gifts for others

Key Strategies for Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping can become a mess for people who wait until the last minute. The best strategy for holiday shopping is to start months in advance. Since the advance-purchase strategy is not feasible for all consumers, some consumers must use alternative methods. The following are some key strategies for holiday shopping:

Money Saving Strategies

The best way to save money on holiday presents is to hit hard during the biggest sales of the year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two days that the Christmas shoppers will not want to miss. Consumers can save up to 70 percent off on these two days. Hundreds of physical retail locations place their goods up for sale on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The day was named Black Friday because the streets and the stores are packed to blackness with all the customers who run around trying to purchase the cheapest items.

Cyber Monday is the online version of Black Friday. The sales occur on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Shoppers can visit a multitude of online retailers and receive insane deals on clothing, shoes, electronics, home décor, auto parts and more. One example of a sale that a person may see is a $200 titanium wedding band on sale for $29.99.

Timing Strategies

Timing is crucial for holiday shoppers who shop online. They must remember that delivery services such as UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service are backed up during the holiday seasons. Therefore, ordering a present three days before Christmas is not going to work. Online holiday shoppers will want to make their purchases at least a month before Christmas. Cyber Monday is a perfect day to shop because it gives consumers time to have the presents delivered to their homes on time. Shoppers who do not want to have their items shipped can resort to mall shopping.

Mall Shopping Strategies

Shoppers who want to buy Christmas presents at the mall will want to do so at the right times. The malls will most likely be crowded all day long on Saturdays. They will be crowded after 5 p.m. on the weekdays, as well. The best time to shop and beat the crowds is on Sunday morning between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. because many people will be at church. Additionally, weekday mornings are good because the majority of shoppers will be at work.

The aforementioned ideas can help shoppers to save money and stay safe during the holiday season.

Concept Of Expensive Energy Bill

Saving on Utility Bills During Cold Months

The weather is starting to bite in various parts of the country. That means that homeowners will need to take steps to warm themselves. Many consumers suffer an average increase of at least $100 per month in utility bills when the weather gets cold. Such occurs because they run their heating systems all day and night to avoid getting chilly. The following are some steps that consumers can take to save money even as it turns cold:

Insulate the Windows

A wide variety of home improvement shops sells products that consumers can use to insulate their windows and doors. Insulation film and other products work to keep the warm air in the home and the cold air out of the home. The key to properly insulating the home is to ensure that all door and window cracks are covered. Home Depot and Lowes are two popular stores that have products for home insulation. They also have knowledgeable employees who will help people to take measurements and choose the best materials for the job. A good insulation job can keep the energy bill down significantly.

Invest in Cheap Comforters and Fleece Sweat Suits

Not using the heating system too much will reduce the electric bill. However, the family will need to do something to warm themselves up when the heat is off. Investing in cheap comforters and fleece sweat suits can help immensely. Thermal underwear is an additive that can keep family members warm during cold days, as well. Walmart and Family Dollar are excellent places to find inexpensive comforters and sweat suits.

Let the Oven Heat Out

The oven could be a good source of heat for a family that frequently cooks. The oven will continue to send out warm air for at least fifteen minutes after the person turns it off. Therefore, the dinner preparer could open the oven door and let the heat fill the rest of the house after the food cooks.

Get on a Payment Plan

Finally, some utility companies understand that families come across hard times during the cold months. Some of them offer equal payment plans that allow consumers to pay the same amount every month until the winter ends. The bill eventually balances itself later, but it gives the family a break during the cold months.

Consumers can always think of ways to avoid sky-high bills and stress. The aforementioned tips are great initial ideas.

coupons

Small Potatoes: Even the incidental savings make world of difference

When considering your financial standing and, more specifically, the fact that it should be better than it currently is, you often take a look at the large scale, big ticket items that plague your overall debt to income ratio.

Cars, homes, student loans and other expenses of that ilk are your focal point, and you might believe that a drastic move, like selling your home or car, is the kind of downsizing that is applicable and just for your situation.

While those decisions aren’t necessarily out of the question, they’re often looked at as last resorts or the kind of money saving techniques to be employed by someone who perhaps has lost a job and has nothing in savings.

What you can focus on in the interim, before you sell off your sizable, expensive assets, is the exact opposite: the little expenses you forget about that can add up quickly. Those adept at saving money realize that it is a marathon and not as much a sprint.

Selling your TV, laptop or tablet might sound appealing to make a nice chunk of change initially but it isn’t going to save your long term money woes. Ironically, the incidental amounts, the ones that you don’t always think about, are the ones that are the difference between being on the plus side of your monthly savings.

First, if you don’t have a budget, then your blueprint to success as it relates to money is never going to happen. Budgeting helps you track those aforementioned big budget items but the little ones often go overlooked for those without some sort of system in place.

Think about a $4 cup of coffee that you have five days per week that you don’t think anything of until you add up the yearly cost: $1,200 per year. Who wouldn’t want to have that kind of cash on hand in case of emergency or just to put into a savings account? That take out lunch is even worse than the coffee and only compounds the money you’re spending. A $10 lunch five days per week seems harmless until that number soars to $2,400 dollars per year. Brown bagging isn’t all that bad, right?

Beyond the money, and your daily cup of Joe, your planning doesn’t stop just with budgeting. Think about how you shop, particularly groceries. Do you use a list? Those who use a shopping list spend roughly 40% less than those who go at it blindly.

If you don’t have a list, consider you might be buying things you already have at home or tend to overspend and subsequently throw food away you aren’t going to get to any time soon. And anyone who thinks they’re too good for clipping coupons hasn’t reveled in a bill that is half of what they typically spend.

A few sporadic adjustments might be the salvation you’re looking for, rather than selling off everything you own or drastically changing your life when a small fix could be in order.

Trick or Treat

Decorating for Halloween on a Budget

Many parents and homeowners dread Halloween because they think it will cost them an arm and a leg. Halloween does not have to be an expensive event. A family can decorate the outside and inside of the home and still have plenty of money left to buy candy for the children. The following are tips for decorating for Halloween on a budget:

Do It Yourself

A family can find many accessories right inside their homes that they can use to decorate them for Halloween. One thing they can do is create a cemetery outback by cutting pieces of cardboard and drawing messages such as RIP on them. Another decoration that a family can make for Halloween on its own is the extremely scary giant spider decoration. A person can create a giant spider with black trash bags, newspaper and a glue gun. The spider can be as large as the family wants it to be, and it will absolutely care the pants off many trick-or-treaters. Another easy homemade decoration is the Ghost-Lit walkway. It requires empty milk (or juice) cartons, construction paper, and candles that can go inside the jugs.

Use Coupons and Discount Codes

Visiting coupon and promo code sites is another way to decorate for Halloween for less. A person can find a wealth of Halloween coupons just by visiting the Google search engine and typing “Halloween decoration coupons.” One site that offers discounts of up to 20 percent off Halloween decorations is coupons.com. Another site that has Halloween coupons is Party City. A third source of codes and discounts is the Retail Me Not website.

Wait Until the Last Minute

Finally, waiting until the last minute is an effective plan for the cheapest Halloween decorations. Sites such as Halloween Effects already has a 50 percent off sale. Stores such as Walmart, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Target and more are offering cheap decorations at this time. Additionally, stores such as Home Depot and Lowes are having their fair share of Halloween sales. Every retail location would like to clear its inventory before the week of Halloween is over. Therefore, frugal shoppers can have a field day from October 25 to October 31.

Holidays do not have to be stressful. They can still be fun for all family members. Parents just have to find loopholes to gain access to the best deals and discounts.

Spring Cleaning

Getting Rid of Unwanted Household Items for Cash

Every now and again, a family has to conduct some “Spring-cleaning”. Spring-cleaning can occur any time during the year, and it usually involves removing unwanted household goods. The following are some suggestions for earning a little money while making extra space in the home:

Yard Sales

Having a yard sale is a great way to accumulate some cash for unwanted clothes, books, electronics, furniture and more. Yard sales require minimal work, and many people stop by them to find items for their households. The downside to yard sales is that the homeowner will have to sell the items for extremely low prices to get rid of them. The rain may ruin a yard sale plan, as well.

Newspaper Ads

A family that has specific items such as large pieces of furniture or expensive electronics could place an ad in a local newspaper. People will respond to the ad if they are searching for those items. The only down side to newspaper ads is that they cost money. Other methods of selling one’s goods are free.

Craigslist

Craigslist is a free classified website that a family can use to get rid of a ton of household items. Family members can use Craigslist to announce a yard sale, or they can list a time separately. People will call if they are interested in the individual items. The family could even place ads for household items that they want to give away free. The downside to Craigslist is that it becomes cluttered at times because its service is free. Sometimes, people have to list their items several times before a prospective customer notices them.

EBay

The eBay auction site is another way that family members can get rid of their unwanted items. Listing fees are cheap on eBay, and customers can pay for items quickly using PayPal. The down side to using eBay for selling household items is that the seller has to ship the products. Shipping may not be fun for all people. Craigslist customers generally meet sellers at public locations with cash, which is why many people prefer Craigslist.

Flea Market

A family can rent a table at a local flea market and set all of their household goods on the table for sale. The sellers get to make up their own prices and negotiate with the buyers. The down side is that table rental costs money. Therefore, a lack of sales will result in a financial loss.

Homeowners have a multitude of options for conducting profitable Spring-cleaning. They just need to choose the method that works best for their situation.

 

movie on phone

How to Save on Theatrical Entertainment

Theatrical entertainment (movies) is one of the top sources of happy diversion for many consumers. However, the price for visiting a local movie theater is constantly rising. Consumers can use alternative methods to enjoy the latest and greatest box office hits. The following are some tips for saving money:

Visit the Matinees

Some consumers prefer visiting theaters because of the social outing they receive from the experience. Frugal movie buffs can still cut the costs of visiting a theater by going to matinee showings. Matinees showings are discounted showings that sometimes cost half the price of later showings. Interested persons can contact their local theaters to find out which ones have cheap matinees. Additionally, some theaters offer rewards cards that issue free movie tickets when a consumer spends a certain amount of money.

Join Netflix

Netflix is a site that offers a free trial of its movie streaming service. Persons who have cell phones, phablets and tablets can enjoy movies from the comfort of their rooms or offices. The Netflix service costs $7.99 a month after the free 30-day trial period ends. Members can receive access to thousands of high-definition quality movies.

Check out a Redbox Site

Redbox has a regiment of little red movie rental boxes all over various towns. People can find them inside of Walmart establishments and in the parking lots of other participating companies. Redbox offers a large selection of new releases, classic movies and other movies of various genres. Visitors can choose DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. The rentals are cheap, and Redbox always has nifty offers of which consumers can take advantage. Users must stay alert when they visit Redbox machines, however. Some machines have been hijacked by credit card scamming software. The safest machines to visit are the ones that are inside of department stores.

Order Movies on Cable

Most cable companies offer the On Demand feature. Movie buffs can watch their favorite movies at home with a bowl of popcorn if they order them from their cable service provider. New releases may be a few weeks behind, but the On Demand feature can still save a family money on gas and $10 popcorn.

Consumers can find many interesting ways to save money on entertainment. Coupons and promotional codes are available online for additional discounts. The consumer can find those by typing “movie coupons” into a search engine tool. They may be surprised at the amount of discounts they discover.

Just like mama used to make.

Eating Out Large On The Town When Money Is Slim

Cooking meals at home is acceptable, but nothing is quite as enjoyable as receiving service in a food restaurant. Consumers enjoy dining because of the personal service, the tasty foods, and the social outing. People who have tight budgets may think that eating out on a regular basis is impossible. To the contrary, it is possible for a frugal consumer to eat out at least once per week. The following are some tips for enjoying meals at various restaurants on a low budget:

Hunt for Restaurant Coupons

Just about every product or service has a coupon associated with it. Restaurant meals are no different. A frugal consumer can locate restaurant discounts and coupons on various sites across the web. Websites such as Get Restaurant Coupons and Wow Coupons can help consumers locate coupons for their favorite eateries. Alternatively, they can find coupons on each restaurant’s main website. Many restaurants have a separate page for coupons on their main websites. The Amazon.com and eBay websites are additional places that people may find coupons to their favorite restaurants. They just need to ensure that the coupons are not expired.

Go out on Discount Nights

Couples who have children can save oodles of money by dining out during discount nights. Some restaurants such as Denny’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Pizza Hut and Firehouse Subs offer free kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal. Sites such as Coupon Divas and Kids Meal Deals can direct a frugal family toward a current deal that they can use this week.

Take Advantage of In-House Specials

In-house specials are a different breed of discounts that exist inside of an establishment. They consist of $5 deals, two-for-$20 deals and like offers. A frugal consumer would want to visit his or her favorite location to find in-house deals for the family. Applebee’s offers its customers half-priced appetizers after a certain time of the day. The restaurant has a two-for-$20 menu, as well. Both special offers can help a couple of first-time daters or a hungry husband and wife. The Outback Steakhouse offers a three-course meal for $11.99 on Wednesday nights. T.G.I Friday’s has endless $10 appetizers and $3 beers.

The key to success for a frugal consumer is concentration. A consumer can find a meal deal that fits the budget with a few minutes of research. The family can enjoy eating cheap meals and meeting new friends for years.

business owner

Hiring Pleas: Why companies would be wise to hire right person the first time

If you run your own small business, you know the drill. Finding the right employees can be a critical factor in the success, or even the survival, of your business.

Hiring and subsequently replacing employees, for some companies, is a function that barely goes noticed.
That is until you start adding up the receipts and overall cost that accumulates when it comes to filling a position. Ironically, the type of company or the industry in question is rather a moot point. Whether you’re talking about an in office nurse, Subway sandwich artist or nuclear engineer, you still have that intermediate time period where the new employee must learn the inner workings of the company and the job, some more specifically than others.

What goes into that financial aspect includes advertising for the position, the search itself, time spent to other employees to train an individual that is new, thus taking away from their days being productive at their own specific job.

You also have to take into consideration that this new employee might need training that goes beyond what is done in the office. Perhaps there is travel, hotels, car rentals and flights associated with this new employee, thus making the job a long term financial drain on any company, especially the ones that aren’t good at grooming, hiring or keeping employees beyond a few years.

The nuts and bolts of the economic shortcoming that is hiring, firing and replacing employees is a budget buster for even the most lucrative companies. That’s why most large and small scale organizations put a premium on the ability to decipher resumes, cover letters and read between the proverbial lines when it comes to who’s the real deal in the interview and who is going to be out of the equation after a short period of time.

The goal for companies is to save money by retaining their employees, a measure that can save thousands of dollars per year easily. Consider that the cost to replace a fired employee or get a newly hired one up and running is about double the cost of the actual salary of that very position. A $60,000 per year supervisor is going to cost you about twice as much if he or she leaves and therefore is replaced.

Some companies avoid this price tag at all costs and simply toss the new employee into the fray with more of a hands-on approach. The “Catch 22” to that thinking is that new employee might be quick to get frazzled and upset with not knowing the specifics of the job and thus opt out quicker than the company assumes. Granted, the company might be saving a little on the training per say but the time and effort that it takes to keep looking, marketing the job and interviewing still costs.

That’s why the smart money is on focusing on finding the right person the first time out and thus saving the company money, not to mention the hassle and heartache of the revolving door that is your staff at the moment.

Young Woman Working As Florist In Shop And Text Messaging

Choosing the Right Retirement Account

With the current state of the American Social Security system constantly declining, adults will need to find alternative solutions for retirement funds. Opening a retirement account as early as possible is a wise move. Any person who is over the age of 18 can open a retirement account. Several types of accounts are available. The following is some information on the most popular types:

401K Plan

A 401K plan is a retirement plan that an employer offers. The employee agrees to have a percentage of his or her paycheck withdrawn and placed into the 401K plan each payday. The employer then contributes a certain percentage of the employee’s contribution to the 401K plan. For example, an employer may match an employee contribution with 100 percent or 50 percent. A person who makes a $25 contribution could “earn” an extra $50 from the employer. Each employer differs with its contribution rates. The 401K plan has many benefits such as hardship loans and withdrawals.

Traditional IRA Plan

A traditional IRA plan is a plan that allows the accountholder the option to withdraw money at any time. However, withdrawals before the age of 59 will yield tax penalties. The traditional IRA allows a person under 50 years of age to contribute no more than $5,500 per year. The person can contribute up to $6,500 after he or she reaches the age of 50. Persons who have taxable compensation can contribute to a traditional IRA plan, but they cannot contribute once they reach the age of 70. Additionally, persons with traditional IRA accounts can deduct their contributions for tax breaks.

Roth IRA Plan

A Roth IRA plan differs from a traditional plan in that the contributor cannot receive tax breaks on the contributions. Roth IRA accountholders can contribute at any age if their taxable compensation is below the specified level, however. Roth holders do not have to take the minimum distributions. They may take some distributions before they are 59 years old without receiving a penalty, as well. The distributions must qualify for such withdrawals.

A consumer or worker can choose from a wide variety of retirement savings options. Interest-bearing savings accounts from a traditional bank are acceptable. Some life insurance policies such as whole life policies can work as retirement savings accounts, as well. An interested party should speak with a financial specialist about the options that are available to him or her.

Wallet Bursting With Credit

Features to Look for when Choosing a New Credit Card

Today consumers have their pick when it comes to credit cards. Hundreds of credit card products exist, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Consumers of all credit classes can apply for a credit card, and more than 50 percent of them will receive an approval. With so many credit cards on the market, choosing the best one can be difficult. The following are the top credit card features to seek when looking for a new card:

Low APR/No APR

The annual percentage rate is a number that can add hundreds of extra dollars to a consumer’s credit card bill. Many card companies entice prospective customers by offering a 0 percent APR introductory period. New cardholders can enjoy an interest-free period for up to 18 months. A consumer will want to search for a card with a 0 percent APR introductory offer that converts to a low APR after the promotional period ends. The current average APR for credit cards is approximately 14 percent.

Cash Back

The cash back feature is always a winner in the eyes of the credit-seeking consumers. Credit card companies offer cash back cards that give customers a return of 1 percent to 6 percent of their purchases. The cash back option provides a credit card holder with the opportunity to earn money while he or she is spending money.

Airline Miles

Some credit cards have a point reward system through which frequent users can earn airline miles. The airline miles accumulate every time a cardholder makes a purchase. A cardholder who earns a significant amount of airline miles can take a long vacation or a business trip for a discounted price. Some cardholders can earn free trips.

No Annual Fee

Cards that do not have an annual fee attached to them give consumers access to their entire credit lines. Prospective customers will have to read the terms and agreements section to find cards that have no annual fees.

No Penalties

Some credit card companies charge penalties for offenses such as late payments and going over one’s credit limit. A smart consumer will want to hunt for card companies that do not incorporate these fees into their products.

How to Find Cards With the Best Features

A comparison tool can help a consumer find credit cards with the aforementioned features. A comparison site will supply an attractive layout of the features and benefits of several modern cards.

Savings Gone Wild