Since starting the new job I've been trying to find out every little way I can save money by using discounts through the company I work with. I usually work within the telecommunication industry and with that I receive whatever item they sell for free or at a greatly reduced price. Additionally,  they have connections with other companies that provide discounts for computers, car rentals, hotels and other telecommunications.

One item I found was free cellphone service, I had to pay for the smart-phone I wanted but after crunching the numbers, including cost of the phone and cost of the termination fee with the other company, as long as I worked at my current job for 4 months I would be ahead financially. Then every month following it would be a savings of $70 from my budget.

After speaking with some other employees I found out that Costco had a deal going with the gym I go to. Currently I pay $30 a month, but with a membership at Costco, I could pay $300 up front for a two year membership to the gym. I don't have a membership to Costco yet, so that initial investment would be $350, still a savings of $370 over the course of 2 years. That works out to 14.58 a month instead of the $30 (no contract) I pay now.

And while looking to see if my company has any deals with Costco I found the following: Buy an initial membership and receive free - Rotisserie chicken, 2-lb bag of coffee, 35/16.9oz of Costco brand water.  The coffee and chicken sound good  and since I hope to purchase a bike and ride to work to save even more money, the water bottles would be handy as I ride.
The initial investment in the bike will be hard to handover but I have to remember that after crunching numbers, it will pay off after 6 months based solely on gas prices at 3.20 a gallon and minor upkeep on the car(s).  And who knows how much more I may bike ride for errands and general exercise. But I'm still going to hang onto my gym, I've found I like to workout around people to keep me motivated.

Can redemptions: Here in Colorado we don't have can redemptions like in Iowa, where I grew up and you got back 5¢ for each can, after paying for the deposit on the front end. Surprisingly, I see that the cans here in Colorado have the redemption labeling on them, which is a necessity to get your money back in Iowa. Now this is what I'm thinking and I want your help in determining if I'm being unethical.
I was going to save up all the cans I come across and then bring them home to Iowa  and get the 5¢ a can for them since I was already in Iowa, even though I didn't pay the deposit upfront. I would easily get more money from the cans than if I took them to a recycler locally (which is 45 min away)  It probably won't be more than a few dollars, but the amount shouldn't matter in the course of the discussion.
Do you think this is a good or bad idea and why?

Monday I put together a very basic understanding of bonds and what I had learned from them. While I was reading I found that there was so much more that I didn't understand and could have added to my learning.

Having written about frugal living for the past 6 years, I have found that the personal finance side of frugality is the part that is harder to learn. To me, it is easier to find ways to reduce; reduce spending and reduce wastefulness. But the finance side that allows me to keep and increase my money it a bit harder to understand. I figure that I'm not unique in that area and found a few online classes to put bookmark for further learning.

Personal Finance Classes:
Alison - Financial literacy course, a series of seven dynamic modules covering everything from how to set up your first bank account to planning for your retirement.

American Financial Solutions - The site consists of 8 courses, and appear to be usable if you need classes to claim bankruptcy.
# Setting Your Financial Goals/Making a Budget
# Introduction to Investing
# Your Banking Relationship
# Identity Theft/Predatory Lending
# Understanding Credit/Credit Reports
# Children/Money Tips for Parents/Teachers
# Introduction to Borrowing
# Your Financial Life – For Young Adults

CNN Money 101 - Staying unofficial, but still learning with 23 lessons that include home and life insurance as well as the usual ones. Quite a diverse bunch with lessons running 5-6 online pages long.

Money Management International - Do enough reading online? You click and go to videos, infographics, calculators and articles that specifically answer what you are looking for. Just need to sign in with a name, email and zipcode

MIT OpenCourseware - If you are looking for a more advanced dealing with finance, investments and economics, this is a good start with a syllabus, exams and videos

The Tax College - Enrollment needed to secure access to free courses that are throughout the year. Our online income tax course is the only income tax course available that is fully integrated with a professional tax software program and you do not need to purchase any of their software to participate.

University of California-Irvine - Their free class is on Fundamentals of Personal Finance. The course was created to help those who cannot afford extensive planning assistance better understand how to define and reach their financial goals. It provides basic understanding so informed decisions can be made.

Besides learning from magazines (money) and online sites (motley fool), the above options are available free for a more focused learning on personal finance and beyond; then when you receive notice about participating in your employee stock purchase plan, you know how to participate.

Additional Resource: Internet U - Learn New Job Skills Free - "From peer-to-peer instruction to commercial "webinars" to free university courses, there's something for just about every job description". Donna also provides some wonderful examples as to how these courses have helped others.
 $ Virtual University - Started in 1995, Courses do cost a small fee and have scheduled start dates.
OpenCourseWare - A worldwide community of hundreds of universities and associated organizations committed to advancing OpenCourseWare

Previously I've daydreamed about winning the lottery. But recently a British survey (pdf) gathered people's opinion on what they would do for a million pounds (~$1.6 mill. USD). The options were not typical.

  • Be Photographed naked for a national newspaper (31%)
  • Have no human contact for a year (18%)
  • Have sex with someone you find physically "repulsive"(17%)
  • Give up a kidney (15%)
  • Not see sunlight for a year (9%)
  • Be water-boarded (8%)
  • Tattoo an advertising slogan on your forehead (2%)
  • Play Russian roulette (2%)
  • Cutting off an arm (1%) or a leg (0%)
  • None of these (42%)
Now if I couldn't opt out of any of the options, then the kidney one would be fine with me and the sunlight even would work, depending on what I could use to make up for the light of the sun. But I would have to have human contact and I don't want to have any tattoo on my forehead - like the above sad man who did it for 6 figures.

Some other interesting factors in the survey
  • Social grade doesn’t seem that important. 44% of those in higher social grades and 40% in the lower ones said they’d do none of the options for £1m.
  • 56% of women and 27% of men said that they wouldn’t agree to any of the above. 
  • Youth is a strong predictor of likelihood of doing these things for a million pounds. Which shows how much we value life as we get older - 18-24 year olds are much more likely to agree to Russian roulette than those who have already lived for over 60 years.
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Some grocery stores have coupons that print out when you check out, these check-out coupons are called Catalinas and I recently read all I needed to know to use them (@DenverBargains). I learned: Even though the coupons may be for a specific store, sometimes you can still use them at other stores if it is a national brand. And I learned that there is a real contact number and email if an expected Catalina coupon didn't print out. I don't use them often, but good contact info to have. Plus you can "roll" the Catalina coupons for more savings.

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With budget cuts going on across the country in different states, one of the items being looked at for cuts are public libraries. I love my public library and the mobile library (now defunct) that came to my neighborhood to save me gas money. In the UK, they protested these shutdowns on February 5th by having massive book check-outs and "read-ins".  I think it is wonderful that people across the ocean took the libraries to hold claim to them and let others remember that we are all "Children of the Library"- a great song by PD Cawley

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Some other links I wanted to pass your way:
  • I have "Frugal Fatigue" fatigue (@Surviving and Thriving)- I love Donna's perspective on this matter and appreciate the commentors.
  • How to get a great hotel rate (@CR Money) - I have a high school reunion coming up this year and I think I will try to take some of these ideas into consideration.
  • Playspent a "game" offered by the Urban Ministries of Durham (via Consumerist) that is a dose of reality when it comes to living a low income life.
    When I played it, I didn't go to a funeral, my gas got shut off, I got a speeding ticket but able to talk the cost down from 250 to 50 dollars and though my kid got to go to a birthday party with a gift, they were made fun of for the "free lunch" program they were in and stopped eating. I may have made it to the end of the month with money, but I have a new month to get through.

SchoolhouseRock - Tyrannosaurus Debt
TOUR GUIDE: And this is the U.S. Treasury. It sells Treasury Bonds, bills, and notes, and savings bonds to finance the debt. The U.S. government promises to pay the owner interest plus the value of each bond at a future date.
Up to a few days ago, if you asked me what a bond was, I would tell you it was a way to make some interest on your money through the federal government and you can either buy bonds at face value or at half face value. That about sums up my knowledge.

Being a bit of a self-taught person I decided to learn more about bonds than what I understood for the last 30 years. And here is a basic understanding of that research (very basic).

What: Essentially, bonds are a way of taking loan out from a citizen bank with interest for the life of the bond. We citizens, are the banks investing in our governments; city, state, corporate and federal government. We can buy short term bonds or long term bonds and when the bond matures they will pay the face value plus interest accrued.

Who: Bonds are held not just by the federal government but also by municipalities (state, cities and local governments), corporations and mortgages. They are rated from AAA, AA and A down to B and lower by companies such as Moody's, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Weiss Reports who look at the credit worthiness of the governments and corporations putting out their hand for a loan.
Why: Buying bonds, specifically those such as the EE, I or bond fund are the easiest way to put your money away for a stable investment over the long term (greater than 10 years). If purchasing bonds individually, remember, the letter grade above is constantly changing, is one of the primary determinants of value. Should a formerly rock-solid bond received a lowered rating, its value will slide accordingly since bonds trade on the open market just as stocks do. A bond that pays significantly more interest than a similar bond maturing at about the same time is riskier.
Downside: Some corporate bonds have an option to call in their bonds early. So if you paid for a 10 year bond and were expecting a certain level of investment when it matures but the corporation calls in the the bond early at year 5, you can lose some of that much needed interest that you were counting on  down the road.

How: Sometimes buying bonds is best left to the professionals by way of the bond fund option via IRA, 401k, 403b investments where you can pick up bonds that are bought for mortgages, corporations and governments (local and worldwide). If you go that route than professionals will monitor credit worthiness, bonds that have been called and interest rate trends.

Another way and a more common form is to pick up EE and I savings bonds offered through the federal government.  EE bonds have a fixed rate of interest (feb. 2011 - .60%) and I bonds have a fluctuating interest rate based on inflation (feb. 2011 - .74%). With interest rates varying over the years, you could have bonds with interest rates anywhere from .60% to 6%.

If you don't want to lose some of your interest earned through bond funds you can purchase the bonds individually, through a brokerage house like E-trade. You will have to stay on top of the calls on bonds and you may have some losses if you sell at the wrong time. The advantage is that you know what you own and have more control with lower average fees.

Where: To learn more about the intricacies of bond buying; I suggest the following -
Investopedia: Bond Basics
Motley Fool: Buying Bonds
Kiplinger: Understanding Bonds

Also, has a wonderful InfoGraphic - What is a Bond - if pictures, multiple colors and arrows help you understand (like myself).

You want to be financially fit. You know all about buying generic and what needs to be done to start a budget. You know what is involved in starting your retirement fund and how much to sock away. You can even picture a future with fewer stresses and possibly an early retirement.

So why aren't you on the road to that frugal success you read about?
Simply put, there are life issues that block that path to financial fitness and I want to spotlight 5 of them below.

1. It's A Bother
It's a pain in the arse having to keep tabs on everything you buy. Not only that, it may very well be in our DNA to try to take the easiest route possible and tracking spending doesn't seem very easy. In your mind you think that it is a waste of time with no immediate results, if any and your eyes rolling is the physical manifestation of that thought.
flickr/cc - Brian Forbes
The solution: Think about something in your current financial state that makes your life difficult. Are you staying awake at night because of bills? Is the thought of taking a sick day off from work causing you pain in your neck and shoulders? Focus on the negative situation you are in now and convince and inspire yourself to change, to make your life better by any means necessary.

2. It Takes To Long
Just like wanting to make life less painful, we also want to make life a pleasure, with immediate gratification the easiest way to get that result. This may have served you well while you had the money to toss at every whim but lately things responsibility and bills have laid claim to every penny you own and even those you will earn in the future.

The solution: Extra spending on impulse items or grabbing the credit card to feel better is not the answer. There are other ways to stimulate your self-gratification center of the brain. Find an activity in your area that is free or minimal in price and partake in them regularly.

Recently I was watching at the local park as guys were flying model planes around and got into a conversation with a man who knew quite a lot about each model plane that went up. I asked if he had one of his own. His answer was that he didn't have the money for these planes but he participated in the local club as a volunteer and that allowed him to be around them and help them oil or fix up planes on occasion and that was satisfactory for him.

You can retrain your brain to see the free events around you and crave those pleasures while keeping your money safe.

3. Way To Busy
Let's face it, it isn't uncommon these days to talk with neighbors and co-workers and find out they have a 2nd or 3rd job on top of raising a kid or two. We are so busy that when doctors suggest we get 7-8 hours of sleep to keep us healthy, we laugh out loud. This fast-paced, constantly going schedule certainly is a good enough reason to not worry about being financially fit. Besides, when things slow down, then we can take a look at the retirement plan.
flickr/cc -andryone
The solution: Prioritize what is really important in life. If you are a perfectionist, it's time to let go of that standard and remove a few commitments from your schedule so that you are able to continue on a healthy financial path and won't be running this fast-paced life for the next 20 years or more. Remind yourself that taking care of your financial health is a way to take care of your physical health as well.

4. I Don't Deserve It
As odd as the idea may sound, sometimes we get it in our head that the personality we have is one of "work till you die" and if anything good happens to you, it must be a mistake. Think about times that you may have self-sabotaged your goal to get rid of debt or get started on the 401k plan. If you don't believe deep down that you deserve a life free of debt, a future where you have a savings, then you will never give yourself a chance to attain that goal.

The solution: First off, I believe that each one of us deserve a life without debt, no matter. I urge you to dig deep down and uncover those reasons why you don't think you do. This may be a "come to Jesus" or a "come to Jillian" moment. Once you conquer your feelings of unworthiness, getting a budget and a savings plan will become a much easier goal.

5. It's Really Scary
Failure is a real problem, it happens and it happens often. You be afraid to start for fear of failure but also afraid to start for fear of success. Even being successful at reaching a goal can freak you out because it means change, it means a new way of life - even if it is a change in the right direction.
flickr/cc - hozinja
The solution: As Zig Zigler has said, "Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street." When you decide to get financially fit you will go through many changes a new way of spending, a new way of saving, a new way of looking at each dollar, a new way of shopping and a new self-image. Focus on the positive effects this new financially fit life will bring to you. Envision a better life everyday so that it goes from being a new and scary idea to a familiar and comfortable one.

A 2007 survey of low- and middle-income consumers with credit card debt found the following: Nearly one-third (29 percent) reported that medical expenses contributed to their current level of credit card debt.

I would think that with the economy in the dumps since then, that percentage hasn't gone down very much. As a matter of fact, in a 2008 study: More than one-half (52%)of indebted low- and middle-income households cited medical expenses as contributing to their credit card debt. And that percentage seemed to stay the same as we moved into 2009.

I don't like starting out an article with boring stats, but these numbers had me shaking my head and realizing that debt isn't always caused by impulse buying or lack of a budget. At times life will push us into a corner and demand from us what we least want to give. Handing over a credit card to get a medical bill paid.

However, armed with knowledge and foresight, we may be able to limit the use of those credit cards as ways to pay medical bills.

Flickr/cc - joanna8555
 ➜ Check for Errors. Know Your Insurance. Recently a bill was received stating that I owed $349 for a nutritionist that was a referral from the doctor. Because of my insurance, I don't pay for referrals or a minimum $40 is paid. After the initial shock and anger, a call to the insurance company got things straightened out. Also, before going in for surgery, find out what is covered. As weird as it may seem, some things used in a surgical room may not be covered by insurance unless you get pre-approval.

➜ Call and Negotiate, Don't Hide. A few years back when I had no insurance and a trip to the emergency room was a necessity. A bill came in the mail for a few thousand, which I knew couldn't be paid all at once as much as I would like to. But after a few transfers to the correct billing department, a deal was struck for a lower amount and payment plan was set up that was much more manageable. Had I waited, that bill could have been sold off to a collection agency and the price would have gone higher, plus a ding on the credit report.

➜ Medical Financial Assistance. It hasn't been very difficult to arrange a payment plan when speaking to the billing department. However, they occasionally have minimums for payment plans. Sometimes hospitals will have you fill out forms to participate in a "charity" grant that pays part of the bill off. Keep in mind that you may need to ask for these types of grants or programs for the uninsured. Also check with your state or county resources for assistance as well.

➜ Workman's Compensation. You shouldn't be paying for, it may slow to a crawl when it comes to getting help and surgery. But the one thing I have found that is most necessary in these cases is to speak up loud and clear if you are not able to return to work. If you do return before you are healed, then any additional medical bills may be your responsibility because the previous claim had already been closed.

➜ Crime and Accidents. If you are a victim of crime and were injured, there are programs to assist you in paying medical bills. But, you have to file the claim correctly and within a certain time. Ask the police or the hospital for help with contacting the VoC. If you have medical bills in collections now, you may still be able to get retro-active assistance.
As for accidents, make certain the hospital or collection agency has all of the information they need to resolve the problem. Be open and honest on the police reports and with all the insurance companies involved.

➜ Denying Service. This is less likely to happen if you have kept in contact with the doctor's office and worked out even a small payment on the previous bill before making a new appointment. By Law: If you have a medical emergency, a hospital must treat you regardless of your ability to pay.
Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.

All I want to do here is make sure you are armed with information should you get a bill that is beyond your financial ability and as an alternative to using credit cards to pay.

Other Charitable Groups for medical assistance:
* The Access Project - Free assistance in negotiating medical bills.
The CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation - A not-for-profit organization established in 2007 to address the needs of individuals who cannot afford their insurance co-payments to cover the cost of medications for treating cancer.
Free Medical Clinics -  Find Free information about Free Medical Clinics and Free Dental Clinics. 

Just an FYI out there for those who may not know that, even though your credit score can be in the high “700s” and/or even in the low “800s”, it often times does not help you in acquiring a credit card, loan, or anything else you may wish to get on credit if you have very limited credit. My friend, unfortunately, found out that the hard way. DO NOT CLOSE DOWN your credit card accounts even if you paid them off and are not using them. KEEP THEM OPEN! Even try to spend $5 a month on them once a month to keep your history current and good.

She had several credit cards and a couple of large loans over the years, and had been a member of a Credit Union for many years. She was even diligent on never being late on payments, made larger payments than the minimum, and did everything the right way to pay off her credit cards and loans over those years, even paying them off early.
BUT, this is what she did not know until recently, in the last year or two when the economy and the banks started going quickly downhill; when the economy, jobs, and banks started ‘going to pot’, she did what a lot of other people that may have done under panic, instead of just holding on to her credit cards after paying them off, she instead chose to close the accounts down, since she felt that her bank debit card and checking account was all she would need to reopen or apply again to receive credit cards or a loan, thinking that her excellent credit score would take care of the issue of worrying about getting credit. Wrong!!

She recently applied again for her credit union’s Visa card after closing it down over 18 months ago. Even with the credit union’s knowledge of her great credit scores and payment histories on all three credit bureaus they could not give her a Visa card due to the simple fact that she no longer showed a credit history of payments in the last eighteen to twenty-four months.

She asked them if they saw her past credit history and they said yes, acknowledging that it was great BUT the accounts were closed and they could only use the current opened accounts, which those payment histories were great, but did not have enough of current credit to qualify for a Visa card of $1000.00, or even $500. The only thing they could do for her to start building up her credit history up again was their own line of credit for $500 to start. To say the least, she was stunned! She never dreamed or even thought that because she closed her accounts down, she would not receive credit from her own credit union or other companies, for that matter.

Before all this economy, jobs, and banks started going down the tubes, so to speak, she spoke about how she was able to close accounts down and then simply reopen them with the good standing credit histories, even if they were closed for a time. Now they just use your credit history from current opened accounts to qualify you for a credit card or loan.

Well, she learned a big lesson on how the credit industry had changed recently.
She is getting credit again, but slowly and limited. She was able to get a Discover Card at a surprising excellent rate and a high limit. She inquired why Discover accepted her when other didn’t, and they said they also took her past credit history along with her current high FICO scores into consideration and they felt that she was a very good risk.

Please remember; again if you pay off those credit cards, consider that you do NOT want to close them all. Even if you do not use them. Your credit rating will look good, you’ll keep all your history current, and you will not be as I was, having headaches starting over.

Just because I like to think and live frugally, doesn't mean I don't like to dream a little.

Every once and a while when I stumble across the amount of the lottery in my state, my mind drifts off to planning how I would spend the money if I got won it.  Given I would have to be a VERY lucky person as I don't buy lottery tickets. I've always said to people that if I'm lucky enough to win the lottery, then I will be lucky enough to find the ticket on the ground! Right?

Flickr/CC - Lisa Brewster
Daydreaming about the lottery doesn't hurt anyone, although in my weird brain I used to think that it would bring me bad luck.
I can give multiple examples, here's one: I was planning on ways to spend a lottery on the way home from picking up the milk from the store and when I got home and opened the mail I had an unexpected medical bill for a few hundred dollars that was due since the insurance company didn't pick it up. Or how about the time my partner and I were out exploring the back roads of Colorado and daydreaming about the lottery, then the next day we found out the car was leaking because a rock busted a hole in the radiator. I rest my case!

Eventually the weird bad luck has disappeared and I still dream of a lottery win. What would I do with 190 million dollars? I can't even wrap my brain around that much money. Sometimes I would say, I would settle for 1.9 million. HA! Settle.

The first thing that I would do with that money is to pay off any outstanding debts, and since I don't have a house or car payments - those would be small. But now that I think of the cars, I have two, and they are getting on in years, 11 and 15 years, it may be time to update to a new car. Of course I would pay in cash and make sure I researched for the good ones out there.

I'm not really found of owning a home in one place, but I would love to travel the US and the world. A nice class C RV to cruise the continental 48 and still be comfortable traveling miles and miles. Small enough to make stops at the grocery store and park outside relatives homes while we visit.

The best part of the RV, it's heaven to the minimalist in me. Donate all the furniture and stuff we have now and take off - towing the new "used" vehicle behind us. Then we could use the money to collect experiences and photos instead of things that take up space.

After site-seeing the US, then store the RV and go off on a worldwide site-seeing tour for a year from Russia to Asia to Europe, through Africa and South America and finally top it off over in Canada, then back home.

And if I still had some money left in my pocket I would put a down payment on a house in a state that had appealed to me from my earlier trip. Sound good to you?

Of course I could just keep 10% of the winnings and donate the other 90%. That option is on the table as well.

Now all I need to do is found a winning lottery ticket lying on the ground and I'll be the luckiest woman around with one of the biggest decisions of my life! ☺

Have you daydreamed about winning the lottery?
Would you do anything different with 1 million, 10 million or 100 million?

I recently saw a UPI article about Lead Found in Some Reusable Bags that were offered from grocery and retail stores.

"The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) released new lab results showing that a number of major retailers’ reusable shopping bags contained excessive levels of lead. Of the 44 organizations whose bags were tested, 16 are selling or distributing reusable bags containing lead in amounts greater than 100 ppm (parts per million), which is where many states set the limit for heavy metals in packaging."
Why the worry?

Because longterm interaction with large quantities of lead cause problems. In children it can bring about learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage. And adults can be affected as well by symptoms ranging from weakness to fatigue and paralysis, gastrointestinal diseases, high blood pressure, and a host of nervous system ailments.

Since the limit is 100 ppm, what bags where the bad ones? First, the test was on only, polypropylene (non woven) bags made in China. I refer to them as "the stiff bags" when I see them. But many times they are cheaper to pick up a handful of them than 1 or two canvas bags, that I prefer.

Here are the top 10 bags with the highest lead count:
1. CVS (green bag) that has recently been recalled - 697 ppm
2. Safeway/ Organics - 672 ppm
3./5. University of Oregon (picture of football field, green and brown) - 554 ppm / 353 ppm
4. Giant Eagle (brown bag with red reduce, recycle, reuse) - 523 ppm
6. Bloom (black and purple bag) 349 ppm
7. Stater Bros.  - 309 ppm
8. Walgreens - 298 ppm
9. KTA Super Stores - 285 ppm
10. Staples (eco-easy) - 277 ppm

Other retailers testing positive for excessive levels of lead included Staples, Giant Eagle, Piggly Wiggly, Giant, Gerbes, KTA Superstore, Brookshire Brothers, Stater Bros., and, ironically, the District of Columbia Department of Environment.
The reason I liked canvas reusable bags was that I could wash them for longer and sew them up if they started to fall apart. That way my investment of 3 -7 dollars per bag was had more value than a 99 cent, "stiff bag".

With the law of banning plastic bags popping up in cities here and there, now if definitely a good time to get into the habit of bringing AND using the bags at the store.

Despite the led, there are good ones out there and other positives ways to using reusable bags still.
**Save Money - Some stores offer 5-15 cents off per bag brought in, even if you don't use them all.
**Easier on the Hands - The handles on many reusable bags are wider than plastic bags, softer and more durable for carrying long distances.
** Customize Them - Don't get yours mixed up with someone else's and make your own T-shirt reusable bags. (youtube video)
** Double Duty -Not just used for grocery shopping, handy for carrying library books, Halloween candy, swimming gear, a catch all in the car, and a lunch sack.

Of course this will cut down on the bags you use for your trashcans around the house or putting newspapers in for the recycling, but what did we use before plastic bags? But if you are like me, I occasionally forget the reusable bags in the car and have to bring home a few plastic ones still.

What are your thoughts on reusable bags?