Gerri Willis Commentary:
Top Tips by Gerri Willis Column archive

Cut the cost of your bare essentials

Some tips on saving money for those things that are impossible to cut completely out of your budget.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
By Gerri Willis, CNN

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.
CDs & Money Market
MMA 0.40%
$10K MMA 0.36%
6 month CD 0.39%
1 yr CD 0.70%
5 yr CD 1.50%

Find personalized rates:

Rates provided by

NEW YORK ( -- There are some things you just can't live without. But here's how you can pay less for your essentials.

1. Check your plan

Is the grass always greener with someone else's cell phone plan or credit card?

Check out This free Web site lets you enter in some information about your usage and compares this against other offerings in the market.

You'll get a personalized list of what other cell phone plans or credit cards would fit your needs - and an estimate of how much you would save annually by switching.

2. Get the resources

It's rare to find anything free - especially in health care. But we've put together a few resources for free and reduced cost services.

Check out free Federal clinics at You do not have to have health insurance. Pay what you can afford. You can get immunizations, checkups, dental care and prescription drugs.

Find out what free clinics and other free care is available in your area at the Association of Medical Colleges. That Web site is

If it's just medicine you need, you'll want to check out some programs intended to cut the cost of prescription drugs. Many drug manufacturers sponsor what's called "patient assistance programs". These programs are intended to help those who otherwise can't afford prescription drugs. Here are some places to go: and

3. Cut your insurance

Keep your credit score as high as you can because it's the basis for the rate you pay on car insurance.

Most car insurers filter your credit information into a formula to determine what your "insurance risk score" is. This score determines how likely you are to file a claim.

And what you do for a living counts, too. Some insurance companies give discounts for people in certain low-risk professions in a few states. If you're an economist, an accountant or a teacher you may be able to shave some dollars off your bill.

If its home insurance you want to lower, consider raising your deductible. Don't lower your coverage - but think about raising the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance kicks in. And ask about group coverage.  To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send an e-mail,we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
These 10 food trends could dominate 2015 So long, kale. Here's what's expected to shake up the food industry next year. More
Beyond Russia: Geopolitical hot spots in 2015 Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More
These 20 antique guns could fetch big bucks Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania is putting nearly 1,000 old guns on the block. Here are just a few. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.