Category Archives: Smart Spending

LED Lights: Bright New World

LED light bulb on the right
The past, present and future of household lighting.

At our house, the light has finally gone on. The LED light, that is.

A practical, affordable LED light (light emitting diode) is one of those things has been just around the corner for a long, long time. The chief factors holding the technology back were the a) the fact that LED’s are naturally directional, and b) the manufacturing cost is significantly higher than for other types of bulbs.

The fact that LED’s are directional is actually an advantage in some applications. Spot lights and accent lighting are much more effective when the light is directional. For general use, however, a bulb must be able to throw light in every direction. This problem seems to have been solved completely. My new LED light shines brightly in every direction, and in this respect, is indistinguishable from any other type of bulb.

In terms of cost, as is often the case, as manufacturers gain experience with a technology, they get better and more efficient at producing that technology. LED’s are no exception. Prices have come down from upwards of $50 for a single bulb a few years ago to around $10 for a 60 watt equivalent today, which is what I recently paid for my bulb at Costco.

In terms of performance, Continue reading LED Lights: Bright New World

Environmental Benefits of Being a Cheapskate

environment for cheapskates
Trees are green. Money is green. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.

I guess I’m what you could call an armchair environmentalist.

Standing on the side of the road on Unter den Linden (the main drag in East Berlin) in 1990, being choked by the fumes emanating from the hundreds of two-stroke Trabants and Wartburgs passing by, I became convinced at an early age that once fouled, the air we breathe becomes much less enjoyable. I’m no environmental crusader, but certain things are just common sense. I try not to throw things out before they’re used up or broken beyond repair. I try not to take more than I need. I recycle.

That having been said, I still drive on the weekends, and when I go camping, I light a fire, even if I don’t need to; I’m certainly no tree-hugging granola-muncher.

Yes, you’re in the right place; this is a personal finance blog.

I can’t claim the halo of being a hard-core environmentalist, but it struck me the other while on a walk that lots of frugal habits, as well as being financially sound, have the additional benefit of being good for the environment.

Continue reading Environmental Benefits of Being a Cheapskate

Life Hacks: Easy Ways to Save Money

Life Hacks
The best-tasting music you’ve ever seen!
(Go figure that one out)

Kids these days call these “life hacks”, although they were formerly known simply as “good ideas”.

They are listed in no particular order, but there are two unifying themes:

  • They should all save you money.
  • I have tried all of them (except for the bonus tip at the end), so they come with the Loonie Lover stamp of approval.

Continue reading Life Hacks: Easy Ways to Save Money