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Tips To Avoid The Pain At The Pump

9 Dec

ImageWe are spoiled in this country; really, really, really spoiled. Most of us were raised with Cold War superhighways and the attitude that we are entitled to car ownership, sometimes many times over, without a thought to the consequences to our health or the health of the planet. Even our kids are far too bougie to ride the school bus, instead insisting on be chauffeured around in home theaters on wheels. We don’t seem to mind all the hard earned tax dollars spent on subsidies, or that poor families are disproportionately deployed to fight wars in the Middle East to protect oil company profits, or that our pristine public lands are being destroyed while these companies can take our oil then sell it back to us; yet when gas prices go up we scream and cry as if someone were extracting one of our kidneys sans anesthesia.

So what can you do? You follow tips to reduce your gasoline consumption, maybe even bought a fuel efficient car, now its time to explore gasoline discounts.

  1. Price finding apps. My favorite free app available for both PC and smartphone is Gas Buddy, which can not only help you comparison shop, but you can earn free gas cards for reporting changes in gas prices.
  2. Credit card cash back. Credit cards can offer attractive cash back programs for gas purchases as well as other types of purchases. Compare credit card cash back programs including fees to determine which the best option for you is.
  3. Grocery store gas discounts. Many grocery stores offer discounts on their affiliated gas stations based on accumulated grocery purchases.  In my area, Giant Eagle Fuel Perks offers additional gas discounts on the purchase of selected grocery items. If you shop at these stores anyway, this is a good deal especially since buying gift cards are counted as grocery purchases.
  4. Gas station customer reward card.You earn points towards gas discounts, although they don’t seem to be as popular.
  5. Discount gas cards. You purchase these cards at a discount store the same as you would any other gift card, but they offer an automatic discount at the pump. These are harder to find but in my area you can find Speedway cards at Marc’s which offers a $.10 per gallon discount without having to make any additional purchases.

You can increase your savings by combining these methods. Remember if you have to make additional purchases to qualify, pay additional fees, or have to drive out of your way for a discount, it is no longer a bargain.

Personally I would love if gas prices were based on how much you conserve so people who wasted less would get charged less and people who are gas hogs would pay a higher price since it seems that would be the only hope of changing their wasteful ways; but that would be too much like right…

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Are Bargain Batteries The Best Buy? Tips For Choosing The Right One.

18 Nov

ImageWhen we were recently visited by that infamous home-wrecker Superstorm Sandy and you reached for the flashlight in the kitchen drawer when your lights went out, what happened? Yeah, thought so. Flashlights, smoke alarms and CO2 detectors are only a few of the items we now rely on to keep us safe in an emergency; so you had better have batteries you can depend on. Hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, whether its an act of God, or an act of stupidity (like a drunk driver taking out a utility pole and plunging the  neighborhood into darkness), sooner or later the cord between you and the almighty power grid is going to be severed, so you had better be prepared.

Now that we are entering that festive season of “batteries not included”, how do you find the best battery to power your need without draining your wallet? When it comes to dry cell batteries (as opposed to wet cell) consumers make 3 main choices: cheap disposables, brand name disposables and rechargables. In a perfect world we would all use rechargeable batteries, but not everyone has the means or the inclination. A good battery provides the best combination of long duration, high performance, reasonable price & eco-friendliness.

Cheap disposables. Studies have shown cheap disposable batteries, like the kind you find at the dollar store, only last half as long as their more expensive brand name counterparts. While they cost half to a fourth of the price, you have to buy TWICE as many. The greatest cost is to the environment in the additional resources consumed and toxins produced in the manufacturing, packaging and transportation, as well as landfill space when they are discarded. They would be appropriate to use in a TV remote and other low drain devices, but may only last an hour in your child’s toy.

Brand name disposables. This is the most popular option based on performance and initial price point. Depending on which kind you buy and which device you use them in, these batteries can last up to twice as long as some rechargeable batteries, however, this is where their value ends. They are particularly useful for long trips when carting along a recharger is not a viable option. The best choices are Duracell CopperTop and Energizer Ultimate Lithium. Always choose alkaline or lithium over “heavy duty” zinc chloride or “general purpose” zinc carbon batteries. Use Lithium batteries with caution as they can overpower some devices causing damage. For other options and to decide the best choice for your device, check out the Single Use Batteries Quick-reference Guide (PDF Download)

Rechargeable. While rechargables have higher initial costs for the batteries and recharger, they can be recharged 100-500 times depending on the brand you use, paying for themselves several times over. The main downside beside the initial cost, is the inconvenience of recharging while away from home, and the decrease in their ability to hold a full charge towards the end of their lifecycle. While the Sanyo eneloop Rechargeable is the gold standard, Energizer, Duracell and Kodak make very respectable rechagables. To discover which are best for your needs, check out Rechargeable Batteries Quick-reference Guide (PDF Download).

No matter which battery you choose, it is important to remember that there are 3 things that will affect the life of your battery: time, use & environment. All batteries lose their potency over time even if they are never used, that’s why disposables have an expiration date stamped on them. Rechargeables lose their ability to maintain a charge towards the end of their life cycle (about 500 charges), so it is best to keep them grouped according to age and brand. Storing batteries in the freezer or fridge to preserve potency is a myth and the moisture can cause damage to the batteries. Batteries are best stored in a cool dry place, same as you would store potatoes or apples. Remove batteries from a device if it will not be used for a long period of time and do not store them in a kitchen drawer or other place might come in contact with metal and discharge. Always be sure to dispose of batteries properly.

Armed with some good information, battery shopping won’t be confusing, you won’t waste your money, and you’ll get the most out of your battery operated devices. But you can always save the cheap batteries for your kid’s most annoying toys, and then secretly rejoice when they run out of juice.

Good news readers, you can now follow me on Facebook! Simply visit Real Penny Wise and click LIKE. Be sure to SHARE with your friends too.

29 Jul

Attractive & thrifty! Pringles canisters are great for storing spaghetti.

I Want To Be Crafty!

With the new baby, I have an overabundance of random-sized canisters.  They can be super useful even if they are no longer being used for storing formula or, in the case of the tall one, Pringles.  Again, I hit Pinterest for some ideas.  I saw some canisters covered with fabric and some covered with scrapbook paper.  I chose to use scrapbook paper simply because there seems to be a greater variety of pretty, small patterns and one sheet will cover a lot of area.  I Mod Podged like a maniac and then spray painted the lids a coordinating color (gold in this case).  They turned out quite nice.

I added a divider to the interior of the larger Enfamil canisters.  I plan to keep balls of yarn in them and thought the divider might help keep the yarn from tangling.  (I prefer outward pull yarn balls.  Crazy, I know, but…

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28 Jul

Another hidden cost of fast food.

Sustainability for the Common Good

Everybody creates waste (garbage) in some form or another. We try to convince ourselves that because we throw the plastic bottles into the recycle bin that we are doing our part, yes that is a good thing. In truth it is just the tip of the iceberg for reducing waste generated in a household. In truth there are is a lot of stuff that can be recycled in ways many people never even considered. For my personal sustainability project (psp) I will attempt to reduce the amount of unrecyclable garbage that leaves my house.
A quick run down of the household; I live with my younger brother and 3-4 days of the week his 2 children stay with us. Kids can produce a lot of garbage, everything from broken toys, batteries, un-eaten food, to dirty diapers. All of these things I have witnessed in the garbage. Now I don’t know…

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Top 10 Uses For 50 Shades of Grey

23 Jul

ImageI have nothing against romantic or erotic literature, but this drivel was neither romantic nor erotic, and certainly does not qualify as literature. E.L. James makes Stephanie Meyer look like a literary genius. Ladies, do yourself a favor and get a book written for grown-ups by someone who actually knows what they are talking about; your Love Life will thank you.

Since I believe in being eco-friendly, here are some great ideas for what to do with your disappointing purchase; feel free to add your own in the comments section!

  1. Poop Scoop. Just tear our a few pages, pick up the steamy dog log, and then chuck in the nearest rubbish bin.
  2. Cat litter. Lest pussy feels neglected, run it though a document shredder and add to the litter box instead of clay litter.
  3. Kindling. Crumble some pages and start a fire in your fireplace; guaranteed to be the hottest and most romantic thing about this book.
  4. Book safe. Cut out the center of the book to hide valuables; it’s not like anyone is going to pull the book off the shelf to read it anyway. Very safe!
  5. Flip book. Draw on the corners to make a flip book. Stick figures in flagrante will be far less juvenile than the writing in this book.
  6. Toilet paper. Just give the pages a good crumple for maximum traction. Great for camping, road trips, or a night out partying when the ladies room always inexplicably runs out of TP.
  7. Animal bedding. Whether you have gerbils indoors or a rabbit hutch outdoors, it makes the perfect bedding materials for these prolific little breeders.
  8. Paper towel substitute. Instead of wasting paper towels, use pages to clean up your messiest spills. Keep a copy in your glove compartment and never go sockless again.
  9. Paper Mache. If you like role playing, you can make a giant Paper Mache head of your favorite celebrity for your partner to wear.
  10. Chewing gum disposal. Wrap your gum and dispose of it properly. People are always leaving their gum everywhere from city sidewalks to bus seats; and few things are worse than walking around with some strangers gum on you.

Using disgarded tiles

22 Jul

This is not a difficult project and the results are really lovely; great idea! See my Pinterest board for the Best Re-Purposed Items.

Simply Simplifying

A while back I acquired a box of mixed tiles someone was giving away. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I found a use for them this week.

My mom’s 70th birthday is today and I used some of the tiles to make her some drink coasters. I printed some photos that we took in Spain last year onto t shirt transfer paper, ironed them on, and sealed them with a spray sealer. I made a set of 8. I used some scraps of material to glue to the back so they don’t scratch the table. They came out pretty nice and only cost me the transfer paper. They are way cool and one of a kind!

I don’t buy wrapping paper because I think it’s a waste money. We have a roll of butcher paper that we use for various art projects. We…

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21 Jul

Some great re-uses for the lowly prescription pill bottle! Visit me on Pinterest for the best examples of re-purposed items!

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