Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Got Student Debt?

Getting a quality education is one of the best investments you can make. According to the U.S. Census Bureau a person with a bachelor's degree is expected to make approximately double the salary of someone who only finished high school. With a degree you won't only be making more money, but also performing work that is more engaging and requiring greater mental acuity.

Source : http://www.earnmydegree.com/online-education/learning-center/education-value.html

That being said, it is difficult these days to get a quality education because of the rising costs of tuition. That is why many of us students have to rely on student loans. According to Statistics Canada the average government student debt owed at graduation is $19,500 for a bachelor's degree. It can be very tough to start your life after graduating with such a debt load on your back. Here are a few tips to avoid this debt and to help pay it off sooner.

1) Set Goals - A very close friend of mine had approximately $14,000 of student debt when he graduated. He set a goal to pay off the debt by the end of year. Luckily, he got a job after graduating which paid a yearly salary of about $50,000 a year. This is a good salary, however there are a lot of other living expenses to pay for when you are working, especially away from home. By setting a goal and making the payments he was able to pay it off in 8 months! A whole 4 months earlier than his goal. Write down your goal and it will become real.

2) Cooperative Education - One of the reasons my friend's student loan is less than the average is because he was in a cooperative education program (coop program). A coop program is where you work paid internships as you're getting your degree. Usually you either work an internship over the summer or at some universities you alternate school and work terms in 4 month intervals. The beauty of coop is that you make a pretty decent wage (usually better than minimum wage), get work experience in an industry that you are studying, and make contacts at companies that you may work at after graduating. The University of Waterloo in Canada has the longest running coop education program in the country. I would highly recommend going to the University of Waterloo because of their outstanding coop program (also for their outstanding engineering, math and science programs). One draw back is that the program typically takes 5 years instead of 4, but you'll be leaving school with far less debt and possibly a job!

3) Work Two Jobs - Once you've set your goals you can focus your efforts like a laser. You have a workable time frame in which you wish to pay your debt off. It's difficult to start your "real life" as long as that debt is lingering over your head so it's best to get it off your back as soon as possible. A lot of graduates work two or three jobs simultaneously to try to pay off their loan as quickly as possible. Your second job doesn't have to be glamorous as long as you're getting hours and being paid at least minimum wage. For one summer I was working two jobs simultaneously to save for my upcoming tuition costs. During the day I would work construction and at night I would work selling ice cream at a local shop. It won't be easy, but you can do it!

4) Scholarships, Bursaries, Grants and Debt Forgiveness - There are always tons of scholarships, grants and bursaries that are available to students. Sometimes there aren't too many students who apply since there is so much paper work involved such as: reference letters, writing a letter of interest, transcripts and application forms. People who get discouraged by a little bit of paper work makes your job easier. Since there are less applicants, there is a good chance you can get a scholarship, grant or bursary. There are a lot of special interest group scholarships so it's best to browse through what is applicable to you. Whether you're a woman in science, an athlete or an international student from Pakistan, there are some scholarships and grants specifically aimed to fit your circumstances. Apply to them all and you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get one.

5) Save! - Tuition fees keep increasing every year. There are always extra fees being tacked on. Since the summer, the University of Waterloo has implemented a program where our graduate student card doubles as a bus pass which I think is great. However, now our tuition has increased by about $50/term. Tuition fees continuously increase over time, so it's best to start saving early. This is really a message for those of you who are going to be attending a post secondary institution in the next couple years, or for those of you who have children. Definitely one of the best investments you can make towards your child's future is a quality education. You can open a registered education savings plan in Canada which is an excellent way to start saving for their future. For more information check out: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/learning/education_savings/public/resp.shtml. Save early, it'll make a huge difference when you graduate!

Here are two excellent videos about student debt:
Lynnette Khalfani author of "Zero Debt for College Grads"

Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert author of "The Total Money Makeover"

For more information on debt check out:
Know Your Debt
Pay Off Your Debt or Invest?

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Clip or Not To Clip?

Recently I published an article about John Tesh's "Intelligence for Your Life" radio show (http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/08/bless-john-tesh.html). One of his tips in his video was to not clip coupons, since retailers are usually trying to sell overpriced goods using coupons. He makes a good point, however I believe that coupons can be a great way of saving on the products that you usually buy on a daily basis. Especially for grocery products you purchase weekly, such as cereal, face wash, frozen pizzas, etc... .

After all a dollar saved is two dollars earned. Check out this archived article for more information: http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/06/dollar-saved-is-two-dollars-earned.html

I've included a link at the bottom of this site to http://save.ca/, which is an excellent site that mails coupons to your home. To use this site you must register. After registering you can browse over 40 coupons and choose the ones that apply to you. After a couple days you'll receive the coupons in the mail. Start saving more today!

Check out this video for the serious coupon clipper:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top 4 Forms of Passive Income

There are limitless possibilities when it comes to generating passive income. Passive income is a way of earning income without actively trading your time for money. Conversely earned/active income is when your time is traded for money, like when we earn a wage or get paid a salary. We’re raised to believe that we should get an education, then get a secure job so we can earn an income. (For further information about the different types of income check out http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/07/rich-dad-lesson-3-types-of-income.html). Although, this is an excellent way of earning a living this is not the way the wealthy earn a living. The wealthy maximize their passive income streams. Passive income also comes with huge tax breaks, which is the biggest expense in life. Therefore, we should learn to maximize our passive income streams. Here are the top 4 ways of maximizing your passive income.

1) Stocks and Bonds – this form of passive income is also known as portfolio income. Depending on the stock you purchase you will be either paid a monthly or quarterly (every 3 months) dividend. This is to reward the shareholders for the risk they take holding the stock. There are some stocks that do not pay a dividend at all, these companies believe that they produce more value for their shareholders by reinvesting the money back into the company, hopefully leading to an increase in share price. Since we are talking about passive income it’s best to choose a stable company that pays out dividends on a regular consistent basis.

When a country or company is in need of money they can issue bonds which is a form of loan. I won't be getting into the details of bond trading today, since bond trading is a very complex topic. Basically they are seen as a much safer investment than stocks, however the returns are typically lower. Bonds pay monthly coupons which is the interest on the loan. For beginners who want to get into the bond market, you can start by purchasing some bond index mutual funds with low management fees at your local bank.

2) Invent Something – people who have patented inventions can make a fortune, if their invention sells well. This is easier said then done, however we all have had that aha! moment in our lives where we thought of a great idea. The trick is writing it down, designing, testing, building your invention, finding a patent lawyer and selling your idea. Also easier said then done (passive income sounds easy but can be quite challenging to earn). However, a lot of inventors have taken this route to maximize their passive income, like the guy who invented the pet rock. You can also think of writing a book. I know of one professor who wrote a mystery novel when he retired. Not sure if it’s selling, but if you love writing you can turn your ideas into a great read.

3) Rental Property – owning rental property is definitely one of the top ways of earning passive income. There are several ways you can get into the property game. Fire sales and foreclosures pop up often, where the original home owner cannot afford to make their payments. In these cases you can often get a great bargain on property. Renting property is not going to earn you a huge income as long as you have a mortgage on the property. However, over time you will own a huge asset. Your rental property can then be your collateral for a low interest loan to purchase more property! If the idea of dealing with tenants is already giving you a headache, you can hire a property manager (your rent may have to increase). For more on investing in property check out: http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/07/your-home-one-of-best-invesments-youll.html.

4) Build a Business – building a business can be a lot of work at first, but also very rewarding. Once the business system is set up you may not have to put as much time into it if you can hire a manager to take over the daily responsibilities. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss is an excellent book that talks about building efficient business systems (http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/07/4-hour-workweek.html). Another amazing read that will inspire you to become an entrepreneur is entitled Start Small Finish Big by Frank DeLuca who started the Subway franchise (http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/06/start-small.html).

I've included a video from our Rich Dad (Robert Kiyosaki) who briefly describes the different kinds of income.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bless John Tesh

On the financial road of life we will all have debt in one form or another. It is critical to be able to distinguish between good and bad debt, so that we can manage and eliminate our bad debt. Check out a previous article which is about this subject: http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/08/know-your-debt.html.

It is also important to note that it is extremely difficult to invest and build your net worth when you still have outstanding bad debt. Yesterday's article was about trying to eliminate the worst bad debt of them all, consumer debt! http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/08/pay-off-debt-or-invest.html.

I've included a couple short video clips from John Tesh's radio program called "Intelligence for Your Life" about getting rid of credit card debt. The John Tesh radio show is one of the best radio shows on the air today. I love how he packs so much useful information in such a short amount of time. Check out the John Tesh website for streaming podcasts http://www.tesh.com/ or try to find him on the radio.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pay Off Debt or Invest?

This is a simple question which can lead to complex answers. The short answer would be to pay off all your bad debt before attempting to invest your savings. As discussed in an earlier article there are two different kinds of debt and it is important to distinguish between the two: http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/08/know-your-debt.html . But in most cases it's best just to pay off any money that you owe, because it would be terrible to waste your hard earned cash on interest.

So before we delve into the world of investing, it is best to first talk about debt. Now that you know the difference between good debt and bad debt it would be wise to tackle all of your bad debt. This would be your credit cards, vehicle payments, and the mortgage on your own home. Also included in this category should be any student loans. While you were going to school there probably wasn't any interest accruing, however a month or two after you finish school the interest clock starts. So it's best to get that debt off your back as soon as the interest starts accruing or better yet before the interest clock starts.

There's an excellent book by David Bach entitled the Automatic Millionaire. He explains a very simple method of paying off consumer debt (which is the worst bad debt) known as the DOLP system, which stands for Dead On Last Payment. Basically the best way to pay off consumer debt is to pay off your credit card with the lowest balance first, not the card with the highest interest rate. There is an interesting formula to rank which debt to pay off first. I've included a link that allows you to calculate and rank the credit cards you should pay off first http://finishrich.com/dolp/ .

It's important to note that it can be very difficult to invest your money for growth when you still have outstanding debt. An investment can be measured by what is called a return on investment (ROI). This is an annual rate of return that you get on your investment which is measured as a percentage. For instance, if you invested $100 in Company A and at the end of the year you receive $110 on your investment you have just received an ROI of 10%. You just made an excellent investment! However, if your credit card debt of a $100 is charging your 19% interest you're really losing 9% to the credit card companies, not to mention penalty fees for not making payments. So it's important to understand the debt that you're in and seriously consider paying it off before investigating your investment options.

I've included a video by David Bach about his DOLP system. The first minute is him trying to sell his book so I would skip to the 1 minute mark and listen to it to about the 2:20 mark. Let's get that debt off our backs and move on with our lives to a better financial future!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cancel Your Long-Distance Plan Today

I have been trying to resist getting a cell phone for the longest time now. I find them to be very expensive, however they can be very convenient. To this day I have been sticking with a landline phone. It can be a little less expensive, especially when receiving long-distance calls and making local calls. This tip is about making out going long-distance calls and is applicable to both cell phones and landline phones.

I use to have a long distance plan with Bell, who charged approximately $10/month and provided 200 long distance minutes and charged 10 cents for each additional minute. I cancelled the plan and switched to prepaid long distance cards. (I heard VOIP is better, however I am not too familiar with using it. Please leave a comment if you are familiar with this system). Here are three reasons why prepaid long distance cards are better than the traditional long-distance plan.

1) You Pay As You Go - regardless of whether you use all your long distance minutes a month, Bell (or whoever your service provider is) will charge you the long distance plan fee. With a phone card you pay only when you run out of minutes and require a new card. One catch about a prepaid long distance card is that some expire after a month after your first use, so in a way you do have to get another card soon afterwards. However you only have to get a card when you want to make a long distance call, which is a big difference from being charged on a regular basis regardless of your long distance calling.

2) You Get More Minutes - I have gotten the President's Choice card at Loblaws before which has worked well. For $5 you get 250 minutes of long distance in Canada. Which means for the same price as the Bell long distance plan you get 500 long distance minutes in Canada, which is way better value!

3) You Can't Talk Over Your Limit - When you run out of minutes on your prepaid long distance card your phone conversation ends. You will receive a one-minute warning when the card is about to run out. On a long distance plan they will charge you an exorbitant amount for any extra minutes you use. 10 cents a minute adds up quickly and it is difficult to track your usage. This is where the phone companies really make their money.

So switch to prepaid phone cards today if you have a long distance plan. You have to type in more numbers if you use a prepaid calling card, but your fingers could use the work out. You'll save bundles and be able to talk to loved ones longer!

I believe VOIP will be the future of the phone industry. Here is a brief video explaining the basics of what VOIP is:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cash Saving Tips Gets a Face Lift!

I hope that you have enjoyed the many articles that have been posted on this site. I have had comments recently from friends and readers that the background for this site was not very appealing (baby blue background with an image of a paved road). So, I've changed the look of the site! I really like this colour palette and like the way the contrasting colours makes the articles easier to read.

Please feel free to leave a comment on the new look. If you would like it changed back to the way it was before, let me know.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Know Your Debt!

Money can buy almost anything (except love). You can even purchase money with money. The cost of money is determined by interest rates when it is loaned out. Interest is a certain percentage of the total loan amount (the principal) that is paid over a period of time, until both the principal and all the accrued interest is paid off. The longer you hold the loan the more interest you pay. For instance if you were to borrow $1000 (the principal) from the bank at an annual interest rate of 5%, than at the end of the year you will owe $1050. In this case the cost of borrowing for over a year was $50.

All of us, at one point or another will take on some sort of debt. There are many forms of debt, for example: a mortgage on a home, financing on a vehicle, or credit card debt (consumer debt). With all these different forms it is important to be able to distinguish between what a good form of debt is and a bad form of debt.

We are raised on the belief that all debt is bad. That having to pay any interest at all is a bad thing. The truth is there are good forms and bad forms of debt. Being able to distinguish between the two is a critical component of building our financial intelligence. When we can distinguish between the two, we can attempt to eliminate all of our bad debt in our life and take on as much good debt as we can safely handle. Let’s take a look at some of the differences.

Good Debt
1) Mortgage on a Rental Property – this is a beautiful example of good debt. After making a down payment on your rental property you can use the rent money you collect from the tenants to pay down the mortgage. You won’t make a huge profit as long as the mortgage is being paid off, but once the mortgage is paid off you will have a nice profit and have a huge asset under your name.

2) Student Loan – investing in your education is always a good thing. People who have a university degree or college diploma make on average 10-20% more on their yearly salary than someone who only finished with a high school diploma. Getting a quality education is important since modern careers demand more education.

3) Debt for an Investment Where the Return is Greater than the Interest Accrued – in our example from above where $1000 was borrowed over a year and the interest accrued was $50 (at an annual interest rate of 5%), good debt would be if the loan was invested in anything with a greater than 5% annual rate of return. For example, if you were able to invest the money with a 7% return, you would have $1070 at the end of year. In this case you have made $20 out of nothing!

Bad Debt
1) Consumer/Credit Card Debt – this is the worst kind of debt imaginable. Imagine buying a pair of jeans for $50 and making the minimum payment on your credit card. Interest rates on credit cards vary between 10-20%, which is incredibly high. Making the minimum payment on your card for your jeans will end up costing you something on the order of $200 over 3 years. So the lesson here is to always pay down your credit cards otherwise you’ll be paying an exorbitant amount of interest.

2) Financing for a Vehicle – unless you get 0% financing on a vehicle, any financing on your vehicle is a bad thing. A car losses 15-20% of its value as soon as it’s driven off the lot. Not a good investment at all. If you have to make interest payments on an asset that is constantly losing value, it is not a good investment. In this case you should try to buy a used car and drive it as long as possible (this is how you get the most value out of your vehicle). Check out this archived article about purchasing a used car: http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/06/buy-used-rather-than-new.html. Car dealers love it if you pay for the car all at once, if you can pay for the car in full you can usually negotiate a better deal!

3) Mortgage on Your Own Home – the mortgage on your own home is not necessarily good debt. This is a drastic contrast from a rental property where the mortgage is pretty much paid by the tenants (good debt). In this case the mortgage on your own home is paid by you! You want to pay down your mortage on your own home as quickly as possible. Whereas for a rental property you could amortize (length of the loan) your mortgage over a longer period, as long as your payments are below the monthly rent you receive from your tenants. So in the case of the rental property, it creates cashflow. While owning your own home takes away from your cashflow. This is the reason why Rich Dad (Robert Kiyosaki) believes that your home is not an asset (http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/07/rich-dad-poor-dad-whats-asset.html). So be sure to pay off your mortgage quickly and perhaps rent out your basement to supplement your income and pay off your mortgage faster.

Here's another lesson from our Rich Dad:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Expand Your Means! Another Rich Dad Lesson

The other day I was out with a friend. We were sitting on the patio at our local pub sipping on some suds and enjoying the beautiful summer evening. We were discussing our summer plans and she mentioned that she'd love to go see a football game in Toronto. Unfortunately, she was currently on a job hunt and unemployed which meant funds were low and this particular game was going to be pretty costly. Immediately she said "I can't really afford it."

This one phrase is really the killer of ambition, drive and ingenuity. It's this phrase that can really be detrimental to our financial livelihood. As we were growing up we were taught that the best way to handle our personal finances is to live well below our means and save. Nobody really gave us the advice that we should seek to expand our means so that we can afford the things we enjoy most in life. Sure, our parents always told us to go get an education and get a secure well paying job, but that's not quite the same as telling someone they should expand their means to get the most out of life.

This one phrase "I can't afford it" is really a brick wall. After it is said that's the end of the conversation and the end of the financial road. Instead we should be asking "how can I afford this?" The subtle wording is enough to unleash a brainstorm of activity. Once you start asking this question your paradigms shift and your whole financial situation takes a drastic 180 turn. "How can I afford this?" is a phrase that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit and your mind to delve into a world of possibilities. It's well understood that money is traded for things of value, so with this little phrase we begin to think about ways we can add value to the economy and the world!

So the next time you're about to say to yourself "I can't really afford that", change it to this question "how can I afford that?" and unleash the possibilities!

Included is a video from our Rich Dad.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blogging for Dollars!

Here is a great way to earn a few extra dollars in your spare time. I'm relatively new to the blogging community but I have learned a few things since I started. I will teach you everything I know about blogging, so this should take about 3 minutes. Basically the way it works is you start a blog up at http://www.blogger.com/ (there are many other blogging sites however I found this one is very user friendly). If you have a google account than half the work is done for you already! When you're setting up your blog there is an option at the top that allows you to monetize your blog. You are allowed to place up to 3 google ad sense advertisements onto each page of your blog and with each click on an advertisement you get some money. Not enough to quit your day job, but at least this hobby will pay for the popcorn next time you're at the movies.

So those are the basics. Google has a way of checking whether or not the clicks on the advertisements are legitimate. So you can't go onto your own blog and click on ads like crazy. That is why creating a great blog is critical to your success. Here are some tips to make your blog a huge success!

1) Choose a Topic: To start blogging you must choose a topic to blog about. The most important thing is to choose a topic you're passionate about, that way doing research for your blogs/articles will be enjoyable. I am very passionate about personal finance so I find that I am looking up information on this topic anyways, so it's actually enjoyable to write about it. The second thing is that your topic should be something others are interested in as well, that way it attracts readers. Now the internet is a big place ( a gazillion users) so there has to be a niche group somewhere that is also interested in the same thing you are. When it comes down to it is more important that you like what you're writing about than if readers are interested, that way you will update regularly. If your passion is collecting star wars figures that can never be removed from their box, there's gotta be a group that really wants to know more about how to preserve and care for their Wookies.

2) Setting Up: I only have experience using blogger, which I have found to be very user friendly. There are a lot of other options out there, but it's probably better to start writing than to try to find the best blogging platform. Blogger has a nice design template that lets you arrange your content the way you like it and also add gadgets to help track reader traffic. There are tons of other gadgets you can add to make your blog more interesting and fun for your reader base.

3) Developing a Reader Base: This step is important because the more traffic you have going through your site, the better chance someone will click on your ads. This is a huge topic on the web these days since everyone is trying to drive traffic towards their site. I was surprised to see that there is actually a whole industry built on this fact called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is where companies that want to be found on the web go to an SEO consultant and find out how to become a top ranking link on Google (crazy eh!). So how do you become a top ranked link on Google. Well first off, you have to update your blog regularly and fill it with the best damned content imaginable. This goes back to step one, if you are passionate about the topic you are writing about than the writing will flow like water through a stream. Step two would be spreading the word. Using Facebook to post links has worked well for me. Also going to forums that discuss your topic of interest and commenting on articles while leaving your link is a good way. There is also something called pinging which is a way of alerting the blogging community that your blog has been updated. Once you've updated your blog try going to Pingler http://pingler.com/ so that the blogging community knows that you have just updated your blog. Finally, create a Twitter account. I've always thought that this was a silly site but it actually works wonders at bringing in new readers. If you follow people who are interested in your topic of interest eventually people will follow you and go to your site.

Blogging is a great way to earn an extra dollar. Another great benefit is that you get to practice your writing skills. Writing can be difficult at times, but as you do it more you'll find it becomes easier and easier. It's a great skill to have and by practicing it you'll be able to communicate your ideas better in writing. Once you have written a lot of articles perhaps you can publish a book! So start blogging today and join the community (we don't bite).

Here is a brief video about blogging.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Millionaire Next Door: Read It!

This is one of the best personal finance reads out there. I would highly recommend this read for anyone who wants to learn more about how to become wealthy and the misconceptions that we have about the wealthy. In Thomas Stanley & William Danko's "The Millionaire Next Door" they probe into the lives of 500 affluent people to discover some amazing facts and similarities the wealthy share.

We often associate the wealthy with expensive Lamborghini's, yachts, and mansions. In most cases the most affluent can be your next door neighbour who drives a Toyota. There is an old saying "all hat, no cattle." This is one of the main messages of the book. People who usually give the appearance of ultra wealth are often just fakes. Their expensive tastes and habits are financed by loans and credit cards, so these type of people are usually deep into debt. People who end up building wealth are the ones who are smart consumers and well educated in the realm of personal finance. They are often business owners and have started with next to nothing.

One of the questions this book addresses is why some people who have won the lottery become bankrupt in a short amount of time afterwards. You would think that someone who won the lottery would never have to work again, but history has shown that most lottery winners end up in the same place they were before they won the lottery. Someone who was not used to having such money stumbles upon a fortune instantly. Their spending habits haven't changed nor has there financial literacy/IQ. In that case the money is lost as quickly as it was granted. This emphasizes the importance of how the wealth was generated and the development of your own financial knowledge.

The thing about people who have built their wealth from scratch is that they have very high financial IQ's. They have learned how money works and are able to use that knowledge to the fullest. There are cases of wealthy people with high financial IQ's that were close to losing everything, but were able to rebuild their wealth quickly because of their financial knowledge. Donald Trump is a great example of someone who has an exceptionally high financial IQ. There was once a time when he was millions of dollars in debt but rebounded to becoming one of the wealthiest men in America because of his financial knowledge. This book tells the story of the most affluent people in America and sheds light on the misconceptions we have about the wealthy. We can learn a lot about how this minority operates and hopefully gain some incite into our own financial lives. This book is a definite two thumbs up, borrow it from the library today!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Purge Your Home!

It's the peak of the summer, which means people are out and about enjoying the wonderful weather. The warm weather makes this season the absolute best time to have a yard/garage sale. There's no better way to make room in your home than getting rid of the junk you no longer need. Like the old saying goes "one person's garbage is another person's gold." It's great to have a yard sale before moving, since it makes packing that much easier. So if you're moving in the fall consider having a yard sale first. Also, it's a great way to earn a couple extra dollars.

Here are a couple tips to help make your yard sale a success:
1) Choose a date - First of all you'll have to pick a Saturday or Sunday that works best for you. Also, if you do not have enough stuff it's best to pair up with some friends and have one large sale. In that case you need to choose a date that works well with everyone.

2) Advertise - It's best to put up large colourful signs in your neighbourhood to attract attention (try putting balloons next to your sign as an attention grabber). The more traffic you drive through your yard sale the better chance you have at selling all your stuff. Be sure to include in your poster the hours for your yard sale, the address and a large arrow pointing in the direction of your yard sale. Also, advertise in your local newspaper in the classifieds on the Thursday or Friday of your sale.

3) Price and Display - Pricing all your iems maybe too time consuming so group things of similar price together. Also try to group similar items such as all your books in one area and all your kid's toys in another. Be sure to fold clothes you are selling to make them more appealing. Having a yard sale is like playing a store keeper for the day, so try to display your items to attract attention and to showcase your stuff!

Here is a quick video with more tips on how to make your yard sale a success:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Top 9 Ways to Improve Your Fuel Economy.

The cost of gas is steadily rising, but our income isn't! In the summer of 2008 gas prices reached ridiculous heights. Some gas stations were charging up to $1.30 per litre. Now in Ontario with the HST, gas prices have shot up 9-10 cents a litre overnight. In the future fuel prices are likely to keep increasing, which has huge impacts on our cost of living. By using less fuel we are also doing our part for the environment. With these tips you may never have to go to the gas station again! Here are the top 9 ways in which you can improve your fuel economy, the environment and your bottom line:

1) Walk, Bike & Bus - The easiest way to save on gas is not to drive at all. This may seem like common sense, but I've heard of people who are so lazy that they even drive to the corner store for milk. So if you can walk, do it! If your destination is too far to walk than bike. If biking is too strenuous than take public transit. If you live close to the grocery store and hate carrying groceries home, perhaps it would be wise to invest in a small cart to wheel a couple bags of groceries home.

2) Engine Maintenance - Ensuring that your engine is well maintained is an excellent way to improve the fuel economy of your vehicle. Changing the oil about every 6 to 8 thousand km's is important to ensure your engine is properly lubricated and running efficiently. Getting the engine air filter changed is important so that the engine can properly mix fuel with air, that should be done about every 15 to 20 thousand km's (or every two oil changes).

3) Don't Idle - If your keeping your car running longer than 5 seconds than it's best just to shut the engine off. Idling is a terrible waste of fuel. Another form of idling is waiting in line in the drive-thru. Just park your car and go into the Tim Horton's. You can easily save fuel this way.

4)Tire Maintenance - Making sure your tires have a good amount of thread is important to ensure you have the best traction. Also, maintaining the optimum tire pressure will increase your fuel efficiency. On the side of the tire there should be markings that indicate the optimum tire pressure. Be sure to always be in that range.

5) Remove Excess Cargo - OK you should keep your spare tire on board, but come on do you really need those golf clubs in the trunk in the dead of winter? Removing any excess cargo in your car can significantly increase your fuel economy, since you're not carrying around a bunch of dead weight. Be sure to always unload everything when you are finished shopping and try to keep your vehicle as light as possible.

6) Learn To Drive Manual - Driving a manual vehicle is not only a lot of fun (it really makes you feel like a race car driver, as long as you're not stuck in traffic) but also a great way to save on fuel. Driving manual can increase your fuel efficiency by 10-15%. So when you're choosing your next car consider learning how to drive manual, you'll also say a thousand dollars or so off the initial purchase by not having an automatic transmission. To further improve your fuel efficiency buy a compact (i.e. Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Mazda 3, etc...) or hybrid (like the one pictured above). Also, if you lose the 4-wheel drive your fuel economy will improve.

7) Rack Up The Windows - On those hot summer days you want to keep the inside of your vehicle as cool as possible, while being fuel efficient. When you're going at low speeds you should turn the air conditioning off and rack down the windows. If you're going faster than 40 km/h than the drag with the windows open will become significant and you will start to hamper your fuel economy. In that case you should rack the windows back up and turn the air conditioning on.

8) Buy Gas When It's The Cheapest - Although this tip doesn't improve on your fuel efficiency it can save you a significant amount of cash. Check out the following website to find out if the gas prices are likely go up or down in your area (http://tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com/ ). If you time your fuel purchase right you can save big!

9) Drive The Limit - OK you're not Mario Andretti. Your vehicle is designed to run the most efficiently between 90-110 km/h. By driving the limit you also avoid speeding tickets which can be extremely costly.

For extra tips I've included a video with 30 ways to save on fuel!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ghetto Latte at Starbucks!

Voted most popular tip (and most hilarious).

Here's a handy tip to save a few bucks at Starbucks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Top 7 Things You Should Not Have To Pay For!

We work long gruelling hours for our money and it is just a terrible shame when our whole pay cheque gets eaten up in bills and fees. We try to spend our money as wisely as possible, but there are a lot of hands in our pockets trying to grab every penny. Fortunately, there are some things that you really shouldn't have to pay for. A lot of things are actually free! Here is a brief list of things that you shouldn't have to pay for:

1) Bank Fees/ATM Fees - There's nothing worse than having to pay the bank to get access to your own money. The bank is making money by lending your money to others. Usually you get a measly interest rate on your savings. It is nothing compared to the rates that the bank lends at. On top of that they charge you fees to access your money. What nerve! There are many accounts that have no bank fees at all, or no bank fees if you keep a minimum balance. Be sure to ask for details and be sure to keep the minimum balance to avoid the fees. I currently have a joint account with my father, and since he is over 65 all my banking services are free, including cheques! Be sure to try this trick out. Also, do not take money out at any other bank than yours, since other ATM's charge a ridiculous convenience fee. There are now iPhone applications that can help lead you to your nearest ATM.

2) Books - There is no point in wasting a bunch of your hard earned cash on books. Stop spending at Amazon.com and Chapters, and get a library card. Also, there is no point in cluttering up your home with a bunch of books. Sometimes you may need to buy books if you're planning to give them away as gifts, in this case you can buy gently used books. For more information about the library check out my archived article http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/2010/07/free-books-magazines-dvds-and-music-cds.html .

3) Pets - People are always giving away kittens and puppies in the classifieds. When someone forgets to spay or neuter their pets the consequences are usually a litter of kitten or puppies that would be to time consuming and costly to take care of. As long as you don't mind a mutt (a mixed breed animal) than it should be okay. Also, mutts tend to be healthier!

4) TV - With high speed Internet most of the shows we want to watch are now streaming online. Try Project Free TV http://www.free-tv-video-online.info/ , most shows can be found on this site. Another plus is you won't be exposed to as much advertising, which will in turn cut down on your spending. If you know of any other sites please leave the site address as a comment. If you don't cancel your cable TV completely, at least try to downgrade to only the channels you watch. Most of the time nobody is even watching the "Paint Drying Network."

5) Water - Bottled water is really an unnecessary expense. Municipal tap water is treated to a very high standard in Canada, especially in Ontario (ever since the Walkerton disaster). All the plastic bottles that end up in the land fill afterwards is also very bad for the environment. So get a stainless steel bottle or a BPA-free plastic bottle and fill'er up!

6) Personal Finance Information - If you're reading this you've just stumbled upon the best source of personal finance information. Seriously though, there is tons of literature for free. You don't need to pay for expensive seminars to learn everything you need to know about taking care of your own finances. It just starts with the desire to learn and the bookmarking of this site http://reynold-savemoney.blogspot.com/ .

7) Your Comments - Ok so I left this last one for all the readers. Please leave a comment for the 7th thing that we shouldn't be paying for. Give us your best tip! Nothing vulgar please.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pre-Drink Before Going Out!

Summer is in full swing and there is no better time to get a pitcher of your favourite suds with some good friends. All the pub patios are in full operation and it is hard to resist their allure. But before we head out, let us not forget that we are on a tight budget. Here is a solid tip that can help you save a bundle.

Before going out and painting the town red you should always pre-drink 70% to 80% of your drinks. Here is a solid example of how bars mark up the cost of drinks. A beer can range in cost from $3-4 at the bar or club. A two-four of beer usually costs approximately $28 a case including deposit (depending on your brand of beer). That equates to a little over a dollar a beer. Let’s say you decide to splurge and get a more expensive brand of beer, say $36 for a two-four, it still equals only $1.50 a drink. That means if you’re going to a bar/club and they are charging you $4 a drink you’re saving 260% on each drink (not to mention tip)!

Bars, clubs and restaurants make the most profit off of drinks. That’s a fact. They charge more than double what we can get at the LCBO or Beer Store. So if you’re going to have 6 drinks in a night you may as well have 4 in the comfort of your home with friends and then have the rest on the pub patio. This way you can have the best of both world’s while staying within your budget. You can have a sufficient amount of drinks without breaking the bank. After you have pre-drank you can go out and enjoy live music at your local pub or dance at your favourite club, while having less clean up at home.

So enjoy the patio and the summer weather. But be sure to pre-drink before going out and to enjoy your alcohol responsibly. Keep savin’!

P.S. I've also attached the top 20 party songs of all time. Turn this into a play list for your next get together. It doubles as a timer, so when the songs are done it's time to head out!