Saturday, September 2, 2017

TEACH YOUR KIDS TO SAVE AND YOU WILL SAVE A FORTUNE

“Teach your kids to save and you will save money” is the kind of statement that people of my generation would call a “no brainer”. The less you spend on your kids for fad purchases and impulse buying, the more money you will have to send your kids to a good college so, that you won’t be supplementing the income of a 42 year old that works part time at a drive up window.. There is nothing wrong with any kind of work but, in the real world of rent, car payments and groceries, income counts. It is better (better paying), to have the education to run the store that has the drive up window then to simply be responsible for the window.

Start training the children to save at an early age. When a child is very young, have them make themselves a savings bank. Don’t buy one in the store. Have them make the bank out of, for example, a plastic jar (metal cans might have sharp edges and may rust on the coins and make a mess). For most children you should be the one to cut a slit in the lid of the jar however, the child can decorate the jar either directly with markers or, by using scrap paper or old gift wrap paper. In short, it is best if the child feels ownership in his first savings bank. It also saves the parent the money of buying some lame bank the kid will dump in the back of his/her closet and never put a cent into it.

The main lesson to be leaned by children is that if they want something bad enough then, they must make sacrifices to achieve that item, skill or, to belong to a given group of peers. Life is all about making choices and reaping the rewards and unfortunately, the consequences of those choices. If a child saves $50.00 then, they should first be made to take the $50.00 out of their savings bank before mom or dad kick in any money. If the kid doesn’t have the savings to buy an item they must learn to have the patience to wait, sacrifice, and save for that item.

Over time, the sacrifice and savings ideology may begin to cause your child to automatically make decisions of sacrifice/denial (cost/benefit in business school). The child will no longer come to you for every small purchase because the child will take care of the item themselves out of an analysis of cost/benefit.

Just imagine how much money each family could save if each time little Jimmy or little Suzie wanted a $5.00 item in a store and little Jimmy and little Suzie were confronted with the fact that the cost of the item would come out of their personal savings. If the child was saving that money for something the child thought was important then, the parent could remind the child that by buying the $5.00 item the child would have to earn an additional $5.00 toward the other purchase.

Forcing your kids to make tough choices will save you and, them a fortune. It is a simple “no brainer” that teaching kids to save early in life will save their parents money and will make the kids happier and wealthier individuals. You are not torturing your kids by making them earn money for things they don’t need. Making them earn money for things they need is not always a bad idea either (like fashionable cloths).

We all can remember our parents trying to teach us to save for items that we felt we had to have. Of course there was always something sweet about buying stuff with money you earned and saved. It is a great feeling for kids and it is just as enjoyable for an adult.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

SELL ITEMS TO COVER THE COSTS OF NEW PURCHASES

This is a great strategy for saving money. Like most people, you already use this strategy for large ticket items so, why not use this strategy for less expensive items like lamps, furniture, dishes, pans, etc? You may already do this but, what about that old junk lawnmower or, junk pile for that matter?

In fact, it is just not enough to sell an item you are replacing. Instead you should try to sell enough items to fully cover the cost of the new item. For example: If you have a lawnmower that you sell for $25.00 but, your new lawnmower costs $200.00, don’t just cough up the other $175.00 out of savings. Find a like amount of stuff to sell to fully cover the cost of the purchase. Sell that old doll buggy, computer, bicycle or anything else you have that you’re not using. This way you have saved yourself $175.00 by selling things you are just storing and not going to miss.

How to sell this stuff? Well, use rummage sales, yard sales, eBay and other Internet sellers, pawn shops, second hand dealers, advertise, word of mouth, for sale signs, and fix it shops (they always want parts). One note about EBay, you don’t have to have an account with eBay to sell items eBay. There are eBay stores in almost every city who, for part of the sale price, list host your items for you on eBay. When the item sells, the host will send you a check.

Some people keep items they are not using around just in case they should ever need them. This is fine when it comes to tools like hammers, screwdrivers and power tools but, most items should be sold. One reason not to hang on to stuff is that the items deteriorate or get damaged just sitting around. When stuff falls out of the closet or the dog chomps on it a few times or, the item gets weathered or wet, it looses value to a potential buyer. Then, as the items become progressively damaged and deteriorate over the years, they become less and less valuable until they will inevitably be rejected by even Goodwill, (Always think of Goodwill before throwing things out). In retail we used to call this shop worn. Shop worn is when an item sits on a shelf so long that it looks like it had been returned a dozen times when it had never even been used. At which time, a really savvy buyer would come along, recognize value in the item and offer a fraction of the original price for the item. Otherwise, the item will be marked down on clearance at a fraction of the original price or, if it has deteriorated too much, thrown in the dumpster.

So sell, sell, sell, to trade up to better items or different items. Get rid of your unwanted stuff (junk) and think of all that extra space and especially, the extra money.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

SEASONAL ENERGY SAVINGS TIPS

Energy costs are one of the few things in life that you have some control over. There are limits to controlling these costs such as maintaining a level of warmth in your home so you don’t freeze or have to replace some burst pipes. However, just stepping back and looking around the house and seeing where you may save a little money on heat be able to save you at least a modest fortune.

Caulking around windows and doors is an obvious way to save on heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. Keeping doors shut and shutting them as soon as possible can be a valuable way of saving some hard earned dollars over a hot summer or very cold winter season. Another less costly way of controlling the temperature in your home is to open windows early in the morning to cool your house naturally during those horrible summer months. Not only will this give your air conditioner a break for a few hours but you will also get a little fresh air inside your home.

You can change the thermostat’s temperature settings depending on the time of day. This is another way you can save money without much difficulty. Keeping heat mainly in rooms you live in is another way to save some money. One house I owned had extra bedrooms that I seldom used so during the winter months I would close the heating vents into those rooms. Just make sure there are not pipes in the walls or floors in rooms that you shut the heat off. Otherwise you might be in for some expensive repairs.

Dressing appropriately for the season should help you stash some excess cash. Cool cloths in the summer and layered cloths in other seasons will allow you to personally adjust your body comfort without turning up the thermostat until you feel warm.
Over the past years I and many people I know have gone to rechargeable flashlights and outside lights as a means of saving a little bit of money on lighting. My solar lights are bright enough to light up the front porch for a few hours after the sun goes down. You might try adjusting outside lighting use depending on the moon and the clarity of the sky. When the moon is out and the sky is clear it is just like twilight all night long and I can see almost my entire front yard. The moon is a great natural security light and what I find best about it is that moonlight is free.

Rechargeable flashlights have been around for years. You can even find crank rechargeable flashlights, camp lights and radios in many sporting goods departments. I use a camp light as a night light in my bathroom and I always use crank lights when I get up and around at night. These flashlights do have to be cranked (recharged) often but the savings in battery costs alone more than makes up for the slight inconvenience of using a small amount of muscle energy to charge the flashlight.

Saving energy by using less electricity on lighting can be as easy as opening a window to let sunlight in instead of using artificial light. Even the use of a night light in your bedroom can be eliminated just by leaving your blinds open enough to see around your room. Finally, painting your rooms in lighter colors will make it easier to see at night. It’s all about that old physics thing again which tells us that dark colors are better at absorbing light and lighter colors will reflect light better.

Finally, there are many ways of saving money on energy as the seasons change. The most important thing is to plan for these changing seasons by making a list of things you can do to save some money when either the snow is blowing or the hot summer sun is beating down. All in all if you plan, you can save a fortune.

Friday, June 2, 2017

GRILL OUTSIDE AND SAVE BIG BUCKS

I have just gotten done with a delicious lunch featuring ground chuck burgers. They were spectacular. Not only did they taste delicious but, the cost of cooking them was free.

In the past week I have had the local electric utility company come out to my home twice to try to figure out why my electrical use is so low. In other words they are trying to figure out why I am not paying them a lot more money. One thing I do to save money is that on nasty days I eat sandwiches, fruit etc., and on nice days I cook outside. Not heating up the stove on hot days keeps fan and air conditioning costs down which saves a tremendous amount of money.

This all gets back to grilling outdoors and saving money. I do not own a fancy gas grill. I bought a small grill called a hibachi at Rite Aid for $1.99 on clearance a few years ago. It is a very efficient grill and will cook up to 8-10 hamburgers or hot dogs at a time. That is more than most parties need at a time. The only problems that there is no top to keep flies off the food but guess what, someone invented aluminum foil so for a few cents you can easily keep little monster insects off your food and not pay extra dollars for an outdoor stove with a top.

I hate using gas to grill with. That costs more than grilling on the stove and you loose all the outdoor flavors and textures of grilling outside. My little hibachi is a very efficient cooking machine. All I have to provide it with is fuel. Of course many people dabble in buying expensive charcoal or other wood products to heat their food and of course, I never spend even a penny in such endeavors because, all the fuel I use for my hibachi grill I can find in my own backyard.

Fruit trees make some of the best wood to use in your grill although, wood from almost any bush or tree can be used as fuel for your grill. If you have trees like maple, oak etc, you might think about finding a place to set aside your trimmings for a future outdoors party. I have lots of trees on my property so when I am cutting wood I chunk up wood like apple and maple into 2-4 inch chunks. I then let them cure for about two years and then they are better and more efficient at holding a fire for grilling than anything you can buy

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

INCORPORATE FRUIT TREES INTO YOUR LANDSCAPE AND SAVE A FORTUNE

In one of my previous incarnations I managed garden centers.  Gardening has always been one of my favorite hobbies as it was for my parents and grandparents.  My mother has a copy of a will that one of her ancestors left back in the 1600’s  in which the most valuable asset he had to leave his family was his orchard.  The second most valuable asset he had to leave his family was his collection of  household pots and pans.  In those days having something to harvest and eat was slightly more valuable than having something to cook your harvest with.

 With the brief history that I have noted above I think it should be obvious that having things growing on your property that are edible should be part of your planning as you develop your property.   Although having an orchard or large vegetable garden may not be the way you want to see your yard aesthetically, there are ways of blending in edible vegetation which might in fact compliment your yard’s overall view.

A strawberry jar on a porch might be one way of maximizing a small area for some niche delicious fruits.  Strawberry plants are really quite luscious looking when cared for properly and a nice red ripe strawberry is always beautiful either on the plant or on the table.

There are many types of  easy to grow fruit trees that have nice leafy vegetation, ample flowers in the spring and colorful fruits in late summer or fall. Dwarf varieties mature much faster and produce fruit much earlier that conventional fruit trees however, their harvests are equally limited by their smaller size  When it comes to fruit trees apple, plum, pear, peach and apricot are most peoples favorites.  There are also nut trees you might plant however, many nut trees take decades to mature to the point that they actually produce any nuts.

The great thing about fruit trees is that you can plant them in your yard just as you would any other tree that you plant for aesthetic purposes.  A nice apple or plum tree will add both shade and decoration to your front or backyard and in the spring the blossoms will add ornamentation to your property just as well as a flowering shrub or any other flowering tree. An added benefit is that your unwanted fruits will help feed the wildlife in your area.  Birds, squirrels, deer, raccoons and other creatures not often seen will no doubt visit your trees for their vitamin rich manna.

Finally, with the cost of food going ever higher it might be good to supplement your yearly grocery store harvest with some free or nearly free healthful foods.  Insects, bacterial infections and  small animals are the primary creatures who deplete your fruit harvest however, some lemon flavored dish soap suds applied sparingly to your trees about once per week will handle most unwanted consumers of your harvests.  And, a couple of bug bites or patches of  “scale” can be cut out of your fruit.  Furthermore, at least if the fruit has a bug bite on it then it is most likely safe for human consumption unlike the pristine fruits you find in some stores.  The toxins used to make fruit unblemished might do more harm to the human system then  fruit grown naturally with all the scars and bug holes that are common to a healthy environment.




 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

SAVE A FORTUNE WITH HOMEMADE FROZEN DINNERS

Make up your own frozen dinners and save a fortune. The price of prepackaged individual meals has been increasing steadily over the years in response to the ever increasing demand for quick dinners for working, on the go people. However, eating out every meal can be both time consuming and very expensive for the consumer so, finding ways to save money and get quick food is a priority for most people.

One way to getting a nutritious meal of foods that you like is to make up your own frozen dinners and entrées and freeze them for future meals. You can find reusable, microwavable dishes in most discount and dollar stores. You can also reuse microwavable dishes from previous TV or entrée meals that you have bought in the past. If your dishes do not have a top then you should cover them with plastic freezer wrap. Remember that when cooking in a microwave you must always make a hole in the wrap to allow air to escape. Expanding gasses inside any dish will build up and cause an explosion in your microwave and could even damage your machine as well as destroying your meal.

One great advantage with making up your own meals versus purchasing already made-up meals is that you can include in them only the types of foods you like to eat in the proportions you want. If you want to keep calories and/or fats low than making up your own frozen meals can help you maintain your diet. You will need a scale and calorie counting book if you really want to know exactly what you are consuming in terms of calories. A book on nutrition can help you know if you are packaging your desired levels of nutrients in your meals.

I like to use leftovers from large meals to make up TV dinners. Sometimes if you had a big turkey dinner for instance, you might not want to eat turkey and fixings for the next several days. Again, TV dinners help to save all that food, (freezing keeps food from spoiling), without making you sick of eating the same thing night after night.

Once you have started making up your own frozen dinners and entrees you will wonder why you never did it in the past. If you have a busy schedule you might want to designate a day and time to make up TV dinners for the entire week. Sunday night after having a large dinner was always a favorite time for TV dinner making in my house. I do have one warning about dinner making and that is that not all foods cook at the same time at the same temperature. This is true of store purchased dinners as well. However, over time you will get the knack of cooking the dinners. As long as you use only precooked foods in your dinners then, mainly you will be just defrosting and heating the meals.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CONSULT EXPERTS BEFORE MAKING ANY LARGE PURCHASES

Before committing any of your hard earned money to any purchase, make sure that you have some advice from an objective third party expert. By objective third party expert I mean that said expert will not be paid based upon whether or not you purchase the item. In short, salesmen do not count as objective third party experts even though, they should be an expert on the item they are trying to sell to you.

Accountants, lawyers, mechanics, building inspectors and financial managers are examples of some of the people you may need to talk to before you make your decision. Do not allow anyone to push or bully you into making commitments before your expert has looked at the situation. In fact, if someone is insistent that you act without advice that is a sign that your salesperson might be trying to cover something up.

The major investments most people make are: housing, automobiles, life insurance and, investments. For housing you will need to hire a building inspector to make sure your property is both safe and is free of hidden structural problems. You should also consult an attorney to make sure that there are no liens, back taxes or, other legal problems with your property. The attorney can also look over the paperwork of the closing organization. You would be surprised how many foolish errors are made by companies and people who have spent decades handling closings. Unfortunately, these errors can cost the purchaser a lot of time and money to fix once the closing is over.

Most people know that when they are purchasing an automobile that has a limited or no warranty on it then, a mechanic should look the vehicle over to find any hidden problems that might cost you a lot of money in the near future. Having a mechanic look over your vehicle might seem expensive but, if the mechanic finds any problems you can insist that the problem be fixed at the seller’s expense or you are going to walk away and look for something else. Either way you will more than recoup the cost of the mechanic.
Life insurance is something that most people need to cover debts when they die and/or to take care of dependents. To determine the proper amount of life insurance you should consult a financial councilor and pay them for the service they render and not for any insurance product they may offer to sell to you. They will also give you an idea of the proper amount of insurance you will need and how long you will need to carry it. As you grow older you generally need less life insurance because you have fewer dependents.

Finally, you will need to consult a CPA before you make any major investments. Many investments may have tax ramifications that might haunt you the entire time you own the investment. The tax code is very complicated and changes every year. Limited partnerships, apartment buildings and, commercial real estate are among some of the investments that can easily become tax nightmares both in terms of ease of filing taxes and, ease in which you can sell the property.

Overall, get advice when making large purchases. Don’t be afraid to hire an expert for a few hundred dollars when you could potentially lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Sometimes you do have to spend a little money in order to save a  fortune.

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