Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cut your Bills Every Month!!

Bills, bills, bills and more bills. Sadly we are stuck paying them each month, but the experience can get better if you find ways to cut them. This past week I have saved us $70 per month on expenses and this is how.

1. I recently had a birthday and thought it would be a good idea to get my auto insurance shopped. A few hours later my local insurance provider called me back and said he could get me a new policy for $50 dollars less a month. This agent is actually a broker and has the rights to sell policies from a lot of different companies and so he is always keeping me updated with ways I can save.

2. Two weeks ago my cell phone company notified me telling me that my messaging plan now made it so that all calls mobile to mobile would be free. So I looked at my bill having only one number I call on a consistent basis that was not a mobile phone I figured I could do without the extra minutes I was paying for. Saving $20 a month. 

Now the plan is to put that money to work making more money. Contributing to our retirement plan and also our other investment pots. Slowly but surely we are seeing a rise in those areas and it is getting exciting. In addition to finding a few ways to save this month our side incomes have risen as well making September one of our better months this year. 


What are some a few things you have found you can live without that are not saving you money? I know a lot of people have been dumping their Netflix account due to the recent price changes. My wife and I still have not canceled but I think about it everyday. We love the Instant streaming but the choices are limited, we also love the DVDs but they are not worth the extra cost of having two different subscriptions.  For the same price we could update our cable and get almost everything we would miss by canceling. Remember that anything that has a monthly payment can probably be cut to some degree.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keep from splurging after the 9 to 5 grind

No matter how much you love your job we all have days where we need a break. Too often we justify over spending on things we do not need in hopes to help relieve our stress from work. Finding productive frugal things to do after work can really help.

 Things to avoid.

1. Picking up dinner on the way home. It's all to easy to stop and grab something on the way home rather then cooking a cheaper healthier meal. My wife is great when it comes to this, after a long day at work she somehow still has the energy to make us a fabulous meal. It saves us a lot of money and tastes incredible. One tip she has is making a menu for the whole week, plan easier meals or leftovers on the days you know you will be tempted the most to go out for dinner.

2. Do not go shopping right after work. Giving into the notion that you deserve something is easy after a day full of meetings and a proposal that was turned down. Head home and do something you really love to cheer you up, then head to the store.

Things to do.


1. Go for a walk or workout, exercising relieves stress and burns calories. It's also free and a great way to spend the evening. It also pumps you up and gives you energy to make those hours productive rather then just watching the TV until the end of the night.

2. Work in the yard or finish up that project you started but never finished last summer.

3. Start a small business, making a few extra dollars doing something you have always wanted to try is not only fun but you may end up loving the entrepreneurship experience.

4. Join a club or volunteer at a local service project. People who volunteer are happier and less stressed. So do some research and join an organization that you believe in and make a difference.

5. Meditate, take a few minutes to sit and meditate forget about the things going on at work and shift your focus to something else.

6. Set a budget for how much you are willing spend after work. Keep it low and let your hard earned dollars accumulate. 

Most importantly be aware that poor spending habits can be formed when we are feeling sad or stressed avoid the temptation to spend during those times. What do you after work to relieve stress and unwind that is cheap or free?





Monday, May 30, 2011

Cheap Books!

Reading is by far one of my favorite activities. It stimulates the imagination and teaches me a lot, it's relaxing and if done correctly can be very cheap. Here are a few ways you can turn this great past time into a frugal one.

Library: Utilize your local library by checking books out. They will often let you request books they do not have in stock and will get them new or from another library. If you are a audio book fan the library is the best way to get the book. Also the library is a great way to check out movies for free.

Paper Back Swap: Is a website where book trading takes place. It's an awesome way to share books for free. Also look in your local classified adds to find local Paper Back Swaps. I like the one that my University I work at hosts.

Amazon: Amazon is an awesome resource when looking for cheap books. You can buy new or used and at incredible prices. It's also a great recourse for selling books you are no longer using. If done correctly you can purchase books at practically no cost, by reading and then reselling on Amazon. If you do not have the space for book shelves go for the ebook option. Whenever I get a book for my Ipad it's much cheaper then if buying new from Amazon. However buying used is still the best gig.

Local used book stores: If you do not mind hunting for a while to find what you want Used book stores are extremely cheap and often fun. Spend an afternoon browsing through books.

Mega Stores: I do not really suggest using this method, there books are usually highly over priced however patience and a little bit of the coupon mentality can help. Waiting for large sales can often lead to great deals, just do not get sucked into purchasing a rewards system. If you work close to one maybe you should just use your lunch break reading a favorite book off the shelf during your break.

Share: Last but not least share books with friends, family, and co-workers. My siblings are really good at this and it gives us some to chat about which is always fun. I also have a cousin I love to share books with, every time I find a great one I want to pass it on to him.



Reading is typically a cheap past time and it's one of the best ways to learn. So happy reading!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Getting as much use as possible out of consumer goods is a great way to save. The motto "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" is something we can all do better. It's also a great thing to ask yourself before making a new purchase. Is there some way I could fix what I used to use to do this task? Is the item truly worn out or am I just frustrated trying to keep up with the Jones's Can I get by with what I have? Do I really need this item or is this an impulse buy? So below is a list of a few ways we can put this mentality to practical use!

Clothing: Clothes go through a life cycle that can be better utilized. First off we have our "Nice Clothes" that we wear when we are out and about. Either to work or other settings where we really want to look nice. My clothes almost always start in this category excluding some T-shirts or sporting wear that could never fit into this category. As they begin to wear out and fade I move them into my "Work" pile. Which I use when working around the house on projects. I don't mind if they get paint on them or if holes start to wear through. As items get too worn out to wear they can be used as rags for cleaning or changing the oil in the car. At which point I usually toss them.

Tools: Tools for me fall under the do without category. Only purchase tools you will use on a regular basis. Do not purchase a tile saw for one small tile job. Rent one for just a few bucks a day or borrow one from a friend or neighbor. This is one I actually struggle with, I am always tempted to buy because I think I will use it more than I really do.

Electronics: Anyone that knows me knows that I love electronics. However I have found great ways to make things do. My current laptop is almost 7 years old now. Every time apple releases a new Macbook I start frothing from the mouth. But in reality I use my laptop for a few small things. Writing papers, surfing the web, and watching movies. All of which my old Powerbook G4 can handle. Also it's always tempting to jump at the new flat screen TV. However our thrift store TV gets the job done. Try to make do with what you have rather then purchasing the newest hottest electronic.

I hope you can use this advice to better serve your needs and fulfil your true wants! Purchasing things we want is just fine, however waisting our money isn't. What is something you do to use the Motto "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without'?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Save money while taking time off from your regular routine.

Taking time off can be a costly affair. However having time to relax and enjoy doing a few things you love is well worth it. Interestingly enough a few of my favorite things to do with time off is make more money, work on things around the house that build value or spend time in nature. All of which can be done for very little. I had a week break between semesters of school and it has been very productive. I worked a little extra at one of my part time jobs banking some extra cash. In addition to that over the past few days I have been working outside in the yard. It's been great soak up some sun and when the backyard fence is done it will add value to the home. So far the cost of materials? $0.


Now let me explain, the lot for our house used to be 4 acres. A developer separated the lot into 4 different lots. Rendering the old fence line useless. So after talking with my neighbor I was able to start digging up the old fence and move it onto my property. A day later and about 20 blisters I am about 40% done with the project. I have also been searching classified ads for used fencing that I can use to close off the last section of the yard. I hope to do it all for under a few hundred dollars. However the added value of the fence should more than compensate. One could argue that I could have spent more time at work and just paid to get it done. I have two responses one I don't get paid enough for that to actually work for me very often and two I love working in the yard so it's a win win situation.

What do you like to do when you have time off? Does your family have a Weekend business that provides extra income?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Never Buy A DVD Again:

Spending money on entertainment can get costly, especially when it comes to movies. Purchasing DVDs and going to the Theater is getting extremely expensive. It's been over two years since I purchased a movie  and I haven't missed it at all. There are several ways to watch and view movies (legally) that can really save you money.

1. Netflix: I have been subscribed to Netflix for over two years now and I love it. The "Instant Que." provides thousands of movie and TV series that can be watched instantly. Not only have I been able to watch past seasons of some of my favorite shows but I have found many shows I would have never tried. Remember how big of a pain it was going to Blockbuster and trying to rent an entire season of a show. You would spend the next day watching the entire series so you didn't have to pay the late fee. In addition to the "Instant Que." if you really want a special movie for friday night put it into your mailing Que. on Wednesday and you are ready on friday. 

Cost= Around 2 movie Tickets a month $15.99

2. Hulu: Is a perfect for watching your current favorite TV shows. Typically you have to wait until the next day, and you do have to watch commercials but at least you can do it at your own convenience. Hulu also has a decent selection of feature films to watch as well. 

Cost= Free, however they do offer their premium version "Hulu Plus" that offers more titles for just $7.99

combine this with Netflix and you can probably cancel your Dish Network or Direct TV subscriptions

3. Redbox: Is a great way to get a new release movie without having to fork out four or five dollars. With Thousands of locations you shouldn't have to go more than a mile or two to find a Kiosk. 

Cost= $1, Watch the movie and return within twenty four hours for just $1 dollar a day. Remember to reserve the movie online to make sure someone else doesn't get it first. 

4. Discount Theaters: Rather than spending $9 a person at the multiplex theatre, let those close to must see movies hit the discount theaters and see them there. You can still get the big screen experience without the big price. (Note many discount theaters are not asa good of quality, however the sacrifice isn't always that big of a deal)

Cost= $1 to $3

5. iTunes: Apple has done it again by providing a massive amount of movies and television series in the apple store. Now not exactly the most cost effective way to watch movies but it is extremely convenient. It also eliminates space needed to store your movies on shelves or special racks. Having them at your fingertips on your computer is amazing. Remember to back them up on a external Hard drive as well to ensure you do not lose any important data. 

Cost=Rentals from $1 to $3.99. Movie Purchase competitive to store prices. 

Most of these ideas are well known but underutilized. Save yourself some cash and put them to work. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Budgets: friend or foe?

So the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about budgets and their pros and cons. Budgeting to me should be a simple process that helps you know where your money is going. I have been looking for a new more simple method. I finally settled on 99 cent app from the app store. BUDGET MONTH The app is very basic you input your income and then add your outgo until the number equals zero. I like this app because it is easy to view and my wife and I can look at it and agree on it in under ten minutes. My favorite part so far is I feel like we have gotten a raise. We are both sticking to it and eliminating small silly purchases that are not listed in the budget. What budgeting techniques are you using? What have you found works the best for your family?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This week in finance

Gaining knowledge is essential to human development. I try to spend a fair amount of my time each day reading things that are beneficial either from the Internet or from books. Each week I find articles that help me gain a greater understanding of how I can improve my personal finances. Here are a few articles that I have really enjoyed this week.


1. 15 Things our grandparents lived without as so could we: http://frugaldad.com/2011/04/08/things-our-grandparents-lived-without-and-we-could-too/

2. Getting to out of debt is just the beginning are you asset-less: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/are-you-asset-less.html

3. I hated this article because I do not want to give up my soda while eating out but it's amazing to see how much is actually being spent: http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year

4. Working from home is getting increasingly more common. So a great clean setup will help increase your productivity and could lead to more revenue. At some point you need to look at making more rather then saving more. Check out these awesome home offices: http://www.designer-daily.com/30-enviously-cool-home-office-setup-9693


If you have an awesome home office set-up I want to see it! Post a link in the comments. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Save on yard work

Working in the yard is one of my all time favorite past times. Considering the state of our current front yard it's a good thing too. With work and school last summer I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. So this year the plan is to get to work and start transforming our yard. The overall project will take a lot of time and work. We purchased our home from some investors who were looking to get rid of it. (it had a few large projects to be done) Overall the outside is fine and structurally everything is sound, but the yard looks abandoned. It is also obvious that during it's vacancy locals didn't mind dumping their extra yard waste in the yard. Last year I made several trips to the local dump removing cement and other trash that I had no use for.

However some of what was left has turned out to be useful. The yard needs leveling which requires dirt. Seeing how there are a few piles of dirt around I have access to some free fill dirt, but it needs to be sifted. Rather than calling in a few dump trucks of new dirt (which I may still need some) I have found a quick easy way to sift it myself. I took a pallet I had on hand for an older project and knocked out most of the cross boards. Grabbed some chicken wire, another random thing someone left us and a few nails later I have my own sifter. The rocks are piling up which I will use for another project and the clean fill dirt is being saved for filling in low spots in the yard before sprinklers and sod are put in.






All to often we look past the supplies we have at hand to do the work around us. I have also found dozens of people online who have free fill dirt if you pick it up.

Check back for more ideas on ways to garden on a budget and even increase your wealth by either building the overall value of your home or supplementing your food budget with home grown food. What is something creative you have done re-use something around your yard?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How much do you need for retirement?

How much do you need for retirement?

It's a question that is hard to answer because how much you need is relative to your spending habits and desired lifestyle. If you plan to sell your home purchase a used motor home and find free places to park year round, your number will be different from say your friend who plans to travel extensively purchase their dream home and buy that Corvette they always wanted! The truth is most of us will land somewhere in the middle of those two groups. Our home will hopefully be paid for, and our work expenses will go down. However spending on travel and other leisure activities will go up and hopefully we will enjoy what we worked so hard for. So here are a few ideas on how much to save so you can retire, coming from financial experts not me.


David Bach (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) 12.5%

Dave Ramsey (The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness) 15%

Elizabeth Warren (All Your Worth: Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan) 20% of after tax income

Here is a great retirement calculator that will help you determine how much you will need to save to reach reach your retired income goal. 


http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/retirementplanner/retirementplanner.jsp




Right now I am using Dave Ramsey's plan but want to convert to a more extreme savings plan as my income goes up. My future goal is to make enough money that I can live comfortably off of half of my income so that I will have the option to retire younger if I would like. I will give you more info on how I plan to do this in later posts. 


How much money would you like to have when you retire? What are you doing to get to that point? How much a month on average do you save let me know in the comments section below? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Making Wednesdays the best working day of the week at work

For most of us our most powerful wealth building tool is our income. So excelling at work is essential to accumulating wealth and getting raises. For a long time Wednesday was the hardest day of the week for me to focus, concentrate and accomplish a lot. But I have found a formula that helps me make Wednesdays great.

I work on video projects each week which take a lot of preparation, a few days of shooting and a lot of post production editing. Shooting is my favorite part, seeing the preparation pay off as the camera rolls is a feeling that is hard to describe. I also love the the opportunity to take the current setting and see how I can add creative parts to any video. So I try to shoot on Wednesdays as often as I can. Pre-production often starts on Monday where I plan the shoot.I set up appointments get permission to shoot in certain areas and work with the script writer. Tuesdays I do shoot prep, getting equipment and other essentials ready. Then once Wednesday hits I am ready to do my favorite part and if shooting runs a few days over even better.

So my suggestion is make the day you struggle with the hardest but also most interesting day of the week. If your co-workers have a day they drag see if you can focus on that day and enhances the productivity of your entire office. Working hard brings recognition which leads to better job satisfaction and usually better compensation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just do it!!!!

While driving to work the other day I was listening to the No More Mondays podcast and the hosts mentioned a concept that really stuck with me. Every once in awhile we spend to much time looking for answers or lists of things that we can do rather then implementing just one. At some point in time we have to make the decision to just do something. So if their is a goal out there that you have been wanting to implement I am encouraging you to stop reading your blog roll today and just do one thing you have been meaning to do with your finances. 

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
Robert Collier

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Put your tax return to work

Tis the season to get tax returns and I love it. I do not advise giving the Government interest free loans but since you most likely did it this year what can you do with those funds?. If you are like me you have spent that uncollected/ or recently collected tax return three times over in your mind(we bought our first home so we are expecting a much larger than usual return because of the tax credit). It's hard to decide where the money should be allocated. So here are a few ideas that I suggest that will build your net worth.

1. PAY OFF DEBT: Debt is the most crippling aspect of most Americans finances. So pay off a debt in your debt snowball and add that extra minimum payment to your next debt. Decreasing your debt lowers stress levels and builds your net worth overall by decreasing your liability. 

2. Open a Wroth IRA: Planning for retirement is extremely important and its never to early to start. Especially when it comes to compound interest. So open an IRA and start contributing to it regularly it will increase your net worth and help provide a comfortable retirement. 

3. Tired of that dated bathroom or 70s kitchen, remodeling is a great way to increase your homes value which if utilized correctly can be a valuable asset. Here is a list of home improvement projects that you could do with your tax return. The highest ROI is actually an interesting one. 

HomeGain surveyed nearly 600 real estate professionals nationwide and configured a list of the top 10 do-it-yourself home improvements that cost under $5,000 and benefit sellers most when they sell their homes.
According to the HomeGain survey, the top five home improvements that real estate professionals recommend to home sellers based on average cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:
1. Cleaning and de-cluttering – ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
2. Lightening and brightening – ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
3. Home staging – ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
4. Landscaping – ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
5. Repairing electrical or plumbing – ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)
Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2000), recommended by 99% of real estate professionals, costing less than $300 and returning a value of nearly $2,000 to the home’s sale price, or a 586% return on investment.
Rounding out the top 10 low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements includes: updating electrical systems and/or plumbing, updating the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, and painting the outside of the home.
The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home’s resale value are updating the kitchen ($1,265 cost / $3,435 price increase), followed by painting the outside of the home ($1,467 cost / $2,222 price increase) and home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase).
4. Refinance your mortgage: Interest rates are still incredibly low and getting out of your 8% loan can save you hundreds even thousands of dollars over the long run. So take that extra cash and use it to pay the fees on the refinance. 
5. Invest in yourself: Could a specific certification increase your salary? Are you just a few credits away from that elusive degree you have been working on for the last decade? Use your return to help pay tuition as you go back to school to increase your talents and abilities. Choose things that your current employer suggests or you know will provide value to your resume. 
Last but not least adjust your with holdings so that less is being withheld from each pay check. Having the extra money on a monthly basis can really help you grown your net worth. It's not your public duty to provide the Government with yearly interest free loans. We plan on doing a combination of what I have listed and I look forward to telling you about it. 
I would like to hear about what you have done or plan to do with your return? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Years Resolutions update:

So it has been a few months since you set those new years resolutions how are they coming? Do you even remember what goals you set? Have you kept up with your financial goals? Back in January I wrote a post with a few good suggestions on what you could do to change your finances this year. Getting out of debt is not only a goal that we have but many americans have. Here is a great article about a family who paid off more than $70,000 of debt in just two years.


Strategy: Budget!
Advice: Save, save, save before you quit your day job.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to have a baby and quit my job. But there was a problem. My husband and I were in debt, and I made two-thirds of our household income. So I couldn't just quit.

I started out by sitting down and adding up all our debt -- which ended up being around $70,000. The first thing I thought was, 'Wow, we really need to start getting rid of this. We should sell our car right away.'

After some prodding, my husband got on board too. We sold his car and were able to immediately get rid of $19,000 of our total debt. After that, we knew we were totally doing this.

Craigslist and eBay became our best friends, and we sold everything from a kayak to a weight bench and a computer monitor.

My husband did some website design jobs on the side to make some extra money, and we printed out a budget each month so we knew exactly how much we could spend and what we would be spending it on.

We saved on gas costs by limiting the amount of driving we did, and we put ourselves on a grocery budget of $300 a month. On top of that, we cut out cable, lowered our phone bill as much as humanly possible and switched our car insurance twice in one year to find lower rates.

By the time I quit my job for good -- which was less than two years after I started the budget -- we had paid off $70,000 in debt and put $23,000 in the bank as an emergency fund.








You can find Jaimes whole story at:



article came from cnnmoney.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Side Hustle update part 3

Building a side hustle has a ton of benefits. It not only increases your ability to earn more cash, but it teaches you new valuable skills and enables you to work on something that you love. But how do you choose what you want to do? Start with your passion or something you are interested in doing. Brainstorm about how you can make revenue with that passion. Maybe you are an expert at something and you can teach others how to do it? Maybe you really see a few products that could make your hobby or passion more enjoyable for others. Develop those ideas and create a product that could fulfill those needs.

My "side hustle" chose me. I was working doing wedding and marketing videos when I created a marketing video for a Photo booth rental company. I had a lot of ideas on how they could expand their business and shared them with the operators. The owner liked my ideas and when the current operator was moving to a different state I was asked by the owner to take over. So I started out as a contracted worker. I found that I really enjoyed the work and saw this businesses full potential. After about a year of contracted work I asked to purchase the booths from the owner and start my own business. We have a long ways to go but we are on our way to positioning our business where we want it. Income is coming in and we hope to replace my wives income by the end of the year with this "side hustle".  I do all of the work for this businesses after hours and between classes at school so things can get a bit hectic. Overall it has been a great experience and the extra money coming in is helping us reach our financial goals. So take time this upcoming weekend to brainstorm about how you can create more income with sometime of a "side hustle"


Here is a link to a article in the local newspaper about my small businesses.


http://www.heraldextra.com/business/local/article_860da008-46e6-11e0-888b-001cc4c002e0.html

www.photoboothsofutah.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

University Weekend

Most of us live around some kind of a University or college. This provides many opportunities for a lot of free or very cheap activities. For example last weekend my wife and I were looking into a few things to do. We found that at the University that I am attending there was going to be dinner and a movie for just $3 a couple. The movie was Disney's Tangled a movie we wanted to see. Rather than watching it in one of our local discount theatres for around the same price per person we headed to the school and got dinner for free. The entire experience was fun and for just three dollars a great deal. Because of the great deal we saw a lot of people who clearly were not students but were just out to enjoy a nice cheap night of fun with the family.

So how can you make the most of you local University or College? Here are a few things to look out for!

Guest speakers: Universities regularly play hosts to dozens of great guest speakers. Attendance is almost always free and you get the chance to hear from someone who is making a big impact on society.

Museums: I have always loved art and museums. I also like supporting students who are looking to display their art. Most Universities have an art museum on campus or an area where student art is being displayed. Check out the Universities website and enjoy a date night talking about the various art pieces.

Sporting Events: I have mentioned before that we really enjoy going to sporting events. Depending on how important the game is or how good your team is, ticket prices will vary. College teams typically have smaller stadiums so sitting on the top row for just a few dollars shouldn't be painful at all.

Expos: My University plays host to dozens of expos each year. Expos are a ton of fun a decent way to network and a great way to spend an entire day checking out new technology or products at a very low cost. The guest speakers are often very informative as well, and I usually walk out with more free gifts than I spent on the ticket to get in. Not to mention I often learn to skills.

International Film nights: Dive into cultural diversity by watching international films. A lot of Universities have movie nights for free or very cheap where you can watch a film from a different country and enjoy seeing how others think and feel.

Skills nights: Often Universities are the host of dozens of after hour classes. You may not want to go back to school to get a minor in sewing but you do want to hone your skills. Look for free or cheap classes and get your hands dirty in a hobby.

The list could go on but take advantage of your tax dollars by seeing what your local College or University has to offer. What is something that you do at local College or University for fun?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thinking outside the box

Think outside the box to save money.

Plant trees that will cast shade on your home: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shading an air conditioner can boost its efficiency by as much as 10 percent. 


Sell the house and hit the road: Tired of being tied down with a home payment? Home ownership is extremely expensive even if you exclude the mortgage. Insurance,property tax, utilities and upkeep.  RVing can be a great low cost lifestyle if done frugally. Many people who work from home via the Internet or telephone, work seasonal jobs or are retired find living on the road to be refreshing and fun. Who wouldn't love to wake up in Florida in February and Maine in September. 


Toilet brick: Lower the amount of water you are using by placing a brick or other object in the flush tank, limiting the amount of water per flush. 


Park the Car: Walk, bike or use public transit to get to work. At the very least see if there is anyone you can carpool with. This saves money on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. 


Share: Adults have forgotten how to share. You mow your lawn once a week, maybe even once every other week. So does everyone else. So why do you own a lawn mower for the other 6 days? Why not purchase a mower with a neighbor and just split the days. Once you are done return it to the neighbor so they can have it for their day and switch back and forth.


Cleaning Supplies: Use Vinegar and other natural supplies to clean rather than expensive cleaning products. 


Finding ways to save is a constant process that takes thought and innovation. What out of box ideas have you used to save money? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Eat great at home for a fraction of the cost.

Over the last few months I have really thought about eating out and how much money it costs. We set a monthly budget for groceries and try our best to stick to it. It's ridiculous to see how easy it is to spend close to as much money on restaurants as our groceries if we are not careful. So we have been trying to find recipes for a few of our favorite meals and re-creating them at home. Here is one of our recent favorites. Total cost was well under getting it at the restaurant and we had enough supplies to have it more than once.
Barbecued Cheddar Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries.

What are a few of your family favorite copy-cat meals?




From epicurious

Barbecued Cheddar Burgers
3 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
12 sesame-seed hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Lettuce leaves
Sliced tomatoes

Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl until blended. Mix in pepper. Shape half of meat mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties. Shape remaining meat mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill patties to desired doneness, topping with cheese for last minute of cooking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare 1/2-inch-thick patties, and about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare 1-inch-thick patties. Place burgers on bottom halves of buns. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and upper halves of buns.

Sweet Potato Fries from a ahintofhoney.com/
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes (1 large sweet potato)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2.Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into strips that are about 1/2 inch wide on each side. Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag. Add oil, salt and pepper, and seasonings. Seal the bag and shake well to thoroughly coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer (not touching).

3. Cook for 25-30 minutes, turning at least every 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate and serve warm.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Refurbish and furnish

Furnishing your home can get extremely expensive especially if you are buying new and financing it. Knowing that we would need chairs and other furniture that we did not own. My wife and I started looking for cheap or free furniture. I remembered an old chair my family had down in our basement that was hideous. I knew it had potential so I wanted to see if it was still around. Sure enough tucked in storage my sister was more than happy to get it off her hands. So here are the before and after pictures of
it.







And the after






Looks a lot better doesn't it!!!! Because the chair was totally free we only had to purchase fabric and stain. We didn't keep the receipt but we estimate the total project cost was less than $25. A special thanks goes out to our mom Leslie who did the reupholstering when she was visiting us. I can actually take no claim to this project other than finding the chair. My family was amazed at how great it turned out, they almost couldn't recognize it. So next time you are thinking you need that new chair or dresser, see what you can do by refurbishing something you already own or purchasing something for a great price at a garage sale or thrift store. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dust off an old hobby this weekend.

First of all, I am sorry that I have missed this week. I was out all day Monday with my brother riding ATVs and it was has been midterms at school so I have been super busy. So with the upcoming weekend ahead I suggest dusting off a few of your old hobbies. We spend thousands of dollars purchasing different equipment to entertain us. Mountain bikes, paintball equipment, scrap book supplies, fabric ect.. So finally put them to work and get your money's worth. My brother and I really love to ride ATVs and haven't been able to use ours for awhile (snow). We had a great time at and were able to do it with things we already had. So why not put something to use you already own rather then spending extra money to entertain you this weekend. If you find you do not enjoy it as much as you thought, then see what you can get for it on Craig's list.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Long frugal weekend.

For many of us, finding frugal things to do over a regular weekend is hard enough. Add an extra day on top of that and it seems we end up spending a lot to keep ourselves entertained. So here are a few ideas on things you can do over a long weekend on the cheap!


1. Tackle one of those extensive DIY projects you have been wanting to do. A good way to do this frugally is by planning ahead. Spend a few weeks or months looking for discounts on the items you will need. Often using craigslist you can find that tile for your bathroom you have always wanted for less than half the cost at your local hardware store. The long weekend really opens up the scale and scope of the project. 


2. Jump start your spring cleaning and empty out a few of those closets that are too full. Plan ahead and post a few signs around town and host a yard sale the on Monday. Not only are you cleaning out your home but you are also putting a few dollars in your pocket. Following the sale donate the rest of the goods to to a local thrift or consignment shop. 


Want a more relaxing weekend where you are not working? 


3. House exchange, heading to warmer weather may not be as expensive as you think. Swap your home for the weekend with someone who wants a weekend ski trip while you enjoy the summer rays. Cutting out the cost of having to pay for hotels for a weekend. There are dozens of online services where you can arrange this. homeexchange.com is just one of the many places where you can list your home for a week, or weekend home swap. 


4. Declare a care free weekend, turn off your cell phone, and set up auto reply for your email. Grab some books or whatever materials you need for a relaxing weekend and spend a few days sitting by the fire relaxing. Do not forget to order your favorite take-out at least once so you do not have to spend time doing the dishes. 


5. Visit family, take a weekend to visit some family who lives close by (within a few hours). Renew friendships and spend quality time chatting and catching up. This can be a lot of and talking is really cheap. 















Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Saving on things you are already paying for!

As life goes on our monthly expenses typically go up. $15.99 for Netflix, $49.99 For cable and add another $25.99 for Internet and phone bundle. $25 a month for your gym pass and $125 for insurance on your home and cars the list of monthly expenses goes on and on. All too often we are looking for ways to cut back our expenses but we do not look at ways to cut back those automatic monthly payments.

Insurance: If you have not changed your insurance in the last 2 years the chances are you are being over charged. Insurance companies offer really great introductory prices to get you to sign up. Then they hope you will stay with them for years as they slightly increase your insurance overtime to add to their profits. You notice how every insurance company says they can save you hundreds of dollars on insurance each year? It's because they can, get free estimates and see how much you can save. Not to mention if you really love your insurance most of the time if you show them you have a better price from someone else they will typically match it to keep you as a customer. We did this just a month ago when we needed to add a different car to our insurance. The rate my current company was giving me was more than I was getting from others. As soon as I showed them they lowered my monthly payment $30 to match what the others were offering.

Cable: Every satellite and cable company offers great deals and incentives for new customers. It's typically a great idea like with insurance to shop around for the best deal and switch coverage every so often. Starting with the new company will usually lower your payments and get you all of the new hardware. However you may not want to leave but reminding your current company that you can get a better deal somewhere else will almost always lead to a better price with your current company.

Gym pass: Gym passes are either really good or really bad. I find that 80% of the people do not use their pass. So if you are not using your pass get rid of it and find a new way to exercise and stay in shape. However if you are planning to renew you should try to get a better price. When my wife and I canceled our passes they offered to give us half off per pass to renew. We were not utilizing them but $22 a month isn't too bad for two passes.

Credit Cards: I am not a fan of credit cards and encourage people to get rid of them. If you are paying of credit card debt look into lowering your interest rate by giving them a call. More often than not they will lower the interest rate. If they don't threaten to transfer the balance to a different card with a better rate. This will save you money on interest leaving you with more to put towards your debt.

The point is all to often we are over paying for services that are a luxury. So finding ways to cut back on those can really save a lot of money in the long run. What kind of things have you been able to lower your monthly payments on?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines day

Valentines day: The day we express our love and renew commitments. Sure you may have a different definition but I like that one. So what kind of advice can pinchapenny give about one of the more expensive holidays?

1. Make it a holiday where love really is the emphasis, no bouquet of roses or truck load of chocolates can extinguish 364 days of lack luster interest  in your partner. (but they can help)

2. Do something that reminds you why you are together in the very first place:
- Spend the day doing one of your favorite activities as a couple
-Rent the movie you watched when you first held hands
-Write a personal note or card telling them all the things you love about them
- Go to the restaurant you went to on your first date

3. Do something for your partner that you know they hate doing themselves. 

4. If you are a guy... make it about her because we all know she loves this holiday and you love her. 


Divorce is not only heart breaking and time consuming. But it is typically very hard on your finances. Not to mention that money problems are the number listed reason for divorce. So do something today to strengthen your marriage and in the next few days do something to strengthen your finances. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

This week in finance:

Here are a few articles that I found this past week that will help with your finances.

Who's debt should you really be focusing on?
http://frugaldad.com/2011/02/09/the-war-on-debt-the-battle-begins-at-home/

 I couldn't believe this article, talk about integrity!
http://www.myopenwallet.net/2011/01/just-say-noto-millions-of-dollars.html

 Looking for a few frugal valentines ideas?
http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/02/10/five-diy-valentines-day-ideas-for-frugal-sweethearts/

 Trim both bottom lines!
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/financial-literacy/trim-your-bottom-increase-bottom-line-1.aspx

Have a great weekend, and do something that saves or makes you more money!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My 5 favorite personal finance APPS.

So before I get started with this, I want to acknowledge that there are thousands of finance apps that do many different things. These are just the few I use on a regular basis that I think are noteworthy.

1. mint.com app: Yes I recently made a post about mint.com and this is just another reason why I love them. I can evaluate and update my budget from my phone. I can also monitor all of my accounts in just one place which I love. This app also lets me see "to the date expenses" which helps me from spending too much.. especially on my work lunch budget.

2. Invoice Lite: This app is amazing! Because I run a small "side hustle" I need to give estimates and send out invoices. This app lets me create and send them from my Iphone or Ipad which is a life saver for me because I am always on the go. The invoices are customizable and look professional which helps me make more money!

3. Square: Square is a credit card processing app, which I couldn't live without. Using services with monthly payments and terminals just isn't an option for me. Although Squares percentages are a bit higher than other options I reap the savings when I do not have to pay monthly fees. I can also take payments anywhere I am at! You can also use square for personal use, if someone owes you money but doesn't have cash you can run their card and it will send the payment to your personal bank account. Not to mention you can send them a text or email with a handy receipt.

4. IntCalc: Is a compound interest calculator that is free and perfect for those of us who can't do compound interest in our heads. This has really helped me save money! How? Because when I want to make a large purchase I type the purchase price into this app and see how much that money could be worth in 30 years if I invested it into a Mutual Fund. Seeing the result really makes me think about the purchase.

5. ING Bank app: So it's no secret I love ING bank, they actually pay interest and even with the small amount of money I have. I notice the dividends each month. This app helps me manage that account and make withdrawals from my credit union. Login is easy and safe and the interface is awesome. If you are interested in opening an account with ING let me know and I will send you a referral email. Which if you sign they will give me $25 for pretty sweet eh?

I have close to half a dozen more on my phone but these are the ones I use the most. What finance apps do you use? How is it helping you save or make more money?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Side hustle update

Side hustles update

Courtesy of Dan Miller at 48days.com I found these interesting statistics about starting your own business.


26 percent of business start-ups didn't require any capital
 34 percent needed less than $5,000
9 percent needed $5,000-$9,999
 12 percent needed $10,000-$24,999
 6 percent needed $25,000-$49,999
 5 percent needed $50,000-$99,000
 4 percent needed $100,000-$249,999
 3 percent needed $250,000-$999,999
 1 percent needed $1 million or more

So why not start your own business today? In addition to what was listed in the first post, here are a few more ideas of things you can do on the side.

Moonlight as a security guard: Enjoy spending the evening alone getting paid? Becoming a security guard is a great option for college students or people with full time jobs who are busy during the day. Why not open your own security business where you hire out security guards to keep an eye on local business and mini malls.

Become a car retailer. Here is a link to an ebook about how to do it.  http://www.dealerlicense.com
Its amazing the great deals that auctions offer. Purchasing cars at a huge discount and then reselling them for profit can become quite lucrative.

Window washing business: I do not know many people who love to wash windows, but I know a lot of people who love working for themselves and making a good income. My friend put himself through college by washing windows with a business partner during the summer.

Online Parts Store: Have a passion for motorcycles, ATVs or cars? Why not start an online parts store where you create a website and relationships with wholesalers. Sell products at a great price and run the entire business all from your computer. Here is an example of a site that I love to use, where they are doing just that. motorsportsofutah.com

Snow Removal: Is your area being nailed with huge winter storms on a regular basis? Offer to shovel, snow blow or plow driveways. If you own a pickup look into purchasing a plow and offer to clear local businesses parking lots.

Event Staff: I met a family who would spend Saturdays at the local University football games selling food items. Eventually the money they made was used to purchase a local restaurant where they then hired people to sell their food at the games.

I plan to add to this list again, and would love to hear your ideas on what you are doing or thinking of doing as a side hustle?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mint.com

Organizing your finances can be time consuming and tedious. However not having them organized can be extremely costly. There are dozens of software programs that can help, and my personal favorite is mint.com. Most importantly mint is free, but don't let that deter you it is very comprehensive. The software is all online and can link safely with all of your financial accounts. This makes managing everything from your checking account to your mutual fund easy and accessible. In addition to the account "overview" mint offers a robust budgeting system that can help you track where your money is going. If that isn't enough it gives you tips on ways that you can save and cut out un-needed expenses. Last but not least mint has a goal setting option that helps you make, track, and keep your goals. So if you are looking for a way to manage your finances take a look at mint.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Treasure in the Attic

As a frugal person I am always on the hunt for good deals. In previous posts I have shown items I have found at thrift stores or garage sales. All of which were great deals especially when re-finished to meet our needs. In addition to that I am always looking for items that are valuable to sell. I have on occasion purchased something and then sold it for a profit. So what kind of treasure do you have in your attic? Do you have an old collection of items that are valuable? For example I was talking with a friend about old board games I used to play. So I wanted to look a few of them up, in doing so I found that a brand new copy of one of my favorite board games 'Heros Quest' was being sold on Amazon for $650. "Good" used versions of the game were selling for around $150 dollars.



We are not ready to part with the game, but its astonishing the treasure that can be found in the attic.

Check out this list of  valuable baseball cards that could change some peoples financial futures.
http://www.infobarrel.com/Top_10_Most_Valuable_Baseball_Cards





When looking for ways to get out of debt or to make some extra cash do not overlook items that you could sell. In fact you may be able to make a part time job out of buying and selling goods on Internet marketplaces like EBay or Amazon.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Official Post Schedule

After a lot of consideration, and inspiration from some friends who have successful blogs I have decided to make and stick to an official posting schedule, which will begin tomorrow, and consist of three posts a week, MWF. It was one of my New Years resolutions and I want to do it, I have set a goal to accomplish all of my New Years Resolutions and evaluate them weekly to make sure that I am on track.

Enjoy,

Monday, January 24, 2011

"The Side Hustle"

In a economy where even the duel income household is having a hard time making ends meet, where does one turn?

"The Side Hustle"
A few synonyms for a side hustle:
  • Part-time job
  • Second job
  • Small business
  • Side business
  • Slash career
 There are thousands of ways that someone can earn extra cash each month choosing one seems to be the hardest part. I have really been turned on to this idea by listening to Dan Millers 48 Days To The Work You Love podcast. Where he gives a lot of advice on how to start a profitable "Side Hustle". One of the key points he focuses on is choosing something that you know a lot about or love. I couldn't agree more, for example say you love to fish and wish you could spend everyday doing it, wouldn't getting paid to do it be amazing? So why not give it a try? Here are a few ideas that I came up with that could be turned into a profitable "Side Hustle".

Web Site Development: Almost every small business in the United States has or needs a website. However many of them can't afford to pay out big bucks to create a nice website. So like me they end up using a free blog format like blog spot. Why not offer them a great site for a good price, something that meets their needs and also puts some money in your pocket.

 Paperboy: Believe it or not paper routes can bring in a few hundred dollars a month, this is a great idea for someone who has a full-time job but still needs some extra cash each month. Wake up early and hit the streets like you did when you were 14. Only this time around you have a nice car to ride in.


Donate Plasma: So it's not a small business but I have friends who make $300 dollars a month doing this twice a week during their lunch break. Think how much debt could be paid off with that extra $300 a month, and they let you watch a movie while you donate.


Become a Guide: So back to the fishing, you know all the great places to fish, hike, bike, swim, explore, eat, ski, ect... well why not make it profitable by getting certified and getting paid to be a local guide to people from out of town or locals wanting to pick up a new hobby. I would love to get into rock climbing but I really wouldn't know where to start. I am sure there are tons of people like myself who would love to learn what you know.


Designated Driver: Put that SUV or Mini Van to work after the kids get home from soccer by arranging to pick up locals from the Bar. Stop in and talk to a few bar owners and post some paper advertisements on the door. My parents small town has no taxi services making this a profitable industry there.


Elbow Grease To The Rescue: Local banks and businesses are always looking for a cheap way to keep their place clean. Why not spend a few evenings a week taking out the trash and vacuuming while listening to your favorite podcast. Even better charge a fair price and pay some high school or college students to do it, creating a nice passive income.

Start Blogging: Have something you really want to say or have a unique take on life? Why not start a blog where you can share your story and advertise on the site. Sure most sites like mine generate very little money, (not enough in my case to even be considered a "side hustle" but it's a lot of fun). Some guys like Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar have turned blogging into a career.

Rental Income: So you can't afford to own a full rental property? Why not rent out extra space like parking spaces if you live in a big city or close to a university. Have an extra room in your house? Rent it out to someone looking for a cheap place to live. Rent out your yard or driveway to someone looking to have a yard sale but do not live in an area with lots of traffic. If you own a business but don't use all of the space, why not sublet out to someone and watch the cash come in.

Mobile Detailing: Open your own mobile car cleaning service, and spend your lunch hour cleaning someones car. Start with your co-workers and you will be surprised how much people will pay to save themselves 30 minutes of their Saturday.

Sell Wood: If you live in an area that gets nippy in the winter, chop wood and sell it on Craig's list. Most states offer free tree cutting permits for areas that are overgrown. Spend a few days and fill up that pickup truck you "had" to buy with some wood. Split it, bundle it up and sell it.
 
I plan to add to this list often but hope that you get the idea of what I am saying. We started a small business to do just what I am talking about and have been really surprised at the success we are seeing. After a few months of preparation and grass roots marketing we are starting to see some constant money coming in. What side hustle are you doing right now? What one would you like to try?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Financial success can be reached in thousands of ways but here are a few ideas from people who are either already there are a lot closer to it than me. 


Become a Millionaire in ten years:

Although it's a plan that takes a pretty hefty paycheck to accomplish, I know a few families who if they were willing to live off of an income that the average american family does they could be millionaires in just ten years. 

A few great quotes from Dave Ramsey:
1. “I'm not against people having new cars. I'm against them having you. We spend a tremendous amount impressing somebody at the stoplight who we'll never meet. It makes you broke and keeps you broke.”

2. “This is not a game, ... Debt has become a part of who we are. It's become that spoiled child in the grocery store with their lip stuck out: 'I want it. I want it. I deserve it because I breathe air.' And, well, that's an uphill climb in our culture right now, to go against that and say, 'Hey, let's be grownups here. Let's be mature, learn to delay pleasure, save up and pay for things."

3.“I'm not talking about Hitler's boot camp for kids or something. But they do need to learn to work, ... Graduate from high school with something more than the ability to open a bag of Doritos and play Nintendo. That's a bad plan. Work creates money. I meet 54-year-olds that haven't got that one down.”


Friday, January 14, 2011

Frugal winter DIY projects.

A few DIY ideas I want to take on this winter,


Wall mural:

Decorating a home office can get expensive, but with creativity and some help from others coming up with some great decoration ideas on the cheap can be easier than you may have thought. Inspired again from Ready Made Magazine is a wall mural I want to put my own spin on and put in my office as an accent wall. Purchasing the posters from thrift stores and newspapers, should be a cheap fun project to do. I will keep you updated on it.


Speaker wire jump rope:
Looking to burn some of those holiday pounds but do not want to go run in the freezing cold air. I found a great design for a jump rope made of speaker wire and a few permanent markers. I love the look and it is a cheap way to make something great. Here is a pic of one. 


Portable filing cabinet:
In hopes to better organize the home office I ran into a super cute filing system that I liked. So I have made a few changes so I can move the cabinet around the house easily with some caster wheels. I have started collecting pieces already from local thrift shops. I am hoping to keep the total cost under $25 dollars. Picture soon to come. 

Remodel Bathroom:
Our guest bathroom is outdated and impractical, it doesn't have a shower leaving guests with only one choice to use our shower. So this winter we are going to start pulling an overhaul. Of course we will be doing this the most frugal ways we can think of. We also hope to see added value to the home with a more functional guest bathroom. I will keep you posted.

What are a few projects you would like to do to pass the cold winter? Shoot me an email with the project idea and pictures of the final project and I will post them on here.