Thursday, August 23, 2007

Article Series #4

Are you throwing money away? John Nardini, Woman's Day 11/19/02

42 easy ways to fatten your wallet...

1. Avoid late fees - Duh! If we paid our electric bill late every month for a year the late fees would = one hour of pay (gross pay). That stinks! I don't want to waste my time working for what is essentially nothing. Figure if we paid all our bills late (one of the credit cards used to charge $35 a month if late, ouch) I'd probably spend 2 weeks working for FEES, don't even get me started on the ATM machine!!!

2. Don't let credit card debt linger - basically sending the minimum payment will drag out the process into a decades long waste of money.

3. Skip credit cards with annual fees - there are just too many options out there to settle for something you have to pay to have.

4. Get the most out of your gas purchases - I didn't know that filling up in the early AM or late PM could make a difference on the volume of gas, hmmm. Apparently gas is denser then. I don't think I've ever read that before.

5. Make sure your car is in top running shape - I'm not a "car" person but I do know enough to keep the oil changed & check the tires every so often!

6. Keep your trunk empty - this article was written by a man! I keep an assortment of items in my van at all times, sorry the benefit of having emergency supplies (napkins, wipes, plates, cups, blankets, toys, window cleaner, sweatshirts, etc) far outweighs any % of gas mileage saved!

7. Skip the extended warranty when you buy a new car - OK, most new cars come with a warranty & if you take your vehicle in before it expires your shop will probably do all the necessary or unnecessary work to leave you with a "new" car.

8. Compare Insurance prices - it also pays to keep multiple policies with one company (extra discounts).

9. Drop collision or comprehensive coverage on older cars - I will be keeping mine thank you, it is worth the $0 deductible glass coverage. I do drive a mini van afterall!

10. Ask about discounts - air bags, ABS, anti theft, multiple policies, my favorite - safety courses.

11. Join a credit union - Been there done that, they are a great value, just find one that is convenient. Ours was more hassel than it was worth.

12. Find out about discounts - Lots of banks waive fees if you use direct deposit, look for free checking, free with interest is better!

13. Order checks from an outside company not from the bank. They are SO much cheaper.

14. Balance your checkbook every month. Don't trust the bank to find errors, unless they are in their favor. And if they are, my experience has been that they will just make the corrections & not tell you what is going on.

15. Return unwanted items quickly - sounds familiar... Don't remove tags unless you are 100% certain you are keeping it. The Prince got a shirt for his birthday that makes him look like a stuffed sausage, but we couldn't exchange it because (even though I specifically said not to) he removed the tags.

16. Shop in the men's department - article claims that socks, turtlenecks & plain white tshirts are cheaper there. I'm not sure about that, and if I bought socks that fit me I'd be in the boys department not the men's & then I'd loose all my socks to the Prince.

17. Lower your dry cleaning costs - What dry cleaning costs??? Even if it says dry clean only I still wash it, I've never had an issue EVER. Even suit coats have gone in the washer on gentle, fluff dried then hung while still damp. If you aren't as brave then find a good local dry cleaner, or try the "dry cleaning" wipes that go in your dryer.

18. Stop at your grocery stores discount rack - Yup, breads, discontinued items, managers specials on meats, we've been here before!

19. Buy in bulk - sure, but only if it's cheaper & you have the room.

20 - Get the most out of your meat purchases. - Sure. Goes with meat your butcher, I've had pork loins slices for boneless chops, I've also found that it isn't hard to do it myself.

21. Refinance your mortgage - maybe back in 2002 that was good advice! Now do your homework.

22. Prepay your mortgage - You can pay extra per month or make an extra payment every year. Unless you have higher interest debt then pay that first!

23. Cancel PMI after you own 20% of your home. Read your fine print, we can't cancel ours until a specific date no matter what the % is. And what is it based on? Equity? Value? or the Loan? Our home has been valued at $120+ our loan principal is $70, but it doesn't work that way. I wish it did we pay over $800 a year for it.

24. Compare tax assessment with your neighbors - Sure you can challenge them if there are discrepancies, but I know in our area what usually happens is 1) nothing 2) you get reassessed higher 3) they raise your neighbors assessments.

25. Learn to do simple home repairs - Not everything is as easy as they make it look on HGTV! Do your homework. It won't be cost effective if you have to run out & buy a ton of special tools.

26. Shop homeowner's insurance (renter's insurance) - again, multiple policy discount!

27. Ask about discounts - non smokers, fire extinguishers, alarm systems.

28. Increase your deductible - this will save you money on your premium, but you'll have to pay more out of pocket each incident. We've only been in the house for 4 years & we've had 1 claim & 1 incident that should have been (tenant disaster of 2007).

29. Itemize your return - If you have enough deductions. We do not.

30. Donate - if you itemize that is

31. Double check your return - or triple, quadruple...

32. Use your "included" phone minutes, sure just don't go over...

33. Drop unused services on your phone - My services are a package & it would cost me more to have the few I use so check your rates first.

34. Take advantage of energy audits offered by many power companies - If yours offers!

35. Replace standard light bulbs with CFLs - I think that is a dead horse (pardon the phrase). All of the appropriate bulbs have been changed.

36. Adjust your thermostat - We immediately changed to digital. If you can't/won't keep the thermostat at a normal 68, may I suggest coal, pellet or wood heat! Our coal furnace keeps us at a balmy 75+ all winter. Whether I want it to or not.

37. Allow sunlight to warm your home - This will be nice with the upstairs apartment. I am also having hubby install a couple solatubes in the bathrooms (both are convenient for the fixtures). They will light dark spaces & our local discount home store has them for $100.

38. Insulate your home using furniture & wall hangings. I guess this depends on you house, but then the carpet didn't block the draft & stuff against the walls is fine, but we can't place furniture in the worst areas (windows & doors or registers).

39. Keep your refrigerator and freezer at the recommended temperatures. No one likes frozen eggs or squishy pop-sicles any ways!

40. Check the seal on your fridge doors. I know these can be replaced I have had to do it in the past, just don't mix up the fridge & freezer pieces!!!

41. Keep appliances lint & dust free. I try to remember to clean the coils, really I do!

42. When using your oven peek through the window or wait until food is almost done before opening the door. - If only my oven had a window & if I knew when it was "almost" done I wouldn't be peeking!!!

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