98 Money Tips: Quirky Credit Card Perks, ‘Happy Accident’ Deals, Home-Decorating Ideas Under $5, and More

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Also, this week’s link roundup features everything you need to know about navigating this summer’s bargain real estate market—including arguments that, even with the relatively low prices of homes today, it’s still smarter to rent.
5 reasons why I’ll pass on extreme couponing. Pretty much by definition, something that’s “extreme” isn’t for everyone. Parts of extreme couponing sure seem a lot like hoarding. It also requires hours and hours of preparation, and tons of time in the supermarket itself:

And when the time comes to check out, you’re about to become very unpopular, because everything has to be checked out in the right order to get the maximum discounts. You may even have to split your order into separate loads to make it work. Life is short. Don’t spend it all in the grocery buying 58 bottles of shampoo.

5 strategies for navigating the summer clearance sale — on real estate. The combo of low housing prices and low interest rates makes it seem like a bargain season for real estate. To ensure you’re getting a good deal, one tip is to go beyond mere mental calculations and actually put down all of the numbers (big and small) on paper. Here’s why:

On the scent of a good deal, and in the heat of the hunt, even the most meticulous homebuyer can go up a few thousand in offer price to beat out other buyers. No problem, right? Well, but then when the inspector uncovers a few needed repairs, they make a mental guess as to what they’ll cost, and add that in – again, mentally. Then, when the lender requires a few extra thousand bucks than expected to close, that goes on top, but again, only mentally. And mental money tends to stretch a bit longer than real money does!

6 benefits to not buying a home. Or “Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself in the Head Than Ever Own a Home Again” (the title of this Freakonomics post from James Altucher, who is not only vehemently anti-homeownership, but also has quite a few gripes with higher education as well). Altucher feels no need to follow any feudal landownership type dreams. Instead, he’s happy to be a serf, and does some math himself, pointing out several financial benefits of renting, including:

Less overall costs. When property taxes and maintenance go up faster than inflation it means you are probably not covering the costs (plus the mortgage) via renting.

6 reasons to buy an existing (not so brand new) home. Then again, if you are more of the feudal landowner type, older homes are much less expensive than those newly built, and prices aren’t nearly as set in stone with homes that aren’t brand-spanking new:

More room to negotiate on price. An individual home seller who’s unemployed, behind on his mortgage (but not yet in foreclosure) or needs to sell his home to take an out of town work assignment is one of the most motivated sellers there can be.

6 ways to buy imperfect products for less. Talk about happy accidents—the manufacturers screw up, and many consumers are happy to get a discount on the imperfect results. One example is Accidential Wine:

The Web site buys blemished-label wines at steep discounts and passes on the savings to consumers. Accidental Wine boasts savings of up to 40% on wine bottles. Other terms vintners use for bad label wines include “tainted labels” or “damaged labels.” Ask you local wine seller if he has any in stock.

7 little-known credit card perks.
Never tried this one, but it seems like a pretty neat perk:

Get you the lowest price. If you see an item you purchased with a Citi premium card advertised for less within 60 days, Citi will make up the difference, up to $250. Many gold and platinum MasterCards offer similar protection.

7 things to consider before signing up for a loyalty program. Simply put:

If you’re an infrequent customer, just say no.
A lot of businesses will pressure you to become part of their loyalty program on your first purchase by offering a discount. It’s a terrible idea, says Michael Zipursky, co-founder of Vancouver-based Business Consulting Buzz. “It probably isn’t in your best interest,” he adds.

8 big money mistakes. Who hasn’t made some financial move they later regretted? Here are eight submissions for “my biggest money mistake,” including a psychologist who lost loads of cash chasing hot stocks:

“During the tech bubble, I jumped on a high tech stock that was already at a high. Even when the stock plummeted during the tech crash, I hung on for years before I finally got out.”

13 things the funeral director won’t tell you.
As with pretty much everything these days, it pays to shop around—and that includes shopping around for caskets:

You can buy caskets that are just as nice as the ones in my showroom for thousands of dollars less online from Walmart, Costco, or straight from a manufacturer.

15 home decorating ideas for under $5.
This about this the next time you go for a walk on the beach:

Natural Wall Art
Make a statement wall hanging by suspending a piece of driftwood or birch branch from the wall. Screw drywall screws into the wood, wrap picture hanging wire around the screws, and suspend from wall hooks.

20 ways you’re getting ripped off. Some more contenders for America’s Biggest Rip-offs, including paying upwards of $100 for a cap and gown for your grad. Here’s what to do instead:

Buy an imitation of your school’s robes for as little as $15 through sites like GraduationSource.com. And with jobs not exactly easy to find, plenty of fellow alumni on Craigslist and eBay are happy to unload theirs for a few extra bucks.

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