What things have you cut back on to save money?

KathsgrdnJanuary 17, 2004

I need ideas! I want to buy a home by the end of this year and am trying to cut back so I can pay off bills and save some money. I've already changed my phone service to the basic service and got rid of my long distance. Instead I'm using my old Sprint phone card, costs me $20 for over 400 minutes...and lasts me about 6 months. Big difference, even though it's a hassle dialing all those numbers sometimes. I took off all the extras that I never use like call forwarding and call waiting...and caller id..which I did use but can live without.

I also started a savings account in another city, having it direct deposited out of my paycheck. NO ATM card!

Decided we would not go out to eat unless it was a special occasion like a birthday and already told the kids (two of them) that they would be having smaller birthday parties this year.

No more buying from catalogs the school system sends home, no more girl scout cookies (yikes! they've gone up 50 cents per box and probably gotten smaller!!), etc...

No more toys or other unnecessary items for awhile..except for birthdays when shopping for the necessities in places like Wal-Mart.

I'm trying to buy things on sale or with coupons...only the things we have to have like shampoo, cleaning products etc...

Also going to keep up the maintenance on my car. I just found out my rotors are worn down and need to be replaced on my front wheels. If the pads had been changed sooner that wouldn't have happened.

What else can I do? Would love to hear any ideas.

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Use your library as much as possible for videos, games, etc. No dryclean clothes-handwash, dryel, etc. No more pantyhose, tights if you have to wear a skirt, etc. Can you swap magazines with a friend with a different subscription? Check out the free things to do for entertainment in your area, maybe the recreation dept. has something, local museums, etc. Bring your lunch to work as much as possible. You probably already make a lot of food from scratch, and combine the weekly circular specials with coupons, or maybe you buy bulk, also good ideas. Substitute a gym membership with walking, home exercise equipment, even if it's homemade weights, and exercise tapes from the library or trading with friends. If you haven't already made a "gift box" so you can stock up on good gift ideas when things are really marked down, etc. do so. Do not buy gift wrap and cards-make the cards, either with cardstock, rubber stamps, stencils, or same gift wrap, get some leftover wallpaper at the wallpaper store to use for gift wrap, use yarn, raffia, etc. Plan your errands, shopping etc. to make the best use of the car, gas, time. Let your friends and family know you have this goal, it will make saying no to things outside of your new budget easier. Conduct an internet search on frugal living, etc. and a lot of resources will pop up for you, and use the library to check out books like Tightwad Gazette, Tiptionary, etc. etc. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 5:30PM
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Buying a home isn't something of an impulse purchase, sort of like picking up a pack of gum while waiting at the super market checkout.

It usually works best to start planning for it something like 5 (or more) years ahead.

If you have some bills running now, Kathsgrdn, are they unusual bills, or has this been a routine way of managing money in your home?

Most bills charge interest if left unpaid for any length of time.

If you've had a hard time paying bills plus putting aside some savings previously - how do you plan to meet the (usually) increased expense of meeting a mortgage payment monthly (or biweekly)? Sometimes regular mortgage payments are lower than rental rates, but frequently higher.

If you have a small amount of savings now, what do you plan to use for a down payment on your proposed home?

Sometimes you can make a purchase with 5% down, or 10%, but there are usually higher rates of interest or other penalties, plus some others in case of default, when you have such a small share of the actual ownership of the home. In addition, there are usually several thousand dollars' worth of incidental costs that must either be paid at the time - or added to the mortgage, which would reduce the amount of the actual cost of the home that your down payment would cover.

In this area, if you can't come up with 25% down payment or more, (the extra cost of) mortgage insurance is required.

I don't want to rain on your parade, and I'm assuming a number of possible situations from the information that you've presented. Perhaps my concerns expressed are unfounded - I hope so.

Do you expect to be settled where you are for several years? A number of financial advisors suggest that a five year holding period is often about minimal, unless one is buying in a hot market where house prices are escalating rapidly - and have strong indications of continuing to do so for several years in future.

I hope that you are able to achieve your desire of getting a home that you will be pleased with for many years - and have the wherewithal to be able to keep it.

Good wishes to you and yours.

joyful guy/Ed

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 2:53PM
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Check out your local drug stores. Several of them (i.e., Walgreens) have a rebate program where you buy items like soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc., and then send your receipt in for a rebate. You can get some of your necessities for free.

Lower the temperature on your water heater so you're not wasting money on electricity. Some people put it on a timer or turn it off during the day so it's not heating when they aren't there. We also put a blanket on ours.

My family has been bad with this one. Watch your food waste. We have the bad habit of letting food go to waste in the refrigerator. This past couple of months, I've tried to change our habits. I make up a weeks menu before I go to the store so I know exactly what I need to buy and don't impulse purchase. If I find a good deal on a roast, ham, etc., I buy a big one and cut into smaller sizes, repackage, and freeze. I buy the newspaper on the days the grocery sales come out so I can find the good deals and loss leaders. I shop with 3 small children so we don't hit all the stores. Wal-Mart will price match competitors so we only go there unless I need something elsewhere.

Also, I cook meals with a second days meal in mind. I'll make roast chicken in an oven bag one day. I'll refrigerate the broth to remove the fat and then I'll either freeze the broth for later use or will use it to flavor rice for another meal. The leftover chicken is deboned and then frozen or used for quiche or a pasta dish. The same goes for other meats. Leftover roast and broth makes great shredded beef enchiladas or stroganoff. Leftover ham is a casserole, quiche, breakfast omlet or burrito.

If you have cable or satellite, get rid of it for a few months or a year. If you simply must have it (like my dh), most companies have a deal out for new users so it doesn't hurt to switch back and forth between companies every couple of years to get the best prices.

Don't get a subscription to the daily newspaper. The main stories are usually on-line anyway.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 6:36PM
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Stop the impulse buying like fancy coffee or a new book to read "just because." There are a million good ideas in the tightwad gazette such as: use only the amount of soap/toothpaste etc. as you need--if you read the directions they will always recommend using more than you need. Dilute your dishwashing detergent (50:50)with baking soda. Stop using dryer sheets (shake out things that are static-y when you take out of the dryer).

Energy is a biggee: Close all shades/drapes at night and open in the morning to use solar energy in the winter. Look for drafts. Insulate. Drop your thermostat to as low as you can stand at night. Turn off during the day when you are out. Turn your water heater on only for the hour before you shower. If you need hot water for dishes (heat up some in the microwave). In the summer, cook outside as much as you can. Limit the minutes in the shower.

Do several errands at one time--share errands with friends and family. Eat at home. Take your lunch. Replace costly soft drinks with water.

Repair your clothes and belongings. Learn to remove stains immediately to increase the life of your clothes. Buy clothes that are classic, not trendy.

Check your insurance to see if you are missing some reductions (like proximity to a fire hydrant, good student driver, etc..)

If you can't donate money to charity, give your time--in many cases it will mean more than money.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 9:43PM
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It sounds like you already have a great start in working toward your dream, a home. You may want to check with some of the mortgage companies, like Sallie Mae, etc.---to get details on what you'll need to purchase a home in your area. Or maybe you've already done that.

I see homes in my area that say "Easy Qualify" and "Assume Loan" occasionally. There's several ways to buy a home. I don't know your circumstances, but there are also programs available for home ownership-----check with some realtors---they know all of these details.

To save money----if you haven't found a good mechanic yet----check with friends and neighbors and see who they use and trust-----we have found a great mechanic who doesn't charge an arm and a leg for his work, which is outstanding.

I have found that if I do meal planning and stay AWAY from the stores-----I save money.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 2:54PM
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I don't have cable tv - saves 50 or so dollars a month

If you have enough freezer and pantry space buy things in bulk from Sam's or Costco and separate into quantities needed for single meals.

This sounds funny but only use three squares (two ply) of toilet paper at a time - get three more if you need it, but I've found I save a ton of tp this way and I like three - just enough. I bet your kids use too much too. It would be great if you could get them to do it.

I've also heard you should use hand towels rather than paper towels so you don't have to keep buying more.

That's all I can think of right now.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 5:15PM
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Figure out approximately how much you'll be paying for mortgage, property insurance, and taxes. (There are many mortgage calculators on the internet, if you look.)

From this amount, subtract what you pay for rent. Put the rest into savings. If you can't do this, you can't buy a house yet. If you can do this, the money will add up quicker than any cost-cutting measures you do, though you should continue to do those, too.

Good luck. It's amazing how much money it takes to buy a home, and that's without maintenance and repairs. Which always cost, "about a thousand dollars" each.:)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 9:37AM
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For an odd interesting weekend..visit some open houses and see what you would like about each...it will give you an idea on what to aim for....do you and can you manage a fixer upper on your own? I do this on occassion and take my own coffee and muffins along to munch along the way...make note on things I like, things I didn't. Keep an eye on local housing prices...and when the time for purchase comes..you will be prepared. I'm not advocating every weekend...just the odd day once every few months. It is an education in itself.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 8:27PM
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I didn't think anyone was ever going to respond to this post! LOL! Thanks for all the ideas.

Ed, I'm newly divorced, about a year and half...been on my own for nearly 2 1/2, living off school loans, grants and help from my dad. I graduated from nursing school last Spring. My income has increased quite a bit since I started working. I have a few credit card bills that I need to pay off...used two of them every now and then to buy food, and gas when I was in school. They are both under $400 each. Speigel is another I had prior to getting married years ago. Got it to use when I was stationed in Germany, almost impossible to find clothes in my size at the tiny BX on base. It's about $1800 and will be the first one to pay off since the interest has increased quite a bit since I first got the card all those years ago. I have no other credit cards, have only my school loan which I have to pay on but will be reimbursed for, every year for the next five years through my employer...and my car. I had an '88 Buick that was falling apart and was working an hour from home. Was constantly putting hundreds of dollars into it for repairs every few months. Was afraid it wouldn't make it to work one day and I'd lose my job...so I bought a newer used car. That will probably hurt me the most in trying to get a home. Oh, and of course, I still owe my lawyer for the divorce....make monthly payments to him.

I've thought about buying an older home in the '80s or '90's but they all seem to need a lot of work and I'm not looking forward to a fixer upper. I drywalled my entire last home we owned and I hated every second of it. I'd rather wait longer and buy new or something that doesn't need any work. I just hate throwing away nearly $700 every month on rent. Such a waste.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 4:47PM
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Hi Kath - a good name, the one we gave our daughter (but she has no garden),

I agree that many feel that the whole amount of their rental payment is "lost" money as they end up with no equity after forty years of such payments.

It isn't as though you're "throwing away" the whole amount of $700./mo., however.

Probably you have some appliances included in your rental - and if they go wrong, you don't have to fix them, as you would in your own home. Same for malfunctioning electrical, plumbing systems, leaking walls, roof repairs, etc.

You may have some utilities: electricity, water, sewer, etc. provided as part of your rental rate.

You don't have to pay taxes directly, as you would in your own home. Or insurance on the value of the home.

Depending on your type of housing, you may have grass cut, snow shovelled, etc. in terms of regular maintenance of the property.

Further, if you add the amount of monthly mortgage payment for the number of months required, it comes to far more than the amount of the principal of the mortgage that you arrange on the current value of your home. Even the (most likely increased) value of the home that you will own free and clear when you make your last mortgage payment. Much of the payment is interest, especially in the earlier years.

Which means that, when you buy your home, it is wise to make some extra payments on principal when possible, even at some sacrifice, especially in the early years, when most of your monthly payment really goes to pay interest.

If, for example, you could pay one extra month's mortgage at the end of one of the early years, it would probably reduce your principal owing as much as you'd reduced it through all of the other 12 months' mortgage payment, possibly even more.

Some young people buy a home that is in rather neglected condition at a lower initial cost, which means that, as the loan is smaller, the amount of interest that they must pay annually is lower, so a larger proportion of the monthly amount they are paying goes to pay down the principal. They make repairs on it for a period, so that it is not only their mortgage payment contributing to the building of their equity, that is, the proportion of the home that they actually own.

They also add a number of upgrades to the home, that is, building the proportion of their equity by adding to the value of the home - "sweat equity", they call it. I note that you say that you have major distaste for that idea.

Then, after a few years, when they sell their home, they have a substantial fund left over after they pay off the balance owing on the mortgage, due to the stronger increase in the value of the home.

Which gives them a major down payment on a larger, more convenient home that they need when they establish a family. Meaning that they will need a smaller mortgage. Thus less annual interest to pay, so a larger proportion of their annual payments can go toward paying down principal. So the mortgage will be paid in full after fewer years.

So - not all of your current $700. expense for housing is "lost" money, I think.

Good wishes to you and yours.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 6:13PM
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Both Joann, Joyful Guy and others make good points-the one thing that was very hard for me to get used to as a first time homeowner was the constant little stuff that needs maintaining-so make sure you budget for it, new home or not. Small stuff adds up-I do almost everything myself, but the supplies aren't always cheap-a teeny bag from the Big Orange Box can easily be over $100.00. I bought a fixer upper, due to some health constraints, then paycuts due to the industry I'm in, it was very, very difficult, and no, rent is not throwing money away. However, on the plus side-it's a good thing I bought when I did-because prices on everything, bad condition or not, in this area have skyrocketed. If I had waited, I would have needed to save way more than I spent fixing it up to get the downpayment together-I would have totally missed my window of opportunity. The house is far from the one of my dreams, but it is pretty, cozy, meets 90%plus of my needs, and thanks to gardenweb, has a really pretty garden now that always makes me happy to see. Remember that a lot of extras can be added later as your budget permits, so even though it's easy to fall in love with the house with extra touches-the perfect paint job, the perfect crown molding, etc, it might make sense to get in the game, and add it as you pickup overtime or your bills get paid off. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2004 at 5:43PM
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Actually I pay all my utilities on top of the rent, do all the lawn care. The only appliances I'm using of the landlord's are an old rundown oven, fridge and dishwasher. I own the washer and dryer.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2004 at 9:08PM
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Kath you will have to have a fridge and possibly a stove in your own home....unless they get included in the purchase. Don't forget that when you are looking at buying....people forget sometimes that the appliances don't always come with the new place. I have been really good lately and have cut my magazine expense down to one magazine every 2 months. I didn't have masses of magazines I'd buy to begin with but even cutting out the other two I'd buy occassionally has saved me about $l5.00 every couple months. Not much but when you are wanting to save "black belt"...every $l5.00 counts. I have more magazines than ever as a friend passes hers onto me....for no cost at all....now if only she'd buy the cooking one I'd have no expense magazinewise. Bud and good luck reaching your goal.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2004 at 10:45PM
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No fast foods, take lunches, write down what you spend in cash and change....you'll see where you can cut down and it will also make you think twice before you spend it if you know you will have to write it down,
Good luck!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2004 at 6:36PM
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Use the oven more in the winter. Bake several things at once. Leave the oven open after you use it to heat the room.

Cook out on the grill (use dried pruned branches for fuel instead of buying charcoal) in the summertime to keep the house cool.

Use old clothing for rags instead of using paper towels. Use old large mayo jars instead of buying plasticware.

Don't rent videos and dvds. Tape off the tv, trade videos and dvds with friends or better yet--exercise instead.

Compost instead of buying fertilizer. Garden organically instead of buying pesticides.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2004 at 9:26AM
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A tip from my daughter.....before you purchase anything, think about whether you just want it for do you really need it. It works for me!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2004 at 8:23PM
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Years ago when we were diligently saving for our house, my husband and I made a game out of being resourceful. We took walks as our 'dates,' we ate simple meals and imagined surf & turf, we made ceremonious additions to our bank account (think Jerry Lewis telethon).

If you have the right attitude and a realistic goal, you can accomplish anything with humor and grace.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 9:15AM
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Think about buying a duplex or older house with an apartment or room and bath to rent out. The income will help pay down the mortgage more quickly or reduce the amount you pay on the mortgage. You can also take deductions on any repairs or improvements to the rental property.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2004 at 5:13PM
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You may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a feature of the federal income tax. This tax credit can be claimed when you file your tax return next year or you can claim it during the year by lowering the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck. The maximum income with two children is $33,692. If you are eligible and want to claim the credit in higher paycheck wages, get information from your employer's HR department. For more information, here is a link to the IRS website.

Here is a link that might be useful: Earned Income Tax Credit facts sheet - IRS

    Bookmark   February 15, 2004 at 5:38PM
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Instead of buying Hallmark cards, I purchase greeting cards at a local grocery store.

I send a lot of cards out, and all the cards I now buy are only .99 cents. The cards are very pretty and there is no readable cost bar on the back.

So check out a local grocery store in your area.

It really adds up through out the year.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 1:24AM
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Thanks for all the replies. Budster, I only pay for one magazine I get, the others are gifts from my dad. He's been renewing my subscriptions for years now.

Carol, I've been using that "do I really NEED this" instead of just want it for a while now. It usually works. ( : The kids and I are cutting back on eating out, especially since I started Atkins, fast food is definately out these days.

Gumbycat, that's a good idea but I would absolutely hate living in a duplex and wouldn't want to have someone in my home or property renting a room out either. I like my privacy and quiet.

ManyHostas, I did take the EIC this year for one of my kids, can only claim one per court order. It did give me a bigger tax return this year. Too bad I will make too much this year....

Pat, I buy most of my cards at the Dollar General store for .50 each. Good idea, though! I can't stand spending $3 or $4 on a card the person will probably just throw away.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 8:10PM
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Kathsgrdn, I'm happy for you and your children that your earnings have increased above the EIC threshhold. Re. future home ownership, check into any programs that may be available in your state/ locality for first time home buyers. I'm not familiar with KY but many states help with downpayments, reduced interest mortgages or have free classes for people preparing to buy their first home.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 8:49PM
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How about instead of cards--sending a nice newsy letter--it says more about your caring.

We use the comics for our family presents. We save any gift bags or wrapping we receive for gifts we give later. Every lightbulb is replaced with long lasting/energy saving one.

We use the 1/2 method for portioning out laundry soap/toothpaste/detergent/shampoo: use half of what it says on the package.

Only go out to eat with coupons.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 10:52AM
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Hello everyone,

I've been hearing a good deal about these guys that want to sell you a book of instructions about what government and foundations are offering huge amounts of money in grants for a variety of uses.

Plus advice about how to go about making one's request.

A lot of red tape, of course.

The huge amounts of money are being handed out, for sure.

Have any of you had experience with these books/CDs, etc.?

Do they have some worthwhile information?

Are there other sources where one may be able to find out the information that they offer - at minimal, even no cost (except research time)?

Maybe Kathysgrdn could find some grants like that to help her get established in her own home. Or furnish it. Or liquiidate her student loans, other bills, etc. Or set up a nursing referral business, etc.

I thought of checking one or two of those sources a while ago - when my daughter was U.S. resident.

Sort of hate to encourage those spammers, though - and the daughter isn't resident of U.S. any more.

Non-U.S.ers don't qualify, I'm sure.

ole joyful

P.S. I seldom use the term "American" relative to U.S. citizens/residents.

That term describes Brazilians, Mexicans, Chileans, Guatemalans, Canadians, Guyanans, Nicaraguans, Argentinians, etc. as well.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 6:51AM
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Joyful, I doubt that those books and tapes have any information that you couldn't find with a Google search.

For example, this is a link, for Kathsgrdn, to the state-backed Kentucky Housing Corporation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kentucky Housing Corporation Website

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 1:38PM
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I've been aware that one can find a substantial number of potential sources of such funds through Google and other search engines.

But there are hundreds (thousands?) of government-funded ones covering a wide variety of issues, scattered throughout the vast web of the government system.

Plus the great number of grants for a wide variety of services given by a large number of charitable foundations. Foundations that must give large amounts of charitable funds, having been put in place by wealthy families years ago so that their family members could vote the corporate shares that were deeded to the foundation, thus made tax deductible, so that the family wouldn't be forced to sell so many shares to cover death duties that they'd lose control.

My original concern was whether these people who had researched for several years would know of such a larger number of sources than I can find that it would justify my paying them their fee.

Of course - if the one or two for which I might qualify (were I a U.S. resident) became known to me through buying their package but I hadn't found it through my research - I think that I'd judge that it might have justified the fee.

If, having gone through the rigamarole of submitting the application, I eventually succeeded in obtaining a grant - then I would.

In addition - some claim to offer guidance toward submitting an application that has a better possibility of producing a grant.

Is this claim somewhat justified - or mostly insignificant, rather useless hype? Claiming that more or less a molehill's really a mountain, so to speak.

I don't have even an educated guess about the real value of that, either.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 3:02AM
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Don't buy any junk food and for heaven's sake cook it up from scratch...this includes pancake mixes, etc. It is so much cheaper....and garden as much as you can. My root cellar saves money! Check out the generic drugs & food & see if you can buy them instead and in bulk if possible. Also I am currently scrimping myself for our house (we are building as we go...no loans!) and go to yard sales for jeans and stuff...letting my hair grow and thank goodness the guys here are into buzz cuts so my clippers work great on them. Start being crafty and make all your gifts and cards...sell them too. We even blow out our eggs so we can paint them or other ornament decoration. I save old clothes for rag rugs and purses to make or crochet. I sew, knit, crochet, quilt, paint, and whatever it needs! My son is getting into the swing as he has decided to save for his own car (he's 11 now). Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 6:12AM
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Since you're looking to buy a house, I can't suggest enough listening for the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace" radio program. Its a syndicated radio program that airs in our area 5 days a week for approximately 2 or 3 hours a day.

I understand the syndication has been picked up all over the U.S. and he also now has a television program. I read his book, "Financial Peace" years ago, and so did my husband. It's invaluable and so is some of his advice for eliminating debt and purchasing a home.

You can check out his website at WWW.DAVERAMSEY.COM

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 1:51PM
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Wow, I didn't expect to have so many replies to this post! It's usually pretty slow here.

MdTn Moma, I already do the laundry detergent and shampoo thing (I do, my kids don't-they waste a lot of shampoo sometimes!). I think I got the tip about the laundry detergent here a few years ago. Haven't seen any difference in how clean the clothes are. I also only fill my dishwasher up halfway with detergent, only one side, not both cups. What a difference it makes in how fast I go through a box..which I buy at the Dollar General store.

Ed, I just applied for a loan reimbursement program thru my employer. Will find out in 6 mos to a year if I'm accepted. I will still have to pay the money out but if I get it, I will get a check each year for 5 yrs to pay back what I've put out. I'm hoping to pay a little more than the minimum payment so I can get it all paid off in those five years.

Many Hostas: thanks for the website...going to check it out in a little bit.

Babanna: I do cook a lot from scratch, not as much as I should but I work long hours and when I'm not sleeping, I'm running errands, cleaning or trying to relax. My garden is pretty small too, only have a small raised bed garden...which is one reason I want that house so bad!! Not sure I agree with making my own cards. I've been to craft stores and their stamps, paper etc...are so expensive. I also don't have the time, and can get a card for 50 cents.

Cindy and Mocha, thanks for the website and info...will be checking this out too. I've been watching Suze Orman on tv the past couple weeks...which is very depressing as she says you have to have 20% down to buy a house. If this is true, I'll never own a home. Actually I don't believe it, have known people to put a lot less down. I know it would probably be better...

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 1:57AM
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Kathsgrdn, you should definately check out the buying and selling homes forum. You do not need 20% down in order to buy a house anymore. There are many programs out there that can elminate PMI for people who are putting down less than 20%. We finally realized that housing prices were seriously outpacing how fast we could save up a down payment and bit the bullet and decided to put less down and the mortgage process has been the least painful part of the entire thing. There have been several recent threads over there, so do a search on mortgage and you will have lots of reading!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 10:25AM
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RE: 20% down for mortgages. DH and I have never put 20% down (many, many extenuating life circumstances during the times when we were purchasing). We've done FHA w/PMI but the latest one we did a 80-15-5 loan. You basically have two loans, one for 80% and one for 15% (this one is usually at a higher interest rate) and only pay 5% down. You should ask a mortgage lender or Dave the Mortgage guy on the Buying and Selling Houses forum.

You can get pretty creative when financing your home, but I agree with much of the advice here as well. It never hurts to look where you can cut back, no matter how much money you have.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 9:45PM
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Kath you are doing all the right things NOW...and have a great goal in sight (your own home) Just keep doing the things you are and it will be a reality. It takes time but each penny saved is another for the down payment .... every little thing you do to cut costs will add up no matter how small. I really wish you the very best.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 12:38AM
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I agree with Budster - you are on the right track with a number of things.

I've been thinking about that EIC thing that you couldn't qualify for last year as your income was too high - slightly so, I assume.

Is the calculation of the qualifying income amount based on gross income - or net income?

Being Canadian, I'm not familiar with your rules.

Up here, interest on loans borrowed to invest are deductible, which means that sometimes that interest reduces one's net income enough to qualify for certain benefits.

If the qualification figure relates to net income, if you were $500. over, but borrowed money to invest so that interest expense this year was $505., maybe you could qualify.

You'd probably want to invest in an type of investment that makes no current payout - which would add to your current income. If you buy a stock for $1.00 and its value increases to $1.20, usually you don't have to declare that (potential - it's not really your gain till you liquidate) as income currently.

If you were to borrow $10,000. to invest, you'd need at least $10,000. cash of your own to use as collateral, to make total of $20,000. invested. Better to only borrow 5,000. though - if prices go down, the bank will want more money so you still cover half - and they want it now.

I try to be in a position where I will not generate a margin call - unless I have other investment certificates at home that I can give them instead of cash to increase the value of my asset underlying the loan.

Good wishes for the week,

Keep up the good work.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 5:01AM
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I say this to my little ones all the time, "watch your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves!" I truly have found that the little things are what seem to make such a difference.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2004 at 10:57PM
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I have no idea how I landed on this site... I suck at being frugal. I find it so much easier to earn extra money... than to cut back on spending it. I do, however, have a few ideas for you.

You mentioned buying phone cards. You'll save half by using OneSuite.com. 2.5 cents per minute... 24/7. I've used it for over two years. It's great. You pay in advance and each time you make a long distance call a message will tell you how many minutes you have left.

My method of earning extra money is teaching classes in my home/garage. You don't have to be educated or even proficient in the arts. You simply have to know how to do something people want to learn. So learn it... and teach it :)

It's fun... like having friends over to make a project. Only each of those 10 "friends" pays you twenty bucks for the priviledge of making that project in your garage. They leave with a project they made themselves... and you put 200 bucks in your pocket.

Also... saving pennies might not be as wise as it used to be. Check out the book Rich Dad Poor Dad to see what rich people teach their children about money!

The concept is to stop working so hard for your money... let your money work for you. (obviously you need some start up cash... and at 200 bucks a pop... teaching is a great way to get it)

Good luck to you...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2004 at 9:43PM
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Candy, good idea, but I already work enough as it is! lol. I'm a nurse and work 40+ hours per week. I have no extra time and really don't want to have to have strangers in my house on what little time off I do have.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 9:18PM
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...'I did take the EIC this year for one of my kids, can only claim one per court order' ...

Kath ... you may want to check over your taxes. The rules for claiming a child as a dependent and claiming a child for EIC are different.

Your court order may limit you to claiming only one child as a dependent (and allows your XH to claim the other child as his dependent).

The rules for EIC are different. Only the parent that the child lives with is allowed to claim the EIC for that child. EIC rules do not require that the child be your dependent. So if both your children lived with you then you are eligible to claim the EIC for 2 children.

You may amend your return to receive the additional refund. Depending on your income ... this could be up to an additional $2000 refund that you are eligible for!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 12:15AM
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Thank you Liketolearn! I had just assumed I could only use one child, I did my own taxes. I'm so glad I came back over and looked at this thread again! LOL! I called the IRS and am now printing the 1040x and EIC forms to amend my taxes. I'll be getting back over $1600 more!!!!! Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 9:16PM
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I was of the impression that where you live, if you buy a home, that the interest on the mortgage is tax deductable. Is that correct? It isn't the case in Canada at this time. I know, you have to have the house first but the tax benefit might be a great assistance, particularily if you used it to pay down the principal of the mortgage. Just a thought

    Bookmark   April 25, 2004 at 7:39PM
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Kath ... great news! Glad you saw my suggestion and checked into it! Be sure to put that unexpected $1600 into savings! In fact get yourself a "home sweet home" account (that's what I called mine) just for money you are saving for a home. It's even better if you set-up this account at a bank that is not your regular bank so you won't be tempted to take money out.

Remember you can also amend returns from previous years but the IRS limits how long you have to amend. In addition to the 2003 return filed this year, you should be able to amend the 2002 and 2001 tax returns. Perhaps your "home sweet home" nest egg might grow some more!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2004 at 6:55PM
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I've cut down on buying myself clothes.Almost everything I wear is a cast off. I haven't paid for a pair of jeans in ten years. I bought a dress for myself five years ago, and a shirt for myself four years ago.Shoes and underwear are paid for with gift certificates recieved on holidays.Absolute wardrobe necessities are only bought at thrift and yard sales. I doubt if my total wardrbe costs for the last two years has exceded twenty dollars.My new goal for this year is to dumpster dive enough gifty items to cut down on all my out of house Christmas shopping obligations.I shop a warehouse club for meat and buy it in bulk. I don't drink soda,have cut down on coffee,and make the kids pay any late fees on their movie rentals(this one really saves me money cause they return them on time now).Instead of junking my computer I had it repaired(saved about four or five hundred by not succoming to the temptation to buy new.I read magazines at the checkout or the library with the additional benefit of not having them junk up my house. I have a very reliable network of friends to trade stuff with, and we fill each others needs frequently.My DD burns copies of any CDs I like for my car.I find most of my furniture, or it is given to me by clients that don't want it.I reuse swiffer cloths,buy basic cleaning products to make my own.I cook all my meals at home.I bought a house that was transported from one site to another at a discount because the owners put together a commercial real estate deal on the homes previous site and unloaded all the houses cheaply as well as arranged financing.It was a cash back at closing because they threw their share of the realtors fee toward my down payment. Got into the house for the cost of the homeowners insurance(under $1000).BTW- house has appreciated 70,000 in less than two years because of the waterfront site they put it on.Good luck finding a home.Sandy

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 9:15PM
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How do you reuse swiffer cloths?


    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 2:55AM
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Maria, just wash them.If dust is all they have been used for ,they clean right up.For doggy hair ones(like I use on my floor between cleanings,)set them aside,and vaccuum them.Use the hose nozzle,hang on tight and suck the hair off,then wash.I wash all my cleaning rags with bleach.Sandy

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 10:09PM
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Just set your priorities.Find a good church give your tithes and everything else will fall into place.Buying a house takes years don't take the joy out of it by trying to find ways to pinch.You have been paying rent ? yes? Just think of it as paying rent.And go about your day.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 11:51AM
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My tithes go not only to half a dozen churches, plus the Univ. and Seminary where I trained.

I think that it's important to help some of the millions of homeless refugees in many areas of the world get on their feet, as well.

Though we've built billions of dollars worth of military hardware here in North America, we haven't suffered on the receiving end due to international war for 180 years, or within your own country for 135 years.

We've raised an inordinate amount of fuss over some planes hitting some towers a couple of years ago - many millions in other parts of the world have had such things to contend with for generations.

The irony of the whole thing is - that it was civilian products that the angry men used to attract North American attention, not the military stuff.

I feel it necessary to support local social service agencies, child help agencies, medical research and helping agencies, as well.

Good wishes to you and yours,

joyful guy

P.S. My ex-, with whom I've had little contact for over 30 years, has had surgery for cancer a couple of times in recent months.

I'd appreciate your prayers on her behalf.

Thank you very much.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2004 at 6:11PM
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Hi Kath,
Congrats on getting your nursing degree! I'm sure you worked VERY hard for it!
Use the DOLLAR STORES, esp. for laundry/cleaning items, Deoderant, toothpaste, misc. cutlery, glassware, plastic storage containers, etc.
Get that crockpot out and use it! I work 2 jobs and I am so thankful for my crockpot! Plan ahead for meals, especially with you working. Get a FOODSAVER and make ahead meals and freeze them.
Get the mixed salads at the lower cost grocery stores, roast some chicken...you've got dinner for that evening and a meal to take to work the next day!

Take your own lunch and snacks to work.

Refill water bottles. Buy a filter for the sink or a filtered water container. $10 at Walgreen. $5 to renew the filter every 3 months. Drink more water instead of fruity drinks or soda. You'll be surprised how you will get used to in and REALLY only WANT water.

Buy secondhand clothing for yourself and your kids. CONSIGN any good clothes you need to get rid of, shoes, purses, belts. Our local Goodwill stocks underwear by HANES...'seconds' I guess. They sell for 80 cents apiece.

Sell your nursing books you don't want to keep on the Internet (amazing.com half.com)

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 4:40PM
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Reusing swiffer cloths: I use scraps of flannel or fleece wrapped around my dust mop or for dusting. These attract dust as well as the antistatic cloths (esp. if you mist them first). And are free if they are made of used fleece clothing or fleece scraps.I will start a new topic on this so that others will see. Keep em coming.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 11:26AM
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Sorry, I wasn't able to read all the great ideas so mine might be duplicated somewhere else. Games with the children, working on putting a puzzel together with all the family members able to help. Take walks together in the evening and or play ball, or another game outside so that the family that plays together stays together. Getting a book and reading out loud. Cuts down on the tv and electric bills.

Put in small watt light bulbs where possible but not lower then 40's and never where safety is a factor like where there are stairs.

Wash only full loads of clothing and do dished by soaking first and then rinse without a dish washer.

If you pay water bills, get shower heads that can be turned off.. Wet, then turn off and soap up, rinse well.

When you cook, make enough for second meals like...spagetti, meatloaf, casserols and save time and money.

Get a hair cutting kit. About 10 dollars for a basic on and cut the childrens hair. Keep it simple and then practice on Hubby. LOL.

It is well worth it to start everyone into collection of odd change into a big water bottle and then roll it and deposit it in a special "house" account.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 8:29PM
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We don't watch TV, so we don't feel the pressure or temptation to spend money that advertising generates by the boatload.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 10:16AM
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Hi cupofkindness,

I seldom turn on the TV, also.

I listen a lot to national radio that is subsidized by federal government, but operates at arm's length.

A great deal of interesting stuff.

Their program, "As it Happens" where they interview newsmakers around the world daily has been carried on parts of (current equivalent of) NPR for several years.

From 1:00 - 6:00 a.m. they carry programs from half a dozen countries around the world - a real education. For old farts like me who can sleep when they choose.

Try them at www.cbc.ca


Have a great fall, all.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 5:48PM
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Hi again, all,

Would you run that past me again, folks, please?

We eat too much. The food ain't cheap.

Get obese - a national problem, and about to become a really big one, they tell us.

Will cost us heavy duty due to medical problems (in all of dollars, reduction of lifestyle available, and pain).

And we pay fitrness clubs heavy duty fees - in order to take the fat off.

Or do a lot of jogging.

By the way - I wonder whether those joggers may have trouble with sore knees hips and ankles, in later life. Maybe walking - or swimming - would be preferable.

As Dad used to say, "more money than brains!".

Good wishes for good health, a lean body, good friends - and a fat wallet, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 20, 2004 at 2:03PM
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Wow, I can't believe this thread is still on page one! I've been preapproved for a home loan but am getting cold feet about actually doing it. Also, am having a hard time finding new construction that has traditional ceilings...not vaulted. After looking at some older homes and getting an inspection done on one, I decided against that. I don't really have the time to work on a house or the money for major renovations. Hoping now to find a builder who will work with me on a house in my price range...so far I haven't found one. The area is growing but the majority of the houses are huge, over my budget or too small on tiny lots.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 9:56PM
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I had cold feet right before I bought my house, but am so glad I went through with it. My house is a ranch style built in the 70's, more than enough room for me. I like the single story although I miss an upstairs sometimes. As one gets older the thought of stairs lose their appeal.

I like this thread as it causes one to pause and think about the places that one's money actually goes. I was in the grocery store last night going to buy crackers. Soda crackers were 99 cents, and a box of my favorite club type crackers were over three dollars. Easy choice. Also my favorite discovery is that a soda a day is over $365 a year, in ten years make that almost $4000. That is only ONE item. I carefully choose where my money goes, don't waste it on the small stuff and it adds up for the big stuff in a hurry.
Good luck on your house!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 9:11AM
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