164 Money Tips: Least Evil Banks, Frugal Household Must-Haves, and Whether $1 Foods Are Good or Gross

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Also: What can the Miami Heat’s three-headed monster experiment teach you about getting your finances under control?
3 tips for making money at consignment stores. Earning some cash for your stuff comes down to selecting goods that shoppers will actually pay good money for (a.k.a., don’t bother with junk that’d sell for 25¢ at a yard sale), and selecting the right store. Speaking of which:

Pick a store that sells items similar to yours. You might be tempted to offer your professional, tailored suits to a vintage store because yours will be the only items of their kind. However, people who want to buy tailored suits don’t often visit a vintage store, so your suits are less likely to be purchased. In addition, the store may not even take them.

5 things not to buy in a supermarket. Food? Yes. But for so many other goods, you’re better off heading to the drugstore, dollar store, or some other shop where you won’t pay a premium just for convenience. For example:

Party supplies
Buy your balloons, funny hats, place cards, candles, and name tags in bulk at a party supply store and you’ll pay a whole lot less.

5 personal finance lessons from the Miami Heat. Here’s one of the Financial Lessons from Unusual Sources file, with revelations from the “talents in South Beach” experiment such as:

No matter how good your individual talent is, you have to work as a team in order to win. If you are married, or share expenses with someone, you’ve got to work together or even the best game plans won’t work. Having secret spending habits, or keeping credit card purchases from your partner, will spell disaster sooner or later … and not just for your finances.

5 ways to dodge the latest bank fees. There’s no shortage of news about new bank fees. The wise approach is to assume you will be nickel and dimed with fees for nearly every transaction, including those at the ATM:

Don’t get robbed at the ATM. It might be better to print your statement at home. Bank of America is charging $3 to print an account summary at an ATM, up from $2. Chase next month will begin charging $1 to print recent transactions.

6 taste tests of food from dollar stores. How do $1 knockoff Wheat Thins, $1 knockoff Cheez-Its, $1 cereal bars, and other foods sold in dollar stores measure up in terms of taste? According to these taste testers, dollar store foods are usually bad—”stale,” “radioactive looking,” “half wax,” “slightly disturbing”—and occasionally pretty decent. Baked Wheat (the knockoff Wheat Thins) was the only product earning an actual endorsement:

We all voluntarily ate more of these crackers. They were darn tasty and I will probably finish the box. However, when we compared the nutrition labels, the knockoff had 3 grams of saturated fat to the brand name’s 1 gram, and the brand name had more fiber. So if I subsisted on Wheat Thins I might buy the brand name ones, but given how much more expensive they are, I’ll probably stick with the knockoffs, especially for a party.

6 easy tips for living with 100 items or less. The anti-hoarding movement has its advantages—and not only for one’s finances. So how do you simplify in the smartest ways possible? For instance:

Obey the 12-month Rule
Ditch everything you haven’t used in the last 12 months. Skinny jeans, Christmas decorations, old wrapping paper, the fondue pot, that old sewing machine you think you can fix “when you have the time”. It you haven’t touched something in a year, chances are you aren’t going to need it any time in the next 12 months, either.

7 highly effective habits to cook more and eat out less. Alcohol can lead to bad decisions both big and small:

Limit Happy Hours
A couple drinks in a happy hour, and there’s sure to be a group of friends who want to make an entire night of it with dinner and more drinks. And drinks do count as “eating out,” at least financially: Two cocktails can sometimes cost more than an entire entrée. To save money, I need to stay in control. Adult beverages mixed with peer pressure can be a costly combination.

8 least evil banks. Ha! What a headline. Here’s one non-evil (or at least less evil) bank that I’m a fan of:

ING Direct offers a free checking account and no ATM fees — as long as customers use one of the 35,000 Allpoint network ATMs. But if you go outside that network, the bank won’t reimburse fees. So be sure to watch the icons on the ATM machine.

And while ING Direct doesn’t give you paper checks, you can fill out checks online and the bank will mail them for you for free.

8 credit card changes to watch out for in 2011. Though a few credit card fees are disappearing, consumers should expect new fees to take their place, and rises in many existing fees:

Fees now account for some 48% of all revenue for credit-card issuers, up from 31% a decade ago, [bank advisory firm R.K. Hammer CEO Robert] Hammer said.

Fees on cash advances, for example, have jumped to 4% or 5% with no cap, from 2% with a $50 cap, he said, and they could go higher. Other fees are on the horizon, including fees for paper statements, paying your bills on the due date and even excessive customer-service calls.

10 must-have items in a frugal household. I was expecting to read about rice and beans and other pantry type items. But this list is heavy on multi-purpose items like:

Borax
Also known as sodium borate, borax is a naturally occurring substance and an eco-friendly solution for many things around the house. Most commonly used as a cleaning agent, the uses extend beyond that to pest control, laundry and more.

22 ways to fight rising food prices. Here’s a list of solid, though certainly groundbreaking tips such as:

Put on Blinders
Grocery stores are designed to make you go through a maze to get to the most basic items you need in the hope that you will make a few impulse buys along the way. If you keep to your planned list of needed foods, you won’t be tempted when you get forced down the junk food aisle to get at the milk. Because most necessities and basic cooking items are found along the outside perimeter of the store, start there and work your way around the edge of the store, only stepping into the maze to grab any leftover items on your list.

30 things I’ve learned about money in 30 years. By the time you’ve reached the big 3-0, you should understand lessons such as:

2. Armed with credit cards, anybody can live richly for a year or two.

7. When it comes to reaching financial goals, BABY STEPS really do work.

9. It’s a GOOD idea to admire people who EARN MORE money than you.
10. It’s a BAD idea to admire people who SPEND MORE money than you.

49 ways to trim monthly bills. Here are seven classic ways to save on each of seven different kinds of bills most people have: energy, mortgage/rent, water, Internet, phone, insurance, car. In terms of cell phones, for instance:

Look at pay-as-you-go phones. If you’re a very low user, a pay-as-you-go phone might be the best option available to you in terms of monthly cost. I’m actually right on the cusp of this, as I’m a fairly low mobile user (I keep mine turned off intentionally quite a lot).

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