Monday, April 25, 2011
30 days of smart money choices --
1) The smart lady above is making the most of her bounty by preserving her fruits. Freezing and canning can save you money if you have the time for these activities. You do not always have to grow your own fruits, veggies, and meats in order to preserve them. For example, I sometimes buy my favorite kind of apple (very crisp and firm Arkansas Black variety) at a nearby orchard and keep the apples the way the owner recommends. I put several in a zip lock bag with just a bare teaspoonful of water in the bag. (Too much water renders the apples soggy, rather than crisp.) I keep the sacks of apples in the refrigerator crisper. They can last up to a year this way, especially if you check the bags to remove any that are starting to spoil. You can buy extra produce at a farmer's market or even a grocery store that has good quality produce in season. You can then preserve it just as you would as if you had grown it yourself. Of course, growing your own produce will give you lots of summer bounty to store for the rest of the year.
2) Research various ways to preserve herbs. One way is to salt them. Herbs can also easily be grown inside, all year long.
3) Search out recipes for freezer slaw, three bean salads, copper pennies, and for small batches of jellies and pickles that don't need heavy canning or freezing to preserve.
On a completely different train of thought...
4) Save and invest with your convictions in mind. First and foremost, do not compromise your beliefs for the sake of earning money. Secondly, the home is a great venue from which to foster things that help the community at large. Some things you might foster with careful savings, careful investments, careful consumption, gifts to charities, and personal charity are adoption, clean water for people in third world countries, the spreading of the news about Christ, medical aid to people in areas served by charity clinics, food banks, being a good steward of the environment, supporting local businesses, encouraging young entrepreneurs, and the list goes on and on. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do something. The combined effect of individual households using portions of their assets for worthy causes can do a nation much good.
4a) Be ware of dubious investment schemes that play on your desire to do good in a certain area. Make sure any proposed investment -- even ones that claim to promote a good cause -- is sound and that the returns really will be used for the stated goal. Likewise, check out charities before you give. You want your money to actually meet the need about which you are so passionate.
4c) Having said that, set aside some money that you are willing to give, lend, or invest without any guarantee of financial return. That way, you will be able to give that money to a truly worthy venture, regardless of the outcome.
Still another set of ideas:
5) This is the season for spring cleaning, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Before you throw things away, decide if they can be sold. For example, many people -- myself included -- have sold books on Amazon.com. (Be sure to account for the cost of mailing your item to a buyer in your asking price. Amazon.com does give a shipping allowance, but it might not be enough for a heavy book.) Other sites to check for selling things are Sell.Com, Half.Com, E-Bay, Listia.com, and Craig's List. While some people with a good eye for what sells buy old things and re-sell them to such sites, it's best to start by simply selling something you already have and would like to get rid of. That way, you are not risking anything. If it sells, you've earned a little extra pocket cash. If it doesn't -- no biggie. You can always toss it or give it away later.
6) Take care of any obvious water leaks in your house, such as a drippy faucet or water damage on a first floor ceiling that might indicate a problem with an upstairs air conditioner/heating unit . Also check for hidden leaks. One way to to this is to turn off all of the fixtures and appliances in your house that use water. Look at your water meter. If the flow indicator is still spinning, you have a leak that needs to be fixed. Repairing water leaks can save you a lot of money.
7) We all know that using an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank costs extra. If you plan ahead, you can perform any transactions you need to at your bank or at one of your bank's ATMs. However, even the savviest planners among us can get caught needing a little cash in a pinch. If you are not near one of your own bank's ATM's, buy a small item at a grocery store or drug store and ask for cash back. Most places limit the amount of cash you can get in this way. However, the limit is usually high enough to meet any sudden need.