Joining in the royal wedding frenzy, and arguably slightly more tasteful than souvenirs like Crown Jewels condoms, here’s this week’s roundup of consumer and personal finance tips—including some money-saving advice to take away from William and Kate’s nuptials.
5 bargain alternatives to overpriced kids products. For instance, it’s easy to save on birthday cards. Kids generally could care less about them, but they’re customary and expected, so each one basically equates to a $3 extra fee tacked onto the cost of whatever present you buy for a child. Unless, that is, you hand-make the card or print one out from the computer:
If you have preschoolers or older kids, put them to work crafting cards for any and all occasions, which is fun for them and sweet for the person receiving the card, too. We also found reasonably priced computer paper and accompanying envelopes for anyone who wants to send professional-looking cards at a fraction of the cost.
6 smart wedding tips from William and Kate. OK, so the wedding costs in the neighborhood of $50 million. What tips can this couple offer others about saving? (Other than, you know, the tip to figure out a way to convince a country it should cover the bill, along with the lavish lifestyle of you and your entire family for centuries? I loved this headline when the engagement was announced: “Unemployed woman marries into welfare family.”) But look hard enough and you can find money-saving strategies anywhere, like that couples shouldn’t get hung up on requiring a Saturday wedding (Fridays are cheaper). Also, there are ways to save on the engagement ring—specifically by doing what William did, and not buying one:
Instead he pulled a smart trick. He gave Kate a ring that was already in his family.
6 lessons in royal frugality from Kate Middleton. At least in her pre-princess days, Kate was known buy most of her clothing on sale:
The Telegraph reports that so many of Middleton’s fashionable outfits come from sales that it’s causing problems for designers. People often want to find her look, but the clothes date back to previous seasons that are no longer available. The lesson: Pick what looks best on your body, even if it’s a few seasons out-of-date, so you can look good and save.
6 tips from a thrift store junkie. It’s thrilling to find secondhand bargains (perhaps even engagement rings). But if you have to spend a ton to get the item into workable condition, it’s not bargain:
Only select merchandise that is in good condition or need minor repair. Don’t bring home junk with the intention of fixing it. You won’t and it will wind up directly where you bought it in the first place.
6 designs of IKEA stores that trick you into spending money. A professor in the UK recently theorized that IKEA’s zigzagging store designs are intentionally disorienting. The layout, the theory goes, prods shoppers into immediately picking up items they’re on the fence about buying—because they’re scared that later on, when they decide they definitely want the item, they won’t be able to find it. In a sorta similar way, the scarcity of IKEA locations can cause shoppers to buy items they might not feel the need to purchase if there IKEAs in every town:
IKEA customers are generally aware that because of distance, they will not make another visit to IKEA for a while (or if they do, they’ll have to specifically budget time and money to do so). Thus, customers generally feel a “last chopper out of Saigon” panic while shopping at IKEA that can lead to unnecessary crunch-time spending.
8 everyday tips for reducing your restaurant bill. I generally trust waiters, but this story argues against it:
Don’t ask the waiter what his favorite thing is. He’s likely to tell you what he gets the biggest tip on. Instead, ask: “What would you suggest your in-laws order?” That question can change your waiter’s perspective and potentially give you a more honest opinion on what’s good.
My question is: What if your waiter hates his in-laws?
10 ways to save on dental work. Be British and don’t worry about it. Sorry! Horrible, outdated joke. (William and Kate have sets of choppers as good as I’ve ever seen.) To save on dental needs, try to use a health savings account (HSA), get second opinions on whether pricey procedures are really necessary, and take the simple step to ask for a deal:
Some dentists offer a cash discount, or a discount if you refer someone to their practice. It never hurts to ask!
10 ways getting married will make you richer. Marrying the wrong person can be the worst decision—financial and otherwise—you ever make. But getting hitched generally helps financially, even if your spouse isn’t royalty. If both spouses work, you get to choose which benefits plan is better (presuming, of course, that employees still have benefits nowadays):
My wife works for the state, and I work for myself. Guess whose benefits we use? But even for couples I know who both work for big corporations, one always has better benefits for their specific needs. And what if both work for the same place? Often, benefits are even cheaper.
10 tips to superstar selling on eBay. This may seem obvious, but when trying to make money selling stuff, it’s better to sell stuff you already have, rather than spending money in an attempt to make more later:
Many eBay novices believe that they have to go out and buy items to sell for profit on eBay. The problem with this is you may pay more for the item than what you can get for it. If you spend hundreds of dollars on items to sell and those items don’t sell, you are out of those hundreds of dollars and the money you paid in eBay listing fees.
The best way to test the eBay waters is to sell something you have sitting around the house. If you have a DVD, vacuum cleaner, textbooks, or knick knacks that you think might make some money, list them, and then learn by trial and error what sells and how to sell it.
19 ways to save on groceries, with and without coupons. Without coupons, give this a try:
Go ethnic. If you have never set a foot in an ethnic grocery store, a market that caters to immigrants, you are missing out. Staple items like oil, flour, and rice can be found for a fraction of the price you’ll see at a major chain. Produce prices are often significantly cheaper, too.
80 ways to be frugal and save money. The simple pleasures are often best, and cheapest. Here’s an example (NOTE: The “Kate” below isn’t Kate Middleton):
Camp. Kate and I went camping last week. Spent just $10 for the campground fee and $20 for food and supplies. But it felt like a true getaway. Just spending a day and a night in the outdoors completely refreshed us.