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.


Money saving tip on your electric bill: It’s all in the fridge

December 10, 2007

I bet that a refrigerator is a must-have in every in every household. It’s like the holy grail of food storage. We all take time to check out the latest models like the way we check out the latest shoes or the scores on Sunday night football.

But let’s admit it, having a fridge raises the electric bills more than a notch. I remember the first time I lived by myself. I didn’t buy a fridge because I felt that it was unnecessary. My meals basically were all take out or delivered or dine out. But then, I realized that my no-cooking lifestyle was a costly one.

That’s the time I decided to get a refrigerator.

It’s all in the fridge

Yes,I got to save on buying take out or ordering Chinese, but then when my electric bill came in, something I was able to accept at first,I was torn between getting of the fridge and going back to my eat-out lifestyle. I know, pretty trivial, but when you’re living alone in Manhattan and the only appliances you have is a 24-inch colored tv and a fridge and an electric fan, and two incandescent light bulbs, and your bill’s a hundred bucks, you’ll also seriously wonder where you went wrong.

So, have developed ways to maximize my fridge use because I realized that it’ s somewhat an indispensable stuff. Want to share these with you:

  • Place it a few inches from the wall. Ideal distance is 3-5 inches so as to let the motor breathe.
  • Regularly clean the condenser coils. Regular intervals would be once to two times a week.
  • Always make sure the door gaskets are tightly closed. Also, defrost regularly. Regular here also means once to twice a week.
  • If you’re a first time or a seasoned buyer, go for refrigerators that have the Energy Efficient Factors (EEF).
  • Cool down the hot dishes first before putting them inside the fridge. Hot foods make the fridge generate more electricity in order to cool down the food.

I know these tips might be no-brainers already. But sometimes, we tend to forget the basic things because of life’s complications. Simple ways like those above can definetely let us save more on our electric bills. And who can imagine that our savior is just standing in our kitchen?


Glam up your home this Christmas at no costs

December 6, 2007

Glam up your home this Christmas at no costs

No matter how tight our budget maybe this holidays, I know we allot a percentage of our money to buying decorations. I, for myself feel that decorating during this time of the year lightens up my mood. Odd as it seems, I still feel glowing even though I went over my budget for decors. But this year, I have made a pact with myself to make sure that I stay within my spending boundaries but my home still radiating.

I have come up with a few ways on how to give my flat a festive vibe while not stressing that I have went over board when it comes to my budget. Like to share them with you:

  1. Decide a theme. Choosing one theme makes it easier for us to make a list of what are the trinkets that we will be buying. Like if we want a white mood, then our trip to the store less stressful.
  2. Make use of your natural surroundings. Take a walk and scout for twigs and pinecones. Go green as much as you can.
  3. Go to sales or discount stores. Never understimate discount stores. They have fabulous products at very affordable prices.
  4. Buy a day after the big day. Perks during the day after Christmas? For one, the prices are usually after the price and people traffic is almost non-existent.
  5. Place a wreath as your centerpiece. It’s table life will last from Thanksgiving till Christmas or even New Year.

Decorating during the holidays is virtually part of our system. I have followed the first two ways above. It doesn’t matter really how expensive or how cheap our decorations are. But it would be a great relief if we go to sleep knowing how our friends will be awed when they see our decorations and we still have extra budget to serve them mac and cheese.


Tips for saving money for college freshies

December 5, 2007

School has just started like three months ago.  Everybody is in the holiday spirit, well so am I.. but then again, I feel that we should also focus on other matters that have direct effects on our lives.    

Tips for saving money for college freshies 

I went to college myself and I fully know how challenging it is to budget money to make it just through a single day.  We all know college is expensive and costly.  Our folks worked hard all their parenting lives just to get us into a good college. I, for one have to work while I was in the University.  So, just want to share a few tips on how to save money while you’re still in your first year as a college student.  When you’re able to save, even a little, it is already a big help to your parents. After all, they have other things to attend to, like mortgage and retirement.

  • Get a credit card.  I know that maybe a lot have been given credit cards at a younger age. But if you still don’t have one, apply.  You can have your parents add you as an extension so that they can keep track of your expenses. They know how to do the math.  My mom did the same for me. Plus, this will be a solid foundation for a good credit history. 
  • Scout for scholarships and grants.  These opportunities will help you avoid making large student loans which will end you up in a large debt.  This is the time for you to discover your abilities and take them to the next level.  This is a win-win situation. You land a scholarship plus you’ll be able to show what you are really capable of. We all have our own unique talents and skills, we just need to tap them.
  • Take a year off afte highschool graduation.  Well, this is a tough choice. Taking off here doesn’t mean slacking off getting a job to save enough money for your tuition.  I feel that this will let you sort out your priorities. And, you’re not alone, the heirs to the British throne, Princes William and Harry, did take time off. But then, not all of us live in castles, literally, all I’m saying is that it will never hurt to take a job before going t college.
  • Work minimally while studying.  Your main goal is to study. You work to pay for your tuition or to have your daily allowance. Know your priorities.
  • Do the math with your parents.  Sit down with your folks and come up with the specific budget that you’ll be needing. Include everything and be realistic as possible. Don’t be shy to tell them the exacr amount that you need for an item. They’re your  parents so they will think of your best interest.

What’s important is you consider ever single aspect and never be hesitant to let your parents know what you need. If necessary, get a job. Major money saving tip, spend with what you have bu work your way to have more.