April 24, 2014

Save money at the gas station.

While gas prices have come down, keeping any and every cost down is important in today’s tough economic times. My husband mentioned to me that when I make fast starts or sudden stops I’m using more gas. I wanted to learn more about this “notion” of his and found these great tips on saving money at the gas pump on bankrate.com:

Car maintenance
1. Keep the tires inflated properly. This one is simple and a potential lifesaver. Under-inflated tires waste fuel and wear out the tire tread. Also, check tires regularly for alignment and balance.

2. A well-tuned engine burns less gas. Get regular tune-ups and follow through with routine maintenance. The right parts and fresh oil keep your engine happy and less thirsty for gas.

3. Get the junk out of the trunk. A weighed-down car uses more fuel. For every extra 250 pounds your engine hauls, the car loses about one mile per gallon in fuel economy. Carry only the basic emergency equipment and items you really need.

Gas shopping
4. Buy the lowest grade (octane) of gasoline  for your car. Check your owner’s manual for this information. As long as your engine doesn’t knock or ping, the fuel you’re using is fine. You can save hundreds of dollars a year.

5. Pay cash at stations that charge extra for credit cards.

6. Don’t top off the gas tank. Too much gas will just slosh or seep out. Why waste those extra pennies?

7. Drive intelligently; don’t make fast starts or sudden stops. You’re just overexerting your engine and burning extra fuel. Gradual acceleration also helps automatic transmissions run better. Engine-revving wastes fuel, too.

8. Lighten up on the accelerator. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. Speed limits have gone up around most of the nation, but you don’t have to see your fuel consumption go up drastically as well. For example, driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon.

9. Avoid long warm-ups. Even on cold winter mornings, your car doesn’t need more than a minute to get ready to go. Anything more and you’re just burning up that expensive fuel.

10. Combine errands into one trip and plan your stops for the most efficient route. You’ll save yourself time and money.

11. Do not rest your left foot on the brake. The slightest pressure could cause a drag that will demand more gas use — and wear out the brakes sooner.

Other good habits
12. Tighten up that gas cap. Make sure it’s on securely. Buy a new one if your current cap doesn’t fit snugly. Gas easily evaporates from the tank if it has a way to escape.

13. Buy a fuel-efficient car. When pricing cars, factor in long-term fuel costs. Keep in mind that sunroofs add to wind resistance, lowering the mileage per gallon.

14. Be smart with the air conditioning. On the highway, closed windows decrease air resistance, so run the air conditioner. But in stop-and-go traffic, shutting off the air conditioning and opening the windows can lighten your fuel use. Air conditioning can lower your fuel economy by 10 percent to 20 percent.

15. Remove snow tires in good weather. Deep tread and big tires use more fuel.

Also, check your local news station online for local gas rates and locations!

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Rosewood, race, and an innocent kiss

by Talibah Mbonisi

*This article was originally published here at MOH in July 2001.

How serendipitous!  Since last Tuesday, I was planning to write this post; but as divine perfection would have it, I didn’t.  Instead, I waited until I found myself caught up in the emotion of one of my favorite, albeit painful to watch, films, Rosewood.

I remember making very specific plans to see it on the Friday of opening weekend, knowing that I would need at least two days to calm myself down before I re-entered the integrated world of my grad school classes.  For those unfamiliar, Rosewood, based upon a true story about a false one, is the all too common tale of a Black town stolen and then destroyed by a white mob that latches onto a white woman’s accusations against some nameless Black man.  It’s an age old story used over and over and over and over and over and over and over again to justify the heinous lynching and mutilation of countless men and the overt theft of many similar Black towns.  While Rosewood is set in 1923, as recently as this year’s campaign season, we see the same tale propagated with the same evil intentions.  (Banished is another film that talks about this history.)

I will always love Mr. Mann and Sylvester.  As I’m writing this post, they have just saved a train car full of women and children after having to defend not just their property, but also their lives…the lives of their children.

But that isn’t really what this post is about.  It’s just the subtext.

Several weeks ago, my son’s first grade teacher sent home a handwritten note saying that a little girl in his class had accused him of kissing her hand.  The note went on to suggest that my son’s account of the story may have been less than true (that her hand some how brushed up against his mouth when they were playing, his lips touched it, and she mistook it as a kiss.)  Her note suggested that I decide if he was telling the truth.

Initially, I was confused about why I was even getting a note. What was the big deal? They were six-year-olds, and this seemed pretty normal. I also knew that the week prior, my son had told me that this same little girl was his girlfriend. Apparently, she had broken up with him this week and had chosen a new boyfriend instead. I just didn’t know how to read it. Had my son kissed the child’s hand against her will? Is that what she was suggesting? Why was this issue so significant that it warranted a note asking me to sign the bottom? And, as I pondered and then speculated, I became angry and protective. I made calls to people whose opinions I trust, professors, attorneys and his father among them…learned Black folk. And, they raised good points about the litigious nature of parents these days; about the need to teach our girls to speak up when they are violated; about the possibility that this was targeting based upon the fact that my son has a, shall we say, strong personality that makes him stand out; and about the consensus that this was probably just silly B.S. By the end of my call campaign, it was clear that I needed to actually speak to the teacher, but that this coupled with some other things was an indicator that we might need to consider another school for our child.

I am finding that raising a Black son in this country is no small endeavor. I confess that as much as I carry hopes and dreams and faith for him, I also carry many fears. Many are the same as any parent has for any child, I think. But some are the fears that only the mother of a Black boy here can know…I think. And, the truth is, they inform, sometimes subtly, other times subconscioulsy and yet others, consciously, my decisions about how to navigate his experiences, opportunities, education and just about every other aspect of our journey together.

But, they also can misinform. And, that is what this post is about. Everything that I have written up til now is real. And, I would wager this year’s salary that most Black mothers know the fear that gripped me that day. They know how I could go from a note about an innocent kiss to that image of Mr. Mann hanging from that tree.

Anyway, I spoke with the teacher. I explained that I wasn’t going to sign the note, but that I wanted to understand better what the issue was. No, he hadn’t been accused of coercing the little girl. No, it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a she says/he says that she decided to leave up to his parents.

So, the punchline…Last week, I went in to help some students practice their addition facts. I met the little girl. Just as cute as she wanted to be. Her addition wasn’t half bad. No wonder my son was smitten. Oh, did I mention…she’s Black.

Not only did I assume that the little girl was white, that assumption coupled with the fact that their teacher is a white woman colored (pun intended) my entire experience of that moment. What is amazing is that, I wasn’t the only one who assumed. There was a knowing among us all, everyone to whom I recounted the initial story. It was key to the underlying premise of each of our discussions about the matter, but I don’t remember ever making any explicit statement. The fact is, had the teacher been Black, or had we known that the child was, everything would have felt different. It wouldn’t have changed the stories like Rosewood, but it would have changed the framework within which I processed the note and the incident that it documented.

Race in the United States is a complex and powerful construct. History cannot be ignored; and parenting, well…it may take a lifetime for me to figure that one out. I’ve learned something here, a few things, I think; but mostly I have gained another level of consciousness about parenting my son and the ways that my experience of race influences that process.

This post was originally published on The Mama Spot and is re-posted here with permission from the author.

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Easy ways to save on that energy bill.

Has your energy bill been on the rise? Oh my goodness my energy bill has been ridiculous. I have been researching ways to cut down my utilities. Here’s what I have adopted from various sources regarding the energy bill:

- Call your energy company and straight up ask them how you can save on your bill. Ask about “flat billing” (paying one flat rate each month regardless of actual usage) or “locking in a low energy rate.” For example, instead of being billed at 18 cents per KWH, you may lock in at 11 cents per KWH for one year. Both options are a one year commitment to be renewed each year.

- Unplug. Standy power wastes wattage. You know, the charger plugged in with no phone charging…According to the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, standby power makes up 10% of electric use in our homes. I don’t know about you, but that can be considerable; in my home we have a total of 5 cell phones, 2 blue tooth’s, 5 iPods…it adds up. Fix: Use a power strip that turns everything on and off at once.

- Buy products with the Energy Star Seal; use less power…even in standby mode.

- Get an energy audit. Track energy usage and get advice on how to cut back. Contact your energy company about this or try Microsoft’s free Hohm service at www.microsoft-hohm.com

- Turn it off! Leaving the room? Turn off the lights. Don’t need it? Turn off the light.

- Keep your ac/heat setting stable; adjusting it up and down adds up.

If you are trying something else, please share.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Financial baby steps.

Dave Ramsey is a personal finance guru. This is a man who was living large, lost everything and came around full circle. I have started his workbook, The Total Money Makeover Workbook in an effort to better handle my finances and build wealth.

Ramsey has a list of baby steps to financial fitness. Now, keep in mind, these are goals, steps you work towards. Don’t have it, make a plan to achieve it. My mom always told me, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Set up a $1000 Emergency Fund.
I have started one called Operation Not For A Handbag Fund. Handbags are a major weakness for me and I figured if I named it for what it’s not intended for…I will pause and rethink before I dip into it for a handbag I JUST KNOW I want. Don’t have $1000 to start? It’s okay…start with what you can and let it grow. Try depositing $20 a week. This is an additional savings fund, not your savings account.

Pay off debt using the “debt snowball.”
1 – List all your debts.
2 – Pick a target (whichever one you want, I started with the smaller ones).
3 – Pay the absolute minimum on all debts except the target.
4 – Pay extra on the target so that you are exceeding the minimum.
5 – When the target is paid off pick a new target and repeat the process.

Set up 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings.
Remember! This money is in addition to the emergency fund already established. I have set it up in an online ING account. ING has free banking accounts.

Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement.
Hmmmm, now this is where I need to educate myself more. I know I have some retirement money somewhere but I have no clue if it is in a Roth IRA or what. Get back to you on that.

College fund for the children.
Set up a fund for college for your children so that they have a slightly easier time when going to college because the cost of that is not going down.

Pay off home early.
You need to own your home outright so that you will not be paying interest to the banks to make use of your own living space. I agree here, home ownership is awesome. You do not need to have a ton of money to own a home – it’s possible! There is a reason there are 30 year mortgages available. What we do is round up our mortgage amount and pay more each month.

Build wealth and give!
Invest and help those less fortunate.

Remember, these are baby steps, if you commit to trying…you will feel better about yourself and hopefully be encouraged to keep going. Have you read/applied any of the above steps?

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Ways to Save Money Now

Whether you’re doing well or not, you are feeling the sting of our Country’s economic demise. People well off and are losing money, people not doing so well are struggling more than they were before, many even displaced from their homes.

For me, the best way to save money is to move it out of my main account – STAT!

Here are some additional, realistic ways:

Set up automatic savings. This is a big one for spenders like myself. While I haven’t set up automatic savings, I will move money electronically to get it out of my main spending account. It works and I’m sure setting up automatic savings will work even better because you won’t have time to talk yourself out of moving the money (something else I struggle with). Don’t think you have any money to put away? Put something; it adds up.

No vacations. Go on a staycation. What’s that saying? Home is where the heart is? Well home is where your money is. Visit local sights, explore new parks…you get the idea.

Eat out less. This is really tough, especially for mom’s on the go as myself. I have begun packing a small bag with popular snacks for my kids in the car with bottles of water. I have also began feeding them before I head out to run errands.

Budget. Making a budget shows you where your money is going and helps you better plan how to spend your money.

Move your investments. Now is the time to move your investments to low risk securities.

Put off that plan. Simply put, any dreams with large price tag has to wait.

Create another income stream. Perhaps a part time job?

Be informed. Watch the news, surf the web to stay abreast of what’s going on in the financial industry. Many industries fall during a recession and many also are born; know what’s going on.

Since I am not a financial guru, in the least, these are some realistic things I think can be put into place right away. Do you have any to share?

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Shopping Strategies that Stores Don’t Appreciate (but you will).

Say no to the Extended Warranty.  You just end up paying more for the item than you need to and the retailer benefits.  If you’re worried about not having an extended warranty, check with your credit card company and  purchase your electronics with a credit card that offers extended warranty protection.

Use the Stores Credit Card and Pay It Off On Time.  Use the card when the store offers 6 months, no interest, no payments; pay it off on time, and you’ve used their money for free.  Be careful, though:  these offers are tricky, because if you miss a payment or don’t pay the full balance off on time, your interest rate soars.  Don’t have one?  Open an account, pay it off, then cut up the card.

Shop in the Store but Purchase Online. Many times you can get the very same thing you see in the store for cheaper online (and also free shipping).

Only buy what you need. I’m working on this one, I’m a sucker for BOGO’s and 2fers and I know better!  2 for $5 or 5 for $10 means they have to move the merch; they are hoping you will buy more than what you need. You can pay the unit price and buy only what you need, 1 or 3.

Haggle. This I do a lot, but once I thank them for their time and head for the exit, I get called back before I reach the door.  I always haggle for electronic purchases, I never pay full price (especially if I’m shopping with cash). This works best at electronic only stores, not stores such as Target or Wal-Mart.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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