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Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2003 / 24 Shevat, 5763

Everyday Cheapskate

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Consumer Reports


Money-saving computer deals revealed


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- Psssst! Let me tell you a secret. If you know what you're doing and where to look, you can really reduce the costs related to owning and operating a home computer and shopping in cyberspace. Here are just a few tips.

Printer ink cartridges. You can save a lot on printer supplies by purchasing remanufactured ink cartridges. I've discovered an online source, InkCarts.com (www.inkcarts.com) that evacuates, cleans, fills, pressurizes and tests used cartridges for print quality. All InkCart products are fully guaranteed. You can find inkjet cartridges for Epson, Canon, Apple, Lexmark and HP printers. You can also find fax ribbons, laser cartridges and more. Hot tip: Get $10 off your purchase by entering the code "INKDEALS" at checkout if your purchase is for $25 or more. Price comparison: A color ink cartridge for my Epson Color 480 Stylus printer lists for $29.95 retail. InkCart's list price is only $8.95.

Stretch that ink. When printing to-do lists, weekly chore lists for your children, your grocery list, weekly menus and other items you need for a short time, you can extend the life of your printer's ink supply by setting the font color to gray instead of black. You will still be able to read what you've printed, but your printer will use much less ink. That means fewer cartridge changes.

Secret codes. Most online merchants provide an opportunity during the checkout process to enter a promotional code. Type it in and your total amount is automatically reduced, or you might get free shipping. Think of these codes as you would a coupon or gift certificate.

Getting those promotional codes is easy so long as you know where to look. Here are some Web sites that list codes and online coupons:

CurrentCodes: www.currentcodes.com
CoolSavings: www.coolsavings.com
DealCatcher: www.dealcatcher.com
eDealFinder: www.edealfinder.com
DealHunting: www.dealhunting.com
Hot Deals Web: www.hotdealsweb.com
BargainDog: www.bargaindog.com

These sites get the codes from retailers looking for free advertising. Promotional codes are distributed by the retailers to improve sales. Many regular customers of these stores get the codes by e-mail or regular mail. The retailers hope that by stealthily "leaking" promotional codes, their marketing efforts will expand as recipients pass the information on to friends. Tip: These companies are going to add your e-mail address to marketing lists. If you don't want to end up with a lot of junk e-mail, create a new, free e-mail account at www.yahoo.com or www.hotmail.com that you use when visiting these sites. I call mine my "junk e-mail account."

Sleep is good. Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) program that promotes energy efficient solutions, offers a free tool called EZ Wizard that sets your Windows-based computer monitor to go into a low power "sleep" mode during periods of inactivity. A simple touch of the mouse or keyboard "wakes" your monitor within seconds. (If you have a Macintosh computer, this feature is already built in.)

Run EZ Wizard and save up to $50 per year in energy costs per computer! It's not for home computers only, either: office technology managers are putting entire networks into sleep mode during times of inactivity. Harvard's Kennedy School of Government expects to save more than $14,000 and 160,000 kilowatt-hours a year with the EZ Wizard. That's enough electricity to power 180 U.S. homes for a month!

You can get EZ Wizard free of charge from www.energystar.gov/powermanagement/wizard.asp?orgtype/.



Mary Hunt is the author of 12 books, including "Debt-Proof Living,"    "Tiptionary,"   "Cheapskate Gourmet" and   "The Financially Confident Woman." Comment or ask a question by clicking here.

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