How Living Like Lord Voldemort Can Save You Money

No need to be a wizard or famous villain to save some serious cash. Just be inspired by one.

Let’s start with a disclaimer — I’m not telling you to murder anyone or become a villainous snake wizard. I’m going to help you save some money while taking inspiration from the most infamous villain of our youth and (no shame) adulthood. If Lord Voldemort was real and, you know, not busy trying to destroy Harry Potter, he would’ve probably been great at managing money.

A lot of Lord Voldemort’s core characteristics and common practices deserve a second look and, if they’re applied properly to your financial habits, they could make you more successful than he ever was. Here’s how living like Lord Voldemort can save you money.

Be Resourceful

Between crafting plans and tricking others, Lord Voldemort is one of the most resourceful characters in the “Harry Potter” series. Being resourceful helped him move closer to his goals and it can help you do the same. This is especially seen when he creates potions using items around him like unicorn blood, human flesh and snake venom. One of the potions he created literally helped him regenerate a body. If that’s not resourcefulness I don’t know what is. Resourcefulness can seriously pay off, whether it be fixing your sink without paying for a plumber or testing new ways to save at grocery stores.

Have Dedication

Lord Voldemort didn’t build an army in a day and your savings account won’t be magically filled in a day either. Lord Voldemort had persistent, unfaltering dedication to his goal to find and destroy Harry Potter. He stayed dedicated to his mission for eight movies and seven books until he died. If you divert a fraction of that amount of dedication to saving money, you’re sure to find money success.

Be Ruthless With Yourself

Remember when Voldemort killed Harry Potter’s mom in front of him and then tried to murder infant Harry Potter? You’ve got to be pretty ruthless to do that. While Lord Voldemort was ruthless towards others, one money saving strategy is to be a little bit ruthless to yourself. Saving money can require a lot of self-control to wage the internal battle between spending temptations and your desire to save. Being harsh to your inner spender can pay off.

While you should never be too harsh on yourself, if you’re stuck in a spending rut be open to trying stricter money saving methods like going a week without spending or even making it your mission to stop ordering lunch every day. It’s possible to save without feeling deprived but it takes a bit of self-control. 

Wear a Uniform

The whole idea of not wearing the same outfit twice is very Hollywood, but not so much Hogwarts. Our pal Voldemort essentially wore the same black cloak every day. While wearing a black cloak on the daily isn’t necessary, creating a go-to outfit formula or even downsizing your wardrobe saves money and time. 

Share Your Mission

It’s safe to say the entire world knew Lord Voldemort wanted to find and kill Harry Potter. Like Voldemort, be vocal with your goals. Tell your friends and family about your mission to save. When those around you know about your money saving mission, they have the opportunity to be more accommodating and understanding. This is especially handy when you suggest a tighter budget for holiday gift giving or opt for more affordable restaurants when eating out with friends.

You might also want to create a blog or Twitter account where you can share your money-related fails and triumphs. Sharing can certainly increase accountability. When others know your goal they might hold you to it and you may feel more motivated to stick to it.

Focus on Actually Understanding

Voldemort’s ultimate demise resulted from his lack of understanding about a certain curse — I won’t spoil too much. Learn from his mistake and make a point to actually understand your finances. Make sure you know your credit score (you can check two of your scores for free on Credit.com). It can help you understand your financial situation and improve it. It’s also important to read up about your student loans and other debt instead of pretending they don’t exist and learn about all of the benefits and rewards your credit cards and employers offer that you might not be taking advantage of.

Keep a Diary

When he was still Tom Riddle, Voldemort had a diary used for manipulation. He really made the most of the diary by also using it as a Horcrux. While your diary won’t be quite as nefarious, it will help you paint a clear picture of how and where you’re spending your money. Create a spending diary where you keep track of purchases. Seeing all of your expenses can help you visualize which types of spending you want to cut back on and exactly where your money is going.

Know Your History

Voldemort had a slight obsession with his heritage. He spent a lot of time tracking down his own history while he was still at Hogwarts and through his history he learned a lot of important details about himself. Including the fact that he was half-blood, which served as a catalyst to his becoming Lord Voldemort in the first place. Knowing your own credit history is crucial when it comes to building credit. Your credit report can give you an insight into how long you’ve had your accounts and help identify any factors dragging your finances down.

Start Young

Voldemort created his first Horcruxes at the age of 17. As he built Horcruxes, you can build your credit. Even 17 isn’t too young to start thinking about your financial future. You can start building credit as a teen.

Find Motivation That Works For You

Voldemort’s actions were motivated by a true hatred and hunger to rid the world of muggles. While that probably isn’t your goal, one of the keys to saving money is to find your motivation. Perhaps you’re paying off student loans, saving for a summer trip or trying to start an emergency fund. When you pin down your money saving motivation, unlike Voldemort, you’ll be unstoppable.

Image: izusek

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I Tried It: Google Chrome Extensions That Saved the Most Money

So many Google Chrome extensions swear they’ll save me money, but will they really?

There are few things as satisfying and dangerous as online shopping. When you’re not swiping your card or handing over cash, it’s easy to overspend and forget that online shopping is still shopping.

While there isn’t a Google Chrome extension to pry the computer mouse out of my hand while I browse the Sephora website, many Google Chrome extensions boast they’ll help you save while online shopping.

Although I was skeptical, I was optimistic because technology has never failed me before. Kidding. Anyone who has a smartphone knows that’s a lie. However, technology can be amazing and I love Google Chrome extensions. I probably spend more time with Google Chrome than with my own family. Let’s see how these extensions added up.

The Test

I shopped on four store websites and tested each extension on the same purchases. I avoided items that explicitly said they were excluded from coupons and deals. I added a variety of items to my cart to cover more potential deals and coupons.

Macy’s Total: $292.26

Honey: After one click and a few seconds, Honey notified me that I saved $58.51 and earned a small cash bonus. Honey found a deal on shoes that the other add-ons had not found. ResultI saved $58.51.

InvisibleHand: The extension showed me two “deals.” One was an ad for discounted Macy’s gift cards. The other was “Up to $50 off select sunglasses purchases.” I was not buying sunglasses. Result: No money saved.

Offers.com: I had to hunt down codes from their list. Most were not applicable to my order. This extension caused a lot of pop up windows. I used the first applicable code it suggested. Result: I saved $4.93.

PriceBlink: It did the same exact thing as InvisibleHand, promoting the same two non-applicable “deals.” Result: No money saved.

Winner: Honey. This saved me the most money by a long shot.

For my fellow shoppers looking to max out on their deals, you can consider using a Macy’s credit card can increase your savings, as well. Read our review on the Macy’s credit card for details. (Before applying for any new credit, it’s best to make sure your credit score is high enough to qualify. You can check two of your scores free on Credit.com.)

J.Crew Total: $562.50

Honey: Honey found 10 coupon codes and applied the best one. Result: I saved $43.20.

InvisibleHand: When I clicked on the coupon code I wanted to use, InvisibleHand open a new tab, said I was on my way to deals and then just brought me back to the J. Crew homepage without applying any code. This happened for every deal I tried. Once again the top “deal” was an ad to buy J. Crew gift cards for cheap. Result: No money saved.

Offers.com: All the offer codes I tried from this extension were expired or not valid. Result: No money saved.

PriceBlink: The extension opened a pop up with deals, similar to InvisibleHand. It brought me to a new window, bringing me to the PriceBlink search engine. The only code that popped up was expired. Result: No money saved.

Winner: Honey. This was the only extension that saved me money.

LOFT Total: $375.50

Honey: Honey said the store had no working codes but did offer me a 0.1% to 5% cash bonus. The LOFT website clearly had a promotional code all over the homepage, but Honey missed it. This extension might not be as flawless as I was starting to think it was. Result: No money saved.

InvisibleHand: The pop-up contained the coupon code promoted on LOFT’s homepage for 40% off. I was able to copy and paste it without leaving the page. Result: I saved $150.20.

Offers.com: Once again, one code popped up and it was the same 40% off deal. I did, however, have to visit a new window to get the code. Result: I saved $150.20.

PriceBlink: PriceBlink also found me the 40% off deal, but I had to visit two separate web pages to access it. Result: I saved $150.20.

Winner: InvisibleHand. While three out of four of the extensions found the same deal, InvisibleHand was the most efficient and easiest to use of the three.

Payless Total: $154.93

Honey: After trying a bunch of codes, Honey settled on a 15% off discount. Result: I saved $23.24 and earned a small cash bonus.

InvisibleHand: This found a few deals but, again, most were not applicable. Result: I saved $21.33.

Offers.com: It found me a bunch of codes, but most were not applicable to my order or broken. Eventually, I saved 15%, but only after Offers.com opened 10 tabs. It was a different code than the one Honey found, but it got me the same savings. Result: I saved $23.24.

PriceBlink: Once again, it showed me a lot of codes that were not applicable. Result: I saved $21.33.

Winner: Honey. Although most of the extensions got me a similar deal, Honey was the most efficient and provided a cash bonus.

Final Verdict

Overall, these extensions are all capable of saving you money while you shop, though some are more efficient and effective than others. If you’re looking to save, strategically using a rewards credit card or subscribing to newsletters can also help. (In fact, we’ve rounded up a list of great credit cards for online shopping.) Here’s how I’d grade each extension I tried:

1. Honey: A

Honey was the most user-friendly and helpful extension of the bunch. It’s automatic and takes a lot of work out of finding the best deal. No need to manually to experiment with different codes and offers. It does it for you.

This extension requires a sign-up through e-mail or Facebook, but it offers a rewards program. Their “HoneyGold” rewards program gives you Amazon gift cards as you shop at Honey-supported online stores or refer friends to the extension, a great perk for frequent online shoppers.

2. Offers.com: B-

Although it usually provides many discount options, some of the codes had expired and most were not applicable to the order. I had to click on codes to reveal them, then new windows would pop up. I then had to copy and paste each code in to see if my order qualified. You also have to search for the store you’re in and sort through codes for some web pages. Not great.

There was also an Offers.com pop up on every page of the store I visited. The main way this extension could’ve saved me money was by aggravating me until I gave up on shopping.

3. InvisibleHand: C

Every time I was browsing a store on every single page of the online store there’d be a pop up across the top of my screen telling me about deals. Very irritating. A lot of the deals were not really deals or were expired.

The app promised to “automatically get the lowest price on whatever you’re buying,” but that’s not what I experienced. The process is not automatic. The only thing it automatically did was irritate me. This extension was pop-up city. It opened new windows each time I clicked on a code but didn’t actually apply the code. This extension often prompted me to apply for credit cards and buy gift cards, which I wasn’t looking to do.

4. PriceBlink: C-

While shopping, I faced constant pop-ups as well as ads for cheap gift cards. I also had to click multiple times and open many tabs to access the deals, a lot of which had expired. I did save some money, but it was inefficient. It would have been easier to use Google to find discounts.

Image: pixelfit

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7 Ways to Shop Like a Chef & Save

chef

If you’re looking to save money on groceries, chances are you’re already clipping coupons, looking for point-of-sale discounts and buying in bulk any items that you use frequently. But if you want to up your game, the following professional kitchen tips can help you eat better, waste less food to spoilage and reign in your food budget while also making the entire shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.

1. Plan a Weekly Menu … & Stick To It

Chefs never go to the market or order supplies for their restaurants without a plan, and neither should you. So before you head to the grocery store or farmers market, make sure you also have a plan in place by creating a menu for the entire week. Not only does this keep your shopping on point, but knowing ahead of time what you’re going to have for dinner every night can be incredibly helpful when you’re tired. You’ll never again have to come home and wonder what you’re going to make, or if you even have anything to cook. And because you have options at home, you’ll be less likely to order take-out or head to a restaurant on a whim.

You can start the planning process each week by looking at what is already in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Are there items that need to be used right away? If so, create a meal plan around those items. If you’re not terribly creative in the kitchen, try entering a few items from your refrigerator and pantry into a Google search and see what recipes pop up. Have some chicken, cannellini beans and cheddar cheese? Boom. You’ve got the foundation for a white chicken chili.

The important thing to remember is to plan every meal for the week and build in some flexibility. If, while shopping, you stumble upon an ingredient you really want to try and you’re unfamiliar with it, see if you can substitute it for something already on your list. Or just plan to create a bonus dish for one of your meals.

And by all means, schedule a night or two for take-out or eating out. It’s good to get out of the kitchen sometimes.

2. Think Seasonally

Buying what is in season is a great way to save money and add variety to your diet. Sure, you can get blueberries in December, but they’ll typically cost you a lot more than they will when they’re in season in North America in June and July. Instead of blueberries, consider what’s in season. In this case, citrus fruits and late-season apples, and get creative with their preparation.

3. Frequent Farmers Markets

Seasonality is in its full glory at farmers markets, and more frequently than not, what you’re buying was raised or produced nearby, meaning there’s no middle man and limited shipping, which helps keeps costs low.

You’re also more likely to stumble upon foods you might not have eaten or cooked before, or at least a variety of that food you haven’t seen, and that’s great news if you’re an adventurous cook (or eater who knows an adventurous cook!).

The USDA estimates there were more than 8,000 farmers markets operating in the U.S. in 2014, so chances are there’s one near you.

4. Visit Local Farms & Food Businesses

If you stumble upon a farmer, wine maker or other purveyor at your local market that you just really love, plan to visit their farm, vineyard or place of business. Many of these businesses welcome visitors and some even provide tours of their facilities where you can learn more about their practices.

By getting to know your local farmers and food purveyors, you can easily get a heads up on what products they’re particularly excited about as the new season approaches, and you might even get a discount for being a valued customer.

5. Shop Early in the Morning

Most stores stock overnight or early in the morning, so you’ll get the absolute best selection if you get there early. That’s especially true for farmers markets, which can quickly sell out of popular items.

6. Skip Dry Goods – Have Them Delivered Instead

Even if you don’t have the storage space to buy in bulk, buying your toilet paper, paper towels and even cereal and canned goods online and having them delivered can make a lot of sense and save a lot of money.

Online retailers typically sell items like toilet paper, paper towels and household cleaners more cheaply than your local grocer. Buying these items online also cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend in the grocery store, and you can schedule these deliveries so they come at regular intervals — monthly, semi-monthly, etc.

7. Eat While You Shop

Most stores offer tastings while you shop, and you should really try to take advantage. Why? First, those items are typically being offered at a discount. Second, it could introduce you to a whole new world of flavors, even if you think you might not like it.

If you do happen to find something you really like, use the tip from No. 1 above and see if you can substitute it for something already on your list, or plan a bonus dish so you and your family can experience a little culinary adventure.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: michaeljung

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