HomeAnnouncementDid you hear the one about the money? Finance and money urban...

Did you hear the one about the money? Finance and money urban legends

We have all heard those stories “everyone” swears are true. Occasionally, they do  turn out to be true. Most of the time, they turn out to be the result of poor research, or intentionally invented or exaggerated. A few of these tales and claims revolve around making or saving money. 


Urban Legend: You can start with a penny or a paperclip and trade up to things like cars and houses. 


Reality: This has been done. Beginning in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald set out to trade a red paperclip he found on his desk for a house by gradually trading up. He swapped the paperclip for a pen, and kept trading and making deals until he had his house. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully duplicated this experiment, starting with a penny, and trading up until he owned a tiny home. 


The process just isn’t as easy or as fast as it appears to be. The original challenge took an entire year to complete. Trahan often does his trade ups in the span of a week, but he uses his status as a content creator with a strong following to help with his trades. People participate because they recognize him from YouTube and want to be included in the video. This is fine, and actually makes the videos fun to watch. But the experience is likely to be a bit more of a struggle for those without a large established following. 


Urban Legend: Dollar General puts items on sale for as little as a penny.


Reality: While penny items have been found at Dollar General stores, this is the result of a mistake, not a  sale. Items that ring up for a penny have already been discounted as much as the store allows, and were supposed to be cleared from the sales floor.


Employees do not know which items may have been missed and are ringing up for a penny. They are not allowed to help customers search for penny items, or allow them to go back and grab another pile of merchandise should they find something that rings up for a penny. The best way to stumble upon penny items is to learn the season and discount codes from the tags, and select the oldest, most out of date pieces in the store. But there is no guarantee any of these will ring up for a penny, and if something should, the staff will be required to remove all other items from the floor. 


Consider yourself blessed if something in your Dollar General haul rings up for a penny. But don’t show up at Dollar General stores and make a mess digging through sale items, make the cashier ring up items and then say you don’t want them when they don’t ring up for a penny, or demand the staff sell you something for a penny because you heard about someone else getting that item for a single cent. 


Urban Legend: You can get anything you want for a fraction of the price by charging it on a credit card, then sending in a small payment with “paid in full” written on the check. 


Reality: This will absolutely never work. The urban legend seems to have originated because it is possible, in some situations, to settle debt for less than what you originally owe. But this only happens if both parties agree to it. Both the credit card company and the customer would have to agree to discharge the debt for only a few dollars, and put it in writing, for this to be at all true. 


Credit card companies are corporations. They exist to turn a profit. Nobody working for any credit card company in America would have a job the next hour, never mind the next day, if they allowed a customer to charge up a credit card, and then wrote off the entire balance upon receiving a check for a fraction of that amount with “paid in full” written on it. Charging up $1,000 on your credit card, sending the company $10, and writing “paid in full” on the memo line will get you a $990 credit card balance…plus interest if you don’t send in the rest of that $990 before the next billing cycle. 


Urban Legend: If you follow the example of many millionaires and set up seven income streams, you too will become a millionaire. 


Reality: The “millionaires have seven income streams, so seven income streams is the path to being a millionaire” legend emerged from a misunderstanding of the term “income stream.” Millionaires have too much money for it to just sit around in a bank. They have professionals invest their money for them, in stocks, real estate, bonds, and CDs. These three forms of large scale investment alone count as three streams. Capital gains from selling off assets counts as a fourth. Any royalties the millionaire may be entitled to counts as stream number five. Profits from businesses they own is number six. Their paycheck is stream number seven. 


If you already have the funds to make these major investments and earn income from capital gains, the rights to something that pays you more than a few dollars here and there in royalties, and a business that is turning a profit, maintaining all of these income streams may indeed be your key to becoming a millionaire. But simply making money from seven different places will not result in great wealth. 


Working two part-time minimum wage jobs to equal forty hours per week, going back and forth between driving for Uber or Lyft on Saturday, using two of those “points for internet searches” programs to earn the occasional ten dollar gift card, and selling makeup to your sister and cousin through direct sales adds up to seven income streams, and for a lot of people that would barely cover the bills plus earn them a little free makeup, never mind generate millions. 


Urban Legend: You can save money by making all of your own cosmetics. 


Reality: Creating items like eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and eyeshadow is a complicated process. By the time you purchase the equipment and the ingredients needed to make a single item, you will have spent more than if you just bought the same thing from a high end brand. Getting around this by using one or two non-cosmetic items in place of makeup, such as spices for eye shadow, does not always work, and may cause irritation or infection, depending on what is placed too near the eyes or lips. 

To truly save money on cosmetics, narrow your routine down to only those items you truly feel you need or want to use. Choose drugstore items, or watch a few videos and read some beauty blogs to learn which less expensive brands offer duplicate shades of your favorite high end products. Wait for sales and use coupons. Some items can be made at home to save money, but makeup, hair color, and many skincare products are better purchased premade from a store or salon. 


Did you believe any of these money making or saving urban legends? 


Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staffhttp://www.uticaphoenix.net
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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