Two recent publications, the February issue of Consumer Reports and the March issue of Real Simple, have some innovative money-saving tips worth sharing.

Some of the suggestions are just plain obvious (pay off your credit cards, don't bounce checks), other are too small to really matter (skip curbside check-in at the airport to save $2).

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But CR's to-do list has some sound advice and Real Simple's writers came up with some innovative tricks. Here are the most helpful:

Pay monthly bills automatically online. You'll never have to worry about costly late fees on the big ones, like mortgage, car and credit-card payments and you'll save about $70 a year in postage to boot.

Bundle up. Check to see if you can package your cable, telephone and Internet service with one company for a discount of $10 to $20 a month.

If you don't mind Big Brother tracking your whereabouts, sign up for an electronic toll-paying device like E-Z Pass if it's available where you live. In addition to saving time and fuel, discounts for using the tags are increasingly common, reaching as much as 50% of some tolls.

Don't pay full price on shipping for your online purchases. Many retailers offer free shipping for purchases over a certain amount, so consider pooling shopping lists with a friend or relative.

Shopping search engines like Shopzilla.com can also help you find retailers willing to ship for free.

Pass on supplemental life insurance offered through your employer. You'll be paying to cover not only yourself, but that overweight chain-smoking co-worker down the hall. If you want extra coverage go through a broker instead.

Speaking of insurance, take time once a year to review your homeowner's and automobile policies to make sure you're not overprotected. If your once-fashionable car is now a beater or you gave that valuable jewelry away as a gift, amend your coverage accordingly.

Think twice before committing to expensive home renovations as a way to up the market value of your home at sale time. According to numbers cited by Real Simple, an average kitchen renovation costs $43,860 but returns only $39,920, or 91%. New roofs return 85% and new windows 90%. Instead, hire an interior decorator to "stage" your home i.e. dress it up with snazzy furniture and other accents to make it more attractive to buyers.

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