246 Money Tips: When to Haggle, How to Extend Food’s Lifespan, Why Being Old Has Its Benefits, and More

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Also, plenty of stuff it’s best to avoid, including bad bosses, toxic spouses, diet soda, and voting for “American Idol.”
4 reasons to avoid all soda—even diet. Well, if you’re trying to scale back on daily expenditures, soda is an obvious target. Water is available for free (or nearly so), and it’s also better for you than soda, which is known to contribute to weight gain. And yes, this is so even if you stick to zero-calorie soft drinks:

A study of 1,550 people concluded that people who drink diet soda have a 41 percent increased risk of being overweight or obese-for every can or bottle they drink per day! Turns out, any sweet taste signals body cells to store fat and carbohydrates, which makes you hungrier. Sweet tastes also promote insulin release, which blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. The hard truth: No published study has ever proven that drinking diet soda will help you lose weight.

4 toxic spouses to avoid. It’s hard to avoid a toxic spouse if you’re already married to him or her, so this list, cribbed from Michael Sion, author of Money & Marriage: How to Choose a Financially Compatible Spouse, is most helpful for those who have yet to settle on the ball they will be chained to. It’s best to avoid toxic partners such as The Shady One:

This person may be charming but he also isn’t completely honest. He misrepresents himself in lots of little ways because he probably has something to hide. Not sure if you’re dating this guy? Sion recommends asking to see his credit report. Chances are he’ll refuse to share it with you. Maybe you would discover he has a history of not paying off his debts.

Probably smart to wait at least until the third date to ask to see his credit report. That’s just not first date material.

5 things worth haggling over. The wise Liz Weston says that many prices aren’t set in stone, and that in certain situations, if you’re not haggling for a better deal, you’re sure to pay too much. Situations such as auto repairs:

If the car’s running, you can take it to competing shops for estimates. (I recently knocked $800 off a big repair this way, by taking the other shops’ bids back to the dealership’s mechanic and getting him to match them.) Even if your car is dead on arrival, you can check RepairPal to see how much a repair should cost and pay to tow it to another mechanic if the quoted price is out of that range.

5 signs you’re a bad boss. This list can also be helpful for finding out if you have a bad boss—but chances are, if you do, you’re already well aware. Here’s one bad sign:

You Rarely Talk to Your Employees Face-to-Face
Relying on email may be convenient, but bosses are increasingly using technology to avoid having tough discussions, says Robert Sutton, professor at Stanford University and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss.

“No one wants to do the dirty work, but it’s a boss’ lot in life to deal with difficult issues,” Mr. Sutton says.

5 better uses for ‘American Idol’ vote cash.

Using somewhat questionable math—assuming the average “American Idol” fan will vote 532 times this season, and each text vote will cost 20¢ a pop—this post estimates a fan can expect to spend $106.40 to have a say on who will be the next Idol. To say that $106.40 might be put to better use is an understatement. To say there are just five better uses for that money is also an understatement. The money might be used for food, heat, gas, or, in the example here, a month’s worth of electricity:

That more than $106 you’re blowing to get some kid a record contract could be keeping the spotlight on you and your family for weeks at a time. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly electric bill is $104.52.

6 simple ways to save money with your high-speed internet service provider. A slight slowdown can yield big savings:

Your provider may offer a slightly slower speed of broadband for a much lower price. Providers rarely advertise their lower priced services because they usually only exist due to complex regulatory agreements.

I switched my service from the basic plan to the economy tier and saved $10 a month. I never noticed a speed difference and I could still stream videos. You have nothing to lose by trying since you can easily switch back if you are not satisfied.

7 ways to say no to spending peer pressure. No one wants to say no to their friends. But what if saying yes is going to cost you money that you don’t have, or that you’d rather not spend? The trick is to finesse your way out of dropping cash without offending anybody. One example how to do just that is by saying:

That won’t work for me but I could do this instead. For example, I can’t go out to dinner with you but I would love to have you over for a cup of coffee and conversation next week. Presenting alternatives is a terrific way to say no to spending peer pressure because it puts the ball back in the other person’s court. It lets them know that you want to spend time with them without spending money.

7 ways warehouse clubs get you hooked. The low prices and large sizes entice shoppers into buying way more than they need. A lesser-known strategy is the absence of music in stores like Costco and BJ’s:

This never occurred to me until behavioral and marketing psychologist Elliott Jaffa pointed it out: There’s no music playing in the background. “They want you in that store forever,” Jaffa says. There’s no fast music to make you shop faster.

8 ways to get free heat from the winter sun. Might as well get as much use out of the sky’s free source of light and heat as you can. Do so by really letting the sun shine in:

When the sun has risen and is shining its rays, open the shades and let the light in. Make sure interiors of windows are not blocked by books, clutter or even hanging laundry.

10 bad things we have all done for good money. Not bad like murder or pimping or anything, but bad as in having:

Taken on clients or work we know in our hearts we shouldn’t have.

And:

Put work or attaining money above our health.

11 unusual uses for household items. The potato, for example, can be useful for removing broken light bulbs:

Cut the potato in half and jam it onto the broken part of the bulb, then twist, [Bargainomics' Judy Woodward] Bates says. Just be sure to turn off the breaker first.

Be sure to only eat the half of the potato without light bulb shards in it too.

11 outrageous taxes. Taxes and fees are so commonplace, so expected, that maybe “outrageous” is too strong a word. I’d say “silly” or “annoying” are more to the point. Splitting hairs, I suppose. In any event, there are plenty of taxes consumers wish would go away, such as:

Bagel Tax
New York is cracking down on enforcing the tax on prepared food. One of their targets: the beloved bagel. If you buy a whole bagel and take it home with you, it’s tax free. But, if you purchase a bagel to eat at the bagel shop, you’ll have to pay sales tax.

13 things your cell-phone rep won’t tell you. Among the insights and tips from actual cell-phone sales staffers that’ll save you money are:

Resist the temptation to get a new phone the moment your contract expires. Wait a few weeks and we’ll start dangling all sorts of discounts and incentives in front of you.

14 ways to save money on groceries. We’re not talking about using coupons or getting deals, but about strategies that’ll help you get more out of the food you buy and avoid having to constantly throw stuff out. For example:

To keep herbs tasting fresh for up to a month, store whole bunches, washed and sealed in plastic bags, in the freezer. When you need them, they’ll be easier to chop, and they’ll defrost the minute they hit a hot pan.

136 discounts just for seniors. As one commenter to this post wrote, “I knew there had to be something good about getting older.” The discounts listed include savings on travel, clothing, groceries, movies, hardware stores, and tons and tons of restaurant meals. Here’s one sample discount from Kohl’s:

Kohl’s operates 1,067 department stores in 49 states offering rock-bottom prices on clothing for the entire family.
Offer: Receive a 15% discount on Wednesdays, if you’re 62+.

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