Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Great article at MSN Money

I just found a great article today on MSN Money that I thought I would share. It is titled "4 Recession Regrets--And How to Fix Them." During hard times it is easy to kick yourself for money mistakes you might have made. This article gives some great advice on how you might atone for those mistakes. Just a warning: if you are expecting a miraculous quick fix, you will be disappointed. These are solid tips to help keep you from making the same mistakes in the future. So enjoy the article!

It can be found at:


Saturday, October 17, 2009

grocery shopping

I made a visit to the grocery store this afternoon. Perhaps because it's off season here in Jackson, I seemed to know someone in every isle. I happened upon a couple having a discussion about the cost of a name brand item and a store bought item. When they spotted me, I was asked " do you know if there's any difference between this store brand item and the name brand item, other than cost?"

It's been a few years since I taught Supermarket Strategies, a class I use to love to teach. I recalled several occassions I've had the opportuntiy to tour food processing plants in my travels and have seen first hand the same product being put into different containers with various company names. Sugar is sugar, salt is salt regardless of the label on the container. I was particularly amazed to observe that the Tobassco Sauce we all love is manufactured at Avery Island in Louisianna and the same company puts the same sauce into bottles for just about every country in the world under just about as many labels.

I thought our blog readers might enjoy seeing what the Consumer Reports found the difference between name brands and generics to be... here's the link.

The saying a penny saved is a penny earned is a fact which can add up to dollars if consumers are mindful of which product they select from the shelves at the grocery store

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kids and School Shopping: Hit the books, NOT your wallets!

With the lazy days of long over in most of Wyoming and the flurry of fall activities filling our calendars, we may notice a change in the stress level of parents and students across the state. Often, high-cost school supplies, activity fees, clothes, and other must-haves for kids can add a major stressor to family life.

To help the keep spending within limits and teach important life lessons for the school year and beyond, here are some strategies to help your students hit the books, but not your wallets, this school year.

1. Get the kids involved in planning when they have “wants” or “needs” on the shopping list. Have your technology-savvy kids search on-line for best prices, map the routes between stores for your next shopping excursion, and create a budget spreadsheet to track their spending.

2. Share the budgeted amount you can afford for the semester or school year on clothes, supplies, and extra-curricular events, and enlist their help in choosing how the money should be spent. Your kids will likely have to make some hard choices and a few things may fall by the wayside, but the valuable lessons they learn will be much more important in the long-term.

3. Also give them an opportunity to develop creative solutions to their budget shortfalls like selling outgrown but usable clothing, furnishings, or toys at a consignment store or on-line at eBay or Craigslist.

4. Long after the school-year is underway, stores often offer deep discounts on supplies and clothing to make room for merchandise for the fast-approaching holiday season. You can capitalize on some mid-semester school shopping with deep discounts. By then, your kids have a better idea of what they want after seeing the popular trends during the initial weeks or months of the school year.

The hopeful result:

Parents will spend less, and kids will better understand the reasoning when you say "yes" or "no” to their purchases. You will give them practice shopping for bargains, prioritizing their wants, planning ahead, and sticking to a budget ... and those are some important lessons that will live long after their school days are through.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Make Use of Tax-Credit House Repairs

Thinking about making some home improvements? Don’t let federal stimulus money go to waste! Until December 31, 2010, homeowners can take advantage of a national tax credit of 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500, on a variety of energy-saving products. Insulation, windows and doors, roofing, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, tankless water heaters and alternative energy programs, such as solar panels and wind turbines, are covered.

Improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes (filed by April 15, 2010) — use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version) — it will be available late 2009 or early 2010. Some improvements are eligible until 2016. The www.energystar.gov has more information. But I'd recommend talking with your tax professional for details on what specific improvements may qualify and the information you'll need to keep (the receipt is an obvious thing, but other information is needed too). As the energystar website makes clear, not all energystar rated products are eligible for the credit.

Finally remember that a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your taxes -- pure money.