Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to say no to co-signing – and yes to helping. Also in the news: How to rake in cash at your yard sale, fighting against auto loan bias, and 401(k) mistakes to stop making.

How to Say No to Co-Signing — and Yes to Helping
Protecting yourself while helping others.

Rake in Cash at Your Yard Sale
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

You Can Fight Auto Loan Bias, Despite Congress’ Reversal
You still have options.

Stop Making These 401(k) Mistakes
Stop hurting your retirement.

The problem with bargain hunting

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERADeal sites. Garage sales. Thrift stores. All can be a part of a frugal lifestyle. Or they can just be substitutes for a more expensive shopping habit. The question to ask: Are these thrifty alternatives really thrifty for you? Or are they just feeding that lust for acquisition that leads to too much stuff and too little money?

In a terrific article for LearnVest titled “How I maxed out my retirement savings while making $28,000 a year,” writer Leah Manderson puts her finger on the problem:

I tried a stint at being frugal; shopping the sales and searching out deals on food, entertainment and other activities. What I discovered was that a lot of deal-hunting activities are attempts at “keeping up with the Joneses on less,” and, not surprisingly, they made me feel like a lesser version of the Joneses.

That feeling did not make me want to save money for my future—it made me want to spend more money on “deals”!

Manderson found more peace, and more savings, by unsubscribing from deal sites and making do with what she had: “I let my hair grow out, I made new outfits with clothes already in my closet, I rearranged my home decor to change my surroundings, I reread old books that I loved, and I got comfortable with living on less.”

Most of us have more than enough. Recognizing that can help tame the beast within that insists we “need” the new shiny thing that just captured our attention.

Or you can just remember something my grandmother said while laughing at retailer signs that promised big savings. “You’re not saving,” she said. “You’re spending!”