Month: May 2014

If You Get a Rebate Form, Fill It Out Immediately (142/365)

I think mail-in rebates are a pretty brilliant idea – for the company, anyway. According to most reports I’ve read, the majority of them are never filled out, which means the company keeps the money. Let’s spell that out in a real world example. The last time I traded in my cell phone, the store …

Disposing of Old Papers in Bulk

A few days ago, I spent some time cleaning out a closet in our house that was mostly full of unnecessary stuff. I wound up recycling the vast majority of the contents of the closet and ended up giving away many of the other things I found in there. One of the items I was …

Categories: Getting Started

Check for Discontinued/Floor Models (141/365)

When you go shopping for many items, from DVD players to vacuum cleaners, you’ll often see that the model is available for you to look at and (often) to try out. I’ve certainly browsed through the menus of DVD players at electronic stores, opened the doors on washing machines at appliance stores, and played with …

Reader Mailbag: Walking Around Town

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Loans, repayments, and rates 2. Finding cheap Kindle books 3. Incompetent landlord issues 4. Eliminating fast food 5. Health insurance for newborn 6. Waiting for divorce …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Ask About Retail Returns or Open-Box Items (140/365)

I’m one of those people who likes to take advantage of ten or thirty day “no questions asked” return policies. I keep the receipt for items and if I discover that I have some sort of issue with the item, I don’t hesitate to return it. For example, I owned a digital camera a few …

Should You Buy When Mortgage Rates Are at Record Lows?

This past week, mortgage rates hit a new record low, bottoming out at a 3.79% average for a 30 year loan. A fifteen year mortgage is now at 3.04%. This is compared to rates that were 4.64% and 3.82% a year ago, respectively. To put that in perspective, if you have a $200,000 home loan, …

Look at Refurbished Models (139/365)

Refurbished models are items sold by a company or a store in which they came into possession of an item with some flaw. The business then repaired that flaw, fixed the item up so that it’s close to new, and then sells it at a discount – often a steep discount. Refurbished models can save …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #74

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. This past week, I’ve spent some significant time working on my public speaking skills due to some upcoming situations where I will be called on to speak before a crowd …

Shop Around, Both Online and Off (138/365)

You have your list of desired features ready to go for the item you want. Now what? If you have a reasonable feature list (meaning one that doesn’t lock you into an expensive item), you’ll find that quite a few items will match up with the features you’re looking for. Don’t settle on one just …

Loved Ones in Decline

A few years ago, my grandmother passed away pretty suddenly. She had been in somewhat ailing health for years, but she was still well enough to take care of herself at home, handle her own grocery shopping, and so on. The last time I saw her, I was struck by her frailness. My grandmother had …

Categories: Retirement

Avoid the “Feature Creep” (137/365)

A few years ago, I started shopping around for a new digital camera. I started off doing the most sensible thing a person can do when they’re considering buying a reasonably expensive item like a digital camera. I made a list of what I actually wanted to do with it. I wanted reasonably high resolution …

Reader Mailbag: Education Begins at Home

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Buy or rent and commute? 2. Advice to younger self 3. Handling angry coworker 4. Credit cards for other debts? 5. Handling too many vegetables 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Know the Features You Need Before You Shop (136/365)

If there’s one thing I suggest that people do before they go shopping for any reasonably expensive item, it’s that they make a list of the features they actually need before they go and stick to that list. There are several parts to that simple suggestion, though. First of all, how do you know what …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Overfocus Edition

The biggest difficulty Sarah and I have with our relationship is our respective abilities to overfocus on the task at hand. If one of us knows that we really need to get something done, we can both slip into this zone-like state where almost nothing will interrupt us. This often happens in the evening when …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Pick the Model Now, Then Wait Six Months (135/365)

For many consumer goods, the price that you’ll pay right now for that item is higher than the price you’ll pay six months down the road. There are a lot of reasons for that. The big one is that many companies issue products in cycles. Every so often, they replace the version of the product …

The Great Things You Already Have

The hardest part about being a parent is realizing that the six year old boy who runs up the stairs to give you a hug the moment he gets home from school is going to disappear soon and never return. He’s going to keep growing up. Before long, giving Dad a hug isn’t going to …

Categories: Getting Started

Sharing Futures, Sharing Scores

You’ve found your soul mate and you’re goin’ to the chapel and you’re goin’ get married. Congratulations. But are your credit scores compatible? It isn’t a particularly romantic conversation, but talking about your credit history and how to manage your new financial life together is something couples can do to avoid disappointment or embarrassment once …

Categories: Uncategorized

Consider Whether You’ll Actually Use the Item in a New Way (134/365)

A few years ago, I received an iPod touch as a Christmas gift. It was a very fun toy to play with and I did find a few nice uses for it, such as a quick tool for jotting down notes, but I mostly used the thing as an mp3 player. In the end, most …

Reader Mailbag: Homebrew Plant Care

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Sentimental clutter 2. Piano lessons 3. Investment worries 4. Lentils? 5. Unsure of total debt 6. How many children? 7. Credit cards and spousal death 8. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag