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11/07/16 Personal Finance , Saving # ,

My Stupid Impulse Purchase of the Week

My Stupid Impulse Purchase of the Week

No one plans on making impulse purchases. That’s what they are — an impulse. But it seems like every week or so I make a stupid impulse purchase that makes me wonder if I have any control over how I spend money.

My latest impulse purchase: Coffee.

It was $5 for a small bag of raspberry chocolate I saw by the checkout counter at Marshalls. Here are the reasons that ran through my head of why I should buy this wonderful sounding coffee:

  • I like coffee.
  • I like trying new things, including different types of coffee.
  • I like raspberries.
  • I love chocolate.
  • Raspberries and chocolate together sound awesome.
  • It’s only $5.

What makes it a stupid impulse purchase is that it was lousy coffee. And that I wasted $5. Continue reading

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10/13/15 Debt , Personal Finance # , , , , , ,

Comparison Shopping Not So Popular for Big Ticket Items

Comparison Shopping Not So Popular for Big Ticket Items

Years ago when I was a business desk copy editor at a newspaper, I was amazed at how often the paper wrote about gas price increases and the best places to shop for gas. Long before the GasBuddy app was available, the newspaper put out a regular graphic on where the lowest gas prices were in the area, and regularly interviewed shoppers about comparison shopping for gas.

We didn’t do as much reporting on the changes in milk prices, showing readers where the best prices for a gallon of milk were. Milk and other groceries were regular household expenses, but they didn’t warrant the attention that gas prices did.

Comparison shopping for everyday expenses such as gas is common among American shoppers, but not so big for big ticket items such as buying a new car or taking out a personal loan or mortgage, according to a recent survey by LendingTree.

Shopping for gas, but not auto loan

More than 80 percent of people surveyed said they’d go out of their way to save 10 cents per gallon on gas, but only 17 percent of car owners negotiated the interest rate when financing a new vehicle, the survey found.

More than 67 percent use comparison shopping websites for electronics and airfare, while 14 percent do the same for loans. Continue reading

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09/21/15 Children , Personal Finance , Travel # ,

Teaching Kids Household Finances

Teaching Kids Household Finances

I’m still trying to teach my 11-year-old daughter the value of a dollar, and I try to remind myself that it’s a constant teaching process. But it’s now always easy, especially in the area of household finances.

Household chores, for example, don’t always get done, which results in no allowance being paid and no TV or Kindle time. That’s a fun time.

Middle school is a key time to introduce a child to household finances, though I’m not too optimistic about my chances with the lackluster success on her chores. Still, I’m willing to give more things a try in an effort to teach my daughter as much as I can about money before she goes out into the world, and things are going to ramp up this year.

Plenty of household finances

She already has plenty of questions about how much things cost, and earning money to pay for some of her own things is a habit we’re working on. Kids are very curious, and they observe how their parents spend money on household finances — from clothes to cars, groceries and a summer vacation — that they should have an idea of how much is needed for certain things.

Here are some ways to help your kids learn about household finances so that they not only understand why you go to work each day, but hopefully appreciate it and can better see the value in a dollar: Continue reading

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08/14/15 Insurance , Saving # , , ,

How I Saved $350 by Finally Shopping for Insurance

How I  Saved $350 by Finally Shopping for Insurance

I’ve been writing about personal finances for years — for this site and others as a freelance writer — and I almost always take my own advice and the advice of experts I’m writing about. But when it comes to shopping for insurance, I’ve gotten lazy.

Almost every other piece of personal finance advice I’ve written about I’ve implemented myself: have an emergency fund, set up a college account for my daughter early, buy value stocks, cooking dinner at home and buying a used car with cash, among other things.

Shopping for insurance is one of the easiest things to do, taking minutes online or a five-minute phone call to an insurance agent. Up until about a month ago, the last time I went shopping for insurance was about a dozen years ago when my wife and I bought a house and needed homeowner’s insurance. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.