Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Save Money On a Cruise

Saving money for a cruise might be easier than you think. Nothing sounds so good as a warm-weather cruise in the middle of winter. What a great time to slip away and get a tan or just escape the winter blues.

Cruises come with everything included, so you don't have to wonder how much to have for meals, or rental cars, or hotels. You have the total package deal before you make the decision.

Here's an article that will let you find the best cruise deals for your money.

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Avoid False Thrift - Know When to Spend More

By Jill Florio

Buying things cheaply is only half of the thrifty living equation. There comes a time when too many cheap goods simply equals clutter, and often, those cheaply made products fall apart too quickly, limiting their useful lifespan.

With many products, the most frugal perspective is to take a look at the quality of the item, and to think about how often you will be using it.

False Thrift is when you buy something that is available at the cheapest price, without looking at the quality of the thing in question. How long do you want something to last? How many uses do you plan to get out of it? Would you like to make this your last purchase of this type - and maybe even pass it down to your heirs? For example ....

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60 Frugal Skills Everyone Should Know

You're never too old to learn. Good thought, especially when it comes to being frugal. There's a lot we can learn to save dollars and here's a great article telling you about some of them. Read on ....

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Faucet Cuts Water 90% in Bathrooms

Every Little Dripp Counts
Mark van Baal

These days, instead of gushing jets of water, what comes out of the bathroom faucets at the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, a small town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, are showers of tiny drops.

That’s because the firm has installed 26 Dripps. Invented by three students from Maastricht, Dripps cut water flow by more than 90 percent.

A mechanism inside the faucet attachment converts a stream of water into a spray. When Ode tested a Dripp, hand-washing took a mere fraction longer than with a conventional faucet. (The device isn’t suitable for use in showers.)

So far, just a few hundred standard faucets in businesses and schools have been replaced by Dripps, which cost about $40 each. Still, sometimes the biggest floods start with just a few drops.

Source: Ode Magazine.

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Things You Shouldn't Buy Used

Shopping second-hand is a great way to save money, but there are some things that you just shouldn't buy used (no matter how good the deal is). Here are some of those items:

Bicycle Helmets
A helmet that has been dropped or involved in an accident won't protect you the way it should – even if it looks fine.

Get professionally fitted for a new helmet (free at most bike shops), and you'll have a helmet that is both safe and comfortable to wear.

Most car seats expire six years from the date of manufacture, and while the expiration date is easy enough to check (it'll usually printed on one of seat's labels), it's still a good idea to steer clear of used car seats. They may have been dropped, involved in a wreck or otherwise damaged– there's just no way to tell.

Still pained by the thought of springing for a new car seat? Just remember that a new seat will include all of the latest safety features, so this is one time when buying new means getting more. Read the entire article.

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Problems Traveling: Gripe Effectively

Anyone who travels knows something always goes wrong, and it usually happens in a sequence of bad events. I once counted about 47 different points of abuse awaiting travelers from the moment they buy their ticket until they return home. And I've always said that we define a successful journey by how much we minimize the abuse.

But sometimes, it's unavoidable, draconian, mean-spirited, and it doesn't just inconvenience us, it COSTS us -- in time, money, aggravation, and tension.

And we want to complain. But how? To Whom? Read the entire article.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Space Solutions

When Becky Tillery and her husband bought a 1, 180-square foot house in a historic area of Huntsville, Alabama, many of her friends thought she was crazy: How was she going to cram three kids, two adults and a dog into such a tiny space?

But Tillery knew the 1950s cottage-style ranch would work for her growing family. And she’s not alone in her move to scale back. Houses are getting smaller – the average size of a new single-family home in 2009 was 2,438 square feet, compared with 2,521 in 2007, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And many more people are opting to rent apartments. In a May 2010 National Apartment Association survey, 76 percent of people said they believe renting is a better option than buying in the current market.

But before you sell off your furniture and books and move your family into a loft, there are questions to ask about living smaller, both on a practical and financial level. Read the entire article.

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Find Your True Credit Score

Getting an accurate number can be tricky. Many consumers don't realize there's more than one credit-scoring formula.

In addition to the well-known FICO score, each of the three credit-reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — sells so-called consumer-education scores.

Then there's VantageScore, a FICO rival developed by all three bureaus that uses a scale ranging up to 990 points (the top FICO is 850). Critics often call these upstarts "FAKO" scores, because most lenders currently judge your creditworthiness using the FICO. Read the entire article.

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A New Kind of Personal Wealth

A lot has changed for Rachel Aydt in the past two years. Since the magazine she worked for shut down in 2008, she’s been faced with plenty of financial uncertainty. Aydt now blends freelance work with teaching to make ends meet. But she and her family—a husband and son—still have to watch the pennies. Though money is tight, what the New Yorker and her family get in return for their spending has made them richer in unexpected ways.

Joining her young son’s local karate group is a case in point. Aydt, 38, has had to cut back on certain things, but her son’s karate lessons haven’t been one of them. In fact, she’s joined, too, and mother and son do karate twice a week at a local center. Karate has brought with it a sense of “neighborhood community we didn’t have before,” she says.

Similarly, picking her food upstate instead of buying it at a grocery store has meant the family gets more satisfaction from their purchases. And being around more means less money spent on child care when her son isn’t at school, leaving more for picnics at the beach. For Aydt, the aim these days is “putting the dollar more toward life-enriching things."

But in some respects, our collective plunge in net worth has led to a rise in a different kind of personal wealth, prompted by a more thoughtful approach to consumption that emphasizes experience over excess and community over commerce. Insights from psychology and behavioral economics suggest that when it comes to happiness, what you spend your money on can matter more than how much of it you have. Studies have shown that putting more cash toward experiences rather than stuff, buying a gift for someone else rather than yourself and even simply anticipating a purchase longer make us happier.

It may have taken a recession to remind us of this, but the lesson seems to be taking hold. “People are shifting from mindless to mindful consumption,” says John Gerzema, chief insights officer at global marketing services firm Young & Rubicam and co-author of Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution Is Changing The Way We Buy, Sell and Live. Read the entire article.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Cheap Large Plant Containers

Frugal Backyard Tip from Birds and Blooms

I bought plastic laundry tubs for $7 each and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. Then I removed the rope handles and painted them with colorful flowers. I now have great decorative containers, and they were a fraction of the cost of similar ones. —Bobbi Childers, Perry, Florida

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Co-signing for Friends and Family

You may think you're doing a good deed by adding your name to a loan. Don't do it. You could be headed for big financial trouble. Not only would their default affect your credit rating, besides requiring YOU to make the payment, but other rates are affected by your credit score ... such as insurance rates.

For those of you who are toying with helping out a partner, parent, sibling or child, don't do it by co-signing a note. Adding your name to someone else's debt is a very serious financial step. Be educated on this topic before you take the risks. Read: Co-Signing on the Dotted Line

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Retune Your TV

You can save on your electric bill by reducing the brightness of your HD TV. Many of them are shipped from the factory set at a "retail mode" of screen brightness that displays optimum picture clarity in a showroom.

Go to your TV's setup menu and look for "home mode" or some other way to dial down the brightness. This reduces electricity consumption and can possibly save you $50 a year.

Source: AARP Bulletin

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Compare Aisles in Grocery Shopping

Look closely in the grocery store. Prices may vary between how the items are displayed.

Cheese sliced at the deli can cost twice as much as block cheese in the dairy aisle. Nuts in the baking section may be less than those in a produce bin. When you see a display of complementary products ... such as chips and salsa, be assured you'll find a better salsa price in the aisle with all the salsas. Be a sharp shopper! Think before you grab.

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Audio Books for Free

Get audiobooks for free from LibriVox.org, a worldwide digital library with more than 4,000 unabridged classics in the public domain, plus drama and poetry.

These books are read by volunteers (you can be one too!), and can be played on your computer, MP3 player, cellphone or burned to a CD to listen to in your car.

Free audiobooks are also available through LiteralSystems.org and AudioBooksForFree.com

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Online Bartering Saves Cash

By Noble Sprayberry

Cash-averse shoppers – people who prefer barter over buy – have pushed transactions traditionally made face-to-face onto the more anonymous web.

Sites such as barterquest.com and u-exchange.com allow shoppers to trade a range of good and services. Others specialize, such as homeexchange.com, which bartersvacation homes, and swap.com, which focuses on items such as books, movies, and video games. Many others exist.

'Since there is a proliferation of barter websites out there, you do have to be a little savvy about the site you choose,' says Shera Dalin a co-author along with Karen Hoffman, of the book, The Art of Barter: How to Trade for Almost Anything. Read the entire article.

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"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