Miscellaneous Money Saving Techniques

How to Find Powerful Ways To Beat The Recession By Saving Money? Part IV

1. Barter System

Gather friends, family, neighbours, and co-workers and set up a bartering system. Offer babysitting to one family in exchange for them mowing your lawn or offer to clean someone’s house in exchange for a week of car-pooling your child to school. You would be amazed at the opportunities and the money that can be saved using a bartering system. We have a neighbourhood bartering system in place in my community. We set up a bartering board at our local post office. Anyone in the neighbourhood can view the bartering board, and barter with other neighbours.

2. Matinee

Do you love the movies but hate the prices? Switch your night time show to the late afternoon or early evening matinee. The price is about 50% less and when taking an entire family, that is a nice savings. Pop your own popcorn, put in a plastic bag, and place in a large purse and make or buy your own candy, leaving only drinks to buy. Food at the theatre is outrageously priced. The next time that you head to the movies, hit the matinee, stuff those jellybeans and liquorice sticks in your purse, and enjoy the savings. Also, check for movie tickets online, which can be discounted.

3. Incentives – Reward Plan

To help you and your family spend more wisely, set up a system where rewards are given when the rules set forth are followed. For example, if a family decision was made to start making lunch and brown bagging it to work and school instead of paying each day, the incentive might be that if this is followed strictly for one month, the entire family can spend a Saturday at the Zoo or favourite theme park.

4. Check the Garbage

One woman had her teenage daughter clean her room. The daughter proudly did just that, filling two huge trash bags of things she no longer wanted. Out of curiosity, the mother peeked into one of the bags to see what was being thrown away. In shock, she found a new tube of suntan lotion, two perfectly good sweaters, makeup, lotion, a picture frame, hair curlers, all good things. The daughter did not realize that just because the items were of no interest to her, they might be to someone else. After talking to her daughter, the mom turned around and listed the items on eBay, making a $35 profit on her daughter’s “junk.” My family bought several storage tubs. When we want to get rid of something we analyze it to see if it could be use to someone else. If so, we put it in a storage tub. Each summer we drag the storage tubs out and have a huge garage sale!

5. Off-Season

The next time you plan a vacation, consider off-season. Generally, the prices for airfare, hotel, and cars are substantially lower than travelling during peak time. If you look at all your options, you will find that in many cases, you can come close to the date you would like to travel. As an example, flying to Hawaii through June 8 is considered off-season while June 9 is peak. One day makes a huge difference in price.

6. Buffet Meals

When taking the family out to dinner, consider restaurants that have buffets. In many cases, the prices are outstanding and a parent can share with a small child. In addition, many buffets are “all you can eat” and of course, there is something for everyone. Buffet style restaurants have changed over the last few years. Many people are used to the old style buffet restaurants

7. Cable Networking

If you have a computer upstairs and another downstairs and you use high-speed data, have one of the computers be the primary computer and the other be the backup. This way, you are only charged once for Internet access and a small fee of $10 to $15 a month for the second computer. This is a great bargain! We have three computers in our house, and by networking them, we save over $80 each month.

8. Free Entertainment

If you are tired of being bored, you will be pleased to learn that there are hundreds of things to do that do not cost a dime. For example, if you want a little Friday or Saturday night excitement, sign up at your local police department for a “ride-a-long” where you can go on duty with an officer as they respond to real calls. Community colleges are always offering free exercise classes, or coffee shops have poetry readings. Entertainment and having fun does not have to cost anything. Some cities have special areas that are popular on the weekends where you can find free concerts. Check your local paper and college to get a list for your area.

9. Telephone / Mobile Phone

First, shop around for the best deals. Second, stay away from all the fun bells and whistles and just stick with the basic plan. Some people have turned to shutting down their home telephone and are now using their mobile phones in place. Since most wireless carriers offer free long-distance, call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail, and more, it can do the same as a regular phone but for less. Why have two phones when you can have just one?

10. Home Remedies

Before rushing off to see the doctor for a sore throat, try some home remedies or over the counter drugs instead. For a sore throat, butter mixed with ginger and sugar makes a soothing healing pate. A hot toddy before bed is great for a cold. Simply ask your family for their home remedies and try it. Sometimes a simple over the counter medication or herb will do the trick without costing you an expensive doctor’s office visit.

11. Carpool

In some larger cities, carpooling is required in order to reduce smog. However, regardless of where you live, carpooling can also be a big money saver. Check with co-workers and determine who lives close enough to share a ride. By the end of the year, you will have saved several hundreds of dollars.

12. Insulation

Hundreds of dollars are wasted every year from the average home due to improper insulation. Make sure there are no drafts coming from your window, door, or fireplace. Ensure your home has the appropriate level of insulation, which will make a HUGE difference in your utility bill.

13. Cancel Subscriptions

It is always fun getting your favourite magazine or book in the mail but you should cancel them or at least most of them. If you have several subscriptions, choose one or two to keep and cancel the rest.

14. Consolidate your Errands

To save gas, organize your day of errands so you get as much done in an organized manner as possible. Stay in the same geographical area and hit as many of your errands in that area as possible to avoid excessive driving.

15. Turn your Hobby into Money

Everyone has a skill – find yours and turn it into money. For example, if you have a skill for woodworking, start creating children’s toys, or curio cabinets to sell. Perhaps you are computer savvy and could teach a class at your local community college. Find something you enjoy and sell it.

16. Heating and Cooling

Make sure vents in rooms not being used or the garage are closed. Many people tend to try to heat and cool the entire home. Instead, take the time to close off areas that you are not using. You will save substantial money on your utilities.

17. Vacations

While Paris, England, or Germany offers excitement, they also cost money to visit. Unfortunately, people on a regular basis forget about the United States and even the very state in which they live. One man had lived in Arizona his entire life. At age 50, when asked by a friend what the Grand Canyon was like, he was unable to answer because he had never been there. The next time you get ready to plan your family vacation, look around where you live and consider an exciting road trip that will not only be educating but cost effective. A vacation does not have to be expensive to be fun and memorable.

18. Annual Maintenance

Make a list of all annual maintenance items for your home such as air conditioner, heater, hot water heater, etc. Once again, being prepared and working in a proactive manner can save you unnecessary expenses. If you take care of your air conditioner by getting an annual tune up then you lower the risk of something going wrong during the hot summer months when it will be quite costly to repair.

19. Automobile Care

Keep your car oil changed, tires rotated, and overall care up-to-date. First, the $30 for your oil change will save wear and tear on your car, which could result in significant money. Second, you need your car to get to and from work. By not having your car in top working condition could put you in a bad position when it comes to required transportation.

20. Repair versus Replace

Instead of spending $1,000 on that beautiful new couch, you might consider one of two options. If your couch frame is still good, you might spend $300 to have it recovered or purchase a quality slipcover for $100. Your couch will look brand new for much less, than it would to replace. Another example would be if you have a lamp that you want to replace. Consider painting it and adding a new shade rather than spending money to buy a brand new one. Perhaps you have a washer, dryer, or refrigerator that is running a little sluggish. Find out the cost of repair over that of purchasing a new one. Even if you have an appliance with the wrong colour, businesses offer fantastic paint jobs. With a little creativity, you will be amazed at how much can be repaired, thus saving you money.

21. Computer Software

In order to keep on track with your debts and credits, you need to use some type of software such as Quicken or Quick Books. This will keep you focused on your goals and tasks while you strive to achieve them. Additionally, rather than buy software programs to download, first check Download.com or Freeware.com to see if there are free versions to download.

22. Previously Viewed

Home videos and DVDs are hot items and perfect for any family entertainment. Now you can visit the major video chains and purchase previously viewed videos and DVDs for about half the cost. For example, at Blockbuster, you can purchase either one and get a 30-day warranty. This is still a wonderful way to have quality entertainment for a terrific savings. Another great option is to record your own movies either from TV or any of the popular cable channels such as HBO, Showtime or Disney. Rather than hitting the theatre every weekend, make it a special occasion. Instead, pop your popcorn, grab a soda, spread out a blanket, and create your own theatre-type atmosphere.

23. Dinner Guests

Invite friends over for dinner as a potluck. People love sharing their favourite recipe and by splitting dinner, everyone enjoys variety while saving money. In fact, make this a tradition amongst your friends.

24. Ball Games

Instead of spending your money on overpriced items at the ballgame, take your own cooler of food. Some professional stadiums no longer allow this so check before going. If you have a son or daughter that plays little league or soccer, this is a great way to save money over paying high concession stand prices.

25. Discount Books

Purchase a discount coupon book, which generally costs around $25. As long as you use it faithfully and base your choices on options featured in the book, you can save hundreds of dollars. These books are great for restaurants, hotels, car rentals, and tons of entertainment and provide great variety and even better discounts.

26. Pocket Change

Keep a jar or some type of container handy and each time you come home, drop in your change. Every time you break a bill, put the change in your container. You will be amazed how quickly your money will build.

27. Freebies

Check out freebie sites such as TotallyFreebies.com or SassySue.com where you will find all types of sample items ranging from cosmetics to books to clothing. Most have no shipping charges and the ones that do are minimal. By filling out a few forms, you will receive sample size soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, etc., which are ideal for the traveller.

28. Rebate Programs

When you shop, always keep your eyes open for rebate programs. Although filling out the forms and clipping the UPC codes from a box is a hassle, the money you save is worth it. Some rebate items are not listed as offering a rebate. Check out AsmartShop.com or Rebateplace.com to see if any of your recent purchases offer a rebate.

What Makes A Good Blu-Ray Player? 3D And Other Miscellaneous Features

All the best Blu-ray Players have the same basic features, such as playing standard Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs. They will have at least one USB port that supports playback of movies, music and photos files. And all models will have a HDMI Output which can internally decode the latest audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, or can bit-stream these formats in their native form to your A/V receiver to decode. You will also notice that good Blu-ray players will perform these functions and features consistently and only vary slightly in quality. Making it hard to distinguish between the different models.

However, there are other features found on players that are not common and separates unique, good Blu-ray players from the regular ones. For example, not all Blu-ray players are capable of playing back 3D Blu-ray discs. If you have already purchased a 3D HDTV or planning on obtaining one in the near future, it would be worth it to invest in a player that can play 3D Blu-ray Discs. While still not a deal breaker right now for most consumers if their player does not have 3D capability; more and more movies are being released in the 3D format. And you do not want to add the extra expensive of having to upgrade your player later down the road when you decide you want to view 3D movies at home.

Other rare features found on certain Blu-ray players is support for DVD-Audio and Super-Audio-CD formats. For a lot of audiophiles out there, this extra features is a real treat. These formats never really captured the intention of the public, but SACD can still be purchased with new releases coming out every week. Sony is one company that makes all their players SACD capable. But mostly, these formats are found on higher-end players which normally use a high-end DAC (Digital-To-Analog Converter) which will make your CDs sound better.

Of course, a player’s DACs are bypassed if you use the HDMI port, so a Blu-ray Player that has multichannel analog outputs will come in very handy. Multichannel analog outputs are also nice for those with older A/V receivers that do not have any HDMI inputs. You will get to hear the new audio formats in stunningly realistic surround sound. There are not many mid-level players out there that will have multichannel analog outputs, most manufacturers have moved away from this feature. You can use optical or coax digital audio outputs, if the player has them, but they can not transmit the new Blu-ray’s High-Resolution audio formats.

Multiple HDMI Outputs is another feature that is widely seen as very convenient on players. Used mainly for 3D playback, dual HDMI outputs will allow you to send your 3D video signal to your HDTV and your audio signal to your A/V receiver. Great for those who have A/V receivers can not handle a 3D signal. It cuts down on expense, since you do not have to upgrade to a new receiver. Multiple HDMI Outputs will also let you connect two TVs to the player. But be aware that not you might not get the same performance out of both HDMI outputs.

So when you are looking for a player, these features might not be on top of your must have list. That is perfectly fine. It is probably best to start out with the cheapest player you can get, although make sure it has Online Streaming Media Services. Later you can start to think about getting other features you might need, such as 3D, Dual HDMI Outputs, DVD-Audio/SACD playback or multichannel analog outputs. Where ever you start, getting a player is worth it. Costing anywhere between $70.00 to $200.00, you can get an excellent player that will give you an impressive HD Blu-ray movie experience. More expensive players will perform better, but they are only really for the die-hard enthusiast.

Credit Planning – Miscellaneous Tips, Part 1

Using all the knowledge you’ve gathered so far, take your individual circumstance, overlay it with the possibilities, and then piece together the very best outcome. Always remember, bad credit removal is paramount in any deal in my opinion, and going for anything less in an attempt to keep money in your pocket is a very bad idea. Any adverse settlement information will be reported as a new, recent credit report entry and will hurt a score-particularly if it’s being reported by an original creditor.

The only scenario where anything less than bad credit removal is acceptable is when your entire plan hinges on a single holdout, which is very unlikely, or when you just don’t have the funds to make it all work at or near ideal. Having anything adverse on your credit report that’s unpaid is unacceptable, even if you’ve deleted the bulk of adverse entries, since such a mark will usually get you denied by any reputable lender. So what’s the point in paying any of them under such circumstances?

It’s a personal decision, of course. Perhaps paying all but one intransigent creditor would make sense if that one holdout is nearing the statute of limitations for reporting or if the information can be deleted using a credit bureau dispute. If you feel morally obligated to pay even under such circumstances, by all means do. Most people go delinquent because they couldn’t pay in the first place and then feel compelled to make good when their financial outlook improves. But carefully consider that one holdout can ruin everything by creating a situation where you’ve expended considerable resources to improve your credit only to find that prospective lenders will still deny you.

Yet even after a paid settlement has been agreed to and satisfied, keep in mind that, using a credit reporting agency dispute, you can even try for a removal of the entry after you’ve settled with the creditor. And if the creditor reports an aspect wrongly after settlement, which creditors will often do, even a declaratory judgment (nonmonetary) action is an option to remove it.

Of course, you can seek numerous variations of deals involving payment terms and debt reduction, and you can even get new payment terms that are greatly modified or extended, especially on open accounts or accounts not yet in collections. If you go for reducing the debt on a payment plan, then having the interest rate placed below 10 percent on credit cards will help as well. I would shoot for 6 percent on unsecured credit. On autos, 6 percent is also a good rate. Just ensure that in any deal this is worded as a permanent lowering, or a fixed interest rate.

If you can get a home equity loan or second mortgage, place the money in your bank account and then use the money as leverage to get bad marks removed, this is acceptable. If this isn’t possible, then forgo any “debt consolidation loan,” since such a loan will only be possible if the lender can pay off your existing creditors directly, which will defeat the purpose altogether; you’ve done nothing for overall debt reduction or credit restoration. Your lack of leverage in this scenario will make getting the bad credit removed far more difficult. With the money in the bank, you can negotiate the best terms for each individual account, getting your debt reduced and getting the bad credit removed. Once you’ve gotten your debt reduced on each individual account and have your credit file cleared up, then if there are remaining creditors you may opt for a debt consolidation loan if it will substantially lower your interest rate and the closing costs are nominal to zero. Further, waiting until your credit report is squeaky clean to obtain such a loan will yield the best interest rates. Now that’s having your cake and eating it too!

Used Miscellaneous Woodworking Tools – To Buy Or Not to Buy?

When you begin a commercial woodworking operation, you buy the necessary tools to get your operation up and running, such as lathes, sanders, routers, etc. But as time goes on and your production capacity expands, the more woodworking tools you require, such as a corner blocking machine, hinge inserting machine and a louver groover, which can lead to spending more money on industrial wood working machines than you anticipated. If your woodworking operation is flourishing, purchasing additional machines is something that you have to do to keep it that way. But you don’t have to settle for paying full price for miscellaneous woodworking machines. Instead, you can purchase used miscellaneous machines and preserve your bottom line.

If you’re like most woodworkers for whom woodworking is a livelihood, the idea of purchasing used woodworking machines can cause trepidation. While getting a machine for less than full price would be great, there’s nothing inviting about the notion of purchasing a machine that may or may not offer the efficiency and dependability that you need. As a result, many woodworkers avoid buying used woodworking machinery without properly investigating whether it could offer the same performance as new machinery. If this describes your machinery purchases, then it’s time to examine whether you could benefit from purchasing used miscellaneous woodworking machines.

In most cases, whether to buy woodworking machinery used instead of new hinges on two factors: how much a machine costs and how well it is constructed. In the case of industrial grade machines, price can be significant, which naturally leads to shopping for used machines. But it’s also important to realize that, unlike domestic grade woodworking machines and lower grade commercial machines, industrial wood working machines are designed to withstand industrial level use for decades without experiencing a depreciation in dependability or efficiency, making it possible to purchase new machine quality at a used machine price, especially when the potential quality of a used machine is properly assessed.

If you’re currently in the market for industrial grade woodworking machines and would like to cut costs, following a four-step quality assessment process will lead you to dependable used woodworking machines. The first step is to only buy from professional woodworking machinery sellers (e.g. most eBay merchants are not professional sellers). Step two is to avoid sellers that have unresolved customer complaints on their record at the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Step three is to request a copy of a machine’s official maintenance record to ensure that it’s been regularly maintained. Step four is to conduct a firsthand assessment of the machine before buying it, or having a reliable third party conduct the assessment on your behalf.

Beware of Miscellaneous Charges on Your Phone Bill

 Take a really good look at your landline phone bill (those of you that still have landline phones). Are there any miscellaneous charges on your bill?  These charges may be for some sort of email or voicemail service.  But, you don’t ever remember authorizing any such services.  What’s more, these services are not being provided by your telephone provider.  Many times the services are categorized as Enhanced Services. 

Don’t be fooled, some sketchy companies have been finding ways to deceptively get you to “authorize” their services through other transactions you conduct on the web. This has happened to me in the last few months. Sometimes your telephone company is not to blame.  In fact, some of my clients, the local telephone company in a number of cities, feel just as burned as you do.  These sketchy companies send an invoice to your telephone company with charges outstanding for services rendered to the telco’s customers, including you.  Then your telephone company has to pay the charge and passes through the charge to you.  Remember, your telephone company doesn’t know that you didn’t authorize the charge. 

Bottom line is these companies deceitfully get you to authorize their services, they charge your telephone company, your telephone company charges you.  Meanwhile, the sketchy company gets paid while pissing you off.  When you get pissed off, you tend to get mad at your telephone company, which hurts their business. 

Be extra diligent and read the fine print to any transaction you are conducting online, such as purchasing merchandise or subscribing to services.  Often, these companies put their sketchy terms of service inconspicuously in the descriptions.  If you have provided your home telephone number during the transaction, it is what they use to put the charges onto your bill. 

If you have been charged any unauthorized charges, look for a phone number in the Miscellaneous Charges portion of your bill.  Sometimes an enhanced billing agent will bill you for these services.  One notable company is Enhanced Services Billing, Inc.  If all else fails, call your local service provider to obtain numbers to the carriers providing the unauthorized services.    

Once you obtain the phone numbers, call them to request a credit or refund for the charges that were billed.  They may resist by telling you that they have evidence of you authorizing the service.  Just let them know that you did not knowingly authorize the service.  If you haven’t used the service, let them know this and tell them it is not fair of them to charge you for services that (1) you did not know you had; (2) you have not used; and (3) were obtained by their company through deceptive practices.  Also let them know that you will go to the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau with a complaint.  This very same thing happened to me recently, and once I went through these steps, these companies were obliged to credit the monies that I had already paid. 

Block Billing for Enhanced Services with Your Local Telephone Provider

Once you have spoken with the companies, call your local telephone company and request that enhanced services billing be blocked from your account.  That way, enhanced services providers will not be able to assess charges against you via your telephone bill.