Category Archives: Couponing

Fund Times: How to save smart without waste

The two words most people fear in terms of money is “emergency fund,” perhaps even more so than “savings account,” since the former is more fearful given that not many have one.

An emergency fund is quite simply money set aside in the event something unexpected happens. Given that the average saving account for about half the population is around $1,000 or less, the idea of an emergency fund is quite laughable.

But why don’t we have money saved? Why is our emergency fund more prepared for a few months worth of grocery bills rather than a new roof, transmission for the car or braces for the kids?

The fact remains there are two main reasons we can’t save: we don’t spend correctly, and we live far beyond our means. In both instances, you need a budget, you have to track your spending, and by doing so you’ll flush out the bad spending and keep the good (i.e. necessities).

Living beyond your means is more about borrowing money and trying to have what you want or keeping up with certain trends even though your income won’t support it. Having a budget keeps you accountable, and if you’re overspending and you write it all out on a piece of paper and can actually see you’re in the negative that could sharply change your spending habits.

Spending correctly isn’t just about paying your bills and paying them on time, but also our innate ability as a society to waste money on anything from lottery tickets to cigarettes. While some might not consider those purchases a waste of money, consider what not buying those could mean in the long run. if you spend just $3 per day on the lottery over the course of 10 years, you’ll have spent $10,000 and have nothing to show for it. And if the average lottery player spends $5 per day, that number is going to be nearly double.

And wasting money isn’t just about lottery tickets or addictive habits, but also can be something as simple as take out food on a weekly basis consistently. If you spend $10 per day on lunch, and another $10 on coffee and drinks that are just part of your day to day routine, you’re spending about $7,000 per year on one meal and a quenching your thirst daily.

What about your need to refill more than just a cup at lunchtime?

Your focus should be on tracking spending, increasing income (if possible) and budgeting what you have not what you don’t. Being wasteful is just an added negative to this entire process, one that can easily be fixed but by your hand only.

Personal Problem: Is a personal loan the answer to paying off debt?

Credit card debt is a topic that is tough for most people to indulge in discussing, mostly because everyone has debt and paying it off can be difficult if not feeling nearly impossible.

So when it comes to tackling debt in the form of credit cards, you might be willing to entertain just about any option that you can think of, even if it means adding to the pile.

Consolidation is paramount for some, simply for convenience purposes of making one payment and calling it a day. The consolidation road can center on two avenues: debt consolidation companies that overtake your debt and help you manage it or quite simply a personal loan that can use its Superman like qualities and knock out your debt in a single swipe.

The debt consolidation plan through a company works, but that renders your credit cards cancelled and obsolete and will ding your credit score as a result. It doesn’t mean you’ll not be able to have credit or get more important loans, but that is a deterrent for the masses.

A personal loan allows you to have a fixed interest rate (which is a breath of fresh air versus doing balance transfers on credit cards that change drastically once the promotional rate that is introduced goes away after 12 or 18 months).

Before going into a personal loan, you have to make sure you’re able to carry something like that, first by checking your credit score but also making sure you’re not going to get saddled with a high interest rate based on your debt to income ratio or income in general.

If you don’t have the income to carry personal loan, what ends up happening is you borrow less than you need to consolidate and still have a stray card or two to pay on in addition to paying back that personal loan.

The real selling point of the personal loan is that one stop shopping (or paying back) mentality. The personal loan can take multiple lines of credit and allow them to be paid off and that one lump sum monthly is important for the purposes of convenience. That is hard to understate for the people who have a lot of debt and a lot of cards they’re trying to manage.

Having credit card debt is troubling and disheartening but it doesn’t have to be a mountain that you can’t climb. Taking a personal loan should mean that, credit wise, you can carry it with an interest rate that only alleviates the problem, not adding to it.

Saving Money After the Holiday Dip

The financial dip is the wallet-depleted period that immediately follows the holidays. It is the period that starts in the beginning of the year and ends when the weather warms in some areas. Most consumers have nothing but lint in their pockets at this time. Some consumers have a difficult time recovering from the dip period. The following are some tips that all consumers can use to save money after the holiday financial dip:

Do Some Bill Snipping

One way that modern consumers can save money after the dip is by snipping the household bills. Some of the bills such as the cell phone bill, car insurance bill, Internet bill and cable bill are open for consumer manipulation. What that means is that the account holder can contact customer service and remove some of the unnecessary features and add-ons until the post-holiday finances recover. Examples of bill add-ons are premium cable channels, cell phone music and data features, additional gigabytes of Internet, and collision and comprehensive auto insurance coverage. Consumers often surprise themselves when they see how much of a difference a little bit of bill snipping can make.

Start a Couponing Hobby

Many people do not bother themselves with coupons because they do not want to take the extra few seconds or minutes to stand in line or type a code into a website. The beauty of the dip period is that it provides consumers with the opportunity to do things that they would not normally do. Coupon codes, promotional codes and discounts codes are available on a vast number of websites as well as in the paper circular. They can help a struggling post-holiday consumer to get by and get back on his or her feet after spending so much money.

Go on a Penny Hunt

Many consumers turn their noses up at pennies because they are the least of all the money. However, these little brown coins can get people out of many tough situations. A group of them can put food on the table. They can buy gas. They can even purchase clothing. The best thing about pennies is that they are all over the place. Consumers can find them under the mattress, in the car, behind the dresser and more. A post-holiday consumer can probably find some serious cash by going on a penny hunt. Bank machines can help consumers turn their pennies into dollars.

There are ways that one can bounce back after the holiday doldrums. Consumers can start with the previously mentioned tips and go from there.

Saving panned: Why traditional coupons can’t trump online version

Not long ago, coupons came to us via the mail or perhaps in the form of a door hanger or some other means of marketing and promotion that promised to save us money one way or another.

That, for the most part, was the only means that a consumer could bask in the glow of money saved, sitting at the kitchen or dining room table, scissors in tow, cutting corners literally as they went from one circular in the Sunday paper to another in the hopes of putting a little extra cash in their pocket.

The emergence of online coupons, or as it is affectionately known now as “couponing,” has benefited customers two fold: the same money savings options are there, only with a simple click of the print button but also the arrival of web sites that use online coupon codes that work in conjunction with and have relationships with retailers that allow you to score even more savings from one purchase to the next.

That advantage is one that customers find far too appealing to ignore and certainly beats the traditional form of the coupon or, if nothing else, works as the perfect compliment to that way of shopping. Some retailers have sales specifically designed for someone who might have a credit card with the store, and they’ll be apt to send you coupons in the mail for that reason alone. The influx of online coupon sites, such as keycode.com, PromotionCode.org, RetailMeNot.com, and coupons.com take those savings and merely add to the winnings.

If you can’t use both, the online coupon sites mentioned above typically trump most of what you can get with the paper version. Coupons for various retailers range from 10% all the way up to 70% off, and let’s not forget as well just how convenient online shopping is when you add online coupon promo code sites to the equation.

Not only do you have the ability to browse these sites, find the retailers and subsequent coupons you want, but it’s as simple as clicking and revealing a list of discounts that work for you, often with several to pick from, whether the retailer is offering free shipping or a discount of $25 off purchase of $100.

No matter how you slice it, coupons of this ilk are too hard to pass up.

keycode.com, for instance, partners with thousands of retailers who dish the goods on a variety of products and services so customers are more inclined to buy and you can view any number of deals, rather than just having, for instance, a $5 off coupon that hardly is enough to whet your appetite to save money and thus shop. keycode.com conveniently allows you to simply search a retailer and an entire page of coupons populates. A simple click on the one you like best, and you’re transported to a world of saving money you never thought possible and certainly wouldn’t get to this level with hard copy coupons, scissors and the best intentions in the world.

Those old fashioned coupons still have their place, but you’d be hard pressed to pass on the online coupons and promo sites that serve you much better for what you’re looking to save.

 

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. Amazon.com 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 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.

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.

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.