Sunday, March 29, 2015

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

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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Free eBook: 101 Tips to Spend Less 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.

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Finding Cheap Dress Shoes for Under $25

How I Found Cheap Dress Shoes for Under $25

Cheap dress shoes for under $25
I got these new dress shoes for under $25!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

My black dress shoes were pretty much shot.  I noticed this when I nearly fell down at work and noticed that the sole was separated from the shoe, creating a trip hazard.  I have tried to repair such problems before using Superglue or other adhesives, but repairs like this are only a temporary measure.  I could take the shoes to a shoe repair shop and get the sole sewn back on for about $10, but the leather uppers were pretty much worn out too.  It was time for a new pair of black dress shoes.

My old black shoes were hard to walk in anyway- they weighed about 5 pounds each.  This time I wanted much lighter shoes.

Fortunately, I had $10 Kohl's Cash and a 30% off coupon from Kohl's in my coupon envelope in my car ready for just such a situation.  I like to keep my best coupons with me in case I need to buy something.

I checked out the black dress shoes at Kohl's and found some lightweight black dress shoes priced at $69.99 and marked down to $41.99 on clearance.

With my $10 Kohl's Cash and 30% off coupon, I saved $47.60 off of the original price.  The final cost of the pair of shoes was $23.96.

I think these shoes have potential to be a good pair of shoes for me.  I can't go too far wrong for $23.96...

My new cheap dress shoes- under $25 for the pair!
My new cheap dress shoes- under $25 for the pair!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Here is an article about Kohl's Cash and other ways to save at Kohl's.

Cheap Shoe Options- Used Shoes

If you are willing to consider buying used shoes, you can find cheap shoes for sale at Goodwill, thrift stores, or garage sales.  I think used shoes could be a good way to get some high quality shoes pretty cheap.  I suspect that there are lots of used shoes for sale that were originally very expensive and that have been worn very little for whatever reason.

If you get used shoes, you might want to disinfect the shoes with Lysol or something like that.  I have never gone with used shoes myself- I would be concerned with picking up a foot fungus, warts, or other diseases from used shoes.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Envelope Budgeting Tips

Tips on Envelope Budgeting From My Experience

Envelope Budgeting Tips
Envelope Budgeting Tips from Experience
Image Source: Wikipedia/Michiel1972 cc-by-sa

What is Envelope Budgeting?  For an introduction on envelope budgeting to save money and stay within your budget, see my earlier post that covers the basics of envelope budgeting.

Today, I will talk about some things I have learned that make envelope budgeting work better in practice.

Get a Good Envelope

Envelope budgeting really involves only two things:  an envelope and cash.  It helps to use a good envelope.  I have found that the money envelope gets some wear and tear as I carry it around and my wife also carries it around.  My bank has nice envelopes that they offer me when I take cash out.  I always get one of these.  These envelopes have a resealable flap and are made out of a tough paper that may have a bit of plastic content.  I think a regular mailing envelope would wear out quickly.  The resealable flap is useful to hold change in the envelope as well as bills.

Get the Right Bills When You Load Your Envelope with Cash

If you get too many small bills, they won't fit easily into an envelope.  Big bills are not accepted everywhere and I worry more about losing a big bill.  I have found that a mix of 10's and 50's works well.  The 10's are nice for smaller purchases, and the 50's work well for paying for a bigger trip to the grocery store.

Account for Spending Outside the Envelope Quickly

We have had a few times where we used a credit card instead of the money envelope when we did not have the envelope with us.  Actually this happened a few times.  I kept track of the amounts by writing it down on the envelope when I got home, and within a few days I removed this amount from the money envelope so I can deposit it into checking and use it to pay the credit card.  This works fine since the food budget is not effected.  We did use a credit card instead of money from the envelope, but then I took the money out of the envelope to account for this.  The trick is to keep track of any spending that should have been taken from the envelope and make up for spending outside the envelope quickly before you lose track and no longer know if you are staying within your budget or not.

One of the biggest problems with the envelope system is that it would be easy to stop doing it.  This is the same thing that happens when going on a diet.  You have good intentions and may do well for a few days, but then go back to your old eating habits.  If you have an easy way to make up for spending that should have some from the money envelope, then you can get back on track.

Pull Out Money From the Envelope Before You Go Into A Store

At first I was carrying the money envelope into stores with me.  It was sort of awkward sorting through the bills in the envelope at the checkout.  I realized that I can just put a few bills in my wallet while I am in the car.  Today I went into a store thinking the damage would be around $45, so I loaded $50 in my wallet from the money envelope before going in the store.  Paying was quick, since I knew exactly how much was in my wallet, and it was less awkward than carrying an envelope stuffed with cash around.  The total turned out to be just under $42, so everything worked out fine.  Worst case, if you don't take enough into the store, you can run back out to the car to get more from the envelope.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Envelope Budgeting- Save Money with the Envelope System

What is Envelope Budgeting?

Envelope Budgeting System
Money Envelope System For Budgeting:  All You Need Is Money and an Envelope!
Image Source: Wikipedia/Michiel1972 cc-by-sa

Envelope budgeting is a simple and effective way to both keep track of spending and avoid going over your budget.  When you get your paycheck, get cash for the amount you budget for an expense category and put it in an envelope.  For this discussion, I'll use your grocery budget as an example.

Let's say you get paid every two weeks and your grocery budget is $500 for two weeks.  On payday, get $500 cash and put it in an envelope for groceries.  Every time you buy groceries, take money from the grocery envelope and put the change back in the envelope.  You can check at any time how much you have spent on groceries by counting the money in the envelope.  If you like, you can keep your grocery receipts in the envelope so you can see exactly where your grocery budget went.

How Does Envelope Budgeting Work?

There is something about spending cash that is more difficult psychologically than spending money using a credit card.  I learned this myself when we tried out the envelope system for food this month.  I was planning to bring my wife some lunch at work.  The thought of spending cash to buy her a sub at Subway was painful.  I texted her and asked if a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be OK.  That is a good example of how the envelope system works.  When you have cash and can see it, it is hard to spend.

The other way that the envelope system works is that it provides a natural limit on spending.  If you buy groceries using a credit card with a $5,000 credit limit, there isn't much of a limit on how much you can spend on groceries.  If you aren't paying attention, there is no feedback at all that you have overspend until you get your credit card bill the following month.  Of course, you can check you credit card balance any time, but this requires effort.  If you buy all of your groceries using cash from your envelope, it requires no extra effort to see when you are running out of money!

Downsides of Envelope Budgeting

During the month trying out envelope budgeting, I have noticed a few negative aspects of this system:

  1. You have to get cash to put in the envelope.  For me, this means a trip to the bank.  Buying with credit cards does not require a trip to the bank, so using a credit card is more convenient.  However, convenience isn't the point of envelope budgeting- saving money is the point.  So if I can save money, it is worth the hassle to go to the  bank a couple times a month to get cash for the money envelope.
  2. There is risk in carrying cash around.  I recently went to the grocery store after stocking my envelope with cash.  I felt a bit uncomfortable pulling out the envelope and digging through $500 in cash to find the right bills to pay for $40 worth of groceries.  It would be easy for someone to grab the envelope and run, or to break into my car or house and steal the envelope.  However, I live in a safe neighborhood, so there is little actual risk of the cash being stolen.  I will probably be able to get comfortable with carrying some cash around with practice.
  3. Dealing with change is a hassle.  It seems to take more time to count out bills to pay at the grocery store and then have the cashier deal with making correct change.  Credit cards are certainly a faster and easier way to pay.  But again, this is not about convenience- in some ways the envelope system is about making spending more inconvenient so you won't do it as much!
  4. It is easy to end up at the store without your envelope.  What do you do then?  For maximum effectiveness of the envelope system, you should drive home and get the envelope.  However, what I have actually done is used a credit card from my wallet, kept track of the amount, and then adjusted the envelope later.  I couldn't deal with wasting money and time driving around when I could easily make up the difference and get back on track with the envelope system.

How Much Can You Save Using Cash Envelopes?

Again, I am just getting started with the envelope system, but I can see that we are saving money on food spending.  Knowing that you have a limited amount to spend that can run out, and being able to see when you are getting low on money in the envelope provides powerful feedback to help limit spending.  Using an envelope of cash for budgeting seems to be pretty simple and pretty effective.

If you don't want to deal with actually carrying cash around, there are software packages and apps for smart phones that can help you do envelope budgeting using credit cards or bank accounts.  The software helps keep track of your spending by category and provides a virtual envelope.  This would be more convenient than carrying cash around, but I do not think it would be as effective.  It is hard to spend "real money" and that is a good thing when you are trying to stay on a budget.

Keep Some Cash Around for Disasters

Another benefit of keeping an envelope of cash around is that it could function as an additional supply of emergency cash in case electronic transactions are not available.  We already keep some emergency cash around, but in an emergency the envelope would give us even more cash if needed.  In this case, by "emergency", I mean a situation where electronic funds are not available.  For example, cash could be the only way to make purchases if there is a widespread power outage or if electronic banking system get hacked or some other disaster occurs and credit cards and bank cards are not working.  Once during a flood and power outage, I saw people with credit cards and bank cards turned away from the grocery store.  Signs were taped to the door that said "cash only".  I think having some cash around at all times is a good idea.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

State Farm Credit Card- Looks Like a Good Deal!

State Farm Credit Card Offer

State Farm Credit Card- It's a Good Offer
State Farm Credit Card- It's a Good Offer
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I get several credit card offers per week in the mail- sometimes even more than one per day.  Today I received a credit card offer that is a really a good deal.  It is a Visa State Farm Credit Card.  The offer was 2 years at 0.9% interest on balance transfers AND there is no balance transfer fee AND there is no annual fee.  Almost all of the credit card offers I get have a 3% balance transfer fee.  This would mean that if you transferred a $10,000 balance the fee would be $300.  I recycle any offers that charge a balance transfer fee.

The rate on purchases is 12.9% and the 0% introductory rate goes up to 12.9% after 2 years.

The State Farm Credit Card also has a benefit that you can get cash back if you use the State Farm Credit card to pay your State Farm Insurance bill.  The offer I received was a "pre-screened" offer that came in the mail.

Save Money on Your Insurance Bill- Use a State Farm Visa
Save Money on Your Insurance Bill- Use a State Farm Visa
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Of course, 0% interest would be even better than 0.9%, but you wouldn't pay much for interest compared with a $300 balance transfer fee.  The interest on a $10,000 balance transfer would be about $90 for 2 years if you pay it off.  If you check my math, it might not look like this adds up, but if you steadily pay down the balance over 2 years, the average balance would be $5,000 for 2 years.

This Is What a Good Credit Card Offer Looks Like...
This Is What a Good Credit Card Offer Looks Like...
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Seeing this credit card offer reminded me of a good way to save money on high interest credit cards- transfer balances with high interest rates to cards with low- or zero- interest and get them paid off.  Watch out for the transfer fee, which is typically 3% of the balance.  Also watch out for annual fees- some cards charge an annual fee of $50 or more, which I try to avoid unless the card has a really good points or travel miles program that offsets that cost.

If you have a credit card balance with a high interest rate, look for a deal like the State Farm Credit Card with $0 balance transfer fee, no annual fee, and a low interest rate.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Almost Free Lunch- Only 4 Cents!

How Did I Get Lunch for 4 Cents?  Better Oats!

It is true that you can't get much for a penny these days, but I have my lunches taken care of for several months at only 4 cents each!

The cheap price is not the only good thing about my lunch plan for the new year- it is also quite healthy.

While picking up a few things at the grocery store for my wife's homemade chicken pot pies, I came across some boxes at the back of the grocery store with a sign that caught my attention.

Cheap oatmeal
Clearance Better Oats Oatmeal!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I checked this out carefully to make sure each BOX with 5 packets of BetterOats oatmeal was being offered for 20 cents, rather than 20 cents per bag which would work out to $1 per box.  But the offer was in fact 20 cents per box, which is only 4 cents per bag of oatmeal.

The next thing I checked was the expiration date on the boxes.  Some expired in 2 months and others in 3 months.  I figured that I could eat quite a bit of oatmeal in 2 or 3 months and my kids like oatmeal as well.  My parents eat oatmeal every day too, so I decided to load up the cart.

Bulk Oatmeal is a Cheap Lunch and Snack!
Bulk Oatmeal is a Cheap Lunch and Snack!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Cheap, Healthy, and Easy to Make at Work or at Home

I sent 10 boxes (50 packets) home with my parents and had about 15 boxes left.  After trying the blueberry muffin flavor, my kids informed me that 15 boxes would not be enough.  This was really high quality oatmeal with nice packaging and good ingredients like whole blueberries and flax seed.

I figured that the bargain oatmeal would be gone right away, but I happened to be in the store a few days later and there was still a good supply so I picked up about a dozen more boxes.

I have found that it is easy to make oatmeal at work.  Just pour the oatmeal in a paper cup, fill the bag with water (these bags have a mark for the correct amount of water), and microwave for about 65 seconds.

Check out this deal on Amazon for 52 packets of oatmeal:

I have been eating more than one packet of oatmeal per day, typically 2 or 3 packets so far this year.  There are several flavors including:

  • Blueberry Muffin
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Chai Spice
  • Cinnamon Roll

The lesson I take from this is to keep an open mind about discounted items at the grocery store, but make sure you can use the clearance stuff before it gets too far "past code".

Plus I was reminded how much I like oatmeal and how healthy it is for you.  See if you can find some good deals on oatmeal- happy hunting!

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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Spending less adds up to real money!
Work as a Professional Penny Pincher- the Money is Real!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Surfing around on the Internet, I see all kinds of offers for programs to work at home and make some extra money. Most of the concepts I see seem difficult and may or may not work. For example, not everyone is cut out to sell things, make phone calls, or write marketing copy. I suspect many of the work-at-home schemes make money for the people selling the scheme, but not for the people who pay for the program and try to make money.

Here’s an easy work at home plan: make your second job focusing few hours a week on spending less money. Now that I think about it, I am a professional penny pincher! If getting paid to do something makes you a “professional”, then I am a professional penny pincher since I save money every day.

This article describes my daily routine that adds up to over $17,000 of savings per year. That works out to nearly $1,500 per month. You may be able to save this much or even more if you are willing to work at saving money for a few hours per week- think of penny pinching as a part-time job. This sounds like a good opportunity to me!

I’ll go ahead and put out an advertisement for professional penny pinchers, I think this would be a better way for people to end up with extra money each month than most of the work-at-home schemes out there. Of course, I’ll need to describe this work at home plan in flashy marketing language to compete with the fancy advertising for other work-at-home plans out there. Here goes:

Now Hiring: Professional Penny Pincher

Work at home, set your own hours, and make hundreds- or even thousands- of dollars per month. No experience required. No need to purchase any program or start-up materials. Become a Professional Penny Pincher- start today for free!

Always carry your coupons when shopping
Find Ways To Spend Less Money as a Professional Penny Pincher!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Is Professional Penny Pincher the Right Job for You?

So let’s review. You are interested in working at home a few hours a week to make extra money. You want something easy to do that doesn’t require spending money to get started. The opportunities out there seem to require purchasing a program or doing work that you would rather not do. Plus it seems questionable how much money you could make at the work-at-home jobs.

Now you have come across an ideal work at home job: Professional Penny Pincher. You don’t need to buy any program or start-up materials to get going. You don’t need any particular skills or experience. You can choose how much time to spend working as a penny pincher. Your time spent working as a penny pincher can make a lot of money for you with only a few hours of work each week. I think we have found the ideal work at home job for you!

Save money on clothes at consignment shops
Your Time Spent Saving Money Pays Well as a Penny Pincher
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

How to get started as a Professional Penny Pincher

Here is a list of some expenses that many people can cut to get a jump-start on saving money immediately. Many people could cut thousands of dollars of expenses per year without much effort.

So you are ready to sign up- great! How do you get started? As with most things, getting started is the hard part. What should you do on your first day of work as a penny pincher? Since you are working at home, we can skip the tour of the building and showing you where the coffee maker and bathrooms are located...

The place to start is by thinking about your spending and attempting to separate spending into “needs” and “wants”. This task is difficult because there is often not a clear line between needs and wants, and also because you may view some of your “wants” as “needs”. You may be able to think of some expenses you could cut to spend less money with only a few minutes of thinking.

Since you are a “professional” penny pincher, you may want to go further and make a list of your expenses for the month. Some of the bigger expenses will be easy to list and you may even know the amounts already.

The quickest opportunity to save money right off the bat is often in the smaller expenses and unnecessary purchase you make out of habit. Since you have spending habits that are set, it may be difficult to see which purchases are unnecessary. Check out Penny Pincher Journal for specific ideas on ways to spend less money every day.

Some ways to spend less money do require effort, such as packing your own lunch or keeping track of coupons and shopping lists- but the payoff is high considering the amount of work required.

Over time, you can work at reducing your larger expenses. I have been able to move to a smaller house to save money on mortgage payments. You may also be able to get your car paid off and eliminate car payments as well.

Here's Where You Make Your Money as a Penny Pincher...

Next, bring income into the picture. As you find ways to spend less money, you will have more of this income left at the end of each month to save or invest. This is your payment for working as a professional penny pincher. If you calculate your hourly rate by dividing how much money you save by the number of hours you spend working at pinching pennies, being a penny pincher may be one of the highest paying work-at-home jobs around.

Working as a professional penny pincher has benefits that go beyond making money. You may find that you are eating healthier, have reduced stress, and have less clutter in your house. Good luck on your new part-time job as a professional penny pincher!

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