In this week’s roundup, we’ve got myths to debunk (about used cars, coupons), things to avoid (absurd kitchen gadgets, preemptive brake jobs on your car, going into debt from calling psychic hotlines), and ways to trick your brain—and your belly—into thinking you’re consuming more, thereby helping you eat (and spend) less.
3 myths of used-car buying today. You might assume that buying a car that’s one or two years old would save you 20% or 30% compared to a brand-new model. But nowadays, a 2010 brand-new model is more likely to cost only 10% more than 2009 car with some mileage on it. And sometimes, because of financing deals for new cars, it’s costs less to buy brand-spanking new:
Sometimes, it’s better to buy new. While a new 2010 Audi Premium Plus sedan, for example, costs $45,900, or $1,630 more than the used 2009 model, according to Edmunds.com, the monthly payments on the new car would be $67 cheaper.
5 healthy, tasty, budget-friendly finds at farmers markets now. Including beets, kale, squash, eggplant, and even something your kids will eat: apples. Also included in the link are links to help you figure out what the heck to do with these veggies. Example:
Kitchenware designer Scott Doty makes a salad of steamed kale and toasted pine nuts topped with a dressing of (to taste) finely mined garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Another good option: baked kale chips, which (in Frugal Foodie’s opinion, anyway) beat out potato chips any day of the week.
5 best Halloween coupons. Here’s one:
Save 10% off $35+ at Halloween Express
Expires: December 31, 2010
5 things you need to know about HSAs. That’s short for Health Savings Accounts, if you didn’t know, and they help you stash away money (pre-tax!) for out-of-pocket medical expenses. So what do you need to know about them? For one thing, HSAs are often offered as part of high-deductible health insurance plans, which cost less in terms of upfront premiums, but potentially much more for prescriptions and doctors and hospital visits. To limit how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket for these expenses:
Enter the HSA: To cover costs, you can put pretax money in one — up to $3,050 for individuals in 2011, $6,150 for families, plus $1,000 more if you’re 55 or older. Your employer may also contribute. Withdrawals for medical bills are tax-free. Unused dough rolls over year to year, growing without being taxed.
5 strategies for eating less without realizing it. Some head (stomach?) games that help prevent overeating—and help prevent the need to constantly be storing up on groceries at the supermarket. Like:
Choose a small serving spoon: In one Cornell study, participants ate 11 percent less ice cream when they used a petite scoop.
5 habits of highly effective credit card users. They use reward programs to their advantage, they actually read their credit card bills and disclosure statements, and (duh) they also pay off their balance every month in full and on time:
The goal is to pay off the balance every month. There’s really no middle ground here. You have to have the self-discipline to stop spending when you reach your budgeted limit. If your past history suggests that you will keep spending, don’t use credit cards.
5 good examples of bad charging that put consumers deeply into debt. On the other hand, there are folks who are highly effective at spending money on useless stuff and winding up in personal bankruptcy. Like one poor woman in San Francisco:
“This client ran up about $30,000 in calls to a 900-number psychic hot line… She felt deeply ashamed about what she had done and had tried to pay off the debt for four years.”
6 coupon myths debunked. There’s an assumption that the folks who use coupons are poor, and that’s just not true. The heaviest coupon users are consumers earning $70K or more. And also, coupon users aren’t necessarily what you’d call cheap:
Cheap equals living off ramen noodles each day, everyday, whereas mindful consumers know that they can use coupons and eat like a king. Taking advantage of the fabulous offers that manufacturers put forth allows you to save money with coupons so that you can spend those savings on things you really enjoy, like going to the movies or taking a vacation.
7 things you should know about Groupons. In an awkward, highly unlikely scenario, using a Groupon might get your unborn child a college scholarship. More importantly, you should understand this sort of thing before you get your Groupon on:
Groupons focus on experiences, not things. While plenty of deals include gift certificates to restaurants or coupons for cupcakes, many of the most popular ones center on experiences, says Julie Mossler, spokeswoman for Groupon. “Customers look to us to get them off the couch and introduce them to something … For a lot of people, the discount is more of a catalyst or excuse to do something you wouldn’t normally do,” she says.
8 steps in a crash course toward financial freedom. Doesn’t get much simpler than this:
SAVE. Don’t confuse saving money with spending less, as in “I save money when I buy things on sale.” You’re not saving at all; you’re just spending less. Saving money means that you actually put money into a safe place for some future time. Do that… Goal: 10% of all you receive goes straight into savings.
It’s A Wonderful Life
MORAL: It’s not about the money you make, it’s about the friendships you have. They’re worth more than anything. Also, it teaches us that if we get into a jam, everyone in our life will come to our home and dump money on the table. That’s a wonderful life.
9 dumbest kitchen gadgets. Let’s hope you’re not reading this while, for example, licking an ice cream cone held in a motorized spinner:
It is so oppressive to have to move my head, neck and hand to eat ice cream, and I’m thrilled that someone is thoughtful enough to fix that. Now, if only they’ll invent a way to not have to burn any calories digesting it, then my life would be perfect.
10 things it makes sense to splurge on. Shockingly, a motorized ice cream cone holder is not on the list. But this stuff is:
Durable Pans and Knives
Cheap knives and pans will burn your food, cut your fingers, rust, and warp, leaving you in need of new pans and knives before you know it. Honestly, scrimping on these items is not worth it. Pay more for quality cookware and it’ll last years.
10 most overpriced products you should avoid. Here’s one you probably don’t avoid, but that comes in a café with a 300% markup. What we’re talking about here is coffee:
Nowadays, it’s pretty common to pay a markup of 300% or more for coffee. And even those huge profit margins still may not keep your neighborhood coffee shop in business. Just keep in mind: That $3 cup of coffee (assuming you don’t tip, add shots, or buy some fancy concoction) you buy at the corner cafe can be made at home for a quarter.
University of Oregon
“May be the best deal in public higher education on the West Coast with noted liberal arts, business and communications programs, and a manageable size in a great location.”
Try using phrases that are less aggressive if you have comfort issues.
The above question, “Is there any flexibility in the price?” is neutral enough. A simple inquiry on “Are there any discounts available?” followed by “Is there anything you can do for me with the pricing?” will also work well for those of us that’s more timid.
10 things you should only buy at deep discounts. I suppose these ideas aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s amusing that one of the items featured in the link above about things worth splurging on (running shoes) is also listed here as something you should only buy at a deep discount. Depends on who you are, what you need your footwear for, and what kind of deals are out there. Here’s input from the deep-discounting-only camp:
You can’t put a price on comfort and the shoes you walk definitely effect the kind of day you have. If you have a Nordstrom store in your area, wait for their annual sale. Not only do they sell the finest quality shoes but you’ll find their products have great durability. Brand name sneakers and sandals can also be had at huge discounts when you wait for the right sale. Shoes can last for many years and when you find a shoe you really like at a great price, buy more than one.
20 ways you waste your money on your car. For example:
Letting a brake squeal turn into a brake job. Squeal doesn’t necessarily mean you need new rotors or pads; mostly, it’s just annoying. Your first check — you can probably see your front brakes through the wheels on your car — is to look at the thickness of the pads. Pads thicker than a quarter-inch are probably fine.
48 things frugality has taught me. A re-publishing of an oldie but goodie from The Simple Dollar, with “ones to grow on” such as:
Every time I let go of something I used to like, I have more room for the things I enjoy now.