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I feel like every personal finance/frugal living is talking about Black Friday, so I wanted to jump on the band wagon. It’s just four days away, so you probably already have your plans set. But I wanted to share mine.

It’s all about online, folks.

First though, let’s back up a bit. I wanted to come on here railing Black Friday and all its assorted evils. Did you hear Target is opening their doors at 8pm Thanksgiving Day? Target is second in line at 9 pm. Which makes me wonder – what happened to Thanksgiving? You know, that holiday where you’re supposed to gather with friends and family over a wonderful meal and take the time to be thankful? Nah, forget that. We need to stand in line, out in the freezing cold, fight the crowds – all for the latest gadget (that they might not even have by the time you actually get inside the doors). People have actually died on Black Friday. Died! And now we have extended this national craziness to Thanksgiving day itself.

If you haven’t guessed, I don’t like Black Friday. It’s kind of like my theory on coupons – you’re only going to be saving on things you don’t need. Then, I started looking at some of the sales. And really? They’re not that bad. You can honestly save some serious dough on things you might end up buying anyway – toys for the kids, gadgets for the hubby, cozy slippers for your mom. I couldn’t consciously come on here and recommend staying the heck away from Black Friday when there actually are great sales out there. So, I came up with a compromise – online shopping.

Online retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Kohl’s are offering great sales on Black Friday in addition to Cyber Monday. A lot of these stores are offering free shipping. That means you’ll not only get a great deal, but your purchase will be delivered to your doorstep for free. So just take some time to look ahead for online deals instead of fighting the crowds Thanksgiving night.

It’s the best of both worlds. By shopping online, you’ll see some really great savings (provided you only buy things you would have anyway) and you’ll miss out on the crowds. Plus, you can spend Thanksgiving exactly where you should be – with your family (or friends).

What do you think of Black Friday? Do you brace the crowds or stay at home?

Dear Readers: Somehow, I missed an entire week of posting. I’m sorry and I hope you haven’t all given up on me. It’s been a busy, busy, busy couple of weeks and posting has taken a hit. However, this week will be jam-packed with posts, I promise! I have a lt of ideas that have been brewing, so I hope you’ll stay tuned!

Getting out of debt can be a long, frustrating process. Knowing the first steps you should take if you’re serious about getting out of debt can make the difference between success and failure.

Step 1: Understand why you got into debt in the first place. In order to start digging yourself out of debt, you need to understand why you went into debt in the first place. You can then see the best way to remedy the situation? Was it excessive spending? Then you need to work on why you spend excessively. Maybe you overspend due to a lack of self control or as a way to boost your self-esteem. Working out those inner issues must be done before you seriously start tackling your debt so you don’t just end going back into debt shortly thereafter. Was your debt situation the result of a unexpected financial crisis, like losing your job or a large medical bill? In that case, you need to work on building up a stockpile of funds so it doesn’t happen again. Which is, in fact, the next step in debt reduction.

Step 2: Start an emergency fund. Before you start putting any of your money towards debt, start stockpiling savings instead. That way, you have something to fall back on if things go awry. You won’t have to go back into debt. Strive for $1,000 in your emergency fund at first.

Step 3: Set up a plan and get to work. There isn’t just one way to get out of debt. Start researching the different methods to find out which method works best for you and your family. Some families prefer a cash envelope system of budgeting. This just doesn’t work at all for others. See what works for you and what doesn’t. A great resource is the personal finance blogging community. There, you’ll find a wealth of information Once you’ve decided, get to work. There’s no point in wasting time, so get cracking.

 

Do you agree with these first steps? Do you think there are any other first steps you should tak to help you tackle debt reduction?

As you know, each week, I’ll focus on some common beliefs about saving/spending money and we’ll find out if they are fact or myth. I’ve found that there are a lot of common misconceptions about saving money. Nothing that will drain your wallet faster than falling into a trap. So, I’d like to clear up some of these myths and get to the truth behind them. Do have your own fact or myth questions? Feel free to email me (or post them in the comments) and I’ll feature them in a later volume and fill you in on whether they are fact or myth. This week I’m tired, so I wanted to focus on sleep myths.  What does sleep have to do with money?  Actually a lot.  Being sleep deprived can make you perform poorly at your job, reduce your motivation to either spend less or earn more, and there’s even a study that shows sleep deprivation causes you to be more optimistic about your money leading you to make risky investments and spend more.  Who knew?  Anyway, here we go with this week’s questions:

Question #1: I need 8 hours of sleep each night – MYTH!  In fact you may need as little as 6 hours or as much as 9 hours.  The only way you can tell what is best for you is trial and error.  Set your alarm clock at the same time each day and then pay attention to when you get sleepy, and go to bed.  Your body will adjust to the new wake up time and tell you exactly how much sleep you need.  Listen to it!

Question #2: Caffeine makes me less tired – MYTH!  Caffeine will make you feel less sleepy, but it doesn’t undo your lack of sleep.  Exhaustion will catch up to you.  Coffee can also cause make you even more tired by keeping you up late or disrupting your sleep.  The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is by cutting out caffeine altogether.  Or, if you’re like me and can’t give up your daily cup of joe, keep it to just one cup and not past 2 p.m.

Question #3: You need to ease yourself into sleep – FACT!  You can’t just assume that because you’re in bed that you’re going to fall asleep.  You need adequate sleep preparation.  Turn off electronics one hour before bedtime (which I’ll be the first to admit is not an easy thing to do!).  Settle down by dimming the lights, taking a warm bath, reading a book or listening to soft music.

So what about you? Do you feel like you get the right amount of sleep each night or are you perpetually tired?  Let me know in the comments.

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First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry Giveaway – Somer Houston (I’ll be emailing you soon for your contact info)!  Congrats!  A big thanks goes out to all of you who entered.  Now onto our Fact or Myth of this week.

As you know, each week, I’ll focus on some common beliefs about saving/spending money and we’ll find out if they are fact or myth.  I’ve found that there are a lot of common misconceptions about saving money.  Nothing that will drain your wallet faster than falling into a trap.  So,  I’d like to clear up some of these myths and get to the truth behind them.  Do have your own fact or myth questions?  Feel free to email me (or post them in the comments) and I’ll feature them in a later volume and fill you in on whether they are fact or myth.  Here we go with this week’s questions:

Question #1:  Your air-conditioner will use less energy if they’re left on all day, rather than turning it off when you leave and on when you get back home, because it has to work so much harder to get the temp back down – MYTH!  You will save serious cash on your electric if you turn your AC off when you leave your house and turn it back on when you get home.  The common belief is that the AC has to work so much harder to get the temp back down, but the truth is that it will expend far more energy keeping the house cool all day.  Air-conditioner actually work better when they’re running at full speed, rather than running for shorter throughout the day to maintain a constant temperature all day.

Question #2: Turning off appliances and electronics when you’re done with them reduces energy usage – MYTH!  While turning off appliances does reduce energy, the best way to reduce your electric bill is by unpluggingthese items once you’re done with them.  Even when appliances are turned off, they are still wasting electricity, costing you money!  The U.S. Department of Energy states that you can save 5% to 10% of your electric bill simply by unplugging appliances such as computers, televisions, dvd players, cable boxes, coffeemakers and toasters.

Question #3: The best day to shop at the grocery store is Wednesday – TRUTH!  I didn’t believe this one myself, but have heard it repeated again and again.  So why is Wednesday the best day to shop?  Well, apparently, stores reduce prices on items that are expiring soon, so it’s a great time to check out the reduce produce or bakery carts.  Also, many stores start their new sales on Wednesday, yet still honor the previous week’s sales.  Sounds good to me!

So what about you, do you shop on Wednesday?  Do you unplug common appliances to save money?  Let me know and stay tuned for next week’s Fact or Myth!

Are you ready for this week’s Fact or Myth post? I am!  Each week, I’ll focus on some common beliefs about saving/spending money and we’ll find out if they are fact or myth. I’ve found that there are a lot of common misconceptions about saving money. Nothing that will drain your wallet faster than falling into a trap. So, I’d like to clear up some of these myths and get to the truth behind them. Do have your own fact or myth questions? Feel free to email me (or post them in the comments) and I’ll feature them in a later volume and fill you in on whether they are fact or myth. Here we go with this week’s questions:

(These  two questions are from Marjorie as posted in last week’s comments)

Question #1: Putting your car in neutral while stopped for a long red light saves gas – FACT!  Think about it this way – if you’re not moving but your engine is running, you’re getting zero miles per gallon.  Idling at a traffic light is a gas guzzler.  Putting your engine in neutral calm down the engine and drops the rpm.  Keeping the car in drive  drains fuel, but in neutral, the transmission is resting which saves gas. Great news!  I’ll definitely do this from now on.

Question #2: Slow starts and stops save gas – FACT!  Coasting to a stop will save the gasoline you would otherwise use maintaining your speed longer.  Additionally, taking off slowly from a full stop will also significantly increase your gas mileage.

And now on to my own question:

Question #3: Renting is like throwing money away – MYTH!  I was the biggest believer in this myth when I was renting.  Each month, it felt like I was tossing a huge chunk of my paycheck down the drain.  According to Dave Ramsey author of Total Money Makeover, however, believes that renting isn’t such a bad option.  He gives a few reasons.  For one, renters avoid hidden costs for repairs and maintenance, since these repairs are included in their rent.  If you owned your own home, these costs would come out of pocket.  Also, Ramsey suggests  waiting until you can pay cash for the whole house (I wish!).  Although this is the most financially sound option, Ramsey says that you should at least wait until you are financially stable to buy a home.  Renting in the meantime allows you to do so.

I’m so excited to start this new series! Each week, I’ll focus on some common beliefs about saving/spending money and we’ll find out if they are fact or myth.  I’ve found that there are a lot of common misconceptions about saving money.  Nothing that will drain your wallet faster than falling into a trap.  So,  I’d like to clear up some of these myths and get to the truth behind them.  Do have your own fact or myth questions?  Feel free to email me (or post them in the comments) and I’ll feature them in a later volume and fill you in on whether they are fact or myth.  Here we go with this week’s questions:

Question #1:  Running the car while making a short stop will save more gas than turning it off and starting it back up again – MYTH!  I’m not sure where this myth originated, but my husband was a total believer until I showed him solid proof.  According to a local Public Service Announcement, if you’re going to be running your car for more than 30 seconds, it’s worth it to turn it off.

Question #2: To find the best prices on groceries, you need to look up and down the shelves — FACT!  Grocery stores make sure that the products with the highest prices are the easiest to see and find. These are usually kept right at eye-level.  To save money at the supermarket, look at all the shelves to compare prices.  Also, avoid impulse buys which are located at eye level in easy to find places – like on the way to the milk or eggs.

 Question #3: Leaving your windows rolled down creates an aerodynamic drag on your car, causing your car to use more gas — MYTH!  Opening the windows does increase the aerodynamic drag on a car, but it does not have a measurable effect on the vehicle’s fuel economy.  Alternatively, using the AC does not seem to effect gas mileage as much as in older cars, so this seems safe as well.

Question #4: Keeping the computer on stand-by will reduce its electricity consumption — FACT!  By setting your computer to automatically auto-sleep after 10-15 minutes of inactivity, you’ll save on your energy bill.  However, computers don’t use much electricity compared to the rest of your household.  You’ll save a lot more energy by addressing your heating, cooling and lighting (which I’m sure we’ll cover in another edition of Fact or Myth).

I hope you enjoyed the first edition of this new series.  Stay tuned for more Fact or Myth questions next Friday!

 

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