How to Save Money in the Winter and Cheaply Winterizing Your House

What to do to properly winterize your house in the winter:

  • Watch out for humidity in cold weather.. Far better to use a heater than boil water for that reason.. Humidity will condense on cold outer walls and cause mold, which will potentially cause health problems. I would instead of using a shower to heat, I would suggest using a shower fan (which should always exhaust OUTSIDE the house, not into the attic) and also cracking open a window to provide make up air..
  • If you want ventilation year round while saving energy one of te best things you can get is called a heat recovery ventilator.. They will let you ventilate in the winter without losing a lot of heat..
  • Now when its winter and the humidity is 20% (really, really low) and the air in your house is bone dry, sure, add some humidity.. But more often than not its not that cold and dry and also people often tend to overdo things.. Some of the suggestions are a recipe for problems..
  • Exhausting a gas dryer indoors could be very dangerous of course because of oxygen depletion/carbon monoxide poisoning.. But even with an electric dryer (unless that attachment is in reality a heat exchanger.. ) sounds like bad bad advice if somebody does not heat enough.. (likely if they are extremely frugal) Because it WILL cause mold..
  • To conserve heat, I would suggest taking baths instead of showers and then letting the tub stay full as a radiator..
  • Mold can make people really, really sick. Humidity+paper coated gypsum wallboard (or even dust) as in inside walls) will grow mold.. and the more humid, the worse for your health that mold is likely to be.. there is a direct nonlinear (exponential) relationship between the two..
  • A heat recovery ventilator is good for ventilating without using too much heat… Which is essential in keeping humidity below the dew point (and the level where mold starts growing around 65% RH)

Ideas to save money in Winter Weather:

  • Wear warm clothes – socks, pj pants, a thick sweater. Anything to keep the warmth in. Sometimes either fingerless gloves when at the computer.
  • Keep the blinds open on those south facing windows starting in the morning. Close them at night. Our south-facing room gets the most sunlight and is almost always way warmer than the rest of the apartment.
  • If the air is cold and dry, you can quickly warm up a room by using a humidifier or simply boiling a pot of water. Humidity seems to hold heat better than dry air does and it makes a huge difference. I like to boil a pot of water with a splash of artificial vanilla (the kind you use in cookies) and a pinch of cinnamon to make the house smell good. In the past I’ve used apple peels after making pie or orange peels. It’s easy and smells good.
  • Candles put off a tiny bit of heat! I love candles and they are pretty cheap. Dont get the cheap cheap kind, because they don’t last long. Get the mid-to-low priced ones. They usually smell good and last a few days total. DONT LEAVE THEM UNATTENDED! Things can overheat or pets can get into them! My friend has a long hair cat that loves to rub up against the candles, he’s always getting singed!
  • Drink tea/coffee all day long! Lots of extra water is good for you and the warm drink defrosts you from the inside.
  • During a few freezing cold weeks when our landlord couldn’t seem to keep the heat working, I would bundle up in warm clothes and blankets, with a heating pad on my shoulders, my laptop on my lap and a cup of tea nearby.
  • We have blankets in every single room of the house! I’ve usually got a throw draped over me while playing games, reading, doing homework, etc. Sometimes I’ll put a blanket on my lap with a pillow on top of that to keep all of my heat on me.
  • Our electric dryer has an attachment that can be used to redirect the heat back into the apartment instead of outside. It cost a few bucks and works really well for getting some extra heat and moisture in that part of the apartment.
  • Shower! When taking a shower, we leave the bathroom door open. Once again, the steam travels into the rest of the house and spreads the humidity we need.
  • Baking/cooking at home. This one is a no brainer and can save you money in the long run.
  • I haven’t done this, but those little draft socks for the bottom of doors and windows can probably save some energy. Also, covering and/or sealing windows and doors can probably make a huge difference. This is on my to-do list.
  • We have a lot of pets, so we have to keep the whole place moderately warm, instead of heating just ourselves. If you don’t then you can keep your heat as low as 55 or 60 and keep a warm water bottle/heating/pad/blanket/scarf/think socks/mittens with you at all times.
  • Have people over! Having lots of warm bodies around gets the place super warm!

Building a Cheap Emergency Survival Kit

What should you use to build a cheap emergency survival kit? First, prepare an emergency budget! In the case you are struck by something and can’t pay to fix it, have an emergency budget planned out that will cut out as many expenses as necessary, and also have extra income options. For example, renting out an extra room in your house, picking up a part time job, etc.

 

Considerations when building a budget survival kit

  • Assume the water and gas are going to go out as well. They most likely won’t, but if they do and you haven’t planned for it you’ll be sorry.
  • Clean the tub and fill it up. This is your cooking and toilet flushing water. Drink it only in an emergency. Also good for wetting clothing to stay cool.
  • Fill the freezer up with gallons of water. Fill up your kitchen too. 1 per person per day AT LEAST. What do you need for a week? Get twice that amount.
  • Get a camp stove, if you can afford it.
  • Get a cooler and and ice. Keeping a small space chilly is easier than keeping your whole fridge chilly. Your fridge and freezer WILL NOT stay chilly. Unless you have a chest freezer outside in 30 degree weather, give up on your freezer.
  • Figure out where ice can be bought post-storm – if the army will be setting up in your neighborhood, if your corner store has a generator, etc.
  • Clean out the freezer and get ready to cook all your frozen meat NOW. With no power, even full of ice blocks, a normal freezer will only keep your food cold for 2 days. Say goodbye to perishable goods you can’t fit in your cooler, and say goodbye to those when the ice runs out.
  • On this tip, buy charcoal or kerosene for your grill. The first day without power is Grill All The Meat day! Do it on your front stoop and the whole neighborhood will bring their perishables too. It’s a meat spoilage block party!
  • Hurricane food doesn’t have to suck. Hard cured meats and many cheeses don’t require refrigeration. Produce will go bad in the heat – canned is better here. Smoked oysters and sardines are my favorite hurricane food. Cooked pasta and rice can live in your cooler for a few days and be mixed with canned stuff and pantry items for different cold salads. Almost all our nonperishables were on 10 for $10 sales or cheaper. What do you think you need for a week? Get twice that amount.
  • Buy food items with minimal waste/packaging. It took almost 2 weeks after Isaac for trash pickup to resume and my block STANK.
  • Get a solar charger or crank charger for your phone, or a car charger if you’ve got a car.
  • Get gas. All the stations will run out!
  • Get a weather radio. This will be your only contact with the world outside your neighborhood when you realize that your phone you planned so carefully to charge has no signal.
  • Buy or borrow some good books. Having no power in a city with no working infrastructure for a week is BORING, besides being uncomfortable. Find that deck of cards or scrabble set. Reconnect with loved ones by candlelight (watch out for the mosquitos.)
  • Don’t forget bug spray, especially for children and babies!

Other Considerations when Preparing for an Emergency on a Budget

  • Shelter – Would your home or a meet up point be of sound structure after a hurricane, tsunami, forest fire or earthquake? Having tents on hand ($20 at some stores or off season) are good if your home is a danger or if you have to travel. Even a simple $12-$20 tarp will do in a hard core emergency (but you’ll most likely need fire depending).

The trick if your home is still livable and its cold outside is to wear layers (hats and scarfs included), hole up in one room and shut all the doors in the rest of the house. Cover up drafts in doors with a towel.

The cheapo insulation trick for windows is a spray bottle a few rolls of bubble wrap. Get the glass wet and put up the wrap. If you have crappy windows, you don’t have to wait for an emergency to do this.

  • Heat/Fire – If the lights go out how will you keep yourself warm if need be or cook food or worst case scenario boil water?

Most canned food is already cooked in the can when it’s processed it so you don’t need to heat it up.

Noodles, rice and other grains (oatmeal) do not need to be cooked they can be soaked in liquid for a few hours.

So if you can stand to eat cold food, do it often so as not to waste limited resources.

Having an old tea/water kettle around is going to save you a lot of trouble in an emergency.

Look on Craigslist in Sporting Goods for people selling their camping gear off season. A camp stove new or used can cost anywhere from $20-$40. Small Coleman propane canisters are $3-$5 and last forever. If you really want to be prepped get a $39, 3 gallon propane tank. You can get the tanks at most gas stations.

Other than that at least have a charcoal grill or receptacle that you can burn books, phone books and other types of fuel in.

Have waterproof matches in an emergency kit just in case.

  • Water – Recycle and fill up water jugs or 2 liter soda bottles. You can also buy a 6 to 8 gallon BPA free water container in the camping section at most big box stores for between $10-$20. This can be invaluable if you have to leave and hopefully have access to your car. In an ideal situation each family member should have 2 liters of water a day.

The old saying goes “Never drink from the bowl!” meaning the toilet bowl. But you can drink, cook and wash up with water from the upper toilet tank.

  • Food – A guideline is that each family member should have at least 10 cans each of meat/fish, veggie and fruit.

Next time you go grocery shopping set a budget of an extra $5 to $10 and hit up the bargain bins. Look for boxed food on sale or 10 for $10 (or less) in the canned food isle.

Spend an extra 10 minutes at the store and compare prices for sale items. An example is, in my area, the basic price for Progresso soup is around $2.50 a can. My neighborhood Target recently upgraded their store with a grocery section and Progresso is $1.10!

So keep an eye out for bargains on non perishables. There doesn’t have to be an emergency to stock up on food. If you or a family member loses their job or has a medical emergency, or money gets tight you’ll have food on hand and not have to worry.

How to Survive on Very Cheap Food Budget

There’s a lot of focus on what to buy on minimal means, but I think it’s worth mentioning ways to make some extra cash quickly, so that $20 food budget for 2 weeks becomes $40 for 2 weeks, which can make a big difference. A $10 per week food budget would be very minimal. Below are some suggest recipes for ultra-low budget meal plans:

 

$10 a week food budget

$10 per week food budget: Buy Eggs (2 dozen x 1.99/dozen), WHOLE MILK (1.99/gallon), WHOLE GRAIN RICE (1 x 1.59/lb) Russet Potatoes (2 lbs x $0.79 / lbs), Spaghetti/Pasta (1 x 1.59/lb) = 10.50 per week + 7% for taxes brings it about $11.00 per person per week.

  • First you must look at poverty stricken world that survives “on less than one dollar a day”. How these people do it is by combining resources and sharing. It is a lot easy for 5 people to survive on $50/week than it is for 1 person to survive on $10 per week.
  • Best way to cook is to constantly make soups, stews, crock pot, etc in such dire situations. Use spices (as said before) including Salt & Pepper. Creating Soups and stews by adding water to ‘stretches’ the food you do have, extends the life of your basic staples, and can make 3-4 meals for a very inexpensive cost. Beans, Lentils, Rice, Pastas, are all very inexpensive and filling and will leave you full of energy.

 

$20 a week food budget

$20 per week the same as 10 per week just add a bit more variety cuts of meat (steak, chicken, ‘off cuts’ such as chicken livers and gizzards/hearts = $1.09 / lb and much more vitamins, nutrients, etc)

  • Add Cooking oils (coconut oil), butter, bread, beans, more ‘staple foods’ in a higher variety than the $10/week budget limit.
  • Increase the amount of spices and variety to keep food as a source of motivation and break up the monotony of surviving on a budget.

 

Tips for people in $10/$20 week dilemma

  • Find and collect any/all change in your apartment, car, couches, parents & family house, change and spare dollars add up very quickly especially if you are sustaining on $10/week for food. Use change counter at your bank which you can turn in for 100%, no service charge like CoinStar.
  • If you are in college, go to club meetings which usually serve food or pizza. Also a few of your friends have dinner meals/lunch meal tickets at the college cafeteria they may let you use.
  • Attend networking events, professional events, SALES PITCHES, everything and anything with free food.
  • Volunteer at soup kitchens/food pantries and learn the system and how the food is doled out, when the best times, etc. Ask for a free meal after each volunteer shift.
  • Start a garden. Cucumbers and Squash produce the highest amount of food in the smallest amount of space. Usually 4 week turn around from planting to producing food and can last for 6 months for the price of water. Find soil and containers through craigslist.
  • Eliminate expenses. Chances are if you are surviving on $10 a week for food, you are throwing away more money on something else. For example a single cup of Starbucks ($4.00) can cost $28 / week or $1400/year. Start tracking your expenses and eliminating as many as comfortably possible.

Other Ingredients to Buy on Small Food Budget

Things I would buy if I were in this predicament-

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Dry beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bread- or whole wheat flour and yeast if the poster is inclined to bake bread
  • Eggs
  • A box or two of pasta, preferably whole wheat.
  • Tuna fish
  • Seasonal/sale/clearance veggies and fruits as budget permits

If enough money is available, a small whole ‘fryer’ chicken to roast, make chicken sandwiches with, and turn into enough stock for a lot of soup with the noodles, some sale or canned veggies. A cup or two of cooked beans in your soup is filling and tasty.

I realize that not everyone can buy all things on the list. Some people have 30 dollars, others have ten, etc. Prices fluctuate depending on the store, sales, the region or country of the poster.

Shop your dollar store, you discount grocer (Aldi), sales, clearance cart at the grocery store, farmer’s markets, etc.

Now would be a good time to practice portion control if you don’t already. Read the serving sizes on your rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal, etc and follow them. Drink a large glass of water with every meal. In cold months, a hot beverage can be very soothing and filling.

Learn to cook- google basic recipes. If you do not know how to cook this is contributing greatly to your budget problems. Eating takeout and pre packaged foods will burn through your budget at a rapid rate. Ingredients are cheaper than a restaurant meal.

 

Cutting Out More Expensive Ingredients

Cutting the amount of expensive ingredients in a dish can really stretch what you have. I cut the amount of ground beef I put in chili in half, just add more beans or some TVP- no one will notice. Heck, I’ve made totally meatless chili and not had my husband notice the lack of meat until I told him.

 

Eating Proteins While on Budget

Eaten proteins are broken down into amino acids in the gut and enter the blood plasma (basically a salt/glucose/amino acid sauce your blood cells live in). The amino acids are then transported to where they are needed and rebuilt into proteins, to form new cell membranes and whatnot.

Rice and beans together create a complete protein, which is a protein containing enough of nine essential amino acids. Having either on their own isn’t as nutritionally sound as having both. Mixing lentils with rice is another complete protein. Peanut butter with whole wheat bread is, too.

 

Eating Amino Acids While on a Strict Food Budget

Some amino acids are essential. You need to get them, or you can’t build certain proteins. Most are not essential. One of the essentials is lysine, which is the amino acid found in rice and wheat and all it’s products. But not in beans, which covers all the other essentials. So, mix them together, and you have all the essential amino acids and can build every protein needed.

 

Drink More Water to Stay Less Hungry

Also, people must be careful to only eat when they are hungry, and not eat because they are stressed or bored. If you’re in a financial jam you have to make your loaf of bread last you all week, not two days. Drinking water between meals is a good way to stay full- if you’re still hungry 20 minutes after drinking a glass of water, then you were actually hungry.

Other Tips to Keeping a Food Budget on Low Budget

Hit up your local Asian/Indian/Philippine markets. They generally carry food at cheaper prices and in greater quantities. You may have to experiment a little bit, but generally you can get a MASSIVE quantity of rice-noodles and beans or other staples onto which you can put anything to make a meal. Buy SPICES…not sauces. Sauces are expensive. Spices can be put on anything.

If you must travel and your gas tank is almost empty, take EVERYTHING out of your car and run it until it’s nearly empty. Don’t do this permanently, as it’s bad for your engine, but only filling up for 10 bucks worth a few times shouldn’t hurt it. You’ll get better gas mileage on that tail end bit of the tank.

Cut your coffee intake to one cup per day, tops, and roll your own cigarettes. Switch to English Breakfast Tea, if you can. You can get 100 tea bags for $2-$3. Ideally, you’d quit while you’re nearly broke but some people can’t do that. You can get about five packs worth of cigarettes for between 4 and 8 dollars, if you buy the tobacco and papers by themselves.

Your local food pantries will probably all let you go once a month and the first time you go, you’ll get several weeks worth of food, so go to ALL of them. You should get enough food to last you from X to X, if you’re willing to hunt around a bit. Finding a food bank in your area can help supplement your budget with some free groceries such as bread, canned goods, and veggies. If you are uncomfortable with taking the help, you can always donate back later when you can afford it, paying it forward to help the next person in your situation. Occasionally, some food pantries even give out coupons which you can use to get fresh vegetables and fruits at local farmers’ markets.

Best Garage Sale Strategies to Save Money

Getting deals a garage sales can be tough. However, there are certain strategies what will help you get the best price for something at a garage sale. Below is a list of several garage sale strategies to try out next time you are shopping or selling at a garage sale.

 

Tips to Save Money at Garage Sales

Buy in bulk: You’re more likely to get a price break if you buy the entire box. Do a quick calculation of the worth of the box of things before you approach them with a deal offer. Get them to name a price first then bargain down from there.

Know that nearly everything is negotiable. Some sellers price items knowing that buyers will haggle. Remember, get them to name a price then bargain down. Either arrive early enough to scout out the best products or late enough to snatch up what didn’t sell at lower prices. If you can’t make a deal at the time leave your number with the seller so they can call you if it doesn’t sell.

Make a shopping list. You won’t find everything, but have an idea of what you need. Yard sales are great for: 1.Candles- Everyone has half burnt candles usually for 25c or less. 2.Books- very heavy when moving. 25c for paperbacks and 50c is acceptable except textbooks etc. 3.Tools- just the basics, power tools are another story. 4. Children/baby anything. Do you remember where your clothes/toys came from at age 4? I don’t have them, but kids seem expensive enough.

Go to the rich neighborhoods at the end of the day, a lot of the times they give stuff away just to be rid of it when its clear it wont be sold

Middle class neighborhoods have the best garage sales. Rich folks too often don’t know the value of things; they often price things at 75% of retail and expect people to consider that a bargain; too often they are a waste of time. I think they just never bargain shop so they don’t have a clue “I paid $1500 at Ethan Allen for that sofa just 4 years ago, so $1200 is a steal!”. Sometimes they are OK though. Whenever you see high prices as their standard; just move on. Poor folks tend to buy cheap stuff and they wear it out.

Plan first. Craigslist is the easiest way. Select the map view to see what’s close to you. I look for moving, estate, or neighborhood sales. The host of a moving sale wants stuff gone and is more likely to negotiate. Estate sales can be uncomfortable. Often someone has died or moving to assisted living. It may feel weird to haggle with the grieving, but they also want the stuff gone. Neighborhood garage sales save you the trouble of driving around.

Best types of neighborhoods for garage sales. Need baby things? Go to neighborhood garage sales in new construction neighborhoods. Don’t expect to find much else though. Want antiques or something like a boat? Go to older established neighborhoods; look for the big older trees. Upscale condos can be OK; those people are getting rid of good things because they don’t have room.

Figure 10% of retail pricing for most used items. New in the box items can be worth more, worn things less. Some things really hold their value, esp. quality name brand items. Even though I could get many of the things I buy for less if I were to haggle, I think it’s fair to pay asking price if it is reasonable. I generally only offer a lower price if I think the thing is priced too high. At the end of the day or second day of a garage sale, most people are very willing to bargain, however. Some things very often are over priced: I don’t care how well your Windows 95 PC works, it’s not worth $100. Why does everyone think their old $45 retail price shop vac is still worth $20?

Bring enough money to buy that big ticket item that you’ve been looking for. Practice self control but recognize it’s not too often that you will find that pristine $500 bicycle for $100 and the next person who walks up might buy it. Then you are stuck paying retail; your kid has been waiting long enough.

Again, don’t be afraid to negotiate at a garage sale. I was uncomfortable doing this a first, but gets easier with practice. Keep quarters and singles. If you are only buying one item just ask, “would you take X for this?” and present the money. Seldom does anyone say no or they return with a different but still lower price. If you are buying several items, offer an even dollar amount for everything. “Would you take 5 bucks for all of these?” Sellers hate making change. If you present the cash and are fairly reasonable, the seller will take it.

Be cautious of some items. 1.Furniture-huge savings, but bed bugs are a thing. 2.Electronics/Appliances- try it out. Most garages have outlets. 3.Disc media-I’ve bought video games that appear scratch free, but were still unreadable. 4. Valuables/antiques/collectibles- be familiar or just use your phone. Fakes and reproductions exist even if the seller thinks it’s legit.

When to Haggle at a Garage sale?

Gaggling is annoying, especially when the other guy refuses to name a price but just wants to ignore low prices and force you to give higher ones. However this is not always true at garage sales.

And set prices are certainly not how it works in most places. Most countries actually have deeply ingrained haggling cultures and even in the U.S. cars, furniture, cable/satellite services, and real estate are always negotiable.

You say the price you want. They say what they want. You meet somewhere in the middle. Or not. It’s just a conversation. Usually all you have to do to start is say “are you negotiable?” and that gets the ball rolling in a friendly way. You can also just say “can I have this for $x?” It doesn’t really matter what price they want. You make your offer and they can accept or not. If your price is way different than theirs, no big deal. It’s like fishing. Maybe you catch something. Maybe you don’t. The best way to catch something good is to go fishing a lot.

 

Getting the Best Deals at Garage Sales

Look for city-wide garage sales in your area. Allows you to hit the most amount of sales with the least amount of driving. I’ve also been known to plot a route based on Craigslist and newspaper ad postings. Get there early. In my area most people hold a garage sale on Friday and Saturday. Friday morning has the best selection; Saturday around 11:00 things start winding down and deals can be made. Strike up friendly conversations – I don’t always do this but if I’m buying a lot it helps in negotiating. If you see something you really want, get it because you might not see it again. I often find myself passing over something that is a fair deal in the hopes of finding it later at an amazing deal. Finally, I skip over sales in newer subdivisions. Not only do you end up getting lost in curvy side streets, the goods are usually subpar. Usually a lot of cheap plastic stuff for whatever reason. Your mileage will vary of course.

Cheap Ways to Stay Healthy and Keep Insurance Costs Low

There are many different ways to stay healthy and still be frugal. This is especially true when it comes to health insurance and medical care. Some health topics to consider include:

  • Dental Care
  • Insurance (including MSA’s)
  • Alternative Insurance solutions (uninsured/under insured)
  • Alternative Medicine (science based only)
  • First aid
  • Preventative Medicine (Staying healthy)

Below are some cheap ways to stay health and avoid going to the doctor:

Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Nearly every condition, including heart disease and cancer, is benefited some way by eating vegetables and fruits, including some ability to reduce risk factors before ever developing the disease.

Get half an hour of exercise each day. Going from a huge couch potato to walking even half an hour each day has been shown to dramatically improve health. Just get up and take a daily walk, it doesn’t have to be white water kayaking or martial arts, and it doesn’t have to cost any money. Walk

Direct Sunlight. People need direct sunlight. The sun affects your mental and physical health. They recommend ~30 minutes a day depending on the season, and not through a window. Plus, it’s free!

Move around for at least half an hour each day. I know, I’m saying the same thing with different words. But “exercise” makes people think of gyms and treadmills and jogging and headbands and legwarmers and Richard Simmons. All you really need to do is walk around a bit. Walk around your office building at lunch, walk to the opposite end of the mall and back, take the stairs instead of the elevator, whatever.

Washing your hands (or any part of your body) more than several times a day probably will be beneficial in reducing exposure to pathogens however, the repeated washing of the skin with soaps or antibacterial formulations containing triclosan may in some extreme cases be detrimental to the proper barrier function of the skin. Triclosan by killing many pathogens is generally useful but it does not kill all of them, for example Pseudomonas aeruginosa – which is a very dangerous bacteria to some people, is common in hot water systems and triclosan does not kill it.

Phytonutrients – The chemicals made by plants to protect themselves.. So many of them have really amazing health benefits and reduce inflammation. I suspect that they could reduce the level of illness people endure in the US by some huge amount… This is not fringe science, they are all the subject of intense study by scientists all over the world.. Which you can see below, just click on the links to thousands of studies.. almost all of them positive..

 

Cheap Ways to Keep Health Insurance Costs Low

For Americans, educate yourself on the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). There’s going to be a lot of changes over the next few years that will save a lot of people money. Some of these are already in effect, such as dependent coverage until your 26th birthday. Beginning this month, all new healthcare plans must cover preventative services (like mammograms or contraception) under a co-pay.

Don’t skip doctor appointments because you can’t afford it! Long-term, these will have costly consequences. Make regular appointments a priority, and go to them. If you’re uninsured, consider an urgent care facility rather than the emergency room. They will treat you for urgent symptoms, but not charge Eroom prices.

Have a regular physical exam with a doctor that listens to you. Before you go, write down a list of things that have been bothering you. When the doctor asks if you have any questions, be sure to get them answered to the completely. Don’t leave confused. You are a customer paying for this service. If your doctor brushes you off, find another doctor.

Quit smoking, excessive drinking, eat right, and exercise (at least walking) 30mins a day. I have seen so many people cut down the number of medications they are taking and the issues that they take those medications for just by changing their lifestyle. Yes, it sucks when you are making the changes, but in the long run it is so worth it. You will have fewer trips to the doctor, and fewer prescriptions to refill, and be generally healthier.

Prescriptions – If you have any medications the doctor is writing prescriptions for, ask if a generic or over the counter version might be just as good. Keep a list of your allergies to medications and read them off to your doctor if they don’t ask you to. This will save you an extra phone call/trip to get a different prescription and potentially some money if you fill it, take it, and THEN find out it doesn’t agree with you. Also, before filling your script, call around and see if its cheaper to get it via automatic refills or mail order – many insurances will give a discount on your copay if you participate in those programs. Also, if you are given antibiotics for an infection, ALWAYS take all the antibiotics. Yes, even if you are feeling 100% better.

Check with your hospital/doctors office to see if you qualify for secondary/supplemental insurance or charity care. Always call to check on your bill before you pay it. Ask if it has been sent out to your insurer, and if they covered the claim. Then check your coverage in your policy to see if they match up. If they don’t, ask the doctor’s office to resubmit the charge and follow up with your insurer to see why it wasn’t covered. Sometimes you can even get discounts for paying in cash, and never sending it to the insurer (if you know it’s something the insurance won’t cover).

Remember that hospital bills are negotiable. If you are uninsured and end up in the emergency room with a $5,000 bill, don’t worry too much, as the bill is inflated to account for the reduced amount the insurance companies pay the hospital.

Save Money at the Pharmacy. Use a small, local pharmacy instead of a chain/big box. I was getting a script filled at CVS for years at my normal RX copay of $10. We moved into a small town and I decided to switch to the local/family-owned pharmacy.  Also, ask your doctor to prescribe generically – literally the EXACT same drug but can be 25% of the price. Generic prescribing is really being pushed by my med school because it could literally save hundreds of millions on health care costs and the only reason it isn’t done is laziness, or if you are cynical, pressure from drug reps.

Suck it up and go for a double room at a hospital. The single rooms might be nicer, sure, but it costs you a heck of a lot more, and generally isn’t worth it (according to patients) if you’re only going to be there for a short period of time.

 

Other ways to stay healthy without spending money

Reducing stress, meditation, improving social bonds, and reducing exposure to environmental pollutants are also important and have a notable effect on your life expectancy, but you can change how you eat and exercise today. If you do nothing else, do eat more vegetables and fruits, and take a bit for a walk everyday.

What Types of Software Development Jobs Are There?

There are so many different software development jobs out there for people with a computer science degree. There are also lots of jobs out there for people without a computer science degree who are looking to get a career in tech. There are a lot of career paths out there:

 

Types of Web Developer Jobs

  • Visual designer / UI designer
  • Front-end developer / JavaScript developer / UX developer. To be honest I don’t know the difference between UI and UX.
  • Backend developer / Python|PHP|Java|Rails|Perl|Node|ASP.NET|what have you developer
  • Sysadmin / DevOps
  • Jack-of-all-trades full stack web developer

 

Mobile developer jobs

  • iOS developer
  • Android developer

 

Game developer jobs

  • Engine programmer / graphics programmer / physics programmer / network programmer
  • Game designer / scripter
  • Sound designer / composer
  • Artist / 3D artist / 3D modeler
  • Writer
  • Jack-of-all-trades indie game developer

 

Specialized positions within larger companies

  • SDET / QA
  • Project manager / product manager

 

Miscellaneous Software Development Job Titles

  • Data scientist / “statistician with software development skills”
  • Computer security professional / information security professional
  • Scientific programmer
  • Quant / financial software developer
  • Embedded systems / robotics / home automation (Arduino / Raspberry Pi being popular with hobbyists)
  • Operating systems / compiler developer
  • Hardware industry / CAD? / low-level drivers

 

9-5 Software Development Jobs

When I graduate, I don’t want any obligations beyond a 9-to-5 workday. Is web development the right career choice for me? Is there another industry that actually has these magical 9-to-5 jobs?

9-to-5 jobs exist in every industry, it’s more that there are times in every industry for whom working 9-to-5 isn’t enough. The prevailing opinion is that it’s either an issue with culture or with management (like permanently being in “crunch time”). You’re really asking about work/life balance, which is something each company values differently. The only way to get a hold on it is to ask employees how much overtime they worked and how often they had to work overtime.

Talk to the employees of the places that you want to work at, and remember that people who talk shit about the conditions at a company on the internet are often disgruntled for other reasons.

Find a company with a lot of older people. Older people tend to have other obligations in their life rather than work all day such as kids, and you’re set! However,  a company full of older developers may not be a place where you’re going to get experience with new technologies or development approaches. Not trying to be ageist here, but we all get a little bit set in our ways as we get older, and what you need out of school is a lot of exposure to a lot of ideas so that you can find the ones that work best for you.

Also, avoid consulting jobs. Consulting firms generally charge billable hours. You don’t bill lunch, so it’s an 8-5 job. If you have a doctor’s appointment, then you make up the time by working through lunch or staying late or taking vacation time. Because of the billable hours deal, management may pressure you to work late and on weekends. The firm will charge the client for the overtime. You may or may not get paid for it.

How to Switch Careers into Computer Science and Tech

It is definitely possible to switch from many careers into computer science and tech related fields.  Not to say that it’ll be easy, of course to switch careers into a computer science or tech field. But if you’re not liking what you’re doing, absolutely forget what anybody else says! People will discourage you and look at you as if you’re going through some phase. Ignore this. Obviously, you shouldn’t leap into this new area blindly (take finances into consideration) but don’t ever let somebody (even yourself) dissuade you from pursuing what you want to do. Computer science is endlessly rewarding, and you’ll love it.

 

Switch Careers into Computer Science and Tech Jobs

Many people have a general plan to: (1) learn programming by completing free courses online (I’ve already started at Codecademy), (2) create a portfolio of websites/apps, and then (3) apply to jobs.

  • Is this the right way to go about switching to a CS career after college? Or is there a more effective way to do it?
  • Are there important changes/details I should add to my plan?
  • Are there any potential obstacles?
  • Has anyone else been in a similar situation? What did you do, and how did it go?

 

Online Courses to Switch Careers into Computer Science

I think that learning online courses is a step in the right direction, but online courses are a bit scattered/fragmented at the moment. The “good stuff” is divided amongst different books and sites and forums – the trick is finding them and tying them together. Codecademy is an amazing resource, but it focuses a tad bit more on breadth than depth, IMHO. There’s a vast difference between learning python syntax and writing an actual (useful) program or script, for example. It’s a good resource to START with. But there are certainly others that you should look into.

Codecademy is great for a beginner learning loops and stuff, but there isn’t much practical programming that will get you a job, it’s certainly not going to be enough to pass a technical interview. MOOCs are awesome for learning new things, but without some sort of documented achievement that you get from an accredited degree path your resume isn’t going to make it past HR.

 

Attending an Actual University May be Better

The main benefit of attending an actual university is the coherence of the curriculum – you have a set of topics that flow (more or less) into one another. But that’s all, really. After all, what is a class but access to resources and a deadline for assignments? Information and motivation is all you need. Getting this kind of coherent structure in your own study routine will be difficult since resources are fragmented and there will not be the pressure of a deadline to motivate you. THAT BEING SAID, If you are diligent and ORGANIZED with the way you proceed, I think you’ll be well on your way. Get involved with a group, though.

Focusing on one language is best in the beginning. There’s no need to obsess over syntactical differences – the same basic concepts are implemented in similar ways across the languages. This changes a bit as you get more advanced, but it’s fine to focus on one language in the beginning. (For example, each language has a way to create an array. HOW you create it is important, but certainly not as important as knowing WHAT you’re creating and how to use the array after you’ve created it.)

 

Tips and Resources for Switching Into Computer Science Career

  • Get Eclipse and Sublime Text 2. Eclipse is a free, massively popular IDE for Java, Scala, and other “heavy” programming languages, while ST2 is typically for the “lighter” languages, like Python and Ruby (also massively popular. I use it myself).
  • If you’re looking into web development (HTML/CSS/Javascript/PHP are mostly used in web development) then look up Jeffrey Way’s tutorials. From his tutorials alone, you can learn how to make working websites. For mobile app development, check out youtube and the official websites for Android and iOS. There is really useful “getting started” information on each site.
  • Regardless of the kind of development, everything is going to be hard without knowing the basics: basic data structures like arrays and linked lists, concepts like inheritance and polymorphism. If you want to be a “hobby programmer” on the side, then you may be able to pass and make some quick money with just codecademy and some online tutorials, but for a full-fledged understanding (which is not as intimidating as it sounds) you should invest in some books and tackle them head on.
  • Check out this site for a crap ton of free resources. If you click the “title” box under the search bar, you’ll find more results. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the first page of results for good books, I’ve found gems on the third page.
  • Check out coursera org for online courses. I’d look up the courses on data structures to get started.
  • Code org is a decent collection of resources.
  • w3schools and html net for web development stuff.
  • GOOGLE-FU. Learn how to use Google like a monster. Learn things like using “” and – to modify your search results. A sample google search for me might be something like this:site:stackoverflow.com “prevent sql injection” php -node

This will search stackoverflow.com for the exact phrase “prevent sql injection” as well as the general term “php.” It will filter out any results that contain the word “node.” (Ignore these terms for now. It was just a sample query). Point is, learn how to google. GOOGLE ALL DAY.

  • Make a stackoverflow account and read their submission guidelines.
  • SO MANY MORE. Feel free to message me at any time for more resources and I’ll send them over if I can. ASK ANY QUESTION YOU HAVE, ABSOLUTELY anything. I’ll help if I can, or direct you to somewhere where you might be able to learn more! Best of luck.

 

Do you need a Computer Science CS Degree to work as programmer?

The short answer? No, not necessarily, but it will be much harder to break into the industry without one. A degree gives you a rigid program for learning, a baseline of knowledge in CS concepts and programming, proof that you have the work ethic to get through a four-year program, and connections to peers and companies for recruiting. Not having a degree puts you at a disadvantage compared to others who will likely be applying for the same jobs with degrees in hand.

If you can’t or don’t want to get a degree in CS, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to some serious learning, you’ll need to build a strong portfolio, and you’ll probably need to network extensively with industry professional to have your best shot at a job.

 

Debt Collection Myths When Dealing with Collection Agency

There are hundreds of myths involving credit reports, scores, and collection agencies. Here are some of the most common myths we’ve run across:

Common Debt Collection Myths

“If I don’t pay the debt(s), I will go to jail
Ok, maybe if we lived over 100 years ago! This is one of the most ridiculous myths out there by far, and the worst thing about this myth? Collections Agencies  use this as a terror tactic to get debtors to pay. Now, you will hear about people in the news who have gone to jail stemming from debts owed, but if you look at the case closely, it’s not that they didn’t pay their debts that landed them in jail, it’s that they defied a judge’s order to pay said debts.

“The person I talked to said they were a lawyer and therefore wasn’t governed by the FDCPA/FCRA”
No wonder lawyers get a bad rap, they make it themselves! This is FALSE. The FDCPA states that ANY person/lawyer or firm that is hired to collect on a debt, is considered a debt collector and thus falls under the rules of the FDCPA.

“Talking to a collection agency resets the statute of limitations/collection clock”
This is incorrect. Simply talking to them does NOT reset the SOL/collection clock. However it’s what you SAY that can make a difference. If you make a partial payment, verify the debt as yours, or infer that you CAN make a partial/full payment, THAT resets the SOL/collection clock.

“The creditor charged-off the amount owed, so now I don’t owe the debt!”
A charge-off doesn’t mean the debt isn’t owed, or that it goes away, it just simply means the creditor has given up on collecting. . Any CA can purchase the debt and attempt collections. An additional ramification to this is that you may get a 1099 from the OC for the amount charged off. The IRS deems this as income, so you may owe taxes on it!

“I have a debt incurred in another state across the country. Recently I received a call from a CA, in the current state I’m in, regarding the debt I owe in the other state. They said the SOL regarding the debt “travels” with the debtor, thus I have to go by the SOL in the state I currently reside in”
This is a common ruse used by CAs. They know the majority of debtors don’t know the rules and their rights afforded them. This is false. The SOL on a debt is taken from the state the debt was incurred in. If you have a debt in OR, and moved to TX, where TX has a longer SOL on certain debts, the SOL doesn’t “travel”/”update” to the state you reside in, but stays with the state the debt was incurred in.

“If I pay a debt owed in collections, it will be removed from my credit report”
Paying a debt owed on your CR does NOT remove the negative mark. It stays on there! The only thing that will change is that the debt will be updated to say “paid in full” or something similar. The DOLA will also change to the date you paid the debt.

“If I pay a debt owed in collections, my credit score will increase”
Again, no. A paid debt in collections is no better than a debt owed simply because the damage is already done by the negative item showing on your report. The ONLY way to increase your score is to remove the negative item by doing a “pay for delete”. However if you’re going to be making a large purchase, like a house, the lending institution/bank may want to see the debt paid before they will lend monies. Thus a paid debt on your report would be beneficial. Again, the DOLA would be updated, BUT your score would not increase.

“When I applied for credit, the bank said I had a zero(0) credit score, and therefore was denied”
This is impossible. You either have a credit score or you don’t have a credit score. If you don’t have a credit score, it’s because there isn’t enough information in your credit file to determine a score. However, lending institutions may have their OWN method of calculating a credit score, or they rely on another credit scoring system(other than FICO) to generate a number for you.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve last heard from a collection agency on a debt. Today I get a call from a different collection agency saying I owe the debt”
Nothing prohibits a collector from calling about it, nor do they have to cease attempting to collect on a debt. In most states, the amount is still owed, but the collections agency is simply not allowed to sue. Reference the FTC guidelines on time-barred debts.

“If I pay a debt owed in collections, and it has been removed from my report, I will never see/hear about the debt again.”
This is one of the most contentious myths out there that confuses a lot of people. Sure, in a perfect world, you paid a debt and it SHOULD NOT come back on your report. However a month, two months, a year or maybe even longer, you get your report and there is that damn debt again! How can this be? You paid the debt, but it’s still there! The problem is that there is NO database that CAs keep or follow that shows which debts are paid and which debts are owed. So your debt can literally be sold over and over and over, which means it will show it’s ugly face again and again and again on your report. It is than up to YOU, as the debtor, to provide the necessary documentation that the debt was paid, or that it is past the SOL. The good news is that if you can prove the debt has been paid, or past the SOL, the negative item can be quickly removed.

“I missed a payment than brought my account current for several months, than missed another payment and have not made a payment since. What is the date of first delinquency, the first time I missed a payment, or the last time a payment was made?”
The DOFD is the last time a payment was made and the account was never brought current. So if you missed Jan 1 payment, that would be the DOFD. However, if you brought the account current Feb1 and made several on-time payments but missed the May 1 payment and never made another payment, May 1 would be the new DOFD.

“I’ve disputed an error on my report and have proved the information is wrong, yet the CRA hasn’t removed the negative item. Oh well, I guess it will stay there”
Part of the FCRA is that you have a legal right to dispute incorrect information on your reports, and if the information contained in it is incorrect, you have the right to request it be removed. The FCRA also states that the CRAs are required to fix any incorrect information or face legal action. In many cases, the CRAs are understaffed and move like molasses. Hiring a lawyer may be the best option, plus if you can prove you suffered damages, you can sue.

“I requested a ‘pay for delete’ from a CA and they refused, insisting I pay the full amount. Aren’t they legally required to accept a ‘pay for delete’?”
No. A pay for delete is an option a debtor has, however the CAs are NOT REQUIRED to accept it. In fact, they may not be allowed to accept it if the debt they are collecting on is assigned debt and the OC wants the full amount. More on that in the “Pay for Delete” heading below.

“I received a call from a CA for an amount owed to the OC, but they’re adding “X” amount to the original debt as interest and fees, can they do this?”
Typically, NO. Not unless your original contract with the OC allows for this, or your state law allows for this. Otherwise, they cannot add on any interest, fees, or other charges.

Common Debt and Credit Repair Terms

Knowing credit repair terms is essential. Dealing with debt collections agencies can be very frustrating for many consumers. One of the most difficult parts of dealing with a debt collection agency including the debt collection vocabulary that they are using. Below is a list of most commonly used terms, their abbreviations and their meanings in alphabetical order of common credit repair terms.

 

What is Assigned Debt?

Assigned Debt This is the most typical kind of medical debt, and usually the easiest to negotiate a settlement offer. Not 100% sure as to why it’s so easy to settle, I think it’s because the hospitals just want to get anything they can. This is when a creditor “gives” or “assigns” the debt to a collection agency for them to collect. The collection agency gets a percentage of the amount collected or a set amount, by the creditor upon a successful collection. Collection Agencies take their cues from the original creditors, if the original creditor won’t allow a settlement offer less than 100% of the amount owed, the collection agency can’t offer or accept anything other than 100% of the amount owed. Simple as that.

 

What is Purchased Debt?

Purchased Debt This is the most common type of junk debt that collection agencies purchase. It can be literally any type of debt that a collection agency purchases to attempt collections on. Typically credit cards, etc..

 

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy The legal proceedings to discharge your debts owed under the various chapters 7/13 (or Chapter 20 as some call it when people do a 7 followed by a 13 a bit after). A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years before it will fall off. Chapter 7 is a “clean slate” where almost all your debts are forgiven. Chapter 13 is a payment plan program where you make a set amount of payments for a set amount of years. Failure to abide by the payments and payment dates can toss the proceedings as well as any fraudulent activities. Many of the other credit repair terms are related to bankruptcy.

 

What is a Charge-Off?

Charge-Off  This is the accounting term a creditor uses when they have decided to move your debt owed off of their books to the “bad debt” ledger. You will most likely get a 1099-C form listing the debt owed as income from the IRS. Why, because the IRS deems the forgiven amount as income! Another important thing to remember is that a charge-off does NOT mean the debt is forgiven, or that it disappears! It just means the creditor has decided it is no longer worth their effort to collect and is then sold to collection agencies as junk debt.

 

What is a Collection Agency?

Collection Agency These are firms that specialize in buying junk debt, and pursue collection activities against debtors. Some follow the rules in collecting, but the majority do what they can to collect.

 

What is a Collection Clock?

Collection Clock This is in reference to the amount of time a debt can be collected on, tied with the statute of limitations listed below. This term is interchangeable with the statute of limitations term because each state is different in regards to the amount of time allocated for various debts. This also is tied with collection agencies as depending on what you say to them, it can reset the collection clock/statute of limitations on said debts owed. More on that in the examples to follow. Also tied to the Date of Last Activity.

 

What is a Credit Reporting Agency?

Credit Reporting Agency(CRA) These are in reference to the big 3 reporting agencies: Equifax(EQ), TransUnion(TU) and Experian(EX;) that list, and report your credit history. Make sure you understand credit reports and that your report is accurate.

 

Who is a Creditor?

Creditor. This is the bank/lending institution(or a personal acquaintance in bankruptcy proceedings) that a debt is owed to.

 

What is a Credit Report?

Credit Report Just as it states, given by the big three credit reporting agencies.

 

What is Certified, Return Receipt requested(CRRR/CRR)?

Certified, Return Receipt requested(CRRR/CRR) Actually two terms in one. Certified Mail, and Return Receipt requested. This involves delivering mail through the USPS. This is very important when communicating with collection agencies and the credit reporting agencies, as letters sent CRRR are physical proof of your attempt to contact/deliver correspondence and they are literally impossible to refute.

What is Date of First Delinquency(DOFD/DFD)?

Date of First Delinquency(DOFD/DFD) Just as it states, the date the credit line was FIRST delinquent. This is often confused with the Date of Last Activity(DOLA) but it is VERY important to be able to differentiate between the two. This affects the date to which the negative credit line will remain and eventually fall off your report. IT CANNOT BE CHANGED, except if a judgment has been issued against you! Many collections agencies try to change this as it affects how they can collect on delinquent accounts, but it is ILLEGAL and is known as re-aging. Debts fall off your report 7.5 years from the DOFD.

 

What is Date of Default (DD)

Date of Default(DD) The date the original account became 180 days past due. Debts fall off your report 7 years from the DD.

What is Date of Last Activity(DOLA)?

Date of Last Activity(DOLA) Again, just as it states. This refers to the date that any activity, whether it be a partial payment, full payment, etc. or debt validation was made on the credit line. As with the DOFD, collection agencies use this as a way of collecting, and it affects their collecting practices. This is tied with the statute of limitations/collection clock.

 

What is Debt Validation(DV)?

Debt Validation(DV) The process by which a collection agency MUST, BY LAW, validate the debt they are attempting to collect on. More on this below.

 

Who is a Debtor?

Debtor – This is the individual(for this purpose) that owes a debt to a creditor.

 

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA)?

Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA) In a nutshell, the law/act that controls the behavior of credit reporting agencies(CRAs) and specifically outlines what they can and cannot do, plus your rights.

 

What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) This outlines what collection agencies CAN & CANNOT do to collect on a debt. This is VERY IMPORTANT and I urge everyone to read up on their rights. In a nutshell it determines WHO they can contact about a debt owed, WHAT they can and cannot say, WHEN you can be contacted, and HOW you can be contacted. Keep in mind that violations can lead to legal claims against the collection agencies. Fair, Issac & Company(FICO) Started by a mathematician and engineer in 1956, they provide analytic and decision making services, primarily credit scores, for financial lending institutions. In a nutshell, they guesstimate how much of a credit risk you are based on past credit/lending practices. Scores range from 300-850. One either HAS a credit score within the range, or THEY DON’T have a credit score. One CANNOT have a ZERO(0) credit score.

 

What is a Judgement?

Judgment This is closely tied to the statute of limitations, the collection clock, and the various forms of bankruptcy. When a judgment is issued against a debtor, it means a judge has listened to both parties(collection agency & debtor) and found the debtor liable for the amount asked for by the collection agency. The original debt amount may include attorneys fees, interest, filing fees, etc, anything related to suing the debtor. This AUTOMATICALLY resets the Date of First Delinquency to the date the judgement was issued, and is the ONLY thing that can change the DOFD. The new reporting time is now 7 years from the date the judgement was issued. Judgements stays ”active” for 10 years, and in some states 20 years. This means a collection agency has 10 years to garnish your wages, put liens on your property, seize bank accounts, etc. to collect the judgement owed. If they fail to do so within those ten years, most states allow a judgment to reset for another 10 years, and they allow the collection agency to continue resetting the clock indefinitely, thus literally making the debt never go away.

 

What is a dormant judgment?

If a judgment reaches the 10 year limit, IT DOES NOT GO AWAY, it becomes dormant. The good news is that while the judgement is dormant, it cannot be collected upon! The collection agency has to file to re-activate the judgment before they can attempt to collect on it. However any collection attempts on a dormant judgement can lead to monetary fines against the collection agency. If a person is ever summoned to appear in court, do not ignore it. This is the single most important thing you need to make sure you don’t miss! Failure to answer a summons means an automatic default judgement against you!

 

What is a Junk Debt Buyer?

Junk Debt Buyer These are ALL the charged-off accounts that creditors deem unworthy to collect that are bunched together and sold for pennies on the dollar to whichever collection agency will buy them. The collection agency will then turn around and attempt to collect from the debtors, often for the full amount or a settled amount.

Who is the Original Creditor?

Original Creditor The creditor to whom the original debt is owed to. This is VERY IMPORTANT when dealing with collection agencies.

 

What is Pay for Delete?

Pay for Delete The process where you pay an agreed upon amount with the original creditor OR a collection agency, and in return they remove the negative mark from your credit report. Note that collection agencies are NOT legally required to accept these, an in cases of assigned debt, they may not be allowed to.

 

What is Re-Aging?

Re-Aging  This is the process where the collection agency lists an old debt, past the collection reporting period, with a newer date on your credit report in order to try and collect on said debt. THIS IS ILLEGAL, and CANNOT be done. The collection agency can be fined if they continue to report the debt after they’ve been informed its past the reporting clock.

 

What is a Debt Settlement?

Settlement  The monetary agreement that a debtor and a collection agency arrive at, to satisfy a debt is a common credit repair term. This could be for the full price, half price or a fraction of the full amount.  This is the amount of time set by a state(for this purpose) that determines the amount of time legal proceedings may be brought up against a debtor to collect on a debt. In other words, the amount of time a collection agency can legally collect on a debt. This is tied with the collections clock and the statute of limitations, and CAN BE RESET if the wrong words are used when communicating with a collection agency.

 

What are Time-Barred Debts?

Time-Barred Debts This refers to debts that are PAST the statute of limitations and therefore CANNOT be legally pursued. This does NOT mean the debt ISN’T owed, just that a collection agency cannot legally pursue collections.

Tips for Dealing with Collection Agencies FDCPA and FCRA

What is the FDCPA/FCRA, and how does it relate to dealing with collection agencies?

In a nutshell,  the FDCPA and FCRA were laws put into effect in 1977 (about when credit cards were available to the masses) that creditors collecting on debts could not burden a debtor for life. Thus the 7.5 year reporting time and the statute of limitations were implemented. Basically stated, creditors have a set limited amount of time to report and collect on legally owed debts. This provides protection to consumers or debt because there is a defined period of time when a debt can no longer be enforced by a creditor. Read about should you default on credit card debt?

Remember, that this is your credit report you’re dealing with, and anything negative listed can/will affect your job, housing, banking, loans, education, and general overall health. Having a correct report is vital! Again, this is a viable tool afforded to you in dealing with debts, whether you think it’s moral or not. Know your rights can give you enormous leverage when dealing with debt collections agencies.

 

Collection Agency Laws: What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

It was also decided that to protect debtors/consumers, a set of rules and regulations were needed to protect them and to control what could and couldn’t be reported on their credit reports. There are also many collection agency laws that must be followed in the collection of debt. This came to be called the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, and was implemented in October 1970. It was also decided that collection agencies had to follow a set of rules and regulations when attempting to collect. This was called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.

These collection agency laws mostly apply to third party debt collectors, and not original creditors. However some states have similar consumer protection laws that mirror the FDCPA. The FDCPA covers debts by consumers, and not businesses. Every time a debtor uses credit from a lender, both debtor and the lender are subject to the rules and laws of the FDCPA and FCRA. Fair debt collection must take place or there could be significant penalties.

 

Tips on Dealing with Collection Agencies

Dealing with collection agencies can be very hard for most consumers. Remember, Collection agencies have one goal in mind: to get as much money from you as they can. It doesn’t matter to them how they do this, and in cases of unscrupulous Collections Agencies, it doesn’t matter what they say to achieve their goal.

Collection agencies do not care about your hardships, or that your spouse was in an accident and was the sole earner. They do not care that you got sick and missed two pay checks and thus fell behind on bills. They want the money.  Is some cases, as in assigned debt, the faster they collect from you the higher their commission. Typically, they’ll pay pennies on the dollar but will still want all of the debt owed.

 

Common Tips when Dealing with Collections Agencies

This is merely a guideline, and everyone has a unique situation. If you think your situation is particulary complex or confusing, make sure to reach out to a lawyer or credit counsleor who may provide lots of assistance in dealing with collection agencies. However, there are a few basic points that are common for everyone:

 

Send Certified Mail to Collections Agencies

All written communication should be sent Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested with the collections agency.  Sending a written dispute letter (and keeping a copy for yourself) provides you with the date the letter was accepted by the debt collection agency. This not only creates a paper trail, but also starts the clock to which a Credit Reporting Agency or a Collections Agency must abide by.

If you’re having trouble disputing a mark with Credit Reporting Agencies (or CRAs, like TransUnion, Equifax, Experian), it’s often recommended to send your dispute via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. This is in contrast to online dispute letters via the Reporting Agency’s website.

 

Fair Debt Collection Laws

Know your rights under Federal debt law This is where looking up the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) helps you. It allows you to retaliate if the Collections Agency is using abusive, unfair, or deceptive methods to collect from you. It also provides the guidelines for when and how they can contact you. Debt collections agencies must adhere to the following guidelines when contacting you:

  • They are not allowed to contact you before 8 AM, or after 9PM unless you agree to it.
  • They are not allowed to contact you at work if you have informed them, via writing or orally, that you are not allowed to get calls there.
  • You are allowed to request the Collections Agency to stop contacting you via phone, and they will be required to continue only via written communication.
  • They are not allowed to share the details of the account with anyone except the debtor.

If you wish to cease communications via phone, get their address, send them a letter via Certified Mail (Return Receipt Requested), and specifically tell them to only communicate via writing. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference, as well as the number the USPS uses to track the letter.

 

Possibly Record Calls with Debt Collectors

Know your state’s telephone recording laws. When you can, record the conversation. Some states require that only one person needs to know that the telephone conversation is being recorded; in that case, it would be you. This is to keep track of the Collections Agencies to ensure they are not infringing on your rights. If they do, you can pursue them for damages. There are recording apps for most smartphones that you may wish to look into.

Recording does two things: It informs the collections agency that they are being recorded (which may encourage them to cooperate), and the record becomes evidence that can be used in a court of law.

If you cannot record, due to state laws (or you just don’t have the capability to do so), keep a log book of your interactions with the collections agency. Write down the time, the date, and what was said. Write down what they requested, what you responded, and so on. A log book can be used as evidence. Let them talk. Let them go through their spiel. Write down everything if you aren’t recording: for future reference, and to check against your records (it could simply be that they have the wrong person).

Tell Debt Collectors to Stop Calling You

Request the collections agency mailing address. Repeat it back to them to confirm. If you don’t want them to contact you again via phone, inform them. Be very clear about it. Repeat it in the certified letter you send to them. You may also inform them to not contact you at your work too. Repeat that in the certified letter as well. Once they have been informed they cannot contact you at your place of business or your personal number, they can only contact you to inform you that they won’t contact you again (or if they are informing you of legal action). Any other contact contact via phone is a violation of the FDCPA.

Have Debt Collectors Mail Information

Request they send the account information via mail. This is important! You are requesting they send all the information about the delinquent account to you in writing. This is will allow you to have the documentation in your hands, where you can look at each piece versus trying to remember it in your head. It also prevents you from saying something that can hurt you legally: Admitting you owe the debt (even if you’re not sure), agreeing to make a payment, or inferring that you can make a payment. All these things may hurt you.

 

Fair Debt Collection Laws: Request a Debt Verification Notice

Request a Debt Verification Notice. You should clearly state something along the lines of “This is not an admission of owing the debt, but I need the information regarding said debt to verify whether or not it is indeed mine. Please send me a validation notice. Please send the information to […].” A validation notice is just that: it notifies you of the amount of the debt owed, the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and directions on how to proceed if you think you don’t owe the debt. The collections agency must send the validation notice to you within five days of the initial phone call. Failure to send it is a violation of the FDCPA, and if you’ve recorded the call, you can use that in court.

 

Debt Collector Harassment

If at any point the Collections Agency becomes aggressive, rude, or keeps repeating the question of when you can make a payment, just hang up. Simple as that. If by this point you have not requested they cease calling you, make sure you inform them the next time they call. (And they will call again!) Even if you have to talk over them, keep repeating yourself. Again, if you are recording the call, this can be used as evidence.

 

Debt Validation Letters

Once you receive the validation notice, even if you know you owe the debt, send a debt validation letter within 30 days of receiving the Collection Ageny’s validation notice. If you believe in good faith that the debt is in error, send them a dispute letter stating the debt is not yours. Even if you know you owe the debt, the collections agencies must prove that you owe the debt. Failure to provide these important details means the agency is not legally entitled to collect said debt. They should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is the amount shown the actual amount owed?
  • Has there been any interest or other charges added, and are the interest and the other charges added legally?
  • Where is the original contract stating the details of the terms of the debt?

 

Validating a Debt with a Collections Agency

It is your lawful right to request that the Collections Agency validate a debt they are trying to collect on. Once you have requested a debt validation, by law, the Collections Agency must stop collection attempts. If they continue to do so, the debtor can sue. A debtor can dispute all (or a portion) of said debt, and it all begins with a collection notice.

Once a collection notice has been received, the debtor has 30 days to respond. Failure to respond verifies said debt automatically. If a notice to verify said debt is sent within 30 days of the initial collection attempt, than the Agency must stop collection attempts until the required information verifying the debt is provided.

 

Debt Collector Harassment

There is no time requirement within which a Collections Agency needs to validate the debt. They could take a week, a month, a year, or longer; but during that time period, collections must cease.

The first step a CA has to take when attempting to collect on a debt is to verify that you indeed do owe said debt(s). Unfortunately, there are only two things that a CA needs to provide:

  • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed to.
  • The amount of the debt owed.

Collection Agency Harassment

One should always request a Collections Agency to verify the debt, as well as request the address to the Original Creditor to whom the debt is owed to. Once again, all communications should be in writing, sent Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested via the USPS.

Please note that there are certain instances when verifying a debt could cause more damage than intended. For instance, it makes no sense to request a verification on a debt that is at or near the Statute of Limitation or that is at or near the reporting clock. Doing so only increases the chance that Collections takes legal action while they still can.

 

What Happens if a Collections Agency Sues you?

DON’T PANIC! You MUST answer the lawsuit! Failure to do so (failure to show) results in an automatic default judgment against you! This judgement wrecks your score and it can literally take years for it to go away. See “Judgment” in the terms listed below for additional information. I would highly suggest you retain the services of a competent lawyer at this point.

When do debt collectors sue a debtor?

Typically one gets sued over a very high amount debt, and as a last resort when the SOL is nearing on said debt. I liken it to the “Hail Mary” play in football. The CAs know that time is running out and there’s just enough time left to get one last play in. What is the “Hail Mary”? It’s a trick play. Just like it is in football, so it is in collecting. I typically find that the CAs DON’T have the required documentation to prove the debt belongs to the debtor. So much so that before entering the court room, the CAs attempt to get the debtor to pay something to “avoid the unpleasantries of a court battle.” However when asked for proof of the original contract, or to provide the debtors signature, etc. they’re all thumbs! It’s their last scare tactic.

Negotiating a promotion/raise from the lens of a Manager

I think there are three big points that sometimes people miss when they haven’t been managers themselves. Part of your manager’s job is to keep you employed at the minimum salary that it will take to keep you employed. This is the biggest factor that all managers will consider when negotiating raises with their employees.

 

Negotiating a Raise with a Manger

This is just reality. Companies overall are driven by profit, and for a lot of companies it’s their operating costs that can really drive that profit. Not being able to keep salaries in check can become a huge problem in industries that are constrained in their revenue making ability. As a manager, you are expected to represent the interests of the company, and for better or worse, the interest of most companies is to generate profit for either their owners or shareholders/investors, not to share all profit with the workforce.

This is important to keep in mind because it can help you clear up the dynamic between where you, your boss and the company stand. While your boss may like you, appreciate you as an employee, and want to keep you around, he/she will know that there is a limit as to what they can do to keep you, because there is an expectation that they are putting the company’s interests above theirs.

Salary Raise Negotiations

The only way to be able to put legitimate pressure on an employer is by being willing to take a better offer, and that starts with having one. When I say “offer in your back pocket”, I mean that you and only you knows that you have that offer. The goal is to be able to walk into a negotiation with a clear idea in your head of what it will take to keep you (say, 10% raise), and to be willing and able to walk away if you don’t get that. The only way to be able to walk away on the spot, and as a result to negotiate with the appropriate level of conviction, is to have an existing offer to literally walk away.

 

How Much Should Employees Get Paid?

And part of that philosophy is valid, i.e., you should be doing more than just giving more money to your employees, and some of your ability to retain them should hinge on that. Put a different way: if, as a manager, the only way you can retain people is by paying them more money, you are probably a really bad person to work for. For most people with good managers, one of the big negatives of taking another job is knowing that there is a chance that your next manager won’t be any good.

Managers have to invest a good amount of time, goodwill and political capital to get an employee a raise. Unless you are the CEO, arguing for an employee to get a raise or promotion (especially off-schedule ones) takes valuable resources for a manager. It’s not like you can go into your boss’ office and just get one done on the spot. Most companies are going to require multiple layers of red tape to get there, and in general, will require you spending some of your probably limited “goodwill” budget on it. Thinking of it a different way, for every raise that you are able to secure for one of your direct reports, there’s another one that you won’t be able to get.

 

When do Managers Give Raises?

Because of that, managers will tend to a) stick to doing promotions and raises during performance evaluation periods when possible, b) only push above and beyond what HR/upper management wants to do if they feel they need to in order to keep some of their top performers around.

That means that if you are someone who wants a 3% raise off-schedule, it’s not going to happen. Not because you aren’t worth the 3%, and not because 3% is a lot of money to the company, but because the level of effort required to get you that 3% raise is not proportional to the probability that you will leave if you do not get a 3% raise.

 

How to Increase Your Chance of a Bigger Raise?

If you want to increase your chances of getting those bigger raises, the best thing you can do (other than kicking ass at your job), is to figure out a way to plant the idea in your boss’ head that you do expect a significant raise/promotion when the time comes. How you do it depends on you, your industry, your boss, etc., but there is normally a way to bring up the fact that you are doing a great job, and you want to understand what is the plan for compensating that.

Since they require great performance, end of big projects, intermediate performance reviews, and any conversation where you doing your job well is the topic of conversation are great places to bring this up.

It may sound like “I’m glad to hear that you appreciate my work. I wanted you to know that I put a lot of time and dedication into my work to ensure that I give you the best possible results. With that in mind, I wanted to know what I need to do to make sure that I am in position to get promoted”

You want to bring this up as something that you put on yourself (“what can I do?”), but really use it as an opening for your boss to either tell you “I think you’re doing a great job and this is when I think we can talk promotion” or “I don’t think you’re ready yet and this is why”.

The answer really doesn’t matter as much as the seed that you have planted. The seed that you have planted tells your boss “hey, this person is concerned about their compensation”. The reason it is important is because it gives your manager time to plan out their strategy for doing whatever it is they need to do to give you a raise IF they think you deserve on AND if they think you are a risk to leave if you don’t get one. And that gives you the best possible odds.

How to get a raise if you are underpaid?

To those asking “I am underpaid, have been for a while; how do I get a raise?” Sadly, there is a very decent chance that your only way to get a raise is to leave. Organizations that underpay, tend to do so knowingly. If you challenge that, you will most likely get a spiel about how lucky you should consider yourself to work here, or get a carrot dangled in your face.

As I mentioned earlier, your best bet is to go get another offer for two reasons: Firstly, you need an exit plan. Secondly, you need to know what your market value is. Once you have that, it’s a lot easier to make that decision.

I think that a lot of people stick to a job because they take on the mentality of “how do I get my current employer to pay me what I’m worth?”, which sometimes is a losing proposition. What you should be asking instead is “how do I maximize my long term income?”, and that will be a combination of taking the right short term moves and positioning yourself for bigger long term moves.

 

Mangers Know that they are Underpaying

Often times, a manager knows they are underpaying someone they want to keep, but have no recourse to keep them. When you become a manager, you will one day run into an employee who you know you cannot keep. Period. They are just too good, rising too fast and have too marketable of a skillset for your company to be able to handle them correctly. In part because most companies are just not willing to promote people faster than a certain cadence (normally 1.5-2 years), but more importantly because people that rise too fast will always be seen through the lens of “is that sustainable? Can I believe that small of a sample set?”

If you have an employee that is able to make strides in his first 3 months at the job and is taking care of things that even people who have been there for 3 years can’t do, would you promote him after 3 months?

Probably not. You’d probably wait and see if he can keep it up for at least a year. Let’s say this person is a true rockstar; at the end of that year, this person has now exceeded expectations again, and though they were ready for a promotion to Senior X in month 3, maybe they are now halfway to being qualified for being Manager. Even if you are well ahead of the curve and promote them after a year, you have now found yourself behind the growth curve of that employee. And at that point, it’s impossible to recover, because that employee will likely continue to grow faster than you promote him.

So what happens? Sooner or later, another company comes along which has a) an opening, b) the budget, c) enough desperation that they are willing to hire someone slightly above their fighting weight just because they see potential. And then you find yourself as a manager trying to counteroffer a 35% raise and a two-level promotion. And you know at that point that a) you can’t do anything about it now, b) you probably never stood a chance, c) even if you do fight this one off, you will have to fight it again soon enough.

 

What to do if you are not getting promoted?

If you are one of those employees, the ones that rise faster than they are promoted, I have three pieces of advice for you:

  1. Don’t take it personally You are not getting promoted because you’re breaking some of the unspoken rules of HR and you just don’t fit their mold. Odds are your manager wants to keep you, but they know they can’t, and that will probably come across as not trying. Rest assured that if you are that good, they know, you know, the company knows, but they also know that they have a very limited number of options that won’t create political nuclear war from developing inside the organization.
  2. Move often. If you are truly one of these people, you will suffer if you stay at a job more than a couple of years. The only key is that you can’t just chase money – you have to chase better titles, situations and companies. No one will judge you for leaving a company after two years if your move was warranted by a big promotion, or moving to a bigger player in the industry, or just landing in a better group with a better reputation. People will judge your resume if they see you take parallel jobs every other year, because they will know that you are just chasing money.
  3. Avoid under all circumstances to burn bridges. The same person that thought you were so good they couldn’t keep you around may be the first person to come calling when they think they have an opportunity that does match your resume, especially when red tape is not as much of an issue because you are being hired from the outside. Leave on good terms, be polite, try to help on your way out. Every good impression you make while leaving could become the difference maker in your ability to reconnect with an important “in” for a future job opportunity.

Should you ever default on credit card debt?

What happens if you default on your debt to credit card companies?

Default on credit card debt consequences can vary dramatically. In case you’re unclear on what defaulting on a credit card means, let me explain what this means. After you’ve failed to make a payment on your credit card for 180 days, your credit card issuer assumes you’re probably never going to pay them. At this point, the credit card issuer will close your credit card, write off what you owe as bad debt and sell your account to a collections agency. Read some more about what it means to default on a credit card.

The banks will go nuts for the first 180 days. When they call, tell them that they have the wrong number. Or change your number if possible. You can also screen your calls and then call the company’s general number and complain that they’re leaving messages for someone who had the number before you. Collections are aggressive, but they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Don’t feel bad about lying to them because they will lie to you. If they get really nasty, take them to small claims under the FDCPA. You can win up to $1,500 if they violate the FDCPA.

 

Will banks sue you for defaulting on credit cards?

No, you won’t be sued. And even if they do, I’ll tell you how to handle it later. They rarely sue because that involves a few thousand to a lawyer and there’s an old saying in the biz, “don’t throw good money after bad.” Getting a judgment is easy. Collecting a judgment is an expensive pain in the balls. Anyone they send after you to collect judgment will probably want 50% and, after the lawyer’s costs and everything, they usually end up further in the hole. Which is why they rarely sue.

 

What happens after you default on credit card debt?

OK, you’ve defaulted. Do not worry about your credit score. Yes, it will go down, but that can be fixed. I’ll get to that later. You don’t need it unless you’re buying a house or car or something big. You don’t want to open another credit card, that’s for sure, so it’s not a big deal if it takes a hit.

After 180 days, GAAP requires banks to take bad debt off the books. This is a charge off. Statistically, when debt is over 180 days, the recovery rates are somewhere below 1%. It’s dead, and then your debt gets shuffled off to collection agencies. Bad debt gets traded around in portfolios. People buy it for pennies on the dollar (it’s worth less the older it gets) and the person who buys your $6k debt might only have $200 or $300 into it. If they can’t collect, they then sell it to someone else.

 

Default on credit card debt consequences

This is where you can cut a deal. I’ve seen some go as low as 10% to pay off a debt. Usually, you’re looking at 40%-50% or so. This is where your savings come in. Go to whoever holds your $6k card and offer them $2k to settle it. If they only have a few hundred into buying it, that’s a good deal for them. That’s a profit and they know they’re not going to get the whole thing. They’re used to these deals and 95% of the stuff they’re chasing has no money in it at all.

 

What happens to credit card debt when you settle with bank after defaulting on credit card debt?

When you settle, you can also include a provision requiring them to remove all negative credit information. Most will agree because it costs them nothing, means nothing to them, and – hey – they get paid if they agree.

What you want is Nolo’s book on bankruptcy and credit repair. Nolo is good and they will have all the correct letters and forms for you. Use it and be sure to follow up with the credit reporting agencies.

Do this and you’ll get out of debt in 12-18 months and have a perfect credit score. It’ll cost you $3k-$5k total. You will then have to begin the long process of rebuilding your credit score and coming back from defaulting on credit card debt.

 

Should you feel morally bad if you default on credit card debt?

Morally? Look, you guys have paid so much interest that you’ve already paid the bank back. Get your statements and add it up. You’ve probably repaid the debt already, so don’t worry too much about their bottom line. Further, even if they take a loss, who cares? Banks don’t pay any taxes and get to borrow at 0% from the fed, so they’re making huge profits at taxpayer expense. Do not feel bad for the banks. They get every possible advantage while holding your face down in the mud. Default is legal and this is what happens when you default. Default might be your best option.

What happens if a bank sues you after you default on credit card debt?

Oh, forgot to cover what happens if they sue. Like I said, this probably won’t happen. But if they sue and win, the judgment rate will be lower than your usual rate! Most courts have a low interest rate for judgments, often 5% to 10%, simple interest. The freakin’ court will give you a better interest rate than the banks do! So the absolute worst case scenario is that you will end up paying less than you are today!

Also, courts everywhere are backed up like crazy. If they do file suit, file a reply and the trial date will probably be 12-36 months out. Yeah, really. So that would be 12-36 months where you could save up and make offers to settle. They will settle. Further, the court will have some kind of mediation system where you can go in and bargain. So, really, do not worry about being sued. Even if that happens, you will be better off than you are today.

Seriously, default is a no-lose scenario. No matter what happens, you’ll be better off. More people should do this.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for 2016

What are Points Credit Cards?

“Points” Cards: These cards have points worth a “set” amount. For the majority of banks and most of the time, that means that 1 point = 1 cent, though there are exceptions. So for example, the Chase Freedom offers a 10,000 point bonus if you meet the minimum spend requirements. This is equal to 100 dollars in rewards points. In general, a credit card issuer will offer statement credit, gift cards or travel redemption that are worth 1 point/cent, however certain redemption such as products they sell may have a point value less than one point. There are some credit card points programs that don’t even use points, such as the Discover It, which instead calculates your earnings in real dollars.Because of the many benefits they offer, we’ve been writing about rewards credit cards for years now. However, the fact that there are so many new cards entering and leaving the marketplace means there’s a lot to keep tabs on

What are Cash Back Credit Cards?

“Pure Cashback” Cards: This is a very rare category of cards, where instead of allowing many different types of redemptions like most fixed value credit cards, you can only redeem for cash, which is deposited directly into your bank account. An example is the Capital One Quicksilver, 1.5% cashback card, which can deposit your cashback either annually or once you hit a set amount. The Fidelity 2% Amex credit card requires you to have an open fidelity account, but has no account minimum. The only downside is foreign transaction fees (FX) and being an Amex credit card, it isn’t accepted everywhere. Another example is the Spark Cash Business credit card, earning 2% on every purchase.

 

What are “Miles” Credit Cards?

“Miles” credit cards: These are essentially the same as “points” cards because they have a set value, so for this purpose they are not considered a separate category. For example, the Capital One Venture and Barclay Arrival both offer “miles” as their reward, but make no mistake, this is a marketing trick. These miles are the same as a fixed value card in that the miles are worth a set amount, namely 1 cent/point. These are not the same as Frequent Flyer miles. The downside to both these cards is that they can only be used to redeem for travel (buses, subways, flights, rental cars etc.) without significant value loss. If you try to redeem them for other products, they become worth only 0.5 cents. Getting a Miles credit card could be a good idea if you think you will want to use travel reward redemption in the future.

 

How to Value Credit Card Miles and Value Credit Card Points?

First lets compare the cards. Both give 2% back, AF waived for first year. C1 is $59/yr after that and Arrival is $89/yr. Arrival also offers 10% rebate on any points redeemed. They both limit redemptions to “travel” purchases. The 10% rebate effectively makes the Arrival a 2.2% earning card. The arrival has a few nice features. It is a chip and pin, which is crucial for overseas travel, and also comes with a free FICO score and Tripit Pro (normally $49), but let’s ignore that for a few minutes.

 

Calculate the Value of Credit Card Points Equation

So we need to figure out at what annual spending level is the $30 difference in fees made up for with the extra 0.2% in earnings on the Arrival. It’s basic Algebra (your HS math teacher was right, algebra IS important!). If X is your annual spending, then we want to find out when the points earned on X is equal to or greater than $30. The equation would be:

X*(reward % difference)=Annual Fee difference.

Solving for X the basic equation becomes:

X=(annual Fee difference)/(reward % difference).

For this example, it would be X(0.2%)=$30. We can solve for X to get X=$30/0.2%=$15,000 (don’t forget to put the percent into the calculator since % means “/100”).

So if you are planning on spending more than $15000 on one of these cards, then the Arrival is the better card to use. You can do the same example for the Fidelity Amex 2% Card with no fee. X=$89/0.2% or X=$44,500 . However, the Fidelity Amex card becomes more difficult since you are comparing an Amex with Forex fees to a MC with no Forex fees, and chip and pin tech which is important for international travel.

Let’s look at the Quicksilver Visa card. It is 1.5% back on all purchases (redeemable for cash, though) with no annual fee. X=$89/0.7%=$12,714.29

So, if you are going to spend less than $12,715, the no fee quicksilver card may be better for you. If you spend between $12,715-$15000, then go with the Venture Card. If you spend over $15000, then go with the Arrival card.

Per request, let’s do the math on the BofA Travel Visa rewards card. This has a few more features than the Cap1 Quicksilver. It offers 1.5% back on purchases that can be redeemable to cover the cost of travel purchases. This card, though offers you a 10% points bonus if you have a checking account (which can be a pain to avoid fees), which makes the card actually a 1.65% card. It also has no AF, no foreign transaction fees, and is a chip and signature card, so it should function better overseas compared to the Cap1 card. So let’s do the math based on the 1.65% rate and compare it to the Arrival cards 2.2% and $89 annual fee.

X=$89/(2.2%-1.5%)=$89/(0.55%)=$16,181.82.

So to compare the BofA card to the Arrival, if you are going to spend less than $16,182, then go with the BofA card. Over $16,182, then go with the Arrival Card.

 

Best Fixed Value Credit Card in 2016

Currently, the best fixed value card is now the Citi Double Cash. 2% with no annual fee, this makes it better than the Fidelity Amex as Mastercard is accepted in more places than American Express. Also it does not require you to deposit your earnings into a Fidelity account. Both these cards still incur foreign transaction fees while traveling abroad, for that reason, a secondary card that does not carry forex fees such as BoA Travel Rewards or Barclay Arrival may be better.

 

Cash Back or Points Card or Frequent Flyer Card

Pros of Cash Back Credit Cards:

Any seat, any time: The biggest upside of fixed value cards is that there are no blackout dates compared to using frequent flyer miles or some hotel programs. This is again because your points have a “set value”, so the bank is essentially buying your airline seat with your points. E.g. $100 flight = 10,000 points. This is a big pro for people who want to fly on specific days, don’t like hassle or have families where multiple seats are needed

Earns FF/Hotel Points: Because the bank is using your points to buy the seat, you’re still eligible to earn FF/hotel points on miles flown or revenue spent.

 

Cons of Cash Back Credit Cards:

Terrible for expensive hotels/premium international travel: Since there is a set value, seats that are very expensive such as business/first class are worth astronomically more points. E.g. $5000 business class ticket would be worth 500,000 points. At an accrual rate of 2.2% with even the best card, the Barclay’s Arrival, this would require almost $275,000 in spend! Similarly, this applies to expensive hotel properties that can go often times for $1000/night. For this reason, FF miles or hotel points can be used to create better value. I like to refer to this as “points arbitrage”, more on that next

Building a Basic and Cheap Men’s Wardrobe Online

Building a base men’s wardrobe on a budget can be a very hard task. There are basic principles to follow that will hold fast even as styles change, and many are in past guides. You should look to find your own personal interests in style, and build upon them. You will never feel comfortable wearing clothes that don’t appeal to you. Thus, this guide is aimed at taking you through the basic principles, giving you some recommendations on what to look at (and what not to look at), and some potential ideas for you to consider. Check out the following recommendations for building an excellent men’s closet on a budget.

 

Good Fitting Men’s Clothes

Good fitting men’s clothes is the most important thing out there when building a cheap men’s wardrobe.  Ill-fitting items will always look bad, regardless of how interesting or good-looking the garment is. If it doesn’t fit you well, don’t buy it! Take your time to understand good fit, and you’re half way there. There are a number of principles you can follow – simple things like having the shoulder seam of clothing hitting the end of your shoulder, and having items that follow the form of your body, rather than be too restrictive or baggy. Finding an item you really like the fit of and taking its measurements will certainly be a useful tool.

Keeping it Simple When Shopping for Men’s Clothes

Don’t try to get too complicated with what you are wearing.  This will lead to your clothes not matching, which can make any outfit jarring regardless of the fit, or buying busy items that are difficult to work with. Often, the simplest items combine together to make the best outfits. Focusing on simple items first, will make everything fit together better in the future.

When starting out, you want to play on the idea of subtlety and learning how to match basic things. You can pair navy, earthy greens and solid tans much more easily than you can stark reds and bright blues and yellows. That’s not to say bright colors can’t work, but again, it is worth really understanding matching before utilizing statement pieces. Similarly, using dark colors in a range of color tones – black-grey-white being a classic example – are also easy to pull together into an outfit, whilst maintaining this idea of contrast that you want to create.

As a general rule of thumb for beginners, it is useful to create a nice contrast between top and bottom. Darker trousers with a lighter shirt allows for a simple contrast that works well. This is a principle you can also look to for layering – slightly different tones of colour for tee and jacket make for a nice combination. Similar contrasts can be created with different textures as well – smooth cotton denim with a wool jacket for example, is a classic way of creating a subtle contrast even if the colors aren’t very different. Once understood, you can look into other colour palettes – greyscale monochrome looks are quite popular without being overly taxing to create

 

Building a Cheap and Basic Men’s Wadrobe

The next section seeks to demonstrate some basic men’s fashion. It splits the essentials of building a cheap men’s wardrobe into several sections.

 

Cheap Shirts for Men

Warm Weather Men’s Tops or Shirts

  • When the the sun is out and it is hot outside, you want a good selection of light options.  For example, you could get some solid plain crewneck tees in white, grey and natural colors. These items are a staple for layering and general wear. If you can find some with slight a slight texture of visual interestAV08Mx6, that’s also a bonus, but notice that it is still a simple item. The same holds true for polo shits. For example,  simple, well-fitting polos can work very well under a light jacket, and with a range of bottoms.
  • You might want to grab a henley for something a little different to the standard tee. Henleys are great items for layering, especially under light jackets.
  • For shirts, you can’t go wrong in warm weather with some casual oxford cloth button down shirts (OCBDs). Neutral co lours are perfect for pairing with anything from jeans to shorts. However, it’s worth looking at other options as well. Linen shirts offer a bit more visual interest, and are particularly good in high icRjjz4temperatures. These patterned items also work well as short sleeved shirts (though be aware that the fit of short-sleeve shirts needs to be spot on for it to work well). Notice that the patterns recommended are still subtle, and thus offer good versatility.

Cool Weather Men’s Tops or Shirts

  • As it gets colder you will need to be wearing more cloth. This makes it easier to experiment with different textures. For shirts, try out flanPebToTsgnels – soft and warm, these are inherently casual. They do come in solid colors, though are mostly seen in plaid patterns. These work best in casual settings.
  • If you want something a little warmer, look for an overshirt. These tend to be thicker and made of heavy flannel or wool. The can be a alternative to a thick sweatshirt or jacket.
  • For an extra layer, you simply can’t go wrong with a heather grey sweatshirt or zip-up hoody. Simple but extremely versatile, and will go with practically anything for when it’s blustery or a bit cooler in the evening.  Just keep in mind the principles of contrast when starting out.
  • For something more substantial, grab a thicker wool crew neck jumper. Also available in a variety of colors. Natural tones generally work well in cooler times (olives, browns, naturals, greys). These offer some interesting visual texture as well as extra warmth, but don’t overpower a simple fit.

Jackets

Warm Weather Men’s Jackets

  • There are plenty of good warm-weather jacket options. One of the best looks which pops up a lot are bomber jackets. These offer a classic silhouette that can be chucked on top of most things. These look fantastic in black and work very well in monochromatic outfits, but also look good in other cotiQ9SSPlors.
  • Similarly, a denim jacket is a solid choice. Now as a beginner, it can be easy to get this wrong – when starting out, getting a trucker style jacket that fits well, but is a different tone to your bottom half (contrasting). It may also help to avoid jeans when wearing one to begin with.

Cool Weather Jackets

  • You will need a cold-weather jacket. One of the best casual options is a parka, which is a slightly long, hooded rain jacket, often with insulation. Earthy tones are you’re best choice for versatility. You can also grab thinner ones for the warmer months.
  • I think another great and versatile option is a dark overcoat, which has the potential to look great. This item works well for a beginner because it can be very easily dressed up and down, offers interesting visual texture, and will introduce you to a slightly different silhouette to which you might not be used to.

 

Affordable Men’s Bottoms and Pants

  • With the bottom half (pants) , there are a few staples that you really do have to have, especially when starting out. First are jeans. You should look for a dark indigo pair with no distressing, as it looks clean. Focus on fit. Your preference for fit is up to you. The best thing to do is try a bunch of different Levi’s cuts and find the one you find most flattering.
  • After solid blue jeans, you might want to look into a black pair. They’ll be virtually just as versatile, and can allow lighter items such as white shoes or shirts an opportunity to contrast. Great and versatile set of clothing.
  • Chinos – you’ll never go wrong with a couple of pairs of chinos, which are flat-fronted, cotton twill trousers. Navy and tan pairs work well in many situations.. These items will always come in handy casually, and are easy to dress up when the time comes.
  • If you want to look into some more interesting items, lighter, stonewashed jeans can be really useful in providing contrast against a darke11055758_633418373456831_1684422522_nr top half, and look great in the summer. However, a word of caution – fit and colour of these has to be considered carefully in order to avoid poorly distressed jeans. You want to look for a light pair with fairly uniform distressing all over.
  • When the temperature skyrockets, you’ll want some shorts. Buy these like you’d buy your chinos – simple, flat-fronted and versatile colours. Generally, pairs that strike above the knee look far more flattering than those that sit at or below. Look for shorts with a 9” inseam or less, but make sure you try them on!
  • Once you’ve nailed these, you can then start looking into options beyond a basic wardrobe, such as wool trousers, or slim-fitting cargo pants. Once you are ready, you’ll understand better what direction you want to go in.

Affordable and Stylish Men’s Shoes

  • What’s on your feet is a very crucial part of your outfit. Get it wrong and it can really kill your look. It’s important to understand that with shoes, the idea of simplicity is of paramount importance. Overly busy shoes tend to look messy unless you know what you’re doing with them.
  • Sneakers – It will become very apparent that a simple, clean white shoe is very easy to work into any outfit – it provides an attractive contrast on the bottom half. Grab some Vans, Converse, PF Flyers, Adidas Stan Smiths, or whatever takes your fancy – they’ll be really useful. Alternatively, another good choice are grey sneakers. Similarly easy to utilize in almost any outfit.
  • Regarding leather shoes, again, it is very subjective. However, you can’t go wrong with a simple brown leather/suede derby. These literally go with anything, including shorts. You can find decent cheaper options from J. Crew and Bass, as well as many other fashion retailers.

 

Cheap Men’s Suits and Cheap Formal Clothes

Often, beginners come looking for advice on suiting for interviews etc. Suiting is a different and very complex world that requires a lot of knowjJvOyfKledge to get very right. As a result, I’m going to keep this very short, as it is investigated in far better detail elsewhere.

The main principle you should understand when grabbing your first suit and wanting to look good is (as always) simplicity. Fit is imperative, and far more important than the quality of the patterns you utilize.

If you are looking to make a great impression, grab a dark navy or dark grey/charcoal suit. Wear a solid white or light blue dress shirt. Pair it with a simple patterned tie in a dark color, like a navy or forest green. Wear some simple black or dark brown cap toe oxfords..

 

Where to Buy Cheap Men’s Clothes?

Cheap

  • Uniqlo
  • Muji
  • Target (specifically Merona stuff)
  • Next (more UK-based)
  • H&M
  • Zara
  • Asos
  • HE by Mango (UK)
  • Gap
  • Levi’s (if in the US/Canada)
  • Urban Outfitters
  • LL Bean (good for winter)
  • Cos

(you get the idea…)

A little more

  • Banana Republic
  • J. Crew
  • Club Monaco
  • Bonobos
  • All Saints

And for when you start getting more interested in what you buy and what you like, you can ogle the options at

  • End
  • Need Supply
  • Unionmade
  • East Dane
  • The Bureau Belfast
  • Kafka
  • Cultizm
  • Mr. Porter
  • Haven
  • Many many other high-end retailers.

Using Identitytheft.gov when Identity is Stolen

With more and more data breaches happening, I thought this was worth sharing. It’s all too easy for people to compromise your identity. Legal, credit, finance – all scary stressful stuff in this context.

If you go to the identitytheft.gov though, you can talk to an actual person. They also have this extremely easy wizard to click through your situation and it will auto-generate a “Recovery Plan” including dispute letters, steps to contact law enforcement, putting credit freezes, and basically protecting yourself. It also explains your rights pretty well too.

 

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Best way I know to help prevent identity theft is to place a security freeze on all of your credit bureau files as well as create an IRS Identity Protection PIN (if allowed). Doing these steps will stop criminals dead in their tracks as they won’t be able to apply for credit in your name without the unique PINs assigned to you by each agency.

 

Request freezes with these agencies:
Equifax
Experian
Transunion
ChexSystems
LexisNexis
Innovis
Sagestream

 

Downsides of Credit Security Freeze

Another downside of security freeze, is that it might raise your car/home insurance premiums. Some states disallow your credit score from affecting your premiums (California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii), but most don’t.

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2469312/cybercrime-hacking/loophole-in-security-freeze-law-exposes-credit-report-to-insurer.html

https://www.esurance.com/info/car/myth-your-credit-score-doesnt-affect-your-insurance-rate

Security freezes do not alter your relationship with your current credit providers. They have access to your report via soft pulls which are done on a routine basis depending on the lender. American Express for example pulls my Experian report on what seems like a monthly and even bi-weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

Summer and Winter Home Energy Saving Tips

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Whether it’s staying cool in the summer, or toasty in the winter; being frugal about our energy usage is a necessity. Saving on energy is something that renters and home owners can both easily do to save money. Oftentimes, many of these energy savings tips will just require you to make small changes to your behavior.

 

Ways to Conserve Energy at Home

Below are several tips on things you can improve around your house to save money on your utility bills by using less electricity and gas. Many of these home energy saving tips will hold true in the summer and the winter.

 

Blackout Curtains Saving Energy

Blackout curtains can trap heat in during the winter and keep light and heat out during the summer. 10-25% of thermal energy loss goes out the windows. Blackout curtains can curtail this loss by a 25%, reducing your utility bills and greenhouse gases. High-end blackout curtains can be expensive, somewhere in the $100+ area. However, you can find blackout curtains for less than twenty dollars at many different stores.. You can buy blackout curtains at almost any major retailer. For example, Walmart sells the Eclipse brand that was mentioned earlier. Some companies make their blackout curtains with vinyl, a material that has health risks associated with it. There are plenty of non-vinyl curtains to choose from, so be sure to avoid PVC in your blackout curtains.

 

Clean Your Air Conditioner

Dirty air conditioners could be wasting lots of energy. Cleaning your air conditioner is one easy way to save some electricity in the summer. First, put a nozzle on your water hose and spray it into the vents that are on the side of the outside unit. Dirt builds up and lowers the efficiency significantly of the air conditioner. You might be shocked at how much dirt and dead grass washed out of it. Be careful though while washing your air conditioner to save energy costs – those vents are radiator fins, and you don’t want them to bend. The unit could fry itself or crack if more than 50% of the fins are bent out of place.

There are plug insulators, for the electrical sockets in your house too. Sometimes a breeze can come through them. It iss basically foam that goes around it to seal it in. I would seal up the windows as much as possible too.

 

Using a Pressure Cooker Saves Energy

Using a pressure cooker to cook meals saves lots of energy considering how efficient they are at cooking. A pressure cooker cooks food in 70% less time than non-pressurized methods which translated to 70% less energy used. Countries with spotty power systems have a long history of using pressure cookers because of their energy efficiency.

Modern versions are so efficient that they lose very little liquid through steam. This means you don’t have to have to add a ton of water before cooking. That means you don’t end up with soggy, water logged foods. It also means your water soluble vitamins are retained more.

You can use a pressure cooker to make all sorts of food that requires a moist cooking environment. Soups, stews, pot roast, corned beef, potatoes, steamed vegetables etc. It is also perfect for egg dishes that need a water bath to insulate them. This means cheesecake, custards like creme brulee are perfect in the pressure cooker.

 

Canning Foods is an Energy Saving Tip

It is nice to have shelf stable foods without having to store them in a freezer or worry about defrosting. I know many freezers are very energy efficient, but you always run the risk of losing all your food due to power outage. You also have to worry about defrosting your food. It’s not hard of course but requires deciding ahead of time what you want to eat. You then have to remember to put the food in the fridge the night before. Otherwise you are using energy to store the food and to defrost it and to cook it.

 

Water Heater Blanket

Energy_HierarchyGet a water heater blanket. These are basically a big blanket of insulation (usually fiberglass and mylar IIRC?) you wrap around a water heater’s tank to increase the insulation value. They are under $20 (you’ll probably need the dimensions of your water heater) at major home improvements stores. A water heater blanket takes 10 minutes to install, and will save up to 10% on your water heating costs. Also insulate the hot water pipes if they are not already insulated within your residence.

Heating water is about 20% of most homes energy usage. A $20 R-8 blanket, some new pipe insulation, and turning the water heater thermostat from 140 to 120 might save about $30 on a monthly gas bill. If your heater is electric, you can also insulate the top and bottom to improve the efficiency (don’t do this on a gas heater, huge fire hazard), but it will still be less efficient than a gas water heater.

While you’re dialing back the temperature a bit on the hot water tank, the effective water temperature at the shower could stay the same (or even be hotter than before) due to less heat loss while going through the pipes. Dialing back the hot water temp a few degrees: less heating to try and keep the volume of water in the tank at a higher temp.

 

Instead of a Refrigerator, Use a Freezer…

Instead of a refrigerator, use a chest freezer with a Johnson Controls freezer temperature controller, which overrides the internal thermostat and allows me to keep it at refrigerator temperatures. Freezers are much better insulated, and it also helps that they open from the top. In some circumstances, a chest fridge uses about 0.25 kwh/day in winter, and about 0.45 in summer. To keep stuff organized, make sure you get one with a lot of baskets!

Plant Shade Trees

Planting large deciduous shade trees around the south & west sides of the house could keep some heat off your home during a hot summer day. In the summer they have leaves, so keep the area cooler. In winter they shed their leaves so more sun can get through to keep things warmer. Trees can also be used in colder climates as a wind-break.

You can make this part of a strategy for shade trees. Quick growers tend to be short-lived, but they can provide a stop-gap for slower-growing, longer lived trees you plant around the same time. By the time the quick-growers are ready to come down, the long-lasters are reaching sufficient size to take over shading duties. Evergreen trees to the north and west can help block chilling winter winds, too.

 

Big Energy Saving Tips: Set Your Thermostat Correctly to Save Money

An easy way to save money on your power bill is setting your thermostat correctly. You might even want to use a smart thermostat such as a Nest. Your local utility company should have recommendations on energy-saving settings. Using a programmable thermostat to raise the cooling set point when you’re out of the house and lowering it when you’re home also helps a lot.

Also, do not set the temperature really low when you’re hot. I see so many people set the temperature in frustration to 60 when they’re hot. Truth is, this will cost you a lot more money in the long run and will not cool any faster. It will just have to work a lot longer before it can maintain. Beyond that, absolutely check for leaks, especially around windows, recessed can lights, doors, crown molding, etc. Check your attic and/or crawlspace for insulation. If there are any significant gaps (more than 1% of the surface area of the insulated ceiling or floor) then you might as well not have insulation.

Use Rechargeable Batteries When Possible

Rechargeable batteries can save you a deal of money and they’re better environment. They may cost 4x more, but they can be recharged ~1500 times. For anyone interested in rechargeable batteries, the Sanyo Eneloop batteries with the Sony Cycle Energy BCG34HRE4KN recharger are recommended. Most rechargeable batteries are notorious for slow drain even when they aren’t being used. These Eneloop batteries hold charge very well as time goes on. The charger is at a good price/performance point. It doesn’t stress the batteries with a quick charge, and it has a refresh function which can bring old life back into the batteries. There are nicer chargers out there, but they can get pretty pricey.

Use a Wooden Fireplace to Save Money

If you are lucky enough to have a wooden fireplace. Use it! Light up when you get home from work, dry socks and underwear next to it instead of tumble drying them. I know that for those rural folk amongst us it isn’t hard to get hold of a trailer load of wood from the local farmer or landowner. Many would be glad to get rid of some of their excess. Instead of a family sitting in separate rooms. Sit together in a room instead of heating lots of other rooms.

 

Unplug Electronics You are Not Using

Unplug everything you don’t use. Use switches for your TV cabinet and everything within it. Under certain circumstances, you might find that some appliances using 10 Watts when ‘off’ (not even standby). Also, find your switchboard and look for the circuit breakers that are for your fridge/freezer/alarm and mark them. Next time you go out of the house for a somewhat longer period, just switch off all the rest.

Lights off all power off when you leave (your router, computer, et cetera completely off and/or unplugged). Only use the electricity at off peak hours?

 

Solar Thermal Water Heating

Solar Thermal Water Heating. If you know how to work copper tubing, this is easy enough… black ABS in a clear enclosure on the roof (like solar panels, kinda), run a pipe w/ a bypass valve to the hot water heater. BAM. Free hot water. Only works well during the summer, unless you’re crafty enough to program an Arduino or something to open and close a valve based on outdoor air temp…

Best Airline Credit Cards for Free Flights in 2016

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When you sign up for a card, some banks give you points (which can be used on purchases or transferred out), some banks give you airline miles (which transfer directly to airline frequent flyer programs). With the right credit card, not only can frequent fliers accumulate miles and points they can redeem for travel, they can also enjoy perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding and sign-up bonuses.

 

Airline credit cards are one of the best ways to earn free travel

Airline credit cards are one of the best ways to earn free travel. As mentioned above, not only do airlines give you frequent flyer miles, they also give out other airline perks. Below is an introduction to earning airline miles with credit card promotions.

 

Credit Cards Linked to Airline Reward Programs

Affiliated credit cards are ones that reward you with points or miles that are tied to a specific loyalty program. Examples of this are cards connected to the Delta SkyMiles, US Airways or American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer programs. On the other hand are the unaffiliated cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which pay you with miles that are usable as statement credit

 

Earning Airline Frequent Flyer Miles with Credit Cards

When you have an airline credit card, these miles earned are the true Frequent Flyer miles with the airlines programs.  Originally, you would earn a mile for every mile you flew on an airline. Each airline has their own Frequent Flyer (FF) program, where you can accumulate miles. Some examples of these are Delta Skymiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Lufthansa Miles&More, American AAdvantage Miles, and United MileagePlus Miles. The best airline credit cards help you earn free flights, seat upgrades, and more. And if you travel often enough, the right airline card can be one of the most important cards in your wallet. If you travel on a variety of airlines, it might not be worth it. It is often the best idea to pick an airline credit card where you can focus your future travel on in order to maximize the amounts of points you earn and the airline status.

 

Connecting Credit Card to Frequent Flyer Account

To earn these miles, you must have a Frequent Flyer account with the airline you are using. Fox example, if you have a Citi AA card, the AA miles you earn from it will be deposited in your AA frequent flyer account. If your card earns you one mile per dollar spent, this usually means after each statement close, the bank will deposit 1000 miles to your American Airlines frequent flyer account if you spent $1000 that month.

Once your mile is deposited in your Frequent Fluter account, it is no longer connected to your credit card. You can close your credit card, and the miles would still be in your frequent fluer account. Since the miles are in specific frequent flyer plans associated with an airline, you usually cannot join the miles together for an award. If you are 1000 miles short in AA for a ticket, 1k miles in Delta can’t help you at all.

Note that these are miles you either flown or earned through the credit card, and not how many miles you get to fly for free. There are many different award charts for each airline. Some airlines have very favorable award ticket policies, while others do not.

 

Airline Credit Card Signup Bonuses

The best airline credit cards compete with one another by offering unique card membership features. Listed below is a collection of standout features taken from all of the airline credit cards on the market:

  • Big signup bonuses
  • 2X miles or more for airline purchases
  • Yearly companion fares
  • Many travel perks
  • High flight availability or several travel partners
  • Opportunities to earn additional rewards

Some of the travel perks on airline credit cards involve free checked bags. Each airline credit is different and it is best to read the credit card holder agreement to see exactly the perks you are getting.

 

Redeeming Airline Frequent Flyer Miles and Free Trips on Points

If you want to redeem your frequent flyer miles for free travel, your first step is to lookup the Award Chart for the airline in question. The airline award chart will tell you how many miles you need to get a free ticket to travel somewhere. Choosing a airline with the most competitive award chart along with high quality partner airlines is one of the best ways to maximize airline miles. Some questions to ask yourself before you transfer your points are 1) do you want free stopovers or one-ways, and where? 2) do you want to fly on a specific airline or premium cabin? Choosing the right airline program to transfer points into can help you book the award you want with free stopovers, avoid paying high fuel surcharges, and use a competitive award chart to save miles.

Airlines also have partner airlines, and you can often use your frequent flyer miles to fly on a partner airline. For example, since British Airways partner with AA, if you had BA miles (Called Avios), you can book flights on AA using Avios. You usually CANNOT transfer miles between partners. About the only exception being BA Avios and Iberia Avios. If you travel one airline all the time, it makes sense to strategically use airline miles and travel credit cards this year, because the cost of an average domestic flight is still relatively high. After all, the right airline credit card can help you earn airline miles that can help you save hundreds or thousands of dollars on both international and domestic flights.

 

Earning Frequent Flyer Miles by Flying

Generally, the farther the distance flown, the more amount of miles required. Other airlines use a distance based chart, where the distance is calculated between the departing/arriving cities, which corresponds to additional “fuel surcharges” fees such as British Airways on top of miles needed. These airlines are ideal for short-haul trips, which may actually cost less miles than using a traditional award zone program such as American Airlines, but are terrible for long-haul trips, where fuel surcharges can add heavy fees.

Blackout Dates: Many of these awards are subject to blackout dates, meaning the most popular times to travel such as holidays or summer vacations there may not be awards available, meaning you need to flexible with when you can fly. Families that need multiple seats for children also suffer from this because there may not be 4-5 seats award seats open on a single flight.

 

Most Popular Airline Credit Cards in 2016

  • Bank of America Alaska Airlines
  • Barclays Hawaiian Air Card
  • Barclays Miles and More
  • Barclays Frontier
  • Chase BA Card
  • Chase United Cards
  • Chase Southwest Cards
  • Citi AA Cards
  • Delta Gold Amex
  • Delta Platinum Amex
  • Amex Bluesky
  • Virgin Atlantic Bank of America
  • Virgin American Bank of America

 

Airline Frequent Flier Programs

 

 

 

Airline Specific Credit Car Points

S airlinecardfrequentflerome airlines use a point system rather than miles. This is basically the same as miles, just a different name.  Two such examples of an airline point system instead of miles are Southwest and JetBlue. In these programs, you earn points instead of miles on your Credit Card spend, similar to other FF programs. However, they don’t use award charts.

These programs usually prices their award ticket based on the selling price of the ticket. If a flight would cost $150 for the ticket, the award ticket can cost 10,000 points. If the cost of the ticket goes up to $300, then the points cost goes up to 20,000 points. In effect, the airline has set a fixed exchange rate for each point to the cost of the ticket. Note that each airline does their valuation differently, and some also have bands of pricing rather than direct conversion, further altering the valuation.

Some of the cards that fit in this category are:

  • Chase Southwest Cards
  • AmEx Jetblue Cards

 

How much are airline miles and points worth?

Frequent flier miles are a lot harder to value than other types of credit card rewards such as 1% or 2% cash back. The number of miles required for a trip depends upon how many rewards seats the airline makes available and their pricing structure. If you are able to plan ahead, you can get incredibly good deals with your miles that regularly beat any cash back rate. And it can get even more lucrative when you look at the bonus offers on mile credit cards. If you do not think you can hunt out the best redemption opportunities, a cash back card is probably your best bet. Getting 2% of every purchase deposited into your checking account each month is incredibly easy.

Understand FICO Credit Scores for Equifax and TransUnion

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Your FICO credit score is the accumulation of all your credit data on your credit report. The most common credit score is known as FICO.  This credit score can be very important when apply for new lines of credit (credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans). In general, a score of at least a FICO credit score of 700 will be decent enough to apply for most credit cards that offer good reward programs.

 

Why do you need to understand your FICO Credit Score Range?

Premium reward credit cards (often with annual fees and much better rewards) will require slightly higher FICO credit scores. Your score contains both positive and negative aspects of your credit report such as if you always pay on time or if you have late payments. In sum, many factors are in the FICO credit score.

 

Applying for Credit Cards and FICO Credit Score

When you apply for credit – such as a credit card, auto loan or mortgage – the company from which you are seeking credit checks your credit report from one or more of the three major consumer reporting agencies. In addition to your credit report, they will most likely use a credit score such as the FICO® Score in their evaluation of risk before lending their money to you. There is more than one type of credit score, but the score used 90% of the time in lending decisions is the FICO credit score.

 

What is the difference between Experian, Equifax and Transunion?

There are three different credit reporting bureaus in the United States, Experian, Equifax and Transunion. All of these credit reporting bureaus calculate credit scores different and use the FICO factors.  Depending on your place of residence along with the credit card company when you apply for a credit card, different card companies will place different hard inquiries on one of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Transunion). Always check your credit score for discrepancies and report any errors to Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Some credit card companies will place credit inquiries on all 3 bureaus such as Capital One. Some lenders are conservative, meaning they only want to lend to the least risky consumers. These companies will be cautious and look closely at a FICO score.

Other lenders are happy to work with consumers who have less-than-ideal credit histories. It is important to read about the type of card you are applying for before submitting an application to make sure your credit score is adequate for approval. Based on this information, a lender will decide whether to approve or decline your credit application. If they approve it, they will set your credit terms, such as interest rate, credit limit and down payment requirement.

 

When do credit cards pull from Experian, Equifax and Transunion?

BankCardBureauScore Type
AmExPlatinum, PRG, SPGExperianFICO 8
BarclaysAviator, SallieMae, Arrial+TransUnionFICO
Capital OneQickSilverTransUnionFAKO VantageScore 3.0
CitiAA Platinum, Dividend, DoubleCashEquifaxFICO 08 Enhanced Bankcard
Credit.comN/AExperianFAKO
Credit KarmaN/ATransUnion + EquifaxFAKO
Credit SesameN/ATransUnionFAKO
ChaseSlateExperian
DiscoverITTransUnionFICO
First National Bank of OmahaFirstBank CardExperianFICO Bankcard 8
Mint.comN/AEquifaxFAKO
PenfedEquifaxFICO 08 Enhanced Bankcard
QuizzleN/AEquifaxFAKO VantageScore 3.0
USAAN/AExperianFAKO
TD BankN/ATransUnion

 

What are the factors in a FICO credit score?

Every U.S. consumer typically has three reports – one at each of the three major U.S. consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). Often, lenders report details of your credit history to more than one consumer reporting agency. These specific details of your credit history affect your FICO score, which in turn, affect how likely you are to receive credit (or new credit cards)

Your FICO Credit Score takes into consideration five main categories of information in a credit report. The chart below shows the relative importance of each category to your FICO Credit Score. Below is a break down of factors in your FICO credit score:

 

Payment History and FICO Score

Approximately 35% of your FICO Score is based on this information, which includes: Payment information on many types of accounts: o Credit cards – such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Retail accounts – credit from stores where you do business, such as department store credit cards. Installment loans – loans where you make regular payment amounts, such as car loans and mortgage loans.

Payment history is pretty self-explanatory, this how often you pay on time. If you have several late payments of even things like medical bills in collection, this will hurt your score a lot. It is essential to pay all credit cards on time to increase your credit score.credit-cards26-lg

Amount Owed and FICO Score (Credit Utilization)

Approximately 30% of your FICO Credit Score is based on information which evaluates your indebtedness. In this category, your FICO Score takes into account:

  • The amount owed on all accounts.
  • The amount owed on different types of accounts.
  • Whether you are showing a balance on certain types of accounts.
  • The number of accounts where you carry a balance.
  • How much of the total credit line is being used on credit cards and other revolving credit accounts.
  • How much is still owed on installment loan accounts, compared with the original loan amounts.

This is also known as your credit utilization amount or otherwise known as your credit utilization ratio or how much of your credit line you use. There are many different theories on what a good credit utilization amount is. General guideline suggest that it is a good idea to never go over 30% of your credit limit, both on a single card, as well as across all your credit cards. This is why “maxing out your credit cards” can be detrimental to your overall FICO credit score. You will be seen as a much higher risk borrower.

Applying for many credit cards could actually raise your credit score because their utilization ratio will decrease. In the same manner, closing credits cards can hurt your credit score because you lose a credit line and then might have higher credit utilization. Before you apply for new credit cards, you should pay off large balances to reduce your utilization ratio, and then wait for the statements to close so the lower credit utilization is reported to the credit bureaus. Paying balances off will have no immediate effect as they haven’t had time to be reported as paid off. By having a lower credit utilization, you may increase your chances of getting a new credit card as you are seen as a more trustworthy borrower.

Remember, that having credit accounts with an outstanding balance does not necessarily mean you are a high-risk borrower with a low FICO Score. A long history of demonstrating consistent payments on credit accounts is a good way to show lenders you can responsibly manage additional credit.

 

Length of Credit History (Average Age of Accounts) and FICO Score

Approximately 15% of your FICO Score is based on this information. In general, a longer credit history will increase your FICO Score, all else being equal. However, even people who have not been using credit long can get a good FICO Credit Score, depending on what their credit report says about their payment history and amounts owed

Your oldest and newest cred cards will all be averaged together for purposes of credit score age. Too young of an average credit history will hurt their score. Closed credit accounts stay on your report for 10 years and will continue to age, which is the reason closing cards do not immediately impact your FICO score as even young cards will continue to age and bring up your average age of credit. It is recommended to keep as many no annual fee cards as possible just to lengthen/soften the blow when you open new cards with 0 months of history.

 

New Credit and FICO Score

Approximately 10% of your FICO Score is based on this information. FICO’s research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents greater risk – especially for people who do not have a long credit history.

Basically, this is the amount that Hard credit pulls/hard credit inquiries you have on  your FICO score. Hard credit inquiries lessen after 3 months, stop factoring into your score after 1 year and completely fall off your report within 2 years. Too many hard inquiries will make it much harder for someone to apply for new credit cards. This is why if you are applying for an auto loan/mortage etc. in the future, it is recommended to avoid applying for many new credit cards. While your credit score is impacted by the number of inquiries, bank also count how many new accounts you have opened. Chase is now rejecting application to certain cards if you have opened more than 5 credit cards over the past two years. So while inquiries are important, banks do look at other factors.

 

 Types of Credit and FICO

imagesApproximately 10% of your FICO Score is based on this information. Your FICO Score considers your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and mortgage loans. It is not necessary to have one of each, and it is not a good idea to open a credit account you don’t intend to use. The more different types of credit you have, the better. Though this is not to say you should open up an auto loan when you don’t need one. It’s only a small part of your score and other scores make a much bigger difference.

 

Authorized Users and FICO Scores

Another note is the use of authorized users. An authorized user on a credit card is when you are added as secondary user to someone else’s credit card account. Adding an authorized user may improve your credit score if the person who issued you the card has a good credit history and FICO

Be warned that any damage to the person who issued you the card will ALSO damage your score. If you’re trying to help a family member build credit, you can make them an Authorized User on your card, but under no circumstances should they make you an Authorized User on their card. Also any debt that is accumulated is still your responsibility, so only make Authorized User people whom you trust.

 

FICO Credit Score and Likelihood of Getting Credit Card

Your credit score is only one way of calculating if you will get a credit card. There are so many other factors that banks are using these days to issue credit cards. Other factors that may factor into a credit card application include your rent payment and income. Credit card company computers are designed to take your income and subtract your rent/mortgage payment and then use your score as a basis for how trustworthy you are. An income of 20-25k is sufficient enough to get even premium cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but as your credit limit grows higher when compared to your income it will be progressively harder to get more cards as well as if you have too many inquiries. This can be mitigated by asking the bank to split credit lines (4k each on 2 cards, vs. 8k on 1 card) but may not work in all circumstances.

 

Sites to Estimate FICO Score

There are several websites that perform an estimate of your credit score. These can be seen as alternatives and give you a general look of what your credit score should do in different circumstnaces. They usually are a little higher than what your credit score actually is.

These sites are considered safe and do not use your credit score other than to show you affiliate offers for credit cards on their homepage. CreditKarma shows the most information, while the others show less, namely just the score and not any detailed information.

 

What else is in your Credit Report?

The credit records at a credit bureau regarding a given individual. The file may include: the person’s name, address, Social Security Number, credit history, inquiries, collection records, and public records such as bankruptcy filings and tax liens.

 

All credit reports contain basically the same types of information:

  • Your basic personal Information Your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and employment information. This does not factor into score and is used to indentify you.
  • Most lenders report information about each account you have established with them. They report the type of account, the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history.
  • Requests for Credit When you apply for a loan, you authorize your lender to ask for a copy of your credit report. This is how inquiries appear on your report. Your credit report lists inquiries that lenders have made for your credit report within the last two years.
  • Public Record and Collection Items Consumer reporting agencies also collect information on overdue debt from collection agencies and public record information such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens, garnishment, legal suits and judgments from state and county courthouses. In general, these items remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.

Learn about Personal Finance Videos from Khan Academy

In a very easy to understand format, the Khan Academy provides several dozen finance tutorials, ranging from three to 15 minutes in length. All of these personal finance videos are available on YouTube for the public to view for free. In an easy-to-understand format, these personal finance YouTube videos explain the basics behind several personal finance topics, such as inflation, taxes, and compound interest. It might make sense to increase the speed in which these videos are played in order to be able to watch all the videos quicker. Most of these personal finance videos are U.S. centric, however some of them discuss topics that are appropriate for people in all countries.

 

The personal finance video series consists of:

  • Part 1: Institutional Roles in Issuing and Processing Credit Cards – Learn about the institutions involved in processing your credit credit and how they relate to each other. After watching this video, you should understand how credit cards work when buy stuff at the store.
  • Part 2: Roth IRAs – An Introduction to Roth IRAs and tips on how to save for retirement. There is another video that discusses how to use different IRA accounts to maximize retirement savings.
  • Part 3: 401ks – Learn About 401ks and how to save for retirement through a workplace retirement plan. You will also learn about the differences between a 401k and IRA in this video.
  • Part 4: Basics of the U.S. Income Tax Rate – What is it and how does it affect the taxes you pay? Learn exactly what you are paying to Uncle Sam and how to file your taxes.
  • Part 5: Inflation Overview – A tutorial on how the cost of goods and services change over time. Inflation is a very important concept to understand.
  • Part 6: Mortgage Interest Rates – Learn how interest rates are tied to specific types of mortgages. Also learn about that the important aspects of getting a mortgage are in order so you pay less when you purchase a home.
  • Part 7: Time Value of Money – Why the value of money isn’t just about what you have today. This ties into interest rates.
  • Part 8: Term and Whole Life Insurance – A tutorial on the most common types of life insurance. Learn about which type of insurance is best for your family.
  • Part 9: Open-Ended Mutual Funds – An overview on investing in mutual funds. Mutual funds are one of the easiest ways to build a diversified investment portfolio.
  • Part 10: Estate Tax – How items are taxed after a person passes away. In most cases, most families in the United States will not owe estate tax.
  • Part 11: Unemployment Rate Primer – An explanation of how the rate is calculated and more. The unemployment rate can affect financial markets and the economy.
  • Part 12: Traditional IRAs – What they are and how they differ from other IRAs. Traditional IRAs are another special type of account that can be used to save for retirement.
  • Part 13: What It Means to Buy a Company’s Stock – What does it mean to buy stock in a company? Learn about investing in the stock market with this personal finance video.
  • Part 14: Relationship Between Bond Prices and Interest Rates – Why bond prices move inversely to changes in interest rates. This video explains essential concepts related to investing in bonds.
  • Part 15: Introduction to Bonds -Find out what it means to buy a bond. Learn about bonds investing.
  • Part 16: Introduction to Compound Interest – What compound interest is and how it impacts your savings. Compound interest is vital to anyone’s savings account.
  • Part 17: The Rule of 72 for Compound Interest – Learn how long it will take for your money to double. This is also related to compound interest.
  • Part 18: Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and Effective APR – An overview on the rates affecting your debts and loans. Learn really what you are paying your credit card or loan company.
  • Part 19: What is Bankruptcy? – What it is, how it originated, types of bankruptcy and more. Bankruptcy is not always a bad thing if handled properly.
  • Part 20: Introduction to Mortgage Loans – Find out more about the loans you take out to buy a home.

More Personal Finance Videos

Khan academy has some amazing stuff no matter what you’re trying to find! These personal finance videos will be sure to increase your knowledge of many of these topics.  The videos — and other resources throughout this site — are all meant to help you manage your money, not be managed by it. Most of the information you need is already at your fingertips. Post other personal finance videos you find online in the comments! Getting a grip on your finances is easier than you think.

 

Links to Other Personal Finance Videos

In addition to the YouTube links above, the Khan Academy has over 300 more finance videos on our website here (not to mention a ton of content in other subjects!):

https://www.khanacademy.org/economics-finance-domain/core-finance

Tricks Car Salesmen Use to Take Your Money When Buying a Car

tips-when-buying-a-new-car

Purchasing a new or used card from a dealership is often an anxiety inducing experience. Dealing with car salesman tactics and car salesman pressure is tough. Car dealers and their employees are often very familiar with what tricks work get people to buy cars. Unfortunately, for buyers, auto salesmen do this hundreds of times a year and most people only do it a few times in their lifetime. The following tips are designed to prevent you from being pushed around by the salesman and to ease your mind of worries in regards to overpaying.

 

Tricks Car Salesmen Use to Take Your Money Buying Car

Know your market and Know the Car

Know your market. There are many companies like Edmunds.com and KBB.com that have accurate pricing other than internal dealer incentives and pricing. These car pricing websites tell you what your average consumer is paying, not that the car salesman wants you to pay. Your ultimate goal should be to aim for below invoice on any new car purchase. Your walk away price should always be invoice. If you can’t get close, walk away and call the next dealer. You can get enough car dealers working against each other that they’ll undercut each other.  This will avoid many car salesman tricks they may be trying to use to get you to pay more for a car.

When you finally find the car you like, you need to ask the dealer what their best price is, and then you tell them that was more than you budgeted and make a counter offer. You go back and forth a few times until you either buy the car or say no thank you and leave. If you leave the care dealer will often call you later that day or sometime in the next few days to ask you to reconsider, or to offer a better deal.

 

Know the Car Invoice Price: Avoid Car Dealer Tricks

Know the invoice price of the (which is what the car dealer “paid” before all kick-backs and incentives given by the car manufactured), and the market prices based on what others actually pay. Again, this is a good time to reference internet site in the car buying process. There are sites like truecar.com will give you an idea if you are already getting the best offers, or if you should wait them out a little longer (or contact more dealers in your area before proceeding). At the very least this will give you confidence that your number is fair and not leave you wondering if the price you paid was “too much”.

 

Don’t tell the car dealer you are paying in cash

Don’t tell the car dealer you are paying in cash! Refuse additional services from the dealer! A dealer might cut the price closer to break even if they have the hope that you will finance with them or buy a warranty, etc. I wouldn’t engage about those other things, but give them some hope: “I just want to see where I can find the best price before I look into financing, send me your best price for this configuration out the door and we can talk about the other stuff if you’ve got the best deal.” This might not be the most stress free option and you might have to “fight” to get that price once you turn down the other services though.

 

Avoid Car Payments When Negotiating: Old Car Salesman Trick

Car salesmen are taught to negotiate the payment with a car buyer instead of the final purchase price of the vehicle. Making the car buyer think about car payments has two benefits for them.

1) Making an affordable payment is relatable and gets your mind off of the actual car price. Car buyers end up paying more this way. Dealers know this and tend to exploit this psychological tendency.

2) The interest rate and the length of the loan can quickly fall into the background with this payment focused presentation. The payments method works because we are more likely to digest the affordability of a a monthly payments versus the 5 figure sticker price. Over six years, a $100 dollar increase is not that much, but by doing the math it will add on $6K to the total price. This is the car dealer trick used to get you to pay for more car than you want.

 

To avoid getting sucked into a higher monthly payments and higher overall car price be firm. Tell the salesman up front “I am not interested in going over payments right now, let’s stick to the price of the car out the door.” You must be proactive here and make sure the car salesman is listening. You want to know the individual price of the car and that is what you want to negotiate. You have now indirectly saved yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars by directing the negotiations down this road. Also, the out the door price is the price of the car plus all of the fees that the dealer adds on.

 

Keep Negotiating with the Car Dealer For A Long Time!

When buying a new or used card, hold the negotiations open for awhile with the car salesperson. A month would even be reasonable. Remember that Car dealers have sales quotas and that they need to attain to get certain kickbacks from the automakers. If one of the dealerships is under “quota” near their deadline during the negotiations period, you might just get a screaming deal in order to bump their numbers over the line.

 

Consider Buying a Car Online

Internet sales is the big thing these days with almost all car dealers. Internet car sales can be good for the car buyer. The dealer already knows what each car must sell for to make money on them, so its much easier to haggle down to the lowest price doing it through email/internet/phone.

In addition, when buying a car online, the dealers already assume you’ve done at least the pricing end of your homework. A good idea might be to send out a blanket email saying “I’m asking every dealership in the area, I want to buy car X for Y amount of money, who can help me out?”

 

Practicing Negotiating a Car Sale

Go negotiate to buy a car you really don’t want, so you get comfortable with the process. When it comes time to decide, say that it’s not your decision, you have to ask your wife/boss/accountant etc. Ask for a printout of the financing.

Again, always negotiate on price, not payments. Stick to interest rates you’ve already been quoted. After you’ve been there long enough, they will bring up the extended warranty. This is where they make most of their profits in my estimation. Use this to your advantage! Ask if you can get a lower total purchase price if you get the extended warranty. This has worked for me 5 times.

 

Watch out of Emotion Manipulation

Car salesman use many subliminal tactics to get customers interested in vehicles that they are selling. One of the best ones is emotional manipulation. The reason salesmen often insist on test driving is to get you to create a sense of ownership in your mind. You are unknowingly getting excited and your mind is taking mental ownership of this nice new vehicle.

As the car buyer excitement builds, the emotional part of our brains begins to take over. When this happens, we are much more likely to make a choice based on emotions. The budget we set and the price we wanted are now more likely to be negotiable.

Be mindful of your emotions when buying a new car. Simply being aware of this tactic beforehand and how our mind/bodies will respond is a half of the battle in not making a poor emotional based decision. Never make a large purchase the same day. Be smart, go home, sleep, and revisit it the next day when your mind has had a chance to tend to other matters.

 

Emotional Car Negotiating Tactics to Used by Dealers

Offering a trial period where the buyer can unwind the deal without penalty is a common successful tactic used. “Why not take it home and talk it over with the wife?” – if the salesperson succeeds here, not only does he transfer ownership, but he also gets you to defend your decision to your SO, effectively making YOU the salesperson. It’s also important to note that there often isn’t a no strings attached policy, and if you do choose to return it, you’ll be paying to unwind the deal.

“Don’t waste my time” – This is less a sales tactic and more a method to make you go away, but surprisingly, it actually also works as a sales tactic. Customers hate to be dismissed. And some will insist on purchasing just to prove it. It’s also a lead in for more aggressive tactics outlined below.

“Who wears the pants?” – This is literally a dare to buy. Commonly directed at men, since we tend to get our panties in a bunch when our manhood is questioned. Don’t think you’re immune to this if you’re a woman – salespeople love to play on the inferiority that women often feel in these engagements, and can get women to buy by being dismissive about their abilities/knowledge.

 

Always Get Pre-approved Credit for a Car Loan

Always go in with a preapproval from a bank or credit union and negotiate from there. Car dealers will always come back with a rate better than your preapproval as they make money on the loan so they’ll want to push you to their lender. Having your preapproval in hand will make sure you get the best possible rate. Because if they don’t get you a better rate you will just use the check you have in hand. All of the money you save negotiating a car purchase can be washed away in the finance office. Customers let their guard down when a price has been reached with the salesman. Don’t let this happen to you. Being aware of yourself and the situation is half the battle.

If you walk on the lot with a loan ready to go. It’s the same as walking in with a suitcase full of cash. You can pretty much dictate terms (within reason). The best part is, the terms are ONLY the total value of the car. Get a rate quote before going into the dealership. That way you know what to expect on interest rates and can see through their b.s. You can even get a pre-approval and bring your own financing. Generally I’ve learned that they can’t do any better.

If you are feeling generous, let them put forward a financing plan. You can compare to what you already have. Most likely a bank will do much better than whatever they have. Credit Unions are the best. So if you have CU, call them first and see if they can give you a loan. Best part is, CU’s have a special clause, and if they check your credit score it doesn’t count as a point against you on your credit report

 

Call Your Insurance Provider for Gap Insurance

Call your insurance provider if you want Gap insurance. The dealership wanted $1,800 for gap insurance. I went into his office knowing that my auto insurance provider could add it to my policy for $3 a month. Also, if you bank at a big bank, please please please dont get your auto loan through one. Your local credit union will have way better rates.

 

Cancel Extended Warranties

Once the deal has really closed – usually when the bank sends you a statement – go down to the dealership and cancel the warranty. This will piss them off big time. Anyway, stick to your guns and do it. One of two things happens: a) the money comes out of the principle but it doesn’t affect your monthly payment, just the number of them or b) your number of payments will stay the same but will go down each month.

The Looming Consumer Debt Crisis: Can You Avoid Drowning?

consumer-debt

Economist John Maynard Keynes caused a bit of a revolution in economic principles back in the 1930s, when he noted that a robust economy is built not so much upon the actions of investors, but rather upon the actions of consumers – in short, that the health of an economy is based upon consumers having enough money to actually purchase things.

 

The Looming Consumer Debt Crisis: Can You Avoid Drowning?

This is reflected by the economies of many countries. Consumers and consumer debt are a driving force of their economies.  He felt that government intervention in a free market was essential if extreme cycles of prosperity and depression were to be avoided. His theories are once again being discussed among economists who align themselves either with the free market or the call for a more tightly regulated economy.

 

Debt and the 2008 Economic Crisis

Following the most recent economic crisis, consumer spending is rising sharply, but in a way that should point to an essential element of Keynes’ principles: that consumption needs to be primarily funded by disposable income rather than debt. Consumer debt in the UK is a perennial cause for concern amongst economists, policymakers and debt charities alike, as well as being a growing problem in millions of UK households. As consumer debt continues to rise dramatically, we are left to ask ourselves, is the British economy being kept afloat by consumer debt, or being drowned by it?

Many observers lean towards the latter view, and consumers who are struggling with their own debt crises are searching frantically for a lifeboat. However, if you’re having a hard time keeping up with multiple credit card payments, debt consolidation may be a strategy worth considering. Different credit counseling agencies may offer some debt relief. Their debt consolidation programs, called debt management plans, can help you get back on track — but they can also be unnecessary and even detrimental when done through a poorly run organization or for the wrong reasons.

 

Red flags: Consumption outweighs productivity

In a healthy economy, consumer spending rises in reasonably similar proportion to manufacturing output. In the UK, however, manufacturing output is falling, even as consumer consumption fueled by debt is increasing to the point where it represents an average 145% of income. While much of this debt is in the form of mortgages, the portion represented by credit card debt continues to rise as people use credit cards not only to fund purchases but to pay for recurring expenses such as bills and even groceries.
In a March 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was projected that total non-mortgage debt in the UK, which includes personal loans, credit cards, and overdrafts, would rise to £10,000 per household by the end of 2016. Given the above-projected increase in credit card debt in particular since that report was published, £10,000 would seem to actually be an overly conservative figure.

It’s a straightforward and time-proven equation: When borrowing costs more, people borrow less. Yet the reality is more complicated. Crank up rates too fast and overstretched borrowers could struggle with the higher loan payments that go along with increased rates.

 

Expected increases in interest rates will compound the problem

The American Fed has announced that it is raising interest rates, albeit by only one quarter of a percent, but that it expects to implement modest incremental increases in the not-too-distant future. The general assumption is that the UK will follow suit with similar modest increases in order to try to normalise the economy here. Just to give an idea of what even modest increases will entail, a 30-year fixed mortgage on a £100,000 house would increase by roughly £42, should the interest rate increase from 4.5% to 5%.

Given the fact that interest rates charged on credit card accounts are significantly higher than those charged on mortgage loans, the percentage of increase on those non-mortgage debts would obviously be even more significant. Most consumers are not getting too concerned at this point. That said, Peer-to-peer (P2P) lender Zopa reported in early 2015 that the number of Brits consolidating credit card debts using long-term loans through Zopa had increased by 57 per cent year on year, an indication that there is some pressure being felt by consumers. Their concern is likely to be elevated significantly as the larger monthly bills, driven by increases in interest rates, start rolling in. In short, changes in interest rates could have profound effects for families who mortgages and other consumer debt.

 

Debt Consolidation Tools

While these debt consolidation loans can be helpful in working toward reducing your indebtedness, as well as reducing the total amount of your monthly payments, you need to both do your homework in determining whether debt consolidation will benefit you, and strengthen your resolve, so that you don’t eliminate your monthly savings by going even deeper into debt with the ensuing surplus in your budget. It could well make the difference between staying afloat or trying to swim with an anchor chained to your leg.

 

Consolidating Credit Card Debt

Consolidating your credit card debt can mean a few different things to consumers with debt. Most of the time it essentially means combining all of your debt into a single loan or paying your creditors through a single monthly payment. There are many different debt consolidation services that will set this up. It is important to read about different methods, because there are many different ways and terms to consolidate debt.

For example. you can consolidate credit  card s by taking out a consolidation loan or using a debt consolidation or management company. Debt consolidation is a form of debt refinancing that entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. The way you get out of debt is by changing your habits. You need to commit to getting on a written game plan and sticking to it. Get an extra job and start paying off the debt. Live on less than you make. It is not rocket science, but it is emotional

 

Important Facts About Debt Consolidation

Remember, that by consolidating all of your debt, at the end of the say you are still paying 100 percent of your debt obligations to creditors. This is quite a bit different from discharging them in a bankruptcy or settling the debt.When you file bankruptcy or settle with creditors, you are often paying a much reduced amount.

In addition, after a debt consolidation, your credit report can take a negative hit if your monthly payments are less than what you would normally pay. Also, while consolidation is not factored into a credit score, some creditors notate that you’re paying through a third party, which can be a red flag to a lender or anyone else looking at the report.

5 Must-Read Tips for a Successful Blog

Tips for a successful Blog

Have you considered starting a blog, but don’t know where to start? Are you already running a blog, but it didn’t break through yet? Or maybe you’re just interested in things you can improve. You’re in the right place, since we gathered some important tips to make your blog better and ideas for starting making money with it.

 

Tips for a Successful Blog

There many different ways to make your blog successful, attract readers to your blog, and make money with your blog. What host websites do you recommend? Layout? How to get publicity? etc.

 

Pick a Topic You Are Passionate About

Pick a topic you’re passionate about, otherwise It’s not going to last long. Second of all, choose a blog platform that’s easy to use. WordPress is the number one for a reason. It’s a safe bet. Make sure your content is socially relevant, keep your opinions non-biased, add links to similar blogs/sites that will increase traffic to your blog, advertise…there are quite a few free options online, choose colors that don’t strain the eyes…dark if possible, get into a habit of posting as often as you can…many people might lose interest if they see that you haven’t been active for a while.

 

Blog Homepage should tell your story

The design of your homepage is vital for connecting with your visitors. Visitors are likely to ignore a poorly designed homepage and will not make your blog any money. You need to include some unique content, motto or visuals that would engage readers and make them stay. A good navigation system through the blog ensures connection between articles, so make sure to tease the readers and redirect them to what they should read next.
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Pet Ownership in your First Place: Things to Consider

pet-ownership

Whether you are striking out on your own or with a new family in tow, a pet can be a great way to complete your family and make that apartment feel more like a home.

 

What to consider when buying a pet?

From dogs to cats to rabbited, there are many different things to consider when getting a pet at home. However, the realities and responsibilities of owning a pet can be a source of friction, depending on your lease, your level of personal responsibility, and how many people are living with you. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you run out and adopt that furry, feathery, or scaly friend and bring it back to chez vous. Think about these questions before getting a pet and bringing a pet into your family home.

 

Question 1: Are you allowed to have a pet?

dog-catWhile most of us agree that animals are pretty fantastic companions, some rental properties do not allow pets of any kind. Others may allow only certain kinds of pets, such as no dogs or cats, but fish, small mammals, and birds are okay. You will have to get permission from your landlord most likely to have a pet when renting an apartment. Even if dogs and cats are allowed, there may be restrictions based on size and breed, especially for dogs. This information should be in your lease agreement, along with any special costs that may come along with bringing a pet into your new home. A typical pet fee for an apartment might be between $50-100 a month.

 

Additional Pet Costs in Apartments

These costs include a pet deposit, to take care of any extra cleaning that needs to be done when you move out (like fur-balls that you couldn’t get up with your pet hair vacuum); and extra rent per month for your pet. Whatever you do, don’t violate your lease by getting a pet that isn’t allowed. You’ll end up with a choice between your new family member and an eviction notice, and that’s never something you want to face. Make sure you can have a pet in your apartment by checking with your landlord first on any pet restrictions in your lease. The main thing is that you have to be allowed to have a cat by your apartment complex. Nothing is riskier than to try to hide an illegal cat–sooner or later someone will pay the price
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College Dorm Must Have Item – The Mini Fridge

minifridge-feature

Mini Fridge with Lock

When I was in college, the most important item I owned was a mini fridge that had a lock. Gone are the days when a mini bar fridge is only found on motel and hotel rooms. Nowadays, many people have this into their home. Due to the versatile sizes of the mini fridge, the idea fits perfectly within places like sleeping quarters, study, lounge room or somewhere else at home when a conventional refrigerator is too large. Also, they are available in different styles, shapes and colors so they can match to the decor of your home.

 

Buying the best mini-fridge

Even during summer or hot seasons, this mini fridge proves to be handy when you want to get close to your favorite cold drinks while watching the television or having some conversation with friends and family. There are several different things to remember when shopping for a mini-fridge.  Although mini fridges are smaller and usually much cheaper than regular refrigerators, they both do the exact same thing;  keep food cold or frozen. Mini-fridges are perfect substitutes for refrigerators in college dorm rooms or RVs, or when you are running out of room in a main refrigerator.

 

Freezer Compartment in a Mini-Fridge

If the mini fridge has a freezer compartment, you can even have ice cream or ice blocks anytime you want without going to the kitchen. A mini bar is also useful during special events like game nights, dinner parties or cocktail parties. There is no need for you to rummage the full main fridge because you can use the mini bar and get the drinks you want in there.

But most people prefer using mini bar fridges or display cooler in their bedroom since they are completely silent compared to conventional refrigerator. Such units are also frost free so it is perfectly fine for you to store perishable goods at the right temperature without the freezer burn. It is important to check how big the freezer is in the mini-fridge. Different mini-fridges can vary quite a bit in the size of their freezers. If you find yourself needing more storage space in the freezer, it may be worthwhile to also get a separate mini-freeze to go along with your mini-fridge.

 

Reliability of a Mini-Fridge

Another great reason why it is good to have this in your home or even your office is these fridges are durable and reliable when it comes to maintenance. If you choose the type which has freezer feature, you will have to defrost every six months or so and there are no other additional hassles that come with the maintenance of this mini fridge. Defrost the mini-fridge freezer ensures that there is not too much ice building up and that the fridge remains clean.

Most of these mini units feature innovative insulation and lock technology which is very helpful in keeping even temperature throughout and in keeping warm air out and cold air in effectively. This means that it can consume less electricity helping you keep the power bill down. Today’s mini-fridges have very efficient energy costs. For a family that does not use much storage space in their main refrigerator, it may make sense to use a smaller mini-fridge to keep energy costs low.

A lot of modern homes today make mini bar fridges a great accessory. They are versatile, small in size and very convenient. You can use it during dinner parties or when you need to have convenient drink close. When it comes to the price, you will be more fascinated because they are not overly priced. They can be found on most appliance stores but they are also available on the internet where you can choose from a wide range of these units in terms of color, design and style. The one downside of buying a mini-fridge on the internet is that shipping costs could be high. Mini-fridges are pretty heavy to ship. This is when it might be easier to head to a store to pick it up in person.

 

Mini-Fridge Size and Mini-Fridge Capacity

Portable fridges comes in so many different sizes, and the available storage space varies widely from 6 cubic feet to less than 1 cubic foot. It is absoultely essential that you find out how big a mini-fridge you would need before buying on.  Choose a mini-fridge with the right capacity for what you intend to put in it and no bigger. If you simply want to keep a few beverage cans cold, then a small countertop fridge will do. If you will be using the fridge to store food, in addition to drinks, than you will want one that is much bigger and might feature a freezer.

The smallest mini fridges (sometimes called cube fridges), are good for keeping beverages cool and little else. Most of these models are about 17 to 21 inches square in size — small enough to fit beneath a desk — inexpensive and usually made of cheap components that make them inefficient and unreliable. Midsize mini refrigerators cost slightly more than cubes, but they perform better with roughly the same footprint. The larger models are about 24 to 28 inches tall and have a capacity of 2.5 to 2.8 cubic feet.

Getting even larger, there are two door mini fridges that have a larger freezer component. Tese models have a separate freezer space, similar to a full-sized top-freezer. Their thermostats are located in the freezer, so temperature performance is much better in that section than in the refrigerator. This would be recommended if you intend to keep lots of different frozen foods.

 

Availability of Mini Bar Fridges

When on the lookout for a mini bar fridge, you can search around so many websites to find and compare the best and most affordable deals. Many stores online offer discount rates on their display cooler and you will be surprised at the amazing prices they can offer you. There are many bits of information offered on the internet such as review sites that can help you choose the perfect fridge for your home or office.

Compact refrigerators are a great way to store leftovers and other essentials without putting too much of a dent in your wallet. Depending on your living space and daily demands, you may opt for a larger unit with a better cooling capacity for storing larger quantities of food or a much smaller and simpler fridge for beverages. Certain features, such as guaranteed quiet operation or a designated beverage holder, might prompt you to choose one unit over the next.

 

Other College Dorm Room Essentials

  • You have to have a mattress topper. Those dorm beds are the most uncomfortable things ever.
  • A good pair of headphones. You will live in a tiny room with another person. Wearing headphones can make you feel like you are by yourself.
  • Everyone always forgets things that are only used weekly instead of daily, like nail clippers and laundry detergent. Don’t forget those.
  • A brita water pitcher (Dorm water for whatever reason always seems nasty)
  • A mini fridge
  • Toliet Paper – Just something people forget when moving into a new place for the first time and the thing you will immediately hate not having.
  • A really good chair, something you can sit in for 8 hrs if needed.
  • A Costco sized bottle of Aleve/Ibuprofen. After night of drinking, BEFORE you go to bed, take one along with drinking a full glass of water = zero hang over. NO TYLENOL with drinking
  • A Costco sized bottle of imodium (come on you’re going to eat cheap ramen noodles and crap your stomach isn’t always going to be great)
  • Laundry transportation, Bags preferably.
  • A good foam pad – http://www.thefoamfactory.com/
  • Pots and pans. Or at least a pot. Mac and cheese/ramen work much better this way.
  • Silverware. Also at least one plate, bowl, cup…but preferably more. coordinate with your roommates
  • Bathrobe. Unless you and your new roomies are uh super friendly right away.
  • If your parents are taking you dorm shopping stock up on stupid stuff you don’t want to spend your money on. (Shampoo, razors, deoderant, etc)
  • Shower shoes. Dorm showers are (typically) not the cleanest places. Get yourself those, a shower caddy, and a nice robe to wear from the dorm to your showers and back.
  • A plunger, if you have non-communal bathrooms. My freshman year my room was the only one on the hall with a plunger and we had people knocking on our door a few times a week to borrow it.
  • Don’t worry if you over pack too much you’ll figure out what you need.

Tips to Save Energy for Renters

tips-to-save-energy

Whether you’re finally escaping the parents’ abode or moving into your third rental home, you’re undoubtedly keen to find some ways to reduce the hefty load of daily living expenses.

 

Best ways renters can lower energy bill

Your energy usage in your apartment is a natural place to start. But it isn’t so easy to reduce those energy bills if you can’t make any structural changes to your home. Renters face unique circumstances when trying to save energy when renting a home or renting an apartment. Its not easy to make energy efficient changes when you do not own the place! Below are some energy saving tips for apartments for people who rent them.

 

Learn Apartment Energy Savings Tips

While added insulation and solar panels are an obvious way to go to reduce the costs of your energy usage, it’s not the only way, by any means. There are plenty of energy saving tips renters can work on to reduce their bills. It’s all about changing your habits rather than your house. This is what renters need to focus on when trying to save energy costs since they often cannot physically change where they are living.

Here are some hassle-free ways to cull your energy usage when renting – and in the process, see a happy decline in those quarterly utilities bills that you are also paying as a renter.

 

Compare energy suppliers before you commit

Today we couldn’t fathom living without electricity or gas. But in many parts of the world at least, there are a huge range of gas and electricity suppliers to choose from. So it’s natural you might not be getting the best deal you could have. It can be tiresome toiling through every single energy supplier in your area to work out their plans and decide on the best one for your needs. But it can also be well worth it. Having options to pick who supplies your energy as a renter can be a sure way to make sure that you are getting the lowest rates.

Thankfully, there are useful tools online that compile all the relevant companies into one place so you don’t need to do the hard work. Whether you’re just curious or ready for a switch, you need only type in your postcode to see the full range of plans and options out there for you – and to learn what you may have been missing out on in the meantime. However, this is not available in all markets. In many cities, there is one big utility company who controls the market and you will have to buy electricity or gas through them.

It makes sense to shop around for an energy provider. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a cheap/free energy audit through your utility company at your apartment/house. It is definitely worthwhile to check out the gas, electric, and water companies’ web sites to see if this benefit is available in your area. As an added bonus, very often, the energy company auditors will give you things like free CFL light bulbs, weather-stripping, efficient shower heads or faucet aerators, etc. as part of the energy audit.

In addition, they may pass out some coupons after the energy audit. You may also have access to discounts on things like light bulbs. For example, coupons for a bunch of LED and CFL bulbs and lamps through my utility’s deal with an online retailer.

 

Obliterate vampire power

It sounds so easy, so why so few people switch their appliances off at the wall eludes me. All the time your devices – the TV, your state-of-the-art stereo system, that second-hand microwave – are plugged in and on standby, they’re draining power. In fact, they could be draining power to the amount of more than $100 each year.

To eliminate appliances/items sucking power, it might be helpful to connect certain devices to a power strip and turn it off every day before you leave for work. Some devices are known as “vampires” because they’re continually sucking power even when turned off. TVs are an example. Though they are off, they are constantly scanning for a signal from the remote. Computers also continually suck power, even when turned off. When you leave for the day, turn your thermostat down into the 60°F range. Of course, if you have pets or other humans that stay at home, that may not be possible

Using a power board is a simple way to turn off all your devices in one go, ensuring you’ll conserve energy and power. If you have access to your electrical meter, turn off all of the circuits in the apartment using the breaker/fuse panel, then verify that the meter is no longer registering any electricity usage. It’s not uncommon for apartments to be miswired such that your neighbor may be using some of your electrical power.

Mobile technology is another energy vampire, only charging your laptops, mobile phones, tablets etc. when the batteries are nearly flat and then taking them off charge when they are done, rather than leaving them on not only increase the battery life but also saves a lot of energy. Really anything with a LED screen or clock that does not need to be on all of the time can be switched off when not in use, it is amazing how quickly you notice it on your energy bills when you start doing it.

In short, to save energy costs as a renter, plug all of your phone chargers, TVs, satellite/cable TV boxes, and other electronic items into a power strip that has an on/off switch. Turn it off when you’re not home and save energy in your apartment!

 

Big Apartment Energy Saving Tips: Change your lights

You might not be able to touch your light fittings as a renter, but you can at least swap over the light bulbs to more energy efficient alternatives. These alternatives are typically LED or CFL globes. This alone is the most important thing in my opinion. It reduces the energy usage of the bulbs by a very large percentage. I would recommend LED. They can get more expensive, but they WILL pay for themselves. Any place you are concerned about heat (as a safety issue) or need directional lighting they are likely better than CFLs. They will likely not save you money

Once you’ve made the switch, you could further reduce your bills by turning off those lights in unoccupied rooms so your building isn’t lit up like a Los Vegas strip.

 

Layer up before you crank the thermostat

Some of those older inner-city rental homes can be nastily cool, especially in the depths of winter. So we understand the temptation to crank the heat and transform your refrigerator into an oven (who doesn’t love the heat?). Heating and cooling because these are the biggest energy suckers. If you have a really old and inefficient system you might qualify for rebate or tax breaks through your electric company or government.

Your heating and A/C are going to use most of the energy so do what you can to retain heat or keep it out (when appropriate). If you’re not going to open the windows for a few months apply some silicon around the edges. It peels off pretty easily for when you need to open them. You can also get some rubber seals to put around the door that aren’t too expensive. Getting a bit crazier you also lose heat around outlets and light switches. There’s special backing to put behind those but that’s not as cost effective. You can just put some regular glue around the edges though. Otherwise try to heat/cool only the rooms that you’re in by using space heaters or fans. Check your blower unit as well for proper sealing

But the next time you go to spin the dial, think about the impact it could have on your next bill. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that heating and cooling systems contribute to more than 40% of your home’s annual energy usage.

We’re used to the convenience of heating and cooling, but there are other ways to control your internal temperature. You can put on a few extra layers of clothing, brew yourself a warm drink, and throw over a rug before you settle into the couch in winter. When you do go to raise the thermostat, keeping it at a lower temperature can add up quickly.

And in summer, if you’re lucky enough to have air con in your rental home, consider first closing the blinds or curtains over the window so your house doesn’t heat up as quickly before you turn on that blessed system.

 

Find out about off-peak pricing

If you’re a student or a natural late-night owl, you’ll be used to staying up late and sleeping in. This could work to your benefit if you want to reduce your energy costs, thanks to many electricity supplier’s cheaper rates in off-peak periods.

A lot of energy retailers have off-peak pricing, offering a cheaper rate during quieter hours (typically between 10pm and 7am). Keep that excessive study on your laptop or procrastinate with your Xbox and sound system between these hours and you could enjoy greater energy savings on your bills.

Find out if your energy company provides this service – or which ones do if you’re interested in changing suppliers – and keep those activities requiring high energy consumption (washing your clothes and dishes, for example) to off-peak times to make the most of these energy savings in an apartment. This can be one of the biggest apartment energy savings tips for renters because it is within their control if they are paying the electric bill.

 

Buy energy efficient appliances

When you’re moving to your new rental home, you’re naturally going to think about buying or upgrading your appliances. These days, most appliances come with an Energy Rating label that shows how energy efficient the appliance is. The more stars your appliance rating has, the less energy your appliance needs to run.

Appliances with a higher energy efficiency rating (typically about 4 stars or more) will probably cost more at the outset, but over time they should prove their worth as you find them cheaper to run than their less efficient alternatives. If there are any appliances in your apartment that need replacing (washer, dishwasher, fridge), encourage your landlord to purchase Energy Star products as replacements – sometimes there is even a rebate available to the purchaser, which may be an incentive for your landlord.

I could go on, but don’t want to overwhelm you. You’ll find plenty of useful resources online to help you reduce your energy usage and lower your electricity and gas bills. But reducing your energy bills ultimately comes down to you and your proactive, mindful approach to your own energy usage.

 

Double Check Windows, Heating, and A/C to Save Money

Your heating and A/C are going to use most of the energy so do what you can to retain heat or keep it out (when appropriate). If you’re not going to open the windows for a few months apply some silicon around the edges. It peels off pretty easily for when you need to open them. You can also get some rubber seals to put around the door that aren’t too expensive. Getting a bit crazier you also lose heat around outlets and light switches. There’s special backing to put behind those but that’s not as cost effective. You can just put some regular glue around the edges though. Otherwise try to heat/cool only the rooms that you’re in by using space heaters or fans. Check your blower unit as well for proper sealing. My unit in my old apartment had so much air leaking it was amazing I could even feel it coming from the vents.

How to Save Money on Your Next Tattoo

How to Save Money on your Next Tattoo

Tattoos, especially terrific ones, are pricey (depending on how complicated the tattoo is). If you don’t have the financial muscle to have some terrific ink, don’t worry. There are prudent ways to save money on your next tattoo other than haggling with the artist over their prices. Remember, saving money on a tattoo does not need to involve haggling.

 

How to Save Money on Your Next Tattoo

The price of a tattoo can be very different and depends on so many factors. For example, factors that affect tattoo price include the size, design, and placement of a tattoo all play a role in the final number. Most tattoo parlors can give you a tattoo price estimate based on what you’re looking for. You can plan, research cheaper artists around your area, and save up for some high quality work. Or you can get a tattoo for what you pay for.

 

How much are tattoos?

For many, tattoos are art. If they’re done well, then they’re probably worth the cost to the wearer — just like any fine art, cost correlates with the quality and size of the piece, and also the expertise and renown of the artist. The cheaper you go with a tattoo, riskier to your health and uglier your tattoo gets. And why would you want something that will be with you always to be ugly, or to give you rashes and diseases? To save 80 bucks? Your probably better off just waiting and saving the money for something better. Otherwise you’ll end up spending more either with potential health stuff, or at best just getting it covered up with another tattoo later.

 

Try Tattoo Coupons to be Saving Money on a Tattoo

You can save a buck or two on your next tattoo by looking out for tattoo coupons. Coupons for tattoos can save you a few dollars. However, it will depend on if your local tattoo parlor has any specials. You can simply do a Google search of “tattoo coupons” plus the name of your city to find out. That way, you may, fortunately, get some specials. You never know.

 

Master the Art of Timing When Getting a Tattoo to Save Money

Sadly, with a tattoo coupon you cannot choose a size of the tattoo you want or the artist you like. Why? Coupons are held to whatever the parameters of the deal are. Mastering the art of timing can save you money, too. Scores of people are unaware that there is always a slow season for tattoo artists. Winter months are the said “slow seasons” for them.

Take full advantage while the season lasts. This is the perfect time to get some serious ink that you’ve always wanted. See that tattoo artist who offers high-priced services down the block, strike a bargain with them. Or better yet, scout about on Facebook some of the best tattoo artists and add them as your friend and watch out for offers during the said slow seasons. Get some ideas on what kind of tattoo you want online before heading to a tattoo parlor.

 

Adjust Your Schedule to The Tattoo Artists Schedule

Some artists will lower their hourly rate if you schedule longer individual sessions. ie: The hourly rate for an 8 hour session is normally cheaper than a 4 hour session with a lot of artists. Also, if you can commit to multiple visits some artists will lower their hourly rate even more. This could be one way to saving money on a tattoo.

Trading Always Works

If you don’t have the patience to wait until winter to save on some ink, why not trade a service with your tattooist. You know… barter yourself into a relatively affordable tattoo. Sounds like a good idea, right? It is. For this to work, find out first if the tattooist is in need of a service that you can offer such as web design, mechanic work, etc. Such an arrangement is feasible.

In fact, it is less rude an arrangement than plainly asking for a discount. Out of desperation, you may be tempted to push the issue. Don’t. It’s rude as well. If the tattooist agrees to trade, make sure to have an agreement written down and signed to guarantee you’re both protected if things do not work out.

 

Quid Pro Quo (Something for Something)

Why pay for a tattoo a tattoo artist is offering a huge discount for someone who can offer a large piece of their flesh for some creative art they’ve been yearning to do? Take the chance. It may be worth it for all you know. Give them a large piece of your body for them to put their skills to the test and in turn get a massive discount. It’s a win-win situation. Something for something!

 

Remember, Getting a Tattoo is Art

Any good artist is going to charge $80-120 per hour. The reason even a tiny tattoo is still expensive ($50-100) is that you’re taking up an hour of their time. That is part of their schedule that could be working on a 10 hour piece. Besides that, you’re not just walking into a tattoo shop to be out the door again in 20 minutes. All of the setup and cleanup makes a 15 minute tattoo take at least an hour. No good shop is “overcharging.” You’re paying for art. On your skin. Even more so, you’re paying for human labor and human creativity to put art on your skin. These things are a premium.

 

What is the Price of a Tattoo?

What drives the price of a tattoo is not size, but how long it takes to apply. Even if actually applying the tattoo takes 15 minutes because it’s tiny, you have half an hour of setup and cleanup time involved, as well as shop overhead. You’re going to get charged an hour minimum no matter what tattoo you get. Larger tattoos cost more not because they use more ink, but because they require several hours and multiple visits. The difference between a 4×4 tattoo and an entire backpiece is going to be dramatic, but not so much between something that’s only 1 inch square versus 4 inches.

 

 

Be Ready! Save Money on Tattoo

It’s crazy how many people go to the tattoo shop and stare at a wall in order to “pick” their next tattoo. This can be perceived by the artist or shop owner as someone who’s not sure what they want and will take more time than others to get the job done. Do yourself a favor next time and look for tattoo ideas for men or tattoo ideas for women before you go to the shop. You will have much better bargaining power when you know exactly what you want and can work with the artist to utilize his time in the most economical way possible, so he can continue to run his shop and pick up more business while servicing your needs.

Moving Out For The First Time – The Definite Guide through your Fears, Money, and Life Skills

Moving out for the First Time - A Definitive Guide to moving out of your parents house

I moved out for the first time when I was 16. I was eager to try the adult life and dumb enough to do it without any plan. I simply packed up my things (it was just about a bag worth of stuff) and left to live at my girlfriends’ for a couple of months.

Looking back now, I think I was an idiot.

Sure, I was independent, but as a result, I dropped out of school, and couldn’t get a job, because I didn’t know everything I later learned about getting jobs. To be clear, I still think moving out early is a very positive decision, but it must be done with enough preparation and plan, and definitely not ‘on a whim’ or out of teenage anger. Things don’t turn out as expected, so you better buckle up for a crazy ride.

I’m starting to sound like your parents. Let’s just move on.

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Is it the Right Time to Move out of Your Parents House?

right-time-to-move-out-of-parents-house

We all love our parents, but we cannot afford to stay with them all our lives. At one point in life, moving out of parent’s house becomes a necessity. We need privacy as we grow up, and you realize that you cannot get that while living in your parent’s house. If you’re over 25 years old and still sleeping in a twin size bed wondering what you’re doing with your life, this is the time when ideas of moving out on your own for the first start lingering in your head.

 

Is it the Right Time to Move out of Your Parents House?

However, to many people knowing when it is the right time is like cracking a hard nut. Some of us are so quick into moving out and they end up regretting their decisions. To others, getting out of their parent’s house is like a bad nightmare even when they are in there mid-thirties. Buddy, that is so embarrassing. Well, the following are the basic tips to know it is the right time to move out of parents house. Look at the tips for moving out o fyour parent’s house.

 

When you have frequent misunderstanding with your parents and other siblings

Not many parents can tell their children to leave their house even if they become of age. However, you can know it is time for moving out from how you relate with your parents. If your conversation with your parents has changed to yelling and arguments, it is the right time to consider moving out of parents house. You do not want to be arguing with your parents all the time when living at their house.

When parents require you to start contributing for rent and other expenses

We don’t say it is bad to help your parents with some expenses if you have the ability, and you find it worth. However, parents should not demand you to pay for a house you have lived freely since your childhood. Well, if you start experiencing such demands, moving out on your own for first time is the only source of peace. You might be how surprised that living on your own is cheaper that you might think.

 

If you are over 30 years old

At this age, you are certainly sure about many things in your life and moving out of parents house can never be a mistake. More so, it is embarrassing to be colliding with your mum on your way from the bathroom with only a towel on your waist at this age. You better consider moving out and avoid unnecessary embarrassments when you are more than 30 years old.

 

When you consider getting married, moving out is inevitable

It is so embarrassing to share your parents house with your wife. You probably do not want to live in your parents house with your future wife or husband. Imagine have the romance life in the small bedroom in your parent’s house? It is so awkward. At this time, moving out of parents house is necessary before you experience lifetime embarrassment from your parents.

 

When you start going out frequently, consider moving out

If you want your parents to get mad, then start going out frequently at night. It is even shaming to knock at your parent’s door past midnight drunk and sometimes with a friend who could not reach his home. If you are of age, and you love going out, moving out on your own for first time will save you from frequent arguments with your parents.

 

Set a Deadline to Move Out of Parents House

Once you’ve decided that it is time to move out of your parents house you must start planning. It is important to set a deadline, give the family your tearful notice, and begin counting down the days until you move out of your parent’s house. Figure out how much you’ll need to put aside for a security deposit, first month’s rent, moving and furniture costs. Start the apartment hunt!

 

Priorities When Moving Out of Parent’s House

  1. Job. This funds the other three. But pick one in a high density neighborhood, because:
  2. Housing. Your home base needs to be close to services, shops, and employment opportunities.
  3. Transportation. A big expense, to be avoided. See #2.
  4. Education. Don’t start right after a move. You have to get your short-term affairs in order and running on autopilot, plus have a big nest egg saved up, before you can plan for a huge, long-term strategic commitment like this one.

First Mortgage Planning and Things you Need to Know

first-mortgage

Buying a house is probably the greatest venture the vast majority will make in their lives. Getting a house and mortgage is often one of the biggest purchases that most people will ever make.  The procedure of discovering, purchasing, and paying for a home can seem mountainous for first time home buyer. Getting a first mortgage is also a big undertaking.  It’s hard to know where to begin – what does a home loan involve? What are the best mortgage options? What are your choices? What preparatory steps are required? This article explains some of the major aspects of getting a mortgage for your first home purchase .

 

What to do with your first mortgage

Our friends at American Capital Mortgage Group have assembled an infographic that is a “Home Loan 101” for first time homebuyers. It addresses usual questions and concerns you may have when starting out on purchasing a new home and getting a first mortgage. First mortgage planning does not need to be difficult and can make buying your first home a success.

 

First Mortgage Financial Plan

Before you start, you’ll want to verify you’re fiscally prepared to purchase a home. What amount of would you be able to afford on a monthly basis. How long you plan to stay in this home, etc. These are great things to ask yourself when considering your new home purchase. Many people suggest that you do not spend more than 3X your annual income on home payments. This is just a guideline and it may be more reasonable to spend more or less on a first home in different cities.

It’s key to have good credit on the off chance that you need to be sanction for a home advance, so keep paying your bills on time in everything if conceivable. Moreover, you’ll have to have enough to put down a starting initial installment (this expense is ordinarily somewhere around 5 and 20% of the deal cost; if under 20%, you have to pay contract protection).

In the event that you need assistance scouting out the ideal home for yourself, it’s advised that you utilize a dependable real estate agent. As you can see in the home loan infographic, 88% of purchasers buy their home through a realtor agent.

Most importantly with your first mortgage planning, figure out your budget, what you can afford each month. Find out the property tax rate in your are a (from the tax assessor a website, do not believe what you read on Zillow or any other site like that. As they are almost always wrong). Figure out mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, etc. consider all this when budgeting. This is how you decide how much you can afford, not the bank

 

Types of Home Loans: First Mortgage Planning

One of the toughest jobs in getting home load is choosing between all of the products available. Different mortgage types have many different advantages and benefits depending on your situation; so, you will want to consult a lender to figure out a plan of action. You will want to find the best fit for your needs based on credit, income, the price of the house, if you are military, etc.

Purchasing your first house can be an intimidating experience; however, it really doesn’t have to be. Do your research and break things into smaller, more manageable steps and you will be able to worry less about the process and focus on enjoying your new home!

 

Prepay Home Loan

Your payments on a fixed-rate loan are fixed at a given monthly amount. The percentage of any payment going to interest is determined by the amount of principal at the time, so if you prepay principal via additional payments over the required monthly amount, the interest due is thereby smaller and each payment can have a higher proportion of principal payment. The effect will be small initially but if you make significant prepayments as you describe here, your payments will soon be almost all principal and you will pay off the loan quickly and pay less interest as a result.

If you get a 15 year loan vs. a 30 year loan, you should get a lower interest rate. You can prepay either loan on the same schedule, but you will pay less interest if the rate is lower. If you intended to pay over 30 years, given interest rates right now it would be a horrible idea to get into a 5/1. But given you want to pay off in 5 or less, even if something comes up and it takes you a bit more than 5, you should still come out far ahead of a traditional fixed rate loan.

 

First Mortgage Planning Meeting with Bank

If you’re already educated about personal finance the “initial meeting to discuss affordability” is kind of BS (in my opinion). They will ask you how much you earn, what your debts are, are there bad marks on your credit. One of the banks I went to asked scripted questions like “why is now the right time to buy a house” and “where do you see yourself in five years” that I found really condescending and none of their business. I think the idea is that some people are just not in a financial position to buy a house and this meeting allows the bank employee to tactfully tell the person that. It’s totally informational and has no bearing on whether you’ll get pre-approved for the mortgage.

All banks in my area allow you to skip the meeting and just apply online for a pre approval. Also, they all have websites that tell what interest rate they offer and give a breakdown of what they charge for closing costs.

 

Infographic from American Capital Mortgage Group on getting a First Mortgage
Your First Mortgage, What You Need To Know

 

Other Tips for Planning for a First Mortgage

You want to know about all of the costs associated with the loan, including which closing agent and service companies the mortgage originator recommends. You can sometimes get better prices on mandatory services if you shop around.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/negotiate-your-mortgage-closing-costs.aspx

In terms of the mortgage itself, you want to know when the rate would be locked, so you know they are not doing a teaser rate that somehow disappears when you need it most. You also want to be sure you understand whether any signing fees (aka points) are associated with a given interest rate, to allow a fair comparison.

Don’t be afraid to shop around. Getting quotes from a few different mortgage lenders is essential for first time mortgage planning and will allow you to compare the interest rates and costs/fees that each lender is offering. Good luck in your home search! Buying a home is a very exciting process.

Moving Out of Parents House – Are You Ready?

are-you-ready-to-move-out-of-parents-house

Moving out of parents house is not as easy as it seems as there are many factors to consider. Many have made the decision of if they are ready to move out of their parents’ house just because they want to live independently with no one telling them what to do and what not to do only to find out that they aren’t ready yet. If you are moving out on your own for first time, it will be best to read on and see if you are actually ready.
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7 Signs That You Need To Move Out Of Your Parents House

7-signs-its-time-to-move-out-of-your-parents-house

Staying at home may seem like the perfect solution for a rent free, easy approach to get a start on life. However, there are signs that show it is time to move on. You will see apparent signs that let you know that it is time to change where you live. Considering certain signs with moving out of parents’ house allows you to make the first steps to setting your own house rules while enjoying a new setting and lifestyle. Following are 7 signs that let you know it is time to move out of your parents house.

 

7 Signs That You Need To Move Out Of Your Parents House

  1. Rent Payment.

    A subtle trick that parents use to say that you should be moving out is to start asking for rent payments. Instead of paying rent for your room, find a new place that gives you the space that you need.

  2. Subtle Comments.

    Many parents will throw subtle hints and comments that let you know they think you should move. If they are making statements about moving out on your own for first time, then you will want to take the subtle hints seriously.

  3. Too Many Arguments.

    Often, parents keep you living at home as a way to keep specific house rules in place. If you are finding that you are arguing over the little things, then it is time to look at moving out to maintain peaceful relationships.

  4. Building Credentials.

    It is easy to stay in your parent’s house and not work or build your education. When you move out, it allows you to get a full-time job and to begin building your credentials. This will help you later in life for the career or lifestyle that you want to lead.

  5. Curfew Past 18?

    Parents that are overlooking your party life can interfere with the lifestyle that you want. Moving out on your own for first time also means that you set your own hours and parties, and social events won’t be interfered with.

  6. Get the Girl or Guy.

    Most that are over a certain age aren’t seen as attractive if they are still living at home. Moving out of parents’ house immediately builds interest from the girl that you like while allowing you to enjoy the relationship benefits of having your own place.

  7. A Free Lifestyle.

    Your parents job was to raise you into eating the right foods or to create a specific schedule to get you to a certain point. If you want to explore more options, then moving out on your own for first time will introduce you into embracing new possibilities.

From tension in the home to the desire to live a different way, are many reasons to consider moving out. You will open the world of exploration and into the lifestyle that you are interested in being in. By stepping out the door, you will easily be able to savors the relationship with your parents and can find a solution to living the way you want.

5 Ways You Definitely Won’t Save Money on Clothes

5 Ways you definitely won't save money on clothes

Finding some solid ground in the sea of good (and ‘great’) advice can be a tricky thing. Most people will advise you to do this or that, but if you listen to them all, you’ll get nowhere. Such is the case with saving money on clothes as well – everyone seems to know the best possible way to save money when out shopping for new clothes, but to be honest, not all the things you hear make sense. These are some of the most useless advice given to people on how to save money on clothes.

 

How to Save Money on Clothes
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Seven Ways to Save Money This Summer (While Still Having Fun)

Seven Ways to Save Money this Summer

Summer’s finally here and with it comes lots of great activities like beach going, camping, swimming, cookouts, and don’t forget about that heat! With so much to do this summer, it’s easy to relax and forget about how much you’re spending to have fun, but there are many simple ways to save money this summer as you enjoy this wonderful season. Saving money in the summer might even let you have more fun in the summer! Follow money saving tips for summer fun.

Seven Ways to Save Money This Summer
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5 Tips for a Budget Friendly College Move In Day

5 Tips for a Budget friendly Move

If you’ve moved away from home to go to college before, then you may have a lot of opinions about living on-campus versus living off, where the cool parts of town are, and who your favorite (& worst) roommates were. Or, you’re at least forming them, depending on what year you are in. Maybe you’ve moved every year, or you’re about to.

During my college career, I moved a total of five times. And, each time was hectic and unplanned. I’ve recruited unwilling friends and borrowed my dad’s truck for multiple trips across town. Truth be told, I’ve hated every minute of it.

Making a College Budget

Since college I’ve moved 3 more times. And, guess what? According to statistics, I’ve got 3.4 more times to go (but I bet I have more). You’ve potentially got a lot more moves to go through as well. And drawing from my experiences, I’ve gathered some budget-friendly tips for college move in day, so your next move can run smoother (aka less stressful).

Go the Hybrid-Move Route.

The cheapest way is to do everything yourself. But let’s face it– it sucks having that responsibility! Finding a vehicle to borrow, recruiting reliable help, and potentially injuring yourself with heavy-lifting is simply not worth the trouble. But, while hiring a full-service company is ideal, the cost is simply unjustifiable. A Hybrid Move combines best of both worlds.

What exactly is hybrid moving? You rent the truck or shipping container, and then separately hire the number of movers you need for the hours you’ll need them. It does require a little more organization up-front, but the money you’ll save is worth it. Plus, you don’t have to think twice about how you’re going to move that cool piano your ex-roommate abandoned.

Sell, Donate & Ditch.

On second thought, maybe you should cash in on that piano. Not only will you make a pretty sum of money, but you’ll have a lighter load to move. Smaller/less stuff will mean a cheaper truck or container to rent, as well as fewer hours of moving labor help to pay for.

Plus, having cash during a potentially-costly time in your life will feel good. Hopefully you’ll stress less over whether or not you’ll get your deposit back, and if it’ll be in time to give to the next landlord.

Moving for a New Job?

If you’re fresh out of college and was just offered the job of your dreams, then congratulations! This is a huge win not only for your career, but potentially for your pocketbook (at least during tax season). Indeed, some moving expenses related to work are tax-deductible, so check into current tax laws to see what applies in your state, and save all your moving-related receipts.

Don’t Buy Boxes– Rather, Find Them!

It may be tempting to pay for moving-specific boxes. But, let’s face it– that’s lazy. Most establishments you frequent regularly are begging you to take their boxes.I’ve heard the boxes from liquor stores are good because they are built more sturdily than most and you can just ask the stock person if you can have them.

For example, a friend of mine scored big at the local gas station during her last move. She found one that kept a pile of flattened cardboard boxes behind the counter. When asked what they were used for, the clerk responded that they were from shipments, and they were just waiting for their dumpster to be emptied before throwing them out. She asked if she could have them, and he gladly gave them all to her.

I’ve also found great boxes at liquor stores. While often times these boxes aren’t the biggest, they are designed for holding multiple, heavy bottles at once, so you can rest assured that your boxes won’t fall apart during your move. And, similar to my friend’s new favorite gas station, liquor stores tend to always have boxes they’d like to get rid, and generally ASAP. Go to any Grocery stores in the afternoon. Everyday they restock their shelves and teardown boxes. Ask them if they can set some boxes aside for you. Nursing home. Call and ask for someone in housekeeping. Ask for empty diaper boxes. They’re sturdy and have handles and aren’t so big that they get super heavy when filled. Ask for a certain number and promise to pick them up at a certain time. Bigger places will have more.

 

Where to get free packing paper!

If you have a neighbor or family member/friend who gets the paper, just ask them to toss you all their old papers instead of throwing them out/recycling them. I use newspaper when I do art projects all the time and my parents get the newspaper every day, so when I’m low on paper I just ask them to fill up a bag full of paper from their recycling bin and hand it off to me.

Go to the grocery store or another store that sells papers and ask if you can have any old/unsold papers at the end of the day/week. Just explain you’re moving and if they have any free boxes/papers/etc you would really appreciate it. You could just take a bunch, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think it’s nicer/better to ask.

 

Pay in Pizza and Beer.

Finally, if anything, here’s the best insider secret I can possibly give you. Pizza and beer can move mountains. Seriously. Call up the laziest friend you know. If you’re in college, you know at least one person who wakes up at 5 pm, right? Ask them if they’d help you for free pizza and beer. Chances are, they will.

Truth be told, you haven’t seen this person work or even lift a finger (how do they go to class or pay rent?) the whole time you’ve known them. Yet, here they are, holding one end of your couch while schmoozing with your dad, who’s holding the other end. And knowing that tip alone, makes moving not so bad after all.

 

Using Amtrak to Move Cheaply Across the Country

Regarding moving costs: If you don’t have any pieces of big furniture to move (and aren’t driving), by far the cheapest way to do it is Amtrak. You pack things up into medium sized boxes and drop it off to ship maybe the day before you fly out. When I did it, I think the cost was something like $50 plus $0.50 per pound, so I moved all my books and shoes and offseason clothing and dishes and such for less than $150. I flew Southwest, checked 2 enormous bags, and that was that! If you know anyone in the area who has a car that can help you pick them up at the station, that’s great but otherwise I think renting a truck at Home Depot or via something like the Getaround app is also pretty cheap.

If you go Amtrak, shipping for small items becomes so cheap that you can actually acquire stuff over time and move it there instead of having to wait and get it all there your first week. At my school, at the end of the year there would always be people throwing away tons of completely usable housewares and items like pantry staples and spices. That, combined with my parent’s castoffs, were enough to keep me going for a while.

14 Money Saving Tips for College Students

14 saving tips for college students

You’re in college for a reason. To learn, right? To set yourself up for a rewarding life of getting paid to do the things that fire up your brain. Well, your course-load won’t reflect this, but you’re also in college to learn how to manage your money. And there’s never a better time than when you don’t have any J.

Here are my top money saving tips for college students that will help you get through school with cash to spare and no debt other than your student loan.

14 Money Saving Tips for College Students

  1. Don’t wait.

    Don’t wait until you have more money to start to save. It’s a myth that can trap you for life – you do not need to make more money to start to save.

    Track your spending for a month to see how it lines up with your budget. Almost every person who does this is surprised how much more they spend than they thought – usually on things like eating out and beer. Make it cool to be nerdy about spending. Take advantage of free online tracking software like trackeverycoin or mint. Or keep every receipt and tally up the results manually. Whatever. Just try it, and get the real picture of what you’re spending by tracking every time you pull out your wallet.

    Assuming you have no student loan debt, think about opening up a Roth IRA and contributing something to it on a regular basis. You qualify because you have earned income. A ROTH contribution allows your money to grow tax free, is easy to set up, and offer a wide variety of investments. The original amount contributed can be withdrawn at any time without penalty because it is paid in post tax. So, for instance, if you needed to make a down payment on a home in a few years you could use the money you had contributed to your Roth.

  2. Get inspired.

    Check out this cool savings calculator. Plug in one of your basic expenditures, like your morning coffee, and see how much you could save by cutting back just a bit. For example, that $2 daily cup of coffee is $14 every week. Cutting back on that one thing alone would add up to $3718 in savings over just 5 years.

    Apply for scholarships as often as possible. You don’t always have to be a star student to qualify and even a small bursary can be a big help.

    What’s it worth to live off campus? Residence or dorm living is MUCH cheaper. Yes, it’s pretty tempting to share that cool off-campus apartment with your best buddies, but think about the electricity bills, laundry costs, transportation costs to and from college… and then compare with the costs of residence.

  3. Get What You’ve Already Paid For.

    Bone up and make sure you know all of the free stuff that comes with your tuition. College tuition often includes free access to libraries (some provide free movie rentals), gyms, intramural sports, student clubs, guest speaker series, and entertainment on-campus. Take advantage of them and save your $$.

  4. Cellphone!

    Be sure you’re on the most economical cell phone plan for your needs. Maybe get on a family plan with your parents – that way everybody saves. Tip: texting is expensive. Companies charge both sender and receiver of text messages, so consider using web-based messaging services like Facebook (sorry) or Myspace. Or send email!

    Gotta make a budget. Whether you start one on the back of a napkin, or set up your own detailed spreadsheet, planning where you will spend your money each month is hands down the best way to take control. There are all kinds of tips out there on how to set up a personal budget, including one of my faves here. Don’t just take it from me. Try it yourself and see how much easier it is to save if you have a good idea what the big picture looks like on the personal finance front.

  5. Beans over beef.

    I’m talking grocery shopping here. Meat is much more expensive than beans. Buy groceries instead of eating out. And buy on sale. Buy in bulk.

    Plan your meals, and spend an afternoon a week preparing quick easy meals that you grab from your own freezer or fridge at a fraction of the cost. It’s definitely cheaper to go make your own food with what you get from the groceries but it gets hard when you got hw and projects. I usually get $400 meal plan and ramen and $2 Trader Joe’s frozen dinners during my studying term so I can just eat and gtfo to study. You can live off of $200 a month in most areas unless cost of living is really high. What I’d do is get a crockpot ($60) and make meals in bulk. You’ll get more meals for less money by slow cooking. And it doesn’t take much of your time. Set it up in the morning. Eat it for dinner. Then leftovers. With intelligent freezing, you could also unthaw previous meals for variety once you get things going.

  6. Absolutely avoid credit.

    Okay, except for your student loan. Pay with cash or debit. If you have a credit card, put it away and don’t use it except for emergencies. If you don’t have a credit card, don’t get one. There are all kinds of companies who love to get college students hooked on their credit tools, charging outrageous interest and laughing all the way to the bank while you struggle under the load of compound interest on the charges you rung up. Don’t get caught up in that trap!

    Credit cards do relatively little to effect your credit score in a positive way. Assuming you’re paying your bill off completely and on time. I had one for years and it didn’t really do anything. When I bought my first car on a 5 year loan plan, my credit shot up and after around 12-18 months of paying into it I had an immaculate credit rating.

  7. Pay interest.

    What? You heard me. This may be counterintuitive, but don’t just let your student loan sit there accumulating interest. Make the monthly interest payments and reap the benefits that will accrue. Here’s a great article on how this works and how much it can save you in the long run.

  8. Study on the cheap. Buy used textbooks! Every textbook for every class doesn’t have to be brand spanking new. Look for the used bookstores on or off campus. Check out ads in the student paper. Search for online versions of the books you need. The little bit of time and effort you put into looking for and buying used textbooks will save you BIG in the long run. And, as mentioned in another blog on this site, sell your own textbooks too once you’re done with them.Buy international editions, often can get a much cheaper current version, but sometimes have to get the previous edition to get a great deal. International edition is the same but on cheaper paper and not hardback. Exactly same content though. Textbook publishers have begun to change the homework problems in international editions more and more. That being said, you can easily get a considerably less expensive international edition and borrow a friend’s copy (or library copy on reserve) to make sure you’ve got the right pages at the back of the book! It’s well worth the extra leg work in many cases. International editions used to be identical to the main versions, but a few years ago the supreme court made a landmark decision that essentially said textbook publishers had no basis for prohibiting the sale of international editions in the United States. In reaction to losing that cases, textbook publishers started charging more for international editions, and also began changing homework problems in certain books in an effort to get college students to pay more for the main versions of books, but everything else is still the same.
  9. Ditch the driving.

    Carpool sounds so lame so we won’t use that term here. But gas, parking, parking tickets and tow charges all add up. Fast. So, hitch a ride with friends, or better yet, take transit.

    With a little thought, a little planning, and little adjustments in your behavior, you’ll develop great habits today that will make a big difference tomorrow. I promise.

Quick Guide to Keeping More of Your Money in Check (Get It?)

Guide to Keeping your money in the right balance

There are a lot of very helpful (and common-sense) financial gurus out there who can promise all kinds of wonderful things if you follow their wisdom. The first thing they’ll tell you is probably the hardest though – and that’s the cold, solid fact that there aren’t any shortcuts to keeping more of your money and becoming debt free.
 

Quick Guide to Keeping More of Your Money in Check (Get It?)

The financial gurus aren’t all that different from us…

The best of these financial advice experts on television and other media are the ones with a story to tell. In a lot of cases, financially careful people were brought up in a household where money was tight – and by observing a thrifty parent they were able to learn from an early age how important it is to manage our money.

Sometimes it may seem as if these folks are financially ‘better’ than ordinary people. But off course, life can be a pretty changeable thing – and there are doubtless many financially astute people who have had their ups and downs for various reasons such as redundancy or a downturn in the economy affecting business. So if you’ve ever felt the pinch, don’t worry – you’re not alone in this. And as with all things, the lean times can be a very useful learning experience for when things are less, well, lean…

Learning from the lean times…

For instance, I grew up during a comfortable era, and in a comfortable part of town. But my parents weren’t rich. So when I packed my stuff together and headed off to college, I knew that I wouldn’t be the kind of student who’d be dining out and paying cash every night, then driving home in a gas-guzzling but low slung and aerodynamic sports car. No, a big treat for me would be a trip to the baked potato shop once a week. Or maybe some fish and chips if I was feeling recklessly spendy.

All of which might sound frugal, bleak – maybe even Spartan. But here’s the thing – it really wasn’t all that bad. No, I will take a step further than that and say, loudly, that it was actually pretty good!

Why?

Oh, so many reasons! But, I will try and list the main ones to give you an idea of how my lean times worked for me:

The learning curve of value

If I’d always had a bit of spare cash, I’d never have learnt to cook. Think about that for a second. It would mean someone else cooking or preparing your dinner every night. For a decent profit margin too. Think of a restaurant meal’s price then compare it with the cost of the raw materials. Even in great value for money restaurants, some profit still has to be made. Same with microwave-ready meals. The value is in the convenience – and that’s why you pay a premium. Now, if I’d always had spare cash, I now realise that I’d always have wasted a proportion of it.

The upside of times when money’s too tight to mention  

We’ve all made mispurchases, I imagine. That bought-in-a-sale suit that never seems to get worn, or that restaurant meal that didn’t get eaten. Or we’ve maybe  overspent a little and had to endure effects of it until the cash flow is back to its ‘flow’ state. In tight times these things are somehow felt about twice as keenly. With some extra money kicking around a mispurchase or an overspend means putting up with the effects there and then. In other words, with no contingency cash (or very little) to put things right.

The upside of all this is that it provides a good learning context, and one from which you emerge much more careful with the contents of your wallet. I’m not even talking about being penny-pinching or parsimonious here. You just develop a little sixth sense for the things that are good value and those that aren’t – as well as instantly knowing when to shell out and when to refrain from spending a single penny.

A little bit of give and take can work wonders

A long time ago, I realised that the wider economy as well as our own personal situation is a bit like the weather. Sometimes it rains! And even the riches of rich guys probably feels poor – or at least disappointed at times – like when the price of stocks takes a dive, instantly dissolving a chunk of personal net worth.

So in the ‘ups and downs’ aspect of finances, few (if any) of us are totally immune. However there  are a series of steps we can take to ensure that things run smoothly, and here are a few that I always find to be massively important:

Cheapest doesn’t mean best. Shop around for quality as well as price. Get the best deal – it isn’t always the crazily low priced one.

Financial products – do they do what it says on the tin?’. Savings accounts may have good advertising – but many pay a rate of interest lower than inflation. In real terms, year-on-year, that isn’t saving so much as erosion! Also for any mortgages or other loans, make sure that you are clear – and I mean crystal clear – about the considerations of fees, rates, security, repayments and the like

The road is long – with wind in it…

So the song goes. But if you apply some ‘best practices’ in your behaviour, and get into a happy thrifty habit over the long term, you have a much better chance of being insulated against any financial shocks, and instead, hopefully, will be in good money health.


This post was guest-written by Chris from Spend It Like Beckham.

The Beginners’ Guide To Making Money Online

Beginners guide to making money online

Are you looking to start making money online? If so, chances are you’ve already done some research, and found countless methods of earning an income on the web. However, you may be hesitant – how do you know these ideas actually work?Do you have enough money to risk on a business idea that you’ve got no experience in? And how do you know the internet marketing guru’s methods you’re using aren’t just part of some marketing scam?

 

The Beginners’ Guide To Making Money Online

If that sounds like you, then read on. In this article we’ll look at an introduction to some tried and tested methods you can use to start making money right away. We’ll begin with some easy ways to earn some extra beer money for the weekend, earning free vouchers to cut your every day expenditure, then move on to some low risk ideas for earning extra cash, before giving you an overview on some more advanced techniques. Let’s get started!

 

Cost Per Action Sites 

What is a cost per action site? In a nutshell, these sites reward you for completing simple actions. That might be to sign up for a free trial account on a website, watch a video, play a game, or complete a survey. Each of these actions pays out a small amount of money to you, which then accumulates. After completing a few actions, you’ll earn enough to cash out, which can come in the form of Amazon vouchers, for example at Easy-Rewards or Swagbucks.

While these sites don’t earn you cold hard cash, you can use these Amazon vouchers to cut the cost of things you regularly buy, such as clothes, shoes, and even toothpaste! As a result, cost per action sites offer a great way to cut your living costs, and only need an hour or two a day to start earning free vouchers each week.

Micro Tasks

If cost per action sites seem a bit simplistic, or you’re looking to make a slightly bigger commitment to making money on the web, then micro tasks is the way to go. The most popular micro task site is Fiverr, which allows account holders to create their own online store selling products and services from $5 each or more.

Fiverr is used by online entrepreneurs around the world and is a great starting point for building a part time online business because the barrier to entry is so low – it takes just a few hours to get set up! Fiverr users sell all manner of things, from little home made toys and accessories, to copywriting services and graphic design. The site is named Fiverr because it was originally designed to sell micro tasks such as a short video review or linking someone’s Facebook page, but has since expanded to offer users to sell products and services much higher in price.

If you have a skill that you can market, such as web design, arts and crafts, or writing skills, then Fiverr is a great place to start, and perfect if you want to test the water and don’t yet have much time to commit to running an online business. By putting up a few ‘gigs’ – FIverr’s name for jobs – you’ll be found in Fiverr’s search results allowing customers looking for the services you offer to come straight to you. There is also an ability to pitch to buyers who have requested services, meaning you can be as proactive as you like!

Online Freelancing

Fiverr is a great starting point for making real money online, but as you become more experienced, you’ll come to a point when you feel you’re worth more than the amounts that Fiverr gigs typically pay out. The next logical step is to set up on Elance or Odesk, which are two of the most popular online freelance portals. These sites work in a similar way to Fiverr, however jobs are typically worth more and as a result there is a greater emphasis on the pitching process.

That’s right, to get a good income here, you’ll need to go through a pitching process, and have a strong profile, which acts as your online C.V. However despite the hoops you have to jump through, it is possible to earn a good sized income on either of these platforms.

If you’re only just starting out, a great way to get a head start is to undercut your competition, while delivering a high quality service. This will earn you positive reviews, and as a result allow you to command a higher hourly rate. Like Fiverr, this is great for earning part-time, as you’ll get out what you put in. That said, be prepared to work hard for your first job, and learn how to write good copy for your pitch!

Blogging

Blogging has been a popular way of making money online for many years, and there are still many bloggers earning lots of cash out there. To be a successful blogger, you’ll first need quality content, which means two things: lots of research and articles that offer real value or a unique perspective. This can take time, but if you’ve got some unique skills, ideas or stories to share, then you already have what you need to get started. Plus, with practice, you’ll find ways to increase your output of quality content.

So how do you make money from blogging? There are a couple of ways to do this. The obvious one is advertising. One of the easiest ways to do this is to set your site up with Google Adsense, which connects relevant ads with your readers. However, unless you’re getting a lot of traffic, this won’t earn you that much cash.

Another technique you can use in addition to ads is affiliate marketing. While with advertising, you’ll earn a few pennies every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, typically, affiliate marketing rewards you when someone buys a product or service after clicking through from your site. Affiliate marketers can typically earn five, ten, fifteen or even twenty percent of the sale price of a product, meaning if you can get a lot of people to buy products after reading your blog, you can earn lots of money!

A reviews or tutorials site is one popular way to do this, using an affiliate network such as Paid On Results or Click Bank, giving you an opportunity to teach people how to use the product or service before they buy.

However, as a beginner, you may find this all quite daunting at this stage, so a great first step is to install Skimlinks onto your site. This software automates the affiliate marketing process for you, finding relevant affiliate products and services based on your blog content, and automatically adding affiliate links to your articles. While the earnings aren’t quite as high as doing it yourself, this is a great way to learn the ropes.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas about how to begin earning online, from simple ways to make savings on your every day expenditure, to dipping your toes into starting an online business, and then earning money passively through ads and affiliate marketing. While it does take time to start earning money online, it can be very rewarding to become your own boss and work when you want, and offers a great learning experience that can really benefit your future career. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start earning!

This post was written by Seb Atkinson, a digital marketer by day and blogger by night. Catch him at Srch Blg and Social Media Explorer.

Spread Your Wings Without Blitzing Your Bank Account – The Secrets of Saving Money When You Leave Home

The Secrets of Saving Money when you move out for the first time

Leaving home is a massively exciting time. A life event. A rite of passage. The very first step on what will hopefully be a very long and enjoyable journey through independent adult life. However, the process of moving out can of course be just a little daunting at times, though. There’s absolutely no shame in admitting this. Moving house always rates highly in lists of stressful situations – and that applies to people who are veterans as well as first-timers.

The Secrets of Saving Money When You Leave Home

Life out there in the big bad world is going to be a lot of fun. But in order to get the most out of it, there is inevitably going to have to be some budgeting and general financial forethought. And while it would be nice to move out with a big pile of cash and no financial restrictions, the chances are that, like most of us, you’ll be moving out with a modest cash flow.

So, in order to help you get the most out of that modest cash flow, I’ve written this post in the hopes that I can help you save some cash during the weeks and months after moving out of the parental home. This post won’t make you rich or provide a magical snake-oil formula that makes currency rain down from the sky. But I hope that at the very least it highlights some of the danger points where we can find ourselves in a money-wasting zone, as well as some tips on how a prudent existence needn’t be a dull one.

Here our my Secrets of Saving Money When You Leave Home:

Repeat after me: it’s a learning process

There’s an old saying, and it goes like this – calm seas don’t make sailors. Experience is what shapes us. And life’s vicissitudes – be they financial, emotional, or whatever – are what give us our depth of character. All of which means that (despite our best intentions) there may be surprises or challenges along the way. We might even (whisper it softly) make mistakes.

Well, guess what? You’re only human. So by all means seek out and follow the best advice. But find the ability to forgive yourself if you don’t manage to be a paragon of financial virtue 100% of the time from day one.

Looking after your money, budgeting and saving is a learning process.

And none of us are above learning – no matter our level of experience.

 

Be prepared for contingencies – create an emergency fund

You never know what’s round the corner. You could meet the romantic partner of your dreams tomorrow, and suddenly need to buy some new clothes and pay for half (or all) of a meal at a fancy restaurant. A more prosaic scenario – you could lose your phone and need to purchase a new handset.

The simple fact is that the future is full of all this future stuff – none of which we can see yet but some of which will require expenditure. So get into the habit of having a lot of cash that is there simply for contingencies.

 

Trade down

It is pretty astonishing how much money you can save from trading down. You do this by looking at all of your weekly or monthly purchases and then trying out cheaper versions of them. So if you always buy one brand of a product, try out a private label or non-brand version of the same. If it’s tolerable, stick with it. If it isn’t, go back to your usual brand.

With brand goods the marketing, advertising and package design can add quite significantly to the price. And also very often the difference between a branded product and a budget one are minimal – to the extent that if we were presented both products unwrapped, it would be nigh on impossible to tell the difference.

 

Saving on banking, loans, utilities, and other necessities

It pays to shop around with banking and utilities just as much as it does with any other products. Maybe not as fun, but just as potentially useful in terms of keeping your expenditure lean and mean. Money saving check sites are all good and well, but they just tell you who provide the cheapest service, not the best. Personally, I like to seek out those who have won awards for their services. Organizations such as Moneyfacts (my go to site for such information) do the research for you, so you don’t have to. They do tend to pick out the best of the best when it comes to such matters, and they even hand out badges of honor to the winners of their awards, for example. So, keep an eye out for the providers who brandish these badges oh so proudly and find out as much as you can about any financial products you sign up for, well in advance of signing up, of course.

 

Understand shopper psychology

I remember being in the gleaming, futuristic computer and electrical floor of a department store more or less on the day a new version of a famous MP3 player was released.

Oh my, it looked so good. I mean like, wow!

My knees began to tremble. Suddenly my belly became a chasm, empty and yawning except for a flash of pure electricity bouncing around inside it like a firework.

I picked the thing up. The beautiful, perfect display model. Its OLED screen seemed to beam back at me with nothing but appeal radiating from every pixel.

I began to salivate.

I could feel my bank card starting itch.

And then something happened that I didn’t expect. Some voice, deep within me, said ‘Hey! You already have an MP3 player. You don’t need a new one yet. You can buy this one in the future when you do need one”.

The voice was right. I breathed deeply, counted to ten, and walked slowly backwards away from the MP3 player. Finding a zone of safety near a display of steam kettles, I closed my eyes briefly, and re-focused myself. Then I walked briskly out of the store, welcoming the grey of the late afternoon sky as I made my escape through the automated revolving door.

Have you ever been in a situation where it almost feels like a supernatural force is making you buy stuff? If you have, you are far from alone. In fact, there is even a recognized health condition known as compulsive buying disorder, which is believed to affect over 1 in 20 of the US population.

Now, while my experience with the MP3 player could hardly be classified as a compulsive buying disorder episode, it was very much a visceral thing. I wanted that MP3 player, soooo badly. But the difference is that I was able to resist its charms until months later when, with a small windfall, I was able to purchase it. And a great purchase it was too – I still use it every day!

The simple fact of the matter is that even for the majority of us who don’t have a buying disorder, temptation abounds. Of course it does. When you go to the supermarket, take a look at any item – be it a plastic bottle of lavatory cleaner or a can of beans. The product has been designed to look as appealing as possible by its manufacturer. It’s been placed by the store in the most appropriate place for it to receive your attention. It may even be on offer! Suddenly it becomes apparent that your purchase of the item is encouraged by these factors. So if you’re not looking to spend money, the best way is to avoid temptation altogether. It’s simply a fact that a trip to the supermarket often seems to include a few unplanned purchases. We’re hunter-gatherers. Of course we’re gonna go for a few extras when we’re out in the ultra-modern foraging space the modern retail space provides.

Control your Finances

And finally…

One last thing.

One of the most amazing things I’ve found is that if you keep a daily journal of your expenses, you get a sense of control over your finances that really makes a difference. By jotting down every single purchase, you can see starkly on the page each daily expenditure and how it compares with other days. For those of you who are a bit more tech savvy, there a lot of great budgeting apps out there. I would recommend TOSHL if you prefer tapping than jotting.

I don’t know if journalizing my expenditure sends a message to the subconscious or what, but it seems to work wonders. I think it may be because when you can see everything on the page, there’s less likelihood of getting an ostrich mentality in times when the expenditure is more than it should be. You make the necessary adjustments as you go, and all is calm.


This post was guest-written by Chris from Spend It Like Beckham.

My name is Chris and I write about all things financial in the world of football and everyday life. Money saving advice is always useful, no matter who you are, so I try to communicate my life experiences to help those who need it. You can find me over at Spend It Like Beckham or you can follow me on Twitter @officialsilb.

Good Debt Versus Bad Debt or How Should Young People Should Use Credit?

Good Debt vs Bad Debt - How should young people use credit?

It’s possible to live completely debt-free, but it’s not necessarily good advice for the average young person. Very few people have or can earn enough money to pay cash for life’s most important purchases: a home, a car or an education. The most important consideration when buying anything on credit or taking out a loan is whether the debt incurred is good debt or bad debt.

 Good Debt Versus Bad Debt or How Should Young People Should Use Credit?

Good debt is seen as an investment, you are buying an asset that will grow in value or maybe generate long-term income. This means that the debt will be paid off and you will profit by owning an income producing asset.

Getting a Mortgage Can be Good Debt

Obtaining a mortgage to buy a home is usually considered good debt; firstly you need somewhere to live so instead of paying rent you are paying down the debt owed against the home.  The ideal situation would be that your also home increases in market value over time, so not only are you reducing the amount owed each month by making the payments the property is also increasing in value.  Mortgages also generally have lower interest rates than other debt as the lender holds the asset as security.

 

Student Loans Are Good Debt

Taking out student loans to pay for a college education is also deemed an example of good debt as student loans typically also have a low interest rate compared to other types of debt and a college education in theory increases your value as an employee and raises your potential future income. In my mind there are many caveats to this and a lot of thought has to go into the future earning potential in the field you are studying vs the cost of education vs is it truly a field you want to spend your working life and how transferable is the education.  I could talk about this subject in a lot more depth and how a lack of planning before taking out a student loan is a common problem, but this is a topic for another article.

 

An Auto Loan May Be Good Debt

An auto loan is another example perceived as good debt and it can be categorised so if the vehicle is essential to doing business and earning and income but vehicles are a depreciating asset so it is not in the buyer’s best interest to pay interest on a loan against an asset that is declining in value if it can be avoided.

Loans are not inherently bad, but almost everyone will tell you they are. If you can afford this loan and it will lower you gas expense and also be less than you would be saving and finally having a low interest rate I really see no reason not to take the loan out. You can also make additional payments to the loan and pay it off faster minimizing your interest since you said you will be paying less than you were anticipating saving as well as spending ~$100 less a month in gas. Assuming a 5 year loan and estimating paying $200 extra per month you could significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay since you could turn that 5 year loan into just under a 3 year loan (34 Months) and only paying about $433 in actual interest on the loan which is essentially nothing.

 

What is Bad Debt?

Bad debt is debt incurred to purchase things that have no value or quickly lose their value.  Bad debt is also debt that usually carries a high interest rate, such as credit card debt. The simple rule to avoid bad debt is if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

Bad debt includes debt you’ve taken on for things you don’t need and can’t afford and one of the worst forms of debt but often the easiest to come by is credit-card debt, since it usually carries high interest rates and relatively low monthly payments meaning the temptation is to stay current by making the minimum payments and never paying down the debt.

 

Payday Loans are Bad Debt

Payday loans/Cash advance loans are the worst kind of debt. Basically the borrower decides the amount he wants to borrow, a fee is then added to that amount and the borrower has until his next payday to pay back the loan amount, plus the original fee and any interest incurred over that period of time. Interest rates for payday loans are very deceptive and can be very misleading as the time period of the loans are so short it is only truly clear what is being charged if the interest and fees are actually annualised the same as other lending product so they can easily be compared, pay day loan annualised rates can be as high as 300 percent.  If you fail to pay back the amount by your next payday, the loan basically rolls over and you incur additional fees and more interest on top of the fees and interest you have already been charged.   It’s a slippery slop and hard to get out of once you are in the cycle.

 

The most effective ways to stay out of debt.

Practically speaking it’s almost impossible for most of us to live debt-free, we can’t pay cash for our home, our cars or our children’s college educations. But easy access to credit means too many young people let debt become unmanageable.

Ideally, your total monthly long-term debt payments, including your mortgage, car loans and credit cards, should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. This is one metric mortgage lenders and bankers call TDS (total debt service ratio) and is always consider when assessing the risk of a potential borrower.

Of course, avoiding debt at any cost is not smart either if it means depleting your cash reserves completely. The challenge is learning how to judge which debt makes sense and which does not and then wisely managing the money you do borrow. A student card is a good place to start if you’re in school. I suggest Capital One Journey (which you can later upgrade to Quicksilver) or Discover IT. Both have low requirements.

Otherwise, without credit history, you won’t be approved for much. You may need a secured card, which means you put a deposit down which is your credit limit, and after a few months of responsible use you can be upgraded to an unsecured card and get your money back.

 

When to take on good debt?

Taking on sensible debt can include financing items you absolutely need but can’t afford to pay for up front without wiping out cash reserves or liquidating all your investments. In cases where debt makes sense, only take loans for which you can easily afford the monthly payments. Consider the following when taking on sensible debt:

  • What is the interest rate/terms on other loans?
  • Do you have a full emergency fund?
  • What other debts do you have?
  • Have you taken advantage of employer 401k match, if any?

So based on the above it may seem logical to use every dollar you have available to keep you debt down as low as possible, even on good debt as it will reduce the interest payments and mean you can pay off more principle, but it’s not always the best move. You need to take into consideration your need for cash reserves for emergency expenses and also what your investments are earning.  If you deplete your cash reserves you become reliant on short term, easily available credit to meet unforeseen emergency expenses and the short term easily available credit is usually the highest interest rates.

Staying out of Debt and Creating a Budget

The key is to first create and accurate and realistic budget. Creating a budget you can follow will reduce stress, increase savings and mean you are not reliant on high interest credit for unexpected bills.

Make budgeting easy and part of the family daily routine. Keeping track of expenses, think about how to save money and plan what to do with your savings is all part of gaining control over your financial situation and are life lessons your children will learn by how the family deals with money and aren’t skills that are taught in school but ones that will stay with them for the rest of their lives and skills they learn by being involved in the family budget and decisions on how to spend money.

The best way to understand how to budget is to understand what you are spending your money on. There are no short cuts to becoming financial accountable for your lifestyle choices so save all your receipts and add them all up at the end of the week. This now matches your budget with your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what your lifestyle is as long as you create a budget that fits with your income and allows you achieve your financial goals.

The goal of any good budget is to figure out ways to maintain your current lifestyle by spending less money. This allows you to enjoy the things that give you pleasure in life but ensures you aren’t using credit to fund them.

Some expenses are easier to reduce than others. Things like car loans, rent or mortgage payments and credit card payments all have set payment plans making them hard to change. The goal is to focus your attention on your discretionary expenses, the ones that you make a choice on every day and understand how those choices effect you long term financial goals.

 

Monitoring and maintain your credit score.

This is an important part of your overall financial plan. Understanding how to read your credit report and maintain a good credit score will allow you to access good credit at the lowest rates possible meaning less overall cost to acquire appreciating assets but also means even ‘bad credit’ is available at favorable rates in the case of emergencies ensuring it is paid of sooner and before it becomes unmanageable.  Far too many people experience difficulties and sometimes embarrassment because of having bad credit and this could be avoided through proper monitoring of your credit report. See more information about learning what goes into your FICO credit score.

 

Establishing a Good Credit History

Establishing a good credit history is important, even if you aren’t planning any large future loans/purchases. Car insurance companies use your credit score to determine your rate, and employers use your credit score to determine your trustworthiness as an employee. As mentioned, fraud protection gained by making purchases via credit card has significant value, as some the sometimes available extended warranty that some cards offer.

If you prefer not to use credit cards at all, it’s still a good idea to open a credit card account (with one that doesn’t charge an annual fee) and use it once per year for a minimal purchase, just to keep it active.

As an aside, it’s very possible that you will decide to make a purchase in the future that will benefit from your decision to get a credit card now. Personally, I feel it’s important to leave as many future options open, rather than delude yourself into thinking that what you feel/think/believe today will be what you feel/think/believe at some point in the distant future.

 

Choosing Good Credit Cards

Check out American Express Blue Cash (1/2/3% cash back, no fee) or the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Back (1.5% everywhere, no fee).

Some specialty cards are also worth it, I’d say – I’ve got a Target card that gets me 5% savings on everything there, with no fee. Since I do plenty of shopping at Target, that’s worthwhile for me.

For other paid cards, you can often look up the break-even point. (For example, AmEx has an upgraded Blue Cash card that’s 2/4/6% cash back, but costs $75 per year. I think you break even if you spend $6k or more per year on groceries.)

Just set up an auto-pay in full for whatever card you choose, and you’re essentially always saving a percentage point or two off of everything you buy with it. If you have good credit, no plans for mortgage/car payment etc., you can use your credit worthiness to get a lot of free stuff. Free hotel stays, free flights, gifs cards & money back. I’ve personally flew to Vegas twice for free, have gotten multiple Marriott hotel stays for free, and still have plenty more travel points left to spend on JetBlue, Southwest, and Marriott.

Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Southwest Premier are two popular cards that always get brought up in the credit card forums. You have to do some digging though and find the best offers. A good sapphire preferred offer would be 40k or more points ($400 cash value) and only get the southwest card if it offers 50k southwest miles (good for two round trip flights at normal fares).

Gotta be careful though. The cards have minimum spend requirements (must spend $1000 in first three months to get bonus, etc.) so you need to make sure you can meet the requirement. If you fail to meet the spend requirement you won’t get the bonus.

Top 16 Money Saving Blogs For Young People (my favorite is #16!)

Top 16 Money Saving Blogs for young people

Having been running this blog for a few months now, I have gradually collected a long list of fellow money saving blogs on similar topics, and today I decided to select the best ones and tell you what I like about them in a smililar manner than I did with the price comparison websites.

 

Top 16 Money Saving Blogs For Young People

Blogs are sorted in random order.

  1. MoneyNing

moneyning blog

This blog is voted one of 10 top personal finance blogs on WiseBread and rightfully so. You know how most blogs you subscribe to only publish super-interesting stuff every couple of weeks and the rest is fillers like this list? Well, not MoneyNing. I keep finding interesting stuff for myself every time I open up Feedly.

The best of their recent articles was Why You Can’t Stick to a Budget (And How to Get Over It).

  1. Rockstar Finance

rockstarfinance

This is an awesome, hand-curated article directory. If you want only the best articles about money stuff, you go check with my homie J.Money (it sounds like an MC’s name doesn’t it?) to give you your fix. This one time, one of ThriftyTricks’ posts was also featured, just because I told J.Money that he is really good with design, especially his avatar work. I’m just kidding.

I can’t select a recent best article because they constantly post creme de la creme.

  1. PoorStudent

poorstudent money blog

PoorStudent is another blog in my rss feed. It’s written by a 20-year old who I also had the pleasure to meet online and he even published my guest post on how to start saving from scratch. They normally post short articles on money management for students (obviously) with sometimes common sense, but always very useful advice.

Recent post of theirs I liked was 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Money in College.

  1. Phroogal Blog

phroogal blog

Phroogal blog has recently been publishing top-notch articles on personal finance and I pretty much have to read every single one that pops up in my Twitter feed. Jason is trying to motivate young people to start managing their finances effectively and teaches them how to save money in various aspects of their student lives.

A few days ago, they posted Preparing for the Future: The Art of Networking in College.

  1. GradMoneyMatters

gradmoneymatters blog

They might have a sort of ugly site, but the information is what counts! If you’re looking for ways of making money or even starting your own business, this is the place to go. I didn’t know until now that Sam (the owner) had even posted about dumpster diving at some point – and you gotta admit that it doesn’t get much better than this. Right? Well, go check them out.

This is the dumpster diving post right here.

  1. YoungFinances

youngfinances

My parents have taught me a lot about being stingy and exactly nothing about investing. It’s a good thing we have internet for this purpose and one of such blogs is YoungFinances. What I like about LaTisha’s site is that she talks a lot about entrepreneurship and I believe this is extremely important for young adults these days.

Read a cool post First Job! How Do I Spend My First Paycheck?

  1. Green Panda Treehouse

greenpanda money blog

Their about page says that “Green Panda Treehouse is a personal finance blog for college students and recent graduates.” Let’s let them have their 90s web design and focus on the content they’re providing (it’s awesome). The owner’s name is Mike and he seems to be a successful internet entrepreneur, running multiple blogs and all. Very cool.

One of the latest published posts is Savvy Ways to Cut Down Your Car Expenses.

  1. Graduated Learning: Life After College

graduatedlearning money blog

LAC sadly has a similarly ugly design, but it also features a couple of really high-quality posts (and some that are, well, less interesting for me). The owner of this blog is some Steph, and she has a sense of humor which is oftentimes lacking in the money saving niche blogs.

I hope I’m not promoting a sponsored post that Steph will now earn thousands on, but I liked her review of the Payoff.com app.

  1. CashCowCouple

cashcowcouple blog

I might have a tiny crush on Jacob’s facial hair. Sadly, it is already married along with the rest of his body (and mind, one should hope) to Vanessa, the other owner of this epic blog. Posts are sometimes slightly philosophical, and some are straight-up instructional, which makes a great combination. You will in general not find any filler posts, just plain usefulness.

One could say this blog is ‘the good stuff’ – see A Brief Introduction To Travel Hacking for a proof.

  1. FrugalRules

frugalrules blog

I like that John also posts about freelancing and even throws in a couple of productivity tips along the way. Tbh, I am not entirely sure how he can produce this much good content almost every day. The blog might not be exactly student, but I’m including it because nobody should miss out on it. Just check out How to Raise Your Prices as a Freelancer to see what I mean.

  1. Making Sense Of Cents

makingsenseofcents saving blog

MSoC is a pretty popular blog, covering pretty much everything you need to know about money. Well, maybe not everything, but at least the fun part – and that is making money. But Michelle also covers budgeting, frugality, and lifestyle topics, and that makes it an extremely useful blog that I come lurk on pretty much every couple of days.

In addition to income reports from online businesses (awesome!), go read Reason to Have an Emergency Fund: Medical Emergencies.

  1. Ask The Young Professional

asktheyoungpro blog

I only recently started following this blog and it seems to be more in the ‘lifestyle’ niche, but never mind that. The founder Katie works for Sesame Street – how cool is that?

The blog itself however doesn’t have anything to do with puppets. It’s trying to teach young people how to succeed in their careers. Kind of like, when you’re done with the phase of life covered by ThriftyTricks, you’re ready for ATYP. Check out Using Your Twenties To Prepare For Your Future to see what I mean.

  1. MoneySmartGuides

moneysmartguides blog

MSG is an authority in personal finance niche. It’s more aimed at adults and thus has slightly more ‘dull’ articles. But if you’re interested in formal budgeting, investing, debt management, and/or you consider yourself a serious adult, you should maybe read their articles. For example The Ultimate Guide To Retiring Early.

  1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich

teachyoutobereach blog

Ramit Sethi is literally all over the place in the online marketing blogging niche. I once heard in an interview that he started with a personal finance site, but then realized that you can’t really sell things to people who want to save money, so he focused on writing about making more money instead. Well, with just over 60k followers on Twitter, I think he had succeeded. The cultish website IWTYTBR is a must-read for anyone who wishes to level-up their life. See Automating your Personal Finances.

  1. 20s Finances

20sfinances blog

I actually found this site while doing research on all other sites, I wasn’t following it until now. Corey, the owner, seems like a bro, and the articles are pretty well-written and lengthy (in a good way). The latest post was Why You Should Hang Out With Your Professor.

  1. ThriftyTricks

thriftyricks money saving blog

Well, this concludes today’s list. Be sure to check out the rest of this site if you’re not yet a Thrifter and don’t forget to share this post if you liked it. Also, if you have any suggestions for this list of money saving blogs, be sure to send it over!

Infographic: Is It Time To Move Out?

Infographic: Is it time to Move out?

So it’s time to move out. We learned a lot about young people moving out while researching this project. We were amazed at just how many young people live at home. And as you can imagine most are students.

We also learned about the oddity of the NorthEastern part of the United States and girls of all things. This was an interesting project and we encourage you to explore our infographic.

 

When should you move out of parent’s home?

Moving out from parents’ houses has declined in the last couple of years, despite the end of the recession. This infographic explores how many young people (millennials) still live at home and why, and their demographics. I couldn’t resist but to add some text blocks to break up the dull imagery :)

Moving out - how many millennials still live at home?

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How To Get A Reply for Every Job Application You Send Out

Get a Reply for Every Job Application

Our latest blog post taught you how to change your mindset, find the field to work in, and how to gain initial experience in this field. Next, we will dive into the specifics of writing a CV, finding a job, and standing out among applicants. Writing an excellent CV or Resume is a sure way to make sure you are one of the top job applicants applying for the job.

 

How to get response on Job Application?

As we all know, employers get tons of resumes in their inboxes, so standing out is the top priority. Let’s stop for a minute and look at the following quote:

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.

We could try to translate this bullshit quote into job finding as ‘If you have great competences, companies will find you and beg you to work for them’. But that’s simply not so. Even extremely talented and experienced people can have problems with finding a job, and even they must work hard to be noticed in the CV ocean.

The author of that quote (or something like it) is Ralph Waldo Emerson. Notice the ‘Waldo’. I bet the Where’s Waldo game was based on this man. Point being, you better move out of the forest, and start working on self-promotion – but writing a CV might even be a bad idea.

Should I write a CV or Resume?

The answer is obvious: YES, you should present yourself and your competencies, but NO, you might be better off not writing it. Numerous applicants are taking the easy and ineffective route of just sending the curriculum blurb to job ads. Sure, doing that will certainly feel like you did something – but in reality, you just sent a pdf over. You just spent some time. Nothing original. You’re being thrown straight into the pool of sharks with other job applicants. Why not be the shark instead? Think about how you can smash your skills, knowledge, and experience right into the employer’s face so they will see only you.

Applying to jobs - awesome CV checklist

How can you stand out? Try making a website (remember the GooglePleaseHireMe guy?), doing a short video CV, or even buying a billboard. There are many other options, but you’ll need to find them yourself, and tailor it according to the job, the company and even to a specific job ad. Designing a custom, unique pdf-CV might suffice if you happen to be looking for work in the creative industry – or, just sending over an actual paper along with the digital copy might make a huge impression.

Another great way (if you’re not overly creative) of standing out is by stating specifically what value will you add to the company. Will you be able to bring in 100 new customers every month? Will you improve search-engine traffic of their sites by 20%? All of these are what really matters to people running a business. If they’re not going to get anything from you, why would they hire you? Along with the promise, you can include a contingency such as, if you can’t improve conversion by 7% within a month, you’ll be on your way – just make sure you can actually do it!

Tips on Filling Out a Resume

What should I write in my resume objective?

Resume Objectives are generally a waste of real estate. Instead of an Objective, why not include a Branding Statement? This is a concise, memorable statement that lets the reader know what you offer the company. A tutorial on writing a branding statement can be found here.

Do I have to list all of my positions on the resume?

You want to make sure that the information you are including in the resume is relevant to the position. Leave off or significantly scale back out-of-date or unrelated positions. This way, readers will focus more on recent and relevant experience instead of getting distracted by information that does not add as much value.

Furthermore, if you include jobs such as barista, cashier, server, lifeguard etc. – it can be reasonably expected that anyone reading your resume will know what kind of responsibilities these jobs typically involve. Including bullet points like “handled cash and assisted customers with checkout” or “prepared beverages” are generally unhelpful and at worst emphasize a lack of pertinent skills or accomplishments. If you only have cashier/server/retail experience, try to emphasize things that you did that are unique, such as maintaining a 100% attendance record or re-merchandising an endcap to improve sales of X product by Y%.

 

Should I list interests/hobbies on my resume?

This is a gray area. Historically, including this kind of information has been frowned upon. While there are still many companies that will view this kind of information as superfluous, there are some that want to know about your personal interests. The best advice is to research your audience and determine if this information is appropriate for the specific company to which you are applying.

Remember, concrete facts and figures are always more compelling than bland description. Listing “running” as a hobby is vague and fairly meaningless. Listing even a relatively modest achievement like, “participated in ten 5K races, with two third place age-bracket finishes” shows determination, dedication, a commitment to self-improvement – all of which are extremely relevant attributes in any context.

 

Where should I put my references on resume?

Don’t include references or “references available upon request” on your resume. Do bring a reference sheet to any interviews so that you can provide them should they be requested.

 

Tips on Filling Out Online Job Applications

When applying for jobs online, create an autofill form for your old jobs and other common information. This will save you a ton of time. For example, you have to fill in information on your past jobs, internships etc. You can go into your web browser settings and created an autofill form (address, phone number, company name, email etc) and then when you get to the portion of the application that asks to fill in company A’s information, just type the name, my autofill options show, I click on those and boom, saved me several minutes of remembering the office phone number, address etc.

Also remember that often the first cut in the hiring process is a computer filter where they take the top answers to the qualification questions, then they take the highest percent of keywords. Its a safe guess that those keywords will be ones they use to describe the qualifications

When you submit your resume to a place that uses an analyzer, what you should do is take a blank line (especially one that you change the sizing on to like 2 or 4) and then in white text, write a bunch of keywords for the job that you are going for. Hopefully, your resume itself is well crafted enough to use most of these words within the meat and potatoes, but doing something like this ensures that your resume passes the initial robot cutoff and into someone’s hands. Then, when they see it or print it, the white text never appears.

The downside is that sometimes the companies will parse the resume into plaintext, meaning that this laundry list of 100 terms you pasted at the bottom of your resume is now visible and will look like garbage. Ask any recruiter who has used a tool like Jobvite and they will concur.

Finding a job – Where to look for job

Job ads

Now that we’ve cleared that resume thing out of the way, we can start finding actual positions. I am not going to list all the sites that list job ads – there is a number of lists available online.

I would suggest you start looking for jobs on niche job sites – for example, if you were be looking for a design job, you’d go to Krop. This article is a good starting point for finding those niche job sites.

Search – online and offline

I don’t mean to promote this blog any more than I already did, but SOYS posted another great article with tricks for finding job openings with Google. I couldn’t describe it any better, so I’m just going to direct you there.

Next, you should probably check out ads in papers and on physical job boards. I know, a lot of information is now on internet, but that’s probably why those offline ads receive less applications. Money in the bank! Well, not quite yet.

Searching actively for a job

You might find out that applying to job ads gives you a very low ‘conversion rate’, meaning that you don’t really get many calls from them. You should put yourself into a position of ‘looking for an employer’ rather than ‘applying to the ads’ – and you do that by proactively selecting companies you’d like to work with and contacting them about positions. This will be hard at the beginning, but once you get a hang of it it really becomes much easier.

Open up a spreadsheet and do some research on Google – which companies are in the field you want to work in? Write 10-15 of them down and do a bit of Facebook search. Do you know anyone working there? Existing employees are almost always a great foot in the door. Next, make sure you follow, friend, and like the companies so you don’t miss any of their (job opening) shout-outs. Study these companies closely to create the best custom tailored application to a non-existent job.

Example: You want a job as a copywriter and want to work at company Black’n’White. They are a creative agency and their logo is a zebra. You write your application referencing zebras everywhere and print it on zebra-striped paper. Even if they can’t hire you at the moment, you will make such an impression that they will at least refer you to another company (if you ask!). Remember, business world is all about connections.

Conclusion: Tips for Applying for Jobs

Just keep in mind that finding a truly unique way to apply to a job is extremely important, no matter your skills, experience, etc. It’s even more important to get a reply for every job application you send. I happen to work in graphic design – and let me tell you, the product can be awesome, but if it lacks in presentation, nobody will give it a chance. Don’t be that product! Read how to get a job with little or no experience.

How To Get A Job With No Experience

How to Get a Job with No Experience

So you need to get a job with no experience. The topic of finding a job is seriously trendy these days. And it’s obvious why that is so – the current economy caused lots of people let go and others left clinging onto their jobs fearing for their survival. This is why fewer people retire and therefore there are less positions available for the junior workforce.

How To Get A Job With No Experience

Fortunately, people my age (early twenties) do not know any other reality. When we’ve entered the job market, the economy was already tough, so there was no change to speak of. We had (or have) to learn the rules, not re-learn them. In this sense, we have some advantage over people who had to go through change.

This post is, however, not a rant about the economy, but rather a piece of holistic advice on getting a job without much experience. It will especially help people who are just at the start of their career, but I bet others will benefit as well.

Firstly, I’d like to establish that finding a job should be a job in itself. Going for drinks in the middle of the day with your unemployed friends may seem like a perfectly plausible idea. You don’t have a job, right?

Wrong.

This kind of attitude will make the process a lot harder. You’re supposed to be available in normal business hours and busy sending emails and calling prospective employers, so don’t fall for the whole ‘funemployed’ farce. Even after being let go or when you’re done with school, still try to maintain the working routine and get really busy with finding that job.

Mindset And Goals to get a job with little experience

I will assume that you already have that genuine will to work. This will later reveal to be extremely important, so if you haven’t already, determine why you want to get a job and how bad do you want it.

You probably expect I’ll give you a silver bullet for getting a free job without any kind of effort. Well, that’s not going to happen, because I am not writing fairytales. You need to accept that having no experience and/or education, it’s not likely that you’ll land a very well-paid job, unless your daddy is a CEO of a large company with an unlimited payroll budget.

getting a job

What job search DOESN’T look like

You don’t get offered a great office job while serving a customer at McDonald’s. That only happens in movies. You will need to wake up, move your butt, and do something to even get that McDonald’s job in the first place.

But that’s ok, because everyone has to start somewhere. And you need to start with long-term goals about your career. Determining this will help you decide which jobs are the right for you and let you write the best CV ever. Answer these questions:

  • Do I have a strong passion that can be translated into a career?

  • How much do I want to/need to earn? (making a simple budget can help you with this)

  • Do I want to work part- or full-time?

  • Which jobs are currently open in the area? (just assume this one – you’ll do research later)

What will you do to get a job with no experience

If you don’t have a strong passion for working in a certain industry, the whole process is a bit easier; you will need to see which jobs are open for people with no experience and just jump into it. Types of professions that normally don’t require experience are:

  • various types of assistants – shop assistant, office assistant

  • simple restaurant jobs – fast food employee, waiter/waitress, cafe employee, barista, dish-washer

  • hotels – hotel maid or bell boy, table games dealer, cleaner

  • (phone) customer support

  • (phone) sales

  • driving – delivery driver, bus driver, trucker, taxi driver

  • garbage collector

  • real estate broker

  • physical work – oilfield worker, construction worker

  • (online) entrepreneur – blogger, ‘small tasker’, content marketer (requires at least some technical knowledge which is easily gained online)

On the other hand, if you indeed do want to work in a specific industry that hires only people with experience, you will need to work to get it first – and this will most likely mean some or lots of free work. There! We’ve broken out of the non-existent “no experience – no job, no job – no experience” cycle.

“But I need to pay my bills!” I hear you screaming, because you’re exactly like everyone else, and yet there are plenty of people who changed their careers while keeping one or two jobs. Hey, no one said this would be easy!

So here are a couple of ways to gain experience:

Get an internship to get a job with no experience

While it will be much easier to get an unpaid internship, not even that will be easy. Be careful to ask people working in the industry to determine the right company to work in. Check out this presentation for more info.

Even if you’re not a student, you can offer free work to a company you want to work for. Set a certain amount (for example, 1-2 month) and they can employ you afterwards if they’re happy with you. The strategy is to make yourself indispensable in this time (more on this in the next post in the series).

Freelance to gain experience to get a job

Depending on the industry you’re in, you might be able to freelance and gain experience this way. When starting out, offer low rates or try working for free (for non-profits). Be careful though – try to only take on projects that will look good in your portfolio/CV. If you’re unable to provide a concluded project or proof of results, it might be better to pass it up and spend time on something that will look good as a reference.

Volunteer to build job experience

Similar to the previous two tips, volunteering will not only get you real-world experience that you need, but also give you connections that you might need in the future. People tend to be nicer to volunteers and will feel like they need to return a favor for free work. Aim for huge, world-known non-profits.

Start on your own to get job experience

If you don’t feel like working for someone else for free, you can start a project that will give you the experience you need. For example, if you wanted to work as a UI designer, you could redesign an existing app or make up your own – you could even start a business from such project!

Get a mentor to create job experience and expertise

Getting a mentor is also very applicable to all other suggestions on this list. Find out which are the top people in the industry and offer to work for them for free. Try to get introduced to them or just reach out saying that you’re really passionate and hard-working and that you’d like them to teach you a thing or two about the field. You can also just try to read everything they’ve ever written and study their life path – this strategy is not as effective for seeking a job (you can’t put it on your CV), but will definitely up you a level.

I have this list of skills, do you think I should expand it by telling people about my excellent interpersonal skills?

Soft skills can end up sounding like fluff. That does not mean that they aren’t valuable, just that they need to be substantiated. Ideally, your bullet points will highlight quantifiable achievements as opposed to responsibilities. That means specific accomplishments with metrics to back them up. It is more effective to tell the reader how you have impacted the company and how you have added value.

Other methods to get a job with little or no professional experience

The biggest issue for anyone looking for work is attitude followed closely by image. Have a positive attitude. When given the chance, work hard. Be eager to help and do more than you are asked to do. Ask questions, but not constantly. Think before you ask. Any way you decide to go with, try to get as much out of it as possible. Work really, really hard, prove yourself, meet lots of people, and get a recommendation at the end.

This is it for now, stay tuned for the next part of this series where are talking about how (and if even!) to write a good CV, find a job, and the proper way of applying to jobs – check it out here.

How many resumes should I send out to get a job?

How many resumes should I send out, and how much time should I spend on each one?

In today’s economy, it is not uncommon to send out 20 resumes before receiving a call back. Each resume should be targeted toward the position to which you are applying. That will mean that you have several versions of your resume. Also, every cover letter should be targeted toward the specific position AND the company. As for how much time you should spend, it will vary. It is much better to spend your hours finely crafting a small number of very excellent, tailored resumes/cover letters rather than spamming out a large number of materials that aren’t as good or as position-specific. Remember, it is not a numbers game. Spend eight hours crafting and adapting a resume to a specific position is far more effective than spending eight hours submitting 30 generic resumes to 30 different companies.

How To Cut Your Own Hair And Save Money in the process

How to Cut your own hair

Here’s something my readers don’t know about me – I have been cutting my own hair for more than a year. This post is about why and how.

Learning how to cut your own hair

The number one reason is that I don’t like random people touching me, especially not my hair. Number two is that due to my frugality, my hair was always overgrown. I would rarely go to a friend (who is a hairdresser) to get a haircut for $20. At a certain point I had figured out that this expense is going to stick with me for my entire life, meaning that if I only get one haircut per month and I get to live for another 50 years (being 21 yo at the time of this writing), I’ll blow $12.000 just to look decent.  I thought that’s unacceptable if I can get the best hair clippers on Amazon for less than $20, so I went ahead and bought ‘em at a local supermarket.

How To Cut Your Own Hair And Save Money in the process

It turns out I am not the only one who had thought of this. And now I want to teach you how to cut your own hair too :) Cutting your hair can save money and sometimes lead to better hair styles.

What you’ll need to cut your own hair

  • hair clippers with guards
  • scissors (optional)
  • styling comb (optional)
  • a towel (or another mean of protecting your clothes from hairs) and/or a cleaning brush (optional)
  • 1 large mirror (preferably two)
  • at least some idea of what kind of a haircut you want – check out these men’s hairstyles for example

 

Haircut types that you can give yourself

My own haircut is relatively simple; my hair is very short on sides and on the back, and there’s a little more hair on top; I later discovered that this haircut is called Quiff. It’s very popular with teenagers nowadays.

Of course, there are numerous different haircuts that you can do with hair trimmers. The easiest to do yourself (called ‘buzzcuts’) are butch cut, crew cut, flattop, and ivy league. These are sometimes named introduction cut, high and tight, Harvard clip, or Princeton, but they’re not much different from one another anyway.

buzzcut-haircuts

Buzzcut haircuts that you can do yourself

A little harder to do are quiff, undercut, mohawk, and Caesar’s cut.

modern-haircuts

A little more advanced haircuts

I’m sure there are other haircuts out there, you can find them here. Now let’s move on.

When you’ve decided which haircut you want, you need to figure out how to do it. You can do that by simply looking at a photo and noticing where the hair is the shortest and where it is the longest. Where does it fade and how quickly? Draw diagrams for the chosen haircut to create a cheat-sheet and check out this resource for hints.

Techniques to cut your own hair

Personally, I only use hair clippers with 2 clip-on guard combs that came with it. I wanted to develop a simple enough workflow for cutting my hair, so I never used additional tools such as ear guide combs, I don’t even use a secondary mirror to check the back of my head. I would suggest you develop your own style and get whatever additional tool you need. You’re going to save tons of money anyway.

Get the cheat-sheet and decide which size of the hair clipper guards will determine the longest hair in the haircut – most probably, it will be on the top of your head. Put guards on and start cutting your hair – always cut hair in the opposite direction of its growth. The following image shows in which direction hair normally grow – it might be different with you though. Simply run your hand through your hair to find out!

hair-growth-direction

How hair normally grows

You want to cut the whole head with this largest size. Afterwards, set the next, smaller size and cut that area. When making a fade (smooth transition in between two sizes), gently lift the clippers when finishing the cut. This method is called ‘fading’ – this video does a pretty good job of explaining it.

It’s not too hard. Find the right length guard (when in doubt, go longer. You can always go shorter afterwards). I’d recommend looking in a mirror and having a second hand-held mirror handy for the back.You’re gonna want to dampen your hair a little, then comb the sides down until the part is how you want it. Comb the top inwards, so that the part is clear.

Next, turn on your clippers, and using the mirrors, slowly cut. This way, you can go a little faster while trimming the bottom portion. When you get to the back, face away from the wall mirror and use the hand-held mirror to see. Slowly cut around the part again, then do the bottom portion.

For the back side, I normally just feel my hair to see if it’s smooth, but you can use a smaller secondary mirror to check the back side (I even used my phone’s camera a couple of times). Either way you need to have a good idea of what your back of the head looks like and about hair growth direction.

After you’re done with the haircut you can put some final touches in, creating nice arches and sideburns, fixing the neckline (for hair clipping, I recommend the tapered nape), forming a mohawk, etc. You can do that with scissors and such, but I only use clippers.

Closing tips on how to cut your own hair

I hope this guide came in handy to anyone who would like to save at least $20 per month. I’d like to stress that practice makes perfect – I still make mistakes, even though it’s been about a year I’ve been making this exact haircut. Don’t be shy to ask your family for help – you can even cut each other’s hair.

The most difficult part with cutting your hair will obviously be the back of the head. You can either do the 2 mirror strategy (which is actually pretty hard/confusing at first because your right/left switch when looking at a mirror backwards) or you can do it by feel. Both are very difficult but I think that by doing it by feel leads to better results and less mistakes.

I am sorry this guide is not covering the topic of cutting your own hair if you are long-haired – in this case, hair clippers are obviously not the way (unless you want some undercut). If you’re wondering about the subject, I suggest you check out this report and this guide.

I recommend having someone else help you with your neckline, as it gets a little tricky. It’s confusing trying to discern which direction to move your hand in the mirror and it’s easily messed up. If you can, get a beard trimmer (or any smaller clippers) for the next part. Remove all guards from it and cut sideburns to desired length, then around the ears, and you’re good.

Practice cutting your own hair!

Whatever way you cur your own hair, you’re going to have to keep practicing which will mean you’ll need a backup plan for those instances when you really mess up your hair. For example, a backup plan is to shave down my head to a very short length, which incidentally coincides with the lowest sized clip for the sides/back of my head. obviously, starting off you’ll want to start with a 4 and work your way up to an 8 (larger the # the more hair it keeps on your head). a 4 is a safe size, but you’ll need to cut your hair more often at first. once you get comfortable with the process then you can go down to a 2 or even a 1/0 if you want a tigher (less hair on the sides/back) fade.

Save On School, Spend On Booze! 12 Crazy Tips For Saving Money On Textbooks

12 Tips for Saving Money on Textbooks

In many countries, college is nowhere close to thrifty. On top of all the effort you need to put into studying and doing assignments, you’re likely to be left with a mountain of debt after graduation (Unless of course you live in Europe like myself and/or not go to college at all.). Professors don’t pay for textbooks. They get them for free so that they can evaluate them and decide if they want to use them on our course. When a new edition comes out the publisher’s rep will usually email a professor and ask if you’re interested in seeing it. A few days later it’s on your desk with a nice note offering to discuss the changes they’ve made.

As you know, I am a big fan of digital tools and as you may have guessed, I will suggest you ditch the physical textbooks altogether and replace them with e-books, but that’s not all. Here are some tips on saving money on textbooks.

 

How to Save Money Buying Textbooks

1. Buy used …

First tip – just to have it included on the list – is to simply buy used textbooks. You can find these on Amazon, Craigslist and other online marketplaces (some are listed bellow). There are brick and mortar stores that hold used textbooks, so try getting them there, and some libraries sell older versions of those as well.

When seniors graduate they will gladly sell you their books – you could even buy lots of them in the summer and sell them on when school starts. At our school, we had this once-a-year textbook fairs where we could sell last year’s books and buy ‘new’ ones.

2. … and sell your own.

If also works vice versa – after you’re done with school, sell those textbooks either to freshmen, friends, or online (for example here) and make your money back.

4. Pop! Pop! Pop! Watching Prices Drop

It’s a good idea to buy textbooks later in the year – some of the listed, ‘required’ ones might not be needed after all and you could just study from yours or your friend’s notes. After the first month or so prices tend to drop, especially on used textbooks, and it gets easier to haggle the price down.

5. International edition of college textbooks

Consider getting an international edition off of Amazon/eBay, especially as a US student (I know, I know, the US textbook market is a scam). The covers might look a bit different, but comparing a few random pages, the index, and the page count will likely reveal that it’s essentially the same book only a lot cheaper – even including shipping charges! Be sure to check for the right unit system though.

Instead of shelling out $200 per book, you can order the international version for $20- $50 USD on Abebooks.com. The only difference is that it’s the same print quality as newspaper. The books come from India where copyright laws aren’t as strictly enforced and People can’t afford the glossy paper and colour. So the printers have to compete with the bootleggers and price the books competitively.I found it humorous that the books came with a holographic sticker for authenticity, yes it is that bad over there. Hopefully if enough students start importing textbooks from India, they might reconsider their Satanic pricing schemes in NA.

6. Oldies But Goldies

Your professor might be ok with you using an older edition of the textbooks, as they mostly don’t change much – except for maybe the examples. Write a polite email to them asking if that would be ok and if they have any information on how suitable is that older edition. They might even be able to share an unused copy if you’re super nice.

7. Arr, Arr!

You can always try the ‘nasty’ way and just borrow the textbooks from friends or the library and scan/photocopy them up. Another way is to buy them from a store, scan them and then return them for a refund. I’m not saying you should do it, but I hear there are digital editions of some books available where pirates gather online.

8. Scan It Up

If you happen to do a lot of scanning of what are, naturally, your own books that you purchased in a perfectly legal matter and acquired their authorship rights, you might want to invest in a DIY book scanner like this one. You could hypothetically make money by selling these scans or copies to your buddies and schoolmates, but that would be illegal.

9. Print-on-demand

Another thing that is illegal is sending digital textbooks, snatched from the world wide web, to a print-on-demand company and making a physical copy for little money. I totally do not recommend doing that.

10. Best Roomie Ever

If your roommate is taking the same classes, convince her to share the same textbook and split the costs of the purchase.

11. Ditch The Extras

Some textbooks offer additional stuff like online courses and downloadables, but you don’t need to pay for these if you don’t need them; the publishers in USA are required to offer the plain version by law.

If you are assigned a custom edition, 90% of the time it is just the basic ISBN with either certain chapters cut out OR just a different binding (ie softcover instead of hard cover).

The way that you can check is open up to the copyright page (usually the second page). It will say what source material and ISBNs the book is taken from. This will tell you what real edition you can buy instead.

The custom editions never have material custom made for your class. Most of the time it’s just professors that were talked into “making it cheaper for students” by sleazy sales reps.

 

12. Finally: Let’s Get Digital

In regards to digital copies, investing in a tablet computer or an e-reader can be a perfectly reasonable decision, especially since you’ll never have to print out another textbook or buy it at the full price. Getting a used device will save you even more money.

BONUS: A List Of Places To Get Textbooks Online

There are some websites that have electronic versions of textbooks available online for free. Below are some of the better websites for free online textbooks:

Buy:

Digital:

Classified ads:

Rental:

 

Top 11 Reviews of the Best Price Comparison Websites

Top 11 Price Comparison websites

Comparing offers has never been easier than in the era of information technology. There are tools and websites that do comparison instead of us and it’s almost like buying at all your favorite stores at once. The prices and product specs are available with a few clicks, you just need to know where to look for them – and that’s what this post is about.

 

What are price comparison websites?

Price comparison websites will differ quite a bit. Which one to pick will often depend on what you want to compare.  For example, it depends what you want to compare.

  • Compare the Market is what I use for Home/Car insurance
  • Money Supermarket is what I use for banks/credit cards/savings etc
  • ShopStyle is what I use for clothes

Here’s our reviews of the top 11 price comparison websites that consumers can use to find the cheapest prices on all sorts of things.

Reviews of the top 11 price comparison websites

Pricegrabber.com

Oftentimes, shopping engines are pretty badly designed and look like they’re from the 90’s, but this is not the case with Pricegrabber. Consequently, the user experience is outstanding and the site is easy to navigate. Items can be displayed as a list or in a grid view, and they seem to have complete descriptions. The site allows setting price alerts, searching for similar products, and selecting multiple items for comparison.

Pricegrabber offers you a nice description of the item you’ve searched for and the list of stores that stock it along with prices, which, in my opinion, is the main feature of any price comparison site. Category search is also enabled, and there is a huge selection of filters on results page, from weight to product-specific properties.

Shopping is limited to UK, US, Canada, Brazil, and Mexico. They also offer a mobile app for iDevices and Android.

Google.com/shopping

Google is jumping on a bandwagon with this, but it seems they’ve missed it by a little bit and are now desperately trying to clamber their way up onto it. Some of the items have this neat 3D view that I haven’t seen on any other price comparison website, but this doesn’t quite substitute the insufficient descriptions that some items have. There are other great features like reviews from the sites, price comparison of the same product on a subpage, and shipment cost estimates. Google clearly states that it’s being compensated for including some of the products, which is a refreshing frankness that some other sites don’t have.

TheFind.com

Another one of the nicely-designed sites. Apart from good enough UX, a big differentiating factor is the ability to sort results by payment processing certificates and payment methods – this can be super useful. They claim to have 500mil products, but I wasn’t able to check this. Either the location settings are pretty unreliable or they don’t support non-residents of the US (it’s the latter, but they do offer the UK version. clap, clap.). There is no way of browsing through categories, and you can get directly to the store after clicking on an item, or see the details first. Under details, there are coupons hidden under a separate tab – a pretty cool feature!

Shopping.com

Shopping.com is an ebay service so lots of results come from there, but some of the information is still pretty inacurate (e.g. the product can already be sold). Product descriptions are not too consistent, and often missing information. After clicking on a product link, a screen appears that gets super-annoying after a few times. Site can be effectively used by people living in France, UK, Germany, Australia, and US.

Despite all that, the site is still pretty useful. Search results page offers plenty of filters that help you find the right item, and their shopping guides seem very accurate and helpful. Definitely worth checking out, even if it’s just for these guides. And since the site is backed by ebay, it’s likely it’s here to stay.

Shopzilla.com

The front page of Shopzilla can easily trick you into thinking that this is going to be a pleasant, well-designed price comparison experience, but clicking on anything soon reveals otherwise. I would really love to see the subpages of this site redesigned as well, but other than that, the site offers more or less standard features of any shopping engine. All links are direct links to stores, which can be rather impractical if your goal is to compare not just prices, but also features and reviews. In terms of the latter, the site does offer individual stores’ reviews, which is a nice add-in. Additionally, unless you live outside the USA like more than 95% of the population, there is a nice tax & shipping calculator available based on your zip code. There are also sites available for France, Germany, and UK.

Pronto.com

A rather average site that displays comparison of prices in different stores for that same product. The category browsing works great, but the search not so much, displaying what is in my opinion too many Google ads. The service does, however, let you know about the stores that may not ship to your area, and it lets you set a ‘Sale Alert’ on a particular product. They also have a subpage with stores that currently offer discounts. Design is pretty average, but not too bad either.

Idealo.co.uk

Finally, a site that is aimed at European residents. This 90’s-looking (read: ugly) website is surprisingly useful – the search works just as you’d expect, with a list of distributors of a single item and their prices, shipping prices, payment options, user reviews, voucher codes, stock, and more. Truly an information- and feature-packed website, highly recommended for europeans.

Nextag.com

The site does not shine on great looks, but it makes up for that to an extent with their radar feature – it sends you an email when price of a certain product drop. This site features many stores that I haven’t heard of before, so in terms of money saving, it might be a good idea to check it out. There is a sister site available for comparing travel costs for USA and even international. The site itself supports Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Australia, which is a much larger selection than we’re used to on competing sites. Another nice time-saving tool is the ability to buy items directly from their site. There is also a mobile app available.

Become.com

Given the popularity of this site, I ended up being pretty disappointed with the whole experience. Searching for the term ‘e-reader’ did not present me with different e-reader models as I have mistakenly expected, but rather with a number of e-reader sleeves, bags, kids toys, fingerprint readers, etc. The site appears to be USA-only, so there’s another minus. The site, in short, is rather mediocre, with the exception of their thorough shopping guides.

Smarter.com

This is another one of those sites that are really nothing special concerning look and functionality, but have nice shopping guides and other articles. The search sometimes tries to suggest related products instead of the one searched for. Unfortunately, there is no ability to compare multiple items before the buyer is ready to purchase, but you can compare prices of some products in different stores. They offer separate sites for Japan, Korea, and China, but the main site appears to be aimed at only USA.

Shopper.cnet.com

The Shopper site is reliable, and we expect no less from this tech website network. It is fairly usual, with professional design and it’s easy to navigate. Search likes to sometimes suggest non-related products, but you can at least tick them off and compare multiple items. Ads are not excessive, they offer current promo codes and coupons, and they provide you with the shipping and tax info. US-only site, featuring many different stores.

One Dozen Weird & Extremely Cheap Vegetarian Meals For ‘Bare Cupboard’ Times

12 Weird & Extremely cheap vegetarian meals

So you need cheap, but you want vegetarian. Well you’ve come to the right spot. Here’s a dozen cheap vegetarian meals that are not only inexpensive, but delicious.

You know those times that there’s just nothing left in your fridge and cupboard? When it’s late at night and there are no stores open? When you’ve already spent all your weekly budget for food? You could eat some dried up bread with ramen, but you ate that for the last 10 days. Why not try one of these?

 

One Dozen Weird & Extremely Cheap Vegetarian Meals For ‘Bare Cupboard’ Times

Note: I didn’t bother with exact measures of how much of what do you need as you can easily look it up. I hope that’s alright.

Eggs, spinach, and puree recipes

Where I am from his is a relatively common meal, and it’s easy to make (and that’s probably why my mom made it so often). The preparation involves a fair amount of mashing and mixing, so it’s perfect stressed out people. Cook spinach, mix it up, cook potato, mash it, and cook or fry eggs and put them on top of spinach and potato puree. If you don’t feel like doing all of this, use frozen spinach and instant mashed potatoes.

Omelette recipes

Would be great for breakfast if anybody gave a shit about it. Take 2-3 eggs, break them, and mix them up with a fork. Add some salt and pepper to the mixture, and throw in anything you have at home; herbs, toothpaste, grated cheese, bacon, mushrooms. Spill this eggy soup onto a heated and oiled frying pan, and 2 minutes later fail at the attempt to flip it around in one piece.

Chili recipes

Great to make in a crockpot. Basically what you do is take a couple of cans of beans (kidney, black, garbanzo) and some raw chopped tomatoes and throw it all in a big ass cooking bucket. Add some water, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic. Add onion, corn, peas, zucchini, or whatever else you might have at home.

Gordon Ramsey’s broccoli soup recipe

Cook broccoli, jam it into a mixer. Done. I used to add rolled oats to any soup, it’s almost like a salty breakfast muesli except it’s not.

Heidi’s mac and cheese recipe

I made this recipe up when I had almost no food at home, and it must have been 3am so I couldn’t go to a store to buy some. Despite the fact I live very near the center of one of Europe’s capitals, we are lucky to be able to get a pizza of the size and taste of a A5 office paper.

So you cook some pasta, for example macaroni. While it boils chop up half an onion (with kitchen gloves on), and fry it in hot oil. Add whatever spices you have available, fry a little more, and put in some tomato puree or concentrate (I suppose tomato juice could work as well). Stir and add cooked pasta and eat it out of the vok (not a requirement). You can add tuna or grated cheese to the recipe and it’ll be awesome.

My mom’s idea of macaroni recipe

My mom isn’t exactly famous for preparing complex and sophisticated meals, and she is SUCH an inspiration for me in this regard. Oftentimes, my and my brother’s lunch consisted of the following: cooked pasta, butter, breadcrumbs. Parenting is easy.

Tofu something recipe

In my notes for this post it says that you should sauté some tofu. I don’t know what that means, but the ‘e’ has that line above it, so it must be legit. So after you do that, add some vegetables (frozen, says the note), and add soy sauce, which I believe is the only thing you’ll be tasting in this meal.

Cauliflower puree recipe

I learned this recipe in those three weeks when I was eagerly visiting the gym. In order to cut down on carbohydrates, you need to eat more veggies to fill you up, and cauliflower puree is just perfect for that. Recipe is really, really complicated; cook cauliflower and mash it.

Filled potatoes recipe

This is where salad dressing (or a regular mayo) finally comes into play. Mix it with some canned tuna and stuff it into baked potatoes. Prior to stuffing, create a large hole in each of the potatoes using a spoon. Afterwards, put it back into the oven for a couple of minutes so it gets crispy. Spice up with pepper or chili.

Pasta salad recipe

Great as a lunch-in-the-box: hard boiled eggs, mayo, cooked pasta, seasonings and any vegetable, mix it and eat. Another plus is that it doesn’t need to be heated up if stored in the fridge. Instead of pasta, you could use rice.

Pasta is really cheap and you can add pretty much whatever you like to it- frozen peas, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, olives, broccoli, canned beans, tomatoes, capers or really anything you happen to have on hand. Dress it with mayo or oil and vinegar and whatever spices you like- curry can be really good in a mayo based pasta salad, italian seasonings are good in an oil and vinegar based one.

‘Under the bridge’ dinner recipe

Another cold meal that can be awesome when you don’t have time to cook anything; open a can of beans or lentils, rinse them up well (Really. Well.). Season with vinegar, olive oil, pepper, salt, and add some fresh onions.

 

Oriental Broccoli Salad recipe

Broccoli salad (oriental salad)

-1 pkg (12oz)of broccoli slaw (in prepared salad section of grocery store)

-4 green onions chopped

-2 packages ramen noodles crushed up

-10 oz of sliced almonds (toast at 350*F for 10 min)

Dressing

-1/2 cup oil

-several shakes soy sauce

-2 squeezes of yellow mustard

-2 caps of cider vinegar

-1/2 cup sugar

(I usually use a little less sugar and less oil)

 

$0.29 bechamel pasta sauce recipe

In all honest, I made up that $0.29, and it’s very likely that actual cost of this meal is even lower. I suppose it depends on the prices, but just check out the ingredients in this instructions: heat up milk, melt some butter in it, add some flour, salt, and pepper, and mix it into a smooth paste. See that? You could virtually borrow all of these from your neighbors – just saying. Combine this with any vegetable and/or pasta.

 

Veggie Chili recipe

Veggie Chili can be a real cheap vegetarian meal. Look at the average costs of ingredients below

  • One onion (15 cents)
  • 2 garlic cloves (10 cents)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (25 cents)
  • Can of chickpeas ($1)
  • Can of black beans ($1)
  • Can of diced tomatoes ($1)
  • Can of kidney beans ($1)
  • 3 carrots, chopped (20 cents)
  • Spices! (30 cents) Chilli powder, cumin, cayenne, coriander, tumeric… I get these at the bulk store. You can get the amount of loose spice that would fit in a store-bought spice jar for under $1.

 

Cooking with Lentils is Cheap!

Lentils. The hero of frugal vegetarians.

  • Half a diced onion
  • Couple diced celery stalks
  • Couple of large carrots sliced on the bias
  • Half a diced zucchini
  • 1/3 cup of lentils
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of bouillon (chicken, veggie, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke

Cook down the veg for like 5-10 mins in a saucepan. When they’re soft, throw the lentils and everything else in. Cover that shit, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, let it simmer til the water is absorbed.

 

Vegetarian Spicy Tortilla Soup

Best spicy tortilla soup:

  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I sometimes only use one if you don’t want tomato overload)
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • Juice from 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (The recipe calls for the whole onion but I don’t like that much. I usually just put in about 1/4 of a large onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic (I usually just buy minced garlic and put in about a tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Sauté onion and garlic with butter and olive oil in a large pot. Add rest of ingredients. Let simmer for 1 hour, occasionally stirring. Serve over tortilla chips with avocado, cheese, and cilantro. You can make this with chicken and chicken broth if you’re an omnivore, but it’s cheaper without it and still very filling. Makes 5-6 bowls.

 

Hummus is a great, cheap vegetarian option

Make a huge bowl of hummus!

  • Simple Recipe:
  • Big can of Chickpeas (precooked)
  • Tahini
  • Garlic
  • Salt or soy sauce
  • pepper
  • Cumin
  • parsley

Put all the ingriedients in a blender and add some of the .. uh broth(?) from the can if its to thick. If you want to be super frugal, buy dried chickpeas instead. Put them in water over night and then cook them for 1.5h. (change water before) Top it all of with some olive oil and spices

15 Money Saving Products That Make Awesome Gifts

15 Money Saving Products that also make awesome gifts

Spending money in order to save it doesn’t seem like a very intuitive thing to do to most of us, but there are some products you just got to have to avoid bigger expenses. I tried to collect as many as I could that still made sense and were as essential as possible. Here are my choices for great money saving products that also make awesome gifts. Not only will the money savings products save you money immediately, they will will last for a very long time.
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20+ Essential Dirt Cheap Ingredients That Go A Long Way

20+ Essential Dirt-cheap ingredients that can make a ton of different meals

Today we’re discovering the secret method for getting yourself to eat out less. It’s not that secret, really, the main idea is to have certain foods at home that enable you to cook up a delicious meal in very little time. I tried to put them in a handy list that can be easily transformed into a shopping list. Here’s our list of cheap ingredients that go a long way when you’re on a budget.

Essential Dirt Cheap Ingredients That Go A Long Way

Ready-made and processed foods

  • Soups

can easily be made into sauces – the best for this intent are mushroom, chicken, and celery.

  • Tomato sauce (jarred/canned)

even if you can’t cook anything, you can still cook a pasta with tomato sauce from a jar.

Veggies and fruits

  • Chickpeas, beans, and lentils

can be used for loads of things, like salads, soups, as a side dish, etc. They take a long time to cook, so it’s best in most cases to get canned ones.

  • Tomato puree/concentrate

if you’re out of tomato sauce, it can be used for pasta (for recipe, check out our post about weird meat-less recipes), plus it has numerous other uses.

  • Carrots(fresh)

are super, and I mean super, cheap. Stock up on them and recipes with them – my wife for example makes mean carrot soup with ginger.

  • Salad.

If you’re like me, you never have the time to wash, cut up, and prepare a salad, so I am a big fan of salad kits, but they can get a little bit expensive. I suppose you could buy plenty of salad, get it cut up and ready, and store it in the fridge.

  • Tomatoes

tend to be super-cheap, and they are also very healthy. Buy them in bulk and make pasta sauce or juice, or just cut them up fresh to make a simple salad. Tomato from the farmer’s market is much tastier than the one in supermarkets.

  • Potatoes

it’s really cheap and can be cooked, baked, fried, mashed, or mixed. The most basic recipe is to boil a few potatoes in salted water and cooking them for about 30 minutes.

  • Other frozen and canned vegetables.

Buy as needed, and stock up when it’s discounted.

Meat, fish, and alternatives

  • Tuna (pref. canned)

is great to combine with tomato sauce and pasta for a quick meal. Like other fish, it’s a great source of protein, and it offers a significant flavour.

  • Sardines (pref. canned)

Make a great snack when mixed with mustard, and can be used similarly to tuna.

  • Eggs

are dirt cheap, nutritious, and healthy. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and there are numerous ways of preparing them. They can even be frozen.

  • Cheese.

Everybody loves cheese, but it can be pricy at times. Buy it when it’s discounted, grate it, and  freeze. You’ll have cheese for the next couple of months. Isn’t that just grate?

  • Chicken

Chicken is like cheese, buy when discounted and freeze for later. Chicken is generally the cheapest of all meat. I love a good roasted chicken. You can do an oven roasted chicken with root vegetables for like $6. I buy these little 2.5lbs chickens and they are delicious (and usually about $1.50 a pound)
Tofu

is awesome if you like the taste. You can keep it covered in water in the fridge for up to a week, just make sure you change that water every day.

Starch

  • Pasta,

especially dried one is easy to prepare (10-15 minutes of cooking) and can be combined with meat, fish, vegetables, and pretty much everything else.

  • Rice

is great to be bought in bulk as it doesn’t go bad for ages. Normally, it takes some time to cook it, so if you eat a lot of it, get one of those rice cookers. Black beans and rice:

  • Cook up some instant rice (about 2 servings is perfect)
  • Toss in a can of black beans. For anything else I rinse them, but I like the bean brine for this.
  • Pour in some spicy V8
  • Add spices to make it hotter/tastier: red pepper flakes, garlic, onions (onion powder will do), your favorite hot sauce, and I usually put in some of this cajun rub from Weber. I put it on everything, it’s fantastic. Oh and salt, especially if you used low sodium beans or V8.

Feeds 2 and I can throw it together in 15 minutes.

‘Taste enhancers’ that are Cheap

  • Onions

are the core basics of many foods – from soups to pasta, you can always just fry half a sliced up onion and cook it along for better taste.

  1. Garlic

is almost the same as onions, and you can even use them together. It also has many positive health effects.

  • Soy and fish sauce.

You will need these to make anything asian. They don’t cost much and can be used for non-asian foods as well.

  • Essential seasonings

– as I had written in previous posts, simple seasoning can save the day when it comes to cooking. Even if you’re eating pasta or rice every single day, you can make it different by adding oregano, rosemary and other herbs de provence to the meal while cooking. Curry is another great example, but for another type of foods (soups, sauces).

  • Salad and barbecue sauce

can be used in things like sandwiches. If you happen to just make some plain chicken, you can add some sauce and make it into a finished meal.

So, it’s your turn. What would you add to the list?

10 no-BS Ways of Making Beer Money Online + 30 Legitimate Sites on where to get started

10 ways to make beer money online + 30 legit sites

When you’re just too busy with college or working full-time, it’s hard to get motivated to start another part-time job or to freelance in the evenings. But in some cases, you just need those couple of bucks extra to buy a new video game, beer money or to go out without feeling guilty. These online money making sites are great for people who would be watching videos and learning about different products anyways. Why not get paid to do what you are doing for free online now?

What is Beer Money?

Beer money generally refers to making some side money online, usually used to purchase beer.  There are many different sites online that let you earn small amount of money for minimal work. This page lists some of the most popular ways to earn beer money online and make some side money from online websites.

How to Make Money Online

The following sites and techniques might not make you rich (not even close), but they will provide some spending money without much effort and most importantly, they are checked and vouched for from online earners’ community. I tried to dig up the ones that pay in cash (PayPal), don’t require any special skills, and are not bid- or contest-based – so you do the work, and get the money.

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How to Throw an Awesome Party on a Budget

How to throw an awesome party on a budget

Good day everyone. So maybe you’re expected to throw a party soon – for the upcoming halloween or later on for christmas or new year’s. Let me share a piece of knowledge right away – organizing parties is a pain. And not just that, it’s super lavish. I tried to collect some of the best tips for making a party on a budget.

And as always, if you like the post, subscribe to our newsletter (see the bottom of this post)!

How to Throw an Awesome Party on a Budget

  1. First off, the party needs music. This is an easy one, you can just hook up a pair of normal speakers to a laptop and you’re good. Use that laptop to play music from Youtube, 8tracks, Spotify, Pandora, and similar services. I recommend 8tracks, which is essentially a youtube player except you let other people compile the songs for you. Super easy. The genre will largely depend on the audience, but I think you can’t go wrong with 90’s or oldies goldies.
  2. Related to the previous tip, if you don’t have a certain gear, for example good speakers, or an x-box, crockpot, enough plates, (we’ll talk about all that in a second) just borrow it. It’s best to get them from friends, but you might be able to get it at second-hand stores as well – it won’t be free though.
  3. Cheap Party Decorations -Pick a colour/theme and stick to whichever you decide: you could go ‘picnic’ with red and white checkered tablecloths from the dollarstore, white and kraft paper with an accent colour is pretty, ‘vintage tea party’ is very pretty – tea cups with your treats in it, doilies from the dollar store will add to the effect. Look around in your environment and see what you can find. Wildflowers look awesome in mason jars as well as vases – they look great in buckets, even. Think about family members and what they might have which could add to the overall look. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! :)I’m not sure how economical helium-filled balloons are where you are, but lately I’d purchased a roll of white gift-ribbon from the dollar store and hung them from the tops of door frames (they stand up better than crepe paper and create a nice curtain) and purchase 2 dozen helium balloons which I just separate to float on the ceiling, letting the ribbons dangle (you can curl them, too). Once I turn the light down a bit, they create awesome atmosphere. Throw some candles on tables (even tealights in interesting containers) and you’ve got all you need for decorations – sometimes less is more!!

 

Cheap Party Food for a Budget Party

  1. Ordering pizzas can get expensive, since most pizzas are just not free. You still need to serve food, though, and oftentimes, asking people to chip in is not an option. One thing that you can do is to ask people to bring their own food. But don’t just say that, tell them that it’s going to be a surprise party since nobody will know what exactly you’ll all be eating. You might get 20 bags of chips and 1 sandwich, but hey, it’s not a queen’s reception, right?
  2. You can do the same with alcohol. Tell guests that it’s going to be a cocktail party and have them bring different syrups and spirits. Then let them experiment with them and everyone will just have a good time.
  3. On your own, including buying munchies? Lower your costs by buying exotic stuff. Let me elaborate; some foods on, say, asian market, are very unknown to most people, so they don’t know how much they cost. You will be able to impress guests without having to fork out a lot of money. So where do you get this stuff? Try finding brick-and-mortar foreign stores in your town, bug your internet friends abroad, or simply order online.
  4. Make buffalo chicken dip in the crockpot. It’s super easy, pretty cheap (you can used canned chicken or chicken thighs) and only requires a few ingredients.
  5. Tacos, sandwiches, tortillas and similar make the best drunk food. But why make them yourself if you can have your guests make them? Just offer a few dips, veggies, cheese, nacho, guacamole, hummus, soups, ground beef, jalapeños, and other ingredients and let them fill up their tacos (*giggle*). You could do the same with baked potatoes.
  6. You could find some chicken on sale and cook and shred it up for chicken salad type of topping for crackers. The celery you put in the chicken salad is really cheap and you could just cut some stalks up for regular snackies too. Maybe throw some peanut butter on some of them.
  7. If the guests happen to be baked themselves, they might prefer sweets. Chocolate is not too cheap most of the time, but if you get a deal, make a chocolate fondue. Everyone will love it. And/or serve some cut up fruits, make a fruit salad, or fruit skewers.
  8. You can always turn the party into a pot luck and ask each of your guests to bring in a little something of their own. Then on top of whatever you’re able to afford preparing you should have more than enough to feed everyone. Plus it’s fun!
  9. Before we move on to booze, here are just a couple more ideas for dirt-cheap party foods: make arancini or fried potato balls with a dipping sauce, or grilled polenta. To lower the cost of tortillas even further, you can make your own (it’s like making pancakes).
  10. Cheap Cakes for Parties – Definitely go a boxed cake. I’m not sure if you have icing sugar at home, but you could compare pricing to see what is more economical where you live – a home made frosting here or a store bought can. If you have food colouring (and again, these are all items I have in my pantry, so what’s “cheap” for you may require an investment, and now probably isn’t the time for that), you can make a ‘piping bag’ out of a sandwich bag with the corner cut out of it, and decorate by tinting your icing to a different colour.

 

Cheap Party Drinks for a Budget Party

  1. You don’t have to add to your already huge expenses by buying soft drinks. Instead, you could offer sweetened ice tea (tea+sugar+ice=ice tea, duh), garnished or flavored water, homemade kombucha, or drink mixes like Kool Aid.
  2. My ex knows somebody who is a firm believer in grain alcohol (ethanol). He mixes it with juice just like you would do with vodka. I should probably also point out that the guy’s a scientist, which may come as a no surprise. Anyway, that’s a great frugality lesson right there, just don’t drink lab alcohol.
  3. You could make your own. Seriously, you can safely make your own beer, but it won’t save you much money. On the other side, there are other alcohols that will save you money, for example sangria – you just need to use the cheapest wine. As well as sangria, this awesome blog suggests you can make hooch out of regular juice with a little help from our close friend yeast.
  4. If you have a Costco near you, the Kirkland liquor is mass produced by big name liquor companies and comparable or better in quality than most. In some states you do not need a Costco membership to buy liquor there.If you are looking for “nice” name brands, I would personally get the following:
    • Tito’s Handmade Vodka
    • Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky
    • Tanqueray Gin
    • 1800 Silver Tequila

    If people are making mixed drinks out of those, it might be wasteful overkill. Don’t cheap out and get Burnetts/Andre/Charles Shaw. May as well get Franzia at that point. A lot of other Trader Joes wines are good though.

  5. Try to stretch all the booze you’ve got, meaning that you should offer non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic drinks with booze to mix. Another way to get waaay more drunk by drinking beer into which has been added a shot of hard liquor. Just saying.
  6. As it turns out, vodka is fun. Make a hole in a watermelon and just pour in vodka in until it’s full. Wait a couple of hours and repeat. Repeat and repeat and repeat until you can. Cut it up and offer to guests. Instant s**tfacedness. Or you could do drunken gummy bears.
  7. Drinks for in-between, DDs – iced tea, hot tea – both super economical. Look in the freezer aisle for frozen juices from concentrate if you have to – dress them up with some fruit. A go-to for me, which is also very responsible (got to make sure the drinkers are getting their ‘tweenies’) is to have a nice big jug/decanter (I have a vintage drink dispenser I received for a gift one year)full of water with lemon slices. It looks super pretty and is thoughtful, without being expensive, at all. You may be able to borrow something like this from a family member or friend. Combined with tea or iced tea – you have your bases covered.

 

Other Budget Party Tricks

Ok, a few more tips just jammed into this paragraph for the outro: get help with cleaning afterwards, preferably from the party attendees, have a party outside if indoors is not an option, always party-proof the place (like remove carpets, house plants, etc), if you’re above 12, do not choose a theme for your party – if you’re under 12, however, you should ask the guests to dress up so you spend $0 for decorations. Also, instead of lame board games you should have an xbox kinect or wii for entertainment (see tip #1).

Just have fun, survive, and remember to never offer to host a party again. Cheers! Bookmark this page and reference it next time you’re looking to throw a party on a budget!

20 Remarkable Tips For Significantly Lowering Your Bills And Renting The Right Apartment

20 Remarkable tips for lowering your bills and renting the right apartment

This is the part 2 of our ‘saving money when moving out’ series. We are listing 20 great tips for lowering your bills and choosing the right apartment for yourself. Get ready for the ultimate list of non-obvious money-saving tricks. This can help you save tons on money on stuff you are already doing and then have some money to save!

It’s time for Thrifty Moving Out series part 2 where I share load of cool tips and advice for first-time movers. The tips are broken down into 3 parts:
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22+ Insider Tips For Saving Money On Food And Buying Groceries When You Finally Move Out

22+ Insider tips for saving money on food and buying groceries when you finally move out

Moving out from your parents’ house can be quite a challenge, especially since many parents do a pretty lousy job of introducing their children to the skills they’ll be needing when they’re on their own. But fear not! It’s still perfectly doable even if you’ve been sheltered from the outside world, and even in these economical times.
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Why You Want To Freeze Everything Into Ice Cubes

Freezing almost anything into Ice Cubes

Today we’ve collected a few awesome ways you can use ice cubes. Or using the ice cube form, rather. Every Thrifter already knows that freezing leftover food can be very beneficial for our wallets, but did you ever consider freezing stuff in extra-small portions? Even if you did, this article might discover a few new uses of these tiny frozen chunks. Freezing stuff into ice cubs is easy and can help make your life easier.
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6 Essential Skills That You Must Possess For Frugal Living

6 Essential Skills that you must possess as a frugal person

Frugal living is not only about mad coupon clipping and refraining from buying almost all non-essentials. It’s a lifestyle. And as being a lifestyle it requires a specific mindset, and of course certain skills that will help you spend less money and be more self-dependent. I put together this list of skills that help me and I hope would help you as well. I excluded the obvious tips like having self-control and figuring out the basics of money-management, and tried to be as specific as possible. This six different skills will help you save money and improve yourself.
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