Friday, March 30, 2012

Part 2 of the free annual credit report

As I posted previously on the free annual credit report ( let's say you don't to do all three at once.

There is an alternative.

Do a different one every four months.

Want to get extra creative, if you're married?

Do one for you, do another company for your wife.  Alternate these credit bureaus every four months.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to "really" get your free credit report

How does one really get a free credit report?

You've seen the advertisements, gone on the popular site, only to discover that it's not really free.

The website is

This is the site that will give you your free credit report, from each of three reporting credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion), once every 12 months.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fuel for your brain

In a previous blog, I spelled out that I don't carpool.  Here's why:

I don't listen to a radio while driving.  I drive about 20 miles to work every weekday, which means I have roughly 40-45 minutes of time alone in my car--when my wife isn't calling me and giving me a list of things to get at the store.

I use those 40-45 minutes to listen to various podcasts and audio products from motivational speakers.  Speakers such as Earl Nightingale are among the many I listen to, and I typically download Dave Ramsey's daily podcast and Dan Miller's weekly podcast.

I use it to fuel my brain with ideas for improving my life.

I then use that knowledge at my work and when I've gained upper managment positions at my company.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What am I eating this week?

This is something our family did last month, and it helped immensely with the number of times we went to the store as well as what we had budgeted for food.

Plan your meals a week in advance.

Have kids?  Let them be involved too.

I know this sounds awful geeky to plan your supper meals this far in advance, but we've found that there isn't any guessing as to what we're having on any given night.  And there is no running to the store for another pound of hamburger or a box of elbow macaroni.  We already know what we're having and have prepared ahead of time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taxes - how difficult are they?

Depending on your financial situation, most people have taxes that not are very difficult.

It's a matter of filling in the blanks.

Most software packages have too many topics for each person, and can be very stressful when it's not clear what the computer is asking.

If you insist on having a professional do your taxes, check them out ahead of time and shop around.  You'd be surprised how little a freelance CPA will do it for when compared with one at a national brand.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A sneak preview of my new ebook

Without further adieu, I have finally posted the introduction to my new ebook.  It is my first foray into the nonfiction world.

It is titled: Mr. Shoestring's 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring.

Here is a link to the introduction page.

Inspired mostly by our own wedding, on how many frugal things we did, this ebook may seem a little odd for me to write, to the many who know me and my taste in books.  But this book has been well over a decade in the making.

And now is the time to finally bring it out.

Within the next week or two, I hope to have it completed to be self-published.  Originally, I wanted to have this ebook done by March 1st, but after a few delays and life-happenings, I am finally able to have it looking the way I want it.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Need a vacation? Try driving somewhere

Believe it or not, no matter where you live, there are places to visit as a tourist.  If you want to go on a vacation, settle for some place close, possibly 1-2 days away.

This will help save in airline costs, and will also ease the pain in having to deal with all of the bureaucratic security personnel at the airports.

Also, make the trip itself an adventure.  Sightsee along the way, if you see something you find interesting.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dressing up your groom

Who ever said that the groom and the groomsmen had to wear tuxedos?

To save a few bucks, buy (or rent) a decent suit.  You'll have a suit that can be worn for future engagements instead of having nothing to show for it.

As an added touch, the groom could buy his groomsmen a tie to wear.  That way, all of the men can look similar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strive for left-overs

If you're sick of your 16-cent meals, strive to eat yesterday's left-overs.

In fact, strive to always have left-overs.  That way, you'll save on having to purchase meals.

Even our family of 5 have plenty of left-overs.

Sounds simple, but it's funny how so many people forget.

What's your favorite left-overs?  Mine is pizza.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Decrease the amount of junk mail

Annoyed by the amount of junk mail that floods into your home?

It's easy to almost eliminate it all.

Click on the OptOut Prescreen and follow the instructions.

Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY not always the best for oil changes

I've found that bringing my vehicles to an auto shop actually saves me on my oil changes.

In the town I live in, I take it to a small auto shop.  It's not a franchise, with a lot of overhead, so not only are the owner's costs low, she passes the savings on to her customers.

Not only is the oil changed, the tires and all of the other fluid levels are checked and filled.

And all for less than $30.

When I go to Target or Wal-mart or K-mart and look at the cost of oil and an oil filter, the cost is fairly close to $30.

For me, DIY on oil changes are not the best.

Besides, the auto shop can then dispose of the oil themselves instead of me driving elsewhere to dispose of it.  Less hassle that way.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Feed a family of 5 for $10

I have a family of 5.

And I can feed them for around $10.

It's quite simple: go to many of the fast food places (McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.) and you'll find a dollar menu.

We just cut out the drinks, because they seem to pack it full of ice anyway.

Each family member gets a sandwich and fries.

I know, I know, it's not the healthiest but it'll do in a quick pinch.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Visit the house of "free stuff"

This place you can find a lot of stuff for free.



Music CDs.

Internet access.

This is called . . . a library.

Visit one today.

You'll be amazed at what you'll find.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Need to make a quick buck? Become a human guinea pig

It sounds crazy, but I've done it.

Near Fargo, ND, is a place called Cetero Research.  They test medications on people.

I didn't grow any extra arms or have my hair suddenly turn green--nor did I see it on others--so the tests are relatively safe.

Check it out in your area.  I've made anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

The only drawback was that they didn't take any taxes out, so you had to be extra careful and figure out the tax right.  It was almost like one was self-employed.  Save at least 25% of what you take in, which is a rule of thumb experts say, so that way you'll have enough to pay Uncle Sam.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to save on wedding photography

Photography is one of the largest items on the wedding budget.

Here's an easy way to save on that expense: have a friend or relative do it.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Almost too easy.

Don't believe me.  That's what my wife and I did.  Our wedding cost right around $1000.  For the photography, one of my uncles took beautiful pictures.  And that was their wedding gift to us.

As an added bonus, another uncle of mine did the videography.

This is an added personal touch to your wedding, one that people will remember for years to come.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A quick poke for some easy cash

First, get your mind out of the gutter.  This is a different kind of poke.

There are many centers across the country that will pay you for plasma.  But you'll have to endure a poke in the arm, which some people can't stand.

In most cases, you can go in twice a week and sometimes can get between $60-$80 a week.  This may not sound like much, but an extra $240 a month can be the difference between a repo man and getting current with a vehicle payment.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Increase your MPG by doing this

Here's how to increase you MPG: by keeping the RPMs down.

An easy way to keep the RPMs down is to drive the speed limit.  Especially if you live in a 55 MPH zone.

To experiment with this, I drove my Honda Civic 60 MPH back and worth to work, and I had to refill the tank once it reached 300 miles.

I then drove 55 MPH on the next tank.  You know the results?

I was able to stretch the miles to 400 miles, increasing the per tank use by 33%!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The 16-cent lunch

The 16-cent lunch.

Not possible?  Let's explore.

Back in college, I ate quite a number of Ramen noodles.  When we went broke and had to slash even the food budget to the bare minimum, I took a package of these to work.  Their cost.  You guessed it: 16 cents.

If I ate these five-days a week for fifty-two weeks, my lunches would only total a mere $41.60.

For an added feature, brown up a package of hamburger and throw in a handful with the noodles.  At least you'll get a bit of protein while you're at it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to land a deal on hotels

Of course there's Orbitz and Travelocity.

And we can't forget about Expedia and the new kid on the block: Kayak.

There are countless other online travel sites.

Aside from this, one can always pick up the phone and ask.  But here's one other tool: if you're going to be in an area for close to a week, ask for their weekly rates.  You'd be surprised how deep a discount you may land.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Want a deal? Take Axel Rose's advice.

If you're looking for something in particular, try not to look desperate to the salesperson.

If you look eager to buy, your chances of landing a deal is slim.

Instead, take Axel Rose's advice (for those who don't know, he's the lead singer for Guns N' Roses)--"Need a little patience."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Free books! Free movies!

Want free books or movies?

Then check out your local library.

For those living on a shoestring budget, there is really no reason why one should be buying hordes of books when you can get them for free.

Then, by getting them through the library, you also eliminate the need to store them and have them collect dust.

I've gotten several new bestsellers from our local library too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Want to live a frugal life? Check this site out

If you're living on a shoestring budget or just wanting to live a more frugal life (or both, even), check out's Frugal Living site.

Sign up for a weekly subscription, which is filled with various tips ranging from how to create a budget and saving on heating costs to bargain shopping and DIY household projects.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The true face of wealth - it's not what you might think

Get-rich schemes are everywhere.  And it's not a twenty-first century thing, it's something that's been around for a long time.  I fell for just such a scheme (an MLM named Equinox International) in the mid-1990's.  I went broke.

The majority of the time, the only ones who get rich are the ones selling it, the ones at the top.

Pop culture portrays success in the youth, glamorizes it to the point where everyone seems to believe that once you've hit the ripe old age of 25, you might as well quit.

Mark Zuckerberg is just one such fellow.

It's not Mark's fault.  He just saw a need in the social media, and filled the need.  He just happened to make a lot of money doing it.

The reality is that most people who obtain any high level of success are in their late 40's and early 50's.  Why is that?  Typically, these people spent their earlier years trying out different things until they discovered what worked.

But can success happen after you've officially retired?  Perish the thought.  Colonel Sanders started his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise when he was 65, using a portion of his first retirement check to do so.

What are you waiting for?

Do what you were meant to do.