Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
So, who is John Chow and why are so many bloggers talking about him?
John Chow is a very successful blogger. If you have any interest in blogging, I suggest you visit John Chow Dot Com, the Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Dot Com Mogul. His blog will teach you a lot about blogging and about how to make money online.
John is giving free links to his website if you write a review of his blog. If you are new to blogging you may not realize the importance of an offer like this. Or perhaps if you are new to blogging you are only too aware of the importance of an offer like this! The success of your blog will be determined by traffic. The more traffic you get, the more successful your blog will be. John Chow Dot Com is a blog that gets a lot of traffic. If he links to your blog you stand a good chance of increasing your own traffic. Check out his review rules and get started on your review now!
Getting the free link is not the only reason to visit John Chow Dot Com. John's blog is filled with helpful suggestions and savvy advice. And you can always count on John to present the information in a straightforward way along with a bit of humor.
Check out John Chow Dot Com today. You've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Finally got offers on three articles I submitted to Associated Content. Earned: $20.13
Cash Crate credited a small amount from referral income: $ .42
Earned another $ .10 from Google Adsense today.
The kids have been wanting to go out for ice cream so instead, I picked up all the fixin's for "make your own sundae" at the grocery store. Ice cream parlor price would have been (for 6 people), about $24. Spend $9 at the grocery store and will have enough for a couple of nights. Saved: $15
Total Saved: $15
Total Earned: $20.65
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Today I created a Squidoo Lens to try to promote this blog. (A Squidoo Lens is like a one page website. You can check it out here.) It is also possible to earn a little income from ads, etc. on that page. We'll see . . .
Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $3
Sunday, June 24, 2007
The trick is to choose the frugal ideas that work for you. If a frugal activity or sacrifice makes you feel deprived, it won't work. It's like being on a diet. Deprivation will eventually lead to indulgence, and often over indulgence. That can sink your diet and your budget.
Being frugal is different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. But don't be too quick to reject a frugal idea before trying it. If you keep doing things the same way you always have, you'll keep getting the same results you always have.
Here are a couple of frugal ideas to get you started. (I will continue this list with weekly updates, so that is why this article is labeled Part I of Frugal Ideas.)
1. Use Less Paper/Disposable Products
Use a real cup instead of a paper cup, a real plate instead of a paper plate, a dish cloth instead of a paper towel, a handkerchief instead of a tissue, a cloth diaper instead of a disposable diaper, a washcloth instead of a baby wipe, a cloth napkin instead of a paper napkin, a dust rag instead of a disposable duster.
It seems that every month some new disposable products are introduced into the market. These products are very convenient but also very expensive. Even if you purchase them on sale, they cost you significantly more than their non disposable counterpart.
Take paper towels, for example. If you buy paper towels on sale for $ .50 a roll and you use one roll a day (which is easy to do!), you would be spending $3.50 a week, and over $14 a month just on this expense. Add that to all the other types of paper and disposable products you might use and that becomes a significant monthly expense.
Use less paper/disposable products or switch to all non disposable products and save big! (And you'll be helping the environment as well!)
2. Cook From Scratch
Cooking from scratch instead of buying convenience foods can save you a lot of money.
Take rice, for example. I grew up having Minute Rice so when I began to cook I also used Minute Rice.
It didn't seem too expensive to me at about $1.99 for a box that would last for a couple of meals. Then I found out how inexpensive white rice actually is. You can buy a 10 pound bag of white rice for $3.99 (or less) and it will last for several months!
So, let's compare. For my family of five, the minute rice works out to cost $ .66 per meal. (One box will serve 3 meals. $1.99 divided by 3 = $ .66 per meal.)
The regular white rice works out to cost $ .20 per meal. (A 10 pound bag will serve about 20 meals for my family. $3.99 divided by 20 = $ .20 per meal)
So the Minute Rice costs more than 200% more than the regular white rice. Yes, it cooks in five minutes opposed to 20 minutes but is that convenience worth a 200% increase in price?
You will find similar savings by cooking most items from scratch.
Returned two small items. Couldn't find receipt but was given a cash refund anyway! (Very rare. Must be because it was under $10.00). Earned: $6.25
Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $34.25
** This brings my total money earned for the month to $991.25. So I only have to earn $8.75 to bring this month's total to $1,000!! And all this money is basically extra money that was not anticipated or budgeted for, so the majority of it can go straight to the debt snowball. Yeay!!
Signed up with the No Credit Needed Network (see article with same title).
Read a lot about blogging. There is so much to learn!
Did a couple of surveys for Cash Crate. Also got credit for several referral bonuses. Earned:$12
Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $12
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Okay. I admit it. My name is Jennifer and I am a "return" addict.
It's true. I like to return things. I know the return policy of almost every store. I also like to save money. Combine these two things and you get a "return" addict.
Oh, don't worry. It's not just the Christmas gift you gave me last year (though I might have returned that too!). It is stuff that I have purchased myself as well. I am an equal opportunity returner.
My philosophy is that if I wouldn't go out and purchase that item today, I should return it. I realize this is a minority opinion. However, it is a great way to save money. It is also very similar to advice I often hear Dave Ramsey give on his radio show. (There's even a technical name for it that I can't for the life of me remember right now.) For Dave it is usually referring to advice about whether or not to sell a house. For example, someone inherited a house and they don't want to live there but they are considering renting it out and they ask Dave for his opinion. Dave always asks, if you hadn't inherited this house would you go out and purchase it to become a landlord? The caller invariably answers "no" and Dave tells them to sell the house.
See? My "returning" addiction is sanctioned by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host!
Okay. Not exactly. But the same principle applies.
Before you can save money by returning things, you will first need to learn the return policy of the stores in your area. Most stores have a return policy that allows you to return any item for a full refund within 30 to 90 days of your original purchase. A few stores have a return policy that will allow you to return for up to six months and a few will only allow you to return for up to two weeks. But even if you have an item that is past the return policy time frame, you might still get lucky. It all depends on the cashier you get. It is worth giving it a try if it will save money!
The Top 3 Reasons You Should Return Something This Week:
1. You can get cash back or a store credit.
How's that for earning easy money? If it was a gift or you can't find the receipt, bring it back anyway and you can usually get a store credit.
2. Less clutter in your house.
If you don't like it and you don't use it, it's clutter. Get rid of it! (And the price you will get for returning it will definitely be MUCH higher than what you will get when you sell it at a garage sale or on ebay next year!)
3. You can save money by getting the sale price on EVERY purchase. (Also known as You can get MORE cash back.)
How can returning things do this?
Well, most people know that if an item they purchased goes on sale they can bring their receipt back to the store (usually within 2 weeks) for a price adjustment.
What many people don't realize is that you can almost ALWAYS get the sale price on ANY item no matter how long ago you purchased the item.
"How?" you ask? Let me teach you how . . .
Say you bought your daughter a pair of new sneakers last month for $60. Then the next time you go to the store you see that those same sneakers are now on clearance for 50% off. There's $30 bucks you wasted, you think to yourself. You know you can't get a price adjustment because you bought them two months ago and you can only get the price adjustment within two weeks. And you probably think that you can't return the sneakers because your daughter has been wearing them for two months and they are filthy. You probably didn't think of this next option.
Buy the exact same sneakers in the exact same size at the exact same store - for the new sale price. Then, a week later, go back to the store with the new sneakers and the receipt for the first sneakers you bought for $60. So, you return the new sneakers with the old receipt. You just got the sale price! Do this for all of your purchases and you will really save big!
It is very important that you purchase the exact same product, however, or it won't work. Most receipts track the exact size and color, etc. of the product you bought.
This method works really great after Christmas when just about everything you paid a fortune for a month ago, is now on sale for dirt cheap.
Now do you see why I'm a "Return" addict?
This is a fun site that anyone can join. And you can have a pie chart created for you that shows your total debt and how much of it you have paid off so far. You can visit periodically and make updates to your chart as you make progress. You can also watch the progress of the other members.
And if you are lucky enough to be currently working on building your savings, you can also have a pie chart created for that.
Check it out!
Okay, I'm near the bottom of the list at number 62, and my projected $17,045 annual income is a far cry from Kevin Ham's $300 million dollar empire (at number one with many sites such as WeddingShoes.com). But who knows, my placement could go up next month!
Definitely check out this list and see some of the "who's who" in the on line world!
Friday, June 22, 2007
I really love this debt snowball calculator as it charts out all of your payments, including interest, and shows you exactly when you will have your debts paid off. It is fun to play with the payment amounts and see how a little extra money can move your pay off date up by quite a bit.
There are also several other financial calculators on this site that could be helpful.
If you are fortunate enough (or smart enough!) to not be in debt, or you just haven't heard of a Debt Snowball, this is what it is. It is when you make a list of all of your debts and their minimum payments in order from the smallest debt to the largest debt. Add up all of the minimum payments. You will pay at least this amount towards your debts even as some get paid off. So, you pay the minimum on all of your debts except the smallest one. This one you pay the minimum amount plus any extra money you can get your hands on. You continue in this manner until this debt is paid off. Then you take focus on the next smallest debt taking the amount you were paying on the last debt and adding it to the minimum payment for this debt, along with any other money you can get your hands on. As each debt is paid off and you add the payment you were paying on that one to the next one, your snowball grows. After a while you are hitting your largest debts with very large payments and thus paying them off very quickly.
Submitted another article to Associated Content today. Now waiting for payment offers for 3 articles.
Did a few more surveys at Cash Crate. Only one confirmed so far - for $1.
Tried to sign up for a mystery shopping assignment with National Shopping Service, but I had done this shop within the last 3 months so they said I needed to wait to repeat it.
Signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate.
Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $1 (whoo-hoo! lol)
My earnings from AdSense went up $ .50 - woohoo! lol
Also, for the first time, one of the articles I submitted to Associated Content was declined. The editor said they have too many articles on that topic (doing a budget). Oh well. So I submitted two more articles. Will wait for a payment offer.
I did a good frugal grocery shopping today. Got the kids free slices of pizza with coupons they got from the dentist. Got the pizza to go and brought drinks from home so the kids had a fun lunch and it didn't cost me a dime! (Saved $10)
Today I also took a close look at our budget and reviewed our upcoming incoming and expenses with my husband. His commissions from work have been phenomenal and we have been very careful with our spending. When I rechecked our debt balances and our debt snowball I was thrilled to learn that by next summer we will have everything paid off except our HELOQ. It will take another 2 years to pay off the HELOQ, so 3 years total until we will be debt free except for the house! Yeay! This is a lot better than the 5 1/2 years it originally looked like it would take us. And who knows, if my extra income keeps up we could finish even sooner. Then I got a little carried away and did a Debt Snowball to see how fast we could pay off our mortgage if we added our current $1,100 debt payments toward the mortgage payment. I was so excited to see that we could have the house paid off in 7 years!! Then I remembered we need to save our Fully Funded Emergency Fund (6 months of living expenses). This will be about $30,000 so it will take a while. But I am feeling very encouraged today!
Total Saved: $10
Total Earned: $7
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I recently read The Millionaire Next Door. It was an excellent book and I highly recommend it. It was written by two men who interviewed hundreds of millionaires. The book highlights their findings about how these individuals were able to become millionaires. The most interesting fact, in my opinion, is that income was not the key factor in how the millionaires became rich. In fact, many of the millionaires had very average salaries. The key factor was that they were great savers. They spent less than they earned. They did not live extravagant lifestyles. They were, in fact, frugal! So much so that they often couldn't get any of them to come to the interviews unless they offered them payment. And, after trial and error, they found that when the millionaires came for the interviews, they were not comfortable with fancy decor and caviar. They were basically plain folks with simple tastes. Most drove older cars.
I found this very eye-opening! My husband earns an income that is well above average, yet we still have managed to live above our means for years! I figure that if we can finally learn to "act our wage" as Dave Ramsey would say, we will be on our way to financial peace.
Another interesting tidbit I remember from the book is about your net worth. (Your net worth is your Total Assets minus Total Debts.) To judge how you are doing financially for your age and income, follow this formula:
(Your Age) x (Your Annual Income) divided by (10) = Average Net Worth
According to The Millionaire Next Door, if your net worth is higher than this number you are doing better than average. If it is lower than this number, you are below average. (Hint: all of the millionaires were substantially above average!)
Anyway, I guess it's true that it's not what you make, it's what you keep that matters!
What do you think? Comments welcome!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Had a busy day and wanted to get take out for dinner but cooked on the grill instead. Saved: $35
Total Saved: $51
Total Earned: $0
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Blue is the aroma of homemade blueberry pie.
And the wide open sky.
Blue is the Atlantic Ocean just waiting for someone to jump in.
And a small child being punished.
Blue is the feeling of jeans swaying on your legs.
And an aware blue heron guarding her nest.
Blue is cerulean colored Pluto begging to be a planet,
And Neptune laughing in his face.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Submitted an article to Associated Content. Will wait for payment offer.
Faxed 2 reimbursement requests to health insurance company to get reimbursed for contact lenses. Earned: $200.
Avoided getting coffee while out doing errands this morning. Made some later at home. Saved: $1.76.
Total Saved: $1.76
Total Earned: $213.21
The first step is to figure out how much your lifestyle is costing you. No need to get complicated here. Just grab a pad of paper and pen and make a list of all of your monthly expenses. List the usual expenses like housing (rent or mortgage), electric, oil, car payment, car insurance, life insurance, telephone, cell phones, cable, internet, home equity loans, and credit cards. But don’t forget all those other expenses like groceries, cell phones, hair cuts, lawn care, gifts, and kid’s activities (like dance, soccer, camps, etc.). Add them all together to come up with your total monthly expenses.
Next list your monthly net income (your take home pay). Don’t forget to include any sporadic income like medical reimbursements, alimony, child support, investment income, etc. Add all streams of income together to get your total net monthly income.
Now comes the important step. Subtract your total monthly expenses from your total monthly income. Hopefully you’ll have some money leftover. If you come up short, don’t despair. That means you need to either lower your expenses or increase your income, or both. Start with a review of your expenses. Are there expenses you could decrease, like your grocery bill? Are there expenses you could eliminate, like your cell phone or cable? Keep cutting until you can at least lower your expenses to match your income. If no matter how much you slash your expenses you can not get them down to your income, you’ll have to take drastic measures. Perhaps it’s time to downgrade in house and/or car. Perhaps you need to consider the dreaded part time job. Or, it’s time to consider looking for a higher paying job. Whatever you decide, getting your expenses lower than your income, or your income higher than your expenses, is a must.
When your expenses are less than your income, you must decide what you are going to do with the surplus funds. If you don’t decide what you will do with these funds in advance, they will somehow magically disappear. That’s the funny thing about money, if you don’t tell it what to do, somehow it finds a way to leave. The first thing to consider with excess funds is debt. If you have any debts you ought to make a plan to pay them off. One of the keys to financial success is earning interest, not paying interest. So make a decision not to borrow any more money for any reason. Then, set aside $1,000 as a baby emergency fund. This small stash will make it possible for you to resist borrowing money (i.e. credit cards) for unexpected expenses while you are paying down your debts. After you have the $1,000 set aside, it is time to get serious about paying off your debts. Make a list of all of your debts. Put them in order from smallest to largest, and make minimum payments on all the debts except the smallest one. This is often referred to as a “debt snowball”. Concentrate on paying as much as you can toward that smallest debt until it is gone. Once that one has been paid off, focus on the next smallest debt on your list. Continue this way until all of your debts are paid off.
Once you have a working budget in place and have paid off all of your debts, you will truly be in control of your finances. And once that happens, the sky’s the limit!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I got my daughter a slice of pizza with a coupon for a free slice. We got it to go and brought drinks from home. (I waited to eat until we got home.) Total savings as compared to lunch for 2: $10
Bought a birthday gift for my daughter to give at an upcoming birthday party. Had a coupon for $10 off any purchase. So I paid only $5 for a $15 gift, and the gift wrapping is free at this store. Total Saved: $10
Bought a birthday gift for my niece with a $10 off purchase coupon. Total Saved: $10.
Bought a baby gift for my niece's son. Used a store credit I had toward the purchase. Total Saved: $6.
Mailed 2 items I sold on ebay. Shipping was less than my estimate. Earned: $7
Total Saved: $26
Total Earned: $7
Monday, June 11, 2007
I also got some good deals at Walgreens - 15 packs of Poland Spring - 2/$5 (savings of $1.50 each x 2 - $3), kotex pads 2/$10 and get $10 coupon for free merchandise at your next purchase (savings of $10), diet coke - 4/$12 and get a $5 rebate (savings of $5), developed 12 rolls of film at the sale price of $2.99 a roll (savings of $3 per roll - $36).
Total Saved: $54
Total Earned: $0
Friday, June 8, 2007
Got paid $6.02 for two articles I wrote. The lowest I've been offered so far, but better than nothing!
Total Saved: $8
Total Earned: $6.02
Received check from 2 graduation bracelets that I made that were sold in a local store: $52
Met friends for dinner and did not join them in ordering a frozen drink, had a soda instead, saving $8.50.
Total Saved: $8.50
Total Earned: $119.00
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Now, interest rates are not the highest in recent history, but don't let that stop you. There are a few places where you can still earn almost 5%. That's not bad. Considering you don't have to actually do anything, except deposit the funds, to earn the money. If you are new to this, as I was, I will explain that an account that earns 5% interest generally means that over a period of one year, you're money will earn 5% interest. So, if you deposit $1,000 and leave it there, at the end of the year you will have $1,050. (50 being 5% of 1,000). In reality, it is even a little better than this because the interest is usually compounded monthly, meaning that they credit your account with 1/12th of the 5% every month. So, not to get into the detailed math, but after the first month the bank would credit your account with some of the interest, let's say $4 to make it easy. So at the end of month 1 you would have $1,004. The next month you would earn another 1/12th of 5% of $1,004, instead of $1,000. This is the compounding part of the compound interest. So, at the end of the year, if you don't touch the money, you will actually earn more than 5% of $1,000.
I know a few banks are offering interest rates around 5%. I am currently using EmigrantDirect.com. I deposited $1,000 in February and then another $1,000 in April and then another $4,000 in May. So far I have earned $18.00 in interest. I already needed to take out the $4,000, but earning $18 in a few months for doing nothing is not that bad. I take a lot of on line surveys to make $18. Earning it for just keeping my money in an account is a no brainer.
- Did full grocery shopping at Market Basket (saved over other higher priced grocery stores, but
this is a given savings for me so only items bought at lower than my usual price will be recorded)
- Boston Coffee Cake - on sale for $3.99 (usually $4.99), so I bought 3 for freezer - Savings: $3
- Frozen vegetables - on sale for $.69lb, (usually $.89lb), so I bought 16 - Savings: $3.20
- Cash Crate - Earned: $4 (from referrals)
- Associated Content: $.21 (from page views/performance bonus)
- Ebay: $10.50 (from sale of old Heelys)
Total Saved: $6.20
Monday, June 4, 2007
- Did a "mystery shop" at Modells sporting goods: earned $5 plus $7.50 in free merchandise
- Clipped coupons
- Checked the store circulars for sales
- Bought sale and low priced items from:
- Walmart: 15 cans of Hunts Spaghetti Sauce for $ .94 each, Rebate for $10, Final cost for each can of Sauce: $ .27, Total Savings: $10.00
- Dollar Tree: 6 packages of Napkins (250) - $1 ea., 2 bottles of Liquid Plumber - $1 ea.
- CVS: 6 packages of Goldfish crackers - $1 ea./$ .50 savings each, 2 packages of Wheat
Wheat Thins - $1.50 ea./$1 savings each
- Walgreens: 15 rolls of film developed - $2.99 ea./ $4 savings each
- Shaws: 2 boxes popsicles - $2 ea./$ .99 savings ea., 6 cans chopped green chiles - $1 ea./
$1.50 savings each
Total Earned: $5.00 (plus $7.50 in free merchandise)
Total Saved: $87