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How to Enjoy the Holidays and Save!

December 7th, 2013 at 03:59 pm

Holidays are enjoyable, but can become expensive if you are not aware of the amount of money you are spending. It is great to have precious time with friends, relatives, and loved ones, and not be buried in debt when it is all over. Do you want to have special memorable times during the holidays, but want to do things a little bit different this year? Well, this year you can. However, it will mean preparing ahead, adjusting your routine, and choosing to give up a few conveniences. However, it will be well worth it. Below are some money saving ideas and tips that can assist you in making your holidays a little cheaper and more brighter.

Relaxed Holiday Dinners
Do without formal holiday dinners, and have an evening of appetizers, movies, and board games. Have everyone pitch in by bringing their favorite hors d'oeuvres, drinks, games, and movies. What a great way to have fellowship, food, and fun without hurting your budget.

Shop Early for Discounts
Look for airline tickets and rental cars bargains early. Use discount websites like orbitz.com, expedia.com, priceline.com, or hotwire.com. Plan early in order to get the best price and deals.

An Organized List
Organize your shopping. Come up with a shopping list using a spreadsheet. Have the person’s name, gift, and the budgeted cost. Also, be sure to have who, what, where, and how you plan to locate the present, and how much it will cost. Stay focused. By using an organized shopping list, you will discover that your holiday time will be more thought-out and less frantic as previous ones.

The Envelope System
Put the money that you intend to spend on each individual into different envelopes. When you buy a gift, the money will come from a particular envelope until it's gone.

After Christmas Shopping
After Christmas you find the best sales. Instead of paying full price for gifts before Christmas, go shopping the day after Christmas. You can save anywhere from 50-75% less for the items you want.

You really can enjoy the holidays and save money, too. The secret, plan, prepare, and get organized in advance. You will take pleasure in knowing you did not spend yourself into financial ruin.

Need to Save Money on Gas?

November 13th, 2012 at 09:15 am

Gas prices have gotten out of control. I remember when gas was $.89 a gallon. I do not believe we will ever see gas under a dollar again in our lifetime. However, all the complaining in the world will not make these ridiculous gas prices go down. Therefore, in order to survive it is important that we come up with practical ways to reduce how much we end up paying at the pump. Here are a few helpful tips to ease your financial pain at the pump.

Carpool.
Carpooling is a great way to save money on gas. If there are a number of people in the carpool it can save even more money. One way to manage the carpool is to rotate cars and drivers. For example, if there are four carpoolers, one week one person drives and everyone pitches in for gas money. The following weeks the rotating continues. The goal is to have each person drive their vehicle every four weeks.

Use Public Transportation.
Depending on your commute, gas can easily cost you $150-$500 a month. Gas for cars has become the new mortgage. One option is to use public transportation. Yes it may be an inconvenience, but it can actually save you money. The cost of public transportation varies from city to city. However, I can think of three advantages for using public transportation. You will have less car maintenance because of less drive time. Generally, the monthly bus pass will cost less than the monthly price of gas. Using public transportation gives you an opportunity to have time to do work, read, think, people watch, and avoid stress from commuting.

Drive Slower.
Gas and oil burns quicker at higher speeds. Is your foot causing you to make extra trips to the gas pump? Some people do not mind paying the price for living life in the fast lane. However, the faster we drive, the more natural resources are consumed. Also, you can get a speeding ticket, and then have a higher insurance premium, plus the cost of the ticket. Be sure to drive the speed limit.

Maintain your vehicle.
Maintaining your car might sound like a no-brainer, but how many of us are actually doing it? Here are some basic tips to maintain your vehicle: a) Keep your tires properly inflated in order to get more miles to the gallon. b) Combine your errands into one trip in order to reduce wear and tear. c) Remove excess junk out of your trunk so that you get further down the road. d) Get regular oil changes and tune ups as recommended by the manufacturer.


It is so important to be proactive with solutions to cut gas cost. Saving on gas is a lifestyle decision that will refuel your bank account. What have you done specifically to save money on gas for your car?

Is Your Pet Causing You Debt?

November 5th, 2012 at 09:21 am

I do not own a pet, but I have friends that do. I happen to know that pet lovers “love them some pets.” Matter of fact, many consider their pets children. I even have a friend that rushes home from work to see her dog, not her children. Some people have more affection for their dog than their spouse. But that’s another article. Nevertheless, debt is a problem in many households today. Debt is causing problems in relationships, making people lose sleep, and even causing physical health problems. With the cost of everything going up and stretching our dollars, we have to analyze everything to cut back and save. So my question to you: is your pet causing you debt?

A $3,000 Dog?
A friend of mine spent $3,000 to purchase her dog. Then she had to turn around and put it in training school for a couple of months. Of course when they went on their numerous vacations annually they had to pay for a dog-sitter. I am aware that a dog is supposed to be a man’s best friend, but it appears without a budget for your pet they can also put you in poverty! If you are not in the habit of tracking your money or living on a spending plan, you probably have no idea how much your lovable pet is costing you.

Americans spend $38.4 billion on pets.
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) says that 63 percent of American households own at least one pet. It doesn’t matter what kind of pet you own, their care and maintenance will cost you something. For example, the average dog or cat lives around 6-15 years, so over that time-frame how much will you have invested in your pet? Many pet owners feel like money is not a consideration – it’s their pet for goodness-sake! However, if you want to get out of debt, the cost should definitely be considered.

Estimate of pet costs.
The numbers below are an average cost estimate for dogs and cats.

• Food - $240/year
• Dental care - $250-400/year
• Boarding or pet sitter - $15 to $100 per day
• Neutering - $142/dog and $99/cat
• Veterinarian visits - $211/dog or $179/cat
• Canine cataract surgery - $2,000-$3,000
• Cancer treatment - $5,000 or more
• Diabetes maintenance - $600-$1,000 a year


There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning a pet if you can afford it. But what if you can’t afford it? It really does come down to choices and priorities. For instance, if you spend around $1,000 a year on your pet, and they live for 10 years that is $10,000 a year. Do you currently have $10,000 in your retirement, emergency fund or 401K?

Again, it’s just a question. Is your pet causing you debt?

Term or Whole Life Insurance – You Choose

October 21st, 2012 at 04:54 pm

Many people have debated the topic of term or whole life insurance for years. And, they probably won’t stop. The question: should you buy term life insurance or whole life insurance? Some people have endorsed the philosophy to “buy term and invest the different,” while some advocate to purchase “permanent” life insurance. No one should make a decision on something so important unless they are informed and educated. However, below is some essential information, which I trust, will help you make an informed decision about your insurance needs.

Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is the easiest life insurance to understand. It is called “term” because you are protected for a specific timeframe - a term. The awesome thing about term insurance is that you can get a lot of coverage for a small cost; for a specific time period. You can obtain term insurance for a term of 30 years and for as little as one year. With term insurance, you get what you pay for. It’s not complex, confusing, or full of bogus promises. Matter of fact, with some companies you can get a $250,000 term policy each for a couple for 30-years for as low as $79.00 a month. Insurance professionals and financial planners will tell you it is temporary insurance. Why? Because once the insurance term runs out, you lose insurance unless you renew. The money you save with term insurance gives you margin to be able to invest in your retirement, CD’s, 401k, money market or mutual fund. In other words you can buy term insurance, save money, and invest the difference.

Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance gives you insurance coverage for your entire life. However, you must keep on paying the premiums on time each month until the policy is paid up. Various term life insurance policies can be converted into a whole life insurance policy. With whole life insurance the premiums will be much higher than term life. However, the premiums are fixed for life. Most insurance professionals will encourage you to get whole life for the insurance and as an investment. The investment part is a guaranteed cash value that you can borrow against. When you pay your premiums, part of the money goes into the guaranteed cash account. However, if you take any of the cash value or decide to borrow a portion, the value of your policy decreases. Plus, you have to pay interest on the money you borrow. Using whole life, many people tend to believe the cash value is their financial security pot. In actuality, the return is very small, and any withdraw will diminish the insurance amount and cash value.

Bottom line: you have to decide if term life or whole life is best for you. Your life insurance decision is a personal one, but it should also be a smart financial one. Your decision has to make sense for you, your family, and your personal situation.

So what do you have term or whole life insurance and why?

Financial Fitness Takes Practice

June 22nd, 2011 at 06:32 am

Americans need a regimen to get their finances in order. In a Capitol One study, they found that the majority of Americans lack a basic understanding of credit scores and the fundamentals of personal finance. In other words, Americans can talk all the prosperity talk they want, however, if they do not put forth the actions, behaviors, and practices to become financially fit it is wishful thinking.

Know your credit score
A large number of Americans (52 percent) do not regularly review their credit report each year. The same Capitol One study stated that twenty-three percent of Americans have never reviewed their credit report at all. Being financially fit means paying attention to your credit and money. A credit report is simply a rundown of your payment history, listing your accounts, balances and your payment behavior. Not paying attention to credit can affect your interest rates. Unfavorable credit can affect your ability to own property, rent, and can cause you to have higher premiums for many types of insurance. In some states you can get a free credit report annually from all three credit bureaus by calling 1-877-322-8228 or get a free FICO score at www.freescoreonline.com.

Know what you make
You would be surprised how many Americans do not know how much they bring home each month or year. Many discover how much they make in January or April when their taxes are done. If you do not know how much you make, how can you plan and reach your financial goals? Just so you know, the gross amount is before taxes, insurance, medical, and social security is taken out. The net amount you bring home is what you have to live on and work with in your budget.

Know what you owe
Unfortunately, many Americans feel comfortable living in denial regarding their debt. Listen up; you cannot become financially fit if you do not know your financial reality. One way to do that is to write down on a piece of paper everyone you owe money to. You must include creditors, vendors, loans, friends, family, co-workers or neighbors. In order for you to be “real” about your financial situation, you have to be honest about who you owe. Next, based on your debt amount, come up with a plan and time-line to pay it off. Your plan must be realistic, doable, and attainable.

Bottom line: if you want to lose weight you accomplish it by having a fitness plan. In order to get financially fit, you use the same concepts. First you admit you have a problem. Then you identify the problem. Next, you come up with a plan to correct the problem. Finally, you connect with like-minded people to help you stay accountable to your goals to be financially fit. Like anything else in life, financial fitness takes practice and work.

What are you personally doing to get financially fit?

As You Get Older Does “Quality” Matter More?

May 19th, 2011 at 11:14 am

I’m starting to notice something about myself. As I get older quality is more important then quantity. Matter of fact, getting the cheapest deal doesn’t give me the same satisfaction and gratification as it once did. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for. Sometimes paying that extra $10, $20, $25, or $50 to get a better landscaper, cleaner, hotel, meal, or “experience” is so worth it. Matter of fact, quality can make all the difference in the world when it means having a good experience, great time, or feeling this really sucks. I’m at a season in my life that I will pay extra to have better quality and experiences.

I enjoy vacationing at four or five star resorts or hotels. I expect the amenities, food, room, furniture, bedding, landscaping, service, and environment to be a little more special. I do not eat food out of boxes, packaged, and of low caliber at home. Why should I have to compromise my standards at a restaurant or hotel that I pay my hard-earned money for? Additionally, my home is very clean, so I expect a hotel room or restaurant to be twice as clean as my home.

Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I am frugal. Saving money is wonderful, but not if my comfort, enjoyment, quality of service, and the experience have been compromised.

This is my “new normal,” when I’m paying for things my standard and expectations are at a different level. First, I want people to do what they say they will do. Second, I want consistency in service, products, merchandise. Third, when I pay for quality give me what I pay for.

As you get older does quality matter more?

Tips to Save on Car Insurance

February 21st, 2011 at 11:13 am

Everyone is looking for ways to save money and cut back on expenses. Many times the way to save is right under their nose. The solution may be as simple as looking at what you already have, and ways to reduce those cost. There are many ways or categories in spending that individuals can save money. One way to save is car insurance. Getting less expensive auto insurance can be as simple as making a few changes. Below are a few helpful tips that can reduce the cost of your auto insurance.

Shop around.
Before your current insurance policy expires start shopping for a new one. This is true especially if your premium has gone up. Car insurance coverage on the same car can differ widely between different insurers. Therefore, do not go with the first quote. Instead get at least three quotes from three different companies, and compare them before making a decision.

Have good credit.
Having good credit makes all the difference in the world in getting the best rate. Insurance companies check credit information to determine the cost of an auto insurance policy. Therefore, pay your bills on time, don't obtain more credit than you need, and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Also, check your credit report on a yearly basis. Have any errors corrected, so that your credit record remains accurate. Good credit saves you money.

Drive less.
Insurance companies will give you a discount if you drive less than a certain number of miles in a year. Usually that mileage number is 7,500 a year. If you work from home, ask for the low-mileage discount. Think outside the box to save on car insurance. If you commute to work, it might be cheaper to take public transportation. Consider car pooling to save on gas and insurance cost.

Raise deductibles.
Raising the deductible on car insurance is an excellent way to cut the cost of the policy. By increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 or $1,000, you can trim down your annual premium by 10-25 percent or more. However, if you raise your deductible, make sure you have the financial resources to handle the bigger deductible if or when the time comes.

Multi-policy discounts.
If you purchase additional types of insurance through the same insurance company (i.e., auto, life, and homeowner's) you may qualify for a discount. Also, if you have multiple cars under one policy, you may be entitled to a discount.

Military savings.
Are you in the military or have you been in the past? USAA.com is a great company to save on car insurance. Most insurance companies cannot beat their low prices and excellent customer service. If you’ve never been in the military, immediate family members of veterans can also join USAA. Call USAA, compare prices, and save a substantial amount of money on car, home, and life insurance. Also, with USAA save on loans and credit cards.

Got a New Tenant

June 20th, 2010 at 07:28 am

Our old tenant moved out June 6 and on June 16 we signed a lease and received the deposit for a new tenant. I'm very thankful! I didn't like paying utilities and bills for two homes.

Here is a landlord tip. Sign a "landlord agreement" with utility companies. That way, when tenants move out the company will waive the connect fees for utilities. While the property is vacated, they keep the utilities on under the landlord's name without charging a fee.

Do you have any tips for landlords to help cut down on cost?

Preparing House for New Renter

June 7th, 2010 at 05:43 am

Our tenant just moved back to Maryland after renting one year. Great tenant! Always paid early and let us know if something was wrong. Now I’m preparing the house for a new renter. Have to get the house professionally cleaned, yard done, and do some minor repairs. Of course I’ll take if out of her deposit.

I wish we could sell the house, but the economy still sucks. Sometimes I think about keeping the house forever. Having a rental property is great residual income, and it would be ideal to have in retirement. However, if we could just get a long-term 20-year renter, that would be absolutely wonderful. Oh well, such-is-life in the world of being a landlord.

Are you a landlord? How is it working for you?

Have You Thought of Bankruptcy?

May 20th, 2010 at 09:30 am

Bankruptcy is a personal choice. When the average person is overcome with money issues and debt, the typical response is to take the quick way out and file for bankruptcy. The stress from creditors calling can send anyone over the edge. However, regardless of your financial situation it is important to think with a clear mind. Otherwise, you may jeopardize your financial opportunities in the future. If you are considering bankruptcy, first look at different options. Have a clear understanding of what it means to file for bankruptcy. Once you are educated about your bankruptcy options then you can make an informed decision. Bankruptcy really should be the last solution.

Alternatives to bankruptcy
Your first step is to evaluate your financial situation to determine if filing for bankruptcy is right for you. If it isn’t the right choice, look at other options.

• Call your creditors yourself. Explain your situation, and see if an agreeable payment plan can be implemented. They may be able to reduce your minimum monthly payments, waive late fees, give you zero interest, and extend the payment period. You don’t know until you ask.

• Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). CCCS is a non-profit organization that helps individuals in debt. They are nationwide, and they have partnerships with many financial institutions. They will work with you and your creditors to come up with a debt management plan that is tailor made for you. They may be able to help you avoid bankruptcy.

• Think about consolidating all your debt into one payment. Consider getting a debt consolidation loan or transferring your debt to a zero interest credit card to have one payment. Look for hidden fees associated with this choice.


Be aware that bankruptcy will temporarily stop bill collectors and creditors from harassing, calling, and filing lawsuits against you. However, the creditors may start harassing you again. Also, certain financial obligations cannot be apart of your bankruptcy filing.

1. Student loans
2. Alimony
3. Child support
4. Restitution for DUI
5. Fraudulent debt


Bankruptcy is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. It is a personal choice that will affect your credit and finances for seven to ten years. Before moving forward with bankruptcy, look at all your options. If it still makes sense, you will have to decide.

The Sales Tax-Free Weekend is a Rip-off

August 10th, 2009 at 04:07 am

There is a lot of hype about the before school sales tax-free weekend for school supplies and clothes. I for one do not get hyped up or excited when everyone else does. We actually went school shopping over a month ago. We went to an outlet mall an hour from our home with 140 name brand stores. We purchased around 10-12 items of clothing for around $110. Then the next weekend we went garage sale hopping. At the last house of our trip, we came across a goldmine. A teenager that only wore name brand designer clothes who hardly wore them or they were still new, was selling them per bag. So for just $5.00 my daughter walked away with 11 items that would have easily cost over $300.00-400.00 if purchased brand new.

Sales tax-free weekend just ended this weekend. The malls were packed and people were buying like crazy. My daughter decided to return a couple of the outfits from the outlet mall, and take the money to get more stuff at garage sales. When we went into Children's Place, Justice, and Osh Kosh I didn't see any bargains or sales. I saw jacked up prices with huge signs advertising a "sales tax free." What a rip off! And, people buy into the media hype.

I asked my daughter if she would rather have a bag full of name brand clothes for $5.00 or to spend $100-$200, and still need more clothes. She said, "A bag of designer clothes for $5.00." The money we saved on her clothes we are using to redo her room.

Was the sales tax-free weekend a bargain or rip-off for you?

Do You want to be on a financial show on MTV?

July 16th, 2009 at 04:49 pm

I just got off the phone with MTV. They're doing a documentary on newlyweds that are having financial problems, and are looking for couples that are interested.

Requirements:

* Young couple having money problems
* Married - less than one year
* Age - 18-27 years old

If interested call:

Gina - 310-752-8253 or
Email - newlywed@mtvn.com


Ugh...He wants $3,800 to paint 7 rooms

March 8th, 2009 at 03:17 pm

We're selling our rental property. Yesterday I met with contractors to get estimates on multiple projects in order to put the house on the market. I received three quotes to paint our 1900 sq. ft. rental property. One was $1,900, $3,000, and $3,800. The house is in pretty good condition and so are the walls.

I usually do not choose the cheapest price. I believe you get what you pay for. However, in this case the one for $1,900 and $3,000 both have outstanding recommendations and testimonials from a third party website. The highest bidder has zero testimonials online, but was recommended by a realtor. I think I'll go with the $1900 estimate. Get this, the estimate for $3,000 doesn't even include painting ceilings.

The depressing part, that price is only for the paint job. I still need carpets installed, and around eight small projects done. Oh well, such is life. Why complain? It has to be done, right?

Are your kids frugal, too?

October 23rd, 2008 at 09:28 am

My daughter loves American Girl (AG) products. She is 10 years old. If you aren't familiar with AG, their stuff is good quality but very expensive. My daughter gets paid $10 from our neighbor to vacuum her home most weeks. She saves her money and when she gets $30-40, what does she do? Spend it on AG.

Okay, the dolls cost $90. Thank God her grandma gave it to her for a birthday gift last year. However, my daughter brought her doll a tennis outfit that came with a visor and tennis racket. It cost $48. I told my daughter I wouldn't pay $48 for an outfit for her, let alone for a piece of plastic.

Anyway, obviously our daughter is a great saver. But once she saves her money, it all goes to this pretty plastic non-human thing. I've started to take 50% of her earnings to go towards her savings account.

Funny, my husband and I are so frugal, and our daughter loves saving for pricey frivolous things. Hopefully she'll grow out of it.

Have your kids picked up your frugal ways?

Buying gifts can really take you off your budget

October 6th, 2008 at 07:37 am

I have a baby shower coming up Saturday for a client. I just found out about the date this Friday, so I probably won't be able to attend because we already have plans. However, I do plan to purchase a gift, hopefully, going in on half with my sister (she's her friend too) who will probably attend.

Because most of my clients are all over the country, I never meet them face-to-face let alone ever see them. But this is a client since 2005 (off and on), before I made the rule of coaching clients over the phone, only.

I usually spend $10-15 dollars on baby shower gifts, but I will probably spend $15-25 for this client. However, since we're not a big gift giving family, it will throw us off our budget some. But I will take the cash out of another of our envelopes.

Are you a big gift giver? If so, do you have a budget, and how much do you usually spend in a month or year?

Are your investments FDIC insured?

September 26th, 2008 at 08:46 am

I just called my investment company to inquire about our money market account being FDIC insured. It isn't. Then I asked if our IRA's were insured (I thought they were). I was told that only banks and credit union's money is FDIC insured. The Merrill Lynches, Lehman, Vanguard, and Fidelity types are not. So if something happens, all your money goes bye-bye. I'm not trying to cause panic, however I do want you to be informed.

I'm transfering our money over to our credit union today. Better safe than sorry.

Are your investments FDIC insured? You better find out quick!

Having to pay for parking really sucks

September 22nd, 2008 at 10:06 am

Yesterday my family went to the Tennessee Aquarium for a quick one-day get away. When we arrived we needed parking. Surprisingly enough, there was alot of spaces available in the paid lots and on the street.

I told my husband parking on the street was free because if was Sunday. Of course he didn't believe me, and decided to ask a local person. Well, the local person told him parking wasn't free on the street. So my husband spent 10-15 minutes driving around to see how much different lots were charging. One was charging $8 for the day, another $5 for the day, and another $4 every 1.5 hours.

I kept assuring my husband the meter actually said "parking was free on Sunday," but that wasn't good enough either. Then my husband went inside a restaurant to ask. Yeap, she said, "parking was free on Sundays."

Finally, we found a spot right in front of the Aquarium on the street for free.

The moral of the story. Husband's listen to the counsel of your wives, and don't always go with the first parking lot price. The price is always cheaper somewhere else.

You can get phone service for only $39.95 a year

September 19th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

I talked to a friend a few days ago, and she told me she had a new phone service called "Magic Jack." With Magic Jack for only $39.95 you get free local, long-distance, directory assistance, phone number, call waiting, voicemail, caller id, and you get a free trial for 30-days to try it.

She said, it's great, and their bill is only $39.95 a year. The only downfall, you have to change phones numbers. Their website is www.magicjack.com.

Have you heard of Magic Jack? What do you think?

$5.00 for ice cream? Thanks, but I'll pass.

September 5th, 2008 at 11:40 am

I grew up with ice cream. Two things my dad would get at least twice a week was more milk and ice cream. I mean with eight kids and my parents, he had no choice. Back then ice cream was really affordable. Also, Dairy Queen was my most favorite place to get ice cream.

Okay, so let's fast forward to 2008. I still love ice cream, even though I don't eat it as much (health reasons). However, a few weeks ago at a community event, my daughter wanted an ice cream cone and they were $5.00. She was outraged! I personally couldn't believe it either. Also, a major "ice cream" franchise that we once loved, their cones went up to $3.75 each. Yeah, it's homemade, but so what.

I use to have an ice cream maker that was absolutely wonderful, but it broke. Now, when I am in the mood for ice cream I go to Target and pick up 1/2 a gallon. Even at the store a 1/2 gallon can be close to $5.00. I always look for a sale on ice cream for $2.69 or close to it.

Do you make your own ice cream, buy it, or do without it because of the price or other reasons?

New prices at restaurants are highway robbery

August 22nd, 2008 at 01:34 pm

I went to my favorite bbq restaurant today. About every two months I purchase a discount coupon for $12.50 that is valued at $25.00, and I meet my sister for lunch. She lives over an hour away, and it's a half-way point, and it's a nice treat for her.

Our favorite bbq restaurant's food is outstanding, and the prices are very affordable. However, for the last year we have been anticipating their move to a new location. They have been renovating the building for probably a year. I'm very happy for their success. However, yesterday evening when I went to their website, they had a new website. It was beautiful, classy, and they had new menus.

Then I noticed the prices had increased significantly. I mean, the combo that was $13.00 with two sides was now $18.00 with only one side order. The grilled tilapia with two sides that was $11.00 was now $17.00 with one side order. Even the kid’s meal went from $3.00 to $6.00 and the drink was no longer included. We would have to pay $1. The new menu has appetizers now. The chips and salsa/guacamole is $10.00. Crab w/spinach and artichokes is $12.00. Geez, is my bbq joint becoming a fine dining place without my permission?

I called my sister to give her the bad news. We felt sad, because they had now priced us out of their market. Lunch was still affordable, but the drink that was included in the $8.95 price would cost an extra $1.49. Thank God, they have not moved to the new building. They are still using the old prices.

However, we are disappointed because we know the move is coming and it will be rare or never that we will go there.

Have you noticed some of your favorite eatery prices escalating to unreasonable rates? Can you share your experience?

I'm wondering if home warranties are a waste

August 15th, 2008 at 08:41 am

I just got the bill for the home warranty for our rental property. It is $515.00. Gosh, let me see, last year the company says they saved us $253.00. But we spent $515.00 to save that. Plus, our tenants are responsible for the first $50 of repairs. We had two incidents last year, and then one wasn't even covered under the warranty.

I want a cheaper warranty, but can't seem to find one out there. I'm thinking of putting the $515.00 in an account each year for repairs or emergencies. Our rental is 15 years old, so thankfully we haven't had any major problems. I know something huge could happen and we could be out of alot of money. However, with those home warranties, what you think is covered isn't always covered. We tend to find that out at the last minute, and it's too late.

What about you, do you use a home warranty company for your primary residence or rental property? Know any good deals? If so, are you happy with the service?

Do you really need a cell phone?

August 11th, 2008 at 11:24 am

What did we do when there were not cell phones? We lived! I realized around six months ago that I really didn't need my cell phone. I work at home, I rarely have it on, and I have NEVER used it for a "real" emergency. I now realize it is a convenience incase of a "what if." However, a "what if" hasn't happened in 10 years.

So now I have a phone plan that is only $26 a month. I get 200 minutes during the day and anytime minutes starting at 9pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. However, I still do not use it. The other reason I do not use my cell phone, is because I believe cell phones are not good for your health. When I have used it, I end up with a headache and a hot spot on my head where I had the cell phone.

Also, I do not need my cell phone for long-distance, because I have unlimited long distance on my landline, and hardly anyone has my cell phone number anyway. It's a convenience that is costing me $312.00 a year. For some people a cell phone is a necessity, but for me it is not. Unfortunately, I have a two-year agreement. However, if I continue to pay monthly for a service I never use, I will say bye-bye to the cell phone.

Do you really need your cell phone or is it more of a want and convenience?

Rental car companies will make you mad

July 28th, 2008 at 09:05 am

I recently went on a business trip that required a rental car once I arrived in the city. I didn't make the initial reservation, the company's travel agent did. I rarely use rental cars, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn "they are a major rip-off."

First the travel agency got a car that cost $78 a day. A day! Okay, then I had to get insurance. The cost $40 a day. Next, I got the GPS system to make sure I got where I needed to go. Price: $13.95 per day. Then I got the gas plan that was fixed for my 24 hour stay, which came fo $64. Finally, I was charged a 10% fee of $33.82 just because of what? Stil do not know. The final cost for having a rental car for 24 hours $391.20.

I know it wasn't my money per se, but goodness gracious. If people are actually paying these prices for rental cars, they will find themselves in bankruptcy. These were corporate rates. Obviously, corporate rates suck!

I know for a fact you can get incredible car rental rates on www.priceline.com or www.orbitz.com. We went to Oregon for eight days and rented a car on orbitz. It cost around $150 for eight days. Also, we went to Arizona, rented a car, and the cost was around $180 for 5 days.

What has been your experience with rental cars?

It's a pain, but everyone needs to do it

July 22nd, 2008 at 09:59 am

Do you know the minimum amount it takes for you to live or survive each month? Is it $2,000, $5,000, $6,000? Getting out of debt is wishful thinking if you do not get serious about knowing exactly what money comes in and how much you spend each month.

If you do not track your receipts or spending, how do you know how much you spend on lunch, dining out or entertainment? What about that cute pet, how much does it cost you each month or year?

One thing I know for sure, you should start tracking "all" your money if you don't. Determine what it cost for your lifestyle to operate. If it cost too much, scale down. If it cost a little, pay more debt, save and invest the difference.

What about you, do you track your money? How much does it cost to operate your life?

Dentist the new used car salesmen

July 16th, 2008 at 08:19 am

I went to the dentist today for a routine cleaning. That is all! In the lobby they had a new flat screen tv, promoting the horrors of oral cancer. When I sat down in the dentist chair the hygienist stated, it was their new policy I had to have an oral cancer exam or they couldn't clean my teeth. After a 1/2 hour consulting with their office manager about their lack of customer service for not telling patients ahead, I decided to go ahead. It cost $65 (I'm mad).

Okay, then the hygienist check my gums and says I need a procedure to do a deep cleaning that cost, get this, $836. Oh yes, and if I didn't get the procedure done, she couldn't even clean my teeth. So I walked away with, get this, a $100 bill. In the past checking my gums was always FREE, but today they said it cost $25 (plus my $10 co-pay), and in the pass three years, she said, “Someone dropped the ball for not charging me to check my gums.” Unbelievable!

My husband immediately cancelled his and our daughter's appointment for August. We are now looking for a new dentist. I felt like we were dealing with used car sales people. A visit that should have taken 1/2 hour, turned into 2 hours, and I'm out of $100, mad, disgusted, and almost ready to leave dentists alone.

Are "dentist" the new suckface savages stealing our wealth? What do you think?

Frugal Life Gets More Frugal

June 30th, 2008 at 02:47 pm

My husband and I just decided to sell our other car and go down to one car. We realized that our lifestyle allowed us to have one car. Having one car could save us around $2,500 a year in gas, insurance, tags, and maintenance. It's a small price to pay.

What about you, can you go down to one car to save money? What would you do with an extra $2,500 a year?