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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

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."


First step: Make sure it's not illegal where you live.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 3:00PM

"Not the Jet Set" is sorely tempted on the way to work by perfectly usable things people have left out by their trash cans. But what are the rules for Dumpster-diving? Do you need to be sneaky? How do you handle shame?

We did some research and found a handy post at Sueann's NWPR Blog, plus photos of her remarkable finds, including brand new KitchenAid food processor attachments. (Her finds don't include food; she hasn't become a freegan.)

"Dumpster divers have rules," Sueann Ramella wrote. Here are some we gleaned from her post and from other sources:


Do you know how to successfully bribe someone? You should.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 2:54PM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Popular Mechanics created a list called "100 skills every man should know," which naturally gravitated toward DIY/physical skills like jump-starting a car and splitting firewood. The Frisky listed "30 skills every woman should have before turning 30," which actually touched on more than physical skills (though No. 12 is physical), with a handful of financial skills (Nos. 17-20).

The following isn't a checklist of things you necessarily need to do in your life. It's a list of things you should know how to do in case the need arises.


Idea sounds great until you do the math.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 2:42PM

The Internet is afire with a grand proposal. Instead of bailing out AIG to the tune of $85 billion, why not divide the money among all 200 million or so U.S. adults?

That gives $425,000 to every woman and man, the widely circulated e-mail says, or $297,500 after taxes. Wow.

This idea has gotten a lot of traction online, particularly as Congress is now considering a $700 billion bailout or rescue or whatever for America's financial institutions.

"Sounds like a plan," exclaimed Cathy at Cathy's Blog -- For Me For Once, one of many bloggers who've passed the $85 billion "We Deserve It Dividend" proposal on.

There's only one small problem with this plan.

"It only works out to $425 per person," an anonymous reader of Cathy's Blog wrote. "Whoever is circulating that idea is an idiot. Don't believe everything you read." And how.


Blogger plans to be a house with cash.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 2:38PM

Too much credit and then a shortage thereof might be sinking the economy, but the personal attitude of blogger "NCN" is "Credit? Who needs it." He hasn't borrowed money in any form or fashion for four years -- and that includes using a credit card.

Remarkably, he's even saving up to buy a house with cash. Is this a radical approach that's impossible for most people, or an idea whose time has come? Either way, he explains how to do it.



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