Archive for the ‘Money Wasters’ Category

Live Royally for Less

Friday, May 6th, 2011
Kate Middleton - Royal Money Management

Photo Credits: Harper's Bazaar

If you were one of the millions of people who tuned in to watch the royal wedding live last week, you’ll know that they spared no expense in creating a fairytale event.  But don’t be fooled – just because the royal wedding was exceptionally lavish, doesn’t mean there aren’t financial lessons to be learned from the event – and from the newlyweds’ lifestyle. We already know that Prince William saved big by giving Kate his mother’s engagement ring.  Here are some more lessons I’ve taken from Kate Middleton.  What have you learned?

  • When it comes to guests, less is more. Sure, the royal wedding ceremony included over 1,000 invited guests, including dignitaries from across the globe.  But when it came to the reception dinner, only 300 people attended.  Limited budget?  Unlikely.  Desire to share the event with only their closest friends and relatives?  Probably.  If you’re planning a wedding and need to cut back on your guest list, just tell your friends that you’ve learned about wedding planning from Kate Middleton – and make sure to invite everyone possible to the ceremony.
  • It’s ok to borrow.  Contrary to some rumors, the Queen did not bequeath Kate the tiara that she wore to the wedding.  Instead, she lent it to the bride.  Next time you need jewelry for an elegant event, why not ask around?  Perhaps a friend or relative has exactly what you need.
  • Off the rack rocks. It’s no secret that First Lady Michelle Obama has been sporting clothing off the rack everywhere from state dinners to her appearance on Oprah.  And now Kate Middleton is among the celebrities wearing off the rack clothing, most notably in her first post-nuptial appearance, when she was photographed wearing an H&M dress.  Why spend more on designer clothing, when you can look great, feel more comfortable and save big by wearing commercially-designed clothing?
  • Don’t pay for delivery. Only a few days after the wedding, Kate was spotted grocery shopping in her North Wales neighborhood.  Although she can afford delivery, and may even be busy acclimating to her new life, she skipped this expensive convenience.
  • There’s nothing wrong with renting. I don’t know him personally, but I’d venture a guess that Prince William can surely afford to purchase a home for his new bride.  Or, at the very least, that he’d be eligible for a nice mortgage.  And yet, the couple chooses to live in a rented farmhouse.  Is this because they aren’t sure where they’ll want to settle down?  Is it because they aren’t ready to be homeowners?  You and I may never know, but I can say with certainty that if renting is good enough for royals, it is surely good enough for us common folk, and there should be no embarrassment or pressure to purchase a home beyond your means.

5 Expenses That are Robbing You Silently

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Bills might be a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that high bills need to be a fact of life.  But sadly, most people are being robbed quietly each month by utility companies, insurance companies and other expenses that seem reasonable but aren’t.  Don’tSave money on monthly expensesallow yourself to be a passive bill payer – consider the five ways below in which you can save money each month, and take action to save big.  After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.

  • Mortgage payments – Interest rates are at the lowest point they’ve been in ages, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to save money.  It may be a bit of a hassle to refinance your current mortgage, but you can end up saving thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  Consider whether you’d want to reduce the term of the loan or to keep the same length of the loan but reduce the monthly payments, and speak with a financial advisor who can guide you on the best way to proceed.  If you’re a homeowner, a bit of legwork can really pay off big.
  • Car insurance – If you’re like most people, you’ve chosen a car insurance company, signed the deal, and have been paying the same amount of money for months on end.  But if you’ve never filed a claim and you’ve had the car for more than two years, you should be entitled to a significant reduction.  For starters, your car has devalued somewhat in the past few years, and it’s now worth less, so you can insure it for less.  Secondly, you should receive a reward for safe behavior, and while your insurance company won’t be quick to offer this to you, they shouldn’t hesitate if you ask for it directly.
  • Cell phone bills – Today’s cell phone companies offer a range of feature-filled plans that sound reasonably priced for the services that they’re offering.  But if you aren’t taking full advantages of the features being offered, you may be overpaying for your cell phone service.  If you pay for an SMS package, for example, but you don’t text more than a weekly vote for your American Idol favorite, you shouldn’t be paying for this service.  Likewise, if you have a high minute allotment but you aren’t using up all of your minuets, you should consider downgrading your plan to reduce your monthly cell phone bill.
  • Health insurance – If you receive decent health insurance from your employer, consider yourself lucky, because more and more employers are offering meager packages – if they offer health insurance at all.  If you’re looking to save money, consider these tips:  If you’ve been recently laid off, COBRA may not necessarily be the best option for you.  Research your options online, and you may be surprised to find even cheaper options.  If you’re currently paying for your own health insurance, consider how your needs may have changed since you signed up for your policy.  As your children age, they tend to go to the doctor less frequently, so you may be able to save money by trading your current plan for health insurance with a higher deductible and a lower monthly fee.  Don’t hesitate to research new companies or to question your loyalty to your current company – most doctors offer multiple types of health insurance, and you should be able to find qualified physicians with any health insurance plan.
  • Car expenses – Many consumers think that purchasing a cheap used car can save them from financing a newer car.  But the pitfalls of buying an older car are numerous, from higher maintenance fees to lower gas mileage per gallon.  Before you commit to purchasing an older car, consider the additional expenses that you’ll have to pay over time, and determine whether it might be better to choose a newer model which will cost more upfront but significantly less over time.

Bargain Hunting Basics (For Black Friday and Any Day)

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Lately I’ve been spending lots of time sharing great Black Friday deals with you…and getting excited about gearing up for the upcoming shopping holiday.  While many shoppers prepare themselves physically by stocking their purses (or backpacks) with food, water and a valid credit card, it’s crucial to prepare yourself mentally as well so that Black Friday Black Friday shopping tipsdoesn’t live in infamy as the day you landed yourself debt.     Here are 7 ways to succeed in your Black Friday shopping without breaking the bank.  Good luck!

  1. Make a list. The most important thing to bring to your Black Friday shopping spree is a shopping list.  Check out the circulars of your favorite stores in advance whenever possible so that you’ll be able to determine what you’ll be buying as gifts and what you’ll want to pick up for yourself.  It may be hard to buy things for yourself when you’re spending money on gifts, but if something is a really good deal, it may be a good idea to pick it up now to avoid overpaying later.
  2. Set a budget. Budgeting may seem like a killjoy, but it’s a critical way to ensure that you don’t overspend on Black Friday (or during any other shopping spree).  Think about how much you want to spend on each gift and don’t exceed that amount.  If I may be so bold, I’d also suggest adding a few extra dollars to your budget above what you plan on spending so that when you see a great deal that you can’t pass up you will be able to pounce on it without feeling guilty.
  3. Pack snacks.  For many shoppers, Black Friday is more exhausting than any triathlon.  Make sure that you bring enough food and drinks to keep you calm and focused.  When you’re hungry, you may be tempted to overbuy ‘just in case’ so that you can get out of the store faster.  And, while you may be able to pick up nourishment at a store, but wouldn’t you rather be spending money on long-term purchases instead of unhealthy or overpriced food items?
  4. Carry circulars with you. Can you get a circular in the store?  Probably.  Will you want to battle the crowds for it?  Definitely not.  If you have advance copies of your local store circulars, bring them with you.  Not only will this help you stay focused on your shopping goals, but it’ll enable you to ask for help simply by pointing to the item in the circular, which will spare you from wandering aimlessly around the store.
  5. Take a friend.  The benefits of shopping in tandem are numerous.  For starters, you can split up the store in search of deals, which will shorten the shopping time and prevent you from throwing unplanned items in your cart.  What’s more, having a friend whose opinion you trust can help you decide which purchases are truly worthwhile and which items you can live without.
  6. Save your receipts.  It’s easy to lose receipts during the shopping frenzy, but it’s important to make sure that you keep your sales slips organized and accessible.  You may find the same item for cheaper in another store, or you may decide to replace a purchase with another one that you find later in the day.  You may also decide that something you’ve bought isn’t quite as great as you thought, and you just want to return it.  No matter what the reason is, having the receipts handy will make your life much easier.
  7. Rest up.  It’s a well-known fact that exhaustion leads to poor decision making, and since many Black Friday shoppers shop in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning, resting up in advance can give you the energy and clarity of mind you’ll need to avoid making poor choices.  Luckily for you, Thanksgiving is a national holiday so you should be able to sneak in a nap before you shop.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes. If you plan on spending hours on your feet, you might as well be comfortable.  Just keep in mind that if you plan on trying on dress shoes, you may want to bring dress socks or stockings so that you won’t have to try them on with sport socks or barefoot.

Moving for Cheap – How to Save Big

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Unlike weddings, vacations or new cars, moving is an oft-forgotten expense, one that most people don’t save money for on a regular basis.  And with the chance that your move could cost thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars, it’s important to think about how you can save money on your move.  Follow these 13 suggestions to reduce your moving expenses considerably and to enjoy moving for cheap without sacrificing the quality of your moving experience.

  • Get multiple moving quotes. The first step in the search for a cheap move is to compare several moving quotes so that you’ll know with certainty that you’re getting the best possible price.  When interviewing your potential moving companies, make sure that you aim to…
  • Be transparent. If you know that your move will require special accommodations, make them known from the outset.  While you may receive lower moving quotes if you omitCheap Moving certain details about your move, rest assured that you won’t be exempt from paying these additional fees.  Knowing about them in advance will help you compare your price quotes more accurately.
  • Don’t be shy.   If you think that a potential moving company might be negotiable on the price, ask for a reduction.  Or, once you’ve received your moving quotes, try asking your favorite movers to beat the lowest price quote, and see if they’ll reduce their price.
  • Love it or leave it.  Don’t spend money to move anything that you don’t truly love.  You can move more cheaply if you’re moving a smaller load, so don’t hesitate to get rid of anything that you don’t truly love.
  • Pack by yourself. Moving companies will charge you a significant sum both for packing materials and for the time it takes to pack your belongings.  You can save a small fortune by purchasing your own packing materials and packing non-breakable items yourself.
  • Ask for help.  Asking your family and friends to help out with your move can be a great way to reduce the costs of the experience.  You’ll get to enjoy time with your loved ones without paying steep fees to your movers.
  • Drive instead of flying.  If you’re bringing your car with you, driving it instead of paying for a car shipper can save you significant amounts of money – especially if you’re moving with a large family.  If you’re moving to a place that is far from the nearest airport (like Chattanooga, for example), driving can be an even more practical and affordable option.  You can save more by mapping out the cheapest gas stations on your route.
  • Stay organized. When moving, it’s important to remember that time is money.  If you are disorganized your movers will have a harder time with the process, which will cost you money.  Even if you’re embarking upon a do it yourself move, staying organized can spare you from hours of frustration and wasted time.
  • Leave out the liquids.   Whether you’re a liquor connoisseur or simply can’t part with your collection of flavor extracts, you should think strongly before packing any liquids – especially those that are flammable.  Although most movers expressly prohibit transports of these items, many people assume that they know better, and moving with liquids can wreak havoc on your other belongings in the event that one of the bottles spills or breaks.  You’ll save the aggravation and expense of potential damages by leaving the liquids behind.
  • Move mid-week.  Most people prefer moving close to the weekend so that they have time to focus on the move or to recover.  But if you’re looking to move cheaply, consider moving mid-week, as movers are less busy at that time and are more likely to offer you lower moving quotes.
  • Move mid-month.  Another time that you can likely get cheaper moving quotes is the middle of the month, as most people try to move towards the time they pay their last rental payment, which is usually at the beginning or end of the month.  If you can swing a mid-month move, you’re likely to see substantially cheaper prices than you would at other times of month.
  • Skip the summer.  The summer is an extremely popular time to move because children are out of school and their learning won’t be disrupted.  If possible, wait to move until the fall or winter when movers are a bit hungrier for your business.  This hunger will be reflected in cheaper moving prices.
  • Cancel your utilities on time.  A commonly overlooked way to save money on your move is to make sure that your utilities will be disconnected on the day that you move.  Allowing these services to continue for even a day or two after you move will cost you money needlessly.  Make sure to cancel your utilities as of your moving date.

Good luck with your move!

10 Items Worth Buying Used

Monday, September 20th, 2010

There’s no question that buying new things is exciting, but is it really necessary?  In some cases, the answer Save money by purchasing used strollersis a resounding yes.  Used laptops, for example, are never worthwhile, because you can’t really know what type of damage has been done to the item until it’s too late.  Ditto for used vacuums and cameras.  There are, times, however, where it’s not only sensible to buy used items, it’s actually beneficial.  Here are 10 items that I highly recommend buying used – not only to save money, but also to save sanity.

  1. Books. I’ll let you in on a little secret – the information in used books is identical to the information found in new books, but it costs a fraction of the price.  In my experience, there are several distinct benefits of buying used books.  First off, used books often have binding that is already worn-in, so you won’t need to exert yourself to hold the book open.  Secondly, if you purchase used academic text books you can often find the previous owner’s highlighting and notes in the margins which may offer insights and ideas that can help you (or your child) succeed.
  2. Toddler clothing. While many parents have an instinct to spoil their children, there is no rule that it needs to be with brand new clothing.  Toddlers have a tendency to ruin clothing quicker than others, and buying gently used toddler clothing is a great way to assuage the guilt associated with ruined clothing.  Not only will it be less painful to throw away used clothing that is ruined, but it’ll be less painful to replace it as well.  Sounds like another win-win situation to me!
  3. Special occasion outfits. Whether you’re the bridesmaid, the mother-of-the-bride or the honoree at a community event, chances are good that you’ll need a fancy outfit that you may not have a need (or desire) to wear again.  Why spend hundreds of dollars on a one-hit-wonder when you can buy a used outfit for a fraction of the price?
  4. Home accessories. You can find great deals on used home accents like mirrors and wall art, and even more functional items like cutlery and glassware.  These items don’t go bad and they can give an instant facelift to your home without costing you a fortune.  Be aware of home décor items that are out of style – but stay on the lookout for those that are back in style and can be scored at shockingly low prices.
  5. Sports equipment. There are so many types of sports equipment that can be purchased used, from baseball mitts to hockey sticks.  You can even purchase home gym items used such as weight machines, treadmills and stationary bikes.  If you (or your child) is new to exercise or sports, buying used sports equipment is a great way to test the waters and see if you really enjoy your new hobby.  If your child is a sports enthusiast, buying used equipment will make it possible for you to upgrade your child’s equipment as he grows – without breaking the bank.
  6. Video games and DVDs.  Most video games and DVDs are sold used because the owner is bored of them.  Your children can benefit from your neighbor’s boredom when you purchase used Save money by buying used video gamesvideo games and DVDs.  And, when your children (inevitably) get bored of these purchases, you’ll be able to sell them to defray the cost of purchasing new-used video games and DVDs.
  7. Music.  Much like people sell video games because of boredom, many people sell CDs because they’re tired of listening to the same music repeatedly.  Why shouldn’t you take advantage of the natural life cycle of a CD?  A word of warning – make sure that used CDs are not scratched before you purchase them.
  8. Cars.  My mother used to say that when you buy a used car you buy someone else’s problems.  But (sorry mom!) this theory doesn’t hold much water these days.  Cars depreciate the moment you drive them off the lot, with most of them depreciating at least 12% in the first year.  If you’re in the market for a ‘new’ car and want something up-to-date, you can save money by purchasing a used car within the first year or two of its life.  Make sure you have it checked out by a trustworthy mechanic before finalizing the deal.
  9. Cell phones.  If you need to replace your cell phone when you’re not entitled to a free upgrade you can score big savings by purchasing a used cell phone.  Not only can you find popular models like iPhones and Blackberries for significantly cheaper than their as-new prices, but you can also find cheaper models for next-to-nothing.  Purchasing the same phones new at your local Verizon or T-mobile phone store can cost you almost double.  If you’re buying a used cell phone online make sure to purchase from a certified seller, and double-check that the phone comes with the necessary charger and earpiece (when relevant).
  10. Strollers.  Today’s popular strollers can cost hundreds of dollars (think Bugaboo, Quinny, Phil & Ted’s and others).  Why spend full price when you can get a used stroller for hundreds less?  When buying a used stroller make sure that it opens and closes properly and that the fabric is in good condition.  Many moms change their strollers based on what’s new or upgrade to a smaller model when their child grows – or a double stroller if the need arises.  Used strollers can be a great bargain and can provide years of reliable service.

7 Surprising Back to School Money Wasters

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Back to school shopping often involves a lot of begging, crying and compromise.  Your children will undoubtedly beg for brand-name pencils, expensive backpacks and other ‘necessary’ items that you’re sure they can live without.  Of course, there are times when you’ll give in and other times when you will just have to say no.  It’s all part of the joy of parenting.  But when you’re evaluating when to give in and when to stand your ground, consider the list below which includes some of the most impractical back to school products ever invented.  Trust me.

Sandwich keepers

It doesn’t matter whether you get your sandwich keeper from the dollar rack at Target or spend more on one that willBack to School Money Wasters keep your kid’s lunch hermetically sealed.  It will only take a week or two for your child to lose the sandwich keeper or for you to find it hiding at the bottom of her backpack with an indistinguishable lunch caked into every corner.  Do yourself a favor and invest in sandwich bags.  For under 3 cents per bag you can find Ziploc-style bags that will block spills.  For even less you can find fold-and-close style bags that I used as a kid (without many mishaps, I might add).  As an added plus, you won’t need to wash them nightly.  And, of course, you won’t cry when they don’t make it home from school, as you would with your child’s sandwich keeper.

Binder Clips

Let’s face it – even adults can barely figure out how to open these contraptions.  Children can seldom use them independently, and even if you can get 40 for $1, they’re hardly worth the money.  In cases where simple paper clips won’t do the trick, consider using staples or a folder.  Unless the teacher requires binder clips, of course – but she won’t, because she knows they’re completely impractical.

Character Backpacks

I don’t know about you, but as a kid, I did not get a new backpack every year.  It was at least every 2 years, if it wasn’t longer.  If you want your children to use their backpack for more than one year, refrain from purchases that have Dora, Bob the Builder or any other character.  Chances aren’t good that they’ll like that character throughout even a single school year.  Chances of your child liking the same character next year are nearly nil.

Travel-Sized Hand Sanitizers

I’ve seen these advertised as an essential for any middle-schooler’s backpack, so that your child can avoid germs like the plague.  The problems are twofold.  Firstly, chances are slim that your child will actually remember to use said hand sanitizer, or that she’ll be able to use it without looking ‘nerdy’.  Secondly, some studies suggest that stripping the skin of all protective layers actually makes people more susceptible to germs and illness, and you wouldn’t want to risk it, would you?

New College Textbooks

New college textbooks cost a fortune and will probably become outdated within a year or two (if not sooner).  Why spend hundreds of dollars on new textbooks when you can get used copies at a fraction of the price?  As an added benefit, you may also be able to get the previous owner’s notes in the margins or highlights in the text which will make studying slightly less painful.

Rubber Bands

I’m not claiming that rubber bands are a useless invention, but just that purchasing them is a waste of money.  Because these may be one of the least-used back to school supplies available, you can probably survive by hoarding the rubber bands that bind your newspapers, circulars and mail.  Start a collection now so that by the time your child needs one (if ever), you’ll have multiple sizes available.

Legal Pads

Legal pads may be great for lawyers but they’re not ideal for students, as the perforated pages are prone to detaching from the pad.  Worse, there’s no way to find the page you’re looking for without mercilessly adding post-it notes to denote where each of your recordings are found.

Know of any other back to school money wasters that I’ve forgotten?  Please let me know!

4 Alternate Uses for $50

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

If you take a step back and look at your finances, you’ll see that the bulk of your income is spent on necessities – food, housing, health insurance and the like.  What’s left after the mandatory payments are made may not feel like a lot, but if spent properly, this is the money that can truly make you feel rich.  Most people don’t recognize that even when you’re splurging on a luxury item there are ways to make your money go a little bit further.  Here are four ways that you can better maximize $50 so that you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Out: Dry Cleaning
    In:  New Clothing
  2. If you pay $1 to clean a men’s dress shirt at the local dry cleaners and approximately $4 every time you need to have a pair of pants or a shirt dry cleaned, you’re probably spending about $50 a month on dry cleaning.  While this may not be considered a luxury, there are easy ways to save this money and apply it elsewhere.  For about $10, you can invest in Dryel to wash dry clean only clothing at home.  You can also wash your own men’s dress shirts without stressing about the ironing.  Try throwing the shirts into the dryer on the ‘tumble dry’ setting and removing them after about 20 minutes.  Hang them immediately and the wrinkles should fade right out.  With the remaining $40 you can go out and purchase a new piece of clothing that isn’t dry clean only, which will not only make you feel glamorous but will reduce your future laundry expenses as well.

  3. Out: 1 Trip to the Movie Theater
    In: 2-3 At-Home Movie Nights with Chinese Food
  4. With movie tickets costing close to $10 per person, babysitters costing a pretty penny and movie theater snacks continuing to be extremely overpriced, a night out at the movie theater can easily cost $50 (if not more).  Although you can’t quite replicate the excitement of the theater at home, you can enjoy more quality downtime by trading in your night at the movies and taking in a movie at home.  Even if you can’t score a free Blockbuster Express or Redbox rental, you can pay for a few films and a few Chinese dinners and still spend around $50.  Why relax at the movies only once a month when you can chill out multiple times for the same price by watching a great flick (with yummy food) at home?

  5. Out: Eating Out
    In: Ordering in and a Gym Membership
  6. If you go out to eat at least once a month (as a couple) you’re probably dropping at least $50 on your meal.  When you get home, you’re probably complaining that there’s no time for working out and no money for a gym membership.  But actually…if you order in you can save on the tip, avoid the expense of ordering a three course meal (or wine) and still have money to spare for a gym membership.  With many gyms (Gold’s Gym, Lucille Roberts,  Curves and others) charging around $15/month for membership (registration fee may apply) you can be on your way to feeling great while still enjoying a nice dinner once in a while.  While this may not instantly create more time in your day, studies show that people who pay for a gym membership often feel motivated to use it and can find the time necessary for a workout. And if not, well, you can always cancel it and put the money elsewhere!

  7. Out: Gourmet Coffee Habit
    In: Home-Brewed Coffee and a Splurge at the Grocery Store
  8. If you’re like thousands of consumers, you can’t seem to break your daily Starbucks habit, even if it is costing you lots of your hard-earned money.  But when it comes to the grocery store, you probably avoid purchasing things that look healthy and delicious because they’re too expensive.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have both?  With a bit of self-control and your eye on the final goal, you can!  Purchase ground coffee from your favorite café and make it on your own (you might need to spring for some flavored half-and-half to replicate the taste of the coffee shop).  With the other $40 (or so) dollars, you can find new food to try at the grocery store.  Perhaps the new Pepperidge Farm cookies you’ve been eyeing?  The whole-grain gabetta bread you’ve been hankering for?  Or maybe it’s the gossip magazine at the checkout counter that you’ve always wanted but could never rationalize buying?  Whatever you’ve been longing for at the grocery store can be yours – if you sacrifice your daily coffee indulgence.  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Try it once and decide for yourself!

Where Can You Find Cheap (or Free) Wedding Invitations

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

wedding-invitationYou’ve picked out your dress, the flowers and the food…but no wedding can be complete without the guests.  (Unless, of course, you’re eloping, but that’s a different story entirely).  As someone who studied advertising strategies (how do you think I’m able to find great deals advertised both in print and online?), I can tell you that the best way to ‘advertise’ your event is to find a way to use a minimal advertising budget to get the highest return on investment.  In this case, you should use cheap wedding invitations to get as many guests as possible to your wedding.  You’re probably thinking that cheap wedding invitations won’t inspire people to attend your event, but if so, you’d be wrong.  There are plenty of ways to create inexpensive or even FREE wedding invitations that will make a great impression on your friends and family.  Here are some ways to help you get started:

  1. Explore unconventional options. Did you know that Costco sells wedding invitations?  If you didn’t, you probably haven’t done your homework.  Don’t be afraid to ask around for local stationery options which may provide affordable alternatives to traditional printers.
  2. Buy cheap wedding invitations online. Yes, it is possible to create gorgeous (and cheap) invitations all by yourself.  One of my favorite places to make wedding invitations (and other stationery) is Vistaprint whose do it yourself wedding invitations start under $1 a piece.  Many online services print the invitations for you so you needn’t worry about feeding your paper piece by piece into a printer.
  3. Print your own invites. With kits from office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax you can enjoy embossed paper (which normally costs a fortune) at a surprisingly reasonable price.  Just a warning though – if you’re going to use do it yourself invitations you may want to practice on regular paper of the same size so that any errors won’t be on your fancy paper.
  4. Use postcards instead of letters.  Reading this suggestion in print may make you gasp, but if you’ve ever received a postcard wedding invitation you’d know that this is actually a fun and funky option, especially for those having a unique wedding ceremony.  Postcard wedding invitations will save you money on postage and envelopes, so they’re a double-winner in my book.
  5. Use postcard RSVP cards.  Even if you choose not to use postcards for the actual invitation, you can opt for postcard invitations which will create a cheap wedding invitation package without compromising the style of the actual invitation.
  6. Use one envelope.  Believe me, nobody will accuse you of choosing cheap wedding invitations if you only use one envelope.  Not only will you be protecting your budget, you’ll be protecting the environment.
  7. Skip embellishments.   You may be drawn to over-embellished wedding invitations, but these extras will add to the price of the invitations and to the shipping costs.  If you’re looking to make wedding invitations within a reasonable budget, skip the extras.  Oh, and did I mention that even the fanciest get tossed in the garbage?  Why waste money on this additional expense?
  8. Choose a standard shape.  Yup, it’s true…envelopes with unique shapes cost more to ship.  The often cost more to print as well.  I’m sure you can find beautiful wedding invitations that are a standard shape and size.

If you’re truly looking to scale back (or are even more ecological than I am), you may want to consider an Evite.  Still, while Evites are popular for reunions, holiday dinner and birthdays, they aren’t entirely acceptable for wedding invitations.  It would, however, be cool if you could contribute to the trend and see if it catches on.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this cheap wedding invitation suggestion as the ultimate way to save money.  If you do use an electronic wedding invitation, please share – I’m sure my friends will be as inspired as I will be!

How to Stop Wasting Money

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

save-moneySaving money takes effort, thought and sacrifice – but wasting money seems to be something that just happens, whether or not we want it to.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  Since we all tend to waste money without thinking about it, we can also train ourselves to subconsciously avoid wasting money, a process which can save a considerable amount of money throughout the year.  Using these tricks will prevent you from wasting your money and will allow you to save it for the future.  Or, at the very least, a deliberate splurge.

  1. Avoid convenience stores. They may be convenient, but boy are they overpriced!
  2. Research big-ticket items. You’ve known for months that you want that Wii – surely you can wait another day or two before purchasing it, so that you can find the best price, right?
  3. Use coupons. If you ask me, paying full price is akin to wasting money.
  4. Take water with you. You may be surprised to learn that spending money on beverages is one of the most common ways to waste money.  A soft-drink on the run or at a restaurant can cost 5 times (or more) as much as it would at a grocery store.  And, of course, water is FREE!
  5. Stop paying credit card fees. With so many free credit cards available, why pay money to spend it?
  6. Avoid ATM fees. With a bit of advance planning you can wander near a bank-owned ATM which will eliminate ATM fees (for most banks).
  7. Use fabric napkins and rags. Even if you’re not concerned about the environment (which perhaps you should be), you can enjoy being ecological by skipping the paper napkins and paper towels, which cost (um, waste) up to $3/month.
  8. Wash your own car. The waste of money in this case is obvious.
  9. Skip the extended warranty. It sounds like a great way to save money, but chances are you won’t need it.  And even if you do, servicing most products is similar in price to the warranty, so you’re not really losing money.
  10. Create your own greeting cards. Everyone loves a funny Hallmark card, but you can create an equally heartfelt card for free.  Why waste money on a piece of paper that will get thrown away?

And, since I truly hate when people waste money, here are 3 more ways to stop wasting money:

  1. Cancel unused memberships. Why pay for the gym that you’re not using?
  2. Buy knockoffs. There’s no need for a real Gucci when you can have a purse (or necklace) that looks nearly the same for a fraction of the price.  Do you really care if it has the Gucci logo, or are you buying it for the style?
  3. Switch to a VOIP phone. This internet-based telephone can stop you from wasting money on a monthly basis and is especially great for international phone calls.