household http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4659/all en-US 10 Life Hacks You Should Master by Age 30 http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_cooking_000057441244.jpg" alt="Woman learning to cook by age 30" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you a 20-something trying your best to transition fully into adulthood? We've all been there. It's time to start developing those go-to skills that will make adult life much easier. Get started on these 10 life hacks you should master by age 30.</p> <h2>1. Changing a Flat Tire</h2> <p>As with most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-the-5-most-common-emergency-situations">unexpected emergency situations</a>, you should be prepared for the worst. Sure, AAA is great, but what if you're in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of rush hour? A flat tire is relatively easy to fix, so learn <a href="http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/changing-tire.php">how to change a tire, now</a>. (You can practice in your driveway.)</p> <h2>2. Repairing Your Pipes</h2> <p>Leaky pipes and clogged drains are the kinds of nuisances that we live with until something worse happens &mdash; and that shouldn't be the case. Look like a boss with your wrench or drain snake and <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/plumbing/how-to-fix-pipes1.htm">fix leaky pipes</a> without a plumber. Your roommates or your significant other will thank you.</p> <h2>3. Assembling an Emergency Kit</h2> <p>Everyone should have an <a href="http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit">emergency kit</a> for their home, car, and even for their work desk. Buy three nylon duffel bags, then head to the hardware store and fill them with the essentials. In addition, have a &quot;top five&quot; of close people you'd call for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-should-have-in-your-personal-emergency-kit">help in an emergency</a>.</p> <h2>4. Mixing a Signature Cocktail</h2> <p>Having a <a href="http://www.popsugar.com/food/What-Your-Signature-Drink-35633409">go-to cocktail</a> that you can make for yourself is a classy life hack that will make you a better host. In the process, you'll likely want to learn more drinks. For bonus points, learn to make your signature drink in <a href="http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/12/cocktail-101-how-to-make-cocktails-for-a-crowd-big-batches-martinis-margaritas-manhattans.html">large cocktail batches</a> for parties.</p> <h2>5. Cooking at Least One Dish</h2> <p>Learn how to cook something from scratch! It's about time. It's always impressive to others and delicious for everyone. Pick a dish that requires a mix of multiple ingredients at different times. Spaghetti doesn't count, but spaghetti carbonara does. Start here with some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-restaurant-dishes-you-can-make-at-home">great restaurant dishes</a> you can make at home.</p> <h2>6. Wrapping a Present</h2> <p>How often have you struggled to wrap a gift last minute only to reuse an old gift bag instead? Learn how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-clever-and-attractive-ways-to-save-on-gift-wrapping-paper">wrap presents creatively</a> with all kinds of materials. You may find that your recipients will enjoy your gifts even more because they love how beautiful they look before even opening them.</p> <h2>7. Calculating Tips</h2> <p>It's not difficult to calculate a tip in your head. Find it hard to solve for 20% right away? Simply take 10% of the total (move the decimal twice to the left), and double that. At group meals in which the restaurant doesn't add gratuity, do the same thing, then divide that by the number of people at dinner &mdash; and make sure they don't add the tip until after they are charged for their share of the total. In the worst case scenario, Google has you covered with a <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;rlz=1CAHPZY_enUS620US621&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;es_th=1&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=how+to+calculate+tip&amp;spell=1">tip calculator</a>.</p> <h2>8. Creating a Monthly Budget</h2> <p>Saving for the future is one of the most important things you can start doing in your 20s. These days, we have tons of programs to help <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget">track your spending</a> and expenses. Pick one and start budgeting month-by-month. Once you get the hang of it, start a year-long savings plan.</p> <h2>9. Effectively Packing Luggage</h2> <p>No, we don't mean <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-traveling-with-these-8-things-youre-overpacking">cramming your belongings</a> into a carry-on! Consider your mode of travel, destination, and duration of the trip. Bring exactly the amount of undergarments, shirts, and pants you'll need, and only essential toiletries. Tip: try rolling your clothes together instead of folding for more space.</p> <h2>10. Mending Clothing</h2> <p>Wardrobe malfunctions can happen to anyone at anytime, so basic clothes mending should be in your repertoire. One should know how to sew a button, quickly re-stitch a hem, patch a small hole, and other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-clothing-fit-perfectly-with-these-10-no-sew-fixes">basic clothing fixes</a>. Study a few <a href="http://diyfashion.about.com/od/mendingandalterations/ss/10-Clothing-Fixes-That-Everyone-Should-Know.htm">mending tutorials</a> and start practicing on old garments.</p> <p><em>What other basic life skills have you found essential to know by 30?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-frequent-flyer-miles">Everything You Need to Know About Frequent Flyer Miles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-adventurous-things-you-should-do-before-you-die">15 Adventurous Things You Should Do Before You Die</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For (and 5 You Can Ignore)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-preparedness-for-your-freezer">Emergency Preparedness For Your Freezer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Cooking emergency household skills travel twentysomethings Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:00:07 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1351148 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Alternative Uses for Household Items http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-alternative-uses-for-household-items <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-alternative-uses-for-household-items" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8027899784_c60f21f65a_z.jpg" alt="cat in kitchen" title="cat in kitchen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on alternative uses for household items, things to consider when choosing health insurance, and principles to increasing your net worth.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2013/03/26/13-unexpected-uses-for-household-staples/">13 Alternative Uses for Stuff You Have Around the House</a> &mdash; Did you know you can use cat litter instead of rice to cure a wet phone? [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moolanomy.com/6489/choosing-a-health-insurance-plan-mmarquit01/">5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Health Insurance Plan</a> &mdash; When choosing a health insurance plan, take a look at out of pocket costs. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2005/04/five_principles.html">Five Principles to Increasing Your Net Worth</a> &mdash; If you want to increase your net worth, minimize your expenses. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/business/T012-S001-best-jobs-for-the-future/index.html">10 of the Best Jobs for the Future</a> &mdash; Electricians and personal financial advisors are just a cuople of the best jobs for the future. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/April-Fools-Pranks-Office-15381926">5 Pranks You Should Avoid at the Office</a> &mdash; Resist the urge to send your boss a fake resignation letter today. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.creditsesame.com/blog/why-savings-accounts-not-best-option/">Keeping Your Extra Cash in Savings Account? Think Again</a> &mdash; Savings accounts have poor interest rates, so you may want to put your savings elsewhere. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/good-places-volunteer-opportunities-organizations/">10 Good Places to Volunteer - Opportunities and Organizations</a> &mdash; Looking for somewhere to volunteer your time? Consider Habitat for Humanity or a retirement home. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=727e7ccf-5161-4437-b103-328b31c424c4&amp;ref=bfv">Free health screenings through May</a> &mdash; CVS is offering free cholesterol screenings this week and next week. [MSN Money]</p> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/section-8-housing.html">What is Section 8 Housing?</a> &mdash; Qualification for Section 8 Housing is based on your household income and the number of people living in your household. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/silly-snacks-for-april-fools-day">Silly Snacks for April Fools' Day</a> &mdash; Have some fun with your child today by sticking gummy worms in an apple for a silly April Fools day snack! [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-alternative-uses-for-household-items">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">Strategies for households with more than one adult</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated">10 frugal things to try before you die (updated)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Another path to recovery: higher incomes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30">10 Life Hacks You Should Master by Age 30</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living alternative best money tips household items Mon, 01 Apr 2013 10:00:31 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 971615 at http://www.wisebread.com Are Your Finances Fragile? http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-finances-fragile <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-your-finances-fragile" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/collapsed-barn_0.jpg" alt="Collapsed barn" title="Collapsed Barn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="131" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many households are just one layoff, one illness, one interest-rate hike away from financial catastrophe.</p> <p>I know this is true &mdash; that as things are now, a perfectly ordinary bit of misfortune could easily ruin someone's life &mdash; and yet whenever I'm reminded (most recently by a &quot;Daily Show&quot; interview with Elizabeth Warren), my first reaction is always shock. Yes, things used to be like that, but we fixed it. We created a safety net. Right?</p> <p>Upon reflection, what I find most striking is that the period when there was a real safety net that actually protected households was pretty brief. It started with the New Deal, grew a bit with the Great Society, and pretty much ended a couple of decades ago in the era of deregulation and globalization.</p> <p>To someone my age, the current situation is kind of shocking. I grew up during that period when an employee could expect a job to last for decades. When most jobs included medical insurance. When most consumer loans were at fixed interest rates that couldn't be raised.</p> <p>Someone who came of age in the mid-1990s or later would not be shocked. In fact, they'd probably be pretty puzzled that anyone was surprised. Younger workers know perfectly well that their job will disappear if there's a 15-minute period in which there's no work for them to do. They have no personal memory of the days when the whole point of a &quot;layoff&quot; was that it was temporary &mdash; that laid-off workers could expect to be called back when production started up again. (They quite likely have no personal memory of production ever starting up again &mdash; their experience is of production moving overseas.)</p> <p>Because of this division, I want to present the strategies for making your household economy a bit less fragile in two pieces. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure ">The Second-Best Way to Make Your Household More Secure</a>)</p> <h2>Twentieth Century Strategies</h2> <p>First, the ordinary strategies that have been the core of household security for most of my lifetime, the ones you can read about in any standard book on personal finance. I call them twentieth century strategies, although their heyday was really from about 1945 through 1990.</p> <h3>Emergency Fund</h3> <p>Have an emergency fund with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund ">six months minimum expenses</a>. (Keep at least a little of it in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">cash</a>.)</p> <p>The main purpose of this money is to tide you over if you lose your job. It's also there so that you're not forced to take on debt to cover an unexpected expense.</p> <p>In addition to a fund of cash, keep enough basic supplies on hand to see your household through a blizzard or a flood or a power outage that shuts down the ATM machines. (If you buy the supplies for this stockpile at a discount, you can also score some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns ">huge tax-free investment returns</a>.)</p> <h3>Avoid Debt</h3> <p>I've written before about how <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-debt-fools-people ">debt makes your finances fragile</a>. When you have specific dollar payments that you need to make, you're utterly bound to the money economy.</p> <p>Especially avoid credit card debt. Although things are a bit better now thanks to a couple of new laws that restrict banks from changing the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reject-variable-terms-and-conditions ">terms and conditions</a> of a debt, credit cards remain a risky way to borrow money. If you really think <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/good-debt-bad-debt">borrowing is the right move</a>, consider doing what people used to do &mdash; taking out a loan. Borrow money for a specific purpose at a specific fixed rate, with a specific fixed repayment schedule.</p> <h3>Limit Fixed Expenses</h3> <p>It's not only debts that crush you when there's an interruption in your income. Every <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-with-recurring-monthly-expenses ">recurring expense</a> makes your finances more fragile. If you've never had to resort to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">emergency belt-tightening</a>, you'd probably be surprised just how low you can get your spending on a temporary basis. But every fixed expense &mdash; rent, utilities, cell phone contract, fitness center membership &mdash; is a fixed-dollar amount that you'll need to pay out, even if you have a sharp drop in income or a sharp increase in expenses.</p> <h3>Buy Appropriate Insurance</h3> <p>If you can possibly afford it, you need to insure yourself against the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/things-to-insure-things-not-to-insure">risks that would otherwise ruin your finances</a>. That means health insurance and liability insurance in particular. If you own a home or a car, and you don't have cash to replace them, you need to insure them as well.</p> <p>In the United States, of course, health insurance is a huge problem. If you're old or sick, the only way to get health insurance is to work for a large company that provides it as an employee benefit. (This is scheduled to get <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-care-reform-good-for-people-like-me">a lot better</a> starting in 2014.)</p> <h2>Nineteenth and Twenty-First Century Strategies</h2> <p>These additional strategies weren't so important during the decades of the New Deal and the Great Society. But they once again become important in today's world, just as they were in the early decades of the last century and before.</p> <h3>Improve Your Employability</h3> <p>Keep your skills up-to-date. Keep your documentation of them up-to-date. Stay in contact with your network of former coworkers, former managers, and former employees. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1 ">Don't depend on your employer</a> to do anything beyond paying you for the work you've already done. Take responsibility for your own <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2">career management</a>.</p> <h3>Make the Things You Need</h3> <p>This used to be ordinary, but fell by the wayside as cheap shipping and specialization enabled much higher standards of living for people who worked for wages or a salary and bought everything they needed. Full-blown <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">self-sufficiency</a> was always a hard way to live, but a little strategic partial self-sufficiency can make your household much less fragile. Each little thing that you can provide directly (rather than buying it in the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy ">money economy</a>) is one more area where your household doesn't have to depend on anyone but yourselves.</p> <h3>Have Another Source of Income</h3> <p>The idea that a single breadwinner following a one-job career path could provide a stable source of income for a family has been dead for a long time. Most households have long sent a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">second (or even a third) family member</a> into the workforce.</p> <p>I recommend having <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-the-importance-of-having-capital">a little capital</a> deployed to earn money &mdash; stocks, bonds, rental property, etc.</p> <p>Having a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">hobby that can be scaled up</a> to a small business during periods of unemployment is good. Perhaps even better is a family business (or family farm) that can be run by just one member of an extended family, but that can provide employment for any family member who happens to be out of work. (That's pretty much the way families were always run, from the dawn of civilization until well into the industrial revolution. It was a good strategy then, and I expect it will return as a key organizing principle of the economy going forward.)</p> <h3>Help Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors</h3> <p>This is really an extension of that last idea. Until the last century, this would have been everyone's default answer to the question of how to make your family more secure &mdash; when the people around you are more secure, you're more secure as well.</p> <p>There was a brief window in the mid-to-late twentieth century when we thought we'd permanently moved beyond some of those concerns, but that turns out not to be true. Explore the strategies that successful people used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to make <em>their</em> households more secure. Consider employing those same strategies once again.</p> <p>Sadly, that seems to be what it's going to take to make your household more secure.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-finances-fragile">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure">The Second-Best Way to Make your Household More Secure</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-increasing-your-financial-literacy">Tips for Increasing Your Financial Literacy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/uk-banks-are-blocking-customers-credit-cards-will-the-usa-be-next">UK banks are blocking customers&#039; credit cards. Will the USA be next?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-audacity-to-waste-money-for-better-finances">The Audacity to Waste Money for Better Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">Strategies for households with more than one adult</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance finances fragile household Wed, 04 May 2011 00:32:21 +0000 Philip Brewer 535789 at http://www.wisebread.com The Second-Best Way to Make your Household More Secure http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/neighborhood-event-2.jpg" alt="Crowd at Neighborhood Event" title="Crowd at Neighborhood Event" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You already know the best way to make your household finances more secure: emergency fund, insurance, diversified investment portfolio, marketable skills. But once you're doing those things, you've got a choice to make: Do additional resources go toward more of the same, or do you opt instead to do something different?</p> <p>I vote for something different.</p> <p>The current conventional wisdom on household financial security is about two or three generations old. That list above would have made sense to someone back until about the 1920s or so. Before that, it would have seemed like a very weird list indeed. Ask someone from an earlier time what makes a household more secure and you'd have gotten a completely different answer.</p> <p>From the dawn of man until at least the industrial revolution, the best way to make your own household more secure would have been to <strong>boost the security of others around you</strong>. Even after the money economy came to dominate &mdash; even after the organizational structures of tribe and clan gave way to more modern structures &mdash; everyone would have understood that boosting the security of family members and friends in nearby households, would boost your own security.</p> <p>It would be your friends, neighbors, and relatives who would help out if a hailstorm ruined your crops, if a fire destroyed your home, if a relative got sick, if technological change made your job obsolete, if you got hurt and couldn't work, or if someone rich and powerful took a disliking to you.</p> <p>That's not so true any more. Although people would be pleased to have friends and relatives who would help out, most people figure that they'd better arrange things so that they're relying on formal, rather than informal structures: insurance companies, banks, brokerage firms, a college degree, the rule of law.</p> <p>In fact, people go beyond just preferring these structures &mdash; they look down on people who don't make use of them. And not just a little: Someone who has failed to avail themselves of these ordinary tools is scorned &mdash; treated as not worthy of support &mdash; because they haven't taken the ordinary, minimal steps to protect themselves.</p> <p>I see this a lot, reading the comments to my posts here. Many people, having made difficult sacrifices to provide security to their families, are bitter and put out when friends and relations who failed to do so need their support. Some commenters say they provide it and others say they won't (refusing to be enablers of their loved-one's self-destructive behaviors), but they're all pretty unhappy to be put in that position.</p> <p>Even so, after thinking about it a bit, I've about decided that the old ways have a lot to recommend them.</p> <p>That's not to say that people shouldn't buy insurance, establish an emergency fund, and avoid debt &mdash; that's just ordinary good sense. But at some point &mdash; a point that's reached pretty quickly once you take those basics steps &mdash; you add more security to your household by helping your friends and relations than you do by shoveling another few thousand dollars into your 401(k).</p> <p>There are two big reasons.</p> <p>First, it's yet <strong>another form of diversification</strong>. During hard times, when people are defaulting on their formal obligations, sometimes they can still make good on their informal ones.</p> <p>Second, <strong>legal obligations end at the boundary of your household</strong>. Your losses in a disaster &mdash; natural disaster, illness, stock market crash, job loss, disabling injury, lawsuit &mdash; are essentially unlimited. No amount of insurance can guarantee that you won't lose everything you own in a lawsuit. But no matter how far your assets fall short of covering what you owe, the court won't go after your friends, neighbors, or relatives to make up the difference.</p> <p>That means that a network of related households &mdash; parents, children, siblings, cousins &mdash; is much more secure than any single household, no matter how wealthy or well-insured.</p> <p>Of course, the nay-sayers aren't completely wrong when they worry that being too ready to support your relatives runs the risk of enabling improvident behavior, but that can be managed simply by paying attention. (Of course, this is easy for me to say, since my relatives are all doing pretty well.)</p> <p>This is not to say that spreading cash around your neighborhood is the place to start. Rather, start by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">sharing stuff</a> that you don't use all the time or that you have more of than you need. If that works well, carry on by coordinating purchases of items that you'll be able to share going forward.</p> <p>Help out directly &mdash; carpool, run errands for one another, watch one another's kids.</p> <p>Set a good example of frugal, sustainable living.</p> <p>One of the most powerful ways to help &mdash; teaching one another skills &mdash; has largely fallen by the wayside, because everybody is too busy earning a living to be able to pick a new hobby. But learning how to garden, how to make stuff, how to fix things around the house makes everyone's household more stable. The more the skills spread among the people close to you, the more likely they'll be able to help you when you need help, and the less likely they'll be to need your help.</p> <p>Over the last few decades the conventional wisdom has turned against this sort of direct help. Instead, every adult has tended to shift into the paid labor market &mdash; meaning that there's no one home at your neighbor's to help you or to be helped. Paid work brings in money which lets people boost their security, but it's a brittle form of security. The older forms of extra security &mdash; friends and relations who care about your success and will help out when you need it &mdash; are much more resilient.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">Can You Buy Your Way Out of the Rat Race?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dissecting-gift-guilt-when-does-receiving-a-gift-make-you-feel-bad">Dissecting &quot;Gift Guilt&quot; - When Does Receiving a Gift Make You Feel Bad?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/friends-dont-let-friends">Friends Don&#039;t Let Friends...</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-100-bill-issue-date-set">New $100 Bill: Issue Date Set</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance friends household neighbors relatives security Mon, 03 May 2010 13:00:04 +0000 Philip Brewer 56733 at http://www.wisebread.com Another path to recovery: higher incomes http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/anarchy-graffiti.jpg" alt="Graffiti of the anarchy symbol" title="Anarchy Graffiti" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Preventing a collapse of the financial system is part of preventing a depression. However, the shorthand term for this--getting the banks able and willing to lend--is misleading. There are plenty of banks that can lend. The problem is the borrowers: Those that could be counted on to repay their debts are mostly uninterested in borrowing, and those who want to borrow probably can't afford to take on more debt. That's the truth about the fix we're in. There are, however, two ways to fix it.</p> <h2>Spend less</h2> <p>First there's the long slow fix: Everybody spends less than they earn and either saves or pays off debts. This can be done. In fact, it always is done--it's the way this sort of situation is always fixed. However, it takes a long time. It's painful and disruptive. It's also unfair, in the sense that the pain falls disproportionately hard on different people depending on where they live and where they are in their life.</p> <p>The slow fix is slow simply because even pretty serious frugality only opens up so much room between income and expense. WIth the amount of debt that's already baked into the system, too many households simply have no daylight between their daily expenses (including debt service) and their income.</p> <p>At the same time, each household that bites the bullet and puts itself on the the slow path to a sound balance sheet--expenses less than income, debt service a small fraction of their income, an emergency fund, some retirement savings--shrinks the economy a tiny bit. A smaller economy means fewer jobs, less wages, less profits--meaning that it takes even longer to dig ourselves out of the hole we're in.</p> <p>There are other pieces to the long slow fix. Assets will be sold and the cash used to pay off debt. Sales of productive assets can help everybody--the seller, who gets cash to settle overwhelming debt; the buyer, who gets something valuable for less than it would normally cost; workers associated with the asset, whose jobs now depend on someone who's not so broke; and consumers, who get more stuff because the productive assets can start producing at full capacity. (Of course, it doesn't necessarily help everybody--a productive asset dismantled and shipped overseas might leave local workers less well off. But the exercise can be a positive-sum game, with everybody better off.) Another part of the same process is bankruptcies--some debts are never going to be paid back. (Short of bankruptcy, some debts can be restructured to make them affordable.)</p> <p>But, put it all together and it's still long and slow.</p> <p>The other, quicker fix would be to boost incomes.</p> <h2>Earn more</h2> <p>The government is trying to do a piece of that--reduce the depth of the recession by replacing some of the missing household spending with government &quot;stimulus&quot; spending. That may help ease the downward spiral of households cutting spending leading to businesses laying off workers leading to more households that have to cut spending. But it doesn't help with the fundamental problem that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">household balance sheets are so badly out of balance</a> that even years of frugal living won't restore a proper balance--if we go that route, it's going to take decades.</p> <p>If we can boost household incomes, though, the whole thing could be speeded up considerably. Of course, any particular household might just spend its extra income, but that doesn't really matter: the economy can handle some number of households that live beyond their means; it always has.</p> <p>Where, though, would this extra income come from? It's not like we can just gin up some money. (Well, the government can--and, in fact, has been--but that's not real value. Money created that way just dilutes the value of the existing money.) No, the only way to boost households' real income would be to reduce someone else's real income.</p> <p>To get us out of this hole faster, what would have to happen would be for a greater share of income to flow to the people whose balance sheets are most tattered--the poor, the working class, middle class home-owners, etc. What would have to happen would be to change the way profits are divided between <strong>owners</strong> and <strong>workers</strong>. (This works because the owners' balance sheets aren't so out-of-balance.)</p> <p>Of course, it isn't as easy as that. The division of the receipts of the enterprise is partially a matter of markets, and tampering with markets is always problematic. On the other hand, lots of other things play into the affair. Customs and traditions matter--salesmen get commissions, executives get bonuses, etc. These traditions can change--few people get paid piece rates nowadays--but they matter.</p> <p>At its core, though, the division of profits is always a matter of power.</p> <p>During long swaths of time the power rests with the owners, who claim all the profits as their right, setting workers against one another in competition for bare subsistence wages. At other times the workers scrape together some power, refusing to bid down their own wages, and claiming for themselves a greater share of the profits of the enterprise.</p> <p>The last couple of decades have been something of a golden age for owners and managers.&nbsp; Globalization has let employers put their workers in competition with poor people all over the world, giving them a huge market advantage.&nbsp; At the same time, some of the traditional &quot;rules of the game&quot; were gradually slanted in favor of owners (in the form of the decline of labor unions, growth in lower paid service jobs, and vanishing traditions of loyalty to employees and to communities).&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're interested in this aspect, you might be interested in Robert Reich's book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307265617?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0307265617"><em>Supercapitalism</em></a>.&nbsp; I wrote a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-supercapitalism">review</a> of it for Wise Bread last year.</p> <p>The main point of Reich's book is that you can't really expect anyone to behave differently unless they are forced to.&nbsp; No owner or manager will pay more than the market rate for labor--anyone who even tries will quickly be replaced.</p> <p>Generally, the workers only come out ahead when there's a genuine labor shortage--when war or plague has cut the work force so much that there simply isn't much competition for jobs. Other things factor into it, though. A huge surge in productivity can swell wages simply because owners are making money so fast it isn't worth it for them to push down the earnings of workers. Local customs and historical traditions have a strong influence. And, of course, government rules have a lot to say about the matter.</p> <p><img alt="Real compensation per hour versus total output" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u203/output-versus-compensation.png" /></p> <p>In the United States, as the graph above shows, the relationship between compensation and business output was pretty steady all through the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, though, and accelerating in the 1980s and 1990s, things changed: As output (i.e. income to businesses--shown by the blue line) surged, wages (shown by the red line) quit keeping pace.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="Wages and salaries as a fraction of national income" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u203/ws-to-income.png" />Looking at the data another way, as shown in the graph to the right, the average share of national income that went to compensation in the 1950s and 1960s was 57.1%. In the most recent quarter it was just 53.4% (and that was an increase from recent lows).&nbsp;</p> <p>Wages and salaries in 2008 totaled $26.2 trillion (versus a total national income of $49.7 trillion). If the division of the profits of the enterprise returned to the situation that prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s, household incomes would have been $28.4 trillion--that is, households would have received <strong>an extra $2.2 trillion</strong> in wages and salaries last year. An extra couple trillion dollars a year would go a long way to recovering household balance sheets. (Data for <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/WASCUR?cid=109">Wages and Salaries</a> and <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NICUR?cid=109">National Income</a> from the <a href="http://www.bea.gov/national/pdf/nipaguid.pdf">Bureau of Economic Analysis</a> via the St. Louis Fed.)</p> <p>Of course, that income would have been lost to someone else. To some extent, it would have been lost to the very same people--the bus drivers and school teachers who were bringing home bigger paychecks would have seen smaller gains in their 401(k)s over the years, if more income accrued to employees and less to owners. But the bulk of the difference would have shown up in the investment accounts of the very wealthy (because that's where the bulk of the income ends up).</p> <p>So, there is a path for getting to recovery quicker: higher wages and salaries for workers at the expense of smaller profits to businesses. And it would not be a radical shift--just a return to the traditional proportion of income that went to labor in my parent's generation.</p> <p>Of course, getting there is another story. Owners and managers are not going to voluntarily give up any of the profits and workers lack the market power to demand a larger share. There are some moves to increase the power of workers--proposed changes in the rules that determine whether workers can form a union, for example--but they're pretty tentative.</p> <p>But that's okay. There's still the long slow path to recovery.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-america-saves-week-february-24-to-march-2nd">Join America Saves Week February 24 to March 2nd</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-increasing-your-financial-literacy">Tips for Increasing Your Financial Literacy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Debt Management Financial News balance sheet debt economics household income saving Mon, 04 May 2009 20:59:23 +0000 Philip Brewer 3121 at http://www.wisebread.com 51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/213847615_289020db07.jpg" alt="Coca-Cola many uses" title="The many uses of Coca-Cola" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was trawling the Internet recently searching for a way to remove a grease spot from a favorite shirt of mine. How it got there, well, I blame a faulty fork and not my clumsy mouth. Anyway, time and again sites would reference a can of Coca-Cola as a way to remove the grease spot. I tried it, cynical but hopeful, and it worked. Not 100%, but it was way better than before. It did leave me wondering, are there other uses for Coca-Cola? It turns out there are a lot more.</p> <p>I haven&rsquo;t had a chance to test all of these out, but the ones I have listed here are the uses I found turning up time and again; not just on the web, but in books and magazines. If you have any more, feel free to share. And by the way, I&rsquo;m no Coca-Cola advocate, I&rsquo;m sure Pepsi or even store-brand would work just as well (unless that secret Coke ingredient is behind all of this&hellip;but I doubt it). </p> <p><strong>The list</strong><br /> 1. Remove grease stains from clothing and fabric (I had to start there)<br /> 2. Remove rust; methods include using fabric dipped in Coke, a sponge or even aluminum foil. <br /> 3. Remove blood stains from clothing and fabric.<br /> 4. Make gooey <a href="http://iggybaby.wordpress.com/2006/10/28/fried-coke-recipe/">Coke funnel cakes</a> . <br /> 5. Clean oil stains from a garage floor; let the stain soak, hose off.<br /> 6. Loosen a rusty bolt; pour on some Coke and wait for the magic to happen.<br /> 7. Kill slugs and snails; a small bowl of Coke will attract them, the acid will kill them.<br /> 8. Help a lawn become lush and green (see my <a href="/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">lawn tonic article here</a> )<br /> 9. Prevent an asthma attack! Apparently, the caffeine in two 12oz cans can prevent the onset of an attack.<br /> 10. Defrost a frozen windshield. Apply liberally and wait (I&rsquo;ll see if this works in winter)<br /> 11. Clean burnt pans; let the pan soak in the Coke, then rinse.<br /> 12. Descale a kettle using the same method in 11.<br /> 13. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.<br /> 14. Clean car battery terminals by pouring a small amount of Coke over each one.<br /> 15. Cure nausea; let a can of Coke go flat then take a teaspoon of Coke every hour. <br /> 16. Also, flat coke can help relieve an upset stomach (aka &ldquo;the runs&rdquo;)<br /> 17. Make a Mentos &amp; Coke exploding fountain. This one takes a 2-liter bottle of Coke.</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="344"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/_79ufqZ5H9M&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1" /> <param name="quality" value="high" /> <param name="menu" value="false" /> <param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_79ufqZ5H9M&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344"></embed></object></p> <p>18. Get rid of hiccups; gargle with a big mouthful of ice-cold Coke. <br /> 19. Shake up a can and pour it over your windshield to remove bugs and other crud.<br /> 20. Use the method in 19 for your car bumpers, too. <br /> 21. Clean your engine; Coke distributors have been using this technique for decades. <br /> 22. Relieve congestion; boil and a can of Coke and drink while hot to clear you up.<br /> 23. Make a sweet BBQ sauce. Mix a can of Coke with ketchup and brush over ribs or chicken.<br /> 24. Baste a ham roast with Coke as it cooks. The sugars will caramelize; the ham will be moist. <br /> 25. Add a can of coke to your <a href="http://southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotpotroast/r/bl77c7.htm">pot roast </a> to tenderize it and add extra flavor. (Thanks Linsey).<br /> 26. Make pretty pennies; soaking old pennies in Coke will remove the tarnish. <br /> 27. Make your hair curly; pour flat Coke onto long hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse.<br /> 28. Age documents and photos; for that antique look, apply Coke, pat with paper, leave to dry. <br /> 29. Clean tile grout; pour onto kitchen floor, leave for a few minutes, wipe up.<br /> 30. Mix a can of Coke with a packet of Italian seasoning; cook a tough steak in it.<br /> 31. Make better compost; Coke increases the acidity, adds sugars and feeds microorganisms. <br /> 32. Dissolve a tooth in it; Use a sealed container, this takes ages. Why would you want to though, unless you&rsquo;re Hannibal Lecter?<br /> 33. Remove gum from hair; dip into a small bowl of Coke, leave a few minutes. Gum will wipe off.<br /> 34. Get silky skin; mix a spoonful of Coke with regular lotion and apply liberally. <br /> 35. Make <a href="http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/pdf/RECIPE_almostbrownies.pdf">low-fat brownies</a> . <br /> 36. Pour a little in a cup and set it out an hour before a picnic, away from your site; it will attract wasps and bees so they&rsquo;re not bugging you and your grub. <br /> 37. Remove stains from vitreous china. More info on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitreous">vitreous materials here</a> . <br /> 38. Got a dirty pool? Add two 2-liter bottles of Coke to clear up the water (it acts as rust remover). <br /> 39. Add Coke to your laundry to remove bad smells, especially fish. <br /> 40. Remove (or fade) dye from hair by pouring diet Coke over it. <br /> 41. Mop a floor with Coke to make it sticky. It&rsquo;s a movie industry trick to stop actors slipping. <br /> 42. Remove marker stains from carpet. Apply Coke, scrub, then clean with soapy water. <br /> 43. Clean a toilet; pour around bowl, leave for a while, flush clean. <br /> 44. Apply to skin for a deep tan (although this seems like a recipe for skin cancer to me).<br /> 45. Supposedly, drinking an 8oz can of Coke every day can prevent kidney stones.<br /> 46. Add it to a <a href="http://www.recipezaar.com/158633">Sloppy Joe mix</a> <br /> 47. Perk up your Azaleas or Gardenias. <br /> 48. Coke and aluminum foil will bring Chrome to a high shine. <br /> 49. Strip paint off metal furniture; soak a towel in Coke, sit it on the surface for days. Make sure you keep adding Coke to keep the towel wet. (Seems like a hassle, I&rsquo;d rather buy paint stripper.)<br /> 50. Add it to vodka, rum or bourbon.<br /> 51. Drink it straight from the can, if you can (too sweet for me)</p> <p><strong>And a few Coke fallacies:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Coke is not used by the authorities to clean blood from the roads after accidents.</li> <li>Coke will not dissolve teeth or nails OVERNIGHT. It takes a long time.</li> <li>Coke and aspirin will not get you high.</li> <li>Coke is not an effective spermicide.</li> <li>Coke poured onto raw pork will not cause worms to come crawling out of it.</li> <li>The acids in Coke do not make it dangerous to drink (your own stomach acids are much stronger).</li> <li>Drinking too much Coke will not make you die from CO2 poisoning.</li> <li>Coke does not contain cocaine (<a href="http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cocaine.asp">although it used to)</a>.</li> <li>Coke did not become carbonated by accident.</li> </ul> <p>So, that&rsquo;s what my days of research turned up (yes, days. Anyone who tells me to get a life will be justified). If you have anything to add, pour away folks.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-self-tanning-lotion-and-5-other-fabulous-diy-tips-from-the-web">Make Your Own Self-tanning Lotion and 5 Other Fabulous DIY Tips from the Web</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-spectacular-uses-for-that-lone-can-of-fruit">8 Spectacular Uses for that Lone Can of Fruit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-cheap-and-easy-formulas-for-homemade-windshield-de-icer-plus-bonus-tips">3 Cheap and Easy Formulas for Homemade Windshield De-Icer (Plus Bonus Tips)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-big-dental-bills-with-safe-and-inexpensive-products">Avoid Big Dental Bills with Safe and Inexpensive Products</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Life Hacks General Tips Coca-Cola Coke hints household Pepsi tips Fri, 05 Sep 2008 19:52:49 +0000 Paul Michael 2403 at http://www.wisebread.com Strategies for households with more than one adult http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/morning-at-home.jpg" alt="Adults around the breakfast table with multiple iBooks" title="Morning at Home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The strategy for households with a single adult can be disposed of in the first paragraph: Earn enough money to buy everything your household consumes, plus provide through direct labor all the other needs of your household. Add one or more additional adults to the mix, though, and your options expand considerably.</p> <p>Actually, even with a single adult there&#39;s some flexibility in that &quot;direct labor&quot; category. A single adult has the option to hire people to do the things that they lack the time, skill, equipment, or inclination to do. You can hire people to do almost anything: Fix your car, mow your lawn, plow your driveway, raise your kids, etc. Plus, even a busy single adult has some time that could be devoted to producing things that they&#39;d otherwise have to buy--knitting sweaters, brewing beer, growing a garden.</p> <p>The structure of the labor market (in the US, at least), is such that there&#39;s very little flexibility for a single adult in the job market. You can&#39;t just say, &quot;I&#39;d rather work X hours a week, so that I&#39;d have an extra 40-minus-X hours to directly satisfy my household&#39;s needs for services.&quot; Or, rather, you can say that, but most employers will just laugh at your funny, funny joke. (Even the idea that 40 hours covers your obligation to your employer amounts to black humor for many people.) There are part-time jobs, but they tend to pay disproportionately less and to lack benefits.</p> <p>There is the option to <a href="/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">opt out of the money economy</a>--to live as subsistence farmer or a <a href="/encounter-with-a-freegan">freegan</a>--but there are limits even to that (subsistence farmers have to pay taxes too). In any case, it means living at a lower standard of living than most people would choose. </p> <p>A second adult vastly increases a household&#39;s flexibility and stability, and raises its standard of living. That&#39;s true with almost any division of labor.</p> <h2>Zero adults working in the money economy</h2> <p>From the dawn of mankind until the invention of money, this was the only structure available for households. In only slightly diluted form, it remained common until about the beginning of the 20th century. Even after a large fraction of the population had moved to cities and taken jobs, many people still lived on farms and directly provided a large fraction of their daily needs--food from their fields and gardens, milk from their cow, clothes made at home, etc.</p> <p>Even with more than one adult to share the work, this strategy provides a standard of living that&#39;s low enough that most people don&#39;t choose it. Plus, even if you think you might like it, it&#39;s a hard way of life to experiment with--it requires a good bit of capital (in the form of land and a house) and a vast array of skills that we could have learned from our great-grandparents, but that aren&#39;t so common any more. That makes it hard to &quot;try out&quot; for a few weeks to see how you like it.</p> <h2>One adult working in the money economy</h2> <p>Until the 1960s or so, this was the most common arrangement. In a lot of ways, it provides the best of both worlds. One person working full time can earn enough money to buy everything a household needs to buy in the money economy. One person with a <strong>good</strong> job can provide that, plus health insurance for a second adult and any number of children. (Insuring additional adults is not so easy.)</p> <p>Additional adults in the household can perform a wide range of tasks, reducing or eliminating the need to hire them done. Child care is a key one, but the whole range of work that needs to be done is on the plate: cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, lawn care, car repair, home maintenance, etc.</p> <p>There&#39;s also a good bit of additional flexibility for a second adult to work part-time in the money economy. With one person working at a job that provides benefits, some of the negative aspects of part-time work become non-issues.</p> <p>In additional to the flexibility that a second adult provides, there&#39;s also some extra stability. If the person who has been working loses his or her job, all the adults in the household can begin separate job searches. That will minimize the time that the household goes without income. If the adult who&#39;s been working can&#39;t do so any longer (because of a health problem or some other issue), another adult in the household can enter the money economy.</p> <h2>Two adults working in the money economy</h2> <p>Household with two adults in the money economy have become common in the last 25 years or so. The extra income lets the household buy more stuff. Whether that amounts to an increase in standard of living is a more complex question.</p> <p>Each additional adult entering the money economy after the first provides diminishing returns. A second worker earns additional money, but at the cost of whatever household work that person could have done. A second worker may also receive benefits, but two sets of benefits are not twice as good as one set of benefits. The tax situation of a two-income household is better than it was, but a second income is still taxed more heavily than a first income.</p> <p>Still, there are many good reasons for a second adult to stay employed. Keeping his or her skills up-to-date is valuable, as is having a resume with current work experience. Staying active in one&#39;s field is useful for maintaining contacts which might be crucial in finding another job. Some people choose to work in the money economy simply as a way to be in daily contact with like-minded people. Still others do so because they don&#39;t feel they can rely on their spouse to provide a steady income.</p> <h2>More than two adults</h2> <p>Many households have more than two adults. They&#39;re often related--households with adult children at home, households with a in-laws or grandparents (or aunts, uncles, and cousins) come to stay--but they don&#39;t need to be. Some are religious groups with a spiritual reason to come together. Some do so entirely for economic reasons. Still others just like one another and want to live together.</p> <p>Just like married couples, they can integrate their finances completely, partially, or not at all:</p> <ul> <li>A married couple renting out a room wouldn&#39;t need to mingle their finances with their border beyond just cashing the rent check.</li> <li>A group of students sharing a house might all keep separate bank accounts, but put money into a common fund to buy groceries and then take turns cooking.</li> <li>Three or more adults can live together, pool their income, and share the tasks of housekeeping.</li> </ul> <p>The IRS code has a provision for members of &quot;income sharing&quot; groups to file their tax returns on equal shares of the income of the group enterprise. It was created for communal groups like the Shakers, and requires that the group state a religious or spiritual purpose for their coming together, but thanks to the first amendment, the IRS can&#39;t really police what&#39;s a valid religious reason and what isn&#39;t. The group does have to have some sort of group business activity--the IRS doesn&#39;t generally allow it if three adults who live together all go to separate jobs--but if there&#39;s any kind of business that some of them work at, the option should be available.</p> <p>Adding a second adult to a household brings with it a huge jump up in standard of living and stability. Additional adults continue to do so, although with diminishing returns. </p> <p>With extra adults working in the money economy comes both extra income and extra income stability. (Just having a border paying rent means that losing a job doesn&#39;t result in income dropping to zero. More integrated households with multiple adults can be more stable yet.) It also provides extra flexibility--some fraction of the group can work in the money economy, the rest can do work that they would otherwise need to pay someone to do or else let go undone. And there&#39;s no need that the fraction remain constant; members can enter and leave the paid workforce in whatever ways give them the life they want.</p> <h2>Predictions</h2> <p>I think we&#39;ll see the average number of adults per household go up. The idea that a single person can make enough money to set up housekeeping as a one-person household off his or her first job is really quite recent. In many cultures (and in our own until just the past hundred years or so), young adults live at home until they get married, and often even after they get married.</p> <p>I might be wrong, though. I&#39;m frankly quite surprised that we haven&#39;t already seen a surge in larger households because of the mortgage crisis. Vast numbers of households seem to have fallen behind on their mortgage, and then gone into foreclosure and lost their house, without even considering renting a room to a border.</p> <p>I can imaging a family scrimping and saving to enjoy the luxury of a household with only family members. But preferring to <strong>lose your house</strong> rather than let a stranger live there with you seems very odd to me.</p> <p>So, I may not have my finger on the pulse of modern households. Still, the advantages of multi-adult households are significant. The extra stability and extra flexibility mean both a higher standard of living and extra security.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-six-figures-really-that-much">Is Six Figures Really That Much?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meet-meg-favreau-our-senior-editor">Meet Meg Favreau, Our Senior Editor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/february-roundup">February Roundup</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Career and Income adults freegan household Sat, 02 Feb 2008 14:55:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 1736 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 frugal things to try before you die (updated) http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/20634706_49a5052ce4.jpg" alt="Dumpster dive" title="Dumpster Dive" width="380" height="285" /></p> <p>Well, I say frugal but some of these cross that line from frugality into something less honorable. But hey, live a little. We all have to try new things sometimes. And they’ll all save you a little money, a little time or a little frustration.</p> <p><strong>1 – Go grocery shopping in the wee small hours.</strong><br />This happened by accident. I needed milk, it was late, and the grocery store near my home was open 24/7. I just could not believe what I saw when I got in there. Bargains, bargains, bargains. Mainly in the bakery and meat areas, but many other aisles felt the wrath of the discounting gun. A variety box of 12 donuts for 99 cents (and still very fresh) was first into the cart. Meats, cheeses, vegetables and breads were slashed by 70% or more. And there was no waiting in line, no hustle and bustle that makes the weekly shop such a pain. I had the run of the store, it was quiet, the bargains were everywhere…midnight shopping is truly a shopper’s paradise. </p> <p><strong>2 - Eat and drink for (almost) free in Vegas</strong><br />Las Vegas is an extraordinary place. They like to keep the folks using the casinos happy, and that usually means lashings of free food and drink as long as you&#39;re playing the games. But you don&#39;t need to be a high-roller to get a free meal. Several of my friends did Vegas on almost no money. They would pop in, play a slot machine or two and when the waitress came around, order a drink and get a meal token. I have never done it myself yet, I have only heard the many stories. But just ask my wife, she&#39;ll tell you it&#39;s on the top of my list of places to try. </p> <p><strong>3 - Drink the drip-tray pint.</strong><br />College students with strong stomachs may already know this one. In my former life as a poor, penniless undergrad, all of my money went on rent, cheap food and school supplies. But I was at college. I wanted to party, every night in a good week. So, how does one stretch the partying dollar? One answer for me was the drip-tray. Beneath each pump is a tray designed to catch “spillage.” Usually it will catch spills from three to four pumps. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a drip tray that catches beers and lagers of very similar persuasions. (If it’s a smaller bar, you may get a heady mix of stout, pale ale, lager and bitter). Now all you have to do is schmooze the server, and if your charms work, he or she may take pity on you and pour the drip tray into your empty pint glass. How does it taste? Well, it tastes like a crappy pint of lager. But it’s a free crappy pint of lager. If your aim is to get tipsy, it works just as well as lager that costs $4. And you just have to do it once to say you’ve done the drip-tray pint. Be brave. I was.</p> <p><strong>4 – Haggle someone down to a low, low price.</strong><br />In some countries, haggling is a part of everyday life. You’ll haggle over the price of everything, from a pound of bananas to a new rug for the hallway. But for some reason the art has become almost lost in America (and even more so in my home country of Britain). Bottom line is this…it never hurts to ask if the person selling the item can go any lower, throw something in for free or give you a discount on another product. Start small and work your way up. Next thing you know, you’ll be haggling with a homebuilder for an extra $25k off the price of your new house. And you know what…you may just get it. </p> <p><strong>5 – Trade, swap or exchange something.</strong><br />I guarantee you have several items in your home right now that are basically useless to you, but are very valuable to someone else. A classic example of this is baby gear. Once your little bundle of joy grows out of toys and clothes, they are no use to you. But they’re plenty useful to new parents. Chances are, there are people out there right now who have something you want, too. All you need to do is go to a place like craigslist and advertise your trade. Some people even trade cars and houses. </p> <p><strong>6 – Visit a charity store like Goodwill.</strong><br />Shake off the stigma. It’s really not a sign that you’ve hit rock bottom and need to buy a pair of old jeans for 75 cents. Places like Goodwill are a treasure-trove of cool things. Remember, there are other words for old. Vintage, classic, antique and period come to mind. A few years ago I found a pair of “old” sunglasses in a local Goodwill for 99 cents. I just liked the look of them. Then I saw the maker, and the imprint. They were an original pair of Christian Dior sunglasses from the 70s. I already know I can get over $100 for them right now on eBay. So, go digging. You’ll find something cool for pennies if you keep your eyes peeled. </p> <p><strong>7 – Go dumpster diving.</strong><br />Ewww, how nasty! Well, dumpster diving is a broad term that covers more than just the nasty, grease-filled metal boxes around the back of restaurants. For instance, when a neighbor rents a roll-off dumpster to have a huge clear out, they will often fill it with more than just rubble and old sheet rock. There are gems to be found. Furniture. Bikes. Lighting. There are folks out there that make an incredible living going dumpster-diving. In fact, there was a show in Britain dedicated to these folks who made lemonade from lemons, metaphorically speaking. I once remarked on a beautiful table in the living room of a friend’s home. It was right out of the 60s, very kitsch, looked brand new. Someone had thrown it away because it was stained and missing a leg. My friend salvaged it, sanded it, replaced the leg and repainted it. She was offered over $2000 for it by an architect who wanted it for a loft conversion he was doing (my friend didn’t sell it…good girl). And you can also find <a href="/a-3-course-meal-from-garbage">fresh food in grocery dumpsters</a> , if you&#39;re feeling really brave. </p> <p><strong>8 – Grow your own vegetables.</strong><br />Seriously, why have we become so dependent on supermarkets anyway? I mean, is it so hard to grow cabbages, lettuce or zucchini? My neighbor doesn’t think so. She grows many great vegetables in her back garden and always gives us free samples. They taste delicious, they are completely pesticide-free and they cost almost nothing to grow. Many of them come back each year with no effort required. My grandpa’s garden was full of potatoes, leeks, herbs, gooseberries, rhubarb, cauliflower, beetroot and tomatoes. A highlight of any visit to my nana and grandpa’s home was the terrific food. Freshly pickled beetroot, rhubarb crumble, cauliflower cheese and gooseberry jam. I am getting hungry just writing this. You can all do it, even if you only have a window box. And the satisfaction you’ll feel…it’s a natural high. </p> <p><strong>9 – Slum it with your food choices.</strong><br />Not McDonalds or Burger King (which really is slumming it). I have been inspired recently by a great show on the Travel Channel called Bizarre Foods, hosted by Andrew Zimmern. He travels the world looking for unusual foods and most of the time, those foods are made up from ingredients most of us would throw away. They’re the cheapest cuts of meat, old (sometimes rotting) vegetables, odd fruits and even worms and slugs. I recently watched a show about Haggis, which is basically a bunch of ground up animal innards stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach (sorry vegetarians). When you choose unsavory foods, you pay less for them because there’s little to no demand. <a href="/free-food-in-your-yard-edible-weeds">Andrea’s article on Edible Weeds</a> is a perfect example of this. Nutritious food growing in your own yard. Why throw it away, when you can eat it? Whatever you try, be it weed soup or eyeball stew, you are at least guaranteed some cheap and memorable life experiences. Dig in. </p> <p><strong>10 – Learn to sew and knit (yes, that includes us guys).</strong><br />My mum taught me how to knit. I’m not great but I can do you a nice scarf or a woolly hat. Using a sewing machine, well, I’m not so good. But I hope to get better. Aside from saving yourself a bunch of money on alterations and repairs, you could also get to that point where you can make your own groovy clothes and pay for just the raw materials. At college, I would marvel at some of the creations my friends in fashion design were wearing. “How much did that set you back” I would ask, at which the reply was something like “Oh, I made it. The fabric was $5, and I got the pattern off a friend for nothing. Nice huh?” Of course, when I asked for one to be made, well then I was paying for that person’s time and it was a lot more expensive. Learn these skills and save some dough. Or, if you just can’t do it, learn another craft. Woodworking. Painting. Rug making. Any one of these hobbies will help you contribute to your household and it’s a much better way to use your spare time than watching TV.</p> <p>That’s my list. If you have any additional suggestions for frugal things people should try, I’d love to hear them. Now, go out and be frugal my friends. Oh, and big thanks to the wonderful <a href="http://www.mytwodollars.com/2007/06/05/presenting-the-money-saving-festival-of-frugality-77/">Festival Of Frugality #77 </a> for giving this story top honors in the editor&#39;s choice. Many great articles here, check them out. </p> <p>Note: Thank you to funkright and <a href="http://www.atsbs.com/" target="_blank" onclick="return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)">E.T.Cook</a> for pointing out that my earlier post offered one piece of irresponsible advice. I appreciate the feedback and have replaced it with something more helpful. </p> <p><em>Great photo by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/incandenzafied/">Incandenzafied</a> . Thanks. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wisdom-from-my-favorite-frugal-tv-character-julius-rock">Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living charity cheap cheap eats dumpster explore free groceries haggle household prices sneaky try Wed, 30 May 2007 21:55:47 +0000 Paul Michael 688 at http://www.wisebread.com