Category Archives: Frugal living

3 Tips for Vacation Travel on a Budget

Be creative and save on vacation travel.In spring a young man’s fancy turns to love, and for the rest of us, we start thinking about our vacation plans. Of course, with today’s economy we’re specifically thinking about ways to save money on vacation.

With these 3 tips for vacation travel on a budget you can plan for summer vacation time with your family and not worry about smashing your budget.

1. Reduce travel costs.

Quite simply, driving instead of flying is a great way to save on vacation costs. Last time I checked, your car doesn’t charge extra for luggage.

But, if you really want to think out of the box as you work on your plan for summer vacation, consider ride sharing. Ridester and eRideShare are two websites that put riders together with drivers. If your vacation plans include a major city, often you don’t need your wheels after your arrive. This strategy can work.

Much of the Midwest and East is served by Megabus. If you’re really into frugal vacations and can plan well in advance, this is the way to go.

And, if you need suggestions where to go within a “tank of gas” distance from your home, check out this cool tool at TripAdvisor.

2. Explore alternative lodging.

“Youth” Hostels are for the young and the young at heart today. Many major cities have them as well as a lot of smaller towns and even rural areas. This worldwide hostel mobile app is a great way to find hostels and learn more about each facility as you’re drawing up your plan for summer vacation.

Home exchange programs and lodging in private residences is experiencing a surge in popularity due to the Internet and they’re one of the best ways to save money on vacation. You can do a Google search to find groups that facilitate home exchanges. Also, check out Airbnb, which recently boasted offering private lodging in 19,732 cities throughout 192 countries.

Hotel Tonight is an excellent app that connects you with deeply discounted hotel rooms in about 30 major U.S. cities. If you live near one of the cities it covers, you can enjoy a quick, inexpensive, last-minute getaway—perhaps the most frugal vacation of them all.

3. Coupon clip.

Look for deals ahead of time, especially using web-based services like Living Social, Groupon, Sweet Jack and Goldstar. They often feature “adventures” and lodging deals in major cities. The savings can be huge. You might find an activity you couldn’t otherwise afford and build your vacation plans around it.

With a little flexibility and creativity, your summer vacation plan can please everyone in the family, even the person who’s responsible for keeping to a budget.

7 Tips to Save on Energy this Summer

As I write this it’s the middle of April. We’ve had a few warm days and others more on the cool side. Thankfully our home has required little heating or cooling.

However, with summer right around the corner, that will soon change. Here are seven tips to help you save on energy and lower your electricity costs this summer.

1. Enjoy lots of cookouts.

To cut your summertime electricity charges you need to do everything you can to keep your air conditioner from cycling on. Preparing meals on your kitchen stove raises the temperature inside your home. Make use of an outside grill as often as possible and become an expert with your toaster oven. If you absolutely must bake cookies, why not avoid using your oven and bake them inside your car?

2. Be sportin’ cool shades.

Shade trees are popular for good reason. Take the same principle and apply it to your home. Keep blinds closed in windows that allow direct sunlight to stream into your house. And, if you’re really serious about how to save energy in the long run, survey your home. Do you have any south-facing walls that are bathed in sunshine all day long? A retractable awning might be a good idea.

3. Find your biggest fan.

All winter long the TV weather guys report the “wind chill factor.” Take advantage of this phenomenon in the summer. When they are blowing down onto you, ceiling fans create a wind chill factor that allows you to set your thermostat at a higher temperature yet feel just as comfortable.

4. Who’s hiding in the attic?

If you don’t already have an attic fan, get one. These cycle on when the attic temperature gets higher than the outside ambient temperature. They can really help lower your electricity costs, especially if your home isn’t insulated very well.

5. Readjust your personal thermostat.

When Jimmy Carter was president, there was a big push for families to set their home thermostats to a lower temperature in the winter and compensate by wearing sweaters. Over the years, most of us have adjusted to a lower home temperature in the cold weather months. Do the same in the summer. Set your thermostat a couple of degrees higher. You’ll get used to it.

6. Change your filters.

Keep your air conditioner fitted with clean filters. Dirty filters make your unit work harder. Not only will this cause your electricity charges to go up, it will stress your air conditioner and lead to more repair bills. In the same way, always clean the air filter in your dryer. A dirty filter reduces the warm airflow through your dryer. This increases the amount of time your dryer has to run to do its job. It’s also harder on your dryer.

7. Hang ‘em out to dry.

A few generations ago people weren’t asking themselves the question, “How can we save energy?” because they had far fewer appliances that required electricity and electricity was relatively cheap. Outdoor clothes lines were a part of every home. Get a retractable clothes line and take advantage of solar power.

Finally, check your local utility, they often have programs that will help pay for energy saving improvements. My utility, Nashville Electric Service, has a whole webpage devoted to these deals.

Incorporate these tips into your summer lifestyle and you’ll find that the power savings will add up to a lower energy bill. Further, finding ways to save energy is great for the environment and even our national security.

Best places to sell a phone and recycle electronics

Where to recycle and sell your cellphone and electronics.Recently I wrote an article about where to sell used electronics and where you can get cash for your old cellphone.

These sites have a history of going out of business fairly quickly, so I revisited them to give you this update. I’ve added a couple of sites and offer information about specific kinds of devices that some of the sites specialize in.

 Sell Cellphones

If I were looking to sell used electronics today, I’d start at these comparison sites. They look at several of the most popular sites that offer cash for used cellphones and electronics so you don’t have to do as much research yourself:

These sites focus on paying cash for your cellphone. Some also deal with tablet computers:

Sell used electronics

Along with answering the question, “Where can I sell a phone?” the following sites often offer electronic recycling, and they’ll pay you as well. By the way, if you need to recycle electronics, make sure you use a service that guarantees removal of your old data.