41. Work with a designer— lighting, kitchen, bathroom, or interior—from the retailer where you intend to buy your products. Many stores, such as Ethan Allen, offer the service for free, while others rebate the pro's fee against your purchase.
Cost: Zilch.
Savings: About $300 per hour that you would otherwise pay for a consultation with an independent designer.
Bonus: These in-store folks know their products well and know what'll work best where.

42. Get free mulch and compost at your town's yard-waste recycling center.
Cost: $30 for pickup truck rental.
Savings: $300 for all the amendments you'll need to fortify and cover your raised beds and foundation plantings, per ¼ acre.
Bonus: Unlike bagged products from the home center, compost comes from leaves collected by your neighbors and the mulch from town tree pruning, so there's little risk of introducing non-native pests or weeds.

43. Cancel your trash pickup service if you currently pay a private company to cart away your refuse. Bring it to the dump yourself.
Cost: A few tanks of gas per year.
Savings: As much as $450 per year to the garbage man.
Bonus: There's no better place to meet fellow townspeople or hear the latest gossip.

44. Lock in a price cap for your heating oil or natural gas when prices are low to protect yourself from rate hikes over the coming months. Check prices at your supplier's website.
Cost: Some utility companies charge a lock-in fee.
Savings: $500 or more on energy costs—if prices climb significantly.
Bonus: Because you're taking a cap and not paying a fixed price, you won't lose out if prices drop, as they did last fall.

45. Replace worn-out air-conditioning equipment (or install a new system) in the winter, when HVAC guys offer discounts to drum up jobs.
Cost: You'll have to keep an eye on the calendar—spring may be closer than you think.
Savings: Perhaps $500.
Bonus: Air-conditioning makers typically provide off-season rebates on the equipment.
Ask TOH users about Money Saving Ideas

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