Holiday Shopping: Will You Spend Less?

This could very well be the year when the Grinch steals Christmas, at least in terms of the gift-giving intentions of some adults. According to a new poll from the personal finance website GoBankingRates.com, 40 percent of some 1,500 survey respondents say they won’t be buying any holiday gifts this year. Blame the economy and the shaky finances of many Americans. The holidays only add to their stress and here’s why: 63 percent of those polled admit they haven’t set …

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 …

Solar Panels: Rent, Buy or Skip?

Whether you’re concerned about saving the environment or just interested in saving yourself a few bucks, equipping your house with a solar energy system is an interesting, albeit rather complicated, proposition to consider. The cost of installing a residential solar system has fallen dramatically over the years. Now a number of companies have started programs to lease, instead of sell, solar energy equipment to homeowners, some in partnership with home improvement centers including Lowes and Home Depot. Sign up for …

Catch Your Storm-Water Rebate

Rarely does a piece of mail from our local county government contain good news. It’s typically a property tax bill or a notice that our trash-collection fees are going up again. But the other day I received news from the county and it made my inner cheapskate sit up and take notice. Like an increasing number of counties and municipalities across the country, our county has initiated a Rain Check Rebate Program, designed to encourage property owners to take steps …

It Pays to Be a Good Neighbor

This Saturday, Sept. 28, is National Good Neighbor Day.  Who knew?  Of course, being a good neighbor every day of the year is always the right thing to do, but bonding with your neighbors can also help fatten your wallet. Here’s how: Membership Warehouse Club: Shopping at membership warehouse stores can save you some serious money, but what family can actually eat a 10-pound block of cheese? Who has space to store 50 rolls of toilet paper?  Consider joining forces with …

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 …