134 Money Tips: Help with Old Furniture, Old Wedding Dresses, Old Yard Sale Junk, Old Bread, and More

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Also, why you should forget about self-help gurus—and follow the lead set by leprechauns instead.
3 reasons why most self-help books stink. Christine Whelan, a University of Pittsburgh professor who wrote her dissertation on self-help books, says that most aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Why? Among other reasons, there’s typically no evidence that the steps suggested in the book actually work:

Most self-help writers aren’t in the business of documenting whether their ideas work for the majority of people who try them. “There’s no efficacy data on the vast majority of diet self-help books,” Whelan says. “Who knows if positive thinking actually cures people. But self-help books use rhetoric and repetition to prove their points.”

4 most common unnecessary “needs.” Often, something you need isn’t something you really need. Need an example?

Believing Everything You Already Have Is a Need
One major reason why lifestyle inflation is so dangerous is because it’s very easy to get used to a luxurious lifestyle. As my parents always said, “You won’t miss any expenses you never incurred, but once you are used to the level of spending, it’s hard to downsize.”

5 tips for a successful yard sale.
Jonathon Papsin, co-author of The Ultimate Garage Sale Guide, was consulted for this post. Here’s a smart, easy tip to follow:

Papsin recommends having an extension cord handy so shoppers can test out electronics. “If you have the manuals, that helps in selling them,” he says. And, of course, clean items thoroughly before you put them up for sale.

5 personal finance lessons from leprechauns. You’d figure a post with a headline like this might go up late on St. Patrick’s Day, after the ingesting of one too many green beers. But apparently the path to your own pot ‘o gold can start by imitating the behavior of the notoriously cheap mythical creatures. Leprechauns are said to “strongly favour garments of green, but their clothing is never extravagant. Extravagant clothing costs too much.” And here’s the takeaway for non-leprechaun folk:

Lesson: The road to wealth is lined with self-control towards material goods.
Feel free to fill your wardrobe with items that you cherish and enjoy, but not at the expense of things that you cannot afford. Extravagance not only costs you money today, it might also damage your tomorrow if you pay for such extravagance (a vacation you can’t afford, a house outside of your price range, etc.) on credit or by taking out unsustainable debt.

6 tips to avoid spending too much on a car. Consumer Reports says:

Skip extended warranties
They can add more than $1,000 to the cost of a car. Instead, buy a model with proven reliability in our annual auto surveys.

6 tips to fix up old furniture. To recolor nicks, scratches, and dents on wood furniture, consider DIY fix products such as:

Felt Tip Touch-Up Pens Perhaps my favorite quick fix are these handy felt-tip pens. They look just like a magic marker and can be found at paint stores, hardware stores and some furniture stores. Match the color pen to your furniture and color in the spot. Finish it off with a good polish.

6 tips for scoring a cheap wedding dress. In addition to other money-saving tips, the link lists six sites where used wedding dresses are sold, and makes a strong argument for buying secondhand:

Yes, someone else wore it already. But only once. You can have it professionally cleaned, and may be able to afford a higher end designer this way. Many sites use a peer-to-peer model, so you contact the seller directly.

7 personal finance tips for recent college graduates. Most of the advice here consists of what not to do—don’t buy a new car, don’t use credit cards if you can avoid them, and don’t buy a home. Why not?

Buying a home and investing in real estate will have its time in your life, but there’s no need to do it right out of school. For one thing, owning a home generally costs more than renting (i.e. renting vs. buying a home). But perhaps more important is that you’re in a transitional phase coming out of college and owning a home could mean less job mobility. In today’s real estate market it may not be possible to sell a home quickly and follow a job to a new city.

7 things that a new baby really needs. There’s no shortage of useless baby products out there. So what does a baby actually need? The basics, and the simpler the better, like:

Brand-new babies, prone to random bouts of spitting up and explosive diapers, can go through quite a few outfits in a day. Stock up on essentials that are comfortable for your baby and easy to get on and off: ruffles, ribbons, bows, zippers, buttons, and extra clothing “decor” tend to make the dressing process complicated and long (not fun when your baby is screaming), and, generally, the more “stuff” on an outfit, the less comfortable your baby will be in it.

10 examples of bad career advice. As far as I know, none of this bad advice comes from a leprechaun:

“Work for a low salary and wait for a raise to happen without being proactive.”
Why it’s bad advice: Professionals should make sure they are being paid fairly. Right now, compensation tends to be tied to results; if you’re producing good results for your firm and are being paid below the market rate, you should ask for a raise.

10 wackiest attempted tax deductions. Wait, you mean that prostitutes aren’t considered legit medical expenses? Who knew?

A lawyer from New York kept track of his visits with prostitutes in a journal and tried to deduct their “services” as medical expenses.

The whopping $65,934 may have tipped off the IRS to a problem.

He also attempted to deduct nearly $5,000 for pornography and sex therapy books and magazines.

17 uses for stale bread.
Don’t toss it. Instead, for example, spruce it up and toss it in your salad:

Gourmet Croutons
Nothing can be easier than turning stale bread into delicious gourmet croutons for soup and salad toppings. Simply toss the bread in a mixture of olive oil, dried herbs, and salt and toast until golden brown. You can add parmesan cheese after toasting (adding it before toasting might cause some burning).

17 signs that frugality has gone too far. Surprisingly, neither writing off your prostitution habit as a tax deduction, nor consulting leprechauns for financial advice are on this list. Here’s one sign that made the cut:

You hoard items just because you get a good deal on them. This isn’t being frugal. It’s not a good deal if you buy something that you don’t need and won’t use. Nobody needs five hundred toothbrushes, even if they do cost only a penny each.

36 amazing uses for the lowly plastic bag. Turn them into gourmet croutons! Wait, that’s wrong. Use them to repair scratched wood furniture! Whoops, wrong again. Seriously, here’s one of the suggested uses for plastic bags, and I’ve been known to do this one and totally endorse it:

Painting a large room and need to take a break? Wrap your paint brushes and rollers in plastic bags to keep them from drying out so fast.