Summer Saving Tips

summer travel

You may notice your wallet begin to sweat a bit as the summer heats up.  That comfortable air conditioning runs up the electricity bill, and gas prices, typically higher in the summer, make that family vacation more expensive than expected.  With a little planning though, the frugal consumer can actually take advantage of the summer months and save money while enjoying the season.

Energy Saving Tips

summer travel

Unless you live in the Arctic, your air conditioning is likely running non-stop throughout the summer.  The cold air might feel great, but your electrical bill will be burning.  No one is suggesting that you swelter all summer long, but consider taking advantage of cool and breezy nights.  Turn your air conditioning off after the sun sets and open some windows.  The cool summer breeze can be quite enjoyable after dinner!

While we’re talking about air conditioning, it’s important to make sure your system is functioning as well as it should.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should change your home’s air filter at least once every three months.  A dirty filter wastes energy, putting a dent in your wallet.  That dirty filter can even be hazardous to your health; the buildup of dirt and dust can aggravate allergies. electrical bill will be burning.  No one is suggesting that you swelter all summer long, but consider taking advantage of cool and breezy nights.  Turn your air conditioning off after the sun sets and open some windows.  The cool summer breeze can be quite enjoyable after dinner!

Although it may seem a little rustic, the summer heat can allow you to quickly dry your laundry outdoors.  Putting up that old clothesline can save you a chunk of money while that energy-loving dryer sits idle.

Everyone loves a Memorial Day barbeque!  Why not enjoy the beautiful summer weather and make it a weekly staple?  Weekend barbecues are not only fun and inexpensive family activities; they’re a great way to save on energy cost.  In addition to sucking up a good bit of electricity, using a stove also traps a lot of heat in your home – heat which makes your air conditioning work harder.  So get outside and enjoy summer evenings while saving money!

Saving Money on Summer Road Trips

According to the EPA, gas prices typically begin to rise after Memorial Day.  Don’t let higher gas prices hinder your summer road trip.  Instead, take steps to improve your gas mileage which will offset the higher cost of fuel.

  • Make sure you tire pressure is correct.  Poor tire pressure reduces gas mileage.
  • Use cruise control on the highway.  Constant acceleration and deceleration uses more gas.
  • Avoid rough roads; driving on gravel can reduce your gas mileage significantly.
  • Don’t speed.  Although you might get there faster, the increased wind resistance at higher speeds robs you of fuel efficiency.

Don’t let bills ruin the season.  You can save money while having a great summer by following these tips.

This guest post was written was Stuart Lieberman from A New Horizon Credit Counseling Services Inc. A New Horizon is a national, Non-profit credit counseling organization dedicated to providing counseling services and financial education programs to individuals and families.

Photo Credit: Dene’ Miles

I Will Teach You To Be Rich Review

ramit sethi i will teach you to be rich review

This week’s book review is one that I’ve recommended to family and friends who want to get start with the finances, but don’t have much time.  Ramit has been writing for years at I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Before I start getting into the book, I highly recommend that you check  out Ramit’s site if you haven’t already.

Basic Book Info ramit sethi i will teach you to be rich review

I Will Teach You to Be Rich Overview

I Will Teach You to Be Rich is kind of a jump start book that allows readers to tackle their finances in 6 weeks. You’ll get a great overview of common financial problems and the steps on how to fix them.

He goes topic by topic with finances and I’m sure you’ll find something that you can use in the book.

What’s Inside

  • Optimize Your Credit Cards
  • Beat the Banks
  • Get Ready to Invest
  • Conscious Spending
  • Save While Sleeping
  • The Myth of Financial Expertise
  • Investing Isn’t Only for Rich People
  • Easy Maintenance
  • A Rich Life

Each chapter introduces ways to improve your finances and then  focus on tactical tips on how to execute them. For example, with optimizing credit cards Ramit has scripts you can use to lower your interest rates on your credit cards.

If you’re wondering if rate chasing banks is the way to go, Ramit does a wonderful job explaining how you can better utilize your time and your money.

I think his biggest chapter is how to create a spending plan. Too many people back way from personal finance because they are afraid of budgets, worried about having to track every penny, and hearing about what they can and can’t do.

Ramit has a great system that allows you to automate your finances while including money to spend on the thing you enjoy. It’s not a cure all, but he has a great way of framing it to get you on board.

My Thoughts on Ramit’s Book

I’m a big fan of Ramit’s writing and this book has some of his best advice and financial systems. If you’re looking to make a big impact on your finances, this is a great book to consider. Ramit shows you step by step what you need to do to get your financial house in order.

I’d love to hear feedback from others that have read the book. What did you think about it? What chapter was most helpful for you? What was the least helpful?

The New Coffeehouse Investor Review

Bill Schultheis the new coffee house investor review

If you read my post yesterday on whether you should buy BP stock now, I mentioned how this next book to be review was very applicable and useful. With everything that has been commented on with the market, BP, and the global economy, I thought reviewing The New Coffeehouse Investor would be great.

Bill Schultheis the new coffee house investor review

I had this book a while ago, but as I was perusing it again for the review, I kept finding myself reading the chapters and making some new notes in it. It’s still full of practical information.

The New Coffeehouse Investor Overview

This is an updated edition of Schultheis’ book from his 1998 book.  Schultheis gets right to the heart of his message in the beginning of the book. He lays out his 3 fundamental principles of investing:

  • Save for a rainy day. (Develop a long term financial plan)
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (Diversify in different asset classes.)
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. (Capture the entire return of each basket, or asset class, through low cost index funds).

Schultheis passionately argues that the hype of Wall Street to keep buying and selling is detrimental to many investors. His book shows how simplifying investments wisely can bring better returns.

What’s Inside the New Coffeehouse Investor

It’s broken up into 12 chapters:

  • The Coffeehouse Investor
  • This Thing Called Risk
  • Approximating the Stock Market Average
  • Building Common-Stock Portfolio
  • My Favorite Piece of Pie
  • Saving It
  • Life, Logic, and Paradoxes
  • Travels of a Coffeehouse Investor
  • Spending It
  • Index Funds and Beyond
  • Let’s Have Some Fun
  • The Journey Continues

What I found intriguing was the typical investment behaviors of millionaires. Schultheis points out that less than 10% of millionaires think of themselves as active traders.More startling to me was a whopping 42% of millionaires in America makes less than 1 transaction per year for their portfolios.

Can You Beat the Market?

One concern for new and would be investors is how risky it seems. They see the news and wonder if putting their money into the stock market is the right move for them.  How can tell when they should buy low and sell high? What metrics can they use to find out how to time the market?

First off, Schultheis provides plenty of data on the historical returns of the stock market from 1926-2008. To ease potential investors’ fears, he examines  five-year and ten-year returns. Schultheis persuasively argues that by comparing different investment vehicles, long term investing is not as risky as some imagine.

The irony is that now index funds, once a simple concept that allowed you to follow the market has now become complicated with some marketing from Wall Street. Now some advisors in the financial industry are peddling sector index funds as the new way to invest.

The Coffeehouse Investor takes you through the formation of  exchange traded index funds (ETFs) and how they stack up against a total market index fund.

My Thoughts on Coffeehouse Investor

If you’re looking for a guide on how to invest that can give you solid returns minimizing some of the risk, this is a great book to start with. I really enjoyed looking at the track record of different investment vehicles and how they work.

Have you’ve read The New Coffeehouse Investor? What are your thoughts on it?