budgets

Clothes PegI belong to a military spouse club here in Camp Lejeune, and every so often they email you helpful news letters.. this week I got one about different ways to save money around the house. In these hard times we all know a little extra money goes a long way. Matt and I use most of these tips at home and some of them take a little extra effort but they are worth every penny.

Laundry- If you use an electric or gas dryer for your laundry, consider hanging them up outside or purchase an in home clothes hanger. ( Personally, Matt and I bought two, and they are 9.99 plus tax at Wal-Mart. They have paid for themselves. And, the great thing about them is, you can set your clothes outside to dry or if you have a rainy day they work just as good indoors. We cut our electric bill by almost 15 percent, thats almost 40 bucks extra a month. . yes, electricity is that expensive here.. )

Check your house for air leaks. Fixing them can cut cost on your heating/cooling bill BIG time! We live about 12 minutes away from the beach, and it is already 80 degrees average a day here. We had some missing insulation pieces from under our back door. We spent 2 dollars in supplies to fix it and now our AC doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down the house…

Woman with Shopping BagsThe economy may be looking up as of late, but that’s not necessarily good news for everyone. Or for shoppers, at least. That’s because many of the “recession discounts” and super sales that have been going on at stores across the country will most likely become a thing of the past once stocks go up and consumers return to their usual ways.

So what goods and services should you start buying now before the bargains dry up? Forbes has a rundown:

Real Estate: The combination of falling interest rates, discounted foreclosure properties, government incentives, and bottoming home prices is making this a great time to buy. Not that this news is especially shocking to you, we’re assuming …

couple-learning-150Sometimes the stock market increases 15% year over year. Sometimes we bump up interest rates because growth and inflation and moving too quickly. And sometimes ordinary people buy unaffordable houses with strange loan products because the home is guaranteed to double in value (in a short, short time). That sometime is not today. While the country’s fiscal vitality is showing signs of a perk up (except for a certain symbolic flagship auto manufacturer, that is), us ordinary Toms are having a tough go of it.

Rather than cry in our Mad Dog 20/20, we can make our own fun. We don’t have to drop ducats on theater tickets, surf-and-turf specials, trips to St. Bartholomew’s or season passes to Six Flags to have a great time on a date. You can get creative and do something much better. This time around, learn a language together…

piggy-bankOur friends at Wisebread, the funnest frugal living site we know, posted this little contest earlier this week to find out what kinds of spending trade-offs the recession had inspired. (On Recessionwire, we call these dilemmas “Recession Concessions.”)

Wisebread asked readers to fill in the blanks: “I used to _____, but now I ____ to save money.” A handful of the 144 responses are below. Read them all here.

“I used to leave my electronics running on power supply, now I charge them in the office and run them on batteries to save money.”

“I used to spend money on gas getting to and from work. But now that my company has gone belly up and I’m unemployed, I’m staying at home and saving all that gas money!”

“I used to have no idea where my money went every month but now I write down *every* expense.”…

The worst of company reductions might be over, said the New York Times the other day—but only because there’s nothing left to slash. Obviously the firms surveyed aren’t being creative enough. You can always eliminate punctuation, which takes up costly time, ink, and pixels. (We use lots of it, so we know how expensive it can get.)

house-of-money-dollars-coins-150The recession’s not over yet, folks. Jobs continue to be lost, money is still tight. So why are you still paying the same rent, mortgage, or storage fees?

One upside to the crisis is that cutting those costs may be easier than ever. In many parts of the country, landlords are willing to negotiate on rent. New federal policies have made it easier to refinance home loans. Here are seven ways to pay less—and most are even sacrifice-free…

credit card and moneyIt can’t be said enough that debt settlement companies are a poor option if you’re strapped with overwhelming credit card debt. From the New York Times Saturday:

When you sign up, many firms require you to pay a sizable fee upfront. Or they may levy initial set-up and monthly fees, and charge a percentage of the amount they saved you. They typically advise you to stop paying your debts and tell you to put aside money each month in a separate account over a period of two or three years. That sum will eventually be used to negotiate a settlement, usually about 60 percent of what you owe. In the meantime, though, credit card companies continue to charge interest and late fees. The creditor may sue. And the phone will probably continue to ring incessantly. The companies can offer no guarantees — except that your credit score will drop.

hangers-150The dilemma: It’s spring, and you’re dying for the new look blossoming in fashion magazines and store windows—but you have very little money these days to buy anything.

This year, I had particular need for a wardrobe refresh. With my new book coming out (In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood), I was going to be touring the country giving readings. But since I work from home, my uniform generally consists of jeans, a T-shirt, and a comfortable pair of clogs. And like most people, my bank account is screaming extreme frugality much more than extreme luxury.

But transforming your look doesn’t have to mean spending an exorbitant amount—it just means getting creative. I called Samantha von Sperling, director of Polished Social Image Consultants in New York, for a little help. Von Sperling has produced style identities for celebrities, royalty, business executives and regular Joes…

after_office-150No matter how small your home office space, there’s room to be organized. Take it from me, a woman whose office is about three feet square.

I’ve already explained how Kacy Paide, founder of The Inspired Office in Washington, D.C., helped me designate and arrange an area in my den. But the next hurdle is building an infrastructure to keep it organized. Many of her go-to solutions are so inexpensive, even the unemployed can afford them…

money-pile-dollars-150Every year, Fidelity Investments polls about 1,000 people who are “millionaires.” This year, almost half of them said they don’t feel very rich at all.

According to Fidelity’s report out today, the millionaires saw an average drop in household income of 19 percent and real estate value fell 28 percent. Still, they reported an average of $3.5 million in investible assets and $306,000 in annual household income.

These people are very nervous about their wealth status…