Also: tips for cutting back on what you pay for everything from groceries to toys to your first home.
3 lessons from entering running races. After spending $464 for registration fees, gas, parking, and a hotel stay related to running in a half marathon, the writer here came to a somewhat obvious realization: “You can get runner’s high at the park for free.” But also, before entering any race, consider saving some cash by taking steps such as:
Run in the city where you live. That way, you can skip paying for travel, lodging and eating out. You can try convincing yourself that a destination race can double as a vacation, but that’s kind of a lie — beforehand, you’re too nervous to enjoy yourself; afterwards, you’re too sore.
3 costly mistakes of first-time home buyers. Unless you’ve owned a home, it’s hard to know what’s worth paying extra for, and what initial turnoffs should be overlooked. Sure, it’d be nice to move into an entirely move-in ready home, but many “problems” should be considered minor issues that can be cheaply and easily fixed:
While location isn’t negotiable, many smaller fixes are, such as a dirty carpet or scratched up hardwood floor. Jane Hodges, author of the forthcoming book Rent Versus Own (Chronicle Books, 2012), was concerned about cracks in the plaster of her first home, but she later found it was just a cosmetic blemish that could easily be painted over.
5 things not to buy at CVS. Things like small appliances, cereal, and bottled water are usually cheaper at other stores. Watch out for other products, like batteries, which may be cheap but are of lower quality:
In a Consumer Reports test in 2009, CVS’s alkaline AA batteries came in dead last among 9 different brands, behind those of Walgreens and Costco (the Panasonic Evolta topped the list, holding its charge more than twice as long as the CVS brand).
7 ways you could be wasting money. Oh, the many ways to waste money. Time to reevaluate expenditures like:
Things you don’t use: Are you paying top dollar for a cell plan when you don’t use very many minutes? See if a prepaid cell phone could help. Also, look over your other subscriptions and memberships. If you aren’t going to the gym or reading that magazine it’s time to cancel.
All you have to do is enter in your salary information (the site automatically deducts Federal taxes from this) and any monthly expenses you have, along with the cost of the item you’d like to buy, and DaystoPay will calculate how many hours you’ll have to work to pay it off. It’s enough to make even the best deals seem like a waste of money, and more importantly, time.
10 things daily deal sites won’t say. For pretty obvious reasons, the flash deal sites won’t reveal the percentage of buyers who suffer “Groupon remorse”—i.e., folks who pay for vouchers but never use them:
“You won’t use this coupon.”
Businesses say about 40% of vouchers purchased don’t get redeemed. Sometimes it’s as simple as buyer’s remorse, says Eran Davidov, a co-founder of Lifesta, a secondary market for deal vouchers. Or it’s a bad gift idea, as in the case of a liposuction voucher made out to “my darling wife,” currently up for sale on the site.
Glassdoor helps job seekers find and share detailed information about more than 110,000 companies, such as Facebook, Accenture, AT&T, Oracle, Starbucks, and UPS. This free, user-generated content includes salary data, company reviews, interview questions and reviews, office photos, and CEO approval ratings.
20 retailers offering free shipping on all orders. Last week, L.L. Bean joined this group of retailers with always-free, no-minimum-purchase shipping. Also on the list:
Whether you purchase a $30 cell phone case or a $2,000 purse, KateSpade.com will never charge you for shipping. This merchant values customer loyalty and wants to reward you for shopping with them.
25 ways to stuff a wallet. These basic money management tips from Men’s Health include insights like:
All debt is expensive.
When you take on new debt, even at 0 percent, you’re making a commitment against your future income. What could you have done with the $379 a month you spent on the second car? Over a month, not much. But over 60 months?
25 frugal changes you can make today. This one’s fairly easy, but few people actually do it (works with kids’ books as well):
Buying toys can be expensive and rarely are they used to their full potential. Share your kids’ toys with your family and friends. This will enable your children to play with a variety of toys without you having to buy each item.
38 money-saving myths. A contrarian’s take on oft-repeated tips, like that it’s always best to visit the grocery store once a week at most:
Americans … load up on enough food for the entire week, then often end up tossing the neglected extras. That’s money in the trash!
Sure you should shop for canned, boxed and frozen foods on a weekly basis — or stock up when you have coupons — but buying fresh tastes so much better and, in the long run, is cheaper.
50 things you need to give up today. Not all of these are about money. But many of these approaches will help make you a smarter consumer, and a just-plain happier person. Things to give up include:
Give up the ‘easy street’ mentality. – There is too much emphasis on finding a ‘quick fix’ in today’s society. For example taking diet pills to lose weight instead of exercising and eating well. No amount of magic fairy dust replaces diligent, focused, hard work.