Thursday, December 18, 2008

Beware what you read

I can't find it now, but something popped up when I had a Forbes page open, giving 15 (I think) ways to save money to retire early. They were the usual, take your lunch to work, don't smoke or drink, but then there was one "die early". I couldn't believe my eyes.

I don't know if this was some sort of weird spam that loaded - I can't find it now.

There is some logic to it - there was a picture of a guy on a motorcycle, so I guess the idea is, live dangerously and you won't live as long. Therefore, you won't need to worry about having money to retire.

I don't really think this could be considered sound advice.

There was another site which I found with an article Don't Live Cheap Live Smart.

It starts out OK, not great, but no real red flags, until I get to this part;

Why live cheap is not a good idea

Living cheap might hurt your ego and drown you in negativity even more. People do need a form of achievement in their life, and these days, maintaining their lifestyle is arguably the best achievement of all.

Living cheap might also worsen your state of personal finance. For example, if you ’skimp’ on your daily meal, you might get sick - you and I know that getting sick these days is the least thing you want to have.

Ultimately, you have to stay healthy and pumped up to face the current money problems and issues.

OK, if you are homeless it might be a problem to eat, but anyone with a little bit of imagination can eat fairly cheaply. This is something I will blog about later.

I think this site might be promoting credit cards, as along the top it had Home, About, Contact, Advertise, Credit Cards.

That, to me, sent up a red flag.

I didn't click on anything.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheap International Vacation Travel

I like to travel. I especially like international travel.

One of the best sites I have found for international travel deals is

I have taken 2 trips using this company. One to Portugal and one to Italy.
Both were great trips and a wonderful value.

Now, this is not a guided tour, so if you are an inexperienced traveler, or afraid of adventure, it might not be for you. Their packages include air fare, hotel, and if it is more than 1 city, transportation between the cities. You have to get yourself to/from the airport or train station, although sometimes now they have additional add-ons (they didn't the first time I used them).

If you don't live in one of the normal "gateway" cities, be sure and check out their add-ons from where you live. Quite often it will be cheaper than what you could book yourself. This is where the real cost savings can come in. That, and the hotels they use are quite inexpensive and include breakfast. The hotels are local, and not something you would likely find on your own.

I always choose the cheapest hotel, as I don't need more than a bed, heat (or a/c), and a decent private bathroom (I refuse to share).

The prices today are a little higher than I would expect. Keep watching the site if you are interesting in traveling, and have time off. The key is to go in the off season, when prices are lower. This also means the crowds are smaller, which in Europe can be a really big deal.

If you want any more tips on traveling, feel free to post a comment and I will try to help you out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No Gift, is sometimes the Best Gift

Since I got rid of all of my stuff, I am trying hard to not accumulate "things".

My friends and family know this, and as much as I love them, I really do not want to receive presents. It has taken some time, and sometimes I still get stuff, but slowly they are adapting.

If I go to a party where everyone is in the habit of exchanging gifts, I now bring boxes of chocolate. I assume they can pass it on to someone else, or at least open it up around Christmas so their friends and family can enjoy.

One year I got the exact same box of chocolates I gave someone else. I started wondering how old these chocolates might be.

This article kinda confirms my suspicion.

Unwanted gifts sold on-line or re-gifted

A growing number of consumers are turning to the Internet to dispose of gifts they don't want, according to a survey sponsored by eBay Inc.

The San Jose, Calif.-based online auction company (NASDAQ: EBAY) said more than four in five (83 percent) of those it asked said they receive unwanted items and almost half (46 percent) of those adults resell or give the unwanted gift to someone else as a gift.

Of those who have sold their gifts online in the past, more than half (54 percent) of U.S. adults plan to do so again this year, compared to 45 percent last year.

EBay found differences in what people said they would resell and what they would re-gift.

The most popular items adults who took the survey said they would re-gift include wine, champagne or spirits (21 percent); trinkets or collectibles (21 percent); beauty or bath products (21 percent); DVDs, CDs or books (16 percent); electronics/appliances (14 percent); and fruitcake (14 percent).

The most popular items adults resell online include personal electronics (12 percent); DVDs, CDs or books (11 percent); home technology (10 percent); event tickets (10 percent); trinkets or collectibles (8 percent); and sporting or fitness equipment (6 percent).

EBay said the survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive between Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 among 2,033 U.S. adults age 18 and older, of whom 1,013 have re-gifted and 210 have resold gifts online.

In these lean times, I think more people should adopt the idea that less is more.

I'll be posting ideas for cheap gifts in the next few days, for those of you who have not yet learned to "just say no", as in "no gifts please".

Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting Rid of Stuff

In my first blog post I talked about the need to get rid of stuff.

Once I decided to get rid of my furniture, I started thinking about all the other stuff I had to move and store.

That was when I decided the smartest thing to do would be get rid of everything, down to what I could fit in my car. It was hard. Really hard. But, really liberating.

This article, 7 Secret to Happiness, has getting rid of stuff as number 3. Be sure to read the part in bold in the 2nd paragraph.

3. It’s Time to Toss Excess Stuff

If you can barely scrape together enough change to spring for that $4 latte, you’ll love this: Money (and all the crap that you can buy with it) won’t bring you happiness. In fact, when wealthy Americans were surveyed, they reported being only marginally happier than the general public. “When you have limitless funds, you tend to be hellbent on accumulating more,” says New York clinical psychiatrist Janet Taylor. “In the process, you lose the ability to appreciate what you do own and have difficulty feeling fulfilled.”

And you don’t need to be a gazillionaire to get caught in this trap. The problem might be that you just can’t seem to throw anything out. Like your favorite sweater from your high school days, that (hello!) is from the damn Gap, not specially knit by Grandma. “Extra belongings weigh us down and crowd our space, making us feel overwhelmed and disorganized,” says Dr. Taylor. “Lightening up will help you regain control and, therefore, happiness.”

On that lighter note, now is the perfect moment to purge. You don’t have to clean house completely, but you should hold on only to stuff you Love (with a capital L). “If you haven’t used or admired something in six months, part with it. No guilt allowed,” she insists. To be clear: That doesn’t mean stacking things in a giveaway pile in the corner of your room. It entails bagging up the items and disposing of them ASAP — whether you donate them to Goodwill or swap ’em on eBay.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

101 Ways to Save Money

I started looking around on the blogosphere to see what is already out there on saving money.

Save, You Fool has an interesting posting - he is a Canadian, so some things won't apply as much to Americans.

101 Ways I Saved Money This year

Everything on this list is, in my opinion, common sense. But, people who are busy, and if you have a nice income, quite often never get around to doing these things.

With everyone concerned about their jobs and income, it's high time to read this list and seriously think if you can implement any of these suggested changes.

Once you have done his list, you can start on my suggestions.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Know your prices

Just because you are in a Wal-Mart, don't assume they will have the cheapest price on everything.

They will often have "loss leaders", advertised items which they sell at a loss to get people in the store. If you are in the store (hopefully for something else), see a cheap item, which you need, or expect to need, then buy it.

This is the key. That you will really need.

It's so easy to buy something just because it's, cheap, it's a good deal, and surely you, or someone in your family, or a friend, can find a use for it.

I bought a couple of things at Wal-Mart this year because they were loss leaders.
They had spiral notebooks on sale for 5 cents during the "back to school" promotion.
That's right, a nickel. I bought about 8 of them. I considered buying a lot more, but I thought I really couldn't use more than about 8 of them in the next year or so.

Last week I bought pillows. They had them on sale for $5.00 each which I was pretty sure was a good price, and I could use new pillows.

The thing is, you really need to know your prices.

I was shopping for spices, but Wal-Mart wanted almost $2.00 for garlic powder, and I knew I could get it for $ .50 (50 cents) at Dollar General.

I know it doesn't seem like a lot of money. It's not so much the money, as the mentality of knowing your prices. It can add up over the long run.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shopping at the 99 Cent store

We don't have 99 Cent stores where I live. They have them in New York, and I always enjoyed shopping (or at least, browsing) in them when I worked there.

Jay Leno had a segment on his show, highlighting things you can buy at the 99 Cent store.

I live in Wichita, Kansas. Here there are a few Dollar Tree stores, where everything is $1.00, so that's pretty much the equivalent to the 99 Cent store.

My favorite cheap store is Dollar General. There is another cheap store called Family Dollar.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Learning to live cheaply

I retired at 45. I didn't really plan to retire, I just thought I would take some time off between jobs.

Well, it's been 6 years, and I have learned to relax and enjoy life.

But to be fair, for the last 1 1/2 years I have taken care of my elderly mother, and that really is a job, although not a paid one.

How did I do it? Well for starters I got rid of all of my "stuff". I owned a 3 bedroom house with a walk-up attic and a basement, and it was full.

I decided to sell my house in New Jersey and move to North Carolina, but to rent before buying.

Doing so would involve the expenses of moving furniture a couple of time, or at least the cost of storage.

After some hard thinking, and advice from some smart friends, I realized the smartest thing to do would be to get rid of all of my furniture. I could buy all new whenever I bought a new house. Until then, I could rent furnished apartments, or rent furniture.

Once I decided to get rid of my furniture, I started thinking about all the other stuff I had to move and store.

That was when I decided the smartest thing to do would be get rid of everything, down to what I could fit in my car. It was hard. Really hard. But, really liberating.

And now, I get to buy all new stuff!

This blog will be a bit about my adventures over the past 6 years, and things I do today to continue not working.

With the economy in bad shape, I think many will join me, at least for the "live cheap" part.

From AP, Dec. 11, 2008

WASHINGTON – U.S. households, hit by declining home values and stock market losses, have cut back on their debt levels for the first time on record as loans remain scarce amid what appears to be a deepening recession.

And so we begin.

For those readers who English is your 2nd language, the "stuff" I refer to
From the Free Dictionary

b. Household or personal articles considered as a group.
c. Worthless objects.

My "stuff" is both b and c.