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Wallet Watchers: Helping You Save Money

Get your life in order and save

Whether you have a messy office or a "junk" drawer, you might be surprised the treasures that hide beneath all the clutter.

It could be that you forgot to cash the check you got for Christmas or the rebate from the latest electronics purchase you made.

How about the gift cards you got on your birthday? Some of those have expiration dates. Forgetting them could mean you're missing out on some valuable cash.

Here's a few tips to help you keep your life organized and save, instead of waste, your extra money away.

1. Forgetting to pay your bills is costing you money.

A new poll shows 23 percent of people pay their bills late because they lose them. Missing payments generally adds fees to your total.

2. Avoid paying more than you have to.

If you "forget" when your bills are due, there's help. Sites like manilla.com and whatbills.com help you keep track of what's due and when.

3. Rewards points are money, don't let them expire!

Whether they're loyalty cards at grocery stores or thousands of points on your credit cards, when you forget to use them, you lose them. Sites like awardwallet.com, points.com and traxo.com are all websites that remind you of expiring points, miles and rewards.

4. Your closet is a money pit.

We often find clothing we haven't worn in years, pieces with price tags still on them and garments we've worn a handful of times. This means we are not necessarily buying what we need and might be overspending. For clothes you no longer like or don't fit, sell them. Garage sales work, or try sites like eBay.com, tradesy.com or storenvy.com. Donating clothes is also rewarding, you won't get money back but you'll make a difference in someone else's life.

5. Another thing about your closet: Organize by colors, type or length of clothing.

It helps you be aware of what you own so you don't end up buying the same type of clothes several times. Make a budget to keep your shopping in line, it'll help avoid overspending.

6. Designate a mail basket.

How many times do we walk in the door and drop the mail on the kitchen counter? If you forget where you put bills or important documents it could cost you money. It's as simple as putting important mail in a "to-do" pile or basket and immediately discarding spam mail to avoid clutter. Another basket for "shredding" can help you keep track of paper you should destroy before you toss. Helps you protect your identity from thieves. Learn more on how to protect your identity this summer here.

7. Keep track of your receipts.

Sometimes things break, are missing parts or you simply have a change of heart and need to make a return. Without a receipt some stores will not take the items back. Others will only offer you store credit and you might miss out on the cash you paid for the item. Make a filing system for important receipts and don't toss them right away. Keep them for a little while, at least for the length of the date they are valid for on the receipt.

8. Tax deductions equal money.

Whether you donated old clothes, toys or appliances, or you made out a check to a charity, keep documentation on them to qualify for a tax deduction. Turbotax gives you an idea on what receipts to keep to make sure you don't miss out on possible tax deductions.

9. Preventive medical care can save you money.

When was the last time you went to the dentist? If the answer is more than a year, you could be losing money by waiting to get a cavity or infection that can lead to a big costly procedure. If your employer offers a flexible savings account, use it. Ask your HR department for information.

10. Your fridge is full of dollars that often go straight to the trash.

In fact, Americans waste about a quarter of the food they buy, according to the National Resources Defense Council. If food spoils before you eat it, you're buying too much of it. Meal planning might be the answer for you. Services like emeals.com give you a weekly menu along with a list of ingredients to buy. Purchasing only what you need can help you save some money.

Summertime is often a slow time for Arizonans with the heat putting the brakes on outdoor activities. It might be the perfect time to give your office a makeover and get our lives organized. You might find a few extra dollars lying around.

Finally, take a look at your key chain, specifically your gym membership. If you never use it, you're throwing your money away.

Let's get to work!

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