Hi! I’m Kyle, the Penny Hoarder.

I've got some creative ways to fix your budget.

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5 Weird Reasons You’re Still Broke & How to Fix Them…
Broken Budget

by - May 14, 2014 - 19 Comments

I’m sorry to say that I’ve always felt like most of the personal finance advice on the internet seems to be lacking in reality.

I love people like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, but the idea that cutting out Starbucks from my budget is going to magically make me a millionaire is ridiculous. When I was rolling pennies to pay my rent, you can bet your ass I wasn’t thinking about Starbucks.

I’ve since fixed my broken budget and I’m well on my way to saving for a prosperous retirement, but I didn’t get there with the normal financial advice out thereHere are the 5 weird reasons I was broke and how you can keep from making the same mistake…

1. Your Money is Too Accessible

There was a time when I sucked at managing money so much that I had to hide my savings from myself. How’s that for will power?

And I know I’m not alone here.

I had a decent job, but it seemed that every time I would get a little extra in my checking account, I’d promptly buy something ridiculous. (“Why, yes I do need to order that “Perfect Bacon Bowl” contraption I saw on last night’s infomercial” or “I guess I should go ahead and buy these jeans. The sale ends on Sunday, after all” ). Ridiculous.

If you want to try hiding money from yourself, one of the best ways to do it is with a CD (certificate of deposit). You can head to your local bank or use an online institution like GE Capital which is offering a pretty awesome 2.23% interest rate right now. Even if you don’t have a big savings account, you should still lock away a few bucks for a rainy day.

 

Frozen Credit Card

2. You’ve Cut Up Your Credit Cards or Frozen Them

Alright, so I’ve tried the old “freeze your credit card in an ice block” trick. I’ll save you some time — it doesn’t work. At least not for me. Unlike the CD trick, I found my money was just too accessible in the freezer.

It didn’t take too long before I had an ice pick and a hair dryer beating down on that thing so I could make it to Target before they closed.

Sad? Yes, it was. But, I’ve also realized that it was kind of stupid.

You see, my credit card is an awesome source of extra income. I have the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard (an easy card to get) which gives me 2 points for every dollar worth of groceries, gas and utilities that I put on the card. Plus, 1 points for every other dollar. And the points can be converted to real cash (1000 points = $10).

Consider that the average family spends $1024.70/month on groceries, $368/month on gasoline and $163/month on utilities. Just those purchase alone add up to an extra $31.11 every month. So, by freezing my credit card in an ice block I was effectively reducing my take-home pay by $373/year, at a minimum. That’s just dumb.

Yes, you can’t use credit card frivolously, but you should be using it for the purchases you have to make and then you should pay it off at the end of every month.

 

3. You’re Working Too Many Jobs

I know a lot of our readers are working 2 or 3 jobs and still aren’t able to make ends meet. You’re not alone.

Instead of focusing on how to find a 4th or 5th job, start thinking about ways to boost income passively. Income that doesn’t require you to work a ton of additional hours.

Obviously most types of passive income require you to have a huge investment, but there are also little things you can do to make money.

One of my favorites is the Media Research Panel smartphone app.  If you install their app on your smartphone or tablet, they will pay you $5/month per device (their app helps media companies track how long were spending on Facebook/Twitter, among other things). And you can install the app on up to 3 devices. Plus they’ll send you a $5 bonus after the 12th week.

This is one of those things that takes about 15 minutes to set up and then you never have to think about it again. You just get to cash the check every month. All told this can add up to an extra $185/year.

Another good one is the ScreenPay app. This one is only for Android users, but they will pay you $3 month to let them display an ad on your lock screen. Who couldn’t use an extra $36 this year for 5 minutes of work?

 

coupons4. You’re Clipping Coupons the Wrong Way

Yes,  you should absolutely be clipping coupons to save money on your groceries. But, if you’re clipping coupons out of the newspaper, I guarantee you, you’re doing it wrong.

In the last couple of years, higher value coupons have moved online. A lot of times you can find the same newspaper coupons for double the value online.

And, if you join a site like SendEarnings or InboxDollars, they’ll pay you extra every time you download and use a coupon. I’ve made an extra $32 this year just by downloading my coupons from those sites.

 

5. You’re Too Frugal.

When I was at the height of my own personal financial crisis, I seemed to be always thinking about how to save a buck. I canceled my cable. I turned off the air conditioner (In Florida. I kid you not). I’d even take extra ketchup packets from McDonalds to keep in the fridge.

Some of it was necessary, but overall it was demoralizing. I spent all of my time thinking about ways to sacrifice and deny myself. And inevitably, I’d end up cracking and splurging $200 on new video games at Best Buy to ease my depression.

I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of us that could stand to ‘cut’ back a bit, but I think a healthier model would be to spend 50% of your financial thinking time on ways you can save money and 50% of your financial thinking time coming up with ways you can earn MORE money.

For some reason, so many people forget to think about the other side of the ledger. You need to make more money if you’re every going to get your budget under control.

Try taking a couple of surveys each month. I’d check out Ipsos PanelMySurvey. They are the two best survey sites, and if you sign up for both, you should easily make an extra $15-$30/month (most surveys pay between $3-$4 each for 20 minutes of your time). Heck, sometimes I fill them out while I’m watching Netflix.

Or become an Avon Rep. Try mystery shopping. Or join the Nielsen Panel. Just do something to bring in a little extra income.

If you don’t like those ideas, take a peak around the site. There are plenty of ideas on how to bring in some extra cash. Here are some of my favorites:

How to Make $750/Month Selling Used Books

Get Paid $50 to Write a Guest Post

What’s in Your Fridge? Get Paid to Share…

How to Make an Extra $50/week Working for Amazon.com

How to Get Paid $200/month Testing Websites

So, there you have it. Those are some of the crazy things I did to fix my budget.

Your Turn: Do you have any weird tricks to save more money? 


 

  • someone

    the pathetic irony behind this article…theyre talking about being frugal and spending habits, yet with all these products placement ur bound to spend money. like the app that pays 3 dollars a month just to show advertisements on ur screen??!!! so u can be coaxed into wasting ur money buying a product u see on it. nice try though

  • joachimStenvold

    5 reasons why you are broke in the US.

    Not all parts of the world has coupons.
    And it has just started a while back in Norway that Coop has sent coupons to their customers.

    In Norway you don’t need 4 jobs to pay your bills or to have food on a plate.
    Lots out of the 5million + people in Norway use the NAV system. By being sick or by being lazy you can just “nav-e” to get some money to pay rent and for the most important stuff like food.

  • Bradleydanielelliot

    its being humiliated in Norway city, how lots of peoples are surviving over there?

    • joachimStenvold

      Norway is a country, not a city :P
      Norway is in Europe.
      Neighbours are Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia.

  • disqus_DOhoCki17X

    Silly article…. I know loads of people who complain about being broke and they have a new car, Cable and a cell phone…. Witht eh new car they can’t seem to get it in there heads that it is not just the payment that sucks cash. They seem to ignore, gas, Insurance, registration, taxes, and basic maintenance… They bought the $30,000 car when their budget was for a $15,000 one. Then there is the Cable and Cell Phone bills which can add up to close to or over $3000 a year…. They have grown up with these things and think they are necessities… Ya know ya cannot fix stupid…

    • kld2009

      Not to mention the CD. I call it certificate of depreciation. If inflation is 4%, what do you think your money is doing for you at 2%. It’s helping the bank though when someone borrows at 6%. You just got pimp with your own money.

  • http://antoniosreviews.siterubix.com Antonios

    Many of the offfers are for US residents only, so that other people don’t waste their time registration for offers that then they aren’t eligible for, please inform which are US only, and which are international. Thank you.

  • Zhang bao zhen

    The truth is,Bankers are stealing your money when you are trying to save it.unless the Wall Street no longer exist,you’ll still broke.

    • NYyankeeboi

      Yup, the Wall Street casino is ripping everyone off..

  • Tina Bakalis

    If you want to save money and earn UNLIMITED CASH BACK on things you’re already purchasing online, from those same retailers, go to http://www.shop.com/gr8savings. Free preferred customer status, they don’t sell your name, and you deal directly with the 4000+ partner stores using whatever reward points, special coupon codes, perks they offer you. Plus if you are on http://www.shop.com/gr8savings and not using safari, you can download their version of shopbuddy, which will populate thousands of coupon codes daily. IT MAKES YOU SAVE MONEY. And that’s just the cashback…. it will compare 50,000,000 products on the site so you always get the best deals. Last year I saved probably $2000.00 and earned $200.00 cash back, pretty passively. Just saying….

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  • Steven

    Executive summary: The AUTHOR has ZERO financial discipline. Therefore, financial discipline doesn’t exist. Therefore, it you ACTUALLY have financial discipline, you are lying to yourself, and that is why you are poor.

    If you are using coupons, I guarantee you are buying the WRONG products. You can get IDENTICAL products without the name brands for LESS than the name brands after using the coupons.

    • Elizabeth

      “If you are using coupons, I guarantee you are buying the WRONG products. You can get IDENTICAL products without the name brands for LESS than the name brands after using the coupons.”

      Not true for me. Every week I get the name brand products for much cheaper than generic because of the coupons I use. One of the products we use A LOT of is vinegar, both for household cleaning and cooking/pickling. The name brand is about $4 a gallon, while the store brand is about $3.50. The store brand never goes on sale, but the name brand does AND often has coupons. Last week, I got 4 gallons of vinegar for less than the cost of 1 gallon of the store brand. The name brand was BOGO (buy one get one), and I had a store coupon for $0.75 off one bottle and a manufacturer’s coupon for $0.75 off a bottle. I bought 4 gallons ($8) minus 4 store coupons (4X 0.75 = $3) and 4 manufacturer coupons (4X .75= $3). My total for all 4 bottles? $2, which is $1.50 less than ONE gallon of the store brand.

      People who coupon on a regular basis get deals like this ALL THE TIME. Now, when I can’t score big on something I need, I’ll buy generic, but 80-90% of the time, I can get it much cheaper with a little planning and coupons.

      • Steven

        You are shopping at the wrong store, and overpaying for BOTH brand name AND store brand. 99% of the time, you can’t get the same price on brand name coupons as you can on generics without coupons at stores that aren’t ripping you off.

  • Joe Hans

    I agree. Sacrificing a Starbucks isn’t going to make you rich. However, it you were to forego a daily $5 latte for two years and invested it at a 10% ROI compounded, it from age 20 to 65 the latte ‘cost’ you over $200,000.

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