8 Unusual But Effective Ways To Stretch Your Paycheck

Today we have a guest post from Jon at Money Smart Guides.  Jon will be providing some unusual but effective ways to stretch your paycheck.  

Those of us old enough to know, love to sigh in frustration that money ain’t worth what it used to be.

Horrible grammar aside, it is true that the value of the dollar has diminished over the years, mostly due to natural inflation, and partly due to other economic and fiscal factors (which seems to depend on which side of the ideological scale you sit). No matter the cause, the reality is that we all know our money doesn’t go as far as we think it should, and that usually means sometimes we have to take some steps to stretch our money a little farther.

And that usually means some kind of sacrifice.

Oh sure, maybe you can find some bargains or do some couponing that you didn’t do before in order to get better prices on items, but to really do wonders with your budget, you will have to take some unusual measures. Here are a few creative ways to save money and makes those limited dollars last longer.

These are not normal ideas that most people talk about, like couponing or buying store or generic brands. Just look at these less conventional ideas.

8 Unusual Ways To Save Money

#1. Save shampoo

You really do not have to wash your hair every single day. Some stylists say that your hair can actually benefit by less shampooing to look good. If you shampoo every day and the idea of going to once a week scares the bejeezus out of you, scale back slowly. Even changing to every other or every third day will save you some money because that expensive shampoo now can stretch twice or thrice as long.

And when it comes to the bottle being close to empty, don’t just toss it. Add a little water and shake it when you plan to use it. It will help you get every last drop out.

#2. Use a shopwatch

This means shop with a time limit. When you are under no time constraints, it can be easy to browse and have impulse buys that are not on your list. To save money, put yourself on a time limit, such as going shopping right before you’re supposed to be somewhere. That deadline helps you stay focused on your list. You get only what you need and get out.

Of course, you can also rely on use a shopping list as well. This will help you to focus on what you need and not finding things you want by browsing.

#3. DON’T coupon

Coupons are great for brand-name items, except … even after the coupons, generic or store-brand items may still be cheaper. If you can compromise your palate for the sake of some savings, go store or generic brands and ditch coupons. In fact, when it comes to taste, I really can’t tell the difference between store brand and name brand. And many other people can’t either.

And those “save $10 when you buy $100” deals? They are designed for you to spend more than you really should or need to.

#4. Toilet talk

Since toilets are often a gross subject, we’ll keep this short. First, don’t flush every time only when you go number two.

Second, if you put some sand in a plastic water bottle and put the bottle in your tank, you can save water each time you flush, which saves you money on your water bill every month. Just be sure you don’t have a low flush toilet already as doing this will not allow enough water to be used and as a result, your waste won’t wash away.

#5. Use cash

It’s easy to overspend when you blindly whip out your credit or debit card. Cash however, has a certain trigger to it where actually spending it feels different. As in a little painful. Using cash may add a little hassle but also may save you from making those impulse or frivolous purchases.

Don’t think so? Try going all cash for a month and see how much it hurts to see the money leave your hand as opposed to just swiping a credit card. The disconnect seems small, but psychologically, it is a big deal.

#6. Save the packets

When you do fast-food places for a meal and you either pick up condiment packets or get them thrown into your to-go bag, keep in mind to save the ones you don’t use. Saving packets of mustard, ketchup, salad dressing or even salt and pepper may save you money in the long run because you won’t need to buy those condiments as often – if at all, if you’re very aggressive in obtaining those packets and judicious in using them.

#7. Repurpose

When possible, re-use things like plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, and aluminum foil instead of tossing them after one use. Some items can be used several times or many times. The fewer bags and less wrap you need to buy, the more money you save. And in a related note, if you are a coffee drinker, you could save your grounds to use as fertilizer in your garden or as a skin exfoliation.

We reuse Ziploc bags all of the time. When we travel, we tend to group items together in bags. When we come home, instead of tossing them, we keep them with the luggage and reuse them. Of course if something spills, we will toss the bag. But you could always just clean out the bag for future use.

#8. Early to bed, early to rise

It does make one wealthy and wise, at least, because if you do what cowboys used to do and go to bed earlier and get up earlier, you actually save electricity use at night. Related to electricity is this: Your house saves electricity when you use only one appliance at a time, such as your heating/cooling units, washer/dryer and dishwasher.

You can survive without heat or cool for an hour while you wash dishes, and you can survive while you go through a cycle of clothes. When you can, run an appliance late at night or very early in the morning, when the electrical grid isn’t so taxed. That alone could save you a couple bucks a month.

Final Thoughts

Yes, we know that some of these ideas are a little too odd for you to believe you could make them part of a routine in your life, but even adjusting with a couple of these ideas can make a world of difference in your house, and actually might not be much of a sacrifice while still saving money.

But if these are too extreme for you, fear not. Remember that if your paycheck is tight, you have two options: save or earn more. If you would rather keep your current habits and not try to cut expenses, you could turn to ways to bring in additional income.

The obvious starting point is with your current job. Can you get a significant raise? If not, you have many other options for making money. Thanks to technology, there are almost an unlimited number of ways to making more money.

So what do you want to do? Do you want to change the way you do some things and save a little money? Or would you rather keep things as they are and make more money? The choice is yours. Just know that whichever one you choose (or even a combination of both), but saving money each month, you are getting ahead financially.

Author Bio: Jon blogs at Money Smart Guides, a personal finance blog that helps people get out of debt and start investing for their future.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Getting Rid Of Yahoo Once And For All

I have had it with Yahoo.  A few years ago I wrote about how Yahoo had gotten smaller and smaller in terms of what I used them for.  That’s continued, and now I’m in the process of cutting the cord altogether.  I am getting rid of Yahoo!

When Yahoo Ruled My World

I remember Yahoo as the first bridge to the Internet that I had, and I used it for just about everything.  I used it for searches, e-mail, photo storage, investment tracking, sports information, and even online dating back in my single days.  It had everything!

Those were the glory days.

Who else remembers?

Yahoo Took Less And Less Fingers

Eventually I stopped using Yahoo.  They sold off or closed down various services.  Their photo service merged.  They closed up shop on their dating service (yes, I was still single).  Their searches were not as accurate, so I moved to the Big G.  The number of things I was using Yahoo for was shrinking.  I needed less fingers to count the services I was using them for.  And then it was down to two:

  • Yahoo Mail – For a long time Yahoo was my primary mail address.  Then, when I got Gmail, I started switching everything over as I liked the interface better and it seemed more secure.  The security aspect proved true when I got hacked twice even after changing passwords and security information.
  • Yahoo Sports – For a long time, the sports coverage by Yahoo was second to none, at least in my opinion.  It was better than ESPN or any other sports site.  I used the site regularly and even installed the app on my various smartphones.

Why I’m Getting Rid Of Yahoo

I heard a story last year where Yahoo admitted that a billion accounts had been breached.  A billion!  I could tell just by empirical evidence that they’d been breached a number of times, and that the breaches were big.  I was breached.  My wife had been breached.  And about once per month I still get e-mails from former Yahoo contacts that are obviously false.  They’d been breached.

Yahoo has let just about everyone get breached.  And, I finally had enough.

Yahoo Mail – The Few Last Items

It didn’t hurt that my Mail account was being used less and less.  There’s only about two or three things that I actually use it for.  One of those is kind of the catch-all e-mail for when you sign up for a coupon or some other deal.  I’m not losing anything there.  The couple of other actual newsletters or services I can switch over, and am in process of doing so.

I have some old archived e-mail that I would potentially like to save, but I’m pretty sure you can export this somehow.   I’m looking forward to completely deactivating my Yahoo mail account.

Image via MorgueFile courtesy muvaca

Yahoo Sports – A Shell Of Itself

The only other thing I was using them for was Sports.  As I said, their sports page used to be awesome. However,  they’ve gone through a few rounds of changes over the years.  Each time they seem to have less coverage of their own and more outsourced stuff.  Last year I was looking around and realizing that about 5-10% of what I was reading was from Yahoo. About half was links to outside sites.  The rest was click bait, articles not even associated with sports.  I was sticking with a site where 90% of the content sucked.  That did it!  I now use ESPN to catch my sports news. Their mobile page is pretty useful.  I just need an app that I can use to follow scores of my favorite teams.  I imagine those are a dime a dozen.

Goodbye, Yahoo

Everybody knows that Yahoo sucks now, right? Even Yahoo does, as they’re selling themselves to Verizon.  That is, if Verizon even wants to complete the deal.  After the huge data breach was revealed in terms of actual size, I think they started to have some doubts.

I held on to Yahoo for far too long. I think I stuck with them largely out of nostalgia. For a while, Yahoo was involved in probably 75% of everything I did on the Internet. Soon, they will be involved of absolutely nothing.  Of mine, anyway.

Readers, have you cut the cord on Yahoo or one of the other Internet dinosaurs that just couldn’t keep up?

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Small Things that Can Ruin Your Credit Score

You may have excellent credit now or wondering how to improve your score. There are many things you’ve heard of, such as bankruptcies ruining your credit or not paying your mortgage on time. However, there are other small and shocking things that can ruin your credit score.

Closing Your Retail and Gas Credit Cards

So you may think that if you close your retail and gas credit cards you’re doing yourself a favor. If they are closed, you can’t run the bill back up, right? Actually, this is a bad idea. You see, the information on your credit remains there for seven years – good and bad. Closing one reduces the length of your credit history; something lenders want to see longevity of. So keep these cards open, so it stays as a plus for you.

Not Using Your Credit Cards

Similar to closing your credit cards out, not using your credit cards could damage your credit. A credit card company could consider you as an inactive user. Then, they can close your account for you. The number of active accounts lowers on your report, and your credit utilization rate could increase since you now will have less credit available.

Credit cards are like installment loans when it comes to credit score.  They report monthly to all the major credit bureaus.  Tip; if you have poor credit you find smaller installment loans for bad credit.  These loans if paid on time can help increase your credit score over time.

Not Paying Parking Tickets

It’s not enough that you’ll end up with a boot on your car from not paying parking tickets. So if you think just by not driving your vehicle, you’re safe, one way or another, you’ll get hit hard to pay those fines. Your city could send those unpaid parking tickets over to a collection agency. And in doing so, it’s possible you could incur additional fees, garnishment, and dings against your credit report.

Not Paying Library Fines

Many libraries have similar rules. If you are over $50 or more in library fines, you’ll more than likely hear from a collection agency. This is a negative hit on your credit report. Moreover, this is one balance that can’t be negotiated.

Letting Your Storage Hit Auction

Do you have items in storage and decided you just do not want to be bothered with them any longer? While storage companies can auction off your items, this doesn’t mean they are willing to wipe the slate clean for you. So if you let your items get auctioned off, not only will all your items be gone, but you’ll have this collection record on your report for seven years. Your best bet – close out and sell the items off to not deal with this in the first place.

Not Finalizing Your Move-Out Utility Payments

If you’re moving, it’s wise to pay attention to any utility payments you may have. Not all utilities are transferable, especially if you move to a new city that has a different provider. Missing these payments not only counts as late payments to be turned over, but you may find that in connecting the next utility, you’ll have a security deposit fee.

The above six issues seem small, but letting just a few add up could have grave consequences against your credit report.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Avoid Walmart Site To Store Around The Holidays

Amazon has pretty much set the bar for online shopping, especially if you’re a Prime member.  Click, order, and a couple of days later, you have a box with your items.  It works great.  So great that other retailers have had no choice but to offer online ordering.  Walmart Site to Store is one such offering, where you can order from the retail giant and pick up at a nearby store.

You’d think that a company the size of Walmart, one of the biggest in the world, would have this process down.  However, as our recent experience shows, thinking this is kind of, well, wrong.

Christmas Gift: New Bikes For The Kids

Both of our kids learned to ride bikes without training wheels this last summer.  Our youngest, age 5, actually caught on first, which then pushed our oldest, age 7, to get it down.  Our daughter was riding a bike that we bought secondhand, and she loved it, but by the end of summer it was apparent that she was too small.  This wasn’t a big deal as we only paid $15 for the bike (and we can probably turn around and sell it for that).

We actually, toward the end of summer, went out and bought her a new bike in a bigger size.  Instead of giving it to her, we actually kept it aside, hoping that we could line up new bikes at the same time.

See, we knew our son’s bike was also too small for him, but we didn’t want to get him a new bike until he learned to ride without training wheels.  The size of bike he was moving up to didn’t even come standard with training wheels!

Once he learned, it was toward the end of summer.  We hatched a plan that we would let them ride it out for the rest of the year on their current bikes.  Then, we would give them new bikes for Christmas.  This seemed like a great plan so we hid our daughter’s bike in the basement.

Ordering Another Bike From Walmart Site To Store

As we got Christmas gifts together, we started looking around for bikes.  We drifted toward buying one from Walmart. We’ve looked at getting them more expensive bikes from a bike shop, but have steered away from them. At their current age, they’re going through them rather quickly, so the more expensive bikes seem more appropriate in a few years.

We looked around at Walmart, for a couple of reasons.  They had a good variety.  We found one that looked nice and had good reviews.  Plus, we had a gift card that my wife had gotten a while back at a charity auction.

This all added up to a purchase that looked like it made sense.

We ordered the bike in early December, with an estimated arrival date to the store about a week before Christmas.  This was perfect.  One reason that we did Site to Store is because they will assemble the bike for you.  The bike we had stashed away for my daughter had also been selected this way for this reason.  That worked out great for us.

All together, this should have given us plenty of time for the store to get the bike, assemble the bike, and for us to pick it up.

But, you’re hear reading, so of course you know it didn’t turn out that way.

The First Delay

The initial estimated date came and went.  At this point, we still had a few days before Christmas but a late arrival date would be workable.  This would just mean that I’d have to assemble the bike myself.  I really didn’t want to, but since just about every Christmas since we started having kids has involved me putting together something big, I knew I could make it work.

Well, that didn’t happen either.

The Second Delay

After the date passed, they updated the estimated date.  The new date was December 27th.  They were going to miss Christmas!

Thankfully, this wasn’t the end of the world.  See, we live in Michigan and it’s winter.  This means that it gets dark by 5pm and it’s either really snowy, really cold, or both.  All these factors together and kids just aren’t riding bikes now.  They probably won’t be for at least a few months.

So, we figured that we could just tell them that they were getting another present and surprise them when it came in.

Great plan, right?

The Third Delay

Image from MorgueFile courtesy DuBoix

After we got the new arrival date, we made even more progress.  Or so we thought.  They provided real time tracking data!  Which is just like Amazon!  We could see exactly where in the country it was, and watched it move closer and closer until on the 27th it actually arrived at the store!

Success, right?

Wrong.

The status changed to “Processing In Store – Not Ready For Pickup.” And it stayed at that status.  And stayed and stayed and stayed.

I called a couple of days after and had them pull up the order.  They told me that they were running behind on getting everything ‘sorted out’ and asked that I please be patient.  The lady said that I should probably be getting my pickup notification “within a day or two.”

But a day or two passed, actually five more, and no notification.

Finally, A Bike

I looked again at the tracking info and found something more interesting.  The bike had been shipped to the store via FedEx from another store.  So, I called back and spoke to the same woman and explained that it didn’t come in out of their regular delivery, but via FedEx.  She looked around and she still couldn’t find our bike.

BUT, she did find that they actually had the bike in stock.  So, she was able to pull the bike, and as it happened, the assembler was there and got it all put together.  They assured me that the bike they found was not mine.  I guess they have ways of tracking.  I’m not sure I actually believe them!  LOL.

In any case, within an hour after that call I finally did get an e-mail and the next day I went in and picked up my bike.  The same lady that had helped me on the phone was there to get it, so her and I laughed that we had finally gotten this done.  I have to say, for as crazy as an experience as it was, she was extremely helpful.  Quite honestly, without her help, I probably would have never gotten the bike and would have ended up cancelling the order.

Two Happy Kids

We did end up presenting the bikes to the kids on the very last day of their holiday break, so we felt that it worked out in the end.  They were happy and I know that in the end, their enjoyment and their smiles will make the painful memory of getting the bike fade away.  But we did learn a couple of lessons.  First, don’t order something before the holidays using Site to Store that you actually need before the holidays.  Second, nobody beats Amazon at shipping.  Nobody.

Readers, did you have any close or missed calls with getting your stuff?  Let me know how everything went for you in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.