11 Life Hacks For Your Wallet
Little things add up, particularly when you’re trying to save a few bucks. Here are some tips and tricks to cut your expenses.
Let’s face it: while basic financial advice is important, it can be repetitive and dull. Diversification? Essential for your investments, but yawn. Automated savings? Sure, but wake me up when I have a fully-funded emergency cushion. Pay off high-interest debts first, you say? Scintillating stuff.
With that in mind, I’ve reached out to some experts to curate a list of 11 more offbeat life hacks that can help your bottom line. These are small adjustments and none will make you rich. But combined, they can save you a pretty penny.
Ask For New Bills – in $50s or $100s
Shrink Your Data To Get More Out Of Your Cell Phone Plan
When Looking For Airfare, Empty Your Browsing History
Alexa von Tobel, founder of Forbes contributor LearnVest and author of “Financially Fearless,” has a simpler airfare-seeking tip. “It’s a basic thing,” she says, “but clear your cache when you’re searching for airfare. They’ll see you’re searching and they’ll raise the prices.” She’s referring to the airlines, and while she couldn’t say exactly how much your browsing history can cost you, this blogger saw a $50 price difference on the exact same day.
Get Gift Cards For A Discount – And Use Them Yourself
Insurance Policies Can Help You BOGO
In other double-teaming news: credit cards often cover rental car insurance, so you don’t have to pay Budget (and others) an extra $7 per day just in case something happens while you’re on the road in your rental. However, don’t automatically turn down rental car insurance at the counter: be sure you’ve read the terms and conditions on your card to be sure it covers what you think it does.
Finally, if you rent your house or apartment, renter’s insurance is a often good idea: if your landlord has insurance on the building, it doesn’t usually extend to your own belongings, and you want to make sure they’re protected against damage or theft. But beyond covering the possessions in your apartment, renter’s insurance can even cover loss of theft that happens outside of your apartment, says Rob Weiss, director of business development for apartment rental site RentHop.com.
“There may be a deductible on that, but if you’re walking in the subway and your laptop gets stolen, if the value [of laptop] exceeds the value of deductible, there’s room to make a claim on the policy,” Weiss says. “The insurance company is counting on you not knowing [that provision] is there.”
Time Your Shopping – For Everything
This trick works just as well for large items as it does for smaller items. RentHop co-founder Lawrence Zhou says that even rent cycles have a cheap season. “Move in the wintertime: the apartment market slows down,” he says, noting that this is a trend in major cities across the country and not just New York City, where this has long been a rumored savings trick. “Prices are anywhere between 10 to 15% cheaper.”
Know How Much Those Amenities Are Hiking Up Your Rent
“Laundry in unit can run $50 to $100 extra per month,” Zhou says, noting this is especially true in New York City but may be less of a hard and fast rule elsewhere. Air conditioning, too, can raise your rent. “It depends on the area – in California, it might add $50 to $100 per month,” Zhou says.
Zhou says it’s also good to be cognizant of where you are in relation to transportation. If you’re willing to walk a little farther (or drive farther), he says the rent can change dramatically. On New York’s Upper East Side, for instance, every block you walk east will save you $100, he says. Likewise, the higher up you’re willing to climb in a building without an elevator, the less you’ll pay.
Make Sure Your Smart Phone Really Is Working For You
After downloading a free app like Dijit or RedEye, “you can just point it at your TV just like you’d set up a universal remote, and it will work with DVRs, satellite and cable boxes,” Hill says.
If you’re really savvy, your phone can even help make you money: apps like Gigwalk, Field Agent and TaskRabbit help connect you to people needing random tasks and errands and are willing to pay to have them done. (Tasks range from on-the-spot consumer surveys to picking up someone’s groceries or dry cleaning, and can net you anywhere from a few dollars per task to $30 for an hour’s worth of work – depending on the task, of course.)
When You’re Through With That Smartphone, Sell It On The Secondary Market
Avoid Vampire Charges
“The EPA estimates these devices—I’m talking cell phones, iPads, game consoles, etc. – they burn through 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in that vampire power,” Jones says. “That translates to $10 billion of wasted energy per year.”
You can stop this drain by investing in a smart power strip, which senses when you’re not using your electronics and will power them down so they’re not draining electricity. Jones estimates that an average smart power strip will set you back $25 to $50 per strip, but it’s worth it: “one will save you $100 per year per strip,” she says.
Another fun tech tool – more for the summer than the winter, but it will work for any appliance – is something called a Modlet. It’s essentially a wifi outlet and allows you to control the plug remotely, which means you can power any appliance up or down from wherever you are. This can be especially useful in the summer, when you want to cool your apartment down with a window air conditioning unit before you come home but don’t want to leave it running all day.
“That really is a great little device, extremely easy to use,” Jones says. “They’re about $50, and they’ll save 6-7% on utility bill over course of year.”
Note The Temperature
Likewise, adjusting the temperature of your water will also save you money.
“You don’t need your hot water at 130 or 135 degrees,” Jones says, explaining that you can test the temperature of your water by using a $3 hot water card. “For every ten degrees you lower it, you’ll save $10 per month. For the cost of an inexpensive latte, you can save about $120 per year.”
How Much These Hacks Save You – On Average – In One Year
• Skipping a $30 pair of shoes because you don’t want to break that $50 bill: $30
Now, it’s worth noting that some of these savings tricks are person- and situation-specific, so you’re not guaranteed to save exactly $3,148.80 if you can’t get on a December lease cycle or can’t get a health insurance plan with a gym membership, or if you don’t need to save money on a rental car or you don’t have an iPhone to sell. But this does, nonetheless, illustrate how even the smallest of cost-cutting tricks can add up and save you a sizable amount of money over time.
|12 Things Successful People Do Differently
I’ve always been fascinated by people who are consistently successful at what they do; especially those who experience repeated success in many areas of their life throughout their lifetime. In entertainment, I think of Clint Eastwood and Oprah Winfrey. In business, I think of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. We all have our own examples of super successful people like these who we admire. But how do they do it?1. They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s briefly review each:
When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
2. They take decisive and immediate action.
3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.
4. They make logical, informed decisions.
5. They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.
6. They work outside of their comfort zone.
7. They keep things simple.
8. They focus on making small, continuous improvements.
9. They measure and track their progress.
10. They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.
11. They spend time with the right people.
12. They maintain balance in their life.
These are just two simple examples of imbalanced lifestyles that are holding people back from their full potential. When you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all your energy is focused in that area, it’s extremely easy to lose your balance. While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress. For some practical guidance on balancing your life, I recommend Zen and the Art of Happiness .
|Tips On Disputing Errors On Your Credit Report
Disputing credit report errors can be complicated and frustratingly slow. But it is also a necessary task for Americans who want to avoid paying more on loans and credit cards for a mistake they did not make.A Federal Trade Commission study released Monday found that one in four consumers surveyed discovered an error in at least one of their credit reports from the three major credit bureaus.Only 5 percent of the consumers found errors severe enough to increase their rates on mortgage, auto loans and other financial products.
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection recommends that consumers take steps to ensure the information on their credit reports is accurate. Most negative information can remain a part of your credit history for seven years.
Here are some tips on how to dispute credit report mistakes and lessen the chance of unwarranted blemishes that stain your credit profile:
— GET YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
The first step is to get a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting firms — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Consumers are entitled to a free report every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus. You can get copies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
It’s important to review your credit history periodically. For one thing, lenders can make errors when they report client accounts to credit bureaus. And if an identity thief opens an account in your name without your knowledge, that can hurt your credit until you discover what’s happened.
— FILE A DISPUTE
If you believe there’s an error in a report, you can submit disputes online at www.equifax.com, www.experian.com, www.transunion.com . You can also submit the dispute by mail or phone, the address or number should be on your credit report.
The FTC’s study found that four out of five consumers who found erroneous information in their credit report and filed a dispute with the credit bureaus had a correction made to at least one of their credit reports.
— BE PATIENT
Once a dispute is received, credit bureaus are required to respond within 30 days. The credit bureau will contact the lender that provided the information that is under dispute. At that point, the lender looks into the matter. If a fix is made, the lender must alert all three credit bureaus of the error.
When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must provide written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This report does not count as your free annual report.
— CONTACT LENDERS
Another option: Reach out to the lender on the account where the error showed up and ask that they update the credit bureaus with correct information.
— CONTACT THE CFPB
Not getting anywhere with the credit bureaus? Try the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency with the authority to write and enforce rules for the credit reporting industry and to monitor the compliance of the three agencies.
The CFPB also accepts complaints from consumers who discover incorrect information on their reports or are have trouble getting mistakes corrected. And consumers can contact the CFPB if they have issues with the improper use of a credit report, problems with credit monitoring and the improper use of a credit report, among other concerns.
The credit reporting agencies have 15 days to respond to the complaints with a plan for fixing the problem; consumers can dispute that response.
The CFPB also takes complaints on credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, consumer loans and private student loans. To file a credit reporting complaint, consumers can do so at www.consumerfinance.gov/Complaint . Or by phone, by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372).
— AVOID CREDIT REPAIR FIRMS
The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers against firms that offer services claiming to improve a person’s credit report for a fee. Such firms can’t do anything that you couldn’t do yourself.
Since credit bureaus are required to check disputed information on a consumer’s credit report within a few weeks, or remove it, a typical tactic of credit repair firms is to spam credit bureaus with such requests in hopes the negative items end up being dropped.
But credit experts say that often those items will show up again the next time the credit card company or other creditor issues an update to the credit bureaus.
|Agents Hate This: Insider Trick Allows Safe Drivers to Slash Rates By 45%
(California) – Are you being scammed by your current insurance agent? New policies are indicating that for years many drivers have been overpaying on their car insurance.When California drivers enter their zip code at Provide-Insurance.com many are shocked at the results they find. Most just cannot believe that the available rates are in fact real, but the truth is rates have dropped significantly over the past 12 months and thanks to new program policies it’s now easy to save up to 45% or more with rates as low as $27/month.Jessica Wagner, the authority on everything related to insurance, set out to do some research and determine whether these types of services live up to their reputations. After several weeks Jessica was able to report back on her findings, with her most exciting of which being that she is now going to save $296.28 on her own insurance premiums over the next year, and there are many other people who have done the same and better.
Does this mean Jessica was being scammed by her former insurance agent? She would not say one way or the other, but the truth is most agents are paid on commission which means the higher your insurance premiums, the more money your agent makes. You can be sure, however, that your insurance company is not going to call you up to offer you a discount.
Based on these findings it is evident that the only way to get the discounted rates you deserve is to take matters into your own hands. Smart consumers already know this, and as a result, are now choosing to use online tools to receive unbiased insurance quotes fast and hassle free.
With average savings of up to 45% or more, these online services are gaining massive popularity. According to ComScore’s 2012 U.S. Online Auto Insurance Shopping Report, “nearly 70 percent of shoppers reported getting an online quote“. The report also found that “the online channel remains the preferred channel for customers shopping for auto insurance policies“. Research has found Provide-Insurance™ to be one of the most trusted, secure and effective free online services that provide drivers with lower insurance rates. Congratulations to Provide-Insurance.com for offering a wonderful service and for making a honest effort to help drivers all over America save money. If you too would like to receive the benefits of using this free service you can click here. Then just enter your zip code and click continue to gain access to the systems no obligation quotes. Once you go through a few questions, you will have the opportunity to click on the best carrier quotes available in your area.
|7 Habits of Highly Frugal People
The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies since it was first published in 1989, teaching people all over the world how to live a happier, more successful and more satisfying life. One of the prevailing themes of the book is the fact that to change your life you need to change your attitude because no one else is responsible for what happens to you but you, so you can either complain about the things you don’t like in your life or you can set about changing them. Not surprisingly, this directly relates to the state of your finances. This post is a parody to the concepts presented in the book.If you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, of having your phone regularly cut off or having to make excuses to skip dinners with your friends if the money has run out before the end of the month then you can use the seven habits of highly effective people to take control of your money situation and live a more frugal lifestyle, and a happier one.
Habit One: Be Proactive
The first habit of highly effective people is to take responsibility for their own lives; if they fail, they have no one to blame but themselves. Regardless of how you were raised or how you were treated at school you are able to choose your behavior now. Being proactive means understanding that you are in control of the direction your life takes and in control of your day to day interactions. Whereas a reactive person is often affected by their environment and will find external sources to blame for their behavior, for example if the weather is good they are in a good mood but if the weather is bad it affects their attitude and so the weather is to blame for their bad mood.
However what most people forget is that between the stimulus and your response is your freedom to choose your response, and one of the most important things you choose are your words. The language you use is an effective indication of how you see yourself and if you use proactive language such as ‘I can’ or ‘I will’ you are starting with a more positive attitude than a reactive person who uses language like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I have to’ or ‘if only…’
How to be proactive for effective frugality:
Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind
Those who are effective in achieving their goals are able to envisage their end result despite the obstacles. Highly effective people adhere to this habit based on the principle that all things are created twice, there is the first mental creation and then the second physical creation, and the physical creation follows the mental creation in the same way as the building follows its blueprints.
If you don’t visualize what you want out of life then you are at risk of other people and external circumstances influencing your life because you are not influencing it yourself. Instead begin every day and every task with a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there and make that vision a reality with your proactive skills from habit one.
How to visualize effective frugality:
Make sure your goals are SMART! Here’s what I mean by that.
Habit Three: Put First Things First
Knowing why you are doing something is an effective motivator in helping you take the mental creation and transform that into an actual physical creation of your goal. Therefore ask yourself which are the things you find most valuable and worthy to you. When you put these things first you will be organizing and managing your time around your personal priorities to make them a reality.
However for many people it is hard to say no but this is exactly the skill you have to learn to be able to keep your goals as your first priority. While we have all of these time-saving devices and we are told we can have it all if we just achieve that elusive work-life balance, in reality having it all is really about prioritizing which it is most important to you to have, and then doing that properly.
How to put effective frugality first:
Habit Four: Think Win-Win
Most of us are taught to base our self-worth on comparisons to others and competition against our peers. We think we can only succeed if someone else has failed and if you win, then that must mean I lost. We are also taught that there is only so much pie to go around and if you get a big piece then I’m going to be missing out. When you think like this you are always going to feel like you’re missing out on something and nothing is ever fair. As a result many of us retaliate and take the pie before someone else can take it from us.
Thinking in a win-win mindset allows you to see mutual benefits from all of your interactions and as a result, you will see that when you share the pie it tastes even better. If you are able to approach conflicts and problems with a win-win attitude by showing integrity and standing up for your true feelings and values, it allows you to express your ideas and feelings with courage while having consideration for the feelings and ideas of others. When you focus on an abundance mentality, you are able to see that there is enough for everyone and you can see that balancing your confidence with empathy can help you achieve your goals while helping others achieve theirs.
How to create frugal win-win situations:
Habit Five: Communication
Communication is often the desire to be heard and understood and most people will listen with the intention to reply to what you’re saying rather than to understand what you have said. However, to effectively communicate you need to first understand and then be understood because if you communicate with the sole intention of being understood you can find that you ignore what others are saying and miss their meaning entirely.
How listening can help you be effectively frugal:
Habit Six: Synergize
Interactions and teamwork are some of the most important ways you can learn new skills and more effective behaviors. To synergize is the habit of creative cooperation where you work as a team to find new solutions to existing problems. Synergy is not something which just happens but is a process where you need to bring all of your personal experiences and expertise to the table to enable more effective results than you would have been able to achieve individually – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When you have genuine interactions with people you are able to gain new insights and see new approaches to your problems which you would not have otherwise thought of.
How to synergize for effective frugality:
Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw
You are the greatest asset you have on your journey to achieving the lifestyle you want and so you need to look after yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When you take time to renew yourself in all four areas of your life you are creating growth and change which allow you to continue with the previous six habits you have mastered, which still need to be maintained to achieve success.
How to frugally renew yourself:
Frugality does not mean having to give up all the luxuries and things which make you happy because if you go through developing habits 1 to 6 without spending the time to renew yourself this is how you burn out, and frugality is something you want to develop and maintain for the long-term and with these seven habits you can be a highly frugal person.
|A Lesson In Capitalism
TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.
ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.
FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cow-kimon and market them World-Wide.
A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. Both are mad.
A GREEK CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.
A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.
A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
A HINDU CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.
A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.
A WELSH CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.