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  • Small Savings WILL Make A Big Difference!

    Living on a budget is the key to financial freedom, but getting started can be frustrating. When we look at our expenses and see all of those bills we’re paying every month, it’s easy to throw our hands up in disgust. But what about all those little expenses we incur? You might be surprised to find out just how much they amount to.

    It’s easy to dismiss cutting back on little things. A few dollars a month won’t make a significant difference in the big picture and you won’t be able to retire on those small savings. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there will add up each month. When you cut back in a lot of small ways, you could end up with a lot more money at the end of the month than you used to.

    Waste Not, Want Not

    One thing we can do that is good for the budget is stop wasting so much. This can apply to many areas in our lives. From eating to home heating, waste equals money going down the drain unnecessarily.

    Cooking for the family instead of eating takeout or dining out is a great way to save money. But if you’re throwing food out, the benefit is reduced. So if you have leftovers, don’t let them end up in the trash. Some dishes freeze well, and this makes for easy dinners when you don’t have time to cook. You could also eat dinner leftovers for lunch the following day.

    If your home is not well insulated, you’re probably wasting lots of money on home heating and cooling. Insulating will cost some money up front, but it will pay for itself quickly. If you have drafts around windows and doors, weather stripping can help maintain the temperature of your home.

    I’ve lived in some drafty and cold apartments and houses through the years and one thing that really helped was putting plastic on my windows.  It kept out a lot of cold air and kept in a lot of the heat.  It was a win-win for me and my purse each month.

    Most households waste an unbelievable amount of electricity. This can be prevented in part by using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Turn lights, televisions, computers and other devices off when you’re not using them, and open blinds to take advantage of the sun’s light during the day so you don’t even have to turn your lights on until later in the day. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 4 Apps to Help You Save or Earn Money!

    If you’re like me you will do almost anything to save a little money or even make a little money here and there.  Because of that, I’ve put together a list of some of the most popular apps below that I hope you’ll start to use – I mean, we all can use some extra money can’t we?

    1. Ibotta – This app is available on iOS and Android phones and shows deals at retailers from grocery to drugstores to travel.  Using this app you just check off the offers you want to redeem and once you do the shopping you’ll earn cash back.

    Whenever I go to the store, I’ll sit in the parking lot and go through all of the Ibotta offers and check whatever I know I’m going to buy.  Sometimes if I see something I like I’ll go ahead and check it just in case I do decide to buy it while I’m in there.

    While it can be time consuming, it is easy to use and you really can make some money using it.  Sometimes they’ll offer something like $1 back on a gallon of milk (any brand), or ground beef (any brand).  And one of the best things is they offer some super bonus cash that you can collect over time.

    2. SavingStar – This app is available on iOS and Android phones and allows you to pick out deals from their site.  For most stores you need to have your loyalty cards linked to SavingStar but you can also take a photo of your receipt and upload it.

    You check the coupons you want to use that are attached to your cards and when you’ve saved $5 on your purchases you will earn some cash. They have also added a feature that allows you to get money toward your goal by watching a short video on the site.

    Some of the offers they have are you get $3 back after you spend $12, but if you watch the video on the site, you can get an automatic $2 toward that offer.  So, you’ll only need to spend $10 on products you were going to get anyway – you’re actually only spending $7 when all is said and done including the $3 back. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Your Electric Bill Shouldn’t be as High as Your Mortgage!

    When you get your electric bill does it seem like – during the winter and summer months – it’s almost as high as what you pay your mortgage company?  It happens sometimes, but really, it shouldn’t.

    If you’re like me, you’ve tried to cut back by turning off lights when you leave a room or by making sure the television is turned off when it’s not being watched and these things might have helped some, but not as much as you thought they should.  Maybe there are things you can be doing that you haven’t yet considered.

    In the summer months try switching your thermostat to 80 degrees.  It might sound hot, but use your ceiling fans and buy some free standing fans that can help to move the air around for you.  When you use your ceiling fans in the summer make sure they blow down.  And did you know that using fans can help save you around $600 each year – that’s $50 per month.

    You can also wear fewer clothes in the summer while in the house.  Again, 80 degrees for your thermostat might seem high, but when you have on fewer clothes then it won’t seem too bad at all – particularly if the temperature outside is 90 degrees.  It will actually feel cooler.

    In the winter months set your thermostat at around 68 degrees or lower.  Wear layers and sweaters to keep warm and keep a throw or blanket on the couch for when you are watching television.  You don’t have to freeze in your own home, but you also don’t have to spend a ton of money to heat it.

    Consider purchasing small space heaters.  They don’t use as much electricity and it allows you to set your thermostat lower.  Take it from room to room so you’ll be warmer in the room you are in at the time.  There are a variety of types and looks that you can choose from.

    The big thing electric companies will tell you to do is to set it and forget it, but if you are going to be gone on vacation or gone over a long weekend it’s best to just turn it off.  Turn it back on when you get home and it should kick right on and have your house cooled off or heated up in no time at all.

    Always replace your air conditioner filter at least once a month.  If the filter is dirty then your air conditioner will work harder which in turn will increase your electric bill.  Clean all of the registers in your house so that air can flow through them easily like it should.

    Check all of your air ducts to make sure they don’t have any leaks in them that heat or air can be escaping through.  If you have an older unit then the duct work will be older which makes it more susceptible to holes or tears. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Save Money by Shopping Early for Christmas!

    Save money

    I used to be so proud of the fact that I could get all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving but now, for most things, I’ll wait a little longer to shop.  Why?  Because I can get great deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and I can get free shipping on everything.  If a company doesn’t offer me free shipping then I will purchase the item somewhere that does.  It’s that simple.

    I was probably paying out a lot of money by not waiting just a little longer.  But, by shopping throughout the year I was able to get some gifts while I was out browsing for other items.  This is particularly easy if you shop for children.

    Another thing I do if I’m going to buy clothes for others (which I don’t do much) then I’ll buy for the following year when all the sweaters go on sale from this year.  Yeah, it’s kind of like cheating, but I do it anyway.  I mean, what better time to stock up on sweaters for next year than waiting for them to go on sale this year??  It’s a win-win for everyone!

    Now, when I say “early” in the title of this article I mean it’s important to shop starting in November when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials come along.  You can save money and you’ll be finished shopping before you know it.  Have your list ready to go when you start and get everything you can to get the best deals.

    One other word of advice I will offer is to go through Ebates to do all of your shopping.  Stores will offer cash back – and yes, that’s real dollar bills – for the money you spend through them.  Some do 2% but there are some who give back 6%.  I have never shopped during one holiday season since signing up with Ebates and I’ve gotten my “big fat check” from them each and every year.  Do it and if you are new you’ll get a bonus gift card just for signing up!!  Yeah, seriously! Read the rest of this entry »

  • Teaching Kids about Money

    When my kids were young we didn’t really have a lot of money so any time they received any money from anyone they were encouraged to put it in a piggy bank to save. Sometimes they did and sometimes they couldn’t wait to spend it. I tried to help them save, but it didn’t always turn out the way I hoped – and it wasn’t always through any fault of their own or anything they did or didn’t do.  That’s a whole other story though.

    A lot of kids are never taught the importance of money at home or at school. I’ve always said that personal finance should be a course that is taught in school starting in the lower grades, but so far, no one has ever listened to me. So, it’s up to the parents to teach kids what they need to know and the earlier you start, the better off your child will be as they grow up.

    How you teach kids about money will depend on how old they are and what they’ll be able to comprehend and understand. Below are some different ways that can help teach your children about money based on their age.

    Read the rest of this entry »