I forgot to put my ice scraper in the car on the first frosty night and it wasn't a thin ice I could just blast off with the defrost on high. Since no one else was in the parking lot I pulled out my grocery shopping card and started scraping away, it took a little longer than normal but it worked well. However, I had to get a new card the next time I was at the grocery store.

Not everyone can park their car in a warm garage, so scraping the window is the job in the morning before work.
However there are alternatives to window scraping:
☼ Putting cardboard on the windshield and held it down with the wipers and side doors
☼ Placed thick plastic over the window - An old shower curtain would do the trick as well and you can slam it in the door on a windy night
Poured warm water over the window – not suggested as a regular idea as any cracks can make your windshield a spider web of catastrophe.
Sprayed vinegar on the window – this seemed to cut down on the fog, but ice still built up

Other things to try:
Carpet remnants - I found that the rug side up is best as you will have a slightly furry window with it rug side down
Rubbing alcohol sprayed on windows has been suggested
Car mats laid on the window - I haven't tried this but with "spikes" on the bottom of some I would think flipping these over would work best
Newspapers - newspaper have been used for insulation in walls and covering up in the rain. Just make sure you have some weather proof tape to hold them together.

And then while you wait for the windows to defog, have a rag or chalkboard eraser in the car to wipe so you can see. And use a vinegar solution or old shaving cream to keep the window fogging down to a minimum.

I'm outta here to go clean and defog my car windows.

In this economy, and any other for that matter, people are looking for ways to make a few extra dollars. I have highlighted a few ways to make money with paid online surveys, comic books and some other unusual ways to make money. But nothing beats making money and helping out someone in the process.

Reader Mike Kowieski is a 26-year-old living in Chicago who is the guest writer today on how tutoring has helped him.

These days, it seems like everyone is looking for a way to supplement their primary income.  In college and continuing on into the so-called "real world", myself and a number of my friends have earned extra money by working as a tutor.

I first started tutoring in college simply because I needed the money. One of my majors was journalism, and I've always enjoyed reading and writing, so my career center was able to put me in touch with a local junior high school that was looking for English tutoring help. I ended up working with a 7th-grader who needed a lot of help in reading and writing. The extra income was great, but there was much more I got out of tutoring than just a check.

Tutoring can also be a very rewarding experience, more so than any other part-time job I've ever worked. I felt just as much a sense of accomplishment as he did when he got an assignment back with "Great Job!" written across the top from the teacher. You have a strong sense of giving back to the community, no matter how small your contribution may be, and you really feel a sense of pride in that. Their successes become your successes. There are few better feelings I have experienced in my life than helping someone else reach a goal that first seemed out of reach.

Another benefit to being a tutor is the ability to set your own hours. Only want to work 5 hours a week? You can do that. Don't want to work on weeknights? You can arrange to meet your pupil only on the weekends. I can't think of another part-time job that allows for this level of flexibility. You are also free to set your own rates - and with typical hourly rates falling between $30 to $60, you can make a good amount of money each week.

In order to tutor, you need to have a strong working knowledge in a subject area. But if you don't have a PhD in mathematics, don't worry: there are many elementary and middle school students out there who need tutoring at a level that won't require you to dig through your old textbooks from college. I have two friends, both a few years out of college, who live in Chicago and use tutoring as a way to supplement their primary income from their regular job. They both agree that you don't need a lot of in-depth knowledge, especially if you'll be helping out a student who is not at an advanced level in your subject area.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, I encourage you to do so.  For those still in college, its easy to find opportunities - reach out to your jobs center or the department staff of the subject you're interesting in teaching. More recently, I have found new tutoring opportunities through WyzAnt Tutoring, an online service that connects students with local tutors. You can also work with local libraries and community centers to find tutoring opportunities in your area.  Once you have a few satisfied students, I think you'll find tutoring to be an enriching experience, both for your wallet and your sense of well-being.

I got a lot of thoughts run around in my head this week and my inbox is filling up and needs to be cleaned. Today you are the recipient of my random thoughts and my inbox purging. Enjoy!

I am a huge Consumerist fan, I do occasionally get tired of the "I got shafted" posts and would like to see more "over and above" posts about companies, but recently I read a post that I disagreed with greatly. The post Buy A New Printer When You Run Out Of Ink was a bad idea and I think the comments are in agreement that this is a stupid idea.

Their theory is thus: "If you're sick of the high cost of toner, and don't want to deal with messy refill kits or off-brand versions, here's a great way to save cash and help struggling manufacturers at the same time: Just buy a new printer every time you run low on ink. Sure, you'll have a house full of printers in no time, but you can always donate those to Goodwill, or to the local landfill."

Environmentally unsound: A horrible idea as it adds unnecessarily to the landfills of America or like one commenter said, "I suppose, then, that we ship our old printers to Nigeria or China to let the children there burn them to sort out what tiny bits of metal may be in there for the recyclers?"

Financially unsound: Though you may save on ink by getting a new printer each time and even get a donation tax credit for donating the printer, a financially sound idea is to keep what you have and make it work for as cheap as possible. Besides that just walking around in a couple retail stores I found only one printer that was near $40, all the rest were more and my ink cartridges are $20 each, not a good value at all.

A Declutterers nightmare: Someone who has a hard time getting rid of stuff or procrastinates taking their donations in is going to have a mess on their hands. I buy about 12 cartridges a year, can you imagine 12 printers a year stacked up in your home?

I liked the Tips for Your Financial Future that CIC has put together. Some good advice that needs to be remembered - "Ignore the naysayers. Many will question your methods and ask why. The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter what others think or say. It's your underlying values and reasons for the goal that make the difference."

Frugal Village recently posted some responses to random questions - I enjoyed her response to, "What types of meals would you make if you were low on cash?"
I would have to include tuna and macaroni in that list, I used to eat a lot of that.

NYC is running an Anti-Soda drinking spot to get people to realize just what they are tossing down their throats - besides the chemicals (You have been warned it is very gross)

I really enjoyed Trent's post that Most of Us Have Never Experienced a True Economic Meltdown - Which I agree with and had written about that through thick and thin we will survive this recession to write our own book of experiences 

My goal is to do twice as much charity work next year as I did this year and when i came across Mint's post on Charity, I was happy to see that we Americans do quite a bit but that doesn't seem to be the whole picture.

And in honor of the holiday season and preparing for the gift or two that you may be regifting, The Daily Green offers advice on How to regift (and get away with it)

I haven't done a product review and thought I would try something a little different as Black and Decker contacted me to try out their new product. For full disclosure I was given the product for free, it retails for around 45.00 though you might be able to pick up a cheaper one on eBay or Amazon.com

First off the product received sat on my book shelf for about 2 weeks as it needed a 9v battery and I didn't have any laying around the house and was just too lazy to go out and buy one before my next shopping trip. I was bummed that a simple battery wasn't included in the product, so for me that was a negative mark right off the bat.

After hooking it all and reading through the instructions I started pointing it at windows, doors and outlets like the picture showed. It does show the red and blue colors like the picture shows which was cool. I can set the temperature varience to 1,5,10 degree difference - however it depends on what time of day I measure and if sun is hitting a window or wind is blowing I have noticed. Because of this I checked the doors and windows multiple times and days to get a better reading.

To me it was handy little product to have to see where leaks causing the house to be colder or hotter than necessary. However, I am limited in my apartment as to what I can do to fix these - plastic over windows and sliding doors and putting some draft blockers up for hinged doors, but I can't fix cold walls on my own without hanging blankets on the walls. I could see how this would be handy for those who want to check their own home insulation in the attic and walls and can take steps to fix it better.

So here is my review in summary:
+Easy to use
+Handy for checking temperature differences
+/- Price isn't bad - Though you might want to get a sale/pre-owned one

- No Battery came with it
- Have to use multiple times of day to get a good medium detection
- Really a one time use item, once you fix trouble spots

Overall, it does what it says and it does it well. It would be handy for libraries to loan out as it really is more of a one time use item and it is more useful for a home-owner than an apartment dweller. I do think I will hold onto it for a while since I am an apartment dweller and can use it at the next apartment I live in.

Every has their own experience with clutter and deciding how best to go through it, this guest post is reader Holly's experience with de-cluttering.

I grew up with Depression-era parents. While my friends had garbage cans that were overflowing, we had jars/boxes that were neatly stacked with wires, lids, screws, nails, etc. Nothing was too small (or too large) to be saved, so long as mom or dad knew what it was to be used for in the future.

After I grew up and moved out, I carried on the tradition of saving…only I did so to an extreme. I had stacks and stacks of JUNK. What I saved was not useful, unless someone needed supplies to start a fire. My turning point with saving “junk” came when I made a series of moves: I moved from my home state to a different state, then another, and finally landed in the town where I currently live. There was a large (and heavy) box that I had moved with me each time; in fact it had been with me since I lived in my first apartment. After moving it repeatedly for approximately 9 years, I opened the box. It contained garbage. No, not the stinky, yucky kind of garbage; this was paper…old mail, newspapers, flyers, etc. I had moved a box of garbage with me for 9 years.

See, I had good intentions: “Waste not, want not.” Somehow I had missed the key part of that…saving something for a specific future use. When I told my dad about the box of garbage that had traveled the country with me, he had a good belly laugh about it.

“Waste not, want not” is only pertinent if it’s something you want to begin with. If it’s not something you want, and you can’t immediately place it in the hands of someone who does want it, it is called garbage and we need not fill our lives with it.

I’m not talking about recycling, or saving the scrap wood for a Boy Scout drive, or anything like that. Saving something for a specific person (or group) to pick up on a specific date is exactly what we should be doing. Saving things for “someday” when I “might need this” is exactly what we should not be doing. In looking through all the “treasures” I had saved (read: in sifting through years of garbage), I realized that yesterday’s garbage was preventing me from fully enjoying today’s blessings.

Since that day, I have tried to pare down what I save to only the things that I know I will make use of or need. Everything else is donated, sold, recycled or thrown away. I haven’t perfected it yet…I still have some boxes in my basement full of “keepsake” stuff; things that belonged to my parents (who are now deceased) that I just can’t bear to part with, but things that don’t really fit into my life right now. I know I should get rid of most of it, but I just can’t force myself to do that yet. Once a year I go through all those boxes and always get rid of at least a few things. My motto is “Progress not perfection.” (That’s not something I made up, I heard it somewhere but can’t remember the source.)

Every day I clean a cupboard or a closet, purging it of things that we no longer need, organizing the things that have earned a spot in our life. Some days I might spend hours on it, others might only take me a few minutes.

I have discovered a new nemesis in this process: the junk drawer in the kitchen. We have one drawer where things go to hide. It started out holding a pen, pliers, small hammer, 2 screwdrivers and a small container of screws/nails. It now contains everything that has ever been lost…that sock that went missing from your laundry last week? It’s probably in my kitchen drawer. No matter how often I clean out the drawer, it’s always a mess. If any of you have any secrets to share about keeping the drawer clean, I would love to hear them.

 I am starting a new life long goal of living on less food and more exercise. Of course in order to keep with my other goal to live on less money I have needed to find ways to get that exercise without spending money if I can. The first thing I did was to look around for ways to exercise that are close to me.

Working out near work and home 

EMPLOYER FITNESS: I spend 45 hours a week at work and I've always felt my 1 hour lunch was way to long, even when I tried to eat slowly I still had 40 minutes left and I didn't want to go back to my desk. Instead I now grab my gym bag and head down to the little workout room downstairs and plow through a 30 min elliptical workout and 10 minutes of nonstop weightlifting.

Not all employers I've been with have this option, one company had a wonderful deal with the nearby fitness center that was 25-50% off a month. But I have found that if I workout in the company fitness room, I am rarely joined by others, so it is a nice get away from the stress of work.

HOME FITNESS: A nice benefit to many of the apartment buildings I have lived in have been the fitness rooms that they offered. Most all have a treadmill and bike and some circuit weights, all worthwhile items to get me in shape. However, even when I didn't have access to fitness rooms or gyms there are many ways to do exercises at home for free just using our own body weight. Some of the hardest, yet simplest exercises are sit-ups, push-ups and squats that work the entire body.

TV FITNESS: I already pay for a cable box that automatically comes with a channel FitTV, however I don't like the commercials but I do have Video on Demand and I can do a fitness routine without commercials when I want to. I did a yoga core 20 min exercise that looked like a good starter episode (20min) and I was huffing and puffing by the end, but I was determined to keep up.

There are other ways I stayed in shape that have helped save me money and they rarely fail to produce the results I need.

Finding Other Resources
BOOKS and VIDEOS: I walk into the library and one thing I have found that never gets touched are the workout videos. They have stacks and stacks of them. It is very rare to be on a list for a fitness video unless it is the latest craze (currently Biggest Loser videos). And I have found the books are handy when I'm tired of doing the same bodyweight exercises and need a few new ideas. Yard sales are also handy place for picking up an exercise video or book.

EQUIPMENT: Finding equipment for cheap can be done, but it takes time and may need some tinkering but you can find some occasionally on Craigslist and eBay or Freecycle. For people on Craigslist you could always contact them and offer them a much smaller amount or to take it off their hands if they don't have any takers for the price they are asking. Sometimes you can find pre-owned equipment at places like Play It Again Sports.

If you do decide to buy new there are some small pieces of equipment that are versatile and don't cost a whole lot: Exercise ball (I like the 55cm size for my height), Dumbbells, Jump Rope and Resistance bands all take very little room and a small budget.

HOME-MADE EQUIPMENT: If you refuse to buy any equipment you can make your own weights and exercise equipment using a weight scale for measuring the exact weight you are lifting for milk jugsbasketball medicine balls, chin bar and more. Don't forget steps around your house and making your own jump rope are good ways to add aerobic exercise, besides walking and running.

ELEMENTARY MY DEAR: Kids have the basics down in elementary school as to how to stay fit. They run, walk and jump around on furniture with no equipment necessary. They are the original Parkour kids (vid) before it became cool. If finding time is hard and you still want to exercise there are ways to build it into your everyday life.

Parking further away makes you walk more and if you are late to work, you can always run in and still be exercising. If you have to have that downtime in front of the tv before you go to bed then do some stretching while you watch tv and a few sit-ups and press-ups during commercials. Body-weight exercises can do wonders for getting the heart going and exercising our muscles- recently I saw a workout video with "Dirty jobs" host Mike Rowe with a way he stays fit while on the road, it was simple and a full body workout.

Sure you can pay for the membership dues at a gym and have want of nothing when it comes to fitness workouts or you can get creative, save money and see the reward in your wallet and not just in the mirror.

I written on how generic shopping can save grocery costs and it would seem that popular opinion is seeing the benefit of generic/private label groceries over the name brand options. And in one court case they ruled again on the side of a private label company.

Recently in Brandweek.com a private label company took to court a brand name company  "claiming that Mead Johnson had engaged in false and misleading campaigns against its store brand products, which are sold at Walmart, Target and Krogers, among others."

Basically they stated that the generic brand of baby  was inferior and had "inferior ingredients that could result in poor eye and brain development for babies".

However, the private label company said, "We have the same exact source of the lipids, with the same exact levels from the same exact supplier,” said Joe Shields, director of public relations for PBM Products. “Really, what it means is that store brand formulas are nutritionally equivalent to national brand formulas like Enfamil.”

It is unfortunate that generic/private label company don't always disclose that their food comes from the same plant as Coca-Cola or Lays as I think that would work in their favor. But perhaps it wouldn't be needed as brand name companies are seeing their revenue shrink a bit as people are seeing the value at the checkout and that there is little to no difference in taste when buying the store brand.

This generic food is not your mother's black and white cans with block letters - These generic brands are a force to be reckoned with as people see that they don't have to pay the extra $1 for frozen peas because the store's private label tastes just as good and they don't need a coupon either.

Recently Brandweek.com reported that sales for the "unbranded" groceries have increased in sales by as much as 22% for Baby food and 15% for canned seafood. On a side note since canned tuna is downsizing it cans for the same price, why not go store brand anyway.

Certainly taste will play a factor in deciding but just as some people prefer Pepsi over Coke, Store brand items will always have a good foot in the door of every home as people toss out their loyalty to a brand in order to save money and find that they don't have to sacrifice their taste buds in doing so.

Thanks for being a part of this week's charity posts. The holidays are certainly a busy time and it can be hard to find time to volunteer for a group, so here and now make a promise to yourself that your New Year's Resolution will be to contact a charity in 2010 and set time aside for helping out in person, myself included.

As of today there are 3 weeks left until gift giving and you want to finish this year out on a good hand full of donations and would love to give a donation as a gift to someone. There are a few ways to do that.

Give a Charity Gift Card - Both GlobalGiving and Charity Navigator have ways you can give a gift of money but still help out a charity.
To quote Charity Navigator, "You Choose the Amount ... They Choose the Cause"
To quote GlobalGiving, "The recipient gets to choose how the donation is allocated, and then see how their money has been put to work."

Shopping for a Good Cause - If gift cards aren't personal enough for you, you can buy at many charity organizations and the money helps to support the cause.
St. Jude Children's Hospital Store - The ads have been on tv lately and still are, and you don't have to donate money but can shop at their store to get something more personal
UNICEF shop - Purchases at this store benefit children around the world
Philosophy.com - Purchase skin care, fragrance, bath& body and makeup and still help charities.

Fuzzy-Good Holiday Cards - If you are all done for gift shopping and just need to sent holiday cards that are for a good cause you can try Treegreetings. They plant a tree in the USA or Central America and the recipient receives your e-card and a tree planting certificate. If you prefer animals to trees then you can go to Reproduct.net and "The card is sent to the recipient in a two-way envelope (think “Netflix”). Once the recipient is done with the card, they simply place it in the postage paid return portion of the envelope and it is sent to Shaw Industries where 100% of the card is re-used in the manufacturing of new carpet tiles." Here is a demo

One thing to keep in mind no matter how or where you donate to make sure you aren't being scammed and you can also check out the charity with the following sites. You may want to check a couple to get a more rounded idea of them. Plus you may find other charities that you weren't aware of.
Charity Navigator - love the comments section
US BBB for charities
Charity Watch
Just Give

Charity giving that involves money and stuff is the most common it would seem. However, giving of time can be one of the most confidence boosting ways to know that what is being given is put to good use.

I previously talked about giving of time that involved mouse clicks. Now lets look over some ways we can give of time that would get us up from the chair and out into the public.

Religious Charity - These seem to be the easiest ones to participate in if one already belongs to a religious organization. Some groups will have food shelters or soup kitchens and others will package care bags for the military, AIDS victims and poor families. Some religious groups don't require that you be a member of their organization to participate but call ahead if you have a church in the area that you want to work with.

Public Charity - These are groups that you can give of time depending on your interest. There are groups for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Animal Rights, Land Conservation and the Environment, Emergency Relief, Refugees, Medical Aid, Fighting Poverty, Education Support, Fighting Hunger, Children, Women & Senior Citizens, Promoting Self Sufficiency, Supporting Military and Veterans and Watchdog Groups. I found a great list of charities with website links over at lovetoknow.com

Once I have found that area of interest that tugs at my heart I need to call them up, see what they need for volunteers and when. Then I just commit to them by coming in and helping or going for orientation and signing up for a regular schedule to work with them. As with any payable job, I need to treat the charity group the same by calling ahead if I am unable to fulfill my volunteer position since they are counting on me to be there.

Volunteering doesn't have to be a regular monthly or weekly event, there are ways to give if time is not flexible for volunteering. And some ways to donate your time once may be to offer something of your talent to bake, speak a foreign language, sew, interpret as a signer for the deaf or to give of yourself by running or providing your blood or your hair.

For donating blood - contact GiveLife to find the nearest blood drive and set up an appointment
For donating hair - contact locks of love to read through their criteria for donating hair

Recently I signed up for and got myself a bone marrow kit to get myself tested and find out if I am a match to anyone out there. Some people are notified right away and others aren't notified for years, if ever. There is more you can do to donate, one way is to to specify on your driver's license that you want to be an organ donor - you would designate this when you get your license or renew it. You can also download a donor card and keep it with you in your wallet if you aren't renewing anytime soon. My maternal Grandfather donated his body to science and I have to say it was one of the things I am proud of him for doing.

If you want to be a living organ donor you can donate a kidney, part of a liver or lung or how about part of pancreas, an egg donation or sperm donation. Did you know that over 10 people die each day waiting for a kidney? Wow!

Overall it appears from birth to death we will always have ways to give of ourselves and our time that will greatly impact those who receive.