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How To Rotate Your Car Tires

Written by Brett McKay

gluetire300.jpg

Tires seem to be the most neglected part on a car. If proper maintenance isn’t given to tires, you can find yourself forking over some serious dough replacing them more often then you should. Tire rotation is an important part of proper tire care. Most people take their cars in to shops and pay up to $20 for this simple 15 minute job. Today we’ll discuss why tire rotation is important and how you can do it yourself to save some money.

Why rotate your tires?

Tire rotation means changing where individual tires are mounted on the vehicle. Different tires wear differently because they carry different loads and face different road conditions. For example, the front tires carry about 60 percent of the car’s weight. So, the front tires are going to wear much more quickly than the rear tires. To make those front tires last longer, we need switch them with the rear tires to give them a break.

How often should you rotate tires?

Check your car’s owner’s manual for the recommend tire rotation schedule. If the manual doesn’t give you a recommendation, shoot to rotate your tires every 5,000 miles.

How do you rotate tires?

Rotating tires isn’t very difficult. Think of it as changing a spare tire on each wheel.

You’ll need jack stands to do this. Jack stands allow you to keep your car elevated while you switch the tires out. If you look around you can find jack stands for about the same price you would spend on one tire rotation at a shop.

  1. Loosen the lug nuts on all your wheels. You don’t want to take them completely off yet. This will make unscrewing them when the car is elevated much easier.
  2. Use a car jack to lift up the car and place a jack stand under both the rear and front axels.
  3. Take off the lug nuts and put them in a safe place.
  4. Now the rotating begins. There are different recommendations of how you should rotate your tires. Some professionals recommend you switch the front tires to the rear, keeping the tires on the same side. Other professionals recommend the “cross rotation” in which the front tires are moved to the opposite sides of the rear, right-front to left-rear and left-front to right rear and the rears are moved straight forward. Give your dealer a call for what they recommend on your particular car.
  5. After you rotated the tires, screw the lug nuts on by hand as much as you can and then with the lug wrench as much as you can.
  6. Lower the car from the jack stands. Take the lug wrench and tighten the nuts even more. It’s best to work in the lug nuts diagonally from one to another. It looks like a star pattern. It allows the nuts to screw in better.
  7. You’re done. Now go drink your favorite cold beverage.

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[tags]car maintenance, tires, frugality[/tags]

How To Clean Your Car Like A Pro

Written by Brett McKay

The Benefits of A Clean Car

  • Financial. Every day our cars are subjected to sun, salt from the sea, grease and grime from the road, acid rain, smog, tree sap, dead bugs, and worst of all, the ever-acidic compound of bird poop bombs. These things eat away at paint which in turn eats away at the metal in your car. While failing to wash your car won’t result in immediate damage, over time the elements will eat away at your car and its potential resell value. Thus, making a 30 minute investment two times a month, can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost car value.
  • Emotional. Your car is an extension of you. You wouldn’t go months without washing your clothes. Why are you doing it to your car? A clean car exudes confidence and orderliness. Also, keeping the interior of your car clean and neat can help with your stress level. Cars seem to become the default “junk drawer” in peoples’ lives. We just toss things in the back and forget it about it. All that crap in the car is definitely interfering with your feng shui. Clean out your car and you’ll notice immediately the stress while driving diminish.

How To Wash A Car

  1. Gather materials. You’ll need a hose, a bucket, a 100% cotton rag (a sponge could do) liquid soap designed for cars (household detergent can have chemicals that strip a car’s protective coating), a 100% cotton towel, car interior cleaner, and a shop vac.
  2. It’s best to wash a car in a shady place or while the sun isn’t that strong. Too much sun can cause the soap to dry up before you have a chance to rinse, which can result in paint damage.
  3. Clean out the crap. Toss everything out that’s laying in your backseat, the glove compartment (of jockey box as they say in Utah), and the side doors. Take out all the loose change in your cup holder and put in your change jar
  4. Vacuum. Take out the mats so you can air them. Start in the back seat and work you’re way up to the front. Make sure to get area between the console and the cup holders.
  5. Wipe down the interior. Using a rag and some car interior cleaner, wipe down the dashboard and cup holder. Wipe the steering wheel down with Lysol. That wheel is a breeding ground for germs.
  6. Clean the tires and wheels. Make sure to get the inside of the wheel wells.
  7. Pre rinse the car. Rinse the car down with clear water. This is to get all dirt and grease off that may cause scratches while you’re scrubbing the car.
  8. Wash. Use a cotton rag or sponge with sudsy water to wash the car from top to bottom with straight lines and overlapping strokes. Pay special attention to dead bugs, tree sap, and bird poo.
  9. Run your rag along the inside bottom edge of the doors, lift gate, hood, and trunk.
  10. Dry. Use a cotton towel to dry your car. Other types of materials can scratch the paint.

There you go. You have a professional quality cleaned car at half the price.

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180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Financial Life Around 180 Degrees

Written by Brett McKay

Here’s a list of 180 money saving tips that can turn your financial life around 180 degrees. These are things that I have learned while reading blogs or other books. I’ve tried to provide links to blog posts and other articles that elaborate more on the tip. This was a fun exercise. While I personally don’t practice every single tip listed, it was a good way to find out how I can do better on saving money.

Automobile/Transportation

  1. Wash and vacuum your car at home.
  2. Buy a used car. New cars drop significantly in value as soon as you drive off the lot.
  3. Get rid of your car. If you’re married, just have one.
  4. Keep your tires inflated at the correct pressure.
  5. Do not carry unneeded weight in your vehicle. Excess weight puts a heavier load on the engine.
  6. Accelerate slowly and smoothly. Avoid jackrabbit starts. Get into high gear as quickly as possible.
  7. Use your air conditioner only when absolutely necessary.
  8. Avoid unnecessary stopping and braking. Maintain a steady pace.
  9. Do not rest your foot on the clutch or brake pedal. This causes needless wear and poor fuel economy.
  10. Keep the front wheels in proper alignment. Improper alignment not only causes faster tire wear, but also puts an extra load on the engine.
  11. Rotate your tires regularly. Rotating tires slows down tire wear.
  12. Wash your car regularly. A dirty car can damage paint.
  13. Avoid heavy traffic. You’ll save on gas by not idling as much.
  14. Change your own motor oil.
  15. Observe speed limits. You’ll save money on gas and avoid costly speeding tickets and the resulting increase in insurance rates.
  16. Pay your auto insurance premiums annually instead of every six months. You’ll get a lower rate.
  17. Use the bus to get to school or work.
  18. If possible, ride your bike or walk to your destinations.
  19. Carpool with co-workers.

Clothing

  1. Find an image consultant in your town and ask if you can have the clothes their clients get rid of.
  2. Don’t buy into trends. Keep a wardrobe of classic pieces, so you don’t have to update your clothes every year.
  3. Buy clothes at a thrift store.
  4. Wear clothes more than once before washing them. You’ll reduce wear on your clothes and save energy by not washing so often.
  5. Shop at outlet stores.
  6. Avoid buying clothes that require drying cleaning.
  7. Cut dryer sheets in half to double the value of each box.
  8. Buy your winter clothes at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Buy summer clothing at the end of summer/beginning of fall.
  9. Shop at discount stores like TjMax and Ross.

Food

  1. Forage for food. Check out a book on local edible plants and start stocking up on them.
  2. Buy a water filter and make your own bottled water.
  3. Buy bread at the bread outlet store and freeze excess loaves.
  4. Make meals that are left over friendly, like soups and casseroles.
  5. Join a food co-op.
  6. Make dinners in a crock pot
  7. Buy in bulk.
  8. If you buy soda, buy 2 liter bottles instead of cans. It’s much cheaper per unit price.
  9. Have potluck dinners.
  10. When you eat out, share meals. Most restaurant meals are big enough for two people.
  11. If you don’t have someone to share it with, split the meal and half and put when half in a to-go box for next day’s lunch.
  12. Skip the soda when you go out to eat, and drink water.
  13. Quit smoking.
  14. Make your own coffee. Better yet, stop drinking coffee.
  15. Quit drinking alcohol.
  16. Quit drinking soda.
  17. Find cheaper café’s and restaurants to go to.
  18. Cook your own meals.
  19. Take a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
  20. Buy generic brand products at the supermarket.
  21. Bring your lunch to school or work instead of buying it.
  22. Grow your own vegetables.
  23. Use coupons and loyalty cards at grocery stores.
  24. Reduce meat consumption.
  25. Eat cereal instead of fast food. It’s cheaper and usually healthier.
  26. Have a late lunch/early dinner when going out to eat. You can save on lunch menu items.
  27. Buy cheap food coupons on eBay.
  28. Join clubs at school and take advantage of free food at meetings.
  29. Don’t buy prepackaged cheese or meat. Go to the deli and have them slice it for you. You can get more for you money.
  30. Collect vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer. As soon as it’s full, make a soup out of them.
  31. Buy whole roasted chickens. When you have used all the meat, throw the bones into a soup.

Housing

  1. House sit. Older affluent couples often leave their house for months at a time for vacations and need someone to watch it while they’re gone. Not only can you get free rent, you might get some extra cash.
  2. Become live in help. Some older people need help around the house, someone to cook meals for them, or just someone to talk to. You can live rent free this way.
  3. Relocate to an area with a cheaper cost of living.
  4. Share an apartment. Better yet, move in with your in-laws.
  5. Make an extra mortgage payment each year. You can save money on interest.

Household

  1. Buy furniture at a consignment store.
  2. If you need a tool, see if you can borrow it from someone before you go out and buy it.
  3. Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.
  4. Wash and reuse plastic bags.
  5. Clean your own carpets. You can rent carpet cleaning machines for about $10.

Health Care

  1. If you take a prescription medication on a regular basis, ask your doctor to write a three month prescription. Instead of paying three co-pays, you only pay one.
  2. Go to the dentist at your local dental school. Students need people to practice on. You can get all your dental needs fulfilled at a reduced cost.
  3. If your doctor gives you a prescription, ask if he has samples that he could give you.
  4. Use your local park’s playground as a workout station. Monkey bars can be used for pull-ups and leg lifts. The park will also have a trail where you can run.
  5. If you go to school, use the school’s gym. It’s free.
  6. Brush and floss your teeth. You’ll save on dental expenses.
  7. Eat right and exercise daily. You’ll reduce health costs.
  8. If you join a gym, find one that offers a month to month contract. That way if for some reason you stop going, you won’t be stuck with a 1 year contract that you have to pay for.

Beauty and Hygiene

  1. Use baking soda for toothpaste.
  2. Use baby shampoo for a makeup remover.
  3. Buy makeup online.
  4. Use makeup samples.
  5. Don’t throw out small pieces of bar soap. Wet the small piece and the new bar and stick them together.
  6. Add water to your shampoo to get more uses.
  7. Stop using shaving cream. Shaving cream’s purpose is just to keep your beard wet. You can maintain a wet beard in the shower.
  8. Cut your own hair.
  9. Simplify your beauty products. Do you really need 5 different types of body lotions?

Travel

  1. Pack your travel meals in advance.
  2. Buy snacks at the grocery store, not at roadside convenience stores.
  3. Plan trips where you have friends and family. You might be able to score free room and board.
  4. Go camping.
  5. Stay at a college dorm room when traveling. Many universities rent out dorm rooms at a decent price during the summer.
  6. Book your flights and cruises way in advance. You can get lower prices.
  7. Always negotiate hotel room prices. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking, but do it with a nice smile face-to-face when you check in, or with friendly calls direct to the hotels you’re considering. It won’t work if you just call national 800 numbers, because they can’t negotiate. If your flight is overbooked and the airline offers a voucher if you take a later flight, take it.
  8. When flying, bring your own snacks. Airport food is expensive.
  9. Avoid renting a car at the airport. You’ll find more competitive rates, plus avoid extra surcharges at car rental agencies away from the convenience of the airport.
  10. Time your stay for best hotel deals. Plan the timing of your stay according to the type of place you visit. Hotels in cities are usually cheaper on the weekends, when business travelers aren’t staying there, but hotels in resort areas or other places that are popular with leisure travelers are often cheaper during the week
  11. Tourist spots sell everything from film — to capture those special moments — to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun, at a higher cost. Purchase these items before and save.
  12. Travel after peak season. This might not be an option if you have school-age children. But families with infants and toddlers can take advantage of discounted rates by traveling in the fall.
  13. Bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Bottled water at airports is expensive. While you can’t bring any liquids past security, you can bring an empty bottle. Put it in your carry on and fill it up as soon as you get past security.
  14. Stay in hostels when traveling overseas. While you do have to share a bathroom and a room, you can stay for as little as $5.
  15. If you need a quick get away with your significant other, spend a night in your local bed and breakfast.

Entertainment

  1. Buy an Entertainment book. The initial investment is about $20, but there’s hundreds of dollars in entertainment savings in it.
  2. Join Gamefly for cheap video game renting.
  3. Trade video games, DVD’s and books with your friends.
  4. Start a book or film club. After reading the book or watching the film, discuss it.
  5. Have a game night with friends.
  6. Attend movies at dollar theaters.
  7. Take advantage of your local university. Colleges often have free entertainment events.
  8. Join the library.
  9. Read magazines for free at bookstores.
  10. Check out DVD’s from the library, rather than renting them from the video store.
  11. Find cheaper hobbies like blogging or jogging.
  12. Go on a hike, take a walk in the park, or go to the beach. Some of the nicest things to do in life are totally free.
  13. See if your local zoos, museums, entertainment parks and water parks have annual passes. Often the annual passes may not cost more than the price of a couple of visits.
  14. Save money on movies by going to the matinée.
  15. Watch amateur sports. High school athletic competitions are cheap and can be just as exciting as the pros.

Banking and Investing

  1. Start an automatic savings plan with your bank.
  2. Use your credit card to make all purchases, but pay it off each month. That you’ll earn cash back or travel points.
  3. Invest in index funds. There are hardly any costs in purchasing and owning index funds.
  4. Open an online savings account. Most online accounts offer a 4% interest rate. That’s much better than the 1% you get at your current bank. E-mail me for an ING referral.
  5. Avoid ATM fees. Only withdraw money from machines approved by your bank. 7-11 doesn’t have a surcharge.
  6. Pay bills by direct debit. You save on postage and avoid the risk of paying late fees.
  7. If you use checks, don’t buy them from the bank. You can get a better deal with other printing companies.
  8. Don’t overdraft on your account. You’ll save yourself money on penalties.
  9. Invest with a cheap online brokerage company like Sharebuilder.

Children

  1. Buy gender neutral baby clothing so you can use them again with the next baby.
  2. Make your kids Halloween costumes. It’s cheaper and more fun.
  3. Buy your baby toys from the thrift store. Toys suck these days. Give your child the gift of old school toys that actually requires an imagination.
  4. Buy your baby’s and tot’s clothes from the thrift store. Your kid isn’t going to notice the difference between a thrift store onezy and a Gap onezy.

Utilities

  1. Use a clothes liner to dry clothes. You’ll save on your energy bill.
  2. Replace old appliances with ones that have Energy Star approval.
  3. Regularly clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator. A clean coil uses less energy.
  4. Make sure your freezer is full. An empty freezer requires more energy to keep cold.
  5. Use washable coffee mug instead of Styrofoam. You’ll save money and help the environment.
  6. Replace all your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent lighting.
  7. Turn off the lights when not using a room.
  8. Turn off your appliances when not using them.
  9. Don’t use a cell phone.
  10. If you have a cell phone, don’t buy the extra features like text messaging and web access.
  11. If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line.
  12. Get rid of cable. Who needs 100 channels of crap?
  13. Use the internet at school or the library. Not only will you save money, you’ll save time.
  14. During the winter, leave the oven open after you cook to heat the house.
  15. Sign up for Skype for long distant phone calls.
  16. Turn your heater thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in the summer.

Miscellaneous

  1. Get a digital camera. You save money on film.
  2. Don’t own a pet. You’ll save money on food and shots.

Shopping

  1. Avoid impulse buying. Practice tantric shopping.
  2. Buy as much as you can online.
  3. Negotiate the price on big ticket items like cars, electronics, and large appliances.
  4. Use cash as a negotiating tool. Nothing makes a seller’s mouth water than cold hard cash in their hand.
  5. Before you buy something, ask if the item will be put on sale in the near future.
  6. Don’t buy extended warranties. Eighty percent are never used, and they’re a major profit item for the vendor. That’s why they push you so hard to buy them!
  7. Keep receipts and send in rebate slips. Very few consumers actually return rebate coupons. Which is, of course, exactly what the manufacturers are hoping for.

Low cost ways of making extra money

  1. Sell your old stuff, like CD’s and books on eBay and Amazon.
  2. Turn your hobby into a business. Pretty much anything you do can be turned into a business of some sort.
  3. Sign up with an online survey company like Survey Spot.
  4. Become a mystery shopper. Not only can you make some extra money, you might get some free stuff as well.
  5. Have a yard sell.
  6. Start a blog and put Adsense on it. You might only earn 4 cents a week, but it’s something.
  7. Become a consultant. Do you know a lot about a particular skill? Put that knowledge to work by helping others.
  8. Do freelance work on the side. If you’re a good writer, photographer, artist, or programmer you can make some extra money by selling your talent to companies.
  9. Start an errand Service. Offer to pick up groceries or dry cleaning for others.
  10. Waiting service. People these days don’t have time to wait on the plumber of cable guy. Charge by the hour to do the waiting for other people.

School

  1. Check out study supplements from the library. Don’t buy them.
  2. Buy used text books.
  3. Take advantage of free pens and pencils at business conferences.
  4. Keep track of your pens and pencils. You’ll spend less on them if you don’t lose them all the time.
  5. Buy back packs that your kids can use for years. While they might think the Sponge Bob Square pants one is cool in 2nd grade, they probably won’t think it’s cool in 4th.

Computers

  1. Use open source software like OpenOffice for your computing needs. Here’s a huge list of all the open source software you’ll ever need.
  2. Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
  3. Print off your documents in draft mode. It’s faster and saves ink.
  4. Use free online storage for all your digital storage needs.
  5. When you buy new computers or printers, keep the old cables. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Gifts

  1. Make your own greeting cards.
  2. Make your own wrapping paper.
  3. Agree with family and friends to NOT buy each other Christmas presents this year.
  1. Offer to give a service, like a night of free babysitting as a gift, instead of buying stuff.
  2. Give baked goods. Everyone loves cookies!
  3. Learn the art of the re-gift. If you get something that you don’t like, keep it and give it to someone else later. However be careful to keep track of who gave you what. You don’t want to give a gift back to somebody.

Can you think of any more? Add to the conversation!
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Featured Resources

A great way to avoid spending extra Money is by avoiding Credit Card Offers that have a high Interest Rate. When you signup with a new Credit company be sure to check their APR rates and find out if a free Balance Transfer option can help you save money.
[tags]saving, frugality, personal finance, clothing, food, cars, beauty, health care [/tags]

Top 5 Ways to Save Money While in School

Written by Brett McKay


This is my contribution to ProBlogger’s top 5 group writing project. Go by, read the submissions, and contribute a post as well.

Like most young students, I’m poor. My wife and I are always looking for ways to save money so we can mitigate our already high student debt load. Here’s a list of the 5 things that I have found that have helped us save the most money.

  1. Live with your parents. Right now, my wife and I are living with her parents. This has been our biggest money saver. It’s worked out rather well for us and my in-laws. We have rent free housing and they get in home service. My wife cleans the house and makes dinner for them every once in awhile and I take care of landscaping and the recyclables.
  2. Don’t own a car or if you’re married, just own one. My wife and I just own one car. I got rid of mine when we married. We save on insurance and maintenance. Besides the savings sharing a car has given us time to talk between our busy schedules.
  3. Bring your lunch to campus. I’m surprised by the number of law students who go out to eat every day. If the average meal is $5, that means that many students are dropping $100 a month just on lunch. My average home brought lunch costs probably a $1, some time less.
  4. Buy used textbooks. Buying new is for suckers. Buying used law school text books can be tricky though because publishers come out with new editions frequently. It’s OK to not buy the newest edition. The reality it that there’s not much difference between the older and new editions. If there is something new, just read it in a friend’s text book.
  5. Take advantage of free food at club meetings. There’s always a club meeting somewhere on campus on any day of the week. Often at these meetings there’s free food. Stop by, enjoy the speaker, and load up on grub. In addition to bring your own lunch, this is another great way to reduce your food budget.

Featured Resources

f money is tight it can be tempting to overindulge in Credit spending but the interest fees will only serve to exacerbate your debt. A Low Interest Credit Card can be useful for establishing a Credit History, but the Best Credit Cards are the ones you don’t use.
[tags]ProBlogger, Top 5, saving, money, school[/tags]

Battle of the Sexes: Who Spends More?

Written by Brett McKay


This week’s Time magazine has an interesting article on the common idea that women spend more than men do. Come to find out, men actually spend more money overall. Let’s look at the figures.

Men

Women

Car ownership

$2,000

$1154

Eating out

$1,847

$1,095

Entertainment

$1,459

$1075

Clothes

$823

$1,069

Tech

$632

$458

Personal care products

$196

$458

I think there’s some truth to this. Sure, my wife buys new clothes more often than I do, but she usually doesn’t spend that much. One thing I’ve noticed at stores is that men’s clothing usually is more expensive than women’s. Has any one else noticed this? So, when I do buy clothes, I can often spend more than my wife.

I think the figure for tech equipment is too low. I definitely think this is an area where men lose. I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest in technology. Case in point: When I got back from my two year stint as a missionary for my church, I was craving some tech stuff. I had been out of the loop for two years. One of the first things I did when I got back was order custom Dell laptop. Cost: $2,300. I then went and bought a pocket PC. Cost: $400. Those were the biggest wastes of money. The Dell pooped out on me two years after I bought it. Conveniently, right after the warranty expired. The pocket PC didn’t do it for me. I got sick of using it. Paper is the way to go.

The author argues that personal finance books have been duped into believing this misconception and write books that make women feel guilty. Personal finance books often talk about how women’s financial problems are emotional. The reality is they just need to work with budget, not a shrink.

Women unite! You don’t spend more than men. There’s nothing wrong with you. Men, get your act together.

[tags]shopping, money, frugal, men, women[/tags]

How to Save Money and Strengthen Your Relationship

Written by Mrs. FLS

One of the best things you can do to save money if you are a married couple, especially if you are without ankle biters, is share a car. The first thing you can save on is obviously the cost of the car and having to make car payments. But a couple with only one car saves money in several other ways as well:

1. Insurance: $500-$1,000 a year.

2. Oil Changes: $20-$30 every 2-3 months.

3. Other Maintenance (Tires, Stuff Breaking, Wipers, Ect.): $200-$600 every 1-5 yrs

So if we took a middling estimate of the cost of the extra car, not including its actual price, you’re looking at $1,000+ a year. That’s $5,000 bucks over five years.

You don’t save gas, although it seems that many assume this. But you actually have to drive more picking up the other person.

But there are other benefits even beyond the money saved. The main one is that it seems to be good for your relationship. Mr. FLS and I are both very busy. But the time I spend driving him to and picking him up from law school is consistent daily time for us to talk and catch up on our doings and thoughts. And sharing a car make you have to communicate more. It helps build togetherness. We certainly sometimes have pangs of car envy for those with two cars, but in some ways I will miss it when our lone car finally has a friend.

But the best reason of all is that sharing car is what separates the frugal men from the frugal boys. When people know you share a car, they know your frugalness is for real. It is like a frugal badge of honor.

So dump that second car ball and chain and share a ride, share a smile.