Welcome to The Simple Nickle!

Clueless about your money? Do you want financial security, but don't know where to start?

The Simple Nickle is a free web-based program to help you easily understand and control your finances in less than 15 minutes a day! We'll guide you step-by-step; it's as easy as checking your email! We'll also give you easy-to-understand financial education starting with the most basic aspects.

Ways to Save Money: Beauty and Fashion

This post was featured at Diary of 1 and Save Money.

If beauty is only skin deep, why does it reach so deeply into our wallets? Although beauty products, attractive clothing, and other fashion items are necessary expenditures (goodness knows we don't want to look all the time the way we do first thing in the morning!), there are ways to save money on them. Try these suggestions and starting keeping your cash today:

  • Give up the salon shampoo and conditioner. These products are specifically marketed to make you think you can't have luxurious hair without them...and they are priced to match. Try some of the more inexpensive knock-offs; Suave has a great line of products modeled after salon goods called Suave Professionals. They're excellent, for a fraction of the price. If you still long for those products, compromise by changing just your shampoo to a more affordable brand. If you absolutely can't give them up, buy your salon products online for big savings. Potential savings: $15-$54 per year.

  • Color your own hair. If you color your hair regularly and you're serious about saving some money, this is a great way to do it. At-home hair color kits have come a long way, and they are easy to use. Better still, consider going back to your natural color and skip the coloring all together; you'll save money and time. If you absolutely can't give up getting your hair done professionally, think about switching to a more affordable salon. Potential savings: $264-$1152 per year.

  • Get rid of your gym pass. Alright, time to 'fess up! You haven't used that gym pass nearly as much as you thought you would (or at all, ha!). Cancel your pass and exercise on the cheap: go running or walking outside, rent aerobics or yoga videos, or create your own workout right in your living room. If you can't cancel your pass, try selling it through craigslist.com, or perhaps to a friend who thinks they are going to use it (ha, again!). If you absolutely can't give up fitness classes or gym time, consider joining the community fitness center for a less expensive workout. Potential savings: $240-$360 per year.

  • Buy one less article of clothing this month, and pass on the designer clothing. It's easy to pick up a new clothing item here and there, but the receipts will really start to add up. Each month, try buying one item less than you ususally do, and the savings will add up as well. For the fashionistas out there, skip the designer clothes completely and look for similar trends at affordable prices. If you absolutely can't give up your designer fashions, try bagborroworsteal.com for the latest fashions at a much better price. Potential savings: $120-$4800 per year.

  • Give up doing your nails professionally. With a manicure needing a touch-up every 3-4 weeks, getting your nails done by a professional can be a money-consuming habit. Going au naturel will save you loads of cash. If you absolutely can't give up getting your nails done, try switching to a less expensive salon. Potential savings: $180-$595 per year.

  • Use at-home sunless tanners. Like hair color kits, sunless tanning lotions have come a long way from their humble beginnings. You can get a great tan right at home, and save yourself time and money by skipping the salon. Sunless tanners are also easier on your skin in the long run. Potential savings: $240-$960 per year.

Beauty and fashion doesn't have to cost you a bundle. With a little sacrifice--or compromise--you are well on your way to saving some money, and looking good while you do it.

Today's Two Cents:

The National Retail Federation expects 2007 holiday sales to increase four percent to $474.5 billion.

What is Interest? A Story of Grasshopper and Wise Master

This post was featured at The Digerati Life.

People who understand interest earn it; they don't pay it. If you want to save more money and make more money, you've got to understand interest. Interest is what you pay to borrow money, or what is paid to you if someone borrows your money. Remember it like this: if you lend someone your money, you have an 'interest' in that money, so you charge them interest to use it.

Interest is how your money works for you. In other words, it's how your money makes money for you. "What?!" you say. "How can my money work for me? I'm the one who has to work to get money!" Ah, not always so, young grasshopper. Read on, and you will see.

Interest is usually discussed in terms of the interest rate. This is a percentage of the money you borrowed or lended, and it's the amount charged for using that money. For example, Wise Master lends Grasshopper $100. Because it's his money and he can't use it while he's lending it, Wise Master charges Grasshopper a 10% interest rate. Because Grasshopper needs the money and doesn't have $100 of his own, he agrees to pay 10% of what he's borrowed back to Wise Master. So, when he repays the $100, Grasshopper will also pay Wise Master $10 more, or 10% of the amount borrowed.

See how simple it is? You are becoming wise already.

In our example, Wise Master's money was working for him. He used his $100 to earn $10 dollars more, without him doing a thing. Since his money was working for him, Wise Master was able to go do something else during the time it would take him to earn $10; he could work more, take a nap, or spend time educating more kung-fu students.
On the other hand, Grasshopper lost money because he had to pay interest, and he won't get that $10 back (unless he used the $100 he borrowed to make money in another way, but that is a different subject for another time).

Places where we pay interest and lose money include car loans, credit cards, mortgages, some college loans, and payday loans(those vile things!).

Places where we earn interest and make money are savings accounts, some checking accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit(CDs), savings bonds, and others.

It's easy to see that the more you can do to earn interest on your money, the better. The more you can do to not pay interest, the better. Take this knowledge, young grasshopper, and apply it to your money. In time, you, too, will be a Wise Master.

How To Curb Impulse Buying

This post was featured at I've Paid For This Twice Already and Pajama Mommy Community.

You're cruising through the mall, picking up a few needed items, when you see a huge red 'Sale!' banner at your favorite shoe store. There, as you pass the window, are a pair of shoes that stop you in your tracks. You're not at the mall to buy shoes, and you certainly don't need that $60 hit to your wallet, but you tell yourself, 'These shoes are so cute. I have to have them!' With that, you whisk into the store and purchase the shoes. You have just gotten sucked into an impulse buy.

An impulse buy is a purchase you did not plan to make, but made anyway. Why do we impulse buy? Two words: instant gratification. Yes, we impulse buy because a part of us never made it past the age of two and we have to have it now. It is purely emotional. After you purchase on impulse, you may feel elation and giddiness, but then often feel guilt and remorse. In fact, many impulse purchases are regretted later on. That's right; you probably didn't even want the item in the first place.

Okay, okay...so we know that impulse buying is something we want to curb or stop doing altogether. But how? Try these ideas:
  • Don't carry cash. If it's not in your wallet, you can't spend it
  • Before you leave to go shopping, verbally tell yourself, 'I'm am not going to buy anything I don't need.' Then, respect yourself and keep your promise!
  • If you find yourself about to make a purchase, put the item back, walk around for 10 minutes, and then ask yourself again if you should buy it.
  • Sleep on it. Instead of making the purchase right then, go home and come back the next day, if you still want to buy it (This is also good advice when buying big ticket items, whether planned or on impulse).
  • If you tend to impulse buy when you are with your friends, don't shop together! Instead, go for walks, make lunch, visit museums, etc.
Our final and best suggestion is a rather ironic solution: plan your impulse buys. The problem with the above suggestions is that you still feel deprived of the wanted item. Try this: plan to purchase something that you would normally buy on impulse (a piece of clothing, lunch, new makeup, etc). Write it on the calendar sometime in the future. For example, 'Monday, January 7th: buy new shoes.' This way, you can avoid impulse buys, knowing you will be buying it soon, and you also have something to look forward to. It's like expecting a birthday! Curbing your impulse buys will save you clutter, guilt, and best of all, money.