Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Increase your income through education.

I got a re-tweet today from another personal finance blogger. His comment was that so many bloggers only talk about ways to save money rather than increasing income.

By googling a few statistics I was able to find the following averages.
High school drop out average annual income is $18,000
High school graduate average annual income is $29,000
Associate degree average annual income is $36,000
Bachelors degree average annual income is $46,000
Masters degree average annual income is $78,000
*Obviously these averages can vary widely depending on the curriculum

Four years ago I decided to obtain my masters because I wanted to increase our family's income. The program would have cost me $12,500 if I had to pay for it. I was lucky enough to work for a company that paid it for me (provided I maintain a certain GPA).

Now, I was working full time when I did this, and I found it easier to obtain my program through a state university that had an online program. It took me three years to finish the program, but within two years I was able to increase my annual income by 42%. This is significant.

If you have ever considered going further in your education run some numbers based on the averages. You may be surprised to find out just what the return on that investment would be - not to mention the personal satisfaction of earning it. Or depending where you are in your career and income level it may not make that much of a difference.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Options for saving on car insurance

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who had recently added his teenage son to his car insurance policy. His rate was $375/month. After paying this amount for 5 months he finally went out for quote. His new policy is $175 per month. He could have saved himself $1000 for just a few minutes of work.

Over the years I have quoted and continue to quote out my policy to look for better rates. I seem to keep coming back to Allstate. Jay LaSalle in Phoenix (480) 585-2469 and Jay Adkins in Raleigh (919) 466-9400.

I put in a call to Jay LaSalle this morning to see what kind of discounts I had and if there were anymore I could get. If you aren’t getting these discounts and you could, consider calling your insurance agent.

Normally the car insurance policy for our 3 vehicle family would cost us $1991.20 every six months or $331.87 monthly. Listed below are the discounts I receive per six month period followed by our new rate:


Premier plus (clean driving record of 5+ years) = $297.70

Allstate easy pay plan (Auto withdraw) = $47.61

Allstate easy pay plan (Transaction fee) = $15.00

Multi policy discount (Condo & Car Insurance) = $100.49

Good payer discount (never late on payments) = $47.61

New car discount (good for the first 3 years of a car) = $120.84

Future effective date discount (write new policy before old on expires) = $57.73

Preferred package (e-bill vs. snail mail) = $159.57

Total savings = $846.55 or $141.09 per month!!

Car insurance policy is now $1144.65 every six months or $190.78 monthly.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be expensive, be creative

I don’t often listen to the radio in my car because I appreciate the limited amount of silence on my way to/from work. Yesterday I decided to give it a try. One of the ads put me in a sour mood. It was an advertisement for jewelry for Valentine’s Day.

UGH!! Don’t they know that everyone is still trying to pay off Christmas much less worry about MORE expensive gifts for Valentine’s Day.

I’m not saying to forget about doing something nice for your significant other. What I am saying is be creative.

On our second anniversary my husband surprised me with dinner cooked at home. He brought in a mutual friend to cook dinner for us and serve it – 6 courses. He was so thoughtful it brought tears to my eyes. We now have six anniversaries behind us. This was by far the cheapest and most memorable celebration of them all. The $350 dinner for our 5th was also quite least the bill was!

What are your creative ideas???

Friday, January 29, 2010

January Savings Totals $458.32!!

These are ideas that I have incorporated into my family lifestyle and activities. These ideas may not work for everyone, but this is what I am saving! (compared to the way I used to spend)

Bountiful Baskets: I assume that a family would normally pay $35 per week in produce. Using this route you will pay $16.50 for product. Monthly savings = $80.17

Grocery Shopping with a List: I assume that a family would normally pay $135 per week for groceries not planning weekly dinner menu and not shopping with a list. Monthly savings = $173.33

Craigs List: I assume that if a household gathers all their unwanted items annually they could earn $600 by posting these items on Craig’s List. Monthly earnings = $50.00

Museum Passes: I assume a family will purchase 6 entry passes to local museums in a year. By getting them free at the library Monthly savings = $5.75 I assume a household uses 1 coupon per month for a $100 meal. Discounts are 60% of half the meal. Monthly savings = $30.00

Cell phone: I assume each household has a separate plan per household and this suggestion is to combine plans with someone else. Monthly savings = $42.00

Flea Market: I assume I have to replace the battery in my Honda key every two years. By doing this at the flea market versus the dealership I save $52 per key. Monthly savings = $2.17

Sushi Happy Hour: RA Sushi offers half off during happy hour. I assume a family eats sushi once per month. Monthly Savings: $50.00

Paper Products: Eliminating the use of paper towels, paper napkins, paper coffee filters and start recycling (use less trash bags) Monthly Savings: $24.90


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Save big bucks on your dry cleaning bill!

My husband is a big man which means he wears big clothes. These things take forever to iron. For some it may be a splurge to have clothing laundered or dry cleaned, but for me it is a must. If you are going to use this service don’t pay more than you have to.

There are two ways here to watch how much you pay.

First, find the least expensive dry cleaner in your area. We have one that charges $2.25 to dry clean any clothing item. It is called the $2.25 Cleaners. I called the cleaners around the corner and they charge $5.45 to dry clean any clothing item.

Second, drycleaners charge different prices for laundry versus actual dry cleaning? At the “$2.25 Cleaners” they charge $2.45 to launder pants and $2.25 to dry clean. Choose dryclean. They charge $2.25 to dry clean a shirt but only $1.45 to launder it. Choose launder.

I estimate that in a month my husband will need 20 shirts and 10 pair of pants cleaned. The difference in the dry cleaning bill between the two cleaners would be $96.00.

The difference in dry cleaning and laundering the shirts and pants at the $2.25 cleaners is $16 per month.

free credit reports and how they impact your savings

Don’t pay for monthly credit monitoring. You can get a free credit report every year at You can also check your credit score for a small fee. Monthly credit monitoring costs $8 to $12 per month which is significant over a year.

There are three credit reporting agencies. I recommend cycling through one of them every 4 months. You will be getting your free credit report 3 times per year. Review it and if you see anything that is wrong, and immediately dispute it in writing.

Keeping your credit report clean of errors will keep your scores higher and your interest rates lower when it comes to major purchases such as buying a car or a home. You may also be surprised to find out that car insurance companies check your credit report/score and so do some employers.

Power bill savings.....

Programmable thermostats are great for controlling the temperature. Prior to buying ours I would always forget to change the setting on the thermostat before I went out the door to work. Be very careful of the hours you set the temperatures. I went a whole summer without realizing that if I set 72 degrees for 5PM that my programmable thermostat told the air to come on in time to have the house cooled to 72 at 5PM. I thought 5PM is when the air would kick on. This becomes very important if you use the next service.

Srp point of use program will reduce your per kW charge by nearly 50% during off peak hours and a slightly elevated rate during peak hours. Summer peak hours were 5 to 8PM. Be careful to watch your statements for winter hours. Even though we saved hundreds during the summer months I have lost a few dollars over the winter months when the peak hours changed to 5AM to 9AM and 5PM to 9PM

Change your air filters every 30 days. Some filters are made to last longer than 30 days, but the dust still piles up making your air conditioning systems work harder.

Finally, do NOT sign up for the program that charges you the same amount monthly. In Phoenix, SRP will only allow people to sign up for it during the winter months (when power bills are generally next to nothing). This means THEY keep all the extra you are paying in the winter and THEY are collecting the interest on your money. This is the same principal as getting a tax return. If you have a monthly budget, and you should, plug in extra for the power bill in the summer months. By paying the same amount every month you are in effect paying a non interest charging bill before you need to.