4 Ways to Enjoy The Movie Theater Experience For Less

Movie+Marquee

Going to the movies is one of my favorite past-times – since December I’ve seen four movies on the big screen: The Princess and the Frog, It’s Complicated, Avatar, and Sherlock Holmes.

I love the big screen, the great sound, and the cushy seats. But prices for movies haven’t been so comfortable for consumers.  In 2009, the average cost of a movie ticket is $7.50, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.  Southern California, where I live, is an area with one of the highest costs of movie tickets.  Tickets now cost $10-$13 for evenings and $8-$10 for matinees.
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Why Should I Keep Dumping Money Into My Old Car Or Other Old Junk?

Rusty+Wrench

That older car of yours is starting to show signs of wear, and it seems month after month you’re fixing something or other.

When should you call it quits and upgrade to something newer?

If you’re frugal, you’re trying to get every last stinking mile out of your car possible.  If you’re like me with 4 kids, you think it makes no sense to get something newer that kids will destroy.  The body of my black 2000 Nissan Maxima (bought used with 50,000 miles in April of 2005) is in fairly good condition, the car looks decent, and I’ve taken care of it.  I’ve got 145,000 miles on the car and in the last couple of years I’ve had to replace several costly parts, including new tires for about $300, the alternator cost about $600, the new radiator last month cost another $500, and the exhaust system replacement cost another $300.  Not to mention, someone broke the lock last Thanksgiving breaking into my car (which cost $350 to fix).  Throw in other small items and the bill in just 2 years was over $2000.

Nearly every time a new bill came up I wondered to myself if it was time to buy something newer.

As an Accountant who has worked for various large manufacturers with multiple plants and millions in equipment, I’ll share how we evaluate purchasing or replacing capital equipment and other big purchases.  I’ll then help you better evaluate a potential large purchase or replacement purchase should your car breakdown, your roof starts leaking, your water heater starts giving you problems, or maybe your A/C is on the fritz and your unsure whether to pay for a service call or if you should go ahead and buy instead of taking a chance wasting money on a call.
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A Little Investigation And Elbow Grease Saved Us Over $150

Vacuum Cleaner Belts

My wife was vacuuming the house. She notices that the vacuum isn’t picking up as well as it should (this has happened before and we had discovered that the hose was backed up).  No big deal.  Then we smell a real nasty smell of rubber burning.  And the vacuum stopped picking up dirt.  Oh no.  “Great, we have to buy a new vacuum,” I say to my wife.  “What did this one cost us?  Around $150-$200?  Maybe we can get a good deal with it being the holidays and stores are trying to get rid of their inventory,” I say, trying to find the silver lining.  Just what we need though, another expense.
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Saving At The Supermarket Is FUN!

Winn Dixie Receipt

My Money Blog posted an article a few months ago talking about the theory of “price targeting”, where companies try to sell the same product to different people at different prices, hoping to come as close to an individuals’ target price as possible.  In the use of price targeting, shoppers are generally broken down into three categories.
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Go To The Museum For Free – Bank of America Museums on Us

museums-on-us-dates

What a wealth of culture and learning we have here in NYC!

The only thing holding us back from taking in all of the museums, gardens, zoos, and whatnot is time and money.  We’ve been trying to make the time to take the kids out and do things with them whenever we can.

That leaves money!

It’s expensive taking a family out these daysWell, it was a most pleasant surprise to learn that Bank of America was extending it’s Museums on Us program.  Not only did they extend it but they added museums and states that the program takes part in.

What is Museums on Us?

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Take Up A Sport And Become Good At It

you-could-be-in-mma-this-summer

Take Up a Sport and Become Good at it

This is a guest post from the blogger behind Studenomics, a personal finance blog that offers common sense advice for college students and recent graduates.  Studenomics is the ultimate resource for young people looking for advice on  how to survive this current recession, grow their careers, manage their finances, and still be able to enjoy the weekends.

We all want to have a productive summer but we just don’t know where to start.  Here’s a little secret: you can start by reading The Summer of George- The Most Productive Summer a College Student Will Ever Have.

Remember right before the Summer of George begins and he stumbles into the guys playing frolf (frisbee golf) in the park?  Costanza plays one game and he gets all excited about how he will spend his summer learning how to play frolf and then that could not be further from what actually happens.  This post may not have a whole lot to do with personal finance but the point of this series is to help young people have a highly productive summer.

Obviously I’m not trying to recommend frolf as a summer sport for everyone but I’m sure all of you have a sport in mind that you have always wanted to play.  For me this sport is Mixed Martial Arts and for the past few weeks I have been training 5 days a week to learn the sport.

Please don’t fall prey for the two most common excuses: no money and no time because there is a solution for both.

The no money excuse. If you can’t afford to pay for professional training then simply don’t get professional training.  First of all there are plenty of free tutorial videos available online (what would our generation do without You Tube?) and practice makes perfect.  If you can’t organize a group of your friends to play soccer one afternoon then go towards a major park in your area and join in on a casual game.  You will get to meet new people, practice, and improve your skills.

The no time excuse. The excuse of having no time is a self imposed restriction used as an excuse for procrastination.  I can maybe count on one hand the amount of college students that I actually know that don’t have any time at all to spare during the summer.  We all have at least an extra hour a day where we can sneak in some sort of physical activity.  The trick is to figure out how we can play this sport with our free time.  I figured out that I could sneak in a kickboxing class in the mornings since I have been working evenings lately.  A couple of summers ago when I was into golf (not frolf) I would wake up really early and go to the park to tee off a little so that no one would see my embarrassing swings. Whatever the sport is you can always sneak in an extra hour or so to improve your skills.

What other ways do you think you can afford a new sport?

Please enjoy the rest of the series:

Summer of George Introduction @ Studenomics.com

Learn a New Language @ TotalCandor.com

Help Your Local Church @ GatherLittleByLittle.com

Take Some College Courses This Summer @ PoorerThanYou.com

Summer Jobs With Little Startup Funding Required- Part 1 @ MoneyNing.com

Summer Jobs With Little Startup Funding Required- Part 2 @ PTMoney.com

Take Control Of Your Financial Situation @ Bargaineering.com

Work Abroad This Summer @ CashMoneyLife.com

Enjoy Cheap Summer Activities @ MoneySmartLife.com

Creative Commons License photo credit: Latente ? Le Sbarbine nel Governo

Frugal Ideas To Help Your Home Sell

Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright 1909

We recently put our home on the market to sell. Man, do we have a lot to do to get the place in ship shape!  We have been busy for the past couple of weeks doing what we could to make the place look more appealing to a potential buyer.  Living there for so long we didn’t realize how much stuff we had and how many little things could be fixed.  I’d be lying to say we weren’t concerned about getting a good price in today’s market!

Our goal is to make our home look as clean, big, and attractive as possible without breaking the bank!  Fortunately there are many things we can do to help achieve this.

These are inexpensive ideas to help sell your home:

  • Paint (@MoneyMatters) – We hired someone to paint most of the place for us.  It wasn’t that expensive and it’s made the place look so much bigger and brighter!  We used light, neutral colors that would be appealing to most (our prior colors were great but too dark for most people’s tastes).  This could be done yourself to save more.  We just didn’t have the time to do it ourselves (and we got a great deal on a local painter).
  • Replace Light Fixtures – We replaced our dining room, bathroom, and the bedroom’s light fixtures.  We bought them at Home Depot and they weren’t that expensive.  Combined with the new paint job, the apartment looks much bigger than before.  Add to that we used fluorescent lights so we can tell prospective buyers that the light costs will be lower.
  • Remove Clutter (@nomorespending)- We’ve already removed all of our CD’s and their shelves as well as our books and bookshelf.  It’s really opened up the place (I have a LOT of CD’s).  Remove, give away, put in storage whatever you can.  Get down to the bare minimums to make the place look as big as possible and let a buyer step in and imagine it as theirs.  This will also help you when you move as you will have less to box and bring with you.
  • Clean Carpets/Wax Floors (@thepassivedad) – Renting a machine for the day to clean your carpets can be inexpensive.  Same is true for a floor buffer.  There’s also less expensive cleaners you can use that may require more elbow grease but can be as effective.  If you’re able add no base board molding.  Basically give a buyer the thought that they don’t have to do any work on the floors if they don’t want to!
  • Landscaping (@misformoney)- If you have a garden or lawn space do what you can to spruce it up and make it lively!  New plants don’t have to be expensive and can make the front of your home look much more inviting!
  • Take Great Pictures (@pffirewall) – Your home will most likely be online somewhere for sale and you will need photos of it.  Make sure the photos are good quality taken at the time of the day the light is the best.  Wait until you have everything ready and use a good camera.  If you have a friend who’s a photography buff ask him to come over and take a few shots for you.  You want big and clean!  I’ve seen people post photos of cluttered rooms that make me instantly go to the next listing on the site.
  • Re-Grout Wall and Floor Tiles - This sounds like more work than it really is.  I’ve discovered it takes some elbow grease but doesn’t cost too much.  And new grout will make your tiles look almost new again.  Go ahead and take a close look at how dingy they may be…  I’ve been slowly re-working the tiles in our bathroom!
  • Replace Old Sinks, Cabinets, Faucets – You can go crazy replacing these items and spend thousands for sure.  But sometimes if yours are beat up and old an inexpensive replacement will look much better than what you have.  New usually equals clean and that helps a buyer!
  • Replace Outlet Covers and Light Switch Covers – Over the years these can get beat up and dirty.  But they cost little to replace.  Put these in after you have painted to keep them clean.
  • De-Personalize Your Home – Put away all of your photos and pictures.  You can leave a few up to display but you want a buyer to walk in and imagine the place as theirs.  Seeing your face all over doesn’t help that.  It also helps remove the clutter too!
  • Read Magazines/Watch TV (@nodebtplan)- No, I’m not saying you should sit around and be lazy.  What you can do is look at what homes look like in advertisements and shows.  There are also plenty of home shows on TV these days to give you ideas as well.  You can get a good idea of what a model home should look like.
  • We Need More Light! – When you are showing the home turn on the lights to make the place look bigger even if it’s during the day!
  • Bake Before a Showing – This one is a bit cliche but you would be amazed how well it works!  We had friends over and one was helping me install a new dining room light.  At the same time my wife happened to be baking a cake.  It smelled amazing and really made the place feel “home”-ey. (And really how much do those instant bake cookies cost?)
  • Build a Website – A friend mentioned that when he was selling his Manahttan apartment he put up a quick website with some pictures and contact forms. Six months hosting isn’t very expensive and a lot of hosting companies will give you a free domain name and web site kit.  He ended up selling the place himself!  You can also list your home on Craiglist.
  • Clean, Scrub, Sweep, Repeat – Clean like a madman.  Then go do it again.  Then ask a neighbor or friend to point out what still seems dingy and hit the cleaners again.  Make the place sparkle!  The cleaner the better.  A clean place tells a buyer that you take care of the home (and it makes it look great).
  • Empty Those Closets - As best you can clean out the closets.  Again, live with the bare minimum that you need and get those closets looking as big as possible.  Buyers will want to see how much of their stuff they can put in them not how much of yours!
  • Visit Other Homes In Your Area – Take an afernoon and go visit the open houses in your area.  See what their homes look like and what they offer and the price they ask.  If you see a similar place as yours take note; this is your competition and you want your place to look better!  Is it cleaner? Newer?  You may be surprised to find out it won’t take much to make your place look nicer.
  • Replace the Toilet Seat – Seriously!  People will notice that it’s sparkling clean which will get you big points.  Either they don’t need to get a new one themselves or they believe you keep things super-clean, you win.

Yes, it takes some work on your part to do these things. But if it will help you sell then it will more than pay off!!  A couple of years ago you might have had a bidding war for a home that wasn’t all done up.  But in today’s economy you have to put your best foot forward just to get the sale!  Don’t let something small keep a buyer from wanting your place.

Any other ideas?


Creative Commons License photo credit: mach3

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