Friday, March 18, 2011

ATTENTION EVERYONE: MONEY SAVING TIPS FOR BROKE LEGAL PROFESSIONALS

I have a confession to make:     I am obsessed with personal finance!

I love finding good deals, freebies and getting discounts whenever possible. I have found every website known to manking where I can get tons of coupons, freebies and goodies by signing up for various different programs. I even had a sorority in college pay me money to take a bunch of the girls around the garment district in Los Angeles in a chevy suburban to help them find great deals. 
To all you law graduates (or any graduate) who are drowning in student loans, you have to realize the reality of the situation.
You have NON dischargeable student debt. You may have six figures in student loans. The job market sucks and there are no jobs in this horrible economy.
Your loans ARE NOT going to magically disappear AND you have to pay back every penny you took out.
Look, I know it sucks that many people got screwed. Everyone believed false employment statistics based on bogus salary information and job placement rates. Many of you were misled into thinking that you would have a job and be able to pay back your debt. However, what’s done is done. We can all sit around and bitch about how we can’t pay back our debt, or we can do something about it. In my humble opinion, everyone who has massive student loans must work to cut all of their every day basic expenses in order to have more money to pay off student debt. I know living in big urban areas, such as NYC, Chicago, SF, LA, DC, and Boston is not cheap. However, with a little creativity and effort, you can make it happen. You don’t have to live in the richest parts of town or have a fancy lifestyle, but you can find everything you NEED when you don’t have a lot of money.   I am just a poor paralegal and not a JD, but if I can do it, so can you!
I am on 347 money saving websites
I get 120 free samples a month
I get dry cleaning for $.99 each clothing item
I get oil changes for $8.00
I get free appetizers for different restaurants each week
I have listed below some of the best websites to find great stuff at discount prices or for free on the web.  These will help you find cheap deals and allow you to save more of your income to pay off your student debt.  I have always been good at scoping out deals, so I decided to use my knowledge to help others who aren't as fortunate.  Take a look at the websites and see if they can help you out!
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GETTING STARTED:
     Before you set sail on the seas of savings, you must do the following…
1.)    Create a new e mail account. You will be bombarded with tons of e mail and you don’t want it to get mixed in with your job search, potential employers and professional contacts.
2.)     Don’t use your real phone number. Use a second line or leave it blank when you fill out forms because you don’t want people calling you 24/7
3.)    Realize that I am NOT going to guarantee you anything, but these sites have helped me tremendously. They may or may not work for you, but I have seen every spam and scam website out there, and I thought these were pretty useful websites.
4.)    Always consult with a professional before making any personal, professional or financial decision.

TOP MONEY SAVING WEBSITES

Find free wireless internet service wherever you are located! This is a great website to visit when you are in a remote area, traveling, or you are using your laptop in public!
Chegg is a great website that allows users to rent textbooks intead of purchasing them. Many students buy textbooks for $100-200 dollars and end up selling them after the semester is over. They sell them for a price that is much less than what they originally paid. Many sell their books for 70% or more off the original price they paid. Buying textbooks can be ridiculously expensive. Use Chegg to rent textbooks and return them after the class is over.
Deal news is a great website for comparing prices of different products on the web. It also works as a search engine and it highlights the lowest price possible the site can find on the internet. It’s awesome! It compares prices for you and even tells you which deals are “hot” by a hotness factor.

Currentcodes is a great website to find discount coupon codes for online retailers! Many retailers, including amazon.com accept coupon codes to give their customers an additional rebate or discount on their purchase. This website is great because it gives you coupon codes that are current and that you can presently use. They update the site daily, so you can always find useful codes that aren’t expired!

Happy Birthday! Free Birthday Treats is a great website to visit to find out great places that give you FREE things on your birthday! They have an interactive guide that will show you places where you can get free food, clothes, desserts and gift items in different states across the country. Make sure you visit this site 1-2 days before your birthday and find out all the places where you can get free things.
You need to strategically maximize your birthday benefits:
Check this website before your birthday to find out where you can get a free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Find out where you can get free clothes, novelty items and gifts.
If your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, child or family member is having a birthday and you can’t afford to get them something, find out places where you can take them.  Even if you can’t afford much, try to get them something for free.

This is a great website to find out where to get more free things. However, IMHO the deals on this site are just “Ok”, and not as good as some others. If you subscribe, every day you may be able to find some free things and useful coupons to use.

Freecycle is a great website to find good quality free things. The whole concept of the website is to stop putting good useful things in the trash and if you have some older items that you don’t need any more, you can donate them in the network. They also have a “wanted” section where you can put something that you need badly. For example, if you need a new couch for your apartment, you can place an ad on the site. Maybe someone in your metro area has an older leather couch they don’t need any more. They can give it to you!
Freecycle is similar to the concept of Craigslist “Free” section, but you won’t attract a wider audience. The main advantage of Freecycle is that you may end up dealing with the same people for free stuff and it doesn’t attract as many “characters” as craigslist.  Check out the site and find reviews on the web to get more information about Freecycle.

Couch surfing is a great way for budget travelers to visit other cities, states and countries by staying with a friend on their “couch!” It is similar to Facebook, in that you have a profile and pictures. You can get reviews from friends and make new friends to visit and stay on their couch for the weekend. It’s a great way to explore new cities and travel if you can’t afford a hotel. You get to meet new people and have interesting experiences.
I enjoy this website, but you must read and agree to their terms of service. Everyone is making friends with other people, but make sure you make good friends and get references from other people before using this service. Always be cautious when staying with someone else or allowing someone to stay with you. Read the website for more details.

Find out current deals to get free shipping on all of your purchases, gifts and other items in your area.
A great website to find discount electronics, monitors, and computer supplies! It even has a rating by the Better Business Bureau.

This is a great website to find out free or discount medical and dental services in your area. They have programs available for those who qualify and want to receive very affordable health care treatments. They have links to different organizations, so find one in your area and see if they can help you!

Gasbuddy is a great website for finding cheap gas stations. With all the turmoil going on in Egypt, Libya and now in Japan, it seems as If oil prices are out of control. Many people are now paying around $4.00 a gallon for gas in their areas, and if you live in a city where there is no public transportation, it’s useful to use this site. Many cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston have the majority of people driving cars, instead of using public transportation. Find out ways to cut your driving costs if you drive a lot by using this site!
All-Free-Samples is a great website to find free samples on all sorts of goodies! They even have categories such as beauty products, health, baby, food and entertainment! This site has some good deals, but you won’t very many (if at all) restaurant coupons on here. It’s a good website to check once a week or so to find great free samples.
The Red Tape Chronicles is a news magazine run by www.msnbc.com , and it is a blog run by Bob Sullivan. It covers consumer fraud, warnings, and how to avoid getting ripped off! They have great articles and update information that every consumer should know. Many sleaze ball companies target young graduates who are naïve about personal finances, so this is a great place to read stories about how people try to scam to you. Protect yourself and make sure you bookmark The Red Tape Chronicles on MSNBC!

Stop rolling your eyes! Yes, everyone has heard of Ebay and many people buy and sell things all the time. However, I have found two items that are the best kept secrets on EBAY. If you really want to save money, I suggest you buy these items:

1.       Perfume/Cologne:    

Many people sell testers, lightly used bottles and half used bottles of your favorite perfume. They sell at much lower prices than full retail and it won’t break your bank! My favorite cologne sells for $150.00 at a high end department store. I bought the tester on Ebay for $39 bucks! There was no box or cap, but why pay for trash?

2.       Magazine Subscriptions:              

Many publishers have quotas they have to meet for advertising and so they sell their magazine subscriptions for very cheap on Ebay. I won 5 years of a popular men’s magazine for $2.00! Yes, you read right, I only paid 8 quarters for 60 issues of a popular men’s magazine. I bought my friend a women’s fashion magazine for $8.00 and it was 36 issues or 3 years! The regular subscription price was around 30 dollars.

The tip hero is a great website for getting all sorts of tips and useful information on saving money for a variety of things. It is not so much coupons as it is money saving tips.

Many people who receive gift cards don’t always use them up. Gift Card Granny is a great website that sells gift cards from people who have no use for them. For example, if a gift card to Macy’s is 100 dollars and someone doesn’t want it, they will sell it online. They will start an auction at a lower price and sell it to the highest bidder. Many times these cards sell for around 10-20% less than the actual value of the card.  I once bought a gift card to Saks for $77.00 and it was worth $98.00!

Move over great whites, Brads Deals is for the deal shark at heart! This is a great website and on the right side they have a “top rated” section where you can find the best online deals, discounts, coupon codes and freebies. This website is one of the best on the entire net for finding good deals. They even have a whole section dedicated to Black Friday during winter!

The ONLY legitimate website I found that allows you to get your free annual credit report run by a government clearinghouse. There are many bs sites out there that try to give you credit reports, but don’t be fooled! IMHO: THIS IS THE ONLY RELIABLE PLACE TO GET A FREE CREDIT REPORT!  They will give you credit reports form Transunion, Equifax and Experian. If you don’t believe me, go to any local government office and ask them where to get your free credit report. My guess is that they will direct you to this site!

This is a great GOVERNMENT RUN website to find out government benefits in your area. It has a list of all the government benefits programs they have available in different cities, states and for different people. Check their website and see if you qualify for any of their benefits or programs that can help you. Think of this service as an ROI on all the taxes you have paid over the years!

This is my favorite free sample website! You fill out your e mail address and then they send you an e mail every day in your inbox with 3-5 different free samples. You can click on each sample to have it sent to you, and it usually takes a couple of weeks in the mail or you can print them out immediately. You will find a variety of free samples on this site.
I have gotten free appetizers at Chili’s, food courts in the mall, and skin care samples from Lancome.
 www.freesamplesbaby.com to get free samples for baby products!  They are affiliated with sampleaday.com and have great freebies they send you by e mail or in the mail. This is very useful if you are trying to cut child costs in this horrible recession!

http://www.kidsmealdeals.com/ is a great place to find discounts for kids meals when you go out to eat. If you are a parent or a recent graduate taking care of younger siblings, this is a useful website. You can find places to get discounts, free meals, and lots of other cool stuff for kids when you eat out!
Take a look at those websites and see if they can help you get discounts, freebies, and lower your expenses. They have helped me a lot, and maybe they can help you as well. Everyone have a great weekend!

-The Poor Paralegal



6 comments:

  1. omg I didn't even know 347 personal financial sites existed. You should have become a financial planner instead of a paralegal

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  2. Go to law school and live like a student for years.

    I kept my expenses down, while I was in law school. (I was lucky to have a scholarship.) However, someone who owes $100K+ but only makes $35K-$45K per year is going to need to cut back severely. But, hey, the "law professors" can easily make $200K per year. This is how "higher education" pays off, people.

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  3. I would also suggest using Walgreens or CVS rewards programs. I can't believe I used to spend so much money on shampoo, razors and toothbrushes. Walgreens you don't even have to register. www.iheartwags.com or www.iheartcvs.com.

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  4. Awesome! Thank you :-D

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  5. Hey Thanks for all this!

    I started checking some of them out, and will spend more time doing so.

    I remember when I was just getting by on my 42K a year salary a couple of years after Law School, and staying with my brother a couple of days a week when I didn't feel like making the long commute.

    I made a fairly inexpensive and huge pot of Chicken Soup. All natural with no salt and no soup stock or canned broth (which also has tons of salt).

    I almost lived off that soup and similar healthy meals for a few months, and around that time had a physical, and had my cholesterol tested. My Dr. said my cholesterol levels were excellent and very healthy at that time.

    And now that I am on the topic, I'm also reminded of a scene from "To Sir With Love" where Sir shows the class how to eat healthy even when poor, by making a big fruit salad. I tried to find the scene on youtube, but couldn't. But if you ever catch the movie, you will see the scene I am talking about.

    And also I find that avoiding all the fast food places also saves a lot of money, and besides, its healthier to prepare meals at home.

    Fast food is fast, but not cheap.

    That goes for buying coffee too. A buck fifty or so times 20 days a month for a cup of coffee can add up.

    And on and on.

    An I also bought a Jack-la-Lanne juicing machine a few years ago, and started making pitchers of juice. Basically with tomatoes, appples, carrots, celery, and maybe pears. I drink the whole thing and the next day I have lots of energy.

    In fact, not long after I drink it, I have a very healthy "glow" because I think it is a super rush of vitamins which all go to every capillary and part of the body.

    Note: I don;t refrigerate or store the juice. i drink it all right away, because they say the vitamins start to break down after a little while.

    And making your own juice is all natural compared to buying expensive packaged juices in the supermarket. Which I can't say I don't do once in a while.

    But Re: Juicing with a machine, there is a lot of clean-up, so I only do it on a Sat or Sunday morning usually, and when in a patient mood, because the machine has to be partly disassembled and every part cleaned, which I do by hand.

    I'm looking for a good Beef Barley soup recipe. Always good to have variety.

    And one last thing--I was taught by a Dr. that Salt is a big no-no. As in 1800MG a day is the normal allowance. This Dr. would read labels obsessively and point out how, say a typical can of campbells chicken noodle soup has 890 mg. (half the daily allowance)

    And I won't even get into the topic of Sugar.

    So to return to the subject, eating poor but healthy is a good thing actually, and after a while, you will regard a piece of fruit, like an orange, apple, pear, kiwi, or a mango in a completely new light, and with a new appreciation. Vegetables too--especially if you grow them.

    Liek Jack-La-Lanne said: "If it's made by man-don't eat it!"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi PP,

    I noticed in an earlier post you mentioned a few interviews you had in a week or so. One was in contracts management. Are you working now? Would you not consider working in a transactional position such as contracts management? I'm an attorney and have worked in that field for years now. I think it's a great alternative for paralegals, JDs and attorneys.

    ReplyDelete