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Check your withholding

April 21st, 2005 at 08:28 pm

TurboTax reminded me again that my refund was really an "interest-free loan to the government." So I changed my withholding to reflect my giving, marital status, and dependents better than I had. As long as you have most of what you should be paying in taxes throughout the year (check the tax codes for an exact definition of "most of what you should be paying") then you can have more of your money at your disposal for saving, earning interest, spending, whatever.

Watch the prices at the checkout!

April 6th, 2005 at 11:07 pm

I recently got some composition books at a grocery store. They were a good price -- 59 cents apiece.

When I got them to checkout, the price was $1.39! I had someone go back to check the price. I got the items for 59 cents each, PLUS got one free because I caught their mistake!

It's good to try to keep a mental note of about hom much things cost as you go through the checkout. It can pay off!

Dryer fixed!

February 9th, 2005 at 07:34 am

Finally got my dryer working. Total cost of parts was $55 (got a 10% off coupon from the phone book!) and about 12 hours of feeling my way around the innards of the dryer with a bunch of pieced-together tool sets, a multimeter, and a how-to-fix-your-appliances book. Beats $230 for a new one any day, and it kept me out of trouble for a few days and I learned a lot about my dryer in the process.

Thankfully the weather was warm enough here that we could line-dry for part of the time that the dryer was down!

Dryer died: Time to replace?

February 5th, 2005 at 10:56 pm

Our clothes dryer is getting pretty old. It was the original one that came with the house, so it's about 15 years old. I need to replace a set of drum glides and a thermal fuse, which probably would run me about $70. Now, a brand new one from Lowe's would cost me $230. I might break down and get the new one after this repair, but the flip side is that I might get another few years out of it if the fixes work.

Third Anniversary dinner tonight

February 2nd, 2005 at 09:33 pm

I was able to get away with my wife to our favorite German restaurant -- Zum Rheingarten -- to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We had a free dessert coupon that we received last year when we went for our second anniversary. We remembered why we had the free dessert card on the way out. We got it because we mentioned to the server that it was our anniversary! Doh! Oh well....

EBay has "Want It Now"

January 31st, 2005 at 10:18 pm

Maybe I've just been Captain Clueless but I just noticed tonight that EBay had a new section called "Want It Now." Prospective buyers place their wants here, and sellers can respond with their auctions. I found someone who wanted one of my magazines that I had tried to sell before. Since I got the magazine for free, I could beat all of the other offers that had responded to the Want It Now ad!

More stuff at the discount grocery store

January 31st, 2005 at 10:15 pm

Found five 12-packs of Waist Watcher ginger ale for $1.49 each. (We like this brand because it's sweetened with Splenda rather than aspartame.) Also got 19 Wolfgang Puck Chicken Tortilla soups for 99 cents. (I haven't been buying him out like I had because he bumped the price up on me, but I make an exception for Chichen Tortilla!) These cans weren't even dented!

Jar of found money

January 30th, 2005 at 09:01 pm

I've started keeping track of the loose change I've found on the ground. Since the beginning of the year I've found almost a dollar. Granted, it's a penny and a dime at a time and it's not going to pay my daughter's tuition, but it pays for a cup of coffee once in a while! I found out a while back that one guy from the church, who's a real estate investor, does this too.

Toilet paper by the gross

January 11th, 2005 at 10:06 pm

We get Angel Soft bathroom tissue. No other brand will do for my better half.

Normally I try to find the double rolls (only need to change them half as often), and the best price of late was $4.99 for 12 rolls on sale.

Wal-Mart was selling 24 single rolls for $4.03. Score!!

My wife balked when I loaded up the cart with six packages, which is a gross.

My response:

"Does the stuff go bad?" No.
"Are we going to quit using it?" No again.

We managed even to find a place to store them!

Great time to go to thrift stores

January 11th, 2005 at 09:58 pm

We went to the Salvation Army thrift store on December 30th. Turned out to be a great time to buy stuff, because everyone was trying to beat the buzzer for their 2004 tax deduction. People were bringing in stuff by the truckload! Smile

We got a high chair, a baby swing, and a baby bouncy chair for $12 each. A 6' folding table for $5. A good paper shredder for $3. And a laser printer (with an extra toner cartridge) for $10. We practically stole this stuff.

Free money for charities

December 23rd, 2004 at 09:20 pm

I recently signed up one service organization I work with (Dahlgren Lions Club) into the Food Lion Shop and Share program. Basically the charity gets a portion of the grocery sales for everyone who links their shopping card to that charity.

It's an easy way to donate to your favorite charity. Other grocery stores may have similar programs!

100 CDs for a buck apiece

December 9th, 2004 at 10:29 pm

My wife was very kind to let me get these. She's very conscious about the "bargains" I go after Smile

Someone had donated a decent collection of CDs to the Salvation Army. ("Decent" to me means 70s and 80s rock; your tastes may differ.) This thrift store is reasonably priced; they were selling the CDs for $2 apiece -- just a tad too much to grab them all.

So I asked the cashier if I could make an offer on all of them. We got all 107 of them (plus or minus) for $1 apiece. There were some duplicates, but we can re-gift those or re-sell them (CDs go for $2 usually at flea markets around here.) We got the CDs for the cost of one song on iTunes!

These guys would bargain. Some other ones in the area are firmer on their prices. Doesn't hurt to ask, though!

Auctioning off vintage computer products

November 26th, 2004 at 11:11 pm

I'm going through and testing a bunch of Commodore computers that were part of my childhood. Many of them still work, but some don't. Some I probably fried testing them.

Even broken Commodore computers sell on eBay, though, since they can be cannibalized for parts.

This is a great time for sellers since the holidays are just around the corner. Good time to de-junk!


November 24th, 2004 at 08:27 pm

Yep, we'll be dealing with those in less than two months, God willing Wink

Good cloth baby diapers, we find out, cost less than a fifth of disposables overall. She found an article at www.cutofcloth.com that spells all of the math out. I can deal with an extra $2,000+.

We got a starter set of cloth diapers to try them out. Supposedly the ones that you can buy in places like Wal-Mart leak really badly.

With this little bundle of joy on the way I'm sure there will be lots of extra money-saving tips that we come up with.

Don't be afraid to try new ways to make money

November 12th, 2004 at 11:56 pm

But start small.

The things I've tried so far:

1) Re-selling magazines on eBay
2) Placing a few candy machines in businesses
3) Investing in stocks
4) Buying a large-format printer with a friend to sell large prints
5) Online ventures (traffic generation sites)
6) Loaning a friend money for a real-estate flipper

I haven't made a lot of money at any of these at the moment, but I've never put in more than I could afford to lose, and I haven't quit my day job (yet). It's a lot easier to try new things if you budget for them and know that you won't depend on the success of the venture to eat and clothe yourself. If it ends up doing that, great; otherwise, you can always learn from the experience.

2000 Q-tips for $3

November 10th, 2004 at 08:40 pm

Found a clearance cart at Wal-Mart that had a few of these. 1000 for $1.50....we won't need any more for a couple of years now. If you have the room, stocking up on non-perishable items is good to do if the price is great. Found spiral notebooks 6 for $1 as well a few months back.

Making Christmas gifts "count"

October 29th, 2004 at 07:28 pm

Vanessa asked me today "What do you want for Christmas?"

Yes, it's a bit early, but she's hoping to beat the rush because she's expecting in mid-January, and doesn't want to waddle much around the mall looking for gifts.

"I don't know," I responded.

I'm just not a big gift person, I guess. I also don't view the holidays as a big excuse to spend a lot of money on things we don't really need.

But, I wouldn't mind spending money for things I know that I could use or need, or things that my daughter will definitely need in just a month or so after Christmas.

That's making the Christmas gifts "count."

Green eBay business

October 27th, 2004 at 10:16 pm

Some people toss their magazines after they read them, or recycle them. I resell back issues of magazines on eBay to people who collect them or are interested in them.

I also have never paid for a box to ship the magazines in. Used boxes that are of an appropriate size work great. Ones that are too big work to make shipping envelopes rigid to protect the magazines during shipping. Also, I use plastic grocery bags to make the packaging more water-resistant.

And a lot of my customers are happy with how carefully I pack their items! What's more, I give some materials one more use before they're recycled.

Keeping track of what you spend

October 20th, 2004 at 08:45 pm

It's hard to track everything.

We started at the beginning of this month. I was good for a few days in organizing our receipts and such. Then I fell lazy. Yesterday I watched Vanessa sort all of the receipts from the last couple of weeks. They were just piling up.

In any case, it can be a good learning experience to track what you spend. It's probably more in some areas (like trips to the coffee shop) than you imagine.

If you run into the same problem that we did, just spot-check a few areas each week or month.

Auction find

October 17th, 2004 at 06:01 pm

Estate auctions are great. Often you can go to the auction and find something that you want or need. When the bidding comes around, you can usually get the item you want (sometime plus a lot of other stuff) for well under the cost of the item new.

Case in point: We have wanted a port-a-potty. (Sorry for the potty humor here.) New at Wal-Mart: up to $65 for a flushable model. We found one (clean) at the auction. Our final bid was $25, and we got twelve other boxes of stuff along with the port-a-potty. We may be able to sell off the other stuff that we don't want to further reduce the price of the port-a-potty.