Month: July 2014

Creating Budget-Friendly Meal Plans

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Everybody eats. We all make the decision of what to eat multiple times a day and this simple choice can make or break a budget. Creating a meal-plan is an easy way to cut down your grocery budget. It is also important to know where to shop and what types of food will fit into your budget. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  • Plan ahead. Create a meal plan using frugal foods as the base for recipes. Eggs, dry pasta, beans, legumes, flour, potatoes, frozen vegetables are fantastic starting points when creating recipes and meal plans.
  •  Build a stocked pantry. If your kitchen is stocked with basic necessities such as soy sauce, hot sauce, spices, olive oil, broth, honey, and basic spices you will be able to build different flavor profiles using the same base ingredients. This will save you money in the long run.
  • Buy meat on sale in bulk. Meat is often the most expensive item in a recipe. To cut cost, plan your recipes based on what meat is on sale this week at your local grocer. Buy a large cut so you can freeze smaller portions for meals later in the month. 
  • Cook from scratch. Learn to make simple sauces, such as pesto, cheese sauce, or a pan sauce, in addition to things like pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, bread, etc. to save a ridiculous amount of money on meals such as pasta, pizza, and breakfast.
  • Don’t try too hard. Some people feel overwhelmed by the idea of meal-planning. While it can be tedious and very detail oriented, it does not have to be. Choose a meal plan that is simple but variable. For example, if you pick a type of food for each day, you can vary the specific flavor profile on a weekly basis. You could designate specific staple dishes: baked potatoes, frittattas, pasta, paninis, pizza, etc., per day a week. So while you are eating pasta once a week, there are a million variations so you won’t get bored.

Banks vs. Credit Unions: What’s the Difference?

By: Vincent Mortensen

Some consumers are confused when it comes to banks and credit unions.  There are even some that believe they are the same institution under a different name like Target is different from Walmart.  Both are super stores, but different companies.  This is not the case.

Below is a chart that explains the basic differences between banks and credit unions. 

  Credit Union Bank
Structure Non-profit Institution For-profit Institution
Insurance Up to $250,000 by the NCUA Up to $250,000 by the FDIC

Leadership

 

Volunteer Board of Directors elected by members of the credit union. Paid Board of Directors voted in by stockholders that may or may not be customers of that bank.
Earnings Net income is used to lower interest on loans and higher interest on savings. Stock holders may receive a share of the profits through dividends.
Products Full range of financial products and services. Full range of financial products and services.
Service Delivery Branches, online, ATMs, mobile Branches, online, ATMs, mobile
Fees Low to no fees Fees usually apply

Currently, I keep my money in a credit union and I like it very much.  The loan rates are lower and savings accounts make a little higher interest than commercial banks.  I have also been with a bank in the past and enjoyed their services as well.  Whatever you decide to choose, you now have a better understanding on what your financial institution is all about.  Good luck!

Make Money Selling Stuff on KSL (or Craigslist)

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This weekend I decided to get new furniture and to sell my current bed. I also had some concert tickets that I couldn’t use. I was able to sell all of this stuff in two days and make $600! Do you have stuff lying around your home that you don’t use and could you use some extra cash? Why not sell your stuff, make some money and clean out the garage!

Items that are great for KSL are gently used, new, or antique. It is free to post a basic ad on KSL. If there is a category for it, try and sell it. If you don’t think your item is worth money but don’t want to take the time and effort to dispose of the item, consider posting on KSL’s “Free” or “For Trade” sections. The following categories are considered “hot” and items in these categories sell really well:

-Electronics

-Cell Phones

-Computers

-Appliances

-Tools/home/garden items

-Wedding items

-Certain clothing items

-Musical instruments

-Certain furniture items

-Cars

And I even rent out my basement using KSL! 

When selling on KSL, price your item fairly. A good rule of thumb is to price items about 10%-25% of what the item would cost new. Some items sell really well and have a higher resale like newer electronics, computers and cell phones, for example. If you are unsure how to price your item, search the classifieds for what other people are selling the item for and price competitively. The more competitively you price your item, the faster it will sell. You may be priced too low if you get a lot of calls, texts, emails, and ad views right away. If you place an ad and no one makes an offer after a few days, you are priced too high and you will have to be willing to take less for your item. Consider starting high and deleting and reposting your ad every few days with a lower price until the item sells. 

Post good ads. This includes adding a photograph. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your photo is taken in a well lit room and your item is displayed well. Consider adding multiple photos from multiple angles and be sure to photograph and describe any damage. Try to keep your ad to a couple of paragraphs or shorter but include as much identifying information as possible. At the end, be sure to include who to contact, contact information and what city the item will be picked up in.

Learn the art of bargaining. Most customers who shop KSL will try to negotiate on the price. The trick is to price your item at least $5 and even $25 more on expensive items than the lowest price you would accept. For example, let’s say you will list an item for $50. They may offer you $25. If you would be willing to take $25 then you have priced your item perfectly. Try to negotiate with them further by saying “I would take $35” and they may come back with “I wouldn’t go more than $30”. Try to avoid bargaining until they come to see the item because once they drive to your home, they have more invested and are more likely to buy the item. Another reason you should avoid bargaining over the phone is you may agree on a price and then when they come it, they will see something else wrong and offer you even less than you originally agreed on. This takes practice but it will help you get the price you want and help you avoid feeling pressured into taking less than you want.

Broken Item? You may still be able to sell it. You will have to price your item accordingly but maybe someone out there would be willing to purchase and fix it if you offer enough of a discount. You may be lucky to get anything at all but it is worth trying. I recently sold a broken 46” flat screen that I was going to just throw away. I purchased the TV for $500 and sold it for $20 without a stand or a remote. Also consider repairing the item yourself if the resale value would be high enough to cover the cost of the repair and still make money.

Post a new ad often. Thousands of ads are added to KSL every day. Most people search only the first few pages of a category on KSL. Pages are automatically sorted by newest ad in each category. If you want your item to be seen, delete your ad and repost it every two to three days. Make sure to follow KSL’s policies on posting ads because they can pull your ad (like for posting the same ad multiple times without deleting past ads). There is an option to renew your ad after it expires (ads expire after 30 days), but renewing your ad will not bump it to the front page so it is better to delete it and repost.

When selling your car, first check Kelly Blue Book for what your car is worth. This gives you a good basis for what someone might pay you for your car. You can even look up how much more you will get if you sell your car yourself (private party value) versus trading your car in to a dealer. If you decide to sell your car, you will need your title or if you still have a loan on your vehicle, have the buyer meet you at your bank where they can release the title after the loan is paid off. The photographs are especially important when you sell your car. Photograph the interior including the dash and any special features your car has. Also photograph the exterior from every side. And when you do sell your car, be sure take your license plate off (they can obtain a temporary sticker from the DMV). Only take cash or a cashier’s check from a local bank.

Always be safe. If you don’t feel comfortable having people come to your home, meet in a public place and take someone with you. Never take checks, even for small amounts and always have enough money to make change (try to keep negotiations in increments of $5 to keep things simple). Never let the customer take the item without first having the cash in hand. If you are purchasing from a seller on KSL, make sure the item works before you buy it. If anything about the situation seems off, don’t meet up with them and use your best judgment in every situation. I have sold dozens of items on KSL and I only meet someone when I can find a guy to go with me, even if they stay in the house or sit in the car.

By following these principles, you can learn to effectively sell your stuff, reduce the clutter in your home and make some cash. Now go out and make some money!

Do you have any other tips for selling on KSL? Share with us on our blog or on Facebook.