Free and Cleared: Is being debt free really possible?

How often have you told yourself that you want to get rid of your debt for good, start over so to speak and have money on hand and not have to depend on charging and borrowing every time you need something?

Chances are if you care about your money and want to be able to save it and spend in accordingly, you’ve thought about how to get rid of debt and also subsequently live your life completely debt free.

Those last two words are paramount because the idea of having a lifestyle or what you need to live without having to carry a little bit of debt at least is next to impossible. And truth be told, it is. There are an incredibly few number of people who actually have no debt, but the discussion put forth isn’t about your mortgage or car payment or some of the other necessary evils of debt that you and everyone else has.

This is more about how to live debt free away from borrowing money, using credit cards or amassing debt owed for things that aren’t quite as relevant and tangible as that house you’re living in or car you’re driving around on a daily basis.

This is more about charging vacations on credit cards, buying furniture or home improvement products and clothes on department store cards that have low rates at first then have interest that interjects itself at around 20 or 30 percent.
So how does one truly live debt free?

For starters, they budget accordingly to build a savings account that can help them handle emergencies or the products that they ultimately want. For this select group, it’s more about spending your own money to buy things and knowing you have enough saved that the dishwasher for $200 can come out of a checking account rather than charged to a Best Buy card, for example.

Even that so called car payment isn’t always a need, if you have a car that you can buy outright and avoid having that monthly payment. The catch with that can be a slew of repairs to come but that still can happen with the car payment, too, so why not try to eliminate at least one of the expenses.

And as long as you’re trying to live debt free, why not follow the simple act of buying based on a need not a want? If you’re toting around a cell phone that is three years old and it works fine, why replace it? The same can be said for your stove, couch or anything else that is motoring along just find in this world and doesn’t need swapped out for something better.

Keeping yourself out of debt isn’t quite the debacle and headache you might believe. It’s about decision making and determining how to budget and buy accordingly.

Teaching Kids about Money

Money isn’t always the most comfortable topic.

It’s even more uneasy when it is parents talking to kids about it, particularly if the parents aren’t exactly thriving in saving versus spending.

Truth be told, less than 50% of the population has a savings account to speak of, but instead live from paycheck to paycheck, paying bills when they can and the phrase “on time” being a relic of rhetoric that really means creditors and those asking for money will get it sooner or later.

The lack of emergency funds isn’t quite that new for the masses, most of whom really want to save money and do things the right way as it relates to money but struggle due to a bevy of reasons that are legitimate: lower wages, lack of raises, steady but not superb economy and savings account interest rates that could be described as “paltry” at best.

The flip side is a growing number of would be budgeters that are missing out on money that is free, such as companies offering 401K matching programs and you still not contributing nearly enough to take advantage of that steal of a deal.

That said, budgeting is about knowing your limits and living within your means, and that concept still escapes a good portion of the bill paying population, parents included obviously. So if mom and dad can’t handle money and aren’t good with their finances, what do you expect from the kids?

In short, not much.

That is why parents, even the ones who are struggling but know what they need to do, shouldn’t hesitate to talk to their kids about money and use techniques that have been around forever to show them the value of a dollar.

And while that phrase seems outdated and something you’d hear from your grandfather, it is relevant and goes a long way to teaching kids that money is about budgeting out rather than spending and wanting more from those same pockets of their parents.

One of the major issues as it relates to saving money and kids growing up into adults that can’t do that is the lack of education school gives. Kids don’t have classes on how to save money, balance a checkbook or especially what it means to have a 401K, how to invest on a basic level. Sure, you may get that in high school (and that’s a big maybe) and in some college classes, but what about making things like financial security and sanity a requirement in schools.

When that happens on a consistent level, perhaps parents can breath a little easier that their kids wont’ follow in their financial missteps.

Money Talks: Why you’re missing out on free money

The words “money” and “free” rarely find themselves together in the same breath.

For the masses, money comes from hard work, determination or hours upon hours of sweat and tears within the confines of your office trying to work hard to impress the boss and earn more money or that job promotion you have had your eye on for quite some time.

But none of that brings money to your fingertips for free.

That said, free money does exist in the real world, far beyond those days of playing Monopoly as a child and accumulating the kind of paper money you wish would have followed you to adulthood.

The idea of money being free doesn’t mean that someone is going to surprise you with one of those cardboard lottery checks or just hand you money over for no reason (unless you’re talking inheriting money or some other unique situation of that ilk).

Free money is more, for example, about retirement and planning for the future. Do you have enough money saved for that day or are you even on the right track? Turns out, money is waiting for you, and you may not even realize it.

Ask about your company and its retirement plan. If they have some sort of 401K or IRA and they match your contribution 100%, you’d be silly not to do two obvious things: make sure you enroll as soon as possible and contribute the maximum amount possible.

Now, you might try to convince yourself that you need that money in your check more so than the money in a retirement account you’ll use in 30 years or so, but that equal contribution contingency might not hang around forever, so you might want to consider rethinking your budget versus walking away from money that you have to literally do nothing to get.

Perhaps even more obvious at it relates to free money and not using it and thus being able to save in other areas are the bevy of loyalty programs you belong to, yet you still never manage to cash in when the time is right. From free miles to points that equal free meals at a bevy of restaurants, you might be losing when the free flying or food is standing right in front of your face.

Even something as simple as a gas fuel perks card that is implemented by plenty of grocery stores is being wasted when you have $1 off a gallon of gas, only to watch the expiration date come and go without ever using it.

Free money might not be exactly what you expect it to be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile in other facets of your financial future when it turns up as products, services or funds that you failed to account for.

Clothes for Church when Times are Hard

A church experience is about spending time with the higher power and other people who want to do the same. People from all walks of life visit churches, and some of them do not have the finances to purchase new wardrobes just for Sunday service. Most churches will accept people the way that they are. However some of the church goers like to visit churches with a certain style of dress in mind. The following are some ideas of where to get “church clothes” and look presentable without breaking one’s personal bank:

Specific Online Church Shops

Several websites are available, and women can visit them to find clothing that appeals to them for a church experience. An example of a church-clothes site is the Expressway website. The ExpressUrWay website is a site that offers a wide variety of options for people who like to look pretty in church. The site has a clearance section where customers can receive amazing discounts. Persons can find a wide range of colorful church hats, dresses, shoes and more. The clothing on the site is highly expensive, so a budget friendly shopper may want to visit a different site.

Thrift Shops

Thrift shops are some of the best places to purchase church clothes. Thrift shops such as Goodwill and other places can put customers in touch with new church clothes for so much less than they would spend at other places. People visit thrift shops and donate clothing to them to help those in need. The thrift shops sell them for a highly discounted price so such people can afford them. A woman could quite possibly find a church suit at a thrift shop for less than $20. Thrift shops have shoes and other clothing items, as well.

Auction Sites

Shoppers can sometimes find huge bundles of clothing on auctions sites such as eBay. may have a collection of church clothing, as well. The person can find reasonable outfits by conducting a search for “church clothes.” The search will produce a significant number of results, and the consumer can choose clothing that appeals to him or her.

Yard Sales

Finally, yard sales are a great place for a person to find clothing for church. Most people have yard sales on Saturdays and Sundays. The shopper can find articles of clothing for $.25 to $1 in some cases.

The previously mentioned tips can help a person to locate the best church clothing for those special Sunday gatherings.

How to Save Money on Childcare

Childcare is an expense that keeps many people from working. The average childcare facility charges $200 to $300 per week per child. Even private persons are starting to request $7-$12 an hour for childcare. The expense places a hardworking person in a jam because some employers do not offer much more than that as an hourly pay rate. The following are some tips for cutting childcare expenses down. A couple or a parent can alleviate some of the stress by using the tips.

Work Separate Shifts

A married couple can save on childcare expenses by working separate shifts. The separate shift concept may seem like an obvious solution, but some people lose sight of it in the midst of working hard and trying to pay the bills. One parent could work day shift, and the other parent could work either night or afternoon shift. This solution is best for the children since they will be in their parents’ care at all times.

Check the County for Vouchers

Another way that one may be able cut childcare expenses is by visiting a county organization such as the Department of Children and Family Services. Such a department may have a voucher program, and they may be willing to provide free or inexpensive childcare services to a struggling single mother or father.

Find a New Childcare Center

An interested parent may want to search for a new local childcare center. Such a center would need to build its consumer base, and it may be willing to provide newcomers with an amazing discount that they would not receive under normal circumstances. Hardworking parents can take advantage of that and save money on care for their children.

Hire Responsible School-Age Children

Finally, children can babysit once they reach the age of 13 in most states. A young babysitter may not require as much as an adult will require for childcare. Teenagers often want to gather funds so that they can have recreational time on the weekends. Hiring responsible teenagers for babysitting jobs can save parents enough money to ease their financial worries. Retired individuals are good persons to seek for babysitting, as well. They may be looking for income that can supplement a benefit that they receive.

Work From Home

Finally, the last resort method for saving money on childcare expenses is for a person to work from home. Work-from-home opportunities are abundant as more businesses are opening websites so that they can reach the masses. Parents can start with this simple list of suggestions to save money on childcare expenses.

How to Save on Household Expenses

Saving money is the desire of just about every homeowner or apartment dweller in the nation. The price of goods and services have risen so much over the past few years that people cannot help but attempt to cut the bills. The following are some quick tips for cutting bills around the house:

Use Fans Instead of Running the AC

One way that a person can save money in the house is by fans in the summertime instead of running the air conditioner. A homeowner can purchase a fan for as little as $20, and place it in the window for maximum performance. Small fans use less electricity than air conditioning systems use.

Use Paper Dishes

Paper dishes can save a household money in a few ways. First, they can save the family money on dish-washing detergent. Families that have dishwashers will not have to run the machines often if they purchase paper dishes. Paper dishes are fairly cheap, and they can provide a family with a fast cleanup option, as well.

Hang an Old-Fashioned Clothes Line

The clothes washer and dryer can rack up as much energy as a dishwasher can. One way to cut the costs on cleaning clothes is to go outside and hang an old-fashioned clothes line. Old-fashioned clothes lines work well in extremely hot towns. The person cannot be in a rush for the clothes to dry, however.

Use Solar-Powered Electronics

Solar-powered electronics can help a person to save money on electricity. Therefore, the consumer will want to use as many solar-powered electronics as possible. One item that a person can purchase is a solar-powered laptop. The SOL company sells a large line of solar-powered computers and laptops.

Shave the Cable Bill

The cell phone bill is another area that a person can manipulate. The first thing the consumer can do is cancel any and all premium channels and stop ordering any on-demand movies or television shows. Next, the person will want to cancel any additional features that may be added to the account. Some cable companies sell telephone services and Internet services. The consumer will want to adjust the pricing of those services, as well.

Finally, coupons and discount codes can assist with other household bills such as the grocery bill and the bill for various household goods. A consumer can use coupons for cleaning agents and other items.

Saving Money on Recreational Activities

Working to pay the bills is a necessary task that the head of every household must complete to maintain stability. However, the entire family still needs to have recreational time to nurture their emotional needs and promote bonding. Recreational activities are sporting events and other activities that fall under the “fun” umbrella. Some household heads worry about the costs of such activities, but a frugal person can find those activities for discounted prices. The following are four tips and ideas for frugal recreational activities:

Inexpensive Bowling for the Family

Bowling is a sports activity that family members of all ages can enjoy. Most bowling alleys have light balls and bumpers for toddlers and small children who want to bowl with their parents. Many bowling alleys have a specific day during which they offer discounted bowling to consumers. They may have “dollar bowling day” during which they offer shoe rentals, games and snacks for one dollar. Some alleys offer discounted pricing to people who want to rent a bowling alley for a number of hours. Interested persons can call the local bowling alley or visit the website for information.

Movie Discounts

Many families enjoy going out to movies, but the prices have become astronomical lately. However, a small number of movie theaters still offers discounts during matinee showings. Many theaters offer discounts for small children, as well. Furthermore, some theaters offer discount cards to families that will frequently be visiting. Regal Cinemas is an example of such a place. A curious person will want to contact movie theaters in the area for additional information.

Free Kid’s Meals

Family members can take advantage of free kid’s meals at a number of restaurants. The website offers a comprehensive list of places where parents can take their children for free meals. Visitors just need to enter their zip code and the day that they want to enjoy the free meal to receive a list. Denny’s is an example of a restaurant that offers free meals to children one night per week, which is Tuesdays.

Free Park Play

Parents of small children can take theme to an assortment of free parks where they can play for free. A number of McDonald’s locations have play areas for the children. Many schools have free public play parks, as well.

The previously mentioned ideas are just a few to consider. Many more frugal recreational opportunities are available.

Spending Your Tax Refund Wisely

Income tax time is an integral part of the year during which some taxpayers receive refunds. Taxpayers who have difficult years often rejoice when tax season arises because they have the opportunity to get hold of a lump sum of cash. The key to staying successful and happy after income tax season is learning how to spend the refund wisely. The following are a few tips a consumer can use to spend the refund as wisely as possible:

Pay off Large Debts

Paying off large debt is a smart move to make with a tax refund. Almost every modern consumer has some debt, whether it is a college loan, credit card debt or something similar. A smart taxpayer will use the refund to get back on track with debt and relieve stress.

Paying Ahead on Rent and Household Bills

Another smart move that one can make with a tax refund is paying the rent or the household bills early. Paying the household bills early can give the consumer the opportunity to take a deep breath and enjoy relaxing.

Investing in the Stock Market

Taxpayers can take a proactive approach with their refunds by investing in the stock market. The stock market can give the taxpayer the opportunity to earn a large return on the investment. The person will want to contact a trustworthy broker and discuss the available opportunities.

Stashing into a High Yield Savings Account

A person can take a safe and less risky approach by opening a high-yield savings account. A high-yield savings account will allow the person to earn money without worrying about the risk of a large investment. High-yield savings accounts have been harder to find in recent years with rates so low but they offer and FDIC ensured mechanism to hold funds until another productive use can be found.

Buying a Life Insurance Policy

A life insurance policy is something that every taxpayer can use. A good policy will ensure that the taxpayer’s children are taken care of if an untimely death occurs. Several type of insurance policies exist, and the taxpayer can use a portion of the refund to put toward an insurance type that provides the most benefits to family.

The tax season only comes once per year, which means that taxpayers have to pay special attention and use the opportunity wisely. The previously mentioned tips should help the person to make a wise choice.


Saving Money for a Big Move

Many people come across times in their lives when they wish they could relocate immediately. Unfortunately, sometimes the funds are not available. A prospective mover will have to make strong efforts to save money if he or she expects to relocate. The following are some steps that can help with the process:

Calculate the Cost of Moving

By this step, the person will have already decided on a town in which he or she would like to live. Most likely, the person will have already chosen a specific apartment or condominium. He or she will need to sit down and add the moving expenses so that the saving work can begin. Moving expenses will include costs such as security deposit, first month’s rent, truck rental, storage, utility deposits and the like. The person cannot plan a move unless this figure is apparent.

Devise a Savings Plan

Developing a savings plan must include calculations such as the disposable income calculation. Disposable income is monthly income minus monthly bills. The DI figure will let the person know if he or she can maintain financial wellness at the new place. Next, the person will want to decide when to move, and the number of weeks or months of savings that are required to make the move possible. For example, a person may have a 12-month plan for a move.

The consumer will want to take the “cost of moving” figure and divide it by the number of months to come up with the amount of money that he or she needs to save each month. A diligent planner will fare well as long as that person does not deviate from the plan.

Earn Additional Money

One of the problems that may arise during the savings process is that the customer may not know what to do to earn extra money for the fund. A wide variety of online opportunities is available for people who want to earn by performing side jobs. Freelance writing and web design are two opportunities that one can use. Examples of other odd jobs that may help a person to save money are babysitting, snow shoveling, lawn mowing, house cleaning, fitness training, tutoring and the like. The consumer will want to put the extra funds into the moving stash until the time to move comes.

The easiest way to succeed in saving money for a move is to take it one day at a time. People should always live in the present and strive to do the best they can each day.



How to Do a Bill Cutting Sweep In Your Home

The economy is getting worse as fuel, food, clothing and utility prices are on the rise. Company wages seem to be stuck at a stagnant and disappointing overall low, which makes survival extremely difficult. The single parent is the person who has the hardest time keeping up with the constantly rising expenses. The following is a quick bill sweeping procedure that a person can conduct to save money:

Cut the Cable Bill

Cutting the cable bill is easy, but it depends on how far the consumer wants to go. The consumer can make some small adjustments by dropping some premium channels and extra features, or the consumer can cut the cable service altogether. Regular television antennas can pick up a wide variety of stations within a person’s locale. Cutting the cable bill can save a household anywhere from $15 to $150 a month.

Cut the Phone Bill

Many consumers spend way too much money on their cell phone bills because of advertisements and the “must have” attitude. Truthfully, a consumer can get by with a cheap cell phone and a flawless plan that costs less than $50 a month. Consumers can start cutting their phone bills by shedding expensive smartphones and searching for smaller cell phone companies that operate off established networks.

Cut the Auto Insurance

Another area that a frugal consumer can cut costs is the car insurance. The consumer can increase his or her deductibles to make the monthly premium go down. Many people are not aware of this tactic. Making a slight adjustments to deductibles to decrease the monthly premium is slightly risky, however. The insurance company will not make any payments for accidents until the insured person pays the deductible. The person will have to keep that in mind and think about it before making a decision.

Cut the Internet Bill

Lastly, the consumer can cut the Internet bill. Some companies have astronomical bills. They charge their customers more than $100 a month for Internet services. Prepaid Internet service can be found via a mobile hotspot device. Free Internet services can be found by moving to an area that has it.

Many creative bill cutting activities exist. The consumer can cut grocery costs, fuel costs, clothing costs and more. The processes just take concentration and a small amount of research. Willingness to change is necessary, as well.

Savings Gone Wild