April – 2019 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

April 2019

Items to Keep in Your Glove Compartment (Besides Gloves!)

This is a sponsored post partnered with Cerritos Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Back in the day, the glove compartment of vehicles was actually used to house people’s gloves. Nowadays, despite the name, there are many other items that are a good idea to store in your car’s glove compartment. Of course there are the standard items: owners manual, insurance card/information, vehicle registration paperwork, etc. What else could be considered a “must have” for any car’s interior?

Here is a list of some simple household items that you always seem to need in your car, but can’t find. Storing these in your glove compartment is a perfect solution. Things you might want to include are:

Napkins, paper towels, or towels for any potential spills or messes that occur (if you’ve got kids or pets that ride in your car these are definite necessities!).

Ballpoint pen or mechanical pencil for times when you need to jot a note down, or perhaps endorse a check while waiting in line at the ATM. I like to keep several of each on hand in case the kids ever need one for homework in the car, or for drawing.

Mints or gum, in case you need to freshen your breath before a meeting, or if you might be feeling nauseous. Several members of our family get car sick easily, and having mints on hand has been really helpful.

Spare change, if you find yourself a few cents short at the drive-thru, or if you end up needing a small amount of money for some purpose while you’re out and about. If you live in an area with tolls or plan to travel through tolls soon, it’s imperative to have spare change. Some tolls will mail you a bill, but in Oklahoma you HAVE to have cash/change for the tolls.

Fingernail clippers, for that pesky hangnail or to cut tags off of new items.

Spare shopping bags, in case you need to throw something away, or hold a bunch of small items – or if someone gets sick!

But what else? How about some simple tools or electrical items for an emergency, such as:

Screwdrivers, both philips and flathead

Flashlight, with the batteries tested regularly

Wrench

Tire pressure gauge (always good to use when your vehicle’s low tire light is on)

Duct tape (it fixed everything, right?)

You might also keep a few energy bars or other nonperishable food items in the glove compartment, making sure to change them out before they expire. You never know when you get in a situation where you need that one thing that you always have, but can’t seem to find while on the road. It’s always good to be prepared!

Save Money on Vacations – by Driving!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Zeigler Chrysler Dodge Ram Kalamazoo. All opinions are honest and are my own.

How can driving on vacation save us money?

The summer holidays are fast approaching, but if the budget’s tight it can be hard to plan the perfect family vacation. Airfares are high, accommodation isn’t cheap and there’s usually activities to splash out on once you get there. Driving to your destination may not sound like your idea of a relaxing break, but it could leave you with more money in the bank and, if you play your cards right, some very happy kids! Here are some top tips for saving money on your driving holiday.

Stock up and save

One of the main advantages of driving on vacation is that you can take more with you. If you opt for a self-catered holiday, you might want to consider taking food supplies with you in your car – bring a cooler to make sure the things in your refrigerator don’t go to waste while you’re away. You can also save money by making sure you take everything the kids need to keep them entertained while you’re gone. After all, if they’ve got their favorite toys, electronics, and activities with them, they’re not going to be whining on the road about being bored, or asking to go shopping for something new.

Fuel savers

While driving may be a cheaper option compared with the cost of flights, we all know fuel isn’t free. There are, however, ways to conserve fuel and money, even on long road trips. Try to find the most economical route for your journey. Even if highways are the quickest option, they may not be the most fuel-friendly. If you have a GPS navigation system, it may have an option to help you choose the most economical route, so check yours out before setting off.

Another positive of avoiding the highways is that you’ll get a chance to actually enjoy the journey. The drive doesn’t have to be a chore, and, if you plan your route carefully, you might even have a chance to stop off and enjoy your surroundings on the way!

Explore

When you’ve got your own car to get you from A to B, you’re not restricted to staying in one place. Unlike when you fly abroad, you’ll be able to travel to different places, taking in new experiences. Consider staying in one place for a few days before moving on to another town. You’ll get a lot more for your money in local hotels and B&Bs, and you’ll be able to fit much more into your time away.

Go off the tourist trail

We all know that tourist-friendly areas are more expensive to visit. Save money by going off the tourist trail and into quieter areas. Restaurant prices, hotel rates and the cost of souvenirs are all likely to be lower if you go off the beaten track, and, thankfully, having your own car makes that a whole lot easier!

Make memories

Remember, making memories is free so all you have to do is enjoy yourself! Drive safely, take plenty of photos and enjoy your vacation!

What to Check on Your Car’s Tires

This is a sponsored post partnered with Moran St.Clair Chrysler Jeep Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Things to check for on your car’s tires

Your vehicle’s tires are like your shoes. There’s lots of wear and tear on them, they’re not always clean and shiny, but a definite necessity to get around. And like your shoes, you want to make sure that your car has good, efficient tires. Here are a few things to check for or keep an eye on regarding your tires:

You always need to be aware of the tread condition of your tires. A tire with worn or low treads will not have a good grip on the road, even in the best weather conditions. One thing to check regularly on your car is the depth of the tread on your tires. You can invest in a tire tread measurement tool from your local automotive store to accurately measure the depth. If you don’t have one handy, you can also use a penny to look at the depth (if you place the penny in the grooves of your tires and can see Lincoln’s head unobstructed, it’s most likely time for new tires. Some tires even have a wear indicator in the tread; there is usually a bar across the main trench of the tread, and if it’s the same depth as the tread, it’s probably time to replace.

In addition to the depth of the tread, you need to be aware of how the tread is wearing down across the tire. If your tires seem more bald on the interior or exterior of the tire, and it’s not even across the width of the tire… it’s probably a sign that your vehicle needs its alignment checked. If the tire seems more bald on both edges of the tire, it’s usually a sign that they are under-inflated. On the other hand, if they are more bald in the middle/center of the tire, most likely it’s a sign of overinflation. Keeping your eye on any potential wear spots of your tires is a good way to maximize fuel economy as well as safety.

Another good rule of thumb is to be mindful of the age of your tires. Tires are made of rubber, and over time that rubber can crack and weaken. Be it from extreme heat (or cold, in some instances), or dry conditions, tires will also begin to have weak spots from age. Keeping your tires newer also helps stabilize any potential risks when driving.

Another simple thing to check for is any debris that might be embedded in the tire. Sometimes items such as nails and screws can become lodged in a tire and not cause a leak. This is rare, but spotting any potential leaks in your tire helps make sure you don’t have a blowout when traveling at high speeds on the freeway, and saves you from having to change a flat on a busy road. In addition to the tread, also keep an eye on the sidewalls of your car’s tires. Any wear spots or scuffs from riding up on a curb poses a potential weaker spot that could eventually cause a flat, so be mindful of those as well.

It’s also a great idea to keep a tire pressure gauge in every vehicle you own. Most cars now have indicator lights letting the driver know if any tires are under pressure, but these are never perfect. Weather conditions can give you a false warning, so when in doubt, check it yourself. And also start practicing a good habit of checking each tire visually quickly before each drive.

You’d never want to walk around in shoddy shoes, so use the tips above to keep from driving around on unsafe tires.

Items to ALWAYS Check Before Driving

This is a sponsored post partnered with Akins Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Before driving off down the road, there are a few things you should ALWAYS check before departing. People tend to be more aware of these types of things on long road trips, but these are important even when going down the block. Following these safe guidelines will help ensure you make it to your destination without incident.

CHECK THE PERIMETER OF YOUR VEHICLE

This is always a key thing to do before driving anywhere. Walk around your vehicle before getting inside, paying particular attention to the ground around your car or truck. You never know who or what might have been near it recently, such as kids with bikes that they left on the ground, or a family pet that might be resting nearby. By checking around your vehicle, you help make sure that no obstacles might be in your blind spot once you’re inside your car.

In addition to checking around your vehicle, also pay attention to the condition of the exterior of your car. Do you notice any damage to your car, such as a dent or scratch you haven’t remember seeing recently? How can you be sure that it is in fact new, or if it is something that has been present without you noticing it for quite some time? It’s also good to check and make sure no parts of the vehicle are potentially damaged to the point that they might be a hazard to yourself or other drivers. You should also take note of any of your tires that could be flat or low on air.

SEATBELTS FOR ALL PASSENGERS

Once inside your vehicle, please make sure that ALL passengers, regardless of age or location in the vehicle, are properly buckled in. A person that isn’t buckled in is not only endangering themselves, but the other passengers in the vehicle, in any case of a wreck. A good rule to always enforce while driving is that all people present are securely buckled in, just in case of any incidents.

Also – are there any loose items that could pose a potential risk in the case of a wreck? Are there any heavy objects or loose debris that could cause injury if flung around in a wreck? All items should be properly stowed away in the trunk or secured safely.

MIRRORS

Once all passengers are buckled up, the driver should check both the side and rear view mirrors for optimal visibility. It’s always frustrating when you are driving down the highway and realize you can’t see anything on a side view mirror because it’s still set for a different driver or posture. By adjusting all the mirrors before driving off, you eliminate the risk of having to adjust them while in motion.

If you want to be extra careful before driving, you might also check both your lights and wipers to see if any of them are not functioning properly. These both are more for instances of driving in the evening or in precipitous weather, but a regular check of both is a good idea overall.

By following these simple guidelines, you will help eliminate a few risks before even starting your vehicle.

9 Tips for Optimal Fuel Economy

This is a sponsored post partnered with Winner Auto. All opinions are honest and are my own.

With gas prices always in flux, it can’t hurt to employ a few simple tricks to save a few cents each time you fill up at the pump. Not only will these help save some drops of gas, but most are good practices to also keep your vehicle in good shape.

Stay off the gas pedal

This sounds easy enough, just drive the speed limit, don’t accelerate quickly, and coast when possible. Just using the gas pedal less saves on gas. Some vehicles have a light on your control panel that lets you know when you’re driving in a way that’s using less gasoline.

Always consider your route

We all get in a routine of taking the same route to different places each time, but consider trying an alternate route to see if it’s quicker and less distance. It might not always be the most efficient, depending on the traffic at the time of day, but testing alternate paths to a consistent destination could reveal a better route at a shorter distance.

Don’t idly sit with the car running

Not only is it bad for the air quality around you, but keeping the car running while someone is in the store to get a carton of milk uses a lot of excess gas. Instead, roll the windows down if it’s warmer – roll the windows down, turn the car off, and read a book!

Always make sure your tires are inflated

By keeping your tires properly inflated, you are always ensuring good road contact and traction. When driving with tires that are under-inflated, you are making your vehicle work more, thereby using more gas.

Remember that just because the premium gas is more expensive, doesn’t mean it’s better.

Usually, those higher tier gases are recommended for certain vehicles, but if your vehicle doesn’t require them, there’s no sense in using them. By using the standard option rather than the premium, you will save at least 10 cents a gallon.

Avoid excess weight in the vehicle

It’s just simple math, really – the greater the weight of an object, the more force is required to move the object. So, with more weight in a vehicle, more gas it will require to move it from point A to B. A good practice to have is to always remove objects from your car before driving. Why spend excess gas on moving that box of junk when it doesn’t need to be in your car?

Check your air filter(s)

If you have a clogged or dirty air filter, you are forcing your vehicle to draw in more air using more energy/force than with a clean air filter. By keeping that intake clean, you are letting your car easily pull in air more easily, thereby using less force.

Turn down the AC

When driving on city roads and in the neighborhood, you don’t always need to use the air conditioner. It may be nice for comfort, but at what cost? Fuel economy! By rolling down the windows and letting the breeze in rather than cranking up the AC, you can save on gas every time.

Cruise control

Once on the highway, driving at a constant speed with little to no stops, use your cruise control. It’s built in for ease of use on the driver, but also is a great way to control the use of your gas pedal. Very little acceleration is exerted once you start the cruise control, its a great way to maintain a constant speed at a low RPM

How to Improve Your Credit to Get an Auto Loan

This is a sponsored post partnered with Mr. Ed’s Auto Loans Approved. All opinions are honest and are my own.

You know it’s about time for you to get another vehicle. Maybe your current car is on its last leg, or your family has grown so you need something larger to accommodate your growing brood.

For most of us, we can’t just purchase a car outright for cash – they’re expensive purchases, after all. That’s why auto loans are the solution for most consumers. We have used a loan for each vehicle we’ve purchased.

If you have a low credit score, though, it can make it difficult to get a loan – or if you do get a loan, it might be one with not-so-great terms. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score, and there are places that exist to help you acquire an auto loan. Mr. Ed’s Auto Loans Approved is a great resource with lots of information – and you can even fill out an application on their site to see about getting approved for a loan today.

Here are three tips for improving your credit score. Start today – you’ll be so glad you did!

  1. Pay off your debt. This one seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you have debt and you can just end up floundering and doing nothing. Be proactive and take steps to pay off your debt, even if it’s a little at a time. And once you DO get your balances lower (or, ideally, gone!) make a conscious effort to keep little to no debt on your cards. Your ratio of debt to available credit is something that weighs heavily on your credit score.
  2. Be cautious about opening new cards, but don’t close old unused cards. If you open new cards that is just more and more temptation to spend – and you’re also creating lots of inquiries on your credit score to open the new accounts. But if you have cards you haven’t used in a while and they have no balance, keep them open – they help improve that ratio we talked about in point #1.
  3. Pay bills on time. If you want someone to loan you money, your best bet at being approved is to have a history of repaying other debts responsibly. Creditors look at your history, because how you’ve managed debt in the past tends to indicate how you’ll handle it in the future – and they want to get repaid! Pay your other bills on time, too, and take advantage of auto-pay setups whenever possible, to remove the possibility of you forgetting a payment.

Texas Road Trips

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Texas is a HUGE state. It would take 10-12 hours to drive from the most Eastern point to the most Western point, and even a little longer to drive from the Southern tip to the top of the panhandle. You don’t have to drive your car to the ends of the earth Texas to have a vacation, though – here are a few great road trip options all within 2-3 hours of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Waco: Roughly 90 minutes away from Dallas/Fort Worth, this city has gained popularity recently due to a certain show from HGTV. People are flocking to Magnolia Market, and it’s a fun stop for shopping – and now Magnolia Table is open for dining, too. The store sits alongside a plot of land that houses food trucks and benches with tables, and a big patch of faux grass for kids to run and play. The adjacent lot houses a bakery so you can satisfy your sweet tooth. You can visit the Cameron Park Zoo for a less-crowded animal-viewing experience, stop by the Dr. Pepper museum, enjoy a stroll across the suspension bridge, and even take the kids to see a real mammoth excavation site.

Rough Creek Lodge and Resort: This resort is nestled on 11,000 acres in Glen Rose, in the foothills of the picturesque Texas Hill Country. Located 90 minutes southwest of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas the lodge boasts exquisite grounds. There’s hunting, fishing, paintball, and even a spa.

The Inn at Dos Brisas: This luxury resort is located in the Hill Country. Visit the full service equestrian center for carriage tours, riding lessons, and trail riding, or play a match at their tennis court. Relax next to the outdoor heated infinity pool. The inn’s romantic restaurant is the only Forbes five-star restaurant in Texas, serving organic dishes made with ingredients from the resort garden. You can have an action-packed outdoor vacation or a quiet escape, complete with private accommodations and a patio for taking in the panoramic views.

If you feel like you can’t take a long vacation this summer, venture out for a weekend getaway to one of these locations, or the many other options available across Texas.