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4 Bad Deals

The term “Bad Deal” is relative.  Not only is Necessity the mother of Invention, she is also the mother of many a Bad Deal.  Necessity has lots of children.  If a so-called bad deal is the only way, the only course of action between life and death, then maybe it isn’t such a bad deal after all (it’s called an opportunity cost).  The following cases are not life and death related.  These examples are interpreted in a day-to-day light, where urgency is not a consideration, but convenience, desire, and other potential budget-ruining emotions are. 


Speeding Tickets

Let me refresh your high-school math skills: 

Jack and Jill are in separate cars.  Both need to travel 60 miles to get to Amarillo.  Jack drives at 65mph and Jill drives at 75mph.  How much faster will Jill get to Amarillo than Jack?

Answer: 8 minutes

Follow up question: How much must Jill’s time be worth to make up for the $180 speeding ticket?

Answer: $1,350/hour.  Actually, the time it takes to get the speeding ticket will probably eat away the 8 minutes, so Jill loses money no matter what.   

I got a speeding ticket recently.  Needless to say, I monitor my speed much more closely now.

An Economical Alternative:

Don’t speed Smarty Pants, just leave 8 minutes early. 

[click to continue…]

Article publié pour la première fois le 16/08/2010


Time is Money – Part 1: Introduction

Today’s article is the beginning of a series of articles that will center around one basic question. My husband is a big fan of Adam Carolla. He listens to his podcast quite regularly. He recently shared with me a thought Adam shared on his show.

One day Mr. Carolla was sharing his opinion (as he is want to do on any and every subject) on what is the best economic use of one’s time. Someone was arguing that he was being a little too wasteful in his spending and if he would simply look for discounts and deals, he could save a little money. Adam responded by positing the following question: is it better to use one’s time trying to save money or by making money?

When we usually think of increasing our economic wealth, we think of saving money. This blog alone has hundreds, if not thousands of tips for how to save money: eat more regularly at home, decrease your electricity use, shop smarter at the grocery store, the list of ideas goes on and on. This is the mentality of those who clip coupons religiously. Come on, admit it, you’ve seen these reality shows about extreme couponing, so you know what I’m taking about. People will spend hour after hour planning, scheming, and basically working a full time job cutting and using coupons. And, admit it, when you see them walk out of the supermarket with three cartloads of groceries and a bill of only two dollars, your mind starts to think, “that’s a good idea, I’d like to save money on my groceries like that!” It seems like these couponing fanatics have got something for nothing. But have they really?

The flip side of the argument is that the old adage is true: time is money. Adam Carolla fell on this side of the argument. Why spend time thinking of a thousand ways to save money when you could spend that time making money. When you take a good look at it, he has a point. Let’s return to our couponing example. Instead of spending all of their time planning on how to save some money at the grocery store, if that same person pooled their resources into starting a business or working at their own job, they could come out on top financially. A quick example: my husband is an attorney who charges $175 an hour for his services. Assuming that is what he actually took home (its not, believe me) it would make a lot more sense to spend his time working than cutting coupons.

Of course, the math on this is different for everyone, but my hope is that you will do that math for your own situation and spend your time accordingly. Therefore, in the next few articles we are going to explore how one can save time and therefore money. Sometimes, it just makes more sense to pay someone to do those chores you hate to tackle yourself. We’ll take a closer look at some of those chores and how to save time on them in the next few articles.

Article publié pour la première fois le 25/10/2013


5 Ways to Save $20 This Month

I am a worrier, it’s just what I do.  And, believe it or not, this is the time of year I start up the worry machine for the dreaded Holiday Spending.  Christmas is only six months away people!  Anyway, I am looking to give my spending/saving habits somewhat of an extreme makeover now to help me out come year’s end. A little nip here, a little tuck there, and voila!– A sleek, slender, and sexy new savings account.  Here are some ideas to try– small things that can really add up.

Review Your Bills

Remember when you signed up for Showtime because you wanted to watch the new season of Homeland?  Well, the season ended months ago, you don’t watch that channel, but you are still paying for it.  Usually we sit down to our stack of bills, or computer and pay them by rote.  Take the extra 10 minutes this month to actually read through them and find the unnecessaries, the add-ons, and mistakes.  Then call your phone and cable company and adjust accordingly.

Use Self-Checkout

I know what you are saying, “The self-checkout line?  At the supermarket?  What do they have there that is so special?”  But the special part is what they DON’T have there.  No candy bars, no gossip magazines, no jumbo packs of AA batteries that you will probably need sometime, no prepackaged dozen of day-old doughnuts, no gum, no sad little potted cactus looking for a good home.  Nothing.  Just a check-out, some plastic bags, and a few extra dollars in your pocket each time you exit the store.

Fix Your Taxes

Did April 15th sneak up on you again this year?  Well, whether you slid your return in under the wire or extended chances are you did them wrong.  Let me explain, if you usually get a tax refund check in the mail then your tax withholdings need an adjustment.  I know it is kind of satisfying to open that envelope squealing, “How much did I get?  How much did I get?”  But the truth is, if you are receiving a refund you are loaning Uncle Sam money and he doesn’t pay interest.  So adjust those taxes and keep that money in your account instead.

Save Gas

You know that stuff is liquid gold, right?  Gasoline is expensive and it aint gettin’ any cheaper.  But to face facts, for most of us it is a necessary evil.  This month, look for ways to at least use less of it.  Start a carpool with your co-workers, classmates, friends, or family.  Take the bus.  For destinations within a few miles of your home ride a bike or walk.  And when you must drive remember that inflating your tires to the correct pressure, going the speed limit, accelerating and decelerating gradually, and using the A/C less are all great ways to extend the life of that $50 tank of gas.

Bag It

This last one may sound simplistic and hokey but it is tried and true.  Also, I personally need to be reminded of it once in a while when my budget is wearing thin and I just can’t understand why. (Duh, drop the Big Mac, Dummy.)  Take your own lunch to work just TWO times this month ergo save $20.

I hope you find this little bit of information enlightening in some way.  I know I will benefit from the reminders I gave myself, or at least my kid will in about 182 1/2 days. Merry Christmas!

Have you found a great way to save $20 lately?  Do share with us in the comments below.

Article publié pour la première fois le 17/06/2013


Don’t Break a Sweat or the Bank: Save AC Dollars!

It’s another scorcher out there today folks!  This summer has been a killer all across the country, and where is it hurting me the most?  My wallet!  This month’s power bill was more than double that of last month’s, and that was me trying to be judicious about when to use the AC.  It has sent me searching for other ways to stay cool on the cheap, some of them are a little silly I realize, but they really do work!  I present free and nearly free solutions for the heat…

Before you take a shower put your underwear in the freezer or for more extreme heat soak clean underwear in water, wring, and then freeze underwear.  After your shower, slip into something more comfortable.

Use your pulse points.  Press something cold, like a soda can into places on your body where blood flows close to the surface of the skin like the crook of the elbow, inner wrists, or temples.  It cools down the passing blood that then flows throughout the rest of the body.

Try an arctic wind.  Place a bowl with a block of ice in it behind a floor fan.  Now, sit directly in front of the fan.  This pulls air over the ice making it chilly and then propels it at you.

Remember—fans don’t cool the air. Turn off a fan if you are not in front of it—it doesn’t actually cool the air, but only gives a cooling sensation for you.

Avoid the heat.  Use blackout curtains or blankets to cover windows during the day.  And don’t use stove, oven, dryer, blow dryer, or get the hot water heater going during the day.  If you must use them, do so at night.

Open the window and have a fan blowing out through it, sucking the heat out of your house.  FYI:  Not a good tip in extremely hot climates.

Make sure your AC vents are not closed or covered by furniture; you need that sweet cool air more that the back of the couch does.

Take a clean sock, soak in water, wring it out, and freeze.  Later, wrap frozen sock around the back of your neck and Aaaaaaah!  If you want a cold one available at all times rotate with the mate.

Remember your second grade Science—evaporating water creates a cooling effect.  Mist yourself often with a spray bottle of water.  It’s easy and portable, a 4 oz travel size fits in your pocket.

Wear natural, breathable clothing like linen or cotton in light colors and never wear hats, shoes or socks indoors.  Let that body heat escape!

Light = Heat, so keep any unnecessary lights off.

How low can you go?  If you live in a multi-level home head to the ground floor or, even better, a basement to wait out the afternoon.  That is the spot to find the coolest air.

Lower your inner thermostat by eating or drinking something very cold.  A pint of Rocky Road is a lot cheaper than cranking up the AC all afternoon.

If your home becomes unbearable in the heat of the day, enjoy some free public air conditioning in the fish sticks isle at the supermarket or the nearest library, mall, or café.

I want to hear your ideas for keeping cool.  What tricks help you survive the summer sun?

Article publié pour la première fois le 13/08/2012


Frozen Fun For Frugal Families

It is heating up out there people, and with the last day of school lurking around the corner you may be starting to scramble for fun ideas to occupy your kids.  Plus, you would welcome new ways to beat the heat.  You have probably put your summer savings under lock and key for a family vacation but since that only lasts a week or two what can you do with the rest of those hot summer days that won’t break the bank?  Why don’t you break the ice instead?  Here are some fun frozen activities and treats for you to try:

Conduct an Ice Excavation.   Take the largest plastic container that will fit in your freezer, add small dinosaur toys, and watch your kids play at paleontologist and arctic explorers.  Some great tips:  freeze in stages to have “fossils” at different depths not all floating to the top, and use blue food coloring to get a more arctic ice look.  Let them try different tools to see what works best (chisel, warm water, scraper, pick, toothbrush).  This is fun and a great teaching opportunity (hot vs. cold, dinosaurs, problem solving, how to use specific tools).

Make Ice Cream.  If you do not own or have access to borrow an ice cream maker you can make it with simple Ziploc bags that kids can have fun shaking until it gets frozen and creamy.

Make Frozen Color blocks.  Gather up a variety of kitchen containers of all shapes and sizes like Tupperware, muffin tins, and bowls.  Then, fill them with water and colorful food dyes.  Last, freeze them all and when they are solid head outside for an extra cool building game.  You can stack them like wooden blocks but with more interesting shapes and sizes.  Also, watch the shapes change and colors blend as they melt.

Make Popsicles.  Freezer molds are not that expensive, you may even have containers around the house that would work.  So just buy a bag or popsicle sticks, or do mini popsicles in an ice cube tray with toothpicks.  Try doing colorful layers or fun inclusions like fruit bits or candies.

Go Ice Blocking.  Nothing quite like the thrill of flying down a grassy hill with your butt frozen to a block of ice.  You might want to bring along your bike helmets and skateboard knee pads to help with bumps and bruises, but if you end up with some of those—hey, the ice is right there!

Have an Ice Sculpture Contest.  Start with one large ice block each and use hammers, chisels, screwdrivers sandpaper and the like to end up with a beautiful swan or Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Make Shaved Ice.  You don’t need a special machine for this.  There are a hundred ways so shave ice so be creative!  Try the blender, a cheese grater, or fork.  Also, have fun coming up with fun ways to flavor the ice.

Try Mini Igloo Architecture.  For this activity it would be helpful to have true ice “cube” trays that make nice square flat ice cubes for you to build with.  Don’t just stop with the igloo, castle, or house exteriors.  Look up photos of the famed ice hotels for ideas on interiors, furniture etc.

So what are your “cool” and inexpensive ideas for fun this summer?

Article publié pour la première fois le 22/05/2012


Building and Contents insurance comparison

Building and contents insurance isn’t compulsory, (although some mortgage lenders will require it) yet it is an important step in protecting your home. This way you know you’re covered financially should disaster ever strike? Of course, it’s worth knowing a little more about these two policies, and what they each cover.

Building insurance covers you for the cost of repairs to your home, or even rebuilding it, if it is damaged. Common causes of building damage include flooding, fire, vandalism, or weather damage. Building insurance will provide you with the money to cover the costs of repairing or rebuilding your home should it be damaged or destroyed. This can also extend to garages, garden sheds and other additions to your property, but it’s worth knowing each policy is slightly different, so be sure you get one which is right for your home.

If you don’t own your home then generally the building insurance will be taken care of by the landlord. However, you will still want to consider contents insurance in order to protect the things that belong to you.
Contents insurance ensures you are covered for the cost of your belongings within the home, in case of theft or damage. (Generally building and contents insurance will each offer cover for the same causes.)

When arranging contents insurance, make sure you are covering the correct costs of what you own. Consider every item in each room of your home, and how much each of them would cost to replace. It will likely be more than you think! Of course, not all your belongings will be covered; particularly valuable or high-cost items will often need separate cover, so make sure you keep this in mind as well.

Your policy can either cover the costs of replacing or repairing damaged and destroyed items of property; or you can pay less for a policy which will take wear and tear of your items into account when calculating their value.

You can also reduce the cost of your insurance policies by ensuring your home is well protected from the risks in the first place. Doing things like installing a theft alarm and a smoke alarm can make a big difference. Once you have the right insurance policy for your needs, you’ll know that if the unexpected ever happened, you will be able to afford the costs. And having that peace of mind is priceless.

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/11/2011

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