Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Borrow from your 401k?

If you have a 401(k) account, it can be very tempting to borrow from your account especially when your balance is very high and a loan could easily pay off existing debt, fund a home purchase, or pay for college tuition. Before you make the decision to borrow money, there are several things you must keep in mind to avoid risking your funds.

Borrowing from a 401(k) can seem like a risk free loan, especially since you repay yourself with interest. However, there are costs involved that are not readily apparent to the borrower who elects to take out a loan:

1. On the borrowed funds, you lose all tax-favored investment returns. In other words, you are effectively charged extra interest for the loaned funds.

2. Any interest you pay, even though you are paying yourself, is not deductible, but will be taxable to you when the plan pays you back via future distributions.

3. You may have to pay a fee to take out the loan. Add this expense to the loan costs to see if a loan is still cost effective.

4. If you leave your place of employment before paying off your loan, you will be required to pay the loan back in its entirety immediately. If you do not have the funds available to pay back the loan right away, you will then be subject to IRS taxes and penalties which can eat up as much as 30% or more of your borrowed funds depending on your tax bracket. The IRS treats all loans that are not paid back as disbursements.

Yes, a 401(k) loan can help fund life’s emergencies, but the hidden costs and fees involved as well as potential taxes and penalties can quickly turn a good thing into a bad move.

Matthew Keegan is the owner of a successful article writing, web design, and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several sites including the Corporate Flight Attendant Community and the Aviation Employment Board. Please visit The Article Writer to review selections from his portfolio.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Young Fabulous and Broke

Young, Fabulous and Broke? Suze Orman Has Debt Relief & Financial Freedom Advice Books for You!

Are you a parent that has all the financial responsibility in the world on your shoulders and living paycheck to paycheck? Does it seem like there is no way out of this endless cycle of working just to pay your bills? Well, I certainly felt this way. I have been in consumer credit counseling, which was very helpful, but I still felt like a financial idiot. What was I supposed to do to get ahead? How was I going to ensure that my family was going to get the best they deserve which includes the finer things in life AND me? Well, I was sitting at home one day contemplating this and watching my local PBS station when an infomercial came on that was an real eye opener.

Enter Suze Orman, my financial guru! I had heard of Suze Orman before briefly and about her cable TV shows, but didn't really know what all the hype was about. I decided I would watch this infomercial and see if there was anything to the Suze Orman phenomenon. The infomercial was to raise money for PBS and promote Suze's Book "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke". I got a chuckle out of the title, but thought to myself, "I'm young, fabulous and definitely broke" let me hear what this Suze Orman person has to say! Suze revealed some very interesting things to me such as:

Your credit score can have an impact on your car insurance premiums!

Your Fico Score is different from each of the credit bureaus and they are combined to make ONE Fico Score.

Each credit bureau has their own credit report on you, and they don't always have all of the same information that the other ones do.

If you have debts that are way overdue, they automatically fall off of your credit report in seven years.

If you make a payment on those old debts at any time during the seven years, even if it is at the sixth year and eleventh month, you have started the seven year cycle all over again!

As if you didn't know it already, bankruptcy is the WORST thing you can do to yourself and you should avoid it all costs. Suze recommends joining a consumer credit counseling agency if necessary.

It's actually OK to live off of your credit cards while you are young for necessities so you can work the job of your dreams and put away the maximum amount of money in your 401 K Plan (only if they match).

You should switch credit card balances to other credit cards as often as you need to to get the best interest rate.

Despite what you may have heard, you should avoid interest only home mortgages at any cost, because if anything were to happen to you and you lost the home for any reason, you would have no equity and would have to start from scratch.

And much more!

In addition to the advice above, in Suze's "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke" book, Suze gives you an access code so you can access more financial secrets at the Suze Orman Website.

All in all, I would recommend any of Suze Orman's books, they are a real lifesaver and will put you on the path to financial freedom!

Christina Khan is a single-mother and a recovering young, fabulous and broke parent. She runs a baby birth announcement website with parenting advice and articles for new and expectant parents.
Christina also runs a cccs credit counseling debt relief blog that gives consumers a place to share and discuss their credit counseling experiences with others.

Is it too hot or too cold

Is It Too Hot Or Too Cold?
Have you noticed that it's warmer in the summer than it is in the winter? And colder in the winter than it is in the summer? A lot of people have noticed that but don't want to accept it.

What millions of people apparently want is for it to be warmer in the winter than it is in the summer. When it's winter, they turn the thermostat up to 80 degree or so. When it's summer. they set the air conditioner for 70 or so.

In other words, when we have any control over the temperature we want it to be cooler in the summer than it is in the winter.

And conversely warmer in the winter than it is in the summer. This is extremely costly in terms of energy and in terms of money too.

Back when there wasn't much humans could do about winter cold but dress warmly and light a fire it’s understandable that we would look for more heat in the winter.

And in the summer before there was air conditioning our species could dress lightly sit in the shade take a dip in the water sip on a cool drink and hope for a refreshing breeze.

So we tended to be obsessed with heat in the winter and with coolness in the summer.
But wouldn't you think we would accept some comfortable temperature level in both seasons? The fact is we don't. So perverse is human nature that a temperature we purposely heat our homes to in the winter we consider unacceptably hot in the summer.

And the coolness we seem to require from our air conditioners in July and August we will regard away too cold a few months later. Think of the fuel and money we'd save if we weren't this way.

It is fairly typical of human nature, it seems to me that as soon as we learn how to do something we always go too far.

The Osgood File www.cbsnews.com

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Happy Annivesary to my Credit Card Debt

Aahhh sweet memories of my first date with my credit card. It was the beginning of my freshman year at college 17 years ago. Sign up for Citigroup Credit card and get a free bag of M&Ms. For college students offering candy was the way to sign up and of course the "Free Money" was something else. I could buy clothes, treat my friends to dinner and before I knew the statement came. I was over the limit so more charges and then opps a late payment. Not fun. Luckily I had a job and was able to pay the minimum amount but the interest and the fees made my $30 jeans cost about $80 years later. Worth it no way. Pay cash or get a debit card. Don't fall for You must get a credit card to establish credit.

Today 17 years later no credit card debt. Actually we do not use credit cards at all. I realized that Christmas is not an emergency, I also realized that I a want to be a stay at home mom so no credits since July 2000. Hubby and I had over 20,000 of debt at that point. We got frugal, cut up the credit cards and start focusing on getting that credit card debt paid off.

If you are going to school pick up the book by Dave Ramsey called The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness Find out why you want to be weird instead of normal.

Enjoy your savings!

Living in Luxury on a College Student's budget

Live in luxury, comfort on student budget


Going away to college means a lot of change in the life of the student. Classes are tougher, parties are bigger and home-cooked meals become something of the past. There is another major development in becoming a college student, one that is too often overlooked: being in charge of decorating one’s own living space. Too many students default to the stereotypical Animal House style room and only after three or four years begin to grasp the subtleties of making a dorm room both pleasant and sociable. Here are some tips on living in MTV’s Cribs-style comfort on a college student’s budget.

The best place to start with your decoration of your new nine-month home is the desk. You may, after all, actually have to do some studying at some point. Flat screen monitors ($50, most computer stores; $30, ebay.com) will give you enough desk space to fit a textbook, a notebook and your keyboard all at the same time. Wireless keyboards are a pricey but worthwhile way to conserve more space and even allow you to move the keyboard off the desk for more room. A good desk lamp is essential, and the brighter the better. You can save desk space by connecting a clip-on lamp ($8, Walmart) to your monitor or a shelf above your desk, or by using a lamp with a large swivel arm ($15, Lowe’s). As for keeping all those pens and pencils in order, an old cigar box will do the job while giving your desk a more sophisticated look.

Beyond the usual nook for all the beer cans and munchies, storage is an often overlooked part of room decor. Start by utilizing all the space you have; use the closet to hang up otherwise shelved items such as t-shirts and pants, and use the extra drawer space for food, textbooks, glass tobacco-only smoking devices, etc. In addition, a finished wood bookcase ($30 for 6’ x 2’ bookcase, Big Lots) is a great way to store books, DVDs, CD cases and maybe even a couple of souvenirs from trips abroad. Don’t put empty liquor bottles on it, though; they’re not trophies, and no one is impressed by the fact that you drink Evan Williams.

Instead, a framed picture of you with friends or your current significant other is a great personal touch. Wall-mounted shelves ($15, Lowe’s) are an attractive and space-saving way to mount speakers or show off those foreign language paperbacks of which you’re so proud. They look great in the corner or above your bed, but be careful not to over-burden them or they will fall.

Now that you have all your crap stored away, you’re ready to work with the living space. Start with the floors. Almost all campus dorms are furnished with a hard tile that is both dirty and exceptionally ugly. While a large rug is perfectly acceptable, those of you who saved up some money working this summer may want to spring for the ultimate dorm room upgrade: carpeting. Lowe’s has a variety of indoor carpets that, with padding (which is essential), will run you about one dollar per square foot. This adds up to around $80 for a single or $75 per roommate for a double. Though you will have to temporarily move all of your furniture into the hallway, installation is easy enough. Simply lay down the padding, then the carpet on top, using a box cutter to reshape the carpet around any built-in furniture. This will give your room a comfortable, homey feel in addition to making it easier for friends with off-campus rooms or from out of town to crash on the floor. A sofa is essential, though a great substitute is a two-person loveseat or a futon. Just make sure sitting space is available for guests, which brings up an important point: never bunk your beds. It just makes hooking up awkward and making a first move damn near impossible. If you must, lean three or four extra-large pillows ($10 each, Target) against the wall on one of the beds and substitute it for a sofa.

In case you forgot, you need to put something on the walls. What you have displayed around your room speaks to who you are as a person, so try to keep in mind what each poster “says.” Pictures of semi-or fully-nude models imply that you have the sexual and emotional maturity of a 14 year-old. These and any alcohol-related posters go too far to advertise your interests and, as everyone knows, trying too hard to act cool is a big ugly red warning flag.

Your actions and reputation should speak plenty about your abilities at a party or in bed; no one who is good at either needs a poster to tell people that. Instead, try something more tasteful and distinctive. Hit up your art student friends for an oil painting or watercolor. Chances are they have a few extra sitting in their closet that they would be happy to part with for a few dollars or a nice bottle of wine. Any posters you insist on putting up can go from dorm room tacky to penthouse stylish with a mounted frame. Black plastic frames ($8, Wal-Mart) or custom wooden frames ($10 to $100, Home Depot) both look great.

The rest of the room is up to you. Small touches make the big differences -- a few candles can turn a gropefest with some random stranger you met at Phi Tau basement into a romantic encounter worth remembering (votive or tealight candles are less than a dollar each at Target, colored glass candle holders are $10 to $50). An artifact from study or travel abroad is an inexpensive way to add character to the room. A small houseplant gives life and color to the room -- bamboo, cactus or aloe vera plants require minimal care ($7 with pot, Target or Wal-Mart).

Just remember that your dorm room, in addition to being a place you have to live in for the next nine months, speaks volumes about who you are as a person. Try to have it say more than “I’m just another kid who likes sex and beer.”

Frugal Menu planning week Aug 28th

The best time of the year. Back to school this week. My first grader starts on Wednesday. Preschool starts on Friday. We do a batch of banana pancakes. My kids don't need maple syrup for them. Also I picked up some quick muffin mixes that I will throw some blueberries in as well. We need quick breakfasts.

Sun Hamburgers on the grill

Mon Crockpot Chicken Salsa w/rice

Tues Spaghetti w/meatsauce

Wed Leftover Crockpot Chicken Salsa w/rice

Thur Breakfast for dinner

Fri Pork chops

Sat Homemade pizza

Enjoy your savings!


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dave Ramsey on 60 minutes

Get out your VCR tapes Dave Ramsey will be on 60 minutes Sunday night!!

CRUSADE AGAINST CREDIT – National radio host Dave Ramsey is out to save debtors one at a time through his courses, advice program and other tools he uses in the fight against debt and those who enable it. Lesley Stahl reports.

Car buying nightmares

Have you ever bought a car walked away shaking your head? What did I get into?

Read Natasha's bad car buying experience Buying a car read this.

Luckily I haven't had a car buying nightmare. Do your research on your car-check out www.consumerreports.org and www.carbuyingtips.com

Enjoy your saving!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Christmas Money Savings Tips !

Since Christmas is now just 4 months away! I know alot of us start thinking about how much to spend. It is always a challenge to save some moola at Christmas!

Making A Holiday Budget

The Christmas holiday season is supposed to bring cheer and good times to all. For many, however, the cheer and good times end up resulting in a heavy debt burden when the New Year rolls around. It doesn't have to be this way. Taking the time to plan your Christmas holiday activities and spending in advance will keep Christmas from being a budget breaker. While gifts are a major expense for Christmas, they are by no means the only expense. Holiday decorating, entertainment, food , wrapping and cards are other areas that will quickly add up if you don't take some time to forecast their costs. SavingAdvice.com has put together some holiday money saving hints and tips that will help you retain the cheer while keeping your pocket book financially healthy during the holiday season.

If you haven't yet thought about or planned out a holiday season budget, today is the day to start. While the mere mention of the word "budget" probably has implanted the image of Scrooge or the Grinch squarely in the front of your mind, planning a holiday budget can have quite the opposite effect. A budget will help you consider who exactly you want to give gifts to and will most likely mean that you don't accidently leave someone off the list. It will also give you the opportunity to plan the gift in advance which will not only save you a significant amount of money, it will give you the time to get a gift that is much more meaningful and appropriate than anything you would find in the last dash Christmas shopping frenzy.

The first issue is to consider the expenses that are likely to come with the holidays. The vast majority of people don't even consider this making it difficult to budget for total holiday expenses. Whether you plan ahead or not, these expenses will come. By taking the initiative early and understanding where your money is likely to go, you can consider ways to reduce expenses or avoid them all together if that is appropriate. Now is the time to sit down and think through your probable holiday expenses which will help to give you good guidelines which you can follow when the holiday rush is upon you.

While gifts are an obvious expense during this season, chances are you haven't worked out how much they will be. If you are like most people, you have a ballpark figure in the back of your mind that you hope you will come in under. Instead of hoping (which will usually equate into failing) to come in under that amount, sit down and make a list of friends and family members with whom you regularly exchange gifts. Once complete, go through your list and designate an approximate price you want to spend on each person on the list. With a price in mind for each recipient, you have a much better chance of remaining within your gift giving holiday budget.

While gifts may be the major expense, they are far from the only one you need to forecast. Other areas where you will need to designate amounts include gift wrapping, cards, entertainment, food, inside decorating, tree, ornaments, outside decorating, lights and travel to name just a few. Since everyone's situation is different, the best way to forecast this year's expenses is to think back to last year and all the things you did during the holiday season while adding in any new ones you have already planned for this year.

Once you have finished this, you will have a number. If that number is within the amount of money you can afford to spend for the holiday season, you're in great shape and just need to keep it at hand so you don't stray too far from the numbers. If you look at the amount and feel like a zero or two too many are at the end of the figure, then you need to consider ways to reduce your anticipated costs.

Reducing Christmas Gift Numbers

GIFTS: Reducing The Numbers: You should already have a list of all your family and friends with whom you regularly exchange gifts. The best way to reduce the costs associated with these gifts is to eliminate as many as possible. With the Grinch once again firmly planted in your mind, we will show you that this process doesn't need to produce that Scrooge-ish effect. Using some simple creativity can quickly reduce the number of gifts on your list while actually enhancing the holiday spirit.

For example, if you have a close group of friends, consider contacting everyone and arranging a gift exchange. By choosing a single person in a group of five instead of giving four individual gifts, you will be able to give a better gift that will be less expensive overall. Better yet, put a ceiling on the price that can be paid for the gift. Chances are that your friends will appreciate you taking the initiative since this will also reduce their holiday expenses and time needed for gift shopping as well.

Another alternative with friends is to forego the gift giving all together. Instead, arrange an afternoon when you can all meet for a few hours to spend some time together in place of giving gifts. Not only does this fit better with the holiday spirit, it will give you a needed break from the pre Christmas hustle and bustle where you can relax and have a good time.

Gift exchanges can also work with family, but they need to be well thought through to make them successful and a lot can depend on the age of the kids. An easy standard method is for all the family members to write down a few gifts they would like under a specified amount of money. Each family member places their list with their name on it into a container and then each family member picks one list out of the container. The family members then choose one of the listed gifts to buy for their designated person. This system can be adapted to fit the needs of your particular family, but it will reduce the overall number of gifts that need to be purchased for everyone. By taking the time to make the family exchange a central point of the Christmas holiday, it can brighten the family holiday spirit as it also reduces overall costs.

Reducing Holiday Gift Costs

GIFTS: Reducing The Costs: Once you have made all the appropriate reductions to the number of gifts you are planning to give, the next step is to see if there are ways to reduce the cost of the gifts. Again, while this at first glance may seem like a Grinch-like move, in reality it is likely to produce a gift that is much more appreciated since you will be taking the time to think through and consider the gift thoroughly. To be able to pull this off successfully, you will need to start doing that preparation well in advance. As Christmas comes closer, the time to think through, prepare and execute a gift for less money becomes more and more difficult.

While not everyone is crafty, self made gifts can go a long way to reducing costs. Gift baskets of homemade cookies or other selected items are easy to put together and can be made to fit the recipients particular tastes and likes. Another wonderfully simple gift is a photo of you and that person. By taking the time to consider if there are gifts that the person would enjoy that aren't prepackaged at a store, you will likely be able to save money while giving a gift that is appreciated that much more.

An option that may be appreciated far more than a material gift by some people is giving your time. This can also be an excellent gift for those of you reading this article at the last minute that are in a panic and likely to buy an expensive gift with time running out. Simply take some nice quality colored paper and put together a coupon book for the recipient that they can redeem at any time. A coupon for a 30 minute back rub will always be highly regarded and it doesn't cost you anything but your time. Add in coupons for a walk in the woods, a day at the beach, a game of tennis, a visit to a favorite museum, a picnic lunch or any other activity the recipient would enjoy and you have given a wonderful gift at practically no cost. Another advantage of the coupon gifts is that if there are activities that will cost money, they get spread out to other times of the year when money may not be so tight while making your Christmas gift last far longer than a single day.

In the same respect, but at the opposite end, you can give a gift of memories which will likely be treasured for a lifetime. Simply find a nice jar and cut different colored paper into small, note-sized pieces. Write a single memory you have had with that particular person on each sheet and place it in the jar. Continue doing this until the jar is full. Add a nice ribbon around the jar and you have a wonderful jar of memories to give.

Another option that can work well to save money with the right people is delaying Christmas until after the holiday. If there are gifts that you know will be greatly discounted in the after Christmas holiday sales, delaying the purchase will allow you to get the person more for less money. This can work especially well with children if you take the time to explain and give them the option of a lesser number of gifts on Christmas Day, or more (for less money to you) a few days after. Not only will the children understand the concept, you will be teaching them invaluable money management skills.

Planning ahead will also allow you to consider non traditional shopping sources to find that perfect gift and reduce your costs. If one or more of the people on your list is a collector of certain types of items, searching flea markets, discount shops and online auctions may produce something far more appreciated than a typical gift from the local department store at a price that is much easier on your pocket book.

Saving Money On Your Holiday Greeting Cards

Cards: As with your gifts, you should have a list of all the family and friends with whom your regularly exchange holiday greetings. In the same vein, the best way to reduce the costs associated with giving cards is to eliminate them. The computer age has made this more possible than ever. With email available and a large number of sites that offer free email greeting cards, you should first determine who on your holiday card mailing list it would be just as appropriate to send an electronic holiday greeting to. By doing so you eliminate the cost for cards, envelopes and postage. For those with long lists, it may even make sense to sign up with some of the premium electronic greeting card companies that charge a fee. Since their memberships are usually good for an entire year, you have also taken care of all your other holiday and birthday greetings.

While switching all your holiday greetings to electronic cards would be the ultimate goal for card savings, there are still probably a few people on your list to whom you will want or need to send a real holiday greeting. If you had planned ahead last year, you will already have a number of boxed cards that you picked up at a fraction of their price at the after Christmas sales last year ( if you didn't, then now is the time to write a reminder on your calendar so that you will be prepared for next year). Even if you know you didn't prepare, you should locate your holiday card box since chances are you will have a fairly large number of holiday cards from years past that you simply have forgotten about. If these are still appropriate, you don't have to do any card shopping until the New Year when all the sales appear.

If you find that you do need to purchase some cards, buying boxed cards will save you significantly over individual cards. Where you shop for the cards will also make a difference. You can find virtually the same holiday cards at the large discount stores at a fraction of the price as you can at your local card shop.

Another option is to make your own cards. Depending on how artistic you are, you can make your own or if you are less so, using the scenes, pictures and photos from old holiday cards to create new ones. Find your favorite poem to write inside, or create one yourself. Having taken the time to create a card will be highly appreciated by most recipients in that it shows that you were will to spend valuable time on them.

For those who use the holiday season to catch everyone up on what has happened over the past year, a holiday newsletter may be appropriate. While most of these can be sent over the Internet which will again eliminate all the postage fees, the ones that can't can easily be printed with a holiday background eliminating the need for a card. By taking the time to see where you can eliminate and reduce your holiday card costs, you should be able to cut this expense significantly compared to if you had gone to your local store and purchased cards for everyone

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Free Stuff and Karma

Free stuff and karma
I have been decluttering lately and putting stuff on freecycle. (www.freecycle.org) Our old tv that would only play video games and an exercise bike. We had been looking for a second race car toddler bed since we got the first one ( I got twins) at a steal for $25 on craigslist. I had been shouting that on the rooftops since June. I had been wating to get a second one and really no rush since he isn't ready for a bed. I have been scouring craigslist and ebay but nothing less than $75 for this bed used.
Hubby took a detour last night and someone was putting their race car toddler bed out for the trash. He asked if he could take it and he did. So we got a second one for FREE. It is in great condition!! I don't know if was Karma or what that made my husband take the detour! So instead of heading to Toy R US and spending $300 on toddler beds, I got them for $25.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gas prices hurt retails sales

Gasoline prices sock retail sales

Money spent at pump is not going to stores, which reported drops at the cash register.

By Tenisha Mercer /
The Detriot News

Spiking gas prices have forced Pat Baldwin to spend $200 more a month on gas for her 1999 Dodge Ram van -- money she used to spend on shopping sprees at Lane Bryant and other stores.

"My clothing budget has gone to zero," said Baldwin, 39, of Detroit, who now skips eating out for brownbag lunches at work. "The average person can't keep withstanding these types of increases."

The impact of high gas prices is have a major impact on Michigan retailers. According to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Retailers Association in Lansing and the Federal Reserve, the state's merchants posted their lowest July sales figures since 2001.

Rising gas prices is taking a toll on crucial back-to-school sales, which retailers were counting on to reverse nine straight months of declining sales on a year-over-year basis. The region's high unemployment and economic uncertainty has hit many residents in the pocketbook.

"Gas prices are another nail in the coffin for retailers in Michigan," said Gary Ruffing, a retail analyst for BBK Ltd. in Southfield. "Michigan's economy is so fragile. People are struggling with whether they are going to have a job and now they're faced with paying an exorbitant amount to get to work, let alone go shopping."

The Michigan Retailers Association survey found that 65 percent of retailers it surveyed had flat or declining sales in July compared to the same time last year; 35 percent reported higher sales.

The figures create an index of 43.1, down from 47.1 in June and 45.9 in May, the worst July index figures since 2001. Numbers below 50 indicate a decrease in retail activity.

"Retailers in Michigan have been struggling all year," said Tom Scott, a spokesman for the Michigan Retailers Association in Lansing. "We saw a little bit of improvement over the last two months so now the question is can we continue the momentum or do we get knocked backwards?"

Surging gas prices haven't helped, forcing retailers to monitor ballooning gas prices along with their bottom lines.

"If people are spending an extra $15 or $20 to fill up, that's money that they could have spent at stores," Scott said.

Discount retailers, whose customers generally have less disposable income, have the most at stake.

With 20 discount stores in Metro Detroit, Big Lots Inc. in Columbus, Ohio is "concerned" about rising gas prices, said company spokeswoman Pat Zeigler.

"In terms of people and one-stop shopping trips, it's starting to take a toll among all retailers," she said.

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart blamed higher gas prices for revenue that fell short of projections.

"Customers have told us that the prices of gasoline is one of their top concerns," said Marty Heires, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark. "For a certain segment of our customers, what happens is that when they see one area of their budget increase, they have to make an adjustment in other areas and their discretionary spending goes down."

Retailers are also feeling the sting of higher gas prices. Wal-Mart, for instance, spent $30 million more for fuel to ship its products during the first quarter compared to the same time a year ago, Heires said. Could that mean higher prices for customers at stores?

Probably not. Wal-Mart has largely kept its prices the same, Heires said, and other retailers are expected to follow.

One area that isn't affected by rising gas prices: luxury retailers.

Sales at the Mont Blanc store at the Somerset Collection in Troy -- which sells fine pens and other items -- have increased from last year, said store manager Pamela Rumely.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dave Ramsey says Buy a used car

Dear Dave,

I don’t understand your theory about buying a used car. How will there be used cars if no one buys new ones? Also, if people stop buying new cars wouldn’t it have a disastrous effect on the auto industry and the economy?

Read Dave's answers

Monday, August 22, 2005

The costliest city to drive in: Detroit

Drivers in the Motor City pay half again as much as those in Knoxville to own a car -- and most of the extra $4,400 a year is for insurance.

By MSN Money staff

Driving a typical midsize sedan costs 50% more in Detroit than in Knoxville, Tenn., according to new analysis by relocation expert Runzheimer International.

Runzheimer says insurance is the main culprit in Detroit’s annual car-ownership bill of $11,844 per year, with liability, comprehensive and collision coverage costing $5,162 a year. That’s $1,000 more than the next most costly city for insurance, Philadelphia, and almost $2,000 more than No. 3, Los Angeles.

Drivers in cities such as Roanoke, Va., or Green Bay, Wis., would pay less than $1,000 a year for the same coverage, Runzheimer says.
Read more

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Frugal meal planning week of Aug 21st

What's for dinner this week! Yummy stuff. Meal planning really keeps us in a good place with the food budget.

Sun Cookout

Mon Chicken Stragnoff in the crockpot
Chicken breast, can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of milk diced onions, mushrooms. Throw in crockpot for 6 hrs. Add cooked noodles at the end.

Tues Meatloaf, pototos, veggies

Wed Leftover chicken stragnoff

Thurs Spaghetti w/leftover meatloaf

Fri Chili

Sat Homemade pizza

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A $3500 birthday party vs a frugal birthday party

The today show this week has been focusing on cheapskates and one show that caught my attention was that they showed a $3500 birthday party for a 7 year old.

I couldn't believe it. My budget is about $150 for the kids birthday parties. These folks spent $600 on catering, $200 for a cake for 32 kids and their parents. They decided they wanted to buy a moonwalk (those bouncing things) instead of renting (here you can rent one for the day for about $75). Party favors were another $400. I must be living on the wrong neighborhood or my kids have the wrong friends-because I have never gotten party favors that cost that much. Or maybe someone has a case of needing Live like the Jones. I wonder if they paid for it or did it go on the credit card.

Today did a piece right afterwards of how to do a frugal birthday party! A cirus theme!
Step right up to the greatest cheapskate party on earth
You don’t need to spend a fortune to create a magical, memorable children’s birthday party. The key to a successful party begins with selecting a theme and letting your imagination run wild. You don’t have to look further than your own closet, attic or backyard for some clever ideas. The way to distinguish your party is to spend the money on a handful of accessories that will give the party your own unique imprint, while building upon the chosen theme by incorporating recycled items from around your home. We encourage collaborations among all family members as well as friends. Not only does this inspire a sense of participation, but it also saves the expense of hired help.

Circus parties are PlumParty.com’s most popular children's theme, due largely to the universal appeal and the endless world of possibilities they offer. Here are some quick, inexpensive tips that can be adapted to virtually any space, either indoors or outdoors Continue reading

Friday, August 19, 2005

Frugal Shopping if you are over 50

Discounts for the senior citizens go way beyond the early bird special. You just have to know where to look.

For that, The Early Show turns to Linda Bowman, a self-described expert bargain hunter.

The author of " Free Stuff & Good Deals for Folks Over 50, Second Edition," Bowman says it never hurts to ask about a discount.

"Money is money," she says. "A market or a department store may have a discount on a Tuesday for example, so you can save on that. You could go to your local cleaners, they might have a special senior discount."

Continue reading

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Free Samples Freebies

Free Blistex Sample

Free sample of burn relief gel

Free Stain Remover

Free Hazelnuts

Free Energy gel

Free FHM Mag

Enjoy! Not my cup of tea magazine but heck a freebie is freebie!

Ten things you should buy to save money

There's an impression that to save money you can't spend any money. While not spending money on items you don't need makes sense, there are some things that will pay you in the long run to purchase. While these items may cost you some money up-front, they'll ultimately more than pay for themselves in the savings they provide. Here is a list of ten things you should buy to help you save money.

Programmable Thermostat: Manual thermostats tend to cost households more money because of how thermostats are used. When it comes to heating or cooling a room, the thermostat temperature is usually adjusted beyond the true temperature desired. People set the thermostat at a higher or lower temperature than needed in hopes of making the house cool or warm more quickly even though this will not affect the speed at which the room temperature changes.
Manual thermostats also are adjusted more often to get the room to the desired temperature. The temperature is increased when the room gets a little cold, then decreased when it gets too warm. These manual adjustments by hand are rarely as accurate as can be automatically done with a programmable thermostat. The constant manual adjustments cost a great deal of money over time which a programmable thermostat can help save and pay for itself in a few months.

Faucet Aerator: Faucet aerators are small devices you place on your faucets in the house. They reduce the water flow coming out of the faucet by about half but because of the way they work, it may even feel stronger than normal flow. Using faucet aerators will save a typical family of four about 280 gallons of water a month and pay for themselves in less than a year.

Compact Fluorescent and LED Lights: While compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs cost more than regular light bulbs, they use about two-thirds less energy and last years longer than regular light bulbs. A basic guide is that you can save $10 a year in electricity cost for each 100 watt bulb you replace (this includes factoring the extra cost of the light bulb and the longer life it has).

Light-emitting diode (LED) holiday lights cost a bit more than standard holiday lights, but they use 80 - 90% less electricity than standard lights and last more than 5 times as long. Due to the way they are made, they are virtually indestructible which means they won't accidentally get broken or need to be replaced every couple of year.

Things You Use When They Go On Sale: Anything that you use on a regular basis that goes on sale is worth buying. As long as you know that you are going to eventually use it and won't end up throwing out a large portion of it due to it expiring in some way. For a more in depth look at this you can read Instant 20% Returns.

Rechargeable Batteries: Batteries can cost a small fortune if you use them a lot of them. If you go through a lot of batteries or have electronic equipment that are "high drain" devices, purchasing Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries can save you a lot of money. These replaced old-style NiCad rechargeable batteries and have a much higher capacity than NiCad's do. Best of all, they don't suffer from memory effect that could quickly shorten their life.

Safety Deposit Box: While this may not save you money on a yearly basis, it will save you a lot if any type of accident, disaster or robbery takes place. It'll also save you a ton of grief in settling claims since you'll have all the documentation to take care of anything that might arise.

Clothes Line or Clothes Rack: If you are allowed to line dry your clothes, purchasing a clothes line will save you over $100 a year over using a dryer. If you aren't allowed to use a clothes line in your neighborhood, purchasing a clothes rack or two for drying will save you the same amount.

Water Filter If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water and regularly buy bottled water, purchasing a water filter is well worth the investment. A quality water filter will make your water just as pure as most bottled water and will save you a large amount of money over the long run in comparison to purchasing bottled water.

Low Flow Shower Heads: Replacing regular shower heads with low-flow shower heads can reduce your hot-water consumption while showering by as much as 30% and still provide a strong, invigorating spray. An added benefit for those with larger families is low-flow shower heads will make the hot water last longer for multiple showers.
If you use the shower an average of 30 minutes a day, replacing a typical 5-gallon-per-minute shower head with a 2.5 gallon-per-minute flow shower head will save you about $100 a year.

As the above items show, spending a little bit of money up-front can mean long term savings. By taking the time to make a small investment in the above items, you'll shave hundreds of dollars off your budget.

Monday, August 15, 2005

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10 ways to boost your credit score

Hello and Welcome!

In this week's issue Living on a Budget in a Non Budget World
Money Saving Tips
Featured Article 10 Ways to boot your credit score
Top Conversations on the Money Saving Forums
Freebie and Contest Alerts
The Frugal Five
Grocery Savings Tips: Frugal School Lunches

Read this issue at:
~10 ways to boost your credit score

Enjoy! Best of luck in your savings


PS Peerflix is a peer-to-peer trading network for DVDs. No subscription is necessary. Click here for a free DVD

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Frugal Menu planning week Aug 15, 2005

Well I broke my August goal-not eating out. I had a terrible headache one night and just wanted to lay down.

Sun Keilbasha and baked beans, onions in the crockpot.

Mon Crockpot Cranberry Chicken
Simply throw boneless chicken breast in the crockpot, add a can of cranberry sauce, onions, and catalina or thousand isle dressing. Add rice at the end.. Very yummy.

Tues Ham and cheese calzones

Wed Leftover cranberry chicken

Thurs Pasta

Fri Porkchops

Sat Homemade pizza

Enjoy your savings!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Back to school on a budget

It is that time of year -new clothes, back packs and school supplies. How do you do it on a budget.

Back-to-school shopping can be a drain on the family budget and a drain on the nerves.
But wise shoppers can plan ahead and involve their kids in the shopping process, turning it into a pleasurable family adventure.

"Parents can use this opportunity as a teachable moment for children to learn the decision-making process and to understand budgetry," says Annette Fitzgerald, consumer and family economics specialist for the University of Missouri Extension
Continue reading

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back to school shopping in our closet

Today was clothing inventory day and what do I need to buy for the upcoming school year. My oldest will be in 1st grade and the twins will be 1/2 day preschool for 5 days a week.

My family usually gives us clothing as gifts. My mother usually buys 1 size two big for everyone. I can closet shop :)

Back to school clothing
6 yr closet
4 new shirts
2 pairs of nearly new jeans that I got in April.

He has still alot of clothing that still fits him. I will probably buy 1 or 2 more pants for him and a few more shirts. Jeans he can wear two days without washing.

3 yr twins closet
2 new shirt each
3 pairs of pants total.
Got new backpacks when they started school in March.

I am still organizing the hand me downs for them. Neither one of them has any hips so 3T pant hang off of them.

I am going to hit Sears-I like them for their tough skin jeans. Everyone got new sneakers in the spring and they are still fitting. I will wait until I see a good sale at payless for shoes. They never have one at this time of the year.

Enjoy your savings

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dave Ramsey say "How do you build an emergency fund?"

Dave Ramsey has been a huge influence on us. Alllowing us to become debt free and building an emergency fund and paying for our latest car in CASH!. We are currently working on steps 4, 5 and 6.   Here is one of Dave questions and answers from our local newspaper.

Dear Dave,

At the moment, I’m single and earning only $20,000 a year. I expect that to increase to $30,000 next year. Do I really need $1,000 emergency fund in the bank, or can I get by with $500? I have about $38,000 in debt right now, including student loans.

I’m just wondering how to keep up with bills while I’m trying to save this money for my emergency fund.

Jane in Johnstown, PA

You’re at a point where you really should have an emergency fund of $1,000. It will be a little tough, but that will be your first big goal. Make sure you do a monthly written budget, which will help you control your money. That is how you can keep up with your bills while you work to achieve this $1,000 goal. To make a monthly budget, you need to spend all of your money on paper before the month begins. For instance, if you know you’ll get two paychecks during the month that are $750 each, then you go ahead and plan out how you’ll spend that $750 before you ever get it. Take care of necessities first – food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities. After you’ve taken care of that, make sure you’re current on your debts. Once you’ve done that, put every spare dollar you can squeeze from your paycheck into your emergency fund. Keep all of your spending to necessities only. Do all of this with a sense of urgency. Do it fast, in a couple of months. Remember the old saying about Murphy’s Law? If you keep hanging out there with no plan and no emergency fund, Murphy will hunt you down and move into your spare bedroom!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Meal planning week of August 7th!

Another week of menus and planning!! I went to Shaws grocery instead of Stop and Shop yesterday. Shaws was having their Cannatic sale. Great deals on all canned goods. They had their Classic progresso soups on sale for 10 for $10.00. I like having Progresso soups in the winter months for lunch. I dilute them a bit with water to get 3 servings out of a can and reduce the sodium. However the shelfs were pretty bare when I did my shopping very late yesterday. The only good deal was that I was apply to pick up some Dinty moore and Hormel chili cans for 1/2 price. Those are good in a pinch.

We are still doing good no eating for the month of August at all yet. :)

Menu planning for the week!

Sunday: Hamburgers on the grill, fries and salad

Monday: Tuna noodle casserole (Haven't made this one in a long time)

Tuesday: Cornbread chicken and baked beans

Wednesday: Pork chops, baked potatos, veggies

Thursday: Lefovers

Friday: Spaghetti

Saturday: Homemade pizza

Enjoy your savings


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Online banking where people are now saving.

Everywhere today you see the little orange ball on tv, on the internet announcing that you can earn more money! I do it and I am sure that many of you have ING DIRECT ! which is a leading internet bank. I find it really easy to transfer money to them each month right from my checking account.

The Fed has been raising interest rates to keep inflation in check — but rates are still near historic lows.

CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports that many Americans, looking for a higher return on their savings, are turning to banks that do business only on the web.
Continue reading

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Frugal Beauty Tips

I'm ready to unload some the best secrets and tips that even your salon professionals use. Of course they would like for you to buy their products and will tell you they are the best in order to make the sale, but I'm pretty sure they're not being honest in telling you what products are really on the backbar in their salons.

As a frugal person myself, I've always shared my secrets with my clients. I earn my living selling my services, not products. Here a few for you to enjoy!

1. To dry nail polish in a hurry, spray nails with PAM Oil Spray.

2. Olive oil can be added to bath water for a skin softener.

3. Toner/Astringent -- Use witch hazel instead. No need to dilute -- use full strength. You can also rinse with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar after cleansing -- it balances out the ph of your skin.

4. Cut back on the amount of shampoo you use. Do the same with toothpaste. The manufacturers want us to use more, so we buy more.

5. Keep your pantyhose in the freezer, and they will last longer.

6. For great lotion, mix one-part lotion with one-part vaseline. It works better than plain lotion, and, depending on the cost of your lotion, you can stretch its value.

7. To prevent hair pins from falling out, bend one prong in a "V" about halfway up and insert in hair. It will stay.

8. Old lipstick tubes, thoroughly cleaned, are great for purse-sized pill boxes or for pins.

9. Use hydrogen peroxide as an inexpensive nail bleach.

10. For an excellent facial, mix dry oatmeal and water into a paste and spread on face. Lie down and let it dry. Wash off with warm water.


Melissa is a professional cosmetologist who is constantly updating her education. For daily updates including tips, secrets and other information, please visit her blog at http://bizewomanbeautytips.blogspot.com/ Beauty doesn't have to cost a fortune!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dave Ramsey says: "How aggressive should you be on your house?"

"How aggressive should you be on your house?" 

Dear Dave,

My wife and I have been living by the principles you teach, and, as of October of last year, have become debt-free except for our mortgage. Now, we’re trying to figure out how aggressive we should be about paying off the house.

Each month we pay a little extra on the mortgage, into investments and into home improvements. We both fully fund our 401(k) program at work and have Roth IRA accounts. I’d like to scale back my 401(k) to the amount at which my employer matched my investment and use the rest of the money to pay off the mortgage.

We are in our mid-40s and have no children. I’ve currently got about $50,000 saved up in my 401(k). We’ve also got about $15,000 in our other investments. I’m thinking about cashing in those investments and putting that on the house note as well. We only owe about $49,000 more on the house.

Mike in LA

Congratulations! You’ve done a good job. Now, you’re at Baby Step 4 in our program, which is to put 15% of your income into your retirement investments. Anything extra you have above 15% retirement investing I recommend you put on the mortgage. You really need to keep that retirement planning going. Your mortgage balance is low. You should have enough extra income, now that you’re debt-free, to pay off this mortgage quickly without messing with your retirement funds. Then, in just 12-18 months, you’ll be in your mid-40s, no payments at all and still have your retirement money. That’s a great place to be! Of course, with no mortgage you can max out all your retirement options and retire really wealthy and change your family tree. 

My thoughts 

Someone in their mid 40s shouldn't be scaling back their retirement savings at all. While I love Dave and his advice on paying off debt when he get beyond Baby step 3 I tend to disagree with him a bit.  Personally, we are maxing out our 401k and funding a Roth for me.  It is coming out to about 15%-16%. If we had more money it would go towards a Roth for my husband or college. 

Read Dave's answer

Monday, August 01, 2005

Understanding the new Roth 401k

In this week's issue Living on a Budget in a Non Budget World

Money Saving Tips
Featured Article What is a Roth 401K?
Top Conversations on the Money Saving Forums
Freebie and Contest Alerts
The Frugal Five
Frugal Recipes Cool Summertime meals

Read this issue at:

Enjoy! Best of luck in your savings


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