Tackling your own auto maintenance may sound like a daunting prospect, but with a little research, some basic tools and determination, you can save a lot of cash. The average consumer has no idea how tremendous the markup is on easy-to-perform automotive services. By investing some time in learning basic car maintenance, you can gain both savings and the personal satisfaction of knowing that you did the job yourself. Three money-saving services that you can perform yourself are changing your oil, monitoring your tire pressure and detailing your car.
Change Your Oil Yourself
Keeping your car’s oil changed protects its engine life. The owner’s manual contains the recommended service schedule. Most auto manufacturers recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles, but check the owner’s manual to be sure. According to Edmunds, car owners save around $100 yearly by changing their oil themselves. Combined with other frugal living tips, this really adds up. Edmunds lists on its site step-by-step instructions for changing your car’s oil.
Maintain the Correct Tire Pressure
Maintaining your car’s tire pressure is key to fuel efficiency and savings. Under-inflated tires are not only dangerous but cause your car to use more gas. The owner’s manual lists the optimum tire pressure for safety and fuel efficiency. An inexpensive tire pressure gauge helps you determine whether the tires need inflating. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that gas mileage improves 3.3% with properly inflated tires. If gas is $3 per gallon, that translates to savings of ten cents per gallon. This saves $78 yearly for a car with a 15-gallon tank filled once weekly.
Detail Your Car Yourself
Contrary to what many believe, car detailing is a frugal do-it-yourself project. Keeping your car looking good maintains the car’s value. If you decide later to sell it or trade it in, you receive more money for it. According to Cost Helper, the average cost for car detailing in the United States is $58 for a basic detail job. In some areas, the cost is as high as $300 for a premium detail job. Invest in a few basic supplies and reap the savings. Popular Mechanics describes the detailing process on its site.
Do you have tried and true money-saving auto maintenance tips? Share them.
May 20, 2010 No Comments
- Stick to simple business card designs – they usually cost less than premium designs.
- Use a smaller format, plain rectangular card if you can. Often a card that is smaller will remain in a wallet for longer anyway, so are less likely to be discarded.
- Consider using recycled card stock. It can have triple benefits! It can often save business owners money, help save the planet, and customers may get an improved perception of one’s business, as it shows care and attention to the environment. Some businesses have won new business or received sales leads, simply because they made an ecologically friendly choice.
- Don’t buy into “bundled” solutions – these are often top-heavy, in both price and unwanted extras. If one has the type of business that does not led well to being openly promoted by the consumer (such as a sanitary product), those extra refrigerator door business card holders will likely end up in the trash can!
- Order embossed print on plain cardstock. This is just as eye-catching as a gloss finish card, which is, in fact, harder to read. Embossed print against plain white or colored cardstock lends a classy look, and can save considerable printing costs.
- Make sure that any information one intends to print on the card is going to stay valid for an extended period of time. Changing a cell phone number the month after cards have been printed is going to be either require a costly re-print, or the business owner will suffer the indignity of correcting them all by hand!
- Choose a business card supplier carefully. High volume printers charge a lot for small runs. Match the printing batch size to a mid-range card supplier/printer.
- Order in sensible batches. Having 1000 unused business cards in a desk drawer is the same as putting un-spendable dollar bills there. Figure out roughly what might be used in a six to twelve month period and order accordingly.
- Shop around on the internet – as usual, a little time spent studying the market can pay dividends in real savings!
- Check out promotional freebies at sites such as Vistaprint.com. They offer 250 free cards and a host of ready-made designs. Other, similar competitors can easily be found through Google by typing in the following search phrase, “cheap business cards”. The ad sponsors found at the top and the right of the search results page should provide numerous leads for low-priced business cards.
Where do you get your business cards? And if you’ve got a picture of what they look like, post a link.
May 17, 2010 2 Comments
Many people feel like there is never enough money. After paying bills and necessary expenses, there is often times no money for education, savings or an emergency fund. A budget is a way of tracking what you spend, deciding what needs to be paid and figuring out where you can cut back. As soon as you begin your budget, you will soon be able to find out if your money is being spent on things you truly need or just on things that you want. There are many areas included within a budget that you can but back.
Housing If you are living in a home that is beyond your means, it is time for a change. Options may include refinancing, finding a less expensive place, or finding a roommate.
Utilities Utilities such as gas, electric and water are all necessary, but can be better managed. Other utilities that are elective such as cable, internet and phone can either be disconnected to switched to a less expensive service.
Transportation Make sure you are driving a vehicle you can afford, including the payment, insurance and gas. If the car is too expensive trade it in or sell it for something you can afford. Carpooling is even an often for many people
Food Eating out is not a necessity, but nice sometimes. Eating out less will cut a budget drastically. If you work, take your lunch. Shop grocery stores that offer specials and cut coupons to save money.
Clothing Everyone needs clothing but this does not mean you need the most expensive. There are many second-hand and thrift stores that provide clothing at marked down prices. Clothing can also be passed on from one child to the next.
Healthcare Costs of healthcare continue to rise, but can also be managed. When you are filling prescriptions, ask for generic drugs. Ask a doctor for a discount when you are paying in cash. Always review doctor and hospital bills for accuracy.
Insurance Whether buying car or health insurance, it is important to shop around to get the best possible rates. Ask the agent for all the discounts that you qualify for, including low mileage, multiple car and good driver.
Saving money can be achieved by creating and sticking to a budget. You are able to decide what money needs to be spent and where you can cut back.
May 13, 2010 No Comments
DollarDays is proud to announce that as of today, our friends to the North can now take part in the enormous savings that American wholesalers are able to get when purchasing from DollarDays.
We’re excited about expanding our reach to Canada, and believe this represents an amazing business opportunity for both DollarDays and Canadian businesses alike.
May 11, 2010 No Comments
School may be nearly out, but why not start thinking about the impending month of August when back-to-school is back-in-style?
Today and tomorrow only, DollarDays is offering $3 wholesale backpacks. So rush on over and make sure to stock up before the summer starts, so that you have the product when the summer ends.
May 11, 2010 No Comments
Owning a small business and trying to grow and maintain your business can often be a daunting task. You have just a certain amount of dollars each month that you are able to spend on marketing and advertising. The key to successful small business ownership is keeping your business in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
There are several easy win-win suggestions to help you maintain profitability and contribute to the welfare of your community in the interim.
What are the not-for-profits in your area of influence could use a helping hand? Is there a food pantry that serves your local community? Contact them and offer to be a collection point for a particular month. Oftentimes, the local community newspapers will write editorials for the non-profit organizations, even full-length features, and this translates into free media exposure for your small business. This is an endeavor that could save you hundreds of dollars in advertising fees in exchange for your time and talents to benefit the needy in your midst.
This works extremely well for almost any small business type in just about any community. Whether you act on behalf of the local ASPCA to collect blankets, food, toys or dollars for the rescued animals or just collect clothing for the local chapter of the American Red Cross – most of these organizations will even recognize your small business on their own websites as well as the local media attention you will receive.
You can even sponsor a teddy bear drive for the local police force. Collect teddy bears from your customers to give to police officers to place in the trunk of their vehicles. The bears can be given to children who are involved in motor vehicle accidents to help lift their spirits during a traumatic event in their young lives until the situation is resolved. The police will be forever grateful for your contribution and again, another media event as you present the police force with your loving gifts.
Another small business consideration would be to adopt a local school team event or sport. For the investment of a small donation to purchase uniforms or t-shirts, your small business will benefit from the team’s exposure at school events and your business name will be reflected in the school’s programs. A very worthy and smart business investment with a return on investment that is priceless.
Aside from the free media exposure, your small business will be making a huge impact on the community and the community will respond to your business. This is called “Good Will” and it is invaluable to any business to continually provide good will through community efforts. The value-add to your business can never be measured in terms of building relationships and driving the integrity and values of your small business name.
Think outside the box, but give within the community and you will see your business benefit from it.
May 10, 2010 No Comments
Need Help Meeting Exotic Needs? — April 27, 2010
Ecommerce sites must do one thing well if they are to survive: set themselves apart from the multitude of sellers trying to market more or less the same stuff. Offering exclusive or exotic items in a targeted niche is one effective method of attracting customers and keep them coming back for more. The online wholesaler, YourNeedsCompany.com, is offering a new line of sting ray leather accessories including iPod cases. As sting ray leather was used historically in ancient Japanese armor, this exotic and durable leather might appeal especially to the men’s accessories demographic, though they do have sting ray leather wallets for men and women in their product line.
eBay Sellers: Is it Time to Start Your Own Website? — May 03, 2010
EBay has raised its seller fees, again. Some sellers have left eBay in favor of other venues or their own websites. It may be time to consider eBay as an avenue to attract new customers to a website or for the collection of email addresses to be used for newsletters and email marketing. One way is to direct buyers to your “About Me” by offering them a greater selection of items similar to the listed item. You can also include fliers with shipments advertising your website. It may not be possible to eliminate eBay from your selling activities yet; however, it may be time to pull back on your listing and consider those high fees as advertising expenses for your own website.
Social Media Marketing Accountability — May 3rd, 2010
According to WholesaleMatch.com, 48% of Americans older than 12 are part of some social media group; the addition of social media to your marketing plan is increasingly important. Social media campaigns can be a complex and time consuming endeavor. One solution for business owners is to hire a marketing firm to manage social media campaigns. This article highlights the steps you should take to measure the success of the marketing firm you hire.
Wholesale Inventories Sales in U.S. Rose in February — April 9 (Bloomberg)
Inventories of US Wholesalers rose in February 2010 for the 11th consecutive month. Companies are increasing their orders as sales increase to the highest level in a year – a sign that the economy continues to gain strength. The 0.06 gain in inventory values in February came as a surprise to analysts who expected a more modest gain. Inventories of non durable specifically goods rose .08% while sales of non-durable goods rose 1.4%. Inventories of durable goods increased .5%. Reports indicate that there will be an increase in production in the coming months to replenish depleted inventory stockpiles.
May 7, 2010 No Comments
A few days ago DollarDays was featured on Retargeter blog for our stellar banner ads. Maybe you’ve seen them. They liked our ads’ clean look and use of white space, our concise messaging, and clear call to action.
For big and small businesses alike, these banner ads can be hugely effective. So, we thought it would be a good idea to hand off a few tips on how to put together a successful ad campaign.
- Clear, short messaging Writing ad copy is a bit like writing headlines. For the intelligent, creative writer, there is oftentimes the desire to put way more information in an ad than they should. For whatever reason, it might be better to say “Wholesale Pricing” than it is to say “Wholesale Pricing on more than 20,000 items”. But it also might not be. Which brings me to my second point…
- Test…test…test… Sometimes you’d be surprised what works and what doesn’t. Pretty banners can sometimes reduce clicks. Sometimes pretty banners increase clicks. Either way, you won’t know until you test your creative.
- Include a Call to Action For savvy marketers, this is obvious. But most of us are not savvy marketers. You might be surprised how much better an ad performs when you write the words “Save Today” or “Start Saving” or “Call xxx-xxxx for more information”. Make sure to include some sort of descriptive action in your ads.
May 5, 2010 No Comments
As summertime rolls in and people start thinking about vacations and the beach, what better time is there than now to stock up on summer’s most desirable footwear?
These floral print sandals look great, are comfortable, popular and for today and tomorrow, they are heavily discounted. If flip flops sell well for you in the days before summer, consider getting your floral Flip Flops right here on DollarDays Today!
May 4, 2010 No Comments
DollarDays Please us give an overview of what your business is.
Nina Cullen I own a maternal wellness center called, NiNi Bambini, in Bedford, NH. We offer support, information, education and products to women and families from pregnancy through preschool. I am the owner, but I also do a myriad of jobs from facilitating groups, teaching classes, overseeing daily operations, running a counseling practice within the center and running the vacuum cleaner at the end of the day. I have four part-time employees, and we have a customer data base of 1,500 clients, 700 of whom are on our monthly newsletter list.
DD Where did the idea for NiNi Bambini come from?
NC I was a childbirth educator and doula for many years; doulas are people who are trained to support women through childbirth. I saw many pregnant couples and new parents who were in need of support and education beyond what they were finding through their hospital, obstetricians and pediatricians. Often women worked, gave birth and then returned to work within eight weeks. Often women were physically far away from extended family, and although they knew people from their work life, they really knew no other mothers with young children. I saw a need for a place where women, children and families could come to learn to be better parents.
DD Where did you come up with the name ‘Nini Bambini’?
NC Originally I had a partner, a woman named, Nicole, who was going to open the center with me. We took the first two letters from our names and made NiNi (hence the two upper case N’s). Unfortunately, Nicole has small children and soon realized that this was not the right time in her life to open a business. I liked the name and it stuck.
DD What need or niche in the market do you fill?
NC There are four million babies born in the US each year, and despite the economy, people continue to reproduce. There is a constant stream of new customers and a virtually never-ending supply of new babies!
DD Based on what I’ve heard and seen on your Web site, your approach seems somewhat unique in that it has a holistic approach, dealing with the health of the mother and child, from pregnancy to birth to early childhood. Talk a little about that is important.
NC A woman traditionally sees an obstetrician for the nine months of her pregnancy, and then for a follow-up visit six weeks after birth. After that, they are on their own. We are removed from the concept of “it takes a village,” women often don’t even know their neighbors, yet they continue to need the support of a community to help them navigate the waters of pregnancy and early parenting.
DD Who are your competitors, if any?
NC We really don’t have a direct competitor – although there are other infant specialty stores in the area, they definitely do not offer the kind of customer service that we do. There are other places to find playgroups or music classes, but not with the kind of atmosphere we offer. There are prenatal classes at most hospitals, but they are held in conference rooms with uncomfortable chairs, while we offer leather couches with ottomans.
DD What’s your client demographic?
NC Our typical client is a first-time mother, but that is mostly due to the fact that we’ve only been open for two years. We are now seeing returning customers who are pregnant with their second or third baby. Our women span the age range from early 20′s to early 40′s. We also have a fair number of grandparents and nannies who come to our classes. Most of our clients are in the upper-middle income bracket.
DD How has your business been affected by the recession?
NC The recession has had an impact on our business: people don’t spend as much, and some have had to opt out of classes for financial reasons. The recession really began as we were about 10 months into our first year, and while we feel a the hit, it hasn’t been as bad as it could have been. We instituted a “membership” program that helps us to gain income and helps keep costs lower for our customers. They pay $60 per year to become a member, and that gives them a discount on classes and access to “member Saturday” once a month when all purchases in the store are discounted 15 percent. Since Saturdays were traditionally a slow day for us, member Saturdays has helped with foot traffic as well as sales.
DD Does anything like NiNi Bambini exist in New Hampshire or elsewhere? If not, have you thought about franchising?
NC There is a similar business called Isis Maternity in the Boston area – they have three stores, and sell much higher end products than we do. The main income for Isis is from their retail sales, our income is distributed evenly between classes and retail sales.
DD What are some lessons you have learned about starting and running a business from your experience with NiNi Bambini?
NC I never anticipated how much work it would take to open a business! I have tried to surround myself with capable staff and a knowledgeable support team of friends, family and professionals. I’ve had to stop micro-managing every aspect of the business and trust that my staff knows exactly what to do!
May 1, 2010 No Comments