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Keep Money in Your Travel Budget by Saving at the Airport

Most of us set a budget before we head out on vacation. We plan for a place to stay, food, plane tickets, and entertainment. What many of us forget to budget for is airport expenses. When you have a quick flight with no layover this might not be an issue, but if you’re flying far away your bound to get stuck in hustle and bustle of airport life. I think the endless boredom is what makes people want to spend money. Either that or you have security issues and they make you throw away “prohibited items”. Here are a few tips that will help you out in the airport.

1)   Bring empty water bottles- If you’re spending all day traveling, you’re bound to get thirsty. It’s tempting to hit up Starbucks or any other miscellaneous shop that will meet your needs. However, if you didn’t budget for that expense, you should save your money for your destination. If you have empty water bottles you can get them through security and fill them up on the other side. I’d say that on this trip (did I mention I’m on vacation?) it has easily saved us $30 (because we’ve had such long layovers).

2) Bring snacks with you- Just like being thirsty, you’re probably going to get hungry at the airport. Once they have you trapped in the terminal, the food prices go up tremendously! There are few rules against taking snack into the airport (Here is a list of prohibited items). On our trip we have easily saved money (probably $40) by eating these snacks for meals.

3) Put your toiletries in a 1 quart zip lock bag- This is a basic rule that most frequent fliers know by heart, but if you’re not a frequent flier, it can be easily forgotten. These items are three times more expensive at the airport then they would be at a normal store! I did forget the bag, and I had to buy all new stuff when I landed. Even if you remember your zip lock you could bring extras incase whomever you’re traveling with forgets!

If you do these three things it will definitely help your travel budget. You’ll still be bored, but saving money always feels good. Do you know of any other airport tricks to help save money?

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Helpful Chart for Out-of-Season Shopping

Buying anything out of season is a trick budget friendly people have been using forever. I’ll have to admit that I’m terrible at doing this. It’s one of those things that always sounds good to do, but ends up being forgotten about. Then, once the item is needed, I remember I should have bought it 6 months ago. Luckily I needed a water resistant jacket for my upcoming trip to Ireland (yes it’s supposed to rain the whole time we are there) which enabled me to see other great deals on jackets. We are talking +80% off kind of deals, or the clearance on top of clearance items. I kept thinking, “If only there was a way for me to remember when the best time is to buy certain things so I can get these types of bargains all the time.”

I searched the internet, and I found lifehacker.com. They compiled charts that list which months are best to buy different items. For example, they say that January is the best time to buy sporting goods, furniture, linens, carpeting, and digital cameras. Now I’m sure it’s different everywhere, but it can give you an idea of when to really search hard for that item you want to buy. I know that I’m going to go through my shopping list and set a reminder on my phone. That way I’ll remember next January that I need to buy a new tent! Does anyone have any other advice for out of season shopping?

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Will Complaining Save You Money?

From a consumer’s standpoint I think that companies have some customer service practices backwards. We all like to save money, and I think that by being a loyal customer we should get a price break. Unfortunately, I see the opposite occurring all the time. People that are unhappy with a company’s performance/product get a special deal while their customers that are loyal get nothing. From a business’s point-of-view it makes sense. You want to keep your customers so why not give the angry ones a price break to help the odds that they’ll do business with you again. Before I go into how I think the system should work I’ll give you a few examples of the backwardness I’ve seen:

 1) Freecreditreport.com- I wrote about them a few months ago, and I mentioned that it really isn’t free at all! When I called to cancel my subscription the automated response offered me 6 months at 50% off (or something close to that). So if you never tried to cancel your account you wouldn’t know about the money you could save.

2) Xo Chai chocolates- I went on a tour of their factory not too long ago. The product they sell “healthy chocolate” was great. The thing I didn’t understand is I was told that if a customer tries to cancel their order they are offered a better deal. If you were setup to receive one box of chocolate a month they would offer you three boxes for the price of two. A decent discount, but one only a complaining customer would receive.

What I’m getting from all of this is that I should be a cranky, complainer in the hopes getting a better deal (and I hate that). I worked in the restaurant business for 10 years, and there is nothing worse than having to deal with an upset customer. The way these companies are doing business rewards unfavorable behavior. I could say, “In order to save money complain to every business you use and see what happens.” Honestly, you probably would see dramatic savings (and some people definitely do this). Instead I think companies should rewards people through the use a loyalty program in which repeat business leads to lower prices. Many companies have set up their organization to run like this, but we need all of them to. Consumers will always expect freebees when they feel like they were wronged, but let’s help loyal customers save money too. Have any of you saved money by complaining, and do you think it’s OK that companies only give discounts to complainers?

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Student/Military/Government Discount Lists- Help Your Budget

 

I’m getting ready to go on vacation next week (Ireland here I come). This means that I’m looking for ways I can save money. After looking online, I’ve found some helpful websites that list locations that give great student, military, and civilian government employee discounts. It’s important to note that most of these places don’t advertise these discounts, but if you ask for them you’ll be getting a fair reduction in price.

Student discounts:

I love getting student discounts. I’ve always used my student ID to get a free drink at Qdoba Mexican Grill and a reduced rate at the movie theater. Once I started to do more research I realized most places give student discounts. I never asked, so they never gave them to me. If you visit GiftCardGranny.com  you’ll find 81 places that offer price reductions for students. They have everything from software and insurance to food and retail.

Military Discounts:

Military members definitely get the best discounts. A co-worker of mine didn’t have to pay taxes on anything while her husband was deployed. The best part about military discounts is you don’t have to be an active member to get most of these. They are open to family members and retirees. If you visit MilitaryConnection.com you’ll find a list of over 100 different military discounts. This list, like the student discount, has a variety of industries/stores.

Civilian Government Employee Discounts:

A lot of government employees were military personal at one point or another. These people get all the military discounts, but what about people like me that work for the government but were never part of anything like that? Well don’t worry; there are some discounts for us too. I will say that I couldn’t find a huge list like the ones above, but the discounts are out there. If you go to Fedsmith.com you’ll find some companies that offer discounts to civilian government employees. If you aren’t sure if you can get one or not just ask (like I mentioned above they aren’t going to advertise it). I do know that a lot of hotels offer “discounts”, but it’s important to make sure you’re actually getting a better rate. I would recommend finding out what the normal rate is before asking about the discount. You don’t want a situation where it would have been $100/night, but with the special government discount it’s now $150/night.

Senior Discounts:

I seems like everywhere gives a senior discount! Enough said…

Hopefully some of you can use these lists to help your budget. I know I plan on using them (not the senior discount)! I don’t think I need to mention that to get most of these discounts you need a valid ID card. Do you know of any other ID cards that can get us a great discount?

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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7 Safety Tips for People That Sell Things on Craigslist

We finally did it! We sold that old desk that’s been taking up way too much space in our kitchen. We decided to sell it on Craiglist.com because we knew it would be quick and easy. Luckily everything went well, and we added money to our budget. I will admit that I do have mixed feelings about using Craigslist to sell items (especially when they are big). The family that bought our desk was really nice. They even brought their two little girls with them to pick it up, but while we were waiting for them to come I couldn’t help but feel like doing business through Craigslist can be dangerous. I was wondering if we were inviting criminals into our home. I’ve heard stories of people getting robbed, even killed, by Craigslist bandits. While I was sitting there worrying about the people coming to buy our desk I developed a list of things I wish I had done to protect my family from a potentially bad Craigslist experience (better late than never!). If I could re-do it, these would be the precautions I would have taken:

1)      Don’t give the potential buyers information on when you WON’T be home. While talking to the potential buyers on the phone I said, “I won’t be home until 5.” At this point I had already given them my address. If they wanted to rob me they would have known I wasn’t there. I should have said, “I’ll be working on a project at home until 5 so feel free to stop by any time after that.” 

2)      Never hand over your product without being paid first. I was surprised because the family that bought our desk wanted to pay for it that day and pick it up the next day. They were worried about us selling the desk to someone else (apparently they thought it was a very sought after desk!), but I would never recommend trusting someone with things like that. Make it easy and do the trade all at once.

3)      Put the item for sale in front of your house and lock the door behind you. Sometimes the product being sold will be too big to do this, but I don’t like strangers in my home.

4)      Do the sale in a public place if possible. I wasn’t going to haul the desk to Starbucks, but if it was something like selling a movie I would have preferred to meet somewhere public.

5)      Have someone keep any eye out. This way they can call the cops if something goes wrong. Also, they can take down the license plate number of the vehicle the buyers arrived in. The more information they get the better.

6)      Let the buyer know the precautions you’re taking. An honest person will understand the situation, and a thief will probably decide they don’t want to mess with you.

7)      Talk to them on the phone instead of just text messaging. I feel a lot better after hearing someone’s voice rather than just getting a text message. After talking to someone on the phone it will be easier to follow your instincts. If things don’t feel right don’t be afraid to cancel the transaction.

We all like making a little extra cash by selling things we don’t need anymore. All we need to do is take a second to think about our situation to make it safer. I know from now on I’ll be dealing with people through Craigslist a lot differently. Do any of you have more advice for people selling things on Craigslist?

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Will Buying An E-Reader Save You Money?

Well it finally happened; I caved in and bought a Nook. I’ve wanted an e-reader for quite some time, and so far I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I told myself that if I was going to indulge in buying a Nook I needed to get the cheapest version. They have flashy ones, but realistically no one really needs those ones (I’m not saying they aren’t nice to have). I held to my guns and bought the Nook Simple Touch. Before I bought it I had some ideas about how having an e-reader would save me money in the long run. My initial thoughts were I would save on gas, on furniture, and on the books themselves. Not to mention they are easy to carry around.

If you’re planning on buying an e-reader (and are late to the game like I was) here is how it will most likely add value to your life:

1)      You no longer need to drive to the book store (Save money on gas).

2)      You won’t need to buy anymore book shelves (Save money on furniture).

3)      You won’t get stuck having to buy an expensive book that only comes in hardback (Save money on books).

4)      You won’t have to lug books around with you. This is especially convenient for traveling.

After giving the points above some more thought I realized that there is a chance that anyone that buys an e-reader could end up spending more money on books rather than saving. If any of you are like me you’ll read a good book within a week. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to read so we might take a break, maybe a few weeks or months where we don’t read at all. Then we find another good book/series and start the cycle all over again.  With the convenience of an e-reader we could end up reading even more (buying more books). Any money we would have saved on 1-3 will be diminished. There goes the whole theory on saving money by buying an e-reader, but all isn’t lost. We will still save time, and sometimes I think time is more valuable than money anyways. The days of browsing the bookstore, waiting for help, sitting in traffic, standing in line, putting together a cheap Wal-Mart bookshelf are over. While the people that don’t have an e-reader are doing those things we’ll be reading our books.

Has buying an e-reader saved you time/money?

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Get That Job- A Fun/Creative Interviewing Tool

I’ve been in school for a long time, and out of everything I’ve learned it always amazes me the things I hang onto and the things I forget. Most classes have a dry, boring side to them. You go through the textbook or have to deal with a lecture that really makes you believe in death by Power Point (That’s what they should use in Guantanamo Bay). Generally I don’t retain that information for very long, but the things I do hold onto are the stories. Give me some interesting real life examples and I’ll remember them forever. I wanted to share a trick with you that my supply chain management teacher shared with us on the interviewing process.

Most of us have gone through the interview process more times then we’d like to admit. I know that every interview I’ve gone through there has been at least one question that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. We all know that if we say “I don’t know” it might make us look bad. Instead we either sit there in awkward silence trying to think of THE answer that tops all other answers (which usually doesn’t happen) or we blabber something out hoping it makes sense (it typically doesn’t). So what should an interviewee do to hedge their bet against this embarrassing position? All we have to say is,

“I’m not sure how to answer that, but what I can tell you is that I’m the kind of person that does the dishes when we go camping.”

Now, when I first heard this I thought it was a joke, but the more I thought about it I decided it’s a genius idea. No one likes doing the dishes when their camping (not counting a deluxe RV/Cabin). The water is usually a pain to use, and there are bugs everywhere. You have to worry about how you dispose of everything because you don’t want critters attacking you in the middle of the night, and usually there are more exciting things you could be doing. Doing the dishes while camping shows that you’re a team player, and it also shows no job is below you. Not to mention it’s kind of funny and memorable. If you explain it to an interviewer the way I explained it to you it should be smooth sailing from there on out.

Keep in mind that that we never really know when we’ll be interviewed again. Economies are constantly changing, and a key part of keeping your finances in order is to have a job. What do you think of the advice I was given? He swears it’s been the ace up his sleeve for years. Do you have any other creative interviewing advice?

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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