th4 150x150 When it says check engine, believe it. Want to spend a lot of money? Ignore your car’s “check engine” light and cheap out on simple maintenance.

If money is tight, some people will stretch out the times between maintenance periods. Or they’ll ignore the manufacturer’s suggested timeline with an idea they’re being frugal.

Bad idea.

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th3 Blog roundup: Sick as a dog edition.Two weekends ago I came down with what seemed like an upper-respiratory virus: congestion, low-grade fever, and general aches and pains. In addition I felt sharp pain in my face whenever I coughed (which was often).

The fever disappeared within two days but everything else hung on, and dug in. After nine days of feeling that I’d been beaten with several efficient hammers, I reluctantly made an appointment at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center.

“Reluctantly” because I figured there wasn’t much to be done about a virus and that I didn’t have a full-blown sinus infection that could be treated. But I was so tired of hearing my own breath wheezing and clotting that I figured it was time.

Besides, my Aunt Elna was known to have broken ribs while coughing, and eeeewwww.

Professional demeanor prevented the doc from saying “You sound like crap” but I think that’s what she meant. No pneumonia (“although it could turn into that”) so just as I thought: no antibiotics.

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book 281x300 Giveaway: Couponing For The Rest of UsAnd now for something completely different: a coupon expert who doesn’t like coupons.

Kasey Knight Trennum, who blogs at Time 2 $ave/Time 2 Give, says that she’s never sung the praises of coupons. Ask her about “the joys of saving a ton of money,” however, and she’ll get pretty vocal.

More than vocal: Trennum wrote a book, “Couponing For The Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More,” that’s designed to help readers save money “without it becoming an obsession.”

The author offers information on topics like deciphering “sales cycles,” how to locate coupons for items your family actually eats, smart stockpiling, making the Internet do most of the legwork, and turning saving into sharing.

And again, a sane approach: “I can’t stress enough (that) balance is the key to making couponing work for you. You have to figure out how to make it fit into your world; it cannot become your world.”

In addition to the book, this week’s winner will also get a cute little green accordion-style folder. After all, some coupons are still made of paper rather than pixels.

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th2 Be yourself, and save. Frugality bloggers are all about the hacks, i.e., the conscious ways they stretch every dollar. My daughter recently wrote about unconscious savings – or, rather, savings she didn’t specifically pursue.

“I have an awful lot of unintentional frugality, just based on how I live my life,” Abby notes in a piece called “Life’s accidental savings.”

Among them: working at home (huge savings there), not having a pool (they’re fairly common in Phoenix), skipping manicured hands and a manicured landscape, not eating red meat or drinking coffee, having hermit tendencies, and laziness.

What she calls “laziness” has to do more with spoon theory than sloth. A near-fatal neurological illness left Abby with some permanent health issues, one of which is chronic fatigue. So when she says she’s sometimes “too lazy” to make a junk food run, it probably means she’s not sure she would be able to get back out of the car and into the house after the errand was completed.

(True story: Once when walking home from the bus in Seattle, Abby considered lying down on the public sidewalk because the two steps up to her front walkway seemed just too much to manage. She did make it into the house, but I expect she used her last spoon to do so.)

Judging from the comments sections, she’s not the only person accidentally saving money.

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th11 150x150 Getting winter off your feet.When I was a kid we got one pair of sneakers each year – always in the springtime, and always a size too big so we could grow into them. Invariably they were either red or blue, because black was considered a “boy” color and white sneakers would get dirty too quickly.

While researching this month’s post for Retail Me Not, I learned just how big a fashion statement sneakers can be. To paraphrase the poet, April may be the coolest month when judged solely (pun intended) on the stylin’ sneaks of today – especially since they’re among the best deals of the month.

I also learned about the existence of vegan sneakers. And here I thought vegan condoms were startling.

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