We waste energy every day and don't know it. There are items in our houses that use energy even when they are turned off; 75 percent of the energy used by these items on a daily basis is when they are off at the unit.

We can either unplug the appliances when not in use plug them into a power strip and turn the strip off when we are not using the item then the item will not draw energy from the outlet. This will also protect these items from power surges or lighting surges.

These items are: computers, televisions, cable and satellite systems, Stereos and sound systems, DVD players, VCRs, game stations, cell phone chargers, inkjet printers and other computer peripherals, and any item with a display or that uses or can be turned on by remote control.

— Jenna Fischer, Medford

Does your trash bin go to the curb mostly empty each week? Why not replace the regular trash bin pickup with a set of "small quantity" bags provided by Rogue Disposal and Recycling? You can buy five for $34.92 or 10 for $48.20. There is no additional charge for pickup. When full, place the bag (30-pound maximum) at the curb on your neighborhood's pickup day.

We've used this service for a year now and only used five bags. At this rate, we expect to use 10 bags in two years, saving $140 each year. The red curbside recycling and green yard debris services can still be used (at their regular costs) along with "small quantity bags."

Read more about this atwww.roguedisposal.com/resid_services.htm

— John Littleton, Medford

The Internet reigns supreme when it comes to finding no-cost stuff. Sure, you might have to provide your email address and sometimes a bit more information, and you might be put on a mailing list, but the end result is plenty of free goods and services.

After Napster, free downloads died — but not for long. There are a number of ad-supported sites where you can download songs by musicians from Adam Ant to ZZ Top. One is SpiralFrog.com, offering more than one million songs and 4,000 music videos, all free.

Another music site, Pandora.com, bills itself as an online radio station that builds play-lists from your preferences. For example, entering "Bob Dylan" brings up "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" followed by Neil Young's "Ohio (Live at Massey Hall)" and then "Imagine" by John Lennon.

If you're willing to watch television on your computer, you might be able to lower or eliminate your cable bill. For instance, you can watch everything from "My Favorite Martian" to "30 Rock," "Ugly Betty" and "Sons of Anarchy" for free at TV.Blinkx.com, a site in beta currently.

Hulu.com is another Web site offering free television shows and movies.

Also, don't forget the networks offer many of their shows for free on their Web sites. Another online freebie: Comedy Central shows including "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

If you'd rather read than watch TV, save money by checking out Free-eBooks.net. The site offers popular works, how-to guides, recipe books and more, including Adam Smith's 1776 tome, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" which might be pertinent today.

Gamers have a lot of options if they want to play without paying. Free online gaming sites include GamesCampus.com, TrueGamesInteractive.com, WickedInteractiveLtd.com, and G4box.com. They're great for folks who don't want to pay $40 to $60 for a new game CD.

— MarketWatch


When times are tough, the ones who are survivors do the following:

1. Do not take on any new debt.

2. Do not use credit cards except for emergencies.

3. Remember, Christmas is only ONE DAY — so why be paying for it long afterwards?

4. Know the difference between NEED and WANT.

5. Make a budget and stick to it. Include your children as budgeting is a family matter.

6. The old Depression saying, "Use it up, wear it out, do without it" is still good advice.

7. If you smoke, quit. Get rid of unnessesary expenses.

8. Have a savings plan, even if it's only putting change in a piggy bank. It adds up and you don't HAVE to spend money every day.

9. Watch your credit carefully and make payments on time every month, even if it's only the minimum amount.

The recession can be a time of personal growth and maturity. We've all been pretty spoiled enjoying a prosperous ecconomy and lifestyle. Now is the time we'll all see what we are made of and what is our true character.

— Ellen Trenholm, Medford

On wash day, put the clothes and soap into the washing machine and run the machine with hot water for about five minutes, or until the soap foams up. Then turn the water to cold for the rest of the wash cycle.

— C. Schultz, Central Point

I've found that one sure and steady way to cut back costs is to not eat as much. How can we eat less without going hungry? By keeping myself busy, I spend less time eating and more time being productive. Being occupied definitely keeps my appetite down.

— Sean Russell, Medford