Thursday, December 30, 2010

Debi's Daily Dollar Idea: Crock it

I'm all about saving money.  And if I can save some time in the process all the better.  Making use of your crock pot will do both.  Especially in the summer when heating up your oven to cook a few baked potatoes also means your air conditioner needs to work even harder to keep the room cool. 

In my "investigations" about crock pot versus an electric oven I've discovered that an average crock pot uses about 200 watts of electricity an hour, while an oven heated to 350 degrees uses about 2,000.  The crock pot uses less electricity, doesn't heat up the kitchen the way the oven will, and you can fill it in the morning and forget about it until you're ready for dinner.

There is a plethora of websites devoted to crock pot cookery, including thousands of recipes.  I'll share just one simple idea: use the crock pot to cook baked potatoes.  Simply scrub the potatoes, grease and place in the crock pot.  An average sized pot will hold 10-12.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5.  That's all there is to it!

What is your favorite crock pot recipe?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Debi's Daily Dollar Idea: Call, Call, Call

Some of us have at one time or another forgotten to pay a bill on time, written a check before adding money to the account, or are just paying a high interest rate on a credit card.  Those late fees, overdraft and high interest charges take a bite out of an account balance.  It "pays" to just pick up the phone and call the bank, the credit card company or the business and beg for mercy.  I have had late charges removed, credit card interest rates reduced and bounced check charges reversed simply because I called.  I was told once by a customer service agent that they allow a charge to be reversed once a year.  Now that credit card companies are under more stringent regulations you may not get the interest rate reduced, but it can't hurt to try.  They want your business, and it pays to keep the customers happy.   So next time you incur a late fee pick up the phone and see if they will either reduce or eliminate those charges.  Ask them if there is anything else they can do to reduce your bill.  Always be courteous, remember the adage "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Debi's Daily Dollar Idea: Rediscover the Public Library

Simple idea, but don't pay for something you can get for free at the public library.  Unless you want to keep a book you're probably only going to use once, why pay for it?  Most libraries let you check out a book for three weeks, and one week for newly released books.  If someone else hasn't placed a hold on the book you can usually renew the book twice.  Plenty of time to finish the book and return it.

I regularly check out videos and DVD's.  However, you can rack up late fees is you're not careful.  At my library videos may be checked out for a week, DVD's for two days.  And as with books, as long as there is not a hold on the item they may be renewed up to twice.  I can place a hold for a particular movie I want to watch and am notified when the movie is available.  No need to run to Blockbuster and pay $4 for a movie when they're free from the library!

Need to check out something from a newspaper?  Head to the library.  My library carries all the major newspapers, as well as our local papers.  They also have every magazine available.

A lesser known resource at the library are conference rooms.  My Toastmasters club met at the library for several years at no cost.  If you are a member of a club or organization that needs a place to meet check out availability at the library.  If there is a fee for a room it will be nominal.

Check out your libary schedule for monthly events such as book clubs, lectures, teen and children's events.  Our library system regularly offers classes on painting, making jewelry, local history, health, exercise, gardening, cooking, and more.  Craft classes are held weekly for children and teens.

Libraries also provide assistance with filling out tax forms, and usually provide the forms.

If you find yourself driving by the library on your way to the book or video store, make a u-turn and keep the green in your pocket.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I read this info at the blog (link provided at the bottom of this post.)  Since most of us are in the throws of a cold winter, any ideas about staying warm while keeping the electric company out of our pockets is welcomed.  I typically see electric blankets on clearance after Christmas.  So if you can wait a week or two you might get a great deal on something that can save you a lot of money.
Electric blankets and pads cost little more than many non-electric comforters, and only use about a nickel's worth of electricity per night to operate. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every degree you turn down the heat during the winter, you'll probably save about one to three percent on your total home heating bill.