Wednesday, November 24, 2010


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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


In a recent post Jim at, 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.

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.

 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


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