Don’t Let Your Purchases Fall Prey to Your Emotions

Many U.S. citizens would prefer to pay full price rather than negotiate.  Sometimes it is because they feel uncomfortable negotiating and other times it is because they have become emotionally attached to the thing they want to purchase and don’t want to try to negotiate for fear of losing it.

Psychologists recognize the power of emotional attachment and suggest that if you do want to negotiate for an item, do not hold it or touch it because it shows you are already emotionally attached to the item and “own” it in your mind, which lowers your negotiating power.

While many of us aren’t privy to private negotiations, a barrage of television shows allow us to watch others negotiate—successfully and unsuccessfully.  If you have ever watched TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, you may be surprised, as I often am, to see a woman go into the bridal shop with a firm budget of say, $4,000.  Perhaps a friend suggests she tries on a beautiful dress, and she does.  She falls in love with the dress and sees herself walking down the aisle in it.  It is HER dress.
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How to Fix an Error on Your Credit Report

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According to CBS News, approximately 80% of credit reports contain errors.  These errors range from minor, such as a misspelling of your name, to an error on your address, to serious such as the same mortgage appearing twice on the report or a loan showing that it is still open when it in fact has been paid off.  These latter examples can be enough to deny you future credit, especially if your debt to income ratio is perceived to be too high thanks to the error.  I myself found an error on my credit report — a student loan I paid off over 12 years ago still shows as being current.

How do these errors occur?  Some may be simple typographical errors, while others occur when a loan is sold to another institution.  Regardless of how the errors occur, it is important that you find them and correct them so that your credit report reflects your true credit history. Continue Reading

Save Money: Attend Community College First

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The cost of college is skyrocketing.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average price for public tuition, room and board during the 2009-2010 school year at a four year institution was $12,804.  For private institutions, it averaged a staggering $32,184.  As government funding has changed to loan-based aid, rather than grant-based aid, many students are easily left with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt when they graduate.  If they find a job, which can be difficult in the current economy, they may only make $30,000 a year right out of college.

However, some students have made the choice to put off attending a four year institution and instead begin their college careers at a community college. Continue Reading

Frugal Vacation Idea – Tag Along to Your Spouse’s Business Conference

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Many people have to attend business conferences, often at faraway locations.  While it is true some people like to spend this time away from their family to focus on work and make business connections, others would prefer not to be away from their family for a long period of time.  If you are of the latter group and your spouse has a flexible schedule, why not create a family vacation around a conference instead?  Tag along to your spouse’s business conference and you have the makings of a frugal vacation.  There are several advantages to doing so:
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Condo Fees You May Not Be Aware Of

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Many 20-somethings graduate college and move to the city.  Not quite ready for homeownership, many of them may consider buying a condo.

Recently, I observed a billboard for a condo building in downtown Chicago that piqued my curiousity because it clearly was seeking to attract young professionals.  I went home and looked on their website, which was sleek and obviously catering to the 20 to early 30s crowd.  There were beautiful pictures of the high rise from the outside, pictures of the inside of different condos highlighting the beautiful city view, floor plans, and even interviews with a half dozen of the residents (all of them young professionals except for the token near retirement empty nester).

What really caught my interest was their page that declared, “You Can’t Afford Not To Buy!”

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Transportation Alternatives for One Car Families

Many of us grew up in two car families, and more recently, even three car families.  A car for each adult (and sometimes teenaged) member of the family seems to be a necessity, but is it?  Are there transportation alternatives for one car families?

We live on the outskirts of a major urban area and have lived happily with one car our entire married life.  By not having a second car we have saved thousands of dollars.  Consider the following:
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Alternative College Housing Options to Save Money

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If a student decides to go to a college one or more hours away from home, a large part of their living expense is room and board.  Of course, there are the traditional dorm rooms and meal plans or off campus apartments.  But both of these options are rather expensive.  At my Alma mater, the University of Michigan, a dorm room and a meal plan can run a student anywhere from $8,370 for a triple to $12,530 for a single with a private bath.  A studio off campus can run $650 per month and a 3 bedroom apartment $1,500 a month.  Neither of the apartment options includes heat, electricity or food.

However, if a student is willing to take the non-traditional route, there are a few options available that will cost the student less out of pocket and ultimately reduce the amount of student loan debt they may have to acquire. Continue Reading