Knowledge is power when it comes to spending money smarter, so tapping all the available resources makes a lot of sense.
One way to do that is by subscribing to e-mail newsletters about frugality and saving money.
After you sign up, the newsletters are delivered automatically to your inbox, where you can quickly scan them for tips and deals. Some newsletters are monthly, while others are weekly or even daily. Tips range from those that will save big bucks to others that are just nice to know.
You don't have to be a cheapskate to find interesting advice. You could simply want to plug the leaks of wasteful spending, so you have more money for things you really care about, whether it's a college education for your children or a cruise to the Bahamas.
Here is a sampling of spending tips derived from recent e-mail newsletters and a Web address where you can subscribe. All are free.
Inkjet shake-up. When your printer tells you it's out of ink, it almost certainly is not. A study commissioned by printer manufacturer Epson found a printer prompts you to replace multicolor cartridges after about half the ink is used. Single-color cartridges were better but still only used about 80 percent of ink before prompting the user to swap in a new cartridge.
So when your computer tells you to replace the cartridge, instead just pull it out and shake it. You'll probably get much more use out of it. That tip comes from Clark Howard's newsletter, Clark Said. It is a compilation of some topics Howard talks about on his syndicated radio show. Tips have links to his Web site, www.clarkhoward.com, a robust reservoir of spending advice and the place to sign up for the newsletter.
Coupons on your cell phone. Cellfire, at www.cell- fire.com, is a San Jose, Calif., firm that recently launched a mobile coupon service nationwide. You use your phone to download a software application, which stores coupons for participating chain restaurants, as well as such retailers as Hollywood Video, Enterprise car rental and 1-800-FLOWERS.
You call up the coupon on your phone and show the coupon code to a cashier, who redeems the coupon. The service is free to use, though normal wireless data charges apply.
Cellfire works with Alltel, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and a few other carriers. That tip is from TRACNotes, a newsletter from the Telecommunications Research and Action Center, a consumer advocacy group on such issues as landline phone service, wireless phone service and Internet access. The newsletter features industry news that consumers would care about. It's available at www.- trac.org.
Phone a hotel.Although searching the Internet for the best deals is often rewarding for many products and services, an old-fashioned phone call might be best when booking a hotel room. Calling the front desk of a hotel often results in your best price. That tip is from Bankrate Frugal News, which mostly provides links to articles on the Bankrate Web site, at www.bankrate.com.
Dining out discount. By entering a code at http:--restaurant.com, you can often receive half off the site's already discounted prices for gift certificates at restaurants. The usual deal is buying a $25 certificate for $10.
With a code, you can sometimes purchase a $25 certificate for $5. Codes often appear in the newsletter for CouponMom.com, a deep resource of information on food and household product savings.
Homemade floor cleaner.Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and warm water to create your own cleaning liquid for laminated floors.
That tip comes from the Everyday Cheapskate newsletter by frugality author Mary Hunt at www.debtproofliving.com. The newsletter is daily. That frequency means some tips are better than others. Some are less about saving and spending and more about advising people on such topics as cooking and removing stains.
Handy calculator. An essential for comparison shopping at the grocery store is a calculator to convert prices to unit prices, such as dividing the cost by the number of ounces to obtain cost per ounce. If you left your calculator behind, pull out your cell phone - most cell phones have a calculator buried somewhere in their menus.
If you're on a strict budget, you also can add up prices for items in your cart to determine whether you're buying too much.
Entering numbers can be tedious, so make it easier by skipping the decimal point for the number of cents. For example, $4.26 becomes 426. If a ballpark estimate is all you need, just round the prices to the nearest dollar.
That is courtesy of an e-mail newsletter from Dollar Stretcher Tips. Sign up at www.stretcher.com. Dollar Stretcher is among the oldest and most visited frugality Web sites.
This is just a sampling of the e-mail newsletters available for deals, savings and consumer news. Others are available at FrugalLiving.about.com, BetterBudgeting.com, Consumerworld.org and ConsumerReports.org.
To sign up for a newsletter, visit the Web site and supply some basic information - the requirements usually aren't too intrusive. For some, you'll quickly receive an e-mail that provides a link to confirm your subscription.
Not all e-mail newsletters are high quality, so after a few issues you might want to stop receiving it. For most, it's easy to unsubscribe. Instructions are usually at the bottom of the newsletter.
Gregory Karp writes for The Morning Call, in Allentown, Pa.