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Posts Tagged ‘thrifty’

4 Types of Insurance Everyone Should Have

In Your Guest Writers on January 15, 2011 at 1:36 AM

 

Image Credit Michal Zacharzewski

 

 

No matter how much or how little you make in a year, insurance is one financial topic that cannot be ignored. Insurance protects you, your family, your earnings, and your possessions. Without it, you leave everything to chance. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend too much on insurance or purchase insurance that you don’t need. If money is tight, you are better off focusing on the four types of insurance that you can’t afford to go without.

Auto Insurance

Despite the fact that some form of auto insurance is required by law in every state, more than 16 percent of the nation’s drivers are uninsured. For this reason alone, you should make sure you are protected when you hit the road. At minimum, you should have enough auto insurance to meet state minimum requirements. Collision and comprehensive coverage makes sense if you have a nice vehicle or a lien holder on your title. Your policy should also include some form of liability coverage, which pays for other people’s expenses when you are at fault in an accident.

Home or Renter’s Insurance

Although neither home nor renter’s insurance are required by law, both types of insurance are smart to have. If you own your own home, you should have enough insurance to cover 100 percent of your home’s replacement costs. You should also have some level of liability coverage in case someone is injured on your property–in addition to coverage for your personal possessions. If you rent your home, you will definitely want to have a replacement cost policy for your possessions as well as liability coverage. Your landlord’s insurance will not pay for anything you own.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a necessity for everyone. When you pass, your family will need money to pay for funeral and burial costs. If your family depends on your income or even a portion of your income, they may need extra cash to pay the mortgage and other everyday bills. Other financial considerations could include retirement, education, and taxes. The amount of life insurance that you need depends on your individual situation. You can get an estimate by using one of the many free life insurance calculators on the web or by speaking with a qualified insurance agent or financial advisor.

Disability Insurance

A disability will affect one in five Americans at some point in their life. Most people are disabled for at least 90 days or longer. If a disability would prevent you from supporting yourself or your family members, you should definitely have disability insurance. An individual disability policy is designed to replace a specific percentage of your income if you are unable to work and can be purchased at a relatively low cost. You may also be able to get short-term and/or long-term group disability coverage through your employer.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about Car Insurance Quotes for www.carinsurancequotes.net.

Cell Phone Insurance: Hero or Villian?

In budget, Our Guest Appearances, Your World on October 28, 2010 at 2:19 PM

 

Image Credit Richard Lai

 

 

Picture this…

You just purchased the latest android powered 4G cell phone and you’re thinking, “Life is good!” Just as your sale rep finishes activating your phone she mentions that smart shoppers protect their investments by adding insurance to their plans.  A moment of indecision sweeps over you. You know the replacement cost for your new toy is just over $500 bucks.

What would you do?

Read the rest of our post, and get  the inside scope (and money saving tips) about cell phone insurance at Inexpensively.com

Halloween Still Rocks!

In budget, Your Food, Your Home on October 14, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Next to Christmas, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. Though my days of dressing up as Piglet and Minnie Mouse are long gone, Halloween is still celebrated in my home.   

Here are a few EASY treats and tricks to help you have fun this Halloween season. Click the title links for instructions.

Cagey Ghost

Turn unused tomato cages into friendly or spooky ghosts. I made this project last night.  It’s super easy and a lot of fun to make.

Note:  If you intend to place your ghosts outside, consider using a plastic shower curtain ($2 at Walmart)   instead of a white bed sheet.  The plastic cover will protect your little friends if it rains.

Pumpkin Fashions

17 spooktacularly sensational ideas for turning your so-so pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern with pizzazz!

Last Minute Budget Friendly Costumes

It’s not too late to deck out your little (and not so little) ones with creative and easy-to-make  customs.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Halloween isn’t just about the candy.  Here are 15 fun, hearty and healthy snacks.

Pumpkin Hair Bows

These adorable pumpkin clips are perfect Halloween accessories for your little one’s hair.  This trio was handcrafted by Paige’s Pretty Bowtique.

Free Screen “Scream” Saver

Enter this spooky 3D graveyard if you dare.  Brave the stormy night as the living dead, bats, assorted  ghouls and howling sounds materialize.

Happy Halloween! 

*Sources: Family Fun, Screen Saver and Etsy

The Benefits of Cooking Groups

In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on October 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Image Credit Michaela Kobyakov

 

There’s almost nothing bad that one can really say about cooking groups. Defined for the sake of this article as groups in which likeminded people gather in a single place, cook large quantities of food, and reconvene to do the same thing weekly or monthly, a cooking group provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one otherwise might not have come across, and come away with leftovers for less than it would cost to eat out or cook for one.  

Cooking clubs may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction to attract a specific crowd; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. In doing so, they help people meet others in their community who may have similar social or political interests and bring together a group that may, depending on the surrounding area, be otherwise unserved by the restaurants around them. Others may focus on a style, or each week suggest a guideline to produce variety; one, for example, may emphasize Italian cooking one week, then produce Korean or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced both to expand their repertoire and get to learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club. 

Some members may have connections of some kind, which can then translate into better deals and better meals for everyone. If a club has an attendant who, for example, butchers meat, that person may be able to provide cuts at a discount as well as in bulk, then share their expertise when that meat is prepared, served, and enjoyed. If a particularly experienced baker participates in one, they can show off the ways in which they prepare certain goods in order to teach other aspiring bakers. Amateur (or professional) beer brewers, winemakers, and distillers can supply their wares as well, adding another element to a cooking club. 

Cooking clubs often also cook enough to leave everyone with leftovers. This is an obvious convenience, as one’s labors are rewarded not just once, but several times throughout the week. Better yet, some produce difficult to make condiments, sauces, reductions, and garnishes, many of which either require costly ingredients or are, for various reasons, prohibitive to make at home in small quantities. By making them for a cooking club, you can get the experience without having a mountain of something that can only last a few days, ensuring that all of it will be used before it turns, expires, or otherwise becomes inedible. 

Organizing and finding a cooking club can be easy. Groups often promote them on social networking sites, friends (and friends of friends) likely know someone involved with one, and co-ops, local grocery stores, and area coffee shops may all help locate cooking clubs. If there are none, start one: by merely talking to your friends, gauging interest, finding a big enough kitchen, and hitting up farmers’ markets and bulk foods aisles, you’ll be well on your way. 

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

The Science of Savvy Shopping!

In budget, Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers, Your Home on October 1, 2010 at 7:37 AM

(5 tips to a better quality of life)

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

In today’s tough times, there’s a special joy when we get a good deal for our hard earned buck. True? 

It almost feels as if we’ve cashed in at the lottery.

And with the housing crisis, double digit unemployment, and soaring consumer prices, we all need to save where we can.

But what few “divas” recognize is that being an “educated consumer” goes far beyond knowing the best stores to buy treasured items, or the debt cutting value of coupons. It’s much more.

This epiphany came to me recently when a friend of mine, while visiting my home, complimented my setting, (and the stuff I had acquired) while comparing it to hers.  Ironically, she makes more money than I do, and has similar circumstances.

For me my place is embraced as a “blessing”, while she views hers as a burdenShe often complains that her home is a money pit that she constantly puts cash into, but can’t get any real joy out of.

Because of this experience, I felt compelled to share my shopping secrets to enhance not just your ”surroundings”, but also your quality of life.

Here are a few cardinal rules.

  1. Know that it’s not “where” you shop, but “how” you shop that matters. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I’ve watched shows like Oprah and the Antique Road Show, (and no doubt you have too), where folks have scored items at garage sales, thrift stores, and specialty shops, for a couple of bucks, that were later appraised for thousands of dollars. Hello! Learn to spot quality.
  2. Recognize that there’s no value or validation in trying to keep up with the Joneses. One of the reasons that my friend “Wanda” is busted and disgusted, is that she’s constantly trying to establish her worth by buying what she feels will qualify her as being one of the “in”crowd. Big mistake. Instead, do you! As a point of reference, I don’t have cable. Never have. Though I enjoy T.V., so far it hasn’t impressed me enough to shell out extra money monthly for the idea of a few extra channels, (no matter how many million folks have it). Stop “perpetrating.”
  3. Consider that too much “impulse shopping” can lead to too little peace and buyer’s remorse. Evaluate. After you’ve taken a trip to your local mall and made purchases, how do you feel? Will your credit card payments last much longer than the life-cycle of the item (s) you’ve bought? Are you sacrificing paying an important bill to catch a deal? Your answers will determine your course of action.
  4. Keep in mind that your purchases should do more than just add to your “inventory”, they should add to your quality of life. For example, I love to buy house plants, beautiful baskets, books, fragrant candles, and unusual frames, because not only do they add to my décor, but they are reflective of my values and personal hobbies. Surround your surroundings with things that make you smile, that call to   mind special times, and are aesthetically pleasing. Make your place your personal sanctuary. 
  5. Accept that inner emptiness and low-self esteem can NOT be made better by “things.” It’s sad to say, but it’s true. Some folks shop to fill an emptiness. Whether it’s a bad marriage, a dysfunctional childhood, or feelings of inadequacy. Once they come down from their “shopper’s high” they’re in more debt and have even less that they feel good about. Don’t let this be you. There’s great truth to the adage, “Money can’t buy happiness.”

 With an uncertain economy, you can be certain that shopping habits from days of old can be detrimental to your finances and your family’s well being.  There’s no reason you can’t still be cute; just be smart as well!

And keep in mind that ain’t nothing cute about being “busted” and disgusted. 🙂

 

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, columnist, professional blogger and managing editor at Coffeehouse for Writers.

Affordable Home Decorating Ideas

In budget, Your Guest Writers, Your Home on September 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Image Credit Barun Patro

 

With the economy putting a strain on our pocket books, we have all had to make changes to our 2010 budget. For many of us, decorating was the line item that got scratched off that list first. However, eliminating that expense completely may not be the best solution. After all, tighter budgets actually mean we now spend a lot more time at home than in the past. 

It’s more important than ever to have homes that provide us with a clean, safe, beautiful environment where we can relax and rejuvenate mentally, physically, and spiritually from all the additional stresses we now face. Psychologists agree that the healthier we are, the more productive we are at work and out in the world around others. Feeling at home in your home has never been more important than it is today. So instead of eliminating that much needed face lift to your home, try approaching it differently. 

Incorporate Nature

As we head into autumn, considering utilizing the fall foliage. Create wreaths with twigs and leaves, or hang bouquets of twigs on the wall. You can even use them as a centerpiece to a table, or as an accent to the foyer. 

Rearrange a Room

If you are just looking for a little change in your home, you’d be surprised what rearranging a room can do for your feng shui. If you do not want to incorporate this traditional, yet modern technique, simple move the items around. Put your bed on a different wall, at an angle, or facing a new direction. Switch the location of your couches and move your TV or bedroom furniture. Consider turning your dining room table, or moving your china cabinet. Since the weather is always nice in San Diego, a sofa bed on the patio for an afternoon snooze might be the change your home craves! 

Find Discount Furniture

For those of us in America’s Finest City, there are plenty of places to find discount furniture in San Diego. Consider replacing your old couch with a sofa bed, or add a sofa bed to the kids’ room for sleepovers. Many southern California industry professionals, such as San Diego furniture stores have responded to these budgetary needs by stocking a modern selection of furniture at highly discounted prices. 

Use Couch Covers and Pillow Shams

If you don’t have the time or money to upgrade your furniture, give it a quick facelift with a couch cover and pillow shams. It is cheap and easy to create your covers from scratch, or you can simply find a set at a local bedding or furniture store. If you want to customize the look, you can always find a great fabric and have someone make appropriate alterations to fit your items. Be sure to take appropriate measurements before ordering the cut and hem! 

Playful Placemats

You can spice up your coffee table, end tables, or dining room table with durable and unique placemats. With various types of lamination available, it is easy to make customized placemats for all areas of your home. Consider collages of your kids, family members, favorite pop culture icons, fun vacations, or educational tips. You can get plenty of ideas online for interactive crosswords that provide coffee table tips for the reader! You could even laminate a few Trivial Pursuit cards or questions together to make for great dinner conversation or distractions during the commercials. 

Author Bio: 

I am a blogger and writer living in San Diego, CA and I like to write about ways to find bargains on living room and bedroom furniture. I enjoy shopping around at my local San Diego furniture stores for great deals on furniture that not only makes my house look great, but makes my wallet happy too.

Learn How to Live Below Your Means

In budget, Your World on September 14, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Image Credit David Siqueira

 

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I’d easily spend $300 on a Coco Chanel wallet or Tiffany card case.  And that evening, it was nothing to drop another hundred on dinner with friends.  Sears, Kmart, Target and “the Walmart” were definitely off my shopping radar.  After all, only poor people shopped those places.      

When I look back at all the money I wasted buying status symbols that only served to make other folks rich, it makes me ill.  The genius who said, “Youth is wasted on the young,” sure got that one right!       

Thankfully, when I turned 24, I married a man who can make a $20 last six months!  He showed me how to manage our money so that it wouldn’t end up managing us.       

These days when I climb into my 11 year-old Honda (156,000 miles and counting) – I smile.  And the folks at my local Walmart, well, they know me by name. 🙂  I’m ecstatic when I find scream’n deals on toothpaste, or save cash by dining in.  And paying extra on my mortgage makes me downright giddy!      

Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to live like Ebenezer Scrooge.  It simply means living below your means – comfortably.        

Here are five tips to get you started.     

 Invest in yourself.  I believe in stimulating my economy.  And don’t count on Uncle Sam or anyone else to take care of my needs.  Dedicate a portion of every paycheck to savings. Whether you invest in the stock market, deposit money in a credit union savings account, a tin can or under your mattress – pay yourself.  Even if it’s just fifty cents a week.     

 *Backyard, Sauna and Room for a Pony.  Your mortgage or rent shouldn’t consume more than 28% of your monthly gross income.  But remember – just because you qualify for a loan or have 28% to spend on rent, doesn’t mean you can afford to make the payments.  Owning a home involves much more than paying the banknote.  Home maintenance, property tax, and home owner’s insurance are just a few of many, expenses.     

Note:  Your total debts, (rent, car payments, student loans, credit cards, etc.) should equal 36% or less of your gross monthly income.      

 Paying Retail is for Suckers.  It’s silly to pay full price unless you have to.  Shop around on and offline before making purchases.  And be sure to clip coupons and take them with you.  Check out, My Simon, Fat Wallet, Retail Me Not, Deal Hunting, and Ebates, to find mind-blowing savings.     

 Budgets Rock.  Whether you’re making a six figure salary or living off tips, the only way to see where you spend (and hopefully save) money is with a budget.  Mint and Money Strands are two good and FREE budgeting tools.   YNAB 3 is also a great choice, but the price is $60 bucks.     

 Got a Raise? Great!  Good for you.  Save at least 50% and put the rest towards paying off debts.     

Don’t let a sense of entitlement make you poor.  Instead, practice a little self-control and spend carefully.      

*Keeping Up Appearances – British Situation Comedy.

Find Out The Secrets To Saving $$$ On Your Prescription Drug Costs

In Our Guest Appearances, Your Health, Your World on September 1, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Are your prescription drug costs taking a huge bite out of the family budget?  Click here to find out how to save big bucks on your drug “habit”.

Tired of rejection letters? Then check out my post, “The Secrets to Making Your E-Query Standout Amid the Clutter” at Coffeehouse for Writers.

12 Simple Separates: Your Guide to Lookin’ Good and Feeling Great!

In Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers on August 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

 by Heather Claus of 365 Days of Style

 

 

It’s a tough economy and times are tight. Everyone wants to cut expenses without giving up quality of life.

I do, too.

In fact, I’ve been learning to “tightwad” for over a decade. Sadly, I’ve not mastered it, but I have found a balance in my life. I prefer to spend money on priorities, rather than having it just dribble away with each purchase.

Thing is, I love fashion.

Well, not fashion, exactly. I love style. Personal style. I love to create my own style from what’s in fashion, what’s out of fashion (I’ve been a fan of vintage for 25 years), fun accessories, and even garments I design and sew myself. All that can get expensive.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Add on top of that many of us live multiple lives. Home life, mommy life, social life, business life… that’s a lot of wardrobe – and a lot of moolah, if you’re not careful.

That’s why I created 12 Simple Separates. The goal behind this PDF is to teach you to purchase (or thrift or sew) just 12 basic garments that can be combined into 80 combinations. That’s FOUR MONTHS of work weeks without duplication. 12 garments make 90% of a work wardrobe. Just add shoes and accessories.

It’s not just about money, though. It’s also about time. Having a million options every morning can make getting dressed MORE complicated, not less. Having a set of clothing that you know fits, looks good and will work for the office makes hectic AM dressing a breeze.

Of course, this doesn’t just work for the office. A wardrobe for SAHM duty would use the same combinations of tops and bottoms, just in a more comfortable, casual style.

Are you a small business owner? It’s easy to put together a professional wardrobe on a budget, even when most of your time is spent working at home in your yoga pants (guilty!).

Thing is, getting your 12 basics together is cost-effective, and once you have them, you’ll have the time and money to put towards other priorities – like cute shoes! *smiles* Or gorgeous jewelry, a family vacation, car repairs…

This PDF will get you started. If you have questions, feel free to ask me here, or to email me directly at info@365daysofstyle.com. You can also visit and register at my site for weekly style lessons and new PDF files as I add them!

I’m Heather Claus, and I love style. I didn’t always, but once I learned I knew anyone could, so I taught. Register at 365DaysofStyle.com for weekly style lessons, fashion giveaways, and daily style resources – and don’t forget to follow me on twitter! *smiles*

Consignment Shops: The New Black for Back-to-School Shopping

In budget on July 12, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Have you shopped for “Back to School” yet?  My spending frenzy began last Friday, during freshman orientation.    My son is a college student this year, and between tuition, books, room and board, parking fees, non-essentials, essentials, and miscellaneous fees, my budget is on life support!  A $32,000.00 gorilla is on my back and come August 18Th, the ape better be fed.   

Last August, my quest to earn a few extra college bucks (and avoid a future stint in the poor house) led me to an often overlooked source for raising back-to-school revenue – Consignment Shops!

According to NPD, a global market research firm, 2009 saw a dramatic drop-off in back-to-school “spending intentions”.  Moms and dads are holding on to their hard-earned dollars; frugal living is vogue.  But, while traditional retail sales are declining, consignment shops are seeing huge increases in sales.

As we prepare to send our little, and not-so-little ones back to school, consider stimulating your economy by cleaning house.   Instead of giving away electronics, furniture and clothes, try consigning those items; you’ll be surprised at the amount of cash you earn.

Ten Q & As to Get You Started

  1. What is a consignment shop?  Think of a consignment shop like a garage sale, but without the typical headaches of dealing with bad weather, making change, haggling with customers and keeping an eye on shoplifters.  Traditionally, consignment shop owners sell your unwanted stuff with the understanding that the consigned items belong to you  until the items sell.
  2. What types of items can I consign?  Browse through home fashion magazines and think about trends; these are the types of items that sell quickly.  Stay away from trying to sell grandma’s console TV or mom’s disco boots from the 70s. 🙂
  3. Can I consign my daughter’s broken IPod?  In a word, no.  Items should be clean and in good working order.  Ask yourself if the item is worth more than five or ten bucks.  If it is, chances are someone will buy it.
  4. Do items have to be new?  No, gently used items are great.  Make sure that whatever you bring has all its pieces, and that clothes are clean, pressed and free of holes.  If you’re bringing large items like couches or bookcases, they shouldn’t be worn-out or scratched.  It’s also a good idea to test electronics before trying to consign them.
  5. I paid $125.00 for a pair of Cole Hahn shoes and won’t take less than $75.00.  Can I set the consignment price?  It depends on the shop.  Some owners work with you to set a selling price.  Shop owners know market prices, their customers and what types of items sell.  Work with the owner to come up with a price you are both comfortable with.
  6. How much commission does the shop receive?  Again, it depends on the shop.  This is a great question to ask before bringing in your items.  Some owners do a 50/50 split; others receive 25% or more.  If you decide to consign with a shop, make sure you understand all the terms in your contract, to include  payment policies.  Ask for a copy of your contract and a receipt listing all the items you brought in.
  7. How much money will I make?  Don’t expect to get rich; consigning items is an effortless way to make extra cash.  Sit back and enjoy the experience. 
  8. I have a lot of high-end items to sell.  Are there specialty shops that I can work with?  Do a bit of research before venturing out.  Some shops specialize in one or two areas like, baby items and maternity wear, or furniture and household accessories, haute couture, antiques and vintage or electronics and tools.  Find the store that has the niche you’re looking for.
  9. Can I consign anything? No, most shops won’t take food, alcohol, weapons or illegal items.
  10. What happens to my items that don’t sell?  Some shops allow you to take your items back; others may buy the items from you.  Check the terms of your contract.

A few more tips…

  • If you’re the entrepreneurial type try buying quality items for  low prices at thrift stores, garage and estate sales; then sale the items at your favorite consignment shop.  
  • Try shopping consignment shops for back-to-school bargains.  They’re a great budget-stretching resource for everyone.
  • Consignment shops are a great venue to sell and get exposure for your handmade crafts. 

While I haven’t earned enough cash to feed my pet for the year, I’ve managed to pay for Reid’s books and even a few bananas.  🙂     Thank God for scholarships!

Have you shopped at consignment stores?