Tag Archives: money

6 of the Worst Ways to Save

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Over the last year or so, we’ve offered up sundry tips on how to consistently and systematically save money.  However, there exists a litany of alternative methods that certain factions of people routinely employ in a hapless effort to hold on to their finances.  Let’s take a gander at some of the worst ways that people have dreamt up to “save,” and why you should avoid them like the bubonic plague.

“Everything’s fine!  Why would I need insurance?”

For the love of all that is holy, please do not adopt this attitude.  Be it home, auto or health, you need insurance.  All the money you could possibly save in your lifetime by not having insurance will still pale in comparison to the amount you would have to pay out of pocket in the event of an accident or unexpected serious condition.  Property and car insurance providers are well aware of this, and as a result must compete for your business by advertising/offering cost cutting incentives (why do you think Geico has over 100 mascots?)  Even the oft maligned ‘government’ is looking out for you in terms of reasonably affordable health insurance (Hello, Obamacare.)  Only when you’re insured, can you rest assured – or at least take a little nap.

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“Let’s buy in bulk! / Find the best deal!”

Shopping at the massive bulk item conglomerates can be quite cost effective when making purchases …if you actually use up all the items you buy.  For instance, “Octomom” could have benefited from a large supply of diapers.  You, on the other hand, may not need 200 Glade Plug-Ins.  While the individual costs of these items will be ostensibly inexpensive when you break them down, if you aren’t using the products up rapidly, then these giant quantities are effectively costing you cash.  Not to mention the annual fees that most of the wholesale clubs enforce.  Along the same lines, if you spend all day long scouring the internet for “super great deals,” you can often be tempted (and lured with clever advertising) to buy “cheap” things that you weren’t going to buy in the first place.  So great, you’ve just saved 40 cents on fabric softener with a discount code provided by a site, but you also just bought 78 dollars worth of Snuggies.

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“I see Golden Arches ahead!”

Truly, a “Dollar Value Menu” sounds like the epitome of savings/deliciousness, but if you trust your, ahem, gut, you know this is not a smart idea.  Yes, eating healthy can be costly, but ultimately it is worth it.  Scarfing down copious amounts of fast food will leave you feeling lethargic and susceptible to illness.  In the long term, doctor’s bills of any sort will always outweigh any savings you may have incurred from eating BK every day.  Repeat, do not have it your way.

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“Minimum payment: check!  I’m good to go!”

We’ve gone over a lot of the pros and cons of credit cards and how to avoid debt, but one thing is for certain; making only the minimum monthly payment on your cards is costing you a great deal.  As your balance surges higher and higher, the interest you owe also accumulates at this exponential rate, leaving you in quite the credit hole.  Try to pay as much as you can per month (unless, of course, you’ve got one of those nifty promotional cards with an APR of 0% for the first year, in which case, go buck wild.)

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“DIY, DIY, DIY!”

While some of you may love working with your hands, either digging around in a garden for weeds or popping Ikea furniture together, there is definitely a time and a place for home projects.  So let’s go over the times/places where you should NOT attempt to repair or construct things yourself (after a perfunctory Google or Bing instruction session that you deem totally adequate): fixing a hole in your steep angled roof, stopping that gas leak in your basement, putting out the fire billowing from your carburetor, building a guest-tree house for your brother-in-law to live in, capturing a rabid raccoon.  There are professionals in all these fields; if you value your safety in the least bit, please use them.  Even tasks that aren’t that dangerous can just be a colossal waste of your time.  You’ve been trying to grab it for the last three hours; you’re never going to reach that turtle your son flushed down the toilet.  Call a dang plumber immediately before you permanently lose your mind and end up in a mental hospital.

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“One day, this sparkly thing will be worth so much!”

Holding on to old diamond jewelry that you never wear anymore (or ever did, in the case of some dusty inherited pieces) is not smart.  Diamonds, and most jewelry items in general, do not appreciate in the same way that other commodities can.  If you have substantial diamonds of any nature (meaning 1 carat and larger), you should consider selling them now.  The money you make from them can then be used for something more profitable, such as a mutual fund or (a more spiritually profitable) trip to Paris or Mumbai.  Check out DiamondLighthouse.com.  We get our clients the best value for their diamond jewelry, every single time.  Find out how!

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-Joe Leone

Trick Yourself into Saving More Money

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While you may not have gotten a raise, you can still save more money if you introduce smart saving habits into your daily lifestyle. Being able to save really just means you take a closer look at the ways you manage and spend your money, then find avenues for putting cash away. Creating rules to follow and developing smart habits will change the way you think about your cash flow, and can be a great way to trick yourself into saving more money.

Use Cash

Striving to use only cash will cause you to force yourself to pay closer attention to how much money you really spend every time you go out, to the grocery store or clothes shopping. The trick is to put your plastic away so you feel like you don’t even have it to use. You may also want to consider removing your credit cards from easy pay and 1-Click settings from your online accounts to make it harder to make purchases. You might be surprised at how much less you want an item you see online when the added difficulty of typing in your 16-digit credit card number is in your way.

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Check Your Credit Card Statement Every Month

Your credit usage may have run away from you because you are like the thousands of other people who do not check their credit card statement every month. Looking at how much money you spend and the places you spend it is a good way to make yourself think about your choices in a more deliberate manner. Seeing that you spent $80 at the bar instead of the $40 you planned may shock you into being a little more careful next weekend, or realizing you spend half of your paycheck on new threads may encourage you to create a budget for your wardrobe.

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Attorney Leslie Tayne who writes for Fox Businesses advises you wait five days before making a big purchase. While that hot tub sale is enticing, give yourself five days to ponder whether a hot tub purchase is really in line with saving for your kids’ college tuition. Thinking about what you want to buy is a great way to prevent yourself from spending too lavishly on items you don’t need. A bonus benefit of waiting to buy something is that it gives you a chance to find a better deal, whether you look online or in competitors’ stores.

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Ignore Extra Income

Even though your surprise income may look like it has “jet-ski” written all over it, try instead to imagine it saying “Save me!” and put it away into an account you don’t use immediately. Tayne advises that you only rely on the money you make regularly to make big purchases. That means you should take that big fat tax refund or even the $10 you found in the parking lot and put it toward debt or into a savings account. Extra income is anything outside of the realm of your weekly or monthly income, including cash you make from selling your unneeded wares, (like diamonds that you sell with us!) By putting that extra cash away, you’ll never be tempted to dump it down the drain on something you don’t need. The unexpected kind of money is best spent by not spending it at all.

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Automate Everything

Investopedia advises against taking care of your financial business on a day-by-day basis. Instead, get your employer to deposit portions of your paycheck not only into your checking account, but into your savings account and IRA as well. In addition, set up your credit cards to pay off the balance each month, not just the minimum. A penny paid off is a penny and a half earned in the credit world, because each time your balance equals zero, that means you don’t have to pay annoying off bank fees later in life.

Saving money is really just about changing the way you look at money. If you don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket and instead let it burn a hole in your debt or build your savings, you’ll be on your way to securing a bright financial future in no time.

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Even MORE Ways to Make Quick Cash

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So we’ve done quite a few posts on how to make super fast cash in a super fast manner; to the point it seems we’ve fully exhausted the subject matter.  Alas, we have vouchsafed all of the traditional methods available to most people, from selling blood to selling yourself as a bud.  Now, however, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the weird world of inordinately expedited fiscal procurement.

found in translation

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Were you raised by Astonian grandparents who inadvertently taught you your ancestral tongue as they routinely prepared goulash?  Were you an overachiever in high school who learned how to parlez vous Français like Gerard Depardieu?  Can you proficiently fake your way through a full on Spanglish ordering session at Taco Bell?  Que bueno!  Put those linguistic skills to use and pick up some lucrative part time work as an interpreter, translator or language instructor to a spoiled child whose parents want him to learn Sentinelese.  To turn your tongue to funds, take a gander at this site jobs-to-careers.com, capishe?

rep-resent

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If you actually enjoy talking on the phone (unlike most currently living humans), but hate leaving your home (either from agoraphobia or an intense proclivity for Netflix), you can get paid to chat.  Customer Service chat, that is.  Become a rep for one of the many large corps that hire stay-at-home homies (West at Home & Alpine Access are two major organizations always on the lookout for homebody chatters).  So pick up that receiver and use your gift of gab to nab some swag.

 

opinion-compens-ated

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Have no discernible talents but LOTS to say about things?  Super duper; you are ready for a career in the fast paced world of Survey-Filling…Out.  Another task you can complete from the comfortable milieu of your own domicile, survey completion typically takes about 20 minutes.  The pay seems not so stellar (roughly 3 bucks a pop), yet if you bang out 3 in an hour, you’ve just made 9 clams – just for stating your preferences in deodorant scents or type fonts (please don’t ever pick ‘comic sans’).  The more reputable online survey companies include Ipsos, Pinecone Research and Viewpoint Forum.  Other exist as well, but make sure you do your due diligence and don’t sign up for any potentially scam-my ones ($3 = not worth having your identity stolen over).

sweeping up

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“It’s Sweeps Week!”  Yes, that is what you’ll be exclaiming every day if you pursue your dream job in the sweepstake arts.  Granted, this is probably the lowest form of ‘gambling’ that exists, and the payout is usually not so grand, but the upside is that it costs you nothing to enter (so, technically, not even gambling).  Essentially, all you need is the dream…not even the dollar.  Start off with Online-Sweepstakes.com and see how you do.  If you don’t see any results, don’t fret; Shark Week will be just around the corner, and you can potentially catch and sell a tasty mako.

You, Spy

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Are you one of these people who is always on Yelp, leaving scathing reviews and exacting revenge for poor customer service, inferior products and vermin plagued brunches?  Do you revel in engaging in Catfish-like scenarios, going undercover like a glorified Magnum P.I.?  Perfect!  Put your vindictive skills in the field of subterfuge to work for you and assume the meaty role of “Mystery Shopper.”  It’s way more fun than just regular shopping, too; you sometimes get to ask odd questions and be unnecessarily demanding in bizarrely conceived situations.  After it’s all done, you typically have to write up your experience, so a good memory and Jonathan Swift-like writing skills are prized.  To scope out all the mystery shopper platforms available, go to volition.com for a comprehensive listing (to get in the mood, you can always search in “incognito” mode, if using Google Chrome – if you are using Internet Explorer for some reason, there are larger issues at hand…)

have some crowd-fun

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If you’re not familiar with the concept of Crowdfunding, it’s time to get kickstarted.  Have an idea for how to save the environment through using repurposed life-rafts?  Want to send your child to cricket camp in Uganda for the summer?  Looking to start an exclusive club dedicated to people who only watch Youtube videos of squirrels waterskiing?  No matter how random the ‘business,’ or other idea, there is always one consistent commonality: you need money to get it off the ground.  The craziest thing?  There are people out there willing to help fund your possibly hair-brained endeavor.  For a full aggregation of all the best crowdfuding sites, have a look here on Entrepreneur.com (and tell your friends).

need scalp with that?

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Not everything that is going to garner you fast cash is going to be entirely legal.  If there is a big event or concert headed to your town/city/hamlet, snag as many tickets as you can for it immediately and then start selling them online.  You’ll find that once something is sold out, you can jack the price up significantly and still receive numerous hits (some people just need  their fix of Miley!)  If you haven’t sold them all by the day of the actual Ice-capade show or Monster Truck rally, head to the arena and get to scalpin’.  The pro scalpers endemic to the area may try to run you off their turf, but just remember; you have just as much of a (non-)right to be there as they do(n’t).

casino-where left to turn

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Last option: hit the local casino.  Don’t waste time trying to ‘outplay’ other gamblers at the poker table.  They are either better than you or have enough money to blow that they can take bigger risks; either way, you lose.  Then cry.  Best bet is to take whatever you’ve got and put it all on RED/BLACK.  It’s basically 50/50 odds.  So…you feelin’ lucky?

-Joe Leone 

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*If all else fails, you could always sell your old diamond jewelry for the absolute highest price in the known universe with the unwavering help of Diamond Lighthouse.

…Just sayin’.

Recent (and Insane) Jewelry & Cash Heists

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This has been quite a year in the world of high stakes jewelry heists.  All over the globe, from right here in NYC’s Diamond District to the luxury boutiques of London to Thai airports to Mom ‘n Pop Shops in the Midwest, jewel thieves have been striking with reckless abandon.  The caliber of gem pilferers have ranged from highly successful and calculating posses, like the infamous Pink Panthers, to renegade solo stealers, like a particular femme fatale who has been on quite the tear as of late – and is currently wanted in several US states.

What has lead to this dramatic increase in dangerous, violent and unfortunately lucrative jewel crimes?  Are these new age criminals utilizing technology to figure out the security patterns of jewelry stores with deadly precision, and seeing this as a way to make ‘easy money?’  Have international economic woes contributed to people seeking innovative and coincidentally illegal methods for obtaining cash?  Is it somehow Trump’s fault??  Not ruling out any of these options, it really is hard to say with any certain degree of accuracy what is the true root cause.  One thing is for sure; many of these elite larcenies have been hair-raising, to say the least.  Here we take a look at some of the more jaw-dropping-ly fascinating tales of jewel and dough poaching that have occurred over the last few years.

Diamonds of Anarchy 

London’s Brent Cross Mall, 2012.  A fairly standard autumn morning in homogenized British shopping.  Then…half a dozen masked (helmeted) motorcycle men (presumably from Hades) rode INTO a jewelry store on the second floor of the shopping complex and proceeded to wreak havoc.  They smashed the jewelry containers with bats and axes and grabbed whatever they could carry in their avaricious mitts.  Riding two to a bike, the loot snatchers jumped back on their partners’ backs and blazed out of there to freedom.  After all was said and stolen, 3.1 million dollars in Rolex and Cartier watches, along with sundry loose diamonds and gems (and even a few sale items) were gone forever.  All the police were able to turn up in the ensuing investigation were the motorcycles themselves, which had been stolen and were left abandoned in a golf course not far from the mall.  The motorcycle gang, or “club” as Jax Teller would say, remain at large to this day.

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Couldn’t Belieb their Own Eyes 

In May of 2013, a truly pop-tastic heist occurred.  Technically, no jewelry was stolen, but the amount of plundered cash (half a mil) is enough to raise an eyebrow or two.  More importantly, is the venue where this caper went down: FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Thousands of adoring fans were rocking out to arguably one of the greatest musical talents of our time – heck, of EVER.  That’s right; the Bieb.  While the concert raged on, and many a tween girl wept with hormonally confused ecstasy, a cadre of supplemental security guards (hired just for this epic event) were chainsawing or exploding or god-only-knows-what-ing a two foot concrete floor which gave way to where all the cash from the night’s revelry was stored.  The thieves then high tailed it out of there before the final, haunting refrain of “If I Was Your Boyfriend” was even sung.

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Cannes Not Believe this Happened 

When one thinks of the city of Cannes, nestled on the coast of the French Riviera, images of film festival opulence and extravagant vacations come to mind.  A lone dude in a “baseball cap and scarf” toting a handgun who is somehow able to steal 136 million dollars in gems, watches and baguettes from the extra fancy Carlton International Hotel is probably not what you would picture.  However, that is precisely what went down in 2013 at the famed location.  The reason all these valuables were just hanging around the hotel was because Lev Avnerovich Leviev, an Israelite with billions of shekels to his name, had them on display there, in a “private salon.”  Too bad the paltry guards assigned to watch said watches and jewels were not trained to deal with an actual robbery (also, they had no guns themselves).  So, the solitary fellow strolled over with his pistol, politely asked for the goods and said “au revoir.”  Ironic twist: this hotel is where Hitchcock’s 1955 hit “To Catch a Thief” was filmed.

…This thief has not been caught.

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Putting Seniors to Work 

This past May, London’s premier jewelry district, Hatton Garden (a name befitting a location out of “Great Expectations”) felt a little bit of a squeeze.  One of the area’s  “safest” safety deposit vaults was expertly invaded and drained of 300 million dollars worth of jewels and pounds.  Aside from the staggeringly high amount of quid that was snatched, what makes this case so intriguing is the age of the robbers.  The youngest man, out of the nine suspects, was 48, and the most senior was 76.  They tunneled their way into the vault, carving out a perfectly cylindrical hole just wide enough to fit presumably the thinnest member of the elder gang.  Ultimately, all nine of the thieves were apprehended, which confirms the theory that older people may have the wisdom to pull off a heist of this magnitude, but probably aren’t that particularly great at running away from the police.

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One Bold Babe

The Eastern Seaboard has very recently fallen prey to one daring and dazzling dame.  The unidentified woman has hit three states thus far: South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (appears this larcenous lady has an affinity for beachy locales).  In all of the accounts, she has allegedly overpowered all the workers, zip-tied ‘em up and made off with thousands of dollars in jewels.  The FBI has stepped in and vows to take immediate action (but if anything can be learned from watching the ‘X-Files,’ it’s that the FBI is not always adept at getting to the truth…even if it really is out there).  Surveillance footage of the woman depicts a tough and attractive individual (possibly similar to Gina Gershon’s character in the film “Bound”), but the police sketch of her makes her look like Carmen San Diego.

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via CNN.com
via CNN.com

Each day it seems at least one jewelry store is hit, somewhere on this vast planet of ours.  No one can say what exactly motivates these enterprising thieves (aside from the obvious: money), or if they will slow down any time soon.  All we can do is hope that no one is injured in any way in these robberies, that the victims are fully insured…and that the stories continue to be this juicy.

-Joe Leone    

Manage Your Money From Your Phone

Great Money-Managing Apps
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If money worries are keeping you up at night, or if the mounds of bills and receipts or even URLs, log-ins, and passwords you try to keep organized are driving you bonkers, you may need to turn to your phone for help. Apple’s trademarked advertising slogan, “There’s an app for that,” has a place in the world of personal finance as well as in the world of fun.

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While having an app for each of your banks and credit unions is a good idea for individual accounts, you can also manage all of your accounts in one place with financial management apps like Mint, Level Money, Check, and LearnVest. CNET associate editor Sarah Mitroff reviewed several great money management apps, each with slightly different features. Check, for example, which is free on both iOS and Android, allows you to pay bills without having go to each bill pay website. While the app is free, some functions are only available if you pay a fee.

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Mint and Level Money are both good for monitoring your bills and expenses, both of which will actively help you stay on track with notifications and emails to let you know how well you are doing. With this type of app, you give the app permission to connect with your bank accounts and other financial accounts, and it monitors those you’ve added. Mint is helpful for people with more expansive financial portfolios, including 401(k)s, loans, and IRAs. It constantly updates in real time, so you can see where each expense fits into your budget.

DailyWorth, a website dedicated to talking about personal finance, reviewed Mvelopes, another app that links to your bank accounts, but asks you to set your own budgeting goals. While Mint and Level Money focus on your net worth, Mvelopes lets you focus on your daily cash flow.

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Safety is key with BillGuard, another app that will monitor your bills, but it is better for people who are concerned about fraud activity or incorrect charges on your account than for people who aim to focus on their budget.

If you are not comfortable with connecting your bank accounts directly to a third party app, something like Expensify, with which you manually enter your payments and expenses, may be more suitable for your needs. PocketExpense also lets you monitor your expenses without having to link your bank accounts. You can enter expenses manually to monitor how much you spend, where you spend it, and when. The app then breaks down expenditures by category that you can visualize using a chart generator within the app. GoodBudget is another free app that helps people who budget based on income and outgoing expenses by using “envelopes” for changing elements of your budget, like holiday expenses and vacation savings.

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In addition to budgeting apps, you can take better control of your money situation with other apps that deal with your finances in different ways. DigitalTrends.com magazine recommends using apps like Slice, which help avid shoppers monitor their habits, or Credit Karma Mobile, which monitors not only credit scores, but things that may affect your credit score. SavedPlus is a great way to help you passively save money by automatically moving an allotted percentage of the amount you spend from your checking to your savings account.

In addition to tracking spending on your own, sometimes you have to track the expenditures of the group you’re with. For that, Tricount can help you out by splitting up the expenses for you. If you only need to pay someone one time, Google Wallet, Venmo, and SquareCash are all apps that allow you to pay another person directly using only their e-mail address. Venmo even allows you to pay with credit cards, but takes a three percent transaction fee.

With the proper use of these apps, you hardly need a financial planner to help you get on top of your money situation and begin to have a realistic view of your incoming cash and outgoing expenses. Help secure your financial future from your phone or tablet with these apps that feature attractive interfaces.  They are way more fun to use than a paper-and-pen expense book, and definitely better than a spreadsheet.

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