Recent Posts

Monday, May 30, 2016

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Dr. Penny Pincher
 Dr. Penny Pincher 
Do you wish you had more money?  The easiest way to get more money is to spend less!

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 this site and get free money-saving advice and tips from Dr. Penny Pincher.  Stop back soon- new articles and blog posts are added frequently.

Free Offers- Sign up Now!



Enter your e-mail address below and you'll receive my eBook Pinch Like You Mean It with 101 ways to save money- a $3.99 value.  As an added bonus, you will receive my exclusive report Uncommon Cents: Weird Way to Save A LOT of Money.  Plus you will receive occasional bonus tips on saving money via email.

Sign up here to get the free stuff:

* indicates required



Your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time. 
Finance Blogs



Popular Articles

The Free Dish Network Plan
I have saved a ton of money on TV, you can save money too.


Retire Outrageously Early- 25 Is the New 65
This young man retired in his 20's- how did he do that?


Sharpen Disposable Razor Blades and Save Money
Sharpen disposable razor blades and save 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?


Get the Free Book!  Sign Up Now


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

Enter your e-mail address below and we'll send you the free eBook Pinch Like You Mean It: 101 Ways To Save Money Now, a $3.99 value.  You'll also receive occasional bonus tips on saving money from Penny Pincher Journal.  Don't worry- we won't sell or share your e-mail address!


* indicates required



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


Copyright © 2016 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Make a Chromebook With Your Android Phone for $20

Making A Chromebook

I couldn't handle spending $150 for a Chromebook, so I made one using my Android phone for $20 instead...

I Made A Chromebook for $20
I Made A Chromebook for $20
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I was recently on the road and had an article I needed to write to meet a deadline.  I did not take a computer with me on the trip- I planned to use a computer at the business center of the hotel to type my article.  Unfortunately, the office center was closed due to flooding.

I considered typing the article on my cell phone using the on-screen keyboard.  This would have been possible, but would have been frustrating and would have taken hours to get done.  I needed a better way to type my article.

I walked to a nearby Best Buy and checked out cheap computer options.  I could get a Chromebook or a cheap Windows 10 computer for about $150.  I quickly decided that spending $150 was more than I could handle.

Studying these netbooks did give me an idea, though.  I realized that these inexpensive computers have solid state drives and small screens.  I realized that this was similar to the capability of my Android cell phone that I had with me, except unlike my cell phone the cheap laptops had a keyboard.

I checked out Bluetooth keyboards and found a nice solution.  With a $20 Bluetooth keyboard, I could essentially make a Chromebook that would allow me to type up my article just as fast as I could type it on a computer.  With my homemade Chromebook, I could work with Google Docs and do basically anything I could with a real Chromebook.

The Bluetooth keyboard can also be used with a tablet computer, so I could have a bigger screen by using a cheap Android tablet computer.

Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard I Used To Turn My Android Phone into a Chromebook
Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard I Used To Turn My Android Phone into a Chromebook
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Making a Chromebook using my Android phone and a wireless keyboard was a great solution when I needed a computer and didn't want to spend much money.  The screen size using my cell phone was pretty small, but I made it work.  An Android tablet computer with Bluetooth would make a better homemade Chromebook.


Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Effective Ant Control for Cheap

How Ant Poison Works

Ant Control: Liquid Ant Poison and Plastic Ant Bait Station
Ant Control: Liquid Ant Poison (left) and Plastic Ant Bait Station (right)
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Last year we had some small ants in the kitchen.  I put out a few plastic bait traps that I got at the grocery store for about $5, and the ants were gone after a few days and I didn't see any ants for a whole year.  You might wonder why I would pay $5 for some fancy ant bait traps when I could simply smash the ants for free.

Killing individual ants doesn't really solve the problem.  More ants will come to take the place of the ants you kill.  The same thing happens when you spray ants with bug spray.  It may kill a few, but the ant colony continues to produce more and more ants, and eventually some of those ants find their way to you.

You can use bug spray to make a perimeter, spraying it around your house to make a barrier to keep bugs out.  I have had some success with this, but ant trails can go places that are difficult to spray.  Plus the spray barrier breaks down after a few months and ants will start coming in again.

The best way to control ants is to take out the entire colony with a poison bait.  Ant bait stations use this approach, typically containing bait in granular form inside the plastic housing.  Worker ants take the poison bait back to the colony where it is fed to the larva and takes out the next generation of ants.

One of the nice things about using bait to take out ants is that you don't need to find the colony or even know where the ants are coming in.  The ants do the work of finding your poison bait and taking it back to the colony.

I don't like the idea of killing ants- I think they are neat little animals that have a social order and work very hard.  But I can't let ants take over my kitchen.

My Ant Problem This Year

This year, the little kitchen ants were back.  I put out some new plastic bait traps but they weren't working.  My wife noticed that the ants seemed to be ignoring the ant traps, walking right around them without bothering to climb up and explore them to find the bait inside.

The plastic ant traps are designed look decorative and have a flower pattern stamped into them.  It is nice that they try to make the ant traps look fancy, but it is still pretty obvious that they are ant traps.

Plastic Ant Bait Station
Plastic Ant Bait Station
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
I decided to go with an even cheaper ant control solution- Terro.  This is a sticky liquid bait, sort of the consistency of honey that you put on small pieces of cardboard for the ants to find.  I bought a small bottle of Terro for about $2.59.

Terro Liquid Ant Bait
Terro Liquid Ant Bait
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Ants Eating Liquid Ant Poison
Ants Eating Liquid Ant Poison
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
The little ants really like the Terro!  Within a couple hours, there were at least a dozen ants lined up around the drop of poison sucking it up- in the photo above, the ants are eating the bait on the card like crazy.  The worker ants take the poison back to the ant colony, where it starts acting and kills the entire colony.

As I said, don't like the idea of killing ants, but I can't really put up with ants in my kitchen.  Within a few hours of putting out the Terro bait, there are very few ants still wandering around.  I'll leave the bait out for at least a few days to make sure my ant problem is solved for this year.

It looks like I'm going to get away with not calling an exterminator, which would cost WAY more than $2.59.

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Friday, April 8, 2016

Audiobook Announcement: Pinch Like You Mean It

Pinch Like You Mean It- Audiobook Launch!

Pinch Like You Mean It:  The Audiobook is out!

I am excited to announce the release of my first audiobook!  It is the audio version of Pinch Like You Mean It! 101 Ways To Save Money Now.

This book works very well as an audio book thanks to outstanding narration from Peter L. Herrick.  This guy could read a list of names out of the phone book and it would be gripping and compelling...  just imagine how great my book sounds with Pete reading it!

It took about a month to produce the audiobook version, so I hope you will check it out.  I developed this under a cool program by ACX that matches book authors with audiobook producers.  I held some auditions to find the right narrator for this book.  I think you will enjoy the results from all of the hard work that went into this project!



When I got the draft version of the audiobook, I intended to take a few minutes and listen to a few tips, but ended up listening to the entire book non-stop!  I think listening to the book makes a bigger impression than reading it.

If you have an Audible.com account, you will be able to get this audiobook for free as part of your subscription.  Enjoy!

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Friday, March 18, 2016

Save Money on Car Rental: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off!

Car Rental: There Must Be A Better Price!


Let's go to the mailbag today for a reader question about getting gouged by a car rental company:


Save Money On Car Rental
Rental Car Savings!


"While traveling to Tulsa this week I rented a car from Budget Rental.  The car's cost for two days was $184.

That was extremely high and I refused to do it, so I continued research on the internet and found that all the cars in the middle of the week were as much as $100 a day.  So I went back to Budget and found the next day that they had a car for rent for $100 for 2 days.  I immediately rented that car.  When I got to the airport in Tulsa I went to the counter to get the car from Budget.  At that time they quoted me a price of $184.  I showed them on my phone the email confirmation that said $100.  Budget then told me that quote is from the downtown location which was 4 or 5 miles away. I asked how I was supposed to get down there and if they had a shuttle. 

The answer was simple...you have to take a cab.  Well I was a bit peeved but went outside and a cab was waiting.  I asked the cab driver how much to take me to the downtown location of the Budget Car Rental.  He told me $30. After I got up off the sidewalk, I asked if I had any alternative and he said yes you can walk. 

I thought about that, however crossing the freeways and busy highway is would have been a bit risky.  So I paid the $30, got downtown to the Budget car rental place, and asked if I had to bring it back here and have another cab ride back to the airport explaining the circumstances to the customer service person.  She said, well no we can arrange it for you can take this right straight back to the airport.  When I asked why the prices were so high, I was told by the budget representative that it was a "supply and demand situation".  

I responded to that by telling them that I thought it was a greed situation accompanied by circumstances where people had no choice.

Thank you for your time and hopefully you can get this message to Dr. Penny Pincher so he can go undercover and find out what the deal is... 

Sincerely,
An Anonymous Dr. Penny Pincher Reader"

Thank you AADPPR for sharing your interesting story and providing an idea for an article that can help save people money for car rental expenses.

Week Day vs. Weekend Rates

My first observation is that renting a car during the week can be quite expensive compared with weekends.  I think this really is related to supply and demand.  During the week, there are lots of business travelers with expense accounts who will pay top dollar for rental cars.  On weekends, most car rentals are for leisure and people are more concerned about getting a good price.

If you have a choice, try to rent a car over a weekend instead of during the week.  The prices can be something like half as much.

Try to Get the "Replacement Car" Insurance Company Rate

My next observation is that $184 or even $100 for a two day car rental seems pretty high.  The last time I rented a car, I got a Chevy Sonic for about $25 per day.  I told the car rental agent that my car was wrecked and my insurance would only cover $25 per day, so I needed something in this price range.  I didn't think you could even get a rental car for $25 per day, but they came up with one.

Car rental companies give their best deals for providing a replacement car after your car is in a wreck.  This type of car rental provides some long term rentals with relatively low mileage and is profitable business for the rental company.  Even if your car was not in a wreck, you can still try to get the rental company's best rate.  You can say that your insurance only covers $25 per day and see if they offer you something in this price range.

When I got my $25 deal, my car was actually wrecked, but it seems like this request could work even if your car is not wrecked.

For more on this strategy, see TIP 4 in confessions from a former Enterprise Car Rental Employee.

Supply and Demand vs. Greed

I liked your comment that you thought the reason for the jacked up prices was a "greed situation".  Car rental companies, like other businesses, are going to try to get as much money as they possibly can for their goods and services.

If you are renting a car in a high demand market where plenty of people are willing to pay $184, then the car rental company has no motivation to lower the price.  Why would they take $100 if they could get $184 from the next person to walk through the door?

On the other hand, if the car rental company has tons of cars just sitting there with no one renting them, they might be willing to rent one for a very good deal.  Making some money is better than making no money.  But in order to be able to drive a bargain, you need a situation where there is not a lot of demand.

So, I would always try to bargain on the price for a rental car, but if demand is high it might not work.  Your best chance to negotiate a good deal is by talking with the sales person, being friendly, and talking them into a good price by encouraging them to find something less expensive.

Bargaining on price may or may not work, but is worth a try.  The agents have a lot of flexibility in setting prices, so you might be able to keep asking for something less expensive and end up with a low price.

The Cab Ride

Paying $30 for a cab ride was expensive, but you ended up saving $54 on your car rental even after the cab fare, so this was a good move.

One idea that came to mind when reading about the cab ride is Enterprise.  Enterprise car rental will pick you up for free when you rent a car.  I wonder if you could have the Enterprise a few miles away with a lower rate drive and pick you up at a convenient Enterprise location that has a higher rate?  Maybe you could get the lower rate without paying for a cab ride...

Another idea on saving on a cab fare:  I have never tried it, but Uber and Lyft provide some very cost competitive services if you need a ride.  I would guess these services would be about half the cost of a cab ride, but you might have to wait a bit compared with taking the cab that is already there.

Car Rental Add-on Expenses

Next time I need to rent a car, I'll go undercover like I did in this investigation of Rent-to-Own stores and see what I can learn about how rental car companies extract money from people.  Here are some car rental company tricks to watch out for:
  • Supplemental Insurance:  Your existing car insurance likely covers you.  Paying for extra insurance is very profitable for the car rental company.
  • GPS fee: You can use your smartphone instead of paying a few dollars a day extra for a GPS in your rental car.  Or use a paper map.
  • Satellite radio fee:  I hear that car rental companies are charging a few dollars a day extra for XM or Sirius satellite radio, even if you didn't know your car had satellite radio and didn't use it!
  • Gas fee:  If you turn your rental car in without filling up the gas tank, you can get hit with fees and pay extra money for the car rental company to put gas in the car.  Try to fill it up yourself on your way to the rental car lot when you turn the car in.

Overall, it sounds like you saved some money by shopping around and taking a cab to get a much lower rate a few miles away.  Nice work!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Penny Pincher



Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Make Your Own Cereal at Home- Cheap!

Cereal Is Too Expensive- Make Your Own!

Make your own cereal- cheap!

I have complained here on my blog about how expensive cereal is compared with the cost of the ingredients of cereal.  If you do the calculations, cereal has an incredible mark-up.  I didn't think there was much I could do about this, other than choose the most cost effective brands of cereal available.

Then one day, I noticed that my son was making his own cereal, and it is much healthier than the expensive cereal you can buy at the store.

The alternative cereal trend at my house started when my son discovered that some caramel corn that we bought on clearance at the grocery store made great cereal.  Just pour some in a bowl and add milk.  It tastes like Corn Pops, only a little fluffier.

Of course, it is really cheap and easy to make fresh popcorn at home.  We decided to skip the caramel part and just put some popcorn in a bowl with milk.  If you like, you can put some sugar on top to make it taste more like store-bought cereal.

Photo credit:  Heather Lion (CC-SA-30)

Popcorn Revisited

The popcorn we are using for cereal is not like movie theater popcorn.  We are skipping the salt and butter.  Fresh popcorn has a nice flavor even if you don't add anything to it.  We use a little bit of Crisco vegetable oil (it's soy bean oil) for popping.  Peanut oil would also work well.

Fortunately I have my own movie theater popcorn machine that we got as a family Christmas gift one year for about $150.  We have made movie theater style popcorn with melted butter for movie night for years.  If you don't have a popcorn popper like this, you can use an air popper or even pop popcorn in a pan on the stovetop.  Using those microwave popcorn bags wouldn't really work for cereal since that stuff is so salty and oily.

My Popcorn Machine

It may sound weird to eat popcorn as a meal, but this idea has been around for awhile.  According to Alton Brown on his episode of Good Eats about popcorn, native Americans in the southwest popped popcorn by heating up sand with popcorn kernels in it over a fire.  The anthropologist on the show thought that the ancient people made a gruel by adding water to the popped corn and mashing it up.  Popping the corn allowed the nutrients to be obtained from the hard dense kernels.

Now, fast forward a few thousand years.  One of the first ideas for commercial breakfast cereal in the United States was to ship boxes of pre-popped popcorn. However the Kelloggs brothers decided to go with corn flakes instead since they were not confident that pre-popped popcorn would sell very well.

Popcorn is a whole grain with lots of fiber, and is really cheap to make.  If you don't add salt and butter to it, it is a healthy snack and even a healthy meal in the form of homemade breakfast cereal.  If make your own cereal, you know exactly what artificial colors and chemicals are in it- none!


Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's Time to Make Some Extra Money Publishing Articles...

Make Extra Money Publishing Articles

It's Time to Make Some Extra Money!
Dr. Penny Pincher on the cover of Time magazine
OK, so this Time magazine cover featuring my picture is obviously fake, but I am excited that I got an article published on Time.com today!  The article is about 21 times you can spend money to save money.  You can read it here on Time.com.

If you read my newsletter, you know that I am planning on making some extra income this year in addition to pinching pennies as usual.

Last summer I decided to move beyond posting articles on my blog and see if I could get paid to publish articles on other sites.

Having my own blog is great.  Here are some things I like about publishing articles myself on my blog or on HubPages:

1) I can write about anything on my blog
Sometimes I write about my dog.  One time I wrote a fictionalized account of an interaction with my editor just for fun.  I started a blog about coffee because I like coffee.  One time, I even thought of an article topic just so I could show a giant picture of my face on a fake Time magazine cover!

There is no adult supervision at all, I can write whatever I want and it gets published immediately.

2) I own the articles and can make passive income forever
I like the idea of owning something that has value.  When I write articles and publish them myself on my blog, I retain all rights to the articles.  I can make money for years from advertising.

3) No schedule constraints or deadlines
Sometimes I post new articles on my blog every day, or sometimes only a couple times per month.  It is up to me, and no one seems to get upset if I don't post for awhile.

4) Easy money
Who doesn't like making some extra money for doing something really easy?  From my family's perspective, it probably doesn't look like I am working very hard.  They see my relaxing in my chair, looking out at the lake and messing around on my computer.  Not a bad way to work if you ask me.

However there are some limitations to publishing on my own blog, and this is why I was open to trying something new and publishing articles on other sites:

1) I don't have enough readers... yet...
Thousands of people read my blog, and that results in some nice income.  But there are sites around that have MILLIONS of readers.  I took some advice from Jon Morrow to go where the audience is gathered instead of waiting for them to find me.

Publishing on an established site can be a quick way to reach a large audience.

2) It is nice to get an instant paycheck
Selling an article gets you money up front, right away instead of waiting for money to come in over a long period of time from advertising revenue.  It is not unusual for a blog to take many months to make the first few cents.  Selling articles can bring in extra money much faster than that.

3) Build name recognition
Being published on popular sites that people know and trust helps build credibility with readers.  You can check out my About Penny Pincher Journal page to see some of the places my articles have been published.  Some of my articles are syndicated, so you can find them on a lot of popular sites around the internet.

4) Become a better writer
I have learned a lot working with editors as they suggest topics and work with me to refine my ideas for articles.  I l review my articles after they are published to see what edits the professionals made to tune them up.

The "Write" Way to Start Publishing Articles to Make Extra Money

You can find lots of advice around the internet on how to start a blog to make money.  Most of this advice comes with links to sign up for web hosting and domain registration and courses, which all cost money.

I ignored most of the advice and have gone with 100% free web hosting from Google on blogspot.com and use a free domain name as well.  I might be able to make more revenue from my blogs if I were willing to spend more, but it sure is nice to have no bills to worry about paying for hosting my content.

Publishing articles at HubPages is also free in the sense that you do not have to pay them, although they take a 40% cut of your advertising earnings.  I think this is fair since there are expenses involved with running servers and promoting the site.  Here's how to get started publishing articles on HubPages for free.

After starting my blog, I have also published a few books.  It is fun to get a check in the mail once in a while, and my free book generates interest in my blog.  Here is an article I wrote on making money by publishing ebooks:  Can You Get Rich Writing eBooks?

Selling articles to other sites to publish is probably the fastest way to make money, but you will likely need to have some published articles as a portfolio in order to get hired to write articles.  This is a catch-22.  You can work around this problem by starting a blog, publishing some interesting articles, and then approaching other sites about writing for them.

If you enjoy writing and have some patience, selling articles is a great way to do something interesting and make some extra money.

Is it time for you to start writing articles and finding paychecks in your mailbox?  Sign up for my newsletter- sometimes I share details about my writing projects and making money with my subscribers.


Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy