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WFMW – Make every gallon count


Since it doesn’t look like gas prices are ever going to be lower, we’ve got to be proactive and start looking at ways we can cut costs when it comes to our fuel usage.

Following are some tips I’ve collected from various sources to help us all along the way:

  • Buy gasoline during coolest time of day – early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind – gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to “volume of measurement”.
  • Don’t start and stop engine needlessly. Idling your engine for one minute consumes the gas amount equivalent to when you start the engine.
  • Avoid filling gas tank to top. Overfilling results in sloshing over and out of tank. Never fill gas tank past the first “click” of fuel nozzle, if nozzle is automatic.
  • Auto air conditioners can reduce fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Heater fan, power windows and seats increase engine load; the more load on your engine, the less miles per gallon.
  • Never exceed legal speed limit. Primarily they are set for your traveling safety, however better gas efficiency also occurs. Traveling at 55 mph give you up to 21% better mileage when compared to former legal speed limits of 65 mph and 70 mph.
  • Exceeding 40 mph forces your auto to overcome tremendous wind resistance.
  • Eliminate jack-rabbit starts. Accelerate slowly when starting from dead stop. Don’t push pedal down more than 1/4 of the total foot travel. This allows carburetor to function at peak efficiency.
  • Avoid “reving” the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from the inside cylinder walls, owing to loss of oil pressure.
  • Inflate all tires to maximum limit. Each tire should be periodically spun, balanced and checked for out-of-round. When shopping for new tires, get large diameter tires for rear wheels. Radial designs are the recognized fuel-savers; check manufacturer’s specifications for maximum tire pressures.
  • Park car so that you can later begin to travel in forward gear; avoid reverse gear maneuvers to save gas.
  • Automatic transmissions should be allowed to cool down when your car is idling at a standstill, e.g. railroad crossings, long traffic lights, etc. Place gear into neutral position. This reduces transmission strain and allows transmission to cool.
  • Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way.
  • Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage.
  • Do not rest left foot on floor board pedals while driving. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage.
  • Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you’re on it.
  • Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also avoid tailgating – the driver in front of you is unpredictable. Not only is it unsafe, but if affects your economy, if he slows down unexpectedly.
  • Keep windows closed when traveling at highway speeds. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
  • Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed.
  • Avoid prolonged warming up of engine, even on cold mornings – 30 to 45 seconds is plenty of time.

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WFMW: PYBO or OPB, whichever you prefer

Granted, my WFMW tip is not anything that is earth-shattering, but it has come in handy and probably saved me and my frugal self at least $100 in stamps and check fees over the last year, not to mention something very precious called time. What is it, you ask?

I pay all of my bills online now (hence Online Bill Pay). Every last one of them. I’ve even set my mom up on her computer so she can do the same (or I can do it for her, which is what happens on occasion).

If you are going to do it properly, it’s best to have a system you use to easily access the accounts and keep track of your passwords/logons. For myself, I have saved the sign-in page for all of the online bill pay sites in a favorites folder called, well, “Online bill pay”. Original, huh? Then, when it’s time to pay something, I go to my trusty folder stored in my web browser and sign on to pay the bill.

For my mom, I had to do something she could access with a little more ease. So I set up a folder on her desktop called “Banking and Bill-Pay” and created internet shortcuts right on her desktop so she can access the web pages from there. In addition, I bought her a notebook where all of her logons and passwords are stored so she can easily sign in and access her accounts (I have one of these too, because I forget things easily).

Was this even remotely helpful? Or are you slapping your forehead and saying to yourself, “I could have been picking my toenails instead of reading this mess!”

Either way, you’ll probably find something else you can use if you head over to Rocks in My Dryer and check out the other Works for Me tips!

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Doesn’t Work…nope, not at all…

For today’s installment of Works for Me Wednesday, we’ve been asked to bring a list of things that DON’T work for us. Boy, was this day made for me – if there’s anything I am qualified to discuss, it’s things that do not work. Because I might just be the queen of trial and error.

Homeschool Schedules – In theory, a schedule is supposed to make your life easier, right? Well, anytime I try to make one for our homeschool, I end up stressed out and grumpy. It is hard to put a timeframe on quality learning – so what if you spend 2 hours on science instead of 45 minutes? When I get behind, I can feel the stress inside of me mounting and it continues with every subject we fall behind on. So, no schedules…and mama is a happy woman.

Yelling – especially when it’s me yelling at my kids NOT to yell at each other. eh?

Cheap Pillows – Wal-Mart(s) pillows just don’t do it for me. I can’t tell you why it is that I keep trying to buy cheap, poly fiber-filled pillows (well, maybe because they are cheap?)that leave the crick from h-e-double-hockeysticks in my neck instead of a quality down filled pillow like this from Pacific Coast Downs. If hotels buy ’em, they’ve got to be good, right?

Cash – This one might surprise some people, but I honestly don’t like to carry cash. When we go shopping, I am much less likely to purchase something if I don’t have cash, because 1)I don’t like to use credit cards, OR 2)I haven’t balanced my checking account. In addition, my kids are like little money vacuums and they suck it all out of me before I even realize it. (In other words, I’m a sucker for kid’s toys and kitsch.)

What is it that doesn’t work for you? I’m just curious and like to know these things.

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WFMW – Foiled!

Remember the old cartoon with Dudley Do-Right the Canadian mountie? He was forever ruining Dastardly Dirks’s plots and DD would always say, “Curses! Foiled again!” Well, today’s Works for Me tip has to do with common old everyday foil – one of my favorite things. Here’s a helpful little list with some of my favorite uses (besides covering tonight’s casserole):

1. Shine your chrome ~ For sparkling chrome on your appliances, strollers, golf club shafts, and older car bumpers, crumple up a handful of aluminum foil with the shiny side out and apply some elbow grease. If you rub real hard, the foil will even remove rust spots.

2.Keep a paintbrush wet ~ Going to continue painting tomorrow morning? Don’t bother to clean the brush — just squeeze out the excess paint and wrap the brush tightly in aluminum foil (or plastic wrap). Use a rubber band to hold the foil tightly at the base of the handle. For extended wet-brush storage, think paintbrush Popsicle, and toss the wrapped brush in the freezer. But don’t forget to defrost the brush for an hour or so before you paint.

3. Sharpen your scissors ~ What can you do with those clean pieces of leftover foil you have hanging around? Use them to sharpen up your dull scissors! Smooth them out if necessary, and then fold the strips into several layers and start cutting. Seven or eight passes should do the trick.

4. Move furniture with ease ~ To slide big pieces of furniture over a smooth floor, place small pieces of aluminum foil under the legs. Put the dull side of the foil down — the dull side is actually more slippery than the shiny side.

5. Speed your ironing ~ When you iron clothing, a lot of the iron’s heat is sucked up by the board itself — requiring you to make several passes to remove wrinkles. To speed things up, put a piece of aluminum foil under your ironing board cover. The foil will reflect the heat back through the clothing, smoothing wrinkles quicker.

6. Clean your iron ~ Is starch building up on your clothes iron and causing it to stick? To get rid of it, run your hot iron over a piece of aluminum foil.

7. Clean your barbecue grill ~ After the last steak is brought in, and while the coals are still red-hot, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the grill to burn off any remaining foodstuffs. The next time you use your barbecue, crumple up the foil and use it to easily scrub off the burned food before you start cooking.

8. Keep matches dry ~ It’s a tried-and-true soldier’s trick worth remembering: Wrap your kitchen matches in aluminum foil to keep them from getting damp or wet on camping trips.

Check out Shannon’s blog for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

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WFMW – Kids and Money

This week, my eleven year old daughter opened up shop on her very own business. She is selling handmade candles door-to-door and to local businesses to earn extra spending money — mainly for trendy new clothes and to raise money for her summer youth camp, but she is also learning and developing important money management lessons in the process. My husband and I are encouraging her that after tithing her 10%, she should be paying herself at least 10-20% of everything that she makes. If she continues with this throughout her life, she should easily be a multi-millionaire at retirement age. {An aside – my husband and I meet people every day in our own business who just weren’t taught this simple principle and therefore have nothing saved – so we help them find ways to reduce debt and free up money so they can invest.}

I highly encourage you to buy this book if you have kids who are age 12 or older. It is jam-packed with informative and insightful information on how to teach your kids to avoid the debt and credit card traps so many parents are facing today.

Here are some terrific guidelines for teaching kids about money:

Preschool. Start with the big picture, by showing children that money can be exchanged for other things. Let them put coins in a vending machine or use their birthday money to buy something at the dollar store. They can play with fun savings banks, learn the difference between a penny, a nickel and a dime, or collect state quarters. Keep it simple, and don’t expect too much.

Ages 6-7. Set up an allowance. Kids are learning about money in school and becoming more sophisticated. They understand that four quarters equal $1, and they have some sense of how much $1 will (or won’t) buy. Making choices about how they spend their own money is a great hands-on learning tool. Think of it as stealth budgeting.

Ages 8-9. Open a bank savings account. Of course, you can start saving for your kids when they’re much younger, but they have to be a bit more mature to appreciate how a bank works. It takes them a while to understand (and accept) that if they deposit, say, a $10 bill, they’ll get their money back — but not the same $10 bill.

Ages 11-12. Expand the allowance to include additional responsibilities, such as paying for mall excursions with their friends and buying gifts. This is also a good time to introduce kids to the basics of investing — namely, owning shares of stock means being part owner of a company whose products they use or whose stores they shop in. In our business, many times, we open what is called an UGMA account for the child and the parent contributes the child’s money into that.

Ages 14-15. Encourage kids to get a job, at least over the summer. Teens this age are permitted to work in offices, amusement parks, movie theaters, restaurants, supermarkets and other retail stores. Arrange for them to have an ATM card, so they can deposit and withdraw their earnings from their own savings account.

Ages 16-17. Put teens in charge of a clothing allowance. If they don’t already have a part-time or summer job, now’s the time to get one. Now’s also the time to open a checking account and get a debit card, so they can learn how to manage their money before they head off to college (co-sign the account if the bank requires it because they’re not yet 18).

Age 21. Young adults are ready to apply for a credit card, after they’ve had experience managing their money at college or on their own.*
*Source: Kiplinger Magazine

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Shannon’s at Rocks in My Dryer.

Don’t leave this blog without ENTERING THIS GIVEAWAY! or THIS ONE!

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WFMW – Oh The Things You Can Do With it…

Distilled white vinegar. Stinky, yes. But highly handy. Especially this time of year when the flowers are blooming and the ants are coming out of hiding. Here are some uses you may not know about for gardening:

  • Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar on them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.
  • Give acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias a little help by watering them with a white distilled vinegar solution now and again. A cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of tap water is a good mixture.
  • Stop ants from congregating by pouring white distilled vinegar on the area.
  • Discourage cats from getting into the kids’ sandbox with white distilled vinegar.
  • Preserve cut flowers and liven droopy ones by adding 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water in a vase.
  • Get rid of the water line in a flower vase by filling it with a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar, or by soaking a paper towel in white distilled vinegar and stuffing it into the vase so that it is in contact with the water line.
  • Clean out stains and white mineral crusts in clay, glazed and plastic pots by soaking them for an hour or longer in a sink filled with a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar.
  • Remove crusty rim deposits on house planters or attached saucers by soaking them for several hours in an inch of full-strength white distilled vinegar.
  • Clean a birdbath by scrubbing it often with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse well.
  • Get rid of rust on spigots, tools, screws or bolts by soaking the items overnight or for several days in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
  • Neutralize garden lime by adding white distilled vinegar to the area.
  • Avoid skin problems after working in the garden by rinsing your hands in white distilled vinegar.
  • Increase the acidity of soil by adding white distilled vinegar to your watering can.
  • Eliminate anthills by pouring in white distilled vinegar.
  • Cure a cement pond before adding fish and plants by adding one gallon of white distilled vinegar to every 200 gallons of water. Let sit three days. Empty and rinse thoroughly.
  • Sanitize outdoor furniture and picnic tables with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar.
  • Kill slugs by spraying them with a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part white distilled vinegar.
  • To catch moths use a mixture of 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part molasses. Place mixture in tin can and hang in a tree (or a few feet away from your porch light).
  • Keep rabbits from eating your plants. Put cotton balls soaked in white distilled vinegar in a 35mm film container. Poke a hole in the top and place in the garden.
  • Remove berry stains on your hands by rubbing them with white distilled vinegar.
  • Clean plastic patio furniture with a solution of 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar to 1 gallon of water.
  • Wash fresh vegetables with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 1 ½ quarts of water.

So there you have it. Head on over to Shannon’s at Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

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