Frugal Living 
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Bankrate Frugal Free for All Live Chat

Tomorrow, February 15th, I’ll be participating in a Frugal Free for All Live Chat at Bankrate. I invite you to come grill me about my frugal habits, my unfrugal habits, and basically ask me anything you want. It’s moderated by the Bankrate folks so be civil! :)

You can set a reminder for yourself here.

Here’s what they had to say about it:

A penny saved is a penny earned. And Jim Wang, founder of Bargaineering.com, a Bankrate company, has saved a lot.

Whether you want to frugalize your home, insure your pet, grow your own produce or get more bang for your Groupon buck, Jim can help.

Ask Jim how he saves money, so you can, too!

The event will be here at 2 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Feb. 15.

I look forward to chatting with you all about frugality!


 Cars 
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Best Car for Students: A Beater

Beater Used CarWhen I read this latest Bankrate article on the best car to buy for students, I was a little surprised at the very first criteria – less than $20,000. I’m twenty nine, nearly six years after graduation, and have yet to own a car that is even close to $20,000! My current car is a used Toyota Celica I bought off eBay for $16,000, 20% less than the $20,000.

Anyway, so what’s my point? Most students don’t need and won’t appreciate a new car whiel they’re in college. They certainly won’t appreciate a car that they didn’t pay for. While I appreciate Bankrate’s efforts in publishing a list of cars that are sub-$20k, fuel efficient (> 21 mpg), safe and comfortable (has A/C)… I think a student needs to drive a beater. A clunker. A piece of junk they can beat the crap out of, hence the term beater. As my dad used to say, if you start life with all the nice stuff, you never learn to appreciate it.

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 The Home 
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Don’t Want To Sell Your House? Do These Things

Home For SaleWe bought our first and only home four years ago, about a year away from the peak of the market in our area, and we saw some atrocious houses along the way. It was a hot housing market back then, so perhaps some of the horribleness we saw is excusable, but with the market today there’s no excuse for being lazy.

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 Personal Finance 
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How Much House Can $10,000 Buy?

Bankrate recently looked at what $400,000 can buy today in the real estate market. I poked around, checking out a 3 bedroom, 2/5 bath 1,730 sq. ft. home in San Diego, CA, that seemed to be directly on top of the home next door, and a monster of a brand-spanking new home in Houston, TX that had nearly 2,500 square feet.

But I didn’t think that was realistic. Doesn’t Bankrate know we’re in a recession!? I wanted to know what $10,000 can get you.

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 Banking 
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Mobile Banking Safety & Security Tips

Palm TreoI’ve had a Palm Treo for almost two years and one of the nice things about having a smartphone is that it gives me the ability to go online whenever I have cell service. It’s saved my butt on more than one occasion.

With the internet at my fingertips, one thing I’ve done more often is check my banking information through the phone’s web browser. It’s a quick way to see if checks have cleared without calling the bank and navigating the painful IVR systems. However, I’ve always done this without much concern for security.

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 Banking 
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Will My Bank Fail?

WaMu ATMLast Friday, two more banks failed. Meridian Bank in Eldred, IL and Main Street Bank in Northville, MI were closed by their respective regulatory agencies and their deposits were transferred to other banks. Deposits at Meridian Bank went to National Bank of Hillsboro, IL and Main Street Bank deposits went to Monroe Bank & Trust in Monroe, MI. For customers, it was no big deal as the FDIC guarantees deposits up to $250,000 through the end of 2009.

So, you might be asking yourself, will your bank join this list of failed banks? The best thing you can do help your bank fail is to withdraw your deposits right now. Banks fail because they lack the liquidity to meet their needs and pulling out funds is the easiest way to help your bank fail. IndyMac failed, in part, because billions were withdrawn when depositors learned that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter expressing his concern over the bank’s health. It might have failed on its own, but Sen. Schumer and all the depositors hastened its failure.

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 Debt 
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Beware Borrowing Money from Friends (and Strangers)

Would you agree to pay 90% interest on a loan? Poor Toni apparently did, posing a scary question to Bankrate.com’s Steve Bucci. Apparently, Miss Tony borrowed $1200 and the lender is demanding $90/mo. in interest – or 90% annual simple interest (i.e. not compounding). The answer that Bucci gives is funny because he gives two of them after a few words of advice about borrowing money in general.


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 General 
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Bankrate’s Guide to Sales by Month

Bankrate has a great article that details a generally understood concept by frugal shoppers. The article is title “Month-by-month guide for finding sales” (written by Laura Shanahan) and basically lists what items are typically on sale in which months, so you can plan your shopping accordingly. This is more specific than the classic “Buy winter clothes at the end of the winter season” or “Buy summer clothes at the end of summer.” Below I’ll just list the months and the bullet points she outlines in her article. I’ve omitted some of the strange sales that didn’t make sense to me.

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