Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Heat and Cool Consumers Look for Economy in Utilities and Beef

Consumers across the nation are feeling the summer heat and drought. Utility bills for cooling the house are increasing, but so are water and feed bills for animals. If you have animals, this may be your first summer to have to feed hay in areas that have had no rain. Farmers throughout the South expect a hay shortage this winter because of feeding hay this summer. Some farmers are selling livestock to save the expense of feeding this summer, and predictions are that the price of beef will increase as early as this winter.

If you make your meat purchases based on the economy and the weather, you can save money. Beef on sale between now and the end of the year may be a result of the increased sales of livestock because of the drought. It may be a good time to buy. There will be less livestock to sell when winter comes. If farmers sell off livestock this summer, it may take years to rebuild the stock, keeping the price of beef high.

If your utility bills are maxed out, use ceiling fans if you have them and area fans to circulate the air where you are. Fans are less expensive to operate than lowering the air conditioning temperature. Don't use your oven, but use the microwave or cook on top of the stove. Alternatively, eat cold vegetables and meals that require no cooking. When you operate the oven and the air conditioning, you incur double the expense. The oven heats and the air conditioning has to cool the same air the oven just heated. Keep the doors closed as much as possible and wear lightweight clothing.

Frugal living can be your friend and help with the bills as well.

See you soon with more consumer information to share!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Credit Scores, Credit Reports and Consumer Issues

Your credit score is important for borrowing money, but it is also important for pricing insurance policies. Insurers refer to your credit score when giving you a quote for automobile and homeowner's insurance. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies -- TransUnion, Experian and Equifax -- by using annualcreditreport.com website ONLY. This website is operated by the three credit reporting companies in compliance with federal regulations. You can get a credit report from each of the three reporting companies. If you are interested and want to keep track of your credit report, apply every four months for a report from a different company -- TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. This gives you a report every four months without cost to you.

If you use any of the other credit reporting websites, you will sign up for a monitoring service and pay an unnecessary charge. You can monitor your own credit and will receive better information with your own review of your credit reports. Why pay someone to monitor your credit? Do not be intimidated by scare tactics and fear of identity theft.

If you are interested in your FICO score, you can obtain the actual score for a fee from myfico.com. The current cost is $14.95 for one credit score. Your FICO score calculations come from Fair Isaac Corporation that first developed the FICO score formula. About 35 percent of the score comes from your payment history and another 30 percent is based on what you owe. Fifteen percent of the FICO calculation arises from the longevity of your credit history. FICO divides the other 20 percent between new credit and other factors, with 10 percent for each. A search for several new credit lines can lower your score, but a mix of different types of credit may increase your score. You can read more about your credit score at the FCIC website operated by the federal government for consumers.

It's survival of the fittest in Texas in the summer. The critters are all around the house. Today I went out to fertilize the flowers and the anoles are everywhere. Many are only an inch or so long. You may recognize these as chameleons, as they change color from green to brown, and puff a large red throat at times. This little guy is not a gecko -- we have those, too. They are brown speckled.

See you soon!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Federal Citizen Information Center Can Help

The Federal Citizen Information Center provides information from the federal government that you can use, including online tips and guides for savvy consumers. When you locate an area of interest, you can sign up for a newsletter or weekly email with new information relating to the consumer issue. There are summertime gas saving tips and tips for saving energy.

You can get the consumer information catalog sent to your home or view it online. This catalog shows the publications available from the federal government, and many are free.

The smart consumer online tips and guides section has suggestions for employment, re-entering the work force and careers. There is also a section on money with excellent advice for taxes, scams and credit cards.

If you haven't looked over these free materials from the federal government printing office, you are missing an excellent consumer source.

We live in Central Texas, with dry weather and high heat most of the summer. Learning some ways to save on cooling and water are essential. We use ceiling fans and portable fans to keep the house as cool as we can without constant running of the air conditioner. Keeping the doors closed and not operating the oven, washer and dryer all seem to help some. We try to use these appliances late in the evening or early in the morning. Turning off unnecessary lights and using CFL lighting is helpful as well.

We're glad to share what we've learned with a lifetime interest in consumer issues and frugal living. We all need any tips we can get, and the Federal Citizen Information Center has excellent free publications and tips.


The Texas Spiny Lizard is busy catching whatever he can find in this weather. We love the Texas critters.