Category Archives: Saving Money

7 Easy Tips to Lower the Cost to Move

August 24, 2011


One rampant side effect of our economic roller coaster is that hosting moving parties has become more common than throwing baby showers.

With the housing market what it is, statistics show that far more people are moving than they were just three years ago.  Most are moving into shared spaces to save on rent or dump an unmanageable mortgage.

Those who are lucky to have landed a job must often accept that it requires relocation.  And of course during the summer, college grads are returning home or moving on to the real world.

42 million Americans move each year, according to  That’s 15% of the population every year!  And, since the average person will move 11 times, it’s fairly likely that you are preparing for a move right now.

Whether the move is to another state or across town, I am sympathetic.  If you’ve ever moved, you know that the cost to move all of your beloved possessions from point A to B is quite high.  The most expensive factor in moving is quantity – which boils down to size and weight.  The heavier and bulkier your load, the harder it hits you in the pocketbook.

If you’re an optimist, you tell yourself this is a prime time to clean house. Simplify! Then as you start packing, you inevitably question how and why you have so much stuff.  How did it all fit into the current space let alone the smaller spot you are headed for?

This is why first rule of moving is to PREPARE to move.

Tip #1   Start Early and Make a Budget

Literally take a few weeks to get organized in your head and in your house. When you wait, you end up tossing everything into boxes and taking twice as much you should. Planning will help you keep your stuff out of storage, allow you time to stock up on cheaper supplies, create a budget and ultimately lower the cost to move.

Will you do it yourself or hire a mover?  Will it cost less to ship your car or drive and pay for gas?  Will you need a hotel?  Need to eat out?  What about cleaning, connecting utilities, overlapping bills at your new and old places, security deposits, parking permits, pet fees, new drivers licenses, groceries for the empty fridge, and pizza and beer for your helpers?

Unanticipated expenses surprise every mover.  Add 10 percent to your final budget for the unexpected.

Check out Part 2  and Part 3 for more great tips to lower the cost to move!

5 Easy Steps To Build A Chicken Coop

July 22, 2011

Keeping chickens is fast becoming one of the best ways to ensure organic, fresh food “delivered” daily to your home. The cost of keeping chickens is relatively low compared to other pets that don’t give back in the form of food and they provide hilarious entertainment for you, your family and your neighbors! My family decided chickens were a must-have to start our small urban farm so we decided to build our own coop. Little did I know how easy it would be…


happy chickens in a safe enclosure

1. When you embark on a journey like this, its important to make sure you can keep chickens in your area. This is going to depend on state, county and city laws as well as, if you rent, landlord permission. Most counties will not let you own roosters, so make sure to check the specifics. There are also usually laws regarding where you place your coop on your property.  Double and triple check!

2. You should draw up some plans. Do you want a mobile chicken coop – called a tractor – or one that is a permanent home? How many chickens do you plan on keeping and how big do you want the coop to be? What do you want to use for building materials? There are a lot of websites that have free plans for you to browse. One of the best is Backyard Chickens. They have a plethora of information about coops and chickens. For our own coop, we found a truck canopy at Goodwill for $30 that we used as the “base” (the roof) and built onto that. You could even search for “unique chicken coop images” and see all the different things others have made coops out of.

3. Next, build! Easy, right? We found some 2 X 4s and plywood and then screwed a wooden frame into the truck canopy so it was over six feet off the ground. Then, using the plywood, we built the actual henhouse under the canopy. The henhouse refers to the place where the chickens sleep at night and lay their eggs. We filled in any cracks with a foam insulate and covered the floor with a piece of linoleum for further draft protection and easy cleaning.

4. With the walls completed, we moved on to the safety of our chickens. The frame we set the canopy on is mostly 4 X 4s, very easy to staple gun chicken wire to. Make sure the chicken wire is taut and secure. Raccoons and other animals are very strong and tricky, and they want your chickens!

chicken coop

coop before decoration? or leave it old school.

5. Finally… decorate! The chickens probably don’t care what it looks like, but you do! Paint, glitter, macaroni art that coop up! Ok, maybe not macaroni… But I definitely want to see pictures of your masterpieces!

If you gather all the materials beforehand, you can kick out a quality chicken coop in one weekend. Don’t forget to have fun!

Seven Tips to Lower College Textbook Costs

July 19, 2011

As an Oregon State University student from 1999 – 2003, I must admit that I didn’t know much about how to save money in college.  I wasted a LOT of money on my college textbooks.  For example, I initially just assumed that I needed to buy all my books from the college bookstore.  Wow, was I wrong! But, you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did, and waste all of the money that I did!  Here are some great tips to lower the cost of college textbooks:

  1. Once you register for classes, your college should give you a list of ISBNs for the books required for your classes.  Get your ISBN list as soon as possible to start shopping. The longer you wait until the start of the semester/term, the higher the prices will be.
  2. Buy used. There is a lot of hype right now around textbook rentals and e-books.  But, as the example at the bottom of this post shows, it is almost always better to buy used and then sell it back at the optimal time of year (see #7).
  3. Only buy used textbooks from sellers with great feedback. Look for sellers in the online marketplaces with at least 95% positive feedback, but preferably 98-99% positive.  The seller should also have at least 500 feedback ratings over the past year, to ensure they are reputable.
  4. Buy from a company or seller in your state, or in a nearby state.  Most used textbook sellers will use standard “media mail” to ship your book.  That can take 14-21 days when shipping from the east coast to the west coast, for example.  Buy from your state, or a nearby state, to minimize this risk and receive your books in 4-6 days versus 2-3 weeks.
  5. Buy from sellers that take the time to describe the textbook’s condition in detail.  You may need to know if the textbook comes with a CD or DVD, for example.  Not all sellers will indicate this, except the great ones like Okay, as the owner of McKenzie Books, I might be a bit biased but seriously the quality and detail of a book’s description is indicative of the quality and care of the seller.
  6. Ask your professor if it is OK to use the old edition of the textbook.  Many times it is, and if you can use the old edition, this can save you a HUGE amount of money!  When you register for classes, many colleges will provide the email address of the professor.  Send an email–it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  7. Sell your textbooks back in August or January to a reputable buyback company.  The reason you want to wait until August or January is because that is when the highest demand to BUY textbooks will be.  And, where there is high demand, there is high buyback prices for you to sell!

We here at always aim to please our customers with our textbook buyback service. We offer free FedEx shipping on most textbook buybacks, no PayPal fees, no minimums, a convenient and free iPhone App, lightening fast payment processing, and excellent customer service (a live person will actually answer the phone, unlike other companies).  You can also sell your other used books back to Cash4Books at the same time you sell your textbooks!


To expand on #2, above: In a recent study that I performed, the textbook Psychology by David G. Myers (ISBN 9781429215978), was on average $79.46 to buy used, $73.14 as an e-book and only $58.49 to rent. However, selling back the book for an average of $45.61 meant that the total cost of ownership was only $33.85 for those students who bought and resold the book. That’s a whopping $24.64 cheaper than renting, and $39.29 cheaper than the e-book.


Kindle Users – Sell Your Used Books

July 5, 2011

Here’s a reminder for all of you avid readers out there who have gone cyborg (converted to reading books on a digital device): sell us your paper books. We still love them, even if they’re not squeaky clean and digital.

To those Kindle readers out there, I see lots of you reading your eBooks on the train, and you look like nice enough people. Now I’m wondering if we can take those paper books off your hands. They’re just gathering dust and cluttering up your office.

Although the digital revolution is progressing, the game of buying and selling used books is still alive and well (both as a hobby and as a career). So for you Kindle-ites out there, sell us those paper books that you won’t be taking on vacation anymore. Just don’t drop that Kindle in the pool.

Last I checked, it was about $140 bucks to get started with one of those newfangled reading devices. Why not offset the cost by selling us your real books?

Sell Your Books to

Has your kindle made these seem obsolete? Sell them to us! Photo credit: Fredrik Rubensson, Flicker.

But the purpose of this blog entry is not an anti-Kindle diatribe or to extol the joys of buying and selling used books (which there are many joys, discoveries, surprises, and financial advantages), but rather the purpose of this blog entry is to remind all of the Kindle buyers out there to sell us your books since you’re pretty much done with them.

Clear off the bookshelf and sell your used books. You’ve probably got 3G or something, so who needs a bookshelf? Just box ‘em up, and we’ll even pay for the shipping.

Head on over to and we’ll give you a bunch of cash for those dusty, glue-bound bricks of verbiage (which we happen to love just a smidgen more than their digital, dustless counterparts).

Recycle Electronics for Cash

May 9, 2011

We love that you want to sell your books to us! It’s a winning situation all around: you clear space and get cash and we sell your books to others who want to read them.  Less waste is sent to our landfills as the lifecyle of each book is expanded. But have you ever thought about all of the other things lying around your house that you don’t need? What about those used electronics?

E-waste sculpture

This would also be a cool way to recycle your electronics. It might take a bit more time than selling them to Photo: Ross

Well now thanks to our friends at you can recycle your electronics for cash. BuyMyTronics is an electronics buyback company where you can sell your used electronics including iPods, iPads, smartphones and digital cameras. Check them out here and earn some cash for living green.