th8 7 more kick ass spending tips.My non-traditionally coiffed blogging buddy J. Money applauded another writer’s “Two kick-ass spending tips” – or, rather, his non-spending tips, as they’re designed to curb impulsive buying.

The Stranger Test: Imagine a stranger holding the item you want to buy in one hand and its price – in cash! – in the other hand. Which would you choose?

The Urgency Test: You’re wondering whether to buy something. Ask yourself, “Would I wear this out of the dressing room right now if I could?” If the answer is “yes” and you can afford it, go ahead.

These are the “only two saving/budgeting ideas that I actually follow these days,” the anonymous blogger, Zee, notes on his site, Work To Not Work.

Good ideas both – although I do think the Urgency Test should be tempered with a bit more questioning, e.g., “How often would I actually use this?” (especially as regards things like hand tools and kitchen gadgets) and “Will this make a big enough difference in my life to spend the money?”

Put another way: There’s a reason you see new or practically unused stuff at yard sales. That reason is often, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

I do like Zee’s viewpoint, though — and I’ll see his two basic tips and raise him seven more ways to help avoid overspending.


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th8 9 smart ways to use all that extra cash.Over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, Crystal writes about a friend with a problem that plenty of people wouldn’t mind having.

“They are now earning more than they need to pay their bills, and they wanted my advice on what to tackle next.  I love those kinds of conversations!” says the blogger.

Among her suggestions: emergency fund, retirement, various types of insurance, paying down existing debt, and health savings and/or flexible spending accounts. All good choices.

What would you do with extra cash? Maybe you haven’t thought about it, being too focused on keeping the books balanced or paying down debt. But there could come a day when you either get more money (a raise, a windfall, a side gig) or need less money (debts paid off, kids leave home).

Start thinking now about what you’d do with it, for two reasons:

  • It helps keep you focused on your goals (prepaying a mortgage, helping a child through college), and
  • It will help you spend when the time is right.

You might think that second one sounds silly. “Help me spend? I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to agonize over every dime!”

Then again, you might be surprised.


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th3 150x150 How much does your suitcase weigh?I sure learned some interesting things about luggage while researching my latest piece for Retail Me Not. My favorite factoid was how light the bags are getting. Modern bags can weigh as little as 3.3 pounds – much easier on the arms, and also providing more wiggle room as regards an airline’s 50-pound luggage limit.

Randy MacKenzie of Edwards Luggage, a family-owned store since 1946, does monthly “how to pack” seminars in the family’s four San Francisco-area stores. Packed for two weeks of travel, today’s lightweight carry-ons can weigh in at 21 pounds. (Hint: That gives you room for 29 pounds’ worth of souvenirs before you start to pay extra.)

A few of her favorite manufacturers:

  • Rimowa: Lightweight and incredibly durable, this manufacturer offers colors that won’t embarrass the business traveler – “an absolutely gorgeous chocolate brown, a beautiful navy blue, a very dark purple.”
  • TUMI: Lightweight with “some really spectacular colors.”
  • IT Luggage: These semi-deconstructed, very basic bags weigh as little as 3 pounds and come “in all the colors of the rainbow.”
  • Swiss Army: These “youthful-looking” bags are less expensive but still wear well.

I love my own Delsey case, but if and when it ever gives up the ghost I’ll be looking for lighter luggage — from Delsey or someone else.

Just FYI: Large bags are still available if you’re heading for a cruise that requires formal wear or some other special garb. (Fun fact: Cruises exist for fans of nudism, Elvis, Shakespeare and “Star Trek.”) But a carefully packed medium-sized bag will generally do just as well, according to MacKenzie.


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th What does a working kitchen need?A blog post over at Get Rich Slowly asks readers which cooking  utensils/equipment they couldn’t live without. “In the kitchen: When less is more” posits that plenty of the things marketed as necessities end up as just so much culinary clutter.

“How much do you need to have a working kitchen?” asks writer Lisa Aberle.

Good question.

My comment on the post became pretty lengthy – so lengthy, in fact, that I realized I feel pretty strongly about the subject. While I understand that foodies and gadgeteers love their avocado slicers and their cheese straighteners*, I’d like to point out that:

  • More isn’t necessarily better, and
  • Specialization is the last refuge of marketers.


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th 1 150x150 Whats the weirdest thing you ever charged?The folks at CardRatings.com recently commissioned a survey about offbeat credit card purchases. Some 57 percent of those surveyed copped to a bit of buyer’s remorse, i.e., “What was I thinking?”

“Adult entertainment” was the top culprit, with 6.7 percent admitting to have purchased temporary jollies. Men are “about four times more likely than women to use a credit card for this purpose,” according to the CardRatings blog post.  

You don’t say.


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