From the Editor’s Desk

Andrea Norris-McKnight

Tips for Spotting Fraudulent Shopping Sites

Hello Frugal Friend!

Whether you’re shopping from a site you find through a Dollar Stretcher newsletter, Google or some other place on the web, you should check a few things on any new site you’re considering buying from that might alert you to the site being fake.

  • Check the site’s contact information. Does it have a phone number you can call and is the number active? Is the contact email address the same as the company name or does it have a Google or Outlook extension? For instance, vs. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and other “free” email addresses can signify a fraudulent site.
  • Does the site contain a lot of grammar and spelling errors?
  • Is the cost of the site’s products a bit too good to be true?
  • Are all of the links in the site’s navigation and footer active or are many of them dead links or not links at
  • Does the site accept credit cards, or are payment methods limited to PayPal, Bitcoin or a money transfer?

Not all of these things mean a site is fraudulent, but a site with all these traits likely means you should not make a purchase. However, if you choose to buy, ensure you are mindful of how you pay. Whenever I shop from a new site, I like to use PayPal. When I was scammed buying the guitar, PayPal refunded my money after I submitted proof that I had filed a report with the FBI (this can easily be done online) and that the merchandise I received was not what I ordered. It can be beneficial to read up on PayPal’s refund policy. Many credit cards also offer buyer protection, but you should confirm this with your card provider. You may not get the same protection when using a debit card or a money app.

It can also help to research any new site on which you are shopping. The site might be legitimate, but the products might be very low-quality.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Do You Share These Financial Fears?

Hello Frugal Friend!

According to a recent poll by GOBankingRates, more than a third of respondents fear they will end up out of work this year because of a layoff. And 50% of respondents say they will be unable to afford essential bills and groceries if they lose their jobs.

If you share these fears, now is the time to prepare for a potential loss of income. Start by taking these 13 Steps to Preparing for a Layoff. You might also find the tips in this article helpful: Is Your Family Facing a Layoff? Tips from Families Who’ve Survived One.

A well-stocked pantry can be very beneficial when income is cut. See Stocking Up for Shortages and Emergencies. Also, use the tips in this Grocery Stockpiling Guide. Think beyond food when you stockpile. Stock up on cheap toiletries and household supplies you also might need.

Cutting out all discretionary spending right now can help you put more money into savings and stock your household in case you do end up out of work. Here are 12 Ways To Cut Spending to the Bone. If you can’t find the willpower to stop spending on unnecessary purchases, try these 13 Tricks That Can Help Control Discretionary Spending.

Experiencing a layoff is never easy. But the more money you can set aside and the more food and basics you can stock before losing your job, the better off you will be until you can find another source of income.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Do You Really Need a Newer Car?

Hello Frugal Friend!

My husband’s car just went back into the shop. Again. It is nearly 15 years old, but we haven’t bought him something newer because of the high used car prices.

If you’ve been putting off buying a new used car because of the hefty price tags, you might be happy to hear that used car prices have been gradually trending downward this past year. Recently Autoweek reported that according to consumer price index data, used car prices dropped 11.6% between Jan. 2022 and Jan. 2023. Since July 2022, prices have been falling about 1.4% per month.

Does that mean it may be a good time to buy another car? It might be if your old car is no longer worth repairing, and you can pay cash for another car. But auto loan rates are still high for those who would need to borrow and many dealerships continue to have limited inventory. Also, taking on a car payment might not be the best thing for your budget right now. I know it isn’t for our budget.

We’ve decided to try to get at least another six months out of my husband’s car. However, our unique circumstances make it possible. I work from home and rarely need to drive much during the day, so he can drive my car to work during the week. Also, my husband is a teacher, and during the summer when he isn’t working, we rarely need more than one car. So our goal is to get to August before he returns to work and then see whether used car prices and auto loan rates have dropped. It also helps that we have a good friend that works at the auto shop that repairs our cars, and he usually gives us a discount on repairs.

Not every family can get by with one car as we can, but it might work for some. See the reader suggestions in Could You Be a One Car Family? for making it work.

Not every car with mechanical problems needs to be replaced, but some do. If you’re unsure whether it makes sense to keep paying for auto repairs or if it’s time to get another vehicle, 13 Questions To Determine If Your Car Is Worth Repairing can help you evaluate your options. If you decide to pay for repairs rather than another car, Auto Repairs and Maintenance For Less may help you save a bit.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Will You See a Pay Increase This Year?

Hello Frugal Friend!

If you hope your employer will give you a big enough pay increase this year to loosen the squeeze the economy has on your budget, you may be disappointed. Payscale, a compensation software firm, just released its Compensation Best Practices Report. According to the study, fewer employers intend to grant pay increases this year, and those that do are planning on smaller increases than in the past few years. If you are hoping for a raise, we have a few articles that may help you land one:

Some folks will need to switch jobs to earn more money. Pew Research data suggests that 60% of people who changed jobs in 2021 and 2022 made more money. Fewer than half of those who stayed with their employer saw an increase. So as inconvenient as switching jobs can be, it might be your best option financially.

Whether you choose to find a new job or home to negotiate more pay at your current job, don’t forget about asking for better job perks. Your current employer may even be more open to providing additional perks rather than increasing your pay. Take a look at Job Offer? 10 Steps to Negotiating a Higher Compensation Package.

A third option for increasing income is to get a part-time job or start a side gig. Maybe one of the following articles can help you find a side gig that matches your skill set or interests:

If you’ve already cut your budget to the bone, increasing your income may be your only option for finding some breathing room in the budget. Hopefully, one of the above options can provide you the relief you need.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

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