Slash the High Cost of Gas

 

I can sum up my response to the high cost of gasoline in just one word: Aargh!

While waiting for prices to come down (do you think they ever will?) don’t sit around complaining all the while paying through the nose to drive your car. Do something about it!

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There are lots of things you can do to increase the number of miles you can squeeze out of each gallon of gas, effectively reducing its cost. Here are a few: 

The Best Slow Cookers are Amazingly Affordable

 

The year after I was married in 1970, the Rival Co. introduced a new kitchen appliance, the Crock Pot. A hot item in my circles, it was touted to be foolproof and trouble-free. The original slow cooker came in one size with three settings (High, Low, Warm), a choice of a couple of colors with a retail price of $17.99. I went for the popular Brady Bunch orange and assumed this baby would turn me into a world-class cook overnight.

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The reason that slow cooker landed where it did (car port storage shed) is because it produced overcooked bland tasting meals that could at best be considered semi-edible.

The problem was that I didn’t know the basic fundamental culinary techniques of slow-cooking. It wasn’t the Crock Pot, it was me.

Lighten Up!

 

As flights go, it was ordinary. Still, the trip stands out in my memory as one of my all-time favorites. That’s because I traveled light.

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I flew to Dallas in the morning, participated in a luncheon event, saw the sights in the afternoon and returned home later that evening. It was so simple. No luggage, no baggage check, no carry-on, no umbrella, coat or duffel bag. No computer or bag search. No straining to hoist all of that heavy stuff into the overhead compartment. I was unencumbered and carefree.

There’s something to be said about traveling in such a way. For serious cyclists the difference between winning and losing can come down to a simple matter of weight and quite possibly the reason we don’t see Lance Armstrong towing a little trailer filled with snacks and cold beverages.

How to Roast a Cheap Cut of Beef

 

It doesn’t matter how inexpensive the chuck or sirloin roast, if it turns out so tough and flavorless that no one will eat it, it was no bargain at all. But a bad experience doesn’t mean you should shy away from those thrifty cuts in the future. It means you need to learn how to prepare even the cheapest cuts of beef so you can expect perfect results every time.

Some rights reserved by thebittenword.com

Some rights reserved by thebittenword.com

The three economy cuts of beef roast are chuck, sirloin and round. The chuck is fattier and tenderer; the round is lean and relatively tough. The sirloin falls somewhere between.

The Joys of Raising Financially Confident Teens

 

Dear Mary: I just read the letter from 13-year-old Abby about teaching kids financial responsibility.

I did this with my daughter when she was just a little older than Abby. Prior to that, she wanted name brand jeans, clothing, shoes…whatever she thought all of the “cool” kids had.

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She wouldn’t step into a thrift shop or discount store. It was a constant battle until I decided that she would have a clothing/necessity allowance.

I gave her a set amount of money each month to cover those expenses. If there was an event coming up she would need to save ahead to pay for whatever she needed, including her prom gown and all the accessories. 

Shop Twice, Buy Once

 

Every week I invite readers of this column to send me their clever tips for how to save time and money. Then once a week I open the Everyday Cheapskate mail box to let you take a look.

Some rights reserved by kelly cree

Some rights reserved by kelly cree

SHOPPING TRICK. My son studied a carpentry course called, “Measure twice, cut once.”  I have adapted that phrase to my shopping: “Shop twice, buy once.” When I am grocery shopping, if I see something I’d like that isn’t on my list, I add it to next week’s shopping list. When I am making out my menus and grocery list the following week, I consider the item. Often, by then, it has lost its appeal. I do the same thing with other shopping; items I am considering buying go to next week’s to-do list. By the time the week rolls around, I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate the purchase, and make a non-impulsive decision. Mary Beth, email 

The Best Thing I Ever Bought

 

Dear Readers: Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on the care and feeding of the carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest and, shall I say, creative feedback! And the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again. Enjoy!

Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” but at this moment, as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my carpet cleaning steam vac.

Background: I have a love/hate relationship with carpet. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet. Cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies. 

What You Need to Know to Refinance Your Mortgage

 

Over the past several months, mortgage interest rates have begun creeping higher. It’s not too late to refinance to get a lower rate, but you need to move quickly, while rates are still in the 4 percent range.

Even though banks are in business to lend money, they aren’t making things easy for homeowners.

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Before you walk through the front door of your local bank or credit union to seek a refi, here are some basic guidelines to help simplify the process: