Category Archives: Smart Money Tips

Are you a Super Saver?

I love talking about money and I like making lots of it too!  I guess that’s why I affectionately named my blog “My Take on Money” because it gives me a platform to talk about one of the things that I’m most passionate about….Personal Finance (PF).  I’m so addicted to PF that I’ve decided to become a professional at it by embarking on a journey to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).  So don’t be surprised if from time to time you stumble upon a starchy article about the importance of estate or retirement planning, however, I do promise to throw in some entertaining articles from time to time… don’t worry. 🙂

Because I love personal finance so much, I’m constantly setting goals.  One of my favorite goals is saving money of course.  In fact, I like to think of myself as a Super Saver.  I’m sure there are a plethora of varying definitions out there of what a Super Saver is, but here’s my definition.

A Super Saver is a person who has gone one step beyond being a normal saver (whatever that might be). They find creative and innovative ways to save money.  I like to call it putting your “savings on steroids”.   Instead of saving the normal 10-15% of their income, they’re saving 35+% without causing undue stress or feeling deprived i.e.,  they’re still enjoying life and do splurge every now and again, but  they’ve somehow managed to find a formula that works to help them achieve their financial goals effortlessly.

So based on my definition above, are you a Super Saver?  Yes, no…maybe so?

Characteristics of a Super Saver:

  • Frugal – Super Savers are Frugal.  Frugality is their middle name..it’s a way of life, not a single occurrence.  They find ways to cut cost every chance they get, however they’re not cheap, there’s a difference (we’ll get more into that in another article). They don’t run out and get the latest and greatest gadgets as soon as they come out….they use wisdom and wait a while before purchasing in order to get that same item heavily reduced.  They learn to do without or adjust to certain things such as opting for Netflix or Hulu Plus in lieu of having cable.  They’re the ones who will car pool to work, shop in thrift stores and use coupons with every item they purchase.  Super Savers are money conscious and hate overpaying for items.
  • Goal Oriented – Super Savers know how to set goals and stick to them.  They’re laser focused.    Keep in mind that your goals need to be realistic and attainable, so don’t set some outrageous feat that you know you’re not going to be able to achieve.  It’s best to chop your goals up into a series of smaller steps.  This will make it easier to obtain and keep you from getting discouraged.
  • Disciplined – As you probably already know, everybody is not cut out to be a Super Saver because most are not willing to make the sacrifice.  It really takes discipline to accomplish anything worthwhile. Super Savers are not easily swayed off the beaten path. They set a goal and stick to it….they do not succumb to temptation. A shiny brand new car or a 50” flat screen TV will not be their demise.  They are not easily discouraged and they definitely are not trying to keep up with the Jones.
  • Budget Conscious – They know how to budget extremely well and are constantly finding ways to squeeze what they can from it to sock away towards their savings goal.  I’m not advocating that you starve or deprive yourself of the things you really need or want, I’m saying that Super Savers adhere strictly to their budgets to eliminate the urge of impulse purchases.  Impulse purchases can destroy a budget.
  • Innovative and Creative – I know that sometimes saving and sticking to a strict budget can be hard to do, not to mention, it can boring and a bit monotonous…that’s why it’s wise to find innovative and creative ways to save.

Check out some personal examples:

  • Because of the down slump in the housing market, my property taxes decreased slightly as a result; I received a nice little refund check in the mail from my mortgage company.  What did I do with that unexpected money?  I socked it away in the bank toward one of my savings goals.
  • Another example – I received a credit from the electric company of about $326 dollars from a deposit I made 10 yrs. prior.  They were refunding this credit back to me for being a good customer.  This again was unexpected money that I didn’t spend, I saved it.

Some additional innovative and creative ways to save:

  • Put your savings on autopilot – Have a set amount automatically deposited into a savings account on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Save your spare change – Empty your change everyday into a jar and watch the money add up.
  • Save the actual money from the use of coupons – If you have a set budget for food and you end up having money left because you used coupons, then you could move the savings into a savings account.
  • Sell unwanted or unused items – This is one of my favorite ways to earn some extra income.  We’ve all got stuff around the house that we are not using that we could sell on Craigslist, Ebay or through a yard sale.  Don’t let that stuff accumulate dust, get rid of it if you haven’t used it.

If you’re not a Super Saver at the moment, but aspire to be one someday, applying some of the characteristics above will put your well on your way.

What’s your definition of a Super Saver?

A lesson on Tipping (Gratuity)

I don’t know about you but I love trying out the newest restaurants around town and not too long ago, I went to a popular establishment called “Cheddars” located in South Georgia.  This place is really happening and bustling, however, what I like most about it is the great and fast service and the reasonable prices.  In fact the prices are outstanding.  James (my boyfriend) had salmon on a bed of rice, with steamed broccoli/green beans and I had a nice big Turkey Club with fries.  Not to mention to glasses of ice tea/lemonade with sweet rolls for starters and a bowl of ice cream for dessert.  You’d never guess the price.

Drum roll please……

It only came to $23.80!  That’s a great deal.  If we’d eaten anywhere else, I’m sure the tab would’ve been well over $30 bucks.  So kudos to Cheddars!  They’re officially now one of my favorite restaurants. 🙂

Our waiter was nice and very attentive.  She made sure that we had refills and anything else we needed.  I had no complaints about her service.  She did everything right. So when it came time to pay the tab and tip, I took care of her.  I left her a nice $4.00 dollar tip….that’s more than the required 15%.  However, James thought that I should’ve given her more.  What do you think?

Should your gratuity be based on the amount of the ticket or be commensurate with the service?  I think it depends on the type of service.

First of all, tipping for service is just plain old good etiquette.  I, personally, tip for everything from getting my hair and nails done to valet parking.  I believe that it is the right thing to do….especially if they provide superior service.  I normally tip a buck or two for valet and other similar services and this is not based on the amount of the tab; however I do go by the price of the tab when I eat at restaurants.

What I’m fuzzy about is the minimum required gratuity.  Is it 15% or 18% these days?  According to my research it ranges from 15-20%, so as long as you’re in that range, you should be fine.  A good way to gage what percentage is acceptable is to give 15% for basic service and 18+% for superior/first class service, but it’s to your discretion.

Now I know that some people don’t deserve a tip when they give bad service right?  I’ve experienced this at least once and I still left them a tip.  It wasn’t 18-20% but I did leave them a tip nonetheless.  I chalked it up to the person was having a bad day.  Everybody is entitled to one of those every now and again. 🙂

Bottom line, I think the proper way to view giving a gratuity is to always give the basic 15%, no matter what…even if the service is horrible.  At that point you should definitely report that individual to management or just don’t go back to that establishment.  If the service is great, then reward them by giving a nice tip of 18+% or more.  They’ll remember you when you come back and go out of their way to provide excellent service for you time and time again.  In some cases, the better the tip, the better the service.  This is just food for thought.

20 Innovative ways to Earn Extra Income from Home

Are you cash strapped?  Have you ever desired to start your own business from home to earn some extra income?  Well look no further.  Making money from home is now easier than ever.

Below are 20 Innovative ways you can earn extra Income from Home:

1. Start a Blog – If you love to write and have a topic that you are passionate about then why not start a blog? It’s free if you do it through Blogger or WordPress.   Once you start getting a steady flow of visitors on a daily basis.  It won’t be long before you will be able to monetize your blog through private advertisers. Other ways to monetize your blog is through Google Ad-sense and affiliate marketing like Ebates.

2. Write/Sell an eBook – Another way to earn extra income from home is to write an eBook.  Do you have a marketable skill or know how to do something that you feel people will pay you to learn?  Then you could easily put this information into an eBook.  Some great topics for an eBook are learning how to coupon, or teaching some simple techniques for investing.  The sky’s the limit. Check out eBook Junkie for more info on writing an Ebook and making money from it.

3. Do Consignment in-store/online – This is one of my favorite ways to earn extra income and it can get pretty lucrative.  Do you have an eye for items of value?  If so, then you can do consignment online or at consignment shop.  You can easily find valuable items at yard and garage sales or at thrift stores that you could easily re-sell.  I once found an Excalibur Dehydrator at Goodwill that was in pristine condition for $5.95.  I was able to resell that item on Ebay for over $100 bucks!  Other websites that are good for re-sell are Craigslist and Amazon.  Be careful of those re-seller fees though.

4. Take Surveys Online – Getting paid to take surveys is nothing new.  This has been around for years.  If you have the time, then you can make a little chump change on the side by taking surveys and you’ll get a lot of free stuff and get entered into sweepstakes.

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