This week’s links cover topics ranging from school fundraisers that aren’t worth your time (and don’t raise much money), to resources for finding the best Black Friday deals, to effective, low-effort, low-cost ways to clean the bathroom.
4 tips on when it’s time to open a new bank account. For instance:
There should be some benefit to being a long-time banking customer. If you have never overdrawn your account or missed a payment then your bank should have some leniency with you when this occurs. One of the biggest tricks in the banking industry is when banks claim that they are unable to reverse charges on you account. Don’t believe this! Banks can forgive fees if they want to.
5 holiday shopping traps to avoid. For instance:
Salespeople push service plans because retailers keep 50 percent or more of what they charge for them, but they are notoriously bad deals. Some repairs are already covered by the standard warranty that comes automatically with the product. Consumer Reports’ data shows that products seldom break within the extended-warranty window of coverage, when items do break, the repairs, on average, cost about the same as the warranty.
5 ways to save money on Christmas this year. For instance:
Buy It Used or Refurbished
Although some people are wary of used and refurbished items, they are a great choice when you can’t afford the item new. If your mom loves cashmere sweaters, but you can’t afford to buy one at full price, it might be worthwhile to search for the item on eBay. If you want to buy your boyfriend an iPod, try purchasing a refurbished one. You can find refurbished iPods, iPads, MacBooks, and more on the Apple Store website, and they all carry a one-year warranty.
5 ways to save money on food. For instance:
Learn to Butcher a Chicken
I’m always amazed when I see chicken breasts for sale at a grocery store for $5 a pound when, right next to them, are over roasters at 99 cents a pound. Part of the price difference has to do with the cheaper cuts on the chicken, and the bones and sweetbread, but if you learn how to butcher a chicken you can save yourself a ton of money. You also get lovely bones to make your own stock, which I find to be fun.
6 weird ways to save. For instance:
“Only bring $100 bills with you,” [Buyology author Martin] Lindstrom says, pointing out “You won’t want to break it to buy a pack of chewing gum.”
6 shopping tips without coupons. For instance:
For markdowns on meats I ask the employees when they mark down the meats, in one store they do it around 8-9am. Another store has set aside half of a freezer area for marked down milk, eggs, cheese and the like. And most all grocery stores have an area in the back – usually around the entrance to the back room, where they mark down shelf items like dented soup, bread and bakery items. I get most of my bread from these areas.
6 school fundraisers (three that work, three that don’t). For instance, here’s one that’s not recommended:
Restaurant fundraisers: Eat at this Friendly’s or that California Pizza Kitchen between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., and your school will earn 15% of sales! “That means that for the school to earn one dollar, you have to spend roughly seven,” Wertheim points out. “People should sit down and do the math.” On a $35 bill, the school earns $5.25. The only time it makes sense is if you were going to eat out anyway.
7 ad jargon phrases that aim to mislead. For instance:
“Compare at $XX”
It’s used in infomercials a lot. “Buy this frying pan for $20, compare at $80!” It does not mean you’re saving $60, it just means that someone, somewhere, thinks that the pan is similar to another pan that could have sold for $80. It’s like putting an ad on Craigslist for your crappy old sweater and saying “compare at $100.” It’s a self-valuation, and therefore, meaningless.
7 reasons to rent instead of buy a home. For instance:
What if you get a great job offer that necessitates a move? If you are a renter, you simply move. I realize you may have to fulfill a lease agreement, but doing so is a breeze compared to selling a house. The nuts and bolts (getting the house prepped, hiring a Realtor, etc) are bad enough, but what if you need to move before your house sells? You will be paying both rent in your new location and also your mortgage on your unsold house. You will be an absentee home owner and eventually a motivated seller.
7 tips for guiding your child to financial independence. For instance:
DO NOT MICROMANAGE CAREERS Parents should make it clear to their children that they are expected to be moving toward financial independence and give them a specific time frame to get a job, experts say. It is a good idea, however, to resist pointing out that their hopes of becoming rock stars, poets or even Internet entrepreneurs may not be realistic.
7 items worth waiting until after the holidays to buy. For instance:
The Annual International Consumer Electronics Show runs the first week of January. That’s when companies roll out all their new models of computers, cameras, cell phones, printers … you name it. While early adapters salivate over the newest and latest tech gadgets, January is a great time for everyone else to buy the most recent models – which will, no doubt, be discounted heavily to make room for the new.
8 win-win tips for boomerang kids and their parents. For instance:
Set a timetable.
Parents: ask what kind of timetable your child thinks is reasonable, then come to an agreement. He needs to understand that you are not kicking him out, but setting some boundaries to ensure that he doesn’t become complacent. It may be a few weeks or it may be a few months, but if he is honestly pursuing full time work he will find it. A timetable will help.
8 ways to save money by keeping produce fresh. For instance:
Herbs, asparagus, broccoli, celery. Herbs can be placed in a jar with a little water at the bottom to keep them fresh longer. You can also do the same thing with asparagus, broccoli, and celery to keep them from getting limp.
8 sites for finding Black Friday deals. For instance (and while I love a good deal, the Brad in question here ain’t me):
Savvy shoppers know BradsDeals as one of the best resources for coupon codes, online and printable coupons and constantly updated information about deals of all kinds. But Brads’ sister site, Black Friday 2010, is one of the slickest and easiest to navigate. There are predictions, top gift picks and even video tips from Brad himself.
9 low-cost tricks for cleaning the bathroom. For instance:
“I’m ready to toss this filthy shower curtain liner”
Toss it in the washer. Don’t throw away your liner just because of mildew and dirt buildup. Extend its life by cleaning it in your washing machine. Set the machine on the gentle cycle with warmwater and 1 cup of regular laundry detergent or 1⁄2 cup of vinegar. Afterward, whirl it in your drier, set on Low Heat or Fluff, for about 20 minutes. Your liner will come out clean and wrinkle-free. Rehang it immediately.
9 uses for Halloween candy. Beyond continuing to scarfing ’em down right out of the wrapper, of course. For instance:
Chop and freeze it
The American Dietetic Association says the chopped, frozen bits make great ice cream toppings — and will keep for months.
Spot reducers aren’t all they’re shaped up to be
“Buying any product that promises spot reduction is like ripping up dollar bills and throwing them off the roof,” says Liz Neporent, fitness expert, author and founder of Wellness 360. “It is a physiological impossibility to spot reduce.
12 money mistakes almost everyone makes. For instance:
Failing to negotiate prices.
Even department stores often offer some wiggle room on their posted prices, and big-box stores usually match competitors’ prices. This negotiating trend has become so prevalent that the advertising firm Cramer-Krasselt came up with a name for such pushy customers: neo-hagglers. But many consumers fail to realize that prices are flexible and don’t bother asking for a better deal.
15 most annoying habits among retailers. For instance:
Telling You How Much You “Saved”
Many readers find it annoying that, as they’re paying their bill, the cashier will often tell them how much they supposedly saved by shopping there. “That I call insulting your intelligence,” says one commenter. Even worse, another reader notes that when you turn down the much-despised store credit card offer, the salesperson will sometimes say, “‘You could have saved X dollars if you had our card.’ It’s like you’re a child, and they’re scolding you.”
20 tips for helping you stay within your holiday budget. For instance:
Recall last year’s bill.
If you’re like most people, last year’s holiday bills are replete with waste, excess and the overall feeling that no real game plan or discretion was used. Rather than pushing this unpleasant feeling out of your mind, reflect on it. This is more of a psychological trick than a financial one, but it’s no less important. Without burning motivation to do things differently this year, you might just nod your head to these “obvious” tips and go right on doing the same things you did before.
24 thrifty tips for frugal spending. For instance:
Even if I bought something for next to nothing at the thrift store it’s not going to stay affordable if it’s dry clean only.
35 Veterans Day freebies. For instance:
Brides Across America
Bridal salons unite across America for the third year to give wedding gowns to qualified military brides. Each participating store prepares a number of gowns, most of which are samples and overstocks worth between $500 and $3,000. Dresses range in size from 4 to 22 and are given away on a first-come-first-served basis. Designers who support the cause include Vera Wang, Alfred Angelo, Carolina Herrera and many other major names in bridal couture.