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I don't know about you, but everyone I know seems to be in desperate need of some good solid financial advice and/or budgeting/spending tips.<br><br><br><br>
I thought we should maybe pool our resources here and share some good tips for financial success! Maybe we can even take suggestions for a Top 10 Tips list.<br><br><br><br>
I'm a po' student, so I'd appreciate anything you got.<br><br><br><br><br><br>
Any Canadians ever read 'The Wealthy Barber'? I really want to start following that program... I dunno if I can though. With the new car on the way (like a baby, lol!) I'm doing my new budget today.<br><br><br><br>
Share! Share! Share!
 

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For washing dishes, I use a huge spray bottle with just a little dishwashing soap and a lot of water. The spray evenly coats the dishes with soap instead of all of the concentrated soap being stuck in the sponge.<br><br>
I do this with shampoo, too. I realised I wasted a lot of shampoo, putting too much on certain areas, or it dripping out of my hands. Now I just spray right up to my scalp. None is lost. Goes a lot further.
 

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That's a cool idea, Thalia. I actually do something a little similar with my hair gel. In the winter, I only wash my hair every other day, so on those "off" days, I mist my hair with a solution of tap water and my hair gel. This works great for my hair type because it bounces the natural curl back into it and makes my hair look freshly washed...<br><br><br><br>
Anyhow, as far as budgeting, the key is to live within your means! Don't overextend yourself financially by committing to unneeded bills. So many people have that gimme-gimme syndrome where they seem unable to practice any sort of fiscal restraint. It's tough to say no to yourself sometimes, but it's tons less stressful than being totally strapped for money.<br><br><br><br>
One of the first things I did was to create a little <b>bill ledger</b> with an entry for each month. Each entry listed my bills and their amounts alongside my income for that month. Keeping organized keeps you on top of how much extra cash you have to spend and prevents you from forgetting to pay something and you having already spent all of your money on something else...<br><br><br><br>
With groceries, buy bulk! Instead of convenience items, take the time to buy whole ingredients, which in the long run can make more dishes for your money as well as make MORE servings-wise of the dish. And buying local seasonal produce (like at your local farmers' market) is much cheaper!<br><br><br><br>
Don't leave your lights on. Make sure to turn off the light when you leave the room.<br><br><br><br>
Re-wear clothing that's not totally soiled. I wear my jeans probably 10-15 times between each washing as long as they're reasonably clean. This saves the extra gallons of water you use in your washing machine, or if you go to a laundromat, saves on the number of loads you have to wash.<br><br><br><br>
Reuse, reuse, reuse everything you reasonably can. We even wash and reuse all of our ziplock baggies. We even have a little rack we bought from Gaiam expressly for drying reused baggies. Instead of buying plastic containers or tupperware, reuse your margerine tub.<br><br><br><br>
Sometimes when I'm shopping, I'll ask myself "Do I <i>need</i> this or do I just <i>want</i> this?" There's a big difference between the two. If I can't decide, I'll put it back and take a walk around the store (grocery or retail or whatever) and if I've gotten preoccupied and have forgotten about it, chances are I didn't need it at all. So many people buy things they only use once or just because they feel like buying them, instead of if they truly need it. You'll notice how quickly you'll pare down your excess spending on silly stuff (though silly stuff every now and then shouldn't be a problem) when you practice a bit of self-restraint.<br><br><br><br>
I've never owned a credit card. If it's possible to avoid getting one, do it. I mean, it definitely has worked for me. Anything I need to order online or make reservations for, I simply use my debit card which has a Visa mechanism on it. I watched one of my friends in college go over $10,000 in credit card debt.<br><br><br><br>
Go to the library instead of buying books and magazines.<br><br><br><br>
Go to matinee movies or rent movies.<br><br><br><br>
Buy used stuff and fix it up instead of brand new stuff. Old stuff has awesome character anyhow, especially furniture.<br><br><br><br>
Go to free plays and free art exhibits in your town.<br><br><br><br>
When you eat out, split a main entree with your guest and maybe get an appetizer. Nick and I do that all the time and it easily knocks $10-$12 off the bill.
 

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For financial planning, the best one-volume book I know of is Jane Bryant Quinn's <b>Making the Most of Your Money</b> (various editions). She has actually researched the subjects she covers.<br><br><br><br>
The problem with many of the "folksy" books on financial planning is that often they are not based on research but on guesses about what will appeal to people's prejudices, hopes or fears.<br><br>
They make money for their authors by selling well, but may not be the best thing for their readers to profit by.<br><br><br><br>
For more "practical" hints, <b>The Tightwad's Gazette</b> by Amy Dacsyzsn (sp?) is a good source.
 

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I also re-use plastic baggies, and I try to re-wear clothing as much as I can, to save on laundry expenses. When I do wash clothing, I use cold water only, and I hang things up to dry, rather than using the dryer. My apartment looks pretty silly with clothing draped over every available surface, but it works. ^^;; I re-use margarine tubs, too.<br><br><br><br>
This might not work for you up in Canada, but where I live, our winters are mild enough that I can get away with not using my heater at all. I have to put a couple of extra blankets on the bed and sleep in something warm, but it's worth it to see the reduction in my electric bill. Even turning your thermostat down a few degrees can help, though, I believe.<br><br><br><br>
I have the bare minimum of features on my phone...no call waiting, no voicemail, etc. I evaluated the cost of cable vs. a dish, and I went with a dish because it's cheaper. I pay my bills online, to save on postage. I even gave up DSL to save money...that hurt. ;-; I think I might get it again in June, though, when I'll be able to cut out some other expenses. We'll see.<br><br><br><br>
I try to wait 'til movies are out in the dollar theatre before I go see them, with a few exceptions. I wait to rent movies until they are off the New Release wall.<br><br><br><br>
I'm not as frugal as I could be, but I do try. I think that once my work schedule improves, and I'm able to spend more time with cooking, I can save money by avoiding the purchase of convenience foods.
 

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C and I map out our budget out at least 6 months in advance. It is detailed to the point it includes every expense, all income, and variable expenses. We keep $2,000 in an emergency repair fund to offset any major expense or fixing that catches us off guard. We sit down at least once per week to go over, make adjustments/fine tuning, and brainstorm future planning, like increasing contributions to 529 for G's college, insurance levels, vacation planning, etc. We weren't very good at this when we first started, but we take it seriously and its really helped us to manage our money. We had a lot of credit cards when we first got married too. We got all that paid off over the last few years and we've only kept one credit card for emergencies, booking travel reservations, etc. If we make a charge, we pay it off. We learned early on that intrerest will eat you alive. Also, I'm a survey ho and man I've had a terrific week. $150 this week on a couple IT ones on instant messaging. My wife gets all giddy when these little exta checks come and we use this money to splurge a bit...for example, I get a $20 check in the mail....I slip her the tongue and say hey baby, I know you wanna get your nails dunn, so here ya go...likewise, when baseball season comes up, she'll cash one of these checks and say hey guys have fun at the ball game. All while, it's not affecting our budget. So far it's working good and it helps keep your marriage in check as well.<br><br><br><br>
All I can say is work hard at it, don't get discouraged, keep working hard at it, if you go off the beaten trail get right back on the pony.
 

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Cyndi is really into sewing now too, that saves us a lot off clothes. I dump her off at the material store and I tell ya she can turn that stuff into some neat threads. She's made about half of the clothes we'll be taking for vacation this year.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Those are some great tips.<br><br><br><br>
Well, I've jsut sat down and looked at me budget. I have been a bit panicked lately thinking about how I'm going to clear my consumer debt, but I find that on paper it looks easier to manage.<br><br><br><br>
I really liked the 'Wealthy Barber' book- it has some great basic tips that apply to everyone. One of them is to start young squirreling away 10% of your income on a monthly basis. That's been hard for me for this past while due to other consumer debts to pay.<br><br><br><br>
So rather than getting panicky, I've decided to go with tip #2- get rid of all your consumer debt first! I always forget that that IS an investment strategy- as I can't move forwards until I stop moving backwards first!<br><br><br><br>
SO:<br><br><br><br>
a) I'm planning to put a little notebook in my purse tonight, so I can track ALL of my spending from now on. I find too much $$ goes to "I-don't-know-where", and I-don't-know-how, before I ever see the benefit of it. I take out a $20 and whoops! It's suddenly gone...<br><br><br><br>
WELL NO MORE!<br><br><br><br>
b) I've calculated all the money I owe over town (lol) and I'm going to clear it all, through garage sale, etc, by summer. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
c) THEN, I'll start investing by fall.
 

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budgeting is something I really need to think about right now w/all the layoffs that are happening in the area of education (& many other areas, too).
 

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I use a credit card that gives me vouchers every three months or so (sainsbury's) and I pay it off in full each month - that's worth about £40 a year in food.<br><br>
I bulk buy when things are on special offer - like toilet rolls are half price this week, I store them under the bed or somewhere and try to never buy them at the proper price.<br><br>
Don't drive too fast or do racing starts- it wastes fuel in the car.<br><br>
I get many of my clothes in Charity shops. I don't want to look like 6 million other women anyway.<br><br>
I cut my own hair. I've never even dreamt of having a manicure!<br><br>
We seldom eat out, though I get occasional research work that pays me to take someone out for a meal, or to the cinema and refunds the expenses.
 

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a thing that has really helped us keep our food costs low is doing a weekly or bi-weekly meal plan. i sit down for about 20 minutes and plan out our meals for the next week to two weeks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks (and i'll bake a dessert or two during the week sometimes, too). then i make a detailed list of the things i'll need to make those meals and off i go to the store. i find that when we don't meal plan and i end up heading to the store every day or every couple of days i will buy a lot of wasteful, needless stuff and spend a lot of extra money. likewise with my husband, but i rarely let him do the shopping anyway, because he is a <i>terrible</i> impulse shopper.
 

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Oh man... There aren't many things I would consider myself good at, but in the past year, with my return to college, I've learned a lot about budgeting. Where I used to have a comfortable $2000/month in expendable income (after bills) I now live off of $30/week plus a lincoln or two my dad throws me.<br><br><br><br>
So in addition to the many great recommendations so far, here's what I've learned...<br><br><br><br>
Write it all down. What you spend, to the dime, should be accounted for so you can look back over a couple of weeks and see what superfluous spending you do (and thus can eliminate/replace). A program like MS Money is excellent for tracking & budgeting. It's not <i>necessarily</i> free, though.<br><br><br><br>
Food planning is a great benefit. For the students among us who end up stuck on campus at meal times ($$$$$) plan some good (cheap) portable foods.<br><br><br><br>
NEVER go grocery shopping when you're hungry or stoned. Seriously, you'll spend so much less if you go after you just paid bills and ate 2 packs of ramen.<br><br><br><br>
You don't eat ramen? You MUST eat ramen. It's always on sale for 10/$1.00 somewhere. Buy 30.<br><br><br><br>
Milk with that cereal? Try water...<br><br><br><br>
I agree that credits aren't a good idea. I have 3 that are all max'ed out (pun? can't afford a pun). You gotta do whatchya gotta do.<br><br><br><br>
I have always had to buy 4 or five items of clothing every month. Difference between then and now? Then: New York, Jack Spade, and Nordstroms. Now: Cowtown, Salvation Army, and Nordstroms (Hey, they have a great bi-annual sale. Shuttup.)<br><br><br><br>
The problem with "I'll start investing by fall..." is that, in my experience, it really means "I'll formulate a new way to prostinate investing by fall..."<br><br><br><br>
My "top 10 list" recomendation, above all else, to save money... <b>Mooch.</b>
 

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Oh, one more thing: A cut from Esquire Magazine about money:<br><br><br><br>
Amount of time it will take to pay off a $2,500 balance on a credit card with 19% interest if you manke only the minumum payments: Forty-one years.<br><br><br><br>
Amount you will have paid your credit card company at the end of those forty-one years: $10,598.
 

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Max, if you don't mind my asking, did you quit your job to go back to college? (It seems so, but I didn't want to assume.) Were you able to get any scholarships or financial aid?<br><br><br><br>
My reason for asking is that I'm planning to go back to college, and I was curious about how you'd done it.<br><br><br><br>
Thanks.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by ceryna</i><br><br><b>Max, if you don't mind my asking, did you quit your job to go back to college?</b></div>
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The abridged version of the epic saga goes something like this: I was working full time and going to school part time for 2 semesters and then over the Summer I had to decide whether to quit and go full time or stay on and continue full time. I had (have) plans for grad-work, too, so didn't want to be too long in the undergrad studies. Turns out that I was laid off just a few weeks before I was to turn in my notice, so I got unemployment benefits, etc. which was nice. Then I enrolled full time as planned.<br><br><br><br>
I didn't get any financial aid for the part time year, and didn't qualify for any for the first full time year based on my high earnings the year before. As I had planned to return full time, I saved <i>some</i> money and that lasted for a while, as I stuck with a somewhat stringent budget. I have applied for aid for the sumer/fall semesters and then I will graduate.<br><br><br><br>
My general recommendations for returning to school <i>full time</i> (part time is a no-brainer) is to start a skint-budget lifestyle early, save as much before returning, and keep your credit clean so that if you need/want to, you can get private educational loans (<a href="http://www.finaid.org" target="_blank">www.finaid.org</a> --> THE source). Also, get used to ramen <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Max Power</i><br><br><b>Milk with that cereal? Try water...</b></div>
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<br><br><br>
Or collect dry, non-dairy creamers from diners and restaurants, then mix those with water. Instant "milk"! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"><br><br><br><br>
And there's always ketchup and water for tomato soup, or you could even mix in your "milk" for a creamier consistancy.
 

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BWJ, I'm embarassed I forgot the "condiment clause" !! Every time I go to Wawa I get a handful of each condiment, and I have big hands.<br><br><br><br>
Real conversation:<br><br><br><br>
Sir, do you really need all of those condiments with your coffee?<br><br>
Of course I do. Why else would I take them but for <i>this</i> cup of coffee?<br><br>
Sir, do you really take coffee with ketchup and salt?<br><br>
Are you hitting on me?
 

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I try to drive as little as possible, shop sales, cancel catalogs, buy in bulk, figure out the cost of specific dinners and cook the cheap ones a lot, we rarely eat out, rarely go to theaters.<br><br><br><br>
Look at your savings often - let yourself feel good about seeing it grow. (Or watch your debt shrink)<br><br><br><br>
Look through your t.v. guide and use your vcr to tape movies to watch later.<br><br><br><br>
Don't ever have 5 children. :)
 

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another one:<br><br><br><br>
just about ANYTHING can be cleaned thoroughly and completely with just distilled white vinegar and baking soda. you can save hundreds of dollars a year by not buying fancy cleaning products.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Kreeli</i><br><br><b>just about ANYTHING can be cleaned thoroughly and completely with just distilled white vinegar and baking soda.</b></div>
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Including my consciense...
 
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