These Big Financial Wins Will Put a Lot of Money in Your Pocket!

these big financial wins put money in your pocket

A look around the personal finance blogosphere will show you a number of different approaches to living a financially rewarding life. 

Some bloggers like Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich scoff at little cost cutting measures like making your coffee at home instead of stopping by Starbucks, arguing that the way to truly become wealthy comes from making more money, not cutting little corners.

Others like Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom advocate a frugal lifestyle.

She regularly advertises free deals and ways to be frugal such as using coupons when shopping, menu planning, and taking advantage of free summer activities with kids.  While she does advocate having a side gig if you’re able, her main focus is saving money by spending less money.

Of course, these two strategies combined — earning more money and saving money in all the little ways you spend on a daily basis — are important to growing your net worth.

But there’s also another strategy that may be even more important than cutting corners on routine, small expenditures–cutting corners on large purchases that can save you thousands in one fell swoop.

Saving on large purchases isn’t discussed as much because there’s not an opportunity to save as frequently.  After all, you may go to the coffee shop every day, and you may go out to eat a few times a week, but you’ll likely only buy a new car every five to ten years.

Still, the big purchases can save you as much in one fell swoop as a year’s worth of savings by making your coffee at home.

These Big Financial Wins Rock!

Continue Reading

5 Free or Inexpensive Summer Activities to Keep the Kids from Being Bored

free inexpenive or free summer activities for kids

Summer is here and children are out of school. 

If your kids are like mine, they count down the days until school ends, and they revel in their newfound freedom — for a week or two.  Then, the inevitable sibling bickering and the whines of “I’m booooored” begin.

By mid-July at the peak of summer when they’re most bored and the temperatures are soaring, things can seem pretty grim.  Parents may begin counting down the days until school is BACK in session.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are plenty of things you and the kids can do to have a fun, educational summer.  (All the better if they don’t realize they’re learning while they’re having fun!)

Best of all, many of these activities are cheap or free!

Here Are 5 Free or Inexpensive Summer Activities to Help Occupy Your Kids

Continue Reading

The Best Four Companies and States for Family Leave

The four best states and companies for family leave

In our current environment of wage freezes and increased health care costs, one of the features that can distinguish a good company from a great company is the fringe benefits you receive.

While your wages may remain stagnant, fringe benefits can provide substantial bonuses and savings for your bottom line.

Unfortunately, one benefit that few companies have is a comprehensive family leave plan.

Of course, back in 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Family Medical Leave Act.  This act allows a new parent (either biologically or through adoption) as well as those with sick family members to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave from their job within a 12 month period.  The employee is able to retain health care benefits, and they cannot lose their job.

However, not all companies have to follow the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) such as those with less than 50 employees.   Likewise, if the employee seeking to take FMLA has not worked for the company for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, the company does not have to grant the employee leave.

With these contingencies on FMLA, many, many employees fall through the cracks and find themselves back at work less than a week after they have a baby because they do not qualify for FMLA or they cannot afford to take an unpaid leave.

However, there are some companies as well as states that go above and beyond and offer their employees or residents better FMLA benefits than required by federal law.

As a working parent, these are the companies that you want to work for or states you want to live in.

Top 4 Companies to Work for With Great FMLA Benefits

Continue Reading

Free Tax Day Snacks, Giveaways and Deals

Tax day deals and freebies

You got all your forms and receipts together to tackle your taxes.

Did you file everything yet in or are you still procrastinating?

If you are really one of those last minute folks then you better make sure your return is in either electronically by day’s end or post-marked by the end of the day on April 15th (expect the post office to be crowded).

To help everyone get over the tax-day malaise, there are a number of stores that are offering up free tax day snacks, giveaways, and deals.

Continue Reading

The Good Guy Discount: Do You Regularly Haggle and Ask for Discounts? You Should!

how_to_haggle

Do you ever ask for a discount when making a purchase? 

Do you consider doing so a challenge that you happily take on, or an embarrassment?

There seem to be two types of people in this world–those who happily ask for a discount and those who would just as soon overpay than ask for a discount.

Which are you?

My mom loves to ask for a discount.

When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, I found this practice unbelievably embarrassing.  My mom, very social by nature, would chat up the salesman or cashier, and just before the transaction ended, she’d say, ever so sweetly, “I’d love to buy this, but what kind of discount can you give me?”

I saw her bargaining as begging, and it made me cringe.  Yet the strategy worked for her; she often walked away with a sizable discount.

Ironically, years later, I, too, often find myself bargaining.  Honestly, there’s no better way to save money, and I don’t mind hearing “no.”  I’m not afraid of a retailer’s rejection, and I’m ecstatic when I save money.

How to Haggle and Ask For a Discount

Continue Reading

How I Made the Switch from Traditional Employment to Freelancing and How You Can, Too

switch_to_freelance

I majored in English in college. 

(Honestly, this is probably the worst decision I have ever made.  If I had to do it over again, I’d probably major in something more practical like journalism where I could still utilize my love of reading and writing.)

I went on to graduate school where I majored in English and Teaching English as a Second Language.  One year after I graduated, I snagged a job as a full-time English composition teacher at a community college outside an urban area.

In the beginning, I loved teaching even though the load was heavy.  I was expected to teach 5 classes a semester; each class had 28 students.  Each student had to write five essays during the semester.  That means I was grading 700 essays in a 16 week period.  These essays were each 3 to 4 pages long.

The load was heavy but manageable before I had children.  But when I had my son four years after I got the job, I started having difficulty balancing my work life with my home life.

By the time I had my second child four years later, I no longer enjoyed my job.

The quality of students was deteriorating.  The school hired full-time security guards to roam the halls because there had been so many problems with students threatening teachers and fighting in the classrooms.
Continue Reading

Frugal Vs. Cheap: Which Are You?

frugal_vs_cheap

Frugal, cheap, tightwad, miser, tightfisted, penny pincher. . .

We tend to use all of these words interchangeably to refer to people who are tight with their money, but there is a distinct difference.

The Definition of Cheap

Cheap has a negative connotation, as does tightwad, miser, and tightfisted, perhaps with good reason.  If you look up the meaning of cheap, you’ll see it says, “giving or sharing as little as possible” (Merriam-Webster).

Scrooge in A Christmas Carol is the perfect example of someone who is cheap. 

He does whatever he can to hoard as much money as possible and does not want to share with others.  We’ve even coined a term for people who don’t want to share or aren’t charitable–scrooges–after the character in A Christmas Carol.

I had a friend in graduate school who, if he took a girl out to a dance club, would only take her when it was ladies’ night and the woman got in free.  Then he expected his date to split his cost to get in!  When he took a date out to eat, he only went during happy hour and would only order off the appetizer menu so he could get the food half price.
Continue Reading