One of the best ways to save money in the long term is to learn how to say “no.” Saying no to spending can help you get your priorities in order, as well as keep your finances on the right track.

Some have trouble saying no to themselves, but many don’t have that issue at all. I fall into the latter category. It’s easy for me to say no to most material possessions because the comfort of seeing the money in the bank account far outweighs the benefit of seeing a shiny new toy in front of me. Still, the story changes when it comes to our kids. When I look into their earnest little faces, pleading with me to buy a toy or take them to the movies, it’s sometimes hard to tell them no.

However, the reality is that sometimes you have to. Here’s how to do it:
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It seems that every time you turn on a talk show or news program, an economist is making dire predictions because Americans aren’t saving enough. No one plans to live out their golden years as a Wal-Mart greeter, but with a large portion of the American workforce living from paycheck to paycheck, that might be the sad reality. The truth is that pretty much everyone — no matter how low-paying your job — can put money aside for a rainy day. Have you ever heard one of these excuses coming out of your own mouth? If so, take the time to really think about your money habits and budget. Your future self will thank you.
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I went to get the flu shot the other day, a trip I make once a year to keep not just me but those around me safer. And oh man I felt so sluggish afterward! I got the shot in the morning and I was only half functional for pretty much the rest of the day. The nurse said it’s normal to feel tired though and not something I needed to worry about. Luckily, I’m back to 100% now and everything seems to be a-ok.

This year, we changed where we got the flu shot. We found out that our county’s health agency offers the vaccine for free, so I saved $18 since we normally go to Costco and pay the fee.

The experience was great too. Unlike Costco where the pharmacists/nurse there are really young and inexperienced, the nurse at the health agency was really good at administering shots so it was quick and it didn’t hurt at all.

Plus, I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the pandemic but I made an appointment and was in and out of the place in 5 minutes.


What are you paying for that’s probably free?

Most people have health insurance through their work, and most plans cover the cost of basic vaccines like flu shots already so not many people are missing out on free vaccines. Still, there are plenty of other stuff people pay for regularly that are free.

For instance:
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When we built our home in 2004, we paid attention to the details we thought were important at the time. We found a floor plan we liked with the right number of bedrooms and an ample sized kitchen on a lot adjacent to a park. Unfortunately, we didn’t think a lot about how our needs would change over time. A lower level basement that had been the kids’ toy room when we first moved in now sits almost empty. That’s because the kid’s main source of entertainment is their computers (which reside in their rooms), or socializing with friends outside of the house.

Our lower level basement, which is 1/4th the total square footage of our home, is used for nothing more than storage and the home of our cats’ food and litter boxes. Every time I feed the cats, I look at the large empty room and wonder how much money we could save by downsizing our home. I did a little estimating, and the amount is staggering.
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In today’s career world, where negative publicity can cause serious problems for companies, it’s difficult to get excited about hiring someone who might turn out to be a liability.

Teachers whose drunken party pictures end up on Facebook, or top level executives whose nasty comment ends up being posted online, can really set an employer (and their reputation) back.

Not only that, but there are some jobs, like truck driving, in which your driving record might be applicable. No trucking company wants to hire someone with a string of DUI arrests.

So, when you apply for a job, what will the employer look for in background checks? Are there limitations to what information they can see?

As with almost everything else in life, the answer depends on where you are, and what job you’re applying for.
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Emergencies Do Happen

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I have sad news to share. I came back from an overseas trip to Hong Kong because my dad passed away. It was sudden (so sudden in fact that the police came and required an autopsy before they can clear the case from foul play).

When I heard the news, I had to scramble to figure out how to get back there. Normally, you book the earliest flight possible and you are set. But this year is different because there’s this virus floating around called COVID-19. Hong Kong requires everyone coming from the United States to show a negative test result for the virus within 72 hours of flight departure. And because of the pandemic decimating the travel industry, there are no longer flights every day. To add to the complexity, labs don’t run tests for results every day either, and they don’t really give you an exact time of when they actually test your samples.

Luckily, Emma found a local lab where we were able to actually talk to the people in the lab and they helped us out by running the test that day so I could fly out. And I’m glad we had their email address too because they sent us the result after hours the night of the flight and they left out the middle name, an omission that the Hong Kong government website specifically called out as a reason for the flight crew to deny me onboard.

The test cost $135, but that turned out to be a tiny portion of the expenses. My sister strongly suggested that I fly business class so I don’t get stuck in the middle seat and risk catching the bug. I would normally flatly reject that idea, but then fear kicked in. What if I actually catch the disease? Wouldn’t catching the virus just because I refused to pay more become the biggest regret of my life? I agreed, and then I find out that the business class tickets are no longer around $4,000 but it’s $7,000. WOWZERS. I close my eyes and pay. As it turned out, the flight was so empty it didn’t matter where I was sitting, but fear has a way to grow tiny issues into huge ones. And in this case, it cost me about $6,000. I did get better food though!

But it gets better…
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