Consumer Reports – February 2008

Consumer Reports has asked me to eliminate the content of my summaries and any other references to the content of Consumer Reports. I have complied.

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  1. On TSA: Tell me about it. I had two things of eyedrops and when they saw it the lady was like “oh no, this can’t go, I’m sorry. Can you please go over there and buy a ziplock bag and come back and we can put them in that? Thanks.”

    She felt bad she had to make me do this but I did it and my drops got on the plane. What purpose did that serve?

  2. Tyler Norwood says:

    Hi Trent,

    I just want to say that thanks to you I have discovered RSS. I am very computer savvy but some computer technologies I just find I have no need for. I thought the same of RSS.

    That is, until I downloaded RssReader. This article you published today was displayed instantly, with something akin to a bell alerting me. Very nice stuff.

    Fine article btw. Keep up the good work.

  3. Almost anything run by the federal government is going be inefficient. The Airports that have private companies doing the job have rated many times higher than those that have federal employees at stopping terrorist threats.

  4. DrBdan says:

    Watch what you say about Chuck Norris, he’s a dangerous man :)

    Seriously though, I agree. I’ve known a few people that bought home gym equipment and it’s usually pretty low quality. As far as gym memberships, a good way to get a good deal is to find a group of co-workers that go (or would like to go) to the gym and try to get a group/corporate membership at a local gym. We did that and my cost dropped by $150/year.

  5. Speaking of gyms, has anyone ever been to a Life Time Fitness gym? This is truly one of the greatest ideas/businesses I’ve ever seen.

    For suburbanites/parents this is perfect.

  6. Trevor says:

    Can anyone elaborate on this deducting of state income taxes? A quick google search didn’t help.

  7. Stephen says:

    Consumer reports isn’t really breaking news about the TSA:

  8. Kat says:

    The TSA is the most pointless waste of our money ever. I had to fly with my chapstick, CHAPSTICK!, in a ziplock bag. At least I got mine for free, but I had to put it in its own bin as well. Coming home, didn’t have to do it. Mind you the chapstick was the only thing in the bag.

  9. SammyG says:

    I love my home gym.

    We have a simple weight bench and a set of dumbells that I’ve owned since before college.
    We also invested a few years ago in a quality treadmill. The tread has a one-time replacement agreement that I’ll use just before it expires at the five-year mark.

    We moved the old TV and DVD player downstairs when we upgraded a couple years back. A pair of cheap earphones, and we’re all set!

  10. Ann says:

    I never put my chapstick in the ziplock bag. I’ve also stopped putting my lipstick and lip gloss in there as well. I only use it for toiletries like contact solution and shampoo for trips when I don’t check my luggage. Granted, it’s still a phenomenal pain. The only good thing I can say is that it’s really made me cut down on the amount of junk I take on trips. Three different body lotions, just in case I “might want them?” No way. Full size shampoo and conditioner? Uh uh. I may be annoyed at the TSA, but my suitcase is lighter. :)

  11. skywind says:

    I flew to Indianapolis in December and, while coming out of security (past the metal detector and the X-ray machine), I heard the TSA person stop the guy behind me for not having his mouthwash in a baggie. I was busy taking my eyedrops and chapstick out of my baggie, and without thinking I turned around and said, “Here, take mine.” Then I thought, “OK, that was dumb.” But the TSA person let the guy take my baggie, put his mouthwash in it, zip it up and proceed on his way. Remember we were both PAST security at that point. We looked at each other, and I’m sure we were both thinking, “That did NOT just happen.”

  12. Kat says:

    At my airport they have a pre-check point for bags and if they see things like chapstick, lip gloss, deordorant, eyeshadow, etc. they make you put them in a bag. Then you go through the actual security checkpoint.

  13. Marcus Murphy says:

    As far as gyms go I also use a tool:

    It’s a site dedicated to motivation, staying in shape, and tracking your overall fitness. This includes what exercises you are doing; i.e. what muscle groups, or cardio, etc. You can even track your diet if you are on one. If you have friends that sign up they can monitor your performance and it helps keep you honest with yourself and on the track that you set for yourself. I think it is a great little tool. =)

  14. Grace says:

    So, Trent–what did you think of Consumer Reports’ #1 “Money Mistake” about having one’s retirement funds in bonds or bond funds?

    I found their research fascinating (mostly because it backed up my thoughts on the subject), and blogged about it today.

  15. Michael says:

    @The Saveing Freak:
    “The Airports that have private companies doing the job have rated many times higher than those that have federal employees at stopping terrorist threats.” – BS. Airport security theater hasn’t stopped any terror threats — so far, only private passengers have. Whether its the feds or a private company making you use a ziploc bag, it’s still pointless; there are no liquids that can be mixed together instantly to create an airliner threat (
    Even if you could easily make a bomb out of liquids, what’s to stop 15 terrorists from each filling their 1 liter ziploc bags with the stuff and combining it on the plane? Airport security is a very expensive hoax, made even more expensive with the addition of private security additions.

    BTW- you can get everything you need for a GREAT home gym on Craigslist for less than $300. Don’t bother with Bowflex or the rest of those contraptions.

  16. Laura says:

    Ditto Trevor’s reply. How do you deduct state income taxes??

  17. Kathryn says:

    In our town the local YMCA is a great bargain for gym.

  18. avagee says:

    Save yourselves $400, before thinking about a Kindle try using your cell phone as an eReader. The screen size is small but fine for novels and prose. Since you already carry it every where it makes sense to just add books to the phone. I get books for free from You can install the books direct to your phone from the mobile version of their site or via a PC.

  19. Justin B says:

    I was able to find this about the deducting taxes from your federal income tax.

  20. Brigid says:

    Home exercise equipment is one of those things you can usually get pretty cheaply secondhand, or even free. I picked up my treadmill at a garage sale for $75. Before I bought it, I went home and looked up that make and model on the internet to make sure there were no obvious problems with it, and I tried it out to check that it was working. I have now been using it for over a year, and it was a great investment.

    On airline safety, check out today’s Boston Globe at Apparently it’s OK for hunters in camoflauge to fire guns directly under the flight path to Logan Airport, but be sure to leave your lip balm at home!

  21. MVP says:

    I mostly adore Consumer Reports, but I absolutely detest Verizon. I have them for both our home landline and DSL services because it’s currently our most convenient and economical option. But their customer service is total crap.

  22. MichaelK says:

    Yeah, Verizon cell service is great if you don’t mind having to hack your phone to unlock all the things that wouldn’t be locked down with other carriers.

    Better to go elsewhere and get a non-crippled phone that doesn’t lock you into the V-Cast walled garden.

  23. laura says:

    I can’t believe no one else has asked this…Have you written about your decision to purchase a Kindle? I think they’re cool…but how did that purchase fit in with your frugal philosophy?

  24. Anne says:

    You can carry mouthwash on, as long as it’s in a small bottle (less than 3.4 oz.) and in a 1-quart ziploc bag. Also, if the only liquid/gel you have to carry through is a lip balm or something similarly small, you can stick it in your pocket and walk through the metal detector with it.

    I fly frequently and the liquids rule really is not a big deal.

  25. Sadly almost all of the “money mistakes” articles are extremely obvious. The only thing sadder is that many people still make them.

  26. one of nine says:

    A couple comments:

    I HATE Verizon. The first six months of my service I lost connection on average once a week. During one period I was without internet for five days. Being a stay-at-home mom and full-time online student, this was devastating. The scheduled repairman never showed up (twice) and the customer service reps did NOT have accurate records of my previous calls. In three days I called Verizon 18 times. RIDICULOUS. Don’t waste the time or money.

    Check out your local YMCA, which offers excellent rates plus free classes and free childcare in many locations! Also, if you are a student or a single mom (like myself) you can apply for a scholarship. I only pay $20 a month for my membership. It is the best thing I’ve ever done, and you don’t sign a contract. You simply give them a 30-day notice when you want to leave (if you ever want to leave…I won’t!)
    Otherwise, I totally agree with the other post that you can find excellent used fitness equipment on Craigslist for a fraction of the retail price. A lot of people can’t make it to the gym, but they can run on the treadmill while watching their favorite tv program! Whatever works!

    About airport security: Please quite whining!!! If you think it’s bad here, head over to Isreal, where you need to be there 4 hours before a flight (seriously). And guess what– they NEVER have a plane blown up by terrorists. Give the security people a break. Their best interest is YOU, the passenger!!!

    I was also curious about the Kindle purchase. I don’t even know how much they cost. Is this one of those quality purchases that you splurge on once in a blue moon?

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