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I believe if you want to help people do good you have to make it easy for them to do so. My in-laws are a perfect example of this. For years they threw all of their recyclables in with the regular garbage. Whenever we visited I was dismayed at the amount of plastic and glass commingling with the trash.
One day I had enough. I bought a plastic container, (a laundry basket of sorts), and placed it right next to the trash. Every time they finished a drink I placed their can or bottle into that container. I told them that I would carry them down to the recycle bin at the end of the night.
I’m not sure why no one thought of this solution before, but sure enough by the end of that week they bought a large plastic trash can to hold their bottles and cans and started emptying it out every night. Just like that they went from a family that threw away everything to one that consistently recycled.
If you want people to do good you have to make it easy for them to do so. That’s one of the reasons stores now ask if you want to donate money at the checkout counter. Most people won’t go out of their way to write a check to charity, but offering a dollar when you’ve just paid for $200 worth of groceries is certainly easy enough.
I love companies and charities that understand this premise, so I was especially excited to hear about Save1. Save1 is a a family owned coupon and loyalty site representing more than 5,000 of the top online merchants.
I know there are a ton of coupon sites out there, but this site is different from all the rest. Every time you shop through Save1 they provide a healthy meal to a malnourished child through one of their non-profit feeding partners. Since it’s launch date in October of 2012 they have provided more than 96,000 meals!!!
So how does Save1 work? It’s simple. Use an online coupon or special offer from the Save1 site. Save1 receives a small commission and uses that money to provide a meal for a hungry child. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
I encourage you to read the Save1 story. If you plan on shopping online consider using this site. You’ll save money on your purchase and a hungry mouth will receive a nourishing meal. It’s an easy way to help a child in need.
If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping quite yet, you might want to check out Amazon’s list of items that quality for Free One Day Shipping. You don’t need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of this. Just make sure you choose one day shipping when you checkout and make certain that the item you want qualifies.
This is a guest post from Suzan Bekiroglu.
For many students with federal student loans, consolidation can be a great way to save money on both the amount of the interest rate and on the monthly payment. However, few students really understand how the consolidation process works or how it can benefit them.
Federal loan consolidation is a process in which a bank takes a former student’s direct loans and bundles them together as a single loan with one payment. This new loan can have a lower interest rate than the previous loans, and a longer payment term if desired.
Loan consolidation is a great way to get some relief on student loan payments. Many recent graduates feel trapped by the high amount of debt they have taken on. A typical graduate has nearly $24,000 in student loans for a Bachelor’s degree. In this harsh job market, many of these former students are considered to be underemployed; that is, they are working part-time and/or below their skill level. This means that many students are not making enough money to meet the minimum obligation on their student loans.
To make matters worse, many people do not discover until it is too late that they cannot discharge their student loans in a bankruptcy. Unlike practically every other type of debt, a person who cannot pay their student loans has no way of legally getting rid of them. This means a borrower has to find some way to make their payments or risk having their wages, tax refunds, and even their Social Security checks garnished. Student loans are a great way for a former student to lower their debt burden without running the risk of legal trouble
Fortunately, there is currently a special federal consolidation offer to help struggling borrowers. Anyone considering this option, however, should act quickly. June 30th is the deadline for this special program that will allow borrowers to lower their interest rate. Through this consolidation program, a borrower will be able to stabilize their interest rate and their monthly payment. By going through direct loan consolidation, a borrower will be able to know what their monthly payment will be until the end of the life of his or her loan. Knowing that your payment will not rise is crucial to being able to pay back student loans.
The Obama administration is offering this loan consolidation program only to people who qualify. Letters to all students who qualify for the program were sent in January of 2012. If you think that you may qualify and did not receive a letter, you can find out more information through your loan servicer and through the Federal Student Aid website.
If you are currently facing the possibility of not being able to pay your student loans, consolidation may be a good option for you. Be sure to research this option carefully, however, since borrowers are only allowed to consolidate their direct loans once. Consolidation is an important decision that can help you to become more financially independent and get your student loans finally paid off.
Ms. Bekiroglu is a published author, freelance writer and editorial consultant for secureloanconsolidation.com. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida, she faced the mounting obstacle of paying over $24,000 back in student loan debt. Determined to eliminate the debt, she became knowledgeable about money management. She seeks to educate others with tips on managing student loans and other kinds of debt, as well as in general personal finance and money saving tips.
I’m sitting home watching movies with my husband and my son who are both sick witha fever. Not exactly the way we planned to spend a Sunday afternoon, but it’s nice that we are all home and snuggled together.
I haven’t written much this week. I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon, but here are a few of my favorite June posts from other blogs:
- Could this be an heirloom someday? (The Frugal Girl)
- Reader Story: What Financial Freedom Really Means (Get Rich Slowly)
- Start Big. Start Small. Start Somewhere. (Becoming Minimalist)
- 5 Lessons from Ending a Friendship (Think Simple Now)
- Why You Should and Shouldn’t Care About What Others Think of You (PickTheBrain)
It has been FOREVER since I posted a list of my favorite weekly links. I simply haven’t had the time to keep up to date with blogs these days, so I’ve cut a bunch from my RSS reader in the hopes of focusing on posts that are most relevant to me. Of course, I seem to flag them and rarely remember to go back and read them. Tonight I had a few minutes and found a couple I really enjoyed…
- On Remembering What’s Most Important (becoming minimalist)
- This I Believe: 43 Lessons from 43 Years (Get Rich Slowly)
- The Value of Contentment (MoneyCrush)
- You Don’t Need a Vacation. You Need a New Life (The Minimalist Mom)
- Negativity Gets Us Nowhere (Frugal Babe)
I have a secret to tell. I’m One Frugal Girl who does not budget. At least not the strict sense of the word. I have a general idea of how much money I can spend on things, but I don’t sit down at the beginning of the year and define just how much I can spend right down to the penny.
I’ve tried to budget in the past, but I always find that I don’t keep track of my spending in a way that makes budgeting easy. My husband and I keep detailed records of our finances. I can generate cash flow, income and expense reports in a moment’s notice that depict how much we earn and spend down to the penny. This tracking is easy. We pay for everything with a credit card and meticulously document exactly where our money goes each month.
The problem with budgeting is that I can’t seem to keep track of exactly how much I’m spending as I’m spending it. For example, if I budget $100 for clothes. I need to keep that number in mind as I go shopping. When I buy shoes for $20 and clothes for my son for $30 I need to go update my budget so that I recognize I can only spend $50 more.
Every time I’ve tried to follow a strict budget I’ve failed to update the numbers as I spend. So when I go out shopping the next time I don’t know if I can spend $20 or $75. Then I get frustrated with myself for failing to update the documentation and ultimately give up on it entirely.
I no longer worry about exactly how much I spend in a particular area and while I look at the numbers on the credit card at the end of the month I don’t keep track as I go along each day. I do make notes as I review the credit card statement though. I track my overall expenses in very specific categories. If I find that I’ve already spent a lot on one specific area I stop myself from heading to any of my favorite stores for awhile. The same goes for any other category for which I seem overextended.
The truth is that these days I don’t spend much money. I try to live my life as a quasi-minimalist. I purge when I can and try to bring new things into the house unless they are absolutely necessary. My no-budget approach works because I don’t desire many new things these days and don’t find myself craving too many things that require a credit card.
I know a lot of people live by a budget and couldn’t imagine having it any other way. Others can’t stand budgeting and avoid it like the plague. How about you? What are your thoughts on budgeting? Do you find it helpful or hurtful? Do you use a specific system to help you stay on track and how often do you find yourself diverging?
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Budgeting see the Budgeting Roundup.
Who knew yesterday’s blog post would get people so up in arms. I received two emails from readers who seemed utterly disgusted by what I wrote, so I added a clarification to clear up any misunderstandings.
I am a huge fan of Tiny Prints. I think they have the most adorable cards and I love that I can customize them with the names and photos of friends and family members. Today they are offering a free Valentine’s Day Card if you like them on Facebook. I couldn’t resist a free card for the one I love. To find out more click here.
I have a lot of friends that get depressed during the winter time and although the weather on the east coast has been mild this year I still know a few folks who are down in the dumps.
I know some women cheer themselves up with a day at the spa, but when I’m feeling blue I have one tried and true pick me up that always makes me feel better. I paint my toenails. I buy a special brand of polish that’s made without toluene, camphor, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).
The bottles typically cost about $8, which is nearly twice as much as the brands you can buy at the drugstore, but I wait for good sales and then stock up. I recently bought two bottles for just the price of shipping.
Nail polish became my pick me up when I was sick a few years back and couldn’t do much other than lay around in bed. Now that little bottle of bright pink, purple or red paint can cheer me up on the darkest of days.
I know a lot of women shop when they’re feeling down. Yesterday I took my son to the mall in search of gifts for an upcoming baby shower. As I was checking out the cashier told me that she meets a lot of depressed women who return to her shop multiple times per week.
I can completely understand the desire to shop to block out pain. A few years ago I used shopping as a means to alleviate my stress. For some reason the store was a place that allowed me to escape my worries at a time when nothing else seemed to ease them.
These days I feel much happier than I have in a long time. In fact, despite the sleepless nights, the pregnancy and subsequent birth of my child has done more for me emotionally than I ever thought possible. I like to tell my husband I now have ‘happy’ hormones floating around in my blood.
If I am feeling out of sorts, not myself or just plain down in the dumps I no longer head to the mall. I lace up my sneakers and go for a walk outside or I open my blog or journal and type out my thoughts.
What about you? What is your most inexpensive pick me up? How do you cheer yourself up when you’re feeling gloomy?
What are your 2012 Fashion Resolutions? How do you plan to feel great by looking your best this year? Go to BlogHer.com to post your resolutions and then enter to win a Kindle Fire and Amazon Gift Card.