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.
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.
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.
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.
The fifth, and final of our skills that will save you money is a little different than the first four skills. While this skill tends to exist mostly in the realm of the abstract, it is no less important than the first skills we covered, and it is arguably the most important skill. This skill is something we all have in varying degrees. It is something many people believe cannot be improved upon (but they are wrong — I’ll tell you why in a minute). This oh-so-important skill is creativity.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Great, we come here looking for practical advice that will ultimately save us some of our hard earned cash and here comes Mrs. Bleeding Heart to tell us all about how all we need is love, creativity, rainbows, and unicorns. Thanks for nothing!” Please stick with me on this because, while creativity is more of an abstract skill, it yields real world results. Creativity is the one skill you can learn that will boost and inform all of the other skills you have that can, or possibly could, save you money. By learning to creatively look at your problems from different angles, you will be able to concoct new solutions to those problems. Creativity is what will help you stretch your last dollar to feed you for a week. Creativity is what will help you find new ways to fix your car or make that small repair on your house. Creativity will help your outlook on your financial situation and life in general. When it comes to those skills that will help you through life, more than any other, creativity is king.
The problem with creativity is that it has something of a P.R. problem. People seem to think that you either have creativity or you don’t, like it’s a genetic problem you have no control over. This is why people tend to divide the world into right and left brain people. They feel that creativity is a part of who you are. The truth of the matter is that while creativity may come easier to some people, it is something we all have. It would be next to impossible to function on this planet without some creativity. And, because we all have creativity, it is also something that can be made to grow. It is truly like most muscles, it can be exercised and it can be made stronger. By working on your creativity, you can make it not only stronger, but you can make it a key part of your life skill arsenal.
So this begs the question: how do you increase your creativity. Like I said in the first of this series of articles, the purpose of these articles is not to teach you how to gain these skills, its merely to show you what skills to acquire. That being said, the following are a few places to search to learn to grow your creativity.
John Cleese’s talk on creativity. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to watch this video. It is easily found through a simple Google search for “John Cleese creativity.” In this talk John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) argues that creativity is not a talent but rather a way of operating. He then explains how to operate in a creative way. It is full of good advice for upping your creative prowess.
TED talks on creativity. In recent years, TED has become a valuable resource for learning about big ideas. Luckily, creativity is one of those big ideas. Go to their website and search for talks about creativity. You can learn everything you wanted to know about the subject and more here.
Google search “33 Ways to Stay Creative” and read the list that pops up. I saw this a couple of years ago and it gives some great ideas for building your creativity. Plus, quite of a few of these suggestions sound like a lot of fun.
What do you think about creativity? How do you build your creative muscles? Is creativity really that important to saving money? Let me know what you think below.
My husband and I recently became home owners. While this life milestone was cause for celebration, I don’t mind admitting that it has also filled me with dread. Prior to being a homeowner, back when I merely paid my rent and thought little else of the cost of housing, it was so easy to call the landlord when an issue involving the home reared its ugly head. Air conditioner on the fritz? No problem! Call the landlord. Husband is inept and failed to properly screw in the water hose to the washing machine thereby flooding all of the carpet in the hall (true story)? Call the landlord. Need to bury a dead body? It’s the landlord’s problem! (Just kidding on that last one, a dead body is still your problem.)
So buying a house and suddenly assuming all of the responsibility for home maintenance and repair has been nerve wracking. Once you are financially responsible for it, it is amazing how much money goes out the door to pay for your house. It is for this reason that skill number one on our list of five skills that will save you money is handyman skills.
Learning to be a half-way competent handyman will not only help you to fix issues that might (will) arise in your house, it will help you assess what is wrong and know when to spend the money to have it fixed and when to attempt it yourself. It is an unfortunate fact of life that time really does equal money. Therefore, when you pay for a plumber, you are really paying for their time. The fix itself may only cost pennies, but the labor costs are what will kill you. Once you learn to handle the small repairs yourself, you will have money hand over fist. Don’t be afraid! Use the vast knowledge of the internet and the people around you. Look up a skill and learn it once, save money forever!
“But Richly Reasonable,” you say, “I don’t have time to become an excellent handyman. Which skills should I focus on in my limited free time to maximize my savings?” Well, you’re in luck, I was just getting to that. Focus on these skills and with even a minimal time investment, you will save your hard-earned cash.
Plumbing. While designing and installing the plumbing for a house is quite an ordeal, most minor plumbing issues that arise in a house are usually easy fixes. Learn how to unclog a drain, fix a leaky faucet, stop a running toilet, and replace that leaky pipe under the sink and you are about 90% of the way to plumbing financial independence.
Carpentry Skills. You do not need to know how to build a table from scratch, but some carpentry skills will definitely come in handy. Learn how to patch drywall, hang something heavy (tv, mirror, etc.) on a wall, straighten up a hung door that has gone askew, and seal the openings to your house, and (barring a man cave addition) you will probably never need to call for help again.
Landscaping Skills. While its so much easier to call a landscaping service, the $100 a month for their services starts to get old quick. Learn to mow your lawn, weed, properly water and fertilize your grass, trim trees, cut back bushes, and adjust your sprinkler system and you will save money and have something beautiful to look at. Nothing beats staring out over your well-manicured yard at the end of a long day.
What do you think readers? What handyman skills do you recommend for saving money around the house? Let us know below.
Of all of our list of skills that will save you money, perhaps no single skill will save you as much money as the skill of cooking. Just think about it. You eat everyday. Unless you are one of those weird super low calorie dieters, you probably eat many times a day. That means about three times a day you have a chance to exercise your cooking skills and save money, or you have the opportunity to blow some money and probably your waistline in the process (more on this later). I mean, cooking is such an integral skill to have, houses are built with a room solely dedicated to preparing food. So, needless to say, spending a few spare moments learning how to cook will save you a lot of money.
Many people think that it’s simply cheaper to buy prepared food rather than learn to cook your own. That logic holds true in some other spending categories. For instance, modern times have made it cheaper in most cases to buy clothes rather than make them yourself. This logic fails, however, when it comes to food. Go ahead, Google search how much restaurants mark up their food. I’ll wait . . . Are you back now? SEE!!!! It’s insane! Cooking your own food is definitely cheaper than going out to eat all the time.
And if the pro column for learning to cook is not stacked enough, you should also consider the health benefits of cooking your own food. If you cook your own food, you not only avoid the restaurant price mark-up, you also avoid the out of control portion size. By preparing your own food you will eat less and you will eat better. Chances are you will eat more fresh fruits and vegetables if you learn how to do it yourself. Plus, let’s face it, well prepared home-cooked meals just taste better than their commercially prepared counterparts. Everyone is always aching for a “home-cooked meal” for a reason. I mean, that’s why we all love Thanksgiving so much, right?
So, are you convinced yet? Great! Now, starting off the development of your cooking skills can look quite daunting from the outset. As in the other articles of this series, we will discuss which skills to focus on acquiring to save cash.
Learn how to grill food. I don’t necessarily mean you should learn to cook meat on an open flame, although you should learn that too. I mean learn to apply heat to meat and have it come out in such a way that you don’t make yourself, or your guests, ill. Learn the proper temperatures to cook meat. Learn how to tell when it’s done.
Learn how to make pasta. Pasta dishes are a good place to start for someone starting out on their culinary journey. They are cheap, easy to cook, and there are endless variations you can make. Learn a couple of pasta dishes.
Learn how to cook eggs. Learn a couple ways to prepare eggs. Scrambled, fried, boiled, etc. They are a staple breakfast food and you if you learn to cook them well, you will impress people merely by preparing a good egg.
Learn how to pick and properly store produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. Learn how to pick the best produce at the market and how to store it so it stays fresh.
Learn how to bake a favorite dessert. While cooking healthily is nice and all, it’s fun to know how to prepare something that just tastes good. Pick a favorite cookie, brownie, or other recipe that you love, and learn it backward and forward.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to being a culinary master. So what do you think readers, any other cooking skills one should learn to save money? Sound off below.
Is there anyone more infamous than the shady car mechanic? You know the stereotypical story, you bring your car in for an oil change and by the time you walk out, you have been convinced that your car “needed” thousands of dollars in repairs to issues you never knew existed. Unfortunately for us, this stereotype is founded in reality. Yet, while there are many mechanics out there merely looking for ways to take your money, even the most honest mechanics can cost a ton. What’s even more startling is to look at your mechanic’s bill. You’ll notice that even though parts only cost $25, you were charged $300 for the mechanic to do the labor to install that part. That is where they get you, in the cost of labor.
Now, I’m not disputing that mechanics should be paid for their time and expertise, quite the contrary, I believe that they perform an important service to our society, I’m just saying that if you, as the savvy consumer, can learn some basic mechanic skills, you can get away with not having to pay $50 for someone to install your $10 air filter.
Here are the mechanic skills you should focus on to save money and keep your car running in tip top condition:
Learn to change your oil. Years ago, before the advent of Jiffy Lube and the 20-minute oil change, people used to change their own oil in their own driveways. Ask your grandparents about this, I’m sure they’ll remember. So what’s changed? Why have people stopped changing their own oil? Well, there are lots of answers to that question but one main reason is people don’t know how to anymore. As cars have become more complicated, people have stopped trying to do their own maintenance and repairs. And while this makes sense if you are faced with the task of changing out the car’s computer system, the basics of an oil change have remained the same for many years. Learn how to change the oil and oil filter. Doing so can save you big money. That fully synthetic oil you pay a mechanic $60-$80 for can be replaced for $20 if you do it yourself.
Learn to rotate your tires. Yes, its easier to get someone else to do it for you, but come on people, you just take off one tire and put it on somewhere else. Make sure you know the pattern for how to properly rotate your tires and you’ll be good to go.
Learn to check your car’s fluids and to top them off. Learn to check the levels of your oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, wiper fluid, etc. There is no reason to pay someone to tell you that you don’t need to add more fluid.
Learn to replace your car battery. This can be a pain in the butt (have you felt how heavy car batteries are?) but it is completely doable for a novice.
Learn to replace your wiper blades. This is super easy and should never be something you pay for.
Learn to replace your car’s air filter. Again, super easy and not worth the $50 they’ll charge you to do it.
If you’re feeling adventurous, learn to replace your brakes. This is for the more advanced mechanic, but replacing your own brakes will save you tons of money when the time comes. Just make sure you do it correctly. Brakes are an important feature when it comes to stopping your car.
Learn these basic skills and you’ll only pay a mechanic for something that takes true expertise, not the basic routine stuff you could be saving money on. What other mechanic skills have saved you money? Sound off below.
Siam Park is famous for its unique attractions that are designed to please all tourists, regardless of their age. As soon as you step into this incredible fun place located in Tenerife, the Canary Islands, you will never want to return home!
The first thing that catches the visitors’ eyes is the outstanding white sandy beach and the excitement that can be seen on the people’s faces. Surfers will certainly enjoy the huge wave pool located in the vicinity of the Wave Palace, while those who want to become surfers will be pleased to find out that Siam Park features a surf school. And where could you possibly learn more things about surf than in the largest water park from Europe, best known for the highest waves ever generated by a wave pool (about three meters high)?
Siam Park at AttractionTix is also known for its unique sculptures that represent mythical creatures, but also for the wide range of animals such as seahorses, monkeys or elephants, which have inspired the building process.
Other main attractions of Siam Park are its outstanding slides such as Jungle Snakes, The Naga Racer or The Dragon. Jungle Snakes consists of four winding slides that will certainly provide loads of fun for both children and adults. However, if you think you deserve something more thrilling, you can try experiencing another famous attraction called The Giant, which basically consists of two identical bowls where you’ll get to experience the force of a cyclone, thanks to the powerful centrifugal force.
Besides, you can have a great time drifting along the Mai Thai River and enjoying the amazing sights of the park, including the stunning aquarium, the waterfalls and the exotic islands.
In case you decide to take a break from the adrenaline pumping attractions and spend some quality moments with your friends or relatives, you can visit one of the restaurants and bars featured by Siam Park. The Tea House is located in the vicinity of the Sea Lion’s lake, and is a good choice whenever you want to have a snack or drink good tea or coffee. Besides, at the Beach Club Restaurant you have the opportunity to try some amazing dishes designed to please all tastes.
Once you visit this water park, you will certainly like to buy some souvenirs for your friends or relatives. Luckily for you, Siam Park features a floating market inspired from the Thai villages, where you can find a wide array of special gifts and many other items such as sunglasses or sun creams. What’s great about this floating market is that it was constructed with traditional Thai materials, such as bamboo.
Siam Park is one of the most appealing water parks, and its unique features turn it into a perfect holiday destination. Tourists will have the time of their life by discovering all the attractions from this park. Check out other great holiday destinations at AttractionTix.