• Avoid Long-Term Contracts (327/365)

    Cell phone companies want you to sign a contract. It’s just a fact of life when picking out a cellular deal. It makes a lot of sense for the cell phone company. It locks in a revenue stream for them that persists for two years (and has a solid chance of being extended beyond that). …

  • If You Rack Up “Out of Calling Area” Charges, Upgrade Your Plan (326/365)

    Sarah and I each go on a significant trip about twice a year. Usually, one trip is together, another trip involves Sarah visiting her sister on the East Coast, and the other trip usually centers around one of my hobbies. Those trips are the few times each year where we leave the upper Midwest. Almost …

  • If You Go Over Your Cell Phone Minutes, Upgrade Your Plan (325/365)

    When Sarah and I signed our first cell phone contract, we signed up for a plan that gave us roughly 400 minutes per month, which seemed like a reasonable amount based on our estimates. After the two year contract, we found that we had only gone over that limit twice, so we signed up again …

  • Clean Up Your Remaining Bills (324/365)

    Once you’ve followed all of the suggestions of the last several days, you should have pared down your bills at least a little. Still, you’ll be left with a few bills that you consider untouchable. Your electricity bill. Your water bill. Your phone bill. You’re not going to eliminate those. In fact, you probably didn’t …

  • Take a Hard Look at Entertainment-Oriented Monthly Bills (323/365)

    I’ve talked over the last few days about the value of reviewing monthly bills and subscription services. Today, I’m going to look at two bills that people often think of as “untouchable,” but which essentially just boil down to expensive entertainment. I’m looking at you, cable/satellite bill. I’m looking at you, too, internet bill. Let’s …

  • Take a Hard Look at Club Membership Fees and Gym Fees (322/365)

    As I mentioned yesterday, one of the first things Sarah and I did when we began our financial recovery was to start going through all of our regular bills – monthly bills, annual bills, and everything in between. If it needed to be paid regularly, it was examined. This included quite a few club membership …

  • Eliminate Any Monthly Services You Don’t Use (321/365)

    When we first ran into our financial wall, the first action I took was to head to the library and check out a pile of books on personal finance. I brought home at least a dozen books and I started reading them rapidly and taking notes. One theme that popped up over and over again …

  • If Prices Are Equal, Buy It Local (320/365)

    I compare online and offline prices all the time. It’s simply part of how I naturally shop. Sometimes, though, I’ll find that I can get essentially the same exact deal both online and off. The best online price I can find matches the price I see in the store. In that situation, I always buy …

  • Don’t Buy “Just One More Thing” to Get Free Shipping (319/365)

    It happens to almost everyone who shops online. You go to a site to order a specific item that you’ve already decided on. You add that item to the cart and head to the checkout. But wait! The site informs you that if you add just $12 more in items, you can get free shipping …

  • Don’t Store Your Credit Card with an Online Shopping Site (318/365)

    My single biggest temptation with online purchasing is to buy books for my Kindle. I absolutely love the ability to have a lot of books in my hand at any given time, and the idea of adding to my library without acquiring something that takes up physical space is very nice, too. (I do still …

  • Shop Online for Better Price Comparisons (317/365)

    It seems pretty common to use online sources to comparison shop for the big items. The internet is a powerful tool for finding the best bang for the buck on automobiles, homes, televisions, cameras, and so on. Yet that’s just a starting point. I use the internet to comparison shop for anything non-perishable that will …

  • Shop on Your State’s Tax-Free Holidays (316/365)

    On the first Friday and Saturday of August each year, Iowa has a sales tax holiday on “select clothing and footwear,” which actually translates into “virtually all clothing and footwear.” It’s at a great time of the year. A lot of parents are ready to start shopping for back-to-school clothes for their growing children and …

  • Don’t Buy Any Item in the Checkout Aisle (315/365)

    Grocery store designers are smart people. They know that when you check out with a cart load of groceries, you’re going to be standing in that spot for a while. They also know that sometimes you’re unfortunate enough to have children with you. Thus, they stock the checkout aisle with things that are perfectly selected …

  • Only Buy the Specific Item(s) You’re Shopping For (314/365)

    Yesterday, I mentioned the idea of using a “time limit” to keep yourself from spending too much time in a specific store. It’s a tactic I find useful, particularly when I visit a store that’s full of temptation for me where very few things are items I actually need, like a bookstore. In other stores, …

  • Set a “Time Goal” When You Walk in the Door (313/365)

    As I’ve mentioned many times before, when I walk into a bookstore, I can easily get distracted and find myself with my nose in one book or another. I’ll walk in, intending just to spend a few minutes, and find myself an hour later sitting in a reading chair surrounded by books. I dawdle. I …

  • Shop Alone (312/365)

    When I’m buying groceries, I shop alone. When I’m buying household items, I shop alone. When I’m buying gifts, I shop alone. The only time you’ll find me in a store with others is when circumstances practically force it on me. It’s not that I’m anti-social – I quite like spending time with people. It’s …

  • Use a Price Book for Your Regular Purchases (311/365)

    When my wife and I first moved to our current home, we took a look at all of the grocery stores available to us within reasonable driving range and made a list of them. It turned out that there were quite a few of them – three Hy-Vees, two Fareways, a Super Target, two Wal-Mart …

  • Use Store Flyers to Identify Sales (310/365)

    The single most useful tool I have for planning meals and buying household supplies at a reasonable price is the weekly grocery store flyer. It’s an essential tool for me when I’m planning meals, when I’m making grocery lists, and when I’m looking for bargains on items I want. If you want to reduce your …

  • Wait on Purchases Until Sales Appear (309/365)

    I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My son’s seventh birthday is coming up very soon. For most of the year, he has only asked for one thing – a Nintendo 3DS. As I’ve mentioned before, he saved up his money for six months to buy a used Nintendo DS, but a …