Friday, December 31, 2010

Financial New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

Make 2011 your best financial year yet. Whether you are looking to get out of debt or perhaps you are want to pile up some extra cash. 2011 is the year to do it. Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas.

1. Start an automatic savings plan: Open a bank account with a high yield savings account. I use Ing and I love them, after the account is set up schedule an automatic withdrawal from your regular account to your new high yield account. Only have one debit card from your new account and leave it at home. This will remove the temptation of using it. Once a month check the account to monitor the balance and enjoy watching the savings build. If possible talk to HR at work and have that monthly amount sent directly to your account with your direct deposit.

2. Lose some weight: obesity is the leading cause of death in the United States and we all know that medical expense can deplete the best savings accounts. So set a goal to improve your health by losing weight. It won't take long to notice the savings.


3. Open a wroth IRA: Securing a comfortable retirement without investing is getting harder and harder. The wroth IRA is a excellent choice for most people looking to save a lot of money and utilize the miracle of compound interest.

4. Remove the chains of debt: Debt is the largest obstacle to overcome when trying to become financially independent. Check out my get out of debt plan here.

5. Cash, cash, cash: Develop a cash only budget, cut up the credit card and start saving to purchase everything in cash. Spending thousands of dollars a year on interest is devastating to financial independence. Waiting to purchase with cash helps me to determine how badly I really want the item. It's helped me avoid a lot of purchases that I really didn't need, which also helped save on interest.

6. Start a budget: the best way to save money is to start a budget. It's amazing to me how much money can be saved by weeding out those wasteful purchases.

 It's important to set goals, and the new year is a perfect time to do it. Have a great night tonight and an even better new year!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frugal man gives millions to town.

I love to hear great stories of giving. This is an example of how frugality has blessed the lives of an entire town.  http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/12/19/exp.dnt.frugal.farmer.millions.cnn?hpt=C2




Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This week in finance.

This week in finance.

Once a week I like to post a few things that I have read that I think can benefit readers. Checkout the links with each number so you can see the great information.


1. Financial disaster planning. I love this article from frugal dad, perfect things to think about when preparing for a financial disaster.


2. Rebound Podcast: This is an interesting podcast that I have a strong love hate relationship with. I find the couple very annoying at times and yet I keep coming back and listening for more. I think this is because they are so human. Listen to their journey of recovering from bankruptcy.

3. Want to retire but you are not sure you can. Read and learn how to do it in just 5 years. His methods may seem like madness to you however he is starting a huge trend around the country with his minimalistic lifestyle.

4. Think about how you are using coupons is it really in your best interest. Here is an awesome simple example of when to use them and when not to.

5. Looking for a way to make this Christmas Unique, make it a cash only Christmas. Here is a fun article about how a single mom did it. CASH ONLY

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Car repair

The cost of repairing your car can really eat into your budget. The worst  thing about car problems are they are almost impossible to plan for. So what can you do to avoid busting the budget when it comes to getting that car fixed and back on the road? When it comes to major repairs I suggest searching around for a good mechanic. Ask co-workers or family who they have been going to. When you call the repair man mention that so and so referred you. That way he knows that by doing a good job he is getting more business.

But for those smaller tasks like changing the oil, or replacing your brake pads, pull out the old tool set and do it yourself. Our brake pads needed replaced on our car, so I stopped by a few places to get estimates. The best price was $55 with an average of around $70. I couldn't believe how expensive it was. Remembering a few things from automotive in high school I decided to do it on my own. I hopped online and watched  a few tutorials to refresh my memory and then did it. Entire cost of the project? $17 dollars and an hour of my time. Between driving to the repair shop waiting for it to be my cars turn and waiting for the job to be done it would have taken at least that much time. There are hundreds of small projects we can do on our cars rather than paying a repair man.

If you are looking at doing a bigger job I suggest purchasing a repair manual about your specific car. For example:

Fixing your own car not only saves money but it can be a fun activity for you as well.
What are a few repairs you have done to your car versus taking it into the shop?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Frugal weekend part 2.

1. Attend a sporting event: Yes these can be costly if you do not plan ahead. However many teams offer great deals on tickets if you purchase in advance.  Also as long as your favorite team is not playing their arch rival you can often get tickets at a great price just outside the stadium. Ticket scalpers buy left over tickets for eighty percent off, sell them to you at fifty percent off and you both walk away happy.


2. Movie marathon, pick out your favorite movie, or watch an entire season of your favorite TV show. Invite a few friends over make it a big event.

3. Go snow shoeing: This is one of my favorite activities to do in the winter, its a great way to enjoy the snow and it is a great workout. If you do not have snow shoes I recommend renting some from a local sporting goods store before making the big purchase. But its something you can do time and time again, hop online and find a new hill to climb.

4. Put Luck dinner party: Dinner parties are a ton of fun, but if you host them often it can get pretty costly. Pot lucks are an awesome way to do that party for cheap, and you get to enjoy the meal rather than spend the whole night dishing food out.

5. Make a gift: Tis the season of giving, rather than spending a bunch of money on a gift for a co-worker or sibling. Spend some time thinking about something they would love and then make it. It will help foster your creativity as well as show you put a lot of thought into the gift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black/Friday

Black Friday is almost upon us and it opens up several interesting ideas. Let me start by telling a short story, a few years ago my family all got together on Black Friday for lunch welcoming me home from my two  year  church mission. As my uncle and aunt were leaving my uncle said with as sarcastic of a tone as he could muster "well we are off to save some more money". My aunt rolled her eyes and they were off. Now in my aunts defense they were both having a great time and they could afford what they were purchasing. But he understood you can never "save" money by purchasing something you do not need. It is impossible to classify what "needs" are other than saying food, shelter, clothing. That definition then leaves a huge gray area where we determine what our "wants" are, and prioritize them. I have no problem with people having lots of wants and fulfilling ALL OF THEM as long as they can afford it (not using debt to get it) and still save for retirement.

Black Friday is about saving on "wants" not "needs". If you have been waiting to get an expensive want Black Friday can be a great option. However in an earlier post I mentioned that we just purchased a new to us TV. With Black Friday coming in just a month and having a brother in-law who works in electronic retail, I was really tempted to purchase a new TV from him. However doing so would have cut into our retirement savings and that was not an option. So for $50 we found a great new to us TV and we love it. Getting that new TV on Black Friday would have saved us nothing.

I find it interesting when I hear people who talk about how much they saved on an item that they probably could have done without. No matter how great the savings they still got something they did not need.  So for those of you who are getting up super early to catch some great deals. Remember that they are only offered to get you into the store to buy something that is not on sale to go along with that deeply discounted item. Below is a link about how to prepare for Black Friday and make the most of it. I think you if follow this guide you will be happy with your purchases. Be safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

http://frugaldad.com/2010/11/23/black-friday-deals/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CRAZY SAVING TIPS.

In a recent post Jim at bargaineering.com, talked about a crazy way to save money here is his post.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Kim Palmer, my biased review of her book Generation Earn is probably proof enough (though Trent also praised her book in his review), but her latest list of money saving tips, culled from fellow bloggers, has some horrible and dangerous suggestions.
For example, turning off your car while it’s still moving is dangerous. The idea is that you can use your car’s momentum to slide into parking spots or when you’re going downhill, saving a few drops of gasoline in the process. The dangerous part, which Kim notes, is that you have no power brakes and no power steering. What she doesn’t mention is the fact that if you try this while going downhill, you’ll have to spend time and attention restarting your car. Is it really worth the risk? I say no.
There are so many things any one person can do to save money (just take a peek of my list of 100 Money Saving Tips if you need ideas) that you should do the ones that have the biggest impact. Reusing sandwich bags can save you $30 a year, cutting back on cable can save you $30 a month… and requires less work. Taking cold showers can save you a few dollars a month on energy bills, whereas brown bagging your lunch can save you a few dollars every single day.
I think it’s important to save money, in any form, but it’s even more important to maximize your savings by first tackling the ideas that have greatest impact.

Finding those easy quick ways to save is not only fun but essential to cutting back. A few not so crazy ways that we save.

1. Use space heaters: My wife and I only use a few rooms in our house on a daily basis. So heating those other rooms is just a waste of money. For around $20 we found some space heaters to heat the rooms we do use while we are home. The rest of the day we leave the central heat on a safe, but low temperature, and it has really cut down our winter utilities.

2. Building things. Rather than spending money all weekend on activities. Put on your creative cap and build something you have always wanted. There are a hundreds of blogs with plans on how to make a perfect seasonal door wreath. One of our favorite DIY magazines is Readymade they have hundreds of great little projects you can do at little to no cost. 

3. Slow down: Transportation eats up a large amount of our budgets. Cars reach their maximum miles per gallon between 55 and 60 miles an hour. Driving faster or slower than that, can cut your cars MPG in half. Especially if you are accelerating quickly after every stop. If the average work commute is 35 miles and average MPG is 24 with gas at $2.60 a gallon just commuting to work is costing around $20 a week. Which is a low number, cut that MPG in half and you are doubling that to $40 a week. Slowing down your speed and easing into accelerating is an easy way to save some cash. Below are numbers a driver did to determine the difference in driving 65 mph, or 55 mph in his commute.
- Following traffic, in the RX-8 (65 mph)
This car gets about 22 mpg if you drive it like grandma,
basically following flow of traffic and so on.
96 miles / 22mpg * $2.50 = $10.90 to drive to work.
100 minutes travel time.


- Driving 55 mph in the RX-8
Now the RX-8 will get 24 mpg.
96 miles / 24mpg * $2.50 = $10.00.
104 minutes travel time.

I will take the dollar a day in savings vs the 4 minutes less driving. 

4. Share: instead of spending a few hundred dollars on a tool that you will only use once or twice a year. Find a friend or family member who lives close by who may benefit from having it too. Split the cost and save a ton of money, plus you may have just found a friend to help on that next big project.

5. Eat less: not only will this help you shed a few pounds but it can help you save on your grocery bill. A large percentage of Americans are overweight so do yourself a favor and cut down your portions.

What is the craziest thing you have heard of someone doing to save some cash?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun frugal weekend activities.

Planning a frugal weekend is easier than you think, and it is a ton of fun. Weekends tend to eat up a large amount of our budget, and they don't have to. Try spending little to nothing on your next weekend activity, here are a few great weekend activities.

1. Picnic/Hike, look up a local trail that you can hike. Spend the day outdoors and stop for a quick sandwich during the hike. This is a great activity for couples or a family with kids who are looking for a cheap adventure.

2. Hit the beach, besides spending a few dollars on parking heading to the beach is a great way to spend a weekend day on just a few dollars. Soak up the sun and enjoy a nice day at the beach.

3.Volunteer, nothing makes you feel better than helping someone else. So rather than spending the day focused on you find someone else to help. Spend a day working at a soup kitchen or visiting the elderly at a rest home. There are hundreds of ways you can volunteer.

4. Go to a local art museum. Almost every city has a art museum and many of them are free/very low cost. It's a lot of fun to see what local artists are doing and is a great way to stay warm in the winter.

5. Go to a free outdoor concert. Summer concert series are a lot of fun and are played in most large cities. This is a great way to spend the day and who knows you may find your new favorite band.

6. Organize your finances and set goals. This may not seem like the most fun activity in the world, but it can keep you on track to achieving your goals. When goals are being met this activity becomes a lot more fun. Check out my financial Saturday cleanup post.

7. Go for an all day bike ride. Look up a local historic site (or a few) and hop on your 10 speed and spend the day checking them out. You will see the city in a whole different way as you cruise down the road. This activity is good for you good for the environment and a ton of fun.

8. Play a few of your favorite games. Whether you like a long game of Monopoly or Risk, or you love to play some social quick games. Board games are a great way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon. Invite some friends over and have a nice potluck dinner to go along with your games.

9. Develop a hobby, you may love to sew or paint but never seem to have the time. Rather than heading to a move, spend the day practicing one of your favorite hobbies. In fact is you probably spent a few hundred dollars at one point purchasing supplies dust them off give them a try.

10. Start a blog, or brainstorm about a small business you want to run. Whenever I think of great ideas like Netflix, or Redbox,I think how come I didn't think of that:? The concept behind both of those very successful businesses is pretty basic. However people put a lot of thought into the development. Who knows you may have an idea floating around in your head that will could make you millions. Spend the day writing things down and setting goals.


This list could go on and on. Most importantly find things that you love to do that meet your financial goals and do them. Do not let your recreation hold you back from having a debt free life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Financial Food For Thought.

I start my day off by reading a few of my favorite blogs and news articles. Here articles I read today that I really enjoyed. 

1. Renting vs. Buying. I am a huge proponent of purchasing a home. However home ownership is not always what it is cracked up to be. This is an awesome article on why you may be better off renting.
http://christianpf.com/reasons-to-rent-instead-of-buy-a-home/

2. Hoping to recoup on a renovation? Here is an awesome article on what gives you your best bang for your buck. My wife and I purchased "fixer upper" this past May. We have done a substantial amount of cosmetic work, and are soon to undertake some bigger projects. Its nice to know our first major project was one of the best returns 'wood deck'. (will post pictures later)

3. Cleaning up your finances. No this is about getting out of credit card debt or taking care of your student loans. This is about the nasty, shameful things you wish you had never done!!!

4. I am all about making the big sacrifices now, to pay for a better future.
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/big-sacrifices-now-make-all-the-small-differences-later.html


 There are hundreds of awesome personal finance blogs out there. These are just a few of my favorite. I especially enjoy how different each ones take is on finance. One thing they all have in common. Save money, grow money, enjoy money. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pictures

Here are pictures of the pathway that I built in the backyard. Cost=free


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Living a do it yourself lifestyle.

Do it yourself: keeps popping up everywhere, and I think it is for the best. It helps hone talents and abilities, fosters creativity and innovation. My wife and I have really thrown ourselves into this lifestyle and we love it. Keeping with the value of this blog it also saves us money. We just purchased a home and rather than spending thousands of dollars on new furniture we have been doing it ourselves. We spend our afternoons and saturdays looking at used funiture that can be refurbished. I have also been doing a lot of work in the yard using supplies leftover from the previous owners projects. I have posted several of the projects we have done on the blog already. One that I am trying to finish up before the snow flies is a pathway to our back entrance. All of the supplies I have used were found on our property. Right before we moved in, the house had a new waterline put in. So the yard was really torn up. However we are making great use of the unearthed rocks. I hope to put a post a week about new things we are doing. Most of all I want to see what you are doing.

(after the snow melts off the pathway I will post some pictures)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thrift Store Fun.

One of my favorite things about being frugal is finding great deals at thrift stores. Once every few weeks I head over to the local thrift store to take a look at what they have. I have found some really great deals doing this. It's a great place to find furniture for great prices and fix up to look exactly how you want. However I spend most of my time in the book section looking for personal finance or self help books. In fact, all but one book I have reviewed on pinchapenny was purchased from a thrift store. A few weeks ago our TV died and so the hunt began. We looked into a lot of options including buying a new TV. Luckily my wife helped restrain me from buying a brand new 60 inch flat screen. (electronics are my weakness) After a few trips to the thrift store we found one that we really liked. I grabbed a video game console and plugged it into the TV. Turned it on to check out the image and sound quality, looked great so we bought it. It set us back $50 and we couldn't be happier.

Do you look for deals at the thrift store? What was your best find?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki: A guide to learning financial intelligence. Robert explains that as a child he had two "dads" teaching him about finance. His poor dad, his real father was a educated man who worked for the government. He taught Robert that getting a education was important, and finding a successful career path with a safe job outlook was the most important thing he could do. Roberts rich "dad", who was really a friends father, taught him that learning how to make money work for him was the financial intelligence that he needed to be successful.

Rich Dad Poor Dad spells out how to gain financial intelligence. The book explains why it is important to know how money works and make it work for you. Robert gives great examples of how the rich are able to "legally" avoid excessive taxes and build more wealth. He advises individuals to take risk, so that they can find reward. Many of the Stocks or Bonds invested in by Robert are high risk. I found this book to be a easy read with fun real examples from his life. I enjoyed the the information contained and I have already begun looking into how I can apply its principles. However I was disappointed in the lack of actionable items to do. Many of his ideas are broad concepts that are hard to put into action.

What do you prefer broad concepts, that require you to investigate solutions, or actionable items that you can test out?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Cleanup

Growing up Saturday was a cleaning day. We would be given a list of chores to get done and on we went. For my parents Saturday was a financial cleanup day. They spent the day organizing and paying bills. Evaluating the budget and planning for the future. Here is a short list of activities that can be done on a Saturday to cleanup your finances.


1. Evaluate lifelong dreams and set written goals Are you living in your dream home? How is your retirement savings going? What debt do you have that needs to get paid off? What needs to be done to save for your dream home? How close are you to reaching those goals?
Write down a plan of things you can do in this order.

What can I do today to reach my goal?
What do I need to do this week?
What can I do this month?
Set a day to reevaluate the goals.

2. Make your road map to debt freedom. Take a good hard look at all of your debt, credit cards, student loans, car loans, mortgages, home equity loans and any other personal debt. Tighten up the budget and start paying off debt. Your income is your most powerful wealth building tool and right now its all tied up in debt. Check out the post on the Piggy Bank debt reduction plan for great tips on getting out of debt fast.

3. Develop or reevaluate the budget. Budgeting is never fun, however I think its is fun to find ways to save even more in a budget. Get creative about ways to save money. Most of us spend way to much on entertainment and eating out. Go on a eating out fast, and cut it out for the whole month. See how much extra money is left over. Plan a entire month of free or low cost weekend activities. (more on this to come in the next post)

4. Make some extra cash as you declutter the house. Take a look at what you are keeping in storage, and find out what you are not using. If the items have potential profit in them. List them on Ebay or a local classified page. Organize a garage sale with family or friends. Use the money earned in the areas you need it the most. Paying off debt, or building savings.

Saturdays are an important day of the week, its the day we get stuff done, play and spend time with the kids. Make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Financial Education

Expanding our financial education is a life long journey. As technology, politics and economics change so does the financial world. I have read dozens of books spanning different decades in history. Most of which are about a successful investor and what he or she did to make it. Each situation was different. However one thing was always the same. The individuals involved were financially educated. I'm not saying that getting a degree in economics or finance is what makes a up a successful investor (although it would help). But I strongly believe that the only way we can be successful over extended periods of time is to continue to learn. There are hundreds of avenues we can learn from, and I want to list a few of my favorites.

Blogs: I love blogs because they are so personal. Each blog is managed by a person who loves the subject they are writing about. Many professional blogger's spend their entire day researching and practicing the techniques they blog about. I find their information refreshing and extremely useful. I especially enjoy blogs because everything is happening in real time. The information they are writing about is happening right then. Books can take years to publish, Magazines weeks or months. (I do love both of those resources as well)
Here are a few of my favorites.

www.thesimpledollar.com
www.myopenwallet.net
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/
http://www.bargaineering.com

Books: Books are a timeless resource, even in the financial world where some of the tactics and actionable items suggested can be out of date, the principles are often timeless. I love books because good ones can be read again and again as principles are studied and then applied. I especially like books because they tell the authors personal story. You get to walk with them through their personal failures and triumphs. A few of my personal favorites are.
















Your Money Or Your Life: by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin















A Million Bucks By 30:   by Alan Corey















Rich Dad Poor Dad: by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Podcasts: I love podcasts because I can listen as I drive to work. I can also listen to them as I work around the house. Podcasts are fun because like blogs they are very personal and based in close to real time. I also like podcasts for the change of pace they give compared to readying about the information. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Dave Ramsey Show.
The Money Girl.

What are  you doing to increase your financial intelligence? I want to hear what you are doing and where you are getting your information from?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Built it to save!







Having spent a large amount of hours this summer redoing my deck, I had a lot of time to think about deck furniture. My wife and I spent the summer watching for good deals, and nothing seemed to fit our aesthetic and our budget. One day while reading one of our favorite magazines Ready Made, we saw plans for a cute table made of recycled wood. I knew I could make it, so we began the short hunt of rounding up supplies. It only took a few hours to make/sand and paint, its my new favorite place to eat breakfast as I look at the view from our deck. Total cost $8 for paint. 

I would love to see what you have built shoot me an email with the pictures.
pinchapennymakeapenny@gmail.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: "Your Money Or Your Life"

I apologize for not posting over the last few weeks. I am making a commitment to make 2 posts a week from now on.


Over the last month I have cruised through some really great personal finance books. My favorite of which is this book. I have decided that I want my book reviews to change so rather than giving a short summary of the book, I am going to pick out the 3 points I felt were the most important or useful to my readers. (however with any book, I suggest reading the entire thing and applying all of the principles suggested)

The first suggestion is tracking all of your expenses: The authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin encourage each everyone to track all of their money for at least 3 months. When the book was written that must have been difficult but in a day where we almost always purchase everything with a credit/debit card this is not nearly as hard. Online banking provides accurate records of amounts spent everywhere. But keep in mind the purpose of this activity is to later cut back, so keep your receipts so you can see exactly where the money is going. Also track money coming in, paychecks, rental income, IOU collected, money you find. After tracking all of your money review your expenses and income and see what you need to do to make sure you are making more than you are spending. Then start cutting out on the expenses you did not need. They give a detailed way of how to do this called the Fulfillment Curve.

The Fulfillment Curve: Is a fancy name for tracking happiness derived from purchases. They suggest that as you review each purchase you take a few minutes to reflect upon how each purchase made you feel. Did you gain happiness from it, did you grow or expand your physical, mental, spiritual, or fiscal well being. After giving a numeric fulfillment value of each purchase evaluate what expenditures you can eliminate and save more money. Also determine what areas you should spend more money on and feel more fulfillment. It's so easy for consumers to justify small unnecessary expenditures that plague them of much needed investment funds.

The third and final point is about reaching the "crossover point". The crossover point is the point where your investment income exceeds your expenses. Enabling you to possibly retire and live off of investment income. Which could enable you to do the things that you have always wanted (work at a job you always wanted to do but didn't because it didn't pay enough, travel to places you always wanted to go but couldn't afford to take the time off, give service or donate money to charities ect.)

"Your Money Or Your Life" changed the way I thought about money. Is making your living feeling a lot more like making a dying? If so read the book!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Piggy Bank debt reduction plan

The other day at work a coworker told me she heard I was the guy to talk to about getting out of debt and asked for ideas. So I took a few minutes asking her some questions and determined a few things. All of her debt except a car loan was credit card debt hitting just under twenty five thousand.

So here is what I told her, I call it the Piggy Bank debt reduction plan.

Step 1 reality check: Gather up all credit card bills and statements and figure out just how much debt you really have. Put the credit card bills in order from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate.

Step 2 start making calls: Call up each credit card company and ask for a interest rate reduction. This is a company who makes money off of your interest and they are going to be resistant to do this. However be firm, if asking doesn't work then threaten to transfer the balance to another card if they do not give you a better interest rate. Repeat this step once a year, its amazing to see how much lower they will let the rate go before giving up on making money off of your interest.

Step 3 balance transfers: After asking for the rate reductions its time to do your best to transfer the balance from the card with the highest interest rate to your other cards. Preferably your card with the lowest interest rate. If the available credit limit on the card with the lowest rate is not high enough ask that company to increase your limit. Explain to them what you are trying to do and that they will be the ones making the money off of your increased debt.

Step 4 quick success: Paying back debt is a long discouraging process so any amount of success is great. I suggest choosing a card with a high interest rate but a low balance and start paying it off with any extra cash you have each month. As soon as that card is paid off put that money towards the card with the highest interest rate.

Step 5 payback: It is imperative that you make all of your minimum payments so that you are not getting hit with late fees. Then with any leftover cash you have that month put it towards the card with the highest interest rate.

Step 6 leverage: In my friends case they had a fair amount of debt with their car loan. My first suggestion was to sell the car and get a cheaper car so that the payment each month would be less. Opening up a few hundred dollars that could be put towards paying of credit card debt. However in her case selling the car was not an option so I suggested she leverage it. Head to the bank and take out a personal loan with the car as the collateral. The money from the personal loan should be put towards paying off debt. The interest rate on the personal loan should be lower than the interest on the credit card. Freeing up extra money that would be going towards interest and can now be put towards paying off the card with the highest interest rate.

Step 7 creativity: Its time to get creative with your money. Making more money is not an easy thing to do which is what makes paying off debt so hard. But finding creative ways to cut back is easier. If you have any monthly subscriptions (Gym, Netflix, clubs) put those on hold. Use the freed up cash towards paying off debt. Host a garage or bake sell on the weekend and use the proceeds to pay off the debt.

I hope to update you on her progress. Paying off debt is a long and strenuous task and can take many years. However the feeling of being debt free is incredible.

I would like to hear your debt story. What are you doing to get out of debt? How is your debt repayment plan?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hip to save

It is hip to save, using coupons is becoming a national past time and well it should be. Whether we are in time of feast or famine saving money is always hip. As mentioned in earlier posts my wife and I have been doing our best to collect and use coupons on as many products as possible. (however we only use them on products we actually need. Buying something we don't need for a reduced priced isn't saving) Here is a site that we have found to be very helpful.

www.hip2save.com


Are you using coupons? What have you found to be the most worth while?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Being called a tightwad isn't so bad anymore.

A few years ago a friend of mine teasing, said I could swim across the Ocean with money in my fist and it wouldn't get wet. Boy have the tides changed being frugal and thrifty is in. Families are searching the Internet and scouring over the coupon sections of newspapers in search for good deals. Being a long time frugalist (yes I made that up, I think it sounds better than being a tightwad)  hope this fad becomes a tradition. Despite harsh economic times saving account balances are on the rise. Many families are in the process of buying their first home, taking advantage of tax credits and low interest rates. Many Americans are searching for ways to cut back on expenses pay down debt and expand emergency funds.

Here are a few ideas on how to be more frugal.

1. Cut back on television costs. Make a record of the actual shows you watch and then see what channels you can do without. For most of us we have a few channels we watch on a regular basis and the rest we are paying for without use. Also look online and see which shows you can watch online. My wife and I have opted not to get cable or satellite because for the most part we can see everything we want online or via netflix.

2. Spend your summer vacation at home. Flying across or out of the country is extremely expensive. Take the week off and spend it doing things in your own area for less, here are a few great ideas.
     A. Spend a day at the lake, if you have a boat or access to one spend a day at the lake with the family. It is a ton of fun. If you don't have one renting one is a great option and if you are spending the night at home you can put the would be hotel costs towards the boat. Also finding a family member or friend to invite along can cut costs and be a great activity for everyone.
    B. If getting out of the house is a must, find a nice hotel nearby where you can go for a night or two for far less than a week in a shabby place.
   C. Enjoy the great outdoors, camping is a fantastic way to enjoy nature and spend time together. Camping is also very cheap compared to many other vacation opportunities. Hiking, fishing, and sitting around the fire are all low cost activities.

3. Utilize public transportation, unless you live in a large city I doubt you are using your public transportation. Next time you head to a local sporting event or just for a day at the Mall. Take the bus or train, enjoy the leisure of not having to worry about traffic and save on the gas money. If you are a student look to see if you can get a discounted yearly pass for public transportation. This can significantly lower your cost of living if you don't have to fund the up keep of a vehicle.

4. Only use coupons when going out to eat. If you can't use some kind of coupon don't go out. My wife and I do this and its great we eat for less and it forces us to try new places. We have found a few of our favorite places using this method.

Being frugal is a way of life that yields rewards for years and years. I want to know what you are doing to be more frugal??

Monday, July 12, 2010

How do you make every penny count?






Two winters ago a jar similar to this paid for a weekend trip to Denver with a friend. He and I went to watch one of our favorite college sports teams play. We were both currently in school and money was tight but my trip was funded by saving the leftover coins from purchases and money I found on the ground. It taught me a valuable lesson. Every penny counts and things do really add up. Now blowing it on a trip for the weekend may not have been the best use of it but you get the idea.

So $30.66 may not seem like a lot of money, but its $30.66 closer we are to financial freedom.
The $30.66 that is growing in my change jar is just a small simple thing we are doing to save a few extra dollars each month. More important than the five or six dollars that are put into the jar each month is the fact that every penny counts. Having respect for every penny shows dedication to the overall picture of our personal finances.

Every single day we let small amounts of money slip through our fingers. Here are just a few examples.

*Purchasing name brand products that often have the exact same ingredients as store brand

*Paying bills a day or two late leading to late fees. It may only be a few dollar late fee but it adds up.

*Passing coins on the ground as we walk by. No one will become financially free by scouring the sidewalk looking for change. But taking a second to pick it up shows that we recognize value whether great or small.

*Throwing away coupons for products that we use on a regular basis because we are too lazy to cut them out.

*Passing up odd jobs that may only yield a few extra dollars because we think it is not worth our time. For example several times I have been asked by neighbors to help lay sod for a few dollars an hour. Many of my friends didn't think it was worth their time. But activities like that create camaraderie and for me I would have helped for free, so the extra money is just pure bonus.

*Paying for sodas at a gas station, purchasing them from the store is much cheaper yet the convenience seems to catch our pocket book all to often.

*Leaving electricity on when we are out of the home.


I could go on for hours on simple things we could do to save and make a little bit more money. But the important thing to remember is every penny counts.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Book Review: "The Money Book For The Young Fabulous & Broke"

Quick take: Great book for the personal finance illiterate, Suze Orman had some great advice on how to get  through the broke years and move toward financial freedom. Focusing mainly on:
1. Utilizing 401k plans
2. Getting out of Debt
3. Avoiding the temptation to purchase large ticket items


The Boring details
Suze encourages everyone to meet with their HR representative and find out about their companies 401k plans. Most importantly find if the company offers a 401k match. If they do, it is a must to contribute enough money to qualify for the maximum matching contribution. This is FREE money that your company is giving you. Learn what funds your 401k are investing in and look into the returns.


2. Get out of Debt. Having no money is your savings account is not a reason to put money in it instead of paying off debt. Why put money in a savings account that gives you 2% return when your credit card has a 22% interest rate. Pay all of your minimum balances each month to avoid paying fees. Pay any extra money on your card with the Highest interest rate not the highest balance. As soon as one card is paid off apply that monthly fee to the next highest interest card until all credit card debt is gone. This may take years to accomplish but is crucial to reach financial freedom.

3. Buying fancy cars or expensive clothes to impress people you don't really like is insane. When money is tight wasting precious dollars that could be used towards powerful retirement vehicles is financial suicide.

Overall I felt like the book had great advice if you had little knowledge about personal finance. It had no captivating chapters and was a drag to finish. However the advice within if followed would lead to financial freedom.

I still consider myself Young Fabulous and Broke, what helped you get passed the Broke part?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What are your retirement plans?

I want to know what YOU are doing for your retirement plans?

With a down economy and social security checks averaging 1,067.80 a person, it's crucial to understand the importance of developing personal retirement plans. I have been doing a lot of reading about the best options, but I want to know what you are doing? Whether you are working on your 401k, investing in CDs,Bonds,Mutual Funds or saving for a income property. I want to know what you are doing and why you chose that method? I am also interested in creative ways you are coming up with a few extra dollars to put towards retirement?



http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/quickfacts/stat_snapshot/

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maximizing your entertainment Dollar.

Entertainment can get pretty expensive, but there are a few great ways to save money without ruining the weekend.

1. Maximize your movie watching experience. Movie theaters are extremely expensive and should be avoided at full price. Hit a Matinee and enjoy the same movie for half the price. Not to mention missing the headache long lines and crappy front row seats. If you don't absolutely have to see the movie right away, wait for it to hit the dollar theatre and enjoy it for well under the original price. MILK your netflix account, if you don't have one I would seriously consider getting one. I wont buy a DVD ever again. If I really want to watch something I just throw it in the Que and have it in a day or so. Rather than putting the finished movies in my mail box and waiting for the mail lady to pick it up. I drop them off at the post office on my way to school to ensure they go out that day. With the local shipping center near by I can get my next movie the next day. This can save some serious cash!
2. Cancel your cable: I hate watching commercials! I also hate the suspense that my favorite TV shows leave me with each week. So I wait till the end of the season and then put it in my netflix so I can watch it over a weekend.
Many stations like NBC and Fox let you watch current season episodes on the web. You still have to watch a few commercials but they are shorter and you can often optimize the ads to things you don't mind learning about.
Check out hulu.com to watch episodes online for free.
3. If you are looking for a night out on the town avoid spending too much on drinks. Find a local music cafe where you can go with your friends and enjoy free live music while you eat. It's a great way to spend an evening.
4. Head to the beach or a local park. Typically the fee is very low and is a great way to spend a Saturday enjoying the outdoors.

What are some of your cheap entertaining ideas?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Saving on Rent.

For most of us our rent or mortgage is our largest expense. Before purchasing a home, paying rent was my least favorite part of the month. I hated that I was burning my money. Of course I understand that shelter is a need, and does provide a service. But no matter how you look at it, any amount of money being paid in rent is money lost forever. So for those who are paying rent here are a few ideas on how you can save.

1. Find a place where you can share a room. Typically apartments with shared rooms have a much lower cost for rent. Having a roommate can actually be a lot more fun than having your own room.

2. If you are currently living in a place where you have your own room. Contact your landlord about finding a roommate. If legal in the area landlords love this. First off they get to get another deposit in which they take a large portion to keep for carpet cleaning if needed. Secondly despite lowering your rent overall now they have 2 people paying $500 a month rather than one paying $700

3. Buy a place: If you have a steady job but don’t want to be tied down with a huge mortgage. Purchase a place and rent out the extra rooms. If you have a four, bedroom place you can often make money on renting out the spare rooms. At least you will have others paying your mortgage and helping you build equity each month.

Alan Corey a self made millionaire used this tactic to make a lot of money. Check out his book “A million bucks by 30” for details. (This is one of the funniest personal finance books I have ever read. I love it)

Here is a link to his website http://www.alancorey.com/

4. If you don’t mind living with a couple, many families are willing to rent out single rooms to save on their mortgage.

What are some of the ways you can think of to save on rent?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

8 Tips on how to beat the bookstore and save cash
1. Never buy a book from the university bookstore.
2. Before your classes begin, email your professors and get a list of the books needed. Then head to Amazon.com and look for the book there. Last semester the book store wanted $30 for a book that I got off of Amazon for $4.50
3. Check the add board in the school. Many students miss the sell back period and are desperate to sell their books. Practice your bartering skills by talking them down to a great price.
4. Study buddy: Find a study buddy in your class that you can split cost of the book with. Not only will you do better in the class but you will spend half as much on the book.
5. Talk to your teacher about past editions of the textbook. I did this for my business management and physical science classes. By purchasing the 5th edition rather than
buying the 6th edition in my business class I was able to spend only $.25 versus 35 at the book store. I found the old edition of the physical science book and used it. Other than some new cover art both books were the exact same. Even the chapter questions in the back.
6. Do homework on your professors. I always check out ratemyprofessor.com when registering for a class with an unfamiliar professor. I always search to see if previous
students have said buying the book was not worth it.
7. When you buy a book on Amazon for less than the book store is asking. Find a local
competitive book store to sell the book to. They will give you a better price than reselling it on amazon. Its a good way to make extra cash on textbooks. (I will post in further detail about this later, if you have any questions let me know)
8. If the only reason you need the book is to read a few excerpts, check Google books, they have a huge selection of books on their data base.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

 

“The Wealthy Barber”

 

By David Chilton


I just finished this book last night and I learned a ton. Most importantly I learned that putting your money in a ‘Mutual Fund’ in the mid 90s was pretty lucrative.

Overall the book, gives a very ‘common sense’ approach to finance.

Roy a small town barber is famous for his great financial advice. Not only does he have good advice but he also has Millionaire status backing up his advice. Not from getting lucky in the Stock Market, or flipping homes but basic financial techniques.

First and foremost “The Wealthy Barber” emphasizes the importance of paying yourself first. Roy suggests to his pupils a minimum of 10% of your income. This 10% is for retirement and should be invested in long-term investment vehicles. (Mutual Funds, IRAs, Life Insurance, Real Estate)

“The Wealthy Barber” also gives advice about how and who should invest in these particular vehicles. Making investing a painless and straightforward process that anyone can handle. In depth chapters about Saving Money, Creating a Will, Investing in Retirement Funds.


The book is just under 200 pages and is a quick read, I would recommend it to anyone. Despite changes in return rates and a slow economy the lessons in the book are timeless.  A book well worth the while.

            

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

        The average college graduate leaves college with not only a diploma but also around $20,000 dollars in student loans.  So here are a few ways to save on college tuition. First sign up with FAFSA, it isn’t a long process and you only need a small amount of information. If you are single and your parents claim you as a dependent, you will need to know their tax information. If you file taxes on your own you will need yours. FAFSA will also ask for personal account information to see how much money you have in your bank account. All of this information is secure and is used to determine whether you qualify and if so for how much.

It is often used to deliver federal scholarships. For detailed analysis check out the fafsa website at www.fafsa.com

Talk to your counselor about scholarships in your program. Lots of science degrees qualify for the smart grant, which requires you to be a junior and have at least a 3.0.

 I am always interested in how readers have been able to benefit from federal programs for students. What have you done?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pinching Penny Weekly Tip


-       Rather than pay hundreds on that new piece of furniture you need. Take a few hours out of your day and refurbish a used furniture item.

Here is a great example that my wife did. When moving into our new home we needed a dresser. We found this at a second hand store, she spent a few hours sanding and painting it. 

Total Cost: dresser+paint+stain=$65 dollars

                                                                             Before


      After





Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pinch a Penny

College students are notorious for living cheap and being broke. Here are a few ideas on how to save as a student and hopefully not be as broke.

1.     Get paid to learn: Uncle Sam loves students and there are plenty of grants and scholarships that can pay for your tuition. Sign up for FAFSA; even if you don’t qualify for financial aid many other scholarships use the same information and could help you get some kind of grant.

2.     Beat the Bookstore: Nothing is more frustrating than paying hundreds of dollars for books. The on campus bookstore is probably the worst option. Look for other bookstores that make a living off of selling books cheaper than the bookstore. Amazon.com has a great list of used books and for a fraction of the cost. You can even make a profit off of your books. I will post about this in two weeks when I do the in depth analysis’s of this.

3.     “Can you tell me where the library is?” I always find it funny when a student asks me that question, I start to think to myself “seriously you are in college and don’t know where the library is?” The Library isn’t just for studying.

School libraries have huge selections of entertainment materials. Don’t waste money-renting DVDs or buying Cds. Rent them from the library for free, oh and libraries have books you can read also.

4.     If you go to UVU get the free parking pass. The shuttle runs every ten minutes and can often get you to places on campus faster than walking. Using the free lot for 4 years will save you $320 dollars.

5.     Coupons are not just for moms: Every college town has a coupon calendar that is distributed every fall. These Calendars have hundreds of coupons that can save you a ton of money. Do a local search and have one mailed to you.

6.     Save on your looks.: Hair stylist go to the same schools. Rather than spending $30 at a high-end salon, find a local $7dollar hair cut salon. Or if you are a guy cut your own hair. I bought a pair of clippers for $25 dollars 4 years ago and have been using them ever since. This can save you hundreds of dollars.

7.     Make dating about what you do and talk about, not about what you spend. First dates are always a bit nerve racking and can often end up being the last. Don’t waste a lot of money on a first date. Instead do something cheap and fun so you can have a great time talking with your date. Pick up some cold cuts and have a picnic at the park. Throw a Frisbee around and have a good time. A date like that can cost fewer than ten dollars vs. Dinner and a movie being around $40, where you learn little about your date.

8.     Paying rent is like burning money. Find as many ways to ease the burn as possible. If possible add an additional roommate to your place to lower the costs of your rent. If you have a steady income look into buying a place and renting out the other rooms. This will enable you to build equity and let your roommates pay the mortgage.

9.     Where’s your school spirit. Bleeding your schools colors can save a ton of money. Check out your universities activities calendar and go to a few of the activities. They are usually very cheap if not free, and they usually provide food or refreshments. In addition check out any competitions going on around the school. Often they offer prizes that are useful or could be sold for extra cash.

10.  If you haven’t noticed retro is in. Remember your first Power Ranger or Barbie lunch box? Whip it out and fill it up. Packing a lunch from home can save a ton of money. It’s hard to cook for one person, so cook for two and eat the leftovers for lunch. Try to eliminate purchasing two lunches a week. If the average cost is around $5 you could save $520 a year.

If you have any ideas that could be taken into further depth under each category I would love your input. What are you doing or did you do as a college student to save money?