Monday, June 12, 2006

Cutting costs: Readers' ideas on using the Web, avoiding interest, economizing on gas, and reusing bags, foil and containers

My column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer column focused on a few readers' suggestions for reining in expenses. Here and in postings later this week, I'll share readers' strategies in their own words - with some fixes for the typos and other small errors that seem endemic to e-mail and an occasional bracketed note to clarify a point or respond to a suggestion.

Feel free to use the "Comment" button beneath the posting to respond. Whether you agree or disagree, we'll all benefit from a dialogue. (Remember to fill in the "Word Verification" box at the bottom of the screen - it's necessary to ensure you're a reader, not a robotic spammer.)

From Pat Asher:

Here's my favorite place to save: I've always bought books, but this site offers the most recent at $9.95 (no tax or shipping costs). [Note: The Zooba Web site's FAQs says sales tax applies in Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana.] The gimmick is that you have to join and pay the fee monthly, but they'll ship the books as gifts if you want, and at that price it's no hardship to buy a book a month (sort of a pun - the company is a branch of the Book-of-the Month Club). The shipping is also very quick - that's important to me.

From Fred Schumacher, King of Prussia:

A very good way to save $42 every 8 weeks is to cancel home delivery of the Inquirer and read it on the Internet or your local library. [Gee, thanks, Fred. If you didn't get here from there, our Web address is]

From Tevis M. Goldhaft, Haverford:

I am now 92 years old, and when I got married in 1935 my father said to me, "Never pay interest; collect interest " To simplify it, you never buy anything you can't pay for right then and there.

I've had an American Express card since 1972 and an Exxon card since they were first issued. I buy things with them, pay the bill when it is tendered, and over these many years I have never paid either issuer any interest.

From Steve Sherman, Audubon, PA:

My wife and I have worked out a couple of things which promise to save us $30-$35 a month on gasoline at current prices. ...

The first thing we've done to save money is to switch who's using which cars. We have an old '95
Ford Escort which my son drives to school and work, and because he's a cautious driver, he gets 25-26 mpg on the thing, so that's fine. But my wife was driving her '03 Ford Taurus station wagon (6 cyl.) 22 miles round trip to work, getting about 16-17 mpg, and I was driving our recently-acquired '03 Hyundai Accent (4 cyl.) 4-5 miles round trip to my part-time job (I'm
semi-retired), getting 24-26 mpg. By switching cars, we figure to save $25-$30 a month on gas, we hope.

Also, I recently applied for and received a AAA Visa card, which gives a 3% rebate on gas purchases. (Some gas companies, e.g., Lukoil, offer a bigger rebate on cards which they sponsor, but often only at their own stations. The AAA card is good at ALL stations.) That figures to save us perhaps another $7 a month or so. So we hope to be seeing some savings on our gas purchases this month.

Gene Apice, Northeast Philadelphia, phoned with a similar suggestion:

Apice, a retired police sergeant, signed up for a Hess Visa that offers 10 percent back on gas purchases for 90 days, then switches to a 5 percent rebate - still on the high end for a cash credit-card rebate. To take maximum advantage of the rules, he first got one for himself and requested cards on the account for other drivers in his household. After three months, he had his wife sign up and also request cards for other drivers. Then he'll have his son do the same. With five drivers and four cars, the family pays as much as $500 to $800 a month for gasoline. Saving 10 percent is worth $50 to $80 a month, and even saving half that in the long run will help.

From Joan Mill, of Phoenixville - who says she considers these strategies "intelligent thinking" rather than "being cheap":

* I use the plastic grocery bags in my wastebaskets; haven't bought small bags in years.
* I re-use aluminum foil that isn't too soiled.
* I wash out zipper freezer bags and re-use.
* I save all aluminum containers to freeze my excess meals.


Post a Comment

<< Home