Save Money – Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:48:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Eliminate Bad Habits and Save Money http://yourpfpro.com/eliminate-bad-habits-and-save-money/ http://yourpfpro.com/eliminate-bad-habits-and-save-money/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:00:32 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7628 Just about everybody has a habit or two they would like to change. I confess that I have definitely developed a few over the years. Thankfully there are some I have successfully broken or changed. Unfortunately, like most other people, I have a few I am still working on. But the bad habits that deserve […]

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Eliminate bad habitsJust about everybody has a habit or two they would like to change. I confess that I have definitely developed a few over the years.

Thankfully there are some I have successfully broken or changed. Unfortunately, like most other people, I have a few I am still working on.

But the bad habits that deserve top priority in everyone’s lives are the ones that cost us money.

Blowing a Cash Windfall

One of the ways to eliminate bad habits and save money is to stop blowing extra money. Cash windfalls in the form of tax refunds, end of year bonuses, or inheritance money are often spent on stuff.

Rather than using found money on things not within the normal scope of your budget try using it differently. Pay down debt, add to your emergency fund, or invest it for your retirement instead.

Ignoring Ways to Save

A great thing about the new year is the resolutions we all make. Yet, at the same time, I really don’t like them. But let me explain.

New Year’s resolutions are just excuses to start doing the things we should already be doing. That’s why I don’t like them.

However, I also think New Year’s resolutions have their place. They can be a time to reset and get back into good habits. When you use them to make real and permanent changes in your life I think they are useful.

One of those new habits could be to always watch for new ways to save. For example, try replacing your high cost cable television with something cheaper, such as Hulu. But to save even more you could simply shut it off all together.

Believing Wants are Needs

Another way to eliminate bad habits and save money is to correct your perspective. It is easy to find excuses that justify spending money on things we want.

For example, I used to “need” to get my nails done every two weeks because I worked with the public. I felt like my hands were constantly on display. Therefore having a manicure would make me appear more professional.

Once I realized the amount of money I was spending on my “need” I was able to readjust my thinking. In fact, doing away with this monthly bill helped me quit my full time job to freelance instead.

Neglecting to Save for Emergencies

When you don’t have money set aside for emergencies you will probably land in financial hot water eventually. There’s just not a way to plan for everything that could come up in your life.

Do yourself a favor and save a little money each month, even if it’s as little as five or ten dollars. Each time you have a little extra money add to your emergency fund. Then when a real emergency arises you will be able to handle it.

Trying to Keep Up with the Joneses

If you really want to eliminate bad habits and save money you need to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.  What they think of you isn’t as important as your financial well-being.

Quit buying more stuff in order to fit in with them or rise above them. It isn’t worth putting yourself in debt and sacrificing your retirement.

Keeping a Budget That Never Changes

Life happens and things change. As a result, needs, goals, and budgets must change too. If you keep the same budget month after month and year after year it won’t be accurate after a while.

Expenses and needs that change drive your budget to change. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your budget at least once each year.

When you get off track occasionally with your budget, examine why it happened. This is an important part of preventing it from happening again.

We all have bad habits we’d like to change. Nevertheless, if we wish to eliminate bad habits and save money for the future we must not ignore them.

Do you have a financial bad habit you’d like to change?

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How to Give Gifts on a Small Budget http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 21:00:30 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7525 Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree. I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them. But shopping for holiday […]

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Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree.

I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them.

But shopping for holiday gifts is a lot more challenging when you are on a budget. While some people find the challenge exhilarating others have a hard time being up to the task.

Is there a way to give gifts on a small budget and still see satisfied smiles from your family?

1. Make a List

Make a list and check it twice. I’m not kidding. First list everyone you want to get a gift for. Next slash the list to only those people you absolutely must buy a gift for.

When you give gifts on a small budget you must think in terms of what you must buy first. After buying those gifts if you have a little money in the budget left over you can start adding names back to the list.

2. Decide What to Buy

Once your list has been made you can determine what to get each person. Remember, you need to keep the cost down enough for each person to be able to get a gift for everyone on the list.

3. Shop When Items are On Sale

It isn’t easy to find inexpensive gifts that you like for the holidays. One strategy that may help is to buy items when they are on sale.

Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as well as other sales throughout the holiday season to use your money wisely. If you made your list far enough in advance you can even shop in the spring or summer and save on off season and clearance prices.

4. Make the Gifts Yourself

If you are creative and talented you might be able to make many of the gifts you give and keep costs down further. For example, I can sew so I sometimes make gifts for my friends who can’t.

You can also set up an assembly line process to make similar gifts faster and cheaper. A friend of mine did this last year and saved a bundle.

5. Save on Internet Orders

Look for savings when you order gifts online by using coupon codes and rewards points. Some of the sources you order from may give cash back and other discounts. Look on their websites to get more information and take advantage of these money savers.

6. Avoid Shipping if You Can

Buying items in bulk may help you to avoid shipping charges. However, don’t order extra just to get the shipping free if it doesn’t make sense.

Did you know some stores will ship for free if you have items delivered to the store and then pick them up? Of course, you may have crowds to deal with, but it could save you enough to make the hassle worth it when your budget is small.

7. Comparison Shop

Comparing prices can help you give gifts on a small budget too. Check more than one store and the internet to see if the item you are buying is available elsewhere for less.

Don’t forget to look over items carefully to make sure features are the same or similar enough not to matter.

Holiday shopping can be a fun and rewarding experience despite the challenges of a small budget. Use these tips to help you give gifts on a small budget and still enjoy the happy smiles of your loved ones.

Are there other ways to give gifts on a small budget?

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Cheap Holiday Candy Alternatives http://yourpfpro.com/cheap-holiday-candy-alternatives/ http://yourpfpro.com/cheap-holiday-candy-alternatives/#respond Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:00:05 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7426 Time is supposed to be a constant, but I’m not sure I believe it. Fall seems to have arrived faster than ever this year. Not only that, but Halloween is just around the corner, and the other holidays will follow shortly thereafter. One thing I used to struggle with during the holidays is how to […]

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Holiday Candy AlternativesTime is supposed to be a constant, but I’m not sure I believe it. Fall seems to have arrived faster than ever this year. Not only that, but Halloween is just around the corner, and the other holidays will follow shortly thereafter.

One thing I used to struggle with during the holidays is how to address candy in our home. Because my son is a diabetic, and has been since the age of four, candy was mostly off limits for him.

He’s grown up and moved out on his own now, though, so it’s not really an issue for us anymore. However, there are several reasons, other than diabetes, why candy is not the best thing to give all young children at holiday times.

For instance, some children can’t have candy because of sensitivities to certain foods or dyes. Others may have allergies or become hyperactive if given too much sugar.

But what can people give as a holiday candy alternative that won’t cost an arm and a leg? Here are some cheap holiday candy alternatives you could use instead.

1. Stickers

Young children really like stickers they can use on pictures or in coloring books. Pick up a few packs and hand out a sheet or two to young kids for the holidays without breaking the bank.

2. Balls

Little bouncy balls keep some kids entertained for hours. Snag a few from a discount store or online party supply store for only a few bucks and give them out during the holidays.

3. Bubbles

What child doesn’t love bubbles? They have been a hit with youngsters for years and they never seem to go out of style. Pick up a few inexpensive small bottles to hand out to trick-or-treaters or put in stockings.

4. Glow-in-the-Dark Items

Tiny glow-in-the-dark creatures, balls, or other fun items always bring smiles to young faces. Give some of these to small party guests instead of candy and keep your costs low at the same time.

5. Stuff That Lights Up

Little pocket flashlights, glow necklaces, or glow bracelets are great fun for young kids when the lights go out. If you only have a few guests you could use these as a great holiday candy alternative.

6. Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos are another item you can use as a holiday candy alternative. They won’t rot teeth and they’re cheap too. Give these away at Halloween or Christmas and yours will be the most popular house to visit on the block.

7. Hand Sanitizer

Children that are a bit older like pocket hand sanitizers. Pick up a few to give out as small gifts instead of candy and stay on budget.

8. Travel Size Lotions

Another cheap holiday candy alternative is small travel size lotions. Grab a few when they are on sale and use as small gifts in place of sugary sweets.

9. Matchbox Cars

Small kids love little cars they can collect or take with them to pay with. Purchase a few at a local discount store you can give away and still keep your holiday finances on track.

10. Fake Mustaches

Buy some fake mustaches for just a few dollars and distribute them instead of candy. Take it a step further and have everyone post pictures on social media of themselves wearing them.

11. Pocket Games

Pocket sized puzzle games or miniature card packs are great party favors and holiday candy alternatives. They don’t cost a lot so you can pick up several for only a few dollars.

12. Balloons

If you are giving balloons as a holiday candy alternative make sure you are giving them to the right age kids. Packages of balloons are inexpensive and have lots of colors so each child can get their favorite.

Even though it can be tricky trying to come up with cheap holiday candy alternatives that keep your budget on track it is possible to do. It also feels like a bonus when you see the smiles you’ve put on all those young faces.

What cheap holiday candy alternatives have you used?

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How to Use BillSnip to Save Money On Your Bills http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/ http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7370 When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past. As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking […]

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When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past.

As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking for other ways to save. In fact, it can almost become addicting – but in a good way.

Unless you are really good at negotiating, though, you may discover it can be difficult to get reductions when dealing with creditors.  Let’s face it, not all of us are comfortable making those kinds of phone calls.

Therefore, having help could make all the difference. To assist you, below I am going to review just how to use Billsnip to save money on your bills.

1. Identify Bills

If your month to month bills are overwhelming you, lowering them can make all the difference to you and your budget. However, first you have to identify which bills could be lowered. Some examples include:

  • Loan rates, including fees
  • Credit card interest charges
  • Cell phone bills
  • Internet fees
  • Cable or satellite television bills
  • Various music streaming services
  • Storage unit charges

Of course, they are not limited to only reducing your bills for these services alone. There are many other bills they can help you with.

2. Send Bills

Getting the bill to them is actually pretty simple. Just scan your bill into your computer or take a picture with your phone. Then, text or email the bill to them. That’s it.

3. Let Them Do the Work

Billsnip has staff members who are trained in negotiation techniques. These personnel will first look over your bills and figure out approximately what your savings could be.

Next, they contact businesses for you thus eliminating wasted time on your part waiting on hold or making zero progress.

Once they help you free up additional cash you can use it to pay off other debt, invest it, or use the extra money in other ways that improve your finances. It’s that simple.

4. What They Charge

Their billing is pretty simple. They charge 35% of the amount they saved you. You can pay that fee monthly or pay the whole thing at once and get 10% off the total.

But if they aren’t able to help you, you owe them nothing. Discounts for future bills should appear on your statements.

5. Who Qualifies

Anyone needing help with their bills can use the services of Billsnip. If the idea of calling one of your creditors makes you break out in a cold sweat and turn green, you may want to contact them for help. They can call in your place and remove the anxiety.

If you have no time in your schedule to call those places to whom you owe money, contact Billsnip instead. They can make the calls you just don’t have the time to make yourself.

When you call Billsnip you are making additional progress toward a future of less debt. So, go ahead and contact them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Do you need help negotiating your bills? If so, use Billsnip to save money on your bills and do the work for you.

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How to Enjoy Autumn on a Dime http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-enjoy-autumn-on-a-dime/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-enjoy-autumn-on-a-dime/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:00:40 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7375 Autumn is my favorite time of year because there are a lot of really great things to enjoy about it. For example, temperatures begin to cool off a bit and there are lots of fall vegetables available to make yummy after-harvest dishes. The leaves start changing and so do the menus of some of my […]

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Enjoy Autumn on a DimeAutumn is my favorite time of year because there are a lot of really great things to enjoy about it. For example, temperatures begin to cool off a bit and there are lots of fall vegetables available to make yummy after-harvest dishes.

The leaves start changing and so do the menus of some of my favorite restaurants. Pumpkin, caramel, and apple dishes can be found and enjoyed all season long.

But there are lots of fall activities that are fun too. While some people spend a lot on fall activities there are plenty of ways to enjoy autumn on a dime.

1. Navigate a Corn Maze

If you’ve never been to a corn maze before, they can be found all over the nation. A corn maze is simply a maze cut into the dry stalks of a corn field.

From an aerial view, some corn mazes are quite spectacular.  They may be cut to resemble cartoon characters, spooky figures, or anything the field owner decides. Most land owners create them for the enjoyment of others and if they do charge a fee, it is usually only a few dollars per person.

2. Decorate with Nature

Fall is a wonderful time to use items from nature to help you decorate for the season. Look around your yard or a park for loose twigs, pine cones, and other items to use in your décor.

Add a few inexpensive pumpkins and perhaps a bale of hay and your fall decorating can be completed allowing you to enjoy autumn on a dime.

3. Attend a Football Game

While admission is charged for some football games, you may be able to get into a scrimmage without having to pay. Additionally, some exhibition games don’t charge admission at all. If you aren’t able to get to a regular high school game until half time, though, sometimes you can get in for a reduced fee.

Even if you do end up paying full price for your admission, as long as you are not attending an NFL or college game you won’t have to pay a lot for this fall activity.

4. Go on a Hay Ride

A hay ride is another fun autumn pastime that allows you to enjoy autumn on a dime. In fact, sometimes when you go to a corn maze or other activity they offer hay rides too, typically for fairly low fees.

Hay bales are stacked on a low trailer and pulled by a pick-up around a farm. Or, the hay ride may be a way to get back and forth from a public parking area to a corn maze or pumpkin patch.

5. Watch a Homecoming Parade

Autumn is the time when many different school districts celebrate their homecoming. Activities include a football game or two, dances, and a homecoming parade among others.

Many people attend homecoming parades to support the schools in their community. They line up along the route of the floats to watch and cheer on their favorite teams for upcoming games. Generally, there is no admission for this activity.

6. Browse Flea Markets

Lots of local events and flea markets have booths at craft fairs and other festivals during the fall. You should find plenty of things to admire and browse through without having to pay a thing.

Of course, many small items are affordable and would make great gifts if you do have a little pocket change available to spend.

7. Go to a Bon Fire

When I was a kid, we held a homecoming pep rally around a bon fire before the high school football game. It was a great way to raise the spirits of the players and spectators alike.

It was a traditional pass time we did that didn’t cost a lot but was fun and uplifting.

I think I’ll always pick fall as my favorite time of year. One reason is because there are so many ways to enjoy autumn on a dime.

How do you choose to enjoy autumn on a dime?

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5 Ways to Save Around Your Home that Add Up http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-around-your-home-that-add-up/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-around-your-home-that-add-up/#comments Mon, 04 Sep 2017 11:00:21 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7336 I don’t know what the arrangement is for who pays the bills in your household, but in mine it’s my husband. My contribution is to work and bring in money to help pay the bills and reduce our debt. No matter who pays the bills in your home, though, there are lots of ways to […]

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Ways to Save Around Your HomeI don’t know what the arrangement is for who pays the bills in your household, but in mine it’s my husband. My contribution is to work and bring in money to help pay the bills and reduce our debt.

No matter who pays the bills in your home, though, there are lots of ways to lower your budget and save more money. Some people negotiate utility or phone bills while others attempt to cut down on grocery spending.

But in addition to these tactics there other ways to save not everyone thinks of. For example, there are 5 ways to save around your home that add up.

1. Pull the Plug

One of the ways to save around your home is to take a quick trip around your house.  Check out how many appliances you leave plugged in that are only in use rarely.

For example, the toaster, coffee maker, or countertop mixer could be items you only use when you need to. If you don’t use them daily and it isn’t difficult to get to the outlet, pull the plug until you need it.

If you have a home office, unplug calculators and shut down computers at the end of the work day. Make sure all of your lights are off before you tuck in for the night. These things may not seem to save much, but over time they will save you several dollars each year.

2. Save Every Drop

There are lots of ways you could be sending your dollars down the drain. Therefore, another of the ways to save around your home is by conserving water.

First, work on changing some of your habits. Turn off water while brushing your teeth, shaving, or lathering up in the shower. Then turn it back on to rinse off.

Next, install water restrictors and low flow faucets in bathrooms. Additionally, a shower timer can cut down on the amount of water family member’s use and reduce your bills too. These items are fairly inexpensive and quickly pay for themselves with the money you’ll save.

Have you ever considered collecting your water? Instead of running it down the drain while waiting for hot water collect it in a rinsed out milk jug. Then, use it to water plants or fill a toilet tank.

You can save money when you wash dishes as well. Use a plastic tub in the sink to reduce the amount of water you use. Only fill it part of the way unless you have large items that require more soapy water.

3. Shut off Unused Services

Paying for something you aren’t using doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you carry newspaper and magazine subscriptions you don’t have time to read, end them.

To further increase your savings think about anything else you may not be using. Shut off gym memberships if you or other family members aren’t going. Turn off cable if you aren’t watching it.

4. Share Resources

Several years ago my husband and I lived in a different town about double the size of the one where we currently live. We shared resources with our close friends because it saved us each several hundred dollars.

At the time both families felt we needed a snow blower for those times mother natured dumped snow on us. However, we didn’t want to shell out a ton of money for a piece of equipment that didn’t even get used some years.

Our solution was to share in both the cost and the use since we lived right across the street from one another. Using this example you could also save on household items such as a carpet cleaning machine or canning equipment.

5. Don’t Forget Maintenance

When you are looking for ways to save around your home that add up it’s easy to overlook home maintenance. People think if they let a few things go it will save them money. The problem is it can also cost you money.

It’s not terribly difficult to use calking, weather stripping, and insulation to fill leaks and gaps around doors and windows. Keeping up with these tasks can save by cutting heating and cooling costs anywhere from 5% to 40%.

Did you know changing your furnace filter can help lower your monthly energy bills? Change it regularly to save up to 15%.

Look for other repairs that could be costing you money by remaining undone. Fix leaky faucets, clean duct work, and do other home maintenance to keep your home in top shape and save money in the long run.

There are lots of ways to lower your budget. But sometimes people forget there are ways to save around your home that add up too.

Have you found other ways to save around your home that add up? If so, what are some of them?

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Pros and Cons of Bartering to Lower Your Budget http://yourpfpro.com/bartering-lower-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/bartering-lower-budget/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:00:55 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7240 Problem solving and creative solutions are sometimes the very things that keep a budget in line. I believe that bartering is one way we humans found to problem solve and get creative centuries ago. For example, the fairytale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which originated in the year 1734, is a classic story that begins […]

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Bartering to Lower Your BudgetProblem solving and creative solutions are sometimes the very things that keep a budget in line. I believe that bartering is one way we humans found to problem solve and get creative centuries ago.

For example, the fairytale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which originated in the year 1734, is a classic story that begins with bartering. In the story, Jack trades the family’s old cow for magic beans instead of selling it, as he was told to do by his mother.

In a fit of anger, his mother tosses the beans to the ground and sends Jack to bed without supper. The rest of the tale is one that, I am sure, you are already familiar with so I will skip retelling it. Suffice it to say that Jack and his mother end up with riches beyond imagining from the trade.

While we may not end up with riches, this childhood story does have a lesson: It is possible to use bartering to save money. But there may be pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget.

Determine Your Goal

Before you can barter as a means to lower your budget and begin breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle for good you need to know what you are bartering for. A personal example of mine is from a summer several years ago when my husband and I needed a new roof on our house due to hail damage.

Two sets of friends also needed to replace their roofs, so we traded labor with them. In the end, all three families got new roofs for less money because we helped each other do the work instead of hiring it done.

Pros of Bartering to Lower Your Budget

Bartering to lower your budget can save you more than only money. In addition, it can help you to eliminate waste and save time.

Saves Money

Trading something you have and don’t use for something someone else has but also doesn’t use saves money for each of you. If you both value and desire the item the other has you may be able to come to an agreement with little to no money changing hands. Compare the values and conditions of the items or services to be traded and start haggling.

Eliminates Waste

Having stuff sitting around your house not being used is not only annoying but a waste of space. Eventually you will probably tire of it and either toss it in the trash or give it away. Either option is a waste of your resources.

Bartering allows you to eliminate what you no longer need and receive something you do need while avoiding waste. In addition, if you are a successful negotiator, you can do it without shelling out extra money which helps your budget.

Saves Time

These days, the expression that time is money hits the mark more than ever. We are all busy people, so saving time where you can is important to keep your budget in line. Bartering can save time by preventing you from spending hours, days, or even weeks searching for an item you need.

Let’s say your neighbor has an anvil covered in dust in their basement store room that is just the right size for your needs. Have you ever tried to search the internet for the right size anvil? They can be expensive and they aren’t easy to find. Try bartering with your neighbor instead. Perhaps you could mow his grass for summer if his lawn mower is broken.

Cons of Bartering to Lower Your Budget

There are some possible disadvantages to bartering to lower your budget. Sometimes there is an inability to agree, lack of needed items on one person’s part, or a failure to meet future obligations. When this happens, the bartering transaction could fail or leave one party in debt to the other. As a result, nobody wins and it is possible neither person will save money in their budget.

Inability to Agree

What if you are trying to barter with someone who wants more than you are able to trade? It may not be possible for you to barter for what you need in that instance. Unfortunately, not every bartering situation will be successful. Sometimes you will end up wasting time and having to buy what you need anyway rather than saving money through bartering.

Lack of Needed Items

Another drawback to bartering as a means to lower your budget is having a lack of needed items. Maybe the person you are bartering with needs to have their lawn both mowed and trimmed. If you don’t have a trimmer, though, the entire deal could fall apart and save each of you nothing.

Failure to Meet Future Obligations

Be cautious about making promises to fulfill future needs for someone. As an example, what if your mower breaks down after you receive the anvil? Your neighbor might ask for it back if you are not able to hold up your end of the deal.

Most bartering situations don’t turn into fairytales where one or the other party ends up in riches. But there are pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget and save you money.

Have you ever bartered? What pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget have you found?

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Should You Stay Married for Financial Reasons? http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-stay-married-for-financial-reasons/ http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-stay-married-for-financial-reasons/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:00:51 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7174 Many people believe that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In fact, those statistics have been quoted by a great number of people for years. However, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, those figures are not necessarily correct. The article goes on to hint that there is controversy over the true […]

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Should You Stay Married for Financial Reasons?Many people believe that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In fact, those statistics have been quoted by a great number of people for years. However, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, those figures are not necessarily correct. The article goes on to hint that there is controversy over the true divorce rate because it’s difficult to accurately measure.

One of the other interesting points of the article is that some couples separate without actually getting divorced. With average costs of divorce reaching $15,000 and up, it’s no wonder some couples don’t finalize their separation. But that begs the question, should you stay married for financial reasons?

Stay Married to Save Money

Nobody can argue that divorce doesn’t cost money. While it may not cost you $15,000 if the divorce is amicable, it still comes with certain costs that can’t be avoided. For example, there will likely be attorney fees and court costs to pay at the very least.

Of course, there could also be alimony to pay on top of legal fees. In addition, if there are children to consider you can expect your costs to go up substantially. Child custody battles can be expensive and child support payments can cost you thousands.

Another area that could cost you a bundle is in the division of property. Once again, if there are children involved the division of any marital assets may or may not be equal. Your spouse may get the home if custody of the children is granted to them as well.

Let’s say you own a business together. Many different things can happen with a business in the event of a divorce. Either of you may end up with ownership of the business leaving the other with no income.

Any or all of these reasons could sway you toward a decision of staying married to avoid draining your finances. But there are other things to think about as well.

Stay Married to Save Time

The best way to save both time and money in your marriage is to talk about money issues before you ever tie the knot. Obviously that doesn’t always happen. In addition, you have more assets when you are married longer. When you have more assets as a couple it takes longer to complete the process of gong your separate ways.

You may have to meet with your lawyer many times to discuss each issue until a resolution of all of them is reached. If this can’t be done, a divorce trial may follow drawing out the length of the process even more. Obviously, the longer it takes to complete the divorce proceedings, the more it will cost you, which may make you think twice about splitting up.

It is Less Hurtful to Children

When you have a child together, or several children, it not only raises the costs of getting divorced but it is also very emotionally hurtful to them. Your children may feel like they are in a tug-of-war battle between two parents who are determined to have them at all costs, both financially and otherwise. Even though this is not necessarily a financial reason to stay together, it could be reason enough to work out your differences and avoid the costs associated with divorce at the same time.

Some Issues Can Be Worked Out

Sometimes it makes sense to stay together but live separate lives. I know a couple who stayed together on paper because they have a child with health issues. They live in the same house and share household responsibilities as well as care of their child. Despite this, if they choose to date other people they have agreed to allow it of each other. The arrangement has benefited them financially as well as in caring for their child.

In other cases couples who have stayed together have found they were able to work out their differences and end up happier for it. I can tell you personally that there were a few times in my own marriage when my husband and I considered divorce. Now, many years later, we are very happy that we stuck it out and made it through the rough times. My husband and I have agreed we are financially better off and happier because of it.

Other Considerations

Staying together for financial reasons may not make sense if there are other factors to think about.  For instance, have you or your spouse committed infidelity? Or, is one of you being abused by the other? What if your children are being mistreated? These circumstances can make staying together for financial reasons out of the question.

There are a lot of variables to take into account when you are thinking about whether or not to get divorced. Staying married for financial reasons is only one of them. Therefore, the answer to the question of whether or not you should stay married for financial reasons depends on your unique situation. Only you can answer it, but you should certainly weigh the decision and its consequences carefully before taking any action you can’t undo.

How do you feel about the idea of staying married for financial reasons?

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5 Percentages You Need to Remember That Will Optimize Your Savings Habits http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 11:00:42 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7168 When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage. Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining […]

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When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage.

Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining what this value can be a simple and effective way to prioritize your next move.

Here are 5 of the main percentages you need to know that will strategically give you the most bang for your buck.

1. Get Your Full Employer Retirement Match

I put this saving goal first†because it’s the only thing I know of that could earn you as much as a 100% automatic return on your investment!

Your employer match is when the company you work for contributes or matches some amount of what you save in your 401(k). Though that might not sound like much at first, it could add up HUGE for you over time.

Letís say your company matches dollar-for-dollar up to 5% of what you save for†retirement. If you save $200 per paycheck, thatís an automatic $200 more on top from your employer for a total of $400 saved! Effectively, you’ve just doubled your savings rate for doing nothing more than … saving! Where in the world can you find a better deal than that?

Even if youíve got debt to pay at a high rate like 20%, earning a possible 100% return on those minimum savings can still highly out-weigh paying off that debt. In fact, even if your company only matches 50 cents or 25 cents for every dollar you contribute, thatís still reason enough to make getting your full employer retirement match your top priority when it comes to saving.

Talk to your Human Resources department and find out exactly what their rules are on 401(k) employer matches. You might just find out that youíve been leaving free money on the table.

2. Paying Off High Interest Debt

Interest can be a very good thing if we are earning it. But it can equally be damaging if youíve had some challenges being responsible with credit.

If youíre stuck with high interest debt, all thatís doing is eating away at money that should be going into your pocket. That’s why paying off your debt should be your next top priority. While paying off debt is not exactly “saving more money”, it effectively accomplishes the same goal by eliminating your future payments. To put it another way, paying off a credit card balance at 20% is almost as if you just gained a 20% return on investment.

When you think of your debt in those types of terms, it becomes a lot easier to see why you should focus your efforts on trying to eliminate this debt as quickly as possible, even if it means making as many†sacrifices as necessary so that you can†find extra money†to pay down the principal. Again, using the percentages,†itís not worth it to try to save any money in a savings account earning less than 1% when youíve got debt that is charging you 20% (or whatever ridiculous interest rate). By paying down that debt, you effectively give yourself back that 20% by not having to pay for it any longer. Thatís 20% more that you can use for whatever other financial goals you might have.

3. Saving Up an Emergency Fund

We all know that accidents are going to happen. No one knows when your car will decide to stop working , your basement will flood, or you’ll have to take an unexpected trip to the doctor. To deal with these kinds of things financially, youíre going to need cash that you can easily tap in a momentís notice to handle these things right away.

Most financial professionals will tell you that your emergency fund needs to be anywhere from 3 months to 6 months worth of your household income. Some people will even say to make it 12 months worth of savings. My advice is to simply come up with†whatever you can.† Even if you can only save up $1,000, thatís still better than having nothing.

You can almost completely ignore anything you read about emergency funds being a waste of money (the argument being that money could be better used as investments in the stock market getting possible 10% returns). Think about what would happen if you didn’t have an emergency fund and you had to put an unexpected $10,000 on your credit cards? Once that debt starts accruing at 20+%, then those returns of 10% aren’t going to look so good anymore!

The bottom line: Itís better to be prepared.

4. Save for Retirement

Even though we already touched on retirement savings above with employer matches, with debt and emergency funds out of the way we can now revisit this topic.

At its core, tax-deferred retirement saving†can be one of the best ways to save your money more wisely for two main reasons: Compounding returns and avoiding taxes.

Compounding returns are when you earn money off the money you already earned. Basically as you set aside money each month, that money will grow in earnings. And then those earnings will also grow with additional earnings, and so on. Though that doesn’t seem like much in the beginning, after a number of years, your earnings will actually start to add more to your overall nest egg value than your contributions will! The more time you give it, the†the larger and larger this fortune could potentially become.

For the sake of percentages, a good number to use for comparison is 10%.† This is approximately how much the S&P 500 has returned each year on average (according to data from NYU).† All you have to do is invest in a passively managed index fund to take advantage of it.

Avoiding taxes is the other huge†benefit to using retirement savings accounts. At a tax rate of 25%, you basically lose 25 cents for every dollar you wish to invest (if you save outside your tax-deferred plan). But when you save tax-deferred, you get to keep the whole dollar. Thatís effectively a 33% gain for simply using your 401(k) or IRA and being smart about how you save!

5. Saving for College

Though we all love our kids, saving for their college should come behind all of these other priorities. Even though it also has the power to produce approximately 10% per year, unlike your debt or retirement savings, your children can always get loans or financial aid for higher education. You canít ñ unless you want to take on more unnecessary debt.

If you are fortunate enough to have enough money to make your childrenís education a financial priority, use something called a 529 plan to avoid paying taxes. Think of it as something similar to a 401(k), but intended for funding college instead.

Summary

On the surface, personal finance can seem complicated. But if you stick to the percentages and keep these priorities in mind, youíre going to be on track. Not only will you be doing yourself a favor, but you’ll also be helping to take control over your finances in one of the most effective ways.

Author bio: DJ Whiteside is the author of Save BETTER! as well as several other personal finance ebooks. He is also the blogger behind the sites My Money Design and 1,000 Ways to Save; two places where you can learn a ton about how to optimize your saving and then use it to achieve financial freedom.

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How to Get Financially Fit by Summer http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:54:12 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7043 This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time […]

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This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time to get your financial house in order and prepare for a great summer. Ready?

Have a financial audit

Are you paying too much for things like cable, cell phone, utilities, broadband, the gym, etc? go over your expenses and try to get rid of the ones that you are not getting value out of. I used to have a subscription to NatGeo that I loved. And then I started traveling a lot for work, was never home, and before I knew it, a year worth of magazines was piling up in my living room. Sometimes it takes a while to realize you don’t need this or that. Going a month without (alcohol, meat, magazines, Starbucks,…) can be a great way to see if you miss the habit, or if it is just a mindless way to pass the time.

Use all the cash you save for your summer goals, debt payoff or holiday savings.

Know where you stand with your debt

Before anything, you need to know how much you owe exactly, so you can make a plan to kill your debt. Let’s be realistic for a moment though. If you have a ton of debt, just like if you are 100lbs overweight, it is unlikely you will be debt free by summer. You can however build some solid habits that can set you on the right track towards debt freedom.

Let’s list all your debts, and everything you owe.

  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Loans from family and friends
  • Mortgage
  • etc

Bargain and refinance

Once you have done that, let’s look for ways to lower your interest rate on your debt. Transfer your balance to a 0% credit card. Call your providers, and ask them nicely to give you a better rate. Yes, it works. If it doesn’t, take your business elsewhere.

A quick online search will tell you whether refinancing your student loans or your mortgage is worth it. Often, people focus on little ways to save $5 here and there. But by refinancing a mortgage that has 20 years left, even if the rate is half a point or one point lower, you can save thousands of dollars! It can be a bit overwhelming, doing all the back and forth with the bank, but seriously, when will you save that much money for a few hours of your time?

Start aggressive debt payoff

Spring is tax refund time! The average amount is around $2,800, which would make a nice dent to your debt and be sufficient motivation to keep going. Aggressive debt payoff means every little bit of spare cash is going to be used to reduce your debt principal. Minimum payments should be paid automatically every month, and then every time you have a little extra money, make an extra payment. Start with the debt that carries the highest interest. You wouldn’t believe how small amounts add up and can shave months off your payments.

If you want to enjoy your summer, you should start hustling right now, so you don’t have to pick up an extra shift when everyone is on holiday. The end of the school year means some kids are looking for tutors to finish strong, spring has a ton of cultural and sports events where you can sell bottled water or hot dogs, the days are nice enough to walk the neighbors’ dogs, mow their lawn, help them move,… there are many opportunities to earn extra money if you pay attention. Lady complaining she doesn’t have time? Offer to watch her kids, clean her house, do whatever she doesn’t have time to do.

Since you are already living on your normal income, 100% of your side income can go towards debt payments. Or if you are not carrying high interest debt..

Save for your holidays

A holiday can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. If you work hard from now until summer, you’ll deserve a break, and should plan for it. What will you do, where will you go? A budget holiday can include visiting nearby towns and parks, hiking, free cultural activities, and a couple of more expensive things. There are free campsites all across the country. You can visit all the National Parks for a year for $80. If you apply for a travel reward credit card, you can earn miles and free hotel nights for the next few months.

Invest for the future

While planning and saving for the summer holidays, or other short term goals is great, now is the time to think about the future. Open a low fee brokerage account if you don’t have one yet, and once your high interest debt is paid off, start putting the amount your used to pay on your credit card, into a variety of index funds. Investing is super simple, you don’t need to know much about the stock market. Just keep investing, stick to indexes or solid companies that pay good dividends, and forget about that money for the near future. The S&P500 has returned over 8% on average over the past 30 years. Yes, there will be ups and downs, just do your thing and keep sending a bit of cash every month. Take advantage of your company match if there is one because that is free money, max out your 401(k) and Roth IRA, your tax refund might come handy if you didn’t need it to pay off debt.

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Breaking The Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle For Good http://yourpfpro.com/breaking-paycheck-paycheck-cycle-good/ http://yourpfpro.com/breaking-paycheck-paycheck-cycle-good/#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2017 12:00:38 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=6983 This is a guest post by Jon Dulin from Money Smart Guides. There is a saying that goes around that seems to be more common among our households these days: There is more month at the end of the money. A survey of households revealed that about one in three aren’t able to save money each […]

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This is a guest post by Jon Dulin from Money Smart Guides.

There is a saying that goes around that seems to be more common among our households these days:

There is more month at the end of the money.

A survey of households revealed that about one in three aren’t able to save money each month, which means they are living paycheck to paycheck. And no, that is not only those who are considered poor. That statistic includes a fair number of middle-class households.

Think about that, if not you, then one of your neighbors living on either side of you is having trouble making ends meet, or they are barely doing so. Does it concern you that your household is not able to put away any money in savings or toward vacation or retirement, because you need every dollar that the government doesn’t confiscate in order to live your life?

Maybe it’s time to take a realistic look at that life. Maybe just by having enough to cover your expenses means you are living beyond your means. And if you do take that step back, what do you do about it? First, let’s get into analyzing the situation you’re in, and then we can come up with some suggestions about how to change or fix the problem.

Conquering Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Face the Music, Buddy!

If you are finally frustrated with how your money situation is going (or not going), it might be time to get out some paper and start writing down the harsh reality of your life. This means writing down your expenses each month in as many general categories as you can (food, clothing, transportation, housing, utilities, recreation, miscellaneous, etc.). If you can, use an average of the last three or four months to give you an idea.

After you do that, put down how much take-home pay you have had over those same three or four months, and average it.

Is the expense total less than the income? Is it at least 10 percent lower?  Or is it higher, by any amount?

Then yes, we can confirm that you are living paycheck to paycheck. So now what? Well, we likely can give you some of the same advice you have heard other places, about cutting expenses and adding income, but we’d like to take this to a different level and come up with some specific tactics that can help with the overall strategy.

Once you have this listed out in all its painful glory, it will be time to start setting a preliminary budget ahead of time so you can actually start telling your money where to go before you wonder where it went. During this time, you can look at some of the suggestions for squaring up your budget better so you can balance it both by cutting spending and adding some income.

Find The Fat

Consider that paper that has your expenses listed. Find some ways to cut back on some of those expenses. The goal here is not just to get expenses to be less than income, but to find about 10 percent less money than you could use to save or pay off debt. There are probably even ways to cut back on the essentials like utilities and food, not to mention transportation. For example:

Unplug appliances you don’t use. If you only do laundry on the weekends, unplug your washer and dryer during the week. There is “phantom energy” that escapes out of your plugs that costs you money.

Buy generic. Store-brand food and merchandise can often be much cheaper than brand name items, even if brands have coupons.

Cancel cable. Stream Netflix and Amazon Prime instead of going to movies.

Run several errands at a time, traveling a loop. One trip instead of several saves gas and time, and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Pay cash whenever possible. We tend to spend less when we use actual cash than simply swiping our credit or debit card (hopefully only debit card). Cash has an emotional trigger to it, and it’s harder for us to part with actual cash than digits on a computer screen.

Get money back. Here’s an idea. Check out a smartphone app called iBotta. There, you can get money back on everyday purchases made at major supermarkets or national chain stores (such as Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Albertsons and even Costco). This essentially gives you savings (like coupons) after the fact, but the money can go toward your food budget.

Ride the bus or carpool to work a couple times a week. The less wear and tear you put on your car, the more money you will save.

Cut a habit. If you drink wine or beer regularly, or you smoke, you can save money by cutting back. Exchange wine or beer for soda or flavored water, and cut your cigarette use in half (if not eliminate it altogether). Those save you money and will actually improve your health, which will save you more money in the long term.

Shop auto insurance. Premiums can go up simply by loyalty. Companies don’t think you’ll leave. Being aggressive every year in shopping for better insurance deals could save you $50-$100 per month if you have a good driving record. This only needs to take 10-15 minutes of shopping online insurance comparison sites.

Ask to waive fees. Any bill that has a fee on it, you can at least ask nicely for the company to waive it or give you a lower rate. I filled out a customer survey with my Internet provider and made a comment about the price was spiking up over the last 12 months, and I had my rate restored to the same one from a year ago, which saved my family $10 a month. (Yes, this did happen.)

Shop credit cards. If you have a credit-card balance, there are many companies that offer no-fee balance transfers and lower interest rates. While I certainly don’t want you to have debt at all, if you do have it, it is worth the few minutes to shop around.

Build The Muscle

While it may seem tough to cut spending when balancing a household budget, it is actually easier to find areas to cut spending than it is to find more income.

When you are already putting forth a lot of hours working, and you really want that work-life balance, you will certainly be reluctant to add income with another job, but here are some suggestions of ways to get more money into your home.

Yard/garage sale. Or sell online through Craigslist or eBay.

Donate blood or plasma. As long as you are OK with needles, you can get a few bucks by donating once a week.

Be a digital guinea pig. You can check out sites like Smart Panel, where you can get paid for having the app on your device and feed it data about how you use the device (works for PCs, tablets, smartphones, music players, smart TVs, e-readers).

If you keep the app on your device, you will be paid a few bucks a month. That’s $75 (or more) during the first year.

You can also fill out surveys through such sites as Swagbucks or Ipsos Panel, where you can get paid for completing online surveys or watching a variety of videos. Combined, those could produce $30-$40 a month (around $400-$450 per year) in extra income just during your few minutes of down time!

Data entry, or do a little writing. If you have an interest or a skill that you don’t use enough at work, you could check out freelancing marketplaces like Upwork or Freelancer, where people can do data entry, accounting, website design, digital marketing, software development, or writing from home a few hours a week. You control how much you work and what you get paid by clients. You could turn it into a side business evenings and weekends.

Deliver pizzas. Having three of four evening shifts per week, including a Friday and/or Saturday night (or at the same time as a key sporting event like the World Series, Super Bowl or the Olympics) can make you $100 a week just in tips.

Walk neighbor dogs or do some babysitting.

Run errands for infirmed or elderly. Or do their yard work.

Reversing The Saying

Many of these suggestions don’t have to be permanent, but if you enjoy saving the money or making more income, you can certainly choose to keep them as part of your new life. The mission there though is to reverse the saying mentioned earlier in this article. We are here to help you have more money at the end of the month, instead of more month at the end of the money.

Every little way you can stretch your paychecks, whether by cutting expenses or increasing income (or both), the more money you will have to save or to use to get out of debt.

Let’s get more money out of our months, shall we?

Jon writes for Money Smart Guides, a personal finance blog that helps people get out of debt and start investing for their future.

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3 Ways To Stop Being So Wasteful http://yourpfpro.com/3-ways-stop-wasteful/ http://yourpfpro.com/3-ways-stop-wasteful/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:13:19 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=6948 As Americans, we are wasteful. If something breaks, most times we toss it in the trash and go buy a new one. While this makes life fairly easy, it does tend to cost us more money in the long run. If we instead figure out ways to repair or fix our broken items, we can […]

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As Americans, we are wasteful. If something breaks, most times we toss it in the trash and go buy a new one. While this makes life fairly easy, it does tend to cost us more money in the long run. If we instead figure out ways to repair or fix our broken items, we can save ourselves a good amount of money in the long run and pick up a new skill in the process. Now, I do realize that in some cases, it is cheaper to simply toss and buy new, but not as much as we like to think. Below are 3 ways you can take advantage of fixing things and stop being so wasteful.

3 Tips To Learn How To Fix Things

Watch YouTube

Do you know how to replace a toilet? I didn’t when I bought my house. And I still didn’t when I started to rent it out. But I know how to replace one now. I learned how to do it by simply watching videos on YouTube. If you haven’t done this, you have to. It’s amazing how much great content there is on there, and I am not just talking about funny cat videos.

Over the years, I’ve learned many things simply by watching YouTube, including:

  •         How to replace a toilet
  •         How to fix a leaky swimming pool filter
  •         How to get “yellowed” headlights clear again
  •         How to replace a windshield wiper blade on a new car (harder than you think!)
  •         How to replace attic pull down stairs

Now, I could have simply hired someone to do these things or even taken my car to the shop to get my headlights clear. But, I saved so much money by doing them myself. By replacing the toilet I saved over $100. By doing the work on my car I saved about $125.

The best part is that going forward, I can keep doing these things myself, saving that money over and over again.

Consult Friends

When I was installing a hardwood floor in our house, I was clueless how to go about doing it. I did watch the YouTube video on how to do it, but was still a little skeptical as this was a big job. So, I reached out to a friend of mine that has done a good amount of house repair work. It cost me a pizza and a six pack of beer, but it was well worth it. We got to spend a Saturday afternoon together and again, I learned a new skill for the future.

So, make sure you have a list of what all of your friends can do. You’ll be surprised how many friends can help out with various projects.

Seek Out Free Classes

Not only are more and more college courses offering free, non-credit classes, but many companies are now offering these courses too. With regards to Apple, you can take free course if you need help learning how to use your new iPad. Granted they can’t help you fix your broken smartphone screen for free, but they can guide you in the right direction to getting it fixed instead of buying a new phone.

Same applies for home projects. You can go to Home Depot or Lowes and attend a workshop on how to do various projects around your house. Every day I see more and more companies offering these free training courses to customers. Make sure you keep an eye out for them. I recently attended one so I could learn how to build a raised bed garden and grow my own vegetables.

Final Thots

Overall, learning to fix or do jobs around the house is a great skill to have. Not only will it save you money now, but you will also save money over the long term as well when other issues come up and repairs are needed. So the next time something breaks or you need to replace something, don’t throw the item out or call for help, take the initiative and see if you can do it yourself. You’ll be surprised with how easy many things are to fix.

Jon writes at Penny Thots, a personal finance blog that talks about all things personal finance. The goal of the site is to improve your finances one day and one penny at a time.

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