Is it seeking out those who are in similar financial predicaments as you? Is it a voyeuristic curiosity that drives you to see how your fellow financiers are holding up with debt? Or do you just want to quick tips on how to save money on everything, from makeup and clothes to groceries and debt (preferably sans coupons)?
My mantra here is "mastering the art of saving now to live lavishly later," so aside from general news and news analysis, some of my favorite blog posts on others' sites are ones that point out creative, original ways to save money -- especially on beauty and fashion (two areas where you all know I spend the most money).
Enter Good Housekeeping's new book "Good Deals & Smart Steals: How to $ave Money on Everything," ($9.95) which I was lucky enough to snag last week! Imagine all the budgeting tips you've ever harvested from your favorite blogs, packaged into one chic, colorful reference guide that's small enough to tote around in your purse. Talk about finally mastering savings zen!
The book just debuted on October 1 and is perfect for girls (and guys) on the go, who want to be able to quickly reference savings tips by category. The book is broken down into two parts:
- Part 1: How to be a Smart Shopper. This section covers tips on coupons, rebates, stacking, negotiating, rewards programs, online shopping, wholesale clubs, dollar stores, store deals, yard sales, flea markets and auctions.
- Part 2: Get a Good Deal. The second half of the book provides savings tips for in and around the house, big-ticket items, food, fashion and beauty, services, entertainment, travel and cars.
For example, does your heating bill skyrocket when the temperature outside plummets? I don't blame you, there's nothing like being toasty warm indoors when it's freezing outside! My husband may laugh at my pink toe socks, but something's gotta keep these tootsies warm -- preferably something economical.
Whether or not you have toe socks of your own (worn only around the house, of course), "Good Deals & Smart Steals" highlights 10 tips to save on heating bills this winter:
- Be a water heater cheater. Many water heater manufacturers set the temperature to 140 degrees. Instead, set it to 120 degrees -- still hot enough for a steamy shower. Reducing the temperature by only about 10 degrees cuts your energy costs by 3% to 5%.
- Dodge the drafts. Seal draft leaks from windows, doors and gaps with weather stripping and a caulk gun. Replace old, cracked or missing weather stripping around exterior doors. Add "sweeps" to interior doors, which screw to the door bottoms and keep cold out. Seal indoor draft leaks, which are often found behind electrical outlets and light switches.
- Heat smart. Buy a programmable thermostat, which lets you drop the temperature when you're out. By setting it 10% to 15%, lower while you're asleep and at work, you can save as much as $100 a year.
- Give yourself space. If you spend most of your time in one room of the house, use a space heater there and set the house thermostat at 62 degrees. Approximate savings: $200 annually.
- Dial down. Lower the thermostat two degrees to save up to $40 on your heating bill.
- Insulate! Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket to lower your operating cost by 9%. Insulate all pipes running to unheated areas of the house with pre-split closed-cell foam tubes (they slide on easily). If you add insulation every time you renovate, you'll recoup your costs in heating bills over time.
- Draw the drapes. Leaky windows can cost up to 25% of the energy used to heat your home. So lower your curtains and shade to keep heat in and cold out.
- Plant trees. Plant deciduous trees to the south and west sides of the house. The leaves will help cool the house in the summer and the sun will warm your house in the winter after the leaves have fallen. You can save up to $250 a year if you plant three trees in the right spots.
- Go green. When replacing a worn furnace or hot water heater, buy one with an Energy Star label -- that can save up to 20% on your energy bill. If you're in the market for a new water heater, try a tankless water heater which warms water up quickly when needed without wasting energy. Approximate savings: 25% to 45% of your water-heating costs.
- Ask for an audit. Many electric and gas companies offer free energy audits that let you know where to make changes to save on utility bills.
Ed. Note: I received a review copy of this book from Hearst Books. I'm not obligated to review any books I receive from publishers, but this one caught my eye and I felt it merited a mention. Check back in the next few weeks for more tips I deem post-worthy from the book!