Angela Colley Angela Colley is a freelance writer living in New Orleans, Louisiana with a background in mortgage and real estate. Her interests include animal rights advocacy, green living, mob movies and finding the best deal on everything. She blames her extreme passion for never paying full price on two parents that taught her that a penny saved is two pennies if invested wisely.
With New Year’s coming up, I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolutions. Last year, one of my resolutions was to stop eating fast food, and I held steadfast for three weeks. Then, in late January, I had a busy day, convinced myself there was no time to cook, and gravitated to the dollar menu.
This year, I’m going to make another resolution to stop eating fast food, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep it this time. Ever since I found the rotisserie chickens at Costco for about $6, I don’t see any reason to pull up to a drive-thru.
I have a bad habit of buying clothes and never wearing them, or buying something specifically for one occasion and never wearing it again. As a result, I always seem to have a closet stuffed with clothing in great condition that I know I’ll never wear.
While I could sell on eBay or sell on Craigslist, I don’t have the patience for everything involved in online sales. I’d rather gather up all of my unwanted clothes and drop them off at a charity once a year. In addition to providing people in need with some very nice, gently used clothing, I also receive tax deductions for donations. So really, I still get something out of my unwanted clothes.
A few months ago, I decided that buying furniture online would be an ideal way to refurnish my house. However, when the pieces started to arrive, I quickly realized that much of my older furniture had to go.
At first, I planned to sell on Craigslist or run some eBay auctions, but in the end, I decided to donate the furniture to a local charity. If you donate your unwanted furniture to charity, you can deduct the donation from your taxes at the end of the year. This can add up to a sizable write-off, even if you do not have many pieces to donate.
The holiday season usually puts retailers in the black, but as the recession drags on, retailers have seen a slump in their holiday sales. With consumers buying fewer and less expensive gifts, creating homemade Christmas decorations, and downsizing their holiday parties, retailers find it difficult to achieve pre-recession sales numbers.
To fight the slump, stores have pulled out all the stops, including reviving their old layaway plans. Layaway is one gift-buying option, but it isn’t always the best option. Every layaway program has pros and cons you must consider before signing on the dotted line.
I love books. I stop at every bookstore I pass and usually pick up at least one new book, if not more. My love of books is no secret, and friends and family always know what to get me for Christmas and for my birthday. The result is that I have an enormous collection!
Though I love hoarding them, I realize I won’t read many of these books ever again. Moreover, my collection now takes up too much space and I can’t stand the clutter. But I hate the idea of throwing anything remotely usable into a landfill. So to strike a balance between my love for books and dislike of clutter, I’ve decided to spread the joy my beloved books have brought me by donating them to worthy causes.
As an environmentally conscious person (sometimes a little too conscious), I spend a good amount of time trying to lower my carbon footprint. When I adopted my dog, I was a bit disappointed in most of the supplies given to me by the rescue organization.
There were toys made from synthetic materials, dog food and treats full of meat byproduct and filler, shampoos full of chemicals, and a dog bed made from who knows what. Even more disappointing, the cheap materials broke down pretty quickly and needed replacement often.
As a freelancer, I’m on the hunt for a new gig more than most people and I’ve found quite a few through Craigslist over the years. Craigslist has become a haven for people looking for occasional part-time work, but many full-timers have found new jobs through the site as well. In fact, a friend of mine recently landed a full-time position at an IT firm through a job ad on Craigslist.
If you’re in the market for new employment, Craigslist is a good resource. But it helps to know your way around first because Craigslist works differently from most other job hunting sites.
When I adopted my dog a few years ago, I kept feeding her the same commercial brand of dog food she had eaten at the kennel. A few months after, she started to develop heat rashes and dry skin. In a desperate attempt to get my poor girl to stop scratching, I started reading up on dog food ingredients and learned that most commercial dog food contains meat byproducts, fillers, and general junk I didn’t want my dog eating.
After that, I switched to organic dog food and treats, but that started to get very expensive. For example, the treats cost about $10 for just a small bag.
Shortly after moving into my new house, I decided that my days of hand-me-downs were over and that I wanted to invest in some nicer furniture. But since I’m cheap, places like Ethan Allen and Crate&Barrel were out of the question.
Thus, to marry my need for nicer furniture with my stubbornness for obtaining the best discounts, I decided to buy inexpensive furniture online to save money. This strategy provides me with an array of options, has saved me thousands of dollars, decreased my stress level, and enabled me to furnish my house with some impressive pieces.
A while ago, I joined a gym. I admit that I was swayed by all of the shiny equipment and the promise of a cheap introductory promotional rate.
Being a gym member has its advantages. The gym I signed up for stayed open 24 hours and had tons of equipment and classes. However, the promotional rate soon ended and I couldn’t afford to pay the regular rate every month, nor did I want to because I knew that I could still get a good workout for free, or at least close to it, elsewhere.
Things happen. If you live on a tight budget, a small financial crisis can throw you off-balance. But if something major happens, like losing your job, you may struggle to afford even the roof over your head.
Not being able to pay your rent on time can be terrifying, since most rent payments have small grace periods and if you don’t pay in full, you risk being evicted.
Fortunately, you’re not powerless. There are things you can do to improve your situation and ways to get financial help when you need it.
Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with the cost of food. It all started when I decided to track my spending for one month. During the month, my total expenditures were about the same, but this time I made a point of saving all my receipts. At the end of the month, I divided them into categories and compared the totals to my estimated budget per category.
But when it came time to analyze the grocery receipts, I had exceeded my budget even before I was halfway through the stack! By the last receipt, my dreams of doing a victory lap around my budget was replaced with horrified shock. I was spending hundreds of dollars more on food than I realized.
Having bad credit is a Catch-22. You need an active credit line to help rebuild your credit, but most lenders won’t extend you credit if you have a troubled financial past. In fact, most lenders set a credit score cutoff point and if you fall below it, you won’t qualify for any traditional credit card. While you may have some luck appealing to your personal bank, a more viable option is to simply get a secured credit card.
I have many friends who firmly believe that landlords do not give security deposits back at all, or that they will do just about anything to keep however much they can. While I’m sure that slumlords do exist in this world, as a former property manager, I can tell you that most good landlords want to hand over your security deposit.
Believe me, we’d rather give you your money back than deal with making repairs, hiring cleaners, and keeping an itemized list of deductions. It’s much simpler and quicker to just write a check for the full amount and be done with it. But it’s up to you as the renter to make sure you leave the apartment in good shape.
Few things make me happier than turning my unwanted clutter into cash. There are several ways to do this, including selling on Craigslist, setting up auctions on eBay, and utilizing newspaper classifieds. However, I’ve found that a good old-fashioned garage sale often works best, especially when you have a lot of small things to sell.
Having a garage sale takes work and can be extremely frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. To avoid any headaches and to streamline the process, follow a plan from beginning to end. A well-planned garage sale often means a more successful one, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
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