Monday, February 22, 2016

Ways To Save By Being Green

By Being Green These tips have dual benefits – helping the Earth and your pocketbook at the same time. Here are some things you can do right now and how much they can save you: Carpooling: The average commute to work in the U.S. is 25 minutes, and up to 20 miles each way. Combined with the savings on the costs of maintaining your vehicle when you’re driving to work every day, you can cut your current gas costs in half if you share the ride. Check sites like or to help you plan a carpool (see the Rideshare forum under Community.) Energy Audit: Most households spend around $1,300 annually on energy bills. You can save up to 30% on these costs by making your home more efficient, and many of those upgrades are inexpensive and easy to do – replacing your thermostat with a programmable one, sealing cracks with caulk, and sealing around windows can make a big difference. Conduct a home energy audit yourself or hire a contractor to do it for you (search for “Home Energy Audit.”) You may even be eligible for a tax credit (check Water Heaters: The Department of Energy says the average annual water heating bill is $400 to $600. Turning down the water heater and washing clothes in cold water can save you 6%. A tankless water heater can save up to 30% annually. Re-use (everything): Check before you buy supplies for that one-time project. It’s free to join, and people give away everything from tools and building supplies to appliances they no longer need. You might also want to rent power tools if you won’t use them regularly (search or for “Tool Rental.”)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Thinking Positively Can Make You Healthier

How you approach life can affect your health, according to several studies by medical professionals. Positive people tend to have fewer health problems and live longer lives than pessimists. The good news is if you’re not typically the bubbly type, you can learn an optimist’s skills to help improve your health and how you feel. How to do it: 1. First, determine the things that make you feel the happiest. It might be spending time with positive friends or favorite family members, walking the dog, or watching a funny TV show. Helping others tends to help you feel better too. 2. Next, schedule one of those things in every day’s agenda. Make it a necessary part of your day. 3. Focus on positive thoughts. When a negative thought arises, pause and find a way to spin it to the positive. Even if you don’t believe it at first, just thinking it or saying it aloud can affect your outlook. For example, change “No one wants to talk to me” to “I’ll find a way to talk to others at least once today.” 4. Make being healthier a priority. Exercise boosts your mood and has been proven to reduce stress, which can increase negativity in your life. A healthy diet makes your body and mind feel better, making it easier to be positive. 5. Avoid negative people. Nothing sidetracks a positive day like someone who always has something negative to say. It won’t happen overnight, but after practicing positivity for a few weeks you’re sure to have a better outlook.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Roadside Assistance Plans

Being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire or some other mechanical problem can happen to anyone at any time. A roadside assistance plan is the kind of purchase you hope you’ll never have to use, but having the right one when you need it most can save hundreds of dollars and a massive headache. Here’s what you need to know to choose the one right for you: • Many new cars (and some certified used cars) come bundled with assistance from auto manufacturers. Though they are often valid for the length of the warranty, check with the dealer when you purchase. • Popular roadside assistance carriers include AAA (, Better World Club (, AARP Roadside Assistance (, and Good Sam ( However, add-on plans are also available from cell service carriers, credit card companies, and insurance providers, though the services they cover vary. Some may have restrictions on towing distance, the number of roadside assistance calls allowed each year, and out-of-pocket costs you may incur by using these services. • Because some coverage plans are for specific vehicles (such as those affiliated with a warranty), you may need additional plans for other family vehicles. However, other plans, such as cell phone-related assistance, cover certain people. In choosing coverage, make sure all relevant parties and vehicles in your family are appropriately protected.