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Why not pay for what you actually use?

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2009 6:43PM

Would you order a six-course meal if you planned to eat only the salad and dessert? No. You'd order a la carte.

Apply the same concept to the subscriptions you pay for, suggests Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. That includes services like cable, TiVo, cell phones and that underused gym membership. Ramit writes: "In fact, in one remarkable study of three health clubs, two researchers from Stanford and Berkeley showed that gym members overestimate how much they'll use their gym membership by over 70%." 

You can pay as you go for workout sessions, TV programs and songs (from iTunes), and other services you now buy in bulk. And may we suggest a prepaid cell phone?


Even small amounts can go a long way.

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2009 6:35PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

Generating multiple streams of income can have a major impact on your finances. Even an extra income of $500 each month could go a long way to paying down debt or increasing your investments.

We often hear about the importance of diversifying our investments, but diversifying our income streams is just as important, particularly in difficult economic times. Let me show you just how valuable even an extra $500 per month can be. Then I'll list the factors to consider in deciding how to generate extra income, followed by 10 multiple-income-stream ideas.


Do small steps save enough or should you look for big cuts?

By Teresa Mears Oct 8, 2009 6:18PM

If I had $4 for every day I hadn’t had a latte, I’d have a nice nest egg. Because, let’s see, that would be 365 days times 30 years of adult life… Wow, $43,800 plus the power of compounding …


Except I don’t drink lattes. And giving up a latte every day for a year wouldn’t pay even half my property taxes. I’d better look elsewhere for savings.


The “latte factor,” popularized by David Bach, author of “The Automatic Millionaire” and other personal finance books, has become a synonym for the small money leaks that could be draining away our cash without us noticing. And it’s certainly important to find and plug those small leaks.


But, in some cases, plugging the small leaks and giving up lattes (or soda or bottled water or candy bars) doesn’t really make much difference.


Some are annoying, others are downright unappetizing.

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2009 5:12PM

We know the tactics restaurants employ to get all you longtime and newbie frugalists to splurge on eating out these days: two entrées plus one appetizer for 20 bucks at the casual chain or great deals like the $1 Junior Whopper.

But what sneaky changes have restaurants made to improve the bottom line?

SmartMoney offers “8 restaurant ploys to watch for” in a lovely slideshow, plus we found more at Slashfood. (We saved the grossest for last.)


We're not on the playground, but others are browbeating us.

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2009 2:31PM

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


When I was in seventh grade, a bunch of 12th-graders grabbed me one day. They tossed me in a trash can, popped a lid on it, and then rolled the can (with me and some trash inside) out into the middle of the school’s parking lot. They then administered some kicks to the can and left me there.


I crawled out as they were laughing and high-fiving each other, grinned, shrugged it off, and went about my business. It was the right attitude to take.


A few other seventh-graders provided an enormous reaction to the situation -- telling the principal, throwing fits, challenging the much older kids to fights. Those reactionary kids were subjected to ever-escalating forms of bullying and hazing, while the ones who just shrugged it off were at worst ignored and at best given occasional positive recognition from the much older kids.


Now that we’re all adults, we might think that such bullying has been left behind. This is playground fodder, after all. The nonsense and torments of high school are in the past for most of us, right?


The truth is that even as adults, we’re subjected to bullying in various, more subtle ways -- and our reactions to that bullying often determine our futures.


Don’t believe me? Take these ideas into account.


Customers would prefer that banks deny debit card purchases.

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2009 12:37PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


Banks and credit unions collected nearly $24 billion in overdraft fees last year, an increase of 35% from just two years earlier, according to a new study by the Center for Responsible Lending.


The explosion in overdraft charges has drained the wallets of as many as 51 million Americans whose accounts become overdrawn each year. It is particularly harmful to financially vulnerable families already hit hard by the recession.


"Banks and credit unions have become so sophisticated in driving up overdrafts that Americans now pay more in overdraft fees every year than they do for books, cereal, or fresh vegetables," said CRL senior researcher Leslie Parrish. "These billions of dollars drained from consumers each year represent lost opportunities for families to save for a rainy day or buy necessary goods and services that could help spark the economy."


Even Neiman Marcus is touting cheaper gifts.

By Teresa Mears Oct 8, 2009 11:53AM

If we didn’t already know it’s going to be a lean holiday season, we do now. Not only is the National Retail Federal predicting less spending by consumers, even the Neiman Marcus fantasy catalog is touting more frugal choices this year -- if you consider $75 plaid stockings a bargain.


A survey commissioned by ING DIRECT found that 54 percent of American adults plan to spend $300 or more on holiday gifts, a 10% decrease from what Americans last year said they typically spend.


With shoppers looking to spend less, retailers are pushing less expensive toys for the 2009 holidays. Toys R Us lists the Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster, at $9.99, as one of the top toys of this year, though we would reject it immediately because it makes noise. Wal-Mart is expanding last year’s successful “10 for $10” program and offering more than 100 $10 toy items. We like the LEGO Bionicle Legends set. Kmart announced its Fab 15 toy list last week, too, with 15 items selling from $10.99 to $99.99. The company says those items represent the “best long-term play value.”


Service also lets friends bail you out 'from the comfort of home.'

By Karen Datko Oct 7, 2009 4:19PM

Debit cards are increasingly popular, so why shouldn’t jail inmates have them. How about a get-out-of-jail prepaid debit card when they’re set free?


They can. (Does this strike anyone else as kind of strange/funny?)


Continental Prison Systems Inc., doing business as EZ Card & Kiosk, is installing its booking and release kiosks and debit card services in jails here and there about the country.


Here’s what’s offered:

  • Pay your bail with your own credit or debit card or cash at the self-serve kiosk. Or if it’s more than you can handle, your friends and relatives can post bail at the kiosk or via a handy Web site "from the comfort of their own home," the company says. No more early morning trips down to the hoosegow to bail a misbehaving family member out.


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