16
Nov

My Favorite Car of 2016 – The Hyundai Elantra

by Tiffany in Green Cars

2017-Elantra-Electric_Blue

I usually do a roundup of cars I tested throughout the year and highlight my favorites. This year I did not review as many cars or I simply reviewed newer models of the same cars. In lieu of a roundup I decided to highlight my new favorite…the Hyundai Elantra.

I’ve had a fair bit of time to get to know the Elantra line this year. If you recall I drove an Elantra Eco for over a week and even had the pleasure of driving it off the line in Alabama and road tripping across the country with my husband. It was an amazing trip…I fell in love with Tennessee and I really developed an appreciation for the Elantra.

This month I also got to road test the regular Elantra (not the eco version) for a week. It felt like home…like my car was brought back to me. While I do prefer the eco and its fuel efficiency, the Elantra has has pretty good fuel efficiency too, 32 city / 40 highway. With a few exceptions it is the same car and I recommend both heartily. While touring the Hyundai facility in Alabama I came to appreciate the company and also the retained value of these cars. The depreciation on cars bothers me quite a bit as a Dave Ramsey follower. This is the only car that might tempt me to buy new…if I wasn’t such a die hard fan of used.

For 2016, the Hyundai brand was named a winner of the annual Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Awards, recognizing new vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs. The annual award takes into consideration depreciation, expected fuel costs, finance and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs, and state fees. I can say with confidence that someday an Elantra will be mine.

2017-Elantra-Gray_Leather

I love the sleek exterior and amazing colors (electric blue I am talking to you). I love the interior and all the features including the 7-inch display Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I love the door handle approach light, Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, heated seats, and proximity key entry with push button start.

You don’t have to buy a bigger, fancier car just to get the advanced safety features you want either. Elantra makes them an affordable option. Available features such as Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Smart Cruise Control give you the support to be a safer driver.

I feel good about naming the Elantra as the favorite for 2016.

13
Nov

Driving the Toyota Yaris

by Tiffany in Green Cars

toyota yaris

I adore small cars. I guess I just don’t buy into that typically American ideal that bigger is better. I prefer a small sleek car that whip in and out of parking spaces in flash and maneuver through traffic easy. Small cars usually have better gas mileage and they are more enjoyable for me to drive. And while I do prefer small and compact, the Toyota Yaris is sporty looking as well. It doesn’t scream ‘small because I couldn’t afford a real car’ it yells ‘small because I love sleek, compact, and sporty’.

Oh and the price tag for small and compact cannot be beat. I will probably never ever drop 30 grand on new car. I just don’t think I could do it. Unless it can drive all my kids around on auto pilot, its not ever going to be worth it. The Yaris comes in at 15 grand and that is an amazing deal in my mind and frankly the companies making cars with reasonable prices deserve to be supported.

This particular car has a lot of safety features for those who feel “less safe” in small car. It has nine airbags: a driver and front passenger advanced airbag system, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger seat-cushion airbags, front/rear side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.

It also has an available Pre-Collision System helping you to avoid a potential frontal collision with a forward-facing laser radar and camera that scan the road ahead. If a potential collision is detected, you are alerted with audible and visual warnings. If you don’t apply the brakes and the system determines that a collision with another vehicle is extremely high, the system may automatically apply the brakes. The Yaris can also be armed with lane departure alert. When you start to drift out of your lane, you are notified. And another cool feature is automatic high beams for safe night time driving. It detects the lights of oncoming cars and switches to low beams as you pass oncoming traffic. Pretty nifty!

I don’t personally feel less safe in small car but I know that some do and this car should should alleviate some of that. Toyota has really paid attention to safety.

yaris-interior

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

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11
Nov

Frugal Friday – The Rebate Shopping Game

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

the-rebate-shopping-gameLast week I started to make some gift purchases. I knew I wanted to maximize every dollar by playing with rebates and cash back offers and so far it has been quite profitable.

I started with my Amazon wishlist where I had been keeping the long list of the stuff the kids had mentioned wanting over the past few months. I created a general budget $600 or $200 for each child. I used Amazon to collect the wishlist items but I also shopped around at other places to compare prices and make sure Amazon was actually the best deal, sometimes they are not but usually they are.

I eventually decided that I would need at least $500 for Amazon purchases. Rather than add the items to my cart and spend the money immediately I went through a couple steps to ensure the most bang for my buck.

I checked my Benefit app to see what the rebate was for buying a gift certificate (GC) through them (3% or $15 cash back). Just by going through them and buying a GC first I save $15. Not bad right? Well, I also decided to do the math and see what I would get back if I bought the GC at Giant Eagle or Kroger. The rebate would be fuel and not cash but if it was more savings than its a no brainer since buying gas to run my car is kind of essential. Giant Eagle came out ahead. If I bought the GC there than I would get $1.00 in fuel perks. That $1.00 can used for up to thirty gallons of gas so that is a $30 rebate.

So 3% with benefit or 6% with Giant Eagle? I chose 6% with Giant Eagle. Also the 3% with Benefit is contingent upon you using your checking account via direct draft and not a credit card. By going with Giant Eagle I was able to use a rewards credit card with 1.5% cash back. I don’t carry a balance so the cash back is just butter on the biscuit.

So….now I am up to 7.5% (or $37.50) off my $500 purchase just because I took 20 minutes to go to the store to buy a gift certificate. But the story does not end there. Now I am ready to make my purchase and there are options for earning rebates there too. Ebates offers up to 7% back and there are a host of other sites that offer options like this. You simply go to Amazon through their link on their site and they earn a commission on your purchases which they then share with you…usually 50% of the commission.

What I tend to do is use Hubpages for my Amazon purchases. I have a number of articles I published to the site and whenever someone clicks on the affiliate links I get 50% of the commission generated and this counts for my own clicks and purchases as well. I just got a check this month from them for $56 and quite a bit of that was cash back on my own purchases made in the previous three months. I use Ebates or Giving Assistant for other online stores.

So far I have only ended up spending $446 dollars of that $500 but by going through my hubpages account to make the purchases I earned $21.86.

Here is the breakdown:

  • $30.00 earned by getting a gift certificate
  • $7.50 earned by using a cashback credit card
  • $21.86 earned by shopping through a source that offer rebates or commissions

I got that $500 gift certificate for $433. Booyah!

10
Nov

I Care About the Ingredients in My Food AND My Deodorant

by Tiffany in Beauty

ingredients-in-my-deodorant

One of the toughest sells for the more natural, health conscious person is the switch to a better deodorant. It is HARD. Most of us need some sort of odor protection throughout the day and yet it can be really hard to find a good one. That super natural one you made from ingredients in your fridge might be au naturale but if it leaves you stinky after an hour that is a no go. Baking soda may work great for some and others may get a horrendous rash. Our pits can be super sensitive and finding a natural yet effective deodorant is tricky.

My own journey to finding the right deodorant has been fraught with misadventure (and burned pits). Through all of it I have found several good ones. The brand I keep returning to though, is Tom’s of Maine. My current fave is their Long Lasting Lavender deodorant. It works well for me and for my lifestyle. I also LOVE the smell of lavender.

I get up at 4am every morning and have 10-15 minutes to bathe and dress. I don’t wear makeup so my time in front of the mirror is all about necessity…shower, comb my hair, brush my teeth, maybe a use a little toner or a spritz of essential oils, apply deodorant. I don’t have a sink to myself (no double sinks for me) but I do have a side of the sink and the one pictured is my side, pretty minimalist.

After packing a lunch bag and spending some time on the computer checking emails I am off to work where I spend 9-10 hours doing a pretty physical job. I sweat most of the day because of the physical activity and also because my place of employment blasts the heat whenever the temperature drops below 70 degrees. I also do a lot of walking some days. One particular day I brought a pedometer to work with me just to see how much I was walking and was flabbergasted to find I had walked 15 miles that day! So yes, I need a deodorant that can keep up with that. I don’t do CrossFit much anymore due to my hectic schedule but when I did…yep, I used Tom’s.


toms-deodorant

Wetness doesn’t bother me but a foul odor most certainly would. Lucky for me that Tom’s keeps up with me all day long. I care about what I put on my body and I can feel good about this deodorant. They share the ingredients that go into their products so I can make an informed and educated decision in age when so many other companies want to hide this information. Why make a fuss about organic, whole, non gmo food and then NOT care what you rub all over your skin each morning? I care, as do many folks these days. Transparency and integrity in consumer products means a lot to me.

And you know what also means a lot to me?? No rashes or chemical burn! Yay! The formulations and ingredients certainly work well for me and my body chemistry when others have failed. If you ARE sensitive, you have allergies, or you are pregnant then quality, natural ingredients are even more important.

  • Tom’s of Maine natural deodorant contains no aluminum, artificial fragrances or preservatives and no petrochemicals
  • Clinically proven, 24-hour odor protection using odor-fighting hops and the mineral zinc and only natural fragrances
  • Fully recyclable packaging through local municipalities or the TerraCycle Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Brigade
  • No animal testing and no animal ingredients
  • With every purchase, Tom’s of Maine gives 10% of profits back to helping people and the planet

This post was developed in partnership with Tom’s of Maine. All opinions are my own.

Twitter: @TomsofMaine
Facebook: /TomsofMaine
Instagram: @Toms_of_Maine

6
Nov

DIY Pantry Moth Repellent

by Tiffany in Essential Oils

pantry-moth-repellentA few years back and two homes ago we developed a big problem with pantry moths. I am not totally sure how it all began because I never   had a big problem with them before, perhaps a few here and there. This particular year though I could barely keep anything in the pantry that they did not infest within a couple weeks and they found hiding places in closets, under couches, etc. They destroyed cereal, almond flour, rice, dried fruit, and so many other pantry items.

When we moved shortly thereafter we took them with us because they had cocooned in various hiding places. By that time I was sick of all the wasted food and the larvae are just gross as heck. It was time to end their reign.

Of course any attack in my arsenal has to be natural. No way am I going to spray toxic insecticides near my food. Every thing we did involves some elbow grease and natural alternatives.

Our attack was three-fold.

  • We used sticky moth traps that attract with pheromones
  • I cleaned the pantry out once every two weeks with soap and water and put all attractive foods in mason jars
  • I used a spray repellent in the pantry to keep them out of there

Pantry Moth Repellent Spray

2 ounces white vinegar
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops bay laurel essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

Combine all the ingredients in a dark glass bottle with a spray mist top. Shake well with each use and spray on clean shelves and walls, making sure you get all cracks and crevices. Repeat every month to prevent the moth eggs from hatching and to prevent re-infestation. You can also spray a couple cotton balls and place in pantry corners or their favorite hiding places.

We were able to get rid of our moth problem entirely. No more damaged pantry food!

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

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