Clothing is not optional, but spending a lot of money on it is, says author Gregory Karp in his book, Living Rich by Spending Smart: How to Get More of What You Really Want.
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So, just off the top of your head, how much would you say that your family spends on clothing in a year? According to the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, a family of four spends on average $2,850 a year on apparel and services like dry cleaning, to keep that apparel looking good. Wow. That’s $240 a month—a major expense in any family’s budget.
Karp offers seven easy ways to cut that expense without having to take fashion risks for yourself or sending the kids off to school looking odd and frumpy.
So what’s cheap, intense, uniquely delicious and hardly ever considered a main dish? Quite possibly the title of this column gave it away, but the answer, of course, is onions.
Dear Mary: My sisters and I have $10,000 we would like to invest to cover our mother’s funeral expenses when they occur. She does not have life insurance or any savings. She is 62 and living on disability at this time. What would be the best investment strategy for us? She is not currently ill. Thank you. Bonita W., South Dakota
Dear Bonita: This is money that needs to be kept in a safe place where it is fairly liquid (so you can have access to it within just a few days) with enough growth or interest to at least stay ahead of inflation. I believe that if I were you I’d go the ultra-cautious route and place your mother’s money in an online savings account (OSA) like Ally Bank. You will earn precious little interest, but there are no fees or minimum deposit requirements. You’re not going to double your money at that rate, but you won’t have to worry or squabble amongst yourselves over lost funds.
Alternatively, you may want to look into prepaying her final arrangements. There are great benefits to doing this now while she is young and in good health. She can participate in making the decisions. And it will be much easier for you and your sisters as well, without the emotions and sense of urgency should you wait until the end to make those final decisions. Speak with the people at a local funeral home in your area to learn more.
Today’s first great reader tip makes me laugh. Imagine a chicken standing to attention in a Bundt pan. This is the best idea I’ve heard all day and I think you’ll agree.
STAND THE BIRD. To roast a whole chicken evenly and more quickly, set your Bundt pan on a cookie sheet. Now stand that chicken over the center cone of the Bundt pan. Roast as you usually do or at 375F until done. A standing chicken browns more evenly and cooks faster. Priscilla G., email
photo credit: justapinch.com
NO MORE UGLY. I bought some shoes that I love at a clearance sale, only problem was the ugly color. I’m hard to fit, so I bought them anyway. I stopped by the shoe repair shop on the way home and bought a can of color spray ($4 for a 4 oz. can). I sprayed the shoes black and they turned out beautifully. The secret is to spray lightly and cover up the soles with masking tape. Recently I sprayed a handbag ($220 marked down to $20 because of the ugly color) that is gorgeous. Kim L., North Carolina
Before you cut up an expired credit card—or toss that silly fake one you got as junk mail—consider all the great things you can do with it!
1. Bookmark. It’ll keep your place and act as a handy straightedge for underlining or highlighting.
photo credit: financialhack.com
2. Glass scraper. A credit card is just the right size to scrape ice from your car’s windows and algae from the walls of an aquarium.
3. Neat caulk. Run the rounded corner of a credit card across the caulk bead for that professional look.
4. Unlock doors. Certain types of locked doors can be easily unlocked by slipping the card between the jam and short bolt, and coaxing the door open.
For a good deal of my life I lived under a dark cloud of fear that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady. Studies reveal that I’m not the only one. Most of us have felt that way, not because we’re broke, but because we lack confidence. That makes us timid, worried and financially insecure.
Look, we don’t have to accept financial insecurity as some kind of life sentence. And that constant and gnawing fear of becoming destitute? Forget it! We can do something about this.
Become a saver. Saving money is like magic because it changes your attitude and calms your fears. I saved my way out of a six-figure pile of debt. Knowing I had cash tucked away in a safe place quieted my insatiable desires. That is where I found my determination to stick with repaying the debt. You must start now, today—no matter your situation. Even if you are in debt and struggling to catch up and even if you are already contributing to a 401(k) plan at work. This is different. You need money in the bank to boost your financial confidence.
I have to be honest about sports. I’m there for the good times: World Series, Olympics and of course the Super Bowl and even then, for me it’s all about their food. Sure I’ll be there front and center on Sunday, cheering for the Broncos (sue me), breathlessly waiting for the next commercial while enjoying some decadent party food.
Today I want to share with you my most favorite, best ever party dips. No one would consider any of these healthy food and for that I do not apologize. After all, we don’t do this every day. So let’s lighten up and get ready to party!
photo credit: CookingChannelTv.com
What I know about buying a mattress I’ve learned from the best: Insiders who have retired from the sleep product industry.
CONFUSION FACTOR. It is impossible to compare by make and model from one store to another. No wonder mattress retailers are so quick to promise that if you can find the same mattress at a lower price they’ll give it to you for free. They know that will never happen because no other store carries that exact mattress.
photo credit: mattress1st.com
SHOP BY LEVEL. Each mattress manufacturer makes “levels” of mattresses for the stores that sell their brand: Very cheap, decent cheap, good and best. That’s not what they call them, but you can tell by the pricing within each manufacturer’s line of products.
PRICE MATTERS. A very cheap mattress is about 10 percent materials (foam, steel, padding) and 90 percent air. A mid-level mattress is about 40 percent materials and so on. The more material, the better the product and the higher the price. A high-quality mattress will be 90 percent materials which means it will be the heaviest of those you try to lift. Go ahead, lift the corner of a mattress. If it’s light as a feather you can be sure it is a very cheap, low quality mattress.