Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Get Thee to The Consumerist!

If you don't already read it, pop right on over the The Consumerist! This site is a gem. Yes, it's part of a group of corporately owned sites, blah blah blah. Corporate customer service management reads it. It's taken seriously. And if you are being screwed by a company, check The Consumerist. Someone else may also be in the process of being screwed.

You'll find tips for how to get out of your crappy cell phone contract, tricks to reach a real person on a phone tree, and the private phone and email addresses for corporate head honchos.

The Consumerist!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How to Save Money: Stay Home!

So, my kids have been sick this weekend. Lots of puke, yup. Not much fun for anyone. But, due to staying home, I've saved a lot of money! I did have to spend a couple of dollars to pick up some saltines at the market...

Here's hoping your weekend was just as frugal, but for more pleasant reasons!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Frugal Lunch & Road Trip?

I love this post by Clever Dude on how he makes his super-frugal lunch. Check it out!

This coming week is mid-winter break so the kids are out of school. I'm thinking about a road trip...the question is, how many miles am I willing to drive in a day and how many will the children tolerate? Flying with four frankly costs too much for my wallet right now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Using an External Aid: Lent

I'm not aiming to talk about religion here, so just hang in there! Last Wednesday was the first day of Lent. Lent is the 40 days (Sundays aren't counted) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Go to Wikipedia to learn more if you're so inclined.

Anyway, one of the things those who celebrate Lent do is to set an intention, something we'll either add to or subtract from our lives in order to move closer to the spirit/God/whatever you call it!

This year, I've chosen to stay out of the thrift stores and out of Target. I was finding too much there to tempt me and ruin my budget.

A Lenten intention can help set or re-set a habit. If you're aiming to stop smoking, for example, doing it during Lent can really help. Because millions of people all over the world are pulling for you, as they work on themselves and their own Lenten intentions.

Anyway, back to pure Personal Finance!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blogs to Look Out For

Here are a few blogs I've enjoyed recently.
  • Cutting Back--biting musings on life with an anti-shopping agenda

  • Waiter Rant--if you've never worked customer service, you haven't yet lived through hell. Waiter has a great sense of humour and a light touch with the sarcasm. Bon Appetit!

  • The Consumerist--The place to go if you've been wronged by someone who took or wants your $$.

  • Cocktail Doll--a must read for anyone going to Las Vegas hoping to score some comp cocktails. No, gambling may not be frugal, but heck, ya gotta have some fun once in a while.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Tracking the Spending: Focus on Food

Last month, I kept track of our food spending. Grocery store, warehouse, dining out, coffee, all of it noted down. Turned out for the month we spent just about $500. We didn't eat out much at all, a few lunches, snacks and coffees. No major dinners, no ordering in.

So far this month, we've spent about $125 (I've been rounding to the nearest dollar). That includes one small warehouse trip, a few lunches out and a produce delivery. I was hoping to keep it to $400 for this month, and that's more than the first week's amount should be.

Curious about the produce delivery? I decided to try getting a bin of produce every other week, both for health reasons and to keep myself out of the grocery store. The fewer reasons I have to browse the less I'll spend. We'll see if it ends up saving money. It has already enhanced our diet: last night's dinner? Roasted butternut squash with a lacinto kale-chicken-bacon-sage saute. Delicious! The day before? Shrimp with baby bok choy and broccoli in white wine sauce with brown rice. The shrimp were frozen, from Costco, purchased in December and still tasty!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Today's contests could bring us closer to decisions on presidential candidates. The real answers won't come until January though, when the new president is sworn in and the agony begins. How to end the Iraq conflict (is it a war if Congress didn't actually declare war?), how to fix the mortgage crisis, the health care crisis, and the coming employment crisis. Fun fun fun.

I'm for a balanced budget. I'm for assisting other nations in crisis, but against getting involved in their internal affairs (so long as they're not invading us). I'm all for universal health care, but not provided by HMOs. I'm against a generic mortgage bailout, but all for increasing standards in the mortgage industry.

Which candidate do I support? It's tough. There are some strong, determined, people on the campaign trail this year.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Reducing Clutter: Junk Mail

Part of keeping your financial house in order involves keeping track of your mail. Unless you've switched entirely to estatements, you'll need to watch what comes into the mailbox.

And guess what gets in the way? That's right, junk mail! Today's tip? How to get rid of those pesky ValPak coupon packets.

Sure, they sometimes have a good pizza coupon. But, really, how often do you actually use them? I sometimes spend a few minutes browsing the coupons and magnet them to the fridge only to remove them months later, expired and unused.

Go here and follow the instructions. Note that it's best to have a recent ValPak so you get the codes off of the address label. Mine came in yesterday's mail and I deliberately saved it and set it next to the computer so I could get off the list before recycling it.

Have fun!