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Smart Ways to Save and Spend Less

Discounts on Home Insurance and Other Savings

Don't count on your insurer to volunteer information about savings, but you can cut premium costs by as much as 20% if you take advantage of these commonly offered discounts:

Combine home and auto policies and save as much as $300. Install deadbolt locks and save up to $50. Smoke alarms are another easy home-improvement project that can lower insurance costs.

Other savings can come from your home. A programmable thermostat reduces energy consumption by automatically turning down heat or cooling when you're asleep or away. The savings depend on many factors such as the type and efficiency of equipment and the overall energy efficiency of your home. More expensive home-improvements such as installing hurricane or shatter proof windows or roof tie-downs not only lower insurance costs but may qualify for a tax credit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

A tax credit is generally more valuable than an equivalent tax deduction because a tax credit reduces tax dollar-for-dollar, while a deduction only removes a percentage of the tax that is owed. Consumers can itemize purchases on their federal income tax form, which will lower the total amount of tax they owe the government.

Boost Your Deductible

Increasing your deductible (the amount of money you have to pay for any damages before the insurance company kicks in with the rest) can save from $200 to $1,000 or as much as 25% on annual insurance costs. The average person files a claim just once every 8 to 10 years, so you're arguably better off placing the amount of your deductible in an interest-bearing savings account.