Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Can Fifteen Minutes Really Save You 15%?

January is a great month for resolutions and what better resolution could you have than to find new ways to save money for travel? This month's articles will focus on ways to help you conserve cash for that trip you'd like to take when the weather warms up.

Saving money is not the least bit painful; there's no discomfort because you will not have to make any sacrifices. Conserving your dollars involves spending intelligently, rather than haphazardly, so you can live below your means and bank the rest of your income for travel. You won't scrimp. It is possible to live well, even luxuriously, on far less than you might think.

You might not have been lucky enough to have an older sister and brother-in-law who took you under their wing when you were growing up to teach you the basics of frugality, but I will be happy to share what they taught me, along with a few other tricks I've learned along the way. George finally gave up trying to teach me measurement conversions (I still do not know how many pints are in a quart.), but he, along with my sister, succeeded in teaching me the value of smart shopping and that's a lesson I've never forgotten.

They introduced me to Consumer Reports monthly magazine, published by Consumers Union, and told me to evaluate products according to Consumer Reports ratings, and to disregard all advertising in any other media. Using this magazine, they assured

me, would allow me to buy the best without regret!
America is market-driven, they said, so we are constantly bombarded with exhortations to buy and every advertiser insists that his product is the best. How can anyone possibly evaluate, objectively, which product truly is the best? The answer is to place trust in Consumer Reports.

The publishers of this magazine have the “largest independent consumer-product-testing organization,” in the world and they accept no advertising of any kind. Because they are a non-profit that doesn't rely on advertising, they can maintain their objectivity. They anonymously buy the products they rate, in the same stores and car showrooms we use, and run exhaustive tests in their laboratories. They also rely on survey results from millions of consumers who rate their experiences with various items or services. Tallying CU lab results and considering survey statistics allows CU to suggest what will be a Best Buy for you. It is, as far as I know, the most reliable, and the only unbiased, source you can possibly use to make an informed purchasing decision.

By reading this magazine, I learned that price often has nothing to do with quality. The best product is sometimes the cheapest, not the most expensive. CU evaluates every item imaginable from toilet paper to toaster ovens, and addresses every area in your life from health to house cleaning. I never make a purchase without first consulting Consumer Reports.

In addition to the print magazine, there is also an on-line presence with blogs and video tutorials. While the full-access website serves as a substitute for those not wanting to subscribe to the printed magazine, there are many articles and much information available for free.

So, will fifteen minutes really save you 15% or more on your car insurance? If you check with Consumer Reports, you'll know the answer.


To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 800-666-5261.

To have unlimited access to the on-line magazine, see this link.

Don't forget that all libraries carry the magazine. If you don't want to subscribe, do your research and copy whatever pages you need, before going shopping.

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