower some people’s credit score.

If you have been using a credit card that doesn’t give you any benefits, shop around for a card that offers money back on gasoline purchases, cash back on your monthly bill or points that can be redeemed for other products or services.

Connecticut BBB offers additional tips to help put more money in your pocket, bank account or retirement plan:

Look for alternatives for monthly services such as cable or satellite TV and wireless providers. Ask about discounts or alternative plans. Make sure that any discount is not contingent upon signing up for additional services. If you are not satisfied, shop around for other providers.

Perform seasonal, preventative maintenance on your home such as changing air and water filters and having your furnace and chimney cleaned and inspected. A home is like a vehicle in the sense that you save money over the long term if your car is tuned up.

Know where to find discounts. There are coupon sites, and you can find special offers on retailers’ social media pages and websites. You can also sign up for alerts for upcoming sales.

Avoid buying just because something is on sale. Buy what you need when you need it. A helpful way to determine that is by asking yourself whether you would buy the merchandise it if it was not discounted.