Category Archives: Budgeting

4. Reduce, Recycle, Re-Use Plastic Bags from the Grocery Store

A Storage Idea

I’ve bought numerous reusable fabric bags intended for conserving our environment by saving on the mass production and use of paper or plastic garbage bags. The problem is they are all in mint condition. Not even a crease or stretching of the sometimes flimsy handles. I feel like such a responsible and socially conscious citizen when I approach the grocery bagger with my reusable bag but if I’m honest more often than not it’s not til I reach the register that I remember I left it at home or in the trunk of my car.

Facing this reality I’ve tried to come up with ways to do a little old fashioned recycling of the re-chid bags that tend to over-take the cupboard under the sink so quickly. The obvious re-use is trash bags. They tend to be too small for the tall kitchen trash cans but work perfectly for an office, bathroom or bedroom. If you own a pet and have to pick-up their droppings, forego the plastic gloves and zip-lock, and double up on the bags you just acquired at Target.

Rather than using plastic wrap or foil to keep food fresh in the fridge, keep it in the dish and wrap a bag around it and tie it shut. Use a bag to shake up a batch of puppy chow. Store messy craft supplies or paint brushes. Hide potent chemicals from children. Keep your smelly tennis shoes separate from the clean clothes in your gym bag or to prevent dirty clothes from smelling up clean clothes in your suitcase on a vacation. Wrap up a gift by cutting up a brown paper bag and sticking a bow on top. (Brown is so in right now.)

Feel good about a really simple form of recycling and save a few bucks while you’re at it. How have you re-used your grocery bags? Please do tell.

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3. A Side Job…

Are you looking for a way to make a little extra money on the side a part from your day job? No, I’m not pitching a pyramid scheme or suggesting you start working as an assassin. I am suggesting giving lessons or classes in something you already know quite a bit about or are good at. Did you play a sport in college? Do you speak another language? Did you study finance or investing? Do you play a musical instrument? Do you like to paint?

It’s a really great way to help someone else develop skills you already possess and probably enjoy quite a lot. It’s likely to be something you wish you did more of as well. You don’t have to be Roger Federer to be able to give tennis lessons.

I recently returned to the U.S. after living abroad for a year and a half in Santiago, Chile learning Spanish and started teaching private lessons. It’s a really useful skill that a lot of people have interest in so I posted on craigslist and a few other language learning sites and have received several responses.  It’s an opportunity to keep up my skills and help someone else wanting to learn.

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2. Infesting Investing

Investing is another popular escapade people, myself included, evade at all costs; at the cost of new electronics, home furnishings, tropical vacations, or just a few concerts. But again, in the long run investing is going to allow you to maintain your quality of life as long as you live. I find that if I put the money away before I have the chance to see it (straight out of my pay check) I can avoid the dilemma of wanting to spend it before being able to invest or save it.

The good news is you don’t need a lot of money to start investing. There is an online brokerage firm called Scottrade where you can make investments for $7 USD. The only catch is you have to know what you want to invest in. Their site is directed at the “self directed investors” providing a cheap and easy way to buy and trade stocks online.

Although they don’t give you advice on which stocks to buy they do provide a host of information and background like top gainers and top losers, real-time streaming quotes and research, and graphs displaying the history of any particular stock over the last 1 day, 5 days,  6 months, and 5 years. So if you have any interest or experience in monitoring stocks, mutual funds or ETF’s an online brokerage firm could be the way to go. On the other hand, if you have no interest in investment research it would probably be worth your time and money to pay someone else to do it for you rather than dumping money into something you are clueless about. Another option before heading straight to a consultant office would be to talk to any close friends or family members that have experience in trading. You never know how far a little advice can go. The sooner you get started the more chances you have to receive a greater return.

 

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1. The Dreaded B Word

I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding setting a budget. If I don’t know how much I should be allotted to new shoes each month I’m not breaking any rules right? But my savings account isn’t getting me any closer to a tropical getaway next winter either. It’s not rocket science, you have to spend less than you make. So figuring out how to do that starts with setting a budget. I really like Mint.com.

It’s a great site to create an online budget for free. It connects you with your bank accounts, investments, and credit cards and help you set goals and save for them. It’s also really easy to navigateand does all the math for you so if your not a numbers or a computer person you should still be able to figure it out.

Is ignorance really Bliss? Or is another five letter B word that comes back to bite you in the tush after the shoes have been worn in?

He pasado mucho tiempo evitando hacer un presupuesto. Si no sé cuánto se debe asignar a unos zapatos nuevos cada mes, ¿no estoy rompiendo ninguna regla, cierto? Pero mi cuenta de ahorros no está cercana a llevarme a un paraíso tropical el próximo invierno. No es física cuántica: debes gastar menos de lo que ganas. Así que encontrar la manera de hacerlo se inicia con la buena administración de un presupuesto. Me gusta mucho Mint.com, es un gran sitio para hacer un presupuesto en línea de forma gratuita. Te conecta con tus cuentas bancarias, inversiones y tarjetas de crédito y te ayuda a establecer metas y ahorrar para ellas. También es muy fácil de navegar y hace todo los cálculos por ti, por lo que si no eres matemático o informático, igual puedes entenderlo.

¿Es realmente la ignorancia la dicha? ¿O es una palabra de cuatro letras que comienza con P que viene a morderte el trasero después de que los zapatos han sido usados?

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