Category Archives: Money Saving Tips

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Book Review – The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Author Amy Dacyczn does an outstanding job teaching readers not only how to save money, but why save money. She has a very good blend of practical tips, as well as philosophy. If you need to jump start your budget, this book is well worth the regular retail price, many times over.

Some readers feel that the author goes overboard in her quest to save money; a few tips may seem too obscure, too difficult, or not worth the time involved. Others appreciate her ability to look at money saving ideas from nearly every angle imaginable. Regardless, people needing an extreme budget makeover will find every idea helpful.

A compilation of the author’s newsletters she published for several years, this book is also available in three separate volumes: Tightwad Gazette Volumes One, Two, and Three. This book contains all three of these volumes, plus about ninety pages of additional articles. It’s 959 pages long and seems to be organized chronologically according to the publication of her newsletters. It is not organized by topic or alphabetically. This is not a criticism, just an observation.

People desiring a more simple lifestyle will love this book, as many money saving practices are totally compatible with a simplified lifestyle.

As a reference book, you will turn to it again and again. The index is very well populated, and turning to it for a specific solution is a breeze. For example, if your washing machine is leaking, you will find an idea for fixing it that costs about $3.

The author’s straightforward yet humorous writing style is very refreshing. You see a definite improvement of her writing as the book progresses. This is not to imply that her writing is bad in the beginning, because it isn’t.

Read at your own risk, because Amy Dacyczn may alter your money ideas forever.

About the Author: Jennifer A. Thieme home schooled her three children for nine years and has homeschooling articles that appeared in Practical Homeschooling.

Surviving the Recession

This book provides sixteen chapters of information on how to survive today’s recessions. The author has also provided several forms to assist you in determining your current status and how to move forward. In the introduction the author has you assess your credit card debt, cost of owning a car and health care costs. Before you even get to the first chapter the author provides 8 ways the book can help you live better.

Chapter one assists you in getting started in taking control and developing plan to survive. It directs the reader to exam your food costs; list and evaluate your current expenses. The author provides the formulas and forms to complete this task. Finally, the author provides a website and encourages the reader to increase your income while cutting your costs.

Chapter two demystifies the myth of fixed costs. Here the reader will find information on what kind of mortgage is best for you; where to go get information on mortgage rates and where to find an AMF calculator. The author assists you in learning from your bad experiences and exams direct lender to broker.

Chapter three is dedicated to slicing your food costs. The author provides strategies to reduce your grocery costs by 10 percent or more and where to find the money saving coupons online. The author lists strategies to achieve this goal.

Chapter four address quick and easy ways to cut your energy bills. This chapter provides information on how to do your own cost analysis to assist in cutting costs. It also lists how you can get fee information from our government.

In chapter five the author provides information on how to reduce your phone bill. The author discusses the pros and cons of maintaining a landline verse a cell phone. There is information on how to avoid tricks and traps offered by communication services. The author provides information on phone cards, how to consider and develop the right cell phone contract and addition resources to save you money.

Chapter six exams your choices of TV entertainment. The author compares the cost of Satellite to Direct TV and how you can cut costs of Cable TV.

In chapter seven the author presents 10 ways to lower the cost of your auto insurance. The reader will also find 12 fast and simple formulas to get low-cost car insurance. The author makes several recommendations such as getting three quotes, checking out cost of insurance before buy a new car, keeping a good credit record, how to qualify for a low mileage discount, how group insurance may cut your costs and how reducing coverage on old cars will save money.

Chapter eight focuses on lowering your homeowner’s insurance cost. The author provides strategies on how to make your house disaster resistant, how to do comparative analysis on insurance policies, how upgrading your home security will save on insurance costs, and how to find discounts.

In chapter nine the author focuses on health care costs. There are strategies to reduce you prescription costs. There is information on FSA (flexible spending account and its advantages and how to fight overcharges.

Chapter ten looks at credit card spending. The author exams the importance of interest rates and why it matters, how to find errors, how to get your credit report and strategies on how to give yourself a credit check-up . There is information on credit counseling companies and where they are right for you.

In chapter eleven the reader will learn how to evaluate life insurance and where or not it is right for you. The author compares and contrasts term verse cash-value insurance, and how you can determine what is right for you and your family. There are also suggestions on how to eliminate brother some insurance agents.

Chapter twelve provide information and suggestions on how to cut the cost of travel. The author points out how you can travel like a King on the budget of a pauper, how you can get the best possible air fairs and has you exam your ability to be flexible. There is information on how to cut the price on a ticket you have already purchased, how to save money on a Disney World vacation and on hotel rooms.

In chapter thirteen the author identifies addition cost cutting strategies to reduce costs of lunches for working individuals, how to develop an entertainment budget; trim your clothing, school supplies and car maintenance costs.

Chapter fourteen focuses on how you can build a budget and stick to it. It assists the reader on evaluating your goals and saving habits. The author provides information on 401K, other investment alternatives and compares SEP over Solo 401k. There is also information for small business owner and the self-employed.

Chapter fifteen address ways to get more out of your paycheck. The author discusses flexible spending accounts and how they work. There is information regarding dependent-care flexible spending, transportation reimbursement and retirement.

In chapter sixteen the author continues with other alternative ways to increase your income through: building a business on eBay, liquidations and close outs, how to profit from bad spelling, and other places to get goods stuff.

In the appendix the author includes forms for checking your progress, worksheets for auto insurance and facts about credit scoring.

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Coupons Create Crazy, Creative Ways to Save Big – Just Ask the Krazy Coupon Ladies

This is a book review:

“Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey” is everything you ever needed to know about using coupons to save big. I have to admit upfront I was skeptical at first that coupons could provide the kinds of savings the authors promise, but as I read through the secrets in this book, I was completely won over. These ladies know what they are doing with coupons-it’s completely ethical, really not that “krazy” at all except when it comes to the gigantic savings, and some of the shrewdest business advice imaginable.

I’m not going to give away all the secrets here. I’ll just say that these really aren’t “secrets” and the Krazy Coupon Ladies are not selling anything other than this book-there are no gimmicks, no additional purchases necessary, no expensive special kits to buy, and no overpriced seminars to attend. Everything you need to know is in this book. And it’s more than just advice on how to use coupons to save a couple of dollars on peanut butter, mayonnaise, or ketchup-it’s practical financial advice on how to protect your wallet, how to stockpile for emergencies, how to prepare for your future, how to provide you with lasting financial security in times of adversity, and also how to have some extra money for fun-to take vacations or whatever you want to do with it. Coupons are vital for such times as when the economy is bad, or as the Krazy Coupon Ladies explain, when gas prices are high:

The price of oil directly affects the price of groceries. The more it costs to transport groceries, the more you’ll have to pay to get them. The shipping and oil industries are often unpredictable, so it’s comforting to have a stockpile. If truckers go on strike, if gasoline prices quadruple, you can insulate yourself from the effects by having a stockpile. It’s nice to think that if gas prices jumped to $15 per gallon tomorrow, I wouldn’t have to drive to the store twice a week for overpriced cereal. I could just walk out to my garage and congratulate myself for stocking up when boxes of cereal were $0.50 each.

What I didn’t expect from this book was to find out that Coupons Are Fascinating!-really! I had no idea about the history of the coupon from its origins in the late 1800s to its Internet printable versions and the fraudulent scams they have engendered. Did you know there are coupon clearinghouses operated by prisoners? Did you know what all those numbers and symbols on a barcode mean? You will learn all this and more in “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey.”

And what about that title? It’s funny. It describes how shoppers will have to wait a little longer while you use all those coupons, but so what? You’ll be saving tons of money. The authors’ many stories about their shopping and couponing adventures are equally priceless for their humor. And throughout are numerous wonderful cartoons depicting Krazy Coupon Ladies doing what they do best-savings tons of money.

Every step from finding great coupons, to how to use them to double and triple your savings, and what to do when checkout cashiers and store managers argue with you-how to educate them actually since you’ll know far more than any store manager about coupons-is all provided here. And to top it all off, a lot of additional and completely free information is available on the Krazy Coupon Ladies’ website.

This book may be the best financial investment you will ever make. You can easily earn back one hundred times the price of this book within one year-and if you follow all the advice in “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey,” you may even earn back five hundred times the price. So get ready to save, and even make money.

Tyler R. Tichelaar holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Northern Michigan University and a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. His family’s long relationship with Upper Michigan and his avid interest in genealogy inspired Dr. Tichelaar to write his Marquette Trilogy: Iron Pioneers, The Queen City, and Superior Heritage. Dr. Tichelaar is also a professional book reviewer and editor. For more information about Tyler R. Tichelaar, his writing, and his author services, visit:

Simple Tips For Saving Water Throughout Your Home

There are lots of simple things you can do to cut your household water use. It all starts with awareness. If you know some of the ways people tend to waste water, you’ll be better positioned to conserve.

The bathroom

Here are some common ways in which people waste water – hot or cold – in the bathroom.

Leaving the tap running the whole time you brush your teeth. Try putting the plug in the bathroom sink while you do this, and notice how quickly the sink fills up. Shutting off the water until you’re ready to rinse can easily cut 2-3 gallons a day of water use per person.

Using hot water to brush your teeth. Some people don’t like having really cold tap water in their mouth during the final rinse. In cold climates or in water supply systems fed from the bottoms of lakes (such as parts of the Great Lakes Region in the US and Canada), the water supply can be pretty chilly for the cooler months, and sometimes even in the summer. Instead of running the hot water so you don’t have to rinse your mouth out in freezing cold water, always fill your bathroom water cup when you’re done brushing, so the water has time to warm up for the next time you brush.

Using a flush toilet as a waste disposal device. I’ve seen people who blow their nose with a tissue, then throw it in the toilet and flush it down. This is not a very good use of 2-5 gallons of water! Using a toilet as a waste disposal may be convenient but it’s extremely wasteful.

Using a regular toilet instead of a low-flush or dual-flush toilet. Decades ago, toilets typically had 5 gallon tanks. More than a decade ago standards in North America changed and 3 gallon (13 liter) tanks were the new standard. Recently manufacturers have come out with 1.5 gallon (6 liter) tanks, sometimes in response to tightened building code standards. And there are dual-flush toilets that can flush liquids and toilet tissue with as little as 1 liter or quart of water, while solids still take 4-6 liters (1 to 1.5 gallons). If you have an old toilet, you can replace it with a low-flush model, or simply install a conversion kit; see the resources section for details. Another free way to save water on your toilet is to avoid flushing it when it’s not strictly necessary. For example, in my house when the alarm clock goes on, everyone gets up and has their morning visit to the bathroom; only the last person flushes.

Leaving the shower running when you’re not in it. Sometimes you want the shower to warm up before you hop in. So you might turn on the shower, close the curtain or shower door, and work on some other grooming (brush your hair or teeth, shave…) while you wait for the shower water to heat up. Unfortunately people often lose track of the time, and a minute or more of hot water may wind up just pouring down the drain. One easy solution to this is a water-saving shower valve, which cuts the flow of water to a trickle as soon as the water reaches 95F or 35F. You hop into the shower and pull a cord or flip a lever, and the hot water comes out full force. This keeps the water hot for you without wasting much water while you’re doing other things in the bathroom.

Taking a really long shower. This is a favorite teenager move: drain the hot water tank right before Mom has her shower. There’s really no good reason to spend 10 or 15 or 20 minutes in the shower. A shower is said to use less water than a bath, but that’s not the case when you’re in there 20 minutes. I’ve heard some people say they keep their house cool to save on heating, and so they have to take a long hot shower to get warm. Don’t forget it takes a lot more energy to heat a liter of water than a liter of air – and when that hot water goes down the drain, the heat is basically lost!

If you’re serious about saving water in the bathroom, try putting the plug in your bathroom sink when you brush your teeth, just to see how much water one person’s tooth brushing takes. Or put a plug in the shower or bathtub when you shower, to see how much water a shower uses. Or try filling the toilet tank with a measuring cup, one cup at a time, and then track how many times the toilet gets flushed in a day. You might be surprised to see how much water you use.

The kitchen

You might think the biggest water waster in the kitchen is the dishwasher. In fact, modern dishwashers are far better at conserving water and energy than all but the most diligent, energy-conscious human dish washer. And the worst of us are extremely wasteful. Common practices that waste a lot of water are:

Not putting the plug in the sink when you do dishes – just running the water continuously. This typically requires you to add more dish soap to your scrub brush or sponge after every few dishes, because you keep washing the soap down the sink. Try putting the plug in the sink the next time you try to do dishes this way. You’ll discover the sink fills up pretty quickly – it might even overflow! You can almost always do an entire set of dishes with just a half sink of water, and remember, your dishwasher can do even better.

Prerinsing dishes that go in the dishwasher. Remember, modern dishwashers are designed to wash dirty, unrinsed dishes. There should be no need to prerinse. If you find that your dishes don’t come clean unless you prerinse, you either have a dishwasher that is 10+ years old, or there’s something malfunctioning. The pump may be weak, the filter may be blocked with leftovers (we found about 30 olive pits in ours a couple of years ago), or one of the connections to the rotating arms may be blocked or leaking. If you do have to prerinse, an easy way to do so without wasting water is to leave water in the sink after you wash the pots and pans or after rinsing produce, and just scrub the dishes in that water.

Using a sink waste disposal unit. It’s much better to compost your kitchen food scraps than to grind them up and send them down the drain. For one thing, it takes water to wash all that food down the sink. For another, you’re wasting a precious commodity that can be turned into great garden soil. Waste disposal units have been banned in some municipalities because they overload the sewage system and increase water usage.

Not using a faucet aerator. Most modern kitchen faucets come with an aerator installed in the end of the faucet, that draws air in and fills the water with tiny bubbles. These aerators save water by allowing a smaller amount of water to do the job of rinsing dishes or washing hands or fruits and vegetables. Aerators can get clogged up – especially if you have hard water – so if you find you’re not getting a good volume of air in your water, try unscrewing the end of the tap, removing the wire mesh aerator, and cleaning it out. Once you reassemble the faucet you’ll use far less water to wash and rinse.

The laundry

The top loading washing machine is one of the most water-wasting devices in your home. There have been front-loading washers for decades that use as little as a third the water of a typical top loader. But for some reason North Americans are still using top-loaders, and even still buying them. There are a number of very good reasons for switching to a front-loading washer:

* They use half to a third the water of a front loader
* They use half to a third the detergent of a front loader (and you don’t actually need to buy the “HE” detergent – just buy regular detergent and use a lot less)
* They adjust the volume of water based on how much laundry they detect in the drum. For a small load they use much less than for a large load.
* They are more gentle on your clothes, so your clothes last longer
* Their spin cycle is much faster than a top loader spin cycle. Your clothes come out with less water, so you use less energy in the dryer (if you use one), or the clothes take less time to dry on the line or drying rack.

The other ways in which people waste water on laundry are:

Washing clothes that aren’t actually dirty. You don’t have to throw things in the laundry just because you wore them for one day – especially pants and shirts, which will wear out sooner if you wash them too often.

Washing instead of putting away – using the laundry hamper as a way to avoid putting your clothes away. Kids are especially prone to this. My son would sooner throw his clothes in the laundry than fold them and put them in his dresser, because it’s less work for him. Make your kids do the laundry folding and they’ll be less prone to pull this trick.

Separating whites, lights, and colors. Most clothes are color-fast. Of course it pays to check individual garments when new, but chances are almost all your clothes can be washed together in cold water. If you currently do three loads of different colors, try splitting the brights between the darks and whites and cut back to two.

The first step to saving water

Once you understand the ways in which water is commonly wasted in North American homes, it becomes easier to identify where you yourself might be using more water than necessary, and to cut waste. Remember that keeping a weekly measure of your water usage, by writing down the reading on your water meter, will help you stay on task. When you know how much you’re using, you’ll be more conscious of waste, and more motivated to save. In some areas you’ll realize big financial savings by cutting back; in others, where water is still quite cheap, the savings may seem irrelevant from a financial point of view, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping conserve a precious natural resource.

Robin Green runs Green Energy Efficient Homes, a website dedicated to efficient use of natural resources, especially relating to household energy use. For some specific water saving tips see his articles on shower head valves, dual flush toilet kits, and energy saving washers.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney – Picking the Right One

Dealing with financial pressure and considering bankruptcy is a difficult situation that everyone wants to avoid. The truth is, that in today’s economic climate, it is a very real possibility. If you are considering a bankruptcy, it is preferable to arm yourself with the proper information in the event you find yourself needing it.

Where to Start

After the initial emotional turmoil subsides, confusion can set in, including what forms to fill out, which type of bankruptcy is for you, whether or not you qualify, etc. Essentially, bankruptcy is simply the point at which your debts overwhelm your resources and you have no option of paying off the bills.

There is a silver lining in all of this, and you can make it through this experience, however you are going to need to help of a good chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney, who can lead you through the process in the most efficient and beneficial way for you to preserve as much of your assets as you can.

Finding the Right Lawyer for You

The optimal method to find a good chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney is to be sure that the firm you are dealing with specializes in bankruptcy. Our vast legal system has many categories that lawyers can specialize in, and you will need to be sure that your attorney has had sufficient experience in the bankruptcy field so that they can properly guide you through the court process.

Trust is one of the most crucial attributes for a good bankruptcy lawyer, so contact a few attorneys and get a feel for them. Trust your gut when it comes to your interactions. Find one that is open and forthcoming with details and information, and has an acceptable payment plan for you. Contacting an attorney online, can be an effective way to find out answers, without committing to filing a bankruptcy.

A good attorney is going to accurately evaluate your financial assets, and assist you in preserving as much of your personal assets as possible. Bankruptcy is a major undertaking, with long term financial and emotional effects. That said, it is not the end of your life, nor your financial future. A good lawyer will help you through the emotional process as well, understanding that people don’t deal with bankruptcy everyday, and it is usually a desperate, last choice move.

You also want to keep in mind that you need to find chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney that is going to fight for you and your interests in every way possible. The bankruptcy process means that there is going to be a lot of paperwork that you will need to complete and file. When you are facing this mountain of paperwork, it will help to know that you have a bankruptcy lawyer in your court to assist you with this task, and ensure that it is done correctly.

Mitchell has an extensive background in the financial industry and writes on a variety of topics, including selecting the right chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney. For additional bankruptcy information, you can view his site at Bankruptcy Help.