Monday, December 24, 2012

Slickdeals: Find Every Way To Save Your Pennies

It's that time of year when you probably feel like you're just leaking money out of your pores. And that's why it's great that Slickdeals has pushed out a new iPhone app.

What does it do?
Finds you deals snatched from all around the web.

Why do we like it?
We will never argue with saving money. Slickdeals nabs the best offers and puts them on the front page of the app. On a map, it also lists promotions near you from Groupon and LivingSocial. And Slickdeals has a community of spies stalking the internet for the most enticing money-saving options. Find one yourself? You can post it right from the app. Your wallet says thanks.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ditch the U.S. dollar for coins? The debate goes on

The Government Accountability Office is suggesting that the United States can solve some of its money problems by eliminating part of its currency. The plan would be to phase out the dollar bill over a four-year period, and switching over to dollar coins.

According to an Associated Press story on, the GAO says replacing dollar bills with coins could save taxpayers about $4.4 billion over the next 30 years. The American people have heard this before. In a 2006 poll, about two-thirds of the country preferred the use of bills, even after hearing about potential savings.

NBC News reports that pennies cost about two and a half cents to mint, mainly due to copper and zinc in each coin. It also costs more than 11 cents to make a nickel, due to the rising prices of copper and nickel. The government makes a profit when money is issued but is not used, and dollar coins last about 30 years, compared to less than five years for a bill.

The U.S. Mint is putting together a report that explores a number of new metal compositions in creating coins.

Vending machine operators support the use of $1 coins because they don't jam machines, saving repair costs and lost sales.

According to Mail Online, the U.S. Mint has produced 2.4 billion of the Presidential $1 coins, but production was suspended about a year ago. New York Representative Carolyn Maloney says dollar coins are hard to tell apart from quarters. She said, “If the people don't want to use It, why in the world are we even talking about changing it?'

Former director of the U.S. Mint Philip Diehl pointed out that Canada has had success removing $1 bills. According to The Week, Canada’s popular $1 coin, the Loonie, with the image of a loon on the back, inspired a $2 coin, the Toonie.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coins of steel seen as money-saving alternative for pennies, nickels

Your change could be a-changin’.

U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers from Columbus is pushing for production of pennies and nickels to be switched from the existing metal combinations to a makeup that is mostly steel.

The House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing this week tackling the topic in advance of a U.S. Mint report on alternative materials for Americans' money.

“In these times of fiscal strain, we can save millions of dollars,” Stivers said.

Good news for Stivers and interested observers, such as Columbus-based Worthington Industries Inc., was that the steel discussion was well-received by the panel. Executives from Worthington Industries (NYSE:WOR) didn’t testify, but the company has a vested interest in the topic because it is the supplier of steel for coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. That institution is being looked to as a model after switching to steel in 2000.

Beverley Lepine, Royal Canadian Mint chief operating officer, said the Mint’s multi-ply steel process produces the most economical and durable coins on the market. It produces coins not only for Canada, but makes more than 70 other denominations for 30 countries.

The result? The mint’s profit in the past five years has exceeded its net income in the previous 25. It generated a $43 million (Canadian) on $3.2 billion in revenue in 2011. Stivers cited one study that projected the U.S. could save $182 million to $207 million a year by making a switch to coins made mostly from steel. The debate has been spurred by the fact that since 2006, the cost of producing pennies and nickels has outstripped the coins’ face value.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just for Kids: Super Saving Tips from Credit Union Mascots

Saving money is a great way to prepare for your future, help others, and buy the things you’ve always dreamed of. However, as all kids and grown-ups know, saving money can be really tricky. How can we make it easier? To find out more, NerdWallet asked the experts: a penny, a tree, a monster, a dinosaur and an eagle! We learned that saving money may not be easy, but it’s really important, and it’s actually pretty cool, too. Here’s what these credit union mascots had to say about spending, saving, asking for help, and hanging out with kids like you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Start saving your pennies! Single-person mini helicopter coming in 2021

Admit it: At one point or another, you've dreamed about purchasing some form of personal aerial transportation. I know I have. With that in mind, there's something seriously appealing about Hirobo's a one-person mini electric helicopter. 

Scheduled for completion sometime in 2021 (it would probably make a rad gift for your children…someday), the nascent vehicle can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (about 62mph). Of course, the upcoming machine can only sustain that velocity for about thirty minutes at a time, but it's a fault I'm willing to deal with. 

The single-passenger flying craft, which made its debut at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Nagoya, Japan, will be available in two flavors: an unmanned variation that will cost 10 million yen (roughly $125,000) and a single-seater that will set potential owners back a whopping 30 million yen ($375,000). 

Will it ever be able to accommodate romantic travel? Maybe. According to Rocket News, Hirobo president Kotaro Matsuzaka says that a two-seat version is in development. Here's hoping. 

Although it was ostensibly created to serve as a mode of transportation during emergencies or natural disasters, it's hard to imagine this not becoming the luxury vehicle of the future. I mean, really, who needs a Ferrari when you can have a freakin' helicopter? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Conserving water is a good way to save money

I recently heard an expert say World War III is going to be a battle for water. If we want to be a step ahead, we should take steps now to conserve water.

The process of saving water is nothing new to those who haul water. You know how to conserve water, but those of us who have a well or live on a water delivery system need to polish our skills.

Just like dealing with money issues, look first at where you are spending your water budget. If you have a water delivery or if your water comes through a pipe, you know how many gallons of water you are consuming. It is a little more difficult for those of us who have wells, but it is just as important to conserve. You don’t pay for the water, but you pay for the electricity that pumps the water.

All of us pay a cost for water whether it is in the form of an electric bill, cost of city water, or the time and energy it takes to haul water.

Saving water is easy. Become aware of where you are using your water and use some of these ideas to cut down your water consumption.

Bathroom — This is the biggest area of water use in the home with the toilet being the No. 1 culprit.

• If the toilet was installed before 1992, it can use as much as 6 gallons per flush. If it doesn’t need replacing, reduce the amount of water used for each flush by inserting a displacement device in the tank. Keep in mind that at least 3 gallons is needed to ensure proper flushing, though there are some new commodes on the market that use as little as 1.6 gallons. Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.

• Check the toilet for leaks. Place a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the food coloring appears in the bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, there is a leak that needs repair.

• If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a low-flow showerhead. Using these low-flow devices is the best water conservation action to take and usually the cheapest.

• Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month. Every minute, 5 to 10 gallons of hot water is running down the drain. Take showers instead of baths. Filling the tub uses more water than a shower.

Kitchen — Only run the dishwasher when there’s a full load. Check dishwasher directions. Most new machines clean more thoroughly and do not recommend pre-rinsing dishes before putting in the dishwasher. Here are some more water-saving tips in the kitchen.

• When hand washing dishes, use one side of the sink to wash and fill the other side with rinse water. For a single sink, wash and stack dishes in a drainer, then rinse with a sprayer. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.

• Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Disposers require a lot of water to run properly. If you have a septic tank, that much water just fills the tank. Compost vegetable waste instead and save gallons.

• Use a bowl or pan filled with water to wash and rinse fruits and vegetables. Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.

• Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.

• Keep a pitcher or beverage dispenser of water in the refrigerator. This will eliminate running the faucet to get a cold glass of water.

Laundry — Washing clothes is the second largest use of water in the home.

• Wash only full loads of clothes or adjust the water level to the amount of clothes.

• Use the correct amount of detergent to eliminate second rinses.

• Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy, while helping your clothes to keep their colors.

• When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They’re more water and energy efficient. Compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some of these can save up to 20 gallons per load, and energy too.

Water costs money and could one day be in short supply. Take steps now to conserve.

Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is a professor of extension on the Tanana District Extension Faculty. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at or by calling 474-2426. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frugal Family: How to save money around the house

I am always looking for ways to cut costs. I find there are a couple of everyday examples on how you can cut pennies and make even simple changes on your budget. However, the simple changes can add up and make a huge difference on your wallet.

One of the ways I have been saving money lately is by opening my windows during the day and shutting my air conditioning down, letting natural air run its course throughout my home. I have to admit, throughout the day the temperature can get a little sticky. However, I have several box and ceiling fans and I let them run. This helps circulate the air and still cuts costs on air conditioning bills.

As I told you in last week’s column, I am a big fan of packing lunches. I pack a lunch for my husband every single day. But I don’t stock up on sandwich bags. Instead, I have small plastic containers that I purchase with coupons for less than $2. Once they are used, I wash and reuse them in the next day’s lunches. Not only do I save money by not having to continually buy sandwich bags, but I’m also a little friendlier to the environment.

With the holidays approaching, I have become a hard yard sale shopper, consignment sale shopper and eBay shopper. I have checked off almost all of my children’s wish list by purchasing used items for a fraction of the cost. I also have participated in garage sales to help raise money to pay for Christmas.
Finally, it’s important to check out what is happening in the community. The community calendar is a great place to find free events going on in town. I belong to several Facebook pages that help me find out what’s going on in the community.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Saving, but pennies must still be spent

PROBLEMS caused by the lack of public toilets in Longridge could be solved by a local or 
council takeover of the Berry Lane facility.

Longridge town councillors are considering this as one option to answer local criticisms and concerns about the closure of this central public convenience.

Visitors and regular 
shoppers had complained there was “nowhere to go” particularly at the weekends.
Councillors had learnt public knowledge of the Community Toilet Scheme was scant and information about it was not prominent enough to enable people to find out who was taking part.

The community scheme was launched throughout the Ribble Valley to cut costs for the borough amounting to £140,000. 

The Berry Lane facility had been fully closed as it had high turn-out costs to maintain it and was also very run down.

The Stonebridge toilet has been kept open and independently maintained and the Market Place convenience mothballed to be opened and used on public occasions.

But Terry Longden, head of engineering for Ribble Valley council who attended last week’s meeting of the council to help thrash out the problem and determine the future of the borough’s facilities in the town, said his visit was timely.

He was in the process of 
conducting a review of the 
community scheme operation, find an answer to the problems and report back to the Community Services Committee in November.

The new scheme had been slow to take off, but he said that it seemed to be gaining more use throughout the borough, while public convenience use was lessening.

Better signage to shops and businesses in Longridge in the scheme, including Sainsbury’s and Booths supermarkets, would help visitors and shoppers,

He said he would also look at the demand and needs in Longridge, and find out the costs of running the Berry Lane facility independently and, as requested by Longridge council, whether it would be worth it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Black Friday Year Round? How Penny Auctions Save You Money.

For so many of us in today's economic climate, saving money... a lot of money, is becoming more important with each passing day. As the cost of living continues to grow under the current American political spectrum, nothing is safe from rampant price increases. Food items, for example have risen by as much as 30% for wheat since last April through July. Factor in the rapidly increasing cost of fuel for not only your car but for home and office as well and you'll quickly understand: Americans are looking to save each and every penny earned.

So then how can people still save money on the items that, while not mandatory, are still on peoples shopping lists in order to maintain their accustomed standard of living?

A few months ago I stumbled across an ad that touted electronics like Macs and iPads for pennies on the dollar. Choosing to be "wise", I initially dismissed these ads as some kind of come on.

"Just another scam" on the internet, befitting of my (until then) unknown rich uncle in Nigeria who died leaving me trillions of dollars in hidden bank accounts.

Oh how foolish I was. But I can rest assured that indeed hindsight is 20/20.

So how can I save money? How do I get the electronics at blow out prices and maintain my standard of living and technology? Penny Auctions.

Penny auctions have been around for a few years now and after an initial teething period where some scammers came and went it appears that now is the time that the true and honest penny auctions come to power and legitimize the entire industry. But be mindful, there are only a handful that I myself trust: &

While each of these three differ significantly in their business models, they all offer the same idea: virtually anything you want to buy can be "won" for literally pennies on the dollar in a safe, secure environment. for example, has several different styles of penny auctions. The traditional penny auction where there is a timer and once that timer reaches zero, the final bidder wins. But Pennygrab also has what's called the random reserve (or hidden reserve price) auction where the final ending price is randomly selected and "hidden" until the final price is met. Sometimes it's pennies, other times it's (still) at a significant discount. But what is truly unique about PennyGrab is that within most of the auctions are Bonus Prizes of anything from free bonus credits that you can use to place subsequent bids... to items like gift cards, electronics and more.

While not as "giving" as, QuiBids and Beezid both also offer items at substantial savings, but nowhere approaching the near 50% off retail pricing that you quickly fall in love with at PennyGrab. PennyGrab offers Black Friday pricing 365 days per year and that's no small feat!

What's equally impressive is PennyGrab's commitment to customer service, quality and fair play. Not only do they hold themselves accountable, but they expect each PennyGrab Member to be fair and friendly and every bit as honest as they hold themselves. 

But does it work? In a word, YES!

During my investigative time using PennyGrab, I logged intotheir chat room and met some of the other Members. Not only did they give this newcomer to all that is penny auctions plenty of advice and tips, but they also hand walked with me and helped me to actually win my first few items! How is that for community involvement?

Need more? How about the 27" iMac I won for $423. Or the (near) $400 in various gift cards (that I was allowed to exchange in equal dollars for other items and gift cards that I truly wanted? Now this folks is customer care in its purest form.

If you're looking to save money, you should give penny auction sites a look. With all else in the world seemingly increasing in cost each and every day, it is an amazing thing to find value in a world fraught within a vicious cycle of increasing costs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pennies for people

When people hear about an 11-year-old saving up money for something desired, the things that come to mind are probably material: new clothes, delicious candy or a coveted video game.

But Ara Belk is not your typical 11-year-old.

For the past three years, Ara has been saving every penny she could get her hands on to help towards a week-long mission trip to Nicaragua. In the end, she collected $84 — 8,400 pennies in total.

The trip will cost about $3,800 for the three members of the Belk family.

Ara said she saved and collected the little Lincolns any way she could.

“I would get them from stores when we got change,” Ara said. “I would get them from our house or just pick them up.”

As soon as she collected more pennies, Ara would take them straight to her room where she kept them in a box under her bed.

“She’d get them anywhere she could find them,” said Belk’s mother, Amy, “and she would immediately take them up to that box.”

For the last two years, Amy and her husband Paul have been going to Nicaragua on mission trips. This year, they decided it was time to let Ara join them on the “life-altering” journey.

“She’d been asking to come,” Amy said, “and we felt like she was finally old enough to go. She heard how much we loved the people and the community and how God has worked through these missionaries. She wants to be a part of it, and do what she could to help.”

The mission the Belks will be embarking on is through Mission to the World. Missionaries Robbie and Murray Lathrop bought a pineapple farm in Nicaragua and named it PiƱas de Paz — Pineapples of Peace — and perform many services on the land.

The farm employs local men in the community to help families get income and the men are involved in construction around the community. Missionaries help out around the local orphanage and government hospital, and there is also a hostel on site to train and teach local pastors.

Ara said she and the other missionaries will be supplying diapers at the hospital, and also baby blankets and other supplies to the patients. While at the orphanage, volunteers will play with the children and spend time with them. Ara said they will feed the children at the orphanage a big meal — something that is very rare for them to have.

“It’s a real treat for them,” Ara said.

The missionaries will also create and organize a vacation Bible school for the locals.

“We’ll have crafts with the kids in the orphanage and share the gospel,” Ara said.

 For her first trip out of the country — the family left Saturday — Ara said she is very excited to go to Nicaragua.

“I want to go because the people don’t have much,” Ara said, “and I want to help them. God has blessed us with what we can go down there and be with them.”

“She has a heart for people,” Amy said of her daughter. “She has a desire to serve and help others, and her faith in the Lord is what drives that.”

Amy said the trip to Nicaragua is nothing short of eye opening.

“It’s life altering to see how people have to live there,” Amy said. “They are very poor and live on dirt floors, but the one thing that stands out is they are joyful. They smile a lot and even in the midst of having nothing, they are joyful.”

Ara said she feels joy for being able to help people who need it.

“It makes you feel the best when other people are happy for what you gave them and what you did for them,” Ara said. “It makes me feel good that I’ve helped.”


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A penny saved is a penny earned for college

An Indiana woman wanted to help her goddaughter go to college, so back in 1997, she started saving pennies. 

Faith Hammock got them any way she could, even picking pennies off the street. Recently, Hammock added the 500,000 cent to the collection she calls "Pennies from Heaven." 

That translates into a $5,000 boost to Kyla Gilbert's college fund. And Gilbert is grateful for the support. She says, "All this hard work that they've put into me, I had to put it into something else and show them that I'm a good student and they're doing, they're investing in me and they're investing in something good."

Gilbert will head to Indiana University in the fall. With the help of other scholarships, nearly all of her college tuition is paid. 

She says she'll use the money from her godmother to help with room and board. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pennsylvania Prisons Pinch Pennies?

As with most political debates about spending on state corrections systems across the country, the “truth” often depends on which side of the fence you’re standing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has been trumpeting its ability to shave costs by introducing proposed prison reform policies. The result is what is being called a “historic” moment in corrections history wherein no annual increase in budget has been requested – unlike the average $81 million annual increase that is typically conferred.

Policymakers attribute the savings to their dedication to trimming the fat in the state’s corrections program by improving department processes, by canceling construction plans of at least one new corrections facility, and by reducing the number of misdemeanor offenders that are sent to prison.

This last has caused no small amount of contention among Governor Tom Corbett’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which is charged with hammering out the new policy by the end of June 2012. Public disagreement has been aired regarding the plan to forgo sending some misdemeanor offenders to prison in an attempt to draw down the prison population.

What’s more, there is disagreement on a larger scale with the DOC’s pronouncements of savings in the first place, noting that while Governor Corbett has sidelined the plan to build a new facility in Fayette County, he is moving forward with the construction of three new prisons and the expansion of nine existing facilities that will cost taxpayers an estimated $685 million. Decarcerate PA, a group spearheading protest against such expansion, recently accused the governor in an open letter of kowtowing to the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, which donated $102,000 to his campaign.

If Decarcerate PA has its facts straight (which the Governor claims it does not), then “saving” $81 million next year will not seem so historic after all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Change in Your Pocket: Penny Day

Saving and counting up pennies is a tedious errand. This week, high schoolers at St. Mary`s in Bismarck were using that in their favor. The students were pooling their money to help someone else.

Today, the principal`s office at St. Mary`s high school is more of a bank. Buckets of loose change and thousands of pennies sit waiting to be counted.

"Some people would throw pennies away, but with this, you realize that the monetary value can go to something noteworthy," said junior Andrew Wolf.

Penny Day is a chance for students to dump off any of their unused pocket change to give to a worthy cause.

"I think what it does is allow our kids to understand the value of a dollar as well. A little bit of that has been lost these days," said Religious Studies Chair Reed Ruggles.

There is another incentive for students to give to Penny Day. The teacher can`t start class until he or she is done counting up all of the change the students pile on the desk.

"Always puts a smile on my face. Especially knowing they`re going to have to suffer through counting up all of that loose change I`ve been scrounging up all year," said Wolf.

Not all students are carrying around heavy sacks of coins. Many of them will simply pay in cash.

"What we`re trying to do is cultivate a spirit of generosity for the kids to give to something greater than themselves. I think they get into that, because they know that there are people in need," Ruggles said.

"You never know what other people are going through. What may seem like a little to you may be a lot to them," Wold said.

A chance to help someone else just by giving away whatever change is in your pocket.

The money is taken to the bank where it`s quickly counted. They`re giving the money to a staff member at St. Mary`s who is battling a brain tumor.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Madonna on concert tickets: Save your pennies because I'm worth it

Madonna plans to go on tour to support her upcoming album, and when she does, she'll likely charge big bucks for a ticket to get inside. There's talk that dates have already been booked, and Live Nation president Michael Rapino told the Los Angeles Times that tickets will go on sale after Madonna plays the Super Bowl on Sunday.

When asked by Newsweek if her tickets will be very pricey this time around, Madonna said her fans should work all year and scrape their money together because she's worth it.

Pictures: Madonna on Tour

"So start saving your pennies now," she said. "People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together, and come to my show. I'm worth it."

Madonna's last tour grossed $408 million worldwide, the most ever for a solo artist.

Madge's new album, "MDNA," comes out on March 26. It's part of a three-album deal the pop star recently signed with Interscope Records. The lead single, "Gimme Me All Your Luvin,'" with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, surfaced this week.