Thursday, January 22, 2009

Telephones and power outages

We haven't had any power outages here (yet!) but there have been many around the country this winter. One of the necessities of modern living is being able to reach people via the telephone.

To be on the safe side, keep a corded phone around to use when the electricity goes out. The tiny trickle of electricity they use is supplied by the phone line itself, so as long as that's working, you have communication.

If you don't have a landline phone, be sure you have a charger that will work from your vehicle. Even if your phone is charged up when the power goes off, it may need another boost before the power comes back on.

Is a traditional landline phone or a cellphone better in a power outage? That depends on the storm or conditions that brought the outage.

Earthquakes, accidentally cut power lines and extreme flooding can cause landlines to fail, but high winds, hard rains and blizzards can cause cellphone signals and towers to fail.

Of course, to be safest, you can use both a landline and a cellphone and many people do that. It's an expensive option, but only you can decide whether it's worth the extra expense.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Was one of your New Year's resolutions to eat healthier? Organic foods are expensive, but you can save money and eat healthier, too.

There are four ways that I can think of that will help cut the cost a little:

1 Grow your own whenever possible. You can container garden even in an apartment.

2. Buy in season only. Fresh foods are always cheaper when they're in season. No watermelon in December and no apples in July . They don't taste good then, anyway.

3. Buy locally. Get as close to the source as you can. I know you can't buy everything straight from the farmer (baking powder doesn't grow on farms!) but buy meat in bulk from a local grower and you'll get better quality: buy fresh produce from the producer and it's bettr quality and often less money, too.

4. "Naturally grown" means something different to the small local producer than it does to the big compaines. Guess which one is closer to the truth? Organic is good but if you can't afford organic, shoot for naturally grown.

Friday, January 9, 2009

While you're looking at paperwork...

Now's the time to check for leaking pennies! Go over your bank statements, phone bills and insurance statements to see if you're being charged for services you don't need. For instance, if you don't use long distance on a land line phone, you can have the access taken off and save about $5 a month. Why not?

Bank savings accounts often charge a service fee if your balance falls below a certain amount. See what it is and decide whether it's worth keeping the account. You may be better off to put the money in a checking account and not be charged for it.

Double check home owner's insurance to be sure you're not paying for something you no longer have. Home values are lower now, so take that into account. Vehicle insurance sometimes duplicates other insurance coverage, like medical. Look at all of your insurance accounts and make sure you're not paying for double coverage.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm back! And a Happy New Year to all of you!

I don't know what it is about this time of year that seems to make me want to declutter and clean out things but I know I'm not alone. Where did all this "stuff" come from?

Ask yourself that and answer as honestly as possible. Maybe some of it was given to you and not your style or size or color... maybe some of it you bought yourself and was not your style or size or color.

It's possible that you bought things you thought you wanted/needed and later changed your mind, or that you got carried away "stocking up," then decided you didn't like the product. Can anyone say "wasted money"??

You'd think we would learn, but maybe we haven't thought it through very well. This year, this time, I am listing the approximate cost of this "stuff" as I go. Ouch. How much did you waste this year?

Might as well go ahead and give it away or stash it for a garage sale later in the year if you have room. If you give it to charities, be sure to take a tax deduction for next year.

Or you can Freecycle almost anything and save yourself a trip to unload. Don't forget about trading with someone if you're looking for goods or services. Craigslist is great for that if you can't find anyone among your friends or family.

Whatever you do with your "stuff," remember it throughout the year when you're tempted to buy anything!