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Weekend Reading: U.S. News & World Report’s My Money Blog

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I am now providing a weekly article to U.S. News & World Report for their website’s “My Money” Blog, an online-only feature. So far, I’ve offered two articles. Here are the two articles I’ve written for this new blog as well as some other articles I’ve enjoyed recently.

10 Unusual Ways to Save Money. This article encourages people, perhaps those who believe they have already maximized their savings opportunities, to consider some additional actions that could take their savings to the next level. These are not typical savings tips, and the article seemed to stir much controversy.

Not every piece of advice is applicable to everyone, but I see why some people simply reacted with anger. I’ll address some of these concerns in a future article.

When to Go Generic — and When to Pay More. In some cases, store brand or generic items are indistinguishable from their more expensive, brand-name counterparts. There are several circumstances where saving money is not worthwhile, when the quality sacrifice is too great and when quality is important.

20 Things You Should Never Buy Used. This is a contribution to the US News My Money Blog by Wise Bread. This article also spurred a bit of controversy, though I only disagree with one of the items on the list: digital SLR camera lenses. I would consider buying used lenses if it meant I could afford a level of quality I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s important to be able to evaluate any used lens to ensure it works properly and produces the quality image you expect.

Do Costs Have a Doppler Effect? If you’ve ever been passed on the road by an emergency vehicle with its sirens blaring, you might be aware of the Doppler effect. Sound waves compress as the source and the listener approach each other or one approaches the other, and the sound waves expand as the distance between the source and the listener increase. This results in a change of pitch. Read this article to understand how Abigail applies the concept to personal finance.

Published or updated June 13, 2010.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I buy almost everything used, and can see the author’s point on many of these items. In particular, I’ve been burned by used laptops. Considering that a new laptop is only $300-$500 these days (if you get a netbook, which is sufficient for most people), it’s probably better to buy new.

One of the big ones I bought used which the author disagrees with is a plasma TV. At the time, it saved me about $800 over new, and I didn’t have the $800, so it was that or a non-plasma, much lower-quality new TV.

I bought the used one, and, over three years later, it still works great. Risky? Probably, but the amount of used stuff I’ve bought has a negligible failure rate compared to the money I’ve saved.

I’ve also bought speakers used and used them for years. That’s another one where used is almost as good as new.

The only two I’m big sticklers on are underwear and mattresses. I bought my last mattress on the Internet, saved thousands over buying in a store, and we love it! But we did buy that new.


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avatar 2 Anonymous

Oh, and small kitchen appliances…I always buy new because I have Celiac disease, and if someone put wheat in them, I could have a massive reaction. So those we get new, too. Our last purchase was a refurbished kitchen appliance direct from the manufacturer and we got a great deal…new.


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avatar 3 Anonymous

I looked at those unusual ways to save money, and am horrified at the one about getting rid of one’s pet(s). The “don’t have children” didn’t bother me as much. ;) Using less of everything and spending less are good ideas, but you’re doing it for various reasons – and one of them is to be able to spend on what you really want or what you’re forced to spend as a member of society. I spend as little as possible overall, but I buy my dog Fresh Pet Select as a treat, and she also has a hoodie and raincoat! LOL. Remember, this is coming from a tightwad. And I can do it because I don’t spend on what I consider waste. :)

I think it would be ideal to raise kids and show them how to get value for the dollar, not waste, and just how little it takes to live, have a real life, and be happy. However, that doesn’t always work, as that writer suggested. Pets are worth it, though.

I didn’t read about generics, but I think as a general rule it is better for your health to take generic prescriptions. There are exceptions, but I suspect that many times, the brand name drug is more dangerous as far as causing additional illness and effects that cause you to need more medical care. I was just going to use Zithromax as an example of a drug I’d want the brand name of, but it appears that it may have gone generic. And I believe it is the better, more trusted drugs that do so.

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