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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

20 Consumer Hacks You Can Use to Save Money Now

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

Sometimes you get the peanut, sometimes you get the shell...the story of my life. >>The Poor Man

20 Consumer Hacks You Need to Know

I know everything is cyclical and this past month has been a bitch. Our online sales at every site we own have been nearly flat. The only bright spot was a physical auction I conducted last week. To compound my frustration a wind storm blew off half our roof and also damaged our ISP leaving us without full internet access and despite my best technical efforts, my primary computer is about to become an electronic filing cabinet while I await its replacement.

Our vehicle is starting to drain our account as well...a few hundred there, a hundred here and soon it's another $1,000 and I'm just thrilled about all the summer expenses [if summer ever gets here] we incur each year with tons of soil, seed, fertilizer, etc. I'm ready to drop anchor on a houseboat somewhere and become a damned hermit. Beside, I like fish but my dog -a lab if you can believe it- hates water!

With all that in mind I thought I would share some of Steve Gillman's thoughts on saving money...

One of the best ways to save money may be to complain, and Comcast offers plenty of reasons for complaints. So I recently called to say their service was too expensive and I wanted to cancel, and they cut my rate by $17 per month for six months. I saved $102 for a few minutes on the phone — and it was the third time I’ve done that with Comcast.

You too probably love to save money and/or get better products and services, so add regular complaints-by-phone to your arsenal of consumer hacks. And keep reading to learn why you need to abandon your online shopping cart, order fries without salt, buy auto insurance in December, how to get free extended warranties, and much more.

  • Trade-in Your Stuff for Amazon Gift Cards

What do you do when you no longer need your DVDs, textbooks, and electronic devices? Don’t sell them for a few pennies at a rummage sale! Use the Amazon Trade-in Program instead. Submit your things to see if they qualify, print a mailing label, and send everything off to Amazon. You’ll be paid with an Amazon gift card.

  • Time Your Farmer’s Market Visit

The best time to get a deal on vegetables at a farmers market is during the last half-hour before they close. I’ve bought tomatoes and other vegetables for half-price in the final 30 minutes. Vendors are happy to sell them rather than pack them up and possibly throw them away if they spoil.

  • Get Fresher French Fries

Sometimes those fries have been sitting there for a while before they get scooped into a bag or box for you. But if you have a few minutes you can get really fresh fries. Just ask for them without salt. The kitchen staff will have to cook a new batch, because the ones waiting are already salted. Once you get your fresh fries you can salt them yourself to taste.

  • Get Your Warranty Extended for Free

When the cashier asks if you want the extended warranty, do you say yes? According to a Card Hub Sudy 31 percent of people buy extended warranties each year. But many are already covered for free by their credit cards. And Card Hub found that none of the cards which have this extra feature require you to sign up or register the product. Check your credit cards and buy your next printer or TV with one that offers an extended warranty.

  • Use an Amazon Price Tracking Service

Not sure if you’re ready to pay the price for something you see on Amazon? Use a price tracking service like CamelCamelCamel to show you whether the price is trending up or down. It will also notify you when there’s a drop in price.

  • Use Cash Back Websites

Cash-back websites make a commission when you visit retailers through their links and buy something. They refund much of that commission to you. These programs are free and easy to use; once you sign up and go to retailers through the links on the rebate site you’re automatically credited a rebate for each purchase. You might get only 1 percent back shopping at Walmart, but it can go much higher. For example, has been rebating 5 to 10 percent (on double rebate days) for purchases.

  • Choose the Right Credit Card

You probably use a cash-back credit card, but do you use the right one for each purchase? For example, my American Express business card gives me 5 percent back on purchases made at office supply stores, so I buy printer paper with that one. For eating out it offers only 1 percent, so I use a different card, one that gives me 3 percent cash back at restaurants. If you get confused, use a permanent marker to write “gas,” “grocery,” and such on the back of each card.

  • Use Cost Shredder

Another good tool for shopping online, Cost Shredder helps you combine savings strategies. You choose the retailer and it locates the best discounted gift cards, best cash-back website to go through, and a cash back credit card. Use all three to “stack” your savings (of course you can also do this yourself without the tool).

  • Save Big on Carpet Cleaning

As a former carpet cleaner I can tell you that during the slow winter season prices are very negotiable. Do your annual cleaning during slow times to get the best deal. And check out my list of 10 more ways to save on carpet cleaning.

  • Buy Your Car at the Right Time

Buy a car on the last day of the month, says the common advice. Sales people are struggling to meet monthly quotas or book one more commission, so they’re more likely to lower prices. But a report on suggests a catch; when the last day falls on a weekend, the dealership’s “sales month” typically goes through the next Monday. So when the month ends on a Saturday or Sunday, wait until Monday (the 1st or 2nd of the new month) to negotiate your purchase.

  • Abandon Your Shopping Cart

I’ve discovered by accident (several times) that you can often get a deal by abandoning your online shopping cart. For example, I was buying a discounted Home Depot gift card for $94 (face value $100), and I had to leave before completing the order. The next day I had an email offering me $5 off to complete my purchase. Now I routinely abandon shopping carts and complete my purchases a day or two later — sometimes with a discount.

  • Subscribe and Wait

When you’re considering buying a product or service, first get on any related mailing list and wait a while. You might get a steep discount. For example, I signed up for and considered taking some classes that cost $49 to $199, but I was busy. After a week I started getting emails offering “Any Class for $15,” an eventually “Any Class for $10.” I’ve used this strategy numerous times.

  • Buy Car Insurance in December

A study done by found you can pay much more for car insurance if you buy at the wrong time. Nationwide, the cheapest month for auto insurance is December, and the most expensive is March. Differences between lowest and highest-price months varied from state to state. The worst one is Hawaii, where car insurance costs 47.9% more in March than in December. The best month varies by state too, so use the handy tool on to see when you should shop for a new policy.

  • Clean Your Headlights With Toothpaste

You can pay up to $60 to have the hazy headlights open your car “restored.” Or you can polish them with a rag and toothpaste, according to My results were okay — at least as good as a $10 cleaning product I’d previously tried.

  • Watch Price Cycles at Walmart

I’ve covered WalmartHYPERLINK "" savings hacks before, and I’ve reported on what happened when I used HYPERLINK ""Walmart’sHYPERLINK "" Ad-Match Guarantee. But here’s another trick: Buy when products are at the low end of their price-cycle. Walmart routinely changes prices on some items, raising the price long enough to call it a regular price, so they can then announce a “price cut” when they lower it. Once you identify these ups and downs you can stock up while prices are low, and wait out the high-price period. I do this for several favorite products, saving as much as 33 percent.

  • Clear Your Browser Cookies

One contributor on suggests that online retailers may track you and adjust prices upwards depending on which websites or pages you’ve previously visited. He might be right, given the recent growth of dynamic pricing (instantly adjusting prices according to various factors). The solution is to clear your browser cookies before shopping on a website, so the retailer can’t know where you’ve been.

  • Shop Online Away From Home

Shopping-hack expert Mark Ellwood agrees you should clear your browser, but also notes that some retailers may use your IP address to determine your location and adjust prices accordingly. He suggests VPN to hide your IP address, or simply checking prices away from home before you make a large purchase online.

  • Get a Refund if the Amazon Price Drops

Amazon will often refund the difference in price if you buy something from them and the price drops in the next 30 days. They don’t advertise this, and you have to ask for it, but there are numerous reports of customers successfully getting a refund.

  • Save on Non-Resident Tuition

Attend college in another state and you might pay double or triple what residents pay. But you can get a big discount if the college participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, and if you live in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, or Wisconsin. The MSEP advises that you contact the Campus Administrator to ask how to apply as an MSEP student, and says to expect “savings between $500 and $5,000.”

  • Get Executive Level Customer Support

Have you ever spent thirty minutes on the phone with customer support and still not had your problem resolved? On, Alan Henry suggests you start with regular customer service, to establish an attempt to resolve your problem, but then quickly escalate to higher levels as necessary. Asking for a manager might work, but Henry also recommends using, which he says “lets you send a private, complete message directly to a company’s executive customer service team.”

Additional Resources

The Poor Man’s Essential Survival Package

--The Doctors Protocol: Secrets of Survival

--How to Survive the Coming Economic Collapse

--Guide to Self Reliant Living

--Becoming Self Sufficient for Six Months

--How I Found Freedom in an Un-free World

Yours for better living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’

If you enjoy the resources we present, help support our efforts by making a purchase…

Books, Art, Video – the saucy, the odd, the retro, even the practical…

A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Obama Saves the World From Financial Ruin & Other Political Follies

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

Courage is the strength to face pain, act under pressure, and maintain one's values in the face of opposition.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Is our economy that of the zero sum game theorists where essentially no one wins…and we all lose in the end?

An article from Bloomberg caught my eye. The theme of the article was that China was in the midst of a debt bubble just like we were in the states back in 2005-2007. The Chinese economy has slowed big time. Debt levels keep increasing. And yet property values also keep increasing. And just like in the U.S., the bubble will pop and a lot of debts will become uncollectible. You can read the article here.

Why should you care? One reason sticks out. It may take awhile, but eventually you'll pay more to borrow money (no matter how good your credit score). The Chinese have already slowed the amount of U.S. Treasury bonds that they're buying. That will mean a higher interest rate for treasury bonds and everything else.

That'll hurt people in debt. The solution is to reduce the amount of debt you have with the goal of becoming debt-free.

I watched the PBS Business News Hour last night. Virtually every stock indicator is down. Oil firms are swimming in red ink, Apple stock is down $43 billion in value, Twitter stock is falling, Whirlpool, etc. The same is happening is Asia, China, South America and in many parts of Europe.

And did you know…China is buying the Chicago Stock Exchange?! This was announced in early February-members of both parties denounced the takeover and called for the Treasury Department to investigate the proposed sale but I sure never heard anything about this on TV news!

In recent days, Barack Obama has been running around boasting that he saved the world economy from another Great Depression.  But that isn’t true at all…

You’ve got to remember that all of these governments and central banks all around the world have driven interest rates not just to zero, but to negative levels in some cases… and they are simultaneously printing up trillions of currency units. And even while they are desperately doing that the economy is falling apart in lots of different ways.

They’ve created a super-bubble in bonds, a bubble in stocks, and meanwhile commodities have collapsed and are below production costs in many cases.

The economy is going to be very, very bad… It’s the next stage of what I call the Greater Depression. 


Black swan events [unknown risks] seem to take place more frequently. For years I’ve warned readers to steer clear of the stock market. After losing thousands in the market [yes, I’ve also made some money] but overall, I think it is too volatile for the small guy who, at least in this country, has a tough enough time affording his medical costs or putting food on the table.

In many respects I feel Wall Street and the government bailed on main street a long time ago. Obama just vetoed a raise for our troops but wants a hefty raise for himself [he’s already overpaid and has spent over $100 million on vacations-more than any other president in history…seems he’d rather play golf than worry about national or international affairs].

If another financial crisis is about to hit as many are predicting, its aftermath will be the perfect opportunity for leftists to herd the sheeple into ever more repressive laws like the un-Patriot Act, move us toward the cashless society so the government can better track us and so on.

As I’ve repeatedly advised: It is time to get a significant portion of your assets outside of the stock market and banking system and put your money into the Poor Man’s gold-silver coins, food and gardening stock seeds, bartering goods, guns and ammunition, small farms and rural land with small livestock for food, etc. Growing and eating your own produce is like having money in the bank.

You can purchase various types of heirloom, open-pollinated seeds from specialty seed firms and might check out Seed Savers Exchange [563-382-5990] or which is a non-profit dedicated to sharing heirloom seeds. Seeds can one day prove to be another useful item for barter as well.

Developing personal skills and sideline businesses which enable you to generate extra cash which you can use to acquire the above mentioned items and/or to pay down or eliminate debt is the wiser course of action.

Always try to keep as many options opens as possible because as I pointed out earlier…you never know when a Black Swan event could occur.

Additional Resources

How to Save $1,378 in 52 Weeks

Saving more than $1,000 throughout the year is hard, but it's not impossible. By making small adjustments and changing up your daily routine, you can easily save a significant amount of money in just one year. And the 52-week savings challenge can help.

In this challenge, you will save the dollar value of the week you're on. So for Week 1, you'll save at least $1. For Week 2, you'll save at least $2, and so on and so on.

Can you do it living paycheck to paycheck? Read more.

8 dollar-store bargains you shouldn't miss
If you haven't been to a dollar store in a while, you won't believe the savings. And if you do shop there regularly, don't miss these savings!

Yours for better living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’

If you enjoy the resources we present, help support our efforts by making a purchase…

Books, Art, Video – the saucy, the odd, the retro, even the practical…

A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Develop Multiple Off-Grid Income Sources Now

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Developing Multiple Sources of Income-Survival, Off-Grid Money


   A wise man once told me every person and family should develop several circles of income that should generate at least $250 per month.  With an unreliable economy it is not difficult to understand that philosophy…just ask the 400 of workers at Nabisco who just laid off their employees at their Oreo plant and shipped those jobs to Mexico or 2000 shift workers a Detroit plant  from Ford whose jobs were also shipped to Mexico!


According to a recently-released Pew Report, one-third of all Americans don’t make enough money to even cover the basic necessities. ONE THIRD!  The Pew Charitable Trust, announced that household spending went up by 14 percent in a decade ending at 2014, but median household income went down 13 percent.


Even top-level US officials admit the obvious problem: Americans are broke. According to Federal Reserve official William Dudley, America is no longer the top country for achieving the "American Dream" which is fast becoming a nightmare.


In 1970, 61% of Americans could be called middle class.  Today it's just 43%.

 According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, job cut announcements by big companies in the United States were up 32 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, and it appears that the job losses are going to continue to mount as we roll into the second quarter. For instance, late last week Intel announced that it is going to be laying off 12,000 workers



Developing alternative sources of income can help you become more self reliant and less dependent on others.  It can also enable you to enjoy some of the finer things in life or to become more prepared if that is one of your goals.  Owning a full or part time business is one of the few legal tax loopholes you can still take advantage of.


The so-called gig economy such as found on [I make extensive use of such services for the various websites I own] is becoming a popular way for people to offer services on the side to supplement their income.


However, some areas of ‘free enterprise’ may be illegal in your state.  For example, Wisconsin and New Jersey prohibit the sale of home baked goods.  In Wisconsin, selling cupcakes from home could land you a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.


According to the Foundation for Economic Education, “The ban is purely political.  Commercial food producers like the Wisconsin Bakers Association are lobbying against a ‘Cookie Bill’ – which would allow the limited sale of home-baked goods – in order to protect themselves from competition.”


You’ve probably heard news reports from taxi companies complaining about Uber drivers as well saying they’re not safe or they don’t pay city license fees and so on.  It is true.  High regulatory costs in New York City might cost a cabbie as much as a million dollars which is an unreasonable cost and drives up fares for customers and discourages people from doing business in New York [In the 1980s I used to fly to NYC nearly every month…I finally got tired of the high cost of conducting business in that city and stopped going].


Government regulation, which has increased under President Obama, adds an average of 25% to the cost of everything we purchase and has caused America to drop to 13th place in terms of international Entrepreneurial startups…our tax system has further hurt our business startup status while Hong Kong has virtually no taxes and a vibrant business community.


There are plenty of examples of petty bureaucrats who have raided the homes of Girl Scouts for selling cookies from their homes without a permit or operating lemonade stands without expensive city permits.  This kind of flatworm crap is what is ruining America and you need to either operate under the radar by not using or displaying signage or attracting noticeable traffic or ensure you are in compliance [the bureaucrat’s favorite word].


It’s estimated that 50% of those operating a part time business such as renting a room inside their home on a short term basis [listing them on Craigslist or Airbnb] are illegal but are rarely prosecuted.


Uber and Airbnb*


Web-based businesses such as Uber and Airbnb are known as the sharing economy and I’ve written about them before and each have tens of millions of users and many retirees are signing up.  Last year Uber launched a partnership with the AARPs Life Reimagined to encourage over 40s to become drivers.  Airbnb says older hosts are among the most, with hosts 60 and older earning 7.5 percent more than five-star reviews than younger ones.  The company, which explicitly touts itself as a way for seniors to earn money, says its senior hosts earn slightly less than $6,000 a year taking guests for an average of slightly fewer than 60 days per year.


The big challenge in this country is that we have more laws than any other country in the world and no one can keep up with them and if you keep a low profile your odds improve but when in doubt, consult a lawyer.




When I was younger [and in better health] I moved to a rural area, which was economically depressed.  Fixer-up type homes were pretty easy to buy and my father-in-law and I put in sweat equity and sold all of them on a lease-option basis where the buyer got credit for their down payment for each money they paid in a timely fashion until they built up a sufficient down payment at which time I accompanied them to friendly banker and helped them get a mortgage. 


In one case I substituted my VA Certificate of Eligibility for another veteran’s and gave him some cash to buy out his equity.  He was unemployed and could no longer make his payments so he walked away happy.  I paid off my VA loan early and was free to use it again on a future home purchase.


We made some very good money doing this and most of it was done on a handshake – even the mortgage I got from the banker!  That would be difficult today and creative financing deals are harder to come by now.


In recent years I have applied that same practice to flipping domains and websites periodically and have made some decent money although that market has slowed down. 


There are several places to advertise domain names including eBay and even on the registrar I use NameCheap.  At any given time I have nearly a dozen domains for sale and right now we have one which includes three domains, a logo and a mini-business plan geared toward connecting college kids and the 50 plus market to do odd jobs as seniors always need work done for them.  I got the idea when I was recuperating from open heart surgery and from our storage business [yes, another business we’re involved with] where folks always ask us if we know of people who could assist them.   There is a growing demand for this kind of business as our nation ages. * The primary domain is called Your Personal Gopher. It includes my personal assistance!


[You can learn more about that our ecommerce site…]


Side Gigs


I know many of us have a knack for chatting and problem solving and if you have those skills and can type 30 words a minute and can provide online customer service via text chats [believe it or not, I do not know how to text] you can make up to $15 an hour as a chat agent.


Just head to these sites:,,, and to sign up.  Plus hundreds of firms from Amazon to Zappos, rely on live chat agents.  You can visit their sites or search for ‘live chat agent jobs’ on or or other jobs sites.


Get Paid to take reservations…The Active Network hires people to work from home helping with campground reservation requests throughout its season [May through September] and it pays about $8 per hour.  Go to:


Also, search engines like Yahoo and Google rely on people just like you to track results that come up in searches…sort of like mystery shopping for search engines:  You get paid to type in a bunch of questions and report on what results come up.  Go to: and to get started.


Become an online ‘genie’ with your online researching skills off at, a service where people can go to get their questions answered on just about any topic.  You can earn up to $2,000 a month providing detailed answers by researching on the web.  Learn more at:




Free Legal Resources


Depending on where you live there are free legal resources available and you might check with the Small Business Administration [the SBA is online too…I was a SBDC volunteer counselor for them for years].  If for some reason you have a case which warrants serious social or political implications you might try contacting your elected representatives at the state or federal level or if you are fighting a coercive government agency, consider going to the Institute for Justice [703-682-9320 or]


These folks assist people whose rights have been violated by government bureaucrats.  According to their site:

 You have the right to earn an honest living this is called economic liberty and it is protected by the Constitution.  But often entrepreneurs face burdensome, arbitrary and anti-competitive laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choosing.


The Institute offers an Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide and an Eminent Domain Abuse Survival Guide as free downloads.


The Rutherford Inst.  [one of my personal favorites] 434-978-3888; defends civil liberties including the rights of small businesses and offers legal assistance to individuals whose Constitutional rights have come attack by government.


Friends, you need to do whatever you can to restore order to your financial home, take control, go off the financial grid if necessary.  I plan to re-introduce more of these kinds of resources on a weekly basis and encourage you to share and support this effort.  Make a purchase, even if it is a small one such as the CD ROM I offer below…it is an investment that is less than the price of a meal at a fast food restaurant!


Yours for better living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’


Additional Resources

Based on presentations I made to US Veterans & others who wanted to start their own business…priced at only $5 ppd.


Escaping the Rat Race with Your Own Business

  • Three steps to new business success
  • 10 business ideas with zero startup costs
  • Release the inner entrepreneur inside you
  • 45 ways to make a living without a job
  • Business on a shoestring budget
  • Escape the Rat Race
  • Being a Frugal Entrepreneur
  • Let’s Make Money Online
  • 18 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas
  • Ultimate Kick-Ass Guide to Starting a Business
  • Online Business Resource Guide


 Take a look at to find advice on ways to supplement

Strange Ways People Make Money Online (Daily Finance): "The Internet is a great place to launch entrepreneurial efforts. People have made money by creating useful products and functional websites, while others have found ways to make money in creative and interesting, yet strange, ways."


It's definitely not the time to hunker down and hope for the best. It's time to find or build a second source of income before you need it. Read more.


Odd Jobs…Making Money Even in a Bad Economy






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If you enjoy the resources we present, help support our efforts by making a purchase…

Books, Art, Video – the saucy, the odd, the retro, even the practical…


A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production