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Curtis Home Catalog Services Readers Corner Research Kids Teens

Call For Action: How to Create an Emergency Fund in a Year

August 28th, 2014

- It’s not that hard to create an emergency fund
- Money experts we should all have 3 to 6 months expenses put away
- There are places we are spending money we don’t have to (it’s money we could put aside in our emergency fund)
- We can put together a $500 emergency fund in 6 months or less
- Look for places you are squandering money
- Save money by shaping around for prescription drugs (call each pharmacy in your area and ask “what do you charge for…”)
- Save money during lunch (eliminate one drive through a week, bring your lunch instead)
- Sell on eBay as opposed to garage sales (Examples: “clothes in her closet she’s never going to wear;” toys kids will not play with again)
- Go forth and save!

Option for Saving Money – Consider Using a Hipster PDA

August 15th, 2014

800px-Hipster_PDA

Hipster PDA

iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pros et al. are wonderful gadgets but they’re also uber-pricey and possibly even addictive.

If you feel the need to have the latest and greatest [ fill in the blank with your favorite technology toy ] — and are spending more time online than in the real world, consider embracing the luddite within and fighting gadget lust by going “technology free” (at least at home).

For example, instead of using a fancy-schmancy iOS task manager such as OmniFocus, consider using a “Hipster PDA” – which is nothing more than a set of index cards held together by a rubber band. For additional organization, you can use color coded index cards!

Instead of a calendar application, use a paper calendar.

Instead of watching a streaming movie on an Apple TV, go outside and perceive the full worth of a sunset.

Instead of reading an e-book on an iPad, read an actual factual book (Curtis has 124,261 of them).

If these sound like they could be viable options for you, you can go through each of the home computer and smart phone applications that you use and seek out "real world" alternatives for them.

Then you can sell your gadgets on eBay (or somewhere else) and bank the proceeds.

Luddite
a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology

Discover Your Barista Within…

August 6th, 2014

Cutting back on small, frequent expenses like buying coffee instead of brewing it at home can be a painless way to save money.

Even if you don’t frequent Starbucks and instead spend $1.29 each work day at a convenience store — that still amounts to $323.79 per year.

(Plus the incidentals you might be tempted to buy while you’re there such as donuts, candy bars, bags of potato chips, lottery tickets, etc.)

Instead, buy an inexpensive coffee maker (or learn to love instant) and discover your barista within.

Figure out how much money you had been spending in coffee shops (or wherever you had buying it each month) and then put that money into your savings account (or drop that amount into a jar each day and deposit it at the end of the month).

Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self.
― Terry Pratchett, Thud!

What is a Debit Card?

July 28th, 2014

Untitled-3A debit card looks like a credit card and works like a credit card – but it isn’t.

It’s simply a more convenient way to pay for something than writing a check or digging money out of your purse or wallet.

You can also use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM.

Many banks offer free debit cards with your checking and/or savings account.

When your pay for something with a debit card, the money will be deducted (either immediately or within a few days) from your bank account.

Unlike a credit card, there is no application or approval procedure for a debit card. And using a debit card will not affect your credit rating in the slightest.

Using a debit card to pay for most (if not all) of your purchases may provide you with a safer alternative to carrying cash.

If you lose your debit card, contact your bank immediately and have them put the deep freeze on it.

TIP: Think before you swipe. Ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”

Question: Are there any disadvantages to using a debit card?

Answer: Possibly.

Would you be more likely to buy things you don’t really need if you only had to hand over (or swipe) a piece of plastic? As opposed to real money?

Although there are no fees associated with using a debit card, you may find yourself spending more money with a debit card than you would if you had to write a check or pay cash for your purchases.

If you’re not careful, you could also overdraw your bank account (or go below the “minimum balance” for your account) and have to pay a &%$# fee.

A Painless Way to Save Money

If you don’t use a debit card and instead pay cash for your purchases — and then piggy bank the coins you receive in change — you will (after a year or so) find yourself with several hundred dollars in “free money” (after you emptied the piggy bank onto your kitchen table and rolled the coins).

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.
— Coco Chanel

Now is the Time to Create a Real World Food Budget

July 24th, 2014

Let’s face it, we can spend a lot of money — too much money — on food!

In his best selling book, The total money makeover : a proven plan for financial fitness, Dave Ramsey suggests that families spend somewhere between 5-15% of their monthly income on food, and he includes eating out.
cheap-meal

The United States Department of Agriculture has published a food budget plan chart for individuals and families:

  • Thrifty plan
  • Low-cost plan
  • Moderate-cost plan
  • Liberal plan

Official USDA Food Plans

Click here to view the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.

Food Budget in the Real World

For example, a single fellow, age 49, who needs to cut expenses and lose a few pounds (or 20) could select the “Thrifty” plan and spend no more than $187.70 per month on food (which is $46.88 per week).

At the beginning of each month or week, he could withdraw that amount from his bank account and pay cash for all of his food purchases. (The coins he receives in change could go into a piggy bank to be rolled at the end of the year for a “surprise” windfall.)

This chap would need to be frugal because when that money is gone, it’s gone until the next week (or month).

Afraid of Getting Mugged? Use a Debit Card Instead

Another option would be to use a debit card; graciously accept your receipts from the cashier (or food serving person if you’re dining out) and carefully total up the costs for your food purchases.

Hang tough! Do not exceed the costs for the food plan you’ve selected.

TIP: Think cheap and healthy when you’re shopping (canned fruit is good, Doritos not so good) and never shop when you’re hungry.

NOTE: Read about debit cards here.

No body is worth more than your body
— Melody Carstairs