Special report: Insider tips - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Special report: Insider tips

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From a dime on gas to a dollar on dinner, money saved is money earned.

Newsline 9 has learned some insider tips that you can use right here in central Wisconsin to cut costs while traveling, dining, or keeping up with your car.

For starters, cars can be expensive to maintain. But you can cut costs by keeping your car tuned up.

Experts at Olson Auto in Wausau say properly inflated tires are key. Too little air can waste a lot of gas.

"I would say it can be up to 20-25% of more than you can lose with improperly filled tires and if you get to that point, you're probably not doing your tires any favors either," said Justin Clairmore, assistant manager.

He says many drivers use more gas during the winter than they really need.

"It is less and less necessary these days to warm your car up before you drive. Today's engines are designed to lubricate themselves more efficiently," said Clairmore. "I still advocate on real cold mornings, 30 seconds, a minute of warming up the car is fine. Anything more than that is really just for your own comfort, making sure the seats are warm when you get in."

Clairmore also shared one last tip - getting your car serviced, you don't have to splurge on the most expensive oil offered.

"For most folks, regular conventional motor oil hasn't changed much in the last 30 years and is just fine for most vehicles," said Clairmore.

When it comes to travel, experts say timing is everything.

"It's usually best to fly midweek or travel midweek like leaving on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and returning on that day because there's just less. Everybody is trying to travel on the weekends," said Brent Dabler, a Wausau AAA representative.

Still, some things are cheaper on the weekends.

"Sometimes car rentals can be cheaper on weekends because the car rental companies don't have any business travelers using their vehicles because they're off for the weekend so sometimes they'll offer weekend specials and weekend rates," said Dabler.

Experts say the rule for when to book flights has changed in recent years.

"Previously what they used to do in the past, sometimes you would want to wait until last minute and they'd have some last minute deals," said Dabler. "But what the travel industry has been doing now is if they don't have a flight that's booked enough, with enough people on it, they'll just cancel the flight and move them to a different flight."

He says the key now is to book as far in advance as possible.

As for dining out, a family dinner doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Restaurant managers say the odd hours are the best hours to catch a break on your bill.

"For example, here we have our early dine Monday through Thursday and you get a few dollars off each entrée and other locations you might have a light night hour where you get half price appetizers or what have you," said Wesley Lezar, managing partner at Texas Roadhouse in Rib Mountain.

If you're looking for a hot spot to eat while on vacation, check with the hotel where you're staying. Experts say many of them partner with restaurants. While the concierge might make a buck for recommending a place to you, the guest often gets a deal too.

"A lot of times they'll have a discount card they give to you that you take into that restaurant that might be just next door or right down the street and you can get a discount that way as well," said Lezar.

Last but not least, never be afraid to ask for a deal.

"Now with technology, cell phones, people show us their cell phone. 'I got this via email, will you accept it off my phone?' Absolutely we will," said Lezar. "If somebody comes out and says I saw a deal where you get this kind of deal on this night of the week and if they know about it, we'll usually give it to them without a problem."

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