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savings-webRISMEDIA, March 23, 2009-(MCT)-The Government has calculated the savings rate within America as being close to zero for a number of years, but as we find ourselves in the throes of a recession, most Americans are taking a step back and cutting back on spending money, traveling and activities that we all took for granted. 

The savings rate of Americans today is now around 5%, compared to 0.1% a year ago. Most of this increased savings can be attributed to reduced spending.

The recession has put all Americans to the test as it’s easier to increase spending than reduce spending, but the folks at offer these eight tips to help you assess your spending habits and find places where you can save money.

1. Packaged drinks: Bottled water and soft drinks can easily be substituted. In addition, individual coffee cups at shops and gas stations are priced higher than home brews.
2. Prepackaged food: Ready-to-eat meals and snacks in individual servings are more expensive than buying ingredients individually in larger bags or bulk. You’ll get more bang for your buck preparing it yourself.
3. Fax service: If you need to fax a resume or document, avoid the copy centers, which can charge $1 to $2 a page. Instead, try an online service that allows you to use the scan feature on your printer and then fax the document over the Internet.
4. Car repairs: Shop for an independent repair shop by asking for references from friends and avoid the dealer’s repair shop unless the car is under warranty. Be careful in this situation as the dealer may have competitive prices that could be cheaper than an independent repair shop.
5. Extended warranties: It’s highly unlikely a new product will need to be protected for the long-term as either technology will need to be replaced in a few years or it will break in the first year while still under original warranty.
6. Bank and credit card fees: This is the easiest area to look to when trying to cut your expenses. It is crucial to pay your credit card bill on time and maintain minimum balances or move to a bank or account that doesn’t have minimums. Set up overdraft protection to avoid bounced checks. Also avoid ATM fees by using your own bank or finding a bank that reimburses fees.
7. Print publications: If there is a version online that contains most of the print version, there is no need to pay for it when you can get it for free unless you need it for the convenience of carrying around. That said, Sunday newspapers often have enough coupons to make it worth buying the print versions.
8. Flowers: Shop beyond florists by visiting your grocery store or an online flower delivery service.

Little things like these are simply and effective ways to change our shopping habits which will benefit our savings and help us survive during these tough economic times

© 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.