Home » 2014 » November

Six Ways to Save Money on Haircuts

I’m always amazed at how expensive it is to get your hair cut or styled.  At least, it seems expensive to me.

Gratefully, I’ve discovered a few simple ways to save money at the hair stylist – and even get free haircuts!Hair cut

When I was young, I thought pastors (male ones, anyway) were required to have bad hair styles.  Then again, it was the 80′s…so maybe everyone had bad hair back then. :)

Today, many male pastors (especially those under 40), are “stylin” with the latest cool cuts.

But whether we’re talking men or women, boys or girls, the price for haircuts for a pastor’s family can add up fast!

Where I live, the average price for a male haircut is $16.00 – $20.00 and for women it is $20.00 – $24.00.  Of course, if you add a shampoo or other services, the cost increases.

The good news is that the amount of savings can add up fast too, if you follow these six ways to save money on haircuts.

Six Easy Ways to Save Money on Haircuts

1.  Cut your hair a little shorter each time you get it cut, so you don’t have to come back so soon.  I do this especially in the summertime.

2.  In addition to cutting your hair shorter, you could let it grow a little longer before you come back to have it cut again.

3.  Buy gift certificates that offer a bonus.  For example, during Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Graduation and the Christmas seasons, many hair salons offer a special deal like “Get a $25 gift certificate for only $20.00.”  There’s no reason you can’t buy these for yourself to use.  You just have to remember that you’re paying money today in order to save money a month or two down the road.

4.  Sign up for the “frequent customer” club or birthday clubs where available.  Many hair stylists offer one free or discounted haircut after you’ve paid for five or six.  And some salons offer a free haircut or a discount for your birthday.

5.  Ask if your stylist offers a discount or bonus if you make a referral (invite someone else to use your same hair stylist).

6.  Check to see if there are any beauty colleges or salon training centers in your area that offer free or discounted haircuts.  In our community, there are probably six or seven beauty colleges and at least one salon training center (that we know of) where their professional stylists come once or twice a year for continued training.

My wife and our five children have received free haircuts for nearly a year at this training center.  The only reason I haven’t done it yet is that you have to book your appointments in advance before the limited spaces fill up, and my schedule is so unpredictable due to frequent travel.

By taking advantage of these free haircuts, we’ll save about $1,200 over the course of the year!  That’s a pretty significant amount of savings for us.  How about you?…

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365 Ways to Live Cheap!

If you’re looking for easy ways to save money and make ends meet, you’ll enjoy reading 365 Ways to Live Cheap! In it, author Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollarshares great tips on ways to cut costs on just about anything you “need,” without sacrificing your lifestyle.

True to it’s title, 365 Ways to Live Cheap! offers 365 ways to save money on:live cheap

  • Appliances
  • Automobiles
  • Banking and Investing
  • Children and Families
  • Clothing
  • Clutter
  • Credit Cards and Debt
  • Electronics
  • Energy Use
  • Fun and Hobbies
  • Groceries and Supplies
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Insurance
  • Love and Marriage
  • Socializing
  • Shopping
  • Utilities and Bills
  • Vacations

The book is an easy read, and not one that you have to read all at once, though it might be good to do so the first time.

I think it’s a great reference book that you can turn back to anytime you’re looking to save money on any of the aforementioned topics, or when you need a refresher in how to live more frugally.

It’s something you can quickly pick up, read a couple of tips, and move on.  It’ll help you spend less money, and enjoy more of your life.

In my next post, I’ll share Hamm’s 10 Biggest Tips for Living Cheap. If you haven’t done so yet, please subscribe to our RSS feed so you won’t miss future articles.…

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Are Museum Memberships Worth the Cost?

Museum MembershipHere at Pastor Personal Finance, we offer money help for pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders, to help you s-t-r-e-t-c-h your money as far as possible.

Spring Break is coming soon, and a lot of families I know are planning to take their kids to the zoo, museum, botanical garden, aquarium, or other similar attraction.  Whenever our family goes to one of those places, we’re faced with a decision:

Should we pay the one-day admission price, or is it better to buy an annual membership?

Six things to consider before buying a museum membership

Regardless of your family size, here are some things to consider before buying an annual membership to your local zoo, museum, botanical garden, or other cultural attraction.

  1. Is it tax-deductible? I was surprised to discover that some museums or other such institutions consider all, or a portion, of your annual membership dues to be a tax-deductible gift.  So just looking at it from a tax perspective, buying a membership that is deductible, instead of buying tickets for one-day admission which are not deductible, may be a smart money move.
  2. What’s the difference in price between the one-day cost and the annual membership? An easy way to decide if a museum membership is worth the cost is to calculate how many times would you need to visit before the membership actually saves you money. For example, we learned it would cost $41 to buy one-day admission for our family of seven at our local art museum, and $65 for an annual family membership – a difference of $24.  So just looking at it from this angle, we’d only have to visit twice (or actually, 1.5 times) in order to save money with the annual membership.
  3. What if you buy the annual membership but don’t go enough times to save money – isn’t that a waste? Maybe.  But you can also just chalk it up as a donation to a “good cause” in your community, whether it actually was a deductible donation or not.
  4. What kind of special offers or discounts would you receive as a member? Most museums or other cultural attractions provide a nice list of benefits that you would receive as a member.  Most give members at least a 10% discount at the gift shop.  Some offer free or discounted parking, free admission to special members-only events, free or discounted admission to special exhibits that everyone else pays extra for, discounts on camps for your kids, and free kids activities and events throughout the year.  Some even offer their members discounted admission to other local cultural attractions.
  5. Are there reciprocal benefits? Your membership at your local museum, zoo, science center, botanical garden, aquarium or other cultural institution may also give you free admission to other similar institutions across the country and even the world.  Most will advertise if they offer reciprocal benefits, but if you don’t see it listed, just ask.
  6. What is the entertainment or educational value? It’s nice to visit any museum or other cultural attraction at least once.  Some, you might feel, aren’t worth a second trip.  But others might have a higher educational or entertainment value which would cause you to want to go more frequently.  Our family has an annual membership at our local art museum, botanical gardens, air and space museum, and history museum.  We feel those memberships are well worth it just to have a place to go on a rainy or snowy or sunny day (depending on the mood or situation), when the kids are bored, when you don’t know what to do, when you want to do something special with one or all of your kids, etc.  Each attraction offers special events or activities that give us something fun and educational to do.  One of the biggest values for us right now is the free kids art classes that the art museum offers every Saturday – we go there at least once a month just for that.
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Get a $25 Restaurant Gift Card for Only $2.00

CouponHere’s a great deal for pastors or anyone looking to save money on eating out…and it’s just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Restaurant.com is offering 80% off a $25 restaurant gift card.  To get the discount, you need to use the promo code “MEAL” at the checkout.

Restaurant.com offers discounted gift cards that are good at 15,000 restaurants across the United States.  To get yours, click the ad below, or go to www.restaurant.com.…

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How to Save on Eating Out

Save money eat out

If you’ve been a pastor for any length of time, you know that the easiest way to save on eating out is to get a member of your congregation to take your family out to dinner!

But if that’s not happening as often as you’d like (no matter how much you hint at it from the pulpit), there are other great ways to eat out and have fun for less.

1.  The Entertainment book – This is just about the best coupon book around. There are over 160 local Entertainment editions, covering every major city throughout North America. You pay a nominal charge to buy the Entertainment book, then have access to hundreds of discounts on hotels, restaurants, local attractions, travel, groceries and more!

2. The Good Ole Phone Book – Many phone books have a coupon section where local restaurants and businesses provide special offers.  Also, check the Yellow Pages section where the restaurants might offer a special deal right in their ad.

3. Online Coupons and Offers – A lot of restaurants offer coupons and discounts on their website.  Some may make you register for the deals, which they will send you by email.  Others just offer the discounts on their webpage for you to print and use whenever you want.

4.  Groupon – Groupon features a daily online deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the United States (and now Groupon is in Canada).  Here’s how it works:

  • Each day they feature something cool to do at an unbeatable price.
  • You only get it if enough people join that day… so invite your friends!
  • Check back the next day for another awesome Groupon!

5. Restaurant VIP cards/clubs – Many restaurants offer special deals and rewards to their customers based on how often you go or how much you spend.  Sign up for the VIP club at your favorite restaurants, and start earning your discounts and deals.

6. Gift Card Kickbacks – During Christmas, Mothers Day, and Fathers Day, many restaurants and businesses offer kickback deals on gift certificates or gift cards that you buy to give as a gift.  For example, at some restaurants, if you buy a $25 gift card, they’ll give you a $5 or $10 certificate for to use on yourself.

7.  Restaurant.com – Restaurant.com offers a national directory of more than 15,000 restaurants and a number of exclusive online merchants. You can search by state, city, neighborhood, zip code and cuisine type to find the perfect restaurant and gift certificates for savings. $25 restaurant gift certificates are offered at a purchase price of only $10!

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Free Books for Pastors at Paperback Swap

PaperbackSwap.com is an excellent source of free books for pastors who are looking to add to their personal learning and their library.

Every pastor I know is an avid reader and book collector.  But books can be expensive and out of reach for many small church and bi-vocational pastors. And even if you do have an expense account to pay for book purchases, you want to stretch that money as far as possible, right?

PaperbackSwap.com is a free website that allows you to trade books you have, but don’t need or want anymore, for books that you do want.

Don’t let the name fool you – Paperback Swap isn’t just for paperbacks – but that’s how it got started years ago.  At Paperback Swap, you can trade paperbacks, hard covers, and books on tape.

How Paperback Swap Works

Paperback Swap is a book trading website that operates on the biblical principle of giving and receiving.

All of us have books we no longer want or need, and sometimes we don’t know what to do with them.  The great thing about Paperback Swap is that it allows you to trade the books you don’t want in exchange for books you do want.

The trading is free.  You just pay the postage to send your book to the person who requests it.  And whomever has a book that you want pays the postage to send it to you.  The average postage cost is around $2.00 via the US Postal Service.

When you give a book to someone else, you earn a credit on your account, which then allows you to receive a book from someone else.

Currently, nearly 5,000,000 (yes, that’s five million!!!) books are available for free at Paperback Swap. Chances are good that you will find plenty of good books that you want – on topics like church history, leadership, theology, ministry, popular titles, and more.

Here’s how to get free books from Paperback Swap:

  1. Create your free account at PaperbackSwap.com.  When you use that link, I’ll receive a free credit for referring you, thank you very much!
  2. Find at least ten books on your shelves that you no longer want, and list them on the Paperback Swap site.  When you list your fist ten books, Paperback Swap will then give you two free credits, which will allow you to receive two books.
  3. Listing your books is easy – you just enter the ISBN number of the books you don’t need, and the Paperback Swap site automatically looks up and finds the information about those books.  The books you list must have front and back covers, all the pages, no liquid damage, no writing or highlighting, and be in generally good condition.
  4. Once you’ve listed books that you want to trade, you create your wish list of books you want to receive. And you can add more books you want to trade, and more books you want to receive, at any time.
  5. When you have a book that someone else wants, Paperback Swap sends you a message with instructions on where to send the book.  We recommend using bubble envelopes or catalog envelopes when mailing your books. When your book is received, the recipient logs into Paperback Swap and confirms that they received the book as advertised.  Then you get a credit in your account which will allow you to receive a book from someone else.
  6. When someone has a book that is on your wish list, you are notified that a match has been made, and the sender confirms that they will send the book to you.  And when you receive it, you log into Paperback Swap to confirm that you’ve received it.  Then a credit is deducted from your account, and added to the sender’s account.

My wife and I have been members at Paperback Swap for several years.  It’s fun to get rid of books we no longer want, and receive new books in the mail.  We ship and receive 3-5 books a week on average.

We’ve had some books waiting on our shelves for months before someone wanted them.  Others fly off the shelf the moment we post them, because someone was already waiting for it.

Paperback Swap Tips

If you use Paperback Swap long enough like we have, the bad news is that you will eventually run out of your own books to trade.

The good news is that we’ve discovered some great free or low-cost ways to get more books to list on Paperback Swap, including:

  • Garage sales, yard sales, estate sales – People often sell books for as little as 5 or 10 cents each.  And if you find some that you want that are priced higher, offer to buy several or a bag-full for a lower price.
  • Libraries – Some libraries has
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Don’t Presume Upon the Future

I’m amazed at how much the Bible has to say about money – especially in the book of Proverbs.

This week in my Bible reading, I read Proverbs 1:20-33 – a passage that speaks to the wise and unwise choices people make every day with regard to money:

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

“Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

– Proverbs 1:20-33 (NIV)

Here in this passage, Solomon gives us an interesting picture of “wisdom” having person-like qualities.  He says that wisdom shouts, cries and calls out to warn people from being simpleminded – from falling prey to bad decisions.

These simpleminded people failed to gain knowledge or heed warning signs. They ignored wise advice and rejected correction. As a result, Solomon tells us that they will face calamity and will have to eat the fruit of their choices to go their own way and ignore wisdom.

But, those who listen to wisdom will be safe.

In our current economic climate, we don’t have to look far to see the calamitous results of bad money decisions:

  • Major financial institutions have collapsed.
  • Thousands of families have lost their homes to foreclosure.
  • Millions have lost their jobs and are struggling because they didn’t have adequate savings in an emergency fund.

They presumed upon the future. And their future came crashing down.  Then they begged for someone else to bail them out.

I think these tough economic times, while certainly difficult for those who are struggling, remind us all of the importance of being financially wise, making good decisions, and not presuming upon the future.…

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What’s the Best Method for Determining a Pastor’s Salary?

How much should a pastor be paid?  It’s a question that many churches and pastors struggle to answer.

When I became a pastor in 1998, working in a large church with 10 pastors, my church based a new pastor’s starting salary at the same level as the starting salary of public school teachers.

At the time, I thought it was a bit low, and I complained that this wasn’t fair, because teachers only had to work 9 months and got summers off.

I got no sympathy, however, from friends who asked me, “What are you complaining about, since pastors only have to work one day a week?”

Ha! If only that were true! ;)  Anyway, all kidding aside…

A few of us did question whether a teacher’s salary is the best benchmark for salaries for pastors at our church.  

Our church business administrator (who handled all finance and HR responsibilities), decided to contact other churches of similar size in our community to ask them how they determined their pastors’ salaries.

Apparently they had some really great discussions, because these local church finance leaders decided to meet quarterly to discuss common issues, share best practices, etc.

In addition, they decided to conduct an annual pastor compensation survey to identify the range of salaries for senior pastors, youth pastors, worship pastors, executive pastors, care pastors, missions pastors, children’s pastors and other ministry staff positions.

Now, for the first time, our church and other churches of similar size in our community had a benchmark for pastor salaries.  Our church used this information to create a salary range for the various pastor positions.

The results from the first survey showed that some of our pastors were paid several thousand dollars less per year than pastors in similar positions with other churches.  We were able to make adjustments over the next year to get our pastors within the “ballpark” range.

No matter what size church or community you serve in, I’d recommend connecting with other pastors and churches of similar size to share information on pastor salaries.  

The important thing to remember is to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples:  work with churches of similar size, and compare positions with similar roles and levels of responsibility.

Have you or your church conducted a salary survey with other area churches?  If so please share your experience.

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