Post-Christmas money saving tip: Bargain till you can’t bargain no more

December 27, 2007

Christmas has passed and I know that we are all experiencing a “post-holiday stress disorder” in some ways. We have prepared more than we can, invited even those we really don’t want to in the spirit of the season of giving and loving, but I bet that we can never get tired of shopping even after all the Christmas stress.As I’ve said in my previous post, it is ideal to shop days after Christmas. This is because the retailers are in a rush to reach their sales goals for the year so prices go down for us to splurge on. But, after all the money spent last Christmas, do we still have enough for New year? The answer to this dilemma, go for bargains.

Where to go for bargains?

Yeah, yeah. Bargains will be everywhere. But we have to make sure that we don’t sacrifice quality just for the sake of a low price. So, here are a money saving tips on spotting the worthy bargains.

  • Sports stores

Sports stuff retailers do give out worth items on bargain. Sports-related items are always made with the highest quality regardless of price. Sports pieces can mixed and matched with all your wardrobe imaginable.

  • Novelty shops

Shops of this kind usually give out more bargains especially for items that haven’t done well in the sales department. So, you get to be original and save at the same time. Isn’ t that a bargain or what?

  • Ebay

    You may feel a bit skeptic because shopping online takes a vital shopping experience, the “trying it on” part. But the answer to this is to know what you really want. If you’re eyeing for a dress and ebay offers it, then go ahead and bid for it. If it doesn’t fit, just immediately ship it back to make the necessary changes. Plus, you can earn by listing stuff in your closet that you don’t need. If that doesn’t spell more money in your checking account, I don’t know what will.

    • Low-end to high end stores

    To a shopper by heart, the type of store doesn’t really matter as long as they offer the stuff you want in good condition. You can find great deals from Payless to Targe tto Macy’s to Bloomingdales at this time of the year.

    Affordability and quality should be top priority

    We should never set aside that after New Year, there is a another 365 days that we have to live for. So, make sure you still have enough to spend till next pay day, at the least.

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    Money saving tips on cutting down on your tax bill

    December 26, 2007

    It’s T minus 4 days before 2007 ends so do the time to pay our taxes is also looming.

    In the deepest of our hearts, we just want to pay the most reasonable tax as we want to make sure that they go to where they should be. For at the end of the day, tax is one of the two things in this world that is inevitable. Death being the other one, of course.

    So, have come up with a few money saving tips on how to wisely and legally cut down on your tax bill for this year and for the coming years to come.

    • Donate now
      Now is one of the perfect times to give something to charities. The accepted amount that you can donate should not be more than 50% of your annual gross income. But make sure to give to a charitable institution that you truly support. It’s your hard-earned money that they’ll be getting.
    • Be environment-friendly
      Buying the eco-friendly stuff can make give you a $500 savings and less tax. IRS.gov says that we can save $50 for getting a main air circulating fan and a propane and $150 for a qualified natural gas. A high-efficiency air conditioning system or water heater can qualify us for a $300 tax.
    • Chip something to your retirement plan
      Even if you’re still young and strong, it’s prudent to put up on your retirement. You can donate to a maximum of $15,000 or $20,500 if you’re in your 50’s.

    Paying our taxes is one of the thing we will do in our lifetime. Some manage to evade but in the end still get busted. But I can understand some who are hesitant because we want to really see how our taxes are spent. Just have to do our part and monitor what is happening around us.


    Money saving tips on shopping for the real eco-friendly products

    December 20, 2007

    Every one is realizing the need to go green. Want proof? Look at this year’s Nobel prize winners. Efforts to make people use environment friendly products are more aggressive and assertive more than ever.I bet you’re making efforts to go green yourselves. I, for one have purchased LED lights this year. Yes, I was inspired by the beautiful Christmas tree in Rockefeller plaza. The need to go environment friendly is more necessary now. But there’s a catch, how do we know if we’re really buying “green” products? Well, with these money saving tips, we don’t need degrees in biology to figure if we’re really being friendliest to mother nature and at the end of the day save more bucks.

    • Do your research

    There are online environmental agencies where you can do a little background check on the “greenness” of the products you’re eyeing for. You have fscus.org by the International Forest Alliance Stewardship to give you a complete list of wood-made products that were manufactured without any damage or waste, no over-consumption and over-harvesting. Made-by.com, a Netherlands-based organization monitors a garment’s “footprint” The footprint is a record of how the garment was made, from the materials to the actual production.

    • Spot the label

    Be sure to check a product’s label to see if it has passed environment safety standards. Look for (Design for the Environment) DfE logos in household cleaners. If this is mark is present, it means that the items are made with low-volatile organic compounds. If these compounds are in their highs, they can cause serious damage to groundwater and give out greenhouse gasses. The end result, well, we all now experience a dose of that. Just look at the 7 inches of snow in some states.

    Also, look for “Energystar” in your kitchen appliances. This reflects that the kitchen products are energy-efficient. All labels are given by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    • Think about the consequences

    Most of all, what’s important is that we all let the inner environmentalists out. In our hearts, we know that even an inch drop is harmful. Because if we combined all the wastes even just in our block, the weakening atmosphere will be more paralyzed. So, let’s all do our part. If we do, we all not just revive mother earth, but revive our bank accounts as well.


    Holiday shopping tips to avoid maxing out your credit card

    December 18, 2007

    Shopping gets jollier when the holidays kick in.

    We all know how therapeutic shopping is. But admittedly, we do experience a bit of a downside a few weeks after when our credit card bills come in. It’s like the point of regret comes in, we all try to justify what we swept our card for, and at the end of the day, we all pay our debts.

    Morning sickness
    I remember when I first lived solo that I experienced some spasm episodes whenever I open my visa bill. It was like the world is spinning and I turned into the most positive person in the world but then my hopes went to all-time lows as I saw how I have overly taken advantage of my credit limit. Those morning sickness scenarios were strongly triggered by my card’s interest rates. With the rates ranging anywhere from 7- 29% every month, you could end up paying $70 at the end of the year. After seeing the bill, I immediately dialled the customer service number and wait for like $45 minutes before getting a real person to speak to and $15 minutes to get the answer that I already knew deep inside.

    Holiday shopping tips to avoid maxing out your credit card

    Long and winding road to enlightenment
    After those spasm episodes, I vowed to myself that I will never, ever let that happen again. But hey, I didn’t take a hiatus on shopping. Just made notes on how to avoid maxing out those precious plastics.

    Saving to avoid pain

    • List all the stuff you need

    Prioritize the things you really need. And it doesn’t end in listing. Try to buy them first. Yes, there are distractions as you strut around, but resisting the temptation will save us from future pain. After getting the most necessary stuff, then you can follow your shopping instincts at a one-second interval.

    • Make use of gift cards

    Those gift cards come in handy especially during the holidays. Using them trims down your spending via credit card at a considerable amount. As the old bible story goes, use what is given to you rather than burying them underground. Also, if you have unused credits at a store, time to get the shoes rolling and use ’em.

    • Take note of what you have spend on

    This may sound old-school, but it works. Makes you avoiding buying stuff twice or thrice with just an another brand. But if you prefer to buy a dress in all the available colors (just like me), have it your way. Point is, just list everything so that you’ll have something to compare with when the credit card bill comes in.

    • Demand for receipts and keep them

    Make sure to keep all records of your transactions, at least till your bill for the month comes in. Again, for comparison purposes. Not making you put them on a collage, just keep them in safe place and then shred them after they have served their purpose.

    Not going overboard
    The holidays can bring stress but the post-Christmas stress is more demanding because this is when all the results of our shopping spending pours in. But, never let the challenge of spending wisely ruin your jolly spirit. At the end of the day, everything we shop for is really justified. Aren’t they?


    Money saving tips to a magical Disneyland trip

    December 17, 2007

    Is it not everybody’s dream to go to Disneyland and pose with Mickey?

    disneyland themepark

    As they, Christmas is really for the kids, and those who are kids at heart. (Guilty of that!) And one of the top hotspots at this time of the year for the young at heart is the infamous Disneyland.

    Childhood escapade
    My mom took me there when I was 8 years old. Old enough to remember the trip but still young enough to be obedient to not let go of her hand so I won’t be lost in the crowd. Went there after Thanksgiving. Disneyland was like a real-life child’s dreamland. Back then,I felt it was larger than life, like a big and wide playground with all the castles and rides and that the cartoon characters were my playmates.

    Tipoffs
    Not only are airfares costly these days, more so if you’re thinking of going to Disneyland outside U.S. Airfares don’t come in a few bucks especially if you have a couple of kids to take with you. Also, you have to allot for souvenirs, food and and as well as hotel accommodations. Here are money saving tips to make your trip to the big D hassle-free and budget-friendly.

    • Take advantage of their vacation packages.

    Disneyland’s vacation packages offer a great ease to the stress of how can you actually go to Disneyland. All you need is fill out their online booking form.

    • Plan ahead.

    Now, operative word here is ahead. A month is a safe time frame. This gives you time to make the necessary arrangements, like for you to file a leave at work or at school for your
    kids, or to let your relatives know of your vacation. This gives time to also make
    adjustments for your monthly payments such as mortgage, electricity, and home bills and
    your credit card bills. Ultimately, this will give you time to save money for the most-
    awaited trip.

    • Call your travel agent, early.

    This makes sense if you’re unsure of how to navigate Disneyland’s online booking site.
    Again, a month’s time is the safest.

    • Go with the rush

    They have lower rates during peak seasons. I know reverse psychology tells us to go off-season. But in this case, the Disneyland amusement parks and the partner hotels do offer more affordable rates, more so for families and big groups during peak season. Just take note of the one month’s notice.

    Money well spent
    After all the fuss, every dollar that you’ll be spending will be worth it. Your kids will not be the only ones who’ll be having the time of their lives but you’ll enjoy the most as well. You’ll wear the mickey hats and scream at the rides. Most of all, with these money saving tips, you’ll not worry of an empty wallet after going to the place dubbed as the happiest place on earth.


    Save while you shop at a dial’s notice

    December 13, 2007

    Shop till you drop this Christmas. But you won’t drop because your cards are maxed out, thanks to your mobile phone.

    During the holidays, retail stores and even online shops have been dropping discounts as frequent as we change channels on tv. As I have observed, most retail shops launch grand sales either at the middle or end of the week, specifically Wednesday. Why this fateful day? This is owing to their tradition of assesing their sales over the weekend on Mondays, then planning proceeds on a Tuesday.

    So, we now know WHEN to shop. Next thing to ponder on is how to shop all the things you need but still have something left for other expenses, like for next two weeks’ shopping spree.

    Th e answer to this eternal question; put out your mobile phone.

    If you’re like me, who hops from one shop to another before buying, then this money saving tip is a big relief. We can check out the item’s price in another store by dialing 888-DO-FRUCALL on our mobile phones. Hard to swallow, right? Well, that was my initial reaction as well. But aftert actually dialing it, I realized this is a life-saver. What the FRUCALL does is they look up the price of the product in other stores. Take note, this requires no membership or monthly fees. Of course you’ll be charged with the standard outgoing call rates by your mobile phone provider. But other than that, shopping is actually a phone call away.

    Certainly, you’ll be punching in some details of the product for FRUCALL to effectively give you the most accurate price tags. You have to enter the following:

    • name of the product
    • 12-digit bar or UPC code of the product

    This service will not only save us time to look around and check if some store offers a lower price for our must-have items but will give us more free period to browse on other products. Thus not taking away the therapeutic effects of shopping.


    Mortgage reforms: Good news or bad news?

    December 11, 2007

    Mortgage is still somewhat distant in my plans since I’m still renting. But I knew how my mom struggled to pay our mortgage when I was still under her care. She called me two hours after President Bush announced reforms in subprime mortgage, she almost screamed or at least that’s what she sounded like, saying that why wasn’t this done years ago.

    Why only now?

    His administration’s rationale was that this is a way to make the financial markets “sober” due to the crazy paranoia over credit issues. In English? They want to show that they are doing something to ease the growing worries of American mortgage payers. Let me show you the mortgage rates playing in the market right now:

    Loan type

    30-yr fixed –> 5.65%

    15-yr fixed –> 5.25%

    3/1 ARM –> 5.40%

    5/1 ARM –> 5.62%

    30 yr fixed jumbo –> 6.4 8%

    Source: mortgageloan.com/Rates/

    These rates are at their all-time highs. And if the U.S. economy will continue to splurge, then these will go sky-rocket and the time may come that more than half of the mortgage payments, including me, in the future, will be late in making payments. That is not a good site, we may all be stripped off the roof above our heads.

    Good news or bad news?

    A welcomed change

    Financial experts remarked that this move freeze the mortgage rates for subprime payers is a good step. Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 payers who are behind due to reset, will be able to do a refinancing with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loans. Definitely a welcomed change because in the past, FHA does not insure refinanced loans from delinquent borrowers.

    What gives?

    In order to take advantage of this reform, you must be able to show documentation that your original loan was subsequently paid until the reset to the rates above and should have approximately 3% home equity. Clarifying the gray skies, the FHA will guarantee the mortgage to the banks and lenders.

    Take the cap off

    But critics are saying that this is just a short-sighted remedy for an acute disease. Quoting from a report from Fox News, they say that the taking off the “current cap on how many home loans mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can hold in their portfolios and by lifting the current cap on the so-called jumbo loans that these two mortgage giants would be able to purchase.”

    Good news, at least on the face of it

    I feel that this is a good news for all of us. One of the main reasons why I am hesitant to but a house is because of the high mortgage rates.If this measure wasn’t laid out, the rates will be higher as they will reset again by the end of next year. But there should be more. The government should be able to have a stronger grip of the privately-owned home mortgage loans agencies.

    Mortgage and gas are the two main things that almost all of us worry before we go to sleep at night. Hopefully, more measures will be implemented so that our hard-earned money will be enough for us to have a solid crib to go home to.