Dollar Stretcher: Money back guarantee
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Dinner for six ... not!
Instead of inviting friends over for dinner and drinks, we invite them for breakfast. Eggs are much cheaper than a roast. I can feed everyone without busting my grocery budget. And we find that we enjoy each other’s company in the morning, too.
Renew your deck
Last spring, I decided that we need to do something with our old wood deck. It was fading and looking old. I decided to paint it, but not just one color. I created a maze like pattern with three colors. It’s almost like having a decorator carpet on my deck. I did this all for the price of some paint and painter's tape.
Getting more done
I recently changed my habits. Instead of checking my Facebook page first thing when I get home from work, I spend some time on whatever task is on my to-do list. Since I’m anxious to get to Facebook, I do the task quickly. Once I do get to Facebook, I don’t feel guilty about the work that I haven’t done. It’s a win/win!
Building an emergency fund
There's an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time (not that I want to eat an elephant). So when we decided we really wanted to create a six-month emergency fund, we used that principal. We broke it down into smaller amounts that equaled one month’s worth of expenses. Even that felt like a hard target, but we were determined to do it. We’re on month number two now. We celebrated with a special dinner when we had the first month saved. Looking forward to our next celebration when we get to month two.
What’s a dollar worth?
Recently, my wife and I visited a financial planner. We were working on some retirement planning. He pointed out something that I think is important. Even though we haven’t had much inflation lately, the average is about three percent per year. Therefore, in a little more than 20 years (within our lifetimes), prices will double, so the money that we have saved today will only buy half as much. Even after we retire in a few years, we hope that each year we can take a little more income to cover inflation without hurting the amount we have saved.
Out of debt
My New Year’s resolution was to get out of debt. I didn’t have a lot, but I had about $6k on my credit cards. I started looking for some side gigs. I tried Uber, but I didn't think I made enough. Next, I put some skills out on Fiverr.com, mostly in computer graphics. I’ve earned enough to cut my debt down to about $3,500. I hope to have it totally paid off by the end of the year.
Money back guarantee
I’ve worked in retail sales for years. I can tell you that there’s one way to get your money back if you’re unhappy with a purchase. If the manager won’t give you a refund, tell them that you’ll call your credit card company and ask for a chargeback. Most stores hate that. Not only will they lose the sale, but also the credit card company keeps track of which stores have the most chargebacks. I’ve seen managers approve a refund as soon as the word chargeback was mentioned.
Creating space digitally
Whether you're downsizing or just trying to reduce clutter, digitizing can make your life easier. We reduced a whole file cabinet of papers when my dad moved into an apartment. Now it’s just a thumb drive. My husband and I are doing the same thing around our house. Not only are we getting rid of
paper copies, but also we’re replacing hardcover books that we think we might read again with ebooks. So far, I’ve eliminated a whole bookcase full. It’s taking us a little time, but what other hobby actually saves you money?
Mortgage payoff plan
We bought our first house last year. We wanted to get a 15-year mortgage, but we were afraid that we might not be able to keep up with the payments at first. Then we came up with a way to speed things up. We got an amortization table that shows how much of each payment goes to interest and to principal. At first, not much of the payment reduces the loan. Most is just interest. We decided that each month we would overpay by the amount of principal reduction. It’s not a lot in the early years, but it increases as time goes on. We expect to have a bigger income when that happens. If we keep it up, we’ll really shorten the mortgage. Even if we can’t keep adding the full amount each month, we’ll still increase the amount of each monthly payment that goes to pay down the principal amount.
Dialing for free dollars
All of our city’s museums offer free admission one day per year. They’re packed on that day. Parking is a challenge, and the buses are jammed. I learned that my favorite museum offers free admission to city residents every Sunday all year round. One of the guards remarked how empty it is on Sundays despite free admission. This museum also offers discounted admissions to students and seniors on the other six days per week. It’s worth checking the museums in your town to see if you can get in free or for a low cost.
We like to use our woodstove and fireplace in the winter, so firewood is always welcome. A neighbor was taking down a tree and offered us the wood. We paid the tree company to cut it into one-foot sections for us. He was glad to do it to avoid paying the tipping charge at the landfill. I told him we’d take any that he wanted to drop off. He said that he’ll probably be able to drop off a full cord this summer. That’s lots of free heat next winter.
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