Monthly Archives: March 2015

Saving Money With Fuel Efficiency

maxresdefault

Last December, the media and data company Bloomberg estimated that the average Canadian spent a little under three percent of their income on gasoline in the fourth quarter of 2014. While gas prices are lower than they have been in years, you are still probably spending more than you need to on keeping your vehicle fuelled. Even if you don’t have money in the budget for a more fuel-efficient car, you can still save. Fuel-efficient driving can take your car further on each tank, and save you money at the pump. In this article, we’ll share a few tips on how to maximise your mileage.

Cut excess weight. Does your car have a lot of junk in the trunk? Are you hauling around cross-country skiing gear in summer? Moving more weight means burning more fuel, so take the time to clear all the stuff you don’t need out of your vehicle. This applies even more to any roof cargo containers. A heavy box in the back of your car will just add weight; a heavy box on the roof will also add drag, ruining your gas mileage. If you don’t need to use your roof storage box, take it off.

Drive smoothly. Pedal-to-the-metal acceleration and sharp braking might liven up your commute, but they are bad for your fuel efficiency (and possibly your insurance costs), especially at highway speeds. Slow, smooth acceleration and braking use less gas. Changing your driving behaviour can be a huge factor in your fuel efficiency. Try braking for corners and red lights earlier than you normally would, and accelerating more slowly. Anticipating traffic movement and light changes can also help you to stop less often: accelerating from a dead stop requires a lot more fuel than a rolling start. If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, climb the gears quickly for greater fuel efficiency, and switch down to take advantage of greater engine braking. Try not to speed, either: the sweet spot varies, but cars tend to be most fuel efficient at somewhere around 80km/h.

Connected_car_Wi-Fi_r900x493

Maintain your vehicle. Poorly-maintained vehicles aren’t just more dangerous, they are also less fuel-efficient. Check your tire pressure regularly, at least once a month, particularly in the winter. Under-inflated tires reduce your fuel efficiency, and they also need replacing more often. Other common efficiency-killing maintenance issues include misaligned wheels, old engine oil and dirty air filters. Regular maintenance will keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently, saving you money on gas. You can easily check your own oil levels and tire pressure at home.

Choose the right fuel. Unless you drive a high performance car with non-standard compression ratios (in which case it will tell you in the owner’s manual), you don’t need the expensive high octane fuel. Using it won’t lower your fuel efficiency, but you will pay more at the pump. Note that this advice does not apply to diesel vehicles: high-cetane fuel genuinely is more efficient, although some premium diesels contain high concentrations of cleaning agent that reduce their efficiency. Once the fuel is in the tank, take steps to reduce evaporation. Make sure that the gas cap is on tight and, in hot weather, try to park in the shade.

Monitor yourself. Monitoring your driving habits can impress your car insurance company, and it can also improve your fuel economy. Fuel consumption displays come as standard in many new vehicles, but you can also buy aftermarket fuel monitors. Drivers tend to challenge themselves to reduce fuel consumption when the number is there on a screen. In fact, Natural Resources Canada estimates that you can cut fuel consumption by up to 15 percent this way.

driving

Couponing For Fun And Profit

couponing image

Coupons, coupons, coupons! The word “coupon” comes from the French couper, meaning “to cut”, and it’s very appropriate: coupons are great for cutting your grocery bills. Redeemable for money off or even for free products, you can save a bundle by clipping before your trip to the store and arriving with a bundle of them. But where do savvy shoppers find their coupons? With a bit of research and know-how, all over the place. In this article, we’ll show you some of the best places to find all the coupons you’ll need for budget-friendly shopping.

Grocery stores. When you are next browsing the shelves, keep an eye out for tear pads full of coupons. Manufacturers often provide them to stores to increase sales, often for new products. Tear pads aren’t always easy to find, for a couple of reasons. First, not all stores have them. Second, you won’t be the only person out looking for them. While leaving some coupons for other people is a nice thing to do, not everyone does. To score some tear pad coupons for yourself, make regular trips to the store and arrive soon after opening. Even if they aren’t for a product you want, feel free to take a few: coupons are tradeable. Check the packaging on the products you buy, too. Some offer coupons on or inside the box, redeemable against your next purchase. A lot of people miss these and throw them away with the packaging.

cut-coupons

Get your local newspaper. You don’t even have to read it. Many free and subscription city and local newspapers include coupon sheets from Canada’s major coupon insert providers, Redplum and SmartSource. Redplum sheets arrive once each month, and SmartSource sheets slightly more frequently. They contain coupons for all sorts of food and household products, and you can find exact release dates online. Your local newspaper is also a great source of store flyers. These aren’t coupons, but they will show savvy shoppers the week’s deals. If you like getting your coupons from publications, magazines have them too. Canadian Living magazine often comes with some coupons, as do other magazines aimed at homemakers.

Print your own coupons. No, nothing shady or counterfeit. There is a group of Canadian websites catering to smart coupon-hunters by providing printable coupons for popular products. You will need to make an account to enjoy them, but then you just download and print them at home. This can also get you email updates about the latest printable coupons. Sifting through the coupons you don’t want to find the ones you do can be time-consuming, but luckily there are websites and blogs that do nothing but point you towards the best coupons. With a bit of research, you can get all the coupons you need without leaving the house. Best of all, it’s typically free.

printing images

Coupons by mail. If you prefer a slightly lower-tech option, or if you don’t have a printer, you can sign up for coupon mailing services online. Some of these, like webSaver, give you the choice of printing your coupons at home or having them mailed to you. Like printing coupons, it’s free. Typically, you must order a minimum number of coupons per mailing, and you must wait a fixed amount of time before ordering the same coupon again. On the other hand, there is no reason why you couldn’t sign up to more than one coupons-by-mail service.

Coupon trading. The social side of coupon collecting! If you order coupons you didn’t need to meet a minimum, or if you took extras from the tear pad, this is how you get rid of them: trade them in for coupons you will use. The easiest way to trade is to swap with friends, family members, or coworkers. You may also be able to find coupon swap meets in your area, particularly if you live somewhere highly inhabited. Of course, for the biggest choice of coupons, you can use online coupon trading messageboards and social media groups. Arrange trades with people online and post your coupons to them. If arranging trades online sounds too risky or too difficult, sign up for a coupon train instead. A coupon train is like a chain letter. You sign up to add your name to the train, and then you receive a package through the mail. Take the coupons you want from the package, and replace them with coupons of equal value that you won’t use. Then mail the package to the next person on the list.

Couponing might not make you a millionaire, but it’s a perfect way for the homemaker on a budget to save money.