I've been struggling with a bad cold for the last few days (inconveniently taking all the fun out of my weekend, rather than letting me use sick days and stay home from work, alas.)
Now, my health is one of the few areas in my life where I don't worry too much about prices. Saving a few dollars is just not worth being more miserable and/or in pain.
But on the other hand, I still don't want to get ripped off, and I know perfectly well that most brand-name drugs are identical to generic/store-brand alternatives. It's the law in the U.S. So you just need to read the active ingredients on your brand-name box and then match it up to the proper generic to find the same medicine at a fraction of the price; in other words, paying extra for the brand name is like throwing your money away in most cases. Naturally, I buy generic/store-brand OTC medicine most of the time.
(Also, be sure to read the label on some of the "specialty" drugs; here's a really eye-opening article about migraine medicines which are identical to-- but more costly than-- general pain relievers.)
I do make some exceptions, though. Advil Liqui-Gels may have the same 200mg of ibuprofen as any generic pill, but thanks to their form, they bring faster relief (at least in my experience). That can be huge when I'm in serious pain. So I pick that over cheaper alternatives. I haven't found any generic versions of the liqui-gel where I shop; do you know of any?
And then when I was shopping for some relief for this latest cold, only Tylenol sold a package which included both the daytime and night-time versions of the pills I wanted. They were more expensive per pill than the generics, but overall I would have had to pay more to get two separate boxes with more pills than I needed. Since I'm typically pretty healthy (knock on wood), I didn't want to buy the extra on the theory that I'd need them again sometime in the year before they expire; I've wasted plenty that way before. So Tylenol's packaging approach won out.
How about you? Do you buy only generic drugs? Or are there certain products you make an exception for, and if so, which and why? (Or do you buy all brand-name?)
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I've been struggling with a bad cold for the last few days (inconveniently taking all the fun out of my weekend, rather than letting me use sick days and stay home from work, alas.)
Posted by Penny Nickel at 9/30/2007 03:58:00 PM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Just click on the link, print it out, cut on the dotted line, and tape it up. Then put your card(s) inside, and you'll see the questions every time you pull out your credit/debit card to charge something. This is what's on the sleeve:
Every dollar I spend is a statement about the kind of world I want & the quality of life I value.
Sample questions to ask before buying:
• Is this something I need?
• Do I already own something that could serve the same purpose?
• Can I borrow one, find one used, or make one instead of buying new?
• Was it made locally?
• Was it made with environmentally preferable materials?
• Was it made with fair labor practices?
• Will it serve more than one purpose?
• Is it made well enough to last a useful length of time?
• Will it be easy and cost-effective to maintain?
• Will using it require excessive energy?
• Does it come in excessive packaging?
• Can I recycle or compost it when I'm done with it?
• If I'm still not sure, can I wait a month before deciding to buy it?
I personally think this set of questions is really fantastic and spot-on for me, so I'm going to use the wallet buddy as-is. I ask myself some of these questions some of the time when shopping, but I certainly don't think about all of them all the time, and I could use a handy reminder. This is the kind of conscious consuming I'm aiming for.
But if you have different questions you want to ask yourself, you could make your own sleeve. They could remind you about avoiding bad habits ("Will I enjoy this in the short-term but regret it in the long-term?" or even "Am I buying another X even though I know I shouldn't?"), being selective about credit card use ("Can I pay this off at the end of the month?"), not using your credit cards at all ("Is this an emergency? Is this worth the interest charges I'll have to pay?"), or whatever else fits your priorities.
Of course, I'm sure that the effect of seeing the questions on the sleeve will wear off after time. And by the time you're pulling out your card to check out, it's an awkward time to stop and reconsider! But I'm hoping that the repeated exposure will keep the questions in my mind.
What do you think? Corny or effective? And more importantly, what questions belong on your sleeve-- or your mental checklist-- when you're shopping?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Hi, and welcome to Festival of Frugality #93! I'm so glad you're here. Money and Values is a blog focusing on the connections between personal finance and our values, ethics, and priorities-- I write about things like being a conscious consumer, socially responsible investing, frugal living, being environmentally friendly, and more. If that sounds interesting to you, check out some of the best Money and Values posts.
Also, I want to direct your attention to the Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance, which is posted every other Thursday. The September 20 edition is up here and you can check out other editions from the carnival web site.
Now, without further ado, let's get to the Festival of Frugality! I've divided it up into sections, so I hope you'll be able to hone in on what most interests you. I've marked my favorites with *. And because I am fascinated by the masterpieces that talented cake artists can put together, this edition of the Festival is illustrated with pictures of amazing cakes that it's hard to believe are real...
Lists and Compilations
R.Pettinger presents Easy Ways to Save Money posted at Mortgage Blog.
KCLau presents Should you focus on Increasing income or reducing expenses? posted at KCLau's Money Tips.
Food and Drinks
Kris presents Chop Til You Drop:The Ultimate Guide to Slicing, Carving, and Cutting Your Food into Tiny, Affordable Pieces posted at Cheap Healthy Good.
Mel Rimmer presents Ginger Beer Plant posted at Bean-Sprouts.
Trent presents The One Hour Project: Price Compare The Things You Buy Regularly posted at The Simple Dollar.
FIRE Getters presents $6000! Save Your Hard Earned Money! posted at FIRE Finance.
Stephanie presents Dinner and a Movie - That Doesn?t Cost a Fortune posted at Unclaimed Money.
Maggie W. presents Fitness on a Budget Part 1: The Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) Precision Nutrition Plan posted at Caustic Musings.
Mr. Debtbeater presents Removing Unnecessary Expenses - Use Tap Water posted at Debtbeater.
The Financial Blogger presents Failing to Be Frugal Again; a Grocery Store Story posted at The Financial Blogger.
Dean presents The Latte Factor: Starbucks is Evil posted at Mr. Cheap Stuff.
JvW presents Adventures in Grocery Shopping posted at The Good Life on a Budget.
Frugal Questions and Values
* Kyle James presents Would You Remain Frugal If You Won The Lottery? posted at Rather-Be-Shopping.com Blog.
* Melissa presents When Frugality Becomes A Dirty Stinkin' Excuse posted at A Penny Closer.
Paula presents WWYD: Buy or Read in the Store? posted at Queercents.
Lynnae presents Why have Americans become so overindulgent? posted at beingfrugal.net.
Babies and Kids
Linsey B. Knerl presents DIY Baby Care for Your Cheap Bum posted at Wise Bread.
Silicon Valley Blogger presents Saving Tips For New Parents: Get Ready For Baby! posted at The Digerati Life.
mom & dad presents How to Build a Double (or Single) Desk on the Cheap, Part 3 posted at raising4boys.com.
savingadvice presents The Great Crayon Reform: How To Revitalize Used Crayons posted at SavingAdvice.com Blog.
General Frugality Strategies
Daily Idea presents Find the Cheapest Days to Buy posted at Daily Idea.
Yan presents Brand name premium, should you pay one? posted at Pro Bargain Hunter.
Ben presents Are You Being Held in Rebate Ransom - Sales Tactic #4 posted at Money Smart Life.
Cars and Car Insurance
ISPF presents Auto Insurance Discounts posted at Grad Money Matters.
Jonathan presents What Is The Best Fun-But-Cheap Used Car Under $5000? posted at MyMoneyBlog.
Shadox presents Reducing Our Car Insurance Bill posted at Money and Such.
Being Frugal vs. Being Cheap
Matt presents Being Frugal doesn't mean being Cheap posted at One Million and beyond.
baglady presents My Super Cheap Ex-boyfriend posted at xynny.
Vacations and Travel
* juicefairy presents 5 Important Travel Tips posted at Juicefairy.
Sarah presents Mini vacations posted at Frugal Underground.
SavingWithMe presents House Swapping: Fad or Possibility posted at Saving With Me.
Lazy Man and Money presents Save Money on Hobbies posted at Lazy Man and Money.
K T Cat presents Frugal Videography posted at The Scratching Post.
Golbguru presents Top High-Yield Savings Accounts: Interest Rates And Some Thoughts posted at Money, Matter, and More Musings.
Terry presents Bad Economic Times on the Way? posted at Savvy Frugality.
Tim Ramsey presents How To Save Thousands When Paying Off Student Loans posted at My Debt Relief Blog.
* Sara Goldstein presents How to choose better-quality clothes posted at The Bargain Queen on Fashion and Beauty.
Deals and Recommendations
Hustlerama presents ViewPoint Bank Free Ipod Promotion posted at Hustlerama.
CC Dude presents AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest: Best Travel Rewards Credit Card posted at My Credit Cards Blog.
Carissa presents Frugal Fiesta: Quickie Garage Sale posted at SAHMmy Says.
Amy Fontinelle presents You Never Know What You'll Find at a Garage Sale posted at Two Pennies Earned.
Brett McKay presents 12 Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding posted at The Frugal Law Student.
Stephanie presents What! Christmas Already? posted at Stop the Ride!.
WhatWorksForUs presents Save $$ - Consider Free Software posted at What Works For Us.
EMF presents Future Programming for Analog TV: Snow posted at Engineering My Finances.
Dianne M. Buxton presents Wahm Homeschooling Internet Marketing Course posted at manifestingsuccess.
paidtwice presents Being Frugal can be Fun! posted at I've Paid For This Twice Already...
Patricia O'Rourke presents cash for cans posted at (spare) change is good.
NCN presents Day 20 of 33 Days And 33 Ways To Save Money And Reduce Debt: Create A Binder For Manuals posted at No Credit Needed.
Frugal Babe presents Our New Backyard posted at FrugalBabe.
The Ultimate Guide to Freeloading posted at Free Geekery.
... Well, that's it. I'm hungry now, aren't you? Thanks for participating in this week's Festival of Frugality! Submit here for next week's edition.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Just a little bit late, I'm celebrating 18 months of blogging here at Money and Values! Here's what I think are the best posts of the last 1 1/2 years:
Posted by Penny Nickel at 9/22/2007 10:35:00 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Hi everyone! I've got a really great edition of the Carnival in store for you this time around.
Let's start with my personal favorites:
- Are we too selfish to change? at No Impact Man, where Colin Beavan discusses consumption, acquisition, and how societies' values can change over time.
- Parenting, work, and guilt at Tired but Happy is TBH's discussion of part-time vs full-time work, and how following her heart seems to conflict with what she "should be" doing.
- Voting With Our Wallets at Philaahzophy is one blogger's (Aahz's) exploration of the ethical and political ramifications-- and dilemmas-- of personal spending decisions.
- The 2008 War Tax Boycott at The Picket Line, where David Gross presents a major campaign to get anti-war activists to connect their values to their money choices by becoming tax resisters.
- Dumpsters get popular: Freegans and junk yard tours at green LA girl in which Siel talks about a few ways people are decreasing waste by reusing trash.
- The Powerful (and Addictive) Nature of Giving at Millionaire Mommy Next Door, where Millionaire Mommy Next Door reflects on the emotional effects of giving, and makes a plan for her blogging income.
- Charitable Ambivalence at An English Major's Money, in which English Major wrestles with whether or not to pause charitable giving.
- Don’t be a Donaghy at The Real Estate Zebra is Daniel Rothamel's discussion of the importance of honesty and integrity in business.
- Who Is Responsible For Lead In Toys? at Money, Matter, and More Musings, in which Golbguru asks questions about the recalls of Chinese-made toys, looking towards an understanding of the root of the problem.
- Why we are not as ethical as we think at Sox First, where Leon Gettler summarizes psychological studies on ethical behavior.
- Ethics and Work-Life Balance at Slow Down Fast Today! is David B. Bohl's post about how employees' work-life balance helps promote ethical behaviors that benefit their employers.
- The Psychology of Free posted at A Penny Closer is an interesting discussion by penny-eric about how we value things that are free.
And a few more posts for your enjoyment:
- Learning About Debt Relief Programs posted at Care on Credit. ("Thinking about taking out a debt consolidation loan against the equity in your home? Read up on the facts about the debt relief industry before you commit to a permanent decision.")
- Just Say No posted at Frugal Journey. ("There is a very easy way to save money. It’s the power of the word NO. Say NO to nights at the movies, NO to lattes with lunch and NO to expensive vacations.")
- Top 10 Money Lessons by Dissecting Billionaire Leona Hemsley’s Will posted at KCLau's Money Tips. ("After dissecting Helmsley's 14-page will filed in Surrogate’s Court, I am going to elaborate some personal finance money tips in this post. Some facts will amuse you while some lessons are to be learned to alert you of planning your estate more effectively. Here are the top lessons I learn from researching Leona’s will.")
- How to Get Ahead In America (1st of a 12-Part Series) at PowerWealth.com. ("I am a living example – among millions of such examples in America – that a multi-generation American can make a conscious choice to get ahead financially and then go out into America and make it happen within a reasonable timeframe...Based on my experience, I am confident that you can accelerate your potential to replicate or exceed my financial success if you are willing to adopt my “12 Refusals That Helped Me Pull Ahead in America.”")
- How to Stop Abusive Homeowners Associations before Problems Begin at Getting Green.
- Pork: Wha'ss On The Barbeque In Congress Is Your Future at The Agonist. ("Companies that give money to political campaigns have better-performing stocks, according to a new study, than companies that don't contribute. So let's take a closer look at the intersection of capitalism and political corruption, American-style.")
- The best money advice of all time at Money in the Bible | Christian Personal Finance Blog. ("According to MONEY magazine, this is the best money advice from some of the wisest people who have lived.")
Well, that's it for this week! The next edition will be up on October 4th, so please submit using this form. Please contact me if you'd like to host a future edition.
Also, please comment or e-mail me with suggestions of other great posts you've seen around the blogosphere that you think would fit this carnival-- let's work together to make this a real showcase of the very best writing on the web about ethics, values, and personal finance!Technorati tags: ethics, values & personal finance, blog carnival.
Monday, September 17, 2007
- Should we stay in lodgings very close to cities and/or other sites of interest, in order to make the most efficient use of our time... or stay farther away and save money but spend an extra half-hour or 45 minutes driving?
- Should we pick the most interesting and appealing attractions every time, regardless of the price... or choose cheaper or free ones sometimes, which we would enjoy but maybe not quite as much as our top picks?
- Should we pay to enter a museum or visitor's center when we knew it would close before we had time to see the whole thing... or skip it and save the entrance fee but miss out on learning what we could in the time we had?
- Should we always choose to eat good, authentic local food, even when the only options were pricey... or sometimes grab cheap food of the kind we could find almost anywhere?
Posted by Penny Nickel at 9/17/2007 12:29:00 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is considering new rules that would drastically decrease ordinary shareholders' ability to voice their opinions on corporate policies. Make your voice heard! Click here to send comments to the SEC before October 2.
As I wrote recently:
Every year when companies have their annual meetings, there are a series of resolutions for stockholders to vote on. Many of these are introduced by the company and have to do with things like confirming board members, but there are also increasing numbers of resolutions introduced by shareholders, often having to do with issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
These votes are only advisory, but they express the positions of shareholders on the company's approach important social and environmental issues, and often lead corporate management to take action. Resolutions are filed every year on issues from environmental impacts to non-discrimination and diversity to animal welfare to executive compensation to political contributions to human rights and many, many more.
- Allowing companies to opt out of allowing shareholder-filed resolutions
- Substituting online chatroom/messageboard discussions in place of votes on shareholder-filed resolutions
- Significantly increasing the number of votes that shareholder resolutions must get in order to be refiled the following year
The SEC is taking comments until October 2nd so click through today!
Posted by Penny Nickel at 9/13/2007 09:48:00 PM
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I'm really happy with my souvenir-shopping on my recent vacation... because I didn't pick up a lot of "just because" souvenirs, but instead looked for things I already wanted or needed. This way I have items that will remind me of the wonderful time I had in Ireland, but instead of adding clutter to my home and straining my vacation budget, they fill needs that were already there.
For example, after moving from Chicago to Washington DC earlier this year, the decor in my apartment has remained rather sparse. One of the reasons I've held off on purchasing things is that I knew this vacation was coming up and I'd have the opportunity to look for art that would be especially special because of the associated memories.
Of course, for this to work well, you have to be patient and only buy things that are really right for you. Nina recently wrote about souvenirs that "don't translate" when you get home from vacation, and that's really true. So you have to be very honest with yourself about what will still seem like a good idea when you get back to everyday life. For me, this meant that I decided that if I couldn't find something that fit my criteria, I wouldn't buy any art at all. I didn't want to get something that reminded me of Ireland but after a few weeks or months ended up in the closet gathering dust! I just kept reminding myself about my plans to enlarge some of my nicest photographs from the trip to put on the walls, and made myself pass up a few items that temporarily tempted me but didn't hold up to scrutiny.
Luckily, I took my time and eventually came across a beautiful piece of pottery in a Dublin craft shop. It has a spiral motif, which I came to strongly associate with Ireland and my vacation due to the prehistoric art we saw, so that was a great and subtle connection. (If I'd gotten something covered in shamrocks and leprechauns I bet I'd have gotten tired of it pretty quickly!) It's my favorite color, blue, and goes well with a few pieces I already have. And even with the exchange rate, it was in my price range. In other words, it was something I would have realistically bought at home-- but I'm so happy to have bought it on vacation because it means a little more.
My next souvenir was smaller, but followed the same theme. We visited the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Now, the Aran Islands are famous for their sweaters, hand-knit by island women with each pattern having a meaning. However, the sweaters are rather pricey, and even more to the point, I don't need any new sweaters! What I did need, however, was an earwarmer/headband-- something I intended to buy all last winter every time my cold ears started to ache, and yet somehow never got around to. So I picked up a hand-knit Aran Island earwarmer instead of a sweater... same intricate pattern, same connection to the islands and their people, but more affordable and something I will actually use.
(I have to admit that my last souvenir was not nearly so useful, but it was sort of a last-minute airport "I-have-5-Euros-in-my-pocket-to-use-up" kind of thing... and I am enjoying my tin whistle even if it's not practical in the least!)
How about you? Do you try to buy souvenirs that also fit other wants/needs? How do you approach souvenirs? I must say, on most smaller trips I stick to postcards and other cheap or free souvenirs, but this one was a special vacation for me and I am quite glad to have something nicer as a memento.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Hi everyone! Here's the latest Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance:
- My picks this edition focus on knowing yourself as a path to well-being (financial and otherwise):
- Zen and The Art of Personal Finance in 4 Steps by teaspoon at www.TeaspoonFinance.com - Financial wisdom, one teaspoon at a time....
- How to Fight With Your Spouse About Money by The Dough Roller at The Dough Roller.
- Finding The Center by Trent at The Simple Dollar.
- Other highlights:
- Marlon J. Broussard presents The 7 Immutable Laws of Building "True Wealth" posted at MoneyBlog. ("I have come to realize that my core beliefs about economics, finance, capitalism, business, money, consumerism, and the like, are all contrary to how our world functions today. Now, the questions to ask are rather simple; Does that make the "Worlds" way of functioning wrong?, Are those who make their livelihoods through this way of functioning, bad for doing so?, Are you an anarchist? The simple answers to these three questions are no, no, & NO!")
- plonkee presents who do you donate to and why? posted at plonkee money. ("Which charitable causes do you support?")
- ChristianPF presents Don't give to the poor? posted at Money in the Bible | Christian Personal Finance Blog . ("Is giving to beggars helping them or hurting them? A quick discussion about giving to the poor.")
- Leon Gettler presents The Pope and taxes posted at Sox First. ("The blogosphere has come to life with the Vatican announcing that Pope Benedict XVI will issue a doctrinal pronouncement condemning tax evasion as "socially unjust" and denouncing tax havens and offshore bank accounts, claiming this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole.")
- Silicon Valley Blogger presents Cheap Barbecue And Safe Fireworks: Our Fun Family Extravaganza posted at The Digerati Life. ("We had a simple get together with the family using our cheap barbecue grill. And it was as usual, a truly fun time.")
- Anna Ross presents Money & Soul posted at From Anna's F-R-E-E-Writing. ("Applying SQ (spiritual intelligence) to money")
- Living Better presents What Is Your Credit Saying About You? posted at PlainAdvice. ("Take a candid look at what your credit problems might be saying about you.")
- Christopher Smith presents You want to be a hippo, not a whale shark posted at Real Estate Investing in the Real World. ("Business and investing is all about dealing with people. Entrepreneurs and investors who have their eye on the long term when it comes to building relationships will build more value in the long term. Trust, honesty, and open communications are values that good businesspeople practice.")
- The rest:
- Paula presents WWYD: Repair, Upgrade, or Buy New? posted at Queercents. ("When something isn't working as it should do you sink the money into repair or upgrading it? Or, do you just scrap it and bite the bullet and buy something new?")
- Chris Russell presents Working Hard Does Not Produce Success posted at Productivity Planner. ("Yes, we work hard to be successful, but we also have to choose to be successful. It is a decision. It is a conscious effort. It takes mental discipline. It is a deliberate mindset.")
- John presents WWYD: Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace? posted at Queercents. ("We've all had some reservations about a friend or relative's decision to seal a commitment with a formal union. Of course, the emotional cost of a failed marriage or union is greater than what dollars can measure, but sometimes people jump into commitment ignoring all that is at stake...")
- Kevin Surbaugh presents Mega Millions, Powerball & Other Lottery Thoughts posted at Becoming & Staying Debt Free. ("With last weeks Powerball getting as high as $314 million , before an Iowa woman won the huge amount, and last night's Mega Millions game garnering four winners in four states (dividing the $330 million prize), I thought I would take some time and discuss the lottery.")
- Nenad Ristic presents Attribution Theory posted at Money Conciousness.
- Wanda Grindstaff presents Summer is Over, Is it Time to Focus on Success? posted at Creating Abundant Lifestyles.
- Kevin Bedell presents Global Warming and Personal Leadership: A Picture Essay posted at 21st Century Citizen.
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the Sept 20 edition of ethics, values & personal finance using our carnival submission form. And please contact me if you're interested in hosting!
Monday, September 03, 2007
I've returned from my vacation. It was a fantastic trip, and I had a wonderful time. And it's inspired a number of posts I'm hoping to write in the next days and weeks.
But not tonight. Right now the clock is telling me that it is 9:30 PM but my body is telling me it is 2:30 AM and I'm just about ready to collapse.
So I will try to have some good new posts up for you soon. But in the meantime, if you missed it, please do check out the edition of the Carnival of Ethics, Values and Personal Finance that was up at Millionaire Mommy Next Door on August 23rd.
Posted by Penny Nickel at 9/03/2007 09:37:00 PM