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Tag Archives: save money

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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Procrastinators Never Prosper- Plan Ahead to Save Money

I’m back from my blogging vacation (not that I consider studying for finals a vacation), and I’m ready to help you save money. I wanted to discuss something that I know a lot about. I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, and I kept telling myself, “I’ll just think of something tomorrow”. Tomorrow would come, just like it always does, but I’d neglect to think of a tropic. After a week of this I noticed that I, like many others, procrastinate all the time. A lot of people just accept that that’s the way they are and don’t give it a second thought. We’ve all heard someone say, “I’ll do that later. I work better under pressure!” In some circumstances that can work, but procrastination doesn’t work well with keeping your personal finances in order.

There is one main reason that procrastination equals financial disaster and that reason is things rarely work out how we expect them to. We constantly change our minds based on how we feel at that moment, and there are always problems we need to address that we weren’t expecting. Here are a few examples from my life where I wish I wouldn’t have procrastinated.

1) Refilling My Prescriptions: As some of you may know, I’m a diabetic. This means that I frequently visit the pharmacy. I used to wait until I was completely out of insulin to go get my refill (it isn’t rocket science). The last time I procrastinated on this issue was when I went into the pharmacy and they informed me that I had issues with my insurance, and in order for me to get a refill I had pay full price (which was $180 for a week and a half). The woman working there said, “Just wait a few days and we can get this straightened out. Then you won’t have to cough up that much money.” Apparently my insurance had just lapsed and it was time for me to pay for it again. After I took care of that I could get my insulin for $20. Needless to say I couldn’t wait a few days, and I had to pay full price. I learned that lesson the hard way.

2) Cooking Dinner: In my household I’m usually the one that does the cooking. On nights that I don’t particularly feel like cooking I’ll push it off until later. I generally do believe that I’ll get around to making something we already have; unfortunately, most of the time my mood changes and we end up eating out instead. My $10 home cooked dinner turns into a $20 dining experience. What a waste of money.

3) Buying Books For My Classes: Every semester I have to buy books for school, and every semester they get more and more expensive. I used to wait until I actually needed to use a book for an assignment before I’d buy it. By doing that I needed the book ASAP so I couldn’t look for a cheap one online. Also, all the used books (which are way cheaper) were gone from the bookstore. This meant that I got stuck paying for a brand new book. If I would have thought ahead I could have saved money. Instead I chose procrastination.

I think that putting stuff off that we don’t want to do is normal, but at some point you just have to suck it up and do it. When I think back to the actions that procrastinating allowed me to do, they generally didn’t benefit me more than the money would have. I wish everything always turned out the way I expected it to, but unfortunately it usually doesn’t. That is why procrastinating and having healthy finances don’t mix. Have any of you had experiences like these?

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Think You Know the Cheapest Grocery Store- Think Again

There are certain things in life I just assume: the sky is blue, Grandma’s food is safe to eat, and Wal-Mart is the cheapest place to buy groceries. Last week my assumptions have been shaken to the core. No, my grandmother didn’t poison me, and the sky didn’t turn neon green; I found out that Wal-Mart might not have the lowest prices when it comes to groceries! All these year of thinking I’m saving money could be lies. A group in my supply chain management class did a study on pricing and grocery stores (only in Reno). As you would expect, most of the people in my class (including me) assumed Wal-Mart would be the cheapest. Once their presentation was over they did the big reveal, and their findings suggested that Safeway was the cheapest grocery store in our area. Some of the stores they compared were: Riley’s, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, and a local Co-Op. They got their results by making a large shopping list and going around to each of the stores to figure out how much money the groceries would cost when buying comparable items.

My first instinct was that they’re full of it. I’ve shopped at Safeway and Wal-Mart, and I truly believed Wal-Mart was cheaper (which is why most poor college kinds shop at Wal-Mart). I could see a lot of room for error in their calculations. I had no idea if the brands they bought were the same ones that I usually get. I brushed it off. They were wrong. The next class period I overheard everyone talking, and apparently an article came out in some big newspaper that reinforces their findings: Wal-Mart isn’t the cheapest grocery store. I’ve looked everywhere, but I can’t find the article (if you have seen this article please let me know where it is). I’m choosing to believe my classmates, because I doubt they plotted against me to change where I buy my groceries. I’m wondering to myself, how can this be? Have I been brain-washed by Wal-Mart? Please tell me I’m not putting up with their terrible crowds and lighting for nothing! Main goal has been to save money by finding the cheapest groceries, and I might have failed! 

I’ll probably continue to shop at Wal-Mart because I swear it’s cheaper, but there must be some truth to their findings. Maybe it’s time for me to do some research of my own (I do need to go grocery shopping today). I may have been making a huge personal finance mistake by assuming that Wal-Mart’s atmosphere is terrible so their prices must be the lowest. Have you done your research on where to buy your groceries? What did you find?

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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