Thursday, July 12, 2012
Miss Acton Patch's Frugal Family? We do too. But here are some old Frugal Family articles that still hold true today.
1. Frugal Family: Extreme Couponing 2. Frugal Family: Comparison Shopping 3. Frugal Family: College Financing 4. Frugal Family: Examining Upromise's Potential 5. Frugal Family: Show Your Card and Save
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the “typical” American family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. Using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent models is one of many ways to cut down electricity consumption.
Last week I was at the Burlington Mall desperately seeking Christmas gifts when I noticed a line at a kiosk. Thinking the cart held a popular item, I approached it in order to take a closer look. The salesman, Dennis Ramos, wasn’t offering Pillow Pets or the latest gadget. Ramos was hawking compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), desk lamps and night lights. Or, rather, kits put together by TechniArt that contain all of these items. Its price: $10. After a discussion about the fact that he was selling “hundreds” of the kits each day, Ramos reminded me that, starting Jan. 1, 2012 (see editor's note below), the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will take effect. In sum, the federal edict requires general-purpose…
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
While we’re decking the halls and sipping eggnog, let’s not miss out on money-saving opportunities that will vanish the second the ball drops in Times Square.
It’s the middle of December. Most of us are caught up in holiday preparations. We’re spending more than we have in any other month this year. We're purchasing decorations, gifts, food and wine. While comparison shopping and frugal buying are always noble pursuits, end-of-year financial moves that save tax money and preserve savings are even more beneficial. Do you itemize on your federal tax return? If so, consider these recommendations: Make an extra mortgage payment. Those of us who incur interest on our home loans can deduct thirteen months’ worth of interest instead of twelve by making January’s payment in December. Sell an investment at a loss to offset gains. Anyone who sold a stock or mutual fund and realized a profit should …
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A recent survey conducted by Drop Down Deals found that 6 out of 10 consumers plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping online this year. Are you one of them?
I am a huge fan of online shopping. I love everything about it: the convenience, the extensive selection, the time it saves, and the satisfied feeling I get when I see a pile of packages on my doorstep. Virtual stores never close, so I execute purchases early in the morning and late at night. Wearing my bathrobe, mug of tea in one hand and mouse in the other, I find what I need and buy it. Apparently, I am in good company. The Pulse Index reports that the current holiday season’s online transactions are up 40 percent compared to the same time period last year. Total sales have risen 26 percent. Shoppers are using PCs, laptops and smartphones to snap up deals and help keep UPS and FedEx in business. Laura Heller, writing for forbes.com, …
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Online marketplace eBay has become so popular that folks are enrolling in classes that teach them how to sell on the site. There’s no need to pay for a course if you’re willing to follow some simple advice.
Do you have a friend who brags about making money selling on eBay? Do you want to do the same? Selling on eBay is appealing for many reasons. One advantage is that the “work” involved can be done at any time, from home. It’s safer than using craigslist or local newspaper ads that will bring strangers to your door. Lastly, the pool of potential buyers is enormous. That’s the reason that Adam Cohen’s book about the ins and outs of eBay is titled The Perfect Store. Three years ago, right before Christmas, I made several hundred dollars selling children’s items on eBay. I didn’t set out to do this, but two chance happenings inspired me to begin listing for a profit. First, my son outgrew all the jeans I had just bought him while back-to-…
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Your family and friends need not be the only ones to spoil you on your birthday. Let your favorite retailers in on the date and see what happens.
My birthday is not until tomorrow, but I’ve been receiving presents in the mail all month. The gifts were not selected, wrapped and packaged by relatives; those days are long over. Instead, they were sent by retailers that I’ve patronized during the past year. Joining loyalty programs that include birthday benefits means being remembered with free gift cards, discounts and other retail perks. You, too, can be the recipient of such good fortune. Here’s how to take advantage of birthday programs offered by local merchants: The Ninety Nine restaurant (there’s one in West Concord) sends email club members coupons for free desserts. They need to be redeemed within two weeks. Kids can get in on the birthday action as well: Retail chains are big …
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Our kids are back in the classrooms. Don’t let the nice weather fool you—summer’s over. It’s time for parents to look ahead and make plans to survive the inevitable spending spree to come.
Most of us know how much our fixed expenses (think mortgage, taxes and insurance) cost. Some of us have budgets for variable expenses like food and entertainment, and are pretty good at managing to them. We may even have funds put aside for home improvements or car maintenance and repairs. There is no doubt that this is all good. What many of us don’t realize, however, is how much variable expenses for our kids will cost. Read on for a heads-up on what may be coming your way in the next year. School-related expenses: Anyone whose kids are in public school knows that students are asked to contribute items to individual classrooms and to all-school initiatives. These can range from a box of Kleenex to actual cash for a charitable cause the …
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Consumers toss everything from food to gift certificates if their expiration dates have come
and gone. Read on for reasons to reconsider this practice.
Here are some examples of errors that are made in regard to expiration dates: Scenario # 1: You open the refrigerator in anticipation of finding a delicious cup of yogurt, cold glass of milk or juicy burger to toss on the grill. Having checked the date on the packaging, though, you feel obliged to throw it out. Myth: You can’t eat any food if its stamped date has passed. Fact: There are time frames built into the dating process for foods. Most are still safe to eat shortly past their expiration dates. Here are the important distinctions in regard to food safety, courtesy of ConsumerAffairs.com: The major codes are: Best if Used By or Best Before: Quality and flavor are peak at or before this date. Afterward, the product is still edible. …
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Many Acton residents patronize the stores in town. Whether shopping for household items, office and school supplies, birthday cards or kids’ toys, there is free merchandise to be had for loyal customers.
Last night, the check-out clerk at Kmart told me that I have $23 worth of free merchandise coming to me. “Spend it next time, or whenever you want!” she said. I love it when that happens. Before the recent economic downturn, a poll found that nearly two- thirds of American consumers (65%) would participate in frequent buyer programs if their favorite merchants offered them. I’d guess that this number has risen of late; we’re all trying to make our money go further. Here is a roundup of Acton merchants who reward their loyal customers with free items, with accompanying details about their money-saving benefits: Kmart: Kmart’s Shop Your Way Rewards members accrue 10 points for each $1 in purchases. For every 1,000 points, $1 is credited to …
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
It’s August. Summer is more than half way over. How are you doing with spending? Read on if you, like many of us, are over budget!
I spend my waiting room time reading magazines. Fairly often, I come upon healthy-eating articles with accompanying charts. The charts have two columns: one lists commonly prepared meals and the other names alternatives with more nutritional value and fewer calories. The goal is to have the reader substitute the second group of foods for the first. It seems that this principle can be applied to a myriad of topics. Summer entertainment is certainly one of them. Taking an informal poll of friends and relatives, I found that the majority of adults’ positive childhood memories are not about expensive trips and activities. Sure, trips to exotic locales and lavish dinners are enjoyable. But kids remember the little things that helped them …