Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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The Conspicuous Consumer

Just What the Doctor Ordered: How to get the best price on prescription meds

The price of prescriptions varies - a lot - from pharmacy to pharmacy, and anyone who has to pay out of pocket for their medicine should definitely do some comparison shopping. That task is made easier by a website that comes highly recommended by consumer groups: www.GoodRx.com.   GoodRx doesn’t sell any medicine. Instead, it describes itself as “like an Orbitz for prescription drugs” - gathering information from multiple retailers to make it easy for consumers to compare prices.   The site is super-easy to use: You 0

Code Red (and Green): Don’t forget to check for promo codes before you buy

A quick reminder during this holiday season: It’s worth taking a moment to look for online discounts before you hit the “Submit” button on purchases.  I’ve written about this before, but sometimes I forget my own advice. Last night I was ordering a Christmas gift from a website that was new to me. It was such a small, specialized site - focusing primarily on rubber stamps - that I ignored my usual rule of thumb: checking the shopper’s best friend, www.retailmenot.com, for discounts.   Luckily, the payment 0

Full Plate: The most useful dish in the china cupboard  

Gift idea for the person who has (almost) everything: a set of appetizer plates. I have 16 of them in heavy rotation in my kitchen, since they’re the perfect size for a muffin, or a cookie, or cheese and crackers. They transform even a small treat into "a plateful" - and they take up just a sliver of space in my china cupboard.  I recently read of a study that showed that people who eat from small plates consume less food, overall, than people who use 0

Double Dipping: Making the most of grocery coupons

Shopping coup of the week: four boxes of Wheaties (regular price $4.99 each) for almost half price. I scooped up the Breakfast of Champions for just $2.86 per box thanks to the shopper’s trifecta - store sale, manufacturer’s coupon and store coupon.  I started by taking advantage of a special at Stop & Shop: $6 off any four General Mills cereals. Then I used a manufacturer’s coupon that gave me $1 off three boxes. Finally, I added a coupon I’d received at Stop & Shop the 0

Express Savings: Sign up for AmEx’s Small Business Saturday rebate

If you have an American Express card, and if you like to support local businesses, save this date: Nov. 30 - aka Small Business Saturday.   American Express will give a $10 statement credit to people who shop at participating businesses that day using their AmEx cards. You have to register your card in advance at shopsmall.com (don’t delay - registration is limited). But after doing that, you'll earn the credit simply by spending at least $10 in a single transaction at any of the participating 0

It’s a Vision Thing: Putting old eyeglasses to good use

Each year, it seems, I need to up the magnification of the readers I wear, which leaves me with a pile of perfectly good but underpowered (for me) eyeglasses. So not long ago I gathered them all up and brought them to the Southampton branch of the Easthampton Savings Bank, where the Lions Club has an eyeglass collection box - one of more than 3,000 such boxes in the U.S.  Lions Clubs International says that worldwide there are 153 million people with vision problems that could 0

Tempest in a Teapot: The most useful travel gadget ever?

In-room coffee makers - an old-style drip pot, or a newer pod machine - have become standard at even the most barebones budget hotels. They’re a nice touch. But for a serious tea drinker like me, they’re next to useless. First, they frequently smell like leftover coffee, no matter how diligent the housekeeping staff is about cleaning them; second, they only produce a predetermined cup size (small); and third, there’s no way to top off your tea with another shot of piping-hot water.   That’s why 0

TV Guide: Whittling down the cable bill

Back in November 2012 my husband and I signed up for Comcast’s Triple Play package (TV, phone and Internet), which required a two-year commitment - and gave us a discounted rate for the first 12 months.  Those 12 months are now over, and our Comcast charges have gone up by $32. Sticker shock prompted us to take a closer look than usual at the bill. Do we really need HD technology ($9.95/month)? And what’s Streampix ($4.99 a month)?  I called Comcast to ask if there was any 1

Prep Talk: Packaged foods that are better than homemade (really)

Decades ago, when my mother ceded the role of chief cook at Thanksgiving to me, I was determined to serve a “from scratch” holiday feast. There would be no canned pumpkin in my pie, no store-bought cranberry sauce, and no creamed onions made with the boiled kind from a jar (even though that’s what my mother had always used).   I was so gung-ho about the onions, in fact, that I decided to grow my own. Months of tending them in the garden led to a 0

Up in the Air: The tricky business of disposing of dead batteries

I was all charged up last spring after attending an Earth Day event that urged people to recycle batteries - and thereby help keep dangerous chemicals out of our soil, air and water. Instead of throwing dead batteries in the wastebasket, I started setting them aside so I could bring them to the next hazardous waste collection event.  Last month that collection day finally arrived - but it turns out my efforts were unnecessary, for this reason: All the batteries I’d gathered were the alkaline type. 0