Office Max Ink Cartridge Recycling

Mar 22, 2011

About a year ago, or maybe a bit longer, I wrote a blog post about how you should take your old ink cartridges to Staples to recycle them.

Well, I take it all BACK!!!

Don't take them there.

Take them to Office Max, instead.

Staples has reduced the amount of store credit they give you per cartridge from $3 to only $2. 
That adds up over time.

Office Depot also just changed to only $2.  Boo HOO!

I've been taking them to Office Depot for about 6 months now.  I just got my first 'credit check' in the mail.  It was for close to $28!!!

And, with that money, I was able to buy two new ink cartridges!

But, with this new policy, I have moved to OFFICE MAX!!  They are giving 3 bucks per cartridge.  Click here to read about it.

Save your ink cartridges and take them to OFFICE MAX!

You won't be sorry!

Identity Theft Protection Website

Most of us don't give too much time to the thought that our identity could be stolen.  After all, it'll never happen to us, right?

But, what if it did?  How horrible would that be?  My husband and I taught a financial class last semester and while teaching, we learned that if your identity is stolen, though you are not responsible for any of the charges, it will take you, on average, 800 hours of legwork to straighten out the mess.

Eight HUNDRED hours!

Who has that kind of time?

Recently, I was made aware of a website called IdentityHawk.  This site offers a comprehensive identiy theft solution, which includes such features as getting a current risk score to determine how vulnerable you are and receiving emails to let you know when something suspicious is noticed on your accounts.

If you're looking for identity theft protection, check out their site.  It was designed to help people safeguard their assets, investments and, most importanly, their good name!

***This blog post was brought to you by http://www.identityhawk.com/

Feeding the Homeless on the Way Home from School

Mar 12, 2011

When I was growing up in New Jersey, I didn’t see many homeless people. If there were any in my town, they certainly weren’t hanging out on our street corners. I did, however, see the homeless on a semi-regular basis because I grew up just outside New York City.
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I will never forget a story my dad told me of how one day when he was on his way home from work in the city. He was approached by a homeless woman, asking for cash. They happened to be standing in front of a Wendy’s at the time and so, instead of handing her money, he asked her if she’d like to go inside with him and he’d buy her a meal. He told her she could pick anything she wanted off the menu and he’d pay for it. I think he told me she wanted chili.

I think of that story often, when my kids and I, on a daily basis, drive by the homeless in Austin. Whether it’s for a good reason or not, I have a difficult time just handing them cash. Especially the guy who holds the sign that reads, “My liver is a terrorist. Help me kill it. Need money for beer.” Though, I guess I should give him credit for honesty.

Still, I want to help. Not just for them, but because my kids are usually in the car with me and I want my babies to grow up to be compassionate and kind individuals. I want them to know the importance of caring for others.

So, on occasion, I’ll pull into a Burger King, or buy an extra boxed dinner at the grocery store, and on my way home, hand it out the car window to the first homeless person I see. A few months ago, our church had the children put together “goody bags” for the homeless – filled with toiletries and water and snacks. Though I’ve been told by friends that many of the homeless don’t want those things – in fact, will often throw the bag away the moment you drive off – I have to believe that some of them truly are thankful and glad to get the items.

Plus, I found when giving out those bags that my kids had a blast! They spent the car ride searching for the “next” homeless person, beaming as each individual thanked the kids personally and giggled as they saw the men and women open their bags and search through them.

And, that got me thinking. Why couldn’t I fix up something small to give the homeless on my way home from picking the kids up from school each day? After all, the drive home is so long (my preschoolers go to school in North Austin and we fight rush hour traffic at 5 pm) that I always fix the kids little bags of snacks to munch on as we drive. Couldn’t I just make extra bags to hand out?

So, a few weeks ago I began packing extra baggies – filled with crackers or pretzels and a fruit, like a cut-up apple or grapes. I even bring extra juice boxes. The response from the homeless on our route has been really great. Not only are they extremely appreciative when we hand them the snacks, we always have the pleasure of seeing them begin munching on the items – usually the fruit first – as we drive away.

As for my kids? They love this new part of our afterschool routine. The first thing my two year old says as he gets in the car is, “Feed homeless people today?” And, after we hand out our goody bags and drive away, I find it’s a perfect opportunity to talk to the kids about the importance of giving and sharing and the many blessings we have.

Am I even making a dent in feeding the thousands of homeless we have in Austin. No. But, I do believe I’m giving the people we encounter something to smile about for a moment and I’m teaching my kids valuable lessons they won’t learn from a textbook.

I can only hope that what they learn now, in our minivan on the way home from school, will lead to a lifetime of giving.

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

Mar 2, 2011

A few weeks ago, our car started making a terrible noise.  Awful.  And, when the weather got colder, the noise got louder!

My dad drove with me one day and insisted I take the car in to get checked.  (Up until then, I had really been procrastinating because who has time for car problems?)

I took the car to our local repair shop - the one around the corner from our house.  I had to pay them $50 just to tell me what was WRONG with the car.  And, when they gave me the estimate, I literally almost passed out.

$3000 worth of repairs is what they told me!  THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

We just got this car three years ago.

I thought I was going to be ill.

When I looked the bill over more closely, I realized that a thousand of it was maintenance stuff they were recommending.  Well, I certainly wasn't going to get any of that done.

But, that still left me with $2000 worth of repairs.

Yikes!

I didn't know what to do or how to make this cost any less.  So, I decided to walk into my local Advance Auto Parts store and talk to the guys there.  As soon as I told them where I had gone for the estimate, they told me, hands down, they are the most expensive place in town.  (Who knew?)  They then gave me a business card of a "guy" they like - you know, the kind of guy that does repairs on his own.  Sometimes  called a "shade tree mechanics." 

They told me that he is good at what he does and 100% reliable (which, according to them, is HIGHLY unusual in this business).

They also looked up one of the parts I needed (a rack and pinion).  They told me that, brand new, it costs $225 and that I shouldn't let anyone tell me it's more. (I went back to my estimate from the shop and they were charging me $700 for the part!)

I called this guy and he worked up an estimate for me.  For what the other place was going to charge me $2000, he was going to charge $1000.

Now, THAT is more like it!

$1000 is still painful, but in comparison . . .  I'll take it.

Not only did he charge me the accurate price for the parts, but his labor was about 1/3 of the cost of the shop.

AND, the best part?  He came to pick up my car at my house and BROUGHT IT HOME for me!

You can't beat that!!

Because my repairs were so extensive, he took my car to a shop where he works.  But, for smaller repairs, he told me commonly comes and works in your driveway.

AND, you know what's even better?  Not only did he tell us that the new parts came with a warranty, but he told us that he'll warranty his LABOR for a YEAR!

As my husband said, "Who does that???"

We took our car for an alignment the next day and the shop told us that the guy had done a good job with everything - so we know he doesn't do shoddy work.

So, if you live in the Austin area, email me and I'll give you his name and number to hang onto.

And, if you live elsewhere - my word of advice?  When you need car repairs, go to your local auto parts store and ask them for a recommendation for local mechanics.  You might just save  THOUSANDS!

Total Restoration Cleaning Website

If you live in Southwest Florida, and have been thinking about getting your carpets cleaned - or other areas of your house, such as tile and upholstry, then I may have found a company for you.  It's called TST Restoration and they specialize in carpet cleaning in Naples (and other areas) and and tile cleaning in Bonita Springs (and the towns nearby).

TST Restoration also deals with water extraction and smoke and fire damage.  Those are problems you just can't possibly take care of on your own.  So, if you have water damage in Ft Meyers (or somewhere nearby), give them a call.

There's nothing worse than having your home damaged in someway and not knowing how to handle it.  This company will get you moving in the right direction.

***This blog post brough to you by your friends at http://tstrestoration.com/

Burial Insurance

Have you ever planned a funeral before?  If not, consider yourselves VERY fortunate!  Not only is is emotionally draining because you have just lost someone you love, but it is FINANCIALLY draining.  You have NO idea how expensive it is to die!  Trust me!

For example, did you know that a coffin (not even a really fancy one) usually costs around $10,000.  (That's why I suggest you get yours at Costco - but that's a whole other post I have on my blog.)  And, once you hand over a whole chunk of money for the burial plot, do you know that you then need to pay them a fortune to DIG THE HOLE?

Never thought of that, did you?

If you don't have a ton of money, or a life insurance policy to cover it, your family is going to be in big trouble.

You can also purchase Final Expense Insurance which will cover the cost of the burial and funeral (unless you die after you turn 100). 

When you get life insurance, you need to take a medical exam to qualify.  Burial insurance is like life insurance with no medical exam.  A perfect option for those who aren't healthy and wouldn't qualify for life insurance!

You might want to check out AARP also for a lot more valuable information regarding planning for your future (and inevitable death).

***This blog post was brought to you by http://www.burialinsurance.org/

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