Saving on Gas

February 11, 2009

I don’t drive (I rely on my parents), but I remember how happy I felt when we drove by a gas station and the price was below $2.00. However, recently, prices near my area have been increasing (again). So here are some links that will hopefully help you save some money.

Three Gas Myths that won’t save you Money

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Americans Before vs. Americans now

February 10, 2009

According to a recent report, things Americans once considered luxuries are now necessities. The graphs show the very large increase in the percentage of Americans who consider things like microwaves and cable TV necessities. To me, it’s a little horrifying that someone even thinks that cable TV is a necessity. Is this what technology has amounted to?

What (I think) is the problem with Americans

February 9, 2009

Americans have to learn to live below their means. Really. I get that $500,000 is a fraction of your typical paycheck. I know you have appearances to keep. I know NYC is incredibly expensive in comparison to other places around the country. But you messed up. Big time. Now own up to it.

There’s a simple rule that I follow: If I can’t afford it, I don’t get it. Very easy. Why is it so difficult for Americans to follow? I feel like in this country, people don’t buy things for enjoyment most of the time – they buy things to impress other people.

So I’d like to point someone out to you. Warren Buffett. No one in their right mind could possibly say that Warren Buffett is poor. Nor could you say that he isn’t smart. Warren Buffett doesn’t try to “keep up with the Jones.'” The man’s lived in the same house since 1958. Proof that you don’t need to impress other people to be happy. And material possessions don’t really mean that much in the long run. So, to all the CEOs out there whining their heads off, I’d like to tell you this: go to a corner, and think for a bit. Thanks. Now, I wonder, how can you save money? Do you really need the private school? New York has some excellent public schools. Do you really need the huge mansion? Yeah. Let’s use our brains for once.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

February 8, 2009

I haven’t completely finished the book yet (about halfway through), but I’m not sure that I entirely agree with Kiyosaki. I understand what he means about the rat race – people work their whole lives, and it’s a vicious cycle – but I fail to see what’s bad about it. To me, there’s dignity in working hard. And not everyone can get out of the rat race – not everyone has the means to do so.

Kiyosaki has good ideas, and they’re right. But it’s sometimes difficult to understand what he’s saying, and he doesn’t really tell you what to do – instead he tells you what to think.

It’s an interesting read, so far, even if I don’t completely agree with what he’s saying. Once I finish the book, I’ll write another post.

Some Links and News

February 7, 2009

Not much time today, so just a quickie post.

Some major department stores are being put on credit watch – Dillard’s Inc., Macy’s Inc., Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Nordstrom Inc., J.C. Penney Co., and Sears. Three others – Bon-Ton, Kohl’s, and Saks – have had their ratings changed from stable to negative. If you have an gift cards to these department stores, I would suggest you use them quickly, before you can’t anymore.

There’s a nice article on Getrichslowly about “Fashion on a budget.” It has some nice tips – not just on shopping but also on cleaning your closet, selling on eBay, stuff like that.

There’s a new money diaries post on iwillteachyoutoberich. Money diaries is basically a collection of diaries kept for a week where the person tracks all the expenses used. Some of them are quite interesting – as are the comments.

On a (really) unrelated note…Stephen King you are my hero! I hate Twilight too!

Have a good Saturday guys!

Allowances

February 5, 2009

As a child, I never had an allowance. I’m Chinese, and chinese people typically don’t give children allowances, so in the beginning it was a cultural thing (I also don’t get grounded, another plus). I used to be jealous of other kids at school, who would get $10 for every A they had on their report card, or $5 a week. But, now an almost grown teenager, I realize that I had it much better.

If I wanted something, I would ask my parents if I could have it. But, since we weren’t very wealthy, they would always look at me, and ask if I was sure that I wanted it. Most of the time, I would stare at the item a little longer, think for a bit, shake my head, and move on. This was how I developed my mentality of being frugal. I knew that if I really wanted something, my parents would buy it for me. But at the same time, I would feel guilty, because I wasn’t exactly buying something that enhanced my education or anything, and chances were the toy would be abandoned within a month or two.

Now, to me, allowances don’t seem that effective at teaching children how to manage money. If kids spend all their money, they know that they’ll be getting more soon. This basically cancels out using allowances to teach kids how to handle money. As a kid, I learned that I should learn to buy things carefully. I’m not sure if an allowances gives you that same mentality.

Of course, I rather biased. I obviously like the method that my parents used to teach me. But recently, I was reading an article on Obama’s kids’ allowances. And I thought that Janet Bodner had a legitimate point – allowances should be half your age – the older you grow, the more responsibility you get. So I changed my mindset just a tad. Maybe this form of an allowance is effective – better than a set $5 at any rate, in my opinion.

Gardening

February 4, 2009

Gardening is something that I hope to start to do more. When I was young, my family always had tomatoes and fruit trees (pear and peach!), but we stopped because we couldn’t figure out a way to get the deer to stop eating our food (very frustrating). So, I’ve been trying to do more research (GetRichSlowly has some great info) to find out what sort of indoor gardening I can do, as well as how to get all the deer out of my backyard.

I’ve decided that I want to grow some berries, preferably blackberries during the summer. So I’m going to get started on that once I find the time. Wish me luck!

I feel violated

February 2, 2009

Apparently American Express adopted a new policy where it cut your credit limit based on other customers who shopped where you shopped. Now, I may not own a credit card, but geez. Judging a customer based on other people? American Express’ explanation to the customers? “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”

Thank god American Express has stopped using this policy. But the fact they even started it is extremely troubling to me. If they’ll stoop to this, what else will they think of?

More ways to save money when you go shopping

January 27, 2009

Sometimes, being a smart shopper isn’t quite enough. So here are some more things I do to save money.

  • Go thrift/vintage shopping – You can often find some great stuff here – there’s a lot of designer clothing that’s been barely worn.
  • Organize your closet – when was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Chances are, there’s probably a great shirt that you’ve been overlooking.
  • Tailor/fix up your clothing – if there’s a great pair of pants you love but have a hole in them, no need to buy a new pair. Just go to the tailor and get them fixed up.
  • Accessories – You can change up an entire outfit if you change the accessories that go with it. Change a necklace, use a different tie with a suit – no one will tell the difference.

Hope these helped! I know some people dislike wearing used clothing, but there are some clothing that’s new at thrift stores. I’ve been wearing hand-me-downs (from my sister and various family friends) my whole life, so I have no problem with vintage and thrift clothing.

For more tips, go here and here.

Back! And with shopping tips!

January 26, 2009

Whoopeeeee!!!!!! Finals are done. SAT is (hopefully) done. And school is starting with a clean slate – new classes, new grades, yay!

So, yesterday, in order to celebrate the end of the semester, I went shopping with some friends. Recently, with the recession, I’ve been seeing people put up shopping tips everywhere. So I thought that I would put up some of my own. I consider myself a very smart shopper (after a couple of years of experience) so here are my tips.

  1. Don’t do rush shopping – If you go shopping right before a big event, chances are that you won’t get something you absolutely looooove. And you’ll probably end up plunking a big chunk of money down for it too. The solution? When you see something you really really like, buy it. Doesn’t matter if you might not wear it in the near future. The  possibility of using it is enough. Especially if it’s on sale. Besides, if it looks good on you (which it should if you’re going to buy it), wearing it even in the privacy of your own home is always a self-esteem booster. I’ve made this mistake  a lot – found a great pair of heels for $10, but I thought I would never need them, and so I didn’t get them. Fast forward two years later, and those heels would look great with all of my dresses. Damn.
  2. Quality over quantity – there are some things you just can’t skimp on – a great handbag, comfortable shoes. And these are what you should spend most on. You need to decide what is important to you, and expect to spend a lot of money on them. For example – all those camisoles and tee shirts you see with the big designer names? Yeah, those are like $40. Get a pack of Hanes t-shirts for $3 at Target. On the other hand, a pair of jeans that make your butt look great? Well, that’s a once in a lifetime find for most people. Spend money on that.
  3. Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap – if you never wear it, that’s still money out of your pocket that you haven’t used. I once found a cashmere dress for $15. At the time, I thought to myself: Gosh, cashmere for cheap! So what if it doesn’t fit that well, I’m gonna buy it anyways. 3 years later, how many times have a worn that dress? None. That’s 15 bucks I’ll never see again.
  4. Buy something you love – there’s no point in buying something that you’ll never wear. Buy something you’ll wear constantly, and then your purchase will be worth it. Even if it was really expensive, if you wear it constantly, you’ll get your money’s worth.
  5. Be patient – if you go through everything slowly, you will find what you’re looking for. Sure, it might take a couple of shopping trips, but eventually, you’ll find it. And chances are you’ll like it more than if you just grabbed a random garment that was kinda what you wanted but not really.
  6. Shop at the right times – I pretty much go shopping about 3 times a year – Fourth of July (I stopped watching fireworks when I was a kid. And there are some pretty awesome sales), Black Friday, and after-Christmas sales (started going this year). These are when all the sales are, and they’re pretty huge. Not only that, but if you’re into stuff that’s not usually on sale (the trendy stuff), then you’ll be able to find it on sale here, when the whole store’s on sale.
  7. Screw the trends – I practically go straight for the sale section every time I step into a store. That, and I shop at outlets. I don’t care if I’m wearing last season clothes. If it looks good, it’s cheap, it’s good quality, I’ll buy it. That, and I really can’t justify to myself buying something not on sale unless I love it. The last time I did this was probably three years ago.
  8. You don’t have to buy something every time you go shopping – The other day, when I went to the mall, the only thing I bought was food (I love it, what can I say?). I tried some stuff on, didn’t like it, didn’t buy it. I feel like you should have this mentality every time you go shopping, because otherwise, you force yourself to buy something you either don’t necessarily need or don’t necessarily want.
  9. Avoid the mall (and online sites) if you don’t want to spend money – If you don’t see it, you don’t buy it. Simple as that.
  10. Have fun when you go shopping! Shopping should be fun. It’s shouldn’t be something that you force yourself through. If you’re not in a good mood every time you shop, you’re not going to be shopping well. So try to cheer up and brighten up when you go shopping.

Well, that’s it! Sorry about the hiatus, but I’ll try to update as often as possible. Hope the shopping tips helped!