Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forgot The Candy? Here Are Some Do-It-Yourself Goodies for Trick-or-Treaters

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

comic 65 - trick or treat

If you’re like me, you have mixed feelings about Halloween. On the one hand, it’s a fun little holiday where you can dress up your kids in all the different outfits of occupations you wanted to be when you grew up like doctor, call girl, and werewolf. You also get to let your kids run around the neighborhood dodging traffic for a couple of hours while you do more important things, like dress up in a sexy costume and get ignored by your spouse.

Of course, there are drawbacks to Halloween. First, it’s expected that you’ll give away candy to other people’s children. You don’t even like giving candy to your own children! And then sometimes you get those teenagers who are way too old for Halloween and think they’re entitled to candy just because they poured some fake blood on their t-shirts. (At least you hope it’s fake blood.)

Now you could try hiding in your basement or pretending you’re not home—or actually not be home—but then you risk having your property egged and toilet papered and painted pink (I’m trying to start a national trend with that last one). And what happens if you only purchase enough candy for 30 kids and 60 show up? Or worse—you forgot all about Halloween together, and the only candy the store had left was off-brand stuff like Horshey’s Malk Choco-like Substitute and packages of Ms—just Ms; the M&Ms are long gone.

Fear not, boils and ghouls! Having either forgotten the candy or had my wife eat it all three days before Halloween for years, I know exactly what it’s like to be short on Halloween treats. That’s why I’ve come up with a series of do-it-yourself goodies you can assemble from things at home to help stave off the eggers and TP-ers. Read on for a frightfully brilliant list of ghetto ways to get yourself through another Halloween trick-or-treat when the candy runs dry.

  • Money always works. Of course, this is probably going to cost you a bit more than candy would as giving anything less than a dollar is going to get your house covered in more unborn baby chickens than not giving anything at all.
  • Nothing says Halloween quite like thick, juicy steaks. I know that if I were a kid, I’d be thrilled to have a nice Porterhouse dropped in my treat bag.
  • You’ve been meaning to donate those old books to charity. Just give them away on Halloween night and use them to educate the future generation in how to be just as lame as you!
  • Kids don’t get enough veggies in their diet. Whip out a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and start pelting those kids until they run away crying.
  • You know all those action figures you have sitting in a box in your attic? I’m sure kids today would still appreciate G.I. Joes and Barbies, even if they are missing a few limbs. And if they are, paint on a bit of fake blood to really freak them out.
  • Is your wife hot? If she just happens to “accidentally” answer the door naked, I think that counts as a treat.
  • Studies show that kids as young as five are now sexually active! Do your part to fight teenage pregnancy and STDs by handing out condoms instead of candy this Halloween.
  • One in ten houses still has candy left over from last Halloween. One in two kids can’t tell the difference!
  • At the same time, Playboy magazines never get stale.
  • If you still have last Sunday’s newspaper, you could clip out coupons for 35 cents off two bags of $6.00 candy to give away.
  • Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon! Or does that only work on dogs?
  • Confuse the kids by giving out Valentine’s Day cards instead of candy and insisting it’s already February.
  • If you’re desperate, you can break into your own kid’s room and start giving away his or her collection of Pokémon cards. Your kid will hate you forever, but they’d start doing that eventually anyway!
  • And if you’re really desperate and have nothing left to give away, you can start taxing candy from the kids who have a lot and giving it to everyone else. I mean, if it works for the government…

Everyone have a happy and safe Halloween! And all you pretty ladies out there be sure to stop by my house if you want an extra-special treat. Heh heh.

I’m making s’mores.

Hey, get your heads out of the gutter!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How to Contribute to Your Family Financially Without Earning a Dime: 7 Tips For Stay-at-Home Moms (and Dads)

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , , , , ,

saving money is all in the family

By Robin Shreeves

Before I was a mom, I had a job. You know, the kind of job most people actually consider a job. One that contributes financially. Then I became a mom and my financial contributions stopped while our expenses increased because of diapers, formula, baby food, etc. Our family income went down; our family expenses went up. Sound familiar?

I saw my husband working so hard to bring in money, and I decided that I could show him how much I appreciated his hard work by spending the money he brought in as wisely as possible. I made it a project to figure out how I could contribute to my family financially.

I knew that buying things on sale, using coupons, eating most of our meals in, shopping around for the best long distance plan, and trading babysitting services with a friend would save my family some money. They were all no-brainers. But I looked for ways I could further save some money. Here are a few things I did–and you can do, too.

  1. Donate to charity (and keep track of it!). It’s easy to keep track of donations to organizations that send you an end-of-the-year statement, but there are other donations that you need to keep track of yourself. Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to tally up donations of clothing, keep receipts where you can find them at the end of the year, and be on top of it all. Go ahead and whine about it and then get over it. If you are diligent, when tax time comes, you will have helped your family earn a nice tax deduction. You won’t be whining then.

    Donations of clothing and items to non-profit organizations are deductible if you have a receipt. Make a list of all the items donated (clothing can just be a tallied list of number of pants, shirts, coats, etc.). Estimate the value of the donation, and staple the list onto the receipt.

    Other things that I personally keep track of are food items bought to donate to my church pantry, the items bought for our town’s Christmas Wish Tree, Thanksgiving basket donations, etc. I simply keep my register receipts and circle the items that were donated on them.

    Oh, and this is important–put all your receipts in a designated spot immediately.

  2. Use coupon codes when shopping online. I hate, hate, hate paying shipping and handling charges. I know it’s the price I’m supposed to have to pay for the convenience of shopping in my PJs, but I still hate it. I’ve found a way of getting around those charges at some online retailers. Here’s my secret.

    Online stores including J.C. Penney, Chadwicks, One Hanes Place, LL Bean and many, many others often send their preferred customers coupon codes for percent-off discounts or free shipping. There are websites that keep track of these coupon codes and anyone can use them when checking out.

    Sometimes the coupons are for free shipping (yippee!) and sometimes they are for a percentage off one item or your entire order. Now, if I can get a percentage off that equals or exceeds the shipping and handling charges, I’m a happy camper.

    Two good sites are onlycoupons.com and getcouponcodes.com. If neither of these websites have what you are looking for, Google the name of the store and the words “coupon code” and you may come up with something.

  3. Join Upromise (Upromise.com). Upromise works with hundreds of merchants and when you spend money at those merchants a small percentage of what you spend gets donated back to you to use for college savings. You can even earn money back on your weekly groceries by registering your supermarket savings cards with the site.

    The savings add up slowly, but let me tell you, when you’re forking out the money for baby food week after week, it takes the sting out of it just a little to know that 3% off all you spend will go into a college savings account for the kid.

  4. Take your couponing up a notch. Hate clipping coupons? Let someone else do it for you!

    Use a clipping service such as Coupon Clippers. The Coupon Clippers has thousands of coupons from the weekly circulars and other sources that you can get for a small handling fee. Instead of just getting one coupon in your Sunday circular for those granola bars that your kids go through like crazy, you can order five or more coupons for them, taking real advantage when they go on sale.

  5. Sign up for your local Freecycle. You’ve got lots of stuff lying around that is no longer useful to you. So do lots of other people. Freecycle allows people to post items they want to give away to other people who live in the same county. It’s a great way to find things you need for free and find new homes for things you don’t need. And it keeps those things out of landfills which is a really great thing for the future of those kids you’re staying home for in the first place.
  6. Make your own birthday cards for kids, recycle gift bags, and use the Sunday comics to wrap presents. Once your kids get past the age of, say, two months, they will suddenly be invited to at least one birthday party a month. Once they get in preschool that number goes up exponentially.

    I have set a general limit for $10 a gift for friend’s birthdays. But when you add in a card (about $3.00), and gift wrap or bag (another $1.50-$2.00) you’re suddenly increasing the price by 50% and that 50% will end up in the trash within a day or two of the party. It’s ridiculous and wasteful.

    Think about it. A minimum of 12 birthday gifts a year–that’s $60 you’ll save. If you’ve got two kids–that $120. When I see a savings of $120, I see a potential massage.

    There are several places online to print out birthday cards that your kids can color. They don’t even need an envelope. Just tape the card right onto the package. And that package–use the Sunday comics to wrap it or a gift bag that you saved from your kid’s birthday.

  7. Give older kids an allowance. “How can giving money to your kids save me money?” you ask. By giving them their own spending money, you have the perfect retort when they want to have something they see in the store–”Sure, you can have it if you can pay for it.” They may not like it, and you may get accused of being the meanest parent in the universe in front of the Target check-out line, but it will save you money.
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Robin Shreeves is a work-at-home mom who has been published extensively online. Visit her website at robin.shreeves.net.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If You Don’t Buy Your Teenage Daughter $800 In New Clothes RIGHT NOW, You’re A Bad Parent

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , , ,

seriously, you are going to buy her all of this stuff, and it is going to cost you a lot of money, and she will not even thank you for it

It’s late July, and we all know what that means: back-to-school time is right around the corner… down the street about half a block… make two lefts. Here, let me draw you a map…

Today, Yahoo! Shopping tried to explain how to make back-to-school clothes shopping time less painful for you and your pocket book. Unfortunately for you, everything in the article is wrong. To start, the article uses the term “kid” when it is fairly obvious they mean “girl.” (How to shop for a boy: buy five t-shirts and two pairs of jeans. Let him wear them until the smell causes them to disintegrate. Cost: under $100.) Let’s look at the flaws in each piece of girl-shopping advice offered:

  • Yahoo! says to sort through existing clothes and throw out what is “outgrown.” Outgrown is simply a synonym for small or tight, which is exactly the size your daughter wants her clothes to be to accentuate the womanly parts she thinks she has. If you try to throw out that four-sizes-too-small skirt, your daughter will be highly unattractive to boys and could end up sexually conservative or even (gasp) educated.
  • Yahoo! says to identify your child’s favorite items to help avoid wasted purchases in the future. This won’t work because, as it has been scientifically proven, any clothes you buy today will be uncool and outdated three weeks later. Your child’s favorite pieces of clothes are, invariably, the ones you haven’t bought her yet.
  • Yahoo! says to talk to your kids about the latest clothing trends. You can try, but they will likely have changed before you finish your sentence. Nice job forcing your daughter to buy uncool clothes; she’ll be sure to return the favor by sticking you in an uncool nursing home. The same point also recommends telling your daughter that showing her belly button is not a good idea. Sorry, we’re way past belly buttons. You’ll be lucky if your daughter keeps her butt crack half covered.
  • Yahoo! says to explain the difference between wanting something and being able to afford it. Considering more than half of adults don’t understand this difference, you better get a second job before having this conversation.
  • Yahoo! says to have your child wear comfortable clothes while shopping. No no no! This makes it that much easier for her to try on 30 different outfits in each shop. Pile on the layers so she’s passed out by the second store.
  • Yahoo! says to let your kids window shop, then do the buying with you. Better idea: give them pre-paid credit or gift cards, let them loose in the mall, and when the money’s gone, they’re done shopping. Maybe they bought 10 outfits with the money, maybe they bought one iPod and will be stuck with last year’s wardrobe. This way, there’s no “Mommy, just $20 more.”
  • Yahoo! says save some of the shopping for later in the school year, particularly so you can buy winter clothes. This is no longer relevant since, according to your daughter, “winter clothes” means eight inch skirts instead of six.

In summary, home school, and don’t let your children out of the house before they’re 35 (cost: $30 every other year for pajamas).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Make$ Me Laugh: Finances Are So Easy A 12-Year-Old Could Do It!

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

you have got to be KIDding me

This morning, there were approximately 12,581 people like me–people who think their real-life experiences with money qualify them enough to give you advice about finances from their corner of the internet.

Time to bump the counter up to 12,582 for this dude.

You may have already heard of 12-year-old personal finance writer Paris Spence-Lang from John Chow dot Com. This pre-teen pencil pusher, who doesn’t need things like “experience” or “a driver’s license” to talk about money, has sparked a storm of e-gossip with astounding financial insight such as:

  • “…when you’re talking to a bank about a mortgage and you’re not sure whether or not you’re getting the best rate, ask them what they’re best rate is…”
  • How to win at Monopoly: “…remember: never not spend money.”
  • And some advice for all of us 12-year-olds: “If you can get a good cabernet for 150 dollars each, try to buy at least 100 bottles.”

The name of Paris’s blog might also ring a bell to long-time Punny Money readers. That’s right, it’s the same name of my original personal finance website. Except mine has an extra space in it. Apparently spaces between words aren’t “in” with kids these days.

By now I’m sure you’re ready to fire your grown-up financial advisor and hand your portfolio over to Mr. Spence-Lang. But before you do that, don’t forget that I’m 24 years old which means my advice must be exactly twice as good as his!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The One Hundred Ninety-Fourth Carnival of the Vanities

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

admit one to here

Greetings! Welcome to the 194th edition of the very first blog carnival, The Carnival of the Vanities. Here you’ll find the best works of some of the greatest minds on the internet. There are 39 terrific submissions eagerly awaiting your attention, so I’ll make the introduction as short as possible. If you submitted an article but you don’t see it here, then you either submitted multiple articles from one website (and I only accepted one) or you missed the deadline of 6pm Eastern on Tuesday. But don’t worry, because you can always submit your fantastic piece of work for next week’s Carnival of the Vanities which will be hosted by Generic Confusion.

Before we get started, just a quick note on the format. Keeping in mind that the point of the Carnival of the Vanities is to encourage authors to submit their best recent work (and not just any old post), I’ve taken the liberty of being a totally unbiased judge of the authors’ decisions to submit their work this week. As such, while I’ve included every last eligible submission, you’ll find that they’re ordered starting with my favorites and ending with my… not-so-favorites. I mean no offense to any of you fantastic writers, but there were some articles that simply engaged me more than others. Maybe they were highly original, or possibly I really learned something from them, or perhaps they just made me laugh.

I hope you take the time to enjoy each and every one of these submissions as much as I have, and feel free to hang around Punny Money afterwards for some great financial news, tips, and tales with a bit of humor on the side.
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