Hope for your financial life and beyond

How Long Do Common Household Items Last?

Did you have an appliance or other household items that need repaired? One biggie that hit our budget early last year was replacing one of our heating and cooling units. We had to upgrade to a new furnace and air conditioning unit for our upstairs. Needless to say that was pretty expensive.

Since moving to our house over a decade ago we’ve purchased these household items:

2 new air conditioning units, 2 new furnaces, a new refrigerator, a new stove, a new dishwasher, a new microwave, a new garbage disposal, a new water heater, a new dryer, 2 new washing machines (bad luck here), 4 new vacuums (we buy cheap ones), 1 new LCD TV, 1 plasma TV, 2 new garage doors (main and basement), 2 new lawnmowers and countless other electronic devices (computers, iDevices, clocks, etc.)

This is the reality of owning a home…all these items will break at some point. When that occurs you will either have to a) do without or b) replace them.

Research on How Long Household Items Last

The issue here is twofold:

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Would You Use Cheap Toilet Paper For a Penny?

Would you save money by buying ultra cheap toilet paper? I had an encounter recently at the grocery store that led me to consider it.

Several weeks ago I’m in the checkout line waiting to pay for my groceries. As I’m loading the items onto the conveyer belt a sweet, older lady steps in line behind me. She had only a few items in her hand to purchase so I immediately felt bad that she would have to wait for me – because I had a fully loaded shopping cart.

cheap toilet paperShe began to comment on the size of my haul to which I’ve come to have a standard reply – “Yeah, it takes a lot when you are shopping to feed six.” But then she began to analyze my purchases. Evidently I’d done really well that week, as she was excited to see fresh fruits and vegetables in my cart and the assortment of buy-one-get-one products I snagged.

Then she asked me if I’d got “the penny item” on sale that day. I had a vague recollection of seeing somewhere along the way that my store promoted a penny item but I’d never paid attention to it. I don’t usually coupon so stuff like that is never on my radar.

So I told her, “No, I missed that” to which she proceeded to tell me that it was a four-pack of toilet paper. Not only that but she would go get me one if I wanted it.

Oh boy…what to do?

Should I Let Her Get the Cheap Toilet Paper?

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99 Simple Action Items to Help You Spend Less and Save More

Have you set any goals yet for 2015? Hopefully so and at least one of those goals was money related. Money is a driving force in our lives and financial goals help us tell our money what to go do with itself.

spend less and save moreDuring the last week of December I always look at the cumulative total of all that I spent during the year. This is really easy to find if you are using some form of money management software. I use Quicken so all I have to do is select a budget report of income verses expenses for the year and Quicken does the rest. In an instant of calculation I can see all my financial details from the year.

Inevitably, as I look through all the spending categories I end up remarking, “Whoa…how did we spend that much on (fill in the blank)?” I’m sure you’ve done that too. It seems our spending has a tendency to get away from us during the course of a 365-day year.

And if spending is getting away from us then so is saving. If we are spending more that means we are saving less. In years past I’ve been discouraged at how little we saved.

To Build Wealth, Spend Less

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5 Budgeting Tips to Save Money for the Holidays

Want to save money shopping this holiday season? Today’s guest post by freelance journalist Ivan Serrano begins our countdown to Christmas with these five budgeting tips.

With Thanksgiving only a week away, Americans are already shopping for the holidays.

budgeting tipsAccording to the 2014 Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey (.pdf), the average American is expected to spend $718 on holiday gifts alone. In addition, one-fourth of Americans plan to spend more on holiday shopping this year than they did in 2013.

While many Americans are planning to spend more during the upcoming holiday season, consumers are still looking for ways to save. Ninety-six percent of Americans believe discounts will be important for their purchasing decisions this year according to Accenture.

As you plan for the upcoming season, here are five tips to help you budget money for the holidays:

Set a short term savings goal for the holidays

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My 6-Yr. Old Has Earned 100 Dollars and We Are Opening a Savings Account

This past Saturday my 6-yr. old son and I made a trip to our local bank. This trip wasn’t for me though. He was there to open his very first savings account.

savings jar with $100 bills His first deposit was for $103, a very cool amount of money for a six year old to already have. The best part about this money though is that it was earned. All of it came from commissions he has earned from doing work around the house.

My wife and I don’t give our kids allowances for reasons that I’ve shared before. We believe in giving commissions. We developed a chore sheet with assigned tasks for each child based on their age.

Our kids do the assigned work they’ve been given each week and they get paid for that. Don’t complete the work and they don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that. I think that accurately reflects what will take place in a real world work environment.

Teaching Kids About Savings and the Bank

We start our kids out with doing paid chores at age five. So for one year and a few months now Doot-Doot (our 6-yr. old) has been doing five chores per week for which he gets paid five dollars. Two dollars goes into his savings jar, two goes into spending and one dollar goes towards giving.

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The Best and Worst Places to Save Money in the Budget When Getting Out of Debt

Lets assume that you’ve finally decided getting out of debt is a priority and are looking to save money in the monthly budget by cutting expenses. Where do you start?

getting out of debt

The Headache Factor Equation will help you determine which spending categories to cut first.

Not all categories are created equal. In some you can find money savings quickly. Others are going to take a little more time and effort. Some budget cuts will be easy to endure while others might lead to some family frustration at the lack of spending for that category.

In order to better identify the best places to save money in the monthly budget I’ve created the “Headache Factor Equation.” This formula takes into consideration three factors that are each scored on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being positive and 5 being negative. The lower the total cumulative score of the three factors the better when determining where to start saving money first.

The three parts of the equation are:

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Saving Money Throughout College

Enjoy this guest post today from my blogging friend Glen at www.howtosavemoney.guru.

glasses and highlighter resting on bookAs Brian has been talking all things college lately, I thought I would chime in with my own take on how college students can save money.

Avoid borrowing more money than you need

When I was first told that people in the US borrow money to go and live on campus (essentially borrowing to pay rent), I actually couldn’t believe it. Not only that, but my friend (who is from the US) told me that it is common place for students to do this.

I live in Australia, and while there certainly isn’t as many colleges to choose from as there are in the USA, the idea of getting a loan to pay for accommodation close to college just wasn’t an option.

Instead, I decided that I would attend a local college and utilize the public transport system to get to and from my classes. I had to plan my journey to fit within the transport timetable, but I also saved so much money.

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4 Sneaky Ways to Save More Money and a Giveaway!

Enjoy this guest post (and giveaway!) by Brent from VOSA. Brent’s a world record holder, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, world traveler & eternal optimist. You can read more of his writing about personal finance, entrepreneurship and travel at VOSA.com.

shoes and tv

Do your personal finance habits have you lost?

Left sock, right sock. Left shoe, right shoe. Right shoelace, left shoelace.

That’s the routine I’ve followed when putting on my shoes for as long as I can remember.

It’s so engrained into my mental and muscle memory I literally have a hard time doing it any other way even when I try.

Now I’m sure there are some behavioral psychologist reading this saying “claaaasssiiic O.C.D.”.

O.C.D. or not, habits like this rule our lives more than we know it.

Just think about how you put on your shoes, or the first three things you do every morning when you wake up, or how you respond when someone ask you “how are you?”

Chances are, that you too, have some standard routines that you weren’t aware about until just now.

Don’t get me wrong, habits are a great thing. They allow us to save mental capacity for when we have to make bigger and more important decisions than which sock and shoe I should put on first or weather you should brush your teeth before or after your shower in the morning.

Studies have proven that willpower is a finite element that you can exhaust over the course of a day.

This is why you’re more likely to eat that piece of cheesecake at 11 PM after a long and stressful day compared to 9 AM when you’re putting out fires and savings lives at your day job.

How Habits Form

Knowing how habits can govern your actions can help you financially. In this post I’m going to focus on four different sneaky ways to use habits to save more money.

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The Hidden Costs of College: How to Manage the Incidentals

costs of collegeMy alma mater, Cedarville University in Ohio, has a favorite destination that attracts students each and every day while school is in session – Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs. It’s definitely one of the hidden costs of college because I had no idea how much time I would spend there. It seemed like once a week someone in my dorm would yell, “Hey, we are making a Young’s run. Who’s coming?”

Boy, that was always tempting. Seemed like it always came at the right time too. You know…at 9 o’clock at night when your punching out that term paper and your stomach is rumbling. What college student could resist a grilled cheese, fries and milkshake in that moment?

Defining Hidden Costs of College

Those late night snack runs are one example of the hidden costs of college. They are hidden because we miss factoring them into the overall expense of college. Students and parents focus on the big college numbers that are causing so much trouble: tuition, fees, room and board and forget there are a bunch of little incidentals that, when taken cumulatively, add up to big dollars.

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Back to School Savings I Don’t Care About

Back to school shopping at TargetI don’t know the schedule in your neck of the woods but in five short days my kids go back to school. Oddly enough, for the most part they are looking forward to it. In a way so am I as it will mark the first time that I will be home alone as a stay at home dad. It’s going to be eerily quiet around the house but I’m anticipating that will benefit my writing.

Of course back to school means shopping. Ugh! That dreaded time when you realize the kids have grown two inches over the summer and the school pants that fit in May are now riding up their shins. And of course, the mile long supply list the school sent with all it’s specialty items has your mind spinning. What in the world is “Mod Podge” and where can I buy it?

Helping Consumers Save on Back to School

Some retail stores do a great job this time of year revamping and organizing their floor space to make it easier on the back to school shopper. Our two destinations – Target and Office Depot – had school specific zones where we could easily shop and pick up our items. And naturally they got the word out through advertisements on how we could save on back to school items at their store. Amazon does a great job of this as well, offering specials discounts on school items and free shipping for college students if you purchase items on their site.

Local and state governments also get involved to help consumers save a little bit of money during the back to school season.

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Guess Which Age Group Is Starting To Save?

Young woman with broken down car

Will you have enough saved if this emergency happens?

You may have seen this article last week in the Wall Street Journal that detailed the current status of Americans and their emergency savings. I probably don’t have to describe to you the article’s tone. Your intuition tells you it was filled with negative statistics.

The study from Bankrate.com showed that:

26% of Americans have no emergency savings…

66% of Americans don’t have the recommended six months of expenses saved…

Those with enough saved to cover expenses for three months shrank to 40% in 2014, compared to 45% in 2013 and…

Only 46% of those earning $75,000 or above have six months of expenses saved.

That last one is especially disturbing. $75,000 is a fine yearly income. That equates to 300k earned in 4 years time, assuming no raises or bonuses. Throw a tax refund or two in there and you are telling me 54% of the people in this situation can’t save six months of expenses in four years? That’s fascinating.

Of particular note, guess who the most likely savers are turning out to be according to the study?

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