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Expense creep is what I call it when we normalize my expenses due to an increase in income. In my last post I described a woman who spent $560,000 on two parking spaces. To us non-millionaires that sounds Crazy, but maybe it’s not.

The Glory Days

When I turned 4 I was given a $1 allowance every Friday. This would be the happiest day of the week for me. We would go to the store on Saturday so I would spend Friday night sleepless in bed trying to determine the most candy I could get for my money. Funny enough, that was the most important thing in my life at 4. I knew the butterfinger, and jolly rancher usually went on sale for 4 for a dollar. Note: Butterfingers are my favorite. The snickers would be 35 cents and the skittle would be 50. I would eat them all during the weekend (I definitely would have failed the marshmallow test).  

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The Ugly Teenager

As I got older the effect of the money started to wear off. When I went to high school, I got $4 dollars a week. This money seemed to be a drop in the bucket. I was making $7 an hour as a bag boy at the local grocery store and I was living large. I would go to the movies, buy pogs and bought my cell phone. It was a classic Nokia brick.

The College Years

Then I went to college and was broke. I would debate over whether I needed mayo on sandwiches, if I could live with the .99 cent bread, I only got the cheapest shampoo, and dollar store deodorant was what I used. I think I smelled good. 


Today

That brings us close enough to today. I feel like a frugal person in general, but when I think hard about my purchases I know that some things are name brand, I buy the bread that I think tastes the best, and I buy all the mayo I’d ever want. I find all types of ways to mentally rationalize some purchases, but what I worry most about are the purchases I don’t even think about any more.

The Judge

I point out people’s financial short coming all the time. I have a brother-in-law that just bought a house a few months after they became a two income home, and he talks about the endless projects he’s going to work/spend money on. I see people buying new cars when they probably could have gotten a few more years out of their old one. I see people buying name brand cereal at full price. Some days I want to do a Diembe Mutombo on these people. Then I take a step back and realize I’m not perfect


Scared Straight

When I make these occasional observations that I need to be examining my spending. I get the generic brand corn flakes, I get the dollar shampoo, I make meals out of canned foods that made their way to the back of the cabinets. I try to squeeze save every cent possible. This normally only last a week or so and then things gradually go back to normal.  Sometimes a couple of the new habits will stick and I try to have a sense of pride about some unusually cheap things that we do. Since I’ve been reading and writing more about personal finance lately, I have also gotten some really interesting and painless tips from various authors. In the back of my mind I do wonder what I have stopped worrying about. Maybe I’m buying a few too many butterfingers. 

Do you feel like you have stopped thinking about some of your purchases?

What do you do to bring them back into your consciousness?

 
 
The Frugal Toad is turning 2 years old. To celebrate his blogiversary he is doing a giveaway and I am privileged enough to be a part of it. So here we go a sweet Kindle Fire giveaway. Take a moment to celebrate with us by tweeting it out and wishing The Frugal Toad many more happy blogging years to come.
 
 
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Big thanks to Zimmy and Potato Head at Money & Potatoes They are great spuds to have in your corner. The Award is basically to help introduce new bloggers so the blogger community can get a little closer. I have really enjoyed being a member of the personal finance community and really love the Yakezie community in particular.

So here’s the deal:

1) This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

2) The award is then passed along to other bloggers in the same category to help spread the word and support one another.

3) Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.

4) Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.

5) Choose 5 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.

6) Go back to their page and tell them about the award.

7) No tag backs.

Random Facts about David

1. I enjoy playing competitive table tennis. I started in college and fell in love. I have been to a handful of tournaments and am rated about a 1400. That basically means I can beat 95% of recreational players and about 20% of people that attend tournaments.

2. I started a window cleaning company in college. Working outside was really nice, and I met a lot of great customers. They were older so they had great stories.

3. I’m an auditor, which I really enjoy. My parents didn't graduate from college so I’m really glad I was able to finish and get a job that is really interesting and a great stepping stone to other things.

4. I was chess club president. I like chess and I think I’m good, but I only became the president because I was the first one there on the first day. There was only 4 of us. Chess club wasn't funded, so it was really more of a casual hangout then a serious endeavor.

5. I have lived and worked in 4 different states in the last 5 years. Internship, college, out of state job, then I moved with a job.

6. I haven’t ever left the country.  Someday I will, I just haven’t had the money, time and patience to do it yet.

7. I have a half-brother that I didn't meet until I was 21. My family isn't really close, but he lived his mother. He didn't get along well with my mother. He was always just that half-brother I have but never met. I went to visit my grandmother a couple years ago and he lives with her, so that was the first time.

8. I ran cross country & wrestled in high school. You wouldn't think I ran cross country if you look at me today. I used to love running and I still do, but taking the first step onto the street is the hardest to do. I probably run a few times a month.

9. I went to New York for the first time ever last month. I grew up in the Dallas, Texas area and didn't really travel as a kid. I made it up there just a couple weeks ago, it was wonderful. I got to see all the touristy stuff and spent too much money. I had a free hotel certificate that was about to expire so, I had to use it, right?

10. I am kinda friends with Dennis Pitta from the Baltimore Ravens. It’s a kinda because I know him through church. We played basketball together and went to some of the same events. His wife even gave my wife a ride to a doctor’s appointment once (we just have one car). We don’t really just hang out though, so you can determine how close we are.

11. I love to read self-improvement & business books. I just read a stand-up comedy book, a blog writing book, and a writing book in the last couple of months. I love marketing and entrepreneurship books. My favorite is Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It gave me the courage to start my window cleaning company. It will really makes you think about making money and business.

Questions from Zimmy and Potato Head

1. If you could only have one thing with you on a deserted island? What would it be?

My Wife, of course.

2. Do you have a plan to make blogging your full time job?

I don’t know, I’m just enjoying the ride for the moment. It’s a fun hobby for now.

3. Do you constantly stare at a webmaster tool (such as Woopra) that shows your hits in real time?

No I can wait until Google Analytics tells me the following day.

4. Do you have a bucket list? If so, what is your most important item on the list?

I don’t have a bucket list, but I would really love to go to China and attend a table tennis training camp.

5. If you were in The Shawshank Redemption would you be Morgan Freeman or Tim Robbins?

Tim Robbins because I was chess club president (see above).

6. What is your favorite sitcom of all time?

Fraiser, he made me laugh, cry, and laugh some more. 

7. What is your favorite dessert that you know you shouldn't eat?

Oreos, I don’t buy it often because when I do the whole thing will be gone within two days.

8. Are you a Saturday Night Live or Mad TV kind of person?

Saturday Night Live, Mad is a little too absurd to me.

9. What is a fun night out on the town for you?

Laser tag, bowling, miniature golf. Any activities I can do with my wife.

10. Have you ever allowed anyone to buy you a drink?

Nope, I don’t drink.

11. Are you a dog or a cat person?

Dog, because they care.


Questions for nominees

1. What is your favorite movie?

2. If you had a super power what would it be?

3. What’s the worst thing you've ever eaten?

4. What will be your next technology purchase?

5. What is your favorite show?

6. Would you rather have no teeth or no arms?

7. What’s your favorite televisions show of all time?

8. Why do you blog?

9. What was the last book you read?

10. What’s the funnest trip your taken?

11. If you friends had to describe you in 1 word what would it be?

The Nominees Are:

1. JoshuaBrown

2.This Healthy Budget

3. Aspiring Blogger

4. Double Debt Single Women

5. Common Cents Wealth



 
 
Parking Spot

It’s really hard to write the check to pay our taxes every year, but the consequences are dire, you could lose your parking spots. A man in Boston lost his two parking spots after it was taken by the IRS due to back taxes. I was surprised to see that the IRS was auctioning them. I thought they were busy making Star Trek videos and hunting conservative.

The parking spots went for $560,000 to a woman who owned a multimillion dollar home not far from the spots. She didn't expect the bidding to go quite so high. It’s hard to believe that millionaires spend so much on a parking space. The median price of a single-family home in Massachusetts is $313,000 the price difference between costs per square foot must be amazing. Maybe I could get a job carrying in their groceries.

In large cities some real estate agents specialize in parking spots. I want that job, it sounds like the easiest one in the world. Showings would only take 5 minutes

“Well here it is. Black top, yellow strips.”

                “Do you have pavement with white lines?”

“Sorry, all sold out.”

3 tips for avoiding buying things we really shouldn’t

1. Hold yourself accountable by confiding in a friend with good money habits.

If you tell a friend with good money habits they are likely to call you out when you are making poor decisions. Most of us take our friend’s honest advice seriously. If you really trust your friend you might be willing to give them access to your mint account. Just knowing that someone is looking out for you is often enough to make you think twice about making a purchase.

2. Evaluate who you are hanging out with.

If your friends are encouraging you to spend, then it might be a good idea to start saying encouraging them to do more frugal things. Have a game night, go to the park, or stay in and watch a movie. If they call to go to the mall, restaurant, or out for drinks, you might have to pass.

3. Sleep on it

If you are tempted to make a big purchase it might be a good idea not to attend an auction. They are designed to get you engaged in the moment and spend more then you planned. The same could be said of a pushy sales person, or a family member asking for you to co-sign.

What do spend a little more on than the average person?

From around the Web
 
 
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Can’t Keep Up? 3 Ways to Simplify your Financial Life

I wake up at 7AM most weekdays. I shower, eat cereal, and then hit the road. I work the 8 to 10 hours, because I need the cash and then return home. What I do after that depends on my priorities. I wonder if I should wrestle with the kids, help my wife with dinner, or maybe if I really want to waste some time I’ll write a blog post.

1. Contraction for clarity

Contraction isn’t only for labor and delivery, it also applies to personal finance. You can have anything you want as long as you make it a goal and then plan for success.  When I was a kid I wanted to be a ninja turtle, I wanted to own a caste, I wanted to marry Ariel from the little mermaid, she was one smokin’ hot red head. Well I soon realized that if I wanted to accomplish my goals I had to narrow my list to a few concrete goals, and be a little more realistic. Limit your list of goals to 3-5.  I was sad to find out I couldn’t become a turtle and toxic waste was more likely to kill me than give me turtle power. 

2. Time is on your side…

Unless you’re old, then you might need to make some more severe steps to obtain your goals. Don’t lose hope, just think of Susan Boyle:

Narrow Bridge Finance gives some sweet tips for those 40 year olds that are trying to come to grips with retirement:

   How to Start Retirement Savings in Your 40s

If you’re young, your investment can grow to a nice nest egg, and compounding interest is your golden goose.

Read more about compounding interest here via my friend BrokeMillennial 

   An Impassioned Plea for Understanding Compound Interest

No matter how old you are it’s important to get started today.

3. Just Do It

Just do it is a motto for life, not for crappy shoes (asics for life). Action is the real motivator, once you take a small step towards your goals it will feel so good, you’d swear the feeling is as good as a Cookies ‘n Cream Blizzard. Make a commitment to set up a savings account and put $5 into it. It will feel awesome! You can tell your friends “oh I opened a savings account for my daughter’s college today.” Don’t tell them there’s only $5 in it though. Setup automatic transfers into the account and you will feel so good that you got started and you won’t even feel it leaving the account. Just having it will motivate you to put a little more into it as you re-evaluate priorities in the future. I use Ameritrade because their fees are straight forward, they have a bunch of Commission Free ETFS, and they have 24 hour customer support. So if you can’t afford a therapist you have someone to talk to.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and it’s All Small Stuff

I know your goals might seem grand, and grand ideas can be scary. Just remember to not sweat it, you’ll spend less on deodorant and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Perfection is a pathway toward failure, be okay with taking small steps and you will be surprised and the progress you make.
What's on your short list of goals?

or 

Who was your crush as a kid?

Help from the Web

A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish by Untemplater


A little motivation for your financial goals by DINKS Finance 


A New Month, a New Set of Priorities by The Financial Blogger


Also thanks for participating in the $25 giveaway.  I really appreciate all follows and tweets.


Lauren Bee was the winner.
 
 
Justin Beiber attended game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. I think the Heat might want their hat back.

If you are trying to develop a passionate cult following of teenagers, or if you are trying to get a girl of a Selena Gomez caliber, Justin’s Style could be your key. Warning: if you are over 20 years old this style could be a bad choice.

Dress like a Millionaire

In Hollywood, it seems like all the stars look good 100% of the time. There are a couple of disadvantages that the average person has when hitting the town. One is the professional stylist. The other is a million dollar bank account. Justin’s net worth is $110 million. Everyone wants to be someone’s baby, baby, baby, oooh. So I thought it would be great to help you get tricked out for less.

7 Beiber Styles for Less

1. We have to start off our outfit with this awesome leather shirt. A steal of a deal for $21.99. Leather Shirt
Just Beiber at the Heat Game
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2. Everyone knows that the one thing that all rock starts must have is a pair of leather pants. These pant do get a bit hot so if you get sweety you could end up like Ross. $24.18 Leather Pants

3. If you want to get a sweet cat tattoo without the pain or long term consequences, I suggest a temporary tiger tattoo. This one will get the girl all the bad guys want. $3.29 Cat Tattoo
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4. What is the one classic item that lets you know, you’ve made it? The gold watch of course. It’s a terrible waste of money to get the real thing, so here’s a less then real gold watch for only $35.99. Gold Watch

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5. A trademark of successful hip hop artists in the 21st century is Jesus Pendant. I found this one for just $34.95. I’m sure Jesus would approve. Jesus Pendant

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6. To get the full Bieber effect you must have Justin’s signature sunglasses and for only $10.00 it’s a steal. Sunglasses
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7. Last but not least, you need the latest sports appeal for a hot team. There isn’t anyone currently hotter than the Miami heat with Lebron, Wade, and Company. $29.99 Miami Heat Hat
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If you were worth $110 million how would you dress?

 
 

I know this isn't very frugal, but I wanted to give away a $25 Gift Card

+1 To follow me on twitter
+1 To tweet  the give away (daily entry available)
Nothing Mandatory 

Winner Update Lauren Bee

Thank you everyone for your tweets and follows on twitter. 
 
 

What to do if you budget didn’t work out well

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Too Much Detail

I am an accountant and love the details, sometimes too much. This was a real problem when I first setup my budget I wanted to break apart all my transactions to make sure they were categorized just perfectly. I realized that I would have dozens of categories and having that many categories wasn’t helping me be more frugal. So I recommend starting out with these simple categories:

     Simple Categories:

     Housing (Rent or Mortgage)

    Transportation (Car Payment, Gas, Insurance, Repairs)

    Food (Anything purchased at a grocery store)

   Savings (All savings)                

   Miscellaneous (Everything else) 

Taking up too much time

The key to making a budget work for you is to be consistent. The best way to stick with it long-term is to spend just a short amount of time working on it. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes on the budget at one time. I know when I would originally would put my budgets together I would spend hours setting it up and re-evaluating it. I felt exhausted when I was completing it that I didn’t take any action steps to actually solve my financial problems.

Don’t Cut Spending 

Cutting spending is unrealistic. When people set a budget they tell themselves this is all I’m going to spend on this category and I won’t go over my limit. This might help if you are very excessive spending, but most people probably believe that they are pretty frugal. I think the goal should be to seek alternative opportunities to spend.

 I used to eat out once or twice a month and realized that was too much. I started to think about why I like eating out and determine that it just tastes better. I started to spend more money on buying some nicer things to eat at home. If I just said, I’m not going to eat out anymore, I might have had some short term savings, but it’s a life style I was not prepared to live. 

Tackle one area at a time

Since you are only spending 20 minutes on your budget you should only be tackling one area at a time. Think about your housing, maybe you could get a roommate, maybe move, or rent a room as a storage unit. Think about groceries, maybe buy a cheaper brand, eat everything on shelves, or go shopping less often. Small frugal step can make a huge difference.

Take a deep breath and get back on the horse

If you have fallen off track take a deep breath. No one is perfect just getting back on the horse.
 
 
So your family or friend asked “Will you co-sign for me?” What should you do? Here a few things to consider:
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Ask yourself why your friend is coming to you.

Are they young and have no credit history? Are they borrowing more money than their credit will allow them? Are they having a difficult time financially?

I know most people feel pressure to say yes and sign on the dotted line, but your need to stop and think. If they can’t get a loan through traditional means there is probably a good reason. Co-signing could damage your relationship, damage your finances and damage their finances. You need to consider what you’re signing onto when you co-sign. 


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What are you on the hook for?

Co-Signing a loan means you are on the hook for the debt. You also don’t have ownership of the asset. You get all the baggage without the reward.

Some people believe that because they are the co-signer the lender won’t bother them. You would be wrong. The lender will go after whoever is more likely to pay the debt, aka, You.

It will harm your credit if they miss a payment and this can create problems for your credit score. The additional loans will show up on your credit report and lender might not take the risk if it appears like you have a lot of debt out on your name.

You should realize that their credit is already bad and your friendship is the most compelling reason to make payments on time. Your friendship might be strong, but it often can’t fix their personal financial habits. If you co-sign mentally prepare yourself to take on the financial burden the additional debt will have on your life.

What you should say

Personally I can’t think of a good reason to co-sign for someone. There are so many options that are more likely to fix the underlying problems. Whether that means cutting back on expenses, looking for alternative financing, buying used, saving, looking for lower cost options or just doing without.  

I am more interested in helping people achieve what they need through frugal methods. There are numerous options for funding a college education, obtaining housing, and getting transportation. You might need to be creative to develop a sound plan, but they are all possible.

I think the best response you can have when someone asks you to be their co-signer is to say no, but you’d be willing to help them navigate their situation. More debt will often add to their problems, not solve them. Spending a few hours researching the internet, brainstorming solutions, and making phone calls can show them you care about them and help get you closer to creating a sustainable solution.

My experience

My bad experience with co-signing took place during college. My mother needed a car and with the help of the car person convinced me to be her co-signer. I knew she had poor personal finance skills and that this car would make her budget too tight. After a year she stopped making payments. I had to fly home from college to get the car, made three months of back payments, my credit had been hurt, and I was now completely responsible for the remaining debt. I shouldn’t have co-signed. Looking bad I would take my advice and spent some time getting her rides where she needed to go, searched craigslist or a cheap car, or analyzed if she could have done without one. It would have been better for me and for her if I had said no and tried to help.


 
 

I have been using Ally online bank for about a year now, and I couldn't love them more.

First I'll start with the disadvantage just to get it out of the way. It's kind of difficult to deposit money orders, or checks from people with bad handwriting. I would say that depositing checks is very easy with their mobile app.

Okay so the reason I love it. The mobile app works very well for depositing checks and bill pay. Their website is very simple and it comes with all the same conscience as a normal bank, bill pay, viewing activity, viewing cleared checks, it works with mint.

I also love the customer service, you get through to an English speaking person pronto. Also when I tried to add my wife to the account I couldn't complete it on the first try. They called me a day later to ask if there was any way they could help. Did you get that? They called me. I was very Impressed. Anytime I call they are able to resolve it without a run around to other departments.

I also take money out of any ATM without fear of fees. They don't charge for ATMs and they reimburse others ATM fees.

I also have a savings, a few CDs, and interest checking. All are free of charge and give a very competitive rate. The CD also have a very inexpensive early withdrawal fee, of 60 days of interest. All these accounts took me a few minutes on their website to setup. Transferring money to and from the account is free and easy through their website.

As you can see I really love this bank. This is my own opinion and I didn't receive anything, but good customer service for this review.