Are You A Hamster On A Wheel?

Today’s post is a guest post from one of my new favorite bloggers: Melissa at Mom’s Plans.  Melissa writes great tips that every parent can use.  One of the things she advocates that I think can be a huge difference maker in any household, is menu planning. I would highly recommend that after reading the great article below, you spend some time on her blog! 

When I was working full-time, my life was quite hectic.  I had two small children, my husband was a full-time graduate student, and we both often brought work home.  We had very little time to relax and spend time together as a couple or as a family.
Gradually, I fell into a dangerous pattern of thinking that went something like this, “Today’s meeting was so stressful; I am tired and annoyed, and the last thing I want to do is spend 30 minutes going home to cook dinner and then spend another 30 minutes cleaning up and trying to get the kids ready for bed.”  So, I would swing by the local Chipotle or Qdoba and justify the expense because we made enough money to meet our bills and it “was only” $20 or $30 for dinner. 

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Progressive Tax Systems

Since Money Beagle is away on vacation, there will be a couple of guest posts this week.  Here is a post from a somewhat new blogger.  Please welcome Teacher Man from  My University Money.
Introduction
 
Hello, fellow young personal finance readers.  I go by the pen name is “Teacher Man” due to the fact I recently graduated university and am in my first year of teaching high school.  My partner and I have recently started up a website aimed at helping young people in high school, as well as those in various post-secondary avenues, and finally, students that have recently graduated and are facing ‘the real world’ for the first time.  The inspiration for our website came about when we were reminiscing about our time in university and how if we knew then what we know now, we would have been a lot better off.  Thus, My University Money was born.  Our goal is to help young people in their quest to learn how to succeed in their educational, financial, and career pursuits.

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The Credit Cards Of The Rich And Famous

When it comes to money matters, being rich and famous definitely has its advantages. You can afford the best of everything, which is great.  On top of that, your credit card unlocks the door to even more privilege.  Many of us struggle to make ends meet.  However, the rich and famous do not need credit cards for bad credit when times get hard.

Additional Rewards

Royalty, celebrities and entrepreneurs are able to access a range of credit cards that provide many advantages.  These include additional rewards and bonuses far beyond money-off vouchers or discount deals.

These credit cards themselves are actually a status symbol.  One cannot simply apply for one as you would for any normal card.  These are not credit cards that are used to improve credit scores.

Instead, you are invited to join the club of exclusive credit card holders. The most rare and prestigious credit card is rumored to have only 100 holders.  That’s absolutely incredible.

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The Sunglasses With A Guardian Angel

We’ve all done it at one time or another.  More than once, I’m sure.

You put something down somewhere that’s totally unsafe, thinking, “just for a minute.”

And then you go and forget all about it.

The only question at that point is whether luck is on your side or not?

We were outside on a particularly nice afternoon.  Little Boy Beagle was pushing his bike around the driveway (not a fan of riding on it just yet, but pushing it is great loads of fun).  His shoes needed adjusting so I took my sunglasses off to get a better look.

I put them on the ground.  No, that’s silly.  He’d run them right over with his bike or step on them or something.  So, the next logical place is the bumper of the car that’s sitting in the garage.

But only for a second, right?

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Crack Sealing The Driveway

Our house (and driveway) is about twelve years old.  One of the things that I’ve been noticing needs some work is the driveway.

There are a couple of slabs that I’ve noticed are not even with the rest of the driveway.  This has gotten particularly annoying over the past couple of winters as the snow shovel hitting the uneven part has led to more than one near-miss hernia.

I figure it’s time for action.

I got a couple of estimates on slab lifting, which is where they basically drill a couple of holes into the affected slabs, inject a mud/slurry solution in to level the slab, and patch the small holes that they drilled.

The quotes for this work actually came in a little lower than what I had expected.

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Did I Really Just Add Two More Credit Cards To My Wallet?

I’m all about keeping it relatively simple when it comes to spending.  For the most part, I use two cards for purchases, a debit card that draws out of our bank checking account, and a credit card that I use for various spending categories, which pays 1% cash back.

It works well.  It is simple.  It allows me to keep on top of things on a daily basis if I so choose (I do!).

So, why on earth would I willingly add two more credit cards to the fray?   Why complicate my life?  Have I lost my personal finance mind?

Fear not, my sanity is still in check.

The reason is simple:

Five percent.

Read moreDid I Really Just Add Two More Credit Cards To My Wallet?

Does Your Insurance Agent Make A Difference?

I never really gave much thought to who my insurance agent was.  I have been with Allstate since 1996 when my parents booted me off their plan following my college graduation.  At the time, they were the cheapest I could find with a company name I trusted.

They’ve provided good service and when I’ve comparison shopped my policies a couple times since, I’ve never found a deal convincing enough to leave.

When I first signed up, I was assigned an agent that was most likely closest to where I lived.  At some point when I was living in my condo in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, I got a letter stating that the agent I was with had retired and I was being assigned to a new agent that was the closest to where I lived.

Whatever, right?

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How To Get Free Stuff From The Vending Machine (Legally, Too!)

Years ago, I worked in a call center.  There were rows and rows of workers answering calls.

I got to be work friends with a few people, and one of them impressed me with a method where he was able to get ‘free’ stuff from the vending machine for over a week.  And it didn’t involve scamming anybody in the process!

The idea was simple: He basically went up and down rows (a couple at a time so as not to draw suspicion) and asked ‘Hey can I borrow a quarter?’

After spreading out his visits over the period of a couple of days, he’d collected over six dollars in change!  For the rest of the week, if he wanted a snack or something to drink from the machine, he would tap into his ‘fund’.

Obviously, this was not something he could repeat on a regular basis, because people will tire quickly of giving someone a quarter over and over.

But, his ingenuity impressed me, because he realized that a quarter, to most people, is no big deal.  We’ve probably all borrowed some change or had someone borrow change, and 99 times out of 100, it gets forgotten about and not re-paid, which is fine for everybody involved.  If you start borrowing a dollar or more, that’s when repayment is expected.

He was able to take the fact that a quarter was no big deal, multiply that on a grander scale, and end up with a few bucks in his pocket.

Impressive.

I’ve lost touch with him since, but this memory always sticks out as one that brought a smile to my face.

Why Does Standard & Poors Hate America?

All the downgrades by Standard & Poors seem a little….I don’t know…over the top.

If Warren Buffet calls you out for doing it, I think there’s something a little strange going on, no?  (S&P responded to this by lowering the credit rating on Berkshire Hathaway, which just proves even more that S&P is on some big out-of-control-nothing-based-on-reality kick.  I mean, really?)

Seems to me that S&P is getting a little anti-American these days.  Which is strange to me because the first thing their Wikipedia entry says is that they are a “United States based” financial services company.

Who apparently hates America.

Do they really think that America is going to walk away from their debt? First and foremost, that’s not going to happen.  Second, that’s not going to happen!

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Just By Asking, I Saved Us $7.50

Back in June, when my wife was going into the hospital to deliver our second baby, I was all about priorities.  Was she comfortable?  Would she get in her room right away?  Would they have her midwife paged?  Could we avoid paying for the phone?

Ever the frugal daddy-to-be, I remembered that last time we were there, we made one phone call during the entire course of the hospital stay, and payed a few bucks as a standard phone charge.  Figuring we could just avoid the phone charge, I asked them if they could disable the phone for outgoing calls.

The nurse told me that they couldn’t, and that it was a bundled charge with the TV.

Bummer.  Kind of a rip-off really, because I’m sure that they know that pretty much everybody is going to watch TV if possible.

Read moreJust By Asking, I Saved Us $7.50