One of the new kids on the block in regards to frugal blogs is Frugal Mania, located at www.frugalmania.com. This website is a part of the 451 Press network, an ever-expanding presence on the Internet that now boasts over 300 blogs. Frugal Mania is run by Allison Goines, who is a “student, homemaker and mother of three,” according to to her bio on the site. This site started just in July, but already, they are dishing out new tips at an amazing rate. This is one site that you never have to worry about stale content–it’s updated almost every day, and sometimes many times a day.
There are a number of awesome hints at Frugal Mania, and Allison seems to have a knack for uncovering other helpful sites as well that can be of service in all parts of our lives to help us save money. Some of my favorite posts from the past few weeks include The Top Ten Money Drains, Frugal and Green, and Net Worth.
My one criticism of the site would be that her posts don’t really have a lot of depth. The blog itself isn’t really “fun” to read–it’s more like a list of money-saving tips. However, this can be a good thing as well. I don’t have to shuffle through lots of personal stories, opinion pieces, and irrelevant posts. I can log online, read a few quick tips for the day, and be on my way. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend learning about ways to save money, sites like Allison’s are a godsend.
What will she come up with tomorrow? Who knows…but I’ll be at her blog, reading it to find out the latest and greatest money saving tip she finds!
Do you like to take road trips with your family? Does anyone ever complain about their neck hurting? I’m sure that you have seen those comfortable-looking neck pillows that are made for travel. If not, I should tell you that they can be a bit expensive for a pillow. Here is a way that you can provide some comfort without spending the extra money on the luxury.
Use the material from old clothing as the outside of the pillow. Sew the sides into the shape of a pillow, but be sure to leave a whole open to stuff the pillow. You can shape it to be a square, rectangle, or the U shape that neck pillows come in. You can also add a zipper, or use the zipper from the item of clothing you are using, so you can empty it for a wash in the machine.
You can use other pieces of old clothing, rice, collections of lint from the dryer, beans, or cotton balls to fill the pillows.
Once the pillow is stuffed to your liking, seal the opening.
That’s all there is to it. Be creative. It is a fun and easy project!
Everyone wants their wedding day to be special. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford the fairy tale wedding that celebrities have. You can get into serious debt if you don’t know how to get the best deals. Here are some simple, and practical money saving tips for planning a wedding. (This is a subject that’s near and dear to me, since my youngest sister, Leanna, got married last weekend. She followed most of these tips.)
Keep the guest list as small as possible. Invite immediate family and close friends only. If you don’t want a tiny wedding, a guest list of 50-75 is just intimate enough for a brief and personal greeting with each guest.
Make the wedding favors yourself. This doesn’t have to be super labor-intensive. My sister got wedding-themed conversation hearts and some little bags with drawstrings; they cost a tiny bit more than circles of netting with ribbons, but she assembled all the favors in less than an hour.
If possible, have the food set up buffet style instead of served. Leanna got some “sandwich trays” from the local supermarket and it was very easy to arrange them in a buffet line.
Instead of having a special cake designed, you can make it yourself. You can also have a non traditional cake. One idea is to have a couple different cakes prepared, with one special cake with the bride and groom’s names, or something special, so you know which one to cut.
Keep the bridal party small. Just have a best man and maid of honor.
If you can, buy your wedding dress during the $99 gown sale at David’s Bridal or consider Target. Leanna didn’t find anything she loved in those cases, but she did get a gorgeous and fairly inexpensive non-sale dress at David’s Bridal.
Get your shoes from a department store, not a specialty shoe shop. My bridesmaid shoes were on sale for $20.
The Frugal Duchess says of herself, “I’m another spoiled writer, with fine tastes and a small budget.” Sounds like my kind of girl! The Duchess’ real name is Sharon Harvey Rosenberg, and her website, found at sharonhr.blogspot.com, is one of the blogs on the ‘net if you’re interested in money-saving tips. The tagline? “A fun, frugal & fashionable way to save money & live well.” After checking out her site, I think that this tagline is extremely fitting.
One of the best things about the Frugal Duchess and her blog is her ability to make a boring subject interesting. For example, when writing a post on money management, she sites her kids’ lemonade stand and talks about the need to love what you do, plan for the rough times, and market yourself.
Her posts are also easy to read, because she organized them in quick-to-scan bullet points. For example, in her post about Converting Clutter into Space, Tim & Money, Sharon takes six tips and teaches readers to cut clutter using resource links and step-by-step instructions.
If I had to say anything bad about the Frugal Duchess and her blog, I’d be hard pressed to give my critical comments. She does repeat the information about her different shops and books at the end of each post, which gets a little repetitive when you’re scrolling through the great content, so these things would better serve as a sidebar. However, I’m willing to overlook this because the posts she makes are thought provoking and original.
I’d recommend Sharon’s blog to anyone who lives the frugal lifestyle! I can’t wait to see the next piece of advice she has for those of us concerned with saving money.
Guest post: Ten interest-saving tips your credit card company doesn’t want you to know
Drowning in credit card debt is a burden for many people. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin, or it seems like your debt is so large you’ll never escape. The following are ten simple ways to help you move towards debt-freedom.
1. Pay your highest interest rate cards off first.
This is considered common knowledge these days, but it’s easy to confuse paying off your highest interest credit cards with paying down your highest balance. Even if you owe only $150 on a 28% department store card and $5,000 on an 18.5% credit card, pay your minimum monthly payment on your higher balance, and use as much as is left over to get that monster-rate balance clear. (Then forget about using that card again until your other debts are down!)
2. Double up on payments
Paying your minimum payments twice a month (every 2 weeks or every paycheck) will get your debt down to zero in less than half the time of paying once! If you can manage, doubling up at the beginning of the month will save you even more. Lenders make more interest the longer you wait to pay.
3. Don’t wait to pay
The day your bill arrives, it’s a good time to make your payment. Don’t let the grace period trick you into thinking you’re saving interest charges on anything but your most recent purchases.
4. Pay online
Using online banking cuts out a few days worth of snail mail travel time (and thus, interest charges), and saves you the cost of the check. Plus you’re less likely to risk late payment penalties due to a problem with the mail. Remember, however, that online payments may take a couple days to clear depending on your bank, so plan your payment a few days before it’s due.
5. No more notes
If you do send in checks each month, avoid writing notes as your credit card company is allowed to route your note with the bills and checks attached to them to different departments for up to five days which could cause you to miss your payment due date. The same goes for memos.
6. Write clearly
Your check may also be passed around for five days if your handwriting is difficult to decipher. So print nicely to avoid late fees.
7. Don’t be charmed by pre-approved credit cards
If you’re already approved (and you have poor credit) there are a couple reasons why you should run from such offers. Credit card companies are banking that you will rack up more debt (this is how you got in your situation to begin with), and to match your risk comes a high interest rate.
8. Read the fine print on 0% balance transfers
Balance transfers sound like they are buying you time, but remember that there is often a fee (2% or so of your balance to be transferred) just to make the transfer. And your low APR won’t last forever and will rebound to a much higher rate after as little as three months. Your interest rate on purchases or cash advances is also something to watch for. These can be even higher and usually there is no grace period. Unless you’re confident you can pay off your debt and not make any new purchases while your 0% period lasts, you may end up worse off than when you transferred.
9. If you’re really in trouble…
When your debt is so large that you’re considering bankruptcy, here’s a little known tip. Credit card lenders would rather get something out of you than nothing. So call your credit card companies and explain truthfully your situation. Ask for at least a two month stay on your debt with no payments required so you can work on resolving your bad credit. Request that they note this in your file and make note of the supervisor or agent you spoke with. Your credit card company may be willing to either forgive part of your outstanding debt, rework your monthly payment schedule/requirements or eliminate your interest payments over the long-term. It may seem tempting just to declare bankruptcy and forget about the debt completely, but remember that bankruptcy carries its own consequences that greatly affect your future credit options.
10. Flee annual fees
You probably didn’t know that you could ask your credit card company to waive your annual fee. Call your credit card company and mention that you are considering switching to a different company’s offer but you would consider staying with your current card should your annual fee be waived. You’ll probably get it.
If you’re disciplined enough to never carry a credit card balance, don’t even bother getting any card with an annual fee. The main reason for annual fees is for the credit card company to be able to offer rewards or lower interest rates and charge a bit extra for the privilege. If you essentially don’t pay any interest anyway, you don’t care whether your card is 9.99% interest or 19.5%.
About the guest blogger: Linda Bustos is the Marketing Director for Creditorweb.com, where you can learn about credit cards and compare credit card ratings and reviews. And check out how close you are to debt freedom with the credit card payoff calculator.