Unnecessary insurance is on the list
Particularly in difficult financial times, the last thing we should do is spend money on stuff we don't need or even want. Yet that's exactly what many of us do. I'm guilty of it, even though avoiding those expenses is really easy to do.
So I thought it would be a good time to put together a list of things many of us buy but really don't need. If you can think of other things we waste our money on, please add to this list by leaving a comment.
Extended warranties. Service contracts and warranty extensions are my biggest pet peeve. I love it when a store clerk asks me if I want to spend $39.95 to add one year to a warranty for something that costs $150. Are they serious?
Family and friends may not be receptive
How tacky is this -- or is it? You're invited to a wedding and reception, and you're expected to pay for your meal.
We've never encountered this, and neither has Mike at Clever Dude, although he considered it briefly before he got hitched. However, a friend of his was invited to a wedding for which she was asked to pay for the meal and also bring a gift.
Not cool, Mike said: "The wedding is for YOU (bride and groom). The reception is for US (friends and family)."
He added, "If I'm going to plop down $50 to $150 on a present, the least I should expect in return is a decent meal."
It's tradition, sure enough. But in these economic times, can't we all tweak our expectations a bit?
Get control of your finances sooner than later
Ever think about what you'd do if you could turn back the clock and be 20 again? Though I wouldn't especially want to live my life over, there are a number of money moves -- and decisions that had more influence on lifelong personal finance than I could have guessed at the time -- that I'd either not do at all or that, given a peek forward 40 years, I'd do differently.
I would have taken advanced degrees in disciplines whose graduates make decent pay. Can't say I regret having prepared for an academic career. It has allowed me to earn an adequate (not generous) living after spending way too much time as a lady of leisure.
However, I'd never recommend to a young person who wants a life in academe that she or he pursue a doctorate in the humanities. University faculty in business, engineering and law earn more than those in other disciplines. A Ph.D. in accounting can start at the assistant-professor level with a six-figure salary, and believe you me, that is one hell of a lot more than you earn teaching history or English.
Mind-numbing major? Puh-leeze! What could be more mind-numbing than postmodern theory? Oh yeah: postmodern feminist theory! Give me a bag of beans to count, any day.
He's in the third stage of personal finance
It's been a long time since I wrote about the general state of my financial affairs. A few readers have written to express concern that I've lost my way. I haven't. If anything, I'm more devoted to this stuff than ever.
But as I wrote earlier this year, I've entered a different stage of money management. During the first two stages of personal finance (debt elimination and establishing a foundation), things happened quickly. They did not seem quick at the time, but they were.
Now I'm in the third stage of personal finance. Progress is steady, but there's not a lot of scenery. Have no fear: I'm still on the road to financial freedom.
Companies negotiate lease transfers
People who want to downsize and cut expenses often want to cut their car payments. That can be difficult if you are locked into a lease. LeaseTrader.com, a Miami company that acts as a matchmaker between people who want to get out of their car leases and people who want to take over leases, expects business to be up about 30% this year as people seek ways to save money.
Last year, people wanted to get out of their leases so they could pay expensive mortgages, John Sternal, the company's vice president of marketing and communications, told Niala Boodhoo of The Miami Herald. This year, he said, people are trying to cut their living costs.
Movement spawns new vegetarian recipes
Everybody knows that one way to save money on groceries is to eat less meat. In these lean times, lots of people have been rediscovering beans and rice, staple foods of many traditional cuisines.
Now there's an international movement for a Meatless Monday. While the motivations are environment and health, eating less meat is still a good way to save money.
Online service checks costs in your area
Do you ever wonder if your auto mechanic is charging too much?
You can get a second opinion for free. RepairPal provides free price quotes on repairs to most cars, customized by ZIP code. The quotes are created using a complex database that draws from a number of sources, including expert mechanics hired by RepairPal to analyze the data. You can access RepairPal on your computer or get the freeiPhone app.
iTunes U includes lectures, TV programs
We've all thought about how much more we'd learn if we got a chance to go to college again as mature adults. One of the best places to be a student again is at iTunes U, which provides free access to thousands of audio and video files from some of the world's top universities.
The service also provides free access to public radio and TV programs, and this summer the Library of Congress began participating. You can listen to American Public Media's "Marketplace" or watch PBS programs, all free and at your own convenience.
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