A Few Financial Tidbits from an Old Fart

Recognizing there are many places for financial advice, as an old fart, I thought I would offer some specific examples on ways to save money. Some of these are in reaction to various conversations I have had with my children, nieces and nephews, but regardless of age, it does not hurt to validate your thinking from time to time. Please take these for what they are worth, examples of lessons learned, pitfalls avoided and plans executed when I was prescient enough to listen to someone else beforehand.

  • Don’t have too many credit cards. I have one debit and two credit cards – you will pile up too much debt otherwise and expose yourself to identity theft with too many. Pay down your largest interest rate first and close it out. Don’t just cut up the card, cancel it as identity theft can still occur – trust me on this.
  • If you are working and have access to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, for God’s sake use it. If there is a match, find a way to contribute up to the maximum match percentage. You will retire from some place and the cash provides cushion if you are laid off (company’s do that and it has happened to people who are better at their jobs than you are). You are throwing money away otherwise.
  • Do not play the lottery. I repeat, do not play the lottery. You might as well throw the money out the window. Lotteries are a regressive tax – it means people who can least afford to pay taxes, contribute to the lottery. Use the money instead in the 401(k) or 403(b) plan.
  • Avoid payday lending. In the bible, usury is a sin. In Dante’s Inferno, there is a level of Hell for payday lenders of the day. These guys are a step away from legbreakers. You will go into a death spiral of debt if you succumb.
  • If can’t get a job, try volunteering for a charity group. The networking is good as people will see your energies on showcase in a good way. Plus, the psychic income is rich. By working, you will avoid depressive thoughts and can use your energy in a positive way. Some non-profits may be able to figure out a way to get you some income. Plus, you can see ways to tap services if needed.
  • If you have some money to invest – think dividend paying stocks with low P/E (price to earnings) ratios. Take the price per share of the stock and divide it by the earnings per share. If 20 or under, it may be worth the effort. These companies may also have Dividend or Customer Purchase plans you can access online. This means you buy the stock without a sales charge driectly from the company.
  • You do not need to own the newest gadget or thing. Companies do this to get you to buy something. I am not impressed by who owns what. Most people are not. If people are more impressed by your gadgets than you, then you may want to hang around a different crowd.
  • Be smart with your fast food purchases. Do not buy the drinks there as the margins are huge on liquid. Get out of your car and go inside. You are wasting a ton of gas waiting in line and it may be faster if the line outside is long. Read the calorie chart – the Affordable Care Act is requiring disclosure. This will help you be less of a train wreck later on. And, please do not supersize as you will become what you eat – supersized.
  • Better yet, eat more meals at home and yes, eat the leftovers. The savings are huge. I will never die of food poisoning in my own house, so I usually have to be quick with the leftovers before my wife tosses them.
  • Avoid eye level purchases in stores, especially if you are woman. Not to be sexist, but the highest margin items in a grocery store are at the eye level of a 5’5″ woman. Also avoid out-of-place stuff at the end of an aisle or by the cashier. The stuff by the cashier is lethal. While we are at it, do not go inside a convenience store when you pump gas unless it is to use the restroom. Their margins are huge inside on purchases.
  • Reduce water usage by not running water while you shave, brush your teeth, etc. Also, get a lower flush toilet or put a small enclosed container of rocks in the tank as this will reduce the water usage. Use the energy saver setting on dishwashers.
  • Shut off electrical devices overnight. This will save energy plus it will slow the deterioration of modems, routers, computers, etc. And, it will reduce a fire hazard.
  • Go generic on all prescriptions (some generics are the same pill). Use the store brand ibuprofen, decongestants, etc. as they work just as well. Not all pills are the same as one of my sons breaks out in a rash with one generic, but the brand is fine, so use trial and error.
  • Get a second and third opinion on surgeries or diagnosis. Especially, back surgeries. Sometime surgeries can do more harm than good. If you need one, make sure you get all the answers to your questions and have exhausted other options.
  • Walk to errands. Take a couple of shopping bags and walk to the store. You will be healthier, plus you will buy less because you cannot carry it all back.
  • Don’t drink so much. I don’t drink anymore, but have drunk enough for a lifetime before I quit almost six years ago. You would be amazed at how much you save, plus the better health pays dividends. My last straw was a friend who died at age 59 because of alcoholism. I can tell most people drink more than they tell people. So, find ways to cut it back. Trust me, I know.

That is all I have for now. I hope this was useful. I am sorry about the preaching on the last item, but that is a big-ticket savings item. I welcome other ideas as I want to learn how to save more as well. Please provide additional suggestions below.

28 thoughts on “A Few Financial Tidbits from an Old Fart

  1. Good advice.

    I agree with paying off credit cards, especially those with higher interest rates first. Credit scores and ability to get credit is based on the ratio of debt to credit limit, length of credit history, and past history (including bankruptcy etc.). What happens when a credit card account is closed off is the length of history is decreased. The ratio of debt to credit limit is now altered. All of which can lower a credit score and decrease “credit worthiness” in the future. It can also have implications with current credit card companies who do “soft credit checks” on current consumers and find the ratio has changed and they push that person into a higher interest rate for that card left open.

    I agree with not having a lot of credit cards and with using them wisely. In the “credit card” count it is important to include those “store specific credit cards”. It is important to check with the bank about their inactive card policy. Some banks will close accounts that have no activity after a period of time. If someone is going to close of credit cards pick the ones that have the shortest history attached to them. It is also better for the consumer to close the account than to have the bank do it.

    When it comes to identity fraud there are things consumers can do to protect themselves. 🙂

    • Thanks for the detailed input. Be wary of the store card. The 30-60-90 cards in particular. If you miss a payment, the interest reverts to the beginning. Also, when I had an ID theft attempt, I found out that old store cards were not really closed. That scared me, so we shut them down. Good input, thanks, BTG

      • I too have had store credit cards I requested closed many months prior still show up as open on my credit report. When I requested the company send written confirmation of the card being closed I explained it was to make sure they actually closed the account that time. 🙂

      • I had a similar experience. Some needed the request in writing. I tell people you need to be zealous when dealing with these issues. Thanks for sharing your story. BTG

  2. Excellent advice I wish I had heard before I made most of these mistakes. I am struggling with the poor decisions I made in my twenties. The last one is the hardest for me now. I live in a town with more breweries per capita than any other and I am a craft beer and wine enthusiast.

    • Oh, and one more thing that goes along with payday lending: don’t pawn your stuff! I have family members who have paid many times what their stuff is worth in pawn fees, only to end up losing the item-sometimes treasured heirlooms.

      • Thanks Amaya. There are people – payday lenders, pawnbrokers, etc. – who prey on people who are vulnerable. Thanks for bringing up the latter. Best wishes to you on all fronts, BTG

    • Thanks. I recognize these are not rocket science ideas (the better ones usually are not), but many have made (like me) and will make these mistakes. Your second one reminded of a movie we re-watched last night after several years – “Patch Adams.” A wealthy man who Patch Adams had helped with some mental struggles and was returning the favor was being followed by an attorney questioning his desire to help. He asked Patch if he knew Proctology. When Patch asked why, he said could you take care of this asshole for me (referencing the attorney behind him). Best regards, BTG

  3. Pingback: Thinking About Your Money | Views from the Hill

  4. nice list; i enjoyed hugh’s comment and your reply!

    i am stubborn when shopping in a store, and i see something on my list that’s placed in a ‘buy me now’ spot. i go to the correct place in the store and buy it there!

    one sees lottery peddlers throughout latin america, and i am amazed at how many people buy a ticket and think they might win!

  5. Pingback: Some Financial Advice to Keep You Out Of The Homeless Hole | brainsections

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