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Hello and welcome to DrFrugal.com. If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to find information online that has anything to do with money, you know most sites are worthless because they're trying to pawn something. Not here--there's nothing to buy. I've tried my best to only include pragmatic, realistic informtion to help you lead a simpler life by taking care of your personal finances.
Have you ever seen a slick television commercial or online ad and felt as though you were missing out on something really great, a product or service perhaps· How about that glossy magazine or newspaper ad (yes, they still exist), one that makes you feel like whatever is in print is a must have·
Everyone has answered affirmatively to those questions as far as buying something and not so much wondering why but more about how this product or service was suddenly so important that you ended up spending money that you could have been saving.
The key to spending money is quite simple: save it instead.
That is much easier said than done when you have savvy, sophisticated retailers doing everything in their power to entice you to spend your money, even if you realize that what is being offered really isn't worth it.
Retailers aren't above making you believe that what you want is the same as a need, even though we know inherently that the latter is more about shelter, food, water and transportation just to name a few and that latest and greatest wardrobe or that fine dining restaurant wouldn't fall in that same realm.
Now, that isn't to say that some online promotional codes or coupons aren't without their merit, along with the subsequent action as well in the form of spending. If you're starting a brand new job and need clothes that look the part, you'd be hard pressed not to be interested in free shipping or saving $50 when you spend and buy $125 worth of clothing.
That makes sense because at that very moment those clothes are a need.
What retailers do, however, is with their words and photos create this illusion that you can't live without this product and if you don't buy it soon, for example, you may never see it again or be offered it again at this amazing low price (think infomercials more than anything else).
Restaurants, for instance, will offer discounts on meals but for a "limited time" only, suggesting that buying and spending is a now or never proposition.
Smart consumers realize that those same tactics, while impressive and enticing, are just that: smoke and mirrors mostly. They are just giving you the feeling that you have to own this, that and the other, when in actuality it would be nice but not necessary.
Saving money comes at the expense of not spending when you don't need to, and those sitting on an impressive emergency fund know that they've passed on a few so called big deals to make one with themselves: to save money first and foremost.
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As much as auction sites and second hand shops have changed the way we buy, you can't argue that the word "used" carries with it quite the stigma for some consumers.
They don't view it as it should be: a way to save money by still having the things you want and clamor for but at a reduce cost.
Instead, "used" often refers, for some, to a product or service of a lesser quality, when in actuality nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, those who have learned to save money have also become accustomed to buying used or at least giving that option first thought before they turn to brand new as a result.
The easiest way to save through buying used is with your vehicle. Used cars have such a marked down price that you'd be foolish to go brand new. A $40,000 brand new vehicle even after only a year or two might be half as much as that original sticker price. Used cars also come with competent warranties and any good, honest car salesmen knows that he or she make their commission more so on used than new, anyway.
The only selling point of a new car is that it's, well, new, and advertising and marketing make it hard for you to pass up that shiny, albeit over priced, new car smell and all the bells and whistles that go with it, even though used is nearly as good.
Technology also is a much needed spot where we need to think used versus new. Take a tablet or cell phone for example; when the newer version comes out, last year's model (or even one from a few years ago) drops drastically in price. So it might not run your favorite casino game or you can't update to the latest software, in the case of the tablet for instance, but you can still stream videos, send emails and surf online.
Think about what your needs truly are when it comes to gadgets of that ilk and determine if you really need the absolute newest version. And just because a new model comes out doesn't mean you have to have it.
Finally, if you're still buying clothes brand new, you might want to consider just how much you can save with a few hand me downs or something you'd find in a consignment shop. Granted, they're not off the rack per say but someone with a keen fashion sense on a budget could easily pull off the look they want, minus the heft price tag.
Buying used isn't what it once was. The term no longer means devoid of quality, rather the appearance of a product that is perfectly fine, even if the packaging has already been peeled back.
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Far too often, we opine and barter with ourselves when the topic turns to money, more specifically how to save.
You talk about how much you want to save, the ways to do it and the discussions focuses on anything from creating a budget to trying to get a better job. The one aspect of saving money we shy away from is cutting expenses, mostly because that means we'll have to go without and perhaps take away things we enjoy.
The truth is if money is an issue, and you aren't able to save (and don't see that changing any time soon), the path that will lead to money in hand is quite simply cutting expenses, which again is easier said then done.
Expenses tend to fall into two distinct categories: needs and wants. The needs part is easy to determine. Those are things like food, shelter, transportation, utilities and other things you absolutely must have in order to live. You can't take away food or water or other basic necessities but everything else truly is fair game when you're really trying hard to save. Simply put, nothing is off the table (except for the food).
That table should be yours in your dining room and kitchen when it comes to meals, as restaurant dining is a huge pitfall when it comes to saving money or not being able to do so. The average person spends thousands of dollars each year on restaurant dining, and that is on top of spending money on groceries as well. Why would you spend twice on food, when the grocery store is perfectly fine as the first and only choice. Granted, you still can eat out once and a while but five days of week for lunch and another two or three for dinner is prohibiting your from saving money.
Another expense that can go without much pain (or maybe some) is that ballooned cable bill. Even if you keep your internet service at around 60 or 70 dollars per month, you can go the route of streaming services to supplement your entertainment needs and get away with a bill for under $100, a far cry from the average cable bill, which is double that amount.
For some, knowing how to save money doesn't come easy. The easy part, however, frankly is looking at what you spend your money on and change that immediately. There's no thought involved, other than you thinking about what you're losing. Instead, flip that mindset and know what you're gaining: more money saved.
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Everyone knows just how important summer is since that is the time for vacations, getting away and kids out of school and desperately needing to keep them busy.
All of that equates to the propensity to want to spend money in all the right places, but needing to somehow find a balance between overspending and being able to stick to a budget so that you don't hit Labor Day with a non existent savings account.
Most of know the tricks of the trade as far as how to save money on a hotel, by letting hotels vie for your dollar, or perhaps booking a trip during the week as far as flights are concerned. Sometimes buying a plane ticket and bundling it with the car rental also allows you to have a discount on that package.
But the one that tends to throw parents off more so then planning a trip to the beach or a getaway on a fishing trip is just how to keep kids busy day in and day out, without having to spend money on them.
The easy, and more expensive out, is simply taking them to the movies, taking them to amusement parks or other activities that cost money. What about being able to keep kids entertained without spending the proverbial arm and a leg on eating out a restaurants or running up your cable or data bill with movie rentals and smart phone apps for them to play games·
The trick is finding a happy medium where kids don't realize they're not being indulged and yet still have them walk away having fun and being amused in the process. Often overlooked are low cost, parks and recreation programs that tend to be a summer long set of activities for a reasonable price.
In some cases, free activities abound and parents, for whatever reason, tend to overlook them or not even realize they exist. Sure, they might not be a roller coaster, but a lot of times even a community fare is free, aside from food and games but rides are part of the deal as well.
Parents also can't be afraid to let kids do something that is easy but somewhat revolutionary: let them enjoy the toys and games they have or take advantage of movies or books at your local library.
Granted, you don't want kids sitting inside playing video games but what about that baseball mitt, soccer ball or basketball court you have outside. That can't or shouldn't go unnoticed this summer, nor should the slew of movies and literature available to enjoy for free at most local libraries.
Summer can be a money saving pit, but only if you're not paying closer attention to how to have fun and keep from spending too much in the process.
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Have you ever thought about debt and wondered just how much you owe·
Do you have any idea what your debt even looks like, beyond paying that minimum monthly payment every month and not so much concerning yourself with the grand total·
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you're doing adequately with your debt in that you're paying what you need to but not addressing the proverbial elephant in the room.
Your massive amount of debt.
If you don't know how much debt you have, there's a good chance you're swimming in it. Those who are financially responsible with their debt can tell you exactly what they owe down to the last cent, even if that number is so staggering that it is embarrassing.
There are other tell tale signs that you're in a ton of debt, some more subtle than others, while you get those moments when your debt is so bad and the red flags are overt and bright as can be, that you simply can't look away for a second.
For starters, if you're getting phone calls from your bill collectors that you owe money, you're probably carrying quite a bit of debt. You also want to check your debt to income ratio to see if it's in the ballpark of the 70 and 30 range (the latter number being the percentage of debt you have in relationship to your income). In addition, you're carrying too much debt if your balances owed are put up against the total amount on the card. A $4,900 balance on a $5,000 credit card is bad news, especially if more than one card is like that.
Debt also becomes an issue when worrying about it starts to change how you act in life beyond the checkbook and savings account. If you are having trouble focusing or you worry about debt so much to the point that you can't work or you're productivity is taking a turn for the worse, you can't ignore those signs, either. We often don't think about the stress of debt and if it keeps us up at night and thus changes or attitude, mostly for the worst.
Finally, if you find yourself using credit card or taking out more loans to pay other debts or loans, you're not really getting to the root cause of your issues, and that is ultimately eliminating your debt or simply budgeting better in that regard.
If you aren't really at liberty to take your debt head on, or you're so concerned with it that you ignore it, that's a sign you have too much debt and a major money overhaul needs to happen.
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