Money is still tight and finances are no where near where they should be; welcome to adult life. In my quest to improve our family financial situation, I am reading everything I can find. Although I do not believe it is all gospel, I read in the hope that I will find little pearls of wisdom along the way. Here is what I have learned over the past several months:
- Selling plasma is just not a good idea. Due to health issues during the course of my life, I have been used as a pin cushion so many times, my arms look like I have track marks. Once I had a nurse ask me how long I have been sober and in recovery for. I had to tell her to check my medical records in order to verify that all theses needle marks are from the very ER I was currently sitting in. Selling plasma is great if a person is doing it on a sporadic basis and with the intent to help the local medical community. It is a real need for some patients. However, repeated times sitting in those chairs being jabbed with needles will leave scares. It also will eventually weaken your skin and veins in that area, resulting in problems much later in your own life. So over all, just not a good idea. Please consult your primary care doctor before going this route. You may have a medical condition that makes it dangerous to engage in plasma donations. See your doctor first!
- Cut the cable. Thank you very much Captain Obvious. I have never paid a cable bill in my life. Growing up we always had cable and Dad paid the bill. As a teenager, I helped write the monthly checks when his hands were not working correctly. After seeing the amount of money he paid each month, I decided that I would never have cable. It seems like such a waste of money. This piece of advice seems to be a big one that financial experts write about. Not helpful for me.
- Open a second checking or a new savings account. With what? I barely have enough money to fund the one checking account we currently have. How am I supposed to open a second one? And for the love of all that is money, why? Why do I need a second account? Many articles are written urging people to open a second checking account. One for the purpose of paying bills, the other for the purpose of having spending money. My bills are piling up because I do not have enough money to cover them. Where am I supposed to find the money to fund a second account just for spending money? I would much rather pay a bill, followed by an evening of binge watching Netflix instead of dividing money into two accounts and not having the means to cover both bills and a social like. I fail to see how this is great financial advice. Can anyone explain this to me? As for a savings account, I already have one and I do put money in it as often as I can. Never as much as I would like, however I still put something in there. But face, the return interest rate on a standard savings account is pathetic. My balance is not high enough to give me bargaining power with my bank to request an interest rate increase. Been there, done that.
- Download more apps. Ahhh…can we say “identity theft waiting to happen”? I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of downloading tons of apps onto my phone. Especially apps regarding my financial information. People amaze me with the amount of personal information they put on their cell phones and then they wonder why everything gets compromised when their phone is lost or stolen. Gee, I wonder how that happens. Having all those apps on a phone takes up a lot of space. Those apps and the space just encourage people to continuously upgrade their phones. Upgrading phones is expensive. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people do not realize the difference between a phone and a computer. They are not synonymous objects! Besides, I do not want some program running in the background tracking everything I do on my phone and then reporting it to some company. I do not care how much they are willing to pay me. This is a topic I can rant about for hours. I have worked for banks, I have had friends cry on my shoulder because of their information being hacked or identity stolen. It is just to risky in my opinion.
- Check your free credit report. Sigh… Anyone over the age of 19 years old should already be doing this each year. If not, then you were obviously not taught about it. My Dad drilled this into my head for years. I knew to do this before I knew what a FICO was-thanks Dad. To me, this piece of advice is a sad testament to the lack of financial education today’s society has. We live and operate in a global economy, therefore, it is critical to know your credit report. So many companies check an applicants credit history before hiring them. Each person needs to know what is going on in the realm of credit before applying for a job. Again, this is a topic I can go on and on about, mostly from the perspective of what I learned growing up. Add to it my work history, and I can safely say that this is not a new piece of information that will help my family. My one take away from this topic is if you do not understand how to read your credit report, ask for help. There are legitimate companies that will help you and will not charge you for the initial consult. This means actually sitting down with someone in person. Please use these resources carefully and wisely. No, I make no claims to being an expert.
- Use coupons. I try. The problem I run into is the lack of coupons for the items we buy. Not one store in my area offers coupons for fresh produce or fresh meat. We get tons of coupons for soda, frozen processed foods, boxed processed foods, candy, processed snack foods, and other items with ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Just not coupons for what we actually purchase. And I have never in my life seen a coupon for $10 off my electric bill or Internet bill. The bulk of the coupons we use are for household items like toilet paper and shampoo.
- Shop online. Oh, where do I begin? Shopping online is not all it is cracked up to be. The actually price of certain items may be cheaper than buying it in a store, however, once I add on the shipping fee and taxes it is usually more expensive than it would be if I just drove to the local store and grabbed it off the shelf. I have heard the argument that shopping online is more convenient. That is true for some people, but not for all. The few times I have shopped online it has never been cheaper for me. And I do not like waiting for items to be delivered. Our local mail carrier will not deliver the packages. Our community has one large mail station with individual mail boxes for each resident. He just places a card in our mail box telling me I have a package and that I must drive to the post office to pick it up. No thank you. He delivers the mail late in the afternoon, places the card in my mail box. Then I must wait for my girls to come home from school. By then, I do not have time to run to the post office before they close, so I must wait until the next day. Ug!
- Sell items you no longer want or use. Most of my life I have lived in apartments. The places I have lived in have strict rules prohibiting yard/garage sales. It is up to the property owner to decide on this topic. I have tried online garage sale sites with zero results. I once posted $50 worth of children’s clothing with a price of $10 for the lot. The only interest was from someone who said they would only pay $3 for all of it because the clothing was used. I turned them down and gave it all to a friend of mine who just had a baby instead. I was paid nothing, but she saved money because she did not have to purchase clothing. In my experience, selling used items online is not as easy as these article make it sound and most people want the items for free.
All summed up, not really helpful. There are no universal tips & tricks for everyone. These are just the most common ones that I have found and they do not work for our financial situation. I hope they work for someone. I hope some people benefit from them and gain the financial stability they are looking for. They just do not help us.