Weekly Feature

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Recession Adaptation

September 18, 2008
by Isabel Cowles
As oil prices skyrocket, your gas tank isn’t the only thing costing you a pretty penny. High fuel costs affect everything from the value of ice cream to the price of a plane ride. But that sharp nosedive in your checking account can be stopped. Get creative with your greenbacks and beat the economic downturn with these simple saving techniques.

Tame Your Tank, Fill up Frugally

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No matter where we go, we’re reminded of high gas prices: seeing the $4-plus price tag at every pump is a constant irritant. But there are plenty of ways to save on transportation, from taking the bus, riding your bike and carpooling. You might even want to make some of these ecofriendly changes permanent, even after gas prices come down. But if you must drive, the Federal Trade Commission offers advice on how to maximize your gas mileage, from the driver’s seat to the tires. Click any part of this cartoon car and you’ll get advice on how to conserve fuel.
FindingDulcinea also offers a handful of helpful tips for saving on gas. Find out how to track your gas expenses and see if you’re paying too much, or look at gas pricing services that show you where to find the cheapest station near you.

Outfit Your House

You can save a lot of money in the long run by updating your home appliances. It may seem like a bother, but with energy prices stuck at record heights, a few small changes will leave you cool and smiling all the way to the bank. It’s as simple as changing your light bulbs, updating your AC or closing the blinds in your kitchen to keep your refrigerator cold. Watch this slide show at the Huffington Post for more tips.
The U.S. Department of Energy promises to help you cut back on those utility bills by saving energy. One brilliant suggestion: turn off your computer when not in use. Reduce hot water costs by fixing leaks.

Skimp on the Small Stuff

Americans love brand names. But when it comes to tissue paper, will your nose really know the difference? Fancy toilet paper is even more of a waste. “I mean we’re literally flushing it down the toilet,” writes blogger Kirsty of Master Your Card. Money-saving blog Wise Bread suggests a few ways to keep your bathroom within your budget. One hint: stick with store brands. If you’re embarrassed about your penny-pinching purchase, simply unwrap the rolls and stack them in your bathroom cupboard. Nobody (and nobody’s bottom half) will know the difference.

Save On Food Without Going Hungry

It’s absolutely possible to eat well on a budget. High food prices don’t necessarily require you to subsist on powdered milk and corn flakes. According to Money magazine, you can shave off an unnecessary $150 from your grocery bill just by planning ahead.
Since necessity is the mother of invention, who better to ask than budget-conscious students about smart and effective ways to save cash? Contributors to “The Frugal Law Student” have assembled a slew of money-saving options for the parsimonious eater. For example, “When you cook, make two extra portions and freeze them. If you have something that’s easy to fix when you don’t feel like cooking, you’re less likely to order pizza.”
FindingDulcinea’s Bargain Hunting Web guide is full of advice on how to find the best bargains around, either virtually or in person. Take advantage of online coupons, rebates, hot deals and free samples.
There are lots of things consumers don’t know about the practices and policies of the stores in which they shop. The Consumerist is a blog dedicated to spreading the truth about how companies operate: most notably, how they take advantage of consumers in line and online. This article, “10 Shopping tricks that stores hate,” shows you how to gain an edge on retailers by skipping dubious “deals” and taking advantage of the hidden bargains they don’t want you to know about.
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