Money Quote Friday – Now They Own You Edition.

You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.“

– Chuck Palahniuk

Amen. Have a good weekend.


Earning 11.89% Interest By Lending Money At Lending Club.

Back in February 2008, I wrote a post titled “Why I Started Lending Money With Prosper And Lending Club” that outlined why I had veered from my savings account mentality into the world of peer-to-peer lending. Basically, I wanted to try to beat the rate that my online bank was offering at the time (which is even lower now – thanks ING) by lending my money directly to people who need to borrow it, skipping the middleman. ING at that point was paying around 3% interest, which wasn’t great, but it was a sure thing and there would not be anyone defaulting on my loan.

With Lending Club, however, there would be a chance that a borrower of my money could default on the payments – but that came with the possible reward of much higher returns on my cash. So I took out a little of my savings and put it into 2 different loans, with one of them having a Grade A credit rating paying 8.07% interest and the other having a Grade E paying 15.45% interest. I figured I could possibly end up with an interest rate between the two of them, which is exactly what happened. For the last 19 months I have been earning a whopping 11.89% interest on my loans – and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Neither loan has ever had a month where a payment was late or not paid, and both are totally up to date and still making their payments. So far, so good – and at 11.89% interest, I am very happy.

I think peer-to-peer lending might be the way to borrow money in the future, shall I ever need to do so. Cut out the bank approvals and help other people make better returns on their money? I am sold on the concept. My friend Matt at Steadfast Finances wrote an interesting article the other day about peer-to-peer investing replacing national currency, which you should check out – it’s a very different concept. For me, I would appreciate anything different than doing things “the old way”, which obviously has completely backfired given our economy and the collapse of Wall Street. Could peer-to-peer by the wave of the future? Who knows…

Either way, I am very happy I started lending money with Lending Club, and I even added some more money to my account today. For people looking to lend money, it’s a chance to make more in interest than your money market does, and for those looking to borrow, it takes the bank middleman out of the equation. It’s a win-win for most everyone. If you start lending with them, they even put $25 in your account for you to start with, which is pretty cool. I was skeptical at first, but I am a believer now after seeing my money make 11.89% interest.

Try it Now! Join Lending Club.


7 Ways To Save Money On Dental Care & Bills.

Go more often. There, that’s my advice to you. Now go to the dentist! OK, I am only partially kidding — but going more often can certainly save you a ton of money in dental expenses because your dentist can usually catch problem spots before they become even bigger issues! That was my dentists’ biggest piece of advice to me yesterday after getting a cleaning, because it had been a while since I had gone. Turns out that I have 3 pretty major problems that need to be taken care of ASAP, for two reasons:

1. The teeth in question could be permanently ruined any day now.
2. I grind my teeth at night, which is wearing down both the enamel and a few fillings I have.
3. My insurance runs out at the end of the month.

As an aside – Yes, #3 is the truth. Because of a situation here on the home front that I will get into in another post sometime soon, I am losing my health, dental and eye insurance as of the beginning of October. And because I am self-employed AND have a serious pre-existing condition, I cannot qualify for private health insurance. I also make too much money to go on any state plans for lower-income folks. So as of another week or so, I will be added to the ranks of the 40+ million people in the United States who don’t have insurance. It’s not that I am not willing to pay for it or I want a handout; but rather our system is so broken that I cannot get insured again without getting a “real job” which I am unwilling to do. I hope we can get real reform in this country done in the next couple of months so that people like me, who are un-insurable under the current system, will have a chance to buy reasonably priced coverage for themselves. But I digress…

So, back to trying to save some money on dental bills. After spending some time talking to my dentist about my current home/insurance scenario, I came right home and wrote up what I could remember from our conversation – and maybe some of the tips below can help you next time you get a shock at the dental office.

Dental Xray

Tip #1, as I mentioned above, is to go to the dentist more often. If you have insurance that pays for regular checkups/cleanings/x-rays, you are paying the dental premium anyway so you might as well take advantage of it.

Tip #2 is to always do the more expensive/necessary procedures first. This might sound counter-intuitive, but expensive problems only become more expensive the longer you wait. I am getting a crown on one of my teeth tomorrow because that is the on the top of the list of things that can get much worse if I wait longer, which will only cost me more somewhere down the line.

Tip #3 is to ask for a change in diagnosis. See if your dentist can call a procedure something else in order to get it covered by insurance. Those who think the system is broken and absurd probably will try to help you out the best as they can.

Tip #4 is to ask for a discount. If you don’t have insurance and are paying 100% out of pocket, as your dentist if they can offer you a discount of at least down to the rate that the insurance company has agreed to pay them. More often than not they will do it.

Tip #5 is to ask for a payment plan. Sure, it won’t save you any money on the actual procedures, but it sure beats putting the entire thing on a credit card and paying interest on your dental work! I have done this before on big medical expenses, so I imagine most dentists will let you at least pay over 2 or 3 months.

Tip #6 is to look for a second opinion. I trust our dentist, so I won’t be looking. But if you don’t, or think he may be coming up with procedures you don’t really need, ask another dentist what they think. You will have to pay for the visit out of pocket, but a 1 time visit that confirms your suspicion costs a lot less than having an unnecessary procedure.

Tip #7 is again – go to the dentist at least twice a year. This is the single most important thing you can do for your dental health, as the sooner they catch any problems the cheaper they will be to fix.

So, this is what I have learned yesterday at my cleaning…until I go in tomorrow for my crown and a few other little things. I am sure it will be a good time! Do you have any words of advice for saving money on dental care? If so, I am sure we would all love to hear them!

Photo from Shutterstock


When A High-Paying Job Was $10,000 Per Year.

Remember back when I wrote about inheriting my grandfathers’ old tools? Well, this past weekend I finally got around to taking every tool out of every toolbox, arranging them all over my workbench and the floor in order to clearly see what I had on my hands. Turns out it was quite a lot – so many, in fact, that I am actually going to be giving away a bunch of them. My grandfather saved everything! I think this might be because he grew up during the Depression, so there were lots of broken and “extra” tools in his toolboxes. I snapped this picture of my workbench when I had finished laying them all out for examination:

When it was all said and done, I had put everything away neatly and organized so I know where to find whatever I need whenever I need it. But really, my main point of this post was to talk about something entirely different than these tools — it was to talk about something else I had found in one of those boxes…a matchbook from a very, very long time ago.

See, my grandfather was an electrician who was born in 1912. So by 1930 at 18 years old he was already working full time helping to support his mom and all his siblings right as the Depression was reaching its stride. Sometime well after he was already an electrician is when I imagine he acquired this book of matches advertising a job opportunity where you could learn about electricity at home and then in one year’s time, start earning $10,000 per year. On the other side of the cover it said “Learn by doing with famous Industrial Training Institute. They’ll teach you electricity at home in spare time with simple, fascinating experimental kits. In about a year from now you can be ready for the kind of career-position that now pays many men $10,000 a year and more. Send for FREE BOOK. No obligation.” It’s funny that we still see offers like this in the back of magazines many, many years later!

Unfortunately the matches don’t have a year on the cover, which would have been cool to see when that $10,000 was such a high-paying job. I bet he found that book of matches and laughed after reading the back, seeing as how he had been an electrician for so many years already, learning it the correct way — through apprenticeships and very hard work. That’s probably why he kept it, because even now in 2009 I laughed when I found it. If only he was still alive so I could ask him what he thought about “electricity at home in spare time” for $10,000 per year!


Book Review & Giveaway: Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel.

This giveaway has ended.You think you are a cheap bastard? You got nothing on this guy. Phil Villarreal, a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star and a contributing editor at Consumerist.com, has written this book that will certainly make you shake your head. Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets is sure to shock you into being more stingy! From how to get a pay-per-view movie removed from your hotel bill, to taking extra Tupperware from a friends’ party, to beating ticket scalpers at their own game, this Stingy Scoundrel is exactly that – terribly stingy and a through and through scoundrel. While there are many tips in the book that find themselves in my “moral gray area”, I am sure that anyone who reads this book will come away with a few worthwhile ideas on how to be a little more frugal. It made me laugh out loud many, many times, but it also made my mouth gape open in amazement as I tried to consider doing some of these money-saving tips in real life. I don’t normally care what others think of me, but some of these things definitely would be difficult to do! Overall, a great read that is both entertaining and educational – I recommend it to all my frugal friends! So…are you intrigued? Want to win a copy?

secrets of a stingy scoundrel

Well, here are the rules and what you need to do to enter to win:

1. Actually want the book. Don’t enter just because it’s a giveaway; some people might actually really want the book, and I would like to see someone who wants it win a copy.

2. Leave a comment (using a valid email address so I can contact you if you are the winner) on this post, telling me reasons why you might be considered a stingy scoundrel by others.

3. From all legitimate comments, I will use a random number generator to choose the winner. Only one entry allowed per person/email address/IP address, and the winner must be a resident of the U.S.. Book will be shipped via media mail through the USPS.

4. The giveaway ends Wednesday, September 23 2009 at 12 noon MST, and the winner will be notified soon thereafter.

Good luck to everyone, and if you don’t win, be on the lookout for another giveaway soon! This giveaway has ended

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