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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! >


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.


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 …


A New Chapter of Money-Saving Tips, Hacks, and Ideas

In preparation for today’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, here’s a little background information.

We estimate that Everyday Cheapskate enjoys at least a million readers a week—via its website, email, social media, shares, and on the pages of hundreds of print newspapers that are still alive and well across the country via Creators syndicate. Over the years you, my dear readers, have responded and gotten involved by sending me their best tips, tricks, hacks, and ideas. This has become something bigger than I can wrap my head around when I add in relationships and friendship with you.

I’m estimating that in 28 years, I’ve received more than 50,000 specific money- or time-saving tips, based on my attempt at weekly averages. Clearly, we have a lot of money-saving experts in our EC Family. You are amazing.

Today ushers in a new addition—we’re doing the official ribbon-cutting (finally!!)

I’ll be honest—we’ve plowed a lot of money into this endeavor, which means we’re looking at a significant investment. You can help keep EC alive and solvent by inviting friends to join in (CASH prizes!). Share today’s post, spread the word. And most of all, visit often and participate at your highest and best stuff.

I’m counting on you!

I’ve got all the details for you at the post. See you there … xo m


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 …


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 […]


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


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 …


11 Money Savers That Will Pay for Themselves Over and Again

It’s difficult to ignore what’s going on in the world, but even more severe, the economic downturn here in the U.S. I want to send a message directly to my Dear Readers who’ve been recently laid off or who are feeling insecure about their employment situation: I see you, I’m thinking of you, and I will be your companion every single morning until you’re back on your feet. And after that, too! We’re in this together … and together we are going to come through this and hopefully better for having done it!

I can’t be the only one recalling my grandparents’ seemingly endless references and stories about living through the Great Depression. That’s going to be us and or our kids in the future talking about the Great Virus! Ha.

I have to admit to being a bit of a gadget freak. I’m drawn to tools and devices that do cool things. And when I discover “cool” includes being a money saver, for me that turns a purchase into an investment with a guaranteed rate of return.

Today, a list of 11 gadgets, tools, and items I’ve found that can save a lot of money and generally recoup the cost in less than a year. Your mileage may vary.

You can count on this: Once you’ve recouped the purchase price, these items will continue to save you money—for free! See you there… Love, xo m

P.S. My Dear Readers of faith who responded to a previous message. Wow! There are lots of us. I’m busy figuring out the best way to proceed. I’m so excited—thrilled, and filled with anticipation. Sit tight, or stand by. You’ll hear from me very soon. For anyone who didn’t get in on that, send an email message to [email protected] with “Faith” in the subject line. More soon,


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 …


Dumb Things To Do with a Tax Refund (or Stimulus Check!)

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 …


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 […]


Online Bill Pay—What it Is, How to Use It, and Why You Should

Online bill pay, a service now offered by most banks and credit unions, makes it easier to organize your bills and pay them when they’re due. If you juggle rent or mortgage, cable, electricity, credit card payments and more, online bill pay can save time and help you avoid late fees.

I know how even the idea of paying bills this way can be frightening, but you have to know that statisticially it is much safer to pay your bills this way than the old way of sending paper checks through the mail.

In today’s post—everything you need to know to feel confident and to get started. If you already use online bill pay, please tell us about your experiences, joys, or even sorrows (?)—in the comments. See you there … Love, xo m


Challenge Yourself to Save More Money This Year

It was shocking for me to read in the Report of Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 that 47% of Americans would experience significant financial distress in order to handle a $400 emergency.

I know how easy to think we are saving money by buying things on sale, turning down the heat, making our own cleaning products, and other ways we can think of to spend less. Heck, we congratulate ourselves on doing that, right?

Unless you are diligent to take the difference between the regular price and the sale price—or the amount you didn’t spend on your living expenses last month—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 in a safe place—can be difficult if you have a spending habit, a small budget, or some of each. The secret is to start small—and then stick with it. 

Join me at the post because I have some super ideas for how you can get started—or save even more this year!

See you there … Love, xo m


The 1-Percent Savings Solution

Want a simple, pain-free plan to increase your savings in 2020? CPA, author, and blogger Mike Piper says to save 1 percent more. “Increase your savings contributions by 1 percent of your gross income,” suggests Piper. It might be difficult to imagine how such a small change could make any difference at all, but according […]


5 Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Is money a little tight? Hoping a raise will come through soon? I hate to burst your bubble, but even if it is exceptional, a raise probably won’t do 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 raise! How?! I have a few ideas for you in today’s post …

I’ll be waiting for you on the other side of your click.

xo Mary

P.S. Just like THAT, we went from 80 F days to sub-freezing nights here in Northern Colorado. So fast … and I love it. I have a roaring fire in the fireplace and hot coffee at the ready on this cold, rainy morning. It’s a beautiful day.


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


9 Easy Moves That Will Simplify Your Spending

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


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 […]


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 🤑 ❣️


The Secret to Staying Out of the Red and in the Black

When I am not writing about money-saving tactics, personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I’m a great knitter but because I can “tink” almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backward is tearing out).

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn’t take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and corrected.

Money is a lot like knitting. By some miracle, all knitting consists of just two stitches: knit and purl. Likewise, with money you have two options …


Why You Need an Emergency Fund and How to Get It

Emergencies, I’ll bet that in your life you’ve had a few. Maybe a dead refrigerator—on Christmas Eve, with dinner guests arriving in just five hours (uh, yes been there and will not soon forget). Or was it a medical emergency where the ER required $500 cash up front? I’m sure that between us we could come with a list a mile long!

Do you really believe you will never again face an unexpected life event that has dollar signs written all over it?

Listen, there is a prevalent mostly-unstated belief out there—one I’ve heard touted by a very famous financial celebrity. Maybe you can guess what it is. Ok, I’ll tell you: This guy and his many followers live believing that the available credit on their credit card account(s) is their emergency fund. If something happens, that’s their go-to plan. That’s not a new philosophy. I lived with it for 12 years when I was first married. And trust me … that is a reckless way to live.

You need an emergency fund. There’s no way around it and I’m talking about not just your financial situation, but also your mental health, your peace of mind, the joy of living.

I know. Times are tough. You can barely get by from one paycheck to the next. And as long as you keep that mindset and give yourself a pass, you’ll continue to live on the edge where if one little thing goes wrong (believe me, it will) it will plunge you into the dark abyss of a financial disaster.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I want to help you step away from the edge and into the joy of being prepared. All that in today’s post. See you there! Love, xo m


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 […]


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 […]


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! […]


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 […]


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 […]


Your Consumer Behavior is Keeping You Broke

Do you know what I love? Walking into my supermarket the day after Thanksgiving and hearing the best Christmas music ever. Yeah! And if I wasn’t in the mood to bake Christmas cookies before I got there, just hearing that lovely music changes everything. Right there, that proves I am a quintessential, typical, impulsive consumer. […]


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 online—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 […]


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 […]


How to Save $1,000 Cash Painlessly

The most important thing you can do to make your personal economy strong is to have an umbrella—an emergency fund with enough money in it to pay all of your bills for six months. And it needs to be safe and secure in a bank account. You read that right—half a year’s income! Wait. You […]


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 […]


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 💰❣️😂


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 […]


5 Reasons to Give Kids an Allowance

For the better part of my life I believed that more money was the answer to every problem in life. I was convinced that if we just made more money, won the lottery, or received some unexpected inheritance, all of our money problems would vanish.

But the more we made the worse our problems became. Because I didn’t know how to manage what we had, more would have never been enough. We didn’t save, we didn’t give, we didn’t plan, and we had no idea where all the money went. And surprise, surprise … our two young boys were becoming just like me!

It’s quite a story, but the thing that changed that trajectory for our two children was coming up with an allowance program. All of that in today’s post! See you there … Luv, m xo ❣️


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 […]


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 […]


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 ❤️


Parents: Stop Taking Parent Loans for Your Kids’ College Education

You’re a parent and you are responsible to take care of your child financially, but also yourself. 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.

Contrary to the advice you will get from many financial aid officers, you shouldn’t take on debt for your children’s education, under any circumstance.

Today’s post is not easy but, I believe, so necessary. Please don’t miss it even if you don’t have college-aged kids or grandkids. You might know someone who needs this.

Thanks, and have a great weekend! ~ Mary❣️


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. […]


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.” […]


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.


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.


How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

I can’t think of many things worse than waking up on Dec. 26 with a raging debt hangover—an all-too-common after-Christmas condition. The only reason you paid for everything with a credit card is that it was convenient. Besides, it’s not safe to shop online with a debit card, so what were your options? Of course, […]


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. For five years, author Tom Corley observed the daily habits of the rich […]


How Much is a Second Income Worth, Really?

Most families these days assume it takes two incomes to survive. And many would be shocked if they just took the time to figure out the real hourly wage in that second paycheck. Dear Mary: With two little boys, my husband and I are paying through the roof for daycare. It seems like almost all […]


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.. Before picture. Any makeover worth its salt needs a great […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]