Wednesday, May 14, 2008

25 Ways to Save on Gas

With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon, saving money on gas is more important than ever. Here are some ways to save:

Car Maintenance

1. Replace a dirty air filter: According to the Federal Trade Commission, replacing a clogged air filter can increase gas mileage up to 10%. This can cost anywhere from $7 to $60. Visit to get an idea of a price for your vehicle.
2. Keep your car’s engine tuned: Having your car’s engine tuned according to the owner’s manual can improve gas mileage by 4%.
3. Get regular oil changes: Clean oil in your car’s engine improves gas mileage by reducing friction. You should also look for oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute, which contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
4. Keep tires properly inflated: Properly inflated tires can increase your miles per gallon by up to 3%.
5. Use the right motor oil: Make sure you use the proper grade of motor oil, which can save you 1-2% at the pump.
6. Rotate tires and alignment: Rotating the tires for even wear will improve your car’s performance and gas mileage, as will keeping the car properly aligned.

Buying Gas

7. Buy the recommended gas for you car: Most cars run on regular octane gas. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there is no reason to buy a higher grade gas from what is recommended in the owner’s manual. If you want to read more on this, check out the FTC’s Low-Down on High Octane Gas.
8. Steer clear of gas-saving gadgets: You’ve probably read about any number of gadgets that promise to increase your car’s gas mileage. Most of these gadgets don’t deliver on their promises, and some can even harm your car. For more information on these gadgets, you can read the FTC’s “Gas-Saving” Products: Fact or Fuelishness.
9. Find the cheapest gas near you: Check out GasNearU or Gas Buddy to find the least expensive gas in your neighborhood.
10. Use Gas Rebate Credit Cards: There are some credit cards that can save you up to 5% on gas. Three of the best cards in my opinion are the Discover Open Road Card (5% cash rebate on gas and car maintenance purchases), Chase PerfectCard MasterCard (6% rebate on gas purchases first 90 days, 3% thereafter), BP Visa Rewards Card (10% rebates on gas purchases from BP during first two billing cycles, 5% thereafter).

Driving Smarter

11. Keep it under 60: At speeds above 60 mph, miles per gallon start to decrease significantly.
12. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts: Peeling out when the light turns green so you can be the first car at the next red light is like throwing money out the window. Gentle driving can save you up to 5%.
13. Unload: Remove unnecessary weight from your car (no, this doesn’t include your spouse). Lighten the load by 100 lbs. can improve your gas mileage by 2%.
14. Avoid using the roof-rack: Items on top of your car, in addition to weighing you down, increases wind resistance that lowers your gas mileage.
15. Use cruise control: Using cruise control on the highway when it’s safe to do so improves fuel economy.
16. Use air conditioning on highway, not in the city: If it’s hot outside, using the air conditioner on the highway improves gas mileage over rolling down the windows because of the air resistance. But in stop and go traffic, it’s best to let mother nature cool you down.
17. Remove snow tires: Deep tread and big tires consume more fuel. So when winter is over, remove the snow tires for better gas mileage.

Driving Less

18. Telecommute: For many, it’s the commute to and from work that burns the most gas. Telecommuting even one day a week will reduce these costs 20%, will reduce wear and tear on your car, and save lots of time, too. And telecommuting is a great way to start what I like to call slow motion retirement.
19. Work four 10s or nine 9s: If your boss isn’t too keen on telecommuting, maybe he or she will allow you to work four 10-hour days and take every Friday off, or nine 9-hour days and take every other Friday off.
20. RideShare: Join a group of friends or neighbors to carpool to work. This can substantially cut down on gas consumption. And if you live in an area that uses High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes, it can also get you to work faster.
21. Plan errands: We all have errands to run throughout the week and particularly on the weekends. Combine errands so you have to take fewer trips to get your chores done. In addition saving gas, you’ll also save time and aggravation.
22. Walk or bike when possible: More and more people are riding their bike to mass transit or to work. Evening biking to work one or two days a week will save a substantial amount of gas.

Car and tire buying

23. Buy fuel efficient cars: There are plenty of hybrid and other fuel efficient cars to choose from. In my Best of March 2008 article, you’ll find a link for some of the least expensive hybrids on the market. Another great site to check out is Fuel Economy, a government run website about hybrid vehicles. These cars are the ultimate in money management when it comes to fuel cost.
24. Buy an electric or gas powered scooter: These scooters are commonplace in many parts of the world, and their popularity is growing in the U.S. A Vespa, for example, gets up to 72 miles per gallon and has a top speed of 59 mph.
25. Consider fuel efficient tires: Some tires are designed to increase fuel efficiency by decreasing the rolling resistance of the tire. Of course, there are other considerations when buying tires, including traction and handling, but the tires you put on your car can have a significant impact on your fuel economy. The Michelin Energy LX4 is an example of a fuel efficient tire.

If you have other tips on how to reduce gas consumption, please leave a comment.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Toner/Astringent -- Use witch hazel instead. No need to dilute -- use full strength. You can also rinse with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar after cleansing -- it balances out the ph of your skin.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Luxurious Baths - for pennies

Olive oil can be added to bath water for a skin softener.

Use tea bags in your bag to soothe a sunburn, and soak your whole body.

Condition dry hair - To give natural shine to dry hair, use a quart of warm, unsweetened tea (freshly brewed or instant) as a final rinse after your regular shampoo.

Towels getting worn out? Cut them down to size, hem them and use them as wash cloths. If you own a serger, this is really quick and easy.


1 cup Epsom salts, kosher salt or other coarse salt
1 cup baking soda
6-8 drops essential oils, your fragrance choice (found at craft stores)
2 Tbs glycerin
Food coloring (optional)

Mix salt and soda together in a glass bowl. Add oil, 1 drop at a time and stir well. Add glycerin 1-2 drops at a time and stir well. Add color if you wish to match your bathroom or someone else’s because this makes a nice gift. Pour into glass jars, add a ribbon.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recipes for House Cleaners

This is a very easy way to save money and rid your home of some unwanted toxins at the same time!!!! I refuse to pay $5 for any bottle of cleanser, and love knowing what ingredients are spread around my house.

Chime in if you have information or tips of your own:

Natural Cleaners

Baking Soda - Baking soda is a great all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. It cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes and removes stains.

Borax - It deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap. It also prevents mold and odors. Great alternative for those who do not want to use bleach.

Cornstarch - cleans and deodorizes carpets and rugs, and can be used in place of baby powder.

Ketchup -cleans copper.

Lemon juice - great for whitening items and removing grease and stains on aluminum and porcelain.

Pure Soap - cleans almost anything and is mild.

Salt - regular table salt makes an abrasive, but gentle, scouring powder.

White Vinegar -great for whitening, cleaning hard surfaces and windows, and shining metal surfaces. Also removes mildew, stains, grease and wax buildup.

Forumlas and Solutions

Air Freshener
- Leave opened box of baking soda in room.
- Add cloves & cinnamon to boiling water and let simmer.
- Use fresh flowers and herbs. I personally like Lavender. It leaves my crazy house with 3 kids feeling calm.

Carpet Cleaners
- For deoderizing: sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on carpet, using about 1 cup per medium sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes.
- For deoderizing: mix two parts cornmeal with one part borax; sprinkle liberally, leave for one hour, then vacuum.
- To soak up big spills: dump cornmeal on the spill; after 5-15 minutes, sweep into a dustpan, then vacuum.
- Put 1/4 cup liquid soap or detergent in the blender with 1/3 cup water. Blend until foamy. Use this to clean spots on the carpet, then rinse with vinegar.

Copper Cleaner
- Pour vinegar and salt over copper and rub.
- Take a half of a lemon, dip in salt, and rub on the bottom of the pot/pan

- 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons liquid soap, 20-30 drops Tea Tree Oil; Mix well in (a spray bottle will work well) and squirt on everything from baby's bottom to the cutting board.

Drain Opener
- Prevent clogging by using drain strainer.
- Pour 1/2 cup washing soda into drain followed by 2 cups boiling water.
- Flush drain weekly with boiling water for prevention.
- Pour 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow with 1/2 cup vinegar and cover drain tightly until finished fizzing. Flush with one gallon boiling water.

Furniture Polish
- Mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part vinegar. Use a soft cloth.
- Mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Use a soft cloth.

General Cleaners (Porcelain, counter tops, etc.)
- Mix baking soda with a small amount of water.
- For stained areas, use paste of baking soda & water, let set a while, then scrub off.

Glass and Window Cleaner
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon warm water

Laundry Detergent
- Use washing soda or soap in place of detergent.
- Mix detergent half & half with baking soda (use 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent).
- Make a paste of washing soda and water for dirty spots.
- POWDER DETERGENT- basic recipe- 5 cups soap flakes, 7 cups of Borax; you can store this in an old laundry detergent box or a plastic container, and to wash, use only 1/2 cup at a time- make sure to shake it to mix up the soda and borax with the flakes. (for hard water, add 3.5 cups of washing soda to mixture)
- GEL LAUNDRY DETERGENT- 1/2 bar grated soap (Fels Naptha, Ivory or castille bar soap), 2 cups borax, 1 gallon rubbermaid or other plastic container with pour spout; fill the gallon container 1/4 full with water. add grated soap and soak over night (to speed up this process, you may melt grated soap in water by cooking on low heat); add washing soda and borax, add water to fill container; shake well before using; use only 3/4 cup per load; a gallon of this detergent can cost as little as 75 cents! (for hard water, add 1/2 cup of washing soda to borax mixture)

Metal polish
- 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon salt, I tablespoon white vinegar; Combine salt and flour in small bowl and stir until blended. Add the vinegar and mix into paste. Smear on the paste with a damp sponge or cloth and rub gently. Let the polish dry for about an hour. Rinse well with warm water, buff dry with a soft cloth. (for brass, bronze, copper and pewter; DO NOT use on silver, silver plate or jewelry)

Microwave Cleaner
- Heat 1 c. vinegar in a microwavable bowl for 1-2 minutes (should steam and loosen food inside of the microwave). Wipe out with a washcloth and warm soapy water.

Mosquito Repellant
- Oil of citronella can be burned in candles outdoors. It has a scent pleasing to people but not to mosquitos!
- Plant sweet basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitoes.

Multipurpose Cleaner (Tile and linoleum floors, formica counter-tops, appliances, etc.)
- 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon warm water; Mix ingredients and store in tightly-capped container.

Oven Cleaner
- Sprinkle salt on spills when they are warm and scrub.
- Mix 3 TBSP washing soda with one quart warm water.
- Use oven liners (trays) to catch spills and prevent a messy oven.
- Rub gently with steel wool.

Silver Polish
- Rub article with toothpaste and soft cloth. Rinse with warm water & dry.
- Place cut-up aluminum foil in jar with water, add about 1 TBSP salt, mix. Place article in solution for 5-15 minutes. Remove and rub with soft cloth.

Sink Cleaner
- Combine baking soda and salt to scrub stainless steel.

Shoe Polish
- Polish leather with the inside of a banana peel, then buff.

Spot Remover
- Remove spots as soon as they happen.
- Blood stain - gently sponge with cold water, dry with towel. Repeat until stain is gone.
- Red wine - on rugs, dab out moisture with absorbant cloth. Cover stain with salt. Let sit for several hours. Vacuum when dry.
- Ink stains - soak in cold water, then wash as usual. If stain is on white fabric, wet fabric with cold water & apply a paste of cream of tartar & lemon juice, let sit for 1 hour. Wash as usual.
- Perspiration stains - sponge stain with weak solution of white vinegar & water or lemon juice & water.

Upholstery & Rug Cleaner
- Clean stains immediately with club soda.

Wall cleaner
- 2 ounces borax, 2 quarts water; Dissolve the borax in a big bucketful of water. Scrub a really dirty wall from the bottom up. if you scrub from the top down, the dirty water will run down over the dry, soiled wall leaving hard-to-remove streaks.

Window Cleaner
- 1/2 cup white vinegar to one gallon warm water. Just mix and scrub.
- Use straight lemon juice, dry with soft cloth.
- Use plain Club Soda and scrub with old newspaper.

Wood Floor Wax / Cleaner
- Equal portions of oil & vinegar. Apply in thin coat and rub in well.
- Painted wooden floors can be washed with 1 TSP washing soda per gallon hot water.
- Rinse with clear water.

Making / Recycling your own cleaning tools

* Socks - good for cleaning walls, especially textured ones (sponges break off little pieces when you try to scrub textured walls).
* Scrubbers - cut up pieces of mesh potato bags and tie into a small ball - works great for scouring dishes!
* Sponges - throw your dirty sponge in the dishwasher or boil it with a bit of baking soda on the stove to make it look like new again.
* Towels - cut up old towels instead of throwing them away and use them for dish clothes or in the garage.
* Toothbrushes - save that old toothbrush! You can use it to scrub floors, stains on clothing, and more!
* Mop - to make a new mop head, try cutting up strips of old towels, shirts or socks. Rubberband or tie the top ends of the strips together, then secure to the mop stick.
* Window Cleaner - newspaper works well to clean windows. No lint!!

Happy, and cheap cleaning!!!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Frugal Silver Cleaning

Remove Tarnish from Silver

Tired of having to polish the good silverware every time you pull it out? Then, ditch the polish, and try this simple hands-off remedy:

Place a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of your kitchen sink, and fill the basin with water. Then, sprinkle in two tablespoons of table salt; and drop your silver pieces into the water. Allow your silver to soak for 2-3 minutes; then, remove and rinse. The tarnish will be gone!

Note: Badly tarnished silver may need to be soaked a second time.

Why This Works:

When salt, aluminum foil and water are combined they create a chemical reaction known as ion exchange. During this process, the tarnish on the silver is transferred to the foil. In fact, if your silver is tarnished enough, you'll actually see brown tarnish on the aluminum foil.

Who knew science could be a frugal person's best friend?

Benefits of The Aluminum Foil/Salt Cleaning Method:

no polishing
no harsh chemicals

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Hello. I have three kids who are are 10, 8 and 6. My husband works and travels. I stayed at home for 7 years as the kids were born, and then returned to work for 3 years. I am now a stay-at-home mom, again, and as long as I can continue to run this household on one salary, I will be able to continue to be here for my kids when they get home for school, cook real dinners, and keep my house organized. This blog is as much of a reminder for me, as well as a source of information for you. Put it in your "favorites" list, and check in daily. I promise to have great tips often!!!!