Category Archives: $5, $10 and $20 TIPS

Getting Ready for a New iPhone? Here’s a Special Deal for Our Readers

iphone-5-press-650x0With rumors swirling that the launch of the new iPhone will be on Sept. 10, you probably think you still have some time to get rid of your old phone.

But what if I told you that waiting to get rid of it after the release would be a huge mistake – and that you should already be locking down a good rate for your old iPhone as soon as possible?

New data suggests that instead of waiting to sell your old iPhone, you should actually be locking in a higher sell price BEFORE the launch — and then using the proceeds to help fund the cost of your new iPhone.

Here’s how we know this is true. A few weeks ago, I examined hundreds of used iPhone sales on our uSell.com platform following the 2012 iPhone 5 launch, and aggregated this price depreciation data.  What I found was interesting. Old phones lose a great deal of value each week after the new iPhone launch – starting at just 7 days after the new product is announced:
*  1 week after a new iPhone launch, old iPhones lose about 5% in value.
*  2 weeks after launch, old iPhones depreciate about 12%.
*  By weeks 3 and 4, old phones are worth about 20% less.

So really, if you were to wait 3 weeks after the launch to get rid of your old phone, you’d be losing out on a nice chunk of change – because 20% adds up!

If you want to be an even savvier consumer, you could lock in a sale price before the iPhone launch, but then wait to ship your old phone until right after you get your new model.  (At uSell.com and other similar sites, we’ll give you 30 days to actually send in your old phone.)

So how much cash are we talking about?
* An iPhone 5 is potentially worth $72 more (compared to 3 weeks after
launch)
*  An iPhone 4S is worth $46 more
*  An iPhone 4 is worth $29 more

So why not take that extra cash and treat yourself to a fancy dinner, a new pair of jeans, or yes, another cool Apple product?

So don’t wait.  Go lock in a great price right now!

For more information on this and to get competitive bids your old iPhone, check out uSell.com.  As a special bonus for Five Ten Twenty Club readers, use coupon code FALL13 to get an extra $10 on your iPhone sale.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nik Raman is Chief Operating Officer of uSell.com, an online marketplace that helps you sell your used electronics in 3 minutes or less through a network of professional buyers who competitively bid on your gadgets.  Nik is an expert on the used iPhone industry and helps create the user experience for uSell.com‘s smartphone marketplace.  Nik’s path in the “re-commerce” industry began as founder of EcoSquid in 2010, an electronics trade-in and recycling aggregator that uSell.com acquired in 2012.  He is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Earn Gift Cards for Being a Regular Reader

punchtab-gift-ribbonYou may have noticed that a Rewards tab has appeared in the bottom left-hand corner of our screen. Allow us to introduce Punchtab, the Silicon Valley-based loyalty program that helps readers of blogs to earn loyalty points by reading and sharing our posts. These loyalty points can be redeemed for gift cards from popular retailers like Starbucks, Amazon and Target.

To get started, simply click on the Rewards tab in the corner and then log-in using your Facebook account. By using your Facebook account as a unique identifier for you with Punchtab, you can start to accumulate points whenever you view or share our posts. As you accumulate more points, you can choose from the various rewards in the PunchTab Rewards Merchandise Catalog based on the number of points you have and the number of points needed for a particular reward.

We’re happy to be working with Punchtab here, and we hope the gift cards help you save money $5, $10 and $20 at a time!

Thanks for joining the FiveTenTwenty Club

~Janet and Karl

Don’t know what the FiveTenTwenty Club is? Learn more here, read about our Money Method, join in the conversation in our Community Forum and start living the Seven Days to Financial Fitness Plan!

The Three Silliest Money Traps – And How to Fix Them

The money traps I’m about to list are not earth-shattering secrets, nor do they contain any particularly sophisticated financial techniques. In fact, it’s precisely because they’re so simple and commonplace that I feel they must be stopped stat. Why should we continue to let these silly, daily money goofs drain our wallets?

The Problem: Recurring online fees billed to your card

Who hasn’t been guilty of this? A few years ago, for example, I was searching for a new job and decided to spruce up my resume by using a “free” online service. The catch, of course, was that I needed to input my credit card and cancel within 30 days for it to be truly free.

But human beings goof up (or get plain lazy) and forget to cancel these subscriptions. In my case, it cost me $35 a month. The worst part is that I didn’t even catch it until four months later, when I was almost $150 in the hole. Yep, that’s a month’s worth of $5/day savings down the drain for nothing.

The Solution:Sure, the simplest solution is to never, EVER use your credit card for anything other than immediate, one-off purchases. (Remember that magazine subscription or skin care product you ordered at an amazingly low introductory rate? How about when you forgot to cancel it on time and the price suddenly spiked?)

But, again, we’re merely human. To prevent such a mistake, try doing one or both of the following:

Set a calendar or budget reminder for one payment period BEFORE the free/special price period ends. You’ll usually need at least one payment cycle’s worth of advance notice to have it stopped on time.

You can also try calling your credit card company and asking them to authorize a maximum spend of only as much as you intend to pay. Not all card companies will agree, but it’s a very effective backstop.

The Problem: ATM Fees

Yes, we all know using other banks’ ATM machines are a real financial “duh!” moment. But that doesn’t stop us from doing it occasionally (or even often) out of convenience. If you do this a few times per month, it can cost hundreds of dollars per year.

The Solution:

You can do a few simple things to minimize this occurrence — I actually recommend doing them all.

First, if you don’t already have a debit card, get one — you can often use it in lieu of cash, thereby minimizing your need for paper dollars.

Next, many grocery and drug stores allow you to get cash back on purchases. Although you’re usually limited to $40 at a time, it adds up if you shop for food and essentials regularly. In fact, I rarely use ATMs anymore thanks to this.

Finally, get in the habit of withdrawing more cash at a time when you are at your bank or ATM. If the thought of carrying around tons of twenties sounds unappealing, try storing some at home until needed or asking for larger bills (and later breaking them).

The Problem: Small Impulse Buys

You know the drill – you’re in the check-out lane and get tempted by whatever kick-knack is in front of you. Or, you’re at the drug store and end up buying cheap cosmetics and toiletries you don’t really need. Though these things aren’t expensive, if you engage in the habit regularly, it can drain you of hundreds –or thousands — of dollars per year.

The Solution:

The psychology behind impulse buys is simple: It provides your brain’s reward centers with a quick, easy thrill. Subvert that impulse in the following ways.

One of my favorite techniques is giving myself an alternative reward that doesn’t cost any extra money. When I’m tempted by an impulse buy at the drugstore, for example, I’ll spritz some perfume from a tester on my wrist or pop a piece of gum or mint. Both increase my brain’s feelings of happiness or satiation and blunt my impulsiveness.

Other tricks include having recent impulse buys on you — such as that cheap lipstick you recently bought – as a way to remind yourself that you don’t need anything else. Or, try walking as quickly through the store as possible in order to minimize extra purchases. The extra rush will keep you focused and you’ll be moving too fast to notice impulse buys, anyhow.

 

Do you have any ideas on stopping your silly money mistakes? Share them in our comments section below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Save Money: The Definitive Guide – Part 2

freeimage-10752841-webHi everybody. We’re back with the second part of our multi-week series “How to Save Money: The Definitive Guide.” As you may remember, we aim to encourage people to be creative in how they think about managing their biggest monthly expenses. Last week in Part 1, we addressed housing costs and transportation costs and suggested downsizing, sharing and/or renting as moderate ways to reduce costs without necessarily doing without the things you want. Over the coming weeks we will continue to explore those ideas over the next few weeks as they relate to other common large monthly expenses: groceries, utilities, telephone or smart phone service, internet service and entertainment options like cable, movies, books, etc.

What You Eat and Drink

Americans spend a lot of money on food. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average consumer (a 49-year old that makes about $63,000 a year) spent about $2,620 a year eating outside the home and about $3,838 eating at home in 2011. That comes to about $538 a month or about $124 a week. More recently, a 2012 Gallup survey found that its sample spent an average of $151 a week on food, though the median  of the sample was $125.

As you can imagine, eating out is usually way more expensive than eating at home–unless you’re risking your health on too many fast food “value” menus. As a consequence, I try to avoid eating out more than a few times a week, but that does not always work for my home or social lives. (Janet prefers restaurants over home-cooking.) I also get a lot of personal satisfaction from preparing food myself at home and I’m on a healthy diet right now that is best maintained through home-cooked meals, so I am doubly eager to do it. However, we’ve learned a few strategies to help reduce the overall cost of eating out. You can find them in Janet’s recent post called 6 Easy Hacks for Saving on Fine Dining.

There are other cost considerations when eating out or at home. Animal proteins–meats–are expensive, and seafoods (including shellfish) tend to be the most expensive of them. GE Miller over at 20SomethingFinance began saving thousands of dollars each year when he and his wife gave up meat entirely. However, if you want to reduce your spending on meats without giving them up completely, skip expensive meats like seafood, beef and lamb–especially in restaurants where these particular meats usually carry large mark-ups over wholesale prices. If you still want your lobster or fish or steak though, you’ll find that you can prepare them much more cheaply and healthily at home.

As for alcohol: While home-brew tends to be a very expensive hobby, the idea of drinking at home instead of at restaurants is sound enough. Restaurants and bars charge so much money for booze. It reminds me why everyone in college was so sensible about “pre-gaming” before going out! If you want to save money then, buy good stuff at the store to drink at home and only drink swill at bars and restaurants if you must (and ideally on special).

Joking aside though, when it comes to reducing food and drink costs, a little planning, a little sharing and a little avoidance can go a long way toward saving you money. If you plan your grocery shopping so that you can make multiple meals (including leftovers) with the ingredients you buy, and you share the costs of the food with friends and loved-ones who join you, you can save thousands of dollars each year and even have a lot of fun making meals to enjoy together. (It helps too if you avoid the most expensive meats and ingredients.) And, if you’re the type who plans far ahead or who buys the same groceries each week or month, you also might want to consider a bulk subscription option through your local Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) or Amazon Subscribe & Save.

Stay Tuned for Part 3 Next Week

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when trying to save money on this major regular expense. There’s more to come though, as we address other common large monthly expenses including home utilities, telecommunications and entertainment in future posts. Until then, keep fighting the frugal fight.

How do you save money on food? Share your tips, strategies and experiences in our Community Forum!

How to Save Money: The Definitive Guide – Part 1

budget2013-612x300We here at the Five Ten Twenty Club read way too many blog posts online about the “Top 5 Ways To Save You Money.” (The internet is full of them, and most are eye-catching but not particularly helpful.) While the posts contain a few good ideas from time to time, after a while, most of the ideas in the blogs just strike you as too weird and difficult.

We don’t think most people want to be extreme discounters, hand-making everything in their homes for example. We figure most folks just want some reasonable tips about how to spend less doing everyday things, so that they’ve got a little money to put toward their goals like paying off credit cards, putting aside money for a nice vacation or saving for their children’s schooling.

So, we’ve tried to put together a list that’s actually useful:

Where you live

Whether it involves rent or a mortgage and property taxes, your home is almost always your biggest expense. According to a 2013 study published by the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy, the median housing costs for a working renter or homeowner in the USA was $847 and $1,024 per month, respectively–or about 33% and 29% of their respective pre-tax incomes. Since this is likely your biggest monthly expense, any significant reductions you make in your housing costs can save you a lot of money.

Choosing where to live is always a complicated decision based on any variety of things like the number of rooms and amenities available in the home, the desirability of the neighborhood (for entertainment, safety, or access to public transportation or quality schools, for example) and the associated commute time to work. If you want to save significant amounts of money each month, you should prioritize affordability when you’re considering a home. Perhaps you don’t actually need so many rooms, such a nice building or such a nice kitchen. Maybe you’re open to having roommates that can help share in housing costs. Be open to downsizing and sharing to save money.

What You Drive

Your choice of transportation is likely to be your next biggest expense. According to the AAA, the average sedan costs about $760 to own and operate each month if you drive about 15,000 miles a year. Even if you keep your current car though, you can reduce that cost dramatically by driving less, because the less you drive, the less you’ll have to spend on gasoline and maintenance. Committing to drive less may even help you save money on your insurance, and it can be as easy as reducing your overall travel; carpooling or ride-sharing; riding a bicycle or walking; using public transportation; or renting a car for long distance trips (so that you reduce your maintenance costs and risk-of-accident for your own vehicle). These are all changes that are easy to make from time to time.

However, those other Top 5 lists are right that you may also want to consider not owning a car at all. This can actually be pretty easy to do in certain US cities. If my own job was near public transportation, I could take advantage of the subway and bus station near my apartment, sell off my car and then just borrow or rent a car whenever I need to drive outside the area. That need occurs seldom enough, so it could be a great financial decision with little additional hassle at the end of the day.

If that sounds daunting to you, consider that there are now more ways to rent vehicles than ever before. Traditional car rental companies like Enterprise have been diligent about expanding beyond the expected airport locations to neighborhoods through many major cities. Also, ride sharing companies like Lyft and Sidecar allow you to hitch a ride with people who are using these services’ smart phone apps to turn their private cars into temporary taxis, and car sharing companies like RelayRides are helping regular people to rent out their cars to their neighbors whenever they are not using them. (RelayRides even just expanded to offer service at airports.)

Stay Tuned for Part 2 next week

Well, that’s enough for today. While we might have seemed light on specific tips, we more want to encourage you to consider a broader range of options for your home and transportation than you might normally consider. And of course, you’ll need to find the most affordable solution that still works for you and any partner or children that may also be directly affected by any decision you make. But the simple point is that it’s easier to save big bucks by cutting down on your largest expenses. Sure, every dollar adds up – but when you’re talking major costs like housing or transportation, they add up faster. We’ll talk more about this in Part 2. Until then, keep fighting the frugal fight.