Saturday, December 2, 2017

HOW TO RECYCLE GREETING CARDS AND HAVE FUN

Almost everyone today sends messages for birthdays and other special events through e-mail, over Face-book or, some other electronic media. However, from time to time a more personal approach is appropriate like say through the mail. Such a personal approach might take the form of a greeting card.

Now there are greeting cards out there that go for $5-$6 or more but, there are also cards out there that sell for $1 or less. The $5 or more cards are a very expensive way to express a for instance, birthday wish and many $1.00 or less cards may make the sender look like they are extremely cheap and may not really care.

One solution that some people have to sending nice looking cards that cost no money at all is to reuse cards they have previously received. Now many people might think that reusing greeting cards is cheap and tacky but, in many cases it can be more fun for both the sender and receiver than what an expensive new card can achieve. For example: from her nieces and granddaughters my mother has received really nice birthday and Christmas cards that she then sends back to them the next year. Of course before sending the card back to them she crosses out the word “grandmother” and replaces it with “granddaughter” (or whatever the relationship might be). They then send the card back to her when she has a birthday or as a Christmas card. It is kind of an ongoing joke between them and with each signature a new date is added which makes these cards very special for both parties.

Of course friends and neighbors could easily join in the joke and tradition of resending the same card each year to each other. Most cards go into a drawer or into the trash but, recycled cards go into our hearts and memories and make each passing memorable occasion just a little bit more special.

So, share a special event, speacial moment or speacial time by recycling your cards with relatives, friends and neighbors and save a fortune.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

HAVE A HOBBY THAT IS A CASH GENERATOR

One great way to have some extra money is to turn your hobbies into cash generating machines.  If you have a  hobby that you want to start to make money on, you already know about how to buy items for your hobby. Hence, you already know how to sell your items. You might be selling them on eBay, another on line service, in the news paper, at consignment shops, bazaars, auctions, word of mouth , hobby clubs, rummage and garage sales, conventions and shows, your own on line store or the conventional brick and mortar shop.

So, there are many ways to sell items from your hobby.   Of course before you start a business hobby you need to know the costs.  Costs can be anything from materials, extra electricity, extra phone  and Internet services, costs of machines like copiers ad computers, labor, time, transportation and, shipping costs.   In addition to costs you must make sure you have the space to accomplish all you business tasks.  You will need a desk area for records as well as a place to create your projects and an area to package your items for sale and shipping.

Many of your costs can be deducted on your income tax although some, like machines, may have to be amortized (a small deduction each year instead of deducting the full cost in the year you purchase the machine).   You will need to consult a good tax person before you are up and running as a business.  Other ramifications like sales taxes, business taxes, social security taxes etc., may have to be added to your costs.
Of course depending on the state you live in and, if your business is small enough, you may have very few if any extra costs imposed by government entities.  One very big positive to having a small hobby business is that  you may get some nice tax breaks against other income that you have. 

What if you don't have a hobby yet but, want to find something to do that can be fun and rewarding and be profitable as well?  Going on line is the one great way of seeing what hobbies are available.  Checking at  hobby stores or visiting places like bazaars and consignment shops that sell hobby items, can also generate ideas.   Your hobby does not have to be about producing an item for sale.  It could also be a service like landscaping or cooking meals for on the go families. There are hundreds of computer programs you can purchase to help you create a small business.  For example, fixing old photographs.   If you like to travel then, being a tour guide might be a great hobby/business.  On line publishing of things like children's books, maps, articles, photos,calendars,etc., are just some ways of making money via Internet services.

Overall, there are literally thousands of hobbies that can be turned into businesses.  Some people eventually, make their hobby/business into their main source of income.  They might even expand and have to hire people.  Starting with a small hobby/business is a good way of testing the waters so to speak, to find out if a hobby can be a viable business and, if you can be a viable business person.

Monday, October 2, 2017

BUDGET FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND SAVE A FORTUNE

Now it is time for some specific ideas to help you save lots of money over the holidays. I will start by talking about shopping. The first thing you need to do is to draw up a complete list of the people you will need and might need to buy for over the holidays and, place by each name a dollar amount of what you will spend on this person. Also, jot down some ideas as to what this person might want for a gift. After you have your list of potential persons to buy for separate the people into two lists. One will be those you have to buy for (relatives) and the other are those you may have to buy for (co-workers, friends, and neighbors).

To be specific, people you might have to buy for are those that show up with gift either at work or at your doorstep. These people you will hand you a gift and then you can say, “Oh I have something for you too.” The best thing to do in this situation is to have one or too really generic gifts like a box of candy or nuts. The generic gifts should be something you can use as a stocking stuffer for family members should you not need to come up with a gift for your neighbors, co-workers etc.
Once you have the list of people you have to buy for and have a targeted amount of money to spend on each person, add up the amounts of money to get an idea of how much money you will need for Christmas. If you think the total amount will be too much, start going through your list and eliminating a dollar or two from each persons allotment. Do this until you have a total gift expense that will keep you from going into debt. It is a good idea to include what you think you may have to spend on people you might have to buy for. Now you have a total amount of money that you can spend for gifts.

Next, you must figure out how much money you will need to spend for entertaining. This cost will in most cases be primarily for food. Here you will have to use your knowledge of food prices. You may need to look around the local grocery store to see what the prices are for holiday items like hams, turkeys, cheese etc. You should be able to get many of these items on sale right before the holidays but, don’t count on it. Instead use the normal prices to come up with your entertainment budget.
When it comes to entertaining for the holidays, use what you have in storage first. Then, perhaps in the case of parties at least, you might be able to borrow say, a fancy dish for the mashed potatoes or a punch bowl. Many times parents can help out with these items. Do not go out and buy such items for a one time use unless you have no other choice and you cannot find a substitute item. Remember, there are places where you can rent a lot of items such as large coffee pots for parties or chocolate fountains.

Decorating for the holidays should not be expensive. Use what you have first. Borrow from others if you have to and of course, try to make your own decorations. I will soon have a new blog on this site dedicated just to saving money on decorating for the holidays. Until then, try to have a really small budget dedicated for decorations. Maybe you could make up a list of must have decorations and go from there. I would include table settings and napkins with decorations so, you might want to just budget $10.00 for such items and shop early at the dollar stores. Decorations are items most stores only order in once or twice during the holiday season so, if you don’t buy them early, you might not have much choice and what I think is worse, it may cost you more money. The cheaper items always sell out first.

Overall, make budgets for gifts and entertaining over the holidays. Add up your budgets to see if you can afford what you have budgeted and cut a few dollars here and there until your overall budget does not put you into debt. You might also budget some money for travel expenses. Whipping out the credit card at the last minute because you forgot to allot funds for that trip to Wisconsin, will definitely keep you from saving a fortune.

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

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