pmiller

Food Co-Ops, Celebrities, and You

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pmiller

If you’ve ever read pointless celebrity gossip– and why wouldn’t you?– you probably have heard the name “Park Slope Food Co-op” a few times. Most recently, Maggie Gyllenhaal was accused of shirking her co-op duties in favor of sending someone else to cover shifts. Before that, a Ryan Gosling fan started the silly, single-serving blog entitled, Hey Girl, I Belong to the Park Slope Food Co-op. The name is everywhere.

The Worst Cheap Valentine’s Day Ideas

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pmiller

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which of course means that blogs must fill their quotas of Valentine’s Day posts. There’s nothing wrong with that. It also means that money-saving blogs must get their yearly Valentine’s Day money-saving ideas out of the way. The problem is that the basics of how to have a frugal Valentine’s Day aren’t terribly mysterious. And, in the never-ending quest to produce original content, some otherwise good blogs wind up posting some bad tips.

No Hybrid? No Problem! Cost-Effective Ways to Save on Gas

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pmiller

Rising oil prices are great news if you’re Exxon Mobil, but not so much for the rest of us. And, while those of us who drive regularly were hoping that the cost of hybrid cars would drop, it instead looks like car manufacturers are moving away from hybrid cars altogether. What’s a cost-conscious commuter to do?

Why JCPenny’s New Pricing Policy May Not Be As Great As It Seems

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pmiller

After JCPenny announced its new pricing scheme, many financial sites portrayed the new policy as manna from heaven. If you judged by the headlines alone, you’d think that JCPenny was now selling everything for 40% less than suggested retail, no questions asked.

Photo courtesy of Mike Kalasnik, via Flickr.

As is often the case, the reality is more complex. Read on to find out what the new policy means, and what it means for you.

Let’s start with what the policy isn’t. Despite some of the reports you may have read, JCPenny is not doing away with all sales. Instead, JCPenny is lowering the prices for all of its merchandise an average of 40%. They are also doing away with most sales, not all. There will still be weekly and monthly discounts on certain items, and these will be designated by special tags.

The Case for Refurbs

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of laffy4k, via Flickr

There’s nothing like a gross-out news story to offer a little perspective. Last week, I might’ve complained that shipping was taking longer than expected. Now, I’m just glad that my gadgets don’t arrive covered in gum and vomit.

As The Consumerist reports, this was the sight that greeted a Dell Outlet customer when his refurbished laptop arrived with gum on the inside and a barf-like substance on the outside. What’s worse, Dell initially blamed FedEx.

Thankfully, the problem seems to be mostly sorted out, and the man will soon have a shiny, new, non-waste-covered laptop on the way. And, thankfully, the vast majority of refurbished laptops don’t have this problem, or any problems, really. We should be careful not to take the wrong lesson from this. Refurbs are still a smart choice. Read on to learn why.

A Guide to the Ever-Shrinking Public Domain

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Roger Price, via Flickr

Every year, Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain celebrates “Public Domain Day.” This is the day– January 1st, to be precise– when works officially pass into the public domain. This means that old movies, books, TV shows, cartoon characters, and other works of art will officially become free to download, watch, share, alter, distribute, and otherwise enjoy.

Ignore Manufacturers’ Instructions and Get Away With It

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Mike Kalasnik, via Flickr

If you’re like me, you change your car’s motor oil religiously. The “Every Three Thousand Miles or Every Three Months (Whichever Comes First)” standard might as well have been carved into slabs and hand-delivered by Moses.

And, if you’re like me, you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.

Tips for Avoiding and Deterring Theft

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of I Bike Fresno, via Flickr

Earlier in the month, a carjacking in Florida was averted when the would-be thieves did not know how to drive stick. They fled the scene on foot. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, two robbers let their would-be victim keep her phone when they discovered that it wasn’t an iPhone, only a lowly BlackBerry.

Gift Card Bonuses: Tips and Tricks

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Design Packaging, via Flickr

Gift cards are more than just easy stocking stuffers and somewhat-unimaginative birthday presents. They’re also a cash cow for retailers. With this incentive, more companies are offering bonuses for buying their gift cards instead of their competitors’.

Unfortunately, this tactic can backfire.

Breaking Down the Blowfish Pill: Save by Knowing Your Active Ingredients

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Jamiesrabbits, via Flickr

Earlier in the week, the blogosphere went nuts over Blowfish, the first ever FDA-approved hangover cure. Just drop a couple of these tablets in a glass of water, let it fizz like Alka-Seltzer, and soon your headache, nausea and profound self-loathing will be nothing more than a memory.

Occupy Wall Street Provides Showcase for the Best Free Citizen Journalism Tools

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Alex Buhrmann, via Flickr

Regardless how you feel about the Occupy movement, this week’s raid on the Occupy L.A. encampment was remarkable for at least one reason: with the L.A.P.D’s restriction on media coverage, the best news sources for updates on the standoff came from citizen journalists. 

Cash vs. Credit Cards and The Psychology of Saving Money

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Images of Money via Flickr

Earlier in the week, the Journal of Consumer Research released a study that showed consumers tend to spend more when buying with credit cards than they do when using cash. The authors of the study believe the reason goes beyond simple convenience, and hinges on psychology: apparently, we’re more likely to focus on the benefits of the purchase, and not the cost, if we don’t actually have to count out the money ourselves.

Planned Obsolescence, the Myth of Walmart Sustainability and How Durability Saves Money

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pmiller

Photo courtesy of Justin Henry, via Flickr

According to a recent article on the environmental blog Grist, we have Walmart to thank for our stuff falling apart. The argument goes like this: thanks to Walmart’s never-ending quest to lower prices, we’re seeing a steady drop in the quality and durability of clothing, electronics, and other items. This means we have to replace our stuff more, which in turn means we’re spending more and doing damage to the environment.

Alternatives to the Kindle Library Lending

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Written By:

pmiller

Photo courtesy of kodomut, via Flickr

Last week, Amazon announced a new feature for their Prime program. Now, in addition to unlimited 2nd-day shipping and access to a collection of streaming movies and TV shows,  Prime members will be able to borrow e-books without having to pay anything over and above the $79 annual Prime membership fee.

Here’s how it works: users will be able to have one book from the 5,000 title-strong lending library out at a time, and will be allowed to borrow one new e-book per month. If you take longer than a month to finish a borrowed book, there will be no late fee. The program feels like a logical next-step for e-books–and may even do for books what Netflix did for movies or what Spotify is doing for music.

Bank Transfer Day: A Roundup of Credit Union Alternatives

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Written By:

pmiller

Photo courtesy of Mark Strozier, via Flickr

Since I posted my Credit Union 101 primer a couple weeks ago, all this talk of switching from major banks to credit unions seems to have had an effect: first Bank of America backed out of its plan to charge debit card users a $5 monthly fee, then Chase and a handful of other banks followed suit.

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