Category Archives: Frugal Living

Money Saving tips

Designer Duplicates: 5 Tips for Avoiding a Counterfeit Bag

women handbags hanging on wall in store

For as long as high-end designers have produced exclusive handbags, buyers have had to avoid near identical fakes. Thrifty fashionistas enjoy a convincing knockoff, but the majority of people want the real thing. So, how can you tell that the item you’re buying is authentic?

The reality is, people are duped by designer knockoffs every day, and the counterfeit bag market remains a billion dollar industry. Scam artists no longer prowl the streets of major cities looking for their next shopping victims. Instead, they target online buyers by providing false descriptions, pictures, and the promise of an unbelievable deal for their inferior products. So-called “purse parties” also remain popular, where hosts bring in vendors to supply designer or imitation bags at down-to-earth prices. Continue reading

5 Budget Tricks When You’re Living On Social Security

Social Security and retirement income concept of financial planning and its future

By Bryan Cambra

While congress continues to debate the issues surrounding the funding of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, millions of Americans face the daunting challenges of making it through the month on a fixed income. Over the past years taking care of family members receiving Social Security or Social Security Disability payments, I have learned how to make the most out of little money. Each year, the amount of the benefit payment grows slightly, but it’s not nearly enough to live the same lifestyle as many people who are still employed. To help you adjust to the lower-income of Social Security, try making some of the following lifestyle changes. Continue reading

5 Discount Sites You Probably Haven’t Heard Of


Portrait of a surprised young man wearing eyeglasses



The Internet is filled with ways to save money on a wide range of items for house, home, and closet. Few sites, though, address the needs of the thoroughly modern family in quite the way that the money saving sites, dedicated to helping you save serious money on groceries and other necessity items, will.

Krazy Coupon Lady

This amazing coupon website offers daily news about new products that website visitors to get at a fraction of their regular costs, including things like:

  • Food
  • Electronics
  • Personal Care items
  • Cleaning Products
  • Toys
  • Clothes for the Kids
  • Automotive Goods
  • Gifts

The list goes on and is updated throughout the day. The site also offers a coupon database, a dedicated area with information for couponing beginners, and page after page of money-saving tips for shoppers of all levels and budgets. They’ll turn you into discount divas in a snap.

The best thing about Krazy Coupon Lady, though, and what sets them apart from so many other sites, is the Brag Lounge. This is the area where real people, just like you, who are either seasoned pros at coupon bargain shopping or rank beginners celebrating their first “Hauls” go to show off their grocery store scores! Be warned you could spend hours sifting through these pages in awe!

Amazon Mom

For moms who understand just how fast diaper dollars, or lack thereof, add up and never seem to have enough arms to lug those big boxes inside, there’s Amazon Mom. This club allows monthly autoships of diapers (they ship them to the door for you!) for 20 percent lower than the average discount diaper in the grocery store. The service is designed to help moms save money from prenatal months through the toddler years with discounted items and money saving offers throughout.

You must be a prime member to join Amazon Mom, which is free to join. Since it is a prime service, you also get the free two-day shipping on prime items (like the above mentioned diapers).

My Litter

Featured on The Today Show, TLC’s Extreme Couponing, MSN Money, and Rachael Ray, My Litter is a site dedicated to helping all moms save serious money while feeding their families. Site owners have seven children and are able to maintain their sanity and their family budget by following the same money saving tips and tidbits they share with their readers.

The site features money saving offers, coupon matchups, and even deals on travel and (drum roll please!) kid-approved recipes made with ingredients purchased with coupons.

Coupon Mom

Perhaps one of the most famous of coupon sites, Coupon Mom does require users to join the site. There’s no fee for doing so. The site offers a database of online coupons, printable coupons, national deals with drug stores, grocery stores, and traditional retail stores. The deals are updated weekly to include the latest coupons and store advertisements.

In addition to traditional money saving offerings, Coupon Mom offers a spreadsheet style display that organizes deals according to the percentage saved over normal sale prices for the retailers as well as weekly freebie or almost free items at major stores like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Target.


Another great site offering matchups and special offers from major retailers, pharmacies, and grocery stores, Hip2Save takes things even further offering information about sweepstakes, restaurant deals, online bargains, and more. It’s a great place for savvy and stylish shoppers to stretch their limited funds even furthers.

While these amazing sites alone won’t help you make more money, they can certainly help you save enough on the essentials that it will feel like they have.

Liven Up Retirement: Three States that help Seniors Do More on Less

Senior woman wearing big sunglasses doing funky action isolated on white background

The chief benefit for all three of these states is that they have no state income tax. Each state offers something different in terms of its environment. Florida is tropical, Nevada is a beautiful dessert, and Washing is a state full of forests and cooler weather. As you consider where to retire to, think about all that these states offer.

Florida: The Sunshine State

Florida has no state income tax. In addition, Florida also does not have an inheritance tax. Less taxation is a boon to seniors because you have more to live on, especially when you have a fixed income. While less taxation is a good thing, there is more good things that Florida offers.

Florida is the sunshine state. The weather here is good. Seniors who move to Florida leave behind the frozen north. No more shoveling snow. The average temperature in Florida is just 81 degrees. In winter, Florida rarely gets anywhere near freezing. The average winter temperature is just around 60 degrees. The beautiful weather means sunsets, long walks on the beach, and the opportunity to enjoy retirement. Florida also has a low cost of living and as such, you can do more living.  The small communities scattered throughout Florida offer seniors an opportunity to live on less. As for healthcare, Florida offers many senior focused healthcare services. There is a huge population of seniors who live in Florida. Expect to find top quality healthcare services, and comprehensive senior care in Florida.

Nevada: The Silver State

Nevada, like Florida, does not have state income tax. The desert offers beautiful vistas and amazing mountains. One good thing about moving to Nevada is that the price of real estate is lower in Nevada than in many other states. This is a quiet state, despite the reputation of Las Vegas. Nevada is also undergoing a huge growth in population. Selling your home and moving to Nevada could earn you a windfall due to the lower property values in Nevada.

Cities like Incline Village and Gardnerville have topped many lists of the best places in Nevada to live. The area around Lake Tahoe is beautiful, and the summer temperatures are mild. Even Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas are senior friendly. These flat land cities tucked in near the Arizona border offer mild winter weather and plenty of outdoor activities. If you want a night on the town, you cannot beat Las Vegas. Take in a show, enjoy dinner, or listen to music in the park.

With no state income tax, lower real estate prices, and a lower cost of living, seniors from all over the nation are flocking to Nevada.

Washington: The Evergreen State

Like Florida and Nevada, Washington also has no state income tax. To make this even better, the states sales tax is only 6.5 percent, and prescriptions are exempt from sales tax. Pluses include no tax on social security, and Washington does not tax retirement income. The benefit is more money on which to enjoy life. The downside to Washington State is its property tax which is high. The cost of living in Washington is higher than the national average. Still Washington has a lot to offer seniors.

The Washington weather is diverse. Washington has a reputation to be raining, but that is not true of all of this state. The eastern portion is dryer. For seniors who love the outdoors, Washington offers beautiful mountains, hiking, fishing, and golf. Cities in Washington, such as Seattle are also major ports of call for cruise ships. So seniors can disembark to places like Alaska’s inside passage and not have to pay for airfare to their port of call. There are plenty of golf courses, wineries, art and galleries here too. If you are a senior who wants a quieter state with plenty of green forests and snow-capped mountains, then Washing has a lot to offer you.

Other features include senior-oriented health care, plenty of outdoor living that is FREE, and a climate that is livable.

Save A Bundle On Your Kid’s Extra Curricular Activities: 9 Clever Tips


Sports and extracurricular activities can enhance your child’s education in many ways – from teaching valuable lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship to boosting problem solving and communication skills. While extracurricular activities add plenty of variety to your child’s schedule, they can get expensive. We’ve gathered a collection of great ideas designed to help you save on sports, lessons and activities – so you won’t have to make tough decisions or miss out on the fun of extracurricular programming.

Group of children having fun together in the park

If you have a skill, teach a class or program or own a business you may be able to barter with the individual or group offering the activity. Offer the drama class free sewing in exchange for lessons, provide update the business or group website in exchange for free or reduced lessons for a season.

Register Early:

Many teams and activities offer a reduced price for early birds – the team benefits by quickly filling up their season roster and you get the benefit of added savings. Review flyers or ads as soon as they arrive and make sure you sign up for mailing lists; you’ll get early notification of classes, and hopefully spot some great Early Bird specials, too.

Follow on Social Media

If the organization offering classes or programming has an online presence on Facebook or Twitter, make sure you follow them. Some businesses offer discounts to subscribers or followers only – so if you don’t follow, you may miss out on a deal when it is time to register for an activity.

Sign up as a Group and Save

If you have more than one child, ask for a discount on the second (or third, or fourth) child’s fees. In some cases, you may be able to pay a single family registration fee or pay a reduced amount for the youngest child.

Even if you only have a few kids in your family, joining up with a few other families could give you enough participants for a group discount. Some programs offer a discount to groups over a set number; don’t be shy about asking for a bulk discount and then recruiting other money savvy parents.

Scouting Discounts

Many programs offer discounts to Boy and Girl Scouts; these can be a considerable savings when compared to the regular prices. If you are already a scouting family, make sure you inquire about discounts before you register on your own.

Visit the Library

Your local library won’t be much help with sporting activities, but most offer comprehensive activities and programs for kids, from Lego classes to chess clubs. Sign up for your library’s mailing list and pre-register for classes that interest you; most libraries offer classes and clubs free or charge or for a minimal fee.

Shop Around

Check a variety of locations to find the best rates for the activities your children are interested in. Your local public school, community center or YMCA may all offer swimming lessons or baseball at different rates, so be aware of each program and choose the one that suits your family and your budget best.

Count the Entire Cost

The money you pay to participate in an activity may not be the only cost; make sure you are prepared for equipment and related costs. Purchasing some items second hand can help you save; gently used sports equipment can often be found at a significant discount at consignment or sports resale stores.


If you can, volunteer as an assistant or parent helper for your child’s team. Many organizations offer discounts for parents who commit to helping out on a regular weekly schedule. You’ll get the added bonus of meeting your child’s teammates and spending extra time with the group, too.

Fly by the Seat of Your Pants for a Memorable Family Vacation

Travel - family with camping car on the road

MJ Plaster

Go against the flow. It’s fun, it’s budget friendly and you’ll have unique tales to tell when you get home. You’ll also make friends of like-minded strangers.

Rules of the Road 

  • Three- or four-day getaways – The pause that refreshes when you get away to chill instead of micromanaging your vacation Griswold style.
  • Drive, don’t fly – If you’d rather stick needles in your eyes than fly, drive to a spot close to home. You’ll save money, and you’ll have transportation at your destination.
  • Avoid peak travel times – What’s the difference between the week before “a holiday weekend” and a normal weekend? Price! If you leave Thursday night and return Monday night, you avoid peak travel times on the road as well. Can you say “hassle-free”? The week before and after the Fourth of July are the worst in both price and crowds.
  • Avoid hotels – Find an apartment or home rental (including beach rentals) for the less than the cost of a hotel room on TripAdvisorVR, AirBnb or HomeAway. Check reviews before reserving accommodations. If you’re off the beaten path, look for small inns and B&Bs along your route.
  • Eat where the locals eat –Bring food from home or drop into a grocery store to save up to $50 a day on breakfast. If you’re in a city, find the best food trucks for lunch, but check with the locals because food trucks come and go. Check out TVFoodMaps and click the Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives board to find extraordinary food—served with a side of hospitality and local charm—at ordinary prices. We call that “manna from heaven.”
  • Vacation allowance – The kids will rob you blind on vacation given half a chance. Dish out a daily allowance for meals and snacks, and let them keep whatever is left. Hat tip to Reader’s Digest for this Nobel Prize-worthy vacation tip. Download their Insider Secrets for an Amazing Vacation.
  • Go retro – Give the kids a taste of pre-Internet life. Find a drive-in theater, and stop by a soda shop—one that serves real Coke floats and milkshakes. The kids will probably curse you under their breath as you enter, but they’ll thank you after they have a taste.

Summer Destinations for Families, Couples and Singles

  • Key West – Where Jimmy Buffett’s “Mother Ocean” intersects with Hemmingway. Summer is the season of deals in Key West, and you can catch the annual Hemmingway Days celebration in July.
  • Coastal Maine – The land of lighthouses boasts more than 60 lighthouses dotting the rocky coast along Maine’s Route 1. Maine has no shortage of festivals during the summer: Windjammer Days, Great Falls Balloon Festival, and The American Folk Festival, all with free admission.
  • Newport, Rhode IslandTwo worlds collide in Newport in the summer—the famed Newport Summer Festival (Friday general admission tickets run $15) and the summer cottages of the early Robber Barons that rival the Palace of Versailles and Highclere Castle, featured in Downton Abbey.
  • Nashville, TennesseeYou don’t have to visit Nashville during the annual CMA Country Music Festival (formerly Fan Fair). You’ll find live music all across the city and in the neighboring city of Franklin. Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, is 3.5 hours east of Nashville; trust me, you’ll want to hit the Smokies during the week for exhilarating, outdoor scenery.
  • Festivals and events – Spend a day or several at a festival—hot air balloons, music, garlic, arts and crafts, blues, jazz, Shakespeare and beach festivals. Some offer free admission, and all serve up food, fun and entertainment. Start your search at Fest300 and filter by location, type, etc.
  • Scenic All-American Roads and Byways – Get off the Interstate to explore hidden jewels and make it a journey with no destination in mind. Even .gov gets it, “America’s Byways are gateways to adventures where no two experiences are the same.” Explore America’s scenic roads or byways, including historic Route 66, the Blue Ridge Parkway that winds through North Carolina and Virginia, the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway and its sister road on the other coast A1A and many more.
  • Wineries – St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.” You’ll find wineries in all 50 states, and most are kid-friendly, offering food, picnic sites, entertainment and often artisan food products grown at the vineyard along with tours and wine sampling. Search by state.

The key to a memorable, budget-friendly vacation is spontaneity. Leave your cares at home, and fly by the seat of your pants. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked. Who knew saving money could be so much fun.

Keeping Your Teen’s Dream Night From Becoming a Budget Nightmare

Group of Friends Being Videotaped at School Dance



The following are several helpful tips for you to implement this prom season. By following these suggestions, you will ensure your teen’s dream night doesn’t become your budget nightmare.

Make and Budget and Stick to It:

It only stands to reason that in order to prevent yourself from going over budget paying for your teen’s prom, you should have a predetermined budget. Sit down, go over your finances, and decide what you are willing or able to spend. The average cost of a prom night can range anywhere from $700 to $1,400. However, you don’t have to spend anywhere near that much if you follow the tips listed below that reveal how to save on each aspect of the special night.

Save on the Dress:

Before you say yes to a dress that your daughter just has to have, consider the following easy ways to procure an affordable dress:

  • Rent: Today you and your daughter have an excellent alternative to buying a dress, thanks to sites like RentTheRunway. Sites like these allow you to rent designer frocks for a fraction of the cost. In fact, you can get your daughter a fabulous dress for approximately 10% of the retail price. Now that is a big savings. After the big night, simply return the dress. Since your daughter likely won’t wear the dress more than once anyway, this is a perfect way to save some money all the all important prom dress.


  • Buy a Versatile Dress: As mentioned before, most of the time, a prom dress isn’t worn more than once. However, if you make a point to select a dress that is versatile and can be worn again, then you can justify spending a bit more on the dress. Select dresses that are plain, so they are appropriate for other events, such as weddings. Then, utilize jewelry to dress it up some.


Get Thrifty With the Tux:

Perhaps you are on the other side of this event and have a son. You also likely wonder how to reduce your spending. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways you too can save some money. Read below to learn more:


  • Buy a Suit: Although the traditional attire of the prom for guys has been tuxedos, there is no rule that states that this has to be the case. Therefore, purchase a high-quality suit for your son to wear to the prom, and then he will have it to wear again on other occasions. This makes the investment more worthwhile.


  • Get a Group Rate: Some tux rental companies will offer group discount rates if more than a few young men all need to rent tuxes at the same time. Therefore, encourage your son to team up with his friends and hopefully receive a discount from the tux shop as a result.


Minimize the Cost of Hair and Makeup:

An updo and professionally applied makeup for your daughter can run you upwards of $100, conservatively. Therefore, it is smart to try to save some money in this area, when possible. Consider using a cosmetology school for hair and makeup. These schools have students who are often very capable. However, since the students are still in training, the cost is considerably less than going to a regular salon for hair and makeup. Note: It’s important to do a practice run before the big day regardless of where you go for hair and makeup. 

Lose the Limo:

A limo is a popular and impressive way to arrive at the prom. Unfortunately, it also is pricey. Therefore, think outside the box when it comes to prom transportation. Have your son or daughter borrow a classic car from someone you know who would be okay with this arrangement. If you can’t find anyone who is willing to let your teen drive their expensive classic car, which is understandable, offer to play the role of chauffeur and take on the responsibility yourself. On the off chance that your teen refuses to let you drive them, arrange for another responsible party to drive them instead. Arriving in a beautiful classic car is unique, and if you can acquire it for free or very cheap, it is better on your budget as well. If your teen insists on a limo, ask them to get a group together and share one limo so the per person rate isn’t so high.

Forget the Formal Photos:

Unless your teen ends up marrying whomever they attend prom with, which is unlikely, any formal prom photos will be relegated to the bottom of a storage box in future years. Therefore, another way to save on prom costs is to forgo the formal photos. Instead, take photos with your phone or a nice camera. They will likely turn out better anyway, since they will be candid shots instead of posed photos.

The prom is a magical night for your teen, a dream night if you will. However, your son or daughter’s dream evening doesn’t have to turn into a budget nightmare. If you follow the helpful tips listed above, you will ensure you are able to fund your teen’s prom without going bankrupt.   




Link to Rent the Runway:

5 Routine Home Maintenance Tips to Save Money and Aggravation

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds,

By MJ Plaster

No one wants to do it or pay for it, but a dollar saved on home maintenance is not a dollar earned; it can be many dollars lost. Follow along and mark your calendars while you learn a few tips the pros and salespeople would prefer you didn’t know.

  1. Keep drains clear – I recently had a clogged kitchen sink drain that nothing—from vinegar, baking soda and boiling water to sulfuric acid—would clear. After the plumber snaked the pipe for $80, he told me to squirt a little dish washing liquid into the drain and run hot water for a minute after I finish washing dishes every day to keep fats from solidifying and clogging the pipes. For a few pennies a day, it should keep the pipes clear indefinitely.One day I saw this odd-looking thing called a Zip-It at Ace Hardware. With $4 added to my tab, I headed home, squirreled it away, and forgot about it until my bathtub drain started to slow. I shoved the Zip-It down the drain into the trap. When I tried to remove it, it didn’t budge—not an inch. It was an OMG moment—what’s this going to cost when the plumber comes? So I pulled harder, and harder, until bit by bit, I removed the device along with a huge wad of gunky, shoulder-length, brown hair. The drain opened, and that $4 piece of industrial-strength plastic has removed the “same time next year” date with the plumber from my calendar now that I use it every month without fail.
  2. Change or clean heat and a/c intake filters – Bob Vila says, “The primary purpose of a filter is to protect HVAC equipment, not to improve indoor air quality, as many homeowners have been led to believe.” Vila also warned that filters that are “too good” at keeping the air clean can also damage HVAC systems. If you want cleaner air, buy an air filter, don’t upgrade your HVAC filters. To keep my intakes clean, I purchased one permanent filter and one disposable filter for each intake, and I use the disposable filters each month while I clean the permanent ones. Today’s permanent filters cost only about three time the cost of a disposable filter, so after three months, you’ve made your money back and eliminated monthly expenditures on filters. If you have pets, vacuum the grill covering the intake once a week. Flying fur from longhair pets can block the grill and obstruct the exchange of air in a week.
  3. Protect your water pipes – Invest a dollar in a Styrofoam cover for each outdoor faucet. Install them at the same time you disconnect and store your hoses for the season. And when you get a hard freeze, don’t even entertain the thought of saving a few cents by not letting your water drip indoors. You’ll be sorry when the pipes burst and flood your home.
  4. Replace fire alarm batteries – Many smoke detectors operate with 9-volt batteries. Who stocks those at home? No one! A few years ago, the battery in one of mine died during an ice storm—beep, beep, beep at an ear-piercing level—for days. But what if the battery is still good? Change it anyway. While you’re at it, change the batteries for your fan remote controls each spring and for your gas and electric fireplaces each fall.
  5. Clean you gutters and downspouts – Last fall, I didn’t have the gutters and downspouts cleaned. Big mistake—one day during a week long, below-zero-degree cold snap, I heard something that sounded like someone playing a xylophone on the patio. A huge icicle caused by runoff from the gutter had broken off and landed on a small table with a glass top and shattered the glass. I was lucky; it could have hit someone in the head and caused a bad injury.

Everything except cleaning your gutters and downspouts takes just a few moments of your time; there’s no excuse for letting these little chores go unattended. When you do need help on a major home maintenance problem, before you plunk down your hard-earned money, always fire up your favorite search engine to find out if there’s an easy solution. You might just get lucky.

Secrets and Tips to Save You From The Stress of Auto Maintenance


Auto Mechanic

By MJ Plaster

“A car is the most expensive purchase most Americans make. More Americans buy cars than buy houses. They feel like their car is a member of the family,” said Johnny Whitaker, retired auto-industry insider and consultant. He shares his top 15 tips below.

  1. Read the owner’s manual – “I’ll bet you’ve never taken the owner’s manual out of your glove compartment,” asked Whitaker. “This is the No. 1 mistake car owners make. Everything you need to know is in that manual, and you can save a fortune on car maintenance if you’ll just read the manual and do [with a few exceptions below] what it says.”
    When he set up Cadillac service departments at dealerships across the country, he saw mistakes everywhere that would have been avoided if car owners had read the manual.

What Everyone ‘Knows’ About Car Maintenance Might Be Wrong

Whitaker disagrees with some ‘conventional wisdom.’ He made no bones about saying that what he says might differ from conventional wisdom, but he’s not telling you anything that he doesn’t do with his own cars. For example:

  1. Oil Changes – Today’s manufacturers often suggest oil changes every 5,000 miles. Some new cars come with one or more years’ worth of free oil changes. “If you were a car manufacturer, would you want to eat the cost of oil, filters and labor every 3,000 or every 5,000 miles,” Whitaker asked. “I still change mine every 3,000 miles,” he added, “because the only change is that manufacturers are saving millions by raising the mileage.”
  2. Oil – “Never, under any circumstances, use 10W40 oil. It turns to a gel under heat.” He uses 10W50 year-round.
  3. Tuneups֪ – When I asked how often to get a tuneup, he said, “What’s THAT? What century are you living in?” Modern cars don’t require what used to be known as a tune up—tweaking the engine. Who knew!
  4. Tire rotation – “I always rotate tires back to front, not in the X formation. Once a tire starts to wear, you will not correct it no matter what you do. If you rotate in the X formation, you’re changing the direction the tire normally goes, and it could ‘sling a ply,’ which could cause more uneven wear. Tire places are in the business of selling tires, not rotating them.”

Common Car Maintenance Mistakes and Assumptions

  1. Car vibration – When a car vibrates, people assume it needs a front-end alignment. “It’s usually the wheels, tires and/or balance,” said Whitaker.
  2. Oil filters – People often try to save money by changing the oil without changing the filter. Whitaker’s standard reply: “Well, how about you just save your bath water, and bathe in that for a week?” He also cautioned against using generic filters because they can cause problems.
  3. Brakes –Most people think that when they hear a squeal as they apply the brakes, they need new brakes. That squeal indicates a glaze on the brake pads, and it does not mean you need new brakes. If you hear the squeal when you’re not touching the brake, and it goes away when you hit the brake, that’s the warning indicator that you need new brake pads.
  4. Brake pads – “Spend some money on brake pads. Don’t cut this corner. At a dealer, the standards are enforced, and the warranties are honored,” said Whitaker.
  5. Leaks – Did you know that leaks can be deadly? He said, “Think about it. What happens when oil hits a hot manifold? It can catch fire. Take care of leaks.”
  6. Air conditioning – If it sounds like your compressor has died, your air conditioner might just need some coolant and/or you might need some new hoses.

Tips for Saving Money on Car Maintenance

With labor costs running around $100 an hour, here are a few simple preventive steps:

  1. Air Conditioning – Run your air conditioner during the winter once a month for 20 minutes to lubricant through the system.
  2. Windshield washer fluid – It’ll cost you an hour of labor plus parts when the tank is full of fluid but it doesn’t spray on your windshield. Add 1 teaspoon of powdered laundry detergent to each tank of fluid.
  3. Gas – If your car requires premium, use it. Shell and Amoco have an engine-cleaning additive in their premium gas.
  4. Windshield wipers – When you think you need to change your windshield wipers, try this first: If the wipers are still soft, spray a little household ammonia on a paper towel and clean the wipers. Then clean your windshield with some ammonia to remove road grime.

Whitaker said, “Unlike home maintenance, you can’t use a calendar for car maintenance. Treat your car with care, but don’t go looking for trouble [like flushing fluids] unless there is a problem. When you try to fix a nonexistent problem, they will break something 90 percent of the time.”