With gas prices increasing, many people are looking for alternate forms of transportation. But if you have to use your car for transportation, there are lots of ways to improve your gas mileage and help lower travel costs.
While you drive:
Avoid idling. It gets you zero miles per gallon.
Avoid aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking. These can lower your highway gas mileage by up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%.
Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. For every 5 mph above 60 mph, it’s like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon.
Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an “economy” setting that allows the circulation of unchilled air. Many also have a “maximum” or “recirculation” setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load — and save gas.
Before you drive:
Avoid keeping heavy items in your car. An extra 100 pounds could increase your gas costs by up to $.08 cents per gallon.
Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5% or more.
Plan your route ahead of time so you combine errands and drive as little as possible. Several short trips each taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Skip the after-market products that promise improved gas mileages. They don’t work, and sometimes they can damage your car.
Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. Using a different motor oil can lower your gas mileage by 1%-2%.
Inflate your tires to the pressure listed in your owner’s manual or on a sticker in the glove box or driver’s side door jamb. This number may differ from the maximum pressure listed on your tire’s sidewall.
Get regular maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
Check into telecommuting, carpooling, and public transit to save driving and car maintenance costs. Many urban areas provide carpool lanes that are usually less congested.
All cost estimates assume an average price of $3.96 per gallon. Source: energysavers.gov
If you’re planning a trip and you’re going by bus, you can check the safety of your bus using the SaferBus App from the Department of Transportation. The SaferBus App provides an efficient way to view and access the safety performance of commercial motor carriers including motor coach and bus companies. This app is currently available for iPhone users.
Immigrants in the United States are entitled to certain benefits through the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are here on a temporary or permanent basis, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization, permanent status, or to work in the United States.
The USCIS can help you find the right forms, see an update on your case if you have applied for citizenship, find out how to bring family to the United States and much more. Their online resources are divided by topics to help you easily find what you are looking for depending on your current situation.
Listen to Supreme Court Arguments about the Affordable Care Act
The Supreme Court finished hearing arguments about the Affordable Care Act yesterday. The Court is considering whether or not Congress can mandate that all citizens purchase health insurance. You can can listen to audio and download transcripts of the arguments from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday on the Supreme Court’s website.
The Supreme Court justices will deliberate on the arguments for the next three months and are expected to announce a decision in the case in late June.
Through the National Mortgage Settlement, the country’s five biggest mortgage servicers must commit about $25 billion in relief to individuals and governments because they broke the law in how they managed home loans.
It will take time to figure out which individuals are eligible for help from the settlement. If you are eligible, you should receive a letter in the next 6 to 9 months.
In the meantime, you can learn about the National Mortgage Settlement from its website, including
By Maggie Anderson from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
It can be hard to understand the language of financial products and services. Just what exactly is a grace period? What about an ARM? A balloon payment? And while the Internet can serve up an answer, how can you be sure it’s the right one?
Ask CFPB, a new interactive online tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), can help.
Say you’re thinking about buying a home. You could type in a question to Ask CFPB’s search box, or you could browse the list of questions in the Mortgage category. Once you’ve done a search, you can also filter by topic, like “fees” or “closing,” or by populations, like servicemembers, students, and older Americans.
Ask CFPB contains three general categories of questions and answers:
Definitions: Financial products and terms are often described in industry jargon. Ask CFPB translates the jargon into clear definitions. You can get answers to questions like, “What is a credit report?” or “What is a reverse mortgage?”
Explanations: Financial products can include many complicated terms and features, and it can be difficult for you to understand how they work. Ask CFPB provides you with general information and explanations on terms and features of financial products
Situations : Ask CFPB arms you with information and tips to help you navigate various situations. For example, you can use to the tool to ask, “What if my lender quoted me one rate at application but raised it at closing?”
Ask CFPB also lets you provide feedback. You can rate an answer “Helpful,” “Too long,” “Confusing,” or “Incorrect.” And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can submit a question for consideration.
Our Ask CFPB database currently contains more than 350 questions and answers, primarily focused on credit cards and mortgages. In the coming months, the CFPB will continue to build the database to answer questions about a range of financial products and services, including student loans, auto loans, checking and savings accounts, and prepaid cards.
Nonimmigrant visas are for citizens of other countries coming to the United States temporarily. The visa allows you to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission of the immigration officer to enter the country.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.
Citizens of some countries are not required to have a visa to visit the United States.
On April 2, records from the 1940 Census will be made available to the public.
Strict laws ensure that records are only unsealed after 72 years, so many family genealogists, historians and researchers are eagerly awaiting the release.
In honor of the records release, the U.S. Census Bureau is holding a countdown to the April 2nd release where you can find an interactive overview of the 1940 Census, historical facts, videos and pictures. The census website will also directly link to the National Archives site where you will be able to find individual 1940 Census records.
This year, federal tax returns must be filed by April 17, 2012. The deadline was extended by two days because April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, which is a holiday in the District of Columbia.
Visit our File Your Taxes page to learn more about filing federal and state taxes, requesting an extension, getting free tax help, and checking your refund status.
A good way to start saving money is by creating a budget, detailing all of your income and expenses each month. It is important to remember to update your budget as your income and expenses change.
Your income is the money you bring in each month. This can be a fixed income - like a salary - or a variable income - based on commission - or a mix of both. To make a budget, first you should add up and record your monthly income.
Next, take a look at your expenses each month. Some of these will also be fixed, such as rent, car payments or other utility bills. Other expenses will vary, like groceries or transportation costs.
Once you have outlined your average monthly incomes and expenses, you will be able to see how much extra money you have left over. While some unexpected expenses may come up each month, you should be able to put a percentage of your money into a savings account.
The U.S. Mint is honoring the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner by issuing commemorative coins that include an image of ships at war that match the scene in 1812 when Francis Scott Key penned the national anthem. Key wrote the national anthem the morning after the British bombarded the Americans at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, during the War of 1812.
Up to 100,000 gold $5 coins and 500,000 silver $1 coins will be issued to mark the anniversary. You can purchase the gold coins for $35 each. The silver coins are $10 each.
MyPlate Super Tracker Helps You Make Good Food Choices
March is recognized as National Nutrition Month; a time to remind yourself about the importance of good nutrition for you and your family. Keeping up with good nutrition is key to healthy living, disease prevention, overall fitness and growth in children and adolescents.
Good nutrition can also mean maintaining a healthy weight through good eating habits and exercise.
With an array of nutrition information all over the Internet, news stands and books and magazines, it can be overwhelming to sort through it all and find what can really help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
Educating yourself on the food groups, healthy fats and what vitamins and minerals your body needs are just a few steps in the right direction.
With the MyPlate Super Tracker you can track your food habits, fitness and overall health on a daily basis. Learn which foods are best for you with the latest dietary guidelines, learn new and exciting recipes and keep track of all your health habits in one place.
The Centers for Disease Control statistics indicate that poisoning has become the leading cause of death from injuries in this country. More than 2 million human exposures occur every year. More than 50% involve children 6 years old or younger.
EPA and its federal partners are especially concerned about preventing accidental exposures among young children. They are especially vulnerable to poisonings for several reasons.
Given the fact that they inhale more air and consume more food and water in proportion to their body weight, any exposure to poisons, even those in small quantities, heighten the dangers of poisoning to their developing bodies.
There are behavioral risks as well. Children are frequently crawling on the floor where there may be pesticide residues and they frequently put their hands and small articles in their mouths. These behaviors put them at even a greater risk.
So what can you do to protect your family from accidental poisonings? Here are some simple tips:
Keep pest control products, household cleaners, and medication up high, out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet or garden shed.
Read the label before using a pest control or household cleaning product.
Using more than indicated on the label does not kill more pests or clean better. In fact, misuse of the product only increases the risk of poisonings.
Go through your home room by room to see where there are potential poisoning hazards and correct accordingly.
Use products with a tamper-resistant bait station to protect children from exposure to mouse/rat/insect poison.
Program the Poison Help Line (800-222-1222) into your phone and post the poison help line number near your phone. In the event of an accidental poisoning, call the toll free Poison Help line which is staffed around the clock. Help is available in English, Spanish and more than 150 languages.
Do us a favor—help us spread the word during National Poison Prevention Week! Together we may prevent accidental poisonings at home and in your community. Find additional resources on how to protect children from pesticide exposure.
what kind of surveys do the cencus bureau conduct between the one that is given every ten years
The U.S. Census Bureau counts every resident in the United States every 10 years. This is called the Population and Housing Census and it’s mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.
But the Census Bureau also collects other data on a more frequent basis. The Economic Census and Census of Governments are conducted every 5 years. The American Community Survey takes place every year. There are also other demographic and economic surveys that occur more frequently than once every 10 years.
Every year during tax season, scammers find new ways to steal money from taxpayers. In response, every year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes a list of common scams to help taxpayers avoid fraud.
This year the IRS is warning about a scam that promises fake tax refunds and targets senior citizens and low-income individuals. The agency says that in recent weeks this scam has been increasingly reported across the country.
Scam Offers Free Money
Scam artists promise tax refunds which are supposedly part of The American Opportunity Tax Credit, originally designed to help people with college expenses. They claim incorrectly that the refund is available, even if the person attended college decades ago.
In a twist, they are also telling victims that they can benefit from this credit if they even paid taxes on groceries while attending college.
The IRS says scam artists have been looking for potential victims at church gatherings and are targeting senior citizens and people with little or no income who don’t usually have to file taxes.
Victims Pay a High Cost
People who fall for these scams have a lot to lose.
For starters, they pay high fees for bogus tax preparing services. And when they figure out they have been scammed, criminals usually have already disappeared with their money.
“This is a disgraceful effort by scam artists to take advantage of people by giving them false hopes of a nonexistent refund,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. “We want to warn innocent taxpayers about this new scheme before more people get trapped.”
By law, taxpayers are legally responsible for the accuracy of their tax returns. If the IRS issues a refund by mistake, taxpayers are obligated to return the refund.
How to Protect Yourself
Unfortunately for many, tax season is also scams season. Warning signs of tax scams include:
Promises of refunds based on false statements.
Unfamiliar companies that sell refunds or credits to members of local churches.
Internet ads or emails with toll-free numbers. When people call, they are asked for their Social Security number.
Homemade flyers and brochures offering or implying credits or refunds to people who are not eligible.
Offers of free money without requiring documentation.
Promises of refunds for “Low Income – No Documents Tax Returns.”
Unsolicited offers to prepare a return and split the refund.
Find the Latest Food Recalls For Your State Through Twitter
You can now find the latest recalls and food safety information for your state through Twitter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently created state-specific Twitter feeds that will announce food safety alerts and recalls by state.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) launched the program to make it even easier for you to find your state-specific recalls. You can find food recalls for products such as meat and eggs and learn how to protect food supplies during severe weather events in your area.
Each state has its own handle on Twitter, and can be found using the state’s abbreviation, underscore, followed by “FSISalert.” For example, Alaska’s Twitter handle is AK_FSISAlert.
Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, then you have the virus in your body. You might not have problems until you are older and the virus reappears as shingles.
There is a shingles vaccine that is recommended for people who are age 60 and over. The vaccine won’t cure shingles, but it can prevent or lessen the symptoms. Learn more about the shingles vaccine.