Archive for January, 2014

canstockphoto10482540Are your day to day activities causing you to be stressed out? Getting to and from work, taking care of the kids, worrying about the household chores and a list of other things we have to do often leave us stressed. If this describes you, there are inexpensive ways that you can put a little effort in self-care without breaking the bank. Get your friends or family to baby sit so that you can spend at least a couple of hours of some time alone. Here are Nine Simple Ways to Pamper Yourself on a Budget.

Less Than $20

1. Head out to the local video store or load up on some movies from Netflix and give yourself a movie night at home. The movie will cost less than $5, leaving $15 leftover for snacks. This is an excellent way to enjoy some peace and quiet after a hard day at work. You can indulge in your favorites or have a junk food party. If you prefer not to spend time alone, you can invite a few friends over and ask them to each contribute a snack to pass.

2. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Buy some Mr. Bubble, light a few candles and put your ipod on some soft relaxing music. You can buy a pricier bubble bath if you choose. Do what’s best for you to enjoy some quiet time alone by the candlelight.

3. Spend the day sleeping in. There is nothing better than to spend a morning or an afternoon in bed, especially on a weekend or your day off when no one is at home. Prepare in advance so you can have a good breakfast once you wake up. You can go back to bed and get more rest and spend the rest of the day in your pajamas if you’d like. You can kick it up a notch by purchasing a new pair of pajamas or satin sheets to sleep in.

Less than $50

4. Get yourself a manicure or pedicure. There’s just something nice about pampering yourself with getting your nails or feet done. This is a great way to treat yourself if you’re on a budget

5. Get a Massage. A massage will normally start around sixty dollars an hour. However, you may get it cheaper at a chain establishment such as Massage Envy. You can choose to get a relaxation massage or a hot stone massage.

6. Wear Cashmere. Cashmere sweaters, hats, gloves and socks have that luxurious feel against your skin. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. You can find cashmere items at your local discount stores or by shopping online. If cashmere is not your thing choose whatever texture that feels luxurious to you. Remember, buy yourself something nice or something that makes you feel good.

Less than $100

7. Go to the spa. One Hundred dollars will get you pretty far when it comes to pampering yourself. You can choose to get both a facial and a one hour massage session or a two hour session for less than one hundred dollars.

8. Buy yourself something nice. For example, you can buy yourself a new outfit or new sneakers that feel comfortable against your feet. This is a luxury that you deserve for always sticking to your budget year around.

9. Spoil yourself with a nice meal. Enjoy an evening out at your favorite restaurant. If you are social, then take a friend along. However, if you would prefer to have a nice quiet evening at home, consider picking up a nice take-out or have your meal catered.

Self-care is really important and there is no better time than when you’re feeling stressed. Taking the time to pamper yourself every once in a while is beneficial to your physical and mental health.

 

canstockphoto1049130In this uncertain economy, it may seem difficult to put some money aside, but it is much easier than you think. There are many different ways you can save that you would normally not count on seeing in any event. These savings will add up over time and create a nice cushion for you and your family just in case that money is needed in case of an emergency or to reach your goal of an early retirement. Below are Five Easy Ways to Save $1000 in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Know Anything About Money.

 

Save Money From Your Tax Return

Saving money from your tax return is one of the quickest ways to add $1,000 into your savings. Many people make the mistake of spending the entire amount they receive from their tax return as soon as the check is deposited into their savings account. This is a big mistake. It’s okay to spend a small portion on having dinner out, going to the movies and doing the things that your family enjoy the most. However, it is best to add the rest of the money into your savings in case of an emergency such as home and car repairs as well as medical expenses.

 

Set Aside Money From Your Paycheck

You should consider setting aside some money from each pay period to be deposited into your savings. The money will not be available for spending unless you take a trip to the bank.  If you can set aside $50 to $100 each pay period, you will add thousands of dollars to your savings before you know it (if you don’t touch it). If you’re not able to save that amount of money at this time, you can put as little as $5 to $10 per pay period. It may not seem like much but, it will add up over time especially if you have an interest bearing account.

 

Live on Your Current Salary When You Get a Raise

If you receive a raise from your job, live on the salary that you are currently making. Let’s say that you receive a 2% raise per year. That means you will add that 2% raise into your savings account. Consider placing that extra amount into a savings account each period if you are comfortable living on your salary. Your standard of living will be the same, yet increase your savings at the same time.

 

Save Your Pocket Change

You may think that  pocket change won’t make a difference, but it does. You can start by adding it in a large coin collection or an empty coffee can. When the jar is full of change, you can wrap up the coins and deposit the change into your savings account. Many people make the mistake of disregarding the coins and finding it all over the house. Change is money too! Believe or not, it will add up after a while and depending on how much you save it will add hundreds of dollars to your savings.

 

Cash in Your Recyclables

You can make a little cash by saving aluminum cans and plastic bottles depending on where you live. When you receive the money from the transaction save the money and place it in the change jar or into your savings account. This will increase your savings over time.

 

Reaching your goal of adding $1000 into your savings in 30 Days isn’t hard. However, if you don’t have that amount of money right now, you can still add thousands to your bottom line but slowly. It isn’t necessary for you to put away hundreds of dollars at a time from your paycheck. Think of it in small terms as saving your tax return, collecting your change and putting away your raises in your savings account. All of these tips are small, yet great ways to save money. You will have enough money for a rainy and even gain wealth quicker than you think.

7 Easy Ways You Can Save Money at the Movies

canstockphoto15590910It’s close to the weekend and you’ve probably made up your mind that you want to take your family to the movies. Believe or not, you don’t have to pay the full price. There are plenty of little known strategies you can use that can save you money. Below are 7 Easy Ways You Can Save Money at the Movies.

 

Wait for the DVD

Waiting for the movie to be released on DVD is one of the best ways you can save money. After watching the commercial on  television, you may be anxious to see it at the movie theatre. However, patience will really save you money in the end.

You may be thinking that it’s not the same watching it at home. If you are on the edge of your seat and absolutely can’t wait to see it, here are some ways you can save at the theatre.

 

Do not buy food

You may be surprised that the movie theatres make very little money on the movie itself. It’s the food that they make them big profits. This is why they set their prices ridiculously high. If you can avoid it, this can easily save you a few bucks. Purchasing popcorn and soda is how that $10 trip to can turn to $20 at the blink of an eye.

If you’re going to buy food, don’t purchase the larger sizes. The medium size usually offers the most bang for your buck.

 

Avoid going on the weekends

Theatres will sometimes offer discounts on certain nights, particularly early to midweek. These are times when they are getting less business. As you can imagine, the prices will be lower because of the reduced demand.

 

Look out for employee savings

Many people don’t realize that bigger companies sometimes have agreements with local cinemas for cheaper seats. This benefits the company because it improves employee morale. It also benefits the theatre because they will get higher attendance.

You will usually save two or three dollars off the ticket price. This may not sound like much, but if you are taking a large group this will really add up.

 

Avoid going at night

Going in the afternoon will save you money as well. This can save you one third to half off the ticket price. Again, if you are taking a large group it is definitely worth it.

 

Go to the dollar theatre

It may not be the same or not as exciting as being one of the first to see the movie. But, you will still get the feel of being at the movies except you are not paying the high ticket price. This is a step above watching it at home.

 

Purchase multiple tickets

Sometimes theatres charge less if you purchase bulk tickets at once. This may be a good option if you love to go to the movies quite often.

 

These tips may seem like common sense ways to save money at the movies. But when you apply one or more, you can turn that $20 price tag to $10 before you know it.

 

canstockphoto7138978A car purchase is one of the most expensive things to pay for next to buying a home. It is unfortunate that many people make it more expensive than it have to be. Between paying high interest rates on car loans and spending too much money at the car dealership, many people aren’t aware that they could save thousands of dollars over the life of their car. Here are a few tips for you to save money on your next car purchase.

 

 

Buy a Used Car

Purchasing a used car will save you thousands of dollars. Even if you purchase a brand new car, it will depreciate as much as 20% as soon as you drive it off the car lot. Let’s say that you pay $40,000 for a car. It will be worth $32,000 simply because you own it. That’s an $8,000 loss just for driving it off the lot. Some cars will depreciate at that rate  for the next couple of years. On the other hand, if you buy a used car that’s only two or three years old, then you’re saving yourself thousands of dollars on the price of the car. There is a chance that the car is still under warranty and is in excellent shape.

 

Buy From a Private Owner

You should consider buying privately. Car dealerships mark up their prices, which is how they make money. It is not unusual for used cars to be marked up as much as 30 percent. When you do your math, a car that’s worth $10,000 through a private owner may be as much as $13,000 or even higher through a car dealer. It is not uncommon to find a used car at a dealership that increase their prices as much as 50%. Another advantage to buying from a private seller is that the  car mileage is lower in many cases.

 

Buying from a private seller can also have some risk. You can reduce your risk by making sure that you get a car fax, by having it inspected by a mechanic and by taking someone along with you when you test drive the car. Make sure you have a buyers/sellers agreement signed. Never pay for the car in cash. Always purchase with a certified check or a money order. Remember to always trust your instincts.

 

Do Your Research

If you’re committed to purchasing a new car from a dealership, then you should do your research beforehand. Find out the value of the car by visiting Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Make sure that you have a good credit rating going into the purchase. You could find yourself paying a higher car loan interest rate if you are not careful.

 

Taking the time to find out how much a car is worth will give you room to negotiate. If you have a trade-in or the ability to make a larger down payment, you’ll have even more room to negotiate. Car dealers don’t only make their money by selling the car, they also sell your car loan to other lenders. Having a good credit score will give you an advantage.

 

Many people are uncomfortable with negotiating and dealerships know this. If you fall into this category, here is some advice. Make a list of cars you are interested in purchasing that’s slightly above your price range. Write down the amount that you are willing to pay each month on a car loan. However, if you are paying for the entire amount of the car, write down how much you will have to spend.

 

Put the car that you would most like to own or choose the one that’s slightly above your price range at the top of the list. Then write the next expensive under that until the least expensive car is at the bottom of the list. Now take a trip to the dealership of the most expensive car. (Presumably you’ve made this decision after taking test drives and are certain that you are interested in this car.)

 

You have the knowledge of exactly how much you are willing to spend when they start the negotiating process. If you can get the car for less than the budgeted amount, then congratulations! This tactic works best if you are armed with knowledge. Most people struggle with negotiation simply because they are not prepared and don’t go into it with a solid idea of what they want to get out it.

If the first dealership won’t negotiate, always be willing to walk away. You have your list of cars. If  the first one doesn’t work out, go to the next dealership until you find the best deal. Treat each negotiation as a learning experience. All of the methods above will get you on your way to save money on your next car purchase.

Buying versus Renting – Which Is Better?

canstockphoto6001244If you will soon be moving from your current home, you maybe stuck in making a decision as to whether you should buy or rent a home. The answer to your question is it all the depends on your circumstances. There is really no right or wrong answer for every person. So which option is best for you? Here are some things you should think about and determine which option is best for you.

 

Responsibility

Do you want the responsibility of the upkeep of the home? When you rent, the landlord is responsible for the maintenance to the property. You aren’t even responsible for keeping up the yard in most cases if you live in an apartment or a condo. However, if you rent a home this will probably be up to you.

Renting usually requires less responsibility than buying a home. This means you can spend your time and energy on more fun things rather than worrying about the ongoing expenses.

 

Paying Taxes

When you buy a home, you will have to pay property taxes, home maintenance expenses and homeowner’s insurance. After all, if a theft should occur, you are responsible for it. This often makes buying a home more expensive.

On the other hand, if you’re buying a home, it could net you some tax advantages. You can often deduct the interest on the loan payments and the property taxes that you pay from your income. This will give you tax breaks, which can’t be done if you’re renting.

 

How Long Are You Going to Remain In the Home?

When you buy a home, you are going to be tied down to that place for a long time. Although, you don’t have to keep it for the length of the mortgage, it will be much more difficult to move than if you’re renting.

Selling the home will take a lot of time and energy on your part.  If the home has depreciated in value, especially in a downward economy you will run the risk of losing a lot of money.

 

 Equity

A disadvantage to renting is that you will have nothing left when you are done. This means you are certain to lose money.

On the other hand, when you’re buying a home, you will have the chance to break even or make a profit from the sale. An advantage to buying a home is that you have the option to rent out a portion of your home that will put more money in your pocket. You can even buy a new home while placing your current home up for rent. Buying will provide more financial stability.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying and renting a home. If you are planning to move place to place, then renting will be the best option for you. However, if you would like to remain in the home for a long time, then buying will probably be a wise choice. Think about these things before you make a decision.

 

canstockphoto16801980It seems that everyone is trying to separate consumers from their heard earned money nowadays. I’m not only talking about businesses. You should also be aware of scammers. One way they attempt to steal from people are through credit card scams.

 

There are  advantages to using credit cards. It is an easy way to make purchases and to build your credit. You also have the option to use debit cards. Banks issue debit cards with Visa and Mastercard logos so that you can easily make purchases from your checkings account whether you are shopping at your local stores or online. Although, this is  convenient you are responsible for keeping your credit cards safe.

Scammers are always looking for new ways to gain access to your accounts. They will use every trick in the book to steal your information without your knowledge, which will sometimes create problems when it comes time for you to clear the situation with the banks or credit card companies.

 

Try these Four Important Steps to Avoid Falling Victim to Credit Card Theft

 

Make Sure Your Credit Cards are in a Safe Place

Know where your credit cards are at all times. Whenever you make a purchase never place your credit card on the counter. If the clerk need to swipe your card, make sure the she give it back to you. Shopping during the holidays when it’s hectic poses the biggest threat when it comes to keeping your credit card safe.

You should always be aware of your surroundings. Pick pocketers can steal your wallet from your back pocket or an unzipped purse without your knowledge. You may think that you misplaced your credit cards until you either receive a telephone call from the credit card company about unusual transactions or when you receive your next statement.

 

Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information to a Stranger

Never give out your credit card number over the telephone. If someone ever contact you about a bill payment, ask for the website address or a place where you can pay locally. Better yet, you can simply tell them that the check is in the mail. Scammers will always find ways for people to give out their personal information by disguising themselves as a legitimate company.

 

Fill Out The Credit Card Slips Completely

If you ever used your credit cards at a restaurant, did you just sign the receipt? This is not recommended since someone else can easily fill it in and you will be charged more money. If you are leaving a tip on the table, you can take extra measures by writing the actual amount of the bill on the “total amount” line. Make sure to keep a copy to compare it to your next credit card statement.

 

Examine Your Credit Card Carefully When It’s Returned

When you give your credit card to a waitress or cashier, examine your card when you get it back. A few seconds is all it takes for them to do a bait and switch on your card. Be sure that it is your credit card and not a fake.

 

Keeping your credit cards in a safe place, filling out your credit cards slips completely, examining your credit cards when it’s returned and never giving your personal information to complete strangers are Four Important Steps to Avoid Falling Victim to Credit Card Theft. Credit card scammers are everywhere looking for their next victim. Use these methods to your advantage to protect your credit cards and keep your finances safe to avoid the headaches down the road.

 

canstockphoto15821602Determining How Long Should You Keep Your Financial Records and other important papers can be quite tricky. On one hand you want to make sure that you have all of your necessary paperwork in case you need it. However, you also shouldn’t clutter up your home with a lot of useless documents lying around.

Some people have trouble throwing away  seemingly important documents such as bills and receipts. It is not unusual to find receipts and bills piling up in their homes dating back ten years. This is unnecessary. I’m not saying that you should just get rid of everything, but you don’t need to keep everything either.

The benefits of getting rid of paper work can’t be underestimated. The mental freedom you get from having a clutter free home is priceless. You will be amazed at how clear you can think when everything is neat and organized in your home.

So the million dollar question is what documents should be kept and what should go? Below are the three time periods your documents should be kept for.

 

Under seven years

You should keep your bills, receipts, bank and credit card statements and anything else that tracks your spending records until the next statement is received. This will allow you to stay on top of your monthly spending and helps you to make sure you are staying on  budget.

Another thing you can do is to go paperless. Most banks and credit card companies give their customers an option to gain access to their account online. They even give you an option to go paperless. That way you don’t have to deal with papers at all.

 

Seven years 

Your W-2 and 1099 forms should be kept for seven years. You may also want to keep investment data.

 

Lifetime

There are some documents that you should not get rid of. These include birth certificates, social security cards, marriage license, Medicaid, your will, insurance,  immigration and death certificates.

Also hang on to your non- deductible IRA contribution documents to show that you paid your taxes on it as well as your financial records.

You should also keep papers that show your immunizations, hospital records and prescriptions. In most cases the doctor’s office will keep these records on file. You should always have your own copy on hand in case something happens.

Make sure you keep your military papers. Although the military will retain their own copy, you want to have your own just in case should there be a disagreement about your service.

You should consider getting a safe for all of these documents to ensure they are not stolen or damaged. It’s important that you hang onto these things for the rest of your life.

 

How Long Should You Keep Your Financial Records? There are different lengths of time that these documents should be kept for. Follow these guidelines and you will have all of the information that you need while keeping a clear mind and a clutter free home.

For more budgeting tips, sign up for the 10 Part Mini Course.

 

canstockphoto6371452The cold weather have taken over much of the United States and abroad. Cold weather means high heating bills and fighting off the cold draft for many people. There are a few changes you can make in your home in order to save money on your heating bill. Here are ways you can begin Winterizing Your Home on a Budget in 5 Easy Steps.

1. The first step you can take to winterize your home is to seal off any cracks or draughty areas. These areas are going to  allow heat out and this is money going down the drain. Instead of paying someone to come out to your home to seal off the draughty areas, you can take a trip to your local hardware or  department store to buy some caulk and seal off those leaks yourself. Taking this step will save you a couple of hundred dollars on your heating bill.

 

2. Whenever you are looking for leaks, make sure to check in areas that are commonly overlooked. Let’s take dryer vents for example. Check your dryer since this is one of the commonly missed areas along with the windows in your attic or basement. Use plastic for other windows in your home, especially if they are draughty.

 

3. If you happen to find draughty windows in your home, replacing them may not be in your budget right now. If this is the case you can seal off the windows with plastic designed for your windows. The plastic will go on the inside of your home instead of outside. It is very easy to apply and you can seal off your entire home with less than a day’s work.

 

4. To apply the plastic, outline the windows with double sided tape. Apply the plastic and then blow dry the plastic to shrink it to the window size. This will seal out all of the cold air and keep the warm air inside.

 

5. Make sure that you cover any areas that have an AC unit. Remove the AC unit and seal up the area if it’s possible. If it is impossible to remove the AC, purchase a cover to keep the warm air from seeping in. Make sure you unplug the AC from the outlet. If anyone try to use it there is a good chance that toxic fumes will build up.  (Don’t forget to remove the cover before plugging the AC back into the outlet once the weather gets warmer).

 

The steps that’s mentioned above are relatively easy tasks. You may have to spend a weekend sealing up windows, cracks and vents, but the alternative is far worse. Each year many people are wasting hundreds of dollars trying to keep their houses warm. Please don’t make the same mistake. Taking these steps will get you on your way to saving hundreds of dollars to build your savings or to do the things you enjoy the most while keeping warm and cozy throughout the winter.

For more budgeting tips, sign up for the 10 Part Mini Course.