Because a frugal person focuses on the maximization of value, sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of keeping too much stuff.
The other night, I watched a couple episodes of the A&E documentary series "Hoarders." For those of you who haven't seen it, "Hoarders" focuses on the struggles of people who suffer from compulsive hoarding.
One thing that struck me over and over again was that people were saying things along the lines of "I can't get rid of this stuff because I might have a use for it someday." Of course, they were making this statement in a home that was so full of stuff that they had difficulty even walking through their home.
Frugal people live on an interesting spectrum between minimalism and excessive accumulation of stuff.
New study shows that more than a third of the unemployed who've found new jobs are working for less pay.
Just how hard has the recession been on American workers? A new Pew Research Center report offers some stark numbers:
- 26% of the 139 million working Americans were jobless at least once since the recession officially began in December 2007. (These folks are referred to as the "re-employed.") The report adds:
And for some workers, finding a new job was a short-lived victory over hard times. According to the survey, more than a third have suffered two or more spells of unemployment during the recession, including 16% who have been out of work three or more times.
More homeowners are making extra cash by renting their properties to vacationers. But it may not be legal where you live.
The next time you travel, consider a setting that's unique and potentially more comfortable than a hotel: renting a home from a private homeowner.
The idea is simple: Instead of cramming yourself into a tiny hotel room, rent an entire house. You win by getting a lot more space and amenities for a similar price. The homeowner wins by bringing in extra cash.
The online retailer is enlisting help from customers to pressure manufacturers to use packaging that's easier to open.
For the last two years, online retailer Amazon.com has been on a mission to persuade manufacturers to make product packages that are easier for consumers to open. The results so far have been less than stellar.
- Quick quiz: Estimate your credit score
According to The New York Times, Amazon has been able to persuade manufacturers to make easier-to-open packages for only about 600 of the millions of products Amazon sells. Traditional retailers like products in large cases and multiple layers of plastic because it's believed to deter theft. Amazon says someone ordering online shouldn't have to deal with the frustration involved in liberating products from their packages.
Thinking of purchases in terms of how long you have to work to pay for them is an effective way to control spending.
One strategy that seems to work well for people looking to conquer bad spending habits is to convert purchases into hours of work.
- Quick quiz: Estimate your credit score
A latte, the classic enemy of frugalists everywhere, doesn't seem too expensive because it's only $4. However, if you earn the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, that's nearly half an hour of work -- before you take taxes into consideration. Is a cup of coffee worth a half-hour of your life?
This is why the strategy works. Here's how you can start using it.
Office Depot offers special deal to Facebook fans to promote its new shipping services. Offer is good for shipping 1 item.
Here's a deal we've never seen before: a 50%-off coupon for the U.S. Postal Service.
To get the coupon, you'll need to become a fan of Office Depot on Facebook. Click the photo on the wall post to get the coupon. And you'll need to ship today, Sept. 8, from Office Depot.
As much as we might be blinded to this fact by outsourcing trends and late-night comedy skits, CS reps are people, too.
Bad customer-service experiences have become part of our collective narrative about modern life. Unmotivated CS reps, enraged callers, outsourced call centers on the other side of the globe are all part of our consumer assumptions the moment we pick up that phone with a sigh and mutter under our breath, "Once more into the breach."
But with a little experience and some ground rules, I think that call to a customer-service center can be much more productive, if not outright pleasant. In various stages of my life I've sat on each end of that phone line and can offer eight strategies to stack the odds of success in your favor:
In the 1960s, everyone saved green stamps for future rewards. But are today's impatient consumers willing to wait?
In another example of "What's old is new again," Albertsons grocery stores are returning to a classic loyalty program: stamps customers can redeem for cookware.
As other stores offer coupons on cell phones and other high-tech loyalty programs, Albertsons is hoping that its retro promotion will bring back the incredible loyalty customers once had for S&H green stamps.
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