Saturday, August 28, 2010

Living Happily on a Shoestring: Grab a Green Deal While You Can

by Christine Wilkinson

I found a great deal this week on appliances and just wanted to make sure everyone has a chance to grab it. Sears has extended its offer of 15% off appliances, with an additional 10% off any purchase made with a Sears credit card. There's an additional online-only extra 5% off appliances (refrigeration, washers & dryers, cooking appliances and dishwashers). And it gets better. Fat Wallet is having a 4.8% cash-back sale. Truly, it's the Perfect Storm of savings.

First, go to the Fatwallet site and register for free. Once in, click on "Coupons and Cash Back" and there you'll see an A – Z store index. Click on 'S' to find Click on that and scroll down to find the appliance offer; once there, hit the blue button across from it that reads "Shop Now." You will now get a 4.8% cash rebate that in no way precludes you from any specials that Sears is offering. And just so you know, the Shop Now button takes you directly to Sears' website.

The math can be dizzying, so let me provide a concrete example of how much you can save. My parents need a new dishwasher, so I started there. I (hypothetically) chose Kenmore's Elite White 24" Built-In Dishwasher with TurboZone™ Rotating Spray Jets (1310) Energy Star. The price today is $561.88, marked down from $789.99. Let's assume I have a Sears card, which brings my total down to $505.69. Take the extra 5% off for shopping on-line and we're down to $480.81.

But I'm just getting started: Off to the right-hand side you'll see a Rebate button. Many states offer discounts when you buy Energy Star rated appliances. I put in my parents' zip code, and sure enough, they qualify for a $50 cash back rebate (be sure to download the rebate form). New price = $430.81 which is $384.03 less than the original price (46% off the original price).

There's yet another special offer to add: No interest for 18 months when you use a qualifying Sears card and you pay in full within 18 months. That means my parents could buy this dishwasher for $23.94 a month for 18 months. Word of caution: These payment plans are great if you are the kind of person who is never late on payments. If you are late just once, they slam you with a killer interest rate.

And there's one last savings for you -- after your purchase you will find the $20.68 cash back in your Fat Wallet. Nice! Please take a few minutes to share your success stories, if you decide to use this offer by emailing me at posting your comments below or by visiting my blog.

If you do buy appliances, I urge you to buy only Energy Star rated ones. If you have any reservations, I am including this article I wrote several years ago. It was right after we left the DC metro area for our three year stint in North Carolina. Going Green is a bit like our Commando Financial Warfare plan -- once you get into it, it's hard to think of living any other way. I hope you enjoy it.

Go Gently Into the Green

I didn't plan to go green--it's become so trendy it's clichéd. I don't even like green as a color. Still, I confess that for years I have been daunted by the Go Green movement—not willing to join but feeling guilt about my apathy. In truth, I've been an environmental sinner, luxuriating in wasteful twenty-five minute showers and drinking several bottled waters a day. So I blame my extremely out of character environmental metamorphosis on Al Gore.

Not too long ago I watched An Inconvenient Truth and despite his soporific speech, was captivated by Gore's message: we are so trashin' this joint.

My family and I recently moved from Washington DC to North Carolina. Our new home did not have a washer and dryer so with Al still whispering in my ear, I decided to go eco-friendly. I spent exorbitant amounts of time researching my options and ultimately purchased the Bosch Nexxt 500 Series. To be honest, I was lured more by the fact that it can wash 16 (!) pairs of jeans in one load than by its energy efficiency, but I didn't whisper that back to Al.

My husband and I eagerly loaded up our Bosch for its maiden voyage (it really can hold a lot) and sat there like googly-eyed zombies watching our clothes tumble through the front-loading window. We thought it was defective as there didn't seem to be any water in there.

Get this: It turns out that that's the whole point -— it hardly uses any water! And you barely need to add detergent (no joke, about two tablespoons). It's like the miracle of the loaves and fishes. And whoa, I kid you not; the clothes do come out cleaner and brighter. So, not only am I helping the environment while saving money, but I'm also dressed in fresh bright whites, halfway to Nirvana from watching my clothes spin.

We then needed a new lawn mower, and you guessed it, Al's familiar Southern drawl returned to remind me of the melting snow caps and drowning polar bears and brewing-while-we-speak category five hurricanes, so I researched again and purchased from a very 007 Black & Decker electric mower...wait for it...the Cordless CMM1200. There is no other way to say this -- it is way cool. The best part (well, besides saving the Earth) is that you don't have to pull that damned cord anymore. You simply insert a key, turn it and...BAMMO, it's ready to go. Yet another miracle! It's quiet and smooth and mows great, although it is a bit heavier due to the battery. But, like my washer and dryer, it looks so sleek and futuristic that I don't mind pushing the extra weight. I am, after all, saving the planet. When I'm done, I simply return the mower to the garage and plug it back in for next time. No more running out of gas or forgetting to add oil, and it doesn't smell bad and I don't have to look like a damn fool spastically yanking a stubborn pull-cord.

There are some very simple ways each and every one of us can Go Green, even if we do so reluctantly. If you would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, try lighting a CFL bulb instead (you know, the funky looking ones with the white swirly tubes). Just one new bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. According to , if every American replaced just one bulb, it would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year (3,000,000! – that's an awfully big number) while saving over $600 million in annual energy costs. Imagine taking 800,000 cars and their harmful emissions off the road for a year: That's how much waste all of us can save by changing just one light bulb.

One silly looking bulb can do all this?

It gets better. Each bulb saves you 30% in electrical costs and, whoa, the bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs. Selfishly, I love the notion of changing burnt-out bulbs ten times less often. Also, these bulbs are safer than regular bulbs because they do not get as hot thus reducing the risk of fire while simultaneously helping to cut your air-conditioning costs. reports that the bulbs use 75% less energy while producing 75% less heat. Dig
that -- they're Wonder Bulbs!

Emboldened by my growing Greenness, I replaced each and every light bulb in our new home with CFL's. I just counted: we now use 28 of these swirly numbers, plus we bought CFL flood lights for outside use. And our house is small. Imagine if all the rich people in their huge houses changed their millions of bulbs. We could save gazillions maybe bazillions of dollars while slashing harmful emissions by a sizeable fraction (you may want to check my math).

It's not easy being Green, but it's not all that difficult either. And once you start, you might just find yourself embracing it. For more information on simple steps you can take, please visit Climate Crisis. Start by reading the list of ten simple things you can do. Then, if you must, take a long shower.

For more on Fat wallet and saving in general, please visit my blog.


"Penny Less" is the pen name of a veteran middle school teacher, who holds a
Master's degree in Education and is currently job hunting. Penny is also a
freelance writer who has had articles published in the Raleigh News and Observer
and most recently in the Washington Post. She has lived most of her adult life
in the DC-Baltimore area, although she recently returned from a three year
detour in the South (Raleigh, NC). She is married with a 7-year-old daughter,
which prompts her to observe: "While I may be struggling in this economy, I lead
a rich life blessed with a great family and amazing friends."

You can also read Penny's column on .

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