With the holidays right around the corner, travel planning is in full swing. Since volatile airline ticket pricing has made plane tickets for your family of five to visit Grandma way out of your budget, you’ve decided to hit the road and make the big drive instead. Spending more on gifts from Santa instead of on a seat next to a mouth breather in 10A sounded like a good idea, but with high gas prices, you realize how important it will be to get the most fuel efficiency out of your vehicle. Here are some tried and true tips to help you stay within your budget on your holiday road trip:
Check Tire Pressure
While slightly under inflated tires can make for a smoother ride, they make your vehicle guzzle more gas than necessary. Check the pressure on all of your tires to ensure it’s within the manufacturer’s recommended range listed on the tires. If the pressure is low, fill up your tires at a local gas station or visit a service station if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself. Do this a week before your scheduled departure and check the pressure again a few days before you leave to ensure the tires are holding air and you don’t have a slow leak. If you do, you’ll need to replace the leaking tires before hitting the highway.
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Electric bills can be huge in the summer and the winter, water bills are excessive when you have to water the lawn and you can pretty much always count on a high cable bill. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are ways to bring all of your utility bills down. Here are a few tips:
If you live in the certain parts of the Southwest, you know summer temperatures can hit 115 or higher. This really stresses your air conditioner and runs up the electric bill. Depending on where you live, your monthly electric bill can run several hundred dollars. If you live in the northeastern part of the United States, then you are familiar with below zero temps. This makes your heater run and run. No matter what time of year, electric bills are high for everybody. What can you do to lower your electric bill and raise your bank account?
- Change your air conditioning filter: According to EnergySavers.com, not changing your air conditioner filter is the single biggest contributor to a high electric bill; you can lower your energy consumption by up to fifteen percent and save $9.00 per month, or $108.00 per year if you change the air conditioner filter once a month.
- Turn the thermostat down in the winter: A high number on the thermostat in the winter means a higher number on your electric bill. Turn your thermostat 68 degrees (or lower) during the day, and then lower it more at night, suggest US News & World Report. Every degree lowered full time cuts down on 3 – 4 percent of your electric bill. Lower it three degrees and save thirty dollars per month.
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Most of us accumulate stuff. It is just the culture that we live in. We like to buy things, and when one gets outdated, broken, or we just don’t want it anymore we store it rather than get rid of it. Being financially savvy we often will go through our items and decide to sell them in order to raise some extra money. Not only does this clear out our living spaces keeping us clutter free, it also gives us money that we can use toward a better purpose. But sometimes selling items is just not that easy, and the hardest part is figuring out where to list them to make the most money the fastest. Here are the places I have discovered that work the best.
I like Craigslist because it is free to place an ad and free to sell. However, where I live Craigslist is not all that popular. For whatever reason, maybe because the site is trolled by scammers constantly, people rarely use the site. That said here is what sells on Craigslist quickly:
- Up-to-date electronics – Think phones, stereos, televisions, and the like.
- Appliances – They’re too heavy to ship, so selling in town is the way to go.
- Clothing – Especially when you have a bulk lot of children’s clothes to get rid of.
I have also found that many items sit on the site until the ad expires with nobody ever contacting me about them. They include:
- Auto parts – the more obscure the harder to sell
- Tools – Unless you have a high quality, new tool priced competitively, nobody will bother responding
- Jewelry – Almost every contact I have had for jewelry has been from a scammer. The others were lowball offers that I laughed at.
- High End Merchandise – Think of Craigslist as an online garage sale. You wouldn’t pay top dollar at a garage sale, nobody will on Craigslist.
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You know insurance is necessary, but it can also be expensive. You want to get the best price you can, but without sacrificing coverage. There’s no lack of television ads and bulk mail letters promising lower rates and more fun. But who can you trust?
A surprising factor in car insurance rates
Call the toll-free number and you feel like you are being sold, not helped, by the fast-talking voice on the phone. Insurance is too important for doing business like that. On top of it all, every insurer you speak with has different options to consider, making it very difficult to compare insurers in an apples-to-apples fashion.
Car insurance rates are based on your driving record and your age, right? How difficult could it be to get a good quote? The fact is, though, there are numerous factors that go in to computing your insurance rate. Did you know your occupation is even part of the calculation?
Job factors affecting auto insurance rates
Who should get the best rate on insurance, all other things being equal: Your family physician or your “mad scientist” neighbor who is always launching rockets from his backyard? According to the actuaries — the statisticians who compile risk management data — the scientist gets the nod. Why? Insurance rates are based on probability, and it is more probable the physician is going to get into a crash (too many hours on the job, perhaps) than the scientist.
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