Budgeting Archives

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.

 

canstockphoto13914507Are you constantly looking for different ways to save money but get little or no results? If the answer is yes, the good news is there are a variety of ways you can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars in your savings. Coupon clipping is one of the easiest ways for you to reach that goal. It is no longer known for something that your mom does nor is it something for you to be ashamed of. In fact, coupon cutting is a smart, savvy and an excellent way for you to save money.

Coupon sites have become quite popular in recent years. They offer everything from laundry detergent to clothing and even your favorite restaurants. With the number of coupon sites that’s available online, there is no excuse for you not to save money on your standard purchases.

This makes sense because coupons have become such an in-demand item, that there are so many online coupon websites to choose from. It can be tough to determine which ones are best from the coupons you really need. Here are 6 Best Websites for Online Coupons, how they work and what they have to offer.

Coupons.com This website offers the largest listing of supermarket coupons anywhere. It’s also very easy to use. All you have to do is find your coupon, print it out and you’re good to go. Before you do your shopping, ask the clerk or the manager do they accept online coupons since some supermarkets don’t accept them.

CouponCabin.com offers a variety of coupons from retailers and keeps the coupons  up to date. It also does a great job organizing coupons in an extremely useful manner. For example, you can browse “Categories” and click on the items you are looking for. You can also sign up for their weekly newsletter to stay on top of the best deals.

CouponMom.com Stephanie Nelson also known as “The Coupon Mom” has a website that offers the best brand appeal and consumer loyalty. There is a lot of useful information on her blog and email alerts on your favorite retailers.

SmartSource.com  taps into your local stores and supermarkets and offers both online and coupon deals for users to take advantage of. All it asks for is for you to enter your zip code and you’re good to go.

DealLocker.com offers printable and online coupons to save on clothing, office supplies and even airline tickets. It makes coupons and deals easy to find because it organizes the items by category. They also offer fun tips on their blog.

SlickDeals.net You should be warned that this website is a bit cluttered but you will find coupons and discount codes for retailers that’s not normally represented by coupons or coupon websites. The good thing about this site is that they offer a mobile application and you will probably be surprised at the items listed that can save you money.

These 6 Websites for Online Coupons are excellent places for you to save money on your favorite items. You can bookmark them or sign up for their newsletters to stay on top of the best deals.Before you do your shopping, make it a habit of visting these coupon sites. You’ll be amazed how much money you can save.

canstockphoto1710084What is the purpose of clipping coupons? Coupons are offered by many companies that want you to try their products. If you choose to skip out on these deals you are throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the drain. Here are some strategies you can use to get the most from cutting coupons.

The Sunday’s Edition of your local newspaper is usually full of offers for food and household products. The bottom of the ads usually have a coupon for you to cut out to help you save money at the checkout. Does that sound good to you? But, why are so many consumers avoiding them?

It could be that they are ashamed that people will think they are poor or will be labeled as being cheap. Clipping coupons is not a sign of poverty or too much frugality. This is beneficial to both consumers and manufacturers. It will save you enough money to add to your savings while manufacturers get tax breaks on their business when they have promotions like this. For this reason you should take advantage of it.

Are you in the category of consumers who have never used a coupon. Here are Four Easy Ways to Save Money at the Checkout.

Clip coupons for items you will use. Your main purpose is to save money on items you will consume. You should resist the urge to buy something just because you have a coupon. This is actually wasting money. Use them to offset the price of the items that you use the most such as bread, milk, toothbrushes, toilet paper and etc.

Use coupons with in-store promotions. Many grocers hold weekly sales. They include circulars in the Sunday’s edition of your local newspaper and in your mailbox. For example, if your grocer has bread on sale for a buck and a half, you can use the coupon from the Sundays paper for 50 cents off to save even more money. Some stores offer reward cards. It is free to sign up and you will find many brand name as well as generic brand items at low prices.

Search Online for coupon websites. Coupons.com and Coupon Suzy offer printable coupons for a variety of products. You can easily sort it by category. It is similar to using a coupon box that used to be in the grocery store, but it is a lot more organized.

Double the pleasure. If the supermarket is offering to double any coupon up to one dollar, make sure to shop on that particular day. You can save twice as much money on your favorite items. Let’s say you have a coupon for a free sample that you want to try. This is the time to do it without spending too much money.

You will reap some sweet rewards from clipping coupons. Go though your Sunday’s paper and junk mail and clip happily. Always check your coupons before you take the next trip to the supermarket so you won’t miss out on the best deals.

 

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.

 

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