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- 1 Aim for short-term savings goals
- 2 Only use ATMs that belong to your bank
- 3 Avoid overdraft fees
- 4 Use online bill pay
- 5 Switch banks
- 6 Improve your credit score
- 7 Get a rewards card
- 8 Make your monthly credit card payments in full and on time
- 9 Remove your credit card information from your online accounts
- 10 Negotiate rates with your credit card company
- 11 Complete a balance transfer
- 12 Quit using credit cards
- 13 Spend one, save one
- 14 Ask to waive fees
- 15 Choose quality over quantity
- 16 Keep track of your expenses
- 17 Make a weekly “money date.”
- 18 Plan your meals around your grocery store flyer
- 19 Shop on Wednesdays
- 20 Shop for food with a list and stick to it
- 21 Drink more water
- 22 Substitute regular coffee for expensive coffee drinks
- 23 Prepare meals at home
- 24 Don’t fear leftovers, jazz them up instead
- 25 Make a quadruple batch of a casserole
- 26 Eat out one fewer time each month
- 27 Sign up for free customer rewards programs
- 28 Buy items online, in bulk
- 29 Buy used when you can
- 30 Learn how to dress minimally
- 31 Do holiday shopping right after the holidays
- 32 Follow up on rebates
- 33 Avoid stress-spending
- 34 Repair clothes
- 35 Go through your clothes – all of them
- 36 Buy store-branded OTC medications
- 37 Ask your physician to prescribe drugs available as a generic
- 38 Buy low-cost prescription drugs
- 39 Practice preventative dental care
- 40 Switch to an exercise pass program
- 41 Be a hair model
- 42 Stick to reliable, fuel-efficient cars
- 43 Shop around for gas
- 44 Keep your car tires inflated to their proper pressure
- 45 Get your tires from Costco or other wholesale clubs
- 46 Clean or change out your car’s air filter
- 47 Avoid fast start-ups and stops when driving
- 48 Don’t speed
- 49 Suggest cheap activities
- 50 Socialize at potluck meals, rather than at restaurants
- 51 Invite friends over instead of going out
- 52 Plan gift-giving well in advance
- 53 Make DIY gifts
- 54 Give the gift of labor
- 55 Swap babysitting with neighbors
- 56 Give up premium cable channels
- 57 Do inexpensive things in your community for fun
- 58 Purchase matinee tickets
- 59 Hit the library – hard
- 60 Know your membership benefits
- 61 Cancel unused club memberships
- 62 Consider VoIP telephone service
- 63 Understand your cell phone bill
- 64 Reduce cell phone costs
- 65 Slow down your internet service
- 66 Bundle services
- 67 Take advantage of year-end promotions
- 68 Turn off the lights
- 69 Install CFLs or LEDs
- 70 Use window coverings
- 71 Put all your electrical devices on a surge protector
- 72 Shut vents in unused rooms
- 73 Clean out those closets
- 74 Buy energy efficient appliances
- 75 Do a “maintenance run” on your appliances
- 76 Invest in a deep freezer
- 77 Start a garden
- 78 Weatherproof your home
- 79 Install a programmable thermostat
- 80 Ask your local electric or gas utility company for a low-cost home energy audit
- 81 Request a discount on trash service
- 82 Choose home repair contractors wisely
- 83 Rent out unused space in your home
- 84 Live near your workplace
- 85 Go on a staycation
- 86 Opt for the off-season
- 87 Eat like the locals
- 88 Use a last-minute booking app
- 89 Try cheaper hotel alternatives
- 90 Shop around for auto and homeowners insurance
- 91 Pay your insurance annually
- 92 Increase insurance deductibles
- 93 Think before submitting an insurance claim
- 94 Switch to term life insurance
- 95 Set up automatic repayment for any loans you have
- 96 Refinance your student loans
- 97 Refinance your mortgage
- 98 Take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- 99 Get rid of Private Mortgage Insurance
Do you feel like no matter what you do, you’re always short on cash before your next paycheck? Something seems to come up every time – a flat tire, a birthday present for your friend, or a trip to the ER – that pushes saving money on the back burner. Believe it or not, there are plenty of easy ways to cut back on your spending now, so you have some financial breathing room for the future. Below are 99 tips and tricks to save your hard-earned cash. A little bit here and there can add up to a lot in the long run.
Aim for short-term savings goals
Aim for short-term savings goals, like setting aside $0.50 a day or $20 a week. Those few cents a day turn into over $180 a year, and $20 a week means over $1,000 in savings annually. You can earn interest on it with an online Savings or Money Market account, or even invest it.
Only use ATMs that belong to your bank
Withdrawing from a non-affiliated ATM once a week could cost you more than $150 over the course of a year. You may also want to consider checking with Charles Schwab Banking, they offer unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide.
Avoid overdraft fees
The $20 to $35 you spend by bouncing a check or overdrawing your account each month would save you $240 to $420 a year.
Use online bill pay
This serves two purposes. First, it keeps you in much closer contact with your money, because you can keep an eye on your balance and be less likely to overdraft. Second, it saves you money on stamps and paper checks. Simply fill out an online form and click submit.
Switching banks may help you save money. Not only do some banks provide sign-up bonuses for opening an account, they offer attractive interest rates to new customers as well. Compare banks with the best sign-up bonuses.
Improve your credit score
A good credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest on everything from a credit card to a home loan. If you’ve never focused on your credit score before, a good place to start is to get your free FICO score. Once you know where you stand, you can begin to improve your score and lower your interest payments.
Get a rewards card
There are many credit cards out there that will reward your spending in free travel, cash or products. Plus, many of these cards don’t have an annual fee. If you’re going to spend money, why not get something back for it? Better yet, get a hefty bonus for signing up. Here is a comprehensive list of the best credit card bonuses. If you want to know which of these credit cards are the best for you based on your spending behavior, we narrowed it down for you.
Make your monthly credit card payments in full and on time
As soon as you fail to pay off your credit card in full, the high-interest payments (and the late payment fees) will start to eat away at your monthly budget.
Remove your credit card information from your online accounts
It’s easy to spend money online when you have your card information stored in your accounts – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to delete your card from your shopping profile. That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll have to go dig out your card and seriously think about why you’re buying the item.
Negotiate rates with your credit card company
You have the right to negotiate your current interest rate, especially if you’ve been making your payments on time.
Complete a balance transfer
You also have the right to transfer your balance to an entirely different card with an introductory 0% APR. Check out these balance transfer credit cards, which could help you save hundreds of dollars in interest over time.
Quit using credit cards
If you can’t use credit cards responsibly, hide them. Keep them in a safe place in your home and not in your wallet. If you need to keep a card for emergencies, that’s okay. Just don’t carry it around with you.
Spend one, save one
Squirrel away an amount equal to whatever you spend on non-essentials, such as beer, cigarettes and designer coffee. If you can’t afford to save the matching amount, you can’t afford the $4 almond low-fat latte. At minimum, save the spare change from any purchases on your debit and credit cards. The Acorns app provides an easy way to roundup your purchases and automatically invest your spare change.
Ask to waive fees
Every time you sign up for a service that has fees attached, request to waive them. Sometimes you’ll get what you ask for. Some services are designed to have no fees attached. For example, these checking accounts charge no monthly service fees and these credit cards have no annual fees.
Choose quality over quantity
This can apply to food, clothes, electronics and much more. Although it’s tempting to buy the cheaper version of an item, choosing quality will save you more in the long run.
Keep track of your expenses
Here’s an important tool for saving money: keep track of your expenses. Most people aren’t aware of what they spend on a daily basis. Small purchases here and there will add up throughout the month and bust your budget. Tip: Use a personal finance app that can track everything, from your monthly spending to your retirement account.
Make a weekly “money date.”
Commit to sitting down with your money once a week for a date. During this time, update your budget, review your accounts and track your progress. Like any relationship, if you want your financial life to improve, you need to spend time with your money.
Plan your meals around your grocery store flyer
Pick recipes based on ingredients that are on sale and what you already have on hand. It’s an easy way to spend less on groceries. TIP: Download the app to your favorite grocery store such as the one from Walmart Grocery. They often provide shopping lists and recipe builders, as well as shopping rewards and benefits. Also, pay with one of these best credit cards for grocery shopping to maximize cashback and rewards.
Shop on Wednesdays
Since many grocery stores launch their new sales mid-week, customers who browse the aisles on Wednesday get first access to that week’s deals. At the same time, stores will often honor the previous week’s coupons. That means you can maximize your savings while also shopping during a less crowded time of week.
Shop for food with a list and stick to it
When you shop without a list, you end up making impulse buys and unplanned purchases. Creating a shopping list makes you focus on items that fit with your meal plan and helps to avoid purchasing food that might go to waste.
Drink more water
This will cut back on your soda, juice and tea expenses. Bring a refillable bottle with you everywhere and opt for a glass of water when you dine out.
Substitute regular coffee for expensive coffee drinks
The $2 a day you could save by buying a standard coffee, rather than a cappuccino or latte, would allow you to save $500 over the course of a year. Even better, make coffee at home!
Prepare meals at home
Get your hands on a beginner cookbook and try making some of the dishes inside. You’ll find that cooking at home is much easier than you think and way cheaper than takeout or dining out.
Don’t fear leftovers, jazz them up instead
There’s nothing cheaper than eating leftovers. My favorite thing to do is “chaining,” where you use leftovers to make an all-new dish. For example, if you have leftover ham and rice from yesterday’s meals, use them to make fried rice tonight.
Make a quadruple batch of a casserole
Casseroles are nice, easy dishes to prepare. The next time you cook a casserole, make four batches of it and put the other three in the freezer. Then, when you need a quick meal for the family, you can grab one of those ready-made casseroles and heat it up. Preparing a few at once allows you to buy the ingredients in bulk, which means more savings.
Eat out one fewer time each month
If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $5 to eat in, you’ll save over $200 in one year.
Sign up for free customer rewards programs
No matter where you live, you’ll find plenty of retailers who are willing to reward you for shopping at their store. Here’s the basic game plan for maximizing these programs. (1) Create a Gmail or Yahoo Mail address just for these mailings. (2) Collect every loyalty card you can. (3) Check that account for extra coupons whenever you’re ready to shop.
Buy items online, in bulk
Some companies even offer free shipping on large orders. Clearance items are sometimes available, and you can also save on non-perishable groceries and diapers.
Buy used when you can
You can often find the exact item you want with a bit of clever shopping at used equipment stores, game stores, consignment shops and so on. Make these retailers a part of your normal routine. Go there first when looking for potential items and you’ll undoubtedly save money.
Learn how to dress minimally
Buy clothes that mix and match easily, and you won’t need nearly as many clothes. Simply pair timeless, simple pieces that go well together.
Do holiday shopping right after the holidays
Most people use this technique for Christmas, but it works for every holiday. Wait until about two days after a holiday, then go out shopping for items you need that are themed for that day. Get a Mother’s Day card for next year the day after Mother’s Day, Easter egg decorating kits the day after Easter, and Halloween decorations on November 1st. The discounts are tremendous, and you can simply put all of it in the closet until next year.
Follow up on rebates
After you buy a product with a rebate, send in the form that day. Then mark your calendar to remind yourself to follow up with the rebate company if your check hasn’t shown up. For products without a direct rebate, try purchasing them on one of these best cash back shopping sites to earn rebates from them.
It’s easy to justify spending money to wind down from a stressful day at work, but it’s rarely a good idea. Instead of buying things you don’t need to make yourself feel better, find another ways to de-stress. Exercise is always a good option, as is meditation and even a good old-fashioned nap. Read, watch movies, or work in the yard if you’re stressed out.
Repair clothes instead of tossing them. Don’t throw out a shirt because of a broken button, sew on a new one. Don’t toss out pants because of a hole, put in a patch and save them for housework. Most basic sewing jobs can be completed by anyone, and a little bit of practice goes a long way.
Go through your clothes – all of them
If you have an urge to buy clothes, take the clothes from the back of the closet and bring them to the front and the clothes buried in your dresser and pull them to the top. You’ll feel like a brand new person who doesn’t need to spend money on clothes.
Buy store-branded OTC medications
With 20% to 40% less cost than big brands, your savings could easily exceed $100 a year.
Ask your physician to prescribe drugs available as a generic
Annually, generic drugs can cost several hundred dollars less than brand name medication.
Buy low-cost prescription drugs
Check out your local pharmacists, supermarkets, area discount centers and online pharmacies.
Practice preventative dental care
A good cleaning routine helps prevent fillings, root canals and dental crowns. All of which are expensive and zero fun. Use this service from Opencare to help you find the perfect dentist and earn you a welcome bonus.
Switch to an exercise pass program
If you love working out, an exercise pass program is the way to go. By paying a membership fee of something like $99 a month, you get access to many of the best studios in your area with unlimited classes, such as cycling, yoga, Pilates, barre, strength training, boot camp, dance and more. This beats having to pay for each studio’s monthly membership or individual class fee, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.
Be a hair model
You might not have considered modeling before, but if you want to score a great deal on a haircut, now might be the time to start. Students studying how to cut hair charge close to nothing. They might lack experience, but they often do a decent job.
Stick to reliable, fuel-efficient cars
Let’s say you drive a vehicle for 80,000 miles. If you choose a car that gets 25 miles per gallon over one that only gets 15, you’ll save 2,133 gallons of gas. At $3 a gallon, that’s $6,400 in savings!
Shop around for gas
Comparing prices at different stations and using the lowest-octane recommended by the car manual can save you hundreds of dollars a year. GasBuddy is a great app that makes sure you never pay more than necessary when you’re at the pump.
Keep your car tires inflated to their proper pressure
For every two PSI of air pressure under the recommended level, you lose 1% on your gas mileage. Most folk’s car tires are five to ten PSI below the normal level. That means by inflating your tires, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 5%!
Get your tires from Costco or other wholesale clubs
Simply put, they cost a lot less than buying them at the dealer or even a chain tire store.
Clean or change out your car’s air filter
A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%. That means you can save more than $100 for every 10,000 miles driven in an average vehicle.
Avoid fast start-ups and stops when driving
Over time, you’ll save hundreds of dollars on lower gas and maintenance costs.
Not only is speeding inefficient on gas, it can also get you pulled over. That’ll cost you a bundle between the ticket and higher insurance premiums. It’s far more cost-efficient to drive the speed limit, keeping the gas in the tank and the cops off your tail.
Suggest cheap activities
Suggest cheap activities when meeting up with family and friends. Be the first one to bring it up. That often gives you the power to steer the group towards things that are cheaper.
Socialize at potluck meals, rather than at restaurants
Have everyone bring their favorite dish. That way, you can save money you’d spend on restaurant extras – like tax, tip and parking – and you’ll have a more intimate meal together as well.
Invite friends over instead of going out
It’s always cheaper to stay in with friends and come up with your own entertainment. Instead of hitting the town, play cards, sit around a fire pit, or watch movies with your guests. You’ll all save money and have a blast too. They can share a Lyft or Uber ride home.
Plan gift-giving well in advance
That will give you time to decide on a thoughtful gift, which usually doesn’t have to be expensive. And if these presents are things you need to buy, you’ll have the opportunity to look for sales in the meantime.
Make DIY gifts
Make DIY gifts, like food mixes, candles, fresh-baked goods, soap and all kinds of other things that are easy and inexpensive. These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your personal touch. That’s something you can’t buy from a store. Plus, they’re often consumable, meaning they won’t end up filling someone’s closet as junk. Most people will appreciate the thought behind your gift more than anything.
Give the gift of labor
For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Lawn care is a great gift to a new homeowner. These types of presents are always a hit.
Swap babysitting with neighbors
Try to find another set of parents or two that you trust, and swap nights of babysitting with them. It’ll save you the money of hiring one for an evening out.
Give up premium cable channels
Give up premium cable channels or better yet, cable altogether. With services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can now watch your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the cost of cable TV. You can take these services with you anywhere you want but depending upon where you’re going, you may need to circumvent geographic content restrictions. For that, there is NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Do inexpensive things in your community for fun
Check local newspapers and websites to discover low-cost parks, museums, film showings, sporting events and more.
Purchase matinee tickets
Movie theaters charge as much as 50% off for afternoon showings.
Hit the library – hard
Don’t look at a library as just a place to borrow books. Look at it as a free place to do all sorts of things. I’ve gone to the library to learn a foreign language, meet people, surf the Internet, check out movies and CDs, read newspapers and keep up on community events. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
Know your membership benefits
For example, AAA offers discounts on movie tickets, attraction tickets, sports & recreation, shopping, dining and more. Your credit card may offer some of these membership benefits. Check out our best credit card bonuses for top perks and rewards.
Cancel unused club memberships
Are you paying dues at a club that you never use? Like a gym or country club membership? If you’re on the fence about any of your subscriptions or find that you’re not using them very often, cancel them. Remember, you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
Consider VoIP telephone service
I use Internet phone service and have saved a substantial amount of money. VoIP has been very reliable, and you’d never even know the signal was being carried over the Internet.
Understand your cell phone bill
Be aware of your cell phone costs and how to reduce them. Understand peak calling times, area coverage, roaming and termination charges. Also, see if Google Fi is a good alternative for your situation – if you have a big network of friends you can also earn service discounts with referrals.
Reduce cell phone costs
Look for services you don’t use, and ditch them. You can even switch to a smaller provider offering service in your area for less. If you’re looking for prepaid cell phone plans, look here for plans under $10.
Slow down your internet service
I went to a slower internet service option with my cable company and saved $15 per month. Surprisingly, I haven’t noticed a difference in speed when surfing the web.
Ask your telecom sales representative if they can offer you better prices if you opt for both phone and internet services. Going with only one provider can also eliminate duplicate taxes and surcharges on your telecom bills. If you need help, Trim is a service that helps you cancel your unwanted subscriptions and lower your monthly bills by negotiating with your providers.
Take advantage of year-end promotions
Most service providers launch deals at the end of the year. Check whether your provider has any bargains during the festive season, and compare their promotions with the competition’s. For checking and savings account promotions, see our best bank account bonuses here.
Turn off the lights
Keeping the lights on in your home may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, but it sure does add up over time. To save as much as you can, turn off the lights any time you leave your house, or even when you leave the room.
Install CFLs or LEDs
Install CFLs or LEDs wherever it makes sense. Energy-efficient light bulbs might cost a bit more initially, but they have a much longer life than normal incandescent bulbs. Plus, they use far less electricity. Swapping out your four or five most-used light bulbs can save you $45 or more a year.
Use window coverings
Use window coverings to block or let in sunshine. In the summer, these coverings block sunlight, keeping your house cool. In the winter, open the coverings to let the sun in, warming the house. You could save more than $100 annually.
Put all your electrical devices on a surge protector
Put all your electrical devices on a surge protector, especially your entertainment center and computer equipment. A power surge can damage these electronics very easily.
Shut vents in unused rooms
This isn’t advisable if you have forced air heating, but shutting vents in unused rooms can save you money on your heating and cooling bill.
Clean out those closets
Go through your closets and find anything and everything you no longer use. Then, don’t just get rid of it, sell it. You can have a yard sale, sell on eBay or Craigslist, use a consignment shop, or even donate it for a tax deduction.
Buy energy efficient appliances
Look for the Energy Star on appliances and consider the annual energy cost before purchasing. More efficient appliances cost more, but you make up for the extra cost, and then some, over the life of the product.
Do a “maintenance run” on your appliances
Check your appliances to make sure there isn’t any dust clogging them and that they’re clean. Look behind them and use your vacuum to clear away dust. Check all the vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers, and heating and cooling units. The less dust you have blocking the mechanics of these devices, the more efficiently they’ll run and the longer they’ll last.
Invest in a deep freezer
A deep freezer can be a great bargain after the initial investment, but only if you’ll use it. Often, having some extra freezer space allows you to buy in bulk and pay lower prices. Even better, you can store lots of meals prepared in advance, enabling you to go home and easily pop something homemade (and cheap) in the oven.
Start a garden
Gardening can be an inexpensive hobby if you have a yard, and it produces healthy food for your family.
Weatherproof your home
Caulk holes and cracks that let warm air escape in the winter and cold air escape in the summer. Your local hardware store has materials, along with useful advice.
Install a programmable thermostat
By setting the thermostat to heat or cool your home at certain times, you can ensure that your utilities aren’t wasted while you’re at work or asleep.
Ask your local electric or gas utility company for a low-cost home energy audit
The audit may reveal inexpensive ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. If you’re a resident of California or Texas, consider this free service from OhmConnect that rewards you for saving energy during peak hours.
Request a discount on trash service
For some reason this is a highly competitive business. If you get a better offer in the mail for trash service, call your current trash company and ask them to beat the offer.
Choose home repair contractors wisely
Favor contractors who have performed work for people you know. Insist on a written, fixed-price bid, and don’t make a full payment until the work has been completed satisfactorily.
Rent out unused space in your home
Do you have an extra bedroom or an in-law suite that’s not used? Rent it out on a site like AirBNB. Just make sure you know the risks and are willing to take the steps required to protect your family and your possessions.
Live near your workplace
While this isn’t always possible, driving 5,000 miles less a year can lower transportation costs by more than $1,000.
Go on a staycation
Go on a stacation, instead of a big, extravagant trip. Pack up the car and see some of the sights in your surrounding area. Not only will it be incredibly cheap, it’ll be quite memorable as well.
Opt for the off-season
Not only will you get discounted rates on airfare, accommodation and tours, but you also get to enjoy your destination without many tourists around.
Eat like the locals
Regional dishes are often cheaper than international cuisine. Get tacos in Mexico, curry in India, and doner kebabs in Turkey.
Use a last-minute booking app
Try cheaper hotel alternatives
Try cheaper hotel alternatives, like vacation and short-term rentals, B&Bs, hostels, homestays, camping, boathouses and more. If you avoid staying at hotel, you can put your savings towards a memorable adventure, splurging on local food, or whatever you fancy.
Shop around for auto and homeowners insurance
Before renewing your existing policies each year, consider the rates of competing companies. You may find annual premiums that are several hundred dollars lower than what you were paying.
Pay your insurance annually
Insurance companies charge you more if you pay monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. Pay once a year and you’ll pay less overall.
Increase insurance deductibles
Most of us don’t need to be insured for all losses over $100 on our car. Although we wouldn’t want to pay a $250 or even $500 deductible, we could. If you’re generally a safe driver, find out how much you’d save from raising your deductible.
Think before submitting an insurance claim
My rule of thumb is that I won’t submit a claim on a loss that is less than twice my deductible. So for a $250 deductible on an auto loss, I’ll pay out of pocket any loss up to $500. Why? The $250 I’d receive from my insurance company is not worth the increased premiums I’m likely to pay. I suggest calling your insurance agent to find out how a claim will impact your premiums before filing.
Switch to term life insurance
Repeat after me: insurance is not an investment. Universal and whole-life policies are much more expensive and offer sub-par investment opportunities. In almost every case, you’ll be much better off with a cheap term policy. See our life insurance reviews here.
Set up automatic repayment for any loans you have
Many loans offer a small rate reduction if you sign up for their automatic debt repayment plan. This way, not only do you save a few bucks a month, you won’t have to go through the effort of actually paying the bill either. If you need to take out a personal loan, check out the best personal loan lenders here.
Refinance your student loans
Interest rates are low right now, so it could be worthwhile to consolidate your student loans into one low-rate package. Even just a 1% reduction on a $10,000 loan will save you $100 a year. Here are our reviews of student loan refinancing lenders.
Refinance your mortgage
Refinance your mortgage to lower interest charges and get a better term. On a 15-year, $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, lowering the rate from 7% to 6.5% can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan. And for every $100,000 you borrow at a 7% rate, you’ll pay over $75,000 less in interest on a 15-year than a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.
Take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness
It’s a federal program that forgives your student loans if you work full-time with a qualified employer, are on an income-driven repayment plan, and you make 120 qualifying loan payments.
Get rid of Private Mortgage Insurance
If your down payment was less than 20%, you’re probably paying PMI. Once you have a 20% cushion, by reducing your debt and home appreciation, contact your mortgage company to start the process of removing the PMI.
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