Monday, December 17, 2007

Savings Percentages

When you shop and price comparison doesn't seem worth it, think in terms of percentages.

If a gallon of milk costs $3.75 at one store and $3.25 at another, you save 50 cents by buying the cheaper milk. This might not sound like much, but it's a 13% savings! What if you could do that with your entire food budget? It would stretch a lot further.

When thinking this way don't forget to consider the gas used. You don't want to run to 7 different stores to get your groceries. Your time is worth something also. You'll also have to consider quality.

There's great value in saving pennies. They do add up over time and you establish good frugal habits that will make a difference in other areas of your life also.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Use What You Have Decorating

From a Subscriber:

I've moved five times in the past 10 years, due to life and job changes. My way of saving money is called "use what you have decorating." I've had the same bedroom drapes and comforter for four of the five places I've lived.Sometimes I use my old things in a new way.

For instance, I had inherited some painted china plates that my Mom had stuck in the back of her china cabinet. You couldn't even see 'em there! I hung them up in the bathroom, of all places! But they made pretty wall decorations and the steam and humidity doesn't affect china plates.

A cedar chest became a behind-the-sofa table. Old kitchen items -- utensils, dishes, pot lids and knick knacks -- were placed on top of the kitchen cabinets in one home, where the cabinets didn't go all the way to the ceiling. They made a cute display.

My nightstand began life as a microwave oven stand back in the 1980s, when microwaves were HUGE; its big table surface provides lots of room for my lamp, alarm clock, glasses and books.

An antique dresser from a third bedroom has been in two large bathrooms, used for storing towels and cosmetics. The curtains in one house has been made into valances for windows elsewhere.

I'm not above dumpster diving, either: I have scrounged stereo speakers, plant stands, shelves, lamps, a Martha Stewart shower curtain, large baskets and chairs from apartment dumpsters. (Everything was in perfect condition. Can't believe my neighbors threw all this good stuff away!)

If you "think outside the box" you can come up with new uses for the things you already own or items you find -- and you can't beat the price; it's all free!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Slash Your Food Bill

Stop paying full price at the checkout line. Everyone's feeling the shock of higher grocery prices these days: you run in to buy a few basics, and $60 later you leave the store wondering where your money went.

In fact, grocery bills have risen about 5.7 percent in the past two years. Get some tips from this AARP article.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bonus Storage Space

Discovering Bonus Storage Space -- Right In Your Own Home
by Lois Breneman

All of us have probably said how we need more storage space in our homes. First of all, getting rid of all those things we really don't need will cut way down on the needed storage space. Then how about investigating every available space in your home and putting it to good use if you are still in need of more storage space? In many cases it is available and just waiting to be found!

Here are some clues as to where you can ! discover extra bonus space right in your own home.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Save on Gifts, Wrapping and Decorations

Ways to Save on Gifts, Wrapping and Decorations
by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. Limit gift-giving, both in the number of people to whom you give gifts and in the cost of the gifts. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of your income on gift-giving. Other people may enjoy your generosity, but it is you who will have to pay the bills.

2. Always keep an assortment of gifts on hand for gift-giving. Buy gift items when they are on sale (preferably when they are 75 percent or more off) and save them until the appropriate occasions arise. Usually, you will pay much more (probably full price) for gifts if you wait and buy them immediately prior to the times you need them.

There are 25 more ideas on the website.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Frugal Life On Bankrate.com

Recycling's Great -- Reusing Is Better

We're a society filled with environmental do-gooders. Most of us have picked up the habit of collecting piles of newspapers and lugging them out to the curb and filling our blue recycling bins with plastics and glass.

Some of us go the extra green mile, always on the lookout for recycling drives and even paying to have old household appliances and technology recycled. Buying natural and organic items for our homes is a source of pride, as well.

We are doing our part to save the planet, and we're proud of it.

But the second of the "three R's" -- reduce, reuse, recycle -- doesn't seem to be getting its fair share of the action.

Read the entire article which includes comments by Donna Watkins and mention of The Frugal Life website.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reuse Ideas For Holidays

Trees have it rough this time of year. Not only are they cut down to decorate for Christmas, it's also the prime time for paper use: Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Here's some green tips for cutting down on your contribution to a sea of crumpled red and green.

1. Make home-made cards from cereal boxes and decorate with collages from catalogs that you haven't yet called to have them stop sending.

2. Wrap gifts in newspaper and grocery bags. Dress them up with raffia or some real mistletoe, holly or evergreen clippings.

3. Use real dishes for your holiday events and cloth napkins. You'll impress your friends and family and have some good memories from gathering around the kitchen sink to clean up. Some of my fondest holiday memories are from the kitchen clean-up time.

4. Save wrapping paper and gift bags when you get gifts and reuse it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Using Old Christmas Cards

We all get a bunch of holiday greetings that are very special to us and we set them back for a few years until space limits us from "keeping them all" and it's time to go through and find a use for them. Here's a few things Donna has done with them over the years:

• Cut out a cute part of the scene, punch a hole in the corner, and use it for a gift tag. Some can be used on gifts other than Christmas depending on the scene.

• Cut out scenes and use in scrapbooks to surround your photos.

• Use them for notes around the holidays as you leave messages for family members or neighbors.

• For the most savings of all! Make them postcards with your own Christmas greeting. This will save buying cards, save trees since you won't need an envelope, provide a reuse instead of recycling option, and on top of all of that, you'll save 15 cents postage compared to the cost of sending a greeting card.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lonely White Socks

There's always those lonely socks that have lost their mate. They make good dust rags, but how many dust rags do you need? In an issue of Albemarle Family, Jennifer writes:

White socks make the cutest snowmen. Fill the bottom third of the sock with sand and pink it off with a rubber band, fill the next third with more sand and tie a fabric scrap around it for a winter scarf. Then fill almost to the top with a smaller amount of sand and tie a knot atop. Fold the sock top over the knot to look like a hat. Draw or glue on some eyes, a nose, a mouth and some buttons.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Telemarketers: Do Not Call Registry

If you got on board to stop those annoying telemarketing calls years back, your registration may have expired. You have to renew every 5 years. We just renewed ours.

If you're one of those people that just didn't believe it would work, let me assure you it does! We haven't had a telemarketing call since a couple months after we registered.

It doesn't stop political and non-profits, but we get few calls from them. You can request to be taken off their lists verbally.

If you get calls 31 days after registering, you can report the caller's phone number (which they are required to show if they're a telemarketer) or the name of the company.

You can also begin right away by saying, "According to my legal rights, I'd like to have this telephone number removed from your call list."

Register now through DoNotCall.gov website or toll-free at 1-888-382-1222.

Re: Cell Phones

It's a myth that telemarketers are going to begin calling cell phones. Wireless companies and the FTC will not release subscriber information to telemarketers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Holidays: Family Trivia

When holidays come that have lots of family in one location, you can keep things lively by having a Family Trivia game. Have each family member write 20 trivia questions on index cards with the answer on the back.

When everybody is together, shuffle the cards and let the game begin. One by one, family members draw a card and try to answer the question. If there are any new in-laws in the group, it's a great way for them to get "filled in" on the past. It's a great time of laughs, tears and bonding too!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Opt Out Of Credit Card Offers

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you.

More junk mail and more sharing of your private information. But! The FCRA also provides you the right to "Opt-Out", which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information.

Through www.OptOutPrescreen.com. you can opt out of this process.

More Tips and Articles on Finances

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bedroom Decorating

Dreamweaver's post in our Decorating Forum.

I love to have things in my bedroom coordinate but it's really hard to do on such a tight budget. I bought curtains at an outlet store for 1.99 a panel. I actually accidentally bought too many panels not realizing that I would only need to hang two over my large bedroom window. When I hung 4 it was just too much. Rather than returning the extra panels I found that they are large enough to cut into pillow cases!

I now have pillow cases (including one for my large body pillow) that match my curtains! I use 4 pillows on my bed and sheet sets only come with 2 pillow cases. I have enough to cover all my pillows! When I get tired of the set I have now I'll just buy some new curtains and do the same again! I hope you all enjoy this helpful tip ... you can save a lot of money rather than buying shams to match your curtains!

Share your decorating ideas in the Decorating Forum.
More Tips and Articles on Decorating

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Price of Over-Packing

Airlines now limit the amount of luggage and the weight. Packing wisely and leaving some space and weight for the return trip will save you bucks.

You may think it's just a small fee, but when I was in line to return from Oklahoma last month, the woman in front of me had both of her bags over the weight limit and paid a $50 fee on each of them.

You won't need that kitchen sink when you get there, and if you do, for $100 you could buy one.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Free Directory Assistance

You don't have to pay to find out somebody's number. Just call 1-800-free-411. You have to listen to some advertisements but it's better than paying $2 each time you dial 411.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cheapest Days to Buy

Depending on what you're planning to buy, some days of the week may yield better bargains than others.

Smart Money talked to the experts and narrowed down the best days of the week to buy certain items, such as airline tickets, books, cars, clothing, department store items, dinner out, entertainment, gas, groceries and hotel rooms.

Get details at SmartMoney.com.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Decorating Tip

Belinda's post in the Decorating Forum.

Another thing I have done to save money is to save boxes as I buy things and use them for storage in other areas of my home. I just decoupage them with paper or fabric to match the room they will go in. I have found beautiful wrapping paper at the dollar tree and I just use watered down school glue to adhere it and then go over the top too.

Even better protection is given if you go over the final product with varnish. I have used the big diaper boxes from Costco as toy boxes so that the various rooms don't look so cluttered. I cover them with adult appropriate paper that matches the decor of the room.

I put up shelves in my craft room and put all my supplies in different boxes that I have saved. A round grits container is perfect for pens, shoe boxes are perfect for odds and ends, the boxes that paper came in are perfect for other papers. I also printed labels using my computer and glued them right on too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Save Money While Vacationing

Vacation is a chance to get away from it all, but while you're gone, the bills keep rolling in. Or do they?

You probably know to put a hold on your newspaper and mail, but temporary service suspensions, which are offered for everything from your landline and wireless phones to your high-speed Internet and cable, allow you to shut down your service (and those monthly bills) while you're away. Setting it up is as simple as calling your providers and asking for a "vacation service," or, alternately, a "temporary suspension."

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Healthy Pet Foods

Pet food ingredients can create a lot of health problems for our pets, and that can cost a lot of money with recurring health issues feeding that drain our budgets for the veterinarian.

Be an informed pet owner when it comes to what's in pet foods. You already know that you feel better if you eat right. Help them to feel better too. View this video on what to look for in pet foods.

Shopping At Your Local Dumpster

Freegans are dumpster divers. While some do it for economic reasons, most dumpster dive for political reasons. By living completely on the trash of others, freegans claim they aren't contributing to big corporations and they're helping reduce their impact on the environment. Visit the Freegans website.

So You Want To Be A Millionaire?

Many people think that the rich were born into money, inherited it, or got lucky. The book, The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley reports that 70 percent of millionaires have their shoes resoled rather than buying new ones. 71 percent make out a list before going shopping. Sounds to me like millionaires are made by being frugal and smart with your money.

Even the rich need a purpose in life, so most of them continue to work or give back to society in some way. When asked what led them to the work they chose, 81 percent said they chose a job that "allowed them to use their abilities." It's okay to do what you enjoy doing for work. You will do a better job working in a realm you love and that will lead to wealth in one way or another.

But being wealthy doesn't stop them from thinking frugally. 57 percent adjust the indoor air conditioner temperature setting during the summer to save energy and 49 percent use coupons for groceries and buy household supplies at warehouse stores. When buying a home, 65 percent take plenty of time to find the best deal, 79 percent research recent home prices near homes they are interested in, and 86 percent never pay the initial asking price. So, it's not cheap to want a deal.

These results seem to indicate monetary success comes more from a person's disciplined spending habits, than just the desire to achieve wealth. Matter of fact, a desire to appear wealthy can keep a person from making wise choices and might present an inability to exercise the discipline needed in making them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Money From Heaven

There may be money floating around with your name on it. An estimated 24 billion in savings accounts, stock dividends, paychecks, utility deposits, and insurance proceeds are waiting to be claimed.

By law, companies must turn this money over to state governments for safekeeping. To find yours, go to Unclaimed.org which is run by the National Assoc. of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and start by clicking on the link to your state's site.

Check every state you've ever lived in. It's a free service.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Singing Success At-Home Study Course

We discovered this product when my wife purchased it with the 100% guarantee. We actually expected we'd be sending it back, but were delightfully surprised that it was all it said it was.

The Singing Success Vocal Training Program, by celebrity vocal coach Brett Manning, is the only vocal training program that guarantees a full octave increase in your vocal range. And you can do it at home.

You'll learn to sing as easily as you speak, completely eliminating vocal strain, and you will learn to master the techniques of vocal style, including runs, licks and trills. Get a full refund if it doesn't do all it promises. Read more about the Singing Success Program.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Recipe: Homemade Shake and Bake

Shake and Bake coating mix is handy but way too expensive for what it is. The other night, I made my own and it worked beautifully! Measurements are approximate and spices can be adjusted or substituted as desired. (I made this batch for chicken...when I try it for pork chops, I'll use finer bread crumbs and more sage.)

1 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup flour
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. each sage, thyme, poultry seasoning, celery salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (next time I'll use a pinch of cayenne, too)

Place all ingredients into a sturdy plastic bag and shake. Wet chicken pieces, place in bag and coat, shaking off excess crumbs. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes (depending on how much chicken you're using, increase bake time accordingly).

I plan to make big batches and store in mason jars.

MissSuzy's contribution in the Recipes Forum.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Free Directory Assistance

You can save on your phone bill by calling 1-800-free-411. It's just what it sounds like, free directory assistance. You have to listen to some advertisements but it's better than paying $2 each time you dial 411.

Friday, June 22, 2007

180 Ways To Save Money

From The Frugal Lawyer Blog

Here’s a list of 180 money saving tips that can turn your financial life around 180 degrees. These are things that I have learned while reading blogs or other books. I’ve tried to provide links to blog posts and other articles that elaborate more on the tip. This was a fun exercise. While I personally don’t practice every single tip listed, it was a good way to find out how I can do better on saving money.

Automobile/Transportation

1. Wash and vacuum your car at home.
2. Buy a used car. New cars drop significantly in value as soon as you drive off the lot.
3. Get rid of your car. If you’re married, just have one.
4. Keep your tires inflated at the correct pressure.
5. Do not carry unneeded weight in your vehicle. Excess weight puts a heavier load on the engine.
6. Accelerate slowly and smoothly. Avoid jackrabbit starts. Get into high gear as quickly as possible.

Read the entire article.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Keep Your Goal ... Change Your Plan!

It's hard to move forward while looking backward, but without looking backward we fail to give gratitude for accomplishment or learn from failure both necessary for future success.

2006 was a monumental year for Elizabeth, my wife, and me. It marked our 10-year Debt-Freedom anniversary. 1996 was a monumental year as well.

In 1996 we switched financial freedom tactics. With debt elimination accomplished, it was time to create enough income-generating wealth to give us the freedom to choose our rat-race exit date.

Our calculations projected we could reach this next milestone in 10 years 2006 provided our income stayed the same, our investments cooperated, and living expenses remained modest. We created a new Goal Card with 2006 as our date objective and designed a Plan to achieve it.

Then came the challenges...

Two months after accomplishing Debt-Freedom, my engineering job relocated itself to high cost-of-living San Jose, CA. No way I was going to get back into debt following a job.

Scratch 1 income ...

In 2000 the Internet bubble burst, taking the stock market with it.

Scratch years of stock investing gains ...

In September 2001, I launched DebtIntoWealth -- 10 days before terrorists attacked the U.S. with commercial jets.

Scratch marketing plan and remaining stock market assets.

You might think, given these "disasters," we were tempted to tear-up our Goal Card. And you'd be right. But each disaster reminded us of the risk of being financially dependent on jobs and stock markets.

Instead of changing our Goal ... we changed our Plan.

In 2006 as our Goal Card predicted -- we left the rat race. Like Elizabeth is fond of saying,

"Keep taking steps in a certain direction and you're going to end up where you're headed."

Disasters have a way of ignoring your well laid plans. Make a Goal Card ... if you don't have one already. Change your Plan ... if disasters make it necessary.

But by all means, get yourself and your family on the path to debt-freedom and job-independence today. I assure you ... life's a lot more fun and disasters are a lot less disastrous!

Greg Moore is the Architect of the Debt Freedom System. Pay off all of your debt in 5-7 years using the money you already make. Find out why financial guru and best-selling author, Suze Orman, is advising her millions of followers to " Everyone should be agressively paying off mortgage debt as fast as possible." Greg offers Lesson #1 Free.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Restoring Non-stick Cookware

Question From Forum:
I seem to remember watching a cooking program on a cable channel years ago. The host was introducing a segment about restoring the "non-stick" to non-stick cookware. The phone rang and I missed the rest of the show. I never saw or read anything since about restoring non-stick pans, etc. I've always believed it couldn't be done. True or false?

Answer From Forum:
What they recommend before it gets to that point, is to every so often, wipe the non-stick surface with cooking oil on a paper towel. There is some stuff that Presto recommended to me for my non-stick skillet that was sticking right above where the coil underneath was located. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, but it is in the cleaning section in the supermarket in a little green container.

Visit The Frugal Life Forum.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Herbal Alternative

It seems everybody frugal has used herbs and supplements for the sheer savings on medical bills, but sometimes you don't know where to begin. We've gathered success stories for many years. There are even Pet Success Stories.

Read what others have done with natural therapies, for specific health issues, on The Frugal Life's Herbal Success Stories.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Discovering Bonus Storage Space - Right In Your Home

by Lois Breneman

All of us have probably said how we need more storage space in our homes. First of all, getting rid of all those things we really don't need will cut way down on the needed storage space. Then how about investigating every available space in your home and putting it to good use if you are still in need of more storage space? In many cases it is available and just waiting to be found! Here are some clues as to where you can discover extra bonus space right in your own home!
Hang a clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the linen closet to hold bandaids, small tubes of medications, a thermometer, ball syringes, etc. Everything will be easy to see and locate quickly when needed.

Hang another clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the coat closet for sunglasses, gloves, scarves, fold up umbrellas, etc.

Hang more clear vinyl pocket organizers inside your children's closet doors, unless the doors are louvered. I'm sure you will agree that small things stored in these pockets are so much better than scattered all around their rooms! And everything will all be visible through the clear vinyl!

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Breaking Free From Debt With a Passion

by Donna L. Watkins

Debt-free living is such a key area of our lives that needs to be changed in America. The focus needs to be taken off of THINGS and put on PEOPLE ... the time we spend shopping for stuff to fill our closets and cabinets could be and should be, spent on building relationships and helping others.

We need a Global Focus to understand that we don't have to have a Pity Party for ourselves to give up the stuff. You don't have to look very far to realize how blessed we are. There are people dying on streets that don't have any food to eat. There are people eating out of trash cans daily and sleeping on concrete. It's time for us to be grateful for what we have and to share with others who do not have.

Here's a few of our tips for debt-free living. You have to find and make your own. Borrow some books from the library on debt-free living and on simplicity. You don't have to buy them ... just borrow them. People generally read a book only once and then stick it on the shelf as another possession. Use the library system or check with friends and begin to trade books.

Read the entire article.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Never Throw Away Books or Magazines

The disposable mentality sometimes doesn't cause us to look beyond our own use of something, but when it comes to printed matter, there are many out there who can benefit from what you are ready to discard.

Besides the typical options of public libraries and church libraries, books and magazines and inspirational pamphlets are a great aid to rehabilitation for those who've been sent to prison or juvenile detention centers. Please search out a correctional facility in your area to donate published materials of any kind.

You can also contact some neighbors to form a magazine swap. Make a list of what each neighbor has and when it's compiled let each participating neighbor check off what they'd like to swap around. Then give that list to each person with magazines to share. They can attach a sheet of paper to each issue with the names of those interested so that it can continue to be passed on till they are all checked off. If the person wants the magazine back, their name can be put on the list also.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Cheap-Check Fees!

by Greg Moore

In Lesson 19 of my course, "DebtIntoWealth -- Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom", I recommend using discount check printers like, Checks Unlimited (www.checksunlimited.com), Checks Connect (www.checksconnect.com), or Checks In The Mail (secure.checksinthemail.com) instead of your bank's checks for your personal checks.

If your bank charges for checks, you'll save money by using a discount printer.

A Bankrate.com article. (www.bankrate.com/brm/news/chk/20060825a1.asp) warns your bank might charge a fee of up to $5 per check if your discount check tears during processing. Banks are claiming these checks aren't up to their quality standards, which seems dubious given the parent companies of many discount check printers also print the checks banks sell.

Bank checks also tear during processing. If you've ever received a canceled bank check with a piece of paper containing account and routing information taped to the bottom, this check tore during processing.

Did your bank charge a fee?

Nope. Torn-check fees are only for alien checks... and generally, the smaller institutions are the ones charging these fees. Larger banks just fix and process the checks.

It's possible a printer is printing poor quality checks that gum-up check sorting machines. These beasts can process 1,800 checks per minute. But, instead of fining the customer, wouldn't it be better to alert the printer? After all, a few torn-check fees will quickly eliminate any discount advantage and send the customer fleeing into the arms of the bank's checks... and maybe that's the objective.

If your bank charges a torn-check fee, your choices are: (1) switch to a larger bank, (2) confirm your printer is a member of the Check Payment Systems Association which governs the specifications for printing checks (www.cpsa-checks.org/memlisting.htm), (3) contest the fee, especially if your printer is a member of CPSA.

Buy the least expensive quality checks you can find. The extra money you create by reducing this expense can be added to other money saving practies to help pay off debt. And stay vigilant for attempts to pursuade you to spend more than necessary on something as generic as a blank check.

Greg Moore is the Architect of the Debt Freedom System, "DebtIntoWealth -- Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom" - Free Lesson #1.
"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28