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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!

canstockphoto8857234Are you thinking of taking your relationship with your partner to the next level by Moving In Together?  This is indeed a big step to take in your relationship. It is also a big step in regards to sharing your finances.  Moving in together will most likely ease the burden on both of your wallets since the household expenses will be shared by both of you. When you plan in advance on how you will split the costs, things will go smoothly.

 

Running a household can get quite expensive. There are many factors that you should take into consideration.

 

Household Bills

 

Before you move in together, the first thing you need to do is to figure out whose name is going to be on the utility bills. This includes the lights, telephone, cable service, water and gas. If you decide that only one of you is going to be on the lease, then your name or your partner’s is going to be on the utility bills. On the other hand, the utility bills can be in either name if both of your names are on the lease.

Splitting the household costs in half is the usual way for married and unmarried couples alike to handle their finances. When the bills are due each month, you will both share all of the expenses or one of you will pay all of the bills while the other is responsible for the groceries and rental insurance (or homeowners insurance).  Make sure to keep the bills where both of you can gain access so that you can review them in order to keep track of your monthly expenses. Writing  this information on a sheet of paper, using a budgeting software program or app are other great options.

 

Bank Account

 

Some partners choose to open up a joint checking account for the main purpose of paying the bills. If you decide to set up a joint checking account, it is always best to have both of you to check with one another when it comes to handling the finances to prevent overspending. However, opening a joint bank account isn’t for everyone. If you are uncomfortable with this idea, then you should discuss alternative payment plans with your partner. You can always ask your partner for his or her share of the bills whenever the payment is due.

 

The only drawback to this is that the funds may not be readily available. If you don’t have the money on hand to cover your partner’s share, you will run the risk of paying late fees or worse, getting evicted. Another problem you can run into is having someone who has a bad habit not paying his or her portion of the expenses. This is why it’s important for both of you to have a clear understanding beforehand on how the bills will be paid to prevent these things from happening.

 

Allowing Others to Move In

There may be a time when friends and family members may fall on hard times and will ask to live with you for awhile. Before giving someone permission to move into your home, always ask your partner first, even if you think he or she will allow it. Remember this can also put a strain on a relationship.

Before moving into your home, let your new roommate know what expenses that she will be responsible for.  It is always best to have this in writing with both of your signatures.

 

Moving in together is a big step and requires planning when it comes to your finances.  Although, it is not required for you to combine your income with your partner, an adequate payment plan is needed to cover the mortgage/rent and other household expenses. If both of you work together on your finances, this will ensure that you’ll have a healthy and financial free relationship for years to come.

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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!

canstockphoto16950235Teen years are an important time for learning the value of money. Even though they are taught reading, math, science and history, it is unfortunate that the educational system don’t educate children when it comes to money management. How can teenagers learn the value of a dollar? For many teens, their idea of earning money is by receiving an allowance from their parents. Some parents give their children an allowance based on household chores while others don’t require their children do anything.

Getting a Summer Job is one of the best ways to teach them about hard work and  becoming responsible young adults. Below are other lessons teens can learn from securing a job during the summer.

 

1. A Summer Job will teach teenagers discipline. If your teen have a habit of staying up late and have difficulty waking up when it’s time for school or other appointments, getting a job is the best way to help them change their behavior.

The best lesson teens will learn is they are required to show up on time at their workplace. If they have a habit of tardiness, some employers will deduct their earnings or they will be terminated. This is an excellent way of learning how to balance their schedule.

An employer expects all tasks to be completed as directed, unlike parents who are forgiving if their teens’ chores aren’t done on time or correctly. Not following directions can mean they are without a job. This is a hard lesson to learn that they will never forget.

A disciplined environment can help your teen to appreciate hard work and the benefits of working in a cooperative and systematic manner. Earning a regular paycheck and gaining confidence will prepare your teen to become a responsible adult.

 

2. Hard Work Pays Off. When your teen is working in a disciplined environment, she will have a better appreciation of the value of money. She will know exactly what it took to earn her first paycheck and will less likely spend her money frivolously.

She will also learn how many hours it took of her labor to earn that money and a sense of accomplishment at being recognized for her hard work in this way.

Earning money instead of receiving it will also give her a sense of self-reliance and experience that will encourage her to take on more responsibility in the home and in the community.

 

 3. It will teach teens to balance their time. They are not adults and will need time to enjoy age-appropriate activities. Summertime is a great time for securing employment, but should be balanced with spending time with family and friends as well as enjoying their favorite hobbies.  For example, they can work a part-time job while participating in piano lessons before or after work.

 

Getting a Summer Job instead of depending on an allowance will teach teens the value of hard work and the value of a dollar. The next time your teen ask for a raise on her allowance, just say “Have you ever thought about getting a part-time job this summer?

4 Ways to Get Through a Financial Emergency

canstockphoto6226763How do you get through a Financial Emergency? Just when you think you are on top of your finances and things are going smoothly, disaster strikes. It could be something as minor as getting a flat tire on your way to work or something big such as job loss or a medical emergency. If you plan ahead, you’ll get through it, even if you are going through hard times.

The purpose of creating a budget is to save money for the unexpected. Most financial gurus agree that everyone should have an emergency fund that will cover their expenses for at least six months. Even if you are doing well with your savings, it doesn’t mean that you should stop adding money to it.

Here are some tips on how to get through a Financial Emergency whether you think you are prepared or are in deep debt:

 

Review Your Budget

Although, you may have enough money in your emergency fund to pay for car repairs, you will still need to prepare yourself in case anything else happens. What if you or your loved ones are faced with a medical emergency that your insurance company won’t cover or what would you do if you were laid off from your job today? You will need to find ways to readjust your budget.

Reducing the amount of money that you spend on your cable bill is a great way to save money. If your contract has expired with your current provider, you can ask for a smaller plan or eliminate the service all together. You can also contact your cellular phone and internet service provider and ask for cheaper plans or find another company that has better deals.

Canceling magazine or newspaper subscriptions can also save you some money. There is a good chance that there are free online newspapers and websites where you will find the same information for free.

 

Earn Extra Money

If you are currently without a job, there are still ways you can earn some extra cash. You can provide a cleaning service, wash cars or provide a dog walking service for your neighbors. If you would like to make money in your pajamas, there are easy ways you can make money online. If you have items in your home that’s no longer in use, sell it on eBay. There is a good chance that someone is looking for that item as long as it’s in good condition.

You can even use your skills to make money as a freelancer. Check out places such as taskrabbit, fiverr, eLance and oDesk.

 

What if you don’t have enough money to cover the expenses?

Negotiate the Payments

If you are faced with high credit card bills or are behind on your mortgage, contact the company as soon as possible. Ask if there is a way that you can pay a lower monthly payment until your financial situation improve. Most companies will work with you, especially if you have a good history of making your payments on time.

If you had a medical emergency that’s not covered by your health insurance company, contact the financial department of the medical facility and ask if there is a way you can pay in monthly installments until it’s paid off. However, if the payment is more than you can afford, find out if there is a way you can send a lower amount.

 

Ask for Help

If you are going through hard times, swallow your pride and ask for help. Find out if there are charities in your area that donate food and clothing. If you have a disability, visit the Social Security Administration to sign up for SSI and food stamps. This will help out with your household expenses until you are able to get back on your feet.

 

These are a few ways to get you through a Financial Emergency. It may seem impossible at first, but if you follow these tips, you will become debt free before you know it.

What are the Costs of Having a Baby?

canstockphoto18071332If you are planning to have a baby in the near future, there are some things you will need to plan for. Making the decision to have a child is a major step in your life. Having a new born will change every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to your finances. In fact, it will get very expensive. The examples below will give you an idea of the Costs of Having a Baby.

 

Babies will need formula (if you choose not to breastfeed) and diapers. These two items are expensive. Your infant will need to be fed and changed continuously. Once your baby become a toddler, he or she will begin to eat table food. This will add more to the grocery bill, especially if you buy jarred baby food.

Clothing is another expense that you will have to consider. Babies grow very fast and will require you to buy them in a bigger size sooner than you realize. Clothes can be purchased at thrift stores to minimize the costs. It is not unusual for children to grow three or four sizes or even more within the first year. The price of clothing will get more expensive as children get older.

Do you have insurance? Medical insurance is needed to cover the expenses of  your pregnancy and the birth of your child. Typical pregnancies require between twelve and fifteen visits, depending on your doctor’s requests and the development of your pregnancy. If you have a high risk pregnancy, you will need to see a doctor more often which leads to more expenses.

If you are without medical insurance, the visits to the doctor’s office will add up to a lot of your out of pocket expenses. Medical insurance is also highly recommended for the birth of your child. Having good medical coverage will ensure that most of the expenses are covered.

After the baby is born, there will be several visits to the doctor to ensure that your baby is developing well. Most medical insurance companies will fully cover the visits to the pediatrician. If the insurance company won’t cover 100% of the costs, then you will just have to pay a small out-of-pocket co-pay. If you don’t have insurance, the visits are not covered and you are responsible for all of the procedures and the vaccinations that’s given to your child.

If you and your spouse or partner both have jobs, then you will need to pay for child care expenses. The price of a day care is almost as expensive as making monthly car payments. You can cut your expenses by working opposite work shifts.

 

Making the decision to have a child should be taken seriously. Many people are not aware of the Costs of Having a Baby and what it will take to raise a child. When you have a baby, you will have to put his or her needs before your own. Talk to friends and family members who have small children to prepare yourself for the physical, emotional and financial expenses that may lie ahead for you.

canstockphoto2014300You have all that Loose Change sitting at the bottom of your purse, in your pants pocket or even find them between the seats of your sofa. What do you do with all of these coins? Do you save it or toss it aside? Saving change may not seem like much. After all, it’s just a few extra pennies here and there. But if you were to collect all of the change and add it up, you might be surprised at how much money will be saved up . It could be enough to take your friend out to lunch or buy yourself something special.

It won’t feel like it cost anything since this money was just sitting and not included in your budget.

Many people often treat Loose Change like it’s not real money. After all, what difference can a few cents make? As a result, it usually end up in the hands of the kids, on the counter or you allow the cashier to keep it. Collecting your change can add up quickly and pay for some extras that aren’t included in your budget.

Think about how much change that you collect in a month, or over a year. Even a few pennies here and there can make a difference and will add up in several months. If you find a way to start saving all of your coins, you could always put some aside for something fun such as a family outing.

The downside to this is your loose change will take time to count, depending on how much you’ve accumulated and it takes up a lot of room. You can easily solve these problems by counting it on your day off from work and by creating a designated place to keep it. Get a big jar and place the change in it until there is enough money to spend on groceries or whatever purchases that you would like to make.

You are probably not the only person in your household who’s spending money and carrying loose change in your pockets. There is a good chance that your spouse and kids have it too. You can increase your savings even more by getting everyone together to participate by placing their coins in the change jar. Place the jar where everyone can find it and put their left over change in the jar each day. You can add it up altogether as a family and plan what to do with it when the jar is full.

Set aside time each week or month to roll the coins that you already have. That way it won’t become a tedious task once the jar is full. Rolling your coins will help you keep track of how much money that you’ve saved.

You will have enough to spend on fun things like going to an amusement park . On the other hand, you can save it for a trip, use it to purchase Christmas gifts or donate to your favorite charity. If your family have a big goal to save for, you should tape a photo of it on the front of the jar to remind everyone to stay on track.

What if you don’t want to spend it? You can choose to let it sit or add it to your savings. Some banks will charge you a small fee for adding pennies or will accept it in limited quantities. Contact them first to find out their policy on depositing change into your account.

Saving your Loose Change will allow you to save up enough money for family outings, vacations and make big and small purchases. The next time you see coins lying around the house, put it in the jar and watch those pennies turn into dollars in no time.

 

 

 

canstockphoto3417830In today’s economy, it is important for moms to look for ways to make their dollars stretch. Being frugal is an excellent way to control your spending habits. Many people mistake frugality for giving up all things that they enjoy the most for the sake of saving a dollar. This is not the case. It actually allows you to look for ways to prevent overspending. There are several methods you can use to save money on your favorite things whether you’re shopping at the supermarket or for clothing.

 

Here are Five Money Saving Tips For Moms to stay on top of their budget:

 

Cook Dinner at Home. Preparing your own home-cooked meals instead of eating out is an excellent way to save you money. The food at restaurants are often overpriced and the portion sizes are not worth the money spent. For example, the price of one adult meal can possibly feed your family for two nights.

 

Clip Coupons. Clipping coupons is an important money saving strategy that will minimize the amount of money that you spend at the grocery store. Perusing flyers, preparing dinner by what’s on sale and using coupons can maximize your savings. Clipping coupons will help lower the cost at the cash register. Many supermarkets also double the face value of coupons up to 99 cents.

 

Pack Your Children’s Lunch. You should pack your children’s lunch rather than have them spend money buying school lunch or at the vending machine. The food and drinks in the vending machine are loaded with sodium and sugar. You will be better off packing their lunch with healthy snacks and avoid the prices of school lunch which have been steadily increasing over the last few years.

 

Make Your Own Coffee. Making your own morning cup of coffee instead of going to the café will add up, especially if you consume it on a daily basis. If your husband has a job and you’re a stay-at-home mom, prepare a travel mug for him as he is getting ready for work instead of spending money for coffee day after day.

 

Shop at Thrift Shops and Close Out Sales For Clothing. Most of the clothing at the thrift stores are gently used. Typically, worn out clothing is not accepted by thrift shop owners. It is possible that you will find brand name clothes at a small fraction of the regular price.

Another way for you to save money on clothing is by looking for close out sales. Find out if there are clothing shops that are going out of business in your area. They often have products at rock bottom prices to get rid of all of the items before they close their shop for good. You can even look for items at places like Walmart and Sears/Kmart on the clearance racks.  Shopping at back to school sales and on major holidays such as labor day and  black out sales will save you money on your favorite designer clothes.

 

Clipping coupons, cooking home-cooked meals for your family, preparing lunch for your children, making your own coffee and shopping at thrift shops are five best Money Saving Tips For Moms. Take these ideas and roll with them. It won’t be long before you will find other ways to save money on your purchases. Your budget will thank you for it.

canstockphoto6563031Are you constantly looking for ways to save money? One of the best ways to keep money in your pockets is by getting Free Samples of everyday items. Many big name companies offer free samples in order to attract customers. Once they get positive feedback from their products, it will tempt the consumers to purchase the full-sized item on a regular basis. There are many places to get samples of household goods, books and even free items from fast food restaurants if you know where to look.

Companies are always developing new products to their line. However, they cannot attract potential customers to make purchases without some type of incentive. For this reason they offer discount coupons and in most cases Free Samples.

 

Here are Four Best  Places to Find Free Samples that will save you money:

 

Visit the website of the manufacturer. If you would like to sign up to receive samples, one of the best ways to do this is by visiting the company’s website. You may be required to fill out a survey to give them information on your daily needs and the type of products that you’re interested in. These surveys are tailored so that you won’t receive samples of items that you won’t use.

Most free products are in small sizes, meaning that it will not last very long. However, it is a good way for you to try the item to see if it meets your needs. That way you nor the company won’t be out of money for the full-sized version if it’s something that you don’t like.

 

Freemania.net  This website is constantly updated with either buy one get one free coupons and free samples. It lists all of the offers on the front page, then redirect you to the surveys to fill out the requests for free products. The items are tailored to your possible use and it does not list any maximum amount of free items that you can receive. You have the option to print the coupons or use your mobile device.

Justfreestuff.com is another website where you can find great selections. You can sign up for their newsletter to receive updates on free and discounted products. There are sweepstakes on the front page of the website that you can enter to win high ticket items such as $500 Gift Cards.

All-Free-Samples.com offer free samples of a wide variety of products. If you find something that you like, all you have to do is click “Get It” and it will redirect you to the company’s website. Some companies require you to login to their website while others don’t. If you would like to stay on top of the latest deals, sign up for their newsletter for the updates.

Beware of sites that are designed to scam consumers. If they ask you to pay for a free sample stay away for them. Free samples are- FREE. If you come across any websites that asks you for your credit card information, move on to the next one. You will be putting yourself at risk of identity theft by giving them your credit card number.

Finding Free Samples online is very easy if you know where to look. Sign up for their newsletters and fill out their surveys to take advantage of their deals so you will enjoy your favorite things free of charge.

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