frugal living

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

Saving MoneyWhen times are hard there are two ways to ease the burden. You can bring in more money or find ways to save money. Creating additional income can be difficult, but saving money is quick and easy. There are many small changes you can make that will have a huge impact on how much money you spend. Here are ten easy things you can do to save money and ease your burden right now.

1. Stop eating out. It’s fun and relaxing, but take a moment to consider how many groceries you can buy with the same $50 you would spend at a restaurant.

2. Fast food counts as eating out. Fast food is expensive and dining on it several times a week can really add up. Pay attention to how often you’re running through a drive-through and put that money towards groceries and home-made meals, instead.

3. Lower your grocery bill by buying what you need and will use. That great deal on apples is money wasted if the fruit rots and winds up being thrown away. The same goes for lunch meat, dairy products and other perishable foods.

4. Clip coupons for extra savings. Pair up the coupons with sales at the grocery store to lower your bill further.

5. Drive more conservatively. Lower your fuel cost by accelerating gently, coasting when possible and using the cruise control on the highway.

6. Lower your heating bill and air conditioning bill. Utilities must be paid, but you can lower the expense for them. Bump your heater down a few degrees in the winter and take the air up a few degrees in the summer. In cool weather open the curtains as soon as you rise and let the sun warm your home naturally. In the summer, keep the blinds closed as long as possible to reduce the heat coming in.

7. Avoid the stores and shop with a list when you must go. Impulse purchases will quickly eat into your budget. If you aren’t at the stores you can’t buy things on a whim. When you do have to go to the store, take a list and stick to it. Base decisions on what you actually need, not just what you want.

8. Double check prices before making bigger purchases. If you are in the market for a new camera or other item, take the time to do some price checking. Research reviews and price out the item with different stores. Buy with the company that offers the greatest bargain.

9. Keep your car longer. There’s nothing like that new car smell, but that great smell comes along with a large bill that must be paid every month. Keep the car you have, pay it off and enjoy not having a car payment for a while.

10. Skip the bottled water and the vending machines. They’re convenient, but that convenience comes with a price. It’s far cheaper to invest in a water filter and some travel bottles for water. Pack your own snacks and take your own crystal clear water for optimal savings.

Liesl H. is a writer working with the California Institute of Finance at CLU. Liesl has years of experience writing in a wide variety of industries including personal finance and education.


5 Financial Expenses To Get Rid Of Today

BudgetingIt is difficult for everyday people to stick to a strict budget with rising and inconsistent interest rates, increase in consumer product prices and many general temptations available in the market. These fluctuations encourage people to take out excess loans and increase credit card limits to simply be able to live comfortably in society. There are numerous expenses encountered that residents could simply avoid paying. All they have to do is re-evaluate their lifestyle and determine what is important, against what is not! Here are 5 general expenses that you could get rid of today and help stick within your budget and help increase the savings account.

Consolidate Your Loans

The first step and possibly the most rewarding long-term would be to consolidate all your loan accounts. This would include all credit cards, personal loans and store loans. By consolidating these accounts, you would manage one simple monthly expense and only generate interest on the one loan. This will eventually save you thousands of dollars as your total loan account develops interest on one sum, opposed to several different sums. This is a highly beneficial long-term saving and available through Fox Symes debt consolidation.

Excess Registration on Vehicles

Depending on the size of your family, it may be beneficial to sell any unused vehicles that you may either own, or have finance on. This may include any trucks or boats that are simply used for vacation purposes. The end result will have you saving money monthly on insurance, and repayments and will also save you annually on registration. Most families could potentially manage with one or two cars, anymore is simply an unnecessary household expense that will chew into your budget.

Home Phone

We are in an era where home phones are simply becoming needless. Most people only use the phone line for internet access. Many providers will sell bundled packages where you are granted internet access and home phone calls at a specified rate, however your mobile service is more efficient and can easily be the sole use for phone calls. Removing the home phone line or package is an immediate cost saving idea.

Unnecessary Subscription Packages

If you really want to save money, here is your chance to remove some of your lifestyle products. Most people will have a subscription to some service. This may include pay TV, magazines or music subscriptions that are simply for entertainment purposes. This will be a difficult expense to remove, however the saving is sufficient, as some subscriptions can total up to $200 per month.

Avoid Eating Out

Pesonal FinanceNot so much an expense in which someone will simply have. However many people will eat out a couple times a week, if not every night. Lunch is the simplest expense that occurs on a daily basis, as you are strapped for time and only have 30 minutes to buy foot and eat. It is financially worthwhile to buy food in bulk at the grocery store and prepare lunch every day. Be sure to cook your own meals for dinner to. Buying lunch everyday can cost up to $150 per week. If lunch is prepared, that’s a weekly saving.

There are many ways to save money and several expenses that could be removed to save money. There are always ways to stick within your budget, you just may have to give up some of your entertainment or favoured lifestyle products in order to do so.

Michael is a Writer from Brisbane, Australia, who covers the topics of personal finance and debt. He says that everyone has expenses that are not necessary and you would be surprised at how much money can be saved. If you are experiencing problems with debt, Michael recommends considering Fox Symes debt consolidation as a possible solution for your problem.

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Frugal Under the Sun: Practical Family Summer Tips

Frugal Under the Sun: Practical Family Summer Tips

Summertime is often associated with family outings and outdoor fun. And it should be, as the weather is very inviting and the time spent with the family is always a rewarding time. But more often that not summer activities may be costly as this is the peak time in the travel industry when resort and hotel fees will be at their highest due to the high demand.

So is there a way to solve this dilemma? Can you enjoy summertime with the kids without breaking the family budget? What are the cheaper alternatives to expensive vacations and holiday activities?

1. Staying at Home

If you really want to be frugal then the best place to spend your vacation might be at home. You will be surprised with the challenges staying at home will bring, as you’ll be compelled to look around your neighborhood and local community for creative (and fun) activities under the sun.

Go to the local park, the community pool or even the nearest museum. I am sure there are still many places in your area that you have not yet visited or even discovered. So whip up that local map as this is the perfect time to learn to appreciate what your city offers. Advantages? No lodging costs, no long road trips. And if you want to save further, eat at home and schedule your activities before or after the meals.

2. Holiday Programs

Many local councils organize holiday programs to keep the kids busy and occupied for a few hours at a fraction of cost of a resort trip or a carnival ride. Call your community hub or inquire at your local library which is likely to offer crafts day and other entertaining activities for kids, or if you are up for it, organize a crafts day at home with friends and family. Set it up at the backyard to take advantage of the pleasant weather. How-to kits are easy to find and the activity will keep the kids occupied for days.

3. Exercise

One of the best ways for families to enjoy their local hub is to take bike rides around the neighborhood. Not only will this help pass the time, but it is good exercise for everyone hoping to burn out those tubs of ice cream the family consumes, too. Walk or jog and take the pets with you for added fun. Summer is a great way to move around and soak in the warmth of the sun.

4. Camping

There is no better way to enjoy the summer weather than to go camping. Camping grounds are cheap and the fun is only limited by your imagination, and of course ground rules. Inquire about camp activities or do your own fun with trekking, fishing or swimming when possible. Enjoy sleeping under the stars with your family and telling heartwarming stories around the campfire. Your kids will definitely remember this time for ages.

5. Travel Frugally

If your family is really dying for a change of scenery, then go ahead and do that road trip. But make sure your plans are in place and are very cost-effective. Find destinations where you have relatives or friends you can stay with to avoid accommodation costs. If you are lucky enough, they may even offer to give you a tour. Seek for reduced family rates on popular tourist spots and find the shortest but safe routes possible to save on gas. Plan out where you will be stopping for meals or better yet pack sandwiches and drinks.

Planning a budget trip for summer? Consider going to Eastern Europe which is way cheaper than the US. And it’s beautiful there. For more savings, pick an affordable apartment in Kiev. Save and have fun!

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


The Case for Frugal Collecting

The Case for Frugal Collecting

My husband and I live on a tight budget. We rarely go out to eat, we price compare everything from cantaloupes to health insurance, and new ways to save money are constantly on my mind. But in spite of our frugal lifestyle, we both have a weakness for collecting. Show us a decent deal on an item for one of our collections, and we just can’t walk away.

Books are definitely my biggest weakness. There are a couple of book series that I’m looking to complete, and when I find the next book at a used book store I usually can’t resist. Some people would say that that’s a very bad thing. They would declare that having a collection leads people into spending more than they have without letting themselves consider the consequences.

But I actually don’t think my collecting is a bad thing. In fact, I would argue that building a collection is an especially fulfilling way to spend fun money when you don’t have a lot of it.

Frugal Collecting

First off, let me say that our collected items don’t generally cost much money. They haven’t appreciated in value like the “collectables” most people think of, and are unlikely to do so in the future. We tend to pick up additions at used book stores, flea markets, thrift stores, and the occasional clearance aisle. We’re just collecting because we like the items in question, not because we expect a return on investment later.

Let me also add thatneither my nor my husband’s collecting has led us to overspend and bust the budget in any given week, month or year. Money management always comes first, and collecting second. Building a collection is just like participating in hobbies or choosing to keep pets: it’s a good choice if you can do it responsibly.

The Fun of Collecting

The really wonderful thing about adding to a collection is how satisfying it is. The five dollars I spend on a collectable feels worth a lot more because of everything that comes with it. First there is the thrill of the hunt, when I’m digging through the shelves or racks or scanning the titles at the bookstore, anticipating the sight of the item or title I’m searching for. When I find it, I not only get the excitement of having found what I’m looking for, but also the more lasting enjoyment of building a collection that matters to me. There are plenty of ways I could spend my five dollars, but adding to a collection tops the list.

As long as the item you’re collecting is affordable every now and then, why not treat yourself? Never let a collection turn into an excuse for overspending. One way to prevent a splurge when you don’t want one is to avoid the stores where you’re likely to find a collectable; i.e., if I don’t have a few dollars to spend, I don’t go to the used bookstore. But if you can trust yourself to spend wisely and at the right time, collecting is a wonderful way to spend.

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8 Great Apps for Managing Personal Finances

8 Great Apps for Managing Personal Finances

Spending money is easy. Keeping track of the money in our accounts is the hard part. In today’s digital world, much banking is done online. Many people take advantage of banking technology by having their paychecks automatically deposited into their accounts each month. Others sign up for automatic bill pay for all of their monthly bills. These modern conveniences make it easy to keep up with our finances. However, if we don’t always see the cold, hard cash leave our wallets, it can be too easy to overspend or not be aware of all our purchases. With tax season approaching, many people are flailing to gather receipts and account for yearly spending. Get your finances in order with the help of one of these apps for your smartphone.

Mint

This free app for Android, iPhone and iPad devices lets you keep track of your entire financial life in one spot. Receive alerts when bills are due, track your monthly budget, or create savings goals. Easily access your financial information in graph form.

Pageonce

Pageonce is a versatile app, available for all smartphones including Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. View your finances on user-friendly graphs and charts, receive alerts when bills are due, or program the app to warn you when you are about to overspend.

EasyMoney

EasyMoney is an app for Android users only. It features a wide range of tools to keep your entire financial life in order. You can track all of your spending by category. It has the ability to photograph receipts or check registers, allowing you to keep them organized with the rest of your finances. You can try it free for 30 days.

Pocket Money

Pocket Money works with iPhones and iPads. This thorough app leaves no financial stone unturned. Enter every amount spent, or you can set it up to track those monthly expenses that never change. Purchase the Photo Receipts plug-in to easily input your miscellaneous spending. Desktop versions are also available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

MoneyStrands

This app for the iPhone allows you to set up a budget and helps you stick to it. You can view all of your accounts in one place and set it up to receive alerts when bills are due.

Gift List Budget Shopper

This iPhone app is for those who love to shop. The app will help you budget for gifts you intend to purchase, plan shopping trips, and help you search for products via the Internet. There is even a feature for tracking greeting cards.

CheckPlease Lite

CheckPlease Lite is a simplistic app for iPhones. The app can divide the guest check evenly when you are dining out with friends and calculate the tip. It is available in four languages and currencies.

BillMinder

This app organizes all of your monthly bills in calendar format so you can easily see what’s due, how much and when. Use BillMinder for iPhone or iPad to always be on the same financial page as your spouse or other household members. The app will sync with multiple devices, so you can all access the same up-to-date information.

Smartphones open up all sorts of new possibilities for managing and handling your personal finances. Take advantage of these to stay organized and save money. Visit billeater.com four more helpful Money-saving tips.


Do You Need to Make a Financial Change?

Do You Need to Make a Financial Change?

Do you feel like you need to make changes? Is your budget just not working out? You might not feel comfortable with your income and expenses, or be unsure how to approach money. If you need a change, here are some questions that can help you get on track and find your way.

Where Am I?

Evaluating where you currently stand is essential before any other financial steps that you are considering. Even on a small scale, this is true; how would you compare car insurance rates without first evaluating what type of car insurance you need? Take the following points to get you started:

  • What is your debt situation? Take a look at your debt-to-income ratio, how your debt is spread out (i.e. in credit cards or personal loans, at a variety of interest rates?), and so forth.
  • Consider your savings goals. Do you have certain financial goals that you wish to meet? Are you on target to meet them?
  • How do you organize everything? Do you have an efficient system for keeping your budget, accounts, and important documents in order?

Note that some ways to improve your finances are complementary to one another. In the last point above, simply changing the way you budget can help you get more organized, and in turn produce financial results.

What Do I Do First?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. While it might take time to conquer debt and get a truly comfortable hold on your finances, there are always ways to take small steps to your goals.There is one tip that doesn’t involve anything special: it begins with your budget. Once you start devising your budget, take a step-by-step look at your finances and where there is opportunity to save money. By keeping up to date with your insurance options, credit card choices, and your general living expenses, you can take a systematic approach to managing your money.

Look at your familiar problem areas, and also any that you haven’t addressed in some time. If you haven’t, for instance, taken the time to compare car insurance rates in the past –or just haven’t done it recently– then perhaps there’s an opportunity to find a lower premium if you look around. From saving to investing money, you might be able to identify relatively simple ways to help right your financial ship, so to speak.

“Can I Do That Myself?”

Yes, you usually can! It’s often a matter of motivation. There are some poor personal finance habits that are caused by a lack of financial know-how. Maybe disorganization and a poor memory are to blame, in part or in full, for other financial woes. Both these problems can be remedied if you apply yourself to picking up the skills you need. Consistency and motivation make up one of the most important dynamic tandems in personal finance. Keeping yourself on track and moving forward is very important for success.

Spend some time on a complete overhaul of your finances. Look at ways to save money, get out of debt, and make your money work for you with term deposits or other savings and investments. At the end of the day, your success will come down to organization and execution. You need to stay motivated and consistent, and simply keep working toward your goals one step at a time.

What will it take to improve your finances? Whether you think you need an extra job, or just a tweak to your budgeting methods, what needs to change? Start asking yourself some financial questions to figure out your way forward.

Citations:

This article is by personal finance blogger Brian Neese, who shares his car insurance comparison tips and term deposit rates updates online to help ordinary people save and make money.


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