Run down? 5 ways of dealing with it cheaply

The following is a guest post from My Canuck Buck – a lady who is finally starting to play closer attention to her bucks. Please check her out!

*Editor’s note: Thanks to Cat for helping me out! And uh….that’s my recomendation for being run down.  Take guest posts 😉 But seriously, make sure to go visit her site!*

Ever since Labour day, folks seem to be run down – fatigue, cold, flu, sinus infections – you name it. I don’t know if it’s the realization that summer is over, or the change in weather, or just back to school, but it seems like everyone is getting sick.

I haven’t been too bad, but I have had the odd sore throat and the sniffles (don’t know if it’s a cold or allergies). Here are some ways to deal with being sick without breaking the bank.

  1. Stay hydrated. Yup. Just drink water. Doesn’t need to be bottled water, coconut water, vitamin water, or any of that other fancy stuff. Just drink lots of water – I always feel better when I’m hydrated.
  2. For a sore throat – gargle with salt water.   I find it helps cut down on infection and it really does the trick when my throat feels raw. I try to do it in the morning and before I go to bed.
  3. Tea is also great for a sore throat – or some lemon juice and honey. Even just plain hot water can sometimes do the trick if that’s all you have. To save on costs, stock up on tea bags, or hope that your workplace is nice like mine, and supplies options like honey lemon tea!
  4. Pick up Kleenex when it’s on sale.  I tend to buy Kleenex in bulk. For work, I buy just plain Kleenex, as I also use it a napkin, for cleaning my desk,  etc.  For home, sometimes I splurge and get the stuff with the lotion, cause when my nose is red and raw, I really want that extra bit of comfort.
  5. Vaseline, or just the generic stuff – petroleum jelly.  I keep a container of it on my desk at work – it’s great for chapped lips. I also apply it under my nose if it gets raw from blowing it.

And a bonus tip – rest! It costs you nothing, and it’s the best thing to do when you’re run down.

What are some cheap and easy tricks you use for dealing with being run down?

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Top Tips for Apartment Hunters

Editors note: A big thank you to Jordann! I’m extremely greatful for the chance to take a break from blogging! Plus, this post relates really closely to my current life as even though I’m not actively looking, I will be soon enough!

Apartment hunting is a pain in the ass. Checking the classifieds daily, weeding out the undesirables, and when I finally find a place that’s in my target neighbourhood at my target price – the place turns out to be a dump. As fun as it is searching for an apartment, the inevitable let down upon viewing ruins everything.

Apartment hunting doesn’t have to be that bad. I’ve learned over the past few years that the main reason I was having a hard time apartment hunting is because I wasn’t going about it in the right way. I was making key mistakes that not only made the whole project more difficult, it made it take longer to execute.

Here are my top tips for apartment hunting:

Check the Season

If you’re a young person living in a university town, looking for a one or two bedroom place, a lot of one year leases are going to end in May or September. This protects the landlords, who don’t want to get caught with an empty apartment for the summer. While the leases may end in May or September, they will be advertised as available long before that. In one particular city that I lived in, May leases started to be advertised in January. To make the best of your options, start looking early.

Make a Short Wish List

Another mistake I was making was that my wish list was way too long and specific. I needed good lighting, an open kitchen, laundry that wasn’t too far away, good sized bedrooms, my own thermostat, etc, etc. How could I possibly expect an apartment to hold up to that? These days, with two pets, my wish list is pretty simple: Good location, access to green space, pet friendly, good landlord, quiet neighbours This is a pretty basic list, because these are things I can’t live without. Everything else is pretty much doable, at least for a short period of time.

Figure Out the Landlord

Probably the single most important thing that will define your renting experience is your landlord. I’ve had bad ones (entering the apartment without notice, without even knocking) and awesome ones (actively helped me hide the fact that I had a cat from the building owners for two years) and I’ve gotta say, I’m a lot more willing to put up with the weird quirks a place has, if the landlord is good. The easiest way to get the truth about a landlord (because he/she will seem awesome while showing the place, the true personality not emerging until the lease is signed) is to interview the tenants.

Interview the Current Tenants

I’m not saying you need to sit down and have an hour long conversation with them, but if they happen to be in the apartment, ask for their email or phone number so that you can start up a dialogue without the land lord present. If they say no, oh well. But if they say yes, they’ll be able to give you the little known facts that may make or break your renting experience. Plus, since they’re leaving, they’ll probably be candid. Are the neighbours super scary or loud in the middle of the night? Does the garbage truck come at six in the morning on Sundays? Is the land lord really evil incarnate? The current tenants will know.

Know Your Rights

Every province has a Tenants Act or some equivalent, detailing the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Read yours. Knowledge is power after all, and by knowing the ins and outs of your rights as a tenant will help you make sure that you get what you want with minimal fuss. Think the place needs some repairs or a fresh coat of paint before you move in? Your Tenant’s Act will probably stipulate that things like that need to be included in writing, on the lease, before it’s signed.

Following tips like these has allowed me to vastly improve my renting experience over the past few years, to the point where I have no interest in buying a house for awhile. Renting can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, if you go about it properly.

Everyone has their renting horror stories. I want to hear yours!

Jordann is a part time runner, yogi, local foodie and personal finance aficionado, and a full time marketing professional living and working in Atlantic Canada. She writes about her life at her blog, My Alternate Life.


How To Turn Losing into Winning With Your Money

Average Joe blogs about topics he finds entertaining at the cleverly named “Average Joe’s Money Blog.” He’s also the co-host of the relaxed money podcast Two Guys & Your Money.
I remember as a kid I was fascinated by these huge domino chains:

I’ve come to realize that part of my fascination might be what the simple act of dominos falling means to me. I love watching one positive result lead to another. Even when all doesn’t go exactly according to plan (they had to roll the marble twice AND there was a break in the chain at one point).

One positive result has a tendency to create another one. In fact, I tell my son all the time when he becomes frustrated that 90% of the time, it’s his actions that ultimately created the frustration.

He doesn’t want to clean his room. If he’d take ten minutes in the morning to make his bed and pick up his clothes (or even hang up clothes the moment he takes them off), he wouldn’t have to do it on my schedule.
The computer isn’t working right, and it’s eleven o’clock the night before the paper is due. Why does he wait until 11 o’clock to finish the project? If he’d finished earlier, he wouldn’t have to worry about last minute tech malfunctions.

Likewise, we all have this with our financial situations, don’t we?

– Donald Trump began investing in houses with his father at a young age. He learned the ground rules for real estate early on, which led to bigger projects and ultimately, a real estate empire.

– Warren Buffet invested in stocks as a kid. He paid attention to the numbers behind public companies. Today he can quickly evaluate a company’s business prospects and make investment decisions which beat those of nearly any other investor.

– Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class. Many people say this attention to lines and shapes helped fuel his love of style and character, which made Apple the sexiest tech company of all.

On a smaller level, I saw this with clients:

– A client began max funding his 401k starting at 22 years old. He could barely do anything else, but he socked money away. At age 28, he already had $160,000 saved toward retirement. Using the rule of 72, if that money grows at 8%, it’ll be roughly $2.56 million dollars at retirement. …better yet, that’s if he doesn’t save another dime.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only domino chain that can happen. Momentum can be your best friend or a total bitch. How about this:

How’d your stomach feeling watching that train-wreck-in-slow-motion? While this may not be familiar, the feel of negative momentum might be:

– Credit card payments become so high that just paying the interest is a chore. No matter how much you pay, it seems like you aren’t touching the principle…and when you do, something comes up that forces you to spend more money on the card.

– Student loans force you to take a second job. The second job is so exhausting you to fall asleep at your real job, and the boss decides you aren’t working as hard as others. At best you’re denied promotions and raises. At worst, you’re fired.

– You don’t have money for car repairs. Your car breaks down on the way to an important meeting. You lose out on income you would have had, if things had gone right.

Do any of these sound familiar? Does it sometimes seem like you’re rolling a boulder uphill?

Whether life is going well or poorly, you have to remember two concepts:

1) Momentum itself is neither good nor bad, but it exists. It’s just Newton’s Law: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. It’s going to be hard to create the friction to stop momentum. You’re going to have to exert a ton of effort to turn negative events around, but once you do, this momentum will work in your favor. Remember this on the days that you’re ready to give up: it’s going to be difficult to stop negative momentum. But once you do, life is going to be much, much easier….

Because…..

2) Once you have positive momentum, you can then work equally as hard to continue it. Now, every good result is amplified. As your momentum increases, it creates a widening array of opportunities you never would have imagined. One good domino fuels many, many more. Have you ever wondered how Donald Trump can execute so many transactions a day? Why Warren Buffet can have a hand in so many companies? Their secret is simple, and it’s the same one in front of you now:

They started building momentum by toppling one domino.

***Editor’s comments: Thanks Joe-this is definitely helping me with my blogger burnout! And yes, I can see how I got into debt by a domino effect. Better yet, I’m getting out of it by doing the same thing–one thing at a time but in the right direction this time 🙂 Oh, and I *never* waited until the last minute to do a report and have the computer crash…..***


Fun, Free Sights Not to Miss in Las Vegas

**Today is day 5 and technically I’m back but I’m exhausted and Kris was  awesome enough to write a guest post for me.  Make sure you go check out her site too!  Also, all the pictures are her own so that’s the source!**

 

Hi, I’m Kris from Balancing Money and Life, and I’m so excited to be writing a guest post to help bogofdebt out while on vacation in Las Vegas. In a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on my blog, I wrote about ways we tried to save on our vacation in Vegas when paying for things you really want to do. In this post, I’m going to give suggestions for ways to stay entertained in Vegas without spending much. There are lots of completely free attractions in Vegas, and several more than are fairly cheap. Even if you want to take advantage of some of the more expensive attractions Vegas has to offer, if you mix in some of these fun freebies, you can still keep your vacation spending in check. I can’t positively say all of these activities are current as of 2012 – I verified as many as I could, but even some we went to check out had changed so you may want to check before you find out. Any we didn’t try, I’ll note.

  1. Ride the Deuce. This is a double decker bus that run from one end of the Strip to the other. For $7, you get a 24 hour pass that gives you unlimited access. Ride the second level for the best views. There is so much to see on the strip, from the famous Bellagio fountains to the pirate ship in front of Treasure Island, it’s worth the price of the ticket. Plus, walking the whole Strip can be exhausting!
  2. Walk the Strip. Yes, I know I said it can be tiring, but it’s still worth doing. Stop in at any casino you pass to see their theme and decor. Play tourist – take pictures with the street performers (most will take a photo for a small donation).
  3. Stop in a the Wynn, and for $10 admission, go look at the Ferrari dealership. You do have to pay, but how often do you get a chance to see a real Ferrari? While there, stop by some of the high end designer shops – just leave your credit card at home so you don’t give in to temptation!
  4. Walk through the Venetian and watch the gondola rides. The canals run both inside and outside the casino, and the roof looks like the sky – lots of fun.
  5. Every night outside Treasure Island, the Sirens of TI put on a free pirate show for all the passersby to see. (I have seen this before, we did not see it this year). It is a fun production, but go early to get a good position, and keep a close eye on your purse. Times can be found on the Treasure Island website.
  6. The Bellagio fountains. A site not to be missed, the fountains are choreographed to play to music daily. Times vary depending on the day, and the music is always changing.
  7. The Rainforest Cafe at the MGM Grand. The MGM used to have a live lion habitat, it is no longer there, but it still has huge fish tanks at the Rainforest Cafe, plus bar stools shaped like animal legs – super fun to see. Also at the MGM is a huge bronze statue of a lion in the main foyer.
  8. The Flamingo Hilton has a flamingo habitat free to explore. There are hundreds of the big pink birds to see. We did not visit it this trip.
  9. Outside the Mirage hotel is a volcano that erupts nightly. We missed it this trip, but it is stunning.
  10. Hang out by the pool. From March to October, most hotels have fantastic pools, and the Vegas weather can’t be beat. This is free fun at it’s best!
So there you have it – 10 activities in Vegas that won’t leave your wallet begging for mercy!

Editors note: I did some of these a few years ago when I went to Vegas and they were all fun! I’m going to have to go back and do the ones I missed the first time.


Howto Deal With Rich People

**And it’s day 4 of work travel! It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t get to do very limited blog stuff…anyways! Erika is going to be my guest poster today! Make sure to click on over there after you read her post.**

 

Hello Bog of Debt readers! My name is Erika, and I run the blog From Shopping to Saving where I talk about personal finance from the perspective of a 24-year-old former shopaholic. We get deep over there and talk about saving, shopping (or lack thereof), self-improvement, and more. Click at your own risk!

Today I want to talk about those friends we all have – the rich ones. Having grown up in private school my whole life up until college, I’ve seen firsthand how some kids are sheltered from reality because they are simply dependent on their parents for money.

Kids need values and ideals to follow, and if you are showering them with money and presents all the time, they won’t be learning anything but how to spend money…oh and how to be a show-off!

I always heard a bunch of this:

“Look at my new video game!”

“Look at my new light up shoes!”

“Everyone should come to my house because it’s the biggest”

“I’m having the biggest 16th birthday party ever, with a DJ!”

“I have a new Mercedes!”

Source

The problem with having rich friends was the constant need to feel included or to“stay ahead.” This resulted in a lot of begging my mom for things I did not need. Had I not known about those new Adidas shoes, I wouldn’t have wanted them. Ignorance is bliss.

Being around these wealthy kids also fostered a very competitive environment. We weren’t just competing on the grounds of “who has the most stuff,” but as we grew up, it turned into other things such as who has the best boyfriend, best job, best college education.

Let’s face it, there’s really no way to find out who has the “best” in any of these categories, because one person’s idea of the best is not everyone else’s. It’s all trivial.

On the other hand, it was nice to be around these kids because they came from wealthy-ish families, and I was able to discover different ways of becoming successful. This instilled a fire of motivation to do well in life to achieve this same success.

As we grew up, there were times when we realized that sometimes our idea of “rich”was not what we thought it was. Parents get divorced, people get laid off andlose jobs, or family emergencies happen.

You can’t guarantee that your friends will always be “rich,” so how should we deal with rich people? We should focus on ourselves, because the only thing that we have the power to change is what we can control – and we can’t control others!

Do you have any rich friends in your life? Have you been affected by them? How do you deal with it?

Editors note: I’ve grown past that point but I remember when I was a kid that I had some of those rich friends.  I remember going to one friend’s house because they had a pool and that’s all that they wanted to do in the summer. The one time she was supposed to sleep over at my house, there was an “emergency” and she was going to be out of town.  But I saw her at her pool the next day!


Why I Hate Receiving Gifts

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For most people, holidays and birthdays are a source of contentment and happiness – good food, family and, of course, gifts (don’t blame me for the consumerist society we live in)! For me, they’re a period of stress. Not only do I have to go out and try and guess what people need/want but then I have to sit through the dreaded gift exchange…

When I was young, my parents wouldn’t buy gifts for us at Christmas or our birthdays and would tell us that it was because we got gifts all year round (ie, when we would take a rare trip to Walmart, we could buy a book or something). I grew up thinking that this was normal and to this day, I have a hard time receiving gifts. My two problems with gifts are a) Why does this person think that I deserve a gift? And b) Where am I going to put this thing that I just got that I don’t need at all?

Let me explain. One day, out of the blue, BF bought me a $50 MAC makeup brush. I can honestly tell you that this was the most expensive present that I have ever received and I had a hard time accepting that it was a “just because” gift. Was he cheating on me? Did he think that I needed to wear more makeup? Why did I deserve such a “luxurious” present? Who am I to have a $50 brush?

For my last birthday, I received two bracelets, a gift card and some board games. I played one board game a few times and wore one of the bracelets once (the gift card is finished :P). While opening the gifts, I kept thinking to myself, who are these people? Don’t they know that gift cards and useful things are what I like? What am I supposed to do with these things now?

I know that I should accept gifts as token of my friends’ love for me but, at the same time, to a person who never had presents growing up (except for graduation and other special occasions), receiving a gift is a strange concept to me. If the gift is wrapped? Wow. I go nuts. And then people think I’m doubly-weird because I’ve unwrapped a present without ripping anything and the wrapping paper is folded neatly next to me, waiting to be reused.

The moral of the story? Give my gift cards. Oh and spoil your kids 😉

Editors Note: I get really weirded out when someone gives me a gift.  I can handle it but I really do not like being the center of attention so I’m much more happy when I am opening up something at the same time someone else is.  And I love to keep the wrapping paper–its always so nifty.


The best things in life…

*Day two of my work trip and I have Alice from Don’t Debt posting for you today.  FYI, Alice is awesome because she’s doing the same student loan rehabilitation that I am so I really enjoyed reading about that!*

 

Hello, this is Alice from over at Don’t Debt. I’m pretty new to the blogosphere of personal finance. I’m working my way out of my own mire of debt and enjoy reading bogofdebt.

 

The best things in life…

When I think of that sentence, usually one of two different things come to mind.

 

The best things in life are free, or the best things in life aren’t things.

 

My husband and I recently spent a Friday night sitting out on our back porch talking the evening away. He made the statement, “It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?” I agreed with him and thought about how differently I think about things now than I did for most of my adult life.

 

At what point in our history (America, people in general)was it decided that we had to spend tons of money to be happy? Why do we think wehave to buy lots of things to make us happy?

 

I look at the things that people (well, I’ll even make this more personal)… all the things that I spent money on that were unnecessary,it really makes me sick to my stomach.

 

At one point, my first husband and I had a car that wasn’t the best looking (or sounding, for that matter) but it did work. It was small and we had two kids in car seats. We thought we needed a newer car. That meant a loan. Itwas a lovely car, four doors, stick shift and the best gas mileage of any car I’ve ever owned. But for some reason, as soon as we got that paid off, we started thinking we needed a bigger car. Yes, the kids had grown. But again, it worked,ran well and got great gas mileage. Did those things matter? Apparently not enough. Why do people think they need a new car every time their last one is paid off? We were stuck in a vicious, self-inflicted cycle of wanting more. We should have saved the car payment money for a long time after the first one was paid. Paid cash for the next one and then started saving again.

Another thing that comes to mind is eating out. I’m fairly certain we went years in a row of consistent weekly restaurant trips after Sunday church. I’m not sure what led us to believe that our food at home wasn’t as tasty on Sunday as it was the rest of the week, but out to eat we went just like clockwork. To think about the money that was spent on food – on the convenience of having someone else cook it and serve it to us – makes me wonder how much could have been paid down on debt instead. There was likely even a lotof those trips put on the credit card. So not only were we paying to eat out,but paying interest on it. Interest. On. Food. Not cool, not cool at all.

 

Going back to my original point of the best things. Both of those examples of sentences may be trite or cliché, but I think that if we focused more on enjoying what we do have instead of the things we think we need, we’d be much happier. Instead of thinking that we *need* to go out to eat and then to the movies or to the mall on Friday night, spend some time eating at home and sitting out on the porch and just talking. Having fun doesn’t have to cost a ton of money – or any money at all. Play a board game, play a game of cards. Look for a way to entertain yourself that doesn’t cause you to be in a bog of debt. And if given the choice to debt or not to debt: Don’tDebt.

 

What do you think about when you hear “the best things in life”?

Editors note: I tried to add up all the stuff I “bought” (read: paid a bunch of interest in order to obtain before I had the cash for it) and think about how less in debt I’d be.  I wasn’t really happy so I stopped about half way through.