March 2012 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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March 2012 - Posts

  • How to Make the Most Money Possible at Your Next Garage Sale

    by Kelli Davidson

    When I was a kid, every Saturday morning, my parents would drag me out of bed at some ungodly hour to drive around in the gray dawn searching for garage sales. It seemed they took forever at every place we stopped only to bring one or two items to the truck. Once home, we had to clean the items and then price them. By 10:00 AM, dad was at his antique store happily talking with his regular customers with his new purchases in tow. To say I did not enjoy this weekend ritual is an understatement. I found no joy or excitement in early morning treasure hunting. Once a year, we conducted our annual yard sale, and while I did not like this either, at least at the end I had money from my items that I could spend on anything I wanted. Dad’s motto was, "Don’t go into debt, have a sale."

    When I married, we combined two full homes. That generally creates duplication, so we decided to have a sale. My husband is a skeptic, and when I set about doing all the things I normally did to have a sale, I was met with, "What are you doing?" and "That is stupid. Why are you doing that?" I almost let him take over, but since he wasn’t too interested in anything but the end result, we compromised. I kept preparing my way and he shut up. I also insisted on him doing things a particular way, and the kids had to help. He grumbled until we opened the garage door on the morning of the sale. He says he lost all track of time until I finally said, "Hurry and close the garage door, there are finally no people here!" It was 2:00 PM, and we had been on our feet for eight hours. I converted him on that day and he’s never complained a single time since. Once finished, he wanted to know how I did it. It all starts with marketing and advertisement. In my Kindle eBook, The Guide to Garage Sale Greatness: 20 Keys to Success, I talk about that in Key #8. Here is an excerpt from one of the 20 Keys:

    Key# 8 Advertise!

    Putting ads in the paper can be costly, but putting too little in your ad to keep costs down can cost you even more! When people come to our sales, most of them say the ad was what made them come to our house first. You should think of your newspaper ad as a financial investment in the success of your garage sale. So, what does a good garage sale ad look like? This is a version a successful ad:

    Saturday Only
    212 Mockingbird Ln.
    7AM – 2PM

    Making room for baby! Custom TV armoire, solid wood dining table w/6 chairs & leaf, Washer & Dryer, casino bar, Vintage collectibles, small kitchen appl., working VCR with tapes. Artist stands, pastels & pencils, tons of crafter items including paint brushes, vintage labels in portfolio, needlepoint kits and much more. Most prices negotiable! Early birds ARE welcome! Cash only.

    Another successful way to advertise is through any of the common online sites such as Craigslist, Yahoo Yard Sale, and Facebook Marketplace. The younger crowd shops online much more than they read ink and paper newspapers. Using the two forms of media together, newsprint and online advertising, you’ll reach the largest number of people. One of the benefits to utilizing online resources is that many of them are free!

    My daughter and co-author, Holli Hagan, would like to show you how to have the same success. Because this is such a great site, we want to give away two copies of the eBook for free! While this is a Kindle eBook from Amazon, you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. If you have a computer, Android, or reader of any kind, just download the free Amazon app found on their website. If you are the winner, we will send you the eBook through your email. We will be collecting comments to this post for exactly seven full days from the date and time it is posted. When the time is up, we (Kelli and Holli) will use Random.org to choose two winners. We will then announce the winners in the comments section, and using your profile, send a private message to have you send us an email address. With that we will send you the gift copy right away and then you, too, can begin to make the most money possible with your next sale. You can view the book at www.amazon.com/dp/B007E4XP7U. Don’t forget to comment right away and good luck!

    Kelli lives in the south central part of the United States, works full time,and lives in a blended family with one handsome husband, three adult children, one son-in-law, two dogs and (very soon) one brand new shiny grandson. She also blogs at http://kellisretrokitchenarts.wordpress.com/. Come by and visit!

  • 7 Ways to Shop Less and Have More Free Time

    by Nick Simpson

    Your time is valuable, especially in today’s fast paced world. The time you spend with your spouse and children comes as a commodity, as everyone rushes from appointment to soccer game to work to school and back again. You want to save time wherever you can, so you can enjoy the good things in life. Reducing the time spent at the grocery store will let you do just that.

    Yet, you still need groceries. Dinner time is one of those rare family get-together opportunities, and without a shopping trip, dinner at home can’t happen. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce time spent shopping so you can focus on what really matters:

    1. Streamline your couponing. Chances are you don’t have the time or the desire to be the next star of the Extreme Couponing show. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of some savings, however. You can use a number of tools, such as online couponing sites like Saving Star or even a retailer’s own electronic coupon site in order to get some discounts on your groceries. You can also sign up for a rewards credit card, and use the retailer’s frequent shopper card for additional discounts. Cut out all of that time clipping coupons, and instead use that time for the things you truly enjoy.

    2. Eat intentionally. This one will not only help you shop less and have more free time, chances are it will increase your health and well-being, too. Try to plan your meals ahead of time. Know what you’re going to eat from day to day. You don’t have to set everything in stone; make a list of five different recipes you want to make in a given week, and be flexible about what you have each day. Make sure you identify foods you like to have as snacks, and that you have a sufficient supply.

    3. Plan your shopping trips. One of the best ways to waste time at the grocery store is to go in without a plan. If you want to make the most of your shopping trip, you need to go in with a specific list. That list should contain the ingredients you need for your meal plan for the week (or for the next two weeks, even), as well as those regular household items you use on a regular basis. Don’t be distracted by sale items or by anything else on the shelves. Don’t browse sections of the store that don’t have any items on your list. Get in, get what you need, and then get out.

    4. Shop online. More and more products are available online. While things like electronics and books have been available online for a long time, today you can even get items such as fabric softener through sites like Amazon as well as other online retailers.

    5. Consider a grocery shopping co-op. Find a trusted friend or someone in your neighborhood who wants to free up some of their time, too. Work together to create a regular shopping list, and then take turns actually making the shopping trip. When you get to the cash register, consider ringing the orders up separately, making it easier to separate out one another’s’ purchases. Sure, your shopping trips will take longer, but you’ll have many fewer trips to deal with.

    6. Try to avoid midweek grocery stops. Sometimes, you’re going to need an extra loaf of bread. Other times, you’ll have unexpected company and need to make a special grocery trip. These things are reasonable. What’s not reasonable is going to the store to get the asparagus you simply forgot to buy for tonight’s dinner.

    7. Organize your pantry. Know what you have on hand at any given time. This will not only reduce the overall time you spend shopping, it will also help you save money because you’re not buying duplicate items, or purchasing something when you really don’t need it. Having tabs on what you have on hand will greatly increase your overall efficiency.

    You have hundreds of obligations in life – to family, to work, to friends, even to have the oil changed on your car. By taking a step back and approaching some of those obligations (like grocery shopping) in an organized and efficient way, you can free up time for the activities that really matter. Spending a few minutes on proper planning and organization can buy you extra hours to spend with your kids or your spouse, doing the things you love to do.

    Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at SavingStar, a leading provider of grocery coupons. SavingStar has pioneered the process of providing coupons online and has a rapidly growing customer base of happy shoppers that save money with their supermarket coupons technology.

  • 3 Easy (Inexpensive) Irish Foods for St. Patrick’s Day

    Forgo spending your cash on food and festivities out this St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, join in the fun on March 17th with authentic Irish foods (made at home) that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

    1. Champ. Who wouldn’t love mashed potatoes prepared "Irish style" with butter and scallions? Kids will be entertained by champ tinted green with food-coloring, or for a little festivity with an adult crowd, why not mix in some extra green in the form of fresh herbs? Serving suggestions: Serve as a side with corned beef and a vegetable of your choice.
    2. Irish Brown Soda Bread. This classic Irish quickbread is easy to prepare with on-hand ingredients like whole-wheat flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk, no kneading or rising time required. For a splash of St. Paddy’s Day green, make an herbed butter with chives or fresh parsley. Serving suggestions: Serve with butter and jam for breakfast, or with a hearty soup, like Irish Pea and Ham Soup.
    3. Irish Pea and Ham Soup. Made with inexpensive dried peas and a few pieces of diced baked ham, this soup is filling, nutritious and cheap and could easily be left to cook all day in a crockpot. Don’t forget-- dried beans will have to be soaked overnight. Serving suggestions: Serve with Irish Brown Soda Bread, a drizzle of heavy cream and some freshly chopped green onions for color.

    Bio: Chris Ciolli is a professional translator, copywriter and journalist. Her writing about travel, culture and food has been featured in "The Tipton Times", and Livestrong.com, as well as in video format at LaVanguardia.com. Her websites are MidwesternerAbroad.com, and ChrisCiolli.com. Follow her on twitter @ChrisCiolli.

  • Shoestring Office

    by Christine Redlin

    " ...You can do a shoestring work exchange. You can help clean someone’s garage, and they can fix your computer, exchange work skills -- an old barter system from the past.

    Always use pencils when writing information in your desk planner. It is less expensive to use erasers than White-Out for pen entries that may change.

    Use an inexpensive spiral notebook as an appointment book and hand write in the dates on each page with a section for calls and to do items. I get mine at the 99¢ Only Store.

    A good source for shoestring priced computer printer cartridges is 123inkjets. See products and pricing at 123inkjets.com.

    Use hip, new, recycled tote bags you can get at community events for FREE, if a vendor is giving them out as a promotional item. Or buy one at a supermarket, the 99¢ Only Store or Dollar store in your area for $1.

    Put important emergency files (car/home/life insurance, list of medications, etc.) in them. Keep the totes with files handy to grab quickly in case you have to evacuate your home in an emergency. Save on the price and save on the space of another file cabinet.

    To hold books on a shelf, use large (full) soup or vegetable cans, cover in colorful paper, and use as bookends. Or cover the empty can with colored paper and fill the can with rocks or sand that can be bought inexpensively at a home gardening store.

    Use old phone books taped together with packing tape for a footstool under your desk -- again, as it’s been said, "Necessity is the mother of invention!"

    Don’t pay for an expensive business card holder or software program for business cards. Instead, put them together in stacks (alphabetically, by the name of person or company), and put a rubber band around the stack. Or scan them if you can. Put the cards face down on your computer scanner, scan, and save as a JPEG file in your computer.

    You can also assemble the cards on sheets of paper by using a glue stick, Elmer’s glue, or transparent tape. Affix the cards with the glue or tape on a blank white, 8x10 sheet of paper, using both sides. Then three-hole punch each sheet, and put sheets into a three-ring binder, which you can buy for under $1. If you don’t have blank white paper, remember your ABC’s (Always Be Creative). Use pages from an old magazine. Assembling them this way, as I say, "is good enough for now, and it serves the purpose!"

    If you don’t have a home computer set up, you can always use a computer and the internet for one hour at your local library for FREE.

    At your company office or home office, reuse your coffee cups. Just rinse out and use again for water or coffee.

    Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy, money and the planet.

    Get the mail for the day. Sort through it, and after opening, cut up envelopes that you will throw out and use those pieces for scratch paper. Don’t grab and use Post-It notes all the time; they are expensive. Use old scrap paper for notes..."

    Partial Book Excerpt Chapter 10 From eBook: Life On A Shoestring ... In Beverly Hills? Visit www.lifeonashoestringinbeverlyhills.com today!

  • 5 Reasons You’ll Never Get Out of Debt

    by Dr. Jason Cabler

    Ok, Ok, "5 Reasons You’ll Never Get Out of Debt" is a pretty negative and cynical title, especially considering that I’m normally a very positive person. The reason for the title is to highlight some of the more popular "reasons" I hear from people that are complaining about their debt problem but never seem to do anything about it.

    I think just about everyone with a healthy brain knows that when it comes to money, being debt free is always preferable to being in the bondage of debt, but when I ask them why they haven’t made an effort to eliminate debt from their lives, I start hearing pretty universal list of "reasons" (excuses) why.

    So if you DON’T want to get out of debt and change your financial life, here are the excuses you should be using:

    I Tried it For Awhile But it Didn’t Work

    So at one time you actually convinced yourself that getting out of debt was a good idea and you even decided to try it. Well, if you really didn’t want to become debt free then you probably decided not to fully commit to the process. You would have only kinda, sorta tried it, and over a few months time you would have gone back to your old ways.

    Point: You have to fully commit to the process if you want to become debt free. So if you don’t want debt freedom, then use this excuse, and whatever you do, don’t commit to the process.

    I Just Haven’t Gotten Around to Doing It

    This is the excuse for the person that has never really thought very seriously about getting out of debt. Yeah, you know it’s probably a good idea, but you’ve got other things to worry about, like making money to pay the car payments, credit card bills, and the latest acquisition for your vintage Pez dispenser collection.

    Point: If you don’t want to be free from the bondages of debt, then by all means, find ways to spend your time that allow you to not think about your financial situation. The more you ignore it, the less you have to think about it.

    I Don’t Know How to Get Out of Debt

    This excuse is an example of a lack of education. Maybe you want to get out of debt, you feel the need to get out of debt, but how? You keep wondering how for years and never think to read a book, buy a course, or check out blogs and other resources on the internet. Since you never find out how, you never actually get out of debt.

    Point: To keep yourself in perpetual debt you definitely shouldn’t educate yourself on how to do it. Don’t read books by Dave Ramsey, don’t buy a personal finance course, and definitely stay off the internet.

    Debt is Just a Part of Life. Isn’t it?

    You’ve decided that having debt is just a normal part of life. You say things like, "Life is expensive, right? Who’s got the kind of money to pay cash for everything? Not me! I have to have credit to buy the things I need. I need to use my credit so I can keep up my credit score (at least that’s what the credit card companies tell me I need to do)."

    Point: Go ahead. Give yourself over to the debt slave mentality. Those credit card companies would never give you more credit than you can handle. Besides, who better to rely on that a credit card company or bank to give you unbiased financial advice?

    I Really Don’t Like Change

    Like most Americans, you’ve accumulated a pile of debt over the years. You really don’t want to be in debt, but you’re afraid you’ll have to do something different to eliminate it. You may have to sacrifice something or change some habits. Getting out of your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. You don’t want to get out of that comfort zone so you’ve decided to nestle down deep into the comfortable feather bed of debt slavery, peeping out from under the covers at the world outside and wondering what life could be like in the world of debt freedom, but you never leave the bed. Yay for you! You are resistant to change, and change is a bad thing, right?

    There is Hope

    Yes, I know some of this sounds a little ridiculous and over the top, but the lies that you tell yourself when it comes to your finances will always serve to work against you.

    But what if you began telling yourself the truth and then took action to make that financial truth a reality in your life? What if you stopped the excuses? What if you actually could get out of the bondage of debt slavery? I’m here to tell you that you can. There is hope, and it’s available to you.

    Stop the excuses…

    Dr. Jason Cabler is a Christian personal finance blogger at Celebrating Financial Freedom. He teaches people how to live and become debt free using solid Christian and common sense principles.

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