7 Ways to Save on HEAT this Winter

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How to Save On the Heating Bill

7 Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill this Winter

The cold weather is approaching and so are the HIGH energy and heating bills.  Are you prepared?  Have you done everything you can?

Trying to save money comes naturally to some people.  Trying to save money on your heating bill is…well…unnatural and seems like you have no control… BUT YOU DO!

Nobody wants to really think about these things but unless you have more money than Midas, you had best fall in line. Natural resources are not getting any more plentiful or cheap to come by. Like anything else that is in low supply and high demand, heat is expensive.

So what are you going to do about it?  Here are seven good places to start:

1. Conduct an Energy AuditairLeakageHouse1

What if you could have an expert come in and check your home out for heating loss and tell you how to be energy efficient? What if they could not only tell you how to fix things and lower your heating bill, but they could sometimes even pay to have it done? Energy audits vary by state, but many states do this for you.

MassSave has a phenomenal Home Energy Assessment program as well as rebate programs.  It is in their best interest to have homes that are energy and heat efficient. This means that you get home improvements (new windows, insulation and more), a lower energy or heat bill and professional advice. If you are not sure about your state, go HERE to find out what is offered in your area.  Find more tips & tricks HERE.

2. Equal Payment Plans, Discounts & Assistance

Most utility companies offer LOCK-IN rates for the season – this can be helpful if you think the rates will continue to skyrocket, especially for oil.  Some states also offer an equal payment plan for your heating and electric bill. This can be very beneficial towards awareness and can save you a ton of cash over time. When you pay the same amount each month, you can budget out for the entire year. This means more of your money can be earmarked for greater things. (Just make sure you account for that final payment that brings it all together at the end of the year).

Also check your state for eligibility for Fuel Assistance and Utility discounts.

3.  Wood Stove or Fireplacewood-stove

It was good enough for the old timers so it is good enough for me. Nothing beats the smell and feel of good old fashioned heat from a wood stove. If you don’t have the set up for a wood stove but have a fireplace, that will do just as well. It takes a bit more work but the heat is hot and free for most people. Burning a wood stove, pellet stove or fireplace will save you tons of cash.

4. Tap into FREE Wood

Free? But I have paid up to fifty bucks for a truck load of wood before! How is that free?

The truth is, Craigslist, churches, local classifieds, bulletin boards and countless other areas can get you free wood. Just on Craigslist alone you can find opportunities for free wood virtually any day of the week. You might have to pick it up or chop it yourself, but it is free and a way you can save money.

5. Program Your ThermostatNest-Leaarning_thermostat

Today’s thermostats can actually make you a cup of Java and rub your aching feet when you get home from work. I kid but they are amazing. Have you checked out the NEST Learning Thermostat?

Thermostats control about half your energy bill so you really ought to pay attention to them.  You can set up your thermostat to work only when you want it to. This automation can be used to cut quite a bit off your heating bill. Why heat your home when you are not there or in another part of the house?

6. Seal Up Those Cracks

window-insulation

This is one of the most common fixes that would be covered in the energy audit mentioned in step one. Go around your home and focus on the windows and doors in particular. Look for cracks, holes or openings that you can seal up with tape, foam expander or any number of other sealants. The first year in our home we quickly found out there were no dampers on the fireplaces – HEAT GOING FULL BLAST RIGHT UP THE CHIMNEY!  Insulated drapes for the windows are also a big help.

This alone will cut your heating bill because heating the neighborhood is expensive.

7. Commit to the Change

None of the things mentioned above will do anything to save you money without a personal and family-wide commitment to change. Wear sweaters, sweat shirts and socks in the house and bundle up with blankets for bed.  You have to all agree to close doors behind you, leave lights off, shut windows tight and pay attention to the thermostat. One person not doing these things can cost you all the savings you get from any of the other improvements.

Make the change and watch the bill drop!

Heat is expensive folks, so make sure you find the cheapest options possible. If you have a natural way of burning wood and getting heat, you can make a big difference by doing that alone. Many cannot, but there are still other changes you CAN make.  Not only are you helping out your pocket, you are also helping out the world around you.

That is always a good thing.

What do you do to save energy over the winter?

Staycation 2013 – Boston & Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

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Frugal-Fun-Boston-Staycation-Guide

Staycation 2013 Boston: Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

NOT IN MASSACHUSETTS, have no fear, check out these Staycation Ideas across the U.S.

Memorial Day approaches, HIGH gas prices remain and we are all looking for frugal summer fun.  More and more people will be sticking close to home for STAYCATIONS, but this by no means you are settling.  When is the last time you just took a look around you?  There are so many resources and fun things to do that we overlook daily.

A staycation does not need to be a “what we did because we could not afford to go away”.  It can be an adventure and you should plan it with as much excitement and vigor as you do a vacation.  Whether you are taking a full week off or using your days as a series of long weekends, it is important that you “pretend” you are actually away and on vacation.

  • UNPLUG – though this is tough with today’s technology, if you were on a cruise in the Bahamas, would you be checking email and texting all day?  I say NO, so do not when on your staycation.  The purpose of a vacation is to regroup, re-energize and spend quality time with the ones you love.
  • PLAN ACTIVITIES – Once you pick your staycation dates, plan the week with activities as you would a real vacation.  Even if you choose to have a down day and just relax, do not fill it with chores – you are on vacation.
  • BE CREATIVE – Think outside the box.  Camping in the backyard could be just as fun as going away.  Vacation is a mind-set and if you set your mind into having a fun, fulfilling week, you will.  Take pictures just as you would on a traditional vacation.  Eat ice cream, sleep in, stay up late and any other things you typically do on vacation.

Year of the Staycation 2013: Exploring Boston and Massachusetts

I am lucky enough to live in Massachusetts where over 12 million tourist pay lots of money each year to visit.  So why is it that we feel we have to travel for vacation?  There is so much to do in this state in addition to all of the obvious Boston and historical attractions.  It is really easy to forget what is around you when you live here.  As you begin to plan, be sure to check out BostonCentral as well as some great daily deals on local attractions through Groupon, Eversave, LivingSocial, and Amazon Local so keep an eye out for those as well.

Below are some fun activities and resources in Boston and Massachusetts to help you plan a wonderful staycation:

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Cartwheel by Target: NEW Coupons & Savings

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Target-cartwheel

Have you seen the new way to save at Target - Cartwheel by Target.

Together with Facebook, Cartwheel lets you connect with friends to share your favorite deals plus save money on the products you love.

Cartwheel-offers

You will need a Facebook account and will need to LOG IN using that.  There is some sharing in facebook, BUT you can adjust your settings to only post to your wall and have YOU see it, no one else.  So you do not have to worry about clogging up your wall.

Here is the deal…

  • Find an offer you want in your Cartwheel activity feed, on a friend’s Cartwheel, or just SEARCH or BROWSE. When you find one you like just click or tap to flip. Then select the add button – you should see a red check indicating it is on your cartwheel.

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  • When you are ready to shop you can either print your Cartwheel barcode from your desktop or you can use your mobile device in store to access your barcode.

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 3.27.09 PM

  • You get 10 spots (meaning you can have 10 active offers) automatically just for joining Cartwheel. You then easily earn more spots by earning badges – like when your friends join.  I instantly had 13 spots.  You can always manage your spots by adding and removing offers you need for your shopping trip.  They will automatically be removed when they expire.
  • NOW here is where it gets GOOD – you can use one manufacturer coupon, one Target coupon and one Cartwheel offer per item. You can also add the 5% Target Redcard savings on top of that!  You can use the same Cartwheel offers for up to 4 qualifying items per transaction unless otherwise noted. BUT there is a limit of 6 Cartwheel transactions per day. Offer value may not exceed value of item purchased.

Talk about stacking savings! I assume you can also get Ibotta savings on top of that – WOW.

NOTE – it is in beta so things could change.  If you have questions they have a very good community chat room.

thanks Kelly

Target: Price Match Guarantee

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Target announced yesterday they will continue Year Round Price Match of online retailers!  This is great news for Target shoppers.

Target Price Match Guarantee

If you buy a qualifying item at a Target store then find the identical item for less in the following week’s Target weekly ad or within seven days at Target.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com, BabiesRUs.com or in a competitor’s local printed ad, we’ll match the price. Price match may be requested at Guest Services prior to your purchase with proof of current lower price or by bringing in your original Target store receipt and proof of the current lower price.

  • The item must be the identical item, brand name, size, weight, color, quantity and model number.
  •  Limit of one competitor online price match per identical item, per guest.
  •  Price must be valid at the time the price match is requested.
  •  Retail price must be shown on the website or print ad. Online prices will be validated by a Target team member.
  •  Competitor online items must be in stock at the time a price match is requested.
  •  Competitor catalogs can be matched as long as the catalog displays a current date, retail price and meets all other competitor ad match qualifications.
  •  If item is not available in a Target store, a rain check will not be issued to match the online price or competitor’s print ad.
  •  We reserve the right to verify a competitor’s advertised price and the availability of the item.

What do you think – will you take advantage of this year round?

See the full Target Price Match Policy.

Facebook: Get NOTIFICATIONS of Maven of Savin posts

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There has been positive progress in the never ending battle with facebook showing what YOU want in your newsfeed.  Finally we have the ability to choose to get NOTIFICATIONS of new posts from the pages you “LIKE”.  Here is how:

Hover over the  on the page you want and click on “Get Notifications”.  I am assuming you already have “Show in News Feed” checked, but you may as well check that one too.

You can do that for as many pages as you wish, but do not forget Maven of Savin.  Then whenever there is a new post, you will get a NOTIFICATION on your FB page which you can see by clicking in the globe at the top.

Dollar Tree Coupon Policy

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Those with a Dollar Tree near by will be happy to know that staring Sunday 8/26/12, Dollar Tree will start accepting coupons.  You can see the Dollar Tree Coupon Policy online or below:

Dollar Tree IN-STORE COUPON ACCEPTANCE: GUIDELINES & LIMITATIONS

DOLLAR TREE WILL ACCEPT COUPONS IN STORES BEGINNING SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012

  1. Only original and intact manufacturers’ coupons will be accepted. Retailer-specific coupons will not be accepted.
  2. Coupons are void if copied, scanned, or if they have been altered in any way.
  3. Only two (2) print-at-home Internet coupons may be redeemed per transaction.
  4. We are unable to accept coupons for “Free” items with no purchase requirements or where the amount for the product is blank.
  5. Coupons can only be used in stores and must be presented at time of purchase. Coupons cannot be redeemed for cash at a later time.
  6. Coupons will not be accepted without the purchase of the item specified and are subject to the terms listed (e.g. expiration date, size, limitations, quantity, etc.).
  7. Coupons cannot be redeemed for more than the purchase price of the item.
  8. Only one (1) manufacturer’s coupon will be accepted per item.
  9. Management has the right to refuse any coupon or otherwise limit quantities.

Of course you know this will mean lots of FREE and cheap products. I will post some deals later this week but keep in mind that inventory at each Dollar Tree store varies.

Tax FREE Holidays: Are they worth it?

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 Do not forget it is TAX FREE Weekend here in Massachusetts and other states as well – see list here.

Many non-business retail items costing $2,500 or less are exempt from the sales tax, but some items –motor vehicles, motorboats, meals, telecommunications services, gas, steam, electricity, tobacco products, and anything else costing more than $2,500 – are not.There is no sales tax on beer, wine and alcohol during the holiday. There is also no sales tax on single items of clothing that cost up to $2,500.

My question is… IS IT WORTH IT???

(Re-published from previous years posts…)

I know we are saving the 6 – 7 % sales tax, but would you race to the store to buy something you did not have the money for if they advertised 6-7% savings??  HELL NO you would not.  So why does every one rush out during Tax Holidays?

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Target Coupon Policy: UPDATE

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Target has updated the TARGET COUPON POLICY so you will want to take a look and print it out.  The biggest changes are about how many coupons they will accept as well as returns.  Here are the changes:

  • We reserve the right to accept, refuse, or limit the use of any coupon.   So unfortunately this says to me they can do what they want and not follow policy at any time, which stinks.  But hopefully you have a friendly store/cashiers.
  • Limit of 4 identical coupons per household, per day (unless otherwise noted on coupon).  This is common and being done at many stores.
  • Returns of items purchased using Manufacturer Coupons may receive coupon value returned in the form of a Target GiftCard.  This I actually do not mind as many other stores you actually lose the value of your coupons.

So make sure you familiarize yourself with the NEW Target Coupon Policy you can see in full below:

[Read more...]

FACEBOOK: Can you see me now?

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So I am sure you all know that Facebook is messing with things again and people are having trouble seeing posts in their newsfeed.  There are a few different solutions that might help in addition to just stopping by the Maven of Savin page.

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 7.00.22 PM

  • First of all, go to the pages you “LIKED” and hover over the LIKED button and be sure you have checked off SHOW IN NEWSFEED and GET NOTIFICATIONS!

  • Then make sure to “LIKE” or “SHARE” the posts you see in your feed or on the Maven of Savin page.  Facebook will show you more of what you “LIKE” and more of the posts that are getting any kind of interaction, comments, etc.  Remember that regardless of facebook, if you ever have a question, please feel free to comment.  We have a great group and if I do not know the answer someone else may.

  •  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  By the way, this also tells ME what to spend my time on!  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!

  • Also make sure you always SORT by “Most Recent” in your newsfeed.  You will see the drop down in the upper right corner at the top of your feed.  I find I always have to change this – it is really annoying.

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

You could also create a LIST -The friend lists feature is just a way to create groups, so you can see just the updates from that set of friends, blogs, etc. at a time.  Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.  You can see this feature could also come in handy if you want to group friends as well – home vs. work vs college, etc.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar. When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

NON- FACEBOOK Options

There are many other ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.

  • Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin.
  • Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed to have it delivered through your reader of choice.  I use google reader and LOVE IT.
  • Subscribe to my daily emails and get a newsletter each day around 3pm listing all posts from the last 24 hours.  NOTE that although you will see all the deals, some may not be in a timely manner.
  • The newest way to get the deals is to follow me on Google+.  The format is similar to facebook, though looks like a more basic feed right now.  I am new over there but am working on chatting over there more often and making sure all the deals get there.  Are you active on Google+ – would love to know what you think.

SO – I hope all that helped. My goal is to try to get you the info you want when you want it. So remember to LIKE or SHARE posts to tell ME what you want to see, but to also tell facebook that I am the bomb (just kidding!).

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

Couponing 101 in Boston

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Local folks can join me for a casual breakfast to learn about the basics of couponing at Eastern Standard restaurant, 528 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 on Monday, May 21st.

You do not need to be EXTREME to save money!

You have probably all heard about extreme couponing and may be intimidated.  That show is NOT realisitic and you do not need to be a crazy to save signifiant money for your families. With only 30 minutes per week you can be saving 30 – 75% off your grocery bill and never pay for toothpaste again.

At Couponing 101 you will learn everything you need to know to get started and more:

  • Why coupon?
  • Where to get coupons.
  • Coupon Organization
  • Coupon Lingo
  • Couponing Strategies – How and when to use coupons
I hope you will join our small group discussion so you can start saving today.
There will be 2 sessions on Monday 5/21/12 so choose the one that works best for you.
  • 8:00 am – 9:30am
  • 9:45am – 11:15am 

Get your Couponing 101 tickets now.

I hope you can join us!

This event is being sponsored by Eventbrite Boston/hosted in partnership with Maven of Savin.