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 kidsmealdeals.com 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.

Tips for Saving Money on College

A college education is one of the most expensive items that parents have to cover. Yearly tuition can be as high as $30,000 if the parents are uneducated as to the ways they can save money. The following provides some tips for saving money for college, and it provides a few tips on saving money on college:

Start Saving as Early as Possible

Parents should start saving money as early as possible so that they can accumulate funds for their children’s educations. Ideally, the parents will create a saving plan and a budget while the child is still a baby. Early planning gives parents more years to save money, which means they can save smaller amounts. A simple $25 per week commitment could result in $23,400 worth of savings by the time an infant is 18 years old.

Utilize Part-Time Income

Parents can use the funds from a part-time job to start creating their college fund. Many part-time jobs are available for those who do not want to use funds from their main job. Examples of part-time jobs include writing, lawn mowing, babysitting, snow shoveling and web design.

Open a High-Interest Checking Account

A high-interest bank account can provide a consumer with the boost that he or she needs to build provide a solid education. High-interest bank accounts can accumulate a few thousand extra dollars for a parent who is devoted to saving money for college.

Choose a Local College

The best way to save money on college is to apply for education at a local university. The difference between private college expenses and local college expenses can be more than $10,000 per year. For example, the cost of an out-of-state college might be $22,000 a year whereas a local college many only charge $8,000 a year for tuition. Parents must be extra careful not to fall into the trap of the overly expensive for-profit institutions.

Apply for Educational Grants

Federal grants such as the Pell Grant can provide a significant amount of college savings. The average Pell Grant is almost $6,000, and the receiver does not have to pay it back. Additionally, quite a few scholarships are available for students who would like to go to college. An interested person can find a scholarship or grant by typing the information into a search engine. A fortunate person can have almost all of the college expenses covered.

Throwing an Inexpensive New Year’s Eve Party

All consumers would like to bring in the New Year with their closest friends and family members. A New Year’s Eve party is the perfect way to do such. How does one throw an inexpensive New Year’s Eve party with a limited budget, however? The following are some tips for having a party at home with extremely limited funds:

Dollar Store Snacks

The most important part of a New Year’s Eve gathering is that everyone is happy. Happiness does not require expensive food such as caviar. A homeowner can visit the nearest dollar store a purchase enough chips, pretzels, dips and drinks for the gathering with less than $20. Additionally, a dollar store will have supplies such as table cloths, hats and blow toys for when 12 a.m. hits.

Grocery Store Niblets

Party planners who desire a healthy alternative can shop for some inexpensive items at the grocery store. A bag of Granny Smith apples is cheap, and the person can slice the apples into attractive slices and serve them with caramel or chocolate dip. Deviled eggs are an inexpensive party food, as well. Alternatively, shoppers can purchase large premade party-size fruit or vegetable platters.

Cheap Alcoholic Beverages

A New Year’s Eve celebration does not need to be expensive when it comes to alcohol. Places such as Family Dollar sell frozen Pina Coladas and other tasty mixed drinks in a bag for approximately $2. No preparation is necessary for such drinks. The only thing the “host” has to do is put the bag in the freezer long enough to thicken the drink and pour it into a cup whenever the drinker is ready to drink it. Discount liquor stores may have some additional specials going on for celebrating the New Year.

Cheap Party Fun

Board games are some of the best sources of entertainment for a New Year’s Eve party, and most of them are less than $20. Examples of some fun games that groups can play during the party are Twister, Pictionary, Monopoly and Scrabble. Card games and intellectual games can go over well also. Uno is a card game that has been around for decades. Chess and Checkers are never unpopular no matter who is around. A person can find any of the aforementioned games at the local toy store or discount department store.

Anyone can have an inexpensive New Year’s Eve by following the aforementioned advice. The key is to bring in the New Year with a smile despite the working budget.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Savings Gone Wild