Category: Save your money

Dryer Balls – save money & reduce chemical exposure

Dryer Balls – save money & reduce chemical exposure

Replacing dryer sheets with 1 – 3 dryer balls leads to several benefits. Dryer balls can be made from plastic or wool. Another option is to make your own aluminum foil balls – simply made by crumpling foil. Toss them in with wet laundry instead of costly, chemical-laden, single-use dryer sheets.

They save money in two ways. First, single-use unlike dryer sheets, dryer balls are reusable for many, many loads. Using the same wool dryer balls for over 1000 loads is not uncommon. Plastic ones don’t last quite as long but they are inexpensive and a great option for people with a wool allergy. Wool dryer balls can even be refreshed and rehydrated simply by tossing them in the wash with other laundry.

Dryer balls have also been shown to significantly reduce drying time by up to 25% or more. That adds up to a lot of energy savings over a year. Maybe more important is the time they save by shortening the time needed to dry your clothes. The balls bounce around creating air pockets and separating layers of cloth to increase airflow.

The bouncing action of the balls reduces static and wrinkles by preventing wet laundry from clumping. Increase the wrinkle-prevention by dampening your dryer balls to create a steam effect. This hypoallergenic method eliminates the chemicals and artificial scents used in dryer sheets.

Think the chemicals in dryer sheets don’t affect your skin? Most dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals. Scientific American identified some of the most harmful ones:

  • benzyl acetate – linked to pancreatic cancer
  • benzyl alcohol – an upper respiratory tract irritant
  • ethanol – linked to central nervous system disorders
  • limonene – a known carcinogen
  • chloroform – a known neurotoxin and carcinogen

There are versions of dryer sheets with fewer harsh chemicals and fragrances, but replacing them with dryer balls eliminates all of them from your clothes, while saving time and money.

You’re NOT too small to be hacked

You’re NOT too small to be hacked

We’ve come to expect cyber crimminels to target giant companies like Facebook, Experian and Marriott International. But many individuals assume their assets are too small for hackers to bother with. This kind of thinking leads to sloppy security practices and opens you to even more risk.

What the average person forgets is what is actually stolen in the big corporate breaches — individual customer information. Names, passwords, security questions, saved credit card numbers, addresses, and more. This information may let a hacker into your hacked account.

The amount of damage that could be done varies greatly depending on the account, what information is available to the hacker from the account, and how quickly you learn baout the breach and take corrective action.

For example, a user with access to your Adobe account could run up bills at Adobe, change your password and or account email to lock you out, or use your saved address and phone number along with any other saved information to attempt to break into other accounts or open other accounts in your name.

If you caught this breach right away, had not saved your credit card number in your accoun,t and did not reuse your password or security question and answer, you may be able to limit damage by quickly changing your password.

Freezing your credit will help block thieves from opening new accounts at major department stores, banks or credit card companies. It won’t stop thieves from opening accounts in smaller businesses that may not check against the credit bureaus. Nor will it stop people from opening cell phone accounts in your name because, surprisingly, cell phones use a different credit bureau than other accounts.

If hackers access a different acount – the damage they can do can be far greater. A hacked Facebook account provides much of the same information AND access to spread to all of your contacts. The hacker can send infected messages to all of your contacts, who will be more likely to click on a link to malware or open an infected document that appears to come from you.

The potential for thieves to drain your finances if they hack a bank, credit card, or mortgage account are more obvious. But people forget this same kind of damage can occur if they reuse passwords or security questions on multiple accounts. Hackers can write a script to try stolen credentials at hundreds of businesses in seconds. If you use the same information on multiple sites, the hacker can use that to log in and access those sites as well as the original site.

Many individuals object, “But I don’t have much money – why would someone target me?” If I ask if they would pick up a ten dollar bill off the ground – everyone says “sure” – even though ten dollars isn’t a large amount of money. To a hacker, if they can clean out your account for even a few hundred dollars with little effort, why not? And many people have much more credit than they realize. So while you may have a small amount of cash in the bank, you may have a significantly larger amount of credit. Reused passwords? You have multiplied the number of your accounts a thieve can get into,

Now multiply this by the number of other people whose accounts have been breached. Up to 500 million customers had their data stolen in the recent Marriott Interanational/ Starwood breach. At even a few dollars per user, the money for the hackers quickly soars into hundreds of millions of dollars. So no matter how little you have – you have a lot to lose.

Save Money on Prescriptions with Good RX, WebMDRx, mail Order, and manufacturer programs

Save Money on Prescriptions with Good RX, WebMDRx, mail Order, and manufacturer programs

Prescription costs keep rising and the cost varies widely from pharmacy to pharmacy. Simply going to the pharmacy across the street could save you hundreds of dollars – if you knew!  But there is help.

Pharmacy prices vary widely
Pharmacy prices can vary widely                           Image by GoodRX

Several drug manufacturers offer deep dispounts on medicines – but you have to sign up for their discount program.  These programs are free to join – the trick is finding out about them.  Ask your Doctor if any exist for your medications.  One diabetic drug that is normally over $700/month is only $25/month (holy cow what a savings!) through the manufacturer’s program. Another medicine is actually free through that program.  If a program exists, your doctor will probably have a brochure that explains it and how to sign up. No credit card is needed and the signup process is very quick. A Google search  can also help you find these manufacturer programs.  This works whether you have insurance or not.

Another option is a discount program such as GoodRX ( or WebMDRX (  Unlike the manufacturer drug discounts discussed above, these programs are not specific to a single medicine.  Both are free to use and do not require registration or a credit card. They work at over 60,000 (WebMDRX) and 70,000 (GoodRX) pharmacies nationwide.

Since price varies widely between pharmacies – even in the same area – you can use these websites to compare prices. Both websites let you put in your zip code and will show you the drug price at locations near you. GoodRX also offers coupons for additional discounts. On either website, simply enter your drug’s name and your zip code on the home page and it will list the prices near you.

Both sites also let you print a discount card for your wallet – without the need to signup for anything. You can use either or both tools. Note: Not all discounts can be used with Medicare/Medicaid. Check with your pharmacy.

If you have more than one prescription – remember the lowest price may not be at the same pharmacy for all of your medicines. You can use the comparison shopping tool to choose a pharmacy that offers the best overall deal for you. A little quick research can save you lots of money.

One more option to look into is mail-order. Be sure to use a reputable mail-order pharmacy such as OptumRX! Scammers exist. If you have private insurance, your plan may offer access to a mail-order pharmacy.  This is best for medicine that you use long term – not a 10 day course of antibiotics. Typically you will order a 90 day supply from the mail order pharmacy. The savings are tremendous – often it works out that the cost for 3 months mail order is the same or less than 2 months bought once a month at a time from your corner drug store. That’s a 30% savings. Another benefit is no waiting in line to fill a prescription – it comes to you. You can also set up automatic refills.

Which option is cheapest will depend upon your prescription. Comparing prices is simple, quick, and save you a lot of money.


Be an armchair traveler

Be an armchair traveler

The Louvre, Paris

Paul Dufour

Now you can choose your comfiest chair and tour great museums of the world without TSA checkpoints, flight delays, crowds, and the other “joys” of modern travel.

Several of the world’s best museums are available to visit online with virtual tours – including the Louvre in Paris, University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute Museum, and the Smithsonian  National Museum of Natural History and many more. Click on the linked names in this article to begin your visit today.

Who’s calling me?

Who’s calling me?


Who calls Me?
Source: Unsplash Matthew Kane

Even with the FTC do not call list and rules for spammy calls we still receive many calls from numbers we don’t know.  Before returning the call, check the number out. Simply put the number into Google’s search box – either with formatting (i.e. parentheses around the area code and dash in the middle) or just run all the numbers together. The results will usually show numerous websites that let you look up the phone number. Some require a fee, but several are free. Other websites such as, , , or include comments from others who’ve received calls from this same phone number. They also may show the location of the call’s origination and whether it is a landline or a mobile phone. Often there is enough information on the Google results page itself to help you decide if this call is of interest to you.