June 2011 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger

June 2011 - Posts

  • 5 Easy Ways to Lose Money

    by Ignas Bernotas

    Many people these days are teetering on the edge of financial hardship. With the credit crisis and current economic climate, it’s become increasingly harder to make ends meet, particularly for those with poor money management habits. Unfortunately, most people learn to manage money through trial and error, and as a result, end up making some costly financial mistakes. Here are some easy ways to lose money that you should avoid.

    1. Not having clear financial goals - When it comes to managing your money and securing your financial future, if you don’t know where you are going, or how you plan to get there, chances are you’ll never arrive. Rather than accumulating wealth overtime, you will likely to lose money. Since present wants and needs usually seem more pressing than future needs, having specific financial goals helps to control spending and motivate saving.

    2. Frivolous spending – The small things you pay for day-in-and-day-out can quickly add up. That latte you pick up on the way to work, the magazines you subscribe to but rarely have the time to read, the bank fees you incur every time you use an ATM, or the pay-per-view movies you order represent money gradually dribbling away often in such small amounts that you barely notice it. But, spending just £25 a week on incidentals and dining out comes to £1,300 a year.

    3. Buying on credit – Buy now, pay later schemes may appear attractive, but the hidden credit costs are substantial. If you can’t pay cash for that big-screen TV you’ve been wanting, you really can’t afford it. It may be on sale this week, but by the time you finish making payments, you will have paid at least twice the sale price. Miss a payment and exorbitant interest rates kick in, further increasing the true cost. Charging purchases to credit cards, unless you can pay the balance in full at the end of each month, is another huge money drain. A £500 credit card purchase will actually end up costing you around £6,000 to £7,000, if you are only able to make minimum payments monthly. With credit, it’s easy to get trapped in an endless cycle of debt.

    4. Taking out long term loans – Many people opt for thirty-year mortgages or five-year car loans in order to reduce their monthly payments. If you have a thirty-year mortgage, by the time you have paid it off, you will have paid two-and-a-half times the purchase price of your house. By reducing the term of the loan, you can save a significant amount of money, with often only a modest increase in the monthly payment. And when it comes to new cars, you begin losing money as soon as you drive it off the lot. Cars depreciate rapidly, particularly over the first year, and they are expensive to operate and maintain. You can save money by buying a reliable used vehicle and asking the dealer to chuck in some free stuff.

    5. Cashing in or depleting pension plans – Many people choose to cash out their company pension plans when they leave a job or withdraw pension funds to finance a purchase or pay unexpected expenses. Although you may believe you can replace the money later, more often than not, that simply doesn’t happen. In the meantime, you lose money due to withdrawal fees, penalties and taxes.

    Ignas Bernotas is the founder of free stuff. He helps people save money by advising them on how to cut their expenses.

  • How to Make Coffee Pot Oatmeal

    by Blake Urban

    This is one of those things that is too good to be true. Oatmeal is not only hardy, but it is healthy as well. So have a bowl to go.

    Things You'll Need:

    • Pot With Timer (Cleaned)
    • One Minute Oats
    • Oatmeal Toppings

    It's a cold winter. It's Monday morning and time to shovel the drive, as you have to get to work. You can't shovel on an empty stomach, but you also can't spend the time making breakfast. A solution lands in your lap like a hot cup of java.

    If you are using a coffee pot that you regularly brew coffee in, you may consider a nice scrubbing. I was lucky to find a new one thrift shopping that has a timer, especially useful. If yours does not have a timer, use an outlet timer, which is an inexpensive solution.

    As soon as you read "Coffee Pot Oatmeal," you probably understood what it meant. Make oatmeal with your coffee pot. Measure the amount of oatmeal as per the servings and put in carafe. A coffee pot will hold between one and three servings, but two is perfect. Add the corresponding amount of water plus an additional 1/8 cup and set the timer.

    Now before you head off to work on a cold winter day, hot oatmeal will be waiting as soon as you awake. Top with whatever toppings you prefer. This has been a time saver for me for years and a pleasure to share.

    Everyone is smart about something! That's why we have The Dollar Stretcher Guest Blog. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@Stretcher.com

  • A Beautiful, Frugal Wedding Reception

    contributed by Kyla

    When I was young and realized that my dolls needed new clothes, I would creatively cut, color and find materials around the house. The idea of spending money when I could invent fabulous outfits seemed unnecessary. My love of being creative and saving money followed me into my adulthood and allowed me to have a 100 people sit down wedding reception for under $5000.

    Rent a hall and stay away from hotels or places that are typically "wedding." Be creative. Call art galleries, museums or anywhere that expresses you and your partner's personalities. Use friend's and family's talents. Do you have an aunt or friend that is a great cook? Get them to make food as a wedding present and have a buffet style dinner at the venue you have chosen. If this is not possible, local cooking schools and colleges cater inexpensively, and you can get a beautiful wedding cake for as little as $150. We made a little country hall look like a five-star hotel. A local garden centre lent us trees and plants for decorating. We rented chair covers, and friends lent us arches and many other decorations. It is amazing what you can borrow.

    If alcohol is on the menu, see if you can make it or buy it wholesale. We made all of our wine and got discount beer kegs from a local bar. Give things multiple purposes. The wine bottles doubled as table numbers. Make pretty labels on the wine bottles and put them on each table. Save your money to spend on a nice bouquet and then buy the same flowers from somewhere like Safeway. Put each flower in small vases from the dollar store. We used Gerber daisies. It looked like all the flowers came from a florist and we saved lots of money.

    I got a beautiful Jade Daniels dress for $300 from a second hand bridal store. Craigslist and other used websites are also places to look to save money on a wedding dress. Local dry cleaners often sell them if people don't pick them up. Buy bridesmaid dresses from a non-wedding store. You can get beautiful matching dresses for half the price. If you have only one bridesmaid, have them wear a dress they already have. Another option is black dresses with matching jewelry. eBay is a great place to save money on wedding favours. I ordered butterfly wine corks for $1.50 each. If you are crafty, make bags of your favourite candy or flower seeds. You could set up your own candy bar. Place the candy in clear containers from the dollar store and buy bulk candy from Costco. Have brightly coloured candy scoops and bags for people to come up and make their own bag. It is also a fun way to get people talking. You don't need to spend a lot of money to have a great wedding. Finances shouldn't stop you from tying the knot.

    Kyla lives in  B.C. with her husband. When she isn't teaching, she is looking for ways to save money.

    Everyone is smart about something! That's why we have The Dollar Stretcher Guest Blog. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to MyStory@Stretcher.com

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