Ten Money Saving Ideas

Budgeting 1 Comment »

With our declining economy and weakening dollar here in the United States, it is going to be time for us to return to some old fashioned money saving tactics. The price of gasoline, the price of food, all contributing to a much higher cost of living overall, and driving up almost every market we work and interact in. In my mind, you can sum up the old fashioned money saving techniques in one short phrase - “delayed gratification”. ARGGGGHHH!!! EEEWWWWWW!!! Yucky. Nobody wants to do that. We all want to find some magic bullet to save us, while we keep all our vices and entertainment. Well I want to submit to you today, ten old fashioned, smart, family oriented, money saving ideas that can produce massive benefits to you down the road:

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Grow Your Own Food Part 4

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It has been a little while since the last time I gave yall an update regarding our garden and growing your own food. Well, our garden is in somewhat of a bittersweet state. We have squash and green beans coming up very well, but some of our other vegetables, like our onions, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes are not doing as well. We do have some growth in all of the struggling vegetables (except for the onions, they just don’t seem to be coming up), but they just are nearly as strong as the squash and green beans. But before I show you the pictures, I wanted to give you a few pointers that you can use in your garden, that I think will help you to do better raising your own food:

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Commentary on Gas Prices in the Near Future

Budgeting 1 Comment »

With the recent soar in gas prices, I feel compelled to contact my readers and urge them to take action against the oil companies. Goldman Sachs has put out a recent estimation that the price for a barrel of crude oil could reach as high as $200. Currently the price is somewhere around $120 per barrel. So, if the price of gasoline at the pump is somewhere around $4 nationwide now, then the price at the pump with crude oil being $200 per barrel would be somewhere around $6.50 per gallon! Do you think you are stretching now on your gas bill? Do you think food prices are high now? Just wait.

The only way the American people can influence the price of gasoline is too reduce their consumption. I am putting my best foot forward by looking for a motorcycle to buy, and severely limiting my trips around town, and out of town. Getting the number of miles driven down combined with obtaining a much more fuel efficient vehicle will dramatically reduce the number of gallons of gas I will be buying at the local gas station.

But let me just give you some suggestions and ways that you can cut back on gasoline consumption, some of these are obvious, and have already been covered, but I want this to be a fairly comprehensive list, so here goes:

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Motorcycle Gas Mileage: A Simple Payback Calculator

Budgeting, Car Shopping 2 Comments »

I have put feelers out there, but as of yet, I don’t have any solid leads on obtaining a motorcycle. But as you know from my Motorcycle Gas Mileage article, not only can you save a lot of money getting a motorcycle, but you learned how highly I esteem the Honda brand of vehicles (that was thrown in here for free :) ).

Motorcycle Gas Mileage Payback Calculator
http://personalfinanceresources.com


Input Area
Price Per Gallon of Gas $4.00
Your Current Car/Truck Gas Mileage 25
Your Prospective Motorcycle’s Gas Mileage 60
Your Average Miles Driven Per Month 1,000


Automatic Calculation Area
Price of the Motorcycle for 6 Month Payback $560.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 1 Year Payback $1,120.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 1.5 Year Payback $1,680.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 2 Year Payback $2,240.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 2.5 Year Payback $2,800.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 3 Year Payback $3,360.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 3.5 Year Payback $3,920.00
Price of the Motorcycle for 4 Year Payback $4,480.00




This xls spreadsheet is super easy to use. In the input area, all you have to do is enter the price per gallon of gasoline in your area, the current mileage you are getting on your car or truck, the mileage the particular motorcycle you are interested in is getting, and the average number of miles you drive in any particular month. The calculator then spits out the top end price that you can spend on your motorcycle in order to get paid back in full over a specific number of months. So given the defaulted values, if you spend $560 for your motorcycle, the gas savings that you will receive will pay for your motorcycle in just 6 months! If you spend $1,120 on your motorcycle, it will be paid back in gas savings in just 1 year, and so on.

I came up with this tool in order to see what the top price would be that I could spend in order to get paid back around 6 months to a year. So I have done all the work, and you can download the spreadsheet for free!


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Comparing the Costs of Buying Versus Renting a Place to Live

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This is a great little tool that I found out there in internet land. If gives you quite a lot of information and flexibility to adapt to any market you may be in, factoring appreciation and repairs, to give you a solid estimate of what will be better for you. I usually lean toward the side of buying, but it certain markets and depending on your job / travel situation, it may be better to rent. Use this tool to find out which is better for you.

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Bank Fees - Kicking You While You Are Down

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America is a funny place to be. As long as you have high balances at the bank, no problem. As soon as you hit a snare though - watch out. Most banks are large chains with policies and rules, and they are totally unwilling to work with their customers. This normally results in excessive fees, which further your financial problems. I have even had one situation where the bank processed several checks on the same day, and a deposit, and the order of their processing was structured in such a way that they were able to justify charging an overdraft fee.

Situation 1 - Dishonorable Check and Deposit Processing

The situation outlined above actually happened to me. There were 3 checks that I had written, with quite varying amounts, that all hit the bank on the same day. I also had a deposit that processed on that same day. Now, the dates on the checks did not match up with the order they were processed in. I thought that banks would process checks in the order they were received, and if they were received at the same time, that they would process them in order by the date they were written. However, what I found was that the bank processed the checks in order from largest amount to smallest amount. Furthermore, they processed the checks before they processed the deposit. The net result for me was that I ran negative for part of the day, and then came back into the positive at the end of the day. What was my reward? You guessed it, an overdraft fee.

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List of Cheap Entertainment

Budgeting, Miscellaneous 1 Comment »

I want this one to be short and sweet, so I want to give you some ideas for very low cost or free ideas for your weekend entertainment. So here goes:

  • Going for a walk at the local park. My wife and I love this idea because it is absolutely free, and the scenery is beautiful.
  • Going camping. Once you make the initial investment to get the tent, bed rolls, mobile kitchen, maybe some hunting and fishing gear, you are in for a very affordable trip. Just hit spots like your local lake or park and setup your camp spot.
  • Fishing or Hunting. Again, after a little bit of initial expense, this is a very low cost method of entertainment.
  • Watching a Movie. You can find movies at groceries stores and even fast food restaurants in a vending machine that can be rented for just one dollar.
  • Grilling Dinner. This is one of my favorites. Some chicken, steak, pork loin, ribs, etc and some great seasoning, and you have yourself a meal fit for kings.
  • Going Swimming. A fun and very cheap way to get some exercise or just relax.
  • Sand or Beach Volley Ball. Many public parks have a sand pit for just such an occasion. Just get a volley ball and have fun.
  • Tennis. Again, your local public park will probably have a tennis court. All you need is a couple of rackets and a tube of tennis balls, and there you go.
  • Basketball. The easiest. A basketball and some good running shoes and you are ready for action.
  • Online Games. Websites like candystand.com offer free, fun games to play.
  • Puzzles. One of our favorites. Puzzles are cheap and can offer a great chance for a couple to work together to solve, and provide a good time for fellowship.
  • Card Games. This is another cheap, fun one. Our favorites are hearts and spades, the vicious heart wrenching card games are close to our ‘heart’.
  • Video Games. Game systems like the Nintendo Wii offer some fantastic lifelike action without the hassle of a bunch of different equipment and having to make the drive.
  • Working out. Not one of personal favorites, however there are many people that find it quite relaxing and fun to go the gym and exercise.
  • Board Games. Classics like Monopoly, Life, and Trivial Pursuit are fan favorites.

These are just a few great games and entertainment you can do on a shoe string budget. I hope I was of help here, and if you have some of your own great ideas, please list them below in the comments section.


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Grow Your Own Food Part 3

Budgeting 1 Comment »

This is just going to be a quick update, but I have finally been able to borrow the appropriate tools, and have the time to cut down the branches that were preventing the sunlight from hitting the garden directly. Remember those live oaks from my previous update? Well, now that I have the offending branches cut down and out of the way (well almost out of the way, I still need to cut the large oak branch into smaller pieces to be disposed of) I can proceed with spading up the garden.

This will be the last step before we can sow seeds for the fruits and vegetables we intend to grow. When I finish up with the work, I will up load some pictures of how the live oak tree looks now, and how the garden looks after getting it spaded up. Since this ground has not been spaded up before, it will be interesting to see how well, or how poorly, the soil will break up.


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These Gas Prices are Insane!

Budgeting, Car Shopping No Comments »

Gas prices are insane these days, and my anger increases with price increases. Is there any relief for the hard working American person? Well my prediction is…no…not any time soon at least. You have to understand some of the underlying factors that contribute to gasoline prices to be able to understand why the price is so high. The basic principles are built on economic supply and demand. You see, currently are our country is suffering from a constant / increasing demand for gasoline, and the supply has been restricted.

Think about it this way, let’s say you really needed a gallon of milk, and your local grocery store only had a handful of milk gallons, and they didn’t expect to be stocking very many more gallons of milk over the next several months. Well as people would buy out the gallons of milk they had, when they brought in new shipments of milk, they would increase the price for two reasons: one to make more money on the milk they were selling, and two, to be able to carry some stock for a while without being sold out due to people changing their habits because of cost increases.

Some Thoughts About Our Domestic Gas Prices

The same thing is happening in the gasoline industry. Americans have not seen high gas prices for a long time, and have gotten very accustomed to long commutes and traveling a lot for vacations. Before hurricane Katrina and other economical problems, gasoline was very cheap, and so it wasn’t a problem. But today, there is a shortage of available gasoline, and prices are soaring to all time highs. Why is that? Well here are some reasons for the shortage:

  1. Natural disasters have knocked out some productive domestic refineries, and they have been slow to get back online and in full production.
  2. Restrictive government regulations placed on oil companies have disallowed the construction of new refineries in this country. In fact, we have not built a new refinery since 1976!
  3. Further government restrictions have disallowed the exploration and discovery of new oil deposits in this country. Special interest and environmental wackos have contributed to the passing of these ridiculous regulations.
  4. The creates far too great of a dependence on foreign oil. Our oil imports from Canada and Latin America are so great, that they are able to dictate the price to us.

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Grow Your Own Food, Save Money Part 2

Budgeting 1 Comment »

Just last week, I talked about how we are going to start growing our own food, and I want you to know that I do my best to act upon what I say. Well, just last Thursday, we started putting the plan into action. I was thinking of what I could use to set the outline of the garden, when my wife told me that there were a few railroad ties that the previous owner of the house used to set against the fence between our property and the neighbor’s property. I assume at some point in the past the neighbors had dogs, or something that was getting under the fence. But anyways, I drug those railroad ties, along with some 4 x 4 treated lumber that I found near the same area, and created the outside edge of the garden.

I did not have enough railroad ties and 4 x 4 pieces of wood to finish the garden in the size that I wanted, so I had to get creative. So what I figured out was to take from the large limb that we had cut up and put back behind the house to be picked up by the trash man, cut that limb to size, and used it to fill the gaps so I could get the size garden I wanted. With the way the materials lined out and looking at my original plan, I decided to build a 15 x 16 foot garden, instead of the 16 x 16 foot garden I had originally planned. It worked great, and here is the result:

Garden Growing Our Own Food

Now, before we get to the problems here, I wanted to point out the good things. First, we did not have to buy any railroad ties or lumber to get this garden laid out and ready to go. Further, the leaves that we put in the garden to fertilize the ground weren’t paid for either, we have a couple of live oak trees (see right) that provide us plenty of leaves that we can rake up and use for fertilizer.Trees Preventing Direct Sunlight

But, as you probably can tell, we have a problem here. The problem is that the live oaks and other trees that are providing us with the free fertilizer are also giving us too much shade. I took this picture during the middle of the day, and I am going to have to solve the problem of too much shade. As you may know, most vegetables need direct sunlight to do well, and only part of the day does the garden really get the good, direct sunshine.

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