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Everyday Cheapskate: Financial Planners and Other Mysteries of Life

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I am noticing a growing trend in my mailbox -- readers in search of financial planners or advisors. Or assistants. The problem is that when taking in the message's context it's pretty clear that not everyone means the same thing when they refer to a financial "planner-advisor-assistant-helper."

One reader wanted to know where to find a "...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

The most important thing you can do to make your personal economy strong is to have an umbrella -- a contingency fund with at least enough money to pay all of your bills without a paycheck for three to six months.

Call it $10,000. On a weekly basis, try to save 10% of your paycheck. It may sound like a lot, so if you can't do 10%, start with 5%...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Ultimate Risk-Free, High-Yield, Guaranteed Investment

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

From time to time, this kind of question pops up in my inbox: How can I get started investing in stocks and mutual funds that are risk-free and have guaranteed high rates of return?

Of course, that makes me laugh, not only because there is no such thing as a risk-free investment -- let alone one with a guaranteed high rate of return -- but also...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Easy Ways to Cut the High Cost of Pet Care

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

If the cost to keep your pets fed, healthy, cared for, and looking good has gotten so high, you're the one coughing up fur balls, take heart. There are many little ways to cut the cost of pet care that will add up to big savings.

According to one survey, owning a dog costs an average of $1,480 in basic expenses annually. For cats, average ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How Not to Feel Poor on a Fixed Income

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

It's no secret that more and more people -- especially seniors on fixed incomes -- are sinking deeper into credit card debt. Why is this? I don't think it's because we've had so many emergencies (the common reason to have credit cards, right?). It's because we don't want to feel poor.

At this point, I should define "feeling poor." It's not easy...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: 7 Ways to Keep Brown Sugar Soft

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

How maddening to reach for the brown sugar, expecting it to be soft and fluffy, only to find a rock-hard clump in the bottom of the box. Or how about this: Brown sugar is on sale, so you stock up. Even without opening the bags or boxes left on the shelf, the contents, in time, turn brick-hard. Should you toss the bricks into the garbage? Better ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: A Valuable Money Lesson for the Kids

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Don't assume your kids are going to learn in school how to manage money well. There is a growing recognition for the need, but few children are lucky enough to learn about money matters in school. If you have kids, teaching them about money rests squarely on your shoulders. So, how are you doing with that? Don't know where to start? Today, I've ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Physical and Emotional Clutter

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Not long ago, a Realtor dropped off the flier announcing plans for the annual neighborhood garage sale. "Join us to make this the biggest sale ever!" the flyer read.

Since making our move to Colorado, we have never participated in this annual ritual. This year would be no exception. I've learned the hard way that for a compulsive shopper it ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Reality vs. Perception Makes My Head Hurt

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Had it not been required to graduate, I would never have taken the class titled simply: Philosophy. Abstract thinking makes my head hurt. That's why I felt a headache coming on when I heard television psychologist Dr. Phil say on his show, "There is no reality, only perception." In a flash I was back in class wanting to ask this professor to ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Homegrown Tomatoes: $37 Each

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I don't know what I was thinking the year that I bought three dozen tomato plants (they were small), plus enough planting mix to cover a small farm. And as long as I was there, I picked up mulch, root stimulator, liquid fertilizer, time-release fertilizer, pest control, slug and snail bait, metal cages (one per plant) and special green tape to ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Great Reader Tips

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Readers agree that vinegar, household ammonia and shaving cream all have uses beyond the ordinary that will help save time and money around your house.


I wash my wool sweaters, skirts and blankets in cold water (either by hand or in the washing machine depending on how delicate the item is) with sudsy household ammonia, ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The 10-Year Bar of Soap, Plus More Great Reader Tips

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

In the cupboard right above my washing machine, there's a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap standing in a coffee mug. I'm sure it's five years old, and it appears that it will be good for at least another five. When I come across a stain, I grab the soap, dip the end into water and use it to scrub the stain -- almost as if it were a big eraser -- ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Value of Trivial Pursuits

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

For decades, I've been collecting and disseminating timesaving and money-saving tips. Readers email them to me, comment with them on my website at, hand them to me on little scraps of paper and even send them in the mail. Some are hilarious, others downright weird. And the very best ones show up in this column. Thousands ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Ask Me Anything: Secured Cards, Nail Polish Stains and More

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Every day, it seems, my virtual mailbag fills up with mail from my dear readers. Many messages include questions about everything you can imagine and some that are beyond imagination! Today, I've chosen to answer a small sampling of them.

Dear Mary: I ruined my credit starting about 10 years ago, in the usual foolish way people do with ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Cyber Shopping and Debit Cards Do Not Mix

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Planning to shop online this holiday season? I have one very important piece of advice: Do not use a debit card. You'll understand why when I tell you what happened to Carol D. several years ago.

Look, I know that when it comes to spending money, we all have our comfort zones. Me? I'm a cash person. I prefer anonymity to convenience. Others are...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How to Painlessly Declutter and Organize Your Home in 10 Minutes

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

If you think organizing your home or getting your personal affairs in order requires a lot of time, you might be right. However, if you feel that you just don't have enough time to spend on these tasks, then you're probably wrong. All you have to do is recognize little chunks of free time throughout the day.

This is the best idea ever. OK, ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: 5 Rules to Build Wealth

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

At the tender age of 11, I made a solemn vow that when I grew up I was going to be rich. My plan was simple: Marry well.

I bless the day I married my husband, a man who is rich in character and unfailing love. I assumed his money would follow. While waiting for wealth to descend upon me, I made the near-tragic error of spending as though I were...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Best Inexpensive Home Dehumidifiers and How to Choose

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Humidity, or the lack thereof, is always a popular topic. Where I live in northern Colorado, it's dry! We have no humidity. Well, not exactly, but it averages in the low- to mid-20% during the summer and fall months. We have a humidifier in our home, and it runs 24/7 year-round for health and comfort.

Recently, lots of readers have inquired ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Last-Minute Tricks to Do Halloween on a Budget This Year

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Hear that sound? It's the first of the major shopping holidays at the door. Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open their wallets -- the kick-off to a lot of shopping before the end of the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent north of $10 billion on Halloween last year. Yes, ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Pain and Pleasure Principle

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I don't care much for pain. In fact, I'll do almost anything to avoid it. I also know that pain can be a good thing.

The human nervous system triggers a sensation of pain to stop us from doing something that might cause a severe injury and to let us know that something may be wrong.

While we mostly think of pain in terms of physical wellbeing,...Read more



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