Friday, May 1, 2009

Renter's Insurance

I'll start off the bat and say everyone who rents should have renter's insurance. It's just a given and it's not very expensive, so look into getting it immediately if you don't have it.

For those of you who've had it for a while, make sure to check in annually to adjust levels and make sure everything's cool. My policy recently renewed and the price went up pretty significantly, so I called my insurance company (USAA) and they told me premiums had increased everywhere, but we reviewed the line items of my policy and found out we could adjust it so that it went down to where it was last year.

For example, I had insured my laptop as an additional asset and since I'm insuring that with my business policy now I didn't need it on the renter's policy. We tweaked a couple of other things too. So make sure to check in with your company, especially if there's a rate hike, and confirm that the policy you have is the one that you need. You may be making more money now than when you set up the policy and are comfortable with a higher deductible that can bring your premium lower, etc. Make sure to ask lots of questions and have them explain the line items to you. Many of them are standard and may be unnecessary to you.

I assume this is the case for car insurance too but there may be less flexibility. I haven't owned a car in years so I don't know. If you have any tips on that feel free to comment.

Fundamental rule of frugality: always be looking for ways to lower your overhead costs!

I've missed y'all too

I decided to come back and do more posting because of the popular demand for ChaChing (you know who you are). I'll try to occasionally post things that I come across, but I've got a good excuse for putting this on the back burner: I started a business in March and am busy getting this baby to fly. I blog about that now over at Hands On and you can find Lunar Massage here.

I created a cool, affordable place to get a great massage that's not intimidating or over-priced, so I'm still living the ChaChing lifestyle! Hope to see you at Lunar soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Money saving Tweets

If you're on Twitter, check out The Simple Dollar's list of Tweeters that are about money savings and sales - many direct from companies themselves such as Amazon and Dell that give you a heads up on deals in real time. I started following @CheapTweet as a result.

Update: just got followed by @CouponTweet which seems pretty good too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Four job sites you probably didn't know about

I thought the CareerBuilder commercial was WAY better than the one during the SuperBowl, but you still should check out the more boutiquey job sites if you're in the market.

Via Fast Company magazine:

NotchUp - lets employers offer $$ for people to sit for an interview

Jobfox - has a match-up algorithm for candidates and job descriptions

Blue Chip Expert - finders fee if someone you referred gets hired
- $10k bonus for referring the winning candidate from your social network

Because you can't save money if you're not making any!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Check what light?

This is pretty cool via My Money Blog - there's a doohickey you can buy that will help you determine what's wrong when your "Check Engine" light comes on. For those of you with older cars, this might be a great purchase if it saves you the a half day at the dealer or a couple days without your car. Both my boyfriend and my brother have had issues with this light in the last year so I can appreciate the usefulness of finding out the problem.

if you search for “OBDII”, “OBD II”, or “OBD 2″ code readers, these devices will plug into your 1996 or newer model year car and read the diagnostic code from your car computer. In addition, they can erase or reset the code so that you can see if it is an ongoing problem.
Mechanics basically use the same thing and they can charge $50 for the service. MMB found a code reader for $25.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blago's car needs

I'm actually surprised at the swift beheading of Blago. His wife lost her 6fig job too. They don't have a car - may I suggest Carmax for a good deal? Though something tells me the advance on his book deal may help them get by...

don't you dare pay $40 for a sports bra

Sorry guys - I need a second to talk to the girls about the girls.

I recently realized that i hadn't updated my sports bras in a long time and that I needed ones for my higher impact workouts. But if you've shopped for sports bras lately you'll see that good ones are about FORTY CLAMS. Eff that - bypass the new stuff and head for the clearance section. Who cares if you have "last season's" sports bra?? These things do not go in and out of style. They need to fit right and provide the right support - that's all.

There are also really advanced materials now for workouts that wick away sweat and allow your skin to breathe. I went on Champion's website and found a super cute, technologically advanced, high impact bra (shown above) that was normally $36 and but on sale for FIFTEEN.

Right now they're having a sale to save $10 on 2 sports bras but that's still probably more expensive than ones already on sale.

I've worn mine several times now and it's a HUGE improvement - much more stable, and the pink and brown double-layer look is great. Remember to pay attention to the impact levels - these things are scientifically designed. If you are a runner or do any intense cardio work, you really need to make sure your jugs are locked down or you'll cause unnecessary soreness.

As a side note, the cleaning instructions on workout clothes usually say you can dry them but I air dry the bras just to be sure they last longer.

The email in my inbox this morning from Champion said they're also have a flat $5 shipping rate for orders placed in the next 2 days, so if you've been holding off on this, now is a good time to spend the $20. Your tits will thank you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the Netflix of....handbags??

I read about this website months ago and was intrigued - Bag Borrow or Steal is a membership site that allows you to "rent" designer handbags and other accessories. I have not tried it because I don't get that excited about designer handbags, but I do think it's a great idea for "affordable" luxuries.

Here's an example: the Prada bag shown here is listed at $2,195 but rents at $117 for a week.

Membership rates are pretty low - $10 a month or $60 a year. And the "Steal It" option is once you have it, you may decide you want to keep it. On the website, they will quote a cost for you and charge it to your credit card they have on file should you agree to the price.

If anyone is a member or subsequently joins after reading this, please let us know what you think!

Vote for ChaChing!

We've been nominated for a blogger award in Culture 11's LadyBlog contest in the "Healthy Living/Leisure" category! Vote for us here before January 26th.

CLEAN your Brita pitchers

If you have a Brita pitcher to filter drinking water (or something similar), PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember to clean it! Just because it only has water in it doesn't mean that it doesn't get dirty, bacterial-ridden, or worse. I have seen some pitchers that send me running for tap water - yes our gross, DC, city tap water!

Follow the rule of twos: clean your pitcher about every two weeks and change the filter every two months.

It's quick and easy: take out the filter and set it aside. Take apart the other components. Wash each separately in hot water with dish soap, rinse thoroughly, then put back together. Just do it along with your dishes and it's not a separate chore!

Also don't leave Brita backwash in the pitcher. Every few days when it gets down to a small bit left, just dump it out before filling it up again. That water gets funky and disperses into your "fresh" water.

If you don't have the kind of pitcher that keeps the date of the last filter change on it, make a note for yourself on the fridge when you change it. Every two months is about standard - you really should every month if you've got four or more people using it in your household.

Finally, on the savings note, buy your filters in bulk! The cost difference is huge. Of course if you belong to Costco, buy them there. I buy mine in five packs on Amazon - it ships free with SuperSaver shipping and breaks down to about $5 per filter. When you buy them in onesies in stores like CVS or the grocery store, they can be as much as $10 or $12 a piece. Stock up and store them - then you only have to worry about buying them twice a year, which is also an important TIME saving!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Upgrade your furniture - you're an adult now

If you've been putting off doing some furniture upgrades, you might consider doing that now.

I have searched high and low and I cannot find a better place for quality furniture at an affordable price than World Market - and that's during their non-sale times! But right now they're doing a huge semi-annual furniture sale that's absolutely killer. I almost bought this dresser because the price is sooooooo good at $230 but i really don't have room for it in my little place until I can move my home office out.

I have a gorgeous bar and dining table and chairs from World Market, as well as a set of nesting tables. The all-wood furniture is incredible - classy and sturdy with lasting style. It's time to toss the crap stuff you got second-hand on Craigslist or the flimsy temporary stuff from Ikea.

Seriously- this loft dining table (pictured here) for $250 or this cool backless Soho bookcase for $190 will do wonders for your place. Bookcases especially, for all us DC nerds - quit with that bowing particle board piece of junk and get a bookcase for a grownup. At these prices you can't make excuses anymore.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recession Chic

This isn't really a life tip but it's an example of the ChaChing lifestyle. I scored some inaugural ball tickets through a family member and didn't want to spend a bunch of money on my getup since I'm trying to start a business. So after looking at some gorgeous gowns on Smartbargains (my go-to place) for around $200, I decided to be more creative:

1. I have exactly ONE long gown in my possession - black, A-line, with ribbons of the fabric at the bust that tie behind my neck in a halter. I didn't like the halter as much anymore and wanted it converted to actual straps that criss-cross. So I took it to my alterations lady and she fixed it beautifully - $15. She's cleaning it now - another $15.

2. I'll wear my gold Andrew Geller shoes I've had for a while (I never wear heels anymore so they're still in good condition).

3. I splurged on some new jewelry at Filene's Basement - three-strand dark pearlescent beads with matching earrings that will really bling off the simple gown - $60.

That's a total ball ensemble for less than $100. We call it Recession Chic.

I read somewhere that there's only one belle of this ball and that's Michelle; with that correct observation I can relax and have a good time. I'll post some pictures after the fact and y'all can see what you think.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

i really wish people wouldn't say "consumer-driven health care"

...because we're really far from having that and it makes people think the current clusterf*ck we have now is because of "market forces" or something. Yeah you Slate!

Cosmetic surgery doesn't count, except to show people what happens when people to pay for certain services: the prices for cosmetic surgery keep going DOWN rather than UP like almost every area of actual health care.

Remind me to write a longer post about HSA's. It's late now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

bad tips, good tips

This is the kind of crap you'll never see on ChaChing. "Tight fisted miser" indeed. And if you're the kind of asshole that takes pens or matches to actually "save" money, you don't belong here either.

meanwhile, Mighty Bargain Hunter says gas stations are a good place to get gas but not for the reason you think. I don't track these things as much because i'm a proud non-owner of a car for going on almost 5 years.

The perfect exercise

Valet Magazine confirms what I often tell people - the push-up is the perfect exercise. Not the kind of person that drops $80-100 a month on a gym (like I am)? Simply doing 20-40 pushups a day and walking 20-30 minutes will make a big difference if you're default is no movement at all. See Valet's guide to the right push-up.

I'll admit proudly and publicly that I regularly do "girl" pushups - but with just one knee down. I've also taken to lifting the other leg parallel to my back for extra lower-back strengthening. I'd rather do 30 pushups with a knee down than only 5-7 regular pushups. It's not something to be embarrassed about girls; there is a physiological difference between us and men. We don't need upper body strength as much. Don't stress.

While we're talking about gyms, let me urge you to PLEASE not be the person that pays the gym membership but won't cancel it out of guilt because you don't go. Seriously - if you're not in the habit now it's probably not going to happen. DON'T WASTE THE MONEY. As much as 30% of a gym's revenue comes from those guilty nonattending members.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

today's tip: don't spend $67,000 on cappuccino machines

Especially for a school district that doesn't even know how to use them.

It may sound like common sense, but, as the nightly news the past few weeks have reminded us, things are different in Chicago. This time it's the public schools, which shelled out $67,000 for 30 cappuccino machines for schools. Luckily one person has been fired so far, but this response is awesome:
"We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn't even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn't know how to use the machines and weren't prepared to implement them into the curriculum," Sullivan said.
The curriculum?! God knows if the kids learned how to be baristas they'd graduate at least one useful skill. The rest is bunk. But we know they had no intention of teaching the kids jackshit about espresso.

On a related note, I want to give a shout-out to my tea lady, Darlene. I drink a lot of tea every day of the loose, chai variety, and these fancy tea places like Teavana want to charge me $16 for 8oz of a Masala. I buy it by the pound and store it in a big glass kitchen container, so $32 a pop hurts too much.

Luckily I found Darlene's Tea Port on Ebay and I get a pound of her Indian Spiced Chai or Kama Sutra Chai for $19.99. Even with shipping its much less than Teavanna and she somehow always gets it to me within 2 days of my order (she's in Wichita).

When you get high quality loose tea you can use the leaves twice, so i get two nice strong cups out of each 2 tbs helping i put in my steeper.

Another tip to help you run your budget better than public school districts or any other government arm. *ChaChing*.

UPDATE: to put it into perspective, i calculated that each cup costs me about 25 cents if the pound of tea lasts me 2 months and i drink 2 cups basically every day. This is why I choked the other day when I saw "organic" tea on a cafe menu for $3.50, which most certainly would have been an inferior bagged tea.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Be a different kind of Power Ranger

You can see lots of tips and lists for "saving energy" in various publications and blogs, but I find most of them pretty lame. Here are some that actually work:

1. TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. I can't believe how many people leave them on - it's a waste of energy and, especially for laptops, bad for your computer's brain to be on all the time. Electronics suck on power like a kid on a lollipop.

2. RUN YOUR DISHWASHER AT NIGHT. Many dishwashers now have settings to delay running for 2, 4, or 8 hours. Always aim to run in the middle of the night. Peak power times are between 10am and 7pm and that's when it's most expensive because it's at highest demand.

3. REPLACE AIR FILTERS. I just replaced my air filter yesterday - it had been about 6 months (i label it with a sharpie for the day I installed it) and it was pretty thoroughly gray. You should do this every 3 months or so if you use it regularly (I generally don't have heat or air going). Having a clean one makes your heat and air conditioning much more effective. Same principle - clean out the filter in the laundry dryer! Don't make it choke on every load.

4. UNPLUG. Until electronics get more sophisticated, they basically drain power all the time when they're plugged in, whether or not they're technically "on" (dumb). Unplug things when you're not using them - especially if they're used infrequently. I keep my toaster oven and paper shredder unplugged, and a whole host of things under my desk are on a power strip that's always off unless I'm at my desk.

These simple things can reduce your monthly bill by 20-40%.

Any other tips?

Friday, January 2, 2009

"night owls" are cooler

I knew my hatred of early mornings was justified. Check out Wired's evidence:

1. you need more sleep

2. creativity happens after dusk, not at dawn

3. getting up is stressful

via 4 entrepreneur