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July 8, 2013

Cut Back to Save Money: 5 Savings Tips

  • Cut Back to Save Money: 5 Savings Tips

We all want to live the good life, but hefty price tags can keep anyone from actually doing so. However, this doesn’t have to be an unobtainable goal. That’s why today, we’re presenting to you 5 tips to help you cut back and save money, while still being able to live comfortably.

May 2, 2013

Getting Down with Pet Care: The Top 10 Pet Care FAQ

  • Getting Down with Pet Care: The Top 10 Pet Care FAQ

They’re furry, they’re adorable and they love you just as much as you love them. They’re your pets, and here at LiveBetterCheaper, we know that there are a lot of you out there who may be pet owners. That’s why in our quest to help you to, well, live better cheaper, we’re spending today focusing on the joys (or tribulations) of pet ownership and how you can provide the best care on a budget.

Pets are like companions (without the time and space adventures), and like anyone who gets to put the title “parent” in their name, you want to be able to provide for them th best pet care possible, but in this day and age – and with the economy the way it is – pets can seem like a luxury. However, taking care of one doesn’t have to involve breaking the bank and only buying the fanciest toys and services.

So how can you do so? Consider these 10 steps:

Make Sure You Can Keep A Pet: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. If you’re someone that’s living paycheck to paycheck, then maybe it’s not such a good idea to get one. Because let’s face it, one of the worst feelings is not being able to provide.
The other part of this – and this mostly applies to those who rent – is clear it with the landlord. Make sure keeping a pet is something you can do without violating any terms (hey, their land, their rules), and if it is, how much more will it cost you to do so. Which again, if it’s too pricey, you might have to skip it.
But if you can get a pet, then you can always…

Adopt: Generally speaking, adopting from a shelter is a cheaper option than to buy from a breeder*. It’s a win/win situation: an animal gets a new home and you save a life.
*DISCLAIMER*if you decide to adopt, be sure to get one from a shelter that offers a guarantee. While many animals provide a wealth of potential, some may have serious medical problems. A guarantee allows you to bring it back, and while this can be a very difficult thing to do, it all comes down to being able to afford it, and as we all know, vets aren’t cheap.

Shop Within Your Means: Much like you do in your life, find what how to live within your means. This means figuring out what’s a necessity and what’s a luxury. Food is necessary. Housing? Maybe not so much. Clothing? They’re already covered in fur. Definitely not a necessity.

Find a Vet: Ah, medical expenses. There is no way around this. People will spend on average about $356 a year on dogs and $190 on cats. Of course, you don’t want to skimp on healthcare. Ask your local humane society about trying to find a place that will give you quality care, but also won’t charge a lot. Keep in mind, the larger the animal, the more expensive it will be.
Also, if you know someone, that could work.

Easy On The Toys: On average, owners will spend around $107 a year on toys and treats for dogs, and $66 for cats. While getting a few is okay, don’t go overboard. There are plenty of ways to create your own toys for them. Maybe the dog can carry or chase a stick around the yard, find a sturdy piece of rope or some old cloth for them to tug on, and have you see what happens when you mix cats and laser pointers?
Of course, there is the option of…

Thrift Shop-it: Is it wise for you to pop some tags? Maybe so if you’ve only got $20 in your pocket (sorry, had to go there). The message still remains. You don’t have to buy all of your toys new. Check out thrift shops or hit up Craigslist. Also mentioned above, make your own.

Grooming: Yes, there are grooming services out there, and yes you can always choose which one will give you the most bang for your buck, but this is also something you can teach yourself how to do. Buy the supplies yourself, Google instructions or check out tutorials on YouTube (what an age we live in!).

Food: This is where it gets a little bit tricky. As we all know, the best way to cut medical expenses is the take care of yourself, which is something that translates to how you should take care of your pets. Discount foods are as cheap as they are for a reason: because they usually lack the essential nutrients needed. Find something that is of a good quality, but don’t go crazy on how much you feed them. Also like how you would treat yourself, be portion-conscious.

Insurance: Why do we buy insurance? So we can protect ourselves if something goes wrong. So if your pet has a history of health problems, insurance might be a wise investment.

Make Your Own Treats: You don’t always have to go out and buy boxes of treats for your animals. As places like Three Dog Bakery have taught us, you can make your own high quality products for cheap. Just find a few ingredients and a working oven. It’ll be like baking cookies, but for your furry companions.

Do you have any tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

*SOURCES:

Opperman, Melinda. “5 Tips to Make Pet Ownership More Affordable.” Credit.org http://credit.org/blog/5-tips-to-making-pet-ownership-more-affordable/ July 19, 2011

Chatzky, Jean. “The Dog Ate Your Wallet? How to Cut the Costs of Pet Ownership.” DailyFinance. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/09/24/the-dog-ate-your-wallet-how-to-cut-the-costs-of-pet-ownership/ September 24, 2012

February 27, 2013

Fashion with a Conscience: Eco Fashion Extraordinaire

  • Fashion with a Conscience: Eco Fashion Extraordinaire

It can be hard to indulge your fashion craving and be eco-conscious at the same time, but it can be done. Here are some great ways to save money and the environment when shopping for that next great outfit:

  1.  Thrift stores: They’re not just for teenagers. Everyone knows the slogan, Reduce, reuse, recycle. Thrift stores allow you to do all three. You can find a lot of great deals on both vintage clothing and more contemporary items you couldn’t afford the first time around along with supplementing your record/book/electronics collection at the same time.
  2. Learn to sew: Think Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. If you can sew, you can re-purpose a lot of your old clothing that would have been thrown out. In addition, you have control over what fabrics you use and the knowledge that your clothing is made fairly.
  3. Eco-friendly fabrics: There are a number of fabrics that are better for the environment. Try alternative fabric sources such as bamboo, hemp, or organic cotton created without pesticides as well as more traditional fabrics such as linen or wool.
  4. Clothingswap.com: It’s kind of like what you might do with your friends, but on a larger scale and with food and drink. Simply go to their site, look up events happening nearby and join the party. Hey, you might even make a few new friends.
  5. Dry Cleaning: Avoid it. Opt for clothing that you can wash yourself. You’ll save money and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals that pollute the environment. If you can’t avoid it altogether, look up sustainable dry cleaners.
  6. Shop Local: Shopping locally is smart whether it comes to food or clothing. Local businesses tend to reduce urban sprawl and you get to spend your money at places that can re-invest in your community. Local businesses are often more interested in you as a customer as well.
  7. Fair Trade: If you are interested in buying new items, look for those certified “Fair Trade.” This ensures that your clothing was made in an ecologically sound and ethical manner.

Going green doesn’t have to mean covering yourself with a burlap sack. With these eco-conscious ideas, your new wardrobe will be fashion-forward and fair.

January 28, 2013

Dumpster diving: the new bargain hunting?

  • Dumpster diving: the new bargain hunting?
dumpster diving

There be booty here….

 

Hello again my frugal readers, as you can tell by the articles title this will be a bit unorthodox to most, dumpster diving. Heck, some of you may never even consider doing such a thing, well let me tell you this about dumpster diving

.
Dumpster diving in college kept me and my roommates well stocked. Granted, we never took the food (less it was alcohol, yes they throw out perfectly good bottles of rum at some places) but still, I can look you straight into the monitor and say with a shark-like grin: I have never bought a single piece of furniture! Well, there was that one time… but lets not get into it. I’ve been diving since high school, and yes some people think it a bit unsanitary and by all it means I won’t argue against that! But that’s why we have hot showers and porcelain bathtubs. So get over yourself. Now come with me, I shall devulge some tips and tricks to ensure that your dumpster diving experience is a grand and rewarding one.

First off, know the laws of local municipality. Cities and states not all agree upon the old proverb ‘one man’s trash is another’s treasure.’ In fact, some go as far to consider that iron chest of waste is still private property. Go figure, right? Either way, digging through can lead to a swift and unfriendly encounter with your local law enforcement and lets be honest. With all the wild pepper spraying and massive LAPD ass whoopings being handed out, it’s best to simply avoid the blue meanies. So as my personal recommendation before you strike out into the night as a vengeful treasure hunter…. KNOW THE LOCAL LAWS!

A tip that I uncovered from a fellow dumpster diver is to consider networking with other divers via a online forum. Exchange tips and locations for the best ‘loot.’ Learn what dates are best for greater loot!

Also, consider accordingly. Plan ahead. That is something I failed at the first couple of times I dived. I don’t know how many times I came across perfectly fine pieces of furniture and no means of transporting them back to headquarters. Plan ahead. On that note, also consider the equipment you’ll be needing. Flash light, pocket knife, goggles, a pick-up truck always helps. So if possible, rope in a friend. Treat this like a friendly, bonding experience. With equipment, you should also consider your uniform, I recommend something that can be tied tight around the ankles and wrists. Gloves and a cap, possibility of boots that go above and around the ankles, think military style. Lace them up tight! And get ready for a treasure trove of rank sea scavenging.

This last part should go without saying, clean yourself. Clean the items. Clean everything that you used in your dumpster dive. You were just wallowing with the likes of rats and Rob Schneiders career, you really don’t want to contract any bacteria from there, it could induce some life threatening illness or worse… a slew of terribly unfunny comedies (Bench Warmers excluded).

Well, this is it my duckies, I wish you all the best for your first experiencing foraging around in those rusted-iron treasure coves, speaking of treasures though… You should totally check out DefinitiveDeals.com. They so many deals on clothes and electronics right now, it could save you a trip through your neighbors garbage!

dumpster diving

Arrr! Here be treasure

Good luck and good night!

January 21, 2013

How to Spot Good Thrift Stores

  • How to Spot Good Thrift Stores

Friends and family alike have asked how I got thrift store savy. I have learned over the years of rummaging the racks of many thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets that seeking them is an art.  I began my love of the hunt when I was in high school.  Fed up with cookie cutter merchandise at my local mall, I went with a friend to check out a thrift store near the south side of Chicago. I found some excellent vintage Levi bell bottom jeans. So, I was hooked.

  • Scope out the neighborhood -  Thrift stores near a business park or offices have yielded some excellent finds. Busy, overworked office professionals drop off their unwanted stuff near where they work.  Busy office folk do not have the time, nor the inclination to shop.It may be easy to think that an affluent neighborhood may produce better stuff. Speaking from experience, this is not always true. Personally, I find them over shopped and crowded usually. Thrift stores near a college campus or apartment buildings are universally great because they have high turnover. People are moving in and out, therefore constantly getting rid of great stuff.
  • Check your Calendar -  The time of year is a general indicator of the stuff you will find. January, will usually yield a nice selection of clothes and small appliances.  January, being right after the holidays motivates people to clean out their closets and make room for their new stuff.
  • Visit the Same Store at least 2 times  – Patience makes perfect. Personally, when I find a new thrift store I like to visit a couple times before committing to buying something. I like to get a feel for the merchandise that comes in.  This also gives me an indication if I found what I call a “bummer”, which is not a good thrift store.  I realize that buying second hand will mean that I will have to mine through some junk until I find what I am looking for. Really, I could probably create an entire post of the horrible and gross things I have discovered while thrifting.

So, there are my guidelines.  Let me stress, that  these are guidelines not rules. I expect you to break them and make your own way.

What was  your best thrift store score?

Resources:

Thrift Shopper:
http://www.thethriftshopper.com/http://www.thethriftshopper.com/

Mr. Goodwill Hunting
http://www.rashoncarraway.com/

 

October 16, 2012

Decorating On a Budget

  • Decorating On a Budget

Decorating On a Budget

We all like to save money on furniture and home decor. But when funds are severely limited, you will be decorating on a budget.  Do not fret! It can be done with an open mind and a few creative ideas.

Gently Used

The first avenue to explore is the classified ads. Read the ads both in local newspapers and on classified ad sites online such as Craigslist. Craigslist is a cheap and dirty way to get what you want. From retail to apartments and pets, there are unlimited categories of finding things immediately at a low price. Be careful and use your judgement when contacting individuals, but for the most part, you can find some really good items! Chances are you will find designer brand furniture in the more upscale parts of town at a fraction of the retail price.

decorating on a budget

 

Garage and Yard Sales

When decorating on a budget don’t turn your nose up at garage or yard sales. You can find quality items at a good price. No one expects to make extreme “bank” in their own front yard. I would suggest going early in the morning to get the best items. Also realize that it is okay if furniture items have small imperfections. You just might find something that only needs a new stain or fresh coat of paint!  For an even coat and a store bought look you may want to head to your nearest Lowes to get a can or two of spray paint. I advise that you stick with the well known brands like Rustoleum or Krylon. The cheaper brands will not adhere well, run more, and are generally more inferior to more quality brands. Don’t forget to shop smart and remember with a little creativity there are literally endless opportunities.

decorating on a budget

 

Thrift Stores

Garage sales are largely seasonal except for the “moving must sell everything” sales, but a more reliable option may be a local thrift stores. You will find furniture and decor that has been donated, consigned, or repurchased from other like stores. Some thrift stores donate their proceeds to various charities; that is satisfying. You will also notice the savings in your pocket book. It is almost an art form: to be able to dig through thrift stores (or Goodwill) and locate the best finds!

decorating on a budget

Build it!

If you are handy and creative, then you can made your own furniture or decor!  There are numerous affordable books online  about decorating on a budget and refurbishing furniture as well as online tutorials. You can make home furnishing from scrap metal, discarded lumber, or even rebuild broken furniture!