Critical ideas to help save money

SAN FRANCISCO "We're in a position right now to negotiate and get a better deal everywhere we spend money," said David Bach, financial expert.

Bay Area native and financial guru David Bach says in an economy like this, keeping money in your pocket is more important than ever. His new book "Fighting for Your Money" has tips for doing just that - starting with the cable TV.

"Your cable bill in the Bay Area right now is over $100 a month. You know what's amazing. If you cancelled your cable today, you'd get an offer probably from the same company for $30 a month," said Bach.

Bach is the author of the "Finish Rich" series and has been featured on everything from USA Today to Oprah. He says the savings start in your own wallet - starting with those automatic deductions from our credit cards every month.

"You should cancel those because what happens often is we sign up for something, we stop using it, and we keep paying," said Bach.

Speaking of credit cards, Bach used to advise putting them away and using your debit card instead, to avoid interest and fees. But, he says new features designed to keep you from bouncing checks or having your debit card refused have made them less of a bargain.

"It used to be that if you used a debit card that used cash only, if you went to use that debit card and there wasn't cash in your account, debit cards didn't work. Now most cases the card does work, only they now hit you with a bounced check fee of $50," said Bach.

You get hit with that fee each time you have insufficient funds but your debit card is accepted anyway - three times in one day would add up to $150. So watch your spending. Bach also has unorthodox tips for saving money in purchases like airline tickets. If you are planning a trip for the whole family, consider buying the tickets one at a time, instead of in a bunch.

"If you go on and put five tickets at once, the computer system says, wow, that's somebody that needs five tickets, therefore they need to travel together, therefore we can charge them more money. If you went in at the same time and bought those five tickets separately, it's very likely that you would get a lower cost," said Bach.

Bach says some of these savings will require you to conquer your fear and get on the phone with creditors or sales people. But, he says with so many companies struggling with their bottom lines, a lot of them are ready to wheel and deal.

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