Family Archives

canstockphoto24746428It is quite expensive to feed a family nowadays! The price of food is a large portion of most budgets, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. There are several alarming statistics concerning the food prices in the U.S. The cost of feeding a family of four in July 2014 are ranging from $568-$1,293.20 per month according to Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Data from the Consumer Price index shows that food prices have increased an average of 2.8% per year since 1990 and will most likely continue on an upward spiral.

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help you save big at the supermarket. Use these techniques to substantially lower your grocery bill:

 

1. Avoid paying for pre-cut and cooked food. To get the biggest savings at the checkout, stop shopping for convenience. You should avoid pre-cooked, pre-washed and pre-chopped food at all costs. Look for whole food that you can prepare instead of buying highly processed food. This is a lot cheaper and also gives you more control over how much salt, sugar and fat are added to your meals.

Another way to further your savings is by eating home-cooked meals rather than dining out. If you don’t know how to cook very well, consider asking your friends and family members to share some of their recipes. You can also do a Google search and watch Youtube videos for step-by-step instructions on how to prepare specific dishes.

 

 

2. Plan your menu around weekly sales. Prepare dishes with items that’s on sale or marked down for the week. Many grocery stores offer weekly specials on items, especially in the meat and produce department while others offer significant savings on products that are nearing the expiration date.

Purchasing items when it’s offered at rock bottom prices will dramatically increase your savings. Most meat and produce can be stored in your freezer until you’re ready to cook them. If you come across good deals, stock up on these items and plan your meals accordingly. On the other hand, if you let it go to waste you’ll be wasting money!

 

 

3. Compare prices at different stores. Avoid shopping exclusively at one retailer for groceries and other household products. There is a good chance that you’ll end up paying more when shopping at one particular supermarket. Search for specials and reward programs at all of the grocery stores in your area. You should include smaller community grocers as well as farmer’s markets on your list of places to do your shopping.

 

4. Take advantage of coupons and rewards clubs. Many stores offer deep discounts to members of their shopping clubs. It’s usually free to sign up and always remember to take your membership card whenever you go shopping.

You can save even more by using coupons that you find online. There are several websites that offer coupons for food, baby items and a long list of household products that allows consumers to download on their computer and smartphones. Using your smartphone is better since it will save time printing and clipping coupons.

Keep in mind that using coupons on an items that’s on sale will give you extra savings. Always buy food that you’re going to use. If you purchase items that you don’t use, you’re throwing food and money down the drain.

Rising food prices are making it difficult for many families to enjoy nutritious meals. Use these tricks to make it easy for you to cut your grocery bill in half without skimping on your favorites. Watch you savings grow while you’re getting more bang for your buck at the cash register!

7 Characteristics of Successful Savers

canstockphoto15497150Do you consider yourself to be a good saver? Very few people often save enough money to maintain a reasonable level of financial security .Many seniors are forced to work well into their retirement years. Adopting great saving habits can make building your savings considerably easier. Making a few small changes may be all you need to have a bright financially abundant future.
Saving money will be a slow process at first and may require many years for you to see impressive results. Nevertheless, your habits dramatically influence your results over time.

You will become a successful saver by adopting these habits:
1. Successful savers pay themselves first. It is natural for our instincts to steer us in unproductive directions. Many people feel compelled to pay all of their bills first before saving their money. It would be nice to avoid the mental burden of bills and other financial obligations. However, there’s hardly anything left at the end of the month to put toward your savings. Make a habit of saving a certain percentage of every dollar that you earn or receive each pay period.

Start out with 2% of your income if that’s all you can afford right now. Make an effort to increase the amount over time. Avoid spending this money at all costs!

2. Automatically save their money. It’s much easier and more convenient to simply have the money from your paycheck direct deposited into your bank account before you have the opportunity to spend it. There are many employers that are willing to split your paycheck and send a portion to a separate account on your behalf. This is one of the easiest ways for you to save money.
3. Learn to control their spending habits. The less money that you spend, the easier it will be for you to save. Review your spending pattern over the last month and determine if all of your money was well spent. Don’t be down on yourself if it wasn’t. Start monitoring your spending each month. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed about how much money you have accumulated.
It is reasonable for you to expect an annual return of 10% on your long-term investments. For every $100 that you spend today would be worth nearly $750 in 20 years only if it had been invested. Spending $100 when you’re at the age of 20 can cost you nearly $8,850 once you reach 65 years of age.
You should always shop with a grocery list. We’ve all gone to the store for a couple of items and came home with far more than expected. Before you leave home write out a list of what you need and stick to it.

4. Avoid getting into debt. Trying to save while in debt is similar to climbing a mountain and never reaching the top. Consumer debt is an obstacle that will make it difficult to achieve any financial goal. Anytime you’re unable to pay cash for any purchase, you simply can’t afford it.

Avoid accumulating any unnecessary debt unless it’s for an emergency or something that’s very important that needs to be paid for immediately.

5 .Set goals. Saving money is a lot easier if you have a clear picture of the reason. In other words “What is your why?” For example, saving enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement or sending your child to college can help maintain your focus.

6. Stay on top of their finances. Most savers are aware of how much money is in their accounts and the amount of money they’ve saved and spent each month. They also keep a close watch on all of their income and expenses.

7.Take responsibility for their finances. They always pay their bills on time, stay out of debt and have an emergency fund for the future. They also take responsibility for all aspects of their financial life instead of blaming others.

As you can see, it’s possible to save enough money to secure your future. Creating good saving habits will enhance your results. By making a few minor adjustments, you can watch your savings grow a lot sooner than you’ve imagined. Start creating a budget and savings plan today!

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If you’re constantly left with a few bucks or a zero balance in your savings account, the way you’re handling your finances may be the blame. Unfortunately, you’re not alone in not achieving your financial goals. According to a recent June 2014 survey conducted by Bankrate.com, 75 percent of Americans have no savings and are living paycheck to paycheck. If you are currently in this situation, there are steps you can take to get your finances back on the right track.

Use these methods to stick to your budget and achieve all of your financial goals:

1. Refrain from impulse shopping. Resist the temptation of impulse shopping if it’s your weakness. When you go shopping for an item that you’ll need, take along a shopping list or a responsible friend with you to help you stick to your budget. Only purchase items that you have on the list.

Leave your credit and debit cards at home and only carry enough cash to pay for the items that you need. This will help you to save money at the cash register and also avoid paying interest charges.

2. Find out what causes you to overspend. For example, if you find that you’re always tempted to spend more money when you’ve had a difficult day, only go shopping when you are more relaxed.

3. Recognize what specific items are hard for you to resist. For instance, if there is a particular store or even a website where you have a habit of going over your budget, find a new location to shop. You can also avoid going to certain aisles in the store.

4. Get more organized. Use a new method to organize your important documents and receipts if the bills that you forget to pay seem to pop up after the payment is due. This behavior may have you paying unnecessary money for late fees and interest charges. These expenses can add up very quickly!

Place your bills in a place where you you can easily find it like a folder or binder. Remember to always pay your bills on time.

If you have any magazine or any other subscriptions that’s not being used, cancel it before they are auto renewed. You’ll be amazed about how much money you’re going to save.

5. Shop around for better rates. If you are satisfied with the services from your current service provider, do some comparison shopping anyway. Consider reviewing your expenses and search for ways to reduce the amount that you’re paying for services such as the cable, telephone and even your car insurance. Contact the provider, and ask if you will save money by bundling the services or cut back on features that you hardly ever use. Even though you may not receive a discount, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

6. Nip your weaknesses in the bud. Review your expenses periodically and see if you can identify areas where you tend to overspend. The most challenging categories for most people are clothing, food, housing, entertainment and transportation. Once you’ve identified which category of expenses where you exceed your budget, seek ways to make smarter spending choices when you purchase things in this particular category.

Changing your spending habits can be very challenging. For example, if your rent or mortgage is taking over your budget, the only solution may be moving to a smaller home or a less expensive location.

7. Seek advice from a professional. If you are frequently going over the budget, seek help from a professional as soon as possible. Most financial planners and accountants offer helpful advice and you will also learn how to take control of your finances. There are lots of free and low cost advice on financial planning and budgeting online. You can also find these services that are provided by churches and local chamber of commerce in your area that offer free or low cost financial planning and credit counseling for their members.

Becoming aware of your spending habits and selecting a strategy to deal with it is the first step to reaching your financial goals. Stick to your budget and you will increase your savings before you know it.

Best Places to Find Cheap Christmas Gifts

canstockphoto15267563Christmas shopping can get quite expensive. There is a long list of family and friends that you want to shop for. Buying expensive gifts are unnecessary and will potentially leave you in a lot of debt if you aren’t careful. The good news is you don’t have to empty your wallet to provide a lovely, thoughtful Christmas gift for your loved ones.

Before heading out to the mall to do your Christmas shopping, make sure that you make a list of people you’re planning to buy gifts for. Planning ahead will help to ensure that you’re not leaving anyone out and this will also allow you to have your list handy while shopping. You can maximize your savings by writing down the maximum amount that you’re going to pay for each item to prevent going over your budget.

 

If you want to learn more about where you can find the best Christmas gifts on the cheap, here are a few ideas to get you going:

 

1. Homemade gifts. If you choose to give away homemade gifts, it is well received since you have taken a lot of time and effort to create it. There are a variety of homemade crafts that you can make with very little time, money and effort. For example, if you love to cook, you can bake a cake or even make canned jelly or preserves. You can simply use an old family recipe or search online for more ideas.

Other handmade gift ideas include scrapbooks, handmade jewelry and greeting cards. Personalized gifts show the recipients that you took a lot of time and thought to make them a special gift.

2. Visit thrift stores. This is another great way to save on Christmas gifts. Many of the items that’s sold at thrift shops are gently used, and will make great gifts. As you walk down the aisles, keep an open mind about the best gifts for the people on your list. In addition to selling clothes, most thrift stores have books, toys, household wares and other items that’ll make great gifts. This will help you find the hidden gems while you’re doing your shopping.

3. Look for deals at flea markets. Although flea markets are looked down by some, it’s still a great place to find high quality products at low prices. There are reputable vendors that sell anything from designer clothes to the latest gadgets. When shopping at flea markets you’ll have a better chance of negotiating a lower price with the sellers since they are trying to get rid of the merchandise.

4. Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Waiting in long lines can be stressful, but the items that you’ll find may be well worth it. Look for advertisements in the newspaper and make a list of the items that you would like to purchase. Keep in mind that you may have to include alternative gift ideas since these products will be taken off the shelves rather quickly. If you want to avoid the long lines, visit bfads.net to find the best deals from popular retailers.

 

Christmas shopping can be very stressful, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend for expensive gifts. You will save a lot of money by searching for great deals and making your own gifts. Your family and friends will enjoy the gifts and spending the holidays with you. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

canstockphoto7412656Halloween is one of the most fun holidays of the year that both children and adults look forward to. After all, it has a unique tradition. In addition to taking your children to go trick or treating, Halloween parties are the best way to celebrate the holiday. Many people prefer to have parties to make sure their children are safe. However, having a Halloween party can get quite expensive. The good news is there are ways to for you to prevent overspending. Here are a few ways to find Halloween goodies on a budget:

 

1. Buy candy early or when it’s on sale. Check out retail stores like Walmart and Target. They usually have specials on candy and other snacks that’s typically sold during the Halloween season. You may also find these items at a discount at Wholesale Clubs and Dollar Stores. Look for sales on candy  in the weeks leading to Halloween or when the items are first displayed on the store shelves. Candy can be purchased year around since most lasts for a long time.

If you’re a savvy shopper, you’ll stock up on candy when they are at a deep discount when Halloween is over to keep until the following year. The days after the holiday is over is when you will find all types of candy at rock bottom prices. This is similar to buying a turkey the day after Thanksgiving.

2. Ask your guest to bring their favorite Halloween snacks. This will save you a lot of time and money on the snacks. You’ll also get to enjoy a variety of goodies that people will bring. You can focus more on the fun things like decorating and preparing the punch.

3. Buy cheap gift bags. You can find inexpensive gift bags at the dollar store or by visiting orientaltrading.com.  If you want to save money,  you can use freezer bags that you have in your cabinets.

4. Create your own invitations. You can use an online invitation website like evite.com to send email invitations to your guests. However, if you prefer the old school traditional invitations consider making it yourself. A simple design such as a cut-out black spider from construction paper glued to a white card is easy to make. If you’re not the crafty type, you can make them on your computer.

5. Set the mood with some Halloween music. Since we live in the digital age, you can find music quite cheaply. You can easily find a Halloween album or scary sound effects for only a few bucks. All you have to do is plug in your iPod or MP3 player to keep your guests entertained. You can go the extra mile by positioning the speakers in the windows in front of your home for partygoers as they’re approaching your house.

6. Carve some pumpkins. Retail stores typically have discounts on pumpkins. This is a fun and inexpensive activity for your guest to enjoy.

 

Speaking of decorations, you can find them at rock bottom prices right after the holiday. Consider checking out auction sites like eBay to find bargains. Making your own decorations is another way to save some money. If you have sheets, black dye and cotton balls lying around the house, these items are enough to create a scary scene. The cotton balls can be used to make spider webs and the sheets can either be used as a costume or  to decorate the table or wherever your mind takes you. On the other hand, if there will be small children at the party, you may want to prevent the decorations from being too scary since some children are afraid of certain things.

 

If you do some planning and get creative, it will be easy to enjoy a Halloween party on a budget. Make sure you plan ahead, ask others to contribute and embrace your creative side. Since Halloween only happens once a year, make the most of it and have a ball!

canstockphoto3262685The first day of school is just around the corner. There are a few questions that come to mind when it’s time for parents to do their shopping such as “Where can I find the best deals on clothes, notebooks, backpacks and the list goes on. Education is a very important thing when it comes to our children, but at the same time some of these things can be quite costly. Here are  a few simple things you can do to save money on Back To School Supplies.

 

Plan a List 

Write out a list for all of the things that your children will need. The little things such as writing paper, pencils, and crayons may seem like it doesn’t cost that much, but if you purchase it at the retail price you could be wasting a lot of money. You should also involve your children while writing out the list. Depending on their ages, they have an idea of all the things that are needed and this will show them some responsibility.

 

Take Advantage of Tax Holidays

Tax Holiday specials are usually offered annually by many states during the back to school season. This will allow you to purchase school supplies without having to pay the sales tax on any of the items. You may want to do some research by looking in the Sunday’s edition of your local newspaper or by searching online.

 

Purchase By The Bulk

There is a basic economic principle- “The More You Buy, The More You Save.” Well this is relevant if you are making a purchase of a specific item that you will need in the near future. For example, if you are buying pencils you should buy it by the box instead of purchasing individually.

Face it, your children will be using these items throughout the school year. It will be smart to take advantage of the sales while these items are available at rock bottom prices.

 

Prepare Your Children’s Snacks

If your family is not qualified for the free lunch program, take the time to prepare snacks for your children. This will not only save you money, it will ensure that your children are consuming healthier meals. You should also discourage them from purchasing items from vending machines if it’s available at their school. It usually contain high sodium and sugary snacks and drinks. Even though it may cost only a dollar, the money will add up over time especially if it’s purchased on a daily basis. This money can be used to add to their savings.

 Transportation

You may want to consider getting your children a bicycle to bring to school. This of course is not always possible. Providing a cheap and safe way to get your children to school is your top priority . If you are concerned about their safety, you have the option to car pool with your neighbors or to use school bus transportation services in your local district which is usually provided free of charge. Contact the school where your children will be attending for more information.

Saving money on Back To School Supplies isn’t hard. If you follow one or more of these ideas, your savings will add up to a bright future for your family.