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Need to Save? Don't Cut These Expenses

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In a worsening economy, almost everyone is trimming the family budget. But don't be so quick with the scissors. Certain cuts might save you $25 or $50 today but cost you thousands later.

1. Your car: Cuts that cost you
Skip your regular oil change every 3,000 miles and you save $25 to $30. But those savings could be temporary when aging oil damages your engine.

Worst case scenario: You'll need a new engine, which could cost $5,000.

"Old oil turns to sludge and you have restricted oil movement through the engine," says Jeff Ammons, owner of Howard Motor Corp. in Williamsburg, Va. "Dirty oil is bad for an engine."

There is an added benefit of a regular oil change. While getting it changed, your mechanic will check all the fluid levels in your car, helping ensure your safety on the road, Ammons says.

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Skip getting your tires rotated and pressure checked, also every 3,000 miles, and save another $25. But beware the consequences if you ignore your tires, Ammons says.

Worst case scenario: You could be in a wreck, creating huge mechanical and medical costs.

"A lot of accidents are caused by not enough air pressure," Ammons says.

Paying extra attention to your tires has other benefits as well. Rotating tires helps them last longer, delaying the day you have to spend hundreds of dollars on replacements. The right pressure also improves gas mileage, he says.

2. Your car: Cuts that count
Improved spark plugs and computerized fuel injection mean you can lengthen the time between tuneups, Ammons says. Savings: $250 to $500.

"If the car is running well, leave it alone and do the other things that have to be done," he says. "Usually I end up talking customers out of a tuneup because I find something else a little more important."

Eventually, if your car engine starts running rough or vibrating, that's when you should bring it in for a tuneup, Ammons says.

3. Your medicine cabinet: Cuts that cost you
When you consider the cost of medications, you may be tempted to skip doses of your medicines for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol -- and double the life of that prescription. Unlike some illnesses or conditions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol don't normally produce daily symptoms. But you may shorten your own life -- that's why doctors call high blood pressure the silent killer.

Your medicine cabinet...read more