Web cams run in all shapes sizes and price ranges. The market is flooded with choices. Let me save you some time and effort with an inexpensive web cam you can pick up for under 25 dollars.

This sharp looking camera also has a built in microphone making it a great buy for under 30. Reviews across the web are great, read them here and here. Resolution out of this camera is high for a "cheap" web cam 1280x960. Mounting is versatile and easily mounts on top of any lcd monitor. With USB used to connect to computer your ready to go with plug and play set up.

Product Features
· High resolution VGA sensor offering excellent image quality, even in low light conditions
· USB 2.0 Video Class (UVC) interface for quick data transfers and simple, driver-less installation (under Windows XP SP2 and Vista)
· Built-in microphone
· Image mode resolution: 2 Mega pixels with interpolation. Video mode resolution: 1280 x 960 with interpolation, Up to 30 frames/second
· Horizontal rotation over 360 degrees and vertical rotation over 30 degrees

Technical Details
· Brand Name: Hercules
· Model: 4780463
· Item Package Quantity: 1
· Hardware Platform: PC
· Minimum system requirements: Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Microsoft Windows Vista
· Weight: 0.7 pounds
· Warranty: 2 years warranty

One of the largest and fastest, not to mention free ways to communicate to anyone anywhere in the world is using Skype. Free for all Skype members to call or video call other Skype members. A small investment of a Web cam with microphone and you are off to free communication. Very easy to use and quality of sound is near perfect. Once you join Skype you can search for friends and family who may also be members.

Send a friendly invite and start your phone book!

Lets Be Frugal Forum

A strong all around antioxidant

For a night time cough - Cut up a small lemon and add it in 2cups of water. Bring it to a boil then simmer 5minutes and add honey.

If you suffer from kidney stones, start putting a slice of lemon in your water. The chemical structure will dissolve the stone and will keep kidney stones at bay.

Lemon, vinegar, and cranberry juice = parts for easy safe "detox" solution. Or if you need to pass a drug test by the way

Help with diarrhea with a squeezed lemon in a cup of water.

Wart Remover - Baking soda, water and lemon juice mixed and drank will help warts disappear.

Helps reduce bloating and flatulence

Sore Throat - Lemon juice from the bottle/ natural mixed it with honey, apple cider and water warmed up in a microwave will sooth a sore throat.

     Storing Tip: When you get them home, wash them in soapy water with a little bit of bleach. Rinse and dry well. The bleach will kill any mold spores that you can't see. Refrigerate and they will last a long time.

      Laundry Brightener - Add up to a half cup of Lemon Juice instead of bleach. 

Add a lemon to your fruit basket to keep fruits from browning longer.

Citrus peel is also good to keep cats from any area that you put the peels -- kitchens counters, dog's bed. etc

Lemon juice can be used as a mosquito repellent in your yards and gardens (example- "Lemon scented Joy", for dish washing in a garden sprayer)

Put thin slices in mole burrows. They will leave that burrow!

Freshen your garbage disposal grinding up a left over lemon.

Spritz the lemon rind in the air for a deodorizer.
      Clean car battery acid with lemon juice.

Boiled lemon water can be used a flea deterrent/ remover on pets.

 Lemon Power for Mind, Body and Health

Keep your hands clean. You can also use it as hand sanitizer.

Lemon has as oil in it that is unbelievable for skin care. It is the basis for many facial products; mixed with sugar and used to remove dead skin is centuries old and very effective. Use straight lemon as a toner after........Phenomenal

Clear your aging. They are great for sun spots. Full strength!

Brighten you hair, lemon juice will give more “natural” highlights. Apply than add some sunshine.

Use it to "wash" your face. Splash it onto your face in the morning the same way you'd use water to wash your face.

Kill mold using full-strength vinegar. To keep mold under control spray with diluted vinegar on a regular basis.

Clean your microwave and sink with lemons. Just put 3 tbs in a glass of water and boil for 2 minutes and just wipe your microwave out. Clean as a whistle

Clean your cheese grater when grinding lemon peel. 

Lemon juice works great in cleaning the dishwasher when you have iron or hard water stains. I use about 2 cups in a "heavy wash" with hot water and the dishwasher will come out looking like new!

Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle with salt and use it to minimize soap scum and hard water deposits in the bathroom.
Lemon can be used to clean meat and poultry. 

Lemon juice added to baking soda is great for cleaning tarnished copper.

Add lemon juice to your toilette tank for a fresh easy clean. 

For an all purpose cleaner Combine in a spray bottle: 1/2 tsp Washing Soda, 1/2 tsp Borax, 1/2 tsp vegetable oil-based soap, 2 Tbsp vinegar and 2 cups of hot water. Shake well until all the solid bits have dissolved. For extra cleaning power increase Borax to 1 tsp. Spray and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge. 

Can a single pellet stove heat an entire house? I'm going to provide the actual degrees of indoor rooms vs. outdoor temperatures heating with just a pellet stove.

Many things will skew results in each home. Floor plan, types of insulation, windows and basement type will be the largest factors along with the size and placement of the pellet stove.

Room Set Up
Lets Start with a floor plan of the house. 1970's cape, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1,200sq feet with a full unfinished concrete basement. The first floor is an open concept kitchen, living room and dinning room with one bedroom/office downstairs. Two bedrooms are located upstairs off to the left and right at the top of stairs.. The pellet stove is located in the dinning room corner.

Pellet Stove
The pellet stove is rated for 2,200sq which should be able to handle our 1200sq feet. Pellet stove's state this sq foot coverage as it were one large room, this is not the case for homes. Doors, hallways and stairs will create heat gaps keeping some places warmer than others.

Each room tested has doors open and the stove has been heating the house at least 12 ours prior. The heat setting on the pellet stove was set at 1. 9 being the highest setting.

Hardwood vs. Softwood Pellets
Hardwood burns hotter and creates more ash. Softwood burns at a lower temp and creates less ash.

I use the softwood at the beginning and end of the season to keep the house at a comfortable temp. During the very cold temps of 20 and below the hardwood is used.

Outside Temperature

30 Degrees - Using soft wood on heat setting 5

0 Degrees in blue - Using hard wood heat setting on 9

Below temps were recorded as (degrees):

Dinning room (Stove is located): 66 - 66-70

Kitchen: 66 - Open room to dinning

Living room: 65 - neighbors office, open to dinning room. 67-70

Office: 64 - Furthest room on first floor away from stove.

Bedrooms: 64 - up stairs were

As you can see from the inside vs. outside temperatures the pellet stove heated the whole house comfortably on a lower setting. The hardwood pellets made a huge difference with heat output. The cold nights 20 and blow the hardwood is used. Please share your home set up and if your pellet stove heats the entire house.
** Update: Colder weather dropped indoor temps a lot. Outside was 20 degrees and on a 5 heat scale the indoor temp was 62 primarily through the house.

If you were a first time home buyer and bought a house between April 2008 and December 31, 2008, you were entitled to receive a $7,500 tax credit that MUST BE REPAID over a period of 15 years. If you were a first time home buyer bought a house on January 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2009 you were eligible for an $8,000 tax credit that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE REPAID.This is NOT FAIR. We need to get congress to eliminate the requirement that the 2008 tax credit must be repaid.

Please complete the Petition . It will be sent to your congressman petitioning to keep the same grant across the board for all which is to keep the $7,500 tax credit. It takes 5 minutes and is completely legit and the easiest way to put forth your ideas and opinions where it matters. It is pre filled out and you add your thoughts at the end.

The Frugal Nikon D40 is the most user friendly point and shoot digital SLR on the market.

If you are not familair with Ken Rockwell go check out his site as he is professional and recommends the D40 as his first go to camera on the fly. Save your self the extra money and buy needed accessories for the D40. lens, flashes, tripods and memory will cost more than the D40 body its self. Sure you can buy the $2,000 D300, but side by side photos you will be amazed on the D40 image quality.

New Point and shoot cameras can cost hundreds more than this D40, they may offer more mega pixels but in reality the image sensor on these tiny point and shoot cameras do not add up to this entry level DSLR.

With 6.1 mega pixels it is easy to produce stunning 8x10's (Is any larger necessary?)

I would recommend buying this camera from Amazon through the link above. For a few hundred dollars and the photos you will be producing look top notch.

Key Features

  • 6 megapixel DX format CCD (1.5x FOV crop, as D50)
  • Nikon Image processing engine (as D80 / D200)
  • 3D Color Matrix Metering II, 420 pixel sensor (as D80 / D50)
  • New Multi-CAM530 three area AF sensor
  • ISO sensitivity range 200 - 1600 plus HI 1 (3200 equiv.)
  • Custom Auto ISO (selectable maximum ISO, minimum shutter speed)
  • 2.5 fps continuous shooting (as D50), unlimited in JPEG
  • No status LCD, new LCD monitor based status / settings screens
  • Help suggestions on LCD monitor (eg. scene too dark, try using flash)
  • Large 2.5" 230,000 pixel LCD monitor
  • Bigger viewfinder view (x0.8 magnification, 95% coverage)
  • Short shutter lag and viewfinder blackout
  • Support for SDHC (SD cards over 2 GB in capacity)
  • In-camera retouching
    • D-Lighting (shadow / highlight enhancement)
    • Red-eye reduction
    • Trimming
    • Monochrome
    • Filter effects
    • Small picture
    • Image overlay
  • USB 2.0 with PTP and Mass Storage device support
  • Very compact, light body (smaller, lighter than D50)
  • Improved menu user interface (as D80 / D200)
  • New EN-EL9 Lithium-Ion battery (7.2V, 1000 mAh)
  • New 'Version II' AF-S DX 18-55 mm kit lens

The summers 49-SHCPML is a multi-fuel (corn and cherry pits along with wood) burning pellet stove. "Summers" a Lowes brand name of the stove is also model "10-CPM" at Home depot and TimberRidge "49-TRCPM". This stove by Summers is rated for 2,200 square feet of living space to heat. The Summers model 55-SHP22L is priced at 200 dollar below the 49 model and also claims to heat 2,200sq ft however it is not a multi-fuel and DOES NOT have a ash pan. The lack of ash pan lead to the purchase of the more expensive 49 model. 
Start up :

 (Please watch the DVD included with your stove)  The stove will run for 20 min on wood settings to start the flame. During this time the auger will drop a set amount pellets, after the 20 min it will revert to the settings you have for heat temp and blower speed. Heat and blower settings will go from a low of 1 to a high of 9, the heat setting is not able to go higher than the blower speed although the blower can go higher than the heat setting. The first start up you will need to run for a minimum of 3 hours to "cure" the stove keeping setting at 5 for heat range and 5 for blower.
After start up the stove will run for a few minutes before the blower kicks on. The blower will activate once the temperature of 110 degrees is reached. The glass of the stove gets very hot!  
Heat Output

The first time running the stove we heated the house fairly well on low settings. We have an open concept cape approximately 1200sq feet. Winter has not begun but low temps in the 30's have already begun in September.


My first start up did not go well. The auger was not turning to drop the pellets in the burn box. This lead to the E-2 error on the blower and heat range pad. The issue was due to the hopper lid not pushing down the safety switch to activate the auger. You will hear a click if the safety switch is working properly when you shut the lid.

With the stove off, use 5/16 wrench to remove the 4 screws seen around the auger safety switch. Pull the safety switch out being careful not to disconnect any wires. Using a pair of needle nose pliers carefully bend the flat metal near the buttons end making the button become higher. Replace the safety switch and line up the screw holes. Make sure the switch is not bent to much making it so the the safety part is also on, this needs to click when the lid is shut.

Noisy Blower

This stove does have a blower. I have read many concerns with noisy blowers and to those who have never owned or grew up with a wood stove this may seem noisy. Blowers do make noise and I have been working on making this stove more quite. Use a 5/16 socket to tighten all the bolts you can see. Be careful not to over tighten as these bolts do not have nuts on the other side, this will cut down vibrations. I purchased locking nuts and used them to tighten the 4 bolts you see when the back panel is removed that are located on the bottom of the stove, this helped a lot with rattling noises when the blower kicked on.

Smoke Smell

This is a wood burning stove, smoke smell will be apparent in the house. It is faint and a cozy smell to us northerners. Make sure you piping is locked and sealed with Hi temp silicone. Check the blower outlet to make sure the hose clamp is tight and you have also used silicone on this connection. I think the smell is inevitable but if installed properly it will be low.

Cleaning the Glass

The glass will become pretty dirty just after one use. It's not a big deal but it is nice to have a clean glass. Only clean when the stove if off and the glass is room temp. Do not use Windex as you may disturb the glass appearance and leave a fog. A Story from a HVAC installer I know told me that a customer went to clean the glass with Windex while the glass was still hot and she sprayed the glass and it shattered resulting in burns and cuts.

Customer service

You are calling within the USA!!!
Technical Support Line: (800) 245-6489

So far great! I called to explain some silicon was pealing inside the hopper and they sent me a tube of hi temp black silicon that came in the mail 3 days later. Very friendly and helpful, nice people.

*Remember to use a Carbon Monoxide alarm in the same room.

Specs are as followed:

Wood or Pellet Burning:Pellet
BTU (BTU):52000
Heating Area (Sq. Feet):2200.0
Hopper Capacity (Cu. Feet):1.25
Ash Drawer:Yes
EPA Approved:Yes
UL Safety Listing:Yes
CSA Safety Listing:Yes
ETL Safety Listing:Yes
Pedestal Base:Yes
Brick-Lined Firebox:No
Air Wash System:Yes
Warranty:Limited 5-Year
Fuel Capacity (lbs.):50.0
Auto Ignition:Yes
Touch Pad Controls:Yes
Outside Air Kit:Yes
Built-In Variable Speed Blower:Yes
Catalytic/Non Catalytic:Non Catalytic

Summer 49-SHCPM Pellet stove Install

This DIY we will be using a Simpson Duravent #3300 kit. Purchased through Amazon, please see ad at bottom.

This kit is used for wood pellet burning only! If corn and cherry pits will be burned please purchase the Dura Vent 3300. This kit is Stainless steel both inside and outside where as the #3000 is stainless inside and galvanized outside.

3-inch Pellet Kit contains:

Tee with clean-out plug
Wall thimble
Pipe adapter
5 sections of 12 inch pipe
90 deg. elbow
Outside Pipe Wall strap

This install will be a corner placed pellet stove.

Steps to install Piping. (please see manual for proper installation). All pipes can be twist locked, additional sealing is not needed besides the adapter pipe attached to the stove and any other pipe that may not be able to be locked due to an offset install. All piping inside the house is spray painted black with Hi Temp Rust-Oleum

Unfortunately we had to cut a stud to make the thimble fit in the wall. With some time and a saws all we fit the thimble.

Due to limitations of installing strait through the wall behind the stove, the vertical pipe will be inside the house.

The outside thimble was mounted over vinyl siding. Installing over vinyl siding did not look good as it was not flush. This was a easy fix. Using 4inch screws were needed to reach interior wood.

1) Mount the thimble over the vinyl.
2) Outline in pencil around the thimble.
3) cut out the vinyl siding, underneath you should see thick foam insulation.
4) Place the thimble in the cut out section and make sure it fits, trim if necessary.
5) With clear outdoor caulking fill in around the square thimble and vinyl siding. I used DAP Clear Alex Ultra 230.

The inside thimble does NOT need to be flush mounted. Use black heat temp caulking to seal around inside thimble and pipe where a gap has been left (smooth out with a plastic bag wrapped over your finger).

Outside air kit and Dura Vent air kit.

My pellet order of 3 tons was delivered today by Lowes. Shipping was the easiest and most cost effective way to have the pellets brought to my house. Putting them in the back my truck was far to much weight; plus they were placed behind my house right near the bulkhead for easier moving.

The total for 3 tons was $707
(plus shipping $65) which is $4.71 per bag or $235 a ton (regularly $5.38per bag)

I purchased the pellets during Lowes promotional discount. Buying 3 tons (150 bags) saves you $100 dollars, buying more or less will change savings. I also was able to stack a Lowes mover coupon saving me another 10%.

Green Team pellets are a premium pellet made in Greene County, Pennsylvania with a low ash under 1%. They have very good ratings online and some users say they are the best they have used. I will provide an update after a few bags have been used. 

*Update:The pellets burnt very hot and added more heat than the soft wood pellets that were also used last year. The Pellet stove I had was a junker and has been removed and replaced. I would recommend these pellets as a top choice.

Our first Winter season here in NH propane cost us a little over $1,800. Propane was our only heating source and ran about 22 hours day and set at 64-68 degrees so we were never warm and comfy. We needed another option and the biomass tax credit was the answer.

Here is how I made my Frugal Purchase

I ended up going to Lowe's. I feel more comfortable buying from a chain store knowing if I had a dilemma they would help me. They are also local and I'm there 3 times a week (I know, not to frugal).

The stove was $2,199. Summers 49-SHCPM

  • Using a 10% off coupon saved me $200. These are mover coupons found at USPS or mail ordered from here.
  • I took advantage of the 0% finance for 6mo on the Lowe's credit card. My plan is prior to the end of 6 months when the balance is due I would have already been refunded my 600 dollars or 30% from the tax rebate. Than paying in full of course.
  • I skipped out on delivery and picked it up myself. Saved 65 dollars.
  • Another way to save more money is buy Lowe's/ Home depot gift cards off craigslist for less than face value ( do at your own risk and only buy if you have them verified at the store and you use them right away). Remember you still get the 30% back on the purchase price.

So after the tax credit the stove will cost $1,400. Along with 3 tons of pellets for a going price of $269 this year will cost $2,207. After 3 years I will have saved $1,500 and every year after a thousand dollars will be saved.

2009-2010 purchases of a NEW pellet stove that is 75% efficient qualifies for up to $1,500 back at tax season!

After making the purchase, simply download and print the official Manufacturer’s Certificate, which indicates that the product qualifies for the tax credit. You can rely on the certificate when preparing your tax return. It is not required that you submit the certificate or a product sales receipt to the government when filing your taxes, but the IRS requires that you retain them in your personal tax records.

Biomass Stove

Stove which burns biomass fuel to heat a home or heat water.

Thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% as measured using a lower heating value.

30% of cost, up to $1,5001

Many pellet stoves qualify for the credit which makes it very appealing. Unlike a wood stove a pellet stove does not need a chimney and burns much cleaner. Pellet stoves are a direct vent set up. This means a stainless steel pipe will go right from the stove through the wall to outside, very simple set up.

Pellet stove research is not easy. There is no one site that has all the stoves to review so you have to take your time. To narrow down your search the first thing you have to do is figure out
what amount of square feet are you looking to heat? The second is your budget. Pellet stoves sell from $1,300 to $5,000. I searched from online to local dealers to retail chains like Lowe's and Home depot. I will explain my pellet stove decision on the next blog.

Pellets in NH are selling in the early season from $250 a ton to $300 a ton. A typical full season of burning will consume about 3 tons. This is a drastic price reduction from propane.

**Please be sure to verify if the pellet stove you are looking to buy qualifies for the tax credit.**

DISH Network Promos Start August 1, 2009: FULL YEAR of Discounts on All Classic Packages! Free Platinum HD permanently for New and Existing Customers! Starts Saturday, August 1, 2009 at DishNetwork.com

---Classic Packages Save an additional $180.00 the First Year!

---Free 18 Premium Movie Channels of HBO & Showtime for 3 months! ($86.94 value) No commitment to keep after free promotion.

---Plus also receive 5 Premium Movie Channels of Cinemax for only a penny a year! ($155.87 value) No commitment to keep.

---Free installation on up to 4 TVs! ($99.00 value)

---Free activation! ($99.00 value)

---Free DHHP protection plan for 9 months! ($35.84 value) No commitment to keep after free promotion.

---Free HD DVR lease upgrade! ($200 value) Covers two televisions independently! The DISH Network HD DVR has been reviewed by CNET to be “the Best HD DVR on the Planet” and “Better than TiVo.”

---Free Platinum HD channels permanently when you subscribe to a Classic Package and HD! ($120.00/year value); existing customers will also be eligible for this new free Platinum HD promotion. Existing customers do NOT need to call. Existing customers already paying for Platinum HD will have any advance payments for August 1st service and beyond credited back automatically within 2 billing cycles. Existing customers with the $10 HD addon will automatically have the Platinum channels added at no extra charge.

Total first year savings with HD is $976.65! Receive almost a thousand dollars in savings in return for a 24 month commitment to the best value in television in America. You only need to maintain a minimum basic qualifying package of at least $19.99/mo. Starting August 1st more International packages will qualify as minimum basic qualifying packages.

Classic Bronze 100 with local channels: Regular: $39.99 Promo: $24.99 (Full Year)

Classic Silver 200 with local channels: Regular: $52.99 Promo: $37.99 (Full Year)

Classic Gold 250 with local channels: Regular: $62.99 Promo: $47.99 (Full Year)


DVR service: $5.98/mo.

HD: $10/mo. Starting Aug. 1st includes Platinum HD channels which WAS an additional $10/mo.!

My favorite site to find bargains is Slick Deals !

Constantly updated everyday are deals that surround us everyday that we don't know about. It's like having a million eyes on the market all entered to one site, your bound to find many great deals and some price mistakes that are honored. Thousands of deals are found a day but only some make it to the daily deals.

The site is easy to navigate-

  • Enter the home page and take a look at the dark blue head lines where you will see today's date and prior days. These headlines show us all the deals that were "hot" for the that days date.

  • As you run your mouse over each deal it will highlight blue.
-To see the deal in deeper detail click the post and now the deal details are able to be seen (clicking the deal again will close the details).

- In the details you will see comments from others and where the actual deal is located (reading comments is very helpful).
Up and coming "Hot" topics are located on the right.

- These are deals that are about to be listed on where you were just looking under a certain day of the week.

- Sometimes you can score a deal that may be limited before others as not everyone looks at the hot deals.

Slick deals has built relationships with some vendors that just going to a another link through slick deals will get you more money off!

This site is very frugal and has found me many free things.

Blue Rhino has teamed up with Walmart to exchange old cylinder 20gal tanks for new filled Blue Rhino tanks.

It's summer time and propane is needed around the home for one reason or another. Either a BBQ or to keep the pesky mosquitoes away propane will be another unwanted expense for the summer. Save some money on 20 gal tanks at Walmart !

There are two style nozzles on propane tanks. The older less safe valve looks like a star or an out door water faucet valve.The new style is the Blue Rhino pictured at top.

If you exchange your old tank all you need to pay is 15 dollars vs buying the new Blue Rhino tank for 42 dollars filled. If you do not have old tanks to exchange and want to take advantage of the deal than you need to look for old tanks.

Finding old tanks can be easier than you think. One great place to find old tanks are camp grounds. They stack the old ones until they are disposed of. As you need to pay to properly throw away tanks many people just keep them hanging around.

- Try your local transfer station or dump.
- Make an add for wanted old tanks for free on Craigs List.
- If you know anyone working for a propane company and they dispose of them all the time.

Safe you self money from buying new tanks and find some old ones to exchange.

Bartering has never been a thing of the past

"Never be the one "wanting". You will go over your limit or out of your way. Usually the seller wants to sell which means they will accept less than they really want to make a sale."

If you don't feel comfortable bartering in person you're in luck! Bring out your best negotiating skills through e-mail when buying on Craigs List .I buy and sell on Craigs List all the time and barter every deal. I work down many sellers and save lots of money.

Here are some simple steps to get you the best price.

1) Search how many listings you have as an option.

  • If you are looking to buy for example a bike, see how many different people are selling the bike you want.
2) Look at each listing.
  • Look at condition, asking price, distance of travel needed for pick up and how motivated the seller seems.

  • If you have any further questions on the listing be sure to e-mail and ask them. You want to know exactly what you are making an offer on. The sellers true e-mail is not listed on the post. You will see where it says reply to: and a blue link to e-mail the seller. You can highlight this link and post it in the To: header in you personal e-mail.

The Bartering Process
After your questions have been answered and you decide to e-mail the seller and make an offer the bartering process starts. I don't care if the posting says firm, you have nothing to lose and only money to gain making an offer you feel comfortable with. The worst case the seller says no and you move on or decide to buy.

I will always low ball my first offer, If the seller is upset than I will use a few different excuses:

  • I would put the ball back in their court and say" I apologize, what would you accept if I were to buy today?"

  • "Another seller with the same product had accepted xx$, they live a little further away though. Would you accept the same price?"

  • Or: I would not e-mail back and go to my secondary plan which I will reference.
After I get an agreement I will do 1 of 2 things.
  • One, I take the deal if I feel it is worth it.
  • Two, If I think there is more wiggle room on price I tell the seller I will get back to them and think about it.
  • I will than use my second e-mail created for bartering on craigs list, it's used for nothing else. After a day or two and the item I want is not sold I will e-mail the seller again (on my other e-mail) and offer less than the accepted offer we began with.
  • Most cases I say "I can give $x.xx and pick up today) and the offer is accepted. I wont use my name until I meet in person so the e-mails don't cross paths with having the same name at the bottom.

Voice Over Internet Protocall (VOIP) is becoming more and more popular each year. It is a less expen

Friends can be Frugal!

Brakes and rotors were needed on the 2004 accord today. We all know how expensive car repairs are and the dreadful service labor costs are sometimes hard to digest. We shopped around and received two quotes, one from a local garage and one from American Brake service (ABS). Not to my surprise both were priced over $650. with 60-$70 per hour on labor cost a headlight would be $100 to change, not my idea of frugal!

As these prices came up in a conversation with my good pal Jon, he quickly offered to help install the brakes and rotors. I'm not a mechanic and Google can only help so much so doing it myself would have taken all day. With the help of Jon I knew this was a task to take on ourselves.

Jon had an account at Robins Auto parts so we met up and priced out the parts. For the front, brakes and rotors cost $132, free labor; as Jon is a good friend and wanted to help so this was looking like a BIG Frugal savings. Check out this link for help with brakes on an accord.

The install took about an hour for both front rotors and brakes. With just the few right tools this is an easy job to complete yourself. I saved over two hundred dollars !

Remember your resources, with the web at your finger tips you have the ability to learn anything. Before you give away your hard earned money see if you can do the job yourself. If you can't than look onto others as they may help.

For any Do It Yourself projects check out Do It Yourself.com

What did you do today that was frugal ?

 Ask, it can't hurt !
Today was the last day of my 6mo intro promotion for high speed internet and digital cable with high definition for $66 dollars a month. My plan after the intro was over was to go back to basic 25 cable channels, no high def and also slow my internet down a bit as I don't do any downloading. Cutting all my services back placed me at the same price with far less so we were not looking forward to it. If I were to keep the high definition package my plan would cost $120 dollars a month, doubling what I was paying the past months.

I called Comcast and spoke to a rep explaining to her my intentions. I was very nice and polite and made some small talk about how I wanted to save some money and that is why I'm downgrading all my services. As we talked about plan rates I said "it would be great if I could keep the same package at the same price for another 6 months."
To my surprise the rep answered with "I think we can do that!" She placed me into another 6mo promo to receive high speed internet and the digital silver package along with High Definition channels.

Keeping this high definition package through Comcast saved me near $400 over the next 6 months.

Ask for that little extra, every time! If you don't you may have just cost yourself hundreds.

Are you an Energy Star?

Please be aware of the many tax credits you are eligible in the coming years. The government has so generously put in place many rebates and tax credits towards energy efficient products, home purchases and hybrid cars. Lets focus on our environment and ways to clean it up. Saving energy is one leading way to go green and we all should be focused on this goal.

Lets take advantage of these tax rebates!

Energy conservation is frugal and we like to save so I would recommend spending sometime looking over what qualifies. Washer machines, pellet stoves, light bulbs to solar panels are all purchase that you can save up to 30% on when you make your energy star approved purchase.

Click the Energy Star Icon above to link for all tax rebates.

"Every purchase should be seen as a future sale"
We all love to shop, buying clothes, lawn and gardening goods and large purchases to cars and houses. I have bought it all by the age of 25 and worked hard for everything I own. Being frugal is a way of thought, its training and conditioning your mind to "penny pinch" and see real deals when they come along. Is what your buying really worth it? What will it be worth in the future?

Today I made $500.00 Dollars
Today I worked on some personal sales of items around the house that are losing value to me. Friends and family think I buy and sell to often but I do it in waves. I'll tell you right now, to be super Frugal rules are bent and lines are crossed. I will share a little history about how I shopped a few items and after years of owning them, made a profit! The items I worked to sell these past 2 days were a year old PlayStation 3 and a 2 year old Verizon wireless cell phone. Here is how I made a profit after owning these items over a couple years. 

Sale #1 
November of 07 I had traced down a Black Friday deal at Wal-Mart for a PS3. The deal was great, I bought the PS3 and it came with 10 free Blu Rays DVD’s plus another 5 when mailed away for. As you know blu rays at that time were 25-30$ each. As that sale came to my eyes the Frugal-ness kicked in. I would sell the Blu Rays or return them back to Wal-Mart without a receipt and make $250 off the $400 I had just spent on the PS3.
Right before I had made this purchase I had sold my PS2 and games for $125 to forefront some cash for the PS3. My plan had worked and I had returned all the Blu Rays back to Wal-Mart making $250,now add the $125 (PS2 sale) equaling $375 which means I had spent out of pocket Twenty five dollars for a PS3.

Well today the PS3 sold for $370, after a year and a half of ownership I had made a gross profit! The $25 dollars out of pocket for the PS3, minus the $370 for the PS3 sale ended up putting $345 dollars in my pocket. Well done, I know!

Sale #2

The 2 year old Verizon cell phone was time to be traded in for "New Every 2". The phone was originally bought for free for signing a 2 year agreement with Verizon. Taking care of your purchases is key; I always keep all the receipts and manuals along with the box it was bought in. This helps for future resale. Again using Craigslist I had found a buyer for the cell phone for $80 dollars. A Pure profit on a 2 year old phone! (Keep in mind) The new Verizon phone I bought was free also.You should always take care of your purchases, keep them clean so when thee time comes you can get top dollar for them.
The extra to make $500

Came from you, the reader!

How to get a loan with bad credit

Raise your hand if you are one of the millions that have to purchase home owners and car insurance.

How many times have you used your car or homeowners insurance? No one likes to pay for a non tangible item and that is exactly what insurance is. More of a peace of mind and comfort of knowing your covered does not always make you feel better when needing to make that purchase.

If you are frugal or trying to become more frugal this will ease the purchase of insurances. Being a safe driver will help you lower car insurance but it also shows you are less likely to use the car insurance. Most opt for a very low deductible of $500, this deductible is used when you file a claim that would usually be over $500 so you pay that amount and your insurance covers the rest. The $500 deductible will cost you more when buying the policy (vs. a higher deductible amount) as the insurance will cover anything over that amount. If you are a safe driver or have money in the bank to pay for a higher deductible (lets say $2500) you will save a decent amount of money off your policy.

Chose the higher deductible for homeowners insurance also and save more money a year, call your insurance company and ask the price difference. Keep that extra money in your own pocket as the likelihood of needing to use insurance may be very low for you.

I would like to shed some light on these scams for all to be aware of. 
The Internet has made many popular ways for thieves to steal our products and money. Ever since currency was created there have been counterfeit funds and scams. With all the ways to exchange currency over the Internet there has been a heighten level of counterfeiting. Money Orders, Cashiers checks, pay pal and standard personal checks have all seen a fair share of replication.

Thieves stem from all over the country offering us what we seem to be "to good to be true offers". These offers are indeed to good to be true and here is how they work. I will include actual e-mails received from "scammers".

In this case I was listing a Play Station 3 with accessories for 4 hundred dollars and received the e-mail below.

" Hello Seller (General person),
Thanks for your quick response to me email.....and i really appreciate it but i want this item ship to a friend in west Africa as a surprise gift and i will be responsible for the shipping cost via USPS as i will offer you $550 (Higher offer than item is priced) for the item including the shipping cost and i would prefer to pay for the item via my verified paypal account due the distance between us, really i am from Florida but as a matter of fact i am out of the state for a project in Australia and the project will last me for like 3 months and i want this ship as soon as possible to the person in west Africa ....kindly get back to me if you really willing to help the situation
 thanks i hope to read from you soon" 

Keys to look for instantly are shipping out or country and buyer offering to pay more then you item is listed including shipping cost without seeing the item.

Scam #1
An offer of more than my asking price! Great! All I have to do is accept a payment by providing my pay pal account e-mail for them to deposit the $550 into. 

- This seller states they have a secure pay pal account, here is the first scam. The seller invites you to there knock off paypal account site where you log in. As this site looks like Pay Pal it surly is not. When you enter your login and password information it is just given to the "scamer". Now they have your account ID and Pass word. 

Scam #2) The seller would like me to send this item to his "friend". 
- Shipping to any other person then the buyer is not recommended as you will now have no information from the buyer and only the fake "friend" information. Do not follow the buyers instructions. 
Scam #3) Here is the final scam. 
- By now you accept the payment from the seller and they ask you to ship it instantly. You notice the payment is not in your account yet and the buyer assures you it will take 24 hours to show.You take the buyers word and ship the item, come to find out you never received the funds plus you have already sent your item out of country, never to be seen again.
 Money Order and Certified bank check scams
These scams are presented in multiple ways. Very similar to the above the buyer will ask to send you a bank certified check. The check presented to you looks real; it will even be accepted at the bank at time of deposit and placed into your account. Unfortunately when cashing these "forfeit" checks you will be receiving a call from the FBI asking questions about the fraudulent deposit, this is about 7-15 days after deposit. Again, by this time you have shipped your item or had the buyers "friend" pick up the car.
Clues to distinguish fraudulent buyers.
  • To good to be true?
  • Buyer wants you to ship the item out of country.
  • Buyer makes offer without seeing the product.
  • Sad stories from the buyer to make you sympathize and feel bad.
  • Buyer asking for your address or any other personal info.
  • Bad grammar or poor sentence structure
    How to stay safe when selling/Buying
  • If selling on Craig's list deal in cash and do not ship. If seller wants to make money order or cashiers check then meet them in person to watch transaction (I personally have done this).
  • If making a pay pal transaction then never follow a link the buyer provides, always log into pay pal from your search bar using www.paypal.com. You will not be able to distinguish forged/fake sites that allow the thieve to steal your log in information.
  • If you are looking to ship your item use E-bay.
  • Common sense will bring you lots of safety; keep the deals in your control.

Fraudulent scam e-mails I have received.  

- "Thanks for your reply,i am a very busy man thats why, can you ship to Africa for me to my son as a birthday gift,he is on a missionary trip there for our church and needs it urgently,i want you to pls help me with this,i would have loved to pick this up myself and send to him but i am not in the city and do not have time to go to the post office.. i'll pay you with paypal since it secures both buyer and seller, and you can confirm payment from your account before you ship? and be sure of getting your money... is it possible?i will pay you for all extra charges and also for shipment to make sure you get your exact amount for the sale.i am willing to give you an extra $40 for any stress caused.
Hope to read from you soon."

- "Hello seller,i am intersested in your ads and i want to know the present condition of the ads and also know if you still have it avaliable for sale.My ideal payment is paypal/moneygram if you want that let me know in your resopond to me.i will take care of the shipping cost by adding it to the cost bill to my payment. Hope to read from you soon. Thanks "

- "Hello kindly let me know the condition of the this item and if it still available i hope to read from you sooner sent from my iphone."

* Please feel free to e-mail me with any possible fraudulent e-mails and I will help distinguish if they are scams.

FICO scores are developed from "Fair Isac & Co". These scores show your credit worthiness and lenders will determine if they should lend to you based on this score. The three score keepers of your FICO are Trans Union. Experian and Equifax

You are permitted to receive a free credit report once a year from any of the 3 score keepers. Use Free Credit Report.com to check your scores. The reports will show all of your credit history, amount you have borrowed from creditors, mortgages and loans. Your payment history will show any missed or on time payments dating back 12 months. Bankruptcies, foreclosures will both show up and stay on your credit for 7 to 12 years. You will have to pay 7 dollars to receive your actual score and I would still recommend doing so. This is a great time to make sure your credit is in check and you have no unauthorized credit.

What makes up for FICO score?

  • 35% -Payment History. Late, missed and on time payments account for most of your score.
  • 30% -Amount owed to creditors vs. available amount to borrow. Lets say you have a 10k limit on your Master Card and you are borrowing half of that amount 5 thousand (Your debt ratio would be 50%). The lower you can keep the "%" borrowed will help your credit score higher.
  • 15% - Length of credit History. This shows creditors how long you have had credit, either good or bad. Never close old credit cards even with not so good standing. Once a card is closed your length is based on your open accounts only. If you have 3 cards, 1 card is 10 years and the others are 5 and you are looking to close accounts than close one of the 5 yr old cards. Multiple open accounts with zero balance can never hurt you, cut them up and throw them away if you want, but do not close them.
  • 10%- New Credit- Have you been applying to multiple creditors? The more applications completed to obtain credit will HURT you. This shows you are desperate for credit and they do not like it. I have seen many credit histories that show with in one day that 7-10 credit pulls from multiple lenders were made. This was due to a car purchase and the car dealer throwing your credit to multiple lenders. When buying a car and financing make sure you tell the dealer to only give out your credit to TWO lenders.
  • 10%- types of credit used - A Mix of credit on your report is good. Credit cards, mortgages and other loans with good standing show you are apt to make on time payments and credit worthy.
Focus on these core percentages and your FICO will be strong. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. For mortgage approval with a decent rate a credit score of at least 720 will be needed.

Keeping a high FICO will allow you to make home purchases and receive a lower rate when ever credit is applied for. You will be given a larger credit limit and be approved much more easily when a higher score is in hand. If you keep on time payments on all open credit and loans and keep a very low amount owed (preferably zero) on your credit cards along with at least 5years of history you will have a mid 700 FICO Score. So go check it out!

The buzz around the new year always seems to be about tax returns. How much money are we getting back from the government? "I hope I don't have to pay in." Everyone is so anxious to receive there return and go buy a new toy.

The way we think of tax returns needs to change.Very rarely is this money used to pay down debt or go towards bills and if it is, great however this is not free money! This is extra money you payed to the Government that they earned interest on and now returning it to you without the interest. You just lost valuable interest and helped the Government make money from YOU.

Your goal with tax returns is to compile the right amount of money being taken out of your check so at the end of the year you receive a very little tax return(consult your tax adviser about exemptions). The idea behind this is simple. The larger your tax return means the more money you had lent to the Government (free of charge). After speaking to your tax consultant and configuring the needed amount to withhold, you could have kept this money throughout the year and not have given it to the Government. This would result in larger take home pay checks allowing you to save more and gain interest on your money.

  • Larger tax returns = smaller pay checks for you - You giving the Government FREE money for a year.
  • Smaller tax returns = Larger take home checks - Money saved throughout the year to save, pay bills or pay down debt.
Please look over your W-4 and speak to your tax adviser to calculate the right numbers to save you more money each year. Use this tip and also include the new stimulus package released that ads roughly 13$ to your weekly pay check you will have saved another couple hundred dollars this year!

Your wallet is slimming and you are cutting all the cost you can. Don't confine yourself and family to no activities due to cost. here are some frugal activities to keep you happy on a budget.

  1. Play outdoor sports
  2. Plan a picnic
  3. Go for a nature walk
  4. Take a beach day at a local beach
  5. Have friends and family over for a small cook out
  6. Walk your pets
  7. Play a board game either inside or out side
  8. Learn about your towns History
  9. Plant a garden or flowers
  10. Have a movie night and rent a movie or watch an old time favorite
  11. Take pictures of nature or something that interests you
  12. Clean up your neighborhood by picking up side walk trash
  13. Yard chores will keep you fit and keep your home value up
  14. Read a book with your partner and share with each other your story
  15. Play guessing games with your kids
  16. Hide and go seek ?
  17. Listen to your favorite music in a relaxing place
  18. Look for stars at night
  19. Go apple picking or pick blueberries or strawberry's
  20. Go fly a kite
  21. Take a bike ride.
  22. Go swimming.
  23. Take a stay-cation.

    Meter your water usage and find other easy ways to cut back on your water bill.
    1. When rinsing dishes use the spray as the faucet will use more and cover less dish.
    2. Go to your water company website to see discounts on products that use less water.
    3. Only use the dish washer when full.
    4. Save Gray water! Gray water is water wasted in times for example you wait for the hot water to run in the shower, Save this water and use it for boiling, watering flowers or
    5. watering your garden.
    6. The old saying " If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"
    7. Take showers instead of baths.
    8. Take shorter showers.
    9. Turn water off when not using it.
    10. Do larger loads of laundry less frequently.
    11. Check for any leaks.
    12. Buy an instant hot water heater. Much more efficient and instant hot water. Look for tax rebates on these.
    13. When it rains have buckets outside to use for future garden watering.
    14. Always be conscious of the water usage, being aware saves gallons a day.
    15. Does your shower head leak or drip?
    16. Have an old toilette? Purchase a fill cycle diverter for under 1 dollar and save a 1.2 gallon per flush. It will refill your tank quicker using less water.
    17. Keep buckets outside when it rains, save for later use to garden.
    18. Buy a smaller diameter hose maybe 5/8 instead of 3/4 to allow less water to pass.
    19. If washing your vehicle, do a quick rinse, fill a bucket to use for soap and water and than quickly rinse. Pressure washers may work better but your carbon imprint will be much less if using a hose and nozzle.
    20. Repair any leaky faucets.
    21. Sort washer loads by weight and fabric type for efficiency.
    22. Wash only when a full load is ready.
    23. Dry only fulls loads.