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.



How to Buy a Used Car for Less

How to Buy a Used Car for Less

Want to buy a used car for a lot less money? There are two good ways to do so, and one good reason to buy used - to save money. Okay, that seems obvious, but this isn't just about spending less initially. The research shows that a four-year-old car can cost 40% less over its lifetime versus a new car, when you include the costs of gas, oil, repairs, insurance, and everything else. In fact, almost half of the millionaires in the United States buy used cars, according to the book "The Millionaire Next Door," by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.


First Way: Buy The Right Used Car

The idea here is to look for the cheapest "type" of car that will provide you with everything you need. The bottom line is that some cars just cost more than others. You pay more to buy and to operate them, so look for the lowest-cost one that will suit your needs. Whatever your negotiating skill, a four-year-old Jeep Wrangler is still going to cost more to buy and run than a four-year-old Dodge Caliber. So unless you need the four-wheel drive or space of the former, why not buy something smaller and cheaper.


Some of the factors to consider when looking at the overall cost of a used automobile:

- The initial price. The popular auto "blue-books" or price guides will give you an idea of what used cars are selling for in your area. Some of us think the accuracy of these may be suspect, but they are better than nothing for comparing the relative values of various models of car.

- Ongoing repair costs. Find a copy of the Consumer Reports auto edition at your local library. It has ratings for all major systems and parts of different models. Usually there is also an average annual repair cost for each car too.

- Gas mileage. Ask an owner about the mileage he or she gets - if you think he or she is honest. There are also websites like where you can find fuel economy figures for used cars. With 15,000 miles per year, the difference between 20 miles-per-gallon versus 34 MPG is an extra 309 gallons per year, or $1,000 at $3.25 per gallon.

- Auto insurance. Different cars have different insurance rates. Ask an agent about the cars you're considering, and take notes.

- Future resale value. Plan to drive the car for just a few years? Then you have to consider what it will lose in value during that time. Different used cars may cost $8,000 each, but one may be worth $6,000 a couple years later while others are only worth $4,000 or even less. Research resale value online, or look over a used-car price guide to see which models tend to retain the most value.


Second Way : Negotiate the Right Price

The next step in buying a used car for less is to negotiate a lower price. There are a few tricks you should know, but start with a good idea of what the car is worth according to whatever guide you have available. Look for the wholesale cost, and make your first offer lower than that. Here are some other pointers:

- Invest time. When you think you want a car, spend some time with the owner or sales person, and looking at the vehicle. Expert negotiators call this "time investment," and use the technique often, because the more time the seller has invested with you, the more they want to sell to you. They don't want to "waste" that time. In other words, you can get a lower offer accepted if you first take more of the sellers time up front.

- Subtly point out any issues. Examine the engine and the underside of the car, even if you aren't sure what you are looking at. Hint at any problems you see politely, but never contradict or insult the seller. The idea is for the seller to like you but to also start to doubt the value of his vehicle.

- Be prepared to walk away. Always be ready to say, "I'll think about it," and leave (unless you really need a car today). It's one of the oldest and surest ways to get price concessions when negotiating. Car salesmen in particular know that when people "think about it" they rarely return, so this is a strong tactic on your part, and they'll usually make their best offer at this point.

- Get a mechanic look at it. Bring the car to your mechanic, or have a friend with some mechanical knowledge come with you to look at it. A car isn't necessarily cheap if it breaks down a week after you buy it, and in any case everything that your friend or mechanic finds wrong is a negotiating point that may result in a lower price.

To summarize: Use both ways to buy a used car for less.

1. Look at the right cars - the cheapest for your needs.

2. Negotiate the lowest price you can get.


Be a College Advisor

Be a College Advisor

One of the most gratifying professions you can have is that of helping children to decide where they should go to college. That's what a college advisor does and it's a very interesting job which can be quite rewarding, if you treat it as a calling rather than simply another 9-5 job. In essence, you'll be helping to shape people's futures. Here's what you need to know:



A college advisor works in a high school and basically helps the students to decide on their best path post high school. This means that you need to be able to evaluate the student's grades as well as her SAT scores and help her decide on exactly which colleges if any she has a realistic chance of attending.


You need to also be someone who can listen to students and understand what it is that they are interested in doing with their lives so that you can suggest appropriate venues for their education where they will get the kind of training that they need in order to go on to the career of their dreams. It's really quite an important and fulfilling role because you will in many cases be responsible for shaping the future of these students.


How Much Can You Make?

According to Salary.Com, a college advisor makes anywhere from $33,000-$50,000 per year depending on experience and location.


Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

The most important thing for a college advisor to be is a good listener. You need to help guide students in the right direction while also making sure that you are clear on what they can and cannot expect to get out of college. For example, a student with an average GPA and a 1080 on his SATs is not likely to get accepted to Harvard and thus you need to be prepared to help that student to find the kind of schools where he will feel comfortable that he is getting a quality education while being realistic about getting in.

You also need to be prepared to help students to choose their preferred professions as many kids simply aren't sure what it is they want to do when they go to college. This may mean interviewing them about their interests as well as reviewing their academic records to see what areas they happen to be strongest in.

It's also useful to keep in mind that while the title may be either college advisor or academic advisor, you will in some cases need to recommend that students don't attend college but instead attend a trade school which may give them a better shot at actually landing a spot and a decent job when they graduate.


Qualifications / Requirements

Generally, you'll need at least a bachelors degree yourself in order to become a college advisor. It can be helpful to have a master's degree as well in order to ensure that you have the grounding in schooling that is necessary to help the students to understand what college will be like.


First Steps

Start by earning your bachelor's degree and then looking into different college advisor positions. These can easily be found online. Be sure to check on the specific requirements that they have. You may need to take some additional college courses in order to work as a college advisor in some states. If so, do that as well.


How to Be a Movie Extra

How to Be a Movie Extra

Many years ago I had a chance to be a movie extra. A friend and I were fourteen years old and on Mackinac Island in Lake Huron while Somewhere in Time was being filmed there (an early Christopher Reeves film). They were accepting anyone who applied as extras. But we were camping there illegally, making logistics tricky since they would be filming for days. And we would have had to wear clothing styles from the 1800s while standing around in the hot sun in a crowd. My friend tried to talk me into doing it, but with no luck.


Now that I have done the research for this page and see that extras are actually paid... Well if I had just known that...


In any case, it can be a fun job, and there are benefits beyond the usual low pay and the opportunity to tell your friends about the celebrities you see. It is also a way to be close enough to the action to learn the ropes, in case you have hopes of being an actor. There are rare instances where acting jobs come more directly from working as an extra, although extras do not have lines and are not usually considered when characters are cast.


You also might find other jobs that you hadn't thought of and could enjoy. Maybe a talking to a cameraman will lead to a job, for example. Plus, you usually get paid quickly (that day or at the end of the week). And yes, there will be casting directors, writers, agents and producers around the set, so it isn't a bad place to network and hang out if you do hope for an acting career.


How Much Can You Make?

Most extra work is non-union, and can pay as little as minimum wage (a little over $7 per hour as I write this). Sometimes you will be paid a flat fee ($50 for the day is common) for however many hours the shoot takes. If you get a union job the pay will be according to the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) agreement says.


Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

Talk to people once you have a job as a movie extra. talk to other extras and to anyone else, to se what other movies might need your services.

When you are on the set you will be working under an extras captain, second assistant director, or "extras wrangler." This is your boss, and he or she will be very specific about what you need to do, where you need to stand, walk, etc. Follow instructions as closely as you can if you hope to get more work.


Qualifications / Requirements

There are no requirements, although for many movies they need a specific category of extra (you won't get hired to be in a crowd of young students if you are sixty).


First Steps

Check the news to see if there are any movies being filmed near you. Then contact the closest casting agency to see if they are providing extras for the movie or if they know who is. Call and offer your services. There are also companies which specialize in providing extras for movies (see the resources below). You may be able to sign up for work through these.


How to Become an FBI Agent

How to Become an FBI Agent

Let's get one thing straight right from the start: there is no shortcut to become an FBI agent. Everyone who works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation must pass through a rigorous set of skills tests and physical ability tests before they will be given a conditional appointment to the bureau.

In addition to these, you will be required to submit a tremendous amount of documentation (the form required runs for about 10-15 pages and requires many additions) to check your security. Everything you have done in the past will be examined minutely and if you pass, you will be given "Top Secret" security clearance at the FBI.

Now, all that having been said, there are certain ways that you can ensure that you'll be one of the lucky few picked to go through that grueling process (many applicants are turned down even if they meet the basic requirements because the bureau just doesn't feel that the skill set they've developed until now will fit with their needs).

Military or police training is a big plus. Fluency (true fluency, not that you took one semester of high school Spanish) in a foreign language is also a big plus. If you have a background in accounting or computers, those can count strongly in your favor as well.


Note that the FBI has five options for people who wish to become an FBI agent. While all agents are called "special agents," you will be given the choice of Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, Criminal, or Cyber (note that the choice is not always up to you - it may depend on the needs of the bureau at the time of your appointment). Those in counterintelligence and counterterrorism may also work in a further specialized field dealing with WMD (weapons of mass destruction).

How Much Can You Make?

As of this writing (in December, 2010), the base salary for a new FBI special agent (all agents are "special agents") is $43,441. However, this is supplemented with a number of additional payments making the average first year salary (post training) $63,804 for the year. Salaries do go up on a regular basis with the FBI based on a set pay scale so while you'll never get rich on an FBI salary, the pay is decent.

Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

Those turned down for the FBI may want to consider working with the local police force in special teams such as hostage rescue, criminal profiling or other task forces. Military work also sometimes appeals to those who don't make the cut for the FBI and is often easier to get.
Generally, you should not expect to make extra money as a special agent (if you are making extra money, even if it's done legally, expect internal affairs to be going over your finances with a fine tooth comb).

In general, you'll need to be in excellent physical shape with no apparent disabilities which prevent you from firing a weapon in order to become an FBI agent.

Qualifications / Requirements

In addition to holding a four year degree from an accredited school, you'll also need to be a United States citizen (or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is legally a protectorate of the United States of America - they have a status similar to that of Guam and Puerto Rico, though they are a bit more independent than those islands, having their own flag and citizenship but being considered under the legal "protection" of the United States whereas the population of other U.S. possessions are legally considered citizens of the United States).

You must also be at least 23 years old and no older than 37 years old, plus you must have held down a job for at least three years prior to application to the FBI (it helps if it was the same job and it was a position of some responsibility, not a cashier at Starbucks).

Finally, as previously noted, you must be in excellent physical health. You will be required to pass a physical examination prior to appointment. You will have a maximum of three chances to pass that exam after which, if you don't pass, you will be permanently disqualified.

First Steps

Assuming you have met the qualifications listed above, then your first step is to fill out the online application at the FBI web site (see below). You will be contacted by a representative of the bureau for further instructions.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about how to become an FBI agent:

Federal Bureau of Investigation: Careers - This is an unusually detailed and well laid out web site which really offers an extremely comprehensive explanation of what you need to know and do in order to become an FBI agent. The site is so comprehensive that the rest of the material here may not be necessary, though we provide it in case you want still more information.

The FBI Academy: New Agent Training - For those curious about what you will be learning once you have been officially appointed to the FBI, this is an excellent introduction.


Make $1,000 per Month to Selling Sperm

Make $1,000 per Month to Selling Sperm

 How to Sell Your Sperm

The process of selling sperm provides material for television sitcoms and movies, but not many men seriously consider signing up. However, being a sperm donor can provide a decent paycheck for the time you'll invest. Sperm banks prefer donors who commit to several visits weekly for six months, and they typically pay $50 or more for each visit. That can add up over the weeks, and the process is quick once you filled out all the paperwork and qualified.

On the other hand, that qualification process can be a problem, so even if you want this job, it might be difficult to get. You generally have to be between 18 and 40 years old and, besides being outside of that 22-year window of opportunity, there are many other things that will disqualify you. You might not have enough education, for example, which is apparently seen as a sign of potentially deficient DNA. In fact, at many sperm banks, 95% of applicants are rejected. Some of the requirements are listed below.

If you're accepted you can rest assured that you are providing a valuable service. According to the some researchers , by the year 2015 a third of all couples could require help conceiving a child. This is in part because men are producing less sperm. The average sperm count in men in England dropped by almost 50% in the last couple generations, and lower sperm counts have been reported in the U.S. and other countries as well.

How Much Can You Make?

From a quick survey of clinics at the time this article was written, it appears that $50 per viable specimen is the minimum rate now, with some fertility clinics paying substantially more. David Plotz, in his account of his experience as a sperm donor (see the resource section below), says he was paid $50 per usable specimen and another $5 for each vial from the specimen, with about 10 to 14 vials used on average. Then, when vials were released from quarantine after six months there was another payment of $5 each. The average payment per deposit was $209 at the facility he went to. They paid twice monthly and sent a 1099 form at the end of the year.

Let's do the math... If a sperm bank asks for three donations weekly with a six month commitment, and has an average payment of $100 per deposit (less than half of what Plotz was paid), you would make a total of $7,800 for your part-time work during those six months.

Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

If you live close to more than one sperm bank you can simply find out which pays the most and try that one first (assuming your application is accepted).

Qualifications / Requirements

Some places require donors to be between the ages of 18 to 35, while others extend that to 40-years-old. You have to be in excellent health. You will be filling out forms detailing extensive information about any medical issues in your family, including any history of mental illness in close relations. There will be a blood test and semen analysis. Follow-up exams are generally required every three to six months if you continue to donate.

First Steps

Check out a directory of sperm banks to find one near you and fill out an application. You can also look in the yellow pages or google "sperm bank" or "cryobank" along with the name of your city or the nearest large city.





Weirdest Money Ideas : What myself and others have done to make a buck

Weirdest Money Ideas : What myself and others have done to make a buck

 I have always been fascinated by the more unusual ways to make money. My own list of jobs and businesses I’ve had in my life includes selling rocks, tracking people down to serve court papers, and writing about carpet stains.

Here are some other odd things that people have done to make money. A few might be worth trying, and the others, well… they will entertain us if nothing else.    

Pet Detective

This is not just an invention for the sake of a Jim Carrey movie (or two). There really are pet detectives out there that will track down lost cats and dogs and otherwise investigate animal-related mysteries. There is even a “pet detective university” to help you get credentials.

Breath Odor Evaluator

The bad news is that only a few people are needed in the whole country to sniff other peoples exhalations. Well maybe that’s not such bad news. In any case, the job involves testing the effectiveness of various breath-freshening products ranging from chewing gum to mouthwash.

Dog Food Tester

I just recently saw this one in a book of odd jobs. There was a nice photo of a woman biting into a juicy chunk of dog food. I’m not sure how humans can tell what a dog will like, but I suppose there are worse jobs (it’s a tossup between this and sniffing bad breath).


Pond Treasure Scavenging

When they emptied the pond in a local park here in our town, there were coins all over. I found two old pennies and a nickel while talking to a man who was searching the mud with his metal detector. His pockets were bulging with his discoveries. Apparently the pond had not been emptied in eighty years, and along with the bread people threw into it for the ducks, they also tossed in coins for good luck. It was good luck for that treasure hunter. Look for any ponds or lakes being emptied near you.

Focus Group Jobs

People get paid to sit around and watch videos, talk about products, and express their opinions. It used to be tough to find these temporary jobs, but now there are a few websites online that list openings or give information on who to contact.

Dog Mannequins

Yes, people buy dog mannequins. In fact, there are two distinct markets here. Some are sold to pet stores and other businesses that need puppies to display products. Then there are the ones that are used for veterinary and emergency responder training. The latter are very realistic (organs and veins even), and they sell for up to thousands of dollars each.

Human Guinea Pig Jobs

Of all the weird ways to make money listed here, this is perhaps the most dangerous. Then again, not all research volunteers have to try new medicines. Some get paid hundreds of dollars just to eat a different diet for a five or six weeks. Of course even those positions involve having your blood drawn a few times, so skip this one of you are afraid of needles.



Weirdest Money Ideas : Selling Fame to the Dead

Weirdest Money Ideas : Selling Fame to the Dead

You may recall my report a few years back about the sale of the crypt above that of Marilyn Monroe. The crypt was occupied already by the body of a man who wanted to be face down above Monroe for eternity. But his wife, who had originally put his body there, had second thoughts, and decided it would be nice to pay off her mortgage, so she decided to auction the not-so-final resting place on eBay.

The winning bid was $4,600,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Someone paid over $4 million for a crypt just because it is over that of Marilyn Monroe. However, the Japanese buyer didn't come through with the money. It isn't clear whether another of the bidders bought the crypt, and the story was quickly dropped from the news.

But recently the Huffington Post reported that there was a crypt for sale in the same row as Marilyn Monroe's at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles. It is a few places over and just above hers, and it was selling for a more modest $250,000. It may have sold by now, but again the story has faded away.

In any case, this is an odd enough way to make money that I thought I should report on it again and see what ideas it suggests. The basic concept is that of selling fame to the dead (or perhaps as much to those left behind). Sell a crypt near a famous person, or a grave site next to one. The buyers of these homes for the dead apparently want to spend eternity next to their favorite celebrities, or just want to latch on to their fame as a way to be remembered.

A natural question (well, it's natural for me) is whether there's a way for others to make money at this. Of course anyone who already owns prime death real estate can give it a try, but what if you don't already own a grave site next to a famous person? One simple solution is to buy one. Buy cheap and sell it for more. Okay, here is a more complete, if speculative, business plan, just in case you want to attempt to do this.

How to Sell Fame to the Dead

The first step is to search out and find the burial locations of as many dead celebrities as possible. Starting with those closest to you might make this more practical. A website like will get you started (now there's an odd way to make money as well).

The second step is to see if there are empty grave sites or crypts next to or above any of them. You could also try to get people to move their loved ones from adjacent spots for a one-time payment, but that might be too ghoulish.

The third step is to list the great locations are empty. You'll have to do some research to get the phone numbers of whoever manages the graveyards and crypts, so you can ask about this. Of course, if you are near the place you can drive over and check the situation out for yourself.

The fourth step is to locate the owners and start negotiating. If a person has paid $20,000 for a site, he or she might be happy to get a new one before they die, if you pay $40,000 for the one they have. Naturally you are hoping to sell the spot for $60,000 or more.

I imagine that many readers are thinking at this point, "How can I predict what a grave site or crypt will sell for, so I don't lose my investment the first time I try this?" There may be ways to predict that with some accuracy if you teamed up with an auctioneer. But you don't have to be too precise. Instead, you just make an educated guess about a few of these "prime properties" and make sure your offer to buy includes a way out.

For example, you can include in your contract the right to cancel the deal if you cannot raise the money for the purchase within thirty days. Sellers typically will have been holding onto these grave sites or crypts for years, so they might be okay with this stipulation when they know they can make a great profit should the deal go through.

The fifth step is to list theses homes for the dead on eBay and see what kind of offers you get. Just be sure to set a reserve price that allows you a profit (you don't have to sell if your reserve is not met). If you don't get a bid that is high enough, you didn't raise the money necessary for the purchase within 30 days, so you can cancel the contract. But who knows? You might find a gravesite that you can buy for $40,000 for and sell for $400,000. Try for one next to John Wayne or Ronald Reagan or Lassie perhaps.

How likely is success with this plan? I have no idea. But selling fame to the dead (or to the living who want to plan ahead for fame when they are dead) is an interesting way to make money, and a fun concept to play with. Let me know if you make a profit selling prime real estate next to the remaining bones of a famous movie star or political leader.




Child Entrepreneur

Child Entrepreneur

As a child entrepreneur myself , I can relate to the "deliciously flavorful profit" Ana refers to below. Her story of childhood businesses is the latest entry in my Most Interesting Money Maker Contest .

Ana Ce

Nurture or nature. You wonder sometimes about that. One is born to be something or on the other hand become something? Is an entrepreneur one from birth or is she made one through the influences in life? In my own experience, since I can remember I have always had the entrepreneurial bug in me, making his way into my mind.

When I was a child I used to have a big collection of comics and children’s magazines. After I read them it seemed a big shame just to throw them away or to store them on a shelf to make company to the dust, so I decided to start a little business, and by the time I was 10 years old I had my own "mini comics rental store," which I ran out of my room.

At a young age I noticed the demand for a product and/or the need for a service. There were several kids in my neighborhood and at school who were not lucky enough to have two grandparents who bought for them as they did for me all the comics available at the time. Even some adults - like my older cousins - wanted to read some of those comics. So I started renting them out for a few cents each. It was a fun little business and it provided me with some extra cash for ice cream and candy.

At that age I did not understand the principles of capital and profit. I did not have to. The magazines were provided monthly by my family, so I only understood profit, deliciously flavorful profit - and that was enough. Only later and over the years, with further knowledge, my entrepreneurial mind developed to understand those concepts and to put them onto practice.

I tried and somehow succeeded - success at a young age has lower standards - on several little businesses and mini ventures of youth, like a sandwich shop from the front porch of our home, a little popsicle store out of the home fridge, selling blessed water with magical powers, being a homework provider, writing love poems in other's names and more.

Now, many years later, after working as a teacher for several years and trying with my husband a few businesses of our own, we decided to combine our writing talents with our entrepreneurial urge. We became infopreneurs on the internet. It is a valid, profitable and reputable career, but selling information in cyberspace sometimes - just sometimes - seems like selling magic water again, a profession of alchemy.

Who knows what will come after, from nurture or from nature. It does not matter. Just that once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.

Great story Ana. It has me wondering about the nature/nurture debate as well. I was not the only child entrepreneur in the family. My father worked normal jobs, my mother was a housewife most of the time, yet their children (there were five of us boys) have all been involved in various businesses, many at a young age.



There Are Reasons to Quit a Job

There Are Reasons to Quit a Job

There are some good reasons to quit a job, as the following short story demonstrates. It was sent to me by a subscriber to the Unusual Ways newsletter, as an entry in my Most Interesting Money Maker Contest. It is about a garden from hell and a job that needed to be quit. I can empathize, because I have quit dozens of jobs myself, and for another reason I'll get to in a moment.


Sherry Mattson

I once had a job where I was a weed puller...The man had about a mile-long garden at the time and had paid me and some other guys $40 a day to pull weeds from this..I later called it "garden from hell." I lasted a full day and about quarter of the next day at it.

The first day it was sooo hot outside and not to mention by the end of the day my back felt like it was going to break...the next day I got up, went to the job (garden from hell) and started pulling away at the weeds again in the blistering sun..and lasted only a few more hours before I said to hell with this, went home and laid on my bed for the rest of the day in my nice and cool air conditioned apartment and my back was ever so Thankful also.


The other reason I can relate to this story, and to the reasons to quit that job, is that I have had back problems from pulling weeds. In fact, I pulled 500 weeds from my yard the other day (and I thought stones instead of grass would be easy). Since it is my own yard I don't even get paid, but at least I can work when I like and take as many breaks as I want. On a more serious note, here are some reasons to quit a job that I consider good enough:

Unhealthy work environment.
A better job opportunity.
To start a business.
Abusive employer.
Winning the lottery.

Should you quit even when you have nothing else lined up? That depends on your situation and the reasons for quitting. I once worked assembling muffler brackets for three days and I was so tired of the greasy repetitious work and the bits of metal stuck in my skin and boots that I quit without notice. But there were jobs everywhere at the time and I had money in the bank (always have money in the bank - it makes quitting so much easier). It was unhealthy work (at least for myself) both physically and mentally. If I was broke and times were tough in the job market though, I would have found a way to continue working there.


Legal and ethical ways to make money fast?

Legal and ethical ways to make money fast?

Are there legal and ethical ways to make money fast? Of course there are, but they're primarily short term solutions. Use them for to raise some money quickly, but don't think these are get-rich-quick plans. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make some money fast.


Sell More of Your Time

I like this plan the least, but it is one of the most reliable. Simply work longer hours at work, or get another job. As a way to make money fast it has the added benefit of taking away time you might otherwise use spending more money. So take those shifts from other employees, stay late at work (if you are paid hourly), volunteer for holidays, and so on. If you don't like this plan, keep reading...

Sell Your Time for More

This is a slightly better way. To sell time for more money, do one of three things. Look for a higher-paying job, negotiate a raise (this works best after the first option), or get paid for what you produce, if you are a productive worker. This last one could mean getting paid by the piece in some jobs, or getting paid commissions in a sales job.

Arbitrage Based on Your Expertise

What is arbitrage? Buying low and selling high in markets that have pricing inefficiencies. Suppose a used car of a particular model and year normally sells for $4,500 - and you know this. Watch for an opportunity to buy this car for less, and you can resell it for a quick profit. I know people who regularly make $1,000 to $3,000 per vehicle buying and selling cars out of their front yard.

It's not about cars, though, but about the principle. Where is your expertise - what can you put a price on and find a buyer for? I knew someone who regularly bought used restaurant equipment for half of what others were paying. Even engagement rings and dogs are "turned" for a profit in this way.

If you have no cash saved for this plan, get a credit card advance. Paying $100 in fees and interest is unimportant if you make $1000 buying and reselling a coin collection, right? No credit? Get a partner. If my friend who knows boat prices ever tells me he can get a $5,000 boat for $3,000, I'll put up the money for half of the profit. I love making hundreds of dollars in just weeks just by playing with money - and others do too.

Flip a House or a Contract

Essentially, you offer a low price for a home (often a fixer-upper), and put in the offer the right to assign the contract. You also put a clause in there letting you cancel the contract if you can't get financing - your risk-free way out.Then you find an investor who will buy the contract from you for, say $8,000 (he expects to make even more when he fixes and sells the home).

Your risk? Mostly time. I have known people who have done this repeatedly, making as much as $20,000 at a time. Education and experience helps a lot here, because without it you can waste a lot of time - your own and other's.

More Ways to Make Money Fast

Sell your things if you aren't using them, or if you just value more the other things you'll do with the money.

Have a business? Sell accounts receivable. The buyers call the process "factoring." I have a friend who often has $15,000 owed to him by various clients, and is always facing cash-flow problems. He could sell these accounts receivable tomorrow to raise cash, but I don't tell him. They do sell at a discount, after all, and this constant reducing of long-term income to raise short-term cash can be a bad habit to develop. It is a way to raise money fast, though.

Cut your expenses. Cancel the movie channels. Buy a cheap used car for cash and get rid of your car payment. list every single thing you spend money on, and find ways to spend less for half of them. If you are surviving now, and can spend $500 less per month, you can bank that money and effectively make money fast.

Use whatever you've got to make money fast. Have a home? You could rent rooms. If you are single, you could rent a room instead of an apartment, and bank the difference. Extra time? Start a business on the side. If I want to make more money fast, I can mail an offer to my lists. Of course, this is because I put in the time to build my internet business, which brings up an important point.

If you think you'll start a business today and be rich in a few months, you're probably doomed to struggling forever. It's not that it's impossible. Take away a rich man's last penny, and chances are he'll have more money than you three months later. But this is because he has spent years learning about money, and making contacts.

Some of these ways may seem too mundane. Perhaps they are, but then, how much do you want that money? If you were to move to a cheaper apartment, get a raise, work Saturdays, sell your unused things, and buy and sell something for a profit once each month, you could bank a lot of money relatively fast. Enough to start a real business for longer-term wealth building.

Ironically, those looking for ways to make money fast and easy are least likely to make it. Opportunity seekers chase easier ways instead of making strategic plans and commitments. You can use these ways to make money fast, but don't think you'll attain real wealth without some kind of commitment to learn do what is necessary.



Why Multiple Streams of Income?

Why Multiple Streams of Income?

You can easily see the value of having many different streams of money flowing into your life. Like a town that has more than one source of water, you are more secure if you have many sources of income. Any one of them can go dry and you'll still be okay, unlike the employee who has just his paycheck (or the town that relies on one unpredictable water source).

That much is easy to understand, even if you haven't yet started working on developing those multiple streams of income. But the other part of the metaphor is found in the nature of the stream itself. It flows automatically according to gravity, bringing an ever fresh supply of water. This is very different from a lake or pond, isn't it?

Imagine for a moment if you are a farmer and you had to water your fields by carrying a bucket at a time of water from a pond. There would be a severe limit to how much you could grow. There are only so many hours in a day to work, after all, and you can only carry so much.

Now imagine if you could divert a stream to irrigate your land. It would take a lot of work perhaps, to build a ditch and install the necessary equipment. But once you did that the water would come automatically, allowing you to grow much more, and freeing your time to develop other ditches and so grow other crops.

That idea of irrigation is essentially the same concept as the idea of residual income. Just like water comes without additional effort once you do the right kind of work initially, so does money come in with little or no additional effort once you do the right kind of initial work. In case you doubt this, let's look at some examples of these streams of income.

Examples of Multiple Streams Of Income

I used to play chess with an insurance salesman who was retired at 50 years old. How was he able to quit working at such a young age? By selling policies that paid him a commission every time the holder renewed them. Every year people renewed their policies and he got a percentage. He probably worked hard to get to that point, but then the income stream flowed without additional work.

At the start of 2005 I built a website on how to remove carpet stains, putting in one long hard week at the computer (I had been a carpet cleaner at one time). I mostly ignored the site in the years that followed, and still only spend less than a dozen hours a year maintaining it. Meanwhile almost $20,000 has flowed into my bank account from this site and it still comes in at the rate of more than $500 monthly.

My wife and I sold a mobile home on a lot a few years back. We are taking payments on it, which allowed the buyer to get into it more easily (he bought it as an investment and is renting it out). Selling it that way allowed us to get a higher price, and we get good interest as well. The money comes in every month. We have to renew this income stream eventually, of course, perhaps by buying another property and selling it for payments again.

I get a newsletter from a man who buys high-dividend stocks. He doesn't worry about where the prices of the stocks go from month to month, because the dividend checks just keep coming in. The work here is in the research necessary to find solid companies that are unlikely to cut their dividends. Then once you invest a chunk of money the stream flows without much additional effort (occasional research and new investments are a good idea).

Rental real estate, dividend paying stocks, secured loans, renting a room in the house, making automated websites, selling things that pay ongoing commissions, writing a book, licensing an invention for royalties - these are just some of the ways to develop multiple streams of income. A job works too, but that is perhaps the most insecure source these days. Keep the job for now, but why not start creating a few other streams of income that flow your way?



Five Tips on How to Save Money

Five Tips on How to Save Money

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

We all have things that we really don't use. Some of these things may not cost us anything to keep around, or at least it may seem that way. On the other hand, suppose you could comfortably live in a smaller house that cost $30,000 less than your current one - except that you need the space for all the things you rarely use. With a 30-year 7% mortgage that extra space will costs you almost $72,000. Is it worth that much to keep those things around?

Then there are the things that have more direct ongoing costs. Even if you owe nothing on an unused motorcycle or snowmobile, they still require insurance and licensing. Subscriptions cost money whether you read those magazines or not. Look at what you really use and what is unnecessary. Get rid of the latter. You lose nothing eliminating these kinds of expenses.

Avoid making the same mistakes again in this area too. We often buy things without honesty assessing how often we'll use them, and without considering the future expenses they create. Buying a fish tank and a few fish, for example, can add up to more ongoing costs than you might have thought. Fish food, cleaning supplies, and occasional replacement of parts are some of the expenses this "one time" purchase adds to your life. Buy it if you will really enjoy it, but be sure you know what the real costs are and have decided that they're worth it.

2. Look First at the Big Expenses

It doesn't hurt to find ways to buy a cheaper pair of socks or less expensive dog food. But start your efforts to spend less with the large expenditures first. You might spend an extra hour finding a great deal on a car, and save $2,000. That's more than you'll save with years of coupon clipping for groceries. So start big and then combine that with the next of these tips on how to save money.

3. Reduce Regular Expenses

Where can you find the most potential for saving money? With things you have to pay for again and again. Look first at the big regular expenditures. Find ways to cut your utility bills, driving expenses and perhaps even the mortgage payment or rent. There may be ways to save on all of these and more. Small stuff matter too if it is regular enough. For example, replace that three-dollar cup of coffee you stop for every weekday with a fifty-cent one at home and you'll save $650 each year, or about $30,000 in the working years of your life.

4. Track What You Spend

Here's a simple but enlightening exercise: Write down every dollar and penny you spend each day for a month or two. People probably avoid doing this because they are afraid to see the truth spelled out on paper. But do it and you'll see how much actually goes to your bills, meals and habits. It's possible you'll discover that what you think you value isn't reflected in how you spend your money. This could prompt some money saving changes in your life. That leads us to the last of our tips on how to save money.

5. Be a Conscious Consumer

It's easy to spend money without thinking about whether we need the thing we are buying, or if there is a cheaper alternative. We shop almost unconsciously at times, but becoming more aware of our choices is a great way to spend less. Once you have actually tracked your spending for a while this awareness is easier. Spend a month consciously thinking about each thing you spend money on. Make it a habit to ask yourself questions like, "Is it worth what it costs?" and "What alternatives do I have?" and "How important is this to me?"

Delaying purchases is another way to become more aware of how momentary impulses and feelings lead us to make purchases. Wait a week and most things will still be there to buy, but many things will no longer be desired. Apart from the lessons this can teach us, it is also just a great way to save money.


How to Spend Less ? Three basic strategies

How to Spend Less ? Three basic strategies

There are thousands of answers to the question of how to spend less. But this article isn't about the specific ways to pay less for this or that item. It is about the few basic methods to spend less and still get everything you need in life.

Don't Buy It

This is perhaps the most obvious way to spend less. It is also perhaps the way that is most commonly overlooked. Whenever we buy something we clearly think it is worth the price at that moment. yet how often do we later realize that it doesn't have quite the value we thought it would have?


For example, you might buy some gadget and then notice a year later that you haven;t used it more than once. There is a simple way to avoid this: wait a week to buy. If you get in the habit of procrastinating on purchases you'll still buy the things that are truly important to you. But there are many purchases that won;t be made if you wait a week.

Then there are the things bought that are never really analyzed in terms of their total cost. You buy a snow mobile for example, and use it only eight times in the years that you own it. If you did the math you might find that it costs you $500 per use or more. So do the math!


Pay Less

This is the usual way we try to spend less. Using coupons and sale-shopping fall into this category. The following is another way that you may not have thought of trying.

Learn to negotiate. We tend to think that learning negotiating skills is for business people and those in sales, but why not for you too? If you can occasionally save $50 on a large appliance or $5,000 on a home it might be worth your time to learn a few "tricks of the trade," right? I have even paid half-price for a new book in a traditional bookstore using simple negotiating tactics.

Look For Alternatives

This is really another way to spend less for the same thing or for something similar. But it is often forgotten when we are buying things. It's easy to think that you just need to find cheaper planes tickets for you trip to Florida, for example, and forget that there are other wonderful places to go that nay cost you hundreds of dollars less.

This is true even with small purchases. You may be used to eating fresh fruit, for example, but it may be just a habit. You might enjoy blended "smoothies" in the morning just as much, and pay less for frozen fruit you use for them. Look for alternatives and you can spend less - sometimes a lot less.


How to Save Money on Food

How to Save Money on Food

A typical article on how to save money on food will mention coupon shopping, maybe stocking up during sales, and buying generic brands. The following is about some of the lesser known basic strategies for spending less.

Alternatives to the Usual Food Purchases

Would you like to eat all the same things you currently do throughout the year and even add more variety, while spending less money on your groceries? You can if you're willing to enjoy whatever is on sale at the moment instead of catering to the fleeting demands of your taste buds and temporary desires.


You might enjoy oranges, strawberries, and apples for example, and normally buy whichever sounds good at the moment you are shopping. However, they each go on sale when in season, sometimes for as much as 70% less than they cost off-season. Now suppose that you eat oranges when they are cheap, then buy strawberries when they go on sale, and do the same with apples. You still get all the variety you normally do, don't you?

However, you might pay an average of 50% less for your fruit throughout the year. Now add kiwi fruit or other fruits and vegetables as they become plentiful and cheap. You get even more variety. You get the best products as well, because these foods usually go on sale when they are at the peak of the season and sitting around for the least amount of time.

Apply this strategy in restaurants too. Look at the specials which are offered before you look at anything else on the menu. You certainly get variety in this way, and save money on the food you eat. There is no need to see this as denying your desires, since you'll get to eat everything you like and get more variety. Each meal or grocery purchase just becomes an enjoyable surprise.

Eat First, Then Shop

It's one of the most important tips on how to save money on food. My "research" into this (having tried it both ways myself) shows that we buy as much as 30% more at the grocery store if we are hungry while we shop. And if we have more food in the house we eat more - that's especially true of the snacks we load up on when shopping on an empty stomach. This then is a tip for healthier eating as well as a way to save money on groceries. Always eat before you go.

If you are a bit hungry it helps to have list and stick to it. But make an exception when you find those great sales on foods you would normally buy anyhow.

Eat Less Spend Less

No, you don't need to actually go hungry as a way to save money on food, nor eat less over-all. On the other hand, the things an average person eats vary tremendously in price, right? So why not eat less of those things that cost the most and maybe aren't so healthy, and replace them with more of the healthier cheaper alternatives? You can do this at home and when you eat at restaurants.

I might as well have titled this section "Eat More Spend Less," because one of the easiest ways to cut your consumption of expensive foods is to eat more of the foods that costs less. Fill up on a delicious and healthy cheap dishes like seasoned rice and beans, and you won't have room for expensive and unhealthy deserts or snacks. If you are in a Mexican restaurant, for example, you could fill up on the free chips and salsa and then just order a delicious appetizer in place of a full meal.

Save Money on Heating Bills

Save Money on Heating Bills


Turning down the thermostat is probably the most common tip on how to save money on heating bills. It may be a good idea, and it is true that you can put on a sweater to stay comfortable. But some people feel the cold more than others, right? And among all the ways we can save money, should giving up our physical comfort at home be one of the first things we try?

The expensive options suggested for saving money on heating bills include adding insulation to your home, buying solar panels to reduce your furnace use, and upgrading your heating system to a high-efficiency unit. Those ideas may work as well, but you may not have the money to invest. Also, the arguments for these as money-saving plans sometimes don't make sense.

As an example let's suppose you spend $20,000 to put a solar heating system on your home. It saves you half of your annual $1,200 heating cost, or $600. Now suppose you have to finance the system. The interest alone could be more than the $50 monthly savings, so you may not ever recoup your costs, let alone save any money.

You have to do the math and consider the real costs, including the interest paid if financed, or the interest lost if paid from money you have in the bank. I recently read on a solar advocacy website that a solar hot water system costs "only" $5,000 and could save 50% of the costs of running my regular hot water heater (which is still needed due to cloudy days). Now, our hot water probably costs about $240 annually, so we would save just $120 each year. We can do better than that leaving the money in the 3% account we have at our online bank! The $150 we would make annually in interest pays the extra $120 and leaves us an additional $30 versus having the solar water heater.

Insulation can be more cost-effective if you are deficient in insulation right now. There are other major upgrades that may pay off too. On the other hand, what if you haven't got the money for the big fixes and you like your home to be a warm place to live? Then you need to apply some of the following ways to save money on heating bills without spending a fortune.

- Close of any air leaks. Look for drafty areas, find the air leaks and seal them up with caulk or weather stripping. Closely check around windows and other possible openings. Three dollars of caulk might be sufficient for any and all leaks you find, and weather stripping around leaky doors is cheap as well.

- Check each room and adjust the registers as necessary. In most forced-air systems these can be opened or closed somewhat, so if you have rooms where you don't spend much time, close the vents off partly to reduce the hot air going there. It costs nothing to do this.

- Adjust drapes, blinds and curtains. If you open curtains when the sun is shining you'll notice the heating effect pretty quickly. You can also get in the habit of closing them once they are in the shade or each night after the sun sets.

- Install an electronic thermostat with a timer. A decent electronic thermostat can cost $100 or more, but they are still one of the cheaper ways to cut your heating bill by 5% or more. The timer can be set to turn the heat down at night when you are cozy in bed, to turn it up thirty minutes before you get up, and to turn it down during times when no one is home, like when you are at work

- Manually adjust the thermostat. If you want to save the cost you can do the same thing the automatic thermostat does by adjusting the heat control whenever you go to sleep or leave the house for a while. One disadvantage: you'll have to put up with the cold for a few minutes after you wake up or get home. It is a no-cost way to save money on heating though.

How to save money on heating bills? The easiest quickest way is still the one first mentioned: turn down the heat permanently. If you do this, wearing a sweater isn't the only thing you can do to compensate. Floors sometimes chill us more than the air, so wear warm slippers or thick socks. A cup of hot tea can warm you up for an hour. Lounging in the sunniest chair is another trick. Or... find another way to save $20 per month and turn that heat back up to where it is comfortable.



Save Money Grocery Shopping And without coupons

Save Money Grocery Shopping And without coupons

One of the most common ways to save money grocery shopping is using manufacturers' coupons to get things a bit cheaper. This is not only time consuming, but it rarely saves you much money in the end. Even with the coupon a given product is usually more expensive than a perfectly adequate alternative, such as a store brand version. There are better ways to cut your costs, including the following.

Calculator and Cash

If budgeting for groceries is necessary, then bring only what your budget allows for the week - and bring it in cash.A debit or credit card makes it too easy to go beyond your budget. With just the cash for the week's needs, you'll have no way to spend a penny extra. Of course, you don't have to tell the cashier to take half of your things back, which is why you need a calculator. Add as you go, and allow for sale's tax too.


Fresh Versus Frozen

Sometimes fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper and sometimes the frozen versions are less. Buy where the value is, if either will work. If you are buying strawberries for "fruit smoothies" that you blend up in the morning, for example, it doesn't matter whether you use frozen or fresh, but sometimes the frozen ones are half as much for the same amount. And the good news is that frozen fruits and vegetables may have more vitamins according to some studies, because they are flash frozen shortly after picking, locking in the vitamins, while the fresh ones travel for days in hot and cold trucks, and then sit for days on the shelves or in the storerooms.

Eat First

We laugh about this, but it is absolutely true that we tend to buy more when we are hungry. Then, when we have more food to eat the house, we tend to eat it. The type of foods we buy is affected as well. Go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and you'll probably buy more snack foods that aren't as healthy.

Check Unit Price Tags

Many grocery stores, including the largest, are playing with prices on different sizes of products. Don't assume that the larger sizes are a better buy, costing less per ounce. It isn't always the case. The "family size" may actually cost more per ounce or pound. Who can say if this is being done on purpose, but it is common now, so check those tags to see which size is actually the better value.

Watch Pricing Patterns

Grocery store chains regularly change prices of popular items for marketing purposes. The 9.5 ounce box of Triscuit crackers in our local Wal-Mart is currently (fall 2009) $2.99,which is the same price as the 13 ounce box at the moment. It seems strange, but there is a reason for it. I'll get to that shortly.

When watching those tags you might just think you should always buy the big box. In the example above it comes out to 23 cents per ounce, after all, compared to 31.5 cents per ounce for the smaller one. It's not that simple though. In about a month or so the price will go back to $2.00 for the 9.5 ounce box, which is only 21 cents per ounce. In fact, the price goes up and down throughout the year, so it makes sense to buy an extra box or two when it is low and hold off when the price is up.

These pricing games have to do with legal and marketing considerations. It helps sales to have a "new lower price" on an item, but they can only legally say it if the price was actually higher for time. The law says it has to be at a given price for thirty days to call it the "regular price" or to say that the new price is lower. This is why some stores rotate prices from time to time. Once the crackers are $2.99 for a while they can be lowered to $2.00 and it looks like a major discount - and can be advertised as one. Do this with enough products and it can appear as though all the prices are always dropping. Keep an eye on cycles like these and stock up during the lower-price times.

These few examples of the ways to save money grocery shopping should get you thinking and save you some money, and none of them require clipping coupons.


To Spend Less Money is Like Making More

To Spend Less Money is Like Making More

 Though I often report on unusual ways to make it, spending less money is an interest of mine as well. Saving a little on each purchase or expense can effectively be a way to make money. Suppose you want to make two thousand four hundred dollars for a vacation. You might work extra shifts or find other ways to generate the three thousand dollars necessary to meet your goal after taxes are taken out. But you can also find ways to spend forty-six dollars less each week, and set those savings aside for a year to raise that $2,400.


Spending less money as a substitute for making more is not unusual, but it is less common than it was in the past. Today many people look to spend less only when forced to do so by circumstance, rather than as a way to set aside savings for those things that are important. Actually saving those savings is the key, of course. You'll need to actually put the money aside when you spend less - preferably in a separate bank account set up for your important goals. If not, you're just changing how you spend your money - spending less here and more over there without noticing any real change in lifestyle.

To save big, and to therefore have the money for your goals, start with the big expenses first. For example, to build up that vacation fund fast, or put together a down payment for a house, or save for a business, you need to look at things like housing costs, utilities, car payments and anything that take a big chunk of your monthly pay. You might cut your house payment by a hundred fifty dollars monthly, for example, by refinancing at a lower interest rate. Save the difference and you'll have $18,000 in ten years. Or if you rent a smaller apartment for a hundred dollars less per month, and save another fifty on utilities because it's small, this can also add up to thousands of dollars over the years.

Besides the large items in the budget, there are many small things you can spend less on. You might look for other uses for things that you already have or would normally discard. A few suggestions follow, for saving on the small stuff in this way.

Repurposing to Spend Less Money

Computer mouse pads are common enough now that they are often thrown out. But you can use them as kneeling pads when gardening or doing projects that require you to kneel on the floor or ground. This can save you a few dollars versus buying the pads made for that purpose. Mouse pads also work as jar openers (the thin rubbery ones anyhow).

You might receive free address labels as part of direct mail campaigns for charities. My wife and I get them almost every week. We have more than we'll ever use for our letters. Fortunately they can used to label possessions, or to stick notes to things with no need to tear off a piece of tape, and as staple substitutes. For the latter just fold a label over the top corner of two pieces of paper to hold them together. No big savings, but it adds up.

Gallon jugs that milk and orange juice come in have many which might allow you to spend less money on other things. You can tie one to a cement block and use this to mark a good fishing spot, for example. You can make a good funnel (for some purposes) by cutting the jug in half and using the top part. The bottom half can be used as a water dish for pets, or as a small, lightweight dish washing basin for backpacking and camping.

Cut the top of a jug off diagonally and you have a scoop with a handle (leave the screw-top on), which can be used for scooping out dog food, as a sand scoop for the kids to play with, and as a seed or fertilizer spreader for lawns. You can store things like bird seed, rice, salt for the sidewalk, or anything that gets too messy in a bag in these plastic jugs..

Ideally you want to look not just for other uses for things, but for uses that substitute for something you would have otherwise bough, so you spend less money. And though these are not ways to save big money, if you find enough of these small ways, it adds up over time. Just be sure to set aside the savings, and this can be effectively the same as making more money, but perhaps with less effort than taking a second job or working more hours.







Ways to save money - but don't try these

Ways to save money - but don't try these

Funny Frugality

Frugality makes sense in these times, but it can go too far. The funny ways to save money that follow are thus not meant to be serious - at least I don;t mean them that way. But I'm not sure about the intentions of the blogs, websites and the minds of twisted scrooges where I got these ideas. Let me be clear: these are for entertainment purposes only.


Ways to Save Money

Request extra religious tracts from the next zealots to knock on your door. Then replace half of each restaurant tip with one of these gifts. Your annual savings based on eating out four times monthly and an average normal tip of four dollars (replaced by $2 and that nice little booklet): $96


Stop by to visit your neighbors while they're working in their gardens. Continue to compliment them on the great job they've done with the garden until they finally offer you some free vegetables or fruit. Do this with several neighbors in order to spread out these foraging trips and limit them to one or two per month for each one. Your estimated annual savings on vegetables: $106.

Visit the lost-and-found departments at businesses, governmental buildings and other places. Look through the items and say, "There it is!" whenever you come upon something you need. For the most savings with this strategy you have to focus on taking things that you would have otherwise bought. Skip the fancy umbrellas you never would have paid for anyhow. Avoid day planners, books and other things that might have the name of the owner written in them. Your savings depend on your acting ability and the number of places you can check.

All fast food restaurants offer you packets of ketchup, mustard and other condiments for free. Teach your kids to take seven or eight extra packets before you leave. Just stop buying condiments for the house altogether, and have them take extra napkins too. Your potential savings each year: $120

Go ahead and pee in the shower every day while you are there. It goes down the drain in any case. With a three gallon flush for the toilet replaced each time, you'll save 1,000 gallons of water annually - unless you skip your daily showers to save even more money see next tip). You'll have to multiply that by the per-gallon charge from your local water company or municipality to determine the annual savings you'll get.

Take the downspout off your gutter so you can shower under the resulting stream of falling water when it rains hard enough. A once monthly outdoor shower that saves you ten gallons of hot water like this can save you at least thirty cents every year.

Carefully cut open lotion and shampoo containers to get the last 20% that Consumer's Reports says is normally thrown away by people. Your potential savings? $1.17 per hour of effort at least.

Want more funny frugality? Train your dog to beg neighbors for scraps to save on dog food. Stop by your friends' houses right around dinner time to get fed for free. Make calls during lunch and leave a message so the other person has to return the call and use his paid minutes. Soap up your car just before a thunderstorm and let the rain rinse it to save on car washes.

Ways to Save Money

Ways to Save Money

Why have ways to save money on a site about ways to make money? Because saving money is like making more. When I found a way to pay $413 to go to Ecuador, instead of the lowest online quote of $1700, it meant over $1200 extra in my pocket - and for a lot less effort than making that much at work.

Dollar Store Deals and Ripoffs

Some of the best dollar store deals are overstock and closeout items that are distributed through these outlets. That's because they go cheap at the wholesale level, so you can find some quality merchandise for much less than normal--for a dollar. For example, polished granite "eggs" were popular briefly a few years back, and were selling for $15 at gift shops. Some store or middleman went out of business, and so they were also available (at the same time) for $1 in the local dollar store where I lived.


The dollar store ripoffs include many of the items that are specifically manufactured for these stores. Some dollar hand tools, for example, will fall apart the first time you try to use them. here's a look at some more dollar deals and ripoffs.

Dollar Store Deals

Window cleaners - There is little to mess up with the making of window cleaning solution, and it often cost less at dollar stores than anywhere else.

Other cleaning solutions - Other cleaners are also normally cheapest at these stores, but you'll have to test them one by one to see which are of decent quality.

Gift bags - Much easier than wrapping things, and these colorful bags will usually cost at least $2 in other stores.

Greeting cards - Quality of the paper is not an issue with greeting cards, and it is rare to find them for a dollar at other stores.

Glassware - You can get glasses cheap at other stores, but usually only by buying a large set.

Picture frames - Although they can be low quality, you can generally tell by looking at them, and it doesn't get cheaper than than this for a wooden frame.

Hand mirrors - Try to find one for a dollar anywhere else.

Brooms - The quality is very low usually, but these are a great buy for spares to use for garages and sheds.

Storage bins - The plastic storage bins are not strong, but they work well for many purposes.

Decorations - Since most ribbons and other decorations are thrown out after parties, why pay more?

Dollar Store Ripoffs

Paper products - The trick here is using low-quality paper for napkins and toilet paper, making them look like a normal size package while actually having far less product than normal. There may be exceptions (there can always be closeouts on quality paper plates or paper towels, after all), but generally these are a ripoff.

Dish washing detergent - The quality might be okay, but the bottles sold are often very small, and it is cheaper per-ounce to buy a larger bottle at any other store.

Knives - The quality is low enough to be dangerous when it comes to most dollar store knives, both for the kitchen and pocket knives.

Candy - Most of the packages contain less candy than you might think, making it expensive compared to buying bigger bags in a supermarket.

Batteries - There are exceptions, but the batteries sold in these places are often the lowest-quality thing that can be called (just barely) a battery.

Bottled water - It is cheaper in bulk in other places, and I'm not sure I would trust dollar store water.

Toys - It looks like there are some great deals here, and there may be a few, but most of these items break easily and often have flaws from the start. Then there is the possibility of lead in children's toys that come from China.

Extension cords - Low quality, and possibly dangerous.

Pet food - These stores can be a dumping ground for low-quality pet food that can't be sold elsewhere.

People food - Smaller-than-normal sizes make many foods less of a deal than they appear to be, and labels are often designed to look like they are a name brand when they are not.

There can always be exceptions to these dollar store deals and ripoffs. Those cheap brooms might be so low quality that they fall apart after one use (I've had it happen), and a store can sometimes get a cheap closeout supply of high-quality name brand food or merchandise.

How to Save Money on a Pool Purchase

How do you save money on a pool purchase? Shopping for a great sale or negotiating a lower price are two ways that come to mind. But there are more fundamental ways to save money on any large purchase that have to be addressed first.

Pool Purchase - Questions to Ask

Think carefully about how you will use the pool, and what your true purposes are. Do you just want a way to cool off in the summer? Or do you want something to use year-round? Do you want the pool primarily for your own use or for parties with friends? Do you want a pool to impress people (a far more common purpose than you might think)? If the latter is the case, it will be especially difficult to save money.

Before I go any further, I have to tell a short story. I was at the house of a friend the other day and as we stood there in the 95-degree heat I noticed that his swimming pool was empty. It was just one of those free-standing pools that costs a few hundred dollars, but it seemed a waste to not be using it.

His daughter had been gone for a couple weeks, and since she was the only one that really used it, he decided to drain it. It had been collecting dust and leaves and growing slime. That was earlier in the summer. Although his daughter had been back for a month, he just hadn't gotten around to cleaning it and filling it up again.

Now, there are important two lessons here. First, that a pool is a lot of work, and unless you can afford to hire a pool maintenance company, you get to do that work. There is cleaning, emptying, filling, adding chemicals on schedule, replacing parts and making repairs.

The second point is that we all tend to overestimate how often we will actually use the things we buy. This is especially true with large purchases like pools. You might imagine yourself coming home every summer day to take a swim, but the reality is usually something else. Although I have not seen a survey done on this, I see a lot of pools around that are mostly decorative. I suspect that many people use their pools about once or twice per week or less during summer.

That brings us to the most fundamental way to save money on a pool purchase: Don't make it. I can't speak for you, and it is possible that you'll get every bit of value from that pool that you hope to get. But you might want to at east do some realistic calculation before you make the decision.

For example, suppose you have an in-ground pool built for $30,000 in your backyard, with a nice deck and all. You roll the cost into a home refinance. Of course that means that your true cost with interest will be closer to $65,000 (30 year 6% loan). Then there are the other costs. Water, cleaning, repairs, chemicals, added property tax due to the home value going up. These probably will add another $1,200 per year even though you only get to use the pool for a few months each year unless you live in a warm climate.

Now suppose that you use the pool more than most - we'll say several times weekly for four full months each year. Your net cost per use will be lower than most people's then - maybe only $20 to $30 per hour. That's still pretty expensive, isn't it? It might make more sense to go to a water park several times each summer. Certainly the kids will like that, and it almost certainly will cost less in the long run.

There is one more issue here. If you spent a thousand dollars each summer going to public pools and water arks and beaches, you always have the option of discontinuing this expense if times get tough. It is much harder to stop paying on that loan and stop maintaining that pool. That's worth thinking about unless you have a lot of money and your income is very secure. To save money on a pool purchase then, seriously consider just saying no.