10 Tips to Save Money at Restaurants

How To Save Money At Restaurants

First Published: ADawnJournal.com January 15, 2009

We all love to eat out at restaurants. Have you ever noticed that if you follow a few simple steps, you will be able to cut down your restaurant bill in considerable amount, e.g., 20% to 30%. Below, you will find ten tips which will save you some money at restaurants. You may not be able to use all of these; however, I don’t see why can’t you use at least one tip.

1. Beverages Are a Rip off Refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, juices etc at restaurants. These items have a high markup and you will be saving a lot just by drinking plain water. 

2. Eat Out With Friends and Family Always try to visit restaurants with a few people. The more number of people you have, the better. It’s simple Economies of scale. Your meal will cost more if you are alone and you will be wasting foods because items are so plentiful. Example: if you have five people, you don’t need to order five main dishes. Order three main courses and two appetizers or salad. 

3. Coupons Save You Money Use coupons. Find coupons in the newspaper, in the mail, on restaurant’s website, sometimes on the takeout menu. Also, if you join their emailing list, restaurants send out promotional coupons via email once in a while.

4. Look for Deals Always beware of special day deals, e.g., “kids eat free night”, “parents eat free night”, “birthday deal night”. Restaurants often offer deals on one slower night of the week such as Monday night, Tuesday night etc. By eating on these nights you will be able to save a lot. 

5. Lunch is Better Than Dinner Lunch will always cost you less than dinner. Lunch menus are often similar to dinner menus but you will be paying a lot less just for eating at a different time of the day.

6. Leftovers Should Not Stay Behind Do not leave your leftovers behind. Pack them up and they will save you money at home on the next day.

7. Avoid Appetizers Appetizers  or deserts are unnessery, wasteful, and usually cost a lot (another high markup item). By the time I finish eating main course at a restaurant, I find it hard to eat anything else. 

8. Special of the Day Before start browsing the menu, ask if they have any special of the day. Special of the day always provides better deal than items on the menu. 

9. Combo Makes Sense When ordering, pick combo or tiered meals instead of picking individual items. Combo means always cost less than if those same items were picked individually.

10. Plan Ahead and Stay Within Your Limit Plan ahead. Decide how much you want to spend and check a few restaurant websites to see where you can get a better deal. Also, plan how many times in a month you want to dine out. Do not cross your monthly set limit to visit restaurant and do not go over your decided amount to spend. 

Bankrupt Nortel, Mutual Funds, and Invest Now

Stocks, Mutual Funds, and Your Financial Goals

First Published Date : January 22, 2009 ADawnJournal.com

In my book Invest Now I mentioned that mutual funds are a less risky investment product than stocks and really suit those who are looking to keep risks at a minimum. I always come across financial gurus and regular investors complaining about the cost of mutual funds. However, they always fail to mention that stock investors may lose all their money if they pick the wrong stocks, but mutual fund investors are very unlikely to lose everything even if they pick the wrong mutual funds.

Just look at what happened to recently bankrupt Nortel. At the peak of the tech bubble, this superhero was trading at $1,231. And now its stocks are worthless. Let’s say you put in $100,000 in Nortel stock a week ago, or a year ago. How much is your $100,000 worth now? Nothing. How about the same $100,000 invested in a mutual fund a week or a year ago? It’s hard to say how much it would have been worth now (based on what you bought); but you can say in confidence that you would not have lost all your money—although you may have paid $2000 fees. Which one do you think is better? Paying a few thousand dollars in fees and keeping your money, or losing all your money without paying any fees?

The problem with stock is that it is extremely hard to pick winning individual stocks. On the other hand, mutual funds are designed for average investors; as a result, it’s not that hard to pick a mutual fund with a moderate rate of return. However, you need to be careful so you don’t end up paying hefty fees. In Invest Now, I discussed how you can invest in mutual funds without paying lots of fees. Also, I emphasized low-cost index funds. Index funds are not actively managed funds: no portfolio managers run the fund. Index funds mirror the market performance of an index by buying stocks or other instruments that match the underlying index’s composition.

In order to be a successful investor and realise your financial goals, you need to avoid unnecessary risks and paying sky-rocketed fees. Mutual funds, especially index funds, can offer all these with minimal effort and time. Even when everything goes wrong, it is unlikely that you will lose all your money with mutual funds. However, such is not the case with stocks. Just ask investors across the globe that were holding Nortel in their portfolio; they will be glad to tell you, had they known it before, they would have held mutual funds. Even the riskiest fund on earth with the highest fees would not have wiped out all their money in one day like Nortel did.

Ten Tips To Stay Debt Free

How To Stay Debt Free

It all starts with a small amount. At first sight, you think this is nothing – you will be able to manage it, and will get rid of it shortly. However, the further you go, the harder it becomes. And this small, manageable amount starts becoming unmanageable. It takes over your life. Yes, I am talking about debts.

Want “The Best Advice” on avoiding debt? The answer is: not to    have any debt at all from the beginning. Follow these simple tips to stay out of debt:

·   Pay cash. Paying cash forces you to spend only the money you have. If you don’t have the money – it means you can’t afford it. Don’t buy things you can’t afford.

·   Use credit card only if you are able to pay in full each month. Beware of credit cards. Most of us fall into debt trap because of credit cards. If you aren’t able to control credit cards, get rid of it.

·   Avoid falling behind on your payments for your bills. If you start falling behind even only once, it will be hard to catch up.

·   Know your monthly income and expenses from all sources. To live debt free, income has to be greater than expenses. Maintain this ratio by cutting expenses.

·   Use personal finance software to track your income and expenses. When you visualize your spending pattern, it’s a lot easier to analyze and comprehend where your money is going.

·   Spend within your limits. Don’t buy stuff just because they are on sale. If you don’t need it, sale is not going to do any good.

·   Always buy on sale. If you are certain that you will be using items on sale over and over, buy them when they are on sale and stock up. Avoid paying full price.

·   If you already have accumulated credit card or other consumer debts, pay them off ASAP. Always pay over the minimum. Start paying off the smaller debts and move to the larger ones.

·   Set long-term and short-term realistic, doable goals. For example, short-term goals can be paying off smaller debts and long-term goals can be paying off larger debts and start saving money.

·   Be realistic. Set attainable and achievable goals. If your spending is more than your income, cut down on spending. However, if this is not possible for you, increase your income and stay in debt-free positive territory.

Ten Common Bankruptcy Questions Answered

Information On Bankruptcies

First Published: Fab 11, 2009 ADawnJournal.com

The following article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to render professional and/or legal advice. Bankruptcy is a complex process. If you are having difficulty paying your debts and/or considering bankruptcy, I suggest you contact a Canadian Bankruptcy Trustee licensed by the federal government to discuss your situation. To find a trustee in your area, search on Google or Yahoo using these keywords: Bankruptcy, Trustees, Your Area.

What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that can provide you relief from unsecured creditors. When you file for bankruptcy, you surrender everything you own to a trustee in bankruptcy. In return, all your unsecured debts are discharged and you get a chance to start a new life.

How Do I Declare Bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy can be filed through a trustee in bankruptcy. A trustee in bankruptcy is a licensed individual to administer the bankruptcy process. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) licenses and regulates trustees.

What Happens To My Debts When I Declare Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy discharges you from unsecured debts. However, there are some debts that stay.

What Unsecured Debts Go Away?
Here are some examples:

– Payday Loans
– Credit Card Balances
– Unsecured Line of Credits
– Unsecured Personal Loans
– Unpaid Utility Bills
– Retail Store Credit Card Balances

What Debts Are Not Discharged?
Here are some debts that are not discharged:

Alimony Payments and Child Support
Student Loans (various rules and regulations apply, consult a bankruptcy trustee for more info)
Fines and Most Court Ordered Restitution Payments
Certain Government Overpayments
Debts That Arose as A Result of Fraud or Theft

Please note that whether or not a debt is discharged can be complicated. Rules can change anytime as a result of court rulings. Also, The Court has the right to refuse a discharge. Consult a bankruptcy trustee for more information.

What Happens To My Secured Debts?
Secured debts, debts secured by properties or assets, such as mortgages and car loans, are not discharged.

How Long Bankruptcy Lasts In Canada?
In general, your bankruptcy ends when you receive a discharge. Discharge cancels your debts, and it could take minimum nine months to get a discharge. However, bankruptcy court can order to extend your bankruptcy under certain circumstances.

How Long Bankruptcy Stays On My credit Report?
It depends on various factors. In general, it will remain on your credit report for six years. A second bankruptcy will remain on your credit report up to 14 years.

What Can I Keep In Bankruptcy?
You will be able to keep some assets. These are called “Bankruptcy Exemptions.” Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, but The Bankruptcy Exemptions (what you can keep) is legislated by the provinces and territories. In Ontario, you can keep the following:

– Clothing, jewelry etc up to a value of $5,650.00
– Household goods up to a value of $11,300.00
– Tools you use to earn your living up to a value of $11,300.00
– Motor Vehicle up to a value of $5,650.00

Check with your own province or a bankruptcy trustee to find out what you can keep in your province.

Does My Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse?
Contrary to popular belief, it does not affect your spouse. You are responsible for your own debts; your spouse is responsible for her/his debts. However, if your spouse co-signed for a loan or joint on your accounts, she/he may be affected. These issues can be complicated. Consult a bankruptcy trustee for further clarification.

Bonus Question

What Happens To My House When I File For Bankruptcy
If your mortgage is paid off, or if you still have mortgage but you have a lot of equity in your house, you cannot keep your house.

If your home has no or little equity, and you are able to keep up with your mortgage, you may be able to keep your house after filing bankruptcy.

Again, these issues can be complicated. Consult a licensed professional for further clarification.

NB – In Canada, Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) protects the integrity of the bankruptcy and insolvency system and ensures public confidence in the marketplace. Visit their website for more information.


Banks are charging too much NSF fees in Canada

Banks Can Charge As Much NSF Fees As They Want

I wrote an article about how banks are charging ridiculous NSF fees. This article became very popular and generated lots of traffic. Recently, after reading this article, one reader wanted to know if there is a maximum allowable NSF fee banks can charge. I could not answer this question because I did not know the answer by myself. So I wanted to find an answer and I ended up calling Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).

FCAC is a federal government regulatory agency that ensures financial institutions comply with federal consumer protection laws and regulations. On Thursday I called them to find out if there is limit on how much banks can charge NFS Fee. I was totally blown away by their answers. NSF Fees have no limits. In simple words, In Canada, banks can charge as much NSF fees as they want. What it means? If banks keep increasing NSF fees every year, there is nothing you can do. Remember those days when NFS fees were like $10 or $15? Well, in the future, don’t be surprised if you get hit by $100 NSF fee. It may not happen in a couple of years or so; however; the way banks keep increasing NSF Fees, I would not be surprised if it reaches $100 someday. Right now, NFS fees are still below $50, but this may not last too long. What you can do not to pay NSF fees? Find your answers here: Banks Are Charging Ridiculous NSF Fees