Choosing a Toothbrush

Choosing a toothpaste is hard enough with all the options available. Picking out a toothbrush isn’t a whole lot easier. Adding to the mix of regular manual toothbrushes with soft and medium bristles, are several varieties of electric toothbrushes.

If you visit your dentist twice a year, you might receive a complementary toothbrush, which eliminates the added expense of buying your own. For most people, any ADA (American Dental Association) approved manual toothbrush works just fine. Dentists usually recommend soft bristles to avoid damage to the gums and enamel.

The most important thing about teeth brushing is not the toothbrush, but the method used. Electric toothbrushes come with instructions that suggest you divide your teeth into four sections and brush each section for 30 seconds. Reminder beeps go off to indicate when to move to the next section. This is a good rule of thumb to use when brushing with a manual toothbrush as well.

Another problem that people often have when using a manual toothbrush is brushing too vigorously, resulting in injury to the gums, and possible wearing down of the enamel. Electric toothbrushes solve that problem by doing the work for you.

In order to save money, brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush for a total of 2 minutes twice a day. Be thorough, but gentle. For tips on the proper technique, check out this ADA site:

Warehouse Drug Savings for Non-Members

Warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club often are a good deal for large families. As mentioned in an earlier blog, they are worth checking out. Ask for a free one trip pass before joining and paying the membership fee.

What many people don’t know, however, is that they also can be a less expensive source for filling prescriptions. Anyone is permitted to fill a prescription at these stores without having a membership card. When you enter the store, you just need to tell the greeter that you are visiting the pharmacy, and they will let you proceed. Make sure you compare costs with your current provider to see if there will be any savings before making the switch.

Homemade Mr. Curiosity Halloween Costume

Kids aren’t the only ones who have to come up with new and unique Halloween costumes every year. Elementary school teachers are often expected to dress up too.

Mr. Curiosity Halloween CostumeHere’s a great idea for an inexpensive costume for a teacher that can be made from an old sport coat or jacket. Not only is it creative, but it fits in well with the school setting. It could also be used as part of a lesson in which students ask questions of the teacher. Alternately, the students could take turns wearing it, and respond to questions of other students.

If you don’t have the time to make one yourself, there’s one for sale here on eBay:

Low Cost Internet Service

As we talked about in our last blog, dispensing with your phone service is not always the best option when you are seeking employment. The same goes for your internet service. Many jobs are posted online, and contacts with companies and employers are often made through email. In addition, if you have school-age children at home, a computer is often a necessity for homework and research.

Internet service can be quite expensive. However, Comcast has a program which may help. Called the Internet Essentials plan, it offers service for only $9.95 a month plus tax to those who qualify.

There are some specific requirements to receive the deal.

  1. You must have Comcast service available in your area.
  2. You must have at least one child receiving free or reduced lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  3. You must have been without Comcast internet service for at least 90 days.
  4. You have to have all prior Comcast bills paid in full, and returned any of their equipment.

If you qualify for the plan, you also have the opportunity to purchase a laptop for $149.99 plus tax when you have your service installed. For more information, visit their website at:


Help With Phone Bills

If you’ve lost your job, or are struggling to make ends meet, you are probably looking for ways to cut costs. Getting rid of your cell phone is one option.

However, times have changed, and it’s necessary to have a phone so that you can stay informed about job opportunities. If you already have a landline, then you can probably dispense with the cell phone. If not, you need to have some way to keep in contact with prospective employers.

Fortunately, there is help for those who qualify. The FCC LifeLine Assistance program was originally started to help people pay their landline bills. Now that has been expanded to include giving families who lack phone service, a free cell phone along with 250 free minutes per month.

Make Your Own Ice Pack

Almost everyone strains a muscle or suffers pain from a sprained ankle sometime in their life. At that point, you probably went looking for an ice pack to reduce the swelling or relieve the pain. Crushing ice cubes is a messy business, so why not make your own ice pack to have whenever you need it? It’s really pretty simple.

Start with two zip lock plastic bags – the size depends on how large a pack you want. Fill one bag about halfway with dishwashing liquid. Seal the bag, put it inside the other bag, and seal that bag. Put it in the freezer until you need it. If you have a vacuum sealer, it’s even better, because you only need one vacuum sealer bag, and you won’t have to be concerned with leakage.

Buy or Trade Sports’ Equipment

Sports’ programs continue to thrive, but participating in them isn’t cheap. Young children experiment with a number of activities while growing up, and most of them require some kind of equipment. Whether it’s a baseball bat, tennis racket, soccer ball or ice skates, each purchase adds up. If your son or daughter is a member of an organized team, he or she may have to buy more equipment or even uniforms.

Used equipment is often as good as new, so it makes sense to try to buy used items first, particularly if your child doesn’t stick with things very long. Yard sales, resale shops and specialty stores like Play It Again Sports are good places to start.

Hockey is popular in our city, but it is a very expensive sport, so once a year there is an equipment exchange day where people can trade their outgrown skates, pads, etc for another size. This would be beneficial for other sports too. Cleats, for instance, which are required for many sports, are often outgrown before they are outworn. If your community doesn’t have an exchange, consider starting one.

Neighbors and friends are also sources for sports’ equipment. Almost everyone has something lying around unused in their garage which could benefit someone who lacks the funds to participate in a sport.

Check out the classified ads in your local newspaper, or look online on Craigs List. You can also post a wanted ad if you don’t see what you need.

Sunscreen Savings

If you are like many people, you probably are pretty confused when choosing a sunscreen. It used to be that you only had a couple of options. But now the shelves are filled with numerous varieties and SPF levels. However, it’s not necessary to spend a great deal of money to get good protection. Here’s a few things to look for.

  • UVA and UVB – Make sure that the one you choose blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above.
  • Don’t waste your money on products that offer an SPF of more than 50. The increase in protection is minimal compared to the increase in cost.
  • Water Resistant – Be aware that this only means that it will protect you for 30 to 40 minutes in the water. Once you get out, you still need to reapply. If the label says waterproof, it may protect you a little longer, but it still wears off in the water.
  • Store brands are fine as long as they have the above protections. The most important thing is that you use it.
  • According to the FDA, sunscreens should be good for up to 3 years. After that, throw it out and buy new. Check for an expiration date when you purchase it.

Back to School Savings

Back to school sales are in full swing now, and it’s time to take advantage of the savings. It’s a good time to stock up on supplies your children will need throughout the year. For tips on the best ways to do that, check out this earlier blog:

In addition, most people are shopping for school clothes to start out the year. You’ll find all kinds of fall and winter clothes at full price. However, it’s better to take advantage of the summer clothing that is on sale now at huge discounts. If your children are young, you can buy a size up so that you’ll have next spring and summer’s wardrobe all set. Wait a month or two to buy the fall and winter clothes. By that time, there will be sales on those. And, it will give your child a chance to see what is being worn at his or her school. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money for the perfect outfit, and then have your child reject it because it’s not “cool”.

Don’t forget to look for coupons in your local paper or online. Recently, an office supply store had a printable coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase. Many clothing stores offer coupons too.

It doesn’t hurt to look online and compare prices before you head to the store. You’ll save yourself time and money.