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Archive for the ‘Saving’ Category

A Penny Saved is Not a Penny Earned

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A Penny Saved is not a penny earned.

Not even one sentence in I can already feel the scorn being thrown upon this post.  Hopefully not for the fact that my writing has managed to degenerate over the years to the level of a high school sophomore, but I digress.  As I was saying, if not for disagreeing with the sentiment then for mentioning that cliche for the hundredth time on this blog.  I stand by the sentiment though; A penny saved is not a penny earned, it is AT LEAST one and a half, possibly two, three or four.

(On a side note, its interesting how our psyche goes automatically to the negative.  How many of you thought I was inferring that its less than a penny rather than more?  Be honest now…)

Starting out in life, it is fairly true.  You make $5. With inflation, now apparently the going rate is somewhere around $30) mowing the lawn, you get $5 errr $30.  As we grow older, it still basically holds true.  You make 10k a year working at <insert collegey job here> and you get to keep, say, 9k, and end up getting half of the other 1k back when its tax time.

Now fast forward a few years, you get a real job.  You still get to keep most of what you make but now the government takes a bigger share.  Lets call it 15%.  Still not terrible, we do have to build roads and pay for schools and whatnot, so I am still a happy-making-what-Imake-paying-what-I-pay citizen, and raises make me happy.

Now fast forward ten more years.  Oh my how the governments share has grown.  You are now a mid level manager at Acme but no longer to you get to keep what you make.  You get to keep some of what you make.  No longer do raises make such a large impact.  Now is when, as the people that were our age when they made up cliches such as you know which one preached, “A Penny Saved is a penny earned.”

Which, I ask you, is better.  A $800 raise or saving $500?
Lets start by subtracting federal income tax.  33% of the increase.  Your $800 is now $534.  Oh but Dont forget state taxes.  Your $800 is now $505. Hey, we’re still on top right?

Well, turns out that extra has now put you over the edge where you can no longer deduct your student loans, or <insert any of the different tax situations that get worse as taxable income rises>.  I dont want anyone to think that Im saying more income is bad, its not, and its obviously important.  The point is, that the more you earn, cutting expenses will much more dramatically effect your cash than income increases will.  Just off the top of my head here are a few big chunks the average person can cut down on:

-Refinance your home.  We’ve done it twice in the past two years and the savings are absolutely ridiculous with the current possible rates
-Refinance your rental properties.  This is much more difficult with new rules, but try anyway (if anyone knows any good 80-20 refi lenders vs 70-30, Im all ears
-Reduce your phone bill.  See if you use all the minutes/text/data on your plan.  If you consistently go over, increase your plan to cut fees.  If you are consistently under, reduce your plan to cut base cost.
-Take advantage of competition.  Sometimes it’s a pain, but switching cable companies is one example. It saved us $100/month and we get NFL Sunday Ticket for free.
-Dont eat out as much
-All the other stuff you can read about over the past four years located conveniently on the right hand side.
-Sell rocks
-Start your own Gold Canyon Candles business

 

 

Making a money management plan

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Money Management
Money management is a difficult issue, and a lot of people don’t ever really get it.  A lot think they get it only to be disappointed later when they realize their carefully laid plans have failed. will assure you of a money management plan to fit YOUR special needs. If you follow each step, It will also save you a complicated job of bookkeeping. This guide won’t be able to work miracles for you but will help show you the way to get the most out of your money.

To make a sustainable plan:

1. Add up your total income, including any funds you receive in addition to your earnings.
2. Figure out your total fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage, insurance premiums or car payments.
3. Provide for a savings fund adequate to meet emergencies and achieve special goals.
4. Estimate how much you need for day to day living expenses.

While these steps are listed in sequence, it’s likely you will arrive at your final estimates by considering them as a group. You may need to do some adjusting of the amount in each step until you have what you feel is a satisfactory plan. After going through each step and filling out the worksheet, you will have a better idea of where your money is going and how much you have left over to work with.

Before you begin to work out your plan, it is important to remember good money management starts long before you begin keeping track of dollars and cents. As we have discussed in previous lessons, your plan is a personal or family matter. You need to take a long hard look at your values. Your goals will reflect your values. No one can tell you what your lifestyle ought to be. Only you can decide how your income is spent. Effective money management will depend on the way you choose to live and the goals you plan to achieve.

So where do you cut expenses to keep the budget balanced? Travel? Clothes? Entertainment? Education? That’s up to you. Think about where you are now and where you want to be in five or ten years. Your long-term plan should reflect those goals you and your family have decided are most important.

Plan For Savings
When making out your budget, plan for savings first. You can grow richer each month if you pay yourself first. Here’s an idea you might want to try. Before paying any bills, decide on an amount, to pay yourself first–say five or ten percent–or whatever you decide– of your paycheck. Then, deposit the amount into a savings account before paying any bills. When you do this at the beginning of the month, your entire paycheck will not slip through your fingers. If you wait until the end of the month, there may be nothing left to save.

Paying yourself first gives you a systematic way to make your money grow. Regardless of the kind of job you have or your income, this system works!

Another technique you might try for saving money is to empty your change into a coffee can or jar each day. At the end of the month, roll the coins and put them into your savings account. You may be able to save up to $30 a month this way.

Remember, good money management is more than a mathematical formula. It’s too closely tied with the ups and downs of living for that. Your money management plan is always subject to change if your life situation changes. The object of a good budget is to make your money help you reach your goals, not to force you to conform to rigid rules. Don’t be discouraged if this budget plan doesn’t work out right away. You may have to revise it several times until it fits your wants and needs. Then, review it from time to time; to be sure it continues to help you use your income in the best way.  Good luck and happy managing!

Three huge tips for getting your money’s worth is (an exercise in not being an idiot)

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Have you ever been to one of those really fancy restaurants where they sit you at a table next to each other and the entire room seems like one big awkwardly staged scene?  I had a dream last night about one such place, called picasso in Vegas that Lauren and I went to once.  I think it was about $300 for the meal when it was all said and done.  I should mention that it was so little food that when we were done eating there, we had to go re-eat at a burger joint that I think cost a total of about $10.   Not only that, but we were miserable the entire time we ate at picasso because we felt out of place, and they seated us in an awkward place next to each other where the entire restaurant could stare at us.  On top of that, the wait staff was pretentious and rude (at least those that served us were).  When I emailed the Bellagio about my experience, the ‘helpful’ person sent me back not a response, but instead a MENU OF PICASSO.  Nice customer service Bellagio.  I guess they don’t care about the average Joe.  In any case, it seemed like a good idea at the time but it ended up in my top 10 of dumbest money mistakes.  It certainly wasnt the largest in amount, but in value it was right toward the top.

Instead, here are some ways to actually get your money’s worth.

1) Know what you want and actively look for it ahead of time
I did this with Christmas presents this year on some sites such as Slickdeals.com and it worked out wonderfully.  Yes it gets rid of the instant gratification but it will save you a ton of money in the long run.

2) Dont buy things you dont need
I know this seems simple but I know we all do it.  Or at least most of us do it.  Or at least I do it.  This equates directly to the topic.  Its hard to get your money’s worth if it is something you dont even need (or want that badly).

3) Use discounts
When you do have to make big purchases there is always a way to get a discount.  We had to buy new car seats since our son grew out of his rear facing one so we waited until we had 15% off coupons and then used them.  When you are buying 2x $150, suddenly 15% off is a decent chunk of change.

4,5,6,7,8) Price compare.  I dont know how many times I have bought something only to see it cheaper somewhere else.  And hey, if you see something advertised for a certain price, Walmart will always price match.  I know, I know some of you hate Walmart.  I get “Dont talk about Walmart” emails all the time.  Since Im not a hippy and I dont like unions, Ill keep talking about big-box-mart with the caviat of: there are other places that price match, find em.

Cash back on purchases is pretty much the only good part of shopping

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As many of you know, despite the links on my navigation bars, I do promote a lot of websites, blogs, books or anything else other than common sense and financial information (ok and maybe a healthy love for sarcasm photoshopped pictures) but I have run into something recently that I just plain love.  Well, times are a changing, or at least this one time is a-changing.  What is this mysterious site that I am referring to? Pets.com?  No… its…

Bing shopping cash back!

If you are like me, you probably only know Bing as the overly-advertised-we-wish-we-could-compete-with-google site from microsoft.  This time though, they win a battle with google in the shopping department.

Depending on the merchant you can earn between 1-30% cash back on any purchase.  Thats a pretty damn good deal if you ask me.  The only thing that I can think of that compares is the discover card 5% cash back when they have it (rarely).

Some other nice things about bing are that
1) You dont have to use a credit card you can use paypal, checking account, debit card, some other credit card
2) You can do it all from your computer – hurray culture of laziness convenience!
3) You can use it for everyday things
4) Great customer service – Their turnaround time is less than 1 day.  That’s really really good.

Disadvantages:
1) It takes a while to get your money back
2) Sometimes it doesn’t register correctly and there is no way of knowing for a day or two after purchase
3) Coupons/special codes will usually void cashback

Overall, pretty cool and supposedly there are going to be some huge cashback specials coming up to compete with the “black friday” craze.  I don’t know about you but I would much rather  sit at my computer to shop than go fight the crowds.

Green eggs and cash – I would not, could not stash my cash

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

green eggs and cashI would not stash it in my bed
I would not stash it in a shed
I would not stash it in my house
I would not stash it on my spouse
I would not stash it here or there
I would not stash it anywhere
I would not hide it from a waif, by stashing cash inside a safe

And by a waif, I really mean the government or failing banks, in a using-vocabulary-loosely sort of way.

I saw a news report this morning  on the Today show that sales of safes are through the roof, partly because a lot of people are buying them to put their cash into.  They interviewed several different people who said “I just want the security” or “This is the safest thing to do” or “This is the best way to keep from losing money.”  They then dedicated exactly ONE sentence to a ‘financial expert’ who said “it may not be the best idea to stash your money in a safe at home because of inflation and some other things.”

If all it takes to get on NBC as a financial expert is to go on and say one sentence about inflation, all you first year economics majors and anyone who has ever paid attention to economics at all, let your spirits rise! You have a gig in television awaiting you.  Of course, my dog also answered correctly by placing her paw on the “bad idea” side of her good idea/bad idea snack pad.

Seriously, there are a lot of reasons not to be hoarding cash:
-Loss due to inflation
-Insecurity
-Loss due to not investing
-Paper is something easily destroyed

So here is a guide for the nervous among you from the most paranoid to the merely nervous:

Paranoid) I honestly think the United states is about to crumble
Buy a safe, but do not stuff it with cash.  Buy Gold, and stuff your safe full of it.

Damn Scared)
The depression is coming and we are screwed
See #1, but diversify a little.  Put some money into FDIC insured accounts.  With the new FDIC limits a married couple can title accounts differently such that they can insure at least 1.5 million at a single bank.  Invest in some foreign currency that you trust.  Look, now you are diversified if we really are screwed, right?

Scared) I think we might be screwed
FDIC insured accounts, bonds, and foreign currency are your friends.

Nervous) The rest of us
Diversify but keep investing.  Remember, we are in this for the long haul.

I would encourage you all to restrain the feelings of panic.  Yes, there are some troubling things going on, and yes, you should be careful where you put your money but that doesn’t mean its time to go back to stashing dollar bills.

God help me, I’m having a garage sale (and not wearing a fanny pack)

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

God help me, I am going to have a Garage sale aka yard sale, aka garbage sale as I lovingly refer to them.  Not to say the things we intend to sell are garbage, There is actually quite a bit of good stuff like a whole doctors choice queen size bed with frame, a working 32 inch TV and some other good stuff.  It all came about because people in the neighborhood decided to have a neighborhood wide garage sale.  At first we weren’t going to participate but we really want to pour a patio and it just hasnt been fitting in the budget.  So now the goal is to get as much money as possible to put toward the patio (and get rid of some stuff in the process).

Its been a while since I have had a garage sale but I remember some strategies that helped last time.

Its all about Location
– We are on the edge of town so if we were doing it by ourselves it wouldnt be worth it.  Since the entire neighborhood is involved we will be much more likely to get people out and about.

Planning What You Will Sell–  We will probably spent a decent amount of time just sorting through things to figure out what we want to sell.  There are a few big things that we know of, but other than we really need to sit down and figure out what we want to try and sell.

Advertise–  This is another time that having a multi family sale is helpful because everyone can help advertise.  Put signs up, put an ad in the paper, advertise at grocery stores, on stickboards and wherever else you can think of.

Pricing–  When you have a yard sale you should be prepared for some pricing negotiations.  Keep that in mind when you price your items.  I have heard from several people that roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost of the item new can be a starting point.  The advantage of prepricing is that it will save a ton of time on the actual sale day – and the annoyance of constantly having people ask how much something costs.

Money–  Something to keep in mind is that you will have to make change for customers.  Its probably a good idea to have a fair amount of change to start.  Ive seen some tips on the internet to ‘wear a fanny pack.’  As it is not 1990 and I still have some dignity, I do not intend to wear a fanny pack.

Have power available for electronic items – If there is a TV, but no way to plug it in and test it, are you really going to buy it?  Really?

Anyway I will report back with our earnings when it happens.  Come on patio!

How to make a money management plan

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Everyone has good intentions when it comes to a money management plan.  Unfortunately the road to hell is paved with…ok you get the picture.  We’ve put together a set of guidelines to help you on your way.  These guidelines will assure you of a money management plan to fit your special needs. If you follow each step, It will also save you a complicated job of bookkeeping. This guide won’t be able to work miracles for you but will help show you the way to get the most out of your money.

To make a sustainable plan:

1. Add up your total income, including any funds you receive in addition to your earnings.
2. Figure out your total fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage, insurance premiums or car payments.
3. Provide for a savings fund adequate to meet emergencies and achieve special goals.
4. Estimate how much you need for day to day living expenses.

While these steps are listed in sequence, it’s likely you will arrive at your final estimates by considering them as a group. You may need to do some adjusting of the amount in each step until you have what you feel is a satisfactory plan. After going through each step and filling out the worksheet, you will have a better idea of where your money is going and how much you have left over to work with.

Before you begin to work out your plan, it is important to remember good money management starts long before you begin keeping track of dollars and cents. As we have discussed in previous lessons, your plan is a personal or family matter. You need to take a long hard look at your values. Your goals will reflect your values. No one can tell you what your lifestyle ought to be. Only you can decide how your income is spent. Effective money management will depend on the way you choose to live and the goals you plan to achieve.

So where do you cut expenses to keep the budget balanced? Travel? Clothes? Entertainment? Education? That’s up to you. Think about where you are now and where you want to be in five or ten years. Your long-term plan should reflect those goals you and your family have decided are most important.

Plan For Savings
When making out your budget, plan for savings first. You can grow richer each month if you pay yourself first. Here’s an idea you might want to try. Before paying any bills, decide on an amount, to pay yourself first–say five or ten percent–or whatever you decide– of your paycheck. Then, deposit the amount into a savings account before paying any bills. When you do this at the beginning of the month, your entire paycheck will not slip through your fingers. If you wait until the end of the month, there may be nothing left to save.

Paying yourself first gives you a systematic way to make your money grow. Regardless of the kind of job you have or your income, this system works!

Another technique you might try for saving money is to empty your change into a coffee can or jar each day. At the end of the month, roll the coins and put them into your savings account. You may be able to save up to $30 a month this way.

Remember, good money management is more than a mathematical formula. It’s too closely tied with the ups and downs of living for that. Your money management plan is always subject to change if your life situation changes. The object of a good budget is to make your money help you reach your goals, not to force you to conform to rigid rules. Don’t be discouraged if this budget plan doesn’t work out right away. You may have to revise it several times until it fits your wants and needs. Then, review it from time to time; to be sure it continues to help you use your income in the best way.

Five foods that will save you money (and keep you healthy)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Everyone knows that eating at home will save you money but what you don’t hear is that it makes a difference how you eat at home.  Here are some foods that Lauren and I buy that help save money and are still delicious and healthy.

1) Protein powder
I have mentioned protein powder before because it is great for gaining muscle and losing weight.  I have been an advocate of whey for years and whats best is that not only can it be consumed by itself/in shakes, but you can also cook with it.  I dare you to taste the difference in my pancakes between those with only pancake mix, and those that I put chocolate whey in.

2) Yogurt
Yogurt is one of those forgotten foods.  “Hey I used to eat yogurt when I was a kid” sound familiar?  The truth is yogurt is great for you in almost every way.   Probiotics, protein, and deliciousness.  Add on that it can be bought in bulk for cheap and you’ve got a super food.

3) Chicken and Tuna
Chicken is one of the leanest meats out there.  Tuna isn’t far behind. Both are also cheap to buy in bulk.  A good trick is to buy the big packs of frozen chicken breasts and the big sets of canned tuna.  In the words of Chick-fil-A, eat more chicken (but not their fried, expensive chicken sandwiches)…and Chicken of the sea.

4) Green Tea

I know what you are thinking, ‘Hey wait a minute, that’s a drink not a food!’  You are right, but it is also cheap, and healthy.  Drinking a couple cups of green tea per day with some splenda is 0 calories and one of my favorite winter drinks during the day at work.

5) Eggs
You can buy a dozen eggs for under a dollar. Twelve eggs go a long, long way.  They are packed with protein and vitamins and are about as tasty as breakfast foods come, in my opinion.  Id like to buy a few chickens and get fresh eggs every day, but I’m guessing that’s against our HOA (and the thought of our dogs sharing the back yard with chickens invokes a comical scene).

Winterize your car yourself and save $200

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Instead of paying a couple hundred dollars for a shop to “winterize” your car, how about doing it yourself?  Its easier than you think…

Engine Coolant

Your car’s coolant system isn’t just to keep your car from overheating, it’s also to keep corrosion away.  Obviously in the winter, you also can’t have the cooling system freezing. For winter, you want a mix of about 50% ethylene glycol, 50% water depending on your climate.  Here in Colorado we are fairly average so most people run 50/50 all year long.  The colder your climate, the more glycol you want in the mix because it has a much lower freezing temperature than water.  Check your owner’s manual for what kind of coolant you need.  If you are in a climate such as colorado chances are you probably don’t have to do much more than make sure your radiator and reservoir are filled with the correct mix.

Engine Oil

The oil in your engine changes depending the tempertature of your engine as it runs. This is almost directly purportional to the temperature outsite, minus a few factors.  What does this mean? It means depending on the climate, you will have to run different kinds of oils.

Once again a moderate climate like Colorado means you probably don’t have to change your oil type for the winter.  The most common oil is 10w-30 and a slightly thinner (better for winter since it is thinner, making it less likely to ‘muck’ up the engine if temperatures get really cold).  The truth is unless you live in an extreme climate, 10w-30 can get you through year round.  Always check your owners manual to make sure your car doesn’t take something exotic 🙂


Windshield Wiper Fluid

Fill it.  To the Top.

Windhsield Wiper blades

If they are showing any signs of wear, replace them.  I usually dont spring for more expensive winter blades, the truth is that the best blade is the one that doesnt leave spots or smudges.

Battery

The biggest thing to check for is corrosion.  Does it seems like “gunk” has built up around your battery cables?  Time to disconnect the battery and clean it off.  Cold weather is hard on batteries and if it has been a long time since you have replaced your battery it is a good idea to get a new one.

Tires

Check for worn tires.  Snow and ice can be dangerous so it is important to make sure your tires have a good amount of tread left.  You can spring for winter tires, but I believe a good set of all season radials is better investment as they will also work well in winter…and you can keep them for summer.

As you can tell, winterizing your car is not that difficult.  The idea is to make sure things are working properly before it gets nasty outside.  Working on a car on a nice fall day is 100X better than working on a car in a snowbank so dont tempt fate!

Halloween Coupons and Halloween Deals

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Halloween coupons – something I like to look for every year because hey, who am I to deny the oh say, 7 kids in my entire neighborhood a little bit of candy. Here is a coupon I found
KMart Halloween Coupons:

Amazon.com Halloween Coupons:

If you purchase: Bit-O-Honey, Laffy Taffy, Wonka Nerds Rope, Nips, Nestle Crunch, and others you can save $15 on purchase of $39 or more.

Walgreens Halloween Candy Couponss:
According a few informants Walgreens may have a limited number of buy one get one free coupons available in-store so check that out.

Shinndigz Halloween Coupons – offering free shipping on Halloween costume orders $30+ with coupon code: CSCJF8 (Exp 9/30).

SpiritHalloween.com Halloween coupons use the following coupon codes:
Free shipping on orders $75+ (Exp 10/5) stacks with… 10% off your order with coupon code: SPAF10P (Exp 10/28)
20% off any one item with coupon code: SPAF20P (Exp 10/31)

BuyCostumes.com Halloween coupons – use the following coupon codes:
Take 10% off orders $50+ with coupon code: ZOMBIE50 (Exp 10/31)
10% off Animal Planet coupons with coupon code: AP10 (Exp 10/17)
Free shipping on orders $65+

If anyone finds anything else good, let me know or just post em below