Archive for the ‘General Money Saving Advice’ Category

The Best Websites to Sell Your Stuff

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The Best Websites to Sell Your Stuff

Signing a new lease or closing on your home should be an exciting time, but it’s during this time you realize how much stuff you have.

You may realize a lot of it – like that corner bookshelf or your old bike – just won’t fit in the layout of your new place.

It’s time to sell.

You could host a yard sale, but you’re limited to a local audience. Your best bet is to sell the cyber way: the Internet. However, the best website to sell your couch is not necessarily the best site to sell those old Pyrex dishes.

Here’s a breakdown of the best sites for sellers, and what to sell on them.

Craigslist for Bulky, Hard-to-Move Items
Selling a bed, a dresser or a couch? Obviously, you’ll never be able to box it up and ship it if you sold it across the country. Craigslist is the best site for such large items. Local Craigslist posts are only really browsed by people who can visit your home and cart away the sold item.

Keep in mind: Take the posting down once your item is sold to avoid repeated calls.

Etsy for Antiques and Handmade Crafts
Etsy is a great site to set up a storefront and sell certain items. Antiques, especially jewelry, sell very easily on the site. If you have a craft – knitting, making magnets, small sculptures or anything else — you can also sell them through Etsy.

Keep in mind: You can keep your Etsy storefront once you’ve moved, and use it to start your own small business.

Half.com for Books and Textbooks
Half is known as a hub for cheap college textbooks. If you’re a recent graduate, you can easily unload those textbooks for two or three times what you would get selling them back to the university bookstore.

Keep in mind: You can also sell fiction, DVDs and video games if you want – but Half is specifically designed with books in mind.

Freecycle for Valueless Junk
Sometimes you have items that are usefu,l but essentially worthless. There’s no sense in setting up a website listing for an item that will only sell for $1. Yet the item still functions and still has value, so you don’t want to throw it away. While you could donate the item to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, you can also post on Freecycle. You might even see something you want.

Keep in mind: Freecycle is a community based around item trading and free recycling.

Threadflip for Clothing
While you can sell clothing just about anywhere, Threadflip is a site designed specifically for second-hand clothing. Browse the site to see the kind of items they sell, and post your old items. It beats trying to move a bunch of clothing you’ll never wear.

Keep in mind: Second-hand doesn’t mean old torn jeans or your faded tee shirts – they mean gently used dresses, jackets, shoes etc.

Gazelle and NextWorth for Electronics
When you’ve decided to bid adieu to your old Nokia cell phone, Playstation 1 console, or old laptop, check out Gazelle.com or NextWorth.com to cash in on old devices.

Keep in mind: Not only will you get money for electronics you’re not using, by not throwing them away you’re doing your part to keep e-waste out of the environment.

The Anything Alternative: Amazon
You can become an Amazon vendor and sell virtually anything. Amazon is a trusted retailer, and it doesn’t cost you a cent to list an item.

Keep in mind: You only pay fees when you actually sell the item, so remember that when setting your prices.

Alexander Caffrey is a guest contributor to Billy.com’s blog and freelance writer with a focus on technology and new media. Admittedly, the majority of his furnishings have come from Craigslist. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, but you can reach Alex via his email.

The opinions and views expressed at or through this website are the opinions of the designated authors and do not reflect the opinions or views of Billy.com, it’s employees, associates or the opinions or views of any other individual.

Making the Move – Perfect Packing

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

It’s June and more people are moving this month than any other time of the year. One of the most exhausting, and most important, aspects of moving is the packing process. Many moving companies will offer to pack your things for you. While this may eliminate a lot of the work, it can also be very expensive. If you decide to save money by packing yourself, it is absolutely critical that you do it properly. Improperly packed belongings are more likely to break. Also, a lack of detailed organization will make the unpacking process more effort than it needs to be. Here are a couple tips to make sure that your belongings, and your sanity, make it one piece.

1. Before beginning the packing process, make sure that you have sufficient supplies to pack your belongings as carefully as possible. Necessary supplies include: boxes, marking pens, bubble wrap, newspaper, packing tape, scissors and a tape measure. If you plan on packing your own dishes, it is also recommended to purchase special boxes designed for packing dishes.

2. The best place to begin the packing process is to determine what items do not need to be packed. Specifically, what items can be donated or thrown away before the move? If you have trouble getting rid of things, you are not alone. Enlist a friend to help you part with your possessions, so that you can begin your new life clutter-free. Don’t be afraid to get rid of broken items, clothing that is outdated or not your size, or things that you never really liked but were afraid to part with. An unbiased friend will help you to honestly evaluate all items in question so that you can purge your home of everything that you don’t really need or want. After all, why spend money to move things that you don’t love?

3. After you’ve established what you’re not taking, begin the packing process by packing things that you don’t use on a regular basis. If you own a large collection of books, this may be a great thing to pack first. Or, if you’re moving in the summer, you may want to start by packing your winter clothing. By packing lesser-used items first, you can start the packing process as early as possible and avoid unnecessary rushing as the move nears.

4. Keep a detailed list of what was packed in each box. This list is important because it will streamline the unpacking process and make it easier for you to notice if something went missing during the move.

5. Even if you’re not packing fragile items, like your computer, by yourself, you’ll probably want to backup all of your important files to protect your data in the unlikely event that your computer breaks during the move.

6. You may also want to photocopy your important documents such as the birth certificates and social security cards of your family members so that you’ll have a copy in case the originals get lost (even temporarily) during the move.

7. After you’ve made the copies, pack all of your important copied documents in one place so that they stay together and are easy to recognize when you are unpacking. The originals should be taken in your hand luggage whenever possible.

8. Do not fill packing boxes with items totaling more than 50 pounds. Doing so will be uncomfortable to carry and may cause boxes to break.

9. To ensure the security of all items within a box, make sure to tape boxes securely at the bottom.

10. Store lightweight items inside larger items. Pack pillows into your dresser drawers, for example. This will save valuable space and make it easier to unpack.

11. Even if you’ve hired a mover to do the bulk of the work, make sure to pack your jewelry yourself. When it’s all packed, it’s a good idea to take it in your hand luggage rather than to stuff it into a moving box.

12. Consider using a wardrobe box to pack clothing that hangs in your closet. This will will enable you to pack it directly on the hanger, so that you won’t need to re-hang the clothes upon arrival.

13. A great way to visibly determine which box goes where upon arrival is to color code your moving boxes whenever possible. One way to do this is by labeling the boxes with colored permanent markers. Alternatively, placing colored tape or stickers on the boxes will enable you to determine with a quick glance whether a box goes in the master bedroom or the dining room.

14. Another way to stay organized is to pack your home one room at a time whenever possible. Doing so will make it easier to unpack things in the right place and will keep you focused during the packing process. Packing up room by room will also make the packing process seem more manageable as you’ll be able to keep a clear eye on exactly what needs to be done.

15. If you are packing an item with small parts, screws or wires, tape the loose items to the back of the bigger item to prevent them from getting lost or tangled. If possible, use duct tape or another type of strong tape that will be secure enough to hold your things but relatively easy to remove.

16. Household appliances that require liquids to function (such as steam irons or gasoline-powered lawn movers) should be drained before the move.

17. In the winter, try not to pack any liquids that may freeze during transport.

18. Pack books, CDs and records on end – do not stack them.

19. Dishes should be packed with packing paper between each dish. For best results, purchase protected boxes that are designed to move dishes, so that your fragile items will be protected from all angles.

20. Drinking glasses should be wrapped and stuffed with paper.

May Day, Worker’s Day, and Labor Day

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The first day of May has significance across the globe. Over 50 countries have national Labor Days relating to the labor movements and most of them include a day off from work.

Now, as an American, I know what you might be thinking. Clearly, Labor Day is on the first Monday of September, not May. Well, yes, you’re right. In the United States our efforts to officially switch Labor Day to the international standard of May 1st have failed. Well, the first of May has its own significance and history in our culture. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, May 1st became known as Americanization Day in opposition to communists by our very own Veterans of Foreign Wars. While Americanization Day was renamed to Loyalty Day in 1949, it wasn’t until 1958 that the U.S. Congress made it a national holiday. Also, in the same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed it to be Law Day as well.

The primary reason that we don’t celebrate Labor Day in May with the rest of the world is directly related to its origin. In 1886 there was a peaceful rally in Haymarket Square in Chicago. The rally was in support of workers who were striking for an eight-hour work day. When the police came to disperse the gathering, however, an unknown individual threw a dynamite bomb into the group of officers. The blast, coupled with the subsequent gunfire, caused the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians, not to mention the dozens of wounded. President Grover Cleveland was worried that commemorating Labor Day on the first of May would be an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Instead, he decided to support the 1887 parade in New York City, organized by the Knights of Labor, as America’s official Labor Day.

However, the first of May has been a celebratory day since long before 1886. It is also known as an ancient spring festival in Europe, called May Day. While the details of the celebrations varied across Europe, there were some definite similarities. The most well-known of these is the Maypole. Sometimes the maypole was a permanent feature that was only utilized during the festival, but other times it was erected specifically for the festival. Certain age groups would dance around this pole to celebrate youth and the bountiful spring season. Another key feature was the May Queen. The May Queen, or Queen of the May, is a girl who must ride or walk at the front of the parade. Generally she wears a white gown, symbolizing purity, and a tiara or a crown. She usually gives a speech and is responsible for officially initiating the festivities.

While the day has a slightly different significance in countries around the world, the first of May is a special day of varying degrees in all of them. So, while you may be slaving away at your nine to five today, remember that a lot of people went through a lot of effort and sacrificed a great many things for you to be able to leave after an eight-hour day.

Your Own Garden – Petals, Peace, and Pride

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Spring has finally arrived! After spending the winter months with your living room as the center of attention, it’s nice to relax in your yard. What if, however, your yard is empty, unkempt, or just plain bland? You might be surprised to learn that crafting your own blossoming garden can be easy, inexpensive, and hugely rewarding. While professional landscapers, store-bought flowers, and specialized pots are all available options, they are not the only way to make a garden.

The first step in creating your own garden is to understand that you don’t need to overhaul the entire area at one time. The key to creating a beautiful and well-maintained garden is to add a little something every year. You don’t want to burn yourself out by taking on a full renovation at once. Start with clearing away at least a small area of maybe a couple square feet in your yard. I recommend choosing an area you can see from your kitchen or one of the windows you find yourself at often. This way you can be reminded of your hard work and stay motivated to keep improving it.

The next step involves a little research. You don’t want to spend effort on planting and nurturing flowers that don’t thrive well in your area. Your local garden center is undoubtedly full of information about what types of plants thrive in your local climate. While you’re there you should consider buying some nutrient-rich soil, but don’t feel obligated to buy any potted plants. It is always cheaper, and more rewarding, to start your garden from seeds and parts of other plants. Some plants can grow roots from sections that are disconnected from the original. Also, ask your friends! You’d be surprised how many people are willing to give away plants or seeds that they can afford to spare or no longer want. Gardening communities and organizations can be found almost anywhere and offer a tremendous amount of helpful advice, access to materials, and a pool of potential new friends with related interests.

You don’t need to plan your whole garden before you start. You can always buy a couple different types of flower seeds and see what you like best. If you are using seeds, be sure to water them more frequently than you would a full-grown flower as seeds need extra water. Be sure to note that there is a difference between annuals and perennials. Annuals have the longer period of bloom and tend to be some of the showiest flowers available, but they also die at the end of the season and need to be replanted every year. Perennials, on the other hand, usually last at least three years, but have a shorter period of bloom. Experimenting with different mixes of different types of flowers can give your garden a beautiful blend of colors that can alter and shift throughout the year based on the different waves of blooming times.

Flowers aren’t the only thing that can make a garden beautiful and unique. Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to find unique and interesting additions for your garden. Statuettes, wind chimes, and older pottery can bring a different feel to a yard. This is a very inexpensive way to add character and depth to compliment your blend of flowers. Also, be on the lookout for items like spare lumber, concrete slabs, broken bricks, and other assorted items as they can make terrific walkways, garden borders, and accent pieces if used creatively.

There are many different ways to create, build, or improve a garden and creativity plays a big role in this process. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new ideas. Ask professionals and friends to share their experiences and successes. There is always more to learn and few things are as satisfying as watching your hard work turn into something beautiful for you to be proud of. Before you know it the sun will be shining, the breeze will be wafting gently by, and the birds will be singing. What better place to enjoy these wonders than in your private little piece of nature?

Teenagers and Money: Tackling the Issue Head On

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Teaching teenagers about money is a completely different challenge than broaching the issue with youngsters, for two Black Friday shopping tipsprimary reasons. For starters, while young children tend to cry or whine when they don’t get the latest movie-themed toy, they generally forget about this disappointment quicker than teenagers who have constant peer pressure to have the latest gadgets and fashions (which, incidentally, are more expensive than most toys).  Secondly, teenagers have a better ability to earn money by babysitting, tutoring or doing odd jobs than younger children do, which means that their approach to money must relate not only to how they spend your money, but how they spend their own.

Perhaps the most difficult part about teaching your tweens and teens about money is the fact that you’ll need to share a part of your personal finances with them so that they can understand your lessons.  If you are living a debt-free lifestyle, for example, you may want to show your child how you balance your checkbook and how you limit your expenses based on your income.  Illustrate how you choose your cell phone provider, brand of cereal and weekend activities based partially on your budgetary restrictions.

If, on the other hand, you are living with credit card debt or other abnormal loans, don’t be ashamed to show your child this side of your finances.  This may be one of the strongest lessons that you can provide, because not only will it help your teenager understand when you say no, but it may inspire him not to fall into the same situation.

Sharing your budget with an older child can also yield other tangential benefits – if your child sees how much you spend on electricity or heat, he or she may be more conscious of using and abusing these utilities.

Another issue surrounding teens and money is the question of whether you want them to earn some of their own money by working or doing chores or both, and whether you want to let them spend this money or save it.  If you plan on making your teenager pay for part or all of their own college tuition, let them know as early as possible so that they can start saving for this expense.   If not, consider letting them earn their own money and encourage them to save part of it for ‘someday’ – whether that’s for wedding expenses, traveling or splurges down the road.  Many teenagers are hesitant to give up their ‘downtime’ for work, but if you sit down and explain the needs and benefits of working you can motivate them to work some weekends and relax on others.  In fact, one can argue that the relaxing weekend will be even more enjoyable when it is doubly deserved.

Finally, it’s a good idea to teach your teenagers about interest and investing.  Most teenagers are happy to learn that their money can grow just by sitting in the bank.  However, if you’re familiar with the market and your child shows interest, it may be worthwhile to let him or her pick some stocks for small investments, and let him follow the market and choose an investment strategy.   Even if he loses a few dollars, the lesson is a good one, and should help him have a better appreciation for the money that remains.

How to Teach Kids About Money (Part 1)

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

There are many difficult aspects of child rearing, but ask any parent, and you’ll likely hear that teaching children about money isTeak kids about moneyamong the most challenging.   The reasons for this are numerous.  For starters, the best way to teach children about is to lead by example, and not all parents have their own finances or spending habits in check.    Secondly, parents must teach their children not just about saving (which is a somewhat straightforward concept), but about spending responsibly (which is markedly more difficult and is often fraught with emotional complications.  And, of course, a large part of teaching kids about money is teaching them how to make money, a burden eschewed by many teenagers and illegal for many younger children.

For these reasons, I’d like to break this topic into a short series that will cover this complex topic in depth instead of glossing over the critical issues.  This article will focus on how to teach children aged 5-10 about money.  The second part will examine how to reinforce the lessons when children are aged 11-18, and the third part will address how to deal with children who don’t have a healthy approach to money despite your best efforts.

Many parents think that teaching kids about money from a young age is unnecessary because the children are too young to appreciate the lessons or to grasp the concepts.  I’d like to propose, however, that teaching children aged 5-10 about money is the best time to introduce them to the idea of fiscal responsibility, because they’re eager to learn and will be interested in the topic because it makes them feel ‘grown up’.

Lessons for children aged 5-10:

  • Hard work (hopefully) leads to a stable income.  Children aged 5-10 aren’t old enough to understand budgets or business strategies, but they are old enough to appreciate that Mommy and Daddy have to work so that they can make money to buy things for the family.  This understanding will not only reduce the resentment that some children feel when their parents are constantly working, but will set the stage for further lessons about money.
  • Don’t spend more than you earn.  Kids have a tendency to want a lot of things.  Explaining that you can’t spend more than you earn is a good way to curb your child’s constant requests.  Teach your child how to prioritize between two things that he or she wants, because you don’t want to spend money on two things so you won’t exceed your earnings.  Try not to use the word ‘can’t’ when explaining this principle, lest your child think that you aren’t earning enough and worry about being poor.
  • Money management starts at a young age.  Your child may not be able to work at a young age, but he or she can earn money at home by behaving nicely, getting good grades or doing chores.  While paying young children is a controversial policy, I’d like to suggest that doing it properly will help them learn about saving responsibly and spending responsibly.  A child who can afford his or her own gum, stickers or baseball cards will have a sense of pride, and if you can teach him how to save some money in the process, you’ll be well on your way to raising a fiscally responsible young adult.
  • Good things come to those who wait.  Don’t let your child use his or her money for instant gratification.  Instead, explain why saving up for a larger purchase will feel even more rewarding and exciting.  Teach your child how to set economic goals and to work towards those over a set period of time.  With an end in sight, goals will seem manageable and your child will stay focused while learning a valuable lesson.

How I Sold My Car (Without Really Trying)

Friday, June 10th, 2011

On May 18, 2011, Yahoo! News published an article about how high used car prices make this an ideal time to sell your car. Car for SaleFortunately for me, this was exactly 5 days after I sold my car.  I knew that the car was worth a decent sum, but I didn’t realize that the relative market price this year is higher than in years past.  Still, I had figured that it was a good idea to sell my 5-year-old car while it was still in good condition, with relatively low mileage, and without the need for major repairs.  And this proved to be a wise decision.

I spoke to several car salesmen, all of whom wanted to pay me significantly less than book value, undoubtedly so that they could resell the car at a reasonable price while still turning a profit.  Since I wasn’t in a specific rush, I decided to advertise it locally, and to post it on a used car website, asking a few hundred dollars under book value.  I figured that if I didn’t sell it relatively quickly, I could always lower the price or (gasp!) return to one of the car salesmen.

Even though I wasn’t in a specific rush, every day that nobody called felt like an eternity.  When the calls did start coming, most of the inquiries were from people hoping to pay thousands of dollars below book value.  Considering that I’d never had a single problem with the car (except for some flat tires), I made the ‘brave’ decision to wait longer, in the hopes that a savvy consumer would realize the value in the car.

About 3 weeks after I’d posted the car online, I got the call I’d been waiting for – a buyer was willing to pay our asking price if his mechanic approved the car.  During the inspection, I felt like I was the one being tested.  Did I maintain the car properly?  Were there any hidden flaws that I was trying to conceal?  Fortunately, the mechanic proclaimed the car to be as good as ‘almost new’, and suddenly I was carless.

It’s been nearly a month now, and I haven’t yet gotten a new one.  I have my eye on the one that I want (a used car, but 4 years newer than mine), but it’s not yet available.  In the past month, I’ve tried to focus on how much money I’m saving on gas and insurance, and to appreciate the value of my time a bit more.  It takes me longer to get places now, but I find a surprising beauty in the way I’m no longer rushing all the time, since I know I can’t be.  I also sit in less traffic and have found that I am buying less at the grocery store, since it’s harder to get it home.  Overall, I’ve found this to be a (slightly stressful but) positive experience, and if you’re considering selling your car, I hope you have an equally successful one.

Lessons Learned:

  • Patience is a virtue.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of keeping your car in good condition.
  • Keep the paperwork from every maintenance – this is a great way to build customer confidence.
  • Advertise your car in 1-2 places each week.  Publicizing it everywhere at once will prevent fresh eyes from seeing it if it’s not sold immediately.
  • Keep a car salesman’s phone number on hand in case of emergency.

How Spring Cleaning can Help You Save Big

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Whether you’re cleaning for Passover or just gearing up for some spring cleaning, this is the season where you can find a significant percent of Americans compulsively cleaning their homes.  But if you’re not quite excited about cleaningSpring Cleaning your home, you’re not alone – and you’re not wrong in thinking that there are many more exciting activities to pursue.  Still, there are plenty of reasons to start spring cleaning now, including these 6 financial incentives.

  1. Find lost money.  Aside from the spare change that you’re bound to find when you flip your couch cushions, there’s always a chance that you’ll find real dollars stuffed into some pockets, at the bottom of your closet or…in the cookie jar.
  2. Get a tax deduction.  During the course of your spring cleaning, you’ll inevitably find things that you don’t want or need anymore.  Drop them off at your local clothing donation point, and you can get a tax deduction that will translate into real savings when next year’s tax season comes.
  3. Save money on cleaning help.  Once you’re in the cleaning spirit, it’ll be easy for you to wipe down the bathroom counter, sweep the floor and fold the laundry.  Why not put in a little extra effort, and give your cleaning help the week or day off?  Think of how much money you can save!
  4. Rediscover older clothing.  Imagine how you’ll feel when you can skip the shopping this spring because you’ve found hidden treasures in your own closet?  And if you can’t skip it entirely, you can surely reduce the amount of new clothing you purchase because you’ll realize that you probably have enough already.
  5. Hold (or attend) a swap meet.  In my community, swap meets are held annually in April so that friends, neighbors and strangers can make the most of their gently used items.  If you can’t (or don’t want to) donate your extraneous items, why not attend a swap meet to see if you can trade them in for things that you can use?
  6. Sell old items.  Believe it or not, I have a neighbor who made a few hundred dollars this week just by selling her children’s old toys and books.  It’s almost as if she was paid to clean out her playroom!  If you have children’s toys, books, games, home décor items or other things that you’re not using anymore, you may be surprised at how much other people are willing to pay for them.

So…why do you do spring cleaning?

Buying a Used Car – An Intro

Friday, March 25th, 2011

If you’re in the market for a used car, you’re probably feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety.  After all, it’s always nice to have a new car (even if it’s used), but the fear that you’ll get a ‘lemon’ is omnipresent, and you won’t really know if it was a successful purchase until a few months later.  Many people claim that if you buy a used car you’re buying someone else’s problems.  But this doesn’t have to be the case.  There are plenty of ways to ensure that you get the bestTips for Buying a Used Car deal on the best car.  Consider the tips for buying a used car below, and you’ll be enjoying your new wheels in no time.

Best Places to Look for a Used Car:

If you’re concerned about the possibility that parts may malfunction, you’ll probably want to consider buying a used car from a dealer that offers certified pre-owned models that come with a warranty.  If you’re looking for a car that is in top quality and lightly used, look for cars that have just come off lease, many of which have low mileage and are in excellent condition.  And, of course, if price is your top priority, you can look for a used car in the newspaper or online, as purchasing directly from the owner will reduce transaction fees.  However, if you’re buying a used car from a stranger who is not  affiliated with a recognized company or dealership, you will definitely want to get it checked out by your own mechanic before making a commitment.

When to Buy a Used Car:

Think of the used car market like the clothing market – there are always times (such as the holidays) where you knowyou can expect a sale.  When it comes to used cars, prices usually drop around the New Year, as that’s when most dealers are looking to move their inventory to make room for new merchandise.  But if you don’t manage to make it to the dealership during the busy holiday season, you can likely find additional deals throughout the winter, when fewer people are buying.  Making the effort to shop around in the cold can really pay off!

Another good time to purchase a used car is at the end of the month when salesmen are often desperate to make their quota, and are more willing to offer serious discounts.  If you’re an especially savvy shopper you can shop around at the beginning of the month but save the negotiating for the end.  It also helps if you get at least two price quotes for the make and model of your choice, so that you can play one price against the other during the negotiation process.

5 Smart Shopping Tips:

  • Most cars come with a 3 year/36,000 manufacturer’s warranty, so if you want to rest assured that your car will be covered, look for newer models.
  • If you’re getting rid of your old car, find a dealer that is willing to do a trade-in.  This will reduce the cost of your new purchase and will reduce the headaches associated with selling the car on your own.
  • When you’ve settled on a specific car, make sure to get it checked out by a mechanic that you trust.  Rolling this cost into the overall purchase price can save you thousands of dollars if it protects you from buying a damaged car.
  • Run a CARFAX report on any car that you’re interested in to see if it has been in an accident.  While this may not be a sign of trouble, it’s something important to know in advance.
  • Make sure that the car comes with the proper title and stay away from car salesmen who don’t have the car’s title available.

5 Gadgets That Will Save You Money

Friday, March 4th, 2011

If you’re anything like me, you probably prefer to buy the cheapest items possible just to save a few cents.  Chances are that you probably avoid certain purchases altogether, because you perceive them as being unnecessary or overly expensive.  But while this spendthrift attitude may be helpful most of the time, there are times when it can actually be detrimental to your savings plan.  In fact, there are some so-called ‘expensive’ purchases that can actually save you money.  Read on to discover five ‘splurges’ that can improve your life and your bottom line.

Cappuccino machine – If you’ve ever looked at the price tag on a high-end gourmet coffee machine, you know thatMoney saving cappuccino machine it can cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars.  But then again, if you’ve looked at the cost of a cup at some coffee bars recently, you’ve probably noticed that a cup of coffee can cost as much as a full meal in some food chains.  Here’s the bottom line:

Approximate cost: $200+

You’ll break even after…about 75 specialty coffee shop brews

Compact fluorescent light bulbs – For just a few cents, a traditional incandescent light bulb can last for 700-1000 hours.  This may seem like a lot, but compact fluorescent light bulbs can last for over 10,000 hours, while using significantly less electricity to run.

Approximate cost: $3+

You’ll break even after…About 915 hours of usage

Water filtration system – If you purchase bottled water regularly when you’re on the go or you have gallon jugs delivered to your home water cooler, chances are good that you’re spending upwards of $30 each month on drinking water.  Having a water filtration system installed on your kitchen sink will allow you to have crisp, drinkable water without the steep monthly fee.  Filters that are attached to the faucet’s exterior are the cheapest, but even more stylish models that are installed under the sink can be found for a reasonable price.

Approximate cost: $40 for a faucet filter or $60 for an under-sink filter

You’ll break even after…1-2 months

Laptop – Today’s laptops only cost a bit more than a desktop, and are designed to last just as long (assuming you don’t drop it).  The beauty of a laptop is that it requires much less energy to run, and can be used for hours at a time without charging it, which saves you money regularly.  As an added advantage, a laptop can be used to continue working on those days when your internet service is out (I don’t know about you, but I have at least two of those a year, when it snows, when there’s an electrical failure, or when the cable company has an internal glitch).

Approximate cost: $400+

You’ll break even after…About a year

Smart power strip – I once mentioned that 75% of a home’s electricity is used when the power is off.  This is known as the phantom charge, and it’s a phenomenon that can be easily avoided by using a smart power strip.  Available on Amazon, these power strips can stop the flow of electricity to multiple electronic devices simultaneously, and can save you money for years to come.

Approximate cost: $25-$30, depending on the model

You’ll break even after: About 9 months

I hope you enjoy shopping for these items, guilt-free!