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Live well on less

Use the card (not the credit card)

Did you know that you can get CDs, DVDs, and even video games for the price of a library card (i.e., zilch)? Julia Rhodes Davis, 25, an event planner in New York City, often borrows CDs to keep her playlist of dinner-party music fresh. “I’ve taken out everything from Miles Davis to some kooky compilations that I’d never actually buy but are still fun,” she says.

Make talk cheap

Irene Unferdorfer, 28, from Union City, CA, was frustrated that her cell phone was costing her $100 a month even though she was only using it to call a handful of friends. Enter billshrink.com, a Website that analyzes one of your monthly statements for free and recommends the best packages for you, taking into account who you call the most and when, the features you use, and which company offers the best coverage in your area. “By following the site’s suggestion, I’ve lowered my monthly bill by $40,” Irene says. “It was so easy, and I didn’t have to do a ton of research.” BillShrink will soon expand into the credit card market, directing users to the best card for their individual spending habits.

Put your talent to work

What began 12 years ago as a hobby for Barbara Stanley, 53, in Blairsville, GA, has turned into a gift-giver’s dream. Inspired by items she’d seen at local art fairs, she creates her own handcrafted gifts for friends and family. “An attractive, functional gift doesn’t have to cost a fortune,” she says. “Plus, during holiday season you don’t have to fight people in stores to get deals on expensive electronics.”

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