5 Tips to Curb Holiday Travel Costs

Holiday travel these days is a Santa-sized hassle and it can be a real budget buster as well. To curb your travel expenses, consider these tips: Leave your wheels parked at home. Since most rental cars nowadays come with competitive rates and unlimited free miles, it may pay to rent a car — and prolong the life expectancy of your own wheels. You might also be able to save on gas costs by renting a more fuel efficient car than …

Programmable Thermostats: Savings or Not?

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for AARP about simple ways to reduce the cost of heating your home. After reading it, my wife promptly added a number of the energy-saving tips I’d suggested to my “honey-do” list, including installing three programmable thermostats around our house. The good news was that the new thermostats were inexpensive and easy to install. We found a three-pack on sale at a home improvement center for  $70, and, much to my …

Check Out These Affordable College Care Package Ideas

If you have kids or grandchildren away at college, they’re likely to be feeling a little homesick right about now.  Care packages from back home are always appreciated, but they mean even more as students get settled into campus life.  Here are some ideas for putting together college care packages that student will love, but won’t break the bank. Unused Gift Cards: Every year about $2 billion in gift cards go unredeemed.  If you’ve been given a gift card that …

Save Money With Public Bike Sharing Programs

If you’ve traveled to many cities or college towns in the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed fleets of nearly identical bicycles all parked together like a herd of dairy cows at feeding time. Bike sharing programs have been commonplace in many other countries for a decade or even longer, and they’re finally arriving here.  More than 30 American cities and towns now have public bike sharing programs. New York City boasts the nation’s largest program, with 6,000 bicycles …

Devilishly, Deliciously Cheap Football-Watching Recipes

With fall here and the football season underway, here are the recipes for some of my favorite frugal tailgating fare. Notice the names of the recipes. Do you detect a theme? That’s right, I’m playing the devil’s advocate with these devilishly delicious dishes, but in each case the spices can be reduced or even eliminated to turn down the heat factor. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers and spices.   Devil’s Inferno Crock Pot Wings If …

Cheap Tips for the Outdoors

With summer nearly half over, your outdoor living areas and accessories probably need some halftime sprucing up. Here are some inexpensive ways to refresh your patio and deck areas so that you can really enjoy the final weeks of summer. Homemade outdoor furniture cleaner: Are your lawn chairs looking a bit begrimed? Plastic and vinyl outdoor furniture can be cleaned by wiping it down with a mixture of ¼ cup dishwashing soap, ½ cup bleach, in one gallon of water, then …