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9

9 Easy Moves to Simplify the Way You Manage Money

Confused and stressed out about how to manage your money so you don’t run out before payday? Put these nine easy moves into action and you’ll be well on your way to simplify your spending.

I know what you’re thinking—simplify and spending in the same sentence? Ha! Like that’s even possible when we have credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, bills, bill-pay, auto-pay, fees, penalties, interest rates, and fees to keep track of. How can we possibly make managing money simple?

By having a plan. By choosing to become accountable and then using every tactic possible to streamline and de-stress your money. I’ll show you how in today’s post! See you there … Love, xo m

10

5 Reasons to Give Kids an Allowance

At the foundation of a person’s financial intelligence should be this undeniable truth: It is not the amount of money you have, but what you do with it that matters. This is true for a child managing a $5-dollar-a-week allowance or a corporate executive with a $5,000-dollar-a-week salary.

Unless your children learn simple, wise money management techniques, more money will never be enough.

The simplest way to get started building financial intelligence into your kids’ minds and hearts is by putting them on an allowance and then requiring them to suffer or enjoy the consequences of their financial decisions.

12

7 Quick and Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Tax-Free Raise

Is money a little tight? Hoping a raise will come through soon? I hate to burst your bubble, but even if it is an exceptional raise, it may not do you much good. By the time you adjust a raise for taxes, you’ll be lucky to see half of it in your bank account. And if that’s not bad enough, nearly everyone who earns more automatically spends more. Reckless spending can consume a lot of cash, fast. I have a better idea. Give yourself a tax-free raise! How?! I have a few ideas …

16

17 Ways to Cut the Soaring Price of Gasoline

Only a few months ago I paid $1.87 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colo. That’s nearly a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$2.85 per gallon! What’s going on? All I know about that, I read in the news. And all I know about how to beat the system and keep my fuel costs down I’m sharing in today’s post! Love, Mary xo ⛽️ 🚗 ❣️

17

How to Save Money and Get Financially Confident Starting Now

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.

18

Most Common Money Questions Women Ask

I recently asked a group of women of all ages to tell me the money questions they most wanted to ask. Because they could remain anonymous, the responses poured in on debt, credit, divorce, Social Security, and parents’ issues. What I learned is that we’re all embarrassed to ask many of the same questions. These are the answers that most of you really wanted to know.

19

Saving Money by Choice, Not by Chance

A question that I answered in a previous post brought a small avalanche of mail, mostly from readers who were aghast that I would suggest they save such a portion of their paychecks for retirement. It was money they just didn’t think they could afford to save. I can only imagine that for a person who saves nothing, suggesting they should be saving at all is shocking. Or even impossible. Here is one of those messages …

20

Stop Taking Parent Loans for Your Kids’ College Education

You’re a parent, and you are responsible for taking care of your minor child financially. But you are equally responsible to take care of yourselves. Taking on student loans so that your child can enroll at the college of his or her dreams may sink your dreams of ever retiring. Or worse. But don’t despair. You and your student have options, so dry your tears and let’s figure this out …

21

3 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

What credit score is good? Sound like a super easy question, right? Well, it’s not. In fact, there is no single answer. It’s complicated! But you can forget all the confusion and concentrate on just three simple things and your credit score will take care of itself. Let me show you …

23

22 Legit Ways You Can Make Money at Home

For all the convenience and access to information that the Internet offers, the ability to earn money at home—honestly and legitimately—just might be one of the most useful. At a minimum, you need an Internet connection and computer. Or for some jobs, just a smartphone will do.

The challenge is to wade through all the muck and pitches for free get-rich-quick opportunities to find authentic ways to make money.

The opportunities for online jobs are out there.

25

16 Facts and Uses for the One-Cent Piece That are Worth Every Penny

For some people, pennies are so annoying, they don’t even bother picking up strays that end up on sidewalks and streets. Then there are those who eagerly collect the copper coin, living up to the Benjamin Franklin quote that a penny saved is a penny earned.

Assuming that the rest of us fall somewhere between those extremes, today I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few facts and uses for the lowest value coin in the U.S. currency lineup—the lowly penny.

27

5 Ways a Tax Refund Can Make Your Life Better

Discovering that you’ll be getting a tax refund is certainly not the worst news you’ve had in your life. In fact, it’s easy to see a tax refund as some kind of gift from the universe.

But here’s the truth: It’s part of your paycheck that you should have been getting all along. Plan now for how you’ll manage it or your refund could evaporate into thin air. You have options—at least the five that follow. Choose well. The decision you make for what to do with that check could change your life …

29

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Credit scores are used extensively these days. If you rent an apartment, get braces, buy cell phone service, apply for a job, or call to get utilities connected, there’s a good chance your report and score will be critiqued to see if you qualify. Think of your credit report as your character reference! The higher your score, the better you look. People with the highest scores get the lowest interest rates. And they’re getting the jobs.

32

The Secret to Keeping Your Finances in the Black

Managing money well is not difficult. It’s all the dumb little mistakes we make that we don’t stop to fix right away that can so easily go on to screw up everything! Know what I mean? Here’s the good news: It’s not too late to go back, redo, and then get back on track …

33

Yes, You Can Save Money!

How’s your health? Not your physical fitness, but your financial well-being. For most of us, how much we earn tells us how we’re “feeling” financially. But your income is only one part of the equation. How much of your income do you actually keep?

Not very much, I’ll bet. Your income is low, you say; you’ve got bills to pay. Rents are sky-high, grocery costs are through the roof—who can possibly save?

My answer: You can.

34

How to Live on a Budget and Love It

For many years I wouldn’t have anything to do with a budget because I couldn’t stand the idea of anyone—or anything—telling me how to spend my money. And where did that get me? Into one big financial mess.

Every month, when I ran out of money, I would turn to MasterCard and Visa for a bailout. To me, any available credit was the same as income. It was my money to do with as I found necessary. Really bad idea.

35

Give Yourself an Extreme Money Makeover

There’s nothing like a job-layoff notice, getting a call from the bank saying you’ve bounced your account to the moon—or in my case back in the ‘80s learning that our home was about to be foreclosed—to tell you that you need an extreme money makeover. Simple steps to get started in today’s post …

36

7 Places to Look for Free Money

It’s been several years now since I got a super fun letter from a reader who has developed a hobby of looking for money in gutters, parking lots, streets, sidewalks, and other public places—and he keeps a running tab. He included a copy of his free money journal for the previous year.

It was amazing to see how his finds often exceed $50 in a single month, available to him just for the taking. Not bad! But I couldn’t help wonder how his payoff might climb if he knew about at least 7 other places that harbor free money … Curious? You should be! xo m

39

What Happens to My Good Credit Score When I Get Married?

While planning a wedding and their new life together, most couples aren’t thinking about how marriage might affect their credit. Will her student debt show up in your pristine credit file? Will your bankruptcy destroy his excellent credit score? Should you close the accounts you have but don’t use? Lots of questions—answers in today’s post! See you there … xo m 👩‍❤️‍👨

40

The 7-Day All-Cash Challenge

Here’s the challenge: No plastic whatsoever for the next seven days. Of course you shouldn’t send cash through the mail if that is the method by which you pay bills. But I’m talking about day to day living. Gas in the car, coffee in a shop shop; fast food, restaurant food, diners, drive-thrus, and dives! Can you do it? Will you try? …

41

Piles of Money Waiting To Be Found

It’s a long story how Mark and Rosalie lost 5,000 shares of Texaco-Canada stock. But they did. They believed their money was well-invested when they relocated to the U.S. They were unaware that when the company was sold to Texaco USA, all shares were liquidated and the proceeds returned to their rightful owners. No doubt, […]

43

You Need an Emergency Fund (How to Get Started!)

Emergencies are a fact of life. When faced with an unexpected event that has dollar signs written all over it, it’s good to be prepared. Nothing new there, I’m sure. We know what we should do. It’s actually doing it that eludes so many. Look, an emergency fund is not a luxury—it’s a must-have! Here how to get started …

44

Secrets of the Frugal Lifestyle

I’ll admit I used to think frugality was a distasteful lifestyle forced upon the poor. I believed “frugal” was synonymous with never buying new clothes and dumpster diving under the cover of night. That it meant cheap and slovenly.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn. And learn I did—and continue to learn—that frugality is the path to building wealth on any income.

47

Weird Ways to Earn Money on the Side

Recently, while brainstorming with a reader who needed to supplement her regular full-time job, I made a quick list of the ways I’ve done that in my life. I wanted to help her discover what she does well that others might pay her to do for them.  Process Server I worked as an independent process […]

50

Could You Go a Year Without Spending?

A few years back, Eric and Donna Reed shopped for groceries and household products only once a year. How on earth? I know. That was my reaction, too! How? Or maybe better … WHY?

The Reeds got the idea after reading a column in USA Today, wherein the writer confessed to his weakness when it came to buying clothes. So driven to buy new sweaters, slacks or shoes every time he stepped inside a clothing store, publicly he announced he was giving up buying anything for one full year.

Their story is fascinating enough. But how this all turned out will leave you slack-jawed. And wondering. Could you do it?

See you there … xo m

52

How to Help Someone You Love Build Credit and Boost Credit Score

These days, it’s not easy for a young person without financial experience to build credit and a respectable credit score. How is he or she supposed to qualify for a credit card account without great credit? It’s like needing great job experience to get your first job!

Surprisingly, perhaps, when it comes to credit, there is a good way that you can actually help a responsible young person. You can boost a young person’s credit by taking advantage of a little-known authorized user provision, but credit issuer policies vary widely on how old the child must be.

It takes two great candidates for this method of allowing another person to piggyback off your good credit to work well—a financially mature accountholder and a responsible, trustworthy authorized user.

There are a few things that both you and your authorized user need to know including exactly how to do this—all of that in today’s post! >

53

Your Very Own Hedge Fund

Several years ago, when gas prices were at their highest in Los Angeles, I paid $4.26 a gallon—$102 to fill my Chevy Silverado.

As I write, at $1.97 a gallon, the cost for a full tank of regular-grade gasoline for my truck has plummeted by half to $48.

 
Regardless of where you live, it’s likely that you’re experiencing and enjoying the same thing—cheap gas. You’re saving a ton off the peak prices of past summers.

It’s so easy to ignore it though and let that “saved” money stay in your bank account, where it will inevitably be spent on something useless. Or just evaporate unnoticed the way money in a checking account has a way of doing. 

However, the truth remains: Because fuel prices have dropped dramatically, all of us are spending a lot less on gasoline compared to what we were spending a year ago.

Now is the time, before you get too comfortable with the cheap prices, to create an automatic transfer of the money you’re not spending on gas, into a special account to protect you when the prices go higher. You cannot predict what prices will do, but you can get prepared.

Call it your hedge fund—a term that describes an investment position intended to offset potential losses/gains in the future. That’s what big shot investors do, they hedge against future losses. So can you.

Here’s a painless way to do it …

54

I’d Rather Have the Money, Bob

Did you see us? My husband and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your DVR or YouTube, I’d better tell you this was a while ago. Try 1971.

We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a sound-proof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course, the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 in prize money and a blender! 

We already had a blender so I remember thinking I’d rather have the money. We could have walked away with a grand total of $85 …

55

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills?

You’ve lost your job. You’re furloughed. Perhaps your hours have been severely cut back. For whatever reason, suddenly you don’t have enough money to pay all of your bills. You’re scared, angry, worried, and seriously overwhelmed. You may have promises of unemployment benefits and stimulus-type money coming, but when? What are you supposed to do […]

56

Should You Lend Money to Family, Friends? Read This First

We’re headlong into what’s looking like a very tough time for millions of our fellow-Americans. Here were are stuck at home, 10 million people without jobs—many of them waiting breathlessly for promised stimulus and or unemployment checks. And you just got a call from your child, grandchild, best friend—perhaps an ex-employee, c-worker, neighbor, or other friend or relative. They need to borrow money.

Over the years, I’ve heard from dozens of readers who have lent money to friends and family members, only to have become outraged when the deal goes sour. The problem is they write to me after they’ve made the loan. By now, they’ve been waiting months, even years, for repayment, without success, hoping I can wave a magic wand to get their money back.

Here’s what I know: If you are able to help, you need to know how to do this in the best way possible. I know you … of course, you want to help. In fact, you’re ready to do anything you can. But this needs to be good for both you and the borrower and by “good” I mean that you will be repaid.

Maybe you’re the one about to make that phone call, asking to borrow money. Read today’s post first—then make your request with a plan in mind, based on what you’ve learned.

There are a few simple steps that if you take them, will make all the difference in protecting your relationship with the borrower (or lender!), help the borrower retain his or her dignity and in the end be good for both of you!

Have you made a loan to a friend or family member in the past? How did that turn out? If you’re willing, we’d love for you to share about that in the comments at the end of the post.

See you there! Love, xo, m

57

How to Survive an Income Crisis

The news is shocking—millions of people being laid off or furloughed from their jobs is unthinkable. How do we wrap our minds around these numbers?! We don’t. We cannot control with situation. Neither of us can do anything about the national economy.

What we do have control over is our personal economies and our attitudes.

Without a doubt many in our Everyday Cheapskate family have lost jobs or worry they’re this close to ending up in the unemployment line.

I want you to know that while I cannot imagine what you are facing right now, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Add to that, I have a few thoughts for how to survive this income crisis …

58

Dumb Things To Do with a Tax Refund

Tax time—that interesting time of year when ordinarily smart people begin to make really dumb financial decisions. Isn’t it amazing to watch what a little extra cash (well for some, maybe a lot of extra cash) lining the pockets can do?

Last year, the U.S. federal government paid out $260.9 billion in tax refunds, at an average of $$2,725 per refund. And 61% of taxpayers expect that this year, they’ll receive some sort of refund on their returns.

While there are many dumb ways to spend it, here are my top five …

59

How to Stay on Track with a Rollercoaster Income

If you are among the millions of people in this country who don’t really know how or when they will see another paycheck, chances are you’re either unemployed or self-employed—which now that I think about it, being self-employed can be a lot like being unemployed except for an unemployment check. It’s a rollercoaster, baby! If […]

60

How to Live the Life You Love on Your Current Income

I’ll never forget the time I asked one of my young piano students what he wanted for Christmas. It was a generic question, a pleasantry. I wasn’t looking for make, model, and serial number, but that’s what I got.

The child whipped out a 60-page list from his book bag. I gulped, checked to see if this child was serious (he was), and quickly proceeded with his music lesson.

Somehow I think that most of us have a bit of that kid in us. We want it all. And every bank and credit card company out there is affirming the notion and willing to make it happen.

You’re about to discover that you can do more with what you have—more than you dream possible. Ready to take the challenge?

See you there! Love, xo m

61

How to Use Up Every Last Cent on a Prepaid Debit Card

Some prepaid debit cards can be problematic because it’s nearly impossible to use it up to the last cent. That means you end up with some odd amount on the card that no one will accept for payment unless by some miracle your purchase is equal to or less than that odd amount.   Another problem […]

62

How to Spend Money without Feeling Guilty

When you give yourself an allowance, it’s more than just cash—you give yourself the freedom to spend without feeling guilty. I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that you need an allowance even if you are in a tight financial situation!

Early on in my long journey back to financial health, my husband and I agreed that I would have an allowance—a regular expense listed in our fledgling household budget. That changed everything for me!

If you’re ready to put yourself on a similar plan, I have some firsthand advice I’m fairly certain you are going to love. See you there … Love, xo m 🤑 ❣️

63

How to Win the Credit Card Balance Transfer Game

There’s nothing fun about credit card debt. An outstanding balance of $5,000 that is subject to 19.99% interest means you’re paying about $1,000 a year just in interest. Imagine if that $1,000 could go directly to repaying the balance instead. You could pay it off in record time instead of stringing it out for many […]

64

How to Splurge on a Budget

I got the biggest shock of my life the day I realized that living on a budget wasn’t the straitjacket or rigid “diet” I assumed it would be. It was my life as a credit-card junkie that put me in financial bondage.     Living on a budget saved my life because it allowed me to […]

66

5 Home Buying Mistakes That Will Make You House Poor

Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. This is not the time to make mistakes that could easily plunge you into a financial situation you cannot afford.  During my 18-year career as a real estate broker, I learned a lot of things but none as valuable as what not to do! […]

67

Getting Back to Normal After a Disaster

Life on earth has never been perfect, but you’d have a hard time convincing some people of that. It’s not that they are ignorant. They have selective memories. Perhaps you can identify if you long for the way things used to be—before the disaster, when life was predictable; when mortgages were simple, retirement accounts moved […]

69

How to Break Bad Money Habits

Money a little tight these days? You might assume it’s due to rising costs, tightening credit and the fact you haven’t had a raise in, like, forever. But truthfully, if your basic needs are being met, problems you’re having are more likely a result of bad money habits you’ve picked up—behaviors you’ve repeated so often […]

70

25 Ways to Save $1,000 on Monthly Expenses

A number of years ago I met Kathryn and Galen. They’d won a contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine. The prize? A money makeover and financial coaching with … me! From our first meeting, we became fast friends. Not only were they drowning in debt, Galen was dealing with a protracted season of unemployment. Their […]

71

The Ugly Truth About No-Interest No-Payments Offers

Have you ever wondered how retailers can possibly afford to offer the no-interest, no-payments kind of deals you see advertised? That was the subject of a question I received recently. The truth about that kind of marketing is nothing short of shocking if not downright ugly! Even if you’re not tempted to fall for that ploy today, you may have a weak moment in the future. Knowing the truth will protect you from a making a big financial mistake …

72

Shopping With Cash is Still the Best Way to Save Money

It used to be so easy to shop with cash. Get cash. Shop. But things have changed, perhaps you’ve noticed. More and more stores, shops, restaurants don’t even accept cash any more. Even my beloved Costco gasoline filling station! Ack! The only option for payment is … plastic.

But there is a sneaky way to get around that and beat Costco Gas, Amazon, and others at their own game. I’ll tell all in today’s post.

See you there! Love m xo 💰❣️😂

73

Pay Down or Pay Ahead? It Can Be Confusing

Years ago I learned a lesson I won’t have to learn again. It was that poignant. It was during a time when mortgage interest rates took a nosedive and we benefited by refinancing our high-rate mortgage. The transaction closed in late August with the first payment due in October. Rather than take a month off […]

77

With My Sincere Apologies to Pawn Shops Everywhere

In the wake of America’s big economic wake-up call back in 2008, dollar stores and thrift stores saw, and continue to see, a big resurgence. And now another kind of retail quasi-lender is commanding all kinds of attention from sellers and buyers, too—pawn shops. I admit to having grown up with a weird bias against pawn […]

79

Your Best Money Year Ever

For years (and years), I lived under a dark cloud of worry that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady. The things I did to prove I was wrong just made everything worse!

Having lived through that season of my life (which lasted for more than 25 years!) … I’ve learned a few things: First, that debt is a liar and a thief. Second—money in the bank changes everything.

No matter your situation right now, I know that 2019 can be your best money year ever. Want to get started right now? Let me show you, in today’s post. It comes with this promise: I’ll walk with you through every day of 2019, cheering you on and help you in any way I can! See you there …

Love, Mary ❤️

80

15 Minutes to Financial Freedom

The email message contained a single-word subject: Help! The sender, I’ll call her Emily, had been asked by her community group leader to give a 15-minute presentation on how to achieve financial freedom. She was honored to have been asked, excited to do it, but also panicked by the thought. She asked if I would help. […]

81

How Not to Feel Poor on a Fixed Income

It’s no secret that more and more people—especially seniors on fixed incomes—are sinking deeper into credit-card debt. Why is this? I don’t think it’s because we’ve had so many emergencies (the reason to have credit cards, right?). It’s because we don’t want to feel poor. At this point, I should define this term, “feeling poor.” […]

82

Your Own Personal Loan Shark

Imagine paying outrageous amounts of interest to a greedy finance company and loving every minute of it. Or how about making off-the-record, back-alley deals with a loan shark so you can skip all the credit checks and paperwork? You can and you should.

83

7 Habits of the Rich

Habit is defined as behavior repeated so often it becomes almost automatic. I am in awe of the power of habit. It’s a force to change your life, and it is available to anyone no matter your situation, no matter your circumstances. There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make […]

84

The Mind-Blowing Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You to Know

The signs are everywhere … “Same As Cash!”, “No Down, No Interest, No Payments Until Next Summer!” or a very popular one these days, “0% Interest on Balance Transfers until 2021!” Maybe you’ve fallen for these promises in the past or are tempted to do that now. With retailers and banks so anxious to improve […]

85

Anticipate Your Way to Freedom

Try this: Add up your monthly expenses and deduct the total from your monthly income. Hey, not bad! You should have plenty of money with some left over. So why is there never enough? The answer is your selective amnesia. Most of us suffer from it. We conveniently don’t remember expenses that don’t recur every […]

86

How to Handle a Money Crisis

You know what to do in a medical emergency, but do you know what to do when faced with a big fat financial crisis? Dear Mary: After 10 years of marriage and tons of unwise decisions, my husband handed the finances to me to handle. I have never done this before. We have mountains of […]

87

4 Ways to Stop Wasting Money

Want to keep more of the money you earn? Stop wasting money on goods and services that you don’t really care about. Start paying attention where your money goes and you just might see the equivalent of working a second job in your wallet—not leaking out of your life undetected. 1. Stop buying from TV […]