You can learn a thing or two from this blogger's mistakes.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.)
- Bing: More on dumpster diving
"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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Cheap LED light bulbs cost more upfront -- between $8 to $10 apiece -- but begin to pay off within 18 months.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'