Budget Archives

canstockphoto3398083If you have children, a job to go to and way too many chores to do, chances are you will need reliable transportation to get around. A car is the most convenient form of transportation, especially if you have to travel a long distance to get back and forth from your home.

Today, most people have a least one car to get around. When you are looking for ways to lower your household bills, you should consider staying in your budget if you’re going to buy a new car. Many people make the mistake of buying a luxury car to keep up with the joneses. They often wonder how they end up living paycheck to paycheck.

 

Another mistake that many people make is they are so in a rush to get a new car. As a result, they end up with a lemon or being cheated out of their money. If you are not careful you could even be left with a car payment that’s almost as high as your mortgage. There are ways to prevent this. Here are 5 ways you can avoid Car Payments from draining your wallet.

 

1. Consider getting refinancing. Many people simply use the car dealership’s financing company for their car loan. Going this route is expensive for two reasons: the added fees and high interest rates. Even though they can stretch your Car Payments out for six or seven years, you will end up paying much more than the car is worth. You should keep in mind that cars depreciate as soon as you drive off of the lot.

 

2. Visit your credit union. Credit unions are one of the best places for you to refinance your vehicle. You will possibly get a lower interest rate and better terms. Even if you start with the finance company, there is no time like the present to stretch out those payments at a lower monthly rate than you previously had.

 

3. Trading in your car is another option. There isn’t a rule that says you have to keep the same car until it is paid off. The car dealer will inspect your car to see how much it is worth. If you keep your car in good shape by getting your car serviced by a good mechanic and keep it clean, you will have an advantage. The difference will be added to the total amount and you will end up with a less expensive, but reliable car. Car Dealerships are always running specials and you will be able to cash in with a trade-in.

 

4. If you decide that you are going to purchase a new car, here are a couple of things to remember. Try to choose a car that gets good gas mileage and find out what gas octane that it requires. Luxury cars use higher octane, which will cost you more to fill up your tank.

 

5. Finally, another way to save you money is to carpool with your friends and coworkers. This will save you money on gas and the wear and tear on your car. If there are a few people that you know that have a reliable vehicle, you all can take turns driving every week or so. The amount that you save on gas can offset your monthly Car Payments.

If you follow the above tips, this will potentially save you thousands of dollars on your Car Payments and avoid the headache of being ripped off by the car dealership. Whenever you decide to get yourself a new or used car, always do your homework and sit back and enjoy the ride.

How Much Is Fast Food Really Costing You?

 

canstockphoto3476385Are you thinking of ways to save money on meals for your family? Most fast food restaurants have a dollar menu for customers who are looking for a cheap way to feed their families. Although, you can feed an entire family for a little over ten bucks, chances are that fast food is costing you a lot more than you think. Let’s look at the realistic cost of take-out food.

 

The average person spend between $1000 and $2000 a year on fast food. Many people love to eat there because the price is cheap on some items on the menu and it’s convenient. You can go through the drive thru and receive your meal in a couple of minutes instead of standing over the stove. You can get burger, fries and a soft drink for less than $5 for yourself if you order from the dollar menu. Eating these types of meals on a daily basis does have its risks.

Consumption of take-out meals on a regular basis isn’t healthy since it’s full of sodium, sugar and trans fats. It causes fatigue in some people and can lead to more chronic illnesses.  It also contribute to lifelong illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. This will not only eat away at the quality of your life, it can also eat away your bank account. Being sick can get really expensive.

Fast Food Restaurants often have healthy meals on the menu, but you will be surprised that some of the items that you think are healthy are full of calories and fat. Here are some ways to save you money while eating healthy.

 

If you are working a hectic schedule and don’t have time to cook there are ways to eat healthy from fast food restaurants. You can order salads with low-fat or no salad dressing at all. Some salad dressings have high calories, especially if you add a lot. You can choose to eat your burgers without the buns, cheese and mayo.

It would cost you a lot less money by preparing your own home-cooked meals. If you want to cook burgers for your family, it will be a lot cheaper by purchasing it by the pound at the supermarket. Grocery Stores usually have regular sales on ground beef and you will be able to feed a family of four for less than five dollars in most cases. Add two dollars for hamburger buns another two dollars for frozen fries and you will still spend less than ten dollars.

When you add it up, you will save yourself a few bucks.

If you want to change it up with a healthy meal, you can make your salad similar to what’s sold at fast food restaurants. You can get a bag of lettuce for two dollars and add some chopped vegetables, croutons and salad dressing. If you want to add some extra flavor, just add turkey or chicken breast to the mix.  If you include iced tea or soda, this will still save you money.

The amazing part is that you will probably have some food left over, which doesn’t often occur when you get fast food.

Saving a couple of dollars on a meal may not sound like much, but it will add up, especially if you eat out on a daily or even a weekly basis.

The next time you are tempted to order fast food or go to the drive-thru, keep driving and head to the grocery store. You will feed your family for less while staying healthy.

 

canstockphoto16293157Advertisers are doing everything in their power to get consumers to think as they do. Many of them have our best interest at heart while others do not. Their ulterior motive is to separate us from our money. For this reason alone it is in our best interest to educate ourselves on how to beat them at their own game. Here are methods you can use to become a smart spender and possibly save yourself thousands of dollars on everyday purchases in the long run.

 

First let’s talk about how advertisers are getting us to spend a lot of money at the grocery store. Most supermarkets have weekly sales advertisements appear in our mailbox with buy one get one free and other offers at deep discounts. They even have coupons that are fifty cents to a dollar off the regular price of an item. Many people buy these products because they think they are getting a good deal. What they don’t realize is that they are actually wasting money if they are not consuming it in the first place.

I’m not saying not to use coupons and take advantage of weekly sales. This can actually save you a lot of money down the line if you are a smart spender. Look at the item and ask yourself is this something that you need and will use in the near future. You should use this method with all of your purchases whether or not it has a cheap price tag.

 

Many are lead to believe that popular name brands are better than the generic brand products. You may be surprised that the name brands and store brands often come from the same supplier. The only difference is that one of them is packaged in a fancier box. If you find that the ingredients are the same (after comparing the labels) the store brand is going to be sold at a lower price.

 

What About Purchasing a New Car?

You should also use this strategy if you are thinking of buying a new car. Many car dealers offer a zero percent financing for a new car with no money down. This sounds great. However, you should be really careful by reading the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. The loan that you get from the car dealership will end up costing you more of your hard earned money on the back end.

Of course, you don’t have to finance with a car dealership. You can always shop around for a new or used car within your price range (if you have enough money saved up). This will save you a lot of money down the road.

You also have the option to visit your credit union and talk over terms of a loan. Credit Unions usually have lower interest rates than banks and the car finance companies. Whenever the car dealership offer you a deal on a car, believing that you will finance with them, kindly inform them that you have secured financing elsewhere and thank them for the deal.

Shopping For New Clothes

Many of us love to shop, especially for the latest fashion. Advertisers make consumers believe that we need their products so much that we have to be the first one to get that new pair of their jeans and expensive sneakers. What we often end up with is something that is overpriced when we could have saved money by buying a non-popular brand with the same quality.

What is an average consumer to do?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to learn how to be a smart spender. If you are tempted to spend money on an item, there is nothing that you need to buy that can’t wait a week or so. This will give you enough time to make your decision.

You can make that decision based on reading articles and reviews. Also look for better deals and cheaper items that have equal or better quality as the original. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to saving yourself some money.

 

You will become a smart spender by taking the time to weigh your decisions and find other ways to get what you want and need without breaking the bank. Take advantage of this method and watch your money grow in no time.

Will Borrowing Money Put You In Danger?

canstockphoto9530353Whether you are taking a trip to the mall or looking to buy a new home, the first thing that may come to mind is to use your credit card or obtain a loan. Many consumers are choosing to put things on credit simply because it’s a convenient way to shop. Borrowing Money has its  benefits as well as risk. The number one question you may want to ask yourself is will borrowing money put you in danger of getting in debt?

 

Excessive borrowing is becoming an epidemic in our society and it seems to be no big deal to a lot of people. It’s easy to just go in our wallet and reach for the credit card or what some people affectionate refer to it as “the plastic.” Some people get a high when charging things on their credit cards that they can’t afford.

 

If you fall into this category you are falling into a trap of getting yourself head above water in debt. For example, if you are purchasing a new sweater and you are using your credit card that has a 20% interest rate this will get quite expensive over time. Many people make the mistake of looking at the original price tag when making their purchases. When they receive the bill they are surprised how much they are paying for that item.

Many people also fall into the credit card trap by making the minimum payments on their bill each month. The credit card companies allow their customers to pay a small amount of money to keep them  paying on the debt for a long time. That’s how the card companies are making  big profits.

Imagine how much you will be paying if you made most or all of your purchases on credit. Even if you pay your credit card bill on time every month you are losing out on the possibility of building your own wealth. The amount of money you are paying in interest charges can be making you money if you stop being a borrower and become an investor. It could be put to better use in an interest bearing account instead of going to the credit card company.

 

What about getting a loan to buy a new home?

There is nothing wrong with taking out a mortgage to buy a home. This is a necessity for most people. It’s actually an investment because in most cases a home will gain value over time. However, you have to be careful not to give into the temptation of buying a bigger house than you can afford. You should ensure that your mortgage payments is well within your family’s budget.

 

Are you borrowing money that you can’t afford?

If you have a habit of making purchases on credit, you will be putting yourself in a hole financially. Take a good hard look at your buying and borrowing habits. Pay the maximum amount of money that you can on your monthly bill so you can pay off your debts as quickly as possible. Once you pay it off, put it to good use by investing in your children’s college fund and for your retirement to build a bright future for your family a lot sooner than you think.

 

canstockphoto11688989With the constant increase of gas prices, it has become important to look for various ways on how to save money on gas. There are a number of ways through which you can effectively achieve this and they include:

1. Change how you drive

A good number of people use up more gas than they are required to. By simply making some minor adjustments when it comes to how you drive, you will be able to cut down on the total amount spent on gas. A good number of vehicles available today have been set to realize the ideal fuel economy at about 55mph. Therefore, driving at a high speed or at a low speed will prevent you from maximizing your gas savings. You should also avoid braking or accelerating too hard.

2. Locate and purchase from cheap gas stations

In a good number of regions, discounted gas prices are usually sold within the same zones. When it comes to the main metro areas, such stations are usually concentrated within outlying suburbs. It is always advisable to keep off affluent areas when searching for a discounted fill. The reason for this is because individuals in such areas do not care much about prices and gas stations have realized this fact. Another reason for the high cost of fuel in stations located in affluent areas is due to the fact that the land in these areas is more valuable hence the high tax rates. This extra cost is usually passed on to the consumers. Gas stations located in close proximity to major expressway exits are more likely to be more costly than those located further away. By driving a couple of blocks away from the expressway, you might just find a better deal.

3. Locate the most suitable station

There are stations within a particular area which are considered as being price leaders. These gas stations are usually attached to wholesale clubs and department or grocery stores. In most cases such stations often maintain close to cost prices for the main purpose of attracting more people into their grocery stores where they can purchase items of higher margins. A number of these locations usually require memberships. The total membership cost must be included in the price. A good number of these stations also offer their clients credit which can be used in store purchases. This is usually given when you fill up your tank. This can lead to significant indirect savings. Gas stations with an in-house auto repair store usually have their gas priced at a higher cost.

4. Take full advantage of any available discounts

A good number of stations usually have discount coupons on gas purchases. These coupons are usually found in a number of places including the back of receipts issued by grocery stores, internet as well as mail coupons. A good number of stations will sell gas to you at a discounted price when you purchase specific items such as a car wash. Another great way on how to save money on gas is by using a gas refund credit card.

5. Look for alternative means to get to your place of work.

One of the most effective way of cutting down on your fuel costs is carpooling to work. This involves sharing or hitching a ride with specific individuals that work in the same company as you and also happen to live close to your home. A large number of companies have made things easier for their employees through available intranet sites or a bulletin board which contain information on suitable individuals you may carpool with.

Another excellent option is public transport. Here you can make use of a pass which are mainly offered at discounted rates. In as much as you are required to pay each time you make use of public transportation, the overall cost is usually less costly when compared to driving yourself to work with additional parking fees. Other viable options of getting to work include: riding a bike or walking. Both of the mentioned options also offer additional health benefits as a result of the workout involved. However, this is mostly suitable for individuals who live within the same area that they work.

By making use of the above mentioned tips on how to save money on gas, you will finally be able to cut down on your fuel cost. This will also enable you enjoy other benefits such as improved health as you begin to regularly walk to work.

canstockphoto9752144Do you find yourself out of money before payday? You are living paycheck to paycheck and you feel like you’re working so hard with nothing to show for it. This isn’t the fact that you aren’t earning enough money. It’s because you don’t know where your money is going. If this is the case you may have a problem with emotional spending.

If you aren’t familiar with the term emotional spending, it is when you purchase things on impulse without giving it a second thought. This spending behavior will possibly get you into big financial trouble. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t spend money on things that are fun. It just means that you will need to learn how to better manage your finances that you have left over after paying all of the necessary expenses. There are many ways you can control impulse purchases and build your savings quickly.

Some of these ways are:

 

Pay close attention to the things you are spending your money on. Do you shop out of boredom? If you find yourself throwing items in the shopping cart that you really don’t need, this is a good sign that you are an emotional spender. You can avoid this by only shopping when you need something and keep a close watch on what you purchase by writing out a good old fashion shopping list on paper or by using your smartphone.

Don’t overindulge in material things. It’s okay to take your friends and family out to an expensive dinner occasionally or to buy yourself a nice outfit every once in a while. However, if you continuously make this a habit this will become quite costly.

Beware of small purchases. Just because you find items that are cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that you are saving money. Sometimes, this is quite the opposite. If you find yourself buying items on sale but you aren’t using them, you are actually throwing away a lot of money. Whether you are buying cheap or expensive items, only buy things that you need or will use in the near future.

Pamper yourself occasionally. Even though I stated that you should treat yourself every once in a while, it isn’t limited to wining and dining. Get yourself a body massage or even buy yourself a new tech gadget to reward yourself for sticking to your budget. Make sure you plan ahead and save for these items. You will feel much better about it and this won’t mess up your financial security.

Acknowledge that you have a spending problem. Admitting these feelings is the first step to reaching your goal of financial freedom. If you notice these emotions that are making you feel that you need to buy things, you will be less likely to act on them.

Keep your priorities in mind. Focus on your most important goals. For instance, if your goal is to get out of debt, look at making senseless purchases as an obstacle. If you want to make a large purchase such as a new car or paying extra on your mortgage, take the money that you would normally spend frivolously and put it away.

Stay away from retail shops and online stores where you have a habit of overspending. If you find that you spend more money than you need to when you go to the mall or even on eBay, avoid going to those places. Try going out for a walk at the park, take up a hobby or volunteer for your favorite charity.

The strategies above are some of the ways you can build your savings quickly while getting rid of the habit of emotional spending. You can use these methods or even come up with your own solutions to reach your goal of financial freedom sooner than you think.

 

canstockphoto7397155When you think of receiving your credit card statement, the thought of it may make you cringe. It is always a good idea to check it thoroughly to avoid incurring more costs than you realize. The credit card statement can be confusing at first, but once you know what to look for,  this can save you some money and even help to protect yourself against fraud. Here are some things you should check for on your monthly statement.

First, you should look for the purchases or new charges section for your most recent transactions. You should keep your charge receipts for all of your purchases so that you can compare it to the charges that’s listed on your credit card statement. You should also look carefully for any unauthorized charges and double billing for a purchase. You’ll want to catch these unwanted charges on your credit card since you will be given a certain amount of time to dispute it.

If you continue to make payments on your credit card for unauthorized charges that you weren’t aware of,  you may still be responsible for those charges. Most credit card companies will give you 60 days to resolve the matter or they will argue that you accepted the charges.

If you notice any transactions for a purchase that you didn’t make , call your credit card company right away to report the fraudulent charge. Most will file a report and you won’t be responsible for paying for the charge. They will usually reverse 100 percent of the amount in most cases.

The next thing you should look for on your statement are the interest rate that are applied to various charges. For example, if you took out a cash advance, you are more likely to pay a higher interest rate than you would on a credit card purchase for an item at the grocery store.

Paying close attention to the interest rate on your statement will also guarantee that you will make the best choice on how to use your credit card wisely. It is obvious that you don’t want to use services that come at a higher interest rate too often. This is throwing money down the drain. Paying attention to how much you are paying for that service is an excellent way to keep yourself in check.

Another section you should check for is your previous balance. This is the outstanding balance that’s owed from the previous month.  Always double-check that balance to ensure that the charges are accurate.

The section outlining your credits and payments is very important. You will want to ensure that all of the payments were applied properly to your outstanding balance and all charge reversals or returns were accurately credited to your account.

You will also notice the term “APR” on your statement. This stands for annual percentage rate which is the interest that’s applied to any outstanding balance at the end of the month. The lower the rate, the less you will have to pay in interest.

You should be aware that the credit card companies can change the APR even if the APR rate is fixed. The bank is required to provide at least forty-five days notice of any changes to the terms of your agreement such as an interest rate increase.

Some credit cards also apply a finance charge in addition to your APR. This only applies if you are carrying a balance in most cases. If you don’t pay off the balance at the end of the month, you will likely have to pay a finance charge on top of your interest fees.

Keeping a close watch on your credit card statement on a regular basis will protect you against fraud and save you money. If you follow these steps, you will avoid getting in debt and put thousands of dollars in your savings.

 

 

7 Best Ways to Save Money on Laundry

canstockphoto12033189Many people are unaware that they are spending a lot more money than they need when it comes to doing their laundry. You may be surprised at the amount of money that you are wasting on laundry detergent, bleach, high energy costs and not to mention the price that you are paying by going to the Laundromat. There are plenty of ways you can save. Here are 7 Best Ways to Save Money on Laundry.

 

Hang Your Clothes Outside

Hanging your clothes outside is one of the easiest strategies there is. If you have a clothesline, this is a huge plus.  The dryer uses a lot of electricity which will run up your electric bill. Each time you avoid using it will save you some money. It is best for it to be done in warmer weather. If you live in a warm climate, you can save money year around.

 

Wait Until There Is a Full Load

Waiting until you have a full load of clothes is the best strategy of all. Many people like to do their laundry all the time out of habit which is absolutely unnecessary. Doing your laundry less often will not only save you money on your electric bill, but also on bleach and laundry detergent. And don’t forget  the amount of time and energy you will conserve by not doing laundry every day.

 

Avoid Buying Brand Name Laundry Detergent

Using brand name laundry detergent can be expensive. Most of the store brand and cheaper lesser known brands are often just as good at cleaning your laundry. However, if you would prefer to use the brand name you can look for coupons to further the savings

 

Clean Out The Dryer Regularly

Make sure that the lint trap is clear. Taking this step can save you a lot of money in energy costs. Your expenses will be extremely high when the dryer is working inefficiently.

 

Use Cold Water

Most people believe the myth that they must use warm water for their clothes to get cleaned. This simply isn’t true. In fact, warm water is not necessary in most cases. By washing in cold water, you will conserve on the heat expenses.

So how much money can this save you? This has the potential to save you around ten dollars a month. If you do your math, this is $120 that you can put towards your savings or to pay other household expenses.

 

Use Less Laundry Detergent

If you are going by the instructions on the package, you are probably using too much detergent. The detergent companies want you to spend as much money on their products as possible, which means they encourage you to use more than the required amount. This is a good way to overspend.

How do you know the right amount of detergent to use? You can start by slowly using less and less, until you notice that your clothes aren’t as well cleaned. This will give you a good idea of how much is really needed .

 

Buy Your Own Washer Instead of Going to The Laundromat

If you can afford to purchase a washer, it is cheaper than continually going to the coin laundry. You will be amazed how much money you spend on a monthly basis at the Laundromat. The amount of money that you spend to dry your clothes can exceed the amount that you pay to wash depending on the fabric. For instance, quilts and comforters take a lot longer to dry than cotton t-shirts and bath towels.

If you implement one or two of these tips, this will save you  some money. However, you will get the best results by following all of these steps to get you on the way to building a small fortune every year.

canstockphoto8160014Whenever you go shopping at the supermarket, do you find yourself spending more money than you would like? If you want to break this habit one of the best ways to do it is to analyze your pantry. The reality is if you do not keep track of your grocery spending, you will most likely put yourself in a position of struggling with debt and even filing bankruptcy. The good news is that you can avoid this from happening. Here are Some Habits to Break That Will Save 50% on Your Grocery Bill Even If You Hate Clipping Coupons.

 

Buying Things You Don’t Need

Do you find yourself buying things that you already have at home? You may have a habit of buying food when you still have more in the back of the refrigerator. Do not go shopping until you use everything you already have. This is one of the best ways to save yourself some money.

 

Purchasing Items In The Checkout Lane

When you are finished with your grocery shopping, you may be tempted to buy candy bars, potato chips or even grabbing a couple of magazines. Junk food are just empty calories and won’t fill you up anyway. It is often more expensive than standard food. If you break this habit, it can save you a few dollars a month and this will really add up.

 

Purchasing Pre-Cut Food

Of course buying pre-cut food is more convenient, but you will end up paying much more than the non-cut items. If money is not an issue, then purchasing pre-cut food will save you a little time. However, if you want to save cash, then do it yourself. Cutting it really won’t take that long.

 

Throwing Away Food

Take notice of the food that you consistently throw out. Many people make the mistake of buying certain things out of habit, even though they never eat them. This is throwing money down the drain. Take stock of the food you already have and think about the percentage of what you actually consume. Focus on buying these items and eliminate the rest.

 

Buying Out Of Season Fruit

Purchasing out of season fruit will always cost more. For example, apples are extremely cheap at certain times a year and other times they are more expensive. You can choose to buy them only when it’s cheap or get the bagged apples rather than buying it by the pound.

 

Another way to save money is by picking your own fruit. Oftentimes, this will really save you a lot of money. Check your local area for a U-Pick service. Taking this step can offer a surprising amount of savings even though it requires more effort. It’s obvious that time is money, so think about whether this is worth the hassle.

 

Before you go on your next shopping trip, make sure you pay careful attention to what you are buying. Most people keep making the mistake of wasting food month after month because they never take stock of what’s going on in their refrigerator or pantry. When you take the time to follow these steps, you can save a lot of money at the checkout lane.

canstockphoto13214055Have you been thinking about giving your home that much needed makeover but you just keep putting it off because you are low on funds? Tight finances and a limited budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a beautiful home. There are a number of cheap and easy things you can do to add personality, comfort and pizzazz to your home. Here are 5 Simple Ways to Brighten Your Home on a Budget.

 

 

Brighten Up the Rooms By Painting The Walls. Painting your kitchen, bathroom and living room walls can do wonders for your home. For example, if you paint the walls a polished white it can add a touch of sophistication. Paint can also unify a space and provide a sense of flow that previously didn’t exist in the home. It is also inexpensive and with the right preparation, a room can be painted in a single afternoon. This is one of the most powerful means for brightening up your home.

 

Add Personality to Your Home By Adding a Few Accessories. Adding just a few accessories can add some pizzazz to your home just like paint. A set of table lamps can add some flavor especially to your living room, den or bedroom. Even pillows and throws can add color and unify a room. Adding some knick-knacks on the tables will draw some attention where you want it. If you think your bedroom needs a makeover you can simply add a new comforter on your bed. You can save money on accessories by checking out your local flea markets and antique stores. Walmart, Kmart and Target also have weekly sales on these items.

 

 

Add Artwork and Photos. Framed Artwork, family photos and mirrors can be added to a space. Mirrors can help a room appear to be larger. It also reflect light and brightness to a room. The greatest part about adding framed art work and family portraits is that it adds color and personality. You can find mirrors, framing and art supplies at craft stores for a low price.

 

 

Rearrange The Furniture. Moving the furniture around takes only a little time and effort and can really liven up a room. Before you get started, consider grabbing a pencil, some paper and a tape measure. Draw a diagram of the room and make sure everything is going to fit where you’re moving it. Moving furniture can be a bit of hard work but it won’t cost you a dime. You can get pieces of items from other rooms to brighten up your space.

 

 

Ambiance. Ambiance can be added in a number of ways such as changing the window coverings to darken or add light to a room. Candles and other scents can also set a mood. You should also consider adding silk or cashmere throw to a leather couch for a sensory experience.

 

As you can see you don’t have to spend a fortune to brighten your home. The little things you do can make a huge difference. Take a look around your home and get creative.

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