Monday, November 14, 2011

Old School Ways To Save Money...

Looking to save money so you can pay off you debts and restore your good credit score? Sometimes you have to get back to the basics and balance your budget the old fashioned way. Here are some old-school money-saving tactics that worked for our grandparents and can work for you:

Bring back the piggy bank

Not many people still have actual piggy banks and I'm not sure why. Not only is it kitsch and fun, it really is a good way to save money. Change isn't regarded the way it used to be. Quarters are the new pennies. In fact, if it weren't for laundry and parking meters it's unlikely we would even use change at all. All the more reason to squirrel that money away into a piggy bank. Let's say you're able to save $5 a week in change. That adds up to a handsome $20 a month that you could easily hedge away into a savings account and watch grow with literal interest. Bank of America took all the fun out of this with their 'keep the change' rigamarole, but maybe they were onto something.

Re-use and cut back

Don't throw away anything except garbage (and even that can be used for a composting worm farm if you really want to get DIY). Cartons, containers, rags, sponges, bags, linens, and jars can all be put to good re-use, eating into ancillary shopping costs. And speaking of eating, cut back on over-consumption. Only put one slice of cheese on your sandwich, stick to just one bowl of cereal for breakfast—and don't use three times the amount of shampoo you actually need to wash your hair. A little bit of frugality and common sense will go a long way toward cutting costs.

Reinstate the swearing jar

Every time you curse you've got to throw in a buck. And, just to make it more relevant to the times, let's go ahead and say that every time you log in to Facebook you've got to throw in a buck as well. That money's going to add up quick and before you know it you've got another savings account, grown simply from your addiction to swear words and social networking.

Start collecting coupons

No matter how much you can't stand people at the grocery store who hold up the entire line with their endless Rolodex of coupons, the fact is if you use them efficiently, coupons can save you a lot of money. However, if you positively can't bear to become 'one of those people', newer services like Groupon and Living Social recreate the coupon experience for the digital age.

There's no end to the advice you can find about saving money and cutting costs, but a lot of it is just a dressed up way to keep you buying stuff. The best way to save money is to do what our grandparents did and count the pennies. We're not in an actual Depression yet, but that doesn't mean we can't act like it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to Decrease Your Cell Phone Bill

The cost of owning a cell phone is exceptionally high when compared to other items that we use on a regular basis. In fact, most cell phone bills exceed monthly utility bills. However, the cost of owning a cell phone isn't usually enough to deter everyone from having one. Instead, they just find ways to afford the smartphone of their dreams – even if it means picking up a few extra hours at work.

Owning a cell phone, however, doesn't have to put you in the red every month though. There are a few easy ways that every cell phone owner can decrease their monthly bill to make it more affordable:

Inquire About Incentives

Many people lose out on receiving discounts on their phones simply because they never ask. If you feel that your cell phone bill is too high, call your service provider. You may find that you are eligible for discounted plans or other services that could reduce your cell phone bill by 15 to 50 percent.

Choose a Prepaid Phone

One of the biggest expenses of a cell phone, is the plan the service provider provides itself. Contracts with service providers are often expensive and binding, and charge outrageous fees if you were to ever need to break your contract. To avoid high monthly fees or expensive contracts, consider getting a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones these days are as high-tech as many contracted phones, and are much more affordable.

Limit App Purchases

Apps make owning a cell phone fun, but they can also quickly run up your bill – especially if you've got kids on your plan. While each app may only cost a couple of bucks, downloading multiples can quickly add $20 to your cell phone bill. To avoid having extra high charges to your already high bill, set a budget for your monthly app purchases.

These days, it seems nearly impossible to get by without your cell phone. However, many would be more than happy to get by with a cheaper monthly bill. Be smart when using your phone, and always make sure to look over your monthly bill for accidental charges. Doing so will not only allow you to fully enjoy your cell phone, but it will also keep a few extra bucks in your pocket for savings.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Reading Bills All the Way Through, Even if They Look Right

For most bills we get, there’s an accompanying statement. Whether it’s a check at the restaurant, a cell phone bill, or a tuition bill; most will have an accompanying breakdown of charges. Sometimes we read these bills over to check them, when we know exactly how the breakdown should look, but rarely do we exert the same diligence when the situation is reversed.

Restaurant checks and cell phone bills are a case in point. When my wife and I go out to eat, even if it’s just the two of us, I almost invariable glance over the tab before adding a tip and signing my name at the bottom. I check to make sure that each of our entrees are listed, that our drinks are there, if there were any, and that nothing extra has been tacked on. That last point is the most important, because it’s the only reason most people read through their bills – to make sure that they are not being overcharged.

It’s the same thing with my cell phone bill, although I look over the statement less frequently because I never remember every call I made that month. Without a recollection of the details, I’ve always figured, why bother looking the bill over? After all, there’s no way to double-check the phone company’s records if I don’t know what I’m looking for in the first place. As a result, I only find myself looking over phone bills when the total balance seems unusually high. Maybe there will be some suspicious and random long-distance call, which I can then use a reverse phone lookup to track. Or maybe I simply failed to pay the full balance last month.

But there’s something to be gained from looking at a statement even when the bill looks right, and when there’s no suspicious long distance calls, and when there’s no remaining balance from the previous month. You probably know what I’m getting at here.

Just like the act of underlining makes someone more engaged with the writing, the simple act of reading over a statement makes it harder to mentally separate the phone calls you make every day and the check you write twelve times a year. By reading over the summary, and by seeing your charges slowly add up, you can more effectively learn to cut back calls and reduce needless phone expenses. My wife and I have been trying it out. At the very least, it will prepare us to read the bill judiciously in the case when our daughter becomes a teenager. ;0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whoa, It's still here!

I thought this blog was gone. I've been trying to access it for the past couple of weeks, but it stated that the blog was deleted. But to my pleasant surprise, it's still here. Update to come soon!