Category: Uncategorized

Used Items Depreciation

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Thanksgiving is just hours away and you really have to hold on tight so you don’t end up giving in to all the holiday sales. Time to tame your emotions! If you have made it this far you may be able to resist the infamous “Black Friday.”

Hey, I am not opposed to a good deal if it’s something that I truly need, and more importantly that I can’t buy used on Craigslist or Marketplace. I probably wouldn’t buy used underwear, socks or hats, but for sure anything that falls into the tool category or electronics deserves a search in sites where you can buy used.

Basically, you just save a ton when you buy used and if you do decide to get rid of the purchased item, most likely you will barely lose any money; used items hold their value better than newer items.

Not too long ago I decided to buy a bike rack system for our camping trips. I wanted something secure, trustworthy that would not be rattling all the way to our destination.

Sure enough, I ended up looking at Yakima products. They are expensive; at least for me. The model I wanted is called the “full swing” and it retailed for about $500 plus tax.

With a little bit of patience and a few daily searches on Craigslist, Ebay, and Market Place, I was able to find one for $350. Already almost 50% off. Still a lot of money though. I was able to negotiate it and ended up getting it for $300.

We used it a lot and it always met all of our expectations. It was solid. A great product. But like everything else, especially with a family, you transition from one stage to another and things end up in the garage. After a season of not using it, I decided it was to part with it.

I posted an ad in the same places where I buy used and in no time I had over 100 hits. Long story short, I was able to sell it for $290.

Think about my $10 loss, versus the loss of the person I bought it from who paid the $500+. Not to mention the tax savings! You buy a $500+ item and you may end up paying up to 8.75%, depending on where you live in Illinois. No thanks! I am not again paying taxes, but before I even touch my salary a big chunk of money is already taken out. If I can save myself some money by buying used items, I will. In this case, just in taxes I saved almost $50. Plus about $200 by choosing to buy something relatively used.

Many times we fall prey of our emotions. We think we deserve a treat. Go to the store with the perfect temperature and upbeat music and walk out with a bag like everybody else. We want the cutting edge technology or gadget everybody is talking about.

Well, nothing more sobering than an estate sale. You walk in and you see room after room full of clutter and items that at some point were also “the thing to have.” Now, there they are; being sold for pennies, and if they don’t sell they make their way to the garbage. Think about the fortunes we spent on crap that we don’t really need, and that after a while we just give away or trash. It’s not just something you throw out or you lose money on, it’s hours of work and time in our lives that we invested to afford those items and now we are just disposing them; we are disposing our lives!

Remember the best sale is the one you don’t buy.

 

Making extra cash with a side business or hustle

20181118_130806.jpgWhen thinking about retirement one of the key points is finding a way to increase your savings. You can achieve that in two ways. You can increase your earnings and lower your expenses.

Sometimes increasing earnings is difficult to do right away and requires casting hooks for a new job; or as it is in the case of teachers you have to take a certain amount of university coursework to step into a different lane in the salary schedule. Whatever your situation is you know it will not be immediate or easy.

In that case, lowering your expenses may be the most immediate option. Challenging every single dollar you pay for any product or services should be part of your path to be in a better financial situation.

However, the one thing that needs no delay and can help making you some extra money is a side business. What kind? Well, it depends on what you enjoy and what you would like to in down times.

This is an opportunity for you to explore what your interests are, your inclinations; what Sir Ken Robinson refers to as “The Element.” We all have it. We have talents that can bring a lot of satisfaction in our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes we get caught in the hamster wheel and we just run from 9-5 leaving behind every drop of energy and creativity in us.

Therefore, it is so important to find the time to exercise, meditate, go on walks or whatever your jam is when you can clear your mind and think about what you truly enjoy, or what you really would like to do.

If it’s something you don’t know much about it, don’t give up on the idea. Not knowing about it today doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. It may take a while, but if it’s something you are really interested in, even going through the process of learning the needed skills will bring a bundle of satisfaction into your life.

In my particular case, my side hustle has been photography and wood-working.

I didn’t know much about photography and lighting but that didn’t hold me back. I researched different sites online, got some books from the library and started experimenting. I would come home after work and after the kids went to bed I would do Photoshop lessons at my own pace and use my wife as a model. It wasn’t long until I started doing family sessions, weddings and making some extra cash on the side.

Also when you turn an interest or hobby into a side business, you also get to reap some tax deductions for your equipment that otherwise you would have to pay out of pocket.

If you haven’t tried a side business, give it some thought and try to find your Element as you make some extra cash to help you along the way.

Stop paying for commercials on TV!!!

Advertising on TV is crazy expensive, which makes it a very exclusive marketing tool for businesses to reach their audience. When companies advertise on TV they do it as premeditated damage control. They incur in a huge expense with the purpose of selling more products or services they manufacture or provide.

Regardless, all that money spent is an investment. They spend X amount of money expecting to make X+ Y%.

Those expectations get crystalized when families like yours and mine surrendered our cash to them in exchange for what they sell. Indirectly we are paying for all those forms of advertising.

To illustrate my point, I want to share with you my experience hiring contractors. Two summers ago our air conditioning broke; it wasn’t cooling enough. It needed a charge of gas.

Exactly the same week, my neighbor was going through the same situation. With the difference that he decided to call one of the big names that advertise on TV. They came within 24 hours. He was also charged $580. There was a $150 fee for being an emergency call, plus $120 per Lbs of gas, and then some sort of extra fee for tuning the unit or whatever they told him.

The guy I usually call, could not come right away. We waited for three days. Yes, those were hot days. It was uncomfortable. However, I am aware that AC is not “a thing” all around the world. Most people open the windows when it’s hot and bare the heat; so we pushed through those days.

Finally, our technician came over. I asked him if I had to replace the unit? My AC unit looks so bad, I am not kidding, that you wouldn’t think it even works. His response was “don’t worry about it. Save the money for the kids. If we make it work don’t bother.” A few minutes later he had it cooling the house with no problems. Coincidentally, just like my neighbor we also paid for 3 Lbs of gas. Out total was $120!!!! No service call fee, tuning and all the other scam fees my neighbor paid for. This is not pocket change. This was a $460 difference!!

My advice to you: Stop calling those companies on TV to fix your washer and dryer; you AC!  Post something on facebook and ask your friends for recommendations. Most likely, someone will recommend you a reliable contractor that will not bleed you to death.

Once you establish a relationship with a contractor, treat them well, respectfully, and be thankful for their help. It doesn’t take much to say “I really appreciate you came;” that goes a long way.

On my end, that day we scored a 79% savings!!!! It’s not rocket science. It’s all about choices we make on daily basis that put us in a hole of debt or set us forward in our path to build wealth.

 

 

 

Are we cheap or just money efficient?

Nobody wants to be seen as the cheapskate. As parents, we fear being seen as the parent who is not willing to spend money on their kids. With that thought, we spend a fortune on brand new strollers for each child we have, new playpens, new clothes, shoes, bikes, backpacks, lunchboxes, etc, tec, etc. Before you know it, you have spent a fortune; literally, thousands of dollars.

The worst is when we buy the same clothing item but of a different color just because we have a child of a different gender. What a great idea it was for all industries to latch on that idea of blue for boys and pink for girls. Think about what a difference it would make if there were no stereotypes about what color clothing our kids wear. We would save tons!

Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case, and kids can be really nasty towards other kids if they brake some of these stereotypical rules. But that should not be the reason for you to spend tons and conform to all these social pressures; especially in these times when technology is at our fingertips.

Recently our little boy was in need of some snow pants. He wants to be outside playing and the early snow kind of got us off guard. He wore some hammy-down from the older sisters and sure enough, they were some pinkish red color.  It was becoming an issue for him at school because even some of the teachers were mistakenly thinking he was a girl; I don’t blame them, all kids are in coats, bundled up and it’s hard to tell, so you just let yourself roll with the stereotypes. With whta you are used to.

So, we decided to go to our favorite shopping place. Facebook, marketplace. In no time we were able to find a pair of snow pants for $6.00 right around our neighborhood. They look brand new and fit him perfectly.

The cheapest pair I found online was at target for $16.99. But the story doesn’t end there. Besides the price tag, don’t forget that “the man” takes his cut. Illinois takes 6.25%. In this case $1.06. Total $18.05. Which also means we scored a 66% savings.

Think about all you could do and invest if you could cut all your discretionary expenses 66%. That’s the way we live. We could go to the store and buy what we need and want at retail price. But why? why would I do that if I can get it for cheaper and just as good?

I don’t think we are cheap. I just think we are very efficient with what we have.

I would love to hear from other people’s hacks and savings. Information is power. Let’s share.

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Budgets are important for rough times

Your life depends on a budget

Besides using a budget to make the most out of your earnings, a budget can be a lifesaver during rough times.

Most people go through days caught in the hustle and bustle of life. You drive your kids to whatever practice, it gets late, maybe pick up some fast food for the convenience of not cooking. Maggie broke her ballet shoes and bang! Amazon delivers for you.

The one thing that we are unable to order from Amazon and solve so easily is a new job. If you lose your job and you lose your income it can throw your family on the street in no time; especially when you are in debt and if can’t make drastic changes quickly.

We tend to think these things won’t happen but we know they do happen, and in a slow job market it can be very destructive.

That has always been something in my mind during those times that have had credit card debt, despite having a very “secure” job personally; as a teacher at least that’s what people say.

One of the greatest things about creating a detailed budget is that you can clearly see what your minimum income must be to keep yourself afloat covering the basic needs of shelter, food and heat. If rough times come into your life that would be the worst moment for you to try to figure out where your money is, or what you truly need to cover the basics.

I like to call this sort of preparedness “pulling the plug.” If I happened to lose my job tomorrow I might not have the money runway to keep my family’s current expenses for very long. However, I can quickly look at my spreadsheet and in a minute I can make drastic decisions about what needs to be cut so that we can make our savings go much farther.

If you have not beefed up your emergency fund make sure you are at least ready to tackle rough times by having a budget, so you can pull the plug in case of an emergency.

Budgets are important for rough times
Are you ready to pull the plug?

Do you really need a budget?

Do you really need a budget ?
The importance of a budget when you want to be live debt free.

Making a budget can be a daunting task and a deal breaker for a romantic night with your spouse or significant other. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we change our mindset.

Is it necessary? Absolutely! Does it really matter even when you make more than enough to cover your expenses? It does if you want to take charge and go from just having enough to having a surplus of diligent mighty dollars that go to work 24/7 for you.

In my personal experience, nothing has helped me more than budgeting. And to be fair, I have always made a budget along with my wife. We go through expenses, making sure we have enough to cover our monthly expenses and move on.

However, I am talking about going beyond covering expenses and really analyzing every item, so that we can maximize our income and make those dollars go farther.

In the past, we would take a piece of paper and jot down mortgage, utilities, groceries, kids lessons and other expenses. However, every month it seemed like the $400-$500 we were supposed to have left at the end of the month had simply vanished. 

It wasn’t until about a year ago when I heard this idea of thinking of myself as a CFO, managing my household income and expenses as if it was a company. With that came our monthly meeting report, where we both sat down to discuss different items; decisions were made, and before we knew it we went through a whole year with no debt for the first time ever. We even managed to put a brand new roof on our house without any credit or financing.

If you are in a financial predicament( We have all been there), first of all, take control of your money. For that, you need to know where your money goes. I highly recommend using either Excel or Google Spreadsheets. 

Start by knowing how much income you earn in a month; that’s the easy part.

Next, start by noting what your fixed expenses are. Understand by fixed expenses your mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, etc; anything that you pay for, that is a need ( Not cable) and has somewhat a constant value each month. If the value is no constant, try to work it so that it becomes constant. In other words, if you have fluctuations in your grocery bill from month to month you have to find the sweet spot of what you should spend every week for your groceries. 

After that, the game is on! Subtract your expenses from your income and whatever is left challenge it. Notice how much you are paying for it a month and yearly. Question how you are allocating your money in movies, restaurants, all the new crap you buy and ends up in the closet, garage, garbage or even worse a storage place. Are all those things necessary? Could you have made it through life without those new things?

The minute you start analyzing your finances that way and you take control things will start falling into place. You will feel better about yourself and the decisions you are making for you and your family.

And what once was a deal breaker for a romantic night, might become nothing short from candles and wine /;-)

Why cable is the biggest waste of money

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Zx0JJjM_0
 
You better cut it and open your eyes!!!!!

Not too long ago I decided to hire a cable service. More than the cable service itself  we felt that we wanted the security system offered by one of the big companies in the country.

Sure enough we started with a promotional rate in the sixty dollar range and before we knew it we were close to $100. No much later after that, we decided to move and according to the cable company TV commercial you could just call them up and they would move your service at no charge. So we did.

We moved, settled in, and a month later bills started coming in. To my surprise the almost $100 we were paying, now had become $158!!! That was an immediate what that …!!! I called them up and I was informed that when we moved my service from one house to another they had re-initiated my 2 year contract; of course, at their current rate. I was livid! That was $1,896 a year!

Luckily we were able to find another company that bought our contract out, and we went from paying $158 to $35 a month for only internet connection. We added the $10 no-contract Netflix service, and we never looked back. That is 72% savings every month!

Cable is a terrible option to watch anything. You are paying to watch commercials and roam from channel to channel to find nothing. Cable service and cable companies are deceiving predators taking your money ( You may already know it). Always trying to trap you in a cage of small prints and skim your account; don’t let them!  Just cut it! Save yourself a big chunk of cash!

What would you do with extra $1,300 a year? Put it in your 401K/403B? Pay and extra month on your student loan? Pay an extra month on your mortgage? Remember, once you cut it the savings will be forever.

 

 

Thanksgiving’s greatest savings!!!

Alright. This post doesn’t come with a print-out coupon but actually you don’t even need it to get some wicked savings! You won’t have to get in line the night before either and sleep in the cold.

As you know I have a large family, and without budgeting your food expenses food can really eat up your monthly savings. Would you believe me if I tell you that we have amazing meals under $1.50?

Yep! And it isn’t cardboard or merely crumbs for each plate. 

Usually we budget $150 for each week, for this family of six+one. That’s about $21 per day, $7.14 per meal; $1.02 per person. Pretty good as it is, I’d say.

However, comes Thanksgiving and my wife is ready to stock up our freezer. She just pays attention to the deals at our local grocery store by looking at the weekly ads they send in the mail.

Well, that’s it. No magic. We just got 4  twelve pounder turkeys, each at the amazing price of about $5.00!!!

On Sunday night we cooked the first one and had it for dinner. We made turkey sandwich lunches for the next day, then we had it again for dinner with stuffing and salad.

As we carved the turkey and uncovered the carcass, we decided to throw it in the Crockpot with some onions, canned corn, and spices to make some soup we had for dinner.  Next day, guess what we had for lunch? Turkey sandwiches! Dinner was another repeat of turkey, salad, stuffing and soup. The kids love it and so do we.

We have easily two more meals left and potentially one more of just soup. 

$4.77 for the turkey, $2.50 for the stuffing, $1.45 for celery, $1.25 for a can of corn. Total $9.97! Divided by seven meals it comes to $1.42 per meal. Divided by seven people, 3 adults and 4 kids, we come to $0.20 per person. If my calculations are right we are all eating like kings for under $2.00! That is a 81% savings, if you take the original $1.02 (102 cents) we usually budget per person  and divided by the 20 cents of our turkey hack.

Don’t miss out. In the meantime, I will keep an eye out for even better sale prices right after Thanksgiving! I might get it cheaper.

Saving big on Thanksgiving
That’s it folks. $4.77 for seven meals!
Thanksgiving super saving
We might buy some more to ensure the protein supply for months to come.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

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