Thursday, March 2, 2017


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.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


You can save a small fortune by starting really small. Saving money can begin coin by coin. So just pick a particular coin and start saving that coin out of your change on a daily basis. If you’re tight with your finances maybe pennies or nickels could be your savings vehicles. If you have a little more money to spare then dimes and quarters will help you build up your own personal stash of treasure at a much faster rate.

A trip to any store shows just how little a hand full of coins in your pocket will buy. If you can buy a small candy bar with the change you carry around then you should consider yourself lucky. However, just saving on average ten quarters each week out of your change will build up to a whopping $130.00 in just one year. Over a ten year period this can add up a tidy sum of $1,300 which could be a nice little bit of money to help out a struggling college student or to make a mortgage payment should you be caught short some month. Setting a goal for what you want to spend your savings on will help to keep you saving coins religiously out of your change and act as a deterrent should you decide you wanted to run down to the nearest ice cream stand and buy a large ice cream cone double dipped in chocolate.

Now saving $1,300 might seem like just a small stash to save but remember you saved this money out of coins that by themselves would not buy anything in most stores. So, saving that change is a painless way to build up some savings. Saving ten quarters out of your change each week amounts to only $2.50 out of (literally) your pocket. And, since you are saving just a single type of coin out of your change you will still have plenty of other loose coins to give to a clerk so you don’t have to break a bill. Having no change in my pockets would be psychologically devastating for me since I would cringe having to break dollar bills all the time because I saved all my change and brought none with me to the store.

There are a few things you should consider as far as managing your little treasure. First of all you should put them in a clear container. Physically watching your treasure grow over time will inspire you to hunt down every single coin in your home just to get your pile of coins to grow another half an inch. Taking pride in watching your treasure grow will make it less likely that you will raid your savings for a pizza or to visit the local Casino. Of course having another type of coin that you save for junkets to the local pizza parlor or casino is alright and actually a good idea. Having a separate savings for impulse spending is like an insurance policy against thieving from your main treasure.

Remember, the most important thing in saving money is to actually save it. Simply putting money in a jar when you get home from a store one day and then raiding that jar for money to go shopping with the next day is not really saving money. Instead, you are really just storing the money overnight. In order to save your stash of coins you must adopt the mindset of a leprechaun guarding his gold and guard your coins against anyone who covets your treasure. Of course the worst coveter of your coins will be yourself. Marking on your coin container what exactly you hope to save the money for might help keep you from filching from your treasure. If you have a clear container with a screw on top then gluing or taping the top onto the container and just leaving a slit open to deposit coins will at least make you think a little bit before raiding your savings.

Monday, January 2, 2017


It is great to shop the seasonal clearance items. You can get the best deals on many items by shopping for deep discounts on seasonal clearance end caps, tables and even in the main aisles. Seasonal clearances occur at least four times a year and are in every section of the store. Even items that are not really seasonal are sold off at deep discounts to make way for the short season holiday items. One large retailer I worked at sold off much of the regular furniture it carried (beds,desks,chairs etc), when it was time to set up displays of patio furniture. Space in a retail store is not cheap so they will sacrifice carrying a full line in order to make a fast buck.

Seasonal items are often clearanced at 30% off or more. Clothing and live nursery plants are often clearanced at 50% or more off. Don't be afraid to ask for a further discount particularly if the box is a Little shop worn (faded, scratched or,taped). You can also get a better deal if there are limited items left. A manager might just want to get the items out of the way rather than store them until the next season and by then, the items may be damaged by accidents in the backroom or, the item might be discontinued in favor of a newer item or different brand. In any case, don't be afraid to ask for a further discount then what is being advertised on the sign or in the paper. Make sure you ask a manager since most clerks don't have the authority to give discounts. The floor clerk is usually instructed to not give further discounts.

The garden center is a great place to get fall discounts. Most trees and shrubs do well if you plant them in the fall. And, most garden centers shut completely down all winter and have to get rid of all their shrubs,trees and perennials. Always ask for a further discount on seasonally clearanced trees and shrubs. If you are willing wait for the item and take a chance on it being sold, keep checking back with the garden center manager to see what kind of further discount you can get. On the last few days the garden center is open the manager just might ask you to make an offer for any live plants he has left.

The clothing section of the store is usually where seasonal discounts occur first since they must be set up for the next season up to six weeks in advance. Areas like housewares, toys and sporting goods often have a few aisles or least end caps that change over from season to season. Most departments have holiday items that will be discounted before and after the holiday is over.

Groceries change over less than other areas but, items like candy, produce and even deli may have some seasonal discount. Many wines may also be cleareanced to make way for the latest vintage. If you collect local wines than seasonal change over times are heaven sent. You can really build up your wine cellar at up to 50% off of the sticker prices.

Overall, don't be afraid of shopping for seasonal bargains. Of course, don't be afraid of asking for even greater discounts from the store or department manager. When you buy seasonal clearance items you win but, the merchant also wins. They get the cash back on the item and some space freed up for the latest items for the current season.

Friday, February 1, 2013


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.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


The following is an excerpt from an e-mail sent out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  It has some good ideas for those of us with septic systems that will definitely help us "Save A Fortune". 

Problems, Protect Environment

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched "SepticSmart," a new program encouraging homeowners to take steps to maintain their home septic systems, preventing costly repairs, inconvenience and pollution to local waterways, which poses risks to public health and the environment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 25 percent of U.S. households—more than 26 million homes—and almost one-third of new developments are serviced by septic systems.

EPA launched SepticSmart to promote proper septic system care and maintenance. This national program aims to educate homeowners about proper daily system use and the need for periodic septic system maintenance. SepticSmart also provides industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations with tools and materials to educate their clients and residents.

SepticSmart tips include:

Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Too much water use at once can overload your system, particularly if it hasn’t been pumped in the last couple of years.
Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain, which can clog your system.
Homeowners should have their septic system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years. Regular inspection and pumping of a septic system can save homeowners from costly repairs—on average, it costs homeowners $250 to pump their septic system, while the average cost of replacing a conventional septic system is $5,000 - $10,000. As the holidays approach, consider having your tank inspected and pumped.
Ask guests to only to put things in the toilet that belong there. Dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can clog and potentially damage septic systems.
Remind guests not to park or drive on your system’s drainfield because the vehicle weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow causing system backups and floods.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The word ‘poison” does not really sound too good when applied to food out of your garden that you and your family are going to consume. In truth, poison is not something you really want to consume and as a practitioner of the gardening arts I avoid using poison like poison. For no matter how hard you may try to wash the poisons off of your vegetables it will be in the back of your mind that you might not be getting rid of all the poison.

I relegate poison to only those times when nothing else is helping. Then I use a mild and also less expensive poison like Sevin. There are many home remedies for treating disease and infestations of insects and they range in effectiveness at curbing diseases and insects from none to working as well or better than main stream garden center poisons. The main items I use to treat disease and control insects are lemon juice and dish soap. I have found that lemon is a repellant to most many insects (including mosquitoes’ b the way). I have also found that dish soap is fairly effective in getting rid of worm type insects and aiding in protecting your plants from bacterial diseases. Both of these remedies are much cheaper than purchasing standard anti-bacterial and insect killing chemicals. In fact, many garden chemical companies offer their own version of soap for organic gardeners and others who are concerned with the well being of their families. Note: I like to purchase lemon scented dish soap so I’m sort of getting a bigger bang for my buck.

Of course the cheapest way of avoiding the expense of high priced poisons is to be proactive in your garden. Many people remember that as children one of their first gardening experiences was being placed in charge of picking tomato worms off of the tomato plants. Certainly hand picking insects off of your plants is the cheapest way of pest control. Cutting infected fruits, leaves and, branches from your crops should always be done to help curb the spread of bacterial diseases. Again, this is the cheapest form of disease control.

Now when it comes to controlling weeds in my vegetable garden I never use any chemicals at all. I pull out weeds and if I can’t pull them out I use a hoe to chop them out. Depending on how often it rains, you many have to pull and/or hoe weeds every week or two. Using muscle instead of poison will always be the most inexpensive way to control weeds.

Overall, you can cut back or curtail altogether the use of chemicals on you vegetable garden. This might improve not only your financial situation but it could in the long run improve on your health  costs. Either way, there are ways to garden and save a fortune.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The thing about saving money is you have to make it something that is fun. It’s not just the kids that need to have fun saving money but you personally need to have fun which means you have to get a kick out of what you have done. Saving money is all about finding personal satisfaction in what you have accomplished.

An easy way to have fun while saving money is just to pick a common coin that you get in change; a penny, nickel, dime or, quarter in the U.S. and every time you get home from work or a store you sort that coin out of your change and you save it. You can save that coin in a bottle, can or, piggy bank. The important thing is that you establish a habit for yourself to save that coin.

Of course before you start saving you should set some goals or reasons why you are saving a particular coin out of your change. Otherwise without goals you will be tempted to raid your piggy bank of coins whenever you go to the store. This will destroy the discipline of saving money and in the end, you will end up with a bunch of stuff you bought not because you needed to but such stuff but, because you could buy such stuff and it made you feel good to spend the money.

So the coin(s) you save should be designated for a particular purchase. It could be for Christmas or Hanukah gifts or it could be for an appliance or maybe a trip. The thing is whatever you designate the saving of a particular coin for, it should be more important to you than just stuffing your change into a piggy bank. Otherwise, your saved coins will be spent on lunch or groceries.

Getting your kids to pick a coin and save might lead to astronomical savings for yourself and teach your children that stuff is not free. Have them save a particular coin to buy a video game they want or to buy the latest very cloths that all the other kids are wearing. Rather than hitting mom and dad up for $10, $20 or, $50 for whatever a kid thinks they need immediately it will force him/her to maybe think ahead of the moment and perhaps evaluate whether or not they really want something.  Letting kids save for what is really important to them will empower them in the long run to be better consumers. Making choices as to how money is spent (a scarce resource for most people) is perhaps the most important life lesson that anyone can learn.


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