Showing posts with label Ways to Save Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ways to Save Money. Show all posts
Ways to Save on Food - Fruits and Vegetables

Ways to Save on Food - Fruits and Vegetables

Here are several good ways to save on food, or at least on fruits and vegetables. Saving money on other grocery items is covered on other pages.


Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables often cost much less than fresh, depending on the season. You can use frozen vegetables in cooked dishes and frozen fruit in "smoothies" (just blend orange juice with frozen blueberries, strawberries or raspberries).


Now for the really good news: The frozen versions may have more vitamins than the fresh. This is because fresh fruits and vegetables travel for days and sit in the store displays for days, and then sit in your refrigerator for days, all the while losing vitamins. The ones in the freezer department are usually cleaned and flash-frozen shortly after being picked, thus locking in much of the vitamin content.


How to Save on Organic Fruits and Vegetables

If you sometimes buy organic produce to avoid pesticides you know that they can be expensive. But there is a way to keep your pesticide exposure down while saving money. Just buy organic when shopping for those foods with the most pesticides and spend less to get non-organic fruits and vegetables when buying those that typically are lowest in pesticides. The lists:

Foods with most pesticides:

Bell Pepper
Grapes (Imported)

Foods lowest in pesticides:

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato


More Ways to Save on Food

Do you want the freshest, best produce at the lowest cost? Then buy whatever is in season at the moment. That's when you get the highest quality, and because of the abundant supply this is also when prices are normally the lowest. You get the same fruits and vegetables as you normally do, but when they are ripe and probably better for you.

You can also adjust your diet to include more fruits or vegetables that are cheaper. Habit alone may have you buying some of the things you eat, while there are cheaper alternatives that you would enjoy just as much. Try any produce that's on sale and see what you really like. Then among your favorites just buy whatever costs the least each time you go shopping.

Gardening might seem like a way to save on food costs, but this rarely works if you have a small garden. By the time you figure the costs of seeds supplies and water you may be paying twice as much for each tomato or cucumber. On the other hand, why not visit friends who like to show off their gardens. They will probably send you home with a free zucchini or two.

Cheap Insurance Secrets

Cheap Insurance Secrets

Cheap insurance? Not only can you spend less on all types of insurance, but you can get more of the coverage you need for less. Here are some insider secrets to help you out.


Cheap Auto Insurance

Of course you should get several quotes. You also probably know that having as high a deductible as you can afford will save you money. Here are some money-saving tips you might not have known.


- Demand the legal minimum for liability coverage if you have few or no assets. Many companies try to sell you their "company-recommended minimums" on liability, and even pass them off as the legal minimums. Get the legal minimums. If you have no assets, you are not a target for a lawsuit.

- Review your policies. Have your policy reviewed and get new quotes every year or so. If the ticket you have is now past the three year mark (or whatever the company thinks is important) they will drop the rate, but not automatically, so ask.


- Remove kids from your policy. If the kids are at a college that's more than 100 miles away, you can have them taken off the insurance policy and save a lot of money. You can't let them drive the car when they come home to visit though.

Cheap Life Insurance

- Buy multiple policies. Instead of buying one large policy, you can save money by buying two, and staggering the terms. Have one run until the kids are out of the house, for example, and the other until your retirement fund kicks in.

- Check out the company. Visit This is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners site. It has links to check out companies, including their financial condition, and the complaints filed against them.

- Get rebates. Some states allow agents to rebate a portion of their commission to you. Check online or by phone. You don't have to be from the state to buy insurance there.

Other Cheap Insurance Secrets

- Health insurance: Find a group to join. If you don't have health insurance through your employer, join a group that enables you to get a better policy rate. A fraternal organization or the chamber of commerce sometimes have arranged for group policies.

- Home owners insurance: Consider higher deductibles. Insurance is for disasters, not small stuff. Plan to pay the first $1000 someday when something happens. In the meantime you'll save money every year on your policy.

- Credit life insurance: Just say no. It pays the balance of your auto, home or other loan if you die. If you feel you need it, regular life insurance for the same amount is much cheaper.

No matter what type of insurance you are buying, be sure to get several quotes. Ask about every part of the policy. Don't pay for things you don't need. Ask if there are any special discounts you might be eligible for. Asking a lot of questions and really understanding the policy is the key to getting cheap insurance.


Why is Debt Consolidation Necessary?

Why is Debt Consolidation Necessary?

Why is debt consolidation necessary? Maybe it isn't. It seems like the easy way out of the problem of too many payments every month. When your credit card and loan payments add up to $900 every month, why not just get a loan that will pay all of these debts off and have a nice easy payment of say, $300? There are two reasons why this may be a bad idea.


Debt Consolidation Ignores the Cause

Too much debt? Why? Rarely is the cause due entirely unforeseeable circumstances. Most often, if you have debt problems, it is because you buy too many things on credit. In other words, it is due to bad financial habits.


Now what happens when you combine all that debt? Do you have less debt? Maybe you get a lower interest rate on average, but you still owe all the money, right? Your consolidated debt is just easier to pay, because it is in one lower payment stretched out over a longer period. What else becomes easier now? Adding more debt.

This is exactly what many people do. They get their $900 of various payments rolled into a loan with a $300 payment, and now they have all that excess income. Time to go buy some things on credit. Obviously, debt consolidation can be a way to postpone reckoning with the real problem - bad financial habits. Postponing dealing with debt makes it much worse, of course.


Debt Consolidation Costs More

It may seem like you are saving money on interest with some consolidation loans, but this isn't always true. The problem is that you are converting short-term debt into long term debt. The longer you take to pay off the money owed, the more you pay in interest.

Let's look at an example. If you owed $6,000 on a credit card, with 18% annual interest, it would take a payment of $176.26 per month to pay it off in four years. You would pay a total of $2460 in interest. Suppose, in order to get the best interest rate and easiest terms, you rolled the debt into your 30-year mortgage on your home (many people do this). If it was a 7% loan, it would add only $39.92 to the payment. That's easier than $176, and a much lower interest rate, but how much total interest will you pay over the years? $8371 - more than the original debt.

Of course there are debt consolidation loans that are not for 30 years, but you get the point. Even with a 15-year, 7% loan, which would costs $53.93 per month, you would pay at least 50% more in interest than with the 18% 4-year payoff. Converting short-term debt into long term debt can cost you a lot more in interest.

Try hard to make those payments and get rid of that debt sooner. You'll be glad you did. Of course, it may be impossible to make those payments. That happens, but for a reason. At least work as hard on changing your habits as you do on getting that consolidation loan.


Is a Bad Credit Rating a Good Thing?

Is a Bad Credit Rating a Good Thing?

Could a bad credit rating save you from bigger problems? It has done just that for many young people. How can this be? I'll start with a true story.

A Good Credit Rating Story

A friend, whose name I will withhold, started his adulthood with good credit. He soon was able to get credit cards at will, and finance cars, snowmobiles and more. He managed to make the payments on his debt, and went deeper and deeper into debt while he was at it. By the time he was 30 years old, he had over $20,000 in credit card debt, plus loans on cars and business tools.


It was too much to handle. He considered bankruptcy, but was convinced that the credit card companies would reduce his balance due if he just threatened to do so. First, though, he had to stop paying on the cards, or the credit card companies wouldn't believe he was in financial trouble. He did this, then drafted a nice letter to the companies, explaining his situation. Most of them cut at least 30% off what he owed, provided he paid the remaining balance immediately. This he did with a home equity loan.


In the end, his bad credit rating wasn't as bad as if he had actually declared bankruptcy, so he was able to rebuild his credit score. He has also begun to rebuild his credit balances. His good credit rating has enabled him to begin again the stressful process of overburdening himself with debt.


A Bad Credit Rating Story

Another friend of mine had her first credit rating based on the phone bill in her first apartment. She didn't ever pay the phone bill on time, and it was eventually disconnected. This, and a few other minor credit infractions when young destroyed her credit scores. What has this meant?

She can't borrow, so she hasn't had the pleasure of being at the edge of bankruptcy. She can buy things for cash when she has it, or wait until she does. Has this inability to have a bunch of things around that are worth a fraction of what she owes on them made her a less happy person? The opposite is true, in my opinion. She just doesn't have the debt-stress that is so typical today.

Is Bad Credit Good?

I am not recommending that you purposely try to get a bad credit rating, but if you already have one, it isn't all bad. The habits that got you there would probably get you into even more trouble if you could borrow more. Look at it as an opportunity to stop going further into debt, and a chance to learn better habits.

Start paying cash for everything. Pay down those credit card balances (the higher interest ones first). The moment you get those cards paid off, start setting aside money to buy a good used car for cash. When you've done that, start putting what would have been a car payment into a savings account, for a future down payment on house or a business (the only things you should borrow for). A bad credit rating can be good thing, if you take it as a lesson and an opportunity.


1040 Tax Tips : A few lesser-known ways to save at tax time.

1040 Tax Tips : A few lesser-known ways to save at tax time.

1040 Tax Information

Note: This is not an IRS site, but a collection of ways to save money at tax time - ways that you may not have heard of.

IRA Tax Deduction Secret

Starting an IRA (Individual retirement account)? There is a way to get two tax deductions from your contribution. Instead of using cash, sell any stock you own which has decreased in value, and then put THAT cash in your IRA. Why? Because you can write off the capital loss for the sale of the stock, and thereby reduce your taxes even more than if you just put savings into the IRA.


What if you still like the stock? Buy it back using your IRA. There is a "wash rule" in the tax code that says you can't sell and repurchase a stock (within a certain amount of time) just to claim a loss. However, you and your IRA are separate entities as far as this rule is concerned, so you can immediately repurchase the stock in your IRA and still write off the loss.

The Telephone Excise Tax Refund (TETR)

This is a one-time payment available on your 2006 federal income tax return. It is designed to refund previously collected long distance telephone taxes. Individuals, businesses and tax-exempt organizations are eligible to request it.

Taxpayers have a choice: a standard refund amount between $30 and $60, based on the total number of exemptions claimed on their 2006 tax return, to eliminate the need to locate old phone bills; or they can locate those bills and use the actual amount. Ask your tax preparer about this one.

File Your Taxes Electronically For Free

Free File is a relatively new IRS program is a free service offered by companies for taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $52,000 or less. You can find the links to these companies at the IRS web site.

Before selecting a company link, review the tax software company’s criteria to confirm that you meet their eligibility for preparing and e-filing your federal return for free.

Fees for state tax returns may apply. Some companies offer free state tax return preparation and e-filing.
Some companies offer free e-filing of the Form 1040EZ-T, Telephone Excise Tax Refund, for those who want to claim the refund credit and are not required to file a federal income tax return.

You are under no obligation to buy any of the company’s other products or services.


General Tax Savings Tips

1. Take every deduction you can. Audits are rare, and if you honestly think you are entitled to a deduction, taking it is not a crime. If you are not entitled, at most you'll have to pay a penalty and interest - but only if you are audited.

2. Put off income or capital gains. We once delayed a closing on a property we sold by a week, in order to close after the new year. Our profit wasn't taxed for an extra year that way.

3. Accelerate your deductible expenses. If you pay the property taxes on that rental unit this year, you get to claim it as an expense this year, and so pay less tax.

4. Get good advice. If you have a high income, or a business, stock market or real estate investments, you need to talk to a good tax accountant (not just a tax preparer).


Save Money by Knowing the Games Stores Play (They don't want you to know these)

Save Money by Knowing the Games Stores Play (They don't want you to know these)

Save Money By Knowing the Games Stores Play

Who wouldn't like to save money when shopping? But looking for sales is just a start. You also need to be aware of the games that retailers play, starting with the two common ones explained here.


Reference Price Advertising

You have seen advertising like, "Was $119. now only $89!" Similar signs will confront you once you get to the store. Interestingly, regardless of whether the retailer ever sold a single unit at the $119 price, you feel like you are getting a deal, and that is the point of this game.


States often have laws requiring that these be honest advertisements, meaning the store must have the item for sale at the stated price for a certain amount of time before they can claim that it was the "normal" or "regular" price. Of course, not surprisingly, many have it at that price for the absolute minimum time required by law. They may not actually expect to sell any at the "regular" price, since it is solely there to make you feel good about the new "sale price."

One way some retailers use this tactic is by having many similar models of a product. A furniture store might have several mattresses that are very similar, for example. Which one is on sale is rotated, so there's always one that looks cheaper than the others. If you notice this, certainly don't pay the regular price, but wait until the one you want has its turn on sale.

You can also save money in this situation by buying one of the "sale" items. Alternately, since they never expect to sell the items at that price anyhow, the store manager may give you a similar discount if you ask (or insist) for it on the one you really want.

Price Matching Scams

Stores find that it costs nothing to guarantee the lowest price in town. It may be true that they'll match any competitor's price, but then again, they will only match the price on the exact same item - and they may not carry the same models as other stores do. They're also very aware that we rarely check the prices in other stores before buying - and almost never after buying.

Consumer research shows that when a store advertises that it will match competitors advertised prices, we generally think they have lower prices than other stores. Interestingly, this impression is there even when they are one of the higher-priced stores. This is because we often just don't check the prices at other stores.

There are some customers who actually compare prices and demand a reduction. This doesn't cost the store much, and meanwhile, they can sell for more than other stores to all the "average" consumers who don't check other stores.

You might wonder if comparison shopping worth the trouble and time. A study done by the Consumer Literacy Consortium in 2002 found that buyers who spent 16 minutes comparing prices online save an average of $100 on a television. Does that sound worthwhile?

Pricing Secrets That Can Save You Money

Pricing Secrets That Can Save You Money

Want to save money on that next purchase? It can help to know the pricing secrets of retailers, like the two covered here.

The Secret of the Minimum Advertised Price

Sometimes pricing doesn't seem to make much sense. For example, why does whole wheat pasta cost three times as much as regular pasta? Doesn't regular white-flour pasta require the extra trouble and expense of removing parts of the wheat? Economist will tell you that price is determined by what the market will bear. This is certainly an important principle to understand, but does it always apply in real life? Well, yes, in a way - but it is complicated.


Consider the "manufacturers suggested retail price," or "MSRP." Also called the "list price," it is the price a manufacturer suggests to the store - at least in theory. But in practice it is generally the maximum price a retailer can charge us. After all, who really wants to buy something that is priced higher than the manufacturers suggested retail price? So in this case, "what the market will bear" has been limited by the manufacturer.


Another price that manufacturers suggest to retailers is the MAP, or "minimum advertised price." This is one we don't hear about. It's not an absolute minimum that retailers can sell for, and they certainly want to sell for more if they can. But if they sell for less than this they risk upsetting manufacturers and suppliers. Why? Because they can't convince new retailers to carry a product if competing retailers are selling it so cheap that it is difficult to make a profit. The new retailer could sell it for more, but who would buy it when it is advertised cheaper somewhere else?

Of course, you want to buy at the MAP, so to determine (approximately) what it is for a particular product, check several stores. If all are advertising the product on sale around the same price, it is usually close to the MAP. The "big box" stores stick to the MAP in their sale advertisements, as often as not.

What if you want it even cheaper? Look at small stores. They can get away with sales that price the product below the manufacturers minimum advertised price, because they have less to risk by angering suppliers.

Be careful, though. Some stores sell below the MAP because they're selling incomplete products. For example, if it is a computer, you might have to buy a keyboard and speakers as separate items. When other stores are selling a complete product, compare the total cost of everything you need to get a product that is functional.

Why Prices End in 99

$29.99 might as well be $30, and we know this, so why do retailers play this game? Simple explanation: Because this pricing secret works. You may automatically round up a price like this, but you may not have looked at it in the first place if it said $30 instead of $29.99. We process information from left to right, so you see the "2" before anything else, and this is more appealing than a "3" when you want a lower price.

You see, even if only unconsciously, your mind is probably thinking "20-something dollars" versus "30-something." Your next thought might be "Oh, it's $30," but you are already looking at the product, right? It makes you more likely to buy it than if you never stopped to look at it in the first place.

In any case, retailers get caught in this game whether they like it or not. After gasoline retailers started pricing a gallon using ".9" cents, for example, how could any of them stop doing it that way? Just imagine if all the other gas stations had gas at $2.99 and 9/10 and one at $3.00. Ten gallons would be just a penny more there- not worth driving on. However, drivers just see the sign and immediately think they are the most expensive gas station (they are - it just isn't enough difference to matter).

How do you put this knowledge to work for you? Be aware that the 9/10 caught your eye at the gas station, but a penny or a tenth of a penny savings won't justify going out of your way. Save more money by just stopping at the first reasonable station - at todays prices you can't afford the gas to drive around looking for a penny savings.