Equate Disposal Razor Beats Dollar Store Brand

In my continued search for a cheap disposable razor that gives a shave equivalent to the Gillette Good News® disposal razor, I have found a new champion: Walmart’s Equate® disposable razor.

Like the dollar store Persona® brand, the Equate comes five to a package and is priced at 98 cents (19.6 cents per razor). It looks exactly like the Persona, same twin blades, same style handle, same size shaving head, same lubrication strip, and same angle of the shaving head to the handle. Even the style of the pasteboard packaging is the same (with different printing, of course). I would not have been able to tell the difference between the two except that the Persona has Persona engraved in the handle.

I do, however, notice a difference when I shave with each razor. While both products render a comfortable shave the first few times they are used, the Equate product seems to me to produce a closer shave in the initial strokes of a shave. In addition, the Equate gives me more of those close, comfortable shaves than the Persona does. That is enough of a difference for me.

Switching to the Equate brand does save me a little money since the razors last longer, but the primary reason I switched is the added comfort and closeness of the shaves.

There comes a point in seeking better value where the price is as low as it can go. Value is then added by seeking a better product at that lowest price. I get a better value from the Equate disposable razor and so my standard of living is increased marginally without spending more money. It is how Rosa and I live well as we continue to live beneath our means.

K. C. Knouse is the author of True Prosperity: Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle, Double-Dome Publications, 224 pages

Four Opportunities to Boost Your Rate of Saving

Most people experience many opportunities in their lifetime to boost their rate of saving dramatically if they are prepared for them and take the proper action. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are missed because saving is not a priority. Instead, material acquisition, that list in their heads of the things they want to buy and the places they want to go when they get their hands on extra money, controls their thinking. Opportunities to boost their rate of saving are perceived as opportunities increase their standard of living.

If you desire to get ahead financially and accumulate the wealth necessary to become financially secure and independent, watch for these four opportunities to increase your rate of saving. When they appear, have a plan in place to save a large portion, if not all, of the new money you receive. Defer increasing your standard of living until your level of wealth can support it. Base your standard of living on your level of accumulated wealth rather than on your income.

Full-time employment before marriage

The current median age in the United States for the first marriage for men is 29.5 years of age and 27.5 for women. Depending on the level of education you pursue after high school, you could have potentially six to ten years of full-time earnings before your first marriage.

These are years when frugal living can yield critical savings with which to build a foundation of accumulated wealth for the rest of your life. You have been used to having very little money while you were getting your education. You won’t miss the extra money you save from full-time earnings if you pay yourself first with automatic withdrawals from your paycheck or checking account. Resist the temptation to spend on a new car, trendy electronic gadgets, and exotic travel. Restrain spending on dates, nightlife, clothing, and travel with the use of a budget. Share rent and utilities with a roommate or mates. Keep living like you did when you were in school for a while longer and save the difference.

Improve your job skills, network, have fun and enjoy life, but start laying the foundation for your financial and professional future by saving during this period of your life when you have the fewest responsibilities.

At the beginning of a marriage of two full-time wage earners

You and your new spouse both earn full-time incomes. Now is the time to create a budget that is based on one full-time income. That’s right, live on the equivalent of one income and save the other. Each of you is used to living on one income already. You won’t miss the second income if you save it from the beginning of your marriage. By doing this, your savings will skyrocket. You will avoid debt. You will have the financial flexibility for one of you to quit his or her job or maybe work part-time while he or she gets an advanced degree or training, starts a business, or changes careers. If one of you experiences a decrease or interruption in income, your finances will not suffer; you will just save less for a while.

A substantial increase in pay as a result of a promotion, job change, or change of careers

Suddenly, your income increases by a third, or a half, or maybe it doubles. You are on easy street with lots of extra cash. Save it. If you can’t bring yourself to save all of it, save most of it. You are used to doing without it. Continue to do without it until your accumulated savings supports an increase in your standard of living.

An increase in income of this magnitude is rare; it may only happen once in a person’s work life, and it usually happens in the early years of one’s career. Be ready for it and have a plan to save all or most of the increase.

Windfalls

Chunks of unexpected income will come your way throughout your life. Bonuses, income tax withholding refunds, settlements, inheritances, prize winnings, and such are considered windfalls. You can’t predict when they will appear; you can’t count on receiving them, but they come your way nevertheless. They can amount to tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Have a plan to save all or most of any windfall you receive, no matter how small. You were not expecting to get this money, so pretend it doesn’t exist and put it into savings.

Saving requires a plan

Saving does not occur without a plan to do so. Spending is the default behavior, especially when dealing with new money. Make a plan to take advantage of these four opportunities to boost your rate of saving, and you will smooth the path to financial security and independence. It is much easier to forgo spending than it is to cut back. You cannot make a mistake by saving. If later on, you have reservations about your decision to save, you can always spend some or all of the money you put away. The same cannot be said about a decision to spend; once the money is spent, it is gone. Make a plan to save and stick to it.

K. C. Knouse is the author of True Prosperity: Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle, Double-Dome Publications, 224 pages

It’s Not the Latte or the Avocado Toast; It’s Spending Priorities

Some personal finance writers have given the impression that the only thing standing in the way of successful wealth accumulation is a daily latte, or more recently, avocado toast: quit wasting money on these extravagances, and you can achieve your financial goals. While these examples use trends in popular culture to reveal how small daily savings can add up to a lot of money when compounded over thirty or forty years, successful money management is more than the elimination of a daily indulgence. It requires planning, prioritizing, and budgeting.

Abstaining from daily treats is not a financial plan

Giving up a daily treat does not help you decide what to do with an increase in income, a bonus, income tax refunds, or other windfalls. It will not repurpose the money that is now used to make payments on debt when debt is paid off. It does not allocate the money you save to a retirement account, an emergency fund; targeted savings to pay for vacations, a mortgage down payment, home improvements and such; or budget accounts for quarterly, semi-annual, and annual insurance premiums, home and auto maintenance and repairs, appliance repair and replacement, and medical co-pays and deductibles. These tasks require a financial plan.

Abstinence from daily lattes or avocado toast does not guarantee accumulation of wealth

Giving up a daily treat does not guarantee the money saved will find its way into a savings account. Without a plan or a budget, the savings realized by abstaining will likely be spent on something else.

Spending priorities identify expenses to be cut

Giving up that daily latte or avocado toast might not even be the right choice if spending priorities have not been established first. You might find that there are other lower priority expenses that can be cut, or you might find that cutting back on rather than eliminating lattes or avocado toast along with other expense reductions will allow you to meet your goals.

Cutting expenses comes after the creation of a financial goal, a plan, and a budget, not before

Don’t get me wrong; cutting back on spending has its place. Saving happens when you spend less than you earn. But cutting expenses is not where you start. You start with a goal. What do you want? When do you want it? How much will it take to get it? Answer these questions and you have your financial goal.

How you get there from here is the plan. How much can be saved now? How can the rate of saving be increased in the future? How will salary increases, bonuses, and other windfalls be used? How will other financial needs be funded?

A budget is used to implement the plan. But before a budget can be created, spending must be prioritized based on the demands of the financial plan and your values. Obviously, housing, food, utilities, payments on debt, transportation, and insurance premiums are high priority expenditures, but the highest priority should be saving. Treat the amount of monthly saving targeted in your financial plan like an expense and pay it first. Then allocate money for the rest of your expenses based on their ranking with the highest priority expenses getting funded first. Those expenses that remain unfunded when you run out of monthly income are the expenses you cut. If a daily latte or avocado toast falls into the unfunded category, then out it goes. You have decided there are more important things on which to spend your money. The money freed up by eliminating the low priority expenses is automatically captured. That happens when you pay the saving expense first!

K. C. Knouse is the author of True Prosperity: Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle, Double-Dome Publications, 224 pages