Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Now that you've got a lawn mower, make some money at it

Looking to make a little money?

Why not use the lawn mower you just bought and start a little side business mowing lawns.

This doesn't have to be some major operation with a fourteen-man crew.  It can just be you.  In fact, that would be the best, if you're not going to do much more than make a little money.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free TV, free movies

A simple way to watch TV or movies.

For free.

Of course there's Hulu-plus, which you have to pay for but right now it's only $7.99 a month.  I compare that with the almost $45 that I pay for cable TV . . .

Monday, February 27, 2012

Official website under construction

Last week, I bit the bullet.

No, I didn't literally bite a bullet.  I'm certainly not that skilled.

What I did do is start my official website: Mark S. R. Peterson

It's under construction right now, and might be for a little while as I learn more about it.  I'll let everyone when I officially open.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do you need a rider mower?

Need a rider mower?

If your budget is on a shoestring, consider yard sales or even paying cash for one at the end of the summer season.  Deals can be had, even like the previous post regarding a push mower.

Nobody ever needs a rider mower though.  I push mowed my lawn for years before I acquired my rider mower--my parents gave me their old one, which was an even better deal for me (and them, I suppose, as it was just sitting in their garage.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A revolutionary way to mow the lawn

Living on a shoestring budget and need to mow the lawn?

Buy a push mower.

Look for a good used one at a yard sale, if you can't afford to buy a new one at a store.

A good way to acquire a new one is to buy one at the end of the summer season.  Stores will typicaly discount these items way down just so that they don't have to hang on to the inventory until next year.

Also, offer to pay cash for a discount.  You'd be surprised at what kind of deal you can get.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

5 things to do with your tax refund

Got a large tax refund?  Consider doing one of these 5 things with the extra money:

1)  use it to reduce your debt.

2)  save it to be used for a car

3)  start a college education fund for your children

4)  invest it

5)  save it in your rainy day fund

Don't treat the tax refund like you won the lottery.  Put it to good use.

If it's quite large, you may want to consider adjusting your withholdings--no need to give the government the money, even if you're going to get it back.  Your overall paycheck will be slightly bigger instead of one lump sum tax refund.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The 10% discount - part 2

In the previous post, we talked about asking for the 10% discount in lieu of signing up for the in-store credit card.

You may ask, "Why wouldn't I just sign up and then cancel the card as soon as I get it?"

The answer: because if most people did that, there wouldn't be such a credit card epidemic right now, with more and more people living beyond their income and purchasing them on credit.

You may just keep the card and never use it.

Read the fine print.  They may charge you a hefty annual fee just for signing up.

Hmmm . . . some 10% discount, huh?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Get that 10% discount

Ever been to a store where the clerk asks you if you'd wish to sign up for a store credit card?  And, if you do so, you'll get 10% off today's purchase?

Tell them no to the credit card but that you'll take the 10% discount.

Ask to speak to a manager if they won't.

The in-store credit card is a gimmick to lure you into to buy more, to make more money by charging you a ridiculous interest rate on the credit card.


You'd be surprised at how many of the times they'll give it to you.

Because they have no reason not to.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Keeping up with your parents' lifestyle

When did this generation (I'm speaking to the 20,30, and 40 year olds) not realize how long it took their parents to achieve what they've achieved?  This generation I'm referring to looks at their parents and seems to want the big house, the fancy cars, the jet skis, the four-wheelers, and the vacation home RIGHT NOW.  Not ten or fifteen years down the road.  NOW!

Don't settle for the lifestyle your parents have right now.

Sure, it's easy to go into debt and have all of this fancy stuff.  But debt is a crutch that will keep you from achieving the level of success you are capable of.

Work hard, save, and start out small.

Remember the fable The Tortoise and the Hare?  Who won?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A failed business

If you ask any entrepreneur if they've ever had a business that's failed, you'd probaby have a hard time finding one who hasn't.

Many businesses fail.  It's the nature of the business--no pun intended.  But many of those businesses are ones that probably never see the light of day anyway.

Years ago, I started a resume-writing company.  I had big dreams of what I wanted to do, how I was going to advertise, but there was something missing: I failed to do any actual research into running a business, let alone how to market one.

If I had met accomplished authors such as Seth Godin or Dan Miller back then, I guarantee the business I started would've turned out different.  I possibly wouldn't have started it.  Or, if I had, I would have had some marginal success.

My marketing plan consisted of putting an ad in the local paper, which included a free ad on their website.  It wasn't much, a few dollars here and there, but it added up after a few months . . . and guess how many bites I had.


My plan was to get them to request some info, I'd send out a packet to fill out for a resume . . . and that was it.  No follow-up.  Nothing.

If you're going to have a business, check out there two guys: Seth Godin and Dan Miller.  They'll give you both the tools and the inspiration to start with, and they'll give you the names of several others to read as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another bonding tip

Have a family movie night.

Do it weekly.

It's something the kids will look forward to.  Pick up the movies at the local library--free of charge--or if you have some movies already, watch those.

At our house, since Christmas 2011, we've probably watch The Wizard of Oz dozens and dozens of times.  Yet we still let the kids watch it, and we watch it with them.

Make some popcorn too.  Hmmm . . . getting awful hungry . . .

Like I mentioned before, the voting process for movies can be harsh.  But it's amazing to watch the three of my children negotiate which movies to watch.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marry your best friend

During my freshman year of college, I took an introductory sociology class. Weirdly enough, I only remember one piece of advice he ever gave: marry your best friend.

Now, some of you guys out there may look over at your best buddy and think this is absolutely absurd--and for obvious reasons (present company, included). But let me expand on what he taught, and then you'll understand.

When one looks for their soulmate--the one they want to spend the rest of their life with--you should look for someone who is like your best friend. Someone who knows all of your secrets and dreams, and who's been with you for better or worse.

With today being Valentine's Day, honor your most loved one and do something creative.

Do you remember when you first started dating?

What brought you together?

Do something both creative and unexpected. Write a poem, with something like:

Roses are red
Daisies are white
I've always loved you
For all days, to the rest of my life
Okay, it's a little cheesey, but I didn't want to do the old standard of roses are red and violets are blue bit.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Here are two easy tips for bonding closer with your family.

I am not a family counsellor but in my thirteen-plus years as a father (of three, mind you), I understand it's not easy to get them all to do something at the same time that isn't bound to some sort of electronics or a movie--we could watch a movie, but it's almost democratic in the way it's chosen (and that's for another blog).  Here are two quick and easy tips to bond with your family.

1) turn off the TV

2) have a board game night

Let the kids pick the games.  You'd be surprised at how much your kids will remember down the road if you have a special weekly game night.  This can even be done with little kids too.  My five-year-old just loves to play Junior Scrabble.  And she's learning . . .

An added bonus.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The one-stop shopper

The good ol' days of going to one grocery or retail store and getting everything that you need is about over, for most.

Although all of the big-box retail establishments would have you believe that their deals are the best, you'd better do your homework.  Don't settle for one brand, if you wish to save any money.

Look at the ads.

Clip coupons.

Make a list.

Then, at each place, get those items on the list and nothing more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Need to buy a car? Try this unconventional method.

Need to buy a car?

Use cash!

Don't believe me that it can be done?  Here's a video from financial guru Dave Ramsey who'll describe how this can be done.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ever heard of eBay?

Seven or eight years ago, I sold quite a bit of stuff on eBay.

And you can too.

eBay has online tutorials that I strongly suggest you watch and study, if you're at all interested in selling anything online.

It's easier than you think, to put something up on eBay to sell, but don't be discouraged if you're items don't sell.

In the next blog, I'll describe some of the items I sold very well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do you like your co-workers?

You might be asking yourself that very question when looking at ways of slashing your budget when compared with the rising cost of fuel.

Try carpooling.

Depending on where your co-workers live, and if you can work it out in your schedule, carpooling may be a viable way of cutting the costs of fuel and car maintenance.

I, personally, don't carpool, for reasons I'll spell out in the next blog.

But if I had to, I certainly would.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wedding transportation - the need for the sleak black limo

Sure, riding in a limo is cool.  I'll admit that.  I've only ridden in one once, long ago, and it was a cool experience.

But if I'm looking at cutting the costs of my wedding, I'm probably going to consider driving my own vehicle instead of renting a limo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The truth about soda pop

Bigger may not always be cheaper.

For the most part, a 2-liter bottle of soda pop may cost less than even a 20 or 24-ounce bottle.

Watch ads.  Look for deals.  Many times, I've seen 2-liters on sale for $.99 when a 24-ounce is $1.59.

Also, even though the generic store-brand may not 100% taste like the real thing--cola may taste similar to Coke or Pepsi--but when your budget is tight and you're getting out of debt, settle for the cheaper brand.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Make some the night before

For supper one night, plan on having either waffles or pancakes.

Make a batch or two extra and freeze them.

Then, you'll have enough for a few breakfasts.

This works especially well with kids, who may after a while get sick of having cereal.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DIY coffee

By and large, making your own food or beverage will cost less at home (DIY-style) than purchasing them at a fancy gourmet coffee cafe.

Make your own coffee at home.

This is not to say you can't treat yourself once a week or so with a Starbucks coffee.  Work it into your budget, if you have income left over after all of the bills and food are taken care of.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This B-word is not a swear word

No, the b-word is not the equivalent of a female dog or something you say at the end of "you son of a . . . "

The b-word I'm referring to is BUDGET.

Having, and maintaining, a budget will help you keep track of all your expenses.  There are many resources of how to put together a budget.  Here are two such resources where you can find budgeting forms to use:

Dave Ramsey  (this is the one we use)'s Frugal Living