Printable Lowe’s Moving Coupon

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If you’re in the market for home improvement supplies and you’ve got a Lowe’s nearby, then be sure to print out this coupon (expired and removed) before you head to the store. It’s good for 10% off any purchase, with a maximum discount of $1, 000, and it doesn’t expire until 9/30/2005. Dang it! Where was this deal when our washing machine died and we had to replace it?

Update: This looks like it might be a one-time use coupon, so it may or may not work for you. If not, you could always try using it at Home Depot, as they often accept competitors’ coupons and they won’t have anyway of determining if the code on this particular coupon has been used before. Thanks to ncnblog for noticing this.


How Flexible Spending Accounts SHOULD Work

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The ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ provision of tax-exempt flexible spending accounts really, really irks me. I just don’t get why it is that unspent money should be forfeited at the end of the year. Why should honest, hard-working people be penalized if they have an unexpectedly good year and spend less than anticipated on medical care? Likewise, why should people be forced into an overly conservative estimate of their likely medical expenses during the upcoming year just because they’re afraid of losing their balance at the end of the year — the money lost to unnecessary taxes is just as real as the money forfeited if people overestimate their qualified expenses. (more…)


IRS Deadline Looming

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Just a week to go until the August 15th deadline for filing you taxes if you’re one of the 8.5 million Americans who took the automatic four month extension back in April. If you’re still unable to make the filing deadline due to an “undue hardship, ” you may be able to get an additional two month extension by filing IRS Form 2688, thereby pushing your due date out to October 15.


Credit Card Reward Progress

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Well, we’ve now maxed out our Citi Dividend Platinum rewards for the year ($300) and have broken through the old limit ($500) for our Citi Driver’s Edge card (it’s since been raised to $1, 000/year). This brings our total to a bit over $1, 100 for the year (including $300 from our AT&T Universal card). As I’ve noted previously, we’ve profited from some pretty generous promos, most notably 5% off all purchases on both the AT&T card and the Driver’s Edge card (that one’s still alive and kicking through September). These numbers have also been helped along by some fairly major medical expenses, a number of work-related charges for which I was later reimbursed, as well as the fact that our local Super Wal-Mart is treated as a grocery store for reward-earning purposes. Note that these numbers don’t include earnings from Credit Protector rewards, although things are looking good on that front — our duplicate Credit Protector rebate submissions are in and haven’t been rejected (yet).


Internet Access on Your Cell Phone

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After about two years of heavy use, I recently replaced my beloved cell phone. As part of the Sprint PCS handset upgrade program, I was able to get a $150 mail-in rebate to defer the cost but, in order to take advantage of the rebate, I had to sign up for a free trial of PCS Vision (this is their internet access plan). Since you have to keep the service active until they approve your rebate (which is actually pretty quick), I’ve had a bit of time to play with it and I must say that it’s pretty cool.

I can check weather reports, read the news from a variety of sources, download games, check e-mail, look up phone numbers without calling directory assistance, etc. And if you’re willing to upgrade the service beyond basic Vision, you can e-mail pictures (if you have a picture phone) or even small videos (if you have a video phone). All very cool. The main problem is the cost. Unlimited Vision access is $10/month, picture mail is $5/month, and video mail is another $5/month. While I found the news reading capability to be nice when I was traveling this week, it’s no easier than picking up an actual newspaper, and much more expensive. Also, I can pull pictures/videos off the phone with a USB cable. Thus, while it’s more convenient (and gadgety) to send pictures directly from my phone, it’s hard to justify paying the price to do so.

One intriguing possibility that I haven’t explored is using your cell phone as a modem — apparently you can ‘tether’ it to your laptop to get internet access anywhere you can get a cell signal. While this is against Sprint’s TOS, it seems to be doable as long as you don’t abuse it. Probably the best use of this technology for me would be Mapquest Mobile. Unfortunately, that something like $3.95/month. All in all, I’ve come to the conclusion that internet-enabled cell phones are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. That being said, I’d probably go for it if I could get the Vision access plus picture and video mail for ten bucks a month. But that’s just because I’m weak and I love gadgets. I’ll probably ask for this when it’s time to cancel.


Insulate Your Garage Door

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If you have an attached garage, and especially if you have living space above your garage, make sure that your garage door is properly insulated. When we moved into our house we had a crappy, uninsulated metal garage door, and we ended up having a terrible time controlling the temperature in the bedroom above our garage. It was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. But I insulated the garage door this past winter, and that’s all behind us now.

The garage was decidely warmer all winter long, as was the room above it. Likewise, we’ve had much better temperature control this summer. While this is undoubtedly reducing our energy bills, the best thing about it is that it makes our house more comfortable/livable.

So how did I do it? While there are garage door insulation kits available for sale, I couldn’t find any at our local stores when I went out looking. Thus, I simply bought foam sheathing at Home Depot and cut it to fit in the garage door panels. The ‘pocket’ in the door panels is just over 1.5 inches deep, so I used a double layer of 3/4 inch sheathing, which I tucked behind the metal lip that runs around each panel. I then secured it all in place with aluminum foil tape — I considered using Liquid Nails, but wanted to be able to take it down if it didn’t work as I had hoped. And while I was at it, I also insulated our water heater (which is located in our garage) with a water heater blanket.

Note: A few words of caution… First of all, as several commenters have pointed out, you might need to re-balance your garage door due to the added weight. Unless you really know what you’re doing, this is best left to a professional. Also, foam board is flammable, and not meant to be exposed. Thus, there is some risk in using the method outlined above instead of a “real” garage door insulation kit.


Insane Star Wars Auction Results

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Sometimes I just don’t get it… The lightsaber used by Mark Hamill in the original Star Wars has reportedly sold at auction for just over $200k and the saber used by Darth Vader fetched $118k. Other items of note: Luke’s X-Wing flight suit ($70k), the original stormtrooper laser blaster ($56k), a Chewbacca face mask ($50k), and Yoda’s cane ($50k). Some people just have way too much money.


Random Grammatical Rant

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Call me a snob, but it bugs the crap out of me when people write by ear and end up butchering the English language. Case in point: it’s “SHOULD HAVE” (or SHOULD’VE), not “SHOULD OF.” As in: “I should HAVE (or should’ve) written about this sooner.” The same goes for “could have” and “would have.” While I’ve run across a bunch of other cases like this in my meanderings across the web, this is the one that comes to mind right now. Again, I know that I’m running the risk of being a grammar snob by writing this, but if nobody ever told you, then how would you know? Now you do. Feel free to leave a comment with any other grammatical annoyances that you’ve run across. I now return you to the regularly scheduled programming.


Identity Theft After Death

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“Death makes you an even more irresistible target to identity thieves.” It’s sad but true… According to an article that I recently ran across, you’re never safe from identity theft, not even after death. Scam artists like to target the dead because it can take much longer for fraudulent activity to be detected than if the victim were alive and kicking. They then proceed to run up charges on existing accounts, open new accounts, and even drain funds from the decedent’s deposit accounts. So how can you protect yourself? You can’t — you’ll be dead before it ever happens! But you can reduce the chances that your dear departed loved ones will be targeted. But how? (more…)


Sales Tax Holidays Reconsidered

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As a followup to the list of this year’s state sales tax holidays that I published the other day, I thought I’d point out an article written by David Brunori, a professor of public policy at George Washington University who has been an outspoken critic of the regressive nature of sales taxes. Brunori argues that, although sales tax holidays are effective political gimmicks, they’re not good for much else. While this article was first published in 1999, Brunori continues to express this point of view today. Read on for the meat of Brunori’s argument… (more…)