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Two for Tuesdays #6

Posted by billspaced | 12:01 AM | , , , | 1 comments »

In Money Hacks #5, we discovered a web site that divulged online shopping coupon codes (retailmenot.com) and we talked about the American Express Blue Cash credit card that, if used wisely, could garner you $500 or more cash back in a single year.

This week, we're going to find out how to utilize an excellent dining rewards program and fill you in on a cheap alternative to a whole-house or portable air purifier that will also save you money on your energy bill.


#1

I found the following rewards program through my favorite money journalist of all time, Andrew Tobias, author of The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. I've been reading Andy's work for over 20 years and he is nothing if not prudent, frugal, and kooky all at the same time.

(Look for a comprehensive review of the aforementioned book in coming posts. I've read several editions of this book, which Andy updates every so often to include the latest technologies, trends, tax laws, and economic and stock market outlooks.)

In his latest iteration of the book, Andy talks of a dining rewards program called iDine. Sign up is free. Here's how it works. Register up to 5 credit cards with the site after you sign up and each time you use one of those cards at a participating restaurant (it also works at select hotels), you earn up to 20% off your entire bill. You need not tell the restaurant that you belong to the program, nor do you have to carry any membership cards.

On your next credit card bill, you'll see a credit for up to 20% off your bill for that meal, including tax and tip!

The first $49 in rewards you earn is taken by iDine to cover their costs. So, at 20% savings, it will take you $245 in restaurant bills to start to accumulate rewards. I know it's not terribly frugal to eat out, but it is one of life's pleasures, in my opinion. My family eats out several times a month, so after a few months, I'm "earning" 20% on my restaurant bill, bills that I'd incur anyways.

So, if you eat out often, it behooves you to take a look at iDine. After all, it costs you nothing out-of-pocket to join.


#2

Our household air is filthy and loaded with particles that can harm our lungs. Regular vacuuming helps a great deal, but so does a whole-house air filtration system.

Here's a tip that will cost you about $10 every few months, rather than the thousands of dollars in initial cost and hundreds in maintenance that a whole-house filtration unit would cost.. Your furnace can be used as a whole-house filtration system. Rather than using the really cheap air filters from Home Depot or Lowes, splurge and get yourself a "Filtrete" filter from 3M. They're about $10 and will generally last a season. So, for about $40 a year, you can filter your air of most allergens and other harmful particulates that a whole-house filtration unit would do.

If your air is especially dusty, you can run the fan all the time, creating a great filtration system as well as an air-circulation system. Doing so can also allow you to turn down your thermostat a degree or two, since the hot air won't just stay at the ceiling; rather, it will be forced to circulate throughout your house.

Make sure you change your filter when it needs changing, as these filters do restrict airflow a little when new but a lot when clogged with all the gunk in your air. You'll be amazed at how much junk these filters catch.

BONUS TIP: To lower your thermostat another degree or two, buy a humidifier. Moist air "feels" warmer than dry air because of the evaporative effects (your body stays warmer because it doesn't perspire as much in a humid environment).

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1 comments

  1. BobbyT // 2/19/2008 1:13 PM  

    Hi, heard about your offer of free link love. Can you kindly link to http://bobbytoat.blogspot.com? Preferred link text is "BobbyT Blogging To a T", but anything will do. Thanks a lot, joined your MoneyHack community :)

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