Money Archives

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 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  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 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!

canstockphoto6041672Investing in your children’s education is certainly one of the best gifts that you can give. The costs of higher education is getting more expensive every year. With in-state expenses at a public school averaging  just below $20,000 annually, you may be wondering how are you going to pay for it.


529 College Savings Plan is one of the best solutions that will ease the financial challenge of paying for your children’s college education. It is a state sponsored savings plan that allow tax-free earnings. Contributions are not deductible for federal income tax, however it is tax deductible in many instances for state tax purposes.


Here are some advantages of opening a 529 College Savings Plan:


Tax Writes Offs Can Potentially Be Huge

The account holders can write off a maximum of $55,000 from their estate per beneficiary without having to pay a federal gift tax. The limit is $110,000 for married couples.

For example, a wealthy couple with 4 grandchildren could deposit $440,000 ($1000,000 x 4) towards their grandchildren’s college education and reduce that amount from their estate. They are able to do it every five years until the maximum amount is reached.


You Will Have Control of The Assets

If you decide to close the account, you may be required to pay a 10% penalty and the income tax on any earnings. The balance is yours to keep and do as you wish.


The Beneficiary Can Be Changed

If one of your children decide not to go to college, the account can be reassigned to the next sibling. The account must be transferred to an eligible family member.


Can Open An Account In Another State

Each state have different plans, and some are better than others. You are able to invest in plans in nearly every state.

For example, you can be a resident in the state of Arizona and invest in a 529 plan in Connecticut and send your child to school in the state of Florida. There is a lot of flexibility available. Be sure to shop around before you open an account.


The fees that’s associated with various plans are also important for you to consider since some will be much higher than others. Many financial experts consider the extra charges to be the most important criteria while choosing a plan. Some fees are incurred when opening an account and there are also annual maintenance fees.


If you know for sure where you would like to send your kid to school, there are many universities that offer prepaid 529 plans. This will allow you to pay the cost at the current rate. Unfortunately, there are penalties if your child decides later on to go elsewhere. If you choose this option, make sure where you will be sending your child to college.

A drawback to this method is that investment options are slightly narrow, and the ability to switch between the available investment options is also limited. The tax code currently restrict changes to occur once a year.


Like any investment, a 529 plan isn’t for everyone. There are various options to finance a college education. Each have their benefits and limitations.


After you have done your research on investment options, you may find that a 529 College Savings Plan is an excellent option that will ease the burden of paying your children’s college education. With the cost of college education on the rise, your kids will thank you later for investing in their future.

How to Save Money On Clothes

canstockphoto17170625Are you longing for the latest designer fashion on the rack? You may have spotted that beautiful dress that people can’t stop talking about. If you continue to purchase every designer clothing that catch your eye, this will eventually add up and will have you in a lot of debt before you know it.

Some fashion experts will argue that clothes can either make or break a person. They also explain that your personality is always reflected on the way you dress. You don’t have to break the bank to make a good fashion statement. There are ways you can save money on clothes with the latest fashion.

Here are some  tips you on How To Save Money On Clothes on your next shopping trip and find items that will grab a lot of attention without the thousand dollar price tag.


Do The Math

Saving money on clothing can be really tricky, unless you know how to do the math. Before you purchase a dress that will cost you hundreds of dollars, it is best to go places that are budget friendly. Whenever you shop at a store that sell high end items, you are more likely to pay $300 for a dress while you can find one with the same quality for as little as $20 at a retail or department store.

You would be amazed how many pieces of clothing that you can buy from a department store compared to high end companies.


Be On The Lookout For Closeout Sales

The big retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kmart have clearance sales as they’re making room for more inventory as the season changes. You can also check out your neighborhood Family Dollar Stores since they have nice clothing at rock bottom prices. These are all great places to look for bargains.

You can easily find online stores and catalogue companies that sell inexpensive outfits. They also offer free shipping and handling charges if you  make a purchase of a certain amount.


Drive Yourself to The Thrift Store

Thrift Stores are usually operated by non-profit organizations. This means that they are usually working for charity. They give a portion of the proceeds to some local charitable institutions. The prices of clothes that’s being sold in the thrift store is a lot cheaper than the items sold in department stores.

Even though some of  these items are hand me downs, they are usually in excellent condition. You may even come across some brand name products for as little as a few bucks. So that will mean big savings for you. It is absolutely fortunate that this will not only save you money, you are also doing a good deed.


Leave The Credit Cards at Home

You may be tempted to carry your credit cards whenever you decide to shop for some new clothes. Always pay for your items in cash to avoid paying high interest rates.  The money that you will pay in interest can be used towards paying off existing debts or added to your savings and investments.


Searching for bargains and paying cash for all of your purchases are the best ways to save money on clothes. Using these tips to your advantage will potentially put thousands of dollars in your pocket that will allow you to build enough money in your savings to send your children to college and live comfortably in your golden years.

canstockphoto3162840What is the most effective, reliable and a secure means of managing your money? The answer to that million dollar question is by Opening a Bank Account. The bank is an effective means of cashing your check, managing your finances and  providing a variety of services that will help you build your savings. It is really amazing that many people think it is better to hide their money under the mattress than to put their money in the bank.

Here are 3 key reasons why you should open a bank account today.


Build Your Savings

You are required by most financial institutions to maintain a balance in your checking and savings account. This means that whenever you make deductions from your account, some banks will require you to save a minimum amount of money in order to continue using their services. This will lead to force saving on your part, which is a good thing.

Another benefit that’s provided by banks is the fact that you are free to continue adding money to your account as much as you would like. Your money will remain safer in the bank than hiding it under the mattress. For example, if your home is burglarized and the thief get his hands on your money, you will have to suffer the loss. You will be better off leaving it in the bank since most financial institutions are FDIC insured.


Build Interest on Your Savings

You are actually earning interest on your money while it’s sitting in your account. What are interest rates? These are payments that are made by the bank to your savings account for allowing your money to stay for a long period of time. Whenever you make a deposit, your bank uses a portion of it in its loan operations where it subsequently will earn interest on the loan. The income that’s receive will trickle down to your savings which is one of the ways that banks are able to make a profit.

The more money you save in your account through your deposits, you will end up receiving a higher return on your savings.


Build Your Nest Egg

Banks will allow you to open a high yield savings account. Certificate of Deposits (CDs) and other types of investments will require you to leave your money for a long period of time and the return on your investment will possibly be double the amount than what you would normally earn in a regular savings account.

You should take advantage of their services by speaking with a financial consultant about opening a retirement account. This will allow you to have enough money to live on when you retire from your job. Don’t put this off.

The sooner you build your nest egg, you will better prepared for emergencies and have a financially free lifestyle.


You have the option to open a bank account either in your local area or online. Make sure you do your homework by finding out which bank offers the highest interest rates. You also need to be aware of the amount you will need to pay for monthly fees, especially if you choose to open a  checking account. Also check out the amount that’s charged for overdraft fees in case you spend over the amount that you have available in your account.


Talk to an advisor at your bank about Opening a Bank Account. They offer a variety of services and your money will be in good hands. Start building your savings today and watch your money grow.

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.


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.


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?

How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

canstockphoto17336704Planning a wedding can be fun, but it can also be very expensive. Staying on budget is challenging, especially when trends change as well as making last minute purchases. Getting married doesn’t have to break the bank if you are living on a budget to begin with. Here are 5 Tips on How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget.


Do It Yourself

If you are creative, many aspects of your wedding will be easier and less expensive if you put your talent to good use. For example, designing and printing your own wedding invitations is a great way to cut back on the expenses.

Many wedding invitations are expensive while the cheaper ones tend to lack quality. You should get your family and friends to help you create the wedding invitations and other things such as the programs, escort cards and table numbers. You can easily save yourself hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself. Other items that can be done using your creativity are decorations such as the tables and flower arrangements.


Prepare a Strict Budget For Things That You Can’t Do Yourself

It’s obvious that you can’t be the jack of all trades at your wedding. If you are planning to provide some entertainment for your guest at the wedding reception, consider hiring caterers and a live band .When it comes to these services, do some comparison shopping. If you can’t afford to hire a caterer, ask your friends and family if they can prepare a dish. Instead of hiring a live band, get a deejay to keep your guest entertained since it’s often much cheaper. Keep in mind that you should never skimp on quality for the price. There’s an old saying “You get what you pay for.”


Find a Cheap High Quality Wedding Dress

Purchasing your wedding dress from a bridal shop is often cheaper than hiring a designer. If the mother of the bride still have her wedding dress that’s in great condition and is willing to allow the bride to keep or borrow the dress, this can also cut down on the expenses. You can also save money by purchasing a pre-owned wedding dress instead of buying a new one.


Find a Location to Have Your Wedding that Doesn’t Break the Bank

Besides having your family and friends around to celebrate your big day, the most important part of your wedding is the location. Almost any location can be made to create the perfect spot for your wedding ceremony. If you have a beautiful backyard, it can be the perfect place to have your wedding and the reception. Renting a couple of tents and placing covers and sashes over the chairs will add elegance to the décor.

Some banquet halls offer discounts if you plan your wedding on certain days of the week. Off- season weddings are typically offered at a lower rate as well.


Limit the Time Your Guest Spend at The Open Bar

One of the major expenses of a wedding comes from having an open bar, especially if you have friends and family that drink a lot. There are ways to cut down on these expenses. You should consider having an open bar for only the last hour. There is also an option to have an cash bar, but it is not recommended. The guest should not have to purchase their own drinks. You can easily save money by offering cheaper cocktails instead of the premium or purchase your own drinks instead.


Planning a wedding without going over the budget can be stressful if you don’t know what to do. However, if you plan ahead and use the above tips to your advantage, you can make the dreams of your special day a reality without going broke.


Escrow – Things You Need to Know

canstockphoto4224483With the continuous growth and development of online businesses, having an Escrow account has become a necessity. Online transactions are very risky not only for the buyer but also for the seller. Unless the website you are dealing with is one which is reliable and proven trustworthy, you may not be safe from possible fraud and deception. In order to protect your accounts and keep online transaction hassles to the minimum, it is important for you to have an escrow account.


What is Escrow?

Escrow generally means a fund that is delivered to a neutral third person known as the escrow agent. The escrow will be used whenever you enter into transactions such as lease, sale or mortgage. The escrow agent always makes sure that the funds will never be used inappropriately and that it will never be released unless the requisites for its release are complied with. Since your agreement with your escrow agent is founded upon trust and dependence, it is very important to choose an escrow company which you can truly rely on.


How does Escrow work?

Every individual involved in any transaction online can work with an escrow company to prevent fraud. During an online transaction, the buyer and the seller, and in some instances, the lender and the borrower, comes up with certain arrangements on the terms and conditions of the contract. This contract of sale, lease or mortgage is considered as the law governing the parties.

After the perfection of the contract, it is signed by the parties and is delivered to the escrow agent. The agent then examines the terms and conditions of the contract between the parties. Before the escrow is “closed”, the escrow agent makes sure that the agreement is done following the requisites for escrow as provided by law. After making sure that all requirements have been sufficiently complied with, the account will be “closed” and all transactions will be in the hands of the escrow agent.

While the requisites for release of funds are not yet sufficiently met, the seller, the mortgager or the lessor cannot receive any amount from the escrow agent. The buyer, mortgagee and lessee, being the passive parties in the transaction, cannot benefit as well unless the terms and conditions have been complied with. In contracts of mortgage, where there is retention of property, both private and public, the escrow agent is also responsible for the payment of taxes, insurances and other obligations attached to such property. All of the actions of escrow agent are dependent on the law governing escrow, the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties and the authorization of the parties.

Once all the terms and conditions have been complied with, the escrow will eventually be closed with a settlement statement prepared by the escrow agent.


What are the Best Companies to use?

The main objective in hiring an escrow company is to have secured transactions. If so, you need to deal only with companies you can completely trust. One wrong move of an escrow agent can make your funds disappear in a blink of an eye.

With their proven reliability and competence, the following escrow companies online have been rated as among best. Here are two of the escrow companies whom you can entrust your funds to:

1. is a licensed and accredited escrow company which is based in the US. It is among the pioneer companies in the escrow service industry and has been growing since 2013. complies with several laws and regulations governing escrow transactions and can be trusted when transacting for almost anything sold online.

2. The Heritage Escrow Company

The Heritage Escrow Company is another good choice for escrow services. The company has several locations in California and has been serving clients for some time. More information about the company can be known when you visit their official website.


A good Escrow company will not only help you in your transactions but will also protect you from harm. If you want a smooth sailing online transaction from time to time, all you need to have is a reliable, competent and trustworthy escrow company. For more information about, you can visit their website or contact their local service provider.

How to Boost Your Credit Score

canstockphoto8042110If you’ve recently tried to buy a home or purchase a new car only to find out that you weren’t qualified, this can leave you surprised and disappointed. Building and maintaining a good credit score is important in our everyday lives. You will need it to purchase a new home, pay for your education and some jobs require their employees to maintain good credit. Rebuilding your credit isn’t hard to do. Here are five ways to Boost Your Credit Score.


Check For Errors

Checking for errors is one of  the best methods you can use to Boost Your Credit Score. If you don’t stay up to date on your credit report, there may be errors that you aren’t aware of that’s lowering your credit rating.

If it shows that you made a late payment for something that you paid on time, make sure that you get it straightened out. You should check your credit report with Equifax, Experian and Transunion at least once a year to ensure the information is accurate.


Make Payments Promptly

Making your payments on time consistently is another way to boost your credit score. When you are making a purchase with your credit card, pay it off as soon as possible. Many people view their credit card as an ATM since it’s a convenient way to pay for their purchases.

You should always keep the credit card balance lower than half of the credit limit. For example, if your card has a $5,000 credit limit, you should maintain a balance below $2,500.


What if you have a history of making late payments? You should simply start making your payments on time. It may take some time, but your score will eventually turn around.


Get Rid of Any Open Accounts

There may be things that you haven’t paid off that has a negative impact on your credit score.

What if you don’t have the money right now? It isn’t necessary to pay the total amount. Just pay whatever you can until the balance is down to zero. Neglecting your bills will reflect badly on your credit.


If you are receiving harassing calls from the bill collectors, avoiding the situation won’t make it go away. Negotiate with the company on when you will be able to pay off the entire amount that you owe on the bill. If the bill collectors cross the line, then you should hire your own attorney to handle the matter.


Raise Your Credit Limit

Raising your credit limit will improve your debt to credit ratio and enhance your credit score almost immediately. You should keep in mind that your credit card company may not approve your request, but it won’t hurt to ask.

If your request is approved, stay disciplined. You may be tempted to overspend now that your credit limit is higher. Make sure that your spending habits are under control. Getting a higher credit limit only helps if you are a Smart Spender.


Don’t Cosign Anything For Anyone

You can prevent yourself from getting bad credit if you just say NO. Friends and family with a bad credit history of their own may ask you to co sign for a loan, new car, or even a cell phone. You should never co sign for anyone to get anything on your credit. If the banks aren’t willing to take a chance on them, then you shouldn’t either.


Making your payments on time, raising your credit limit, getting rid of open accounts, and checking for errors on your credit report are a few ways you can Boost Your Credit Score. Use these methods to your advantage and watch your credit score skyrocket much sooner than you imagine.

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