January 2012

How To Use Psychology To Save

In my efforts to save money and try to get the most juice so to speak out of every dollar that I earn I have tried and tested various tips and techniques. I think the best way to start saving is to really focus on less and more significant places where you can cut back.

The reason behind doing less is psychological. A lot of times when a person is faced with a number of different choices, indecision kicks in. There might be 20 different things you could do daily to improve your financial situation, but if these choices overwhelm you then the easiest action is to basically do nothing and this is the worst action in most cases.

So the way to approach saving is to go for the big wins and forget about the little things for now like spending money on lattes. I have read about how making decision tires your brain in the Scientific American. The brain uses the executive function and when you have to make many choices it depletes the executive function.

Price Checks in the Modern World

I love technology.  I love how much easier it makes life, from staying connected to friends to finding the best shopping deals no matter where you are.  One of the best money saving features I have found for common retail items is the barcode scanner on my Android phone.  The iPhone also has a barcode scanner, and when you combine this tool with apps like Amazon or the Coupons app, you can scan a barcode and instantly get pricing and item information about it.

Get a Surprise from Duncan Hines

In a little less than a week Duncan Hines is sending out a special surprise to its Duncan Hines Baker’s Club members. The surprise will be announced inside the email that is sent to the address you used to sign-up to join the Duncan Hines Baker’s Club. If you haven’t joined yet, you still have time to do so before the surprise is announced.

Just head to the Baker’s Club page on the Duncan Hines website. You can instantly register with Facebook, but I prefer to use the old fashioned registration form. You’ll need to fill out your desired username, real name, mailing address, create a password, and then enter your email address. Make sure it is an email address you use frequently so you don’t miss the surprise.

How to Learn Anything for Free (or almost free)

"I am still experimenting with this particular technique and would very much like to know your thoughts about it."

The last four posts I made on this site have been about penny stocks and my last one was a very interesting look at how to get started in the stock market for just a $100. I am dead serious. That gives people no excuse now. But now I want to get back to something that I feel I should share. It is basically learning things for free. Just a time investment.

I think a great place to do this would be howstuffworks.com where I have been mastering HTML before I move onto greater things in life with CSS and PHP. I mentioned these plans of mine in my "Starting a Business with No Cash" post on this same blog. Of course, we also have Wikipedia which is really becoming solid information. But let’s leave the internet aside for a minute.

One tip that I could give you. This might only help if you have a university nearby like the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. But this does cost a small amount of money. Anyway, let me explain. Basically, become a patron of a university that has a significant library(s). The University of Minnesota has 17 libraries and I know there are a lot of big universities in this country that have this. It costs only $80/yr ($40 for me because I am an alumni) to become a patron of the library. I think most other libraries across the nation charge similarly.

When you do this, you can go ahead and check out at least 20 books (I assume you only need 2 or 3, really) which you need to read to master something. I have checked out textbooks that MBA students use to study financial modeling and likewise for internet web programming – books that those geeks in the college of science and engineering use. The only real downside to this is that the instructor and currently enrolled students have better privileges than an outsider and therefore can recall a book.

Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Reservations?

This year, we will be taking the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for a joint birthday party since their birthdays are only a month apart.  Having never been there before, I have been carefully going over all the details to make sure we get the best deal and also have the most fun.  One thing I will not be doing is creating a birthday reservation online.  While it seems like you would save money by buying a birthday package, you are spending a lot of money on things that have little to do with ensuring a good time for everyone.

Stop Paying for Lifetime Movies

The cost to have anything other than your basic cable channels is outrageous. I can only afford the smallest package available, but the more I do research online, the more I discover that I don’t really need anything more than that.

Netflix is cheap and has a ton of movies. It also saves me from having to purchase children’s DVDs. My daughter has access to an enormous amount of Barney, Dora, and Blues Clues videos. Unfortunately, there are limits to Netflix (like no Lifetime Movies).

How to start investing with just a $100. No kidding.

I guess I have been talking to you a lot about penny stocks, and now I wanted to share some ideas based on research that I did about how you can get in the investing game by just putting aside a $100. I think the best way would be to look at minimizing the trading/commission costs involved.

There are some brokers that do not require a minimum deposit such as ShareBuilder, Charles Schwab and Zecco. However, Schwab tends to have higher transaction costs at $8.95 a trade whereas the charge at ShareBuilder is $4 per trade, and Zecco is $4.50. But I want to point out here that the cost to sell shares at ShareBuilder is $9.95.

In addition to Zecco charging $4.50 for all trades, there is also a valuable benefit awaiting once your account value gets to the $25,000 mark. Zecco will give you a generous 10 free trades monthly and this is a great deal.

I think a good way to invest on a shoestring is to put your money in ETFs and the Charles Schwab ETFs that trade commission-free come to mind. Also, I would recommend buying the Vanguard Total Market Viper (VTI). Basically, look to invest in index mutual funds that have zero transaction costs and limit the number of trades you make until you grow your account to a sizeable amount like $2500. These type of investments are great because they keep you well diversified as they track a variety of financial instruments.

Dye Faded Clothes Instead of Tossing Them

I think I am cursed in the laundry department.  My favorite clothes often wind up faded after what seems to me to be a very short time.  Last summer, I even forgot a dark brown skirt on the line and it bleached out to a patchy brown thing I can only wear in private now.  Rather than toss them or give them away, I have decided to try to save these favorite items of clothing, which will save money and the hassle of trying to replace them.  (Maybe my mother would say I shouldn’t get more until I learn how to take care of the ones I have!)

Penny Stock Picks!

I gave you a preview of penny stocks in my previous two articles in this blog. I was thinking instead of going on about the various nuances of these type of investments, why not head to the actual investing parts. I have some top penny stocks picked out here that aren’t going to cost you a pretty penny, if you don’t mind the pun. These are all stocks that are a just a few cents at most.

Atlantis Internet Group Corp. (PINK: ATIG) - Let’s start of this list with Atlantis Internet Group which is a Nevada gaming company that focuses on the development of casino games, slot machine software and gaming networks. The shares closed at $0.003 on January 5, 2012 with a volume of 10.87 million shares.


NX Global Inc. (OTC: NEGS) - Next we have NX Global which is a renewable energy company and its shares went up 160 percent to $0.0013 with a volume of 1.82 million shares.

Shamika 2 Gold Inc. (OTC: SHMX) – Want a share of a company that explores and acquires gold and mineral properties with proven and potential locations in Montana and Nevada, look no further than Shamika 2 Gold which is very affordable at a share price of just $0.0008.

Tirex Corp. (PINK: TXMC) – At just $0.0015 a share, you can get some stock in Tirex that is involved in a patented tire recycling system.

Trimming the Grocery Bill

Plan ahead and spend less on food


As someone who's just become financially independent for the first time in her life, I'm still very much in the  the process of figuring out what goes where with regards to spending. How much ought I funnel to each quadrant of necessity? And what does necessity really mean, anyway? When explaining some of my financial strategies to my parents over the past holiday week, I surprised them by saying that I'd managed to spend no more than $25 a week in groceries. I acknowledged that the number was lower than average, but it still took them a while to figure out exactly how I cut it down so low. Between the two of them, they spend about four times what I do just on food. But I've found that with a little planning (and, of course, the right stores), it's totally possible to spend just about a hundred a month on what you eat at home.

Get Your Next Pair of Glasses for $6

I don’t currently have insurance to pay for my glasses or contacts. I didn’t have insurance several years ago either when I first heard about a company called Zenni Optical. Back then Zenni Optical offered glasses for $4, which I happily purchased several pairs of. With inflation, the company now charges $6 for its cheapest pair of glasses. That is still a huge savings, since I was paying almost $200 for my glasses from the Dr.’s office.

When is the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets?

"If you are looking to fly but want the best deal, either buy your airline tickets 30 days in advance or immediately before the flight"

I have always heard that buying airline tickets at least two weeks in advance would ensure the best rates.  Last week, on this blog, I wrote about books that help save money, and after reading 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, I have learned that two weeks is not the right time to buy airline tickets.