I had a funny thought as I sat down to drink my coffee this morning while checking my email…I thought, “Wow, I feel like ‘old stale toast’.“ Then, I chuckled to myself about the “old” part… I didn’t just feel like ‘stale toast‘ but ‘OLD‘ stale toast. Where did I get such a thought! Oh well, there are days that I’m not so “peppy” in the morning and that was just a thought that came to my head.
Okay, it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of my “magazine style” posts…and today I’m ready to conquer that on the topic of saving money & being thrifty…after all, so many of us are on a budget and we need ALL the tips we can use right?
*As always, be sure to add your own tips in the comment section below or on my Facebook page under the announcement for this particular post.
If you have a son or daughter now living in college dorms, which are notoriously small, with limited storage and little floor space, these tips should be helpful. You just need to think outside-the-box on adapting be best usage of your small area.
* Look for trunks (foot lockers) made of exterior steel, with wooden interiors, that can hold about 250 pounds of weight. These can store out-of-season clothing, extra bedding, or valuables. Dress them up with cushions if you like. Bonus: you can also use these as step-stools to climb into bunk beds.
* Make padded fabric seat tops for milk crates. You’ll need to cut a piece of plywood to fit the opening, and another piece an inch or so wider on all sides. Glue these together, then attach heavy foam and cover the set with fabric. You can store boxes and cans of food inside these for easy access.
* A large sturdy cooler can also provide convenient seating for visitors during college study sessions!
* Large floor pillows (not beanbag chairs since they are too large) can provide seating for guests and double as bolsters for you when you want to sit up in bed to study. You can also store them under your bed when not in use.
Micro Refrigerator Cart
There are rolling carts specifically made to hold micro refrigerators. In addition to raising the fridge to a more useful level, these have mesh drawers that can hold silverware, paper products, and snack packages.
A popular way to decorate dorm rooms all-year round, Christmas lights can be strung on the walls as well as around windows and doorways. Simple clothespins can attach photos and ticket stubs and other mementos, freeing up desk space from frame clutter.
*Christmas lights make great night lights… We actually wrap Christmas lights around our back door area so that we can see well while coming in during late evenings.
Cork on Curtains
Simple cork paneling can be attached to window curtains and used as bulletin boards.
Old-fashioned hard-sided suitcases (ask Grandma or look at Goodwill) make chic end tables, nightstands or coffee tables. Fill them with out-of-season clothing or private files that you don’t access regularly. Stack them as high as you need them.
Dorm rooms never have enough lighting. When you buy a desk lamp, look for the kind that has a storage caddy built in to hold pencils and other office supplies.
Scarf and Necklace Holders
For a cute DIY project, find some pretty antique door knobs. Attach them to a shelf edge or to a picture frame. Loop necklaces or scarves over the door knobs and you’ll have a practical tangle-free storage system that will add beauty to your room.
With few exceptions, buying used items is cheaper; however, there’s a bit of an art to saving money when buying second-hand stuff.
Here’s some things to consider and watch out for when you buy used stuff…
1. College textbooks are definitely good candidates for being purchased second-hand. All the information is there, and you can often sell them again when you’re finished. Textbooks are the sort of thing that is intended to be used only once.
Given the immediate depreciation that occurs when you drive a new car off the sales lot, it makes sense to look for a used vehicle when you want to purchase. Of course, the usual cautions apply – make sure the car is in good shape and that you are protected in case of a bad purchase. But overall, it makes sense to go for second-hand when it comes to a vehicle purchase.
3. Baby/Child Clothes
Babies and children grow so quickly that they don’t wear any given outfit for very long. Yard sales and second-hand stores like Goodwill are good places to look for these items.
4. Furniture of Wood or Metal
Unless you are browsing at a very high-end antique store, buying used furniture can be a good move. Wood furniture that does not have stains and dust (like upholstered furniture can) is a good idea. Tables, wooden or metal chairs, china cabinets, hutches, bookshelves, end tables, and similar items are good choices to buy used.
Don’t purchase these used, unless you want a lot of accumulated dust and possibly bed bugs.
2. Upholstered Furniture
While it’s not always a bad idea, purchasing upholstered furniture is not an automatic good deal. Even if it’s not stained, dust, pet dander, and questionable dirt can be hidden in the stuffing.
3. Certain Baby Items
Because of safety recalls, baby items like cribs and car seats are not advisable for second-hand purchase. Baby bottles are not a good choice, either, for sanitation reasons.
Bulk shopping can often save a lot of money on food and household items, but one problem that may prevent you from going the bulk route is the lack of storage space. And if you can’t use that much of something in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll end up wasting it and defeating the whole purpose of shopping in bulk. Yet, another possible problem with bulk shopping is membership fees.
Whether you face some of these problems or not, there are ways to take advantage of bulk shopping by sharing the list and splitting the cost.
1. Share Membership Fees
If you have a group of friends or coworkers who are interested, you can split the bulk warehouse membership fees. Depending on the warehouse rules, this may mean that only one person officially has a membership, and only that person can do the shopping; but others pitch in to cover the fees and then give their shopping lists to the official member.
It may also mean that you can get a group rate and everyone has a membership; it just depends on the warehouse rules. In addition, if your office does not offer a group rate, see if your human resources manager would consider it.
2. Share the Shopping List
Only one or two people need to do the shopping for the group. To make things fair and offset the costs of fuel and car mileage, the “shopper” should be allowed to pay a smaller portion of the membership fee. Or you can rotate shoppers. Once a month (or however often you need to make a bulk shopping run), all the members get together and make a master shopping list. Then they all pay the shopper for their goods, either before or after the trip to the store.
3. Share the Items
Splitting large quantities is another great way to save money, whether you’re a member of a warehouse or just know someone who is. You simply pay for your portion, and it’s likely to be a lot less money. This also solves the storage problem – you can get the bulk rate without having to be responsible for storing all the merchandise.
Bartering is not new, in fact, this method of trading goods or services goes way back to the days before currency (probably because it’s very simple and equitable). Today, it’s a little trickier, but can save you money and reduce business costs.
Here’s some tips and ideas on how to save money by bartering services…
1. All Commerce is Barter
When you think about it, when you buy something with money, you’re trading one thing (money) for something else (goods or services). So keep that in mind as you take part in bartering.
2. Remember that Time is Money
When you are considering trading your services for something, it’s good to have a general idea of what your time is worth per hour. If you consider your time to be worth, say, $25 per hour, and someone needs a job done that will take you 4 hours, then you can reasonably trade something that’s worth about that much.
3. Keep Your Ears Open
If you have something that needs to be done and you can’t afford it or are unable to do it for various reasons, listen to what people are saying. Someone might need childcare or help with their elderly relative; someone else might need a pet sitter or a house painter. Are any of those things skills that you have? If so, offer to help that person in exchange for their help. That person might have just the skill you need.
4. Make a List
Some people are natural list-makers and some people aren’t, but when it comes to bartering, making a list is a good idea. In fact, you could make two lists: one that itemizes your skills and another one that notes the skills of others. Keeping these lists helps you be prepared, and seize those bartering opportunities.
5. Have Courage
It can be hard for some personality types to approach others about bartering. But remember, you are willing to offer something of value, too, so there’s no need to feel uncomfortable. You’re not asking for something for free.
6. Consider Advertising
Go ahead and make some noise about being available for barter. It can be something of a side business; you could even advertise in the newspaper. Tell friends and neighbors, distribute flyers, form co-ops, and so forth. All of these are great ways to connect with others who have similar interests and needs.
There’s little doubt that carpooling, when planned, can save you a lot of money. In fact, some sources estimate you could save between $650 and $1,000 annually (based on a 32-mile round trip commute in a vehicle that gets less than 23 miles per gallon, with each gallon costing around $3.65). The more people you have in your car, the more you save because the more you’ll be splitting vehicle costs.
Here’s some tips and suggestions for carpooling and saving money…
1. It’s Not as Hard as You Think
It’s easy to assume that coordinating a carpool takes too much time and effort. But you can look around and join an existing one, which means you can take advantage of their experience. If you can’t find an existing carpool, starting one up may be as simple as asking around at work or at your child’s school functions.
2. Extend the Life of Your Car
If you do all your own commuting, the miles will add up on your car pretty fast. But if you carpool, you’re using your car far less and dividing up the miles between your friends’ and coworkers’ cars. In addition, your friends may pitch in for repairs and maintenance (and you can do the same for their car) so everyone is riding in a safe car. The cost of tires, oil changes, and other maintenance can be split, especially if you’re in a carpool where one person does most of the driving and uses his or her vehicle most of the time. (It’s a good idea to have an agreement on this subject for everyone to sign before starting your carpool.)
3. Social Time
Many people enjoy socializing on their way to and from work or school. Carpooling is a chance to talk about your day and discuss what your plans are. It can be a way to make new friends and get to know your coworkers. This might be a good chance to network, too.
Parking costs are high and space is scarce. The problem is decreased greatly when you carpool. Everyone in the car can split the cost of parking, whether you pay upon entering the parking area or pay each month and have a parking pass.
5. Smaller Carbon Footprint
Clearly, you’ll save fuel and produce fewer emissions when you use one car instead of 3 or 4 cars. Even if you use a larger vehicle to transport multiple people, it’s still a savings.
If you have an extra room, you might have considered renting it out for extra income. Have you wondered about the pros and cons? What kind of renter are you looking to have in your home? These and other questions are important to answer before you embark this way of making money.
Here’s some things to consider before you rent out a room for extra income…
No one likes to talk about taxes, but it is something to be considered when you rent out a room of your home. It’s not all bad news – you may be able to deduct the expenses related to the rental from your income tax. But rental income will need to be reported to the IRS. If you’re lucky, these two aspects of taxes on room rental will even out.
2. To Whom Will You Rent?
This is a question to consider very carefully. Here’s some thoughts on your prospective renters.
-Family can be a good choice, because you know what they’re like (at least in theory). But family may be a bit too “relaxed” about paying the rent, or spend more time in your house with you than in their rented room.
-Friends are another choice, because you know them well and might like to offer them a place to rent.
-Background checks are advisable if you rent to strangers.
-Familiarize yourself with the fair housing laws in your area, so you know what’s required of you regarding the acceptance or rejection of potential renters.
-College students and elderly people are two good suggestions for renting a spare room.
3. Clear Boundaries
It’s a good idea to be upfront with any renter, whether they are friends, family, strangers, or what-have-you. Be clear about what you expect – is it okay if your renters “hang out” with your family, or do you want them to be in their own space? How much access, if any, do you want your renters to have to your house? Can the renters come and go without using the main entrance to your home? It’s better to figure these details out before rather than taking a “wait and see” approach.
4. What Should You Charge for Rent?
If you’re not sure what you should charge, look around at the prices of similar rooms in your area. Here’s some things to consider when decided the amount of rent to charge:
-Is your room furnished?
-Does the room have its own bathroom? If so, is it a full bathroom?
-How big is the room?
-How much closet space is there? If a large closet is present, it could be used as a small room.
Renting a room for extra income is not a bad idea; just make sure to do your research.
A budget is not the scary nightmare that most people have always believed. In fact, a budget is the best way to keep more money in your pocket and out of the hands of others. In “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” discover how you can live larger with less.
A budget seems restrictive but the fact of the matter is that many people live beyond their means and spend the majority of their lives paying others back with large interest rates. Instead of living life beholden to another, learn to cut down and live better with peace of mind.
In this book, you will find thousands of nuggets and savvy tips to help you live and have fun without breaking the bank. For instance, learn how to bulk buy your household necessities and food to save on grocery bills. Hold parties for little or nothing. Make your healthcare policy work for you and spend less. There are even tips to eliminating debt. When you have a plan, it is easier to see your way clean to fiscal responsibility and a more fulfilling life.
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