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Spendthrift wife kept two secret credit cards.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 4:40PM

The headline on JW's post at We Need To Be Debt Free says it all: "What's the use?" He's been working hard to aggressively pay off about $41,000 in non-mortgage debt, and then his wife revealed at a marriage-counseling session that she's been hiding -- and using -- two credit cards.


"When she mentioned it, I felt completely broadsided. It was like being run over by a truck," he wrote. The damage to his debt-reduction plans? Just over $4,300.


Goodness knows they aren't the first couple to deal with this problem. What makes JW's posts on this subject and so many others so compelling is the detail he shares about his debt-reduction plan and how the sacrifices it requires has affected family life. For instance, his teenage kids have been unhappy and threatened to move out.

 

Mother of three has a few tricks to share.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 4:34PM

Erin's annual budget for food, health and beauty items, and cleaning supplies for a family of four and two dogs is $800. That food category includes occasional dining out.


We read about her budget and blog, Jane4girls $800 Annual Budget, at Frugal Dad, and wondered, how can she do that? It seemed almost beyond belief. She has three daughters -- ages 18, 11 and 10.

We now know some of her secrets -- coupons matched with sales, stockpiling, gardening, ExtraCare bucks, Swag Bucks, and the list goes on -- and they are doable. She also earns gift cards or gets them through special promotions; she never buys them "as that would defeat the purpose," she says. That's a gift card strategy that even Liz Pulliam Weston could like.

 

Bad presents can have a snowball effect.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 4:23PM

"Lazy Man" knows a grade-school kid named John who got a stuffed Garfield a couple years ago. Now John has 15 Garfield things in his bedroom. Lazy Man saw them and said, "I can't believe I didn't know you liked Garfield this much." John replied, "I don't."


Someone saw that stuffed Garfield in John's room and assumed he loves all things Garfield, and it escalated from there. This little story at Lazy Man and Money explains how people accumulate huge collections of frog, owl or strawberry figurines, posters, pendants or whatever and they really don't want them.


What's the worst gift you've been given? Lazy Man describes five categories of gifts he wishes he hadn't received. As Shadox said at Money and Such, "You know what? It is not only the thought that counts, people."

 

You can learn a thing or two from this blogger's mistakes.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 4:15PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


When I was a sophomore in college, I got my first credit card. I thought it was awesome -- it was like free money. Soon I got another credit card, and before long I'd maxed them both out. I entered the work force with a handicap. I had the start of a nasty credit habit.


My parents had never been good with money, and as a result I had no notion of proper financial skills. I made some bad decisions, which were in turn compounded by some rotten luck. Just five years after graduation, I had about $20,000 in credit card debt. For the next decade I tried to kick the habit. Sometimes I'd make progress, but then I'd find other ways to fall behind.


Here are some of the mistakes I made along the way and the steps I took to correct them.

 

Most maintenance can be done for free.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 4:03PM

By day, Joe Morgan works in the IT field, where co-workers routinely upgrade their personal computers every two or three years. By night, he says, he's like Scotty on "Star Trek," "always beating the odds to do the impossible with limited resources at hand . . ."


Joe comes by that claim honestly: He has coaxed two PCs to operate for an amazing 10 years each. He explains how to get more life out of your computer in a post at Saving Advice that's written in language non-geeks can understand. 

We'd be less than honest if we claimed to know much about computers, so, as always, we suggest you read the full post. Meanwhile, we'll offer a simplified version of a few of his tips (and point out that most of the stuff he recommends can be done for free):

 

Re-examining your major expenses can pay off

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 3:53PM

This post comes from Nora Dunn at partner blog Wise Bread.


There are a number of ways to stretch your dollars simply by rearranging your finances. Here are 11 tips to help you find some extra money.


Change your withholding tax. If you typically receive a tax refund each year, ask your employer to reduce the amount of tax withheld from your paychecks. I know, I know. You like getting those fat checks at tax time each year. But in reality it's an interest-free loan to the government. Your money is much better in your own pocket, thank you very much.


Reduce interest rates on your debt. As cited in a previous article, if you ask for a discount by calling your credit card company, you often will receive one.


This also applies to other loans. If you happen to be drowning in your finances, you can call creditors and explain your situation, and they can make concessions for you. If the agent you are talking to can't do it, politely ask for the manager, who has more clout for granting rate discounts.

 

Pharmacy errors can be life-threatening.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 3:44PM

This post is from David Wood at partner blog ConsumerAffairs.com.


As an expectant mom, Kendra of Brooklyn, N.Y., wanted the best for herself and her baby. Part of that care was a prenatal vitamin.


"My doctor gave me a prescription for the prenatal vitamin Primacare One," wrote Kendra. "I dropped off my prescription at the CVS pharmacy and when I returned to pick up the prescription, I was instead given Prednisone."


The problem Kendra encountered is one of the most common prescription errors -- the kind that occurs when a pharmacist can't read the prescription properly. Instead of contacting the authorizing physician to confirm the prescription, the pharmacist plays Russian roulette with someone else's life.

 

A garage stuffed with stuff is a big red flag.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 3:21PM

Do you automatically think that "budget" is the name of a rental-car company? Chances are you have a problem with spending.


A post by Ron at The Wisdom Journal identifies 24 signs to look for to determine if you're a mega-consumer. He said he was inspired to write the post after his kids noticed that someone they know has four yard sales a year and asked, "How much stuff do they have?"


Another sign: "You cannot fit anything else in your garage  -- and you don't even have your car in there."

 

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