Sure, it's cheaper to buy olive oil than make your own. But what other foods, products and services are best left to someone else?
In an effort to be as frugal as possible, some of us have taken do-it-yourself a bit too seriously.
Sometimes it makes more monetary sense to buy a product or pay for a service than go the DIY route. For example, anyone who's tried to change the oil in their car and gotten a face full of gunk knows using Jiffy Lube is well worth the extra cost. On the other hand, it's kind of ridiculous to hire a maid when money is tight and you have the time (and physical ability) to handle the job yourself.
In fact, there are times when doing it yourself can cost you more money than hiring a pro. There's a reason most of us don't attempt our own plumbing. (If only my landlord would read that last sentence!)
Prepaid cards are a secure way to access your vacation funds, but watch out for fees and restrictions.
Traveling safely and managing your money along the way is an exercise in balancing multiple risks: theft, loss, high surcharges, and confusing discrepancies.
Our Travel and Money series has discussed various ways to address money and security issues while you're abroad.
American Express' Currency seeks to give advice that Gordon Gecko-era parents can't provide.
A new website wants to teach young adults about personal finance and, in this era of social networking, let them share what they've learned with their friends. They can even earn gold stars for good behavior.
Currency, created by American Express with a team of more than 25 personal-finance writers and bloggers, hopes to fill the gap with a robust website made up of articles, blog posts, online courses and a social networking "game."
Today's young adults are starting their financial lives in an economy more difficult than their parents or perhaps their grandparents have ever experienced, creating the need for different kinds of advice, say Currency's creators.
|Tags:||consumer guideeducationfamilyfinancial planninggetting startedsavingsstudent loansTeresa MearsTips|
It pays to be skeptical of expensive services that repair shops say you need.
Finding a good mechanic or shop you can trust is difficult, so when you find one, it pays to stick with them. That's why I take my car to the same place every time I have an issue.
There have been a couple times when I, or my lovely wife, have taken the car in for a minor issue and they sent us on our way without a bill. Once, one of us rolled over tar that stuck to the tire, leading to a shake and some thumping. We took it in and they scraped it off, free of charge -- they didn't even charge for labor. That's good service and, when you think about it, how business should be done.
That's what makes some car maintenance scams so egregious. It's businesses thinking of the short term, rather than the long term, and wanting to make a quick buck.
Many of these are scams because they don't rip you off outright; they just overcharge you for a service you don't need:
As full-time jobs disappear, everyone's talking about freelancing as the future. A pro's advice on how to do it right.
I was a freelancer back when it wasn't cool.
In 1997, I was fired from my job as a weekly newspaper editor. So I decided to work for the only boss I could tolerate: myself. But prior to the millennium, the only people who freelanced for a living were either famous or inferior.
"Why would you give up a full-time job with benefits and one bad boss to work for no benefits and a bunch of bad bosses?" my best friend asked me.
Back then, it was a good question. These days, the answers are much clearer:
- Benefits ain't what they used to be.
Ohio bank will send e-mail or text and give customers one business day to make a deposit.
Here is one of the most shocking stories we've heard in a long time: Huntington National Bank in Ohio is planning to notify its customers if their accounts are overdrawn and give them one business day to deposit the money and avoid a fee.
This policy is apparently unique, though some large banks will waive fees if the customer overdraws the account early in the day and brings in a deposit later that day or will waive fees if the overdraft amount is less than $5.
Companies have found more ways to get coupons to budget-conscious shoppers. Here's how to find them, and avoid counterfeits.
Frugal consumers have become fast and furious with their coupon-clipping habits.
During the first half of 2010, coupon use increased 7% compared with the same period a year ago, reports redemption-services consulting firm Inmar.
"Now that people have started using coupons, it's a frugality habit," says Matthew Tilley, marketing director at Inmar. Overall, coupon use increased 27% last year compared with the year before -- the first time it had risen in 17 years. Estimated savings: $3.5 billion, or $800 million more than in 2008. That's a whole lot of $1-off frozen dinners.
If only she'd known then what she knows now -- plus a story.
As summer draws to a close, gazillions of monumentally stoked 18-year-olds have left the warmly comfy, comfy warmth of their hometowns for four years in cinderblock lecture halls. Yet college isn't all reading, studying, and sporadically penning 25-page papers on FCC v. Pacifica (1978). It's also occasion to figure stuff out -- like how to seriously manage your adult life for the first time.
Fortunately for this blog, that adjustment period has much to do with frugality, food and health. High school grads everywhere will be budgeting and cooking for themselves, and the initial months won't be easy. I know, because once upon a time (the year 45 B.C.) I was there.
Looking back, I think I did OK. Still, there are quite a few CHG-type things I wish I had known before I left home. Like ...
How to feed myself competently and frugally. My parents were excellent providers and decent cooks who fed us rounded meals from birth through late adolescence. Yet somehow, after 17 years, I never picked up on simple concepts like "eat a vegetable, doofus," or "an all-mozzarella stick diet will bankrupt, then KILL YOU."
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