Sunday, June 28, 2015

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!


Dr. Penny Pincher
Dr. Penny Pincher

If you are looking for easy ways to spend less money, you are in the right place!  Penny Pincher Journal is a blog loaded with FREE articles and advice to help you spend less money and enjoy life more.  You can even get a free eBook here with 101 tips to help you spend less money.

Take a look around and get free money-saving advice and tips from Dr. Penny Pincher.  Stop back soon- new articles and blog posts are added frequently.

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Popular Articles

Sharpen Disposable Razor Blades and Save Money!
Sharpen your disposable razor blades and save a lot of money!


How to get coffee for half-price every day: and no, this is not about making your own coffee at home...


How to Survive Store Crowds at Doorbusters
How to Survive Store Crowds at Doorbusters
You can save money at doorbusters, here are some tips to get the deals and survive the experience...


Why is Cake so Expensive!?
Why is cake so expensive?
A box of cake mix costs about $1.25, yet a decorated cake costs around $20- why is cake so expensive?

Popular Topics

Easy Ways to Make Money (10+ articles)
Easy ways to make money
You can improve your financial situation faster if you both cut expenses and boost income at the same time.  Here are some ideas to work on the income side of the equation.


Easy Ways to Save Money (60+ articles)
Easy ways to save money
Jump-start your savings with these easy ways to save money.


Frugal Fitness (10 articles)
Frugal fitness
Cheap ways to stay in shape.  Fitness is both healthy and provides inexpensive entertainment.

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Free eBook: 101 Tips to Spend Less Money
Free eBook: 101 Tips to Save Money

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The popular articles and popular topics above are just a small sample of what you can find FREE here on Penny Pincher Journal.  The more you explore, the more ways you can find to save money every day.


Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Making My Old Shoes Like New Again

Shoe Wash Today!  I saved over $50...

Wash Your Shoes Instead of Throwing Them Away!
Wash Your Shoes Instead of Throwing Them Away!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I have not worn my "good" tennis shoes for a few weeks.  The cat decided to spray them, so I set them outside to get some sun and rain for awhile.  These shoes are a couple years old and have small holes in them, so I thought getting sprayed by my cat might be the end for them.

But these are some of the nicest tennis shoes I have ever owned.  I originally bought them for my son for $25 at Famous Footwear, but they weren't quite right for him.  I was going to take them back to the store, but that would take a driving trip and I needed shoes and liked these.  They were a size too small, but $25 was a great deal, and like I said, I needed shoes...

That was 2 years ago, and the shoes have been great.  They are very lightweight and have memory foam.  I decided to wash these shoes the old fashioned way and try to get another year of life from them.


I Washed My Shoes- No Need to Throw Them Away!
I Washed My Shoes- No Need to Throw Them Away!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
My son also had a pair of shoes in the same situation (darn cat!).  I set the shoes on the grass and blasted them with a hose.  Then I put the shoes in a bucket, added some car wash soap that I had handy in the garage, and blasted them some more.  I let them soak in the soapy water for a couple hours, then scrubbed them with a scrub brush that I use to wash the tires on my car.

Next, I set them out to dry in the sun.  I should have shoes back in action after a few days of drying.  I am going to keep them somewhere where my cat can't get them.

Reusing two pairs of shoes instead of buying new ones will save over $50.  That's real money- $50 will buy a day's worth of food for the family.  Try washing your shoes to give them new life.  If you need to replace your shoes, check out how I got a pair of dress shoes for work for $25.


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy



Recycled Plant for Hanging Basket = Free

Plant Rescued, Money Saved!


Our hanging basket got dried out after we forgot about it- I brought it back to life with lots of watering
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

We got an outdoor flower in a hanging basket early this spring and forgot about it. It was dried out and looked mostly dead and the flowers were all gone. My wife mentioned getting another plant to replace it. I decided to try to rescue the plant (and also rescue some of the money in my wallet). I filled the pot overflowing with water every day and fertilized once a week. Now after a few weeks, it looks better than ever!

This worked out well for everyone involved- we didn't buy another plant, so my wallet is happy. We have a nice looking flower, so my wife is happy. And, of course, the plant is happy with how this worked out.

You might ask how much I spent on fertilizer and extra water to bring the plant back to life.  My house is on a community well, with no water meter, so the water was free.  You would think with unmetered water that people would use water like crazy, but surprisingly, people here are very careful with water.

I found the fertilizer in the garage from a past year, so I'm going to count that as free as well since I didn't have to buy it. 

I should note that the "Before" picture was actually taken after to give an idea of what the plant looked like.  It was actually much more dried out and I don't think there were any green leaves remaining.


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Bridges We Cross on the Road to Debt: Guest Post @ Modest Money

The Bridges We Cross on the Road to Debt

The Bridges We Cross on the Road to Debt
The Bridges We Cross on the Road to Debt
Image Source: Public Domain Image Courtesy of Wyncliffe

My guest post went live today at Modest Money, which is one of the top 5 personal finance websites on the internet!

The post is about how people get into debt, why being in debt is bad, and how to get out of debt- all in 1,000 words.

Here is my favorite quote from the guest post:

"There are bridges you cross on the road into debt. These bridges make it easy to go further into debt. When you decide to turn around and leave debt behind, you realize that there are no bridges on the way out. You have to swim across."

-Dr. Penny Pincher

I write about my experience on the road to debt and crossing the bridges of student loans, credit cards, car loans, and mortgage loans on the way in.

The quote above reflects how easy it is to sign your name and cross another bridge going into debt, but there is no such easy way to get out of debt!  Getting out of debt takes hard work to find ways to spend less money and make more money if you can.

I just saw on Twitter that Experian, the giant credit reporting agency, sent out a tweet with a link to the "great guest post by @Dr_PennyPincher on @ModestMoney"

Great Guest Post by Dr. Penny Pincher!
Great Guest Post by Dr. Penny Pincher!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


Thanks to Modest Money for featuring my guest post.  This is my first guest post, so I'm pretty excited!  You can read the entire guest post here:

The Bridges We Cross on the Road to Debt



Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting Adventures

Avoid Expensive Air Conditioner Repairs!

Avoid Expensive Air Conditioner Repair
Avoid Expensive Air Conditioner Repair
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
Summer has arrived, and that means it is time for central air conditioning if you have it, and if you are lucky enough to have it working.  As you'll see, I have not always been so lucky...

Growing up in an old farmhouse on a small farm, we had no air conditioning.  We had fans in the bedrooms and in the living room.  The downstairs wasn't too bad, but the upstairs bedrooms were pretty warm at night, even with fans going.  When I was about 14 we installed a window air conditioner in the living room.  I don't remember how much that cost, but I think it was about $100, and I know it used a lot of electricity.  We ran it on a few of the hottest days of the year and it made a big difference.

Tips to Keep Your Air Conditioner Working

Since then, I have owned several houses and all but one of these had a central air conditioner.  Almost every central air conditioner I have owned has had some trouble.  In general, there some simple things you can do to avoid trouble with your central air:

  • Change the furnace filter regularly.  If the filter is dirty, it reduces the air flow and reduces the cooling effectiveness.  If you don't remember when you last changed it, it is probably due for a change...
  • Trim back plants growing around your A/C unit to allow the heat exchange to work efficiently.
  • Use fans instead of central air when it makes sense.  A fan right next to you can keep you cool, and using a fan is less expensive and saves wear and tear on your expensive A/C unit.

Installing New Furnace Filters Can Avoid A/C Issues
Installing New Furnace Filters Can Avoid A/C Issues
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pinche

Each time I have called a repairman to troubleshoot the central air, it has cost more than the window air conditioner that we bought growing up- just for the repair!  A new central air conditioner costs about $3,000 to install, depending on the size.  Repairing a central air conditioner costs $100 to $300 or more, depending on the problem.


This is Where Furnace Filters are Installed
This is Where Furnace Filters are Installed
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Air Conditioner Repair Incidents

Following are accounts of the incidents I have had with my air conditioner over the years, and an explanation of each problem.  Hopefully this will help you avoid some expensive service calls or at least understand what could be wrong with your air conditioning.

A/C Incident 1:  A/C running, but not cooling.  We moved into a house in the winter time and tried to turn on the A/C when summer came around.  Everything seemed to be running, but it just wasn't cooling.  I called a furnace repairman to come and check it out.  This system had a furnace filter installed in the ceiling, which I did not find when I was checking for problems.  Simply changing the very dirty filter made the A/C work well.  This service call was around $100!

How to avoid expensive repair:  Make sure you find your furnace filter and change it!

A/C Incident 2:  A/C not running.  My wife was 9 months pregnant.  It was July and very hot, with temperatures running over 100 degrees at nearly 100% humidity.  This was a house that I just bought, and I wasn't very familiar with the infrastructure.  The A/C stopped working mid-morning on the 4th of July.  I wanted to wait until after the holiday weekend to call a repairman since it was a holiday, but my wife was pretty uncomfortable anyway and it was only getting hotter, so I called a repairman right away.

The problem turned out to be a blown fuse in the fuse box right next to the A/C unit outside.  I checked the circuit breaker panel inside, but it didn't occur to me that there would be a separate fuse box outside with glass fuses.  The repair bill was around $200!

How to avoid expensive repair:  If your A/C unit stops running, check for a fuse box next to the unit.  You can probably get new fuses for about $1 each...

A/C Incident 3:  A/C running, but not cooling.  We lived at an old farmhouse that we were fixing up.  One of the first improvements we made was to add a central air unit.  It worked great for 3 or 4 years and one summer it just wasn't cooling.  I checked the furnace filter- but it was totally clean.  We didn't want to spend money that year to call a repairman, so we went all summer without using the A/C.  The next spring it still wasn't working.  I had been reading about A/C troubleshooting on the Internet and had isolated the problem to inside the plenum.  I wasn't willing to cut into it- we can live without A/C, but I didn't want to risk ruining the furnace.  Heating is not optional in Iowa...

So, after a year without working A/C, I finally called the repairman.  I was right that the problem was in the plenum.  Somehow, a bunch of dog and cat fur had accumulated inside and was almost completely blocking the flow of air.  Apparently a furnace filter had gotten very humid and collapsed, leaving the air return unfiltered for some time.  We had the return air cover off while working on some things, so tons of fur got into the furnace.  After the repairman removed the fur mat that had formed and sealed the plenum back up, it was good as new.  It cost over $300 for this repair!

How to avoid expensive repair:  Make sure your furnace filter is installed correctly and is in good condition.  Dirt and fur can cause real problems if they get into your plenum.

A/C Incident 4:  A/C not running.  This incident happened at the farmhouse as we were selling it and moving out.  We needed to repair the A/C so it would be working for the buyer.  The problem was that a mechanical component failed in the air conditioner.  I didn't pay much attention to what it was since we were moving out.  This repair cost about $150.

How to avoid expensive repair:  Some repairs cannot be avoided-if your A/C has a mechanical failure, it will need new parts.

No More A/C Problems!

This is my second summer living at my current house and I have not had any trouble at this house with my air conditioner... not yet anyway...

Good luck staying cool this summer, whether you use a fan, window air conditioner, or central A/C.


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Interview with Dr. Penny Pincher on Debt Discipline

Personal Finance Blogger Interview Series: Interview with Dr. Penny Pincher


Blogger Interview: Dr. Penny Pincher
Blogger Interview: Dr. Penny Pincher
Image Courtesy of Equationaudio CC-SA-30

My interview on the personal finance site Debt Discipline went live today!

Check it out on Debt Discipline at:
http://www.debtdiscipline.com/interview-series-dr-penny-pincher/


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Lunchbox- A Tool To Save Money Every Day

The Lunchbox- My Tool To Save Money Every Day

I didn't spend any money again today!  A key reason for this success is that I did not need to buy any food, beverages, or snacks all day.  The lunchbox helps a lot with this.

My Lunchbox Holds Enough To Last All Day!
My Lunchbox Holds Enough To Last All Day!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I have the biggest lunchbox I have ever seen.  Its intended purpose might been as a 6-pack cooler or something, but I like that I can pack a full-sized box of cereal or full-sized Tupperware containers.  It is a soft-sided insulated box and has a nice padded strap for easy carrying.


My Giant Lunchbox
My Giant Lunchbox
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Every day, I put a couple re-usable freezer packs in the bottom and then load it up.  Usually I have some refrigerated left-overs.  I often take yogurt or cheese sticks.  Bananas are a great item to pack- they only cost about 25 cents and have a lot of nutritional value.

Today I packed a jar of peanut butter, a knife, and a bagel to make a protein-packed breakfast.  I also raided my kid's supply of generic apple sauce.  Sometimes my kids write on their food with a marker so I don't take it, but I did not see any such markings on the applesauce!

Beverages

I like to drink coffee while I drive.  I drank my "good" coffee made from fresh ground whole beans long before I started driving, so I made a travel cup of instant decaf for the road.

Take Coffee From Home- Why Pay More?
Take Coffee From Home- Why Pay More?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

In the old days I would drink soda ("pop") during the day, but now I like water better.  Water is free and has no calories or harmful chemicals- can't beat that!  Soda seems to go for nearly $2 now in a lot of places!

Savings from Packing Lunch

Of course, the items you pack in a lunchbox aren't free, but taking your lunch and snacks with you is so much less expensive than eating out for lunch and buying snacks in the vending machines.

Eating a fast food lunch seems to get more expensive all the time, and fast food is loaded with fat and calories you don't need.  I would say I save around $10 per day by taking my lunch and all of my snacks and beverages with me.

You don't need a fancy lunch box to save money by taking your lunch.  I actually got my lunchbox on the clearance shelf at Target for less than $10 and have enjoyed it for years.

Once you get in the habit of taking your lunch, it becomes almost automatic.  If you are eating out or buying food at work, try packing your lunch to save some real money.  You can save THOUSANDS of dollars per year!


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy