Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Main Ways to Save on Insurance

What You Drive Matters

Don't drive a sporty vehicle that can go from zero to 50 in two seconds. Cars that look and act like race cars are in more accidents than others and will cost you more in insurance even if you are a very safe driver. Don't drive an expensive vehicle either, with all the doodads and gadgets you can get. These are prime targets for thieves and carry a higher insurance cost because of it. Besides that, they're more expensive to repair if you get into an accident.

Take All the Discounts You Can

Make sure you get all the discounts you're entitled to. Ask your agent if you're not sure, but read your insurance policy first to see if you already have some discounts. You could be eligible for discounts for being a good student, having certain safety equipment, being in the military, keeping a low annual mileage or having multiple vehicles insured or other multiple policies with the same insurance companies. There are other discounts your insurance may offer and your agent will know about them, but may not offer them unless you ask.

The Impact of a Stable Lifestyle

Someone who changes jobs every year, moves often, has traffic tickets, is in accidents even though they're minor, gets deeply in debt early or even takes out bankruptcy, is not a good candidate for low automobile insurance. It's easy to see why, when all the factors are put together. An unstable lifestyle speaks of a person who is not settled or responsible in mamy areas of life and insurance companies consider that this will spill over into the person's driving style and attitude.

If this is you, you can't change your record overnight, but you can begin working right now to stabilize your lifestyle. Keep that job another year, don't move unless you really have to and keep up on all your bills. Better, get out of debt. Drive carefully and take a defensive drivers's course, both for the discount and to help you be a better driver.

More Than Insurance Savings

All of these things together guarantees that you will have lower car insurance premiums with the same or better protection than you have now. Many of these things will cost you less in other ways, too. Driving less means less gas and wear on your tires. Moving less often saves you money on the move itself (even if you move yourself) and on deposits. Driving a less showy car means that you pay less for it to begin with. Doesn't that make dollars and sense?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Frost advisory and tomatoes

I just brought in the last of the tomatoes that are big enough to ripen indoors, the peppermint plant and the geranium (which should have been brought in sooner). I'm a diehard gardener; I put an old sheet across the tomato plants. If they make it through these next two nights, maybe some of the smaller tomatoes will grow big enough to use.

It wasn't much of a year for a garden for me, due to health issues, but I will make the most of it.

There are pureed tomatoes in the freezer, waiting to be turned into sauce, a dab of wild greens picked earlier in the season and a bag of green beans that was given to me. Now I need to do some canning, since the weather is cooler and the extra heat will be welcome.

The newer breeds of tomatoes don't have enough acid in them to safely can in a boiling water bath, so, since part of the tomatoes in the freezer came from a friend who grows that kind, I will have to remember to add vinegar to each batch. My own few tomatoes are the heirloom kind, so I wouldn't have to worry about that, except that I mixed them together when I froze them.

Home canned tomato sauce is the greatest to make spaghetti sauce or to use in soup, meatloaf or in macaroni. It never gets as thick as the commercial kind, but it doesn't have to. The flavor is much more intense so it doesn't take as much to let you know it's there.

It's sounding better all the time. Maybe I will can tomato sauce tomorrow!

Keeping the Food Bill Down, #1

I've been eating out of the freezer. A small container of rice, a stash of bits of vegetables and a piece of leftover chicken from... I don't know when. Added together with a bit of salt and a little water, it made a filling and tasty soup!

For supper there will be potato soup made with leftover tuna bits and liquid that I have saved over the summer's worth of tuna salad sandwiches and some leftover cornbread.

I went to the store yesterday and I don't know how much I spent. Bad? Yeah... what happened was that two six packs of Zevia Cola rang up as two cans, so I have to go back and pay them and for the life of me, I can't remember what the six packs cost. I went to Natural Grocers, a store limited to Colorado, where the Cola is cheaper than anywhere else and I used a coupon, in case you were wondering.

Other than that, I spent a little over $12 on potatoes, flour and graham crackers, etc. The graham crackers are for my granddaughter who thinks that's why she comes to Grandma's (to eat graham crackers).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tightening the Grocery Budget

I used to buy groceries for around a hundred dollars a month, but as prices crept up and up, that rose to $110 to $125 and lately, it's been more than that! As a frugal person, and one who shoots off her mouth now and then, it's kind of embarrassing.

So I'm going to go on a fiscal diet and not spend more than $100 each month on groceries for the rest of the year. I will NOT include extras for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but I will try to hold it to a minimum. Also, I don't eat out very often, but if I should, that will be a part of the food budget.

Okay. Hold me to it. It starts this Wednesday, when I get paid and start my month over, for practicality's sake.

I have food in the house that I have avoided using. Don't we all do that? Things stuffed away in the freezer that I will use "sometime." That sometime is now, so I might have some strange meals. Then again, maybe not. I have canned food and dry food and a good variety, too.

I'll try to remember and report, although I may not be too specific about it (crunching numbers and listing prices doesn't sound like fun). I'll try to post at least the totals of my food expenditures and maybe a few interesting recipes!

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Decorating on the Cheap

I can't help it; I'm ready for the bright colors of fall and I'm done with the heat! Here are a few things I've come up with to brighten up the house while waiting for the weather to settle into a fall pattern.

Take pages of bright, autumn colors from magazines or catalogs and cut leaves from them. First make a few patterns from plain paper (recycle that junk mail!) then use the patterns to avoid the temptation to try to fit in certain lines or patterns from the page. Cut out quite a few, then scatter them on a solid color plate or platter. Add a candle and you've created a one of a kind centerpiece or coffee table display.

Candles always make good displays. If yours is so-so, jazz them up with any or all of these items, warmed then pressed into the wax:
Stray pieces of jewelry or buttons
String, dipped in melted wax and wound in pattern, random or not.
Ribbon tied up in a pretty bow and placed low.
Themed candies like candy corn.

Make a fall bouquet with dried grasses and weeds. Since they're free, you can make them as big and extravagant as you want!  

If you have a garden, you may have things you can use from there. Winter squash, miniature pumpkins, sunflowers and other autumn flowers and leaves all bring fall indoors.

Leave the fake stuff in the store and go get the real stuff. A drive or a walk will yield things you may never have thought of. A spray of seeds or a few bright leaves might set off your imagination to create the most beautiful centerpiece or table top decoration ever. All for free.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Can We Save on Electricity?

I don't use much electricity. According to some figures I see from here and there, my electric bill is very low. I know that I have better opportunities to save than some people. For instance, I don't use a hair dryer because I don't wash my hair every day and I can plan most activities around it so that I don't have to go anywhere until it dries. Some women have to go to work every day, so washing their hair means using a hair dryer before they go.

There are other things, though, that I do that most others can do to save electricity.

  • Use a manual instead of electric can opener
  • Use extra blankets instead of an electric blanket
  • Microwave things that take a long time in an electric oven or stove top
  • If you have a laptop, run it on the battery until it needs to be charged, then unplug it as soon as it's charged.
  • Turn off the lights! It's been said so many times that we become numb to it, but it really does matter.
  • Keep your freezer full. If you can't keep it full of food, put bottles of water to freeze to fill up the empty spaces.
  • Keep the refrigerator door closed, the coils and gasket clean.
  • Put the TV, computer and other electronics on power strips, then turn them off when they're not being used.

Those are just a few possibilities and it may not seem like you'd save much, but added together these things can make an impact on your bill.

Some other things I do that not everyone may be able to do:

  • Wash dishes by hand rather than paying for electricity for dishwasher
  • Sweep my (hardwood) floors with a broom rather than vacuum
  • Use fans instead of the air conditioner whenever possible
  • Make bread by hand instead of using an electric bread maker
  • Use natural light as long as possible to avoid turning on electric lights
  • Shower, wash dishes and other activities during the daylight hours to avoid using more lights.
  • Use a minimum of electric kitchen appliances like food processors. There are many manual versions available.

If you save electricity in other ways, I'd love to hear about it!