Monday, January 16, 2012


Energy costs are one of the few things in life that you have some control over. There are limits to controlling these costs such as maintaining a level of warmth in your home so you don’t freeze or have to replace some burst pipes. However, just stepping back and looking around the house and seeing where you may save a little money on heat be able to save you at least a modest fortune.

Caulking around windows and doors is an obvious way to save on heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. Keeping doors shut and shutting them as soon as possible can be a valuable way of saving some hard earned dollars over a hot summer or very cold winter season. Another less costly way of controlling the temperature in your home is to open windows early in the morning to cool your house naturally during those horrible summer months. Not only will this give your air conditioner a break for a few hours but you will also get a little fresh air inside your home.

You can change the thermostat’s temperature settings depending on the time of day. This is another way you can save money without much difficulty. Keeping heat mainly in rooms you live in is another way to save some money. One house I owned had extra bedrooms that I seldom used so during the winter months I would close the heating vents into those rooms. Just make sure there are not pipes in the walls or floors in rooms that you shut the heat off. Otherwise you might be in for some expensive repairs.

Dressing appropriately for the season should help you stash some excess cash. Cool cloths in the summer and layered cloths in other seasons will allow you to personally adjust your body comfort without turning up the thermostat until you feel warm.

Over the past years I and many people I know have gone to rechargeable flashlights and outside lights as a means of saving a little bit of money on lighting. My solar lights are bright enough to light up the front porch for a few hours after the sun goes down. You might try adjusting outside lighting use depending on the moon and the clarity of the sky. When the moon is out and the sky is clear it is just like twilight all night long and I can see almost my entire front yard. The moon is a great natural security light and what I find best about it is that moonlight is free.

Rechargeable flashlights have been around for years. You can even find crank rechargeable flashlights, camp lights and radios in many sporting goods departments. I use a camp light as a night light in my bathroom and I always use crank lights when I get up and around at night. These flashlights do have to be cranked (recharged) often but the savings in battery costs alone more than makes up for the slight inconvenience of using a small amount of muscle energy to charge the flashlight.

Saving energy by using less electricity on lighting can be as easy as opening a window to let sunlight in instead of using artificial light. Even the use of a night light in your bedroom can be eliminated just by leaving your blinds open enough to see around your room. Finally, painting your rooms in lighter colors will make it easier to see at night. It’s all about that old physics thing again which tells us that dark colors are better at absorbing light and lighter colors will reflect light better.

Finally, there are many ways of saving money on energy as the seasons change. The most important thing is to plan for these changing seasons by making a list of things you can do to save some money when either the snow is blowing or the hot summer sun is beating down. All in all if you plan, you can save a fortune.

Monday, January 2, 2012


January is truly a great month to get a great deal on winter-wear. Most winter clothing like coats, jackets and, boots can be purchased at very deep discounts from the original retail price. It is the time of the year when you can walk into the clothing area of almost any big box retailer and observe a sea of big red signs with the greatest word in the bargain hunters lexicon printed upon them. That word of course is “CLEARANCE”.

Many times you can find winter clearance items at 40%-70% off of the regular retail price. So what does
that mean for the consumer? Well it means that a brand new regularly priced $300 jacket marked down 70% from regular retail can be purchased for around $90 (this of course varies depending on sales tax charges). The savings on such a deal is an astronomical $210. Even if you buy a $300 jacket at 40% off you will still be saving $120. Most retailers run normal sales at just 15%-25% off the listed retail price so the clearance deals are clearly better in most cases.

Now why do retailers run such great clearance deals in January? Well, for one thing the holidays are over and many people are just spent out of money. In order to entice cash strapped and credit card maxed out shoppers to buy, prices need to be dropped substantially. Many retailers finance their businesses on money borrowed from their wholesale suppliers in the form of credit on merchandise. The retailer makes his profits by turning his inventory into cash at a profit and then he can pay off his suppliers and buy more merchandise for the next season without maintaining a debt from the previous one. Turning last seasons merchandise into dollars is a very high priority for many retailers.
At the retail store level the managers are under a great deal of pressure to make sure that their departments are ready to change over from season to season. The competition to be just a little ahead of other area retailers in seasonal changeovers is a real driver in getting that old merchandise marked down and out the door. Retail managers must make sure that they have space for next season’s incoming merchandise. For whether or not the sales floor has room for it, the new seasonal merchandise will be arriving.

There are of course drawbacks to shopping for winter cloths in January. The biggest drawback is that you will be shopping with a limitation on many styles, colors and sizes. There will be limited availability on many items and stores willing generally be unwilling to order you something for a clearance price unless, perhaps for a store with outstanding customer service they might be able to get you the item you want from another store in the same chain and sell it to you at the clearance price. It certainly does not hurt to ask a manager if they would check to see if another store has the item you want.

Besides the limitation on choice you have in winter clearance merchandise you also have a limited time to wear your winter items for that year. However, in states like Michigan where I live winter lasts until about April in most years so you would still have some time to wear your newly purchased winter-ware. Of course, remember that a few weeks prior to the big clearance many are glad to get a $300 jacket as a gift even knowing that someone paid full price or nearly full price for the item.

Overall, shopping seasonal clearance can be a great way to save a lot of money on sometimes very expensive brand new merchandise. In order to shop seasonal clearance you just have to get a mind set that the best time to buy seasonal items is in the middle of or end of a season. So, many of the things you buy will be for next year. However, in the case of winter clothing depending on where you live, you might have several more months to wear your expensive looking low cost clothing. So shop clearance in January and save a fortune.


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