Saturday, January 8, 2011

10 Stupid Ways That Smart People Waste Money

Some people are bad with money and they waste it constantly on stupid crap that they can't afford and they are sad all the time and have no friends... That's not you.

You're smart, but even smart people sometimes do stupid things with their money. Smart people are often forgetful, or lazy, or busy, or have enough money that they don't worry about wasting it. Bad idea! Wasting money is always uncool. Here are a 10 stupid ways that even smart people waste money... and a few ideas for how to stop the leak.

We know that you already know all of this stuff, smarty-pants, so consider this list a reminder...

1) Forgetting To Pay Bills: Smart people are often forgetful. "Did I pay the credit card bill? I don't know, I was busy curing cancer."
Late fees suck! Here are some ways to avoid them:
  • Pay all your bills at once on a specific day each month.
  • Set up auto bill pay with your bank (not with your credit card company).
  • Ask someone for help getting organized.
  • Set up a Google alert.
  • Use fewer credit cards so there are fewer bills to pay.
  • Don't use credit cards at all.

2) Bank Fees: Overdrafting fees and excessive ATM and other bank fees are easy to accrue and can be hard to avoid, even for smart people.
Here's how to get organized:

  • Go to the ATM once a week.
  • If you find yourself always using another bank's ATM, switch to that bank.
  • Build up a small cushion in your checking account so you don't have to worry so much.
  • Pay attention to how long it takes your bank to process deposits.
  • Keep an eye on your balance.
  • Switch to a bank that offers ATM fee refunds or that has a large free ATM network.
  • Switch to free checking.
  • Don't buy things that aren't in your budget.
  • Add things like coffee, lunches and snacks into your budget. They're easy to forget.
 3) Tickets: Some of the smartest people we know can't seem to avoid traffic and parking tickets. Speeding and parking illegally is a huge waste of money. Here are some tips that will help you avoid giving your hard-earned cash to the man:
  • Dispute parking tickets in court. Bring photos and other evidence.
  • Don't park illegally! Easier said than done, we know.
  • Speeding doesn't save much time, but it will cost you money in tickets, insurance and gas. Stay with the flow of traffic; don't be the fastest guy on the road.
  • Never, ever, ever argue with a police officer or make up stupid excuses. Look remorseful, but don't admit that you did anything wrong.
  • If you do get a ticket, and you have the opportunity to attend "traffic school" so that it won't be reported to your insurance company, do it.
  • Don't talk on your cellphone while driving. Don't send txt messages while driving. Just drive.
  • Drive less! Take public transportation if you can. You don't have to worry about where to park a bus.
  • Avoid the city of Chicago, especially during the "street sweeping scam" season.
  • Pay for parking instead of getting a ticket. If a parking ticket is $75 and parking was $20, who is the sucker now?
  • Don't forget to feed the meter! Set an alarm on your phone if you're forgetful.
4) Memberships: How many memberships do you have that you don't use? Gym memberships, museum memberships, cultural center memberships, Netflix memberships... Enough with the memberships!
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your memberships:
  • "Does it save me money?"
  • "Does it support a charity or non-profit? Is it tax deductible? Do I actually deduct it?"
  • "Do I use it?"
If you don't use that gym membership—cancel it. Better to be fat and rich than fat and poor.

5) Subscriptions: Do you have a large pile of magazines that you're "going" to read? Cancel them. You'll never notice they're gone.

6) Letting food spoil in the fridge: Yes, we know you meant to make it for dinner, but then Betty called and you went to see that new movie and... and...
  • Plan your meals.
  • Buy things you can freeze.
  • Buy dry goods in bulk and produce less often.
  • If a bunch of food is about to go bad, invite all your friends over and cook for them rather than waste it.
7) Wasting Energy: It's just so hard to turn the lights off...
  • Use powerstrips to turn off lots of things at once.
  • Don't leave your computer on constantly for no reason.
  • Turn out the lights.
  • If you're going to sleep with the TV on, don't sleep with the TV, the XBox 360, the stereo, the Wii, the CD player, the lights...
  • Insulate your home.
  • Plant trees on the sunny side of the house.
  • Don't leave the air on when no one is home.
  • Turn the heat down during the day.
  • You don't need to leave the lights on for the cat. Cats can see in the dark.

8) Letting your money sit in a checking account: You could be earning interest in an online savings account. Why just let all your money sit in your checking account? Stop that!

9) Buying DVDs you will never, ever watch, or books you'll never read, or clothes you will never wear...: When buying something ask yourself: "Will I watch this more than once?" or "Will I actually read this?" or "Do I really still like Rush?" If you answer yes, buy it. If not, don't.

10) Paying too much for cable: Ask yourself if you watch all the premium channels you pay for. If not get rid of them. Also, ask yourself when was the last time you called up your cable company and threatened to cancel? You should do this every year. It keeps them on their toes.
We have a lot of smart readers, but no one is perfect. Tell us how you stopped your money leaks!

Jobless claims up, underlying trend still down

New claims for jobless benefits moved higher last week, but a decline in the four-week average to a nearly 2-1/2-year low suggested the labor market continues to improve.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 409,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, above economists' expectations for 400,000.

The data falls outside the survey period for the government's closely watched employment report for December, which on Friday is expected to show nonfarm payrolls jumped 175,000 after November's surprisingly small 39,000 gain.

The spike in claims does little to change perceptions the economy is now on a sustainable growth path, as flagged by sturdy data on consumer spending, trade and manufacturing.

Signs that the labor market was improving were underscored by the four-week moving average of unemployment claims -- a better measure of underlying trends -- which fell 3,500 last week to 410,750, the lowest level since late July 2008.

"It's telling you very clearly that the employment side of the economy is picking up, it paints a pretty definite picture that layoffs are on the way down," said Steve Blitz, a senior economist at ITG Investment Research in New York.

Growing optimism over the economy was tempered somewhat by news that many top retailers missed Wall Street's expectations for December sales, hurt by a post-Christmas blizzard on the East Coast and shoppers returning to their frugal ways after flocking to stores during the holidays.

Analysts were expecting an average rise of 3.4 percent in December sales at stores open at least a year for the 28 major retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters.


The claims data had a limited impact on U.S. financial markets, with investors opting to wait for the employment report. U.S. stocks were mostly flat, while Treasury debt prices eked out modest gains. The dollar was up against a basket of currencies.

The labor market has lagged the recovery, but with the economic outlook strengthening, employers are laying off fewer workers and taking on new employees.

Reports on Wednesday showed the number of planned layoffs at local firms dropped to a 10-1/2 year low in December, while private sector hiring was unexpectedly robust. Seasonal factors, however, could have skewed the data.

"Given continuing evidence that the pace of growth is picking up, we should continue to see improvement in the employment picture in the quarters ahead," said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

"Nonetheless, it is still going to take years to fully restore the jobs market to pre-crisis conditions given the magnitude of job losses during the recession and the persistently high unemployment rate."

The unemployment rate is expected to have edged down to 9.7 percent in December from 9.8 percent in November.

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Auld Lang Syne Lyrics

The song, "Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine,
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne" (Scots pronunciation: [ˈɔːld lɑŋˈsəin]: note "s" rather than "z") is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many English-speaking (and other) countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, its use has also become common at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.

The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".

The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" is also used in similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570–1638), Allan Ramsay (1686–1757), and James Watson (1711) as well as older folk songs predating Burns.[5] Matthew Fitt uses the phrase "In the days of auld lang syne" as the equivalent of "Once upon a time..." in his retelling of fairy tales in the Scots language.