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It's not easy, but you CAN do it

By Karen Datko Sep 18, 2009 11:44AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Here is one of the most frequently asked questions in all of personal finance: "How do I get out of debt?" At one level, eliminating debt is simply about following a few steps:

  • Stop going into more debt.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Pay off debt with the difference.

If you follow these steps, eventually you'll be debt-free. The problem is that following these steps isn't always so easy. And to make matters worse, there is a lot of "help" out there that can make matters worse. From debt-consolidation companies to books like Kevin Trudeau's "Debt Cures," which I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy, there are a lot of promises being made that getting out of debt is easy. It's not.


In fact, tackling your debt may be one of the hardest things you'll ever do. You have to control your emotions, which can play a big part in how we make financial decisions. You have to educate yourself about everything from home loans to credit cards to credit scores. And you have to discipline yourself in the way you manage and spend money.


The fact is that controlling your spending and paying off your debt is not an easy thing to do. But the good news is that you can do it. If you want to be debt-free bad enough, you can make it happen.


To help you reach your goal of being debt-free, I've assembled a list of 23 tips and tools. 


Paperless ticketing is the key

By Karen Datko Sep 18, 2009 11:30AM

Here's good news for many sports and concert fans: Ticketmaster has found a way to sidestep the scalpers and control the price of ticket resales.


How does it work? It's made possible by Ticketmaster's paperless ticket option. Limited now in application, you can expect that more and more ticket sales will become paper-free.


Our Smart Spending colleague Teresa Mears explained how paperless ticketing worked when she did a most unfrugal thing by attending a concert by the Boss, who likes the paper-free approach. (I am extremely jealous.) Teresa said:

To get into Sunday's Bruce Springsteen concert in South Florida, concertgoers had to swipe the credit cards with which they had bought the tickets. The handheld machine then printed out paper tickets with their seat numbers on them. If one person had bought the tickets for a group, they all had to enter at once.

Venues also require a separate photo ID.


Unemployed and spending like crazy

By Karen Datko Sep 18, 2009 11:23AM

Ashley Baxter has good cause to be worried about her friend. The woman has gone on a major plastic spending spree since she became unemployed five months ago.


We'd heard that such people exist but hadn't run across a case quite like this. It's one thing to maintain your normal standard of living for appearance's sake when you're jobless. That's bad. But this seems worse. Along with the $40 lunches, $300 eyelash extensions and extremely expensive handbags, the friend is now committed to an extra $300 in monthly payments on debt that she didn't have when she was working, Ashley writes at SpendOnLife.


Those aren't living expenses, folks. Is a credit card intervention in order?


You don't need all of those store-bought cleaners

By Karen Datko Sep 18, 2009 11:17AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


One of my favorite ways to trim my spending is to find simple substitutes for my regular expenses. If I can trim a few bucks from the cost of household supplies and other routine purchases, over the long run that can add up to a lot of money with virtually no change in my life.


Here are 12 of my favorites (not including my "infamous" homemade laundry detergent).


Vinegar instead of fabric softener. Instead of buying expensive fabric softener, just use half a cup of white vinegar in the softener cup in your washing machine. It accomplishes the same effect as softener -- it makes your clothes really soft -- plus it breaks down the laundry detergent, making the clothes much better for people with sensitive skin or allergies. What about the smell? Once the clothes are dried, you smell nothing at all. You can buy four gallons of vinegar for $6, meaning the cost per load is about 5 cents, while a load's worth of Downy costs about 15 ccents.  You save a dime per load and your clothes are less chemical-laden.

Bing: More uses for vinegar

Reusable containers instead of Ziplocs. Ziplocs -- especially the small ones -- usually wind up in the trash after one use. On the other hand, a reusable container can last for years. Because a typical Ziploc costs about 10 cents and you can get a reusable Rubbermaid container for about $1, you break even on the container after about 12 uses (the cost of washing the container in the dishwasher is estimated there) and everything thereafter is pure savings.


We can learn important lessons from 'Fight Club'

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2009 6:01PM

This guest post comes from Baker at Man vs. Debt.


I think I'm going to enjoy writing this much more than you enjoy reading it.


For those of you who aren't familiar with Tyler Durden, he is an essential character in "Fight Club," which is both a novel and movie. While the novel came a few years before, the movie escalated into a cult classic in the years following its DVD release. If you aren't familiar with the character, well ... we should probably part ways here. 


For those who are still with me, let's get some things out of the way. We aren't going to be talking about masculinity, violence, mental disorders, religion, or even politics. Those themes run rampant through the movie and have been discussed in great length and detail by individuals much smarter and more witty than me.


Instead, we are going to have fun. We are going to dive into some of Tyler's most famous quotes (from the movie) and attempt to pull any applicable personal-finance wisdom from them. The movie's strong anti-consumerism message will make some of these very easy, while others may seem like more of a stretch. I'll let you decide.


How to make the most of what you have

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2009 3:23PM

It's unfortunate but true that homely folks often have more limited income prospects than their better-looking peers. People are shallow like that.


What can you do if you've been blessed with less than your fair share of good looks? Both "FMF" at Free Money Finance and Kiplinger columnist Marty Nemko have some advice.

Bing: Famous ugly people

Marty also has some relevant remarks for employers: "All other things being equal, I'd give the nod to an ugly candidate." You can probably hire them for less and they'll work harder than those who know how to get by on their looks.


9 ways this appliance can save you money

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2009 2:21PM

This post comes from Alex Wayne at partner blog Wise Bread.


Looking for more money-saving ideas during these tough economic times? Dig that food dehydrator out of storage. This is a frugal living tip that almost everyone can act on. Just by reducing or eliminating food waste, you can save quite a bit of money.


Don't have a dehydrator? These days, you can buy a brand new one for less than the cost of a PlayStation game. Or, visit the flea market or yard sales around the neighborhood. Still can't find one? Try Craigslist. Don't have any money for another kitchen appliance? Alton Brown will show you how to make one.

Bing: Choosing a food dehydrator

Here are nine ways a dehydrator can help you stretch your budget:


She takes her case to YouTube, won't pay bill

By Teresa Mears Sep 15, 2009 5:56PM

Ann Minch is mad as hell and she's not going to take it anymore.


Like many, she has seen the interest rate on her credit card jacked up (in her case, to 30%), even though she made all the payments on time, wasn't over her limit and didn't in any way violate Bank of America's rules. She had been making the minimum payment on her account for years, about $130 a month.


After trying, and failing, to get the interest rate reduced, she has, in her words "fired the first shot in the debtors' revolution" by refusing to pay another cent of her $5,943.34 debt unless Bank of America returns the interest rate to its previous level, 12.99%. She has staked out her position in this YouTube video, which has circulated widely on the Internet and has been viewed more than 150,000 times.



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