Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a mad, mad max world (tips on SAVING GAS!).

Sometimes I procrastinate on refilling my gas tank, so when I get close to the 'E', I start hypermiling - a cost-efficient way of driving to save gas! It includes the use of coasting, slowing down on highways to that "sweet spot" of 55 mph, the most fuel-efficient speed, accelerating slowly, etc. On my Honda Fit, it's gotten me pretty far in times of need- but now, because of the gas shortage in the Atlanta area, I'd made a permanent conscious effort to change the way I drive.

I've taken these steps in hypermiling from ehow, but I've edited some of them because some steps are actually kind of dangerous (like shutting of your car when you're driving, that's too crazy!)!

1. When you go above 38 mph in most cars, you lose mileage. For every 5 mph above 55, you can lose as much as 10 percent of your fuel economy. So slowing down can save you gas. Drive the speed limit.

Driving without brakes or in hypermiling lingo,d.w.b. is all about coasting. You need to maintain a constant speed and not let it get ahead of you when you are driving in traffic, so that when traffic starts to slow back down you'll catch up. This can be tricky as in a lot of cases when ever you allow distance between you and another car, another car will take advantage of it and cut in front of you.

Do it when possible -- but be careful.

Avoid big hills and stop-and-go traffic by trying different route because a longer route may have better driving conditions and less traffic which uses less gas. Also, changing your work schedule 30 minutes to half an hour can mean less traffic. Try working out at a gym next to your job and then driving home. Test different routes to see which is the smoothest ride.

Scheduled oil changes result in better fuel economy because as the oil gets older thus thicker it is harder to push through the engine.

Traffic lights are the biggest cause of you using gas while idling. If you see a red light in front of you, take your foot off the gas and let your car coast up to it. Hypermilers practice riding the "waves and jams" caused by congestion to minimize time accelerating, decelerating, and sitting stopped. When you can turn off your car, like when you are waiting to pick up someone, or in your car in line, like at the bank or drive through, turn off your engine to save gas.

Accelerate slowly. The longer you take to achieve a speed, the less fuel it will require to get there. In many cars, using cruise control to slowly approach the desired speed will help regulate accelerations. A rule of thumb is to press down the accelerator an inch at a time.

Using cruise control on the highway, though, really does have a noticeable effect on fuel economy. In's test using a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang, the Land Rover got almost 14 percent better mileage using cruise control set at 70 miles per hour rather than cruising at driver-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The Mustang got 4.5 percent better mileage.

Using cruise control cuts down on unnecessary speed changes which can eat up gas and it prevents "speed creep." the tendency for a driver's average speed to gradually increase with time spent on the road.

If you want the biggest gain in fuel mileage, you need to lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerating more slowly away from green lights and stopping more gradually for red lights cut fuel consumption in's tests by 35.4 percent for the Land Rover and 27.1 percent for the Mustang.

Slamming down the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster.

Tips & Warnings

Tests have proven that turning off your air conditioner or inflating your tires has little effect on saving gas.

Say your car gets about 22 miles per gallon. By adopting a laid-back driving style you should soon realize 30 percent more in fuel mileage, which means an increase to about 30 miles per gallon

To learn more about hypermiling, click here for more resources and articles. Happy fuel-efficient driving!

~Jenny Bunns

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Economic Fall-out? DON'T PANIC!

The economy is crashing. You can't get a loan for anything anymore. The US dollar is weak. Job security is teetering. Omg, what are we going to do???

I say... do what we've BEEN doing (that is, if you've already been practicing frugal habits AND saving your extra moolah into savings accounts and/or mutual funds, etc).

The other day, my dad made his weekly phone call to me and suggested that I cash out my mutual funds. I totally understand where he was coming from. Things seem hopeless (almost). The market's way down, let's just panic and cash out and stow our munnies into our mattresses instead!

But let me tell you something. It's a REALLY simple concept that everyone should know, especially young people. When you invest in mutual funds, and the market gets really low - it's actually the best time to put more money into those funds! How is this possible? Well... think of it as a sale. WHen the market is low, shares are priced low. So you buy more shares for your money. THEN, when the market recovers again and makes a rise, your shares blow up, when you bought a whole bunch of them when they were "on sale"! I am no financial expert, so I will say no more. I just wanted to throw this out to you. If you need more information on this, please contact your friendly neighborhood financial planner. I, of course, recommend my own planner (who is the most socially responsible and genuinely caring money person ever!), Ellen Coleman of the Oak Tree Group. If you want her contact info, shoot me an email or comment and I'll give it to you.

Um... okay, I think that's it for now. I'll be writing more about these rough times we're having when I get more moments to do so! (me busy! eeps!)

ps- I'll also be giving more tips on being frugal and saving munnies so that you CAN benefit in the long run with these mutual fund investments :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Software tips!

I got this email from my Skinwerks family member, Scotty Padget - graphic designer extraordinaire!

I get a lot of tips/tricks from friends who do nothing but test / search / and use free software’s across the net for different purposes. So I thought I would pass some of the latest versions your way.


(free light weight antivirus protection, uses very little memory, # 1 download)

Syncplicity -

(Online Data Backup, It’s really good when you have 2 or more computers that you have all the same files on, ex – laptop vs desktop)

Monday, September 1, 2008


Several months ago, I was at Target, with my roommate, Jonathan. I needed laundry soap. I only do laundry once every other week to a) save water and b) my clothes are small. Needless to say, I don't often need to buy laundry soap. Anyhoo... I was standing at the laundry soap aisle for what seemed like an eternity, while Jonathan stood there patiently for me to decide on what kind to use. I was baffled. There are SO many choices, now. AND they're super expensive! Did I just go through a time-warp??? Geez!

Shortly after I finally decided on something (only because I needed to not spend my life at the laundry soap aisle and get on with it), I received an email from an old friend of mine from my hometown of Rochester, MN. She directed me to this website about how to make your own laundry soap! My friend said that, at first it seems painstaking, to find all these ingredients. But they're easier found than one would think. And once you do a batch - you really don't need to do it for a LONG LONG time. My friend calculated that (she has two children and owns two daycares, so she goes through a lot of laundry!) she saves over $300 a year on laundry soap alone! For us non-daycare-owning people, we'd still save a good bit. It's also GREEN! It's natural and hypoallergenic, biodegradable, so it's easy on the earth and our skin, too. My friend says it makes her clothes surprisingly clean AND cleaning smelling!

Here's a link for making your own dish soap, too.

ALSO... and this is something that I do now, after an experiment with foaming hand soap dispensers...
You can save tons on liquid hand soap by getting those foaming hand soap dispensers (like Dial Complete). Instead of buying the refills of soap that's made specially for those kinds of dispensers, you can get a refill of regular hand soap. When refilling your little dispenser, pour one tablespoon of REGULAR hand soap in the bottle, and fill the rest with WARM water. Shake well. Viola! That's all you need! This will last you a very long time, and save you a few bucks! :)

Happy sudsing! :)