10 Things That Are Better to Buy Used

Everyone likes to buy new stuff, but sometimes it makes a lot of sense to purchase used items. Many things are much less expensive – but just as nice – when you buy them used instead of new.

Here are 10 items that are smarter to purchase used:

1. Your pets. With all the animals that are readily available, it doesn’t make sense to spend several hundred dollars or more on a pure bred puppy. 3.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year.

* If you just have to own a pure bred animal, you’ll be happy to know that 25% of shelter animals are pure bred.

2. Books. The library is actually your best bet – it’s free! Used bookstores are popular, and there are even used bookstores online. That includes textbooks, too. Plus, selling back your books and textbooks when you’re done makes their final cost even less!

3. Bicycles. New models come out every year and last year’s model will always be marked down. There are also a ton of used bikes for sale that haven’t seen a lot of use.

4. Your home. Existing construction is usually considerably less expensive per square foot than new construction. Many new homes actually lose value over the first couple of years. So finding a nice home in an established area can save you lots of money.

5. Children’s clothing. This is especially true for baby clothes. The clothes are barely worn before they’re outgrown. Some are never worn at all. Used clothing stores are everywhere, and you can save a bundle.

* Remember to ask co-workers, friends, and family: the best clothes are free clothes!

6. Furniture. Many folks don’t want to take their practically new furniture with them when they move. Check Craigslist and look at your local classifieds for yard sales and great deals.

7. Vehicles. A car that’s a year old with 10,000 miles on the odometer can be as much as 30% less than a new car and still has plenty of time left on the warranty, too.

8. Toys. Used toys are widely available at a fraction of the cost of new toys. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Look for them at children’s resale shops and yard sales.

9. Jewelry. New jewelry is much more expensive than used. You could get a great piece for 50% less than new.

10. Tools. Most tools don’t get a lot of use. If you’re not in a hurry, you’re likely to find any tool you need for a lot less money. Flea markets, yard sales, pawnshops, and the classifieds always have used tools for sale. Remember to check estate sales as well.

Don’t be afraid to purchase used items. Be knowledgeable about what you’re buying and you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. The keys to getting a really great deal are being aware of what things are really worth and being patient.

If you’ll get out there and look around, you’re sure to find a great deal. You might even enjoy the process.

Why Pay Yourself First?

We’ve all heard the financial advice, “Pay yourself first,” more times than we can probably count. Many experts consider this to be the most important financial tip in existence. But let’s consider what the advice really means.

The tip refers to the practice of saving some of your money before you pay any of your bills.

Ideally, the money would be taken out of your paycheck before you ever see it and be deposited into some sort of investment account. If you don’t have the money in your checking account, you won’t be able to spend it.

It might seem that you could just as easily pay your bills and then save the money that is leftover, but in practice that rarely works. What commonly happens is your lifestyle expands to the amount in your bank account. You’ll pay your bills and there will be nothing left.

By paying yourself first, you’ll find that you adjust your lifestyle accordingly and save money easily.

Using this process will help you pay yourself first:

1. Set up your automatic savings. You really have two options available to you: either have the money taken out of your paycheck or have your checking account set up for an automatic payment.

* Larger employers will allow you to have a part of your paycheck deposited directly into a separate account. This should be an investment account of some sort. It might be a 401(k) or just a regular investment account. This is the ideal method.

* You can also set up your checking account to auto-pay a set amount on a specific date every month. Similarly, you could have your investment account auto-debit the amount each month. Either method accomplishes the same thing. Just be sure not to spend the money before your savings ‘bill’ gets paid.

* Keep in mind that you can do this with multiple accounts. If your employer can divert part of your paycheck to another account, they can break it up further and send part of your money to your checking account, part to your investment account, and another part to a third account.

* If you’re self-employed, then the method of auto-debiting your checking account is the way to go.

2. There are challenges: psychological challenges. Most of us feel like we simply don’t make enough money to save anything. This is rarely true. In reality, most of us simply have expenses that we’re not willing to do without. Examine your spending and see if you can free up some funds.

* Another solution is to start saving 1%. You won’t miss 1% of your paycheck. The next month save 2%. Keep increasing the amount for as long as you can. You’re doing pretty well if you can get up to 10%. You’re doing great if you can get up to 20% or more!

* Whenever you pay off a debt, consider adding that money to your savings. Simply keep making the payments, only now you can make them to yourself.

Paying yourself first is one of the greatest things you can do for your financial future. The key is to get the money out of your hands as quickly as possible. Ideally, you’d never have possession of the money in your checking account. Save automatically and your retirement is practically assured! Get started today.

26 STRATEGIES to Stretch Your Money

If you’re focused on your financial aspirations, then you’re consistently looking for ways to stretch your money. After all, if you can make your money go further, you’ll have more left over to deposit into your savings, retirement, and investment accounts.

Take a look at these suggestions for how to get the most use from your money

1. Shop discount stores. The fact is you can get many of the products you use daily for less money at your local discount stores. Think K-Mart, Walmart, and Target.

2. Buy in bulk. Clear some spaces in closets, cabinets and under your bed to store the bulk paper and soap products you can get for a song. Purchasing in bulk will help you keep more of your dollars and put them where you want them—in the bank!

3. Cut cosmetic items in half. For example, if you use flat cotton pads, use your scissors to halve them. Also, cotton balls can be pulled into two pieces. If you find yourself using only one end of a Q-Tip, cut them in half, too. You’ll get double the use from these products and spend less.

4. Do online comparison shopping. When you want the next best thing, spend some time searching to see where you can find it for the cheapest amount. There’s even a website that does comparisons for you, called “Shopzilla.”

5. Reduce your pocket money every other month. Let’s say you keep $200 a month as your “mad money.” Why not reduce it every other month to $175 and place that extra $25 into your savings? The small amounts you save add up.

6. Experiment. Can you put away the paper towels in the kitchen one day a week and use cloth towels instead? Look at it this way: if you place a clean kitchen towel and washcloth on the counter first thing in the morning, it won’t be as difficult as you think to go without the paper towels. What if you stored them in the cabinet and used them only for extra-messy clean-ups? Try it for a day.

7. Better yet, cut up old towels for disposable cleaning cloths. These can be thrown in the washer and re-used. However, if you have a super-difficult cleaning job, you won’t feel guilty to toss out the used cleaning cloth when you’re done.

8. Measure. Clothes detergents and liquid fabric softeners have become quite expensive. Do you find you simply pour them in quickly and don’t

9. worry about measuring the proper amounts? Measuring these “liquid gold” products will make them last as long as possible. Particularly with new high efficiency front-loaders, you’ll find you can use just a few tablespoons per load.

10. Take care of clothing. Re-hang clothing that’s been worn just a couple of hours and wear it again before laundering. Pre-wash by hand as soon as possible any clothing that gets a stain. Change from your work clothing to lower cost t-shirts and shorts or slacks when you get home to ensure you get at least a few years from your work clothes.

11. Place limits on expensive or extravagant items you buy. For example, if you love an exotic, organic cake mix but it’s expensive, buy one every other month. Consider it a special treat when you have it, rather than something you must have every week or two.

12. Bank stock dividends. You’ll eventually have enough to re-invest it in something that will make you even more dough.

13. Make note of prices of items you buy regularly. It’s smart to know how much you’re paying for those Pringles Barbecue Potato Chips. In one store, they cost $1.79 per tube. In another, they’re $1.49 each. One store has them on sale for four tubes for $5.00. You can save a bundle by knowing what you pay for items you regularly use.

14. Get excited about the Sunday newspaper. Why? Because there’s often 2 coupon booklets included and receiving them is like someone giving you dollars. Let’s face it – you’re looking at free money. Why not use those coupons?

15. Sign up for special savings apps. Groupon, LivingSocial, and Foursquare are all apps that offer some great deals for savings of 50% or more. It won’t cost you anything to sign up and you might be able to stretch your entertainment bucks.

16. Refuse to pay service fees at ATMs. Determine where your closest 2 cost-free ATMs are and then only use those. Keep those service fees in your pocket rather than the banks’ till.

17. Avoid purchase of clothes that must be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning has now topped $5.00 or more per shirt or blouse. That would pay for 5 pounds of potatoes!

18. If you’re paying off a credit card debt, try to reduce your interest rate. Call your credit card company and ask them to lower the rate.

19. Stop using paper plates and cups. When you throw them in the garbage, guess what else you’re throwing in the trash? Your money. Use plates and cups you can wash and re-use.

20. Evaluate every monthly payment you pay. Are you paying every month for a gym membership you don’t use? What about a cable box that you’re renting monthly to watch the premium channels, yet the only channels you watch in that room are ABC, CBS, and NBC? Trimming just one of these monthly payments would definitely make your money go farther.

21. Have a special container for your change. Accumulating your change is a wonderful way to come up with a few extra dollars every month. Find a large cookie jar or clear glass container to drop in your change at the end of the day. It’s fun to watch it rise to the top. Remove change from purse, wallet, and pocket daily. Then, deposit it in the bank.

22. Evaluate monthly fees for special bundling rates. If you aren’t bundling your cable, internet, and phone fees, it might save you some money to switch to the bundle. If you can switch without paying extra to get a better deal, do it.

23. Bargain, bargain, bargain. When shopping clearance items, speak to the sales clerk or manager and say something like, “If I buy these 3 items, could I get an additional 10% off?” Then, be willing to walk away if they say, “No.” The fact is, many department stores are now saying, “Yes” to such offers to move the items and make way for new merchandise.

24. Watch your temperatures. Whether it’s your hot water heater (which should be set at 120 degrees), water temperature for your clothes washer (always use cold), or your dishwasher (avoid using the dry cycle), be aware of temperature settings. If you do, you’ll shave monthly costs from your natural gas and electricity bills.

25. Use consignment shops. Instead of throwing away clothing and items you no longer use, why not drop them off at a local consignment store? Getting a few bucks back is better than getting no bucks back from your used items.

26. Cook more. Families are on the run these days so they eat out a lot more than their budgets can take. Develop a list of five to ten quick and healthy meals you can make with little effort. Then, put copies of your list in your car, wallet, purse, and kitchen. Now, there’s no excuse to spend money eating out on the fly!

Be as innovative as you can when it comes to figuring out how to shave dollars off your outgoing money to build up your cash at the bank.

You can live the life you deserve and still conserve your cash!

10 Low Cost Commuting Options

Commuting can be a considerable expense. The cost of fuel alone can be a challenge for many to fit into the budget. However, there are options available if you’re willing to be creative and flexible. Consider all your possible solutions and choose the one that best fits your circumstances.

Try these ideas to lower the cost of your commute

1. Put on your walking shoes. Walking is the least expensive way to get where you want to go. No gas to buy or chains to oil. All you need is a pair of shoes. Obviously, you’ll need to live close your destination. Walking is also great for your health.

2. Get a bike. Bicycles are used all over the world, from third-world countries to the most cosmopolitan of cities. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll also get in great shape.

3. Buy a scooter. It’s like a skateboard with handlebars. They’re not very convenient if you have to carry much, but if you have a light load they can be a fun and inexpensive way to get to work or class.

4. Ride a Segway. They’re not cheap, but they cost less than a car and don’t use any gas. Most models will go around 25 miles on a charge. You could also wear a suit while operating one and not arrive at work a wrinkled mess like you might on a bike.

5. Carpool. The above options might not be feasible unless you live relatively close to work. Ideally, you have someone nearby that works with you. The key is to find someone with a similar schedule that is reliable and willing to split the costs and the driving.

* Otherwise, you’ll have all the wear and tear on your car and not have the benefit of being the passenger. On days when the other person drives, you could work or simply relax.

6. Take the train. Trains can be an economical way to get to work if you’re trying to get into the city. They can also be very time effective. Many now have Wi-Fi access and provide enough room to really get some work done. If you work on the train, you might not ever have to do any work at home.

7. Ride the bus. It helps a lot if your housing and destination are on the same bus line. Getting a monthly pass can really boost your savings and you might be able to do away with a car all together.

8. Take the subway. Buses stop every couple of blocks, but the subway is pretty direct. In the city, it’s frequently the fastest option, and the price is right.

9. Get a Vespa. These motorized scooters, or what used to be called ‘mopeds’ back in the day, are a light version of a motorcycle. They’re fast enough for most non-highway roads and extremely fuel-efficient.

10. Use a more fuel-efficient car. When it comes time to purchase a new car, be sure to consider fuel efficiency as part of the equation. Do the math and you’ll be surprised how much you can save over the course of a year.

If the cost of getting to work or school is getting you down, you have several options to ease the strain. The solution is to examine all the available options and choose the one that makes the most sense. There is always an answer if you take the time to look.