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Succes Online Financial Education Newsletter

 

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Six strange places to try and save money
Some worked; some didn't; some made us sick really

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

I love to save money.  Clipping coupons and shopping at thrift stores are part of my regular routine.  But sometimes my frugal fervor takes me to strange places.   Following are six of the craziest ways I’ve tried to save money.

Salvaging groceries.

Salvage stores take unsalable stock from traditional stores to sell at a reduced price.  Items in salvage stores are in various states of distress: dented, stained, taped together, dusty, open, or crumpled.  You can save money shopping at a salvage store compared to shopping at the traditional grocery store; however, it’s anything but convenient to shop this way and they don’t carry everything I need.  Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.

Staging my home.

Home builders stage model homes so that potential homebuyers can imagine living there.   Most model homes stagers go beyond the basics and stage homes with beautiful and creative touches in every corner.   When all of the homes are sold, the builders or staging company might offer the model home furniture for sale to the public.  Model home furniture might have some dings and dents from the moving process, but since the furniture is never really used, it is often in good condition.  One thing you need to know is that some items used to stage a home are only good for looking at and have no practical use in a real home.  For example, along with a beautiful couch, a model home furniture sale might offer a plate of fake food!   Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  If I am in the market for furniture, yes!

Cashing in before closing.

When a company closes a store, goes out of business, or goes through a restructuring due to bankruptcy, they often try to reduce their inventory by holding a going-out-of-business sale. These sales sound great, but I quickly noticed that prices aren't that great and that much of the merchandise being sold is out-of-season and out-of-style. Also, merchandise isn’t always from the store that is closing – liquidation companies often bring in extra items in to make the most of the excitement. Even with all of this knowledge, I’m still so susceptible to this type of sale that I had to create a store closing sale pact with myself.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again?  I hope not.  (You'd hope I've learned my lesson after buying half a couch!)

Standing in line.

The day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday, is a big day for retailers.  One of the ways retailers try to encourage consumers to shop is by offering “early bird” sales.  Some early bird sales offer an extra percentage off if you get there before the sun rises.  Other early bird sales offer a specific item or items at a drastically reduced rate as supplies last, so you have to get there early.  This last advertising tactic is the one that got me to stand in line at 5 a.m. on a very cold November morning.  Unfortunately, supplies didn’t last long and I didn’t get the great deal; the only thing I got for my effort was a cold.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again?  Don’t wake me up.

Scrapping for samples. 

Designers show samples of their items to store buyers in hope that they will purchase them to sell in their retail stores.  Sample sales are held to sell these sample pieces as well as overstock items. I was invited to a sample sale that was held in a warehouse where tables were piled with clothes and shoppers were trying on items without regard to privacy.   The prices were great, but sizes were limited.  Although I was totally unprepared for the competitive nature of this event, I was able to snag a few bargains.   Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  Just send the invite!

Shopping an entire estate.

Estate sales are held when a large portion of a person’s belongings are being sold due to a death or move.  I’ve been to three estate sales in my life, but have never bought a thing.  One sale was actually a garage sale that was trying to sound more important by using the word “estate.”   The second estate sale I attended offered only two stained couches, an ancient piano, and mismatched silverware.  The last estate sale actually was selling every single item the occupants had owned — complete with half gallons of paint and dirty pots and pans.  I guess I'm too sentimental because I found the whole thing too sad to shop.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again?  Never. 

Have you gone to these or any other strange places to save money?  I’d love to hear about your experience!

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How to haggle for the best deal — on anything 

 

Think that sticker price is set in stone? Wrong! The salesperson knows the game. Do you? The savviest shoppers aren't intimidated. They know the secrets and secure the best deals. Watch MMI's "Haggling for Deals" video for tips on the art of haggling.

For most shoppers, if something's not on sale, the only option they see is to pay full price. But there are shoppers who see things differently. They negotiate their own low prices — for cars, furniture, medical bills, and more. Money reporter Stacy Johnson has some tips.

 

Watch the "Haggling for Deals" video

 

 

 

 


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How to pay off your credit cards

Here are two plans pick one and see the results

 

Credit cards are a tool of convenience, and maintaining a credit card for emergency reasons or an occasional large purchase is perfectly acceptable. Credit cards only become a problem when misused.

Fortunately, it is never too late to make a plan to pay down debt. When paying off credit card debt, making payments larger than your minimum can save you significant time and money. By increasing your monthly payments you will pay off balances sooner, and the amount of interest you pay goes down.

When manageable debt turns into a financial problem, consider the following plans for paying down credit card debt:

Method 1: Rapid account reduction plan

This method will give you the satisfaction of paying off accounts quickly and reducing the number of outstanding bills you face each month. Each time you pay off an account, it means one less bill that will be due the next month.

  • Each month make the largest payment you can afford to the account with the lowest balance owed.
  • Continue making minimum payments on all of your other debts.
  • When a debt is paid off, send the largest payment you can afford to the next account with the lowest balance owed.

Method 2: Rapid interest pay-down plan

Many experts suggest you pay off the credit card or loan with the highest interest rate first. This plan is best suited to people who will get satisfaction from seeing a reduction in the balance owed on their statement. If the balance is very high, it will take months or even years to pay down the debt; however, this method may cost less over time than the account reduction plan.

  • Each month make the largest payment you can afford to the account with the highest interest rate.
  • Continue making minimum payments on all of your other debts.
  • When a debt is paid off, begin to send the largest payment you can afford to the next account with the highest interest rate, while maintaining your other minimum payments.

Consistency is important no matter which plan you choose. Even if you are unable to pay extra for a few months, once you have selected a method, it will be easier to initiate the plan in the future.

This article was condensed from a chapter in MMI’s soon-to-be-released eBook, “Improve Your Finances, Improve Your Life.” Keep reading Success Weekly newsletter for news on the release date, or visit MoneyManagement.org frequently to watch for the release announcement.


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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.

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