4 Hidden Truths About Penny Pinching

Contrary to what many people imagine, penny pinching is not a random trait of the selfish, but rather an acquired and learned habit that could bring great rewards without denying us the usual pleasures of life. Pinching pennies do not necessarily imply the harsh and stringent lifestyles. The gradual process of learning this art requires some combination of insight and creativity than can allow us to see old things in new ways and unlearn some of patterns and rhythms of life, which we have followed without critical reflection about their cost-benefit analysis. However, certain safeguards are necessary to avoid the kind of heartache that some people incur in their adoption of frugal living strategies.

Health And Nutrition

Penny Pinching promotes good health and proper nutrition.

One distinguishing characteristic about families and individuals who consistently save their income is that they tend to prepare their food at home. This pattern of life means that they do not spend their income on junk food or other food items from the restaurants and fast food shops. Any nutritionist will readily admit that people who prepare their own food tend to maintain healthier diets as compared to those who live on commercially prepared food. The bottom line is that homemade food costs lesser than fast foods, which promotes the objective of those who want to save.

Penny Pinching

Investment Capital

A strict control of finances can create capital for investment.

The pursuit of the noble goal of investment can be enhanced by a strict and consistent saving pattern. Every investment initiative requires some element of surplus with regard to finances. The pinching of pennies over a period of five or ten years could help an individual to establish a medium size investment with remarkable ease. Saving and investing are positive habits of the mind that define the underlying philosophies of highly successful entrepreneurs.

Avoiding Debt

The pinching of pennies helps to avoid debts during harsh financial times.

In the wake of unpredictable financial challenges, inflationary pressures, and job losses, it makes great sense for individuals to practice consistent saving in order to survive harsh economic times. Many people choose the options of payday loan services without considering the adverse long-term impact of the high interest rates on their financial status. Amassing debts have some stagnating effect that inhibits people’s potential to make significant progress in their development plans. It is important to consider the cumulative advantage of frugal living to the overall financial stability.

Quality of Life

Some people consider penny pinching as a challenge to the quality of life.

A casual and narrow assessment of the value of frugal living is likely to end with the assumption that it diminishes the quality of life. Indeed, some forms of saving that involve enormous sacrifice and consistent denial of basic needs could significantly subtract from the quality of living. It is possible to maintain the noble habit of saving without compromising on the pleasures of life. Saving only requires a balance of priorities that allows people to live normally without succumbing to the lure of extravagance.

Spring Cleaning Can Save and Make You Money

spring cleaningSpring cleaning may help you save money and make money. When you engage in the age-old tradition of spring cleaning, you initiate the process of taking stock of the items that you currently possess, are able to eliminate the items that you no longer need, organize what is left, and clear space in order to add new things. While engaging in this process, you have the potential to save yourself money on future purchases by locating items that you forgot that you had and recycling your possessions to create new items that you may use, without spending any money. Additionally, you may find that you have the ability to cash in on a lot of items that you would normally just throw out. In this guide, you will learn how to save money and make money with your spring cleaning activities.

Taking Stock

Spring cleaning is more than just washing your curtains, shampooing your carpets, and freshening up your home. It is a time when you must evaluate all that you possess. By taking stock of your possessions, you may determine what items are positively contributing to your life, what items could serve another purpose in your life, and what items you are willing to part with. For example, if you have some old towels that are not in the best shape, you could cut those towels up and turn them into rags for your garage. If you have old, scratched CDs that cannot be used or sold, you could recycle them and create a decorative item or cup coasters. If you have old cell phones, you could actually sell those online. If you cannot use an item, you should determine if it may be recycled into another product. If you cannot recycle the item, you should attempt to sell it. If you recycle your old items, you save money. If you sell your items, this is how you make money. Taking stock is one of the top spring savings tips.

Out with the Old

We all have litter, clutter, and junk in our lives that is completely useless. When spring cleaning, it is imperative that you figure out what items in your home fit under these categories and completely eliminate it. Many do not realize it, but, having excess junk in the home could result in excess cost. For example, it costs more to heat or cool a room that is loaded with boxes and storage containers than it does to heat or cool an empty room. The standard rule of thumb is to eliminate items that you have not used in the past six months from the home during spring cleaning activities – with the exception of photographs and other irreplaceable treasures. In doing so, you are not only cleaning and organizing your home, you are positively contributing to the amount of money you spend and save. Out with the old is one of the most positive and productive spring savings tips.


There are many spring cleaning tips available that will help you save money and make money. By simply taking stock of what you have, determining what can be recycled, selling what may be reused by others, and cleaning out the old, unused items in your home, you have the unique ability to save money and even make a few dollars. Spring cleaning should be an activity that not only allows you to clean up your home, but, also allows you to declutter, remove excess junk, and make a little cash. By following the spring savings tips in this guide and the suggestions on how to cash in on your junk, you are sure to find many ways to save money and make money with your spring cleaning activities.

The Frugal Lawn and Garden Guide

lawn-and-gardenThe Frugal Lawn and Garden Guide – Gardening Tips, Lawn Care, and More for Less

If you are searching for frugal ideas that pertain to gardening tips and lawn care, you will benefit immensely from reviewing this lawn and garden guide. If you reside in a region that experiences distinct seasonal changes throughout the year, you are probably currently looking over a lawn and garden that is brown, weed-ravaged, and in a complete state of despair. Purchasing the tools, seeds, fertilizers, and compost to get your lawn and garden back in shape is a costly endeavor; however, the expenses that most experience each year is completely unnecessary. In fact, there are many frugal-based gardening tips and techniques that will work for both your lawn and garden. In this frugal lawn and garden guide, you will learn how to bring your garden and lawn back to life for less.

Eliminate the Dead to Rekindle Life in Your Lawn and Garden

If you are interested in bringing your lawn and garden back to life, the first step that you should take is eliminating the dead. This will rekindle the life in your lawn and garden. You should go through your lawn and garden and pick out all of the dead grass, dead weeds, and other items that no longer have life in them. This is not the most exciting of steps, but, it is inexpensive, and relatively easy. Once you have removed all of the dead grass, weeds, and other items, you should then take a steel rake and lightly scratch the surface of the soil. This will help loosen it up. This will aid in promoting growth of new grass and other types of plants.

Lawn Aeration with Your Shoes

If you have the right types of shoes, all it takes is a little walk through your yard to aerate the lawn. Professional lawn aeration services usually cost in excess of $100.00; however, by simply choosing to wear a pair of shoes that have spikes on the bottom, you can aerate the lawn and garden yourself. The spikes on the bottom of the shoes will simply loosen the soil by putting small holes in the ground. Once the soil is loosened and the small holes are in the ground, fresh air, water, and various types of natural nutrients have the capability of reaching the roots of the grass and the roots of the other plants that are part of your lawn and garden. This step will dramatically encourage growth. In most instances, a pair of shoes with the appropriate spikes will only cost approximately $10.00 to $12.00.

Mow in a Precise and Strategic Manner

When it comes to gardening tips or just general tips on lawn and garden, most experts agree that it is important to mow the areas in a precise and strategic manner. First, you should ensure that the blades on your lawn mower are kept sharp. If they start to dull and you use them on your property, the blades will create an opportunity for various types of pathogens to invade and completely weaken the grass. You will find that the grass becomes less dense, highly frail, discolored, and in some instances, may die. Sharp blades should always be used and the grass should be cut only at a rate of about 1/3 of the size of the total blade. Short clippings of grass will successfully break down and permit the natural amount of nitrogen to return directly into the soil. If you cut grass any more than 1/3 the size of the blade, the long clippings have the potential to result in stress on the grass that is still located on the ground and may inhibit its growth. Finally, it is important to ensure that you cut the lawn in a pattern…such as across or up and down. Each time you cut your lawn, you should stick to this pattern.


There are many frugal and simple steps that may be performed in order to optimize the growth of your lawn and garden. Go to the Gilmour website to get a soaker hose that will let you water without waste by delivering a steady stream no faster than the ground can absorb it, deep into the soil—not pooling on top of it. While most of the steps outlined in this guide are geared towards the lawn, they may be used in the garden, too. Once you have completed the steps outlined here, you should also treat your lawn and garden with fertilizer. It does not have to be name brand or expensive. Instead, combine a bag of compost and a bag of manure and sprinkle the substance over your yard and your garden. By following the gardening tips and the lawn tips outlined in this guide, you are sure to find that both of these regions of your property grow beautifully and bountifully. The lawn and garden steps here will typically result in less than $30.00 in expenses, which will result in a vast amount of financial savings each year!

Making Money on your Old Cell Phones

phone recyclingMany people in the United States and worldwide use cell phones. Cell phones have become an important part of daily life and are typically always with people. In the United States alone, there are over 150 million cell phone users of which 100 million of those cell phones are discarded each year. While some cell phones might be thrown into the trash, others might be stored in a drawer, box or other storage area in one’s home.

It is beneficial that one take steps to recycle their cell phone for some extra cash when they are done using it rather than simply throwing it aside. Additionally, there are also harmful components inside of cell phones that are bad for the environment. Properly disposing of a cell phone will earn an individual some extra cash as well as help the environment.

There are many different cell phone recycling websites that one can visit online but it’s another story as to  where to sell an Apple Iphone? These websites offer to send the person packaging as well as a paid postage label for their cell phone. Once the phone has been sent to the phone company, it will be further examined and the money will either be sent to the individual using a variety of ways. While a person can get a quote for how much they might get for their phone, the actual condition of the phone must be verified by the recycling phone company once it has been received.

When one recycles their phone, they also help to combat the mining of Coltan which is a material used to manufacture cellular phones because of it’s semi-conductivity. Coltan is used in many varieties of cell phones, smartphones, touch-screen phones and touch-screen mobile devices and other electronics.

Because of the mining for Coltan in South Africa, it has led to the destruction of many wildlife habitats for the native Gorillas and other wildlife. Not to mention the damage that has been done to the natural ecosystem because of the Coltan mining. For every cell phone, smartphone and touch screen phone that is recycled, that is less Coltan that will be in demand to be mined.

When an individual would like to recycle their cell phone at a cell phone recycle company online, they can first perform a search for online cell phone recycling companies and choose one that fits their needs best. Once the person has chosen the site that they would like to use, the next step for them is to find out how much their cell phone, smartphone or other touch screen device is worth.

The general information about one’s phone can be entered into the site to receive an estimate on what the phone is worth and what the company will pay for it. It is also important for an individual to keep in mind that cell phones only depreciate in value over time so they are best sold as soon as possible.

Upon the individual receiving their quote for their phone, they can then enter in the details of their phone and their shipping address to receive a paid-postage shipping box for them to package their phone. After sending their phone off and upon delivery and inspection at the phone, the individual will then either be sent a check, sent Paypal funds or other methods of payment might also be available.

So, the next time you;re thinking about buying a new Apple phone, think twice before you toss your old phone in the dump!

photo by compujeramey

Green Energy Versus Brown Energy: Cost and Investment

In today’s economy, the costs of almost everything are rising at an alarming rate. In the last few years, energy rates have shot up substantially compared to how slowly they grew over the last century. Thanks to new regulations, local electricity rates are projected to increase substantially in the coming years. When dealing with electricity, you can choose between brown energy and green energy, depending on your situation. What’s the difference between the two and how can they impact you?

Brown Energy

Brown energy is the traditional type of electricity that is produced through the normal means. Typically, this refers to electric plants that produce power with coal or some other fossil fuels. It is referred to as brown energy because of the pollution that is caused by this form of energy. Local electricity rates are based on the use of brown energy for the most part, although that is slowly starting to change.

Green Energy

Green energy is a form of power that is renewable and does not pollute the earth in any way. With green energy, homeowners and businesses can take advantage of the abundant power that is all around them without having to rely on fossil fuels or create pollution. Some examples of green energy are solar power, hydroelectric power, wind power, geothermal power, and biodiesel. All of these forms of power have been available for many years, but they are starting to become more popular and widely available to the average person.


Initially, green energy typically requires a large upfront investment for the customer. This is because they must pay for all of the equipment that is needed and the labor to install it. For example, if you want to go solar, you have to pay for all of the panels, the inverter, the wire, monitoring equipment and other items that are required to make it work. Unless you know how to do it yourself, you also have to pay someone to hook it up for you.

By comparison, when you want to hook up to the grid, you just tell the power company where you want to connect and they’ll bring it to you. When you use brown energy, you’ll have an electric bill for the rest of your life. With green energy, you will eventually be producing free electricity. Once the system has paid for itself, you’ll be able to enjoy free power for several years. You can find out more about green energy  here at this page.


Although renewable energy systems can cost a lot initially, there are numerous programs and incentives that are available to help. For instance, the United States offers a 30 percent federal tax credit. Many utility companies also have rebates that you can take advantage of to help pay for your system. If you’re thinking about going green, find out what incentives and rebates may be available in your area. It may be more affordable than you previously thought was possible just a few years ago.

First Steps in January to Sorting Out Your Debt

JanuaryJanuary is often a depressing month for many of us. We are still in the depths of winter, Christmas and Hogmanay have both been and gone and worst of all, we are left with the expectation of a series of hefty bills at the end of the month. From high energy bills to the credit cards you used to fund those special Christmas presents, it’s easy to be daunted by it all. The key is not to let it get to you, and to follow our tips on how sort out your finances in January!

1) Firstly, sit down at the start of the month and try to find out how much your bills are going to be. For your energy bills, try looking online- most suppliers have a system that allows you to check how much you owe. Even make a note of your meter reading and compare it to the value on your last bill, so you can estimate how much it will cost you come the end of January. This will help with the next stages. You should also look up extraneous bills, such as credit card bills, etc.

2) Next, have a look at how much money you are going to have coming in this month, from benefits, income support or your wages. This will make up your income.

3) Then, make a list of all the essentials you need to cover for living expenses in January (this is where looking up your bills comes in handy). Bear in mind that you should only include your essential bills such as energy and mortgage etc. Try to account for as much as you can though and also be sure to think long and hard about whether what you’re spending your money on is an â˜essential’ or a luxury. This will make up your expenditure.

4) Once you have both of the above, then you can sit down and compare your income to your expenditure.

5) Whatever you have left over is what we call disposable income. This is where you can see how much money you have to service any credit card bills or loans etc. that you’ve taken out. You should be able to estimate how much your minimum repayment bill will be by comparing the balance of your card/ new purchases with your terms and conditions.

If your disposable income doesn’t cover the cost of paying towards your various credit cards/ loans then you know that have to do something about it. You can sometimes speak to your lender and ask about extending your loan period or maybe having a payment break, but often this is difficult to get. If you are in serious trouble then you need to seek some expert advice. Your Debt Expert offer free and impartial debt advice on a range of topics. So if you follow our guide, and still find yourself panicking, try out the debt calculator from Yourdebtexpert or give us call and we’ll help you sort out your finances.

For more Debt news and advice follow Peter Dean on Twitter – @your_debtexpert

photo by aunto

5 Ways to Avoid Spending Unnecessary Money During a Natural Disaster

natural disasterWatching Hurricane Sandy ravage East Coast the last few days has made me wonder, and hope, that the millions of residents in those areas were properly prepared as their electricity, Internet, and phone systems went down.

Although not at all comparable in terms of damage or devastation, the situation reminded me of the 2008-09 snowstorm, which hit Washington state, where I live, particularly hard. Power was knocked out, and in some communities they were not able to get electricity back for weeks. The high level of snow (at least for the area) left roads and street blocked, making it difficult or impossible for vehicles to get inside, which meant many stores were either closed or in short supply of critical goods.

Working as a helper clerk at the local grocery store during that snowstorm, I can tell you the first place people go in a natural disaster, depending on the severity, is their nearest store â“ if it’s still operating. And the shelves can cleaned out within hours.

The trouble is, most people don’t prepare for a disaster until the effects – no electricity, transportation, Internet or pluming – have already begun to occur. This ends up thinning their wallet, as they have to either make large purchases of goods they might have bought for cheaper prior, or they have to go outside the area to find necessities, which can incur even higher costs.

Fortunately, my family, always one to perk up earnestly whenever a potential storm is on the horizon, was well prepared and managed to relax somewhat during the snowstorm, rather than participate in the mad scramble to find what we needed to wait it out.

Since we are approaching the winter season, here are a few tips I’ve learned from my experiences that will help you prepare and spare you from spending unnecessary amounts of money in the process.

1. Buy what you need before you need it

The Boy Scout motto is to “Be Prepared.” Natural disasters are one of the many things the motto refers to. Whatever the type of natural disaster is most frequent in your region, the most important thing is for you be ready for it well before it comes.

This means having it planned out. It means having a well-stocked cellar, garage or pantry of emergency food; the best is nonperishable food with extra-long expiration dates that don’t require refrigeration, freezing, or cooking.

And for the majority of you, don’t forget to buy coffee you can make without electricity. Trust me. You don’t want to have to wait for four hours to get an espresso. After the storm had subsided, my grocery store had the only operating coffee store in the Lake Hills area of Bellevue. Word got around fast., By the time I showed up for work at 9 a.m., the line stretched out to the back of the parking lot. Our manager ended up taking coffee off the shelves to continue making it because it was the one item people couldn’t use at the moment.

There are also other less noticeable but equally important items people tend to overlook. For example, during the fall and summer my family would borrow a truck and pick up free wood whenever we saw it advertised outside people’s homes, usually after they had had a tree cut down and didn’t want to pay to have it taken. We would then bring it back to our house, chop it up and stack it in the backyard.

During the snowstorm, we were able to maintain a constant fire to warm our living room and cook our food on the fire stove, while other people were forced to either use expensive emergency generators to cook and heat, or they had to buy overpriced wood at stores.

2. Stock up on additional provisions when they’re on sale

When weather reports first indicated that a massive snowstorm might be headed our family, my family hurried to the grocery store and filled up a large cart full of everything we would need, in addition to what we already had in stock, in case we were stuck inside the house for a while.

In addition to food, we also bought candles and blankets and lots of batteries. You do not want to roam around a dark house in the middle of the night because you forgot to stock up on Energizer Bunnies.

The key is to buy when they’ve on sale rather than at the last minute. Shop smart by going to discount stores and thrift shops for warm clothing.

Keep an eye on sales during regular weather season. Don’t just think of what you need to buy at the moment. Think of what you may need in six months that happens to be on sale right now.

Ultimately, shopping in advance, when there are good deals, sales, or discounts, will save you money because you get it when it’s cheap, not when you absolutely have to have it and are forced to pay through the nose to get it.

Or, worse, you will end up having to drive for miles to actually find what you need and pay much higher prices when the supply is impacted.

3. Fill up on gas in anticipation of high prices

As soon as the snow started to fall my dad drove all our cars one by one to the nearest gas station and filled them up. He also brought along containers in the back of the cars, which he filled up as well. The reason for this is because the roads were blocked and gas trucks could not resupply the gas stations, which meant there was going to be a shortage within a day or two. The last thing you want during a disaster is to run out of gas at the very moment you need to get out of Dodge, so to speak, or when someone requires your help. Running out of fuel limits you to using bikes, if the terrain permits, or walking on foot. In the snow, as was in our case, this can be slow and painstaking or simply not practical.

You also save money when you buy gas before, rather than after a disaster, due to price fluctuation. In 2005, right before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, we filled up as much gas as we could, right before the oil refineries were hit and prices skyrocketed, as well as in late 2008 and early 2009, when the price of oil per barrel had dropped down to $35.

4. Have sizable cash reserve at home in lieu of credit/debit cards

During a disaster, telephone lines and connection to the Internet can get cut off, making it impossible to verify PIN numbers for debit cards or use credit cards. Having a sufficient reserve of cash helps protect you from losing access to your money at a time when you need it the most. You can also go to the bank and withdraw additional funds before the disaster hits if you feel you will need more. In the event of an extreme situation, where is no electricity, your only option may be cash when all power has been knocked out.

5. If you expect damage, prepare all necessary paperwork necessary to document it for insurance claims

If the storm appears likely to or is guaranteed to cause damage to your home or property and you have insurance, you want to ensure (I’m not sure if the pun is intended or if there’s even a pun there) that you have all your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted. Become educated about the type of natural disasters in your region and what to do if it damages your property.

Know the steps you have to take afterwards in order to submit a claim and what your insurance will actually cover in such an event. Know what number to call, who to speak to, and what information to provide.

Being aware beforehand will help make your life less stressful than it already will be, especially if the damage is catastrophic. It is also less likely the insurance provider will fight the claim if it’s done correctly, which saves you both time and money.

photo by georgiaema

Saving Dos and Don’ts: 14 Ways to Cut Back Spending

on saleEven if you’re making a decent paycheck, saving money can be difficult when you don’t cut back on spending. Reducing your expenses isn’t always easy, but there are some small ways that you can keep your spending in check and put more money into your savings account.


1. Sign up for Loyalty Programs

Most grocery stores offer reward card programs that entitle their members to discounts and coupons. They may ask for your email address so they can send you coupons. If you decide not to sign up to receive emails, then all you need to sign up is a phone number. It’s quick, easy, and can save you a lot of money. The only downside is that the cards will take up space in your wallet.

2. Give Handmade Gifts

Learning how to make a few simple crafts means you can make thoughtful gifts for loved ones around the holidays. Not only will your friends and family be impressed by your considerate present, but you’ll avoid overpaying for something you could have made yourself.

3. Have Friends Over Instead of Going out

If you find yourself going out frequently, try switching up your routine by having a fun dinner with friends at home. It’s much less expensive to host a potluck or group barbecue instead of visiting a restaurant. It’ll be just as much fun as going out, and chances are your friends will reciprocate soon.

4. Learn Basic Mending

It’s easy to throw out damaged clothes, but if you know a little basic mending knowledge — hemming pants and skirts, sewing on buttons, adding patches — you can repair them instead. If you can fix up torn clothes, you’ll end up spending a lot less on new clothes.

5. Quit Smoking

Expensive habits, like smoking, can end up eating away at your budget. At more than $5 a pack, cigarettes cost a lot, but give you nothing in return. In fact, they may end up costing you a lot more in the long run, considering how detrimental they can be to your health.

6. Visit Yard Sales

If you’re hunting for odd and ends or used furniture, check out local yard sales. Often the clothes, items, and furnishings folks give away are in fine condition and cost very little. And if the prices are a little too high for your taste, haggling might not be out of the question.

7. Go to the Library

Many still believe that libraries are dusty old tombs lined wall to wall with books, but there’ve been leaps and bounds in what public libraries offer. Most of them offer the newest best sellers and DVDs — including new releases and popular series.


1. Get Cable

While keeping up with the latest shows is great fun, cable is expensive. Many companies charge their customers over $100 a month for the full package. Consider drastically less expensive online alternatives: Netflix ($8/month), Hulu Plus ($7.99/month), or Amazon Prime ($79/year). All offer a wealth of shows and movies for much less than cable.

2. Make Big Purchases Without Waiting 30 Days

The thirty day rule is designed to help you decide whether you want to buy something new. Before spending your money on an item that you don’t really need, let it wait for 30 days. You may find that your urge to purchase has decreased once you’ve given it a little time to reflect.

3. Buy Lunch Every Day

Instead of going out for lunch every day, try bringing a packed lunch. It’s much less expensive to buy groceries and prepare food for yourself the night before rather than spend $10 every day. It will also be easier for you to eat healthily when you pack food for yourself.

4. Go Shopping Without a List

Visiting the grocery store without a list is an easy way to overspend on items that you don’t need. Make up a list of all the food you need at the beginning of the week, and make a point to visit the supermarket only once a week. Cross items off your list and make sure not to stray from what you already decided upon.

5. Throw Away Leftovers

At the end of a meal, don’t throw away the excess food. Instead, put it in plastic containers and keep it for later lunches and snacks, or combine it with other meals.

6. Shop to De-Stress

Many find themselves turning to shopping as a way to release stress. It may feel great to buy yourself a few new things when you’re down, but it puts an unnecessary dent in your wallet. Instead of shopping, try going to the gym, curling up with a good book or TV show, or taking a hot bath.

7. Drive When You Can Take Public Transportation

With gas prices rising, driving keeps getting more and more expensive. If you live in a city with a decent public transportation system, consider taking advantage of it. It will cost much less to ride the bus or subway than fill up your tank and drive through city traffic.

Sometimes, the smallest tricks can make the most difference when it comes to your savings. Make your best effort to cut back your spending and keep more money in your savings account.

Donna Parshall writes articles for Check n Go about online commerce, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting. Visit their site to learn more about Check n Go payday loans and other services like installment loans.

photo by VectorPortal

How to Shop at a Thrift Store

thrift storeIf you’re not in the habit of shopping at thrift stores, please let me bend your arm and encourage you to check one out.  I know that thrift stores sometimes have negative connotations, but I’m not totally sure why.   You can find some pretty awesome things at even more awesome prices.   If you’re into the vintage look, you’ll undoubtedly find some great house wares and clothing items.   Plus, you can afford to buy more when you’re getting things at thrift store prices.   You’re also actively participating in a form of recycling.   What’s not to love about all that?

You Can Take Two Approaches

First things first, prepare to be overwhelmed by all the items you’ll have to choose from.   Thrift stores vary in their size and organization, but it’s safe to say they won’t look like your local department store.    You may have to search a little to find what you really want.

Now, you can take two approaches to your thrift store adventures.   You can either treat it like grocery shopping and have a list of items you’re looking for or you can go in without any expectations. I prefer to go in without expectations.

If you don’t l-o-v-e shopping for the sake of shopping or if you’re concerned you might spend more money than you should, go in with a plan.   Knowing ahead of time that you need dinnerware or men’s dress shoes is a great way to stay focused and keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff.   If the items you need aren’t time sensitive, try again another day or try other thrift stores.   Thrift stores have a high product turnover.   They’re constantly receiving new donations and moving items from their storage, so you never really know what you’re going to find from day to day.

If you’d prefer to shop for the fun of it, then by all means, shop â˜til you drop!   Just try to go in without any expectations.   When you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll likely spend extra time just perusing or digging through an assortment of items.   That can take a lot of energy.   Some things will be like new, or (score!) even have the tags still on them.   Other items might have visible signs of some wear and tear.   If you keep an open mind you could potentially find some great fixer uppers or DIY projects. I personally love to scour for solid wood furniture

Stick To A Budget

No matter which approach you take to thrift store shopping, you should still set a budget.   If unbelievable deals get you as excited as they do for me, you’ll want to set some limitations before you go.  It’s also a good idea to take cash.   Some thrift stores, especially smaller ones, won’t take cards at all. Plus, you can better keep track of how much you spend that way.

Check For Quality

Once you inevitably find some items that you can’t live without, give them a good once over.   Look for holes, stains, tears, cracks, etc.   Clothes may be donated because they don’t fit anymore or just went out of style, but they could also be donated because they’re damaged.   A good thrift store will weed out the items that truly aren’t good anymore, but the items you buy should always get your stamp of approval before you take them home.

Find Out Who Runs the Place

If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask the store employees.   They are probably intimately familiar with all the store’s inventory and can lead you directly to what you want.   They can also tell you when new items will be put out.   Some places may even keep track of specific items that their customers are looking for and give you a call when the item comes through.

Ultimately, thrift store shopping is a great option for furnishing first apartments or dorm rooms, finding clothes for a specific and special event, or fulfilling a retro or vintage style.   You’ll save a lot of money and repurpose items that otherwise may have ended up in a landfill somewhere.   It’s a win-win situation all around.

So, have I convinced you? Are you going to give thrift shopping a try?

photo by Phillip Pessar

Avoid the Dangers of Using a Credit Card this Holiday Season

christmas debtMany people fall victim to holiday credit card pitfalls every year due to a lack of knowledge about credit, in addition to failure to adequately prepare for holiday shopping using a credit card.

Should you open a retailer branded credit card?

One of the major pitfalls of holiday credit card usage is that consumers often get convinced by retailers to open a department store branded credit card in order to realize about 10 to 15% savings on purchases at those retailers. While these savings may be tempting, most people don’t realize that the credit cards offered by these retailers generally feature a very high interest rate. If you, as a consumer, plan to carry a balance on this new credit card at all, then you will lose the amount of money that you originally saved by opening the card, and more. In addition to these high interest rates, opening new lines of credit too often in a small period of time has the potential to damage your credit score. As a rule of thumb, respectfully decline when retailers ask you if you want to open a new credit card with them to receive a discount on your purchases.

Set yourself a holiday shopping credit limit

Consumers can avoid putting too many gifts on credit simply by setting themselves their own personal limit, and keeping track of what they buy. For example, a consumer could set a personal limit of $500 to spend on credit during this holiday season, and when they reach that limit, they have to stop putting purchases on their credit card and instead start paying in cash. While its always tempting to spend a bunch of money to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, they will understand if you simply cannot afford to spend outside of your means. If you’re looking for a good way to monitor your spend, many credit card companies offer free mobile apps that allow you set up alerts that notify you when you’ve reached a certain spend.

How can using a credit card for your holiday shopping benefit you?

Using a credit card for your holiday shopping, however, can definitely benefit cardholders because of the vast amount of rewards that can be gained by putting purchases on your credit card. You should compare rewards credit cards in order to maximize the rewards you will receive based on your spending habits. As long as you know you can afford to pay off your balance without incurring large interest fees, you should put your holiday purchases on your credit card because most credit cards offer some sort of reward for each dollar spent.

photo by paparutzi