Saving Money

September 30

How to Make Money Inaccessible to Yourself

Posted by on September 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Make Money Inaccessible to Yourself

Are you always wondering why there’s literally no money left at the end of the month to put away for savings?

For most of us, it’s because we have a hard time keeping money in our pockets and always find it burning that proverbial hole. If you are one of those people — where no matter what you do you always seem to be spending money — this is the article for you.

Some people need to put their credit card in their freezer or get their spouse to put them on an allowance because their spending habits are so out of control that if they got a hold of money, they’d send their family budgets into a tailspin.

Below are techniques meant to hide your money from yourself, so you don’t become your own worst financial enemy:

Go Cash Only and Cash Restricted

Research shows that the physical act of getting cash out of your wallet causes people to think about what they are doing and causes us to instinctively spend less than we would when we can’t see a transaction taking place, like through debit or those new Interac Flash systems. According to Investopedia, people spend 12-18% more when they use credit and debit cards over cash.

The key thought for those addicted to spending is to only take out a certain amount of money for the week and if that’s gone before the end of the week, it’s gone and you can’t go back to the ATM. You also should leave your ATM and credit cards at home and if you don’t trust yourself with cash either, give control of your wallet to someone else you trust and make it their responsibility to only give you a certain amount of money and keep your wallet away from you if you ask for more.

Set Up a Separate Bank Account that’s Hard to Get To

In his book A Million Bucks by 30, Alan Corey suggests setting up a separate account for savings that you can automatically send money to, but is really hard to get to and take money out. He recommends choosing a bank account that’s an actual long distance from your home (say, 30 to 50 miles from your home).

Also, you should make sure that you don’t tie a debit card or cheques to the account, so that in order to take money out, you actually have to go to your bank every time. Basically, you’re just making it ridiculously annoying for you to actually go out and get that money so you won’t be tempted. It also makes it easier for you to forget about it to the point where the apocalypse would have to happen for you to need to take money out.

Use Investment Tools and their Penalties

Many investment tools for long-term savings carry steep penalties if you take money out early. Depending on the financial institution, there may be a $25 penalty for withdrawing frequently from a Tax-Free Savings Account. The first withdrawal is generally free, however. If you are connecting your TFSA to another investment tool, such as a GIC you are beholden the rules that govern that investment apparatus.

“Generally, the more access you have to your money, the lower the rate you will receive. Some GICs are cashable, and others are not redeemable at all. Some offer early redemption with a penalty,” reads an article about GICs on BalanceJunkie.com.

When you’re trying to make money harder to get to, nothing is a better motivator than a financial penalty, so use that to your advantage. Also, with GICs you get a higher rate for growth the more you limit your access to your money and the less liquid your cash is.

Transfer Small Amounts of Money into Savings Instead of a Lump Sum

Most financial experts and institutions encourage us to automate a lump sum cash transfer into our savings account once a month, but for most of us, this is doomed to fail.

I don’t know about you, but for me this makes managing my savings feel too much like a bill. Plus, if you don’t have the money one month, you’re going to worry and have anxiety about it. You might even cancel it anyway, since that’s so easy to do. Plus, what if you’re short on a bill that month and you could’ve used that money?

Instead of going with the monthly lump sum, personal finance blog TheBirdie.com recommends transferring smaller, weekly increments into your savings account. For example, $10, $20, or $50 – whatever you can spare that would be about the cost of a night out. This way, you can build a nice little nest egg and you won’t miss it or worry about it because you won’t even see it. Maybe you’ll even think you already spent it somewhere else and it’ll be so rewarding to look later and see that the money is actually still there. Very life affirming.

Photo credit: Duckie Monster

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September 28

How to Save Money on Life Insurance

Posted by on September 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Life Insurance

The very first thing that will put you on the road to saving money on life insurance is determining how much life insurance you actually need and what you need it for.

There’s nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on an annual permanent insurance premium and only needing coverage until your kids leave the nest. Conversely, you don’t want to pay the high renewal premium for a term insurance plan, when you need life insurance to offset the tax on your estate or to insure your business in the event of your death.

Both of these mistakes will do the opposite of saving you money on life insurance and end up costing you in the long run. But there are ways to keep costs down when buying life insurance and we’ve asked Lorne Marr, founder of LSM Insurance in Markham, Ontario, to tell us how to do that. You might want to start with LSM’s Needs Analysis Calculator, which will help you determine how much life insurance you’ll actually need.

Stop Smoking

If you’re not a non-smoker already, Marr suggests you quit right away especially if you’re looking to buy life insurance sometime soon.

“The savings on premiums can be up to 60% on term policies, especially with younger people,” he says.

There is less of a variance on permanent policies for non-smokers, but it’s still a significant savings as a non-smoker because the policy is for life.

Ask About Preferred Rates

“If you are in very good health and have a very good family health history, you’ll probably qualify for preferred rates and that can save you about 30% above the standard rate,” confirms Marr.

About a third of life insurance applicants can get preferred rates. Remember though, it’s not just concerning your health, but your family’s health as well.

“You don’t have to be an Olympian,” elaborates Marr, “But you can’t have high blood-pressure or be on any medication.”

Ask About Banding Discounts

In your needs analysis, maybe you came up with a figure that was $480,000 worth of coverage. Well, if you round-up to $500,000, you’re likely to get a bit of a discount.

“You’re better off going with $500,000 because insurance companies have banding discounts, meaning the higher amount of coverage, the lower the cost per thousand,” assures Marr. “This means the coverage could actually cost you less than $480,000 worth of coverage.”

He recommends rounding up to the next $100,000 if the amount of insurance you need is close to a banding level.

Give Up Dangerous Activities and Habits

Another way to increase your discount and reduce your life insurance cost is to take Marr’s advice and cease all high-risk sports, such as bungee jumping, scuba diving or skydiving.

“Take those things up after you’ve qualified for life insurance,” suggests Marr, but it doesn’t end there.

“Drugs, alcohol and even dangerous driving — like a lot of speeding tickets — can all add up to a higher premium,” he continues.

It may be a couple of years before your previous lifestyle no longer affects your standing with the life insurance company, but Marr says that the longer the period of stability, the better off you are.

“If you’re a former alcoholic, [the insurance company] will want a stability period of about three years before your premiums can return to standard rates and if the stability period is longer than 10 years, your former lifestyle will have almost no impact on your premiums at all.”

See an Independent Broker

You can save a considerable coin if you work with an independent broker who can sell policies from many insurance companies, as opposed to a captive agent who only represents one insurance company and can only sell their products.

“A captive agent only works with one company generally and because that agent is captive and can’t shop around, the company can charge a higher premium,” says Marr. “When a broker is independent, generally the insurance company will offer a lower premium because if their rates aren’t competitive, the broker could go with another company.”

Brokers offer another advantage as well. Companies underwrite particular medical conditions differently from one another, so a broker can shop around and find a company that will underwrite a condition such as diabetes in the most favourable way.

Do a Preliminary Inquiry If You’re Hard to Insure

If you get declined for life insurance, you will negatively impact your future insurability and limit your policy options. So, if you’re a person who would be difficult to insure due to recent health problems and you suspect that you wouldn’t qualify for traditional life insurance, ask your broker to do a Preliminary Inquiry.

“A Preliminary Inquiry is when an insurance broker asks an insurance company informally whether you’d qualify for life insurance based on your health history, lifestyle and age without giving your name,” says Marr. “If it looks like you’re going to be declined for a traditional policy, then you’ll want to go with a simplified issue policy.”

A simplified issue policy is a policy with an application that has no medical tests and only a few health questions that you must be answer “NO” to. The barrier for entry is much lower with these policies.

“But if you’re declined, you’ll be disqualified from a lot of the simplified issue policies, which you’ll want to get because the face amounts are larger and the premiums are less expensive than guaranteed issue policies, which have no health questions and no medical tests.

“A Preliminary Inquiry is not a firm offer, but it will give you an idea whether you’ll be declined and you’ll know, if that is the case, there’s no point in submitting a traditional life insurance application,” says Marr. “You can then start to look for other life insurance options like guaranteed or simplified issue polices.”

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD

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September 27

Pinching Pennies With Cheap Homemade Meals: Volume 1

Posted by on September 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Pinching Pennies With Cheap Homemade Meals: Volume 1

Budgeting. Saving money. Spending only what you need to spend. We hear these phrases often spouted by both informed experts and those who simply repeat things that they hear, but it is very important – especially when you have the responsibility of paying a mortgage or when you need to save up enough money for rent every month.

When you’re trying to save up some extra cash for a big purchase, whether it’s a new vehicle, the down payment for a home, or even a nice vacation, you’ll need to refer to the first 10 words of this article: Budgeting. Saving money. Spending only what you need to spend.

It may seem like a challenge at first, but it is possible. For the past 5 years, I’ve essentially been a freelancer. As those that have experience in freelancing know, you really won’t have a stable income – some months can be really lucrative, while others can be exceptionally slow.

Thankfully, though it took a few months to fully grasp and adjust to when I just started freelancing, I learned to embrace frugality, and I plan to extol some of the many virtues I’ve learned along my journey in these Saving Money articles on Bargainmoose.

There are many ways that you can save money during your day to day routines, but I’ll be focusing on pinching pennies with cheap homemade meals today. When some people think of affordable homemade meals, they may automatically think of an all-oatmeal diet, or having cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That really isn’t the case at all – in fact, you may be surprised to learn about some of the delicious servings that you can prep while saving a decent amount of money!

For example, let’s look at the situation that happens when you go to work each day. By the time you get home after a long day at your workplace, you’re tired, exhausted, and maybe even slightly cranky. Either way, your main priority at this time is to plop down unto your couch, relax, and finally take it easy.

This is why fast food can be so convenient – when you’re at your workplace and you’re just too exhausted after your shift to prepare a lunch for the next day, all you have to do is place an order at a Subway, McDonald’s, or any other restaurant that’s near your workplace. The same can be said after you come home after working all day – you may feel too tired to prepare something, so you decide to eat at a restaurant, or order some take–out. The problem with this scenario is that it can really amass a huge bill by the end of the month (especially when the average personal disposable income for Canadians was US $26,888 in 2013). It also doesn’t help that sodium in Canadian restaurant foods are “alarmingly highaccording to this CBC article.

Preparing a lunch for your next day at work can be a bit of a challenge after a long day at the office, but it doesn’t have to be. You can save some of your hard – earned cash, while eating a little healthier as well. I’ve included some of my favourite go–to meals that I make during the week below:

Macaroni and cheese with green peppers – Rough cost: $1.50 – 2.00

This may sound like a very basic meal, but it’s actually very tasty and satisfying! I know macaroni can be fairly carb–heavy, but it’s good to have this every once in a while (I usually have it roughly once a week).

I simply make the macaroni by using my oven’s stove top, and while I’m waiting for the water to boil, I chop up some green peppers and I put them on a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and Italian seasoning. After everything’s ready, I drain the macaroni, I mix the green peppers with them, and I finally add the cheese sauce, butter, and milk into it (I actually use olive oil as a replacement for the butter, but I know most people prefer to have butter in their macaroni and cheese).

This is a simple meal that doesn’t require too much time or effort. If you see a sale on mac & cheese at a grocery store, stock up on a few so you can save even more money! Just check out your weekly flyers to find out when they’re on sale – there have been times when I’ve gotten Kraft Dinner 12 packs for the equivalent of $0.33 a pack!

Spinach salad with tuna – Rough Cost: $1.00 – 1.25

This healthy meal is quick enough to prepare after a long day at work, and if you’re a fan of tuna, you may even grow to love it like I do!

Years ago, I hated tuna. Just couldn’t stand it. After trying it out in a few pasta dishes that I made for myself (I was low on meaty ingredients), I started to appreciate it. Now, I typically have a tuna – related meal at least 4 times a week.

All you need to do is get a cheap bag of spinach at your local grocery store, add a can of tuna (drain it first), and maybe even add some parmesan cheese or salad dressing for flavour. You can even add some cucumbers or croutons to make it even more interesting!

It’s cheap, healthy (depending on the ingredients that you add to it), and it can really help give you that boost of energy that you’re looking for in the middle of a long day.

In my next edition of Pinching Pennies With Cheap Homemade Meals, I’ll delve into even more of the vastly affordable yet surprisingly tasty meals that I have throughout the week. If there are any affordable yet delicious meals that you love to have on a regular basis, feel free to mention them in the comments below!

Photo credit: Robyn Lee

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September 26

Save Money on Banking

Posted by on September 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Banking

Without us knowing, banking fees can really eat up our monthly and annual budget.  According to Canadian Living, Canadians spend an average of $185 a year on banking fees, which is more than the average family spends on going out to the movies ($171).  Now, wouldn’t you rather watch double the big screen flicks and spend less money (or hopefully zero money) on banking?

Personally I would rather watch more movies on the big screen or spend that money with something more purposeful than giving money to the bank.

Apparently, most people do not realize that they do not have unlimited banking transactions.  A lot of us do not review or understand our current banking package (I know I don’t, to be honest- I don’t know exactly how many transactions I am allowed but I know that I don’t go over the allotted amount).

Stick To Your Own and Visit the ATM Less Often

By stick to your own, I mean using ATM’s that are your bank.  Every time you go to another bank’s ATM machine you get dinged at least $3-5 for your being disloyal.  These fees add up over time and really break your monthly budget (unnecessarily, I might add).   Also, if you are charged each time you use the ATM, a very simple way to reduce your banking fees is to visit the ATM less often.  Financial Plan agrees, visit the ATM less often to save money.  Personally, I only go to the ATM every two weeks when I get my paycheque.  I use my credit card for most things and carry very little cash with me.

Avoid the Teller Like the Plague

Although the tellers and customer service representatives are really nice and friendly, using them to withdraw your money may necessitate unnecessary service charges to your account.  In this case, unlike MacDonalds fast food restaurants, smiles are NOT free at the bank (well not usually anyways)!  I personally do not go to the teller for anything unless absolutely necessary, like ordering a money order or getting a bank draft or something.

Minimum Balance It

Of course, at a lot of banking institutions if you keep a minimum balance in the primary account they will reimburse your monthly banking fee.  I see that they reimburse my fee each month otherwise, it will cost me $9.95 each month for the banking package I have.  If you are strapped for cash, you can also use your minimum balance amount as a form of emergency savings too.  This will motivate you to try and keep the minimum amount (usually $2000 to $3000) in your account.  If you do need to dip into it you will be motivated to save your money so you don’t have to pay the monthly fee again.

Try No-Fee Banking

Finally, one very easy way to eliminate all chance for cost and all chance for going “over” your budget for banking (e.g., making too many ATM withdrawals) is to go to a no-fee banking account.  This comprehensive websites by nofeebanking.ca has a great list of no-fee chequing accounts and no-fee savings accounts that will not cost you a dime.  One of the most popular ones is the President’s Choice Financial banking account and also the Tangerine (previously ING Direct) Thrive Chequing account.  The great thing about both of these accounts is that you can use the ATM’s of big banks like CIBC for example (for PC Financial).

Personally, I think that saving money on your monthly banking fees and expenses is one of the easier things to do to reduce your monthly budget.  It may take a little bit of time (for example, switching to a no fee provider such as President’s Choice Financial would entail you filling another direct deposit form at work and switching any other automated payments) but it is well worth it in the long run.  And you will only have to think about it once.

If you’re interested in looking at other ways to save money on banking, check out last year’s post on saving money by avoiding banking fees for more tips on how to save money on your banking budget.

Bargainmoosers, do you pay for your banking?  How do you save money on your banking fees?

Photo credit: Billy Wilson

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September 25

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

Posted by on September 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

If you ask anyone that has kids what the one thing you need in your home is, I bet they would say storage.  I know I would.  There are tons of stores that sell great products for storage but it can get quite pricey.  I have a bunch of old dresser drawers in the garage so I decided to look online at some ideas on how to change them into something for storage and I found some great ideas. Not only are these ideas practically free because I already have the drawers, they will get junk out of my garage as well!

1. Jewelry Holder

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

I found this idea from Living Home and just fell in love with it.  Add some extra knobs onto a drawer and make it into a hanging jewelry holder. This is so simple to do and is practically free.

2. Ottoman

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

Now this idea is a bit different because it is not storage.  It will save you a lot of money though.  Add some batting and some paint and some fabric and you will have an inexpensive ottoman for your living room.  The instructions can be found at Beyond The Picket Fence.

3. Shadow Box Storage

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

I would have never though to hang the drawers on my wall and use them as shadow boxes!  This would work best if you had a few of them.  You can either paint them or add wallpaper to freshen up the look like they did on This Old House.

4. Toy Chest

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

This idea from Home Talk is pretty cute for any child’s bedroom. Just add some legs to a large drawer and you have an instant toy chest!  They can store stuffed animals, figurines, Lego and many more items.  It looks great and keeps the toys off the floor.

5. Plant Stand

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

This is such a cute idea from My Love 2 Create for some outside storage. The directions on how to do it are posted on the blog for you to follow.

6.Rolling Storage

6 Imaginative DIY Drawer Ideas

What a fabulous idea to just add some wheels to your drawers and use them for storage under beds.  You could put toys, books, clothing, bedding and anything you want in them. I found this idea at The Pink Porch.

What have you done with your old dresser drawers Moosers?

Photo credit: mistersnappy

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September 23

Money Saving Tips from a Grifter, Hustler and Con Man

Posted by on September 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Money Saving Tips from a Grifter, Hustler and Con Man

Forget the honest dollar, some people always have an angle, none more so then those who make their living on the other side of the tracks.

Sure, what they do may not exactly be legal, but that does not mean that they aren’t correct sometimes when it comes to their attitude about money and the way the world works. It’s for this reason that you can borrow a few things from the grifters, hustlers and con men of the world. Particularly when it comes to their mentality around keeping money in their pocket.

After all, these slick, nefarious characters are experts at separating people from their money, but have you ever wondered how they keep the money they “earn” once they have it? The magic of any con is to not take your money by force, but to do it through persuasion. To make you think that you’re in control of the situation and that handing over your money is your idea.

Unlike taking things by force, it takes very little effort on the part of the con man to get what he wants So, if that person can get money in a way that makes you volunteer it because you want to, then he must be just as effective at holding onto his cash once he has it, right? Read on to find out:

Don’t Carry Baggage

In this capitalist society we live in, so much stock is put in possessions and things that spending seems to be out of control. According to Huffington Post, household debt is poised to hit a record high by the end of 2014 at $28,853.

But grifters and con men aren’t held down by material possessions. In a 2009 article from Men’s Journal, “What I learned from My Father the Grifter,” Pat Jordan writes that his father Patrick Michael Jordan (born Pasquale Michele Giordano, or Patsy, as most people called him) didn’t believe in “things.”

“There were no mementos in our house. No things from the past that had been passed down from one generation to the next,” Jordan wrote. Jordan’s father did not keep or save anything because he saw all that as baggage from his past. As he’d always say, “Baggage caused you to miss the next train out…baggage held you back.”

Of course, you probably won’t go to the extremes that Patsy did and eliminate all physical trace of your past and use everything you have for only its necessity, but we could probably all take Patsy’s advice a little bit and divest ourselves of our things and clutter that’s holding us back. Part of that also means not acquiring more things and tying our self-worth to them and as we all know, the less you acquire, the less you spend and the more you save.

Be Skeptical of Institutions

Patsy also did not trust institutions. Perhaps it was because he spent his childhood in an orphanage, but he told his son that there was nothing hinky taking place at the orphanage itself. He just didn’t trust them. He called life insurance, “blackmail, like a protection racket.” He never invested in the stock market, never had a credit card and never put his money in a bank because, as his son put it:

“He believed only in the cash in his hand and in his ability, his wits, to make more money out of that cash, or maybe lose it all, he didn’t care, as long as he didn’t entrust that money to forces and people beyond his control.”

Obviously, investments, credit cards and bank accounts are useful tools, but everything has its place and if there is anything the lemmings among us can learn from Patsy and other hustlers, it’s to not trust our entire financial future to a third party. The 2008 recession should’ve told Americans that no bank is too big to fail and Pasty’s lesson underscores that if you want something done right, you still should do it mostly yourself.

Too many people simply hand over their financial future to a financial advisor in it for the commission. If Patsy’s habits can be applied at all, we recommend doing your homework before trusting your money to anyone and try to know as much as your financial or insurance advisors before they try and sell you something you may not actually want or need.

Don’t Live Beyond Your Means and Give What You Can

While Patsy may have come by his money dishonestly, he never spent it on himself. Instead, he spoiled his family while he wore simple outfits to fool the “suckers” into thinking he was just an absent-minded professor.

“My father always dressed shabby Ivy League, like an absentminded professor, which was part of his con. His cronies even called him “Ivy League,” wrote Jordan. The only time Patsy spent money on himself was “every 20 years or so to buy a new navy blazer with brass buttons from J. Press Clothiers in New Haven.”

The rest of the time, he showered it on his family, taking them out to dinner every Sunday night, buying his wife mink coats and his son professional baseball gloves. They never wanted for anything and if his son ever needed money, forget the piggy bank, all he had to do was ask his father. Yep, Patsy spread his money around — always slipping the Maitre ‘ D some cash or making the coatcheck girl’s day with a c-note.

Sure, do that enough, as cavalierly as he did, and saving money will be the last thing you’ll be doing. Still, if you look deeper, Patsy had a point. If you live within or below your means as he did, you’ll be able to afford to treat the people you love to something nice every so often. Although, you probably don’t want to go about it exactly like Patsy did:

“It was a lesson he had learned in the orphanage: You make people happy by giving them what they want. And if you are lucky, they give you back a crust of affection,” wrote his son.

“For my father, love was to be conned out of people by his wits.”

Photo credit: Jose Manuel Rios Vallente

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September 21

The Pros and Cons of the Share Economy

Posted by on September 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

The Pros and Cons of the Share Economy

Recently, we did an article surveying what’s out there in the share economy and detailing how you can save money by taking advantage of services from TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber, Elance and more.

While it is certainly true that you can save money and time with these websites, there is a bit of a dark side to the share economy that everyone should be aware of before wading into these new waters. Bargainmoose is all about saving money, but sometimes you need to use caution when doing so and its important to get the full picture.

With that in mind, we present the advantages and disadvantages of the share economy. This list will hopefully mean you’ll always know what you’re getting into with this new way of making and spending money.

Pro

Freedom and Flexibility

These two tenants are often touted as reasons to become a tasker on TaskRabbit or to complete a job on Elance and they are very true. Working any job as part of the share economy largely means you can set your own hours and work with who you want, when you want — all while setting your schedule from the comfort of home. Plus, the extra money you earn can be put towards your own financial freedom.

Con

Unpredictable Wages at Unpredictable Hours

Along with that freedom and flexibility comes unpredictability. No one should try to make a living solely on gigs garnered from the share economy because often the wages are a mere pittance compared to what a worker would get for the same service if they worked for a professional company. This is because bidders often undercutting each other with bids well below minimum wage. In a recent New York Times article, author Natasha Singer pointed out that those with no stable full-time job are turning to the share economy and trying to cobble together some semblance of an income without much success.

“They often work seven-day weeks, trying to assemble a living wage from a series of one-off gigs. They have little recourse when the services for which they are on call change their business models or pay rates. To reduce the risks, many workers toggle among multiple services.”

One economist source told Singer: “If you did the calculations, many of these people would be earning less than minimum wage. You are getting people to self-exploit in ways we have regulations in place to prevent.”

Pro

Insurance and Peer-Review

One of the great things about the share economy is that most sites like TaskRabbit and RelayRides offer insurance to protect you against damage or theft when someone else is driving your car or inside your home doing a chore. Perhaps more integral to even the necessary insurance in the shared economy is the peer-review system that ranks and reviews tenants, guests, taskers, drivers and more after they do a job or stay in your home. Those who do well get recommended, promoted to the most viewed parts of the site and get more jobs or offers, while those who end up providing a bad experience are harshly reviewed and ostracized by their peers on the site. It’s the number one homegrown system of checks and balances in the share economy.

Con

The Share Economy is Largely Unregulated

Across North America the share economy means that millions are renting out their homes like hotels or using their cars as taxi cabs and still these practices remain largely unregulated, but lawmakers in the U.S. are trying to change that.

This particularly true in larger urban centres like New York City and Chicago. In New York, legislators are trying to regulate the operations of Airbnb by charging their in violation of New York’s Illegal Hotel Law, which makes it illegal for New Yorkers to rent out their homes for fewer than 30 days unless the resident is living in the apartment at the time. Car-Sharing service Lyft was also banned in New York for what regulators called “disruptive” and “personally dishonest” business practices.

Of course, these regulations look like they’re just in place to protect already entrenched industries like hotels and taxis, but Micah Lasher, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Chief of Staff, told Freakonomics Radio that regulating the share economy actually protects people.

“One of the big issues is the question of externalities and external impacts. In other words, if my next-door neighbour is using their apartment as a hotel room, they’re not just running a risk of their apartment getting trashed, they’re having an impact on me. Similarly, in the case of Lyft, if one of those drivers gets into a car accident, doesn’t have appropriate insurance, that can have an impact on a whole bunch of folks who did not sign up for that.”

Pro

The Democratization of Luxury Services

One of the best things about the share economy is that services previously reserved for high class individuals like chauffeur services, maid services and professional consultation services are now available and affordable to the masses. Plus, now anyone can do them. If you have initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit, you to can be a hotelier by renting out your home for a few days or a taxi cab driver by driving people around in your car. In the past, it used to be that these services were only available to those who could afford it, but now these services are available from regular people at a variety of price points – most of them affordable to the average person. These services used to be extras reserved for special occasions, but now they could be affordable enough to be enjoyed on a regular basis.

Con

Limited Safety and Corporate Oversight

Whenever you’re sharing your personal belongings like your car and your home with a stranger you just met online, the question of safety is always an issue, especially for women. Sites like CouchSurfing.com offer safety tips, but many of the companies in the share economy put the onus on you, the individual user, to keep yourself safe and take very little responsibility for your safety as a business. For example, these companies could make background checks of participants mandatory instead of optional if they wanted to.

According to an article on Sharable.net, When a female Air BnB user identifying herself as EJ found her home ransacked and identity stolen by a renter named DJ, she noted that even though AirBnb responded swiftly and appropriately after the fact, (despite not having a 24-hour emergency helpline and not responding until 14 hours later) they made it difficult to research her potential tenant until the reservation was bought and paid for. She wrote the following in a blog post detailing her ordeal:

“By hindering my ability to research the person who will rent my home, there is an implication that airbnb.com has already done the research for me, and has eliminated the investigative work that Craigslist requires. In effect, the friendly, community-based site with its Golden Rules creates a reasonable expectation that some basic screening of its users has occurred, and speaks little to the risks involved, primarily within the very small print of the lengthy Terms of Service. Thus by the time this reservation was confirmed and I was given Dj’s email address and phone number, I was on a plane heading East, and he/she was armed with my welcoming instructions on where to pick up the keys to my apartment.”

Photo credit: Alex:

Moose Rating (1 votes)
September 19

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

Posted by on September 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

In a recent survey, the average woman spends over $700 a year on hair cuts and hair maintenance (not including shampoo and conditioner or other hair products) alone.  I personally consider my hair routine low maintenance.  I have long hair and get it cut twice a year along with highlights twice a year.  Usually this sets me back around $500 a year.  The hair cut and highlight usually costs me around $200 after tax and tip at the salon I was going to for a long time.  With the haircut being around $60+ for a simple haircut and the highlights being over $100+ the average cost was around $200 each time I went.  That is why I was only able to go twice a year because I refuse to spend more than $500 a year on my hair.

Since then, I have changed what I do for my hair and things are much more simpler and less costly with frankly, not too much difference.  I know that hair loyalty is important, but if you don’t find that your hair stylist is being innovative, or if you do not have as much loyalty as you thought you did, it might be a good idea to think about jumping ship and doing something different with your hair to save a few hundred dollars.

Here are a few ways for you to save money on your next hair cut:

Try a Student

One surefire way to save money on your next haircut is to look for the beauty schools in your city and inquire when the next hair cut is.  They will have discounted hair cuts but with brand name salons.  Oftentimes the hair stylist teacher will be present so the chances of the student making a mistake is quite minimal.

Use Groupon or the Daily Deal Sites to your Advantage

Recently, this is how I save money on my hair cuts.  I check out Groupon or other daily deal sites for my hair salon ghat I am a favourite of.  The price of a cut and colour can often be at least 50% off from the usual price.  This allows me to go to hair salons that I would not normally go to because of the reduced price.  So instead of the $200 cut and colour (highlight), I pay about $100 less than what I would normally pay.

Go on Craigslist

If you are flexible, have time in your schedule (especially during the day) and want a new style and are open to different ideas, check out Craiglist and look for salons who are looking for hair models.  Oftentimes the students need to do a hair cutting technique that needs a cooperative model, such as a hair bob.  I think this is a great idea for those who are open to new hair styles and want a free haircut.  The only downside is that the meetings are during the day and you have to be agreeable to basically the hair cut they are trying to do for that day (which is often a bob style cut or a pixie cut).

Get a Blowout Instead

Moneycrashers suggests that most people who feel like they need a new style or some change can try having a blow out from their stylist instead of getting their hair cut.  Blow outs are significantly less costly and can give a sense of newness and change without the prices of a hair cut and colour.

Find a Freelancer

A few years ago I used to go to a freelance hair stylist who worked out of her own home.  I was able to skip the salon price (the middle person, really) and have a cheaper cut and colour that way.  It was a great win-win situation.  MSN Money agrees with the idea of seeking out a freelancer.

I have personally tried pretty much all of these ideas with the exception of getting a blow out instead of a hair cut and all of these have worked well for me to reduce my cost from $500 a year for haircuts to approximately half that amount and frankly, there isn’t much difference in my hair style and colour.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your hair cuts?

Photo credit: Gemma Bou

Moose Rating (2 votes)
September 18

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

Posted by on September 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

I have already started going through my fall and winter clothing with the cooler weather fast approaching and I have noticed something.  I have way too many sweaters that I never wear or are outdated or don’t fit anymore.  Sometimes I donate old clothing, sometimes I give it away to friends and family, but this time I wanted to see if I could tap into my creative side and do something with these sweaters.  I could not believe the fun ideas I came across for old sweaters.

I actually came across hundreds of ideas as to what to do with old sweaters so I picked out the top six that I found the most useful and the easiest to do.  Not everyone is the craftiest person and these six ideas are something anyone and everyone can do.

1. Make Mittens

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This idea is most likely the easiest one I have found.  All you have to do is trace your hands onto your sweater and cut out the mitten shapes then sew it together. How simple is that!  This idea can be found at PinLaVie.

2. Make Leg Warmers

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This legwarmer (or faux leg warmer) can be found over at Listotic.  You can make either a full legwarmer or just a faux one to go under a cute pair of boots.  These leg warmers tend to cost a lot in stores so making one yourself is a great option.

3. Make Christmas Stockings

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

I am a huge Christmas nut so this crafty idea is right up my alley.  You can take any old sweater and make it into a beautiful stocking to hang on the chimney. This idea can be found on Extraordinary Day.

4. Make a Quilt

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This is one of the harder re-purpose ideas to do but not impossible for the non crafty person.  With this idea, you can take a few different sweaters and make a giant quilt.  You can use your kids baby sweaters for a personal touch and more of a memory quilt which is a great idea as well. Check out Newly Mynted for the design.

5. Make a Pillow

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

Making a pillow is much the same idea as the quilt but a lot easier and less sweaters.  This particular style of pillow can be found displayed on Infarrantly Creative but there are a ton of different designs if you want to check out Pinterest.

6. Make a Purse or a Bag

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

What woman doesn’t love purses and bags, especially when they are free!  This is such a great idea to take an old sweater and fashion it into a great bag.  One design you can use can be found on the blog Duwop Designs.

What do you do with your old sweaters Moosers?

(Main image credit to TheUglySweaterShop)

Moose Rating (4 votes)
September 15

Does Buying in Bulk Save Money?

Posted by on September 15, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Does Buying in Bulk Save Money?

We’re constantly told by big box stores like Costco and Walmart that buying in bulk will save us money, but is that really true or just clever marketing-speak?  Well, Bargainmoose Canada has always wondered that too, so we took it upon ourselves to investigate and we found that yes, buying in bulk can save you money, but it’s not a forgone conclusion that it will.  To make sure you don’t misstep on your quest to keep as many dollars as you can in your pocket, we’ve laid out this checklist of dos and don’ts to maximize your savings when buying in bulk.

 Do

Take advantage of sales and coupons – If it’s possible to stack coupons, (use multiple copies of the same coupon on one item or use different coupons that both apply to the same item) do so on bulk items the moment they go on sale. This way, you’re able to reduce the price your paying per item as far as it will go. Make sure you present your coupons before you pay. Also, make sure that the sales don’t have a limit and that the coupons can be combined with other offers.

Figure out the price per unit – The only way you’ll know for sure if you’re truly saving money is if the price per unit is favourable and you should only buy in bulk when the price per unit is low. A unit is an actual measurable amount or quantity of whatever you’re buying. All you need to do to figure out this crucial piece of information is to divide the cost of the item by the quantity. A reporter for CBN.com found that for the right price per unit you could save up to 31% by buying bulk at American big box store Sam’s Club. Think about it, saving 20 cents on a bowl of cereal or a can of soup may not sound like much, but, as CBN points out, it can amount to a savings of $208 a year for a family of four who eats cereal everyday.

Make sure you have the storage – There’s no point buying in bulk if you don’t have the storage to keep the many items you buy or if it will cost you more to store the item than you’ll save by buying it in bulk. If you do have the storage though, make sure you rotate the stock and check the dates on perishable items so that you’ll be able to eat them before they go bad. Remember, even canned goods have dates on them. If you’re storing things in the freezer, make sure you date them, so the older food gets eaten first and always separate the perishable items from the non-perishable ones. If you find an item you simply can’t pass up thanks to the price, but you don’t have enough room to store it, why not split it up between friends so that you can use it faster and you’re also able to share the wealth. For more tips on organizing your stockpile, see this Bargainmoose article from a few years back.

Don’t

Don’t buy an item in bulk that you’ve never used or had before – What if you buy lots of garbage bags in bulk, but every bag rips? What if a particular soap irritates your skin and what if that new foodstuff you thought sounded so good, tasted like dirt? Now, imagine buying those craptacular items in bulk and inadvertently sentencing yourself to having to use them for the next few months or worse, the next few years. This is why you should never buy items in bulk that you’ve never tried before and made sure they are what you really want. Anything else is just a waste of money.

Don’t bulk binge – When people start exploring the wonders of bulk buying, they usually can’t help, but go hog wild and buy everything they need in bulk in one trip. This is a good way to spend yourself to the poor house. Instead, Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar recommends raising your grocery supply budget by 25% and using that extra 25% to by some bulk items when they go on sale. Eventually, your stockpile will mean you don’t need that 25% increase anymore and when you do buy more, you’ll simply be refilling your supply or taking advantage of the best discounts available, which means the grocery budget will be even better than before you started because you’ll be buying fewer items way less often.

Don’t let your bulk stores get too scarce – Even a stockpile of bulk items can run out and suddenly, you may find yourself taking an emergency shopping trip and dropping lots of money to refill your stores when it’s not advantageous economically to do so. Instead of having to scramble at the last minute, when you see you’re running low on a particular item, start looking for sales, deals and discounts for that item. Some items go faster than others, so a good rule of thumb is making sure your good for the next month on every item you have. If you have too much of something, you can always donate it to friends or the local food bank.

 More bang for your bulk!

Follow these simple dos and don’ts and you’ll never get ripped off or overspend when buying bulk items. There’s a fine line between marketing and money saving so be smart and strategic about your bulk purchases.

Photo credit: Jonathan Dueck

Moose Rating (2 votes)
September 11

Pay Yourself First vs. Save What is Leftover

Posted by on September 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Pay Yourself First vs. Save What is Leftover

When it comes to personal money management, there are two main ways to save money, the traditional stalwart of Saving What’s Leftover and the newer method you’ll read many personal finance experts recommending – Pay Yourself First.

They usually explain how each method is done: Saving What’s Leftover requires you to wait until the end of the month, after you’ve paid all your bills and expenses, to save what’s leftover. Paying Yourself First means exactly that – putting money away at the beginning of the month when all your income is still in your account and you have not had to spend the money on bills yet.

What they do not tell you is which savings method is better, so trust Bargainmoose to settle this burning question so you don’t have to.

Saving What’s Leftover Takes Discipline

People have been saving the money left over after expenses for years — it is a common method for building a nest egg. The problem is, saving what is leftover takes discipline. Not many people have the self-control necessary to make sure there is actually anything left in their account at the end of the month. Our capitalist, consumer driven society plies us with too many temptations to spend our money on and there are always so many unexpected expenses that crop up that often you look at your balance sheet at month’s end and see a big fat zero, as all your money has been spent.

Paying Yourself First Makes Saving Your First Priority

Paying Yourself First changes your savings from a luxury to a necessity and calculates it as the first ‘expense’ you pay, thus ensuring that you do put aside money each month. It is a much more realistic strategy for growing your savings, according to Dan Sutton, managing editor of MoneySense Magazine. He says:

When things are automatically channeled away on payday, you’re less likely to miss or spend the money

Such a strategy also forces you to cut expenditures that are more frivolous in order to keep your savings growing when your budget is a little tighter. You can make sure the money goes into your account automatically, so you do not even have to think about doing it. All you need to do is tell your employer to take a certain amount off your pay cheque for your RRSP or transfer a designated amount into a high interest savings account every month. Some banks will even automatically transfer money from your chequing account to your savings account each month.

There is No Law against Doing Both

If you are super gung-ho about saving money and you consistently have money leftover at the end of every month anyway, why not employ both strategies to maximize your savings? Sutton recommends paying yourself first with whatever amount you can afford (perhaps $100 a month) and then, if there is any money left over, just sweep the remainder into a High Interest Savings Account.

Remember, it’s Your Money

Paying yourself first also makes logical sense as well as financial sense because you should remind yourself why you go to work every day. After all, you are not earning money for someone else – your money is yours. So, you should always make sure you get your money before anyone else gets it. This is why paying yourself first makes more sense than saving what’s leftover. However, you should avoid at all costs carrying a credit card debit. It does not make sense to pay 19.99% interest on the money you owe someone while only making a couple percent interest on the money you are saving. Pay off your debit first, and then start building a nest egg.

It’s Easier to Get Rich If You Pay Yourself First

It’s very hard to save and plan when there’s no guarantee that there will be any money at the end of the month to put away. But when a certain amount of money is deducted from your monthly income automatically, you’re basically saving money in your sleep. Think about it, if you have $200 from each of your biweekly paycheques deducted and put into your investment account from the time you are 25 to when you are 65 – you will have $1 million. You can get to $1 million with only 7% return on investment, according to MyMoneyCoach.ca. This means the average person can become a millionaire with this strategy without winning the lottery and with a little sacrifice when it comes to spending. With diligence, it is possible and all you have to do is arrange one automatic money transfer every so often.

Pay Yourself First Wins!

Everyone wants to make money in their sleep and when you pay yourself first, you ensure that process actually gets done. If you just save what is leftover, you are counting on leftover money that will not always be there. Money management can be stressful, so making a nest egg your first priority when you are paid instead of your last priority will help reduce the stress and ensure that your savings continues to grow even during the more difficult months.

Moose Rating (1 votes)
September 5

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Posted by on September 5, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Paying monthly for Internet can be costly, and these days it is becoming more and more of a utility, or need, rather than a ‘want’.  The big Internet service providers in Canada, like Rogers, Telus, Shaw, and Bell have a big hold on the pricing of the monthly Internet fee that you pay.  Canadians pay an average of $45 per month on Internet (according to Financial Post).  When you add taxes and fees that adds up to well over $50 a month.  Some people pay even more for this for fast Internet, Internet “25″ (high speed Internet that I use) starts at $65 a month regular price and on promotion sometimes you can get it for $35 a month.

If you are just paying for Internet (no cable) it is easy to say, switch to an alternative Internet Service Provider to save money, however, this is easier said than done.  We are all attached to the security that well-known companies such as Telus and Shaw give us, and we pay for the around the clock (or more reliable at least) customer service.  I am one of these people as well.  I have always used either Shaw or Telus Internet here on the west coast.  Although a foray into the alternative Internet Service Providers is alluring, I have found a way to continue to pay reasonable prices for Internet without having to go to an alternate Internet Service Provider.  If I am forced to pay a lot of money for Internet then I will probably switch one day.

So, if you are interested in saving money on your Internet bill, here’s how. It just takes a bit of organization, polite manners, some research, and a phone call.

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

I have been paying $30 for my Internet “25″ regularly.

First, find out how much you pay for your Internet and what your speed is.  You can find this information out easily by looking at your bill.

Second, find out if you are on contract or not.  Here in western Canada, Shaw and Telus pride themselves on not tying their clients down to contracts.  So I am not in a contract and this allows me to stop or cancel service on my whim and whenever I want.

Third, look for promotional pricing.  For example, both companies are having a promotion for Internet “25″ for $30 for the first six months.  Sometimes I find that they have more promotional pricing closer to the September season when it is time for students to go back to school.

Fourth, call the company you are with and ask to cancel your subscription to their Internet (you have to do this close to the period that your promotional pricing ENDS).  Keep organized, jot it down, write it in your calendar.  I personally set a reminder to myself on my iPhone.  Call them within one week of your promotional pricing expiry (please note that your Internet usually will be in service one month after your billing date).

Fifth, be nice, polite, your pricing is really at your CSR’s (customer service representative) mercy.  The more polite (but perhaps assertive) you are, the more they will accommodate your needs.  It’s easier to catch flies with honey right?  Tell them that *the other company* has promotional pricing and you would like to cancel your Internet and switch to the other company.

At this point, the CSR usually offers you a deal to match the price of the other company for the same duration (e.g. 6 months).  You should not have to sign a contract or anything.

Write the new date in your calendar or set a new reminder to yourself, and in about six months (sometimes three months), repeat steps 1 to 5 again and you are good to go!

Of course, it goes without saying that if you don’t have cable (I just subscribe to Netflix) you will save more money, however Internet by itself is usually more expensive than when in a bundle.  This strategy (making a phone call) should save you money so you do not have to pay for a bundle!

Bargainmoosers, how much do you pay for your Internet?  Do you have a bundle or do you just pay for Internet itself?

Photo credit: Stian Eikeland

Moose Rating (5 votes)
September 4

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

Posted by on September 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I love the idea of taking something that is old or broken and making it into something beautiful and useful again.  Something that a lot of people have replaced on their homes are doors.  Inside doors, outside doors, small and large doors and you never know what to do their the old junkie ones.  Instead of taking them to the dump (and actually paying to get rid of them) you can turn them into something awesome and useful.  We have six different ways you can take an old door and make it very useful again.  All of these ideas are inexpensive and fairly easy for the DIY Moosers.

1. Headboard

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This awesome idea is from Thepaperblog.com and you can find the instructions there.  This picture features two old doors side by side but you can also put on door horizontally as well.

2. Table

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

The picture above is of a coffee table but you could really make any type of table with a door. I love the idea of a kitchen table made from an old farm house door personally.  These table ideas can be found on Adoreyourplace.com.

3. Front Porch Swing

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I love this idea found on Huckleberryfurnitureblogspot.com. All you would need is some extra wood, some chains from your local hardware store and you could paint it anyhow you would like to match your house.  It also looks like they just used an old seat cushion from an outdoor recliner which is perfect!

4. Mudroom Picture Display

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I absolutely love this idea.  You don’t have to display your picture only in the mudroom or hallway like this but I do like the idea of adding hooks for some organization and storage.  This idea can be found on Adoreyourplace.com.

5. Bookshelf

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This is a great idea from Dishfunctionaldesigns@blogspot.ca. You can cut our the squares on the door and add some wood to it to make bookshelves.  It is very rustic and a great way to reuse an old door.

6.Garden Archway

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This idea from Hometalk.com is a pretty simple way of reusing a couple of old doors.  Throw some paint on them, add some trim and you have a beautiful garden archway. You could also use it for an outdoor wedding and then put it in your garden afterwards.

Have any of you Moosers tried some of these ideas?  Do you have any others you would like to share with us?

(Top image credit to Darko Kec)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 30

Save Money On Home Organization

Posted by on August 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Home Organization

The leaves are changing; fall is coming, and there’s nothing better to get you ready for the school year than a little bit of home organization.  Sometimes when we are not organized we end up spending more money because we can’t seem to find anything, feel more stressed, and accumulate more clutter.

Why is it important to organize your home?

First off, it’s important to organize your home in order to save money because you’ll be less inclined to buy duplicates. When we do not take stock of what we have, we are unaware of what we have, and then we end up buying more items and wasting money.

Apartment Therapy also suggests that when you organize your home, you’ll feel less clutter, you’ll feel more happy in your home, and ultimately you will feel less inclined to redecorate. It is this restless energy that comes from a cluttered home that may prompt people to redecorate and change things up.

Finally, Apartment Therapy also agrees that when you have a place for everything to go to, you will save time finding things (not to mention frustration). This frustration and stress is a cause of medical bills, sick time, and according to Life Hack, stress is a factor and cause in 80% of our medical bills, so it makes sense to reduce stress as much as possible.

Here are some ways to save money on home organization. Doing something to help you feel organized and allowing you to save money simultaneously? It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers can be created easily and probably provide one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ fixes in terms of home organization. After all, it is Murphy’s Law, things just naturally get messy in your drawer the more often you open and close it, right? According to HGTV, all you have to do is grab some strong cardboard or plastic, and divide it up. Alternatively, you could spend a little bit of money at the local dollar store to find some drawer dividers. Gone will be the days of mess and disorganization in your drawers!

If you’re hard pressed for time to make some drawer dividers, another thing that works well is using ice cube trays for small knick knacks that add clutter, such as rubber bands, paper clips etc.

Re-Use Jars with Lids

Who needs fancy Mason Jars? Premeditated Leftovers, a blog about natural and frugal living doesn’t think you need fancy mason jars to organize your home.  Just reuse the jars with lids that you have. Mayonnaise jars, food jars, pasta jars: they are free Mason jars in disguise. Besides, you are helping the planet by reducing and re-using.

Printable Organizing Lists

A Cultivated Nest (a great blog about inspiring frugal ideas for your home and garden) has a great list of ten printable organizers from other great blogs that will help you save money. Describing everything from a printable sales cycle planner, coupon binder pages to a monthly budget chart, this is a great post to keep bookmarked.

Cheap and Easy Organization Tips

Check out this post on A Cultivated Nest on inexpensive home organization ideas that can be easily implemented without having to spend a fortune on an expensive home organization place like The Container Store. One great example that I love is the cracker box container lid holder. It easily stores your Tupperware or Glad container lids and keeps them organized. One thing I would do is to cover it up with some wrapping paper or paint to make it more elegant looking.

I would personally love to see my home more organized than it currently is and I think that I need some shelf dividers and some more baskets to hold things, because I am finding my place a bit cluttered. I am a huge fan of the Ikea dish divider (I use it as a shelf for my clothes in my Expedit shelf) and plan to get more. Time to make a trip to Ikea!  Also, it is time for some late summer/early fall cleaning if you ask me.

Bargainmoosers, do you have ways in which you save money on home organization that you can share?

(banner image credit: Becky Wetherington)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
August 29

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Posted by on August 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

You know the old saying, “Two heads are better than one?” It has always been more true than not, which makes us think, what happens when you get three heads, four heads, five heads or more? Then you really could get things done.

That’s the magic of crowdsourcing. It’s soliciting services, goods, ideas and more from the brain trust of a large group of people and you can use it to save money through the following websites.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Fiverr

On Fiverr people with various skills, — writers, artists, graphic designers and more – tell you what they’re willing to do for a mere $5.00. As the potential customer you can see the seller’s rating, look at their average time frame from the job and decide if you want to make an offer. At only $5.00 a job it’s hard to go wrong, especially when professional creatives normally charge hundreds of dollars for some of the jobs on this site.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit allows you to outsource those necessary but menial tasks to people in your community, so you don’t have to do those things you don’t want to and can reserve your time for something more important. Simply post a task and TaskRabbit will show you their most professional taskers in your area for what you need done and what they charge per hour. Often, you’ll find that taskers offer cheaper rates for tasks like landscaping than a professional lawn care services even with the company’s own 20% service fee. Plus, its safe to trust your tasks to a stranger because every task is insured to $1 million and every tasker must follow TaskRabbit’s strict marketplace guidelines or risk being barred from ever working through the site.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

RelayRides

RelayRides takes the carpool to the next level by allowing regular people in your community to rent out their car for you to drive for as long as you book it. As a potential renter, all you have to do is pick the perfect car for you, make a reservation, pick up the keys from the owner, refill the tank, return the car at the scheduled time and review the experience. Car owners don’t have to worry because the car is insured by RelayRides while it’s in use. As a consumer, everything but gas is included and all prices and requirements are self-explanatory, so there are no surprises like there are when it comes to dealing with a rental company. On RelayRides, 24 hours with a 2010 Toyota Prius that traveled 150 miles cost $38.00, ($3.80 per mile) plus premium insurance protection for $15.20 for a grand total of $47.00. I have to say, that’s pretty reasonable.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Elance and Odesk

Like Fiverr and TaskRabbit, Elance and Odesk use crowdsourcing to help you get things done at a reasonable price. However, on Elance and Odesk you’re not buying a specific job or outsourcing a specific task, you’re hiring freelancers and those freelancers are applying for your job on spec. Of course, you’ll want to offer the lowest price possible, (hence, the money saving) but don’t undercut. Among the grossly unqualified applicants that do exist on these sites, there are some truly professional diamonds in the rough who know what a particular job is really worth, which means if you offer too little, you won’t get quality work from the people who truly know what they’re doing. We recommend doing a little research on typical industry rates for the position you are trying to fill, so the freelancer you hire is not insulted by the rate you offer and actually does the job to the best of their capabilities.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

99Designs

Say you want a logo, but you’re not a very good artist. No problem, at 99designs you simply write a description of what you want and your assignment gets turned into a design contest where you provide the prize money. The bigger the prize, the more designs you can choose from drawn by professional designers. As the designs come in, you can provide feedback on the designs you like, so they can be refined, but after seven days, you must pick a winner. Once you crown a champion, 99Designs gives out the prize money to the winning designer and you get your logo that you can use (copyright included) for whatever you want. It’s great for the consumer because you can get from 30 to 60 designs to choose from for relatively little effort on your part. Prices range from $299 for the Bronze Package of 30 designs to $1,199 for the Platinum Package of 60 designs from the best designers on the site. So, if you can afford it, 99Designs might be your best option for a professional illustration.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Airbnb

Perhaps the original destination for crowdsourced accommodation, Airbnb still makes it easy to rent a room in someone else’s house or apartment in most countries you could be traveling in. Cheaper than a hotel and, at its best, a more local perspective than you can get as a traditional tourist, Airbnb is still the go to for many who utilize the share economy.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

DesignCrowd

DesignCrowd works similarly to 99Designs without the design contest aspect. Instead you simply have access to a certain number of designs to choose from depending on the tiered pricing model you select. There is still that aspect of designers competing to win your business but it isn’t overtly modelled like a contest. Plus, as a Bargainmoose reader, you have access to an exclusive offer giving you access to 50 free designs within five days as soon as you post a project. Oh, and if you don’t like the designs, you receive your money back for the initial design package you purchased. Use the offer code BMEXCLUSIVE for this deal.

Final Thoughts

Before we conclude, it should be noted that as much as crowdsourcing could be cheaper for the consumer, it relies on a great deal of trust between the parties involved and some people aren’t going to want a stranger traipsing around their house or using their car no matter what safeguards are put in place. It should also be said that many of these sites that outsource jobs, while cheaper for the consumer, take advantage of the service provider by cheapening their skills and putting the economic bar so low that other professionals in the field are unable to compete or make a proper living. So, when you use services like Elance, Odesk and 99designs, think about what is fair, not just what is cheap.

(banner image credit: Dvya Thakur)

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