Two Simple Steps to Better Gas Mileage

  1. Remove unneeded heavy stuff from the vehicle. Extra weight burns extra gas.
  2. Add air if your tires are low. Underinflated tires burn more gas.

Hard and Soft – Not Tacos, Credit Inquiries

There’s widespread misunderstanding of the effect on your credit score when someone checks your credit. You checking your own credit should never have an impact. When a business or other creditor checks your credit, it MIGHT have a negative impact. The difference lies in whether the inquiry is “hard” or “soft.” This is a reason not to apply every time a store offers you 10% off if you apply for their credit card. That’s a hard inquiry, and too many of them can drag your score down. It makes you look like you’re out on a credit-getting spree, preparing to charge up a storm and risk being unable to make the payments.

When you arrange a cell phone contract, ask the vendor if they are going to check your credit, and if so, whether the inquiry will be hard or soft. They can do soft, but they don’t always.

If you rent a car using a debit card, the company may very well check your credit, and without mentioning it to you. Given a choice, it’s better for your credit to use a credit card instead of a debit card when renting a car.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.



52 Weeks: Transportation – Those Little Scooters

From my book: “In the past few years, I’ve seen more people riding those little Chinese 49 cc scooters. I looked into it. In this area anything less than 50 ccs doesn’t require a motorcycle license. And even better, as long as you wear a helmet you don’t have to have insurance. They supposedly get eighty to ninety miles per gallon and cost around $800. This is the least costly vehicle with a motor that I’ve yet heard of. . . . In July 2013, I bought a cheap Chinese 49 cc trike.

The scooter had a top speed (with a tailwind and downhill) of forty mph. After every stop, there’s a long slow process to return to speed. Even traffic on residential streets would build up behind me. I went to a bicycle shop and bought an orange flag and some bright orange stickers to make it visible to other drivers. I needed them to realize that wasn’t as fast as it looked. (It actually looked very cool.)

The expected life of the motor is about 20,000 miles if you change the oil every thousand miles. A long trip puts a strain on the motor. These little scooters are best for short local trips, maybe up to five or six miles from home. I could buzz over to the library or to any nearby store whenever I felt like it.

The gas gauge was inaccurate and stopped working within a week, and so did the headlights. I kept track of the miles and bought gas about every 65 miles–it’s a one gallon tank. The chain guard broke and a fender came loose within the first 600 miles. I bought some black duct tape. Later I had the fenders removed altogether. The ignition had to be replaced because it wasn’t designed to keep water out. After several more expensive repairs, I sold it to a mechanic. Only a mechanic could love that scooter.

I think it would have been better if I had paid about three times as much for an Italian-made version of the 49cc scooter, or for a Honda. I believe that would have spared me the expense and trouble of having so many repairs. Please talk things over with a motorcycle expert before you buy.”




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

Call Around!

Recently a friend needed to have a tire patched. She called a tire chain. They wanted $30 just to patch it. She could have bought a decent used tire for that! So she called another tire chain, and they would patch it without charge.

When I junked my car-before-last, I called three different junk yards. One offered $200, another $210, and the third $300. Maybe I should have kept calling!


Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.


What’s the 211? Where to look for help

We all know about 911 for emergencies and 411 for information. Now there’s also 211, a telephone based resource for all kinds of social services and community help. 211 is a service of the United Way. On the phone, just dial 211. Online, go to (Notice it’s .org not .com). The website gives you the phone number to call United Way locally.

In Florida’s Volusia and Flagler counties we have which has a link to a searchable directory where you can look for the specific thing you need. They have 1,000+ resources, everything from after school child care to help if your house burns down, help with food, housing, elder care, counseling, transportation, medical care….

Each state has its own website, e.g.,, etc. Each state and county has its own range of services, and some counties are not yet served in some states.

If you or someone you know needs help with just about anything, just dial 211.