At some point you realize you need to take control
We have a 20-something friend who has struggled with debt most of his adult life. We've talked about better money management from time to time. He has said he would get it under control, and did -- from time to time.
Then he'd overspend and the credit card bills started growing again, prompting, we suspect, a lot of worry and some self-loathing.
Now, he's reached his breaking point: He had to borrow money from a friend to pay the rent. (Thank goodness he realized that a payday loan would only aggravate the situation.)
Tennis shoes, cell phones, appliances ... the list goes on
Did you know that you can recycle old appliances, computers and other "technotrash," and even used tennis shoes? Co-op America Quarterly offers a list of 21 things that can be recycled or reused, instead of ending up in the nation's landfills.
For instance, Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program grinds up old sneakers and incorporates the "Nike Grind" into playing surfaces like basketball courts. One World Running makes donated shoes available to athletes in Third World countries.
Recycline makes toothbrushes and razors from plastic yogurt containers and then recycles those products once again to manufacture plastic lumber.
Homer never met bacon he didn't like
How do we know there's such a thing as too much frugality in the kitchen? Because Marge Simpson once said to her daughter: "Lisa, I made you some homemade Pepsi for the dance; it's a little thick but the price is right."
That's from the excellent post "Cutting calories and saving d'oh: 25 lessons 'The Simpsons' taught me about cheap, healthy eating" at Cheap Healthy Good. The author, Kris, is the most entertaining food-and-frugality blogger out there, but we think she's outdone herself with this one.
He saved, invested and lived frugally
Paul Navone is one of those quiet millionaires next door. His friends had no idea he had money until he started giving it away -- $1 million to a college and another $1 million to a prep school.
The 78-year-old retiree never made more than $11 an hour while working in the New Jersey mills, according to a story by Joe Logan in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and to this day Navone buys his clothing at thrift stores, and doesn't have a TV or a phone.
Some don't want to be constantly accessible
David G. Mitchell knows he's not preaching to the choir when he strongly recommends that most people stop using cell phones. He observes that "I will not use a cell phone and you probably cannot be separated from yours."
Health is one of his concerns.
Research hasn't confirmed a direct link between long-term cell phone use and cancer, possibly because cell phones have been widely used for a relatively short time. But some studies suggest a connection. As a result, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute cautioned employees to limit their use.
Among the things we do know for sure:
Do cards teach kids about responsibility?
I can still remember my first ATM card. I was a teenager in high school when ATM and debit cards first arrived on the scene. I had a passbook savings account with our local bank, and they issued a debit card that I could use to make deposits and withdrawals to and from my account.
Taking money out of my account when the bank was closed was nothing short of amazing. But my ATM card of the 1980s was a lot different from debit and prepaid cards for teens today.
The most important difference was that it was not part of the Visa or MasterCard debit network. When ATM cards first came out, they could be used only at a bank automatic teller machine. I couldn't use the card at a store. And of course there was no Internet, so we couldn't check our account online, either. On top of that, the debit card didn't work with all ATM machines. You had to make sure that the ATM was on the same network as your bank, or the card wouldn't work.
With the advent of the Internet and the Visa and MasterCard debit networks, a whole new generation of financial products was born. And recently, companies have begun using those tools to market debit and prepaid cards and other financial products to teens.
Let's look at a few of those new financial products (some recently reviewed by Smart Money), and then I'd like to hear your view on these products.
Government creates new Web site
Remember that peanut butter scare? We wondered whether the flavored dog treats we'd bought were on the recall list, but finding the latest information seemed difficult.
Or maybe you have a general question about the safety of food: Will that package of hot dogs you opened stay good for a week or a month? (One week.) How about bacon? Is it indestructible? (No.)
A new government Web site can help us out.
More deals coming via cell phone or loyalty card
We've all done it: stopped by a store or restaurant unexpectedly and then realized we had a coupon at home.
Now there's an app for that.
More retailers are making coupons available via cell phone. Mobile coupons -- usually text messages with discount codes -- are becoming the blue-light specials for the digital age, promoting last-minute clothing sales, two-for-one entrees and cheap tickets to the theater, The New York Times reported.
The mobile deals particularly appeal to young people, many of whom have never used paper coupons.
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