Frugal Living 
24
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11 Sure-Fire Ways to Save on Shipping

Post Office in Mooresville, ALBack in college, I used to sell all sorts of products on eBay and thus developed keen understanding for how the post office worked. I didn’t do a tremendous amount of selling but as a lazy and poor college student, I did my best to make my shipping as efficient as possible. Many of the tips below come from that experience and are very much USPS centric since my packages were often very light, but many of those tips apply to any shipping service.

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 Cars 
3
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How to End Your Lease Early

CarThe buy versus lease debate has raged since the auto lease became popular but one thing is for certain about a lease: You aren’t going to end it early without paying a lot of money to do it. The recent economic headwinds have caused a rise in not only lease defaults but also people who, due to a job loss or other economic event, want to terminate their lease early. When they call the leasing company or go to the dealership where they leased the vehicle, they learn that early termination of a lease is difficult and expensive.

Why? Because the monthly payment for your car lease is calculated with the assumption that you’re going to hold the lease through the end of the term. If you don’t, the leasing company loses a lot of money in part, because they have to recoup the cost they incur for the depreciation of the car. The earlier you terminate your lease, the less money they recoup.  Although you’re probably going to have to pay something to get out of your lease, there are ways to greatly minimize the payment.

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 Family 
23
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Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent

Green Laundry!I’ve recently been on a “do it yourself” kick when it comes to things in the home, whether it’s cooking more often or planting a garden. One of the most popular “frugal personal finance blogger” rites of passage seems to be making your own laundry detergent. While the prospect of saving money on each load of laundry is appealing, my main motivation for doing this was so that I could understand the process, see what the excitement was all about, and gain a greater understanding of how something so basic as laundry detergent worked. I don’t change the oil in my car entirely because I want to save money or time, it’s because I want to gain a better understanding of my car and how to properly maintain it. I feel the same about laundry detergent.

In terms of money savings, we’re talking a few dollars over the course of several loads of laundry. It’s not inconsequential but it’s not life changing. I think the biggest gains come from avoiding harsh chemicals. I know making detergent is very popular, with good reason, with people who have sensitive skin or allergies and so any time you can avoid those is a good time. Ultimately, when you see how dead simple this recipe is, you’ll be amazed at the laundry list of chemicals in detergent (get it? laundry list? ha ha).

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 Frugal Living 
39
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Extreme Couponing: Classic Time vs. Money Dilemma

Coupon AccordianReality television shows are getting more and more “extreme.” Whether it’s families with enough kids to field a football team or people who tip the scales at several hundred pounds, it seems like the television watching public is obsessed with any extreme. The “first” reality show was basically extreme living on a remote island – remember the first season of Survivor? (surprisingly, I’ve never watched a full episode of Survivor, not sure how I avoided it)

Well, the latest “craze” seems to be a show called Extreme Couponing. If you haven’t seen the show, it basically follows people who buy a ton of stuff without paying a lot of money. There’s a lot of fake drama, as they talk about how they only budgeting $300 for groceries this month but the tally, before coupons, is up in the several hundreds of dollars. There’s some fake “worry” as the cashier starts scanning coupons and then shots of the manager and other people standing around watching.

Extreme is not the right name for this show, it should be called Excessive Couponing. Deadliest Catch is appropriately named – people die up there. It’s not extreme, it’s excessive.
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 Frugal Living 
17
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Things You Shouldn’t Buy Used

In Liz Weston’s latest column on MSN Money, she shares a list of ten things you should never buy used. Those familiar with this older Your Take on What Would You Never Buy Used? will see a lot of familiar items (mattresses!)

Here’s her list:

  • Laptops
  • Car seats
  • Plasma and HD TVs
  • DVD players
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Digital cameras, video cameras
  • Shoes
  • Mattresses
  • Wet suits
  • Helmets

There’s a basic logic on what you shouldn’t buy used and it’s straightforward.

  1. Don’t buy any used safety equipment unless it’s been thoroughly inspected by professionals – this explains why something like a car seat and a helmet is on the list.
  2. Don’t buy any extremely personal products, especially if it conforms to your body. This explains wet suits, shoes, and mattresses.
  3. Finally, don’t buy something in which you can’t confirm, visually or otherwise, that it’s hasn’t been abused. It’s hard to determine how well maintained TVs, DVD players, vacuums, and other electronic devices have been care for by their previous owners.

That said – don’t let those three rules stop you from getting a good deal if you can overcome the rule. For example, if you can get a mechanic to thoroughly inspect a used vehicle (or buy it from a dealership that offers a warranty and a certified inspection), by all means take advantage of it. The list and the rules should be viewed as a guideline, rather as an immutable law.


 Personal Finance 
26
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5 Popular Myths That Cost You Money

One of the fun parts about reading and writing about personal finance and money all day is that you run into a lot of good advice and a lot of bad advice. Over the years, I’m amazed at how much of both is repeated with great regularity.

Whereas some bad advice hurts no one, a lot of money myths are costing some people money (and helping others make a lot more than they should!). So today I’ll be hitting five popular myths that span your entire life, from spices to gasoline, with the hope that it spurs a discussion that helps us all understand why these myths are wrong and why they’re costing us money.

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 Personal Finance 
12
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How to Save on Groceries, With & Without Coupons

This is a guest post by Julia Scott.

Let’s get past the boring tips on grocery savings – acquire a store loyalty card, bring your own bags, and buy on sale – to the meaty strategies so we can save on the most basic necessity of all – grub.

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 Banking 
4
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Juice Up Your Savings

Take a look at your savings accounts. What kind of interest yield are you receiving? Chances are that you could do better — especially if your money is sitting in a traditional savings account at your brick and mortar bank. Indeed, most “regular” savings accounts offered by banks and credit unions feature miniscule returns. That’s really not right when you consider how much money the financial institution is making by lending the money you have on deposit out to others at much higher rates.

It’s true that most people don’t expect to get much yield from a savings account. However, just because you don’t expect much doesn’t mean that you have to settle for rock bottom. Thanks to the Internet, you have access to savings account and CD rates from all over the country. You can even access credit union options from institutions that have very broad field of membership requirements.

There’s no reason to settle for an interest rate of 0.5% on your savings account. Best of all, it doesn’t take much time at all to juice up your savings interest. You can do it in 55 seconds or less:
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