Scary stories and fiendish tricks are all part of Halloween fun. But the last thing you expect is for those stories and tricks to be about your friendly lenders, bankers, and credit card companies.
Payday loans. You’re broke but payday is two weeks away. You write a personal check to the loan shark, uh … Payday Loan Company for $115 so you can borrow $100. The shark makes you sign a contract and agrees to hold the check until your next payday. In two weeks, the lender deposits the check or you can redeem the check by paying $115 in cash. But you’re as broke then as you were before so for $15 you can extend the loan for another two weeks.
In this example the cost of the initial loan is a $15 finance charge—or 391 percent interest! If you roll over the loan three times, the finance charge climbs to $60 to borrow $100 for six weeks!
These legal loan sharks (there are more than 10,000 payday loan outlets in business in the U.S., with thousands more on the Internet) are in the business of bleeding people for as much money as possible and then forcing them into bankruptcy.
Rent-to-own. It sounds like a great idea. You can’t afford new furniture and you don’t want to go into debt, so you decide to rent. You go to a local rent-to-own store and discover that after 78 weekly rental payments, you’ll own it—paid in full. Yes, it sounds great, but don’t believe it. Renting to own is a creepy way to throw your money away.
This is a Guest Post by Donna Freedman, freelance writer and blogger who really knows how to stretch a buck—and willingly tells all. Donna writes for Money Talks News
and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com
Black Friday ads are already starting to leak. Here’s a way to make this season’s hot deals even hotter: Pay with a discounted gift card.
Cheap cards are available through resellers such as Cardpool, ABC Gift Cards, Card Cash, Raise and Gift Card Zen. You’ll see discounts of 3 to 30 percent (sometimes more) for cards from your favorite retailers.
The former owners either got gift cards that didn’t fit (think “steakhouse scrip for a vegetarian”) or need the money more than the credit.
Buying a gift card does limit you to a specific retailer. But if you know you’ll be treating your BFF to hair-care goodies from Sephora or buying an Old Navy hoodie for your kid brother, why not make those buying dollars go further?
(Or just give the discounted card outright and let your recipients do their own shopping.)
The simplest way to shop is to go through an aggregator site called Gift Card Granny, which lists the discounts resellers are offering. Note, too, that these sites will buy your own unwanted cards for up to 95% of face value. (Great-Aunt Rose meant well, but you’re really not a Lands End kind of gal.)
Two women, different locations, same accident. Both women using an ordinary commercial toilet bowl cleaner, were not satisfied with the way it was removing stains. Each added household chlorine bleach and stirred with a brush.
One died quickly, the other spent a long time in the hospital.
Here’s the problem: Whenever chlorine bleach comes into contact with acid or an acid-producing substance like toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, there is a sudden release of chlorine gas. This is not a good thing. A similar result occurs when chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia, lye or other alkaline substances. Chlorine gas is lethal.
Now that I have your attention let me assure you: If you stay clear of chlorine bleach, you have nothing to fear by making your own cleaning products. Why should you even consider doing that? The cost, for starters. You know that blue window cleaner sitting on your counter? You paid about 30 cents an ounce for it and it’s 95 percent water. Your own products will cost only pennies to make and will not contain toxic chemicals that could be harmful to your family and the environment.
If you’re a little put off by the mention of Christmas this early in the year, hear me out. I’ve got a great idea for how you can really enjoy season, bless your children and start a new family tradition all at the same time. I guarantee that the kids in your life are going to love you for it, too. But it requires some amount of preparation. That’s the reason it may appear that I’m rushing things a bit.
Step 1. Between now and Dec. 1, collect 24 different books that are in keeping with your family’s holiday values and beliefs. You can find books at thrift stores, library sales, book stores and online.
Step 2. Wrap each book as a beautiful gift. Place all 24 gifts, marked only with a number between 1 and 24, in a large basket or festively-decorated box. Keep all of the wrapped gifts hidden until Dec. 1.
Step 3. Each night before bed allow the children to select and open one of these “gifts” that corresponds with the date on the calendar, then read it together. Repeat each night through Christmas Eve.
Step 4. Put the books away in a secret place and you’ll be ready to go again next year—and every year—starting with Step 2.
Gratitude is more than pausing once a year to offer up thanks. It’s more than a snappy word that rhymes with “attitude.” I am told that of all the human emotions, gratitude is the most powerful.
So powerful is gratitude, it can obliterate fear, hopelessness and doubt. Gratitude can heal a broken heart, slow the aging process and restore broken relationships. Gratitude creates hope and hope brings joy. It is in joy, not fear, that we can find strength.
Greed is the enemy. Never in this history of our country has so much meant so little to so many. The easy availability of credit has allowed us to live beyond our means. It has encouraged greed to creep into every area of our lives. Some call this affliction Affluenza—an unhappy condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.
The more we have, the more we want. The more we want, the more it takes to feel satisfied. The more credit we accept the farther we slide into debt.
If you have more time than money this Holiday Season—or just prefer to give and receive homemade gifts—here are my best ideas that cost less than ten bucks.
Spa Set. Give all the stressed-out folks on your gift list the gift of relaxation. Make your own bath products and then assemble them in a nice basket.
photo credit: mycrazyblessedlife.com
Bath Salts. 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup sea or rock salt, 20 drops fragrance oil, food coloring. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until fully combined and color is even.
Bath oil. 1/2 cup almond oil, 1/2 cup castor oil or aloe vera, the oil from 6-8 Vitamin E capsules, 25-30 drops fragrance oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with wooden spoon until combined.
Bubble bath. Mix 3 cups clear, mild dishwashing detergent; the oil from 6-8 Vitamin E capsules, 1/4 cup glycerin, 25-30 drops fragrance oil, food coloring.
Salt scrub. Mix together Epsom salts and enough almond oil (better) or baby oil (cheaper) to resemble very wet snow. Add essential or aromatherapy oil for fragrance and soap colorant if you desire.
Place your spa products in individual bottles or small jars and decorate with ribbons, labels and or embellishments. Add other items you can pick up at the drug store such as a wash cloth, pumice stone or loofah.
Family Cookbook. Gather up your family’s best-loved recipes and create a family cookbook, then make copies of it for family members on your list.To add illustrations to your family cookbook, scan old family photos of the person who is known for making the recipe to include on a particular page. Add a section for birthdays and addresses, too.
The first computer was unveiled in 1946. Weighing in at 27 tons, it took up 1,800 square feet of floor space. And the cost? Nearly $500,000! That ENIAC was revolutionary but its functionality was, at best, limited.
Our first fax machine was unveiled at the Hunt Properties Real Estate office in 1989. It was so heavy it took three men to carry it in. It took up 9 square feet of floor space and cost $2,400. That Panasonic wonder revolutionized our real estate business. We could move documents from coast to coast in a matter of minutes rather than waiting days or weeks for the mail to show up.
We’ve come a long way since the days of monster computers the size of a house and gigantic fax machines. Cameras, computers, smartphones and tablets—oh my!
I love technology. And just when I think things can’t get any faster, cooler or cheaper, here comes something new that just takes my breath away.
Buying things when they’re on sale is a great way to avoid overspending. But unless you are diligent to take the difference between the regular price and the sale price and actually deposit that into a savings account, are you really saving money? Nope. You’re just spending less. And you can “spend less” right through your entire paycheck.
While being careful to keep spending under control is admirable, it’s easy to fool yourself into believing that you’re a money-saving genius, when in truth you’re just spending all that you earn, wishing you made enough money to save some of it.
Getting started with actual savings—and by that I mean money that is put away into a safe place—can be difficult if you have a spending habit, a small budget or some of each. The way to remove the pain is to trick yourself into thinking you’re not really saving that much. Check out these tricks and get started today.
Call it a bill. This may sound silly, but just go with me here. Create a new monthly bill that you are obligated to pay and call it “Paying Myself First.” Make it look like an invoice of $5, billed to you. I don’t care how little money you earn or how poor you believe that you are. Anyone who really wants to start saving has $5 they can devote to the effort. Put this tiny bill at the top—ahead of the rent, food or phone bill. Your smallest bill will soon become your favorite.