| 2006 Archives
| 2005 Archives
Saving Monday: Home Purchase 43. You can often negotiate
a lower sale price by employing a buyer broker who works
for you, not the seller. If the buyer broker or the
broker's firm also lists properties, there may be a
conflict of interest, so ask them to tell you if they
are showing you a property that they have listed. 44.
Do not purchase any house until it has been examined
by a home inspector that you selected.
a Place to Live 45. Do not limit your rental housing
search to classified ads or referrals from friends and
acquaintances. Select buildings where you would like
to live and contact their building manager or owner
to see if anything is available. 46. Remember that signing
a lease probably obligates you to make all monthly payments
for the term of the agreement.
Saving Monday: Mortgage Refinancing 40. Consider refinancing
your mortgage if you can get a rate that is lower than
your existing mortgage rate and plan to keep the new
mortgage for at least several years. Calculate precisely
how much your new mortgage (including points, fees and
closing costs) will cost and whether, in the long run,
it will cost less than your current mortgage.
Equity Loans 41. Be cautious in taking out home equity
loans. The loans reduce or may even eliminate the equity
that you have built up in your home. (Equity is the
cash you would have if you sold your house and paid
off your mortgage loans.) If you are unable to make
payments on home equity loans, you could lose your home.
42. Compare home equity loans offered by at least four
reputable lending institutions. Consider the interest
rate on the loan and the annual percentage rate (APR),
which includes other costs, such as origination fees,
discount points, mortgage insurance, and other fees.
Ask if the rate changes, and if so, how it is calculated
and how frequently, as this will affect the amount of
your monthly payments.
Saving Monday: First Mortgage Loans, Part 2: 38. Check
the Internet or your local newspaper for mortgage rate
surveys, then call several lenders for information about
their rates (APRs), points, and fees. If you choose a
mortgage broker, make certain to compare their offers
with those of direct lenders. 39. Be aware that the interest
rate on most adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) can vary
a great deal over the lifetime of the loan. An increase
of several percentage points might raise payments by hundreds
of dollars a month, so ask the lender what the highest
possible monthly payment might be.
Saving Monday: First Mortgage Loans, Part 1: 36. Although
your monthly payment may be higher, you can save tens
of thousands of dollars in interest charges by shopping
for the shortest-term mortgage you can afford. For each
$100,000 you borrow at a 7% annual percentage rate (APR),
for example, you will pay over $75,000 less in interest
on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage than you would on a 30-year
fixed rate mortgage. 37. You can save thousands of dollars
in interest charges by shopping for the lowest-rate mortgage
with the fewest points. On a 15-year $100,000 fixed-rate
mortgage, just lowering the APR from 7% to 6.5% can save
you more than $5,000 in interest charges over the life
of the loan, and paying two points instead of three would
save you an additional $1,000.
Saving Monday: Auto Loans 33. To save as much as several
thousand dollars in finance charges, pay for the car in
cash or make a large down payment. Always get the shortest
term loan possible as this will lower your interest rate.
34. Make certain to get a rate quote (or pre-approved
loan) from your bank or credit union before seeking dealer
financing. You can save as much as $1000 in finance charges
by shopping for the cheapest loan. 35. Make certain to
consider the dollar difference between low-rate financing
and a lower sale price. Remember that getting zero or
low-rate financing from a dealer may prevent you from
getting the rebate.
Saving Monday: Credit Cards 30. To avoid late payment
fees and possible interest rate increases on your credit
cards, make sure you send in your payment a week to ten
days before the statement due date. Late payments on one
card can increase fees and interest rates on other cards.
31. You can avoid interest charges, which may be considerable,
by paying off your entire bill each month. If you are
unable to pay off a large balance, pay as much as you
can. Try to shift the remaining balance to a credit card
with a lower annual percentage rate (APR). You can find
listings of credit card plans, rates, and terms on the
Internet, in personal finance magazines, and in newspapers.
32. Be aware that credit cards with rebates, cash back,
travel awards, or other perks may carry higher rates or
Saving Monday: Checking Accounts and Debit Cards 25.
You can save more than $100 a year in fees by selecting
a free checking account or one with no minimum balance
requirement. Request a complete list of fees that are
charged on these accounts, including ATM and debit card
fees. 26. See if you can get free or lower cost checking
through direct deposit or agreeing to ATM only use.
Be aware of charges for using an ATM not associated
with your financial institution.
Products 27. Before opening a savings account, find
out whether the account is insured by the federal government
(FDIC for banks or NCUA for credit unions). Financial
institutions offer a number of products, such as mutual
funds and annuities, which are not insured. 28. Once
you select a type of savings account, use the telephone,
newspaper, and Internet to compare rates and fees offered
by different financial institutions-including those
outside your city. These rates can vary a lot and, over
time, can significantly affect interest earnings. 29.
To earn the highest return on savings (annual percentage
yield) with little or no risk, consider certificates
of deposit (CDs) or U.S. Savings Bonds (Series I or
Saving Monday: Life Insurance 22. If you want insurance
protection only, and not a savings and investment product,
buy a term life insurance policy. 23. If you want to buy
a whole life, universal life, or other cash value policy,
plan to hold it for at least 15 years. Canceling these
policies after only a few years can more than double your
life insurance costs. 24. Check the National Association
of Insurance Commissioners website (www.naic.org/cis)
or your local library for information on the financial
soundness of insurance companies.
Saving Monday: Homeowner/Renter Insurance 19. You can
save several hundred dollars a year on homeowner insurance
and up to $50 a year on renter insurance by purchasing
insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your
state insurance department for a publication showing typical
prices charged by different licensed companies. Then call
at least four of the lowest priced insurers to learn what
they would charge you. If such a publication is not available,
it is even more important to call at least four insurers
for price quotes. 20. Make certain you purchase enough
coverage to replace the house and its contents. "Replacement"
on the house means rebuilding to its current condition.
21. Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping
your old one.
Saving Monday: Car
Repairs 15. Consumers lose billions of dollars each year
on unneeded or poorly done car repairs. The most important
step that you can take to save money on these repairs
is to find a skilled, honest mechanic. Before you need
repairs, look for a mechanic who: is certified and well
established; has done good work for someone you know;
and communicates well about repair options and costs.
>> Auto Insurance 16. You can save several hundred dollars
a year by purchasing auto insurance from a licensed, low-price
insurer. Call your state insurance department for a publication
showing typical prices charged by different companies.
Then call at least four of the lowest-priced, licensed
insurers to learn what they would charge you for the same
coverage. 17. Talk to your agent or insurer about raising
your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage
to at least $500 or, if you have an old car, dropping
this coverage altogether. This can save you hundreds of
dollars on insurance premiums. 18. Make certain that your
new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
Saving Monday: Auto Leasing 11. Don't decide to lease
a car just because the payments are lower than on a
traditional auto loan. The leasing payments are lower
because you don't actually own the car. 12. Leasing
a car is very complicated. When shopping, consider the
price of the car (known as the capitalized cost), your
trade-in allowance, any down payment, monthly payments,
various fees (excess mileage, excess "wear and tear,"
end-of- lease), and the cost of buying the car at the
end of the lease. A valuable source of information about
auto leasing can be found in Keys to Vehicle Leasing:
A Consumer Guide, which is published by the Federal
Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission.
13. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing
prices at different stations, pumping gas yourself,
and using the lowest-octane called for in your owner's
manual. 14. You can save up to $100 a year on gas by
keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to
their proper pressure.
Saving Monday: New Cars 1. You can save thousands of dollars
over the lifetime of a car by selecting a model that combines
a low purchase price with low depreciation, financing,
insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs. Ask
your local librarian for new car guides that contain this
information. 2. Having selected a model and options you
are interested in, you can save hundreds of dollars by
comparison shopping. Get price quotes from several dealers
(over the phone or Internet) and let each know you are
contacting the others. 3. Remember there is no "cooling
off" period on new car sales. Once you have signed a contract,
you are obligated to buy the car. Used Cars 1. Before
buying any used car: Compare the seller's asking price
with the average retail price in a "bluebook" or other
guide to car prices which can be found at many libraries,
banks, and credit unions. Have a mechanic you trust check
the car, especially if the car is sold "as is." 2. Consider
purchasing a used car from an individual you know and
trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge
a lower price and point out any problems with the car.
Saving Monday: Airline Fares 1. Compare low-cost carriers
with major carriers that fly to your destination. Remember,
the best fares may not be out of the airport closest to
you. 2. You may save by including a Saturday evening stay-over
or by purchasing the ticket at least 14 days in advance.
Ask which days of the week and times of the day have the
lowest fare. 3. Even if you are using a travel agent,
check airline and Internet travel sites, and look for
special deals. If you call, always ask for the lowest
fare to your destination.
Saving Monday: When deciding how to dress your windows,
first take into account the style of the room. Most rooms
are more casual these days, and don't require the heavy
pinch pleat draperies of the past. Consider using ready-made
items you might already own to create your window treatments.
Lace tablecloths, pretty dishtowels, sheets and even quilts
can make creative and charming window treatments. If you
don't know how to sew, pick up some iron on hem tape at
your local craft store. You can create simple hems and
rod pockets easily with your iron. I don't recommend this
for curtains that will be washed frequently. However,
if the hem tape wears out, it can always be redone. Consider
adding layers to your windows as your budget allows. First,
a mini-blind for some privacy, then later, some sheers
for softness. Finally, you might add curtain panels and
a valance for a custom look that looks great all along
the way. Be sure to hang your window treatments so they
pull clear of the windows when open. This will make your
windows look larger and let in more light. Even covering
an inch or two of the window surface reduces the light
in a room significantly. Hang them as high as you can,
near the ceiling line if possible. It will add height
to the room, making it appear larger and less boxlike.
Use creative ideas for curtain rods as well. A garden
room might do well with a smooth, long branch made into
a rod. A sports oriented family room might be inspired
by a ski or a hockey stick. Even an old boat oar would
do in the right setting. Use your imagination, use your
creativity, and save that cash!
Saving Monday: Ground Beef Savings Everybody knows that
ground beef can be expensive, especially when it is lean.
Look for London Broil to go on sale. In the Southeast,
1.99 is a good sale. Pick out a nice London Broil (I usually
get a 3lb one) and have the store grind it for you. This
is an excellent cut of lean meat. When I get one I divide
the meat by the pound. I may brown some and freeze it
or freeze some raw. When I need lean ground beef I already
have it in the freezer by the pound and for a great price.
Our Mistakes Teach Us by Mary Hunt Have you made any mistakes
lately? Want to talk about them? Most people don't. It's
embarrassing. And when the mistake was particularly dumb,
well that's something you hope to never think about again.
And that's a mistake. Mistakes are useful because they
teach us what doesn't work. But making the same mistake
over and over again while expecting different results
-- that's the definition of insanity. I've accumulated
a list of mistakes over many years. Each one is like a
trophy now, something that I do not have to do again because
I've proven it doesn't work. Here's a quick list of mine
that I hope you'll learn from. It Doesn't Work to Be in
a Supermarket Without a Plan Walking into the grocery
store without a plan (that includes a written list, coupons,
and cash) is a terrible blunder. I know me. Without my
"crutches," I am a $200 miscalculation just waiting to
happen. And if I'm hungry? Make that $300. It Doesn't
Work to Buy Extended Warranties on Appliances Statistically,
if an appliance is going to fail, it will do so in the
first 90 days (the product comes with a warranty to cover
this time frame) or after five years (extended warranties
aren't that extended). For the record, a laptop computer
is one thing that might require an extended warranty.
Laptops fail routinely; trust me. It Doesn't Work to Lease
a Car Don't roll the shortfall and extra charges at the
end of one auto lease into a new auto lease. To have repeated
this goof over and again for no less than 22 years straight
brought me dangerously close to insanity. It Doesn't Work
to Buy a 7,000-Gallon Blow-Up Swimming Pool Actually,
I didn't know such a thing existed so I can't even argue
it was something we needed. Standing there in the middle
of the Home Show I managed to pull off the impulse purchase
of the century (thankfully, this was in the last century).
Buying the blowup pool was a blooper that just kept on
giving lessons to be learned until several years later
when we begged Goodwill to just take it away. It Doesn't
Work to Carry More than $100 Cash Carrying a single $100
bill is for me a great deterrent for overspending. I don't
feel broke, but it's a bill I hate to break. It is also
the tipping point. Carrying more than $100 creates a feeling
of excess that burns a hole in my wallet. The overage
simply disappears. It Doesn't Work to Live on Credit Depending
on credit to bridge the gap between what you earn and
what you spend is a big no-no. Debt is a terrible liar,
insisting that while you don't have the money today, you'll
have it next month. Or the next. Debt keeps you stuck
in the past, always stealing from the future. Debt is
reversible, thankfully -- provided you don't fall into
the same traps over and over expecting that eventually,
somehow you will get different results. That would be
insane. Printed in its entirety from Everyday Cheapskate,
Mary Hunt’s daily syndicated newspaper column. Used with
permission from United Features Syndicate, 2005. For more
information, visit www.cheapskatemonthly.com.
Saving Monday: Home decorating ideas (part 2). 3.Look
for raw materials. You can find resources for fabric at
yard sales in clothing, sheets, and quilts and blankets.
Remember, a stained lace tablecloth can be cut down to
make placemats or runners, and a beautiful ski sweater
can be used to front a throw pillow. 4.Look beyond. Many
items at garage sales may be used for different uses than
originally intended, if you just keep your eyes open!
You may find a beautiful serving bowl, but get it for
$1 because of it’s chipped edge! No worries, a gorgeous
planter for the front porch! 5.Learn some creative paint
finishes. Most of the things you find at yard sales can
be upgraded in an afternoon with an interesting paint
finish. You can find many instructions on the internet.
One good site for ideas is www.PaintIdeas.com
Saving Monday: Home decorating ideas (part 1). The time
of year is here for yard sales, and there is no better
place for budget decorators to find the best treasures!
The trick is in recognizing an items potential. Here are
some great ideas for turning low cost yard sale finds
into great home decorating accessories for your home!
1.Look little. Don't overlook the impact little items
can make in your décor. Costume jewelry, craft beads,
even hardware wire can be transformed into beautiful details
for your home. 2.Look big. An old 70's waterbed might
not seem like a good find, unless you just use the headboard,
paint it white, and turn it into a cottage style display
case for your china and glassware.
Saving Monday: Gourmet Hand Crème - homemade! 2 T olive
oil 2 tsp honey 1 tsp liquid lecithin 1/2 tsp apple cider
vinegar In the blender or with a wire shisk, mix all the
ingredients together until well combined. Pour into a
clean container with a tight fitting lid. It may see a
bit sticky at first but this stickiness will go away after
sitting for a day or two. Source:"Natural Beauty for All
Seasons" by Janice Cox
Saving Monday: Cutting Back on Toys … One suggestion was
this: "Last year for Christmas we asked my parents for
a zoo membership instead of gifts which would soon be
forgotten. We were able to get many "free" trips to the
zoo throughout the year!" -- Another I've heard is to
periodically, trade toys with other friends who have children
that are close in age. Even though the toys are used,
they will be like brand new to your child - keeping your
home free of accumulating clutter, and your child less
bored with old toys. - Yet another suggestion is to have
your child choose a toy to give away or donate before
he or she can get a new toy (while that may not save you
money, it will keep clutter down and possibly even could
be used as a tax deduction if given to a non-profit charity).
Saving Monday: Weddings for less The average wedding costs
$25,000, a price most newlyweds can't afford. However
there are simple ways to save and everything from the
ceremony to the honeymoon. One tip: avoid April through
August when you set the date. Prices are higher during
those popular wedding months. By getting married on a
Friday afternoon, rather than a Saturday evening, you
can save over $4 per guest. Also, there are some traditions
are worth breaking. The bride's family doesn't have to
pay the wedding bills alone; divide costs as a couple.
Think a wedding's cheaper at home? It actually can be
more expensive because you rent everything from china
and silverware to chairs and a tent. A rented facility
will provide your basic wedding needs. If you are renting,
formal chairs can create a dramatic look, but cost up
to $13 per person. A simple chair cover can save you up
to $9 a person. When it comes to flowers, they can cost
thousands of dollars, but by choosing blooms in season,
you'll pay less. Daisies, carnations and wildflowers run
cheaper all year around.
| 2006 Archives
| 2005 Archives