Last Updated Nov 18, 2010 6:05 PM EST
Let's take a tour...
Unplug, unplug, unplug. I just had a conversation with a friend who didn't know what vampire power was and refuted its existence. When your appliances, computers, radios, TVs and the like are plugged in, they are still using some electricity, even if you're not using them at the moment. This "vampire power" costs consumers an estimated $3 billion a year. The folks at Good Magazine have done the calculations for us. If you unplug your computer when it's not in use, you'll save an average of $34 per year. Your VCR? $10 savings per year. Your game console for your Nintendo or Xbox? Save close to $26 a year.
- Savings: $70 a year if you own all three.
For all your light bulbs in the bedroom (or any room for that matter), use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of old bulbs.
- Savings: If you convert just 5 75-watt bulbs around the house (assuming 10 hours a day of use), you'll save $10 a month or $120 a year, according to this handy calculator.
Hallway Look up at the ceiling. Do you have an alarm or carbon monoxide detection system? If you install or upgrade one, not only will you gain peace of mind - you could also save on your homeowners' insurance policy. Deadbolts, smoke alarms and burglar alarms often yield policy discounts of 5% to 20%, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
- Savings: $80 a year, if you pay the average U.S. premium for homeowners' insurance ($822) and can save 10%.
Book & DVD Shelves
Instead of buying new books, DVDs or even video games, swap your old ones for new titles on a site like Swap.com. It costs a little more than $3 to ship items and you can use the site's own shipping labels. There's also a swap fee of 50 cents to $1 per item. At last check, the site had about 27,000 items I could swap for my "like-new" DVD of Slumdog Millionaire
- Savings: $20 a month (minus shipping and swap fee)
Mail-order your prescriptions and save big. You can sign up through companies like Express-Scripts, Caremark and Wal-mart. Many bigger health plans usually offer three months of prescriptions for the price of a two-month co-pay.
- Savings: If you spend $50 a month, in a year, that's a $200 savings.
With the price of gold soaring past $1,300 an ounce, it's a great time to cash in your unwanted pieces. To figure how much your gold jewelry can fetch do the following math: Take the current market price of gold per ounce (available at kitco.com and monex.com) and divide it by 20 to give you the pennyweight or dwt, a measure used to weigh precious metals. Then multiply that number by the gold purity. A 24K piece is almost entirely pure gold, so in that case you multiply by 100% or 1.00. An 18 karat ring is 75% pure gold or .75. The higher the purity, the higher the value of that gold piece.
Next, find the actual weight of the piece in pennyweights. You can buy a scale or you can do this at a jewelry store. You covert grams into pennyweight by multiplying by .64. Finally, multiply those three numbers: the pennyweight, the gold purity and the actual weight of the piece.
To sell your gold pieces, you can either attend a gold party in your neighborhood (visit mygoldparty.com) or go to a local gold buyer or liquidator and cut a deal with a professional. Just be careful: As my MoneyWatch colleague Kathy Kristof writes, gold scams are soaring. If something seems amiss, read her story to see where to get help.
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