The 5 Best Currency Exchange Options

You've booked your flights, your itinerary is set and now all you need is some local money. Getting foreign currency is easy but choosing the right method could save you a ton of cash.
|
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

You've booked your flights, your itinerary is set and now all you need is some local money. Getting foreign currency is easy but choosing the right method could save you a ton of cash.

Here are the 5 best currency exchange options available to you.

1. Using ATMs

Using ATMs is the best way to get cash at the lowest rate. ATMs are everywhere and the best part is they only charge the spot rate of the day plus a conversion fee of 1-2%.

Your home bank might charge you an additional $2-5 for using a foreign ATM but this fee can sometimes be waived so talk to your bank. You need to call them anyway to let them know you'll be traveling otherwise they may block your card on suspicion of fraud. If the fee won't be waived, just max out your daily withdrawal limit each time to avoid making excessive trips to the ATM.

To find out which foreign ATMs are affiliated with your bank, check the back of your debit card and look for the PLUS (VISA) or Cirrus (MasterCard) symbols. When you're overseas, search for ATMs with the matching networks and you should be good. Both VISA and MasterCard have ATM locators so you can find the right ATM before you even take off.

Not only is using ATMs the cheapest way to get money, it's also the safest way since you'll never be carrying large amounts of cash. Note that internationally, 4-digit pins are the standard for ATM cards so change yours before you depart if it differs.

2. Credit cards

Credit cards are a must these days since you'll need them to book a hotel room or make large purchases. Credit card providers charge slightly more than ATMs by adding 2.5-3% on top of the spot rate whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency.

You can avoid this fee altogether by picking up a foreign exchange free credit card. It works exactly the way it sounds; you won't be charged any additional fees when you make a purchase in a foreign currency. It's worth signing up for one of these cards even if you use it just when traveling. The CapitalOne VentureOne Rewards card is the most popular forex free card among U.S. travelers.

If you have a travel rewards credit card you get extra benefits that can save you a lot of money and grief. Most of these cards include travel medical insurance, lost/delayed baggage insurance, and trip cancellation/interruption as a standard benefit. With any insurance policy, read the fine print to find out exactly what you're covered for.

Similar to your ATM card, call your credit card provider to let them know about your travel plans to avoid any service interruptions.

Bindalfrodo /Stockpholio

3. Foreign exchange offices

Foreign exchange offices are located in popular tourist areas and airports. They offer better rates than the bank and in some countries their exchange rates are very competitive, but you need consider any additional fees that they might charge. They're also convenient if you're trying to get rid excess currency from a country you just left.

It's always a good idea to have some emergency U.S. Dollars with you; if you ever find yourself needing to dip into those funds then using a foreign exchange office is the quickest way to get cash.

4. Using a bank

Getting foreign currency at your home bank is usually the first place you think of, but it's a huge rip-off since they can easily charge upwards of 10% on the spread. Considering spending is a big part of any trip, that's a pretty big premium you're paying. Of course you don't want to show up in a new country without any local money so exchanging enough for a cab ride to your hotel is still a must.

That being said if you're changing money to a neighboring country's currency, e.g. U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars or sterling to euros, the bank spread is usually fair.

5. Traveler's Check

I'm not sure why traveler's checks are still billed as a convenient and safe way to carry funds for travel; they really aren't widely accepted anymore. You pay a commission on the checks on top of the spread when you cash them in, so you're effectively paying a fee twice. They can give you peace of mind but there are better options available these days.

For more budget travel stories from Barry, check out his blog at Moneywehave.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @barrychoi

29 Ways You Waste Cash
29. Impulse Buys(01 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Who doesn't know that impulse purchases are a bad idea? I've even realized it was a bad idea as I was doing it. So here are three quick tips: 1. Make a shopping list. Take it with you and stick to it. 2. Eat beforehand. An empty stomach can doom the most prepared shopper, especially at the supermarket. 3. Shop alone. Bringing children (or a significant other who acts like a child) is a sure way to fill your cart with impulse buys. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="8" data-vars-position-in-unit="8">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/lrargerich/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" lrargerich" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/lrargerich/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="9" data-vars-position-in-unit="9"> lrargerich</a>)
28. Buying Online Without Comparison Shopping(02 of 29)
Open Image Modal
When you shop online, there are hundreds of sites competing for your business. Buy those shoes at the first site you go to and you may be wasting money. Compare the purchase and shipping price at three or more sites before you buy anything. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="10" data-vars-position-in-unit="10">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/theogeo/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" theogeo" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/theogeo/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="11" data-vars-position-in-unit="11"> theogeo</a>)
27. Paying For Protection You Don't Need(03 of 29)
Open Image Modal
While you need to protect some things in your life - like your car or your house - you don't need to insure everything. Check out 8 Types of Protection Not Worth Paying For and see what you can live without. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="13" data-vars-position-in-unit="13">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/jbcurio/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" jbcurio" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/jbcurio/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="14" data-vars-position-in-unit="14"> jbcurio</a>)
26. Being Disorganized(04 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Being disorganized about your finances leads to costly late payment fees and overdraft charges. You can easily rack up hundreds in fees. For example, even a single $25 late fee per month will cost $300 extra a year. Set up bill reminders and keep your checkbook balanced. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="15" data-vars-position-in-unit="15">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/alismith44/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" aliwest44" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/alismith44/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="16" data-vars-position-in-unit="16"> aliwest44</a>)
25. Expensive Cell Phone Plans(05 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Consumer Reports says the average person spends $600 a year on wireless service. But many people pay for services they never use. For example, I had an $85 unlimited plan and rarely used more than 1,000 minutes a month. So I switched to a cheaper 1,000-minute plan and saved $20 a month. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="18" data-vars-position-in-unit="18">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/ivyfield/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Yutaka Tsutano" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/ivyfield/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="19" data-vars-position-in-unit="19"> Yutaka Tsutano</a>)
24. Not Using Coupons(06 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Now that coupons are available online, you're wasting money if you're not using them. Do a quick coupon search before you buy anything, including clothes, groceries, and electronics. You can find coupons on our deals page or on sites like: RetailMeNot, Redplum, and SmartSource.com. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="24" data-vars-position-in-unit="24">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/pleeker/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Matt McGee" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/pleeker/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="25" data-vars-position-in-unit="25"> Matt McGee</a>)
23. Oil Changes(07 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Cars don't need oil changes as frequently as they used to. If you're getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles, you're probably doing it too often (and wasting money). Follow the recommended mileage in your owner's manual. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="26" data-vars-position-in-unit="26">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/rstinnett/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" robertstinnett" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/rstinnett/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="27" data-vars-position-in-unit="27"> robertstinnett</a>)
22. Premium Fuel(08 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Unless your car requires premium fuel, you don't need it. Buying premium isn't going to extend the life of your car or give you a significant MPG boost. In fact, Edmunds studied cars built from 2008 to 2012 and found that many models didn't even need premium fuel - even though the manufacturer recommended it. Here's what they had to say about it: Edmunds has a list of cars that need premium fuel (and a list of those that don't) in To Save Money on Gas, Stop Buying Premium. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="29" data-vars-position-in-unit="29">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/33954075@N07/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" pscf11" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/33954075@N07/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="30" data-vars-position-in-unit="30"> pscf11</a>)
21. Not Taking Advantage Of A 401(K) Company Match(09 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Many companies will match an employee's 401(k) contribution up to a certain percent. If you're not contributing enough to meet the maximum match, you're losing out on free money. Ask your HR department for information on your company match. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="31" data-vars-position-in-unit="31">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/urban_data/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" urban_data" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/urban_data/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="32" data-vars-position-in-unit="32"> urban_data</a>)
20. Bill Pay Convenience Fees(10 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Some online or over-the-phone bill payment services come with fees. For example, my electric company charges $2.95 to pay online through their website. Instead, I use free bill pay through my bank. I still get to pay online, but I skip the fee and save $35.40 a year. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="33" data-vars-position-in-unit="33">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/kalleboo/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" kalleboo" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/kalleboo/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="34" data-vars-position-in-unit="34"> kalleboo</a>)
19. Hotel Fees(11 of 29)
Open Image Modal
In many hotels, you'll pay automatic fees on top of your room price. Just paying those fees without finding an alternative (or fighting them) is a waste of money. Check out 7 Tips to Beat Hotel Fees. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="36" data-vars-position-in-unit="36">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/12394349@N06/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Bryn Pinzgauer" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/12394349@N06/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="37" data-vars-position-in-unit="37"> Bryn Pinzgauer</a>)
18. Paying For Services You Don't Use(12 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Automatic withdrawals make us lazy with our money. If you're paying for something each month - like a gym membership, magazine subscription, or streaming service - make sure you use it, or those charges will add up to wasted cash. For example, here are mine:
1. Gym membership - $29.99 per month
2. Netflix subscription - $9.99 per month
3. Popular Mechanics subscription - $1 per month
That's more than $40 a month. I make sure I get my money's worth out of them.
(credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="38" data-vars-position-in-unit="38">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/asiaticleague/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Asiatic League" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/asiaticleague/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="39" data-vars-position-in-unit="39"> Asiatic League</a>)
17. Ignoring Your Insurance(13 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Becoming complacent about your insurance can cost you money. Stacy recommends shopping around for new insurance once a year - because when premiums drop or new, cheaper policies are available, no one's going to tell you if you don't ask. Check out our insurance comparison tool to shop for a better rate. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="40" data-vars-position-in-unit="40">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/comedynose/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" comedy_nose" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/comedynose/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="41" data-vars-position-in-unit="41"> comedy_nose</a>)
16. Wasting Utilities(14 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Growing up, I got several lectures on leaving the lights on or keeping the front door open and "air conditioning the entire neighborhood." I didn't care too much then because I didn't pay the bill, but now I'm strict with my electricity usage. The result: My summer utility bills rarely top $100. If you've got lights on in a room you're not sitting in, you're wasting money. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="42" data-vars-position-in-unit="42">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/emdot/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" emdot" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/emdot/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="43" data-vars-position-in-unit="43"> emdot</a>)
15. Dining Out(15 of 29)
Open Image Modal
I like to have a nice meal out every once in a while, but I've wasted a ton of money eating fast food I didn't really want because I didn't plan ahead. If I hit the drive-thru twice a week, I spend $12 on average. That is $48 a month - or enough for a really nice meal I actually wanted.
In 30 Tips to Save Money on Food, I've got a few ideas that will keep you out of the drive-thru lane - like keeping snacks on hand, freezing your leftovers to eat later, and planning your trips to the grocery store so that you always have something at home to eat. Check it out.
(credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="45" data-vars-position-in-unit="45">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/tracyhunter/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Tracy Hunter" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/tracyhunter/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="46" data-vars-position-in-unit="46"> Tracy Hunter</a>)
14. Morning Lattes(16 of 29)
Open Image Modal
In my area, a Grande Caramel Macchiato costs $4.55. Buy one every weekday and you'll spend $22.75 a week, $91 a month, and $1,092 a year. By comparison, a 16 ounce bag of coffee costs me $5.99 and I can make about 82 cups per bag. That is 7 cents per cup, a savings of $4.48 a day. Make your coffee at home and skip the fancy coffee-house drinks. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="47" data-vars-position-in-unit="47">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/kansirnet/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Kansir" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/kansirnet/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="48" data-vars-position-in-unit="48"> Kansir</a>)
13. Buying Software(17 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Many popular software programs have free alternatives that are just as good as the paid versions. For example, the free OpenOffice suite includes word processing software. Pixlr offers free online photo editing with both vintage effects and a basic editor. For more advanced editing, use free software like Gimp. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="52" data-vars-position-in-unit="52">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/striatic/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" striatic" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/striatic/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="53" data-vars-position-in-unit="53"> striatic</a>)
12. Long-Distance Calls(18 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Most wireless plans include free long distance. If you call during off-peak hours, you won't use your minutes, either. You can also make long-distance calls over your Internet connection with Skype and Google Voice - both services offer free state-to-state calls. International calls cost 2 to 15 cents per minute through Google Voice. Check out their rate plans here. Skype ranges from 2 to 23 cents per minute. Check out Skype's rate plans here. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="58" data-vars-position-in-unit="58">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/kiwanja/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" kiwanja" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/kiwanja/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="59" data-vars-position-in-unit="59"> kiwanja</a>)
11. Baggage On Airlines(19 of 29)
Open Image Modal
You'll pay up to $35 to check your luggage when you fly. Some airlines - like JetBlue and Southwest - don't charge extra for baggage, but most do. Check Airfarewatchdog's Airline Baggage Fees Chart before you book. If you're getting charged, only bring a carry-on (they're free) or find a better airline. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="61" data-vars-position-in-unit="61">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/betsyweber/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" betsyweber" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/betsyweber/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="62" data-vars-position-in-unit="62"> betsyweber</a>)
10. Full-Priced College Degrees(20 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Between 2009 and 2010, full-time students spent an average of $17,464 on tuition, room, and board, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But you can get a college degree cheaper (or even free) with scholarships. There are thousands out there. Check out 5 Ways to Score Scholarship Money. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="65" data-vars-position-in-unit="65">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/billselak/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" billaday" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/billselak/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="66" data-vars-position-in-unit="66"> billaday</a>)
9. Credit Reports(21 of 29)
Open Image Modal
By law, the three major credit bureaus have to give you a free copy of your credit report once per year. Don't buy one until you've used up your freebies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Once you order your free credit reports, dispute any errors you find with the credit bureaus. Errors lower your credit score, and a lower credit score means higher interest rates and wasted money. Check out 18 Tips to Give Your Credit Score a Boost for more ways to improve your score (and your interest rate).
(credit: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp)
8. Buying Books(22 of 29)
Open Image Modal
I'm an avid reader, but I haven't paid the suggested price in years. There are plenty of free or cheaper options for getting new books:
1. Get them from the library for free.
2. Use a book-swapping service to trade books you no longer want for ones you do. Check out the 4 Best Sites for Trading in Your Old Books.
3. Scour garage sales for books. I've bought many hardcovers for $1 this way. Check out 10 Ways to Save Time and Money at Garage Sales for shopping tips.
(credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="72" data-vars-position-in-unit="72">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/r0sss/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" r0sss" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/r0sss/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="73" data-vars-position-in-unit="73"> r0sss</a>)
7. Brand Names(23 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Some brand names are worth paying a little more for, but in many cases, the cheaper generics are the same quality as the brand names. For example, basic food stocks like rice, sugar, flour, and butter taste the same no matter what the label says. And generic over-the-counter meds? They work just as well as the name brands. Check out 7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic before you buy anything else with a brand name. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="75" data-vars-position-in-unit="75">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/fauxto_dkp/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" fauxto_digit" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/fauxto_dkp/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="76" data-vars-position-in-unit="76"> fauxto_digit</a>)
6. 411 Calls(24 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Use the search feature on your smartphone - connect to a WiFi network and you won't use your data - or dial free 411 (1-800-Free411.) The results are sponsored by companies, and you'll have to listen to a 10-second ad, but it's free. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="78" data-vars-position-in-unit="78">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/featheredtar/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" FeatheredTar" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/featheredtar/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="79" data-vars-position-in-unit="79"> FeatheredTar</a>)
5. ATM Fees(25 of 29)
Open Image Modal
My bank charged a $2.50 "convenience fee" for using an ATM that's not in its network. Convenient for who? I didn't live by a branch, so I was paying around $130 a year to use my own money. I changed banks, and now I use an app - ATM Hunter - to find a branch ATM. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="81" data-vars-position-in-unit="81">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/redspotted/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" redspotted" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/redspotted/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="82" data-vars-position-in-unit="82"> redspotted</a>)
4. Credit Card Interest(26 of 29)
Open Image Modal
If you're not paying your credit card balance off in full each month, you're wasting money on interest. If you carry a $1,000 balance on a card that charges 18 percent, you'll waste $180 every year just on interest. If you can't pay off your credit card, check out our credit card comparison tool and look for a card with a lower interest rate. Also look for money-saving zero-percent transfer offers. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="85" data-vars-position-in-unit="85">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/59937401@N07/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Images_of_Money" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/59937401@N07/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="86" data-vars-position-in-unit="86"> Images_of_Money</a>)
3. Bottled Water(27 of 29)
Open Image Modal
A 16-ounce bottle of water costs about $1.50 at my local gas station. Buy a bottle of water five days a week, and you'll spend $30 a month and $360 a year. While it's not really free, water from your tap is much cheaper. If you hate the taste - and I do - you can buy a water-filtration system for as little as $20. Check out Consumer Reports' Water filters: green buying guide 2/12. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="88" data-vars-position-in-unit="88">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/stevendepolo/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" stevendepolo" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/stevendepolo/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="89" data-vars-position-in-unit="89"> stevendepolo</a>)
2. Checking Accounts(28 of 29)
Open Image Modal
Big banks charge an average of $110 a year for checking accounts if customers don't meet their minimum requirements, U.S. News & World Report recently revealed. Your options?
Move your money to a community bank that will offer better terms, or head to a credit union. The National Credit Union Administration has a Credit Union Locator tool to help you find one in your area.
For those comfortable enough with the tech, consider going to an online-only bank. Without the overhead of brick-and-mortar branches, the terms are often much better. Consumerism Commentary offers two lists that are a great starting point: The Best Online Checking Accounts, June 2012 and The Best Online Savings Accounts, June 2012.
(credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="93" data-vars-position-in-unit="93">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/z0/" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Aranami" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/z0/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="94" data-vars-position-in-unit="94"> Aranami</a>)
1. Cable TV(29 of 29)
Open Image Modal
The average cost of cable is about $100 a month right now. And it's still rising. A recent study by consumer research firm NPD Group says it "expects the average pay-TV bill to reach $123 by the year 2015 and $200 by 2020." I canceled my cable about six months ago and haven't looked back. I keep up on the TV shows I like with Netflix ($9.99 per month for streaming) and Hulu (free for basic, $7.99 per month for extended). Many networks also stream their shows on their websites. For example: ABC, NBC, The CW and Comedy Central. To learn even more, check out You Don't Have to Pay for Cable TV. (credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Flickr:" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="102" data-vars-position-in-unit="102">Flickr:</a><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/wonderlane/" target="_blank" role="link" rel="nofollow" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name=" Wonderlane" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="5b9e8006e4b03a1dcc990531" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.flickr.com/people/wonderlane/" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="103" data-vars-position-in-unit="103"> Wonderlane</a>)

Before You Go

View Comments
Load more...

MORE IN Money

MORE IN LIFE