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Couponing A Better Way to Save in 2014

Couponing For RealMaybe you know, were raised by, or are a coupon lady. We all know the type. In years past, hardcore couponers curated hefty binders to house their precious double and triple savings paper coupons. Couponing was a calling, a preoccupation, a lifestyle. For these committed shoppers, the payoffs could often be unpredictable. Coupon clippers would frequently stagger home under the weight of 256 rolls of double-soft toilet paper. “I got it for buy 1 get 2 free!” they would rhapsodize as justification. I remember those days fondly. But I am happy to say that today, there is a better way.

These days you don’t need a printer or the old plastic binder that was de rigeur for coupon kings and queens of yore. Today, you can get by with just your smart phone. Modern apps do a lot of the work for you, presenting a simple image to be scanned by many retailers. Sage-One online accounting products can help you find out just how much you’re saving, but for now I’ll describe how various coupon apps saved my wife and I on our weekly grocery bill.

As budget shoppers, we try to eat well on $100 a week or less. We both downloaded several coupon apps to see the difference they could make. Yowza worked well and was easy to use. Within seconds of firing up this app, we found coupons from several grocers in our area (as well as lots of other kinds of stores as well). We saved the coupons that were relevant to the stuff we eat (peanut butter from Whole Foods, Vegetable Oil from Safeway, Tomatoes from Giant, etc). We weren’t about to drive to every grocery store in our area, but there were enough coupons related to stuff we regularly eat at our nearest grocer, so we headed there to shop.

On the drive, I was scanning the local paper for printed coupons. Using SnipSnap I was able to take pictures of these coupons on my phone. Once at the store, I didn’t have to drag along the paper coupons, or one of the aforementioned plastic binders. I was worried at first that the cashier wouldn’t be able to scan the coupons off my phone, but she had seen this before, and the discounts went smoothly.

The last app we tried was Grocery Smarts. It worked very much like Yowza, but for some reason brought in a pile of different coupons. We were able to pick up some popcorn and kombucha at steeply cut prices, all in the time it takes to fill a grocery cart.

Finally at checkout, we saved $19.84. Our total price would have been $118.16, but through app-couponing, we were able to keep it under our goal of $100. I wasn’t sure we would have been able to do it, but we were keeping track of our total mentally, as we shopped. We nailed it. Saving fifteen or twenty dollars once a week for a year is going to add up quickly. I was amazed at how little time it took to save this much. Couponing is never going to be the same, and neither will my grocery bill.


Save Money And Get The Best From Your Van

If you are a self employed tradesman your van will be an essential function for the smooth-running of your business. You will need your van to transport supplies to and from your jobs, especially if you have heavy goods such as tools, ladders and materials like wood.  Here are a few ways to get the best from your van.

Keep Your Vehicle Running Smoothly

Make sure that you do weekly checks on the tyre pressure. Don’t overload your van too much, and be sure to check the tyre pressures according to the weight of your load as it could affect your steering.

Keep an eye on the oil because depleting levels can be detrimental to the engine. Always top up your washer fluid and check the windscreen wipers so you have optimum visibility.

Make sure your van is serviced regularly and ensure that your MOT and tax is always up to date. If you drive out of the local area and travel quite far to jobs then it is also wise to have breakdown cover. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard and not be able to get to a job because your vehicle is stuck on the side of the road.

Make Your Van an Advert for Your Business

Your van is also an opportunity to advertise your company with your logo and contact details. A catchy van that is painted in a bright colour and displays your brand logo is an excellent way to attract attention and could increase your customer base.

It may sound like a small thing but it is also important to keep your van clean and tidy – what’s the point of having your logo on the side if it is smeared with mud and grime? This will show your customers that you are a professional company that cares about appearances.

Protect Your Van Inside and Outside

Having the right insurance is also essential because accidents can and do happen, especially if you are driving a considerable amount of mileage. If you a reliant on your van then you need to look after your interests, settling for the lowest band of insurance policy does not necessarily mean that it cost effective long-term. It is advisable to think about how much you could lose if your van was involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault. One Sure Insurance offer a range of deals that can include everything up to and including the contents of your van being covered too.

Keep Your Van Secure

There are many insurance claims related to theft as well as accidents, yet this is something that van owners can sometimes forget about. After a hard day’s work you would be forgiven for leaving your van stocked up with your tools and other materials, the value of which can amount to a significant sum.  Not everyone has garage space to keep their vehicle locked in at night, and those who have to park on the road are instantly more vulnerable to theft.


How to Save Your Teenager Money on Car Insurance

The Right CarGetting car insurance for your teen can be pretty tricky. Your teenage son or daughter isn’t experience – the insurance company knows it. If you’re not careful, your child will end up paying through the nose for their policy. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips to save your child (and you) money on auto insurance:

Add Your Child To Your Own Policy

It’s tempting to shove your child out of the nest, and put him on his own policy, but this might actually be the most expensive route to take. Yes, it might cause your insurance policy premiums to go up if you add your teen to your policy, but it’s probably not as bad as your child having his own.

Check with your insurer. Sometimes, insurance companies will look at the situation this way: you’re a safe driver. Your teen doesn’t have experience, but you do. Therefore, it’s a safe bet that, if you’re willing to take on your child, your child must be a good risk. After all, why would you risk your good driving record by adding a high-risk child to the policy?

Choose The Right Car

Your choice of vehicle will impact your child’s premiums. Try to go for a used vehicle that’s pretty low-key. A car that has a high-performance engine is usually a bad idea. Insurance companies look at teenagers and sports cars as a bad mix.

Teens are young, by nature, and inexperienced. Put them behind the wheel of a fast car and there’s a high probability of a car wreck. Watch your premiums (or your child’s premiums) skyrocket. Keep your premiums low by getting a 5 year-old “grocery getter.” It’s not sexy, but it will give your teen experience and keep your premiums low.

Safe Driving Courses

Driver’s Education classes are another overlooked way to save money on insurance. When your child first gets her license, she has a unique opportunity to save money. Driver Education programs are different from the safe driving courses you take as an adult, although your child might be able to benefit from those too.

Driver Education gives extensive, and in-depth, education on driving fundamentals and your state’s driving laws. Because of this, and the fact that students must pass both a driving and written exam, insurers often look favorably on kids who go through this multi-month ordeal.

Encourage Good Grades

Good grades pay off. If your child isn’t Einstein, that’s OK. Try to encourage your child to study more, raise his grade average, and be more responsible. Consider hiring a tutor, if necessary. Yes, tutors can cost $45 or more per hour. But this cost pales in comparison to the amount of money you’ll spend year-after-year on insurance premiums if your child continues to get lackluster grades.

While not every insurance company will dole out discounts for “A” students, a fair number of them do. Check with your insurer. In fact, it might be worth shopping around for a company that does reward good grades since your teen might be on your policy for a few years. Every little bit helps.

Gillian Kearney is always looking for innovative ways to save money for her family and friends. She also enjoys sharing her ideas and research through blogging. Visit the Monkey.co.uk site for more ideas.


Budgeting Tips for Students Abroad Seeking an Affordable Lifestyle

Budgeting Tips for Students Abroad Seeking an Affordable Lifestyle

The opportunity to study abroad can be a formative and life-changing experience. It is a thrilling chance to further your learning whilst exploring another culture and seeing exciting things. It is an opportunity to grab with both hands and here are some ways to ensure that your hands are not tied by those purse strings.

Here is how to make the most of your studies abroad – and still see and do what you wish – simply by living an affordable lifestyle.

Do your homework

You wouldn’t write an essay without first doing some research would you? If you want to have an affordable lifestyle you need to prepare yourself to save money by researching the place you are to stay in. Look out for travel deals that can save your cash and find inexpensive accommodation, restaurants and attractions to visit.

Use your network

Friends and family may know people who live where you are going so ask around. Get information from classmates, teachers and on-site programme directors on how best to enjoy your experience abroad without draining your finances.

Make your phone a truly smart phone

Internet calls from overseas are so much cheaper than suffering horrendous mobile roaming charges or traditional phone networks international rates but this does not mean you have to be in front of your computer every time you make a call.

Service providers such as Vonage give you an adapter that can convert any phone near a broadband router into an internet phone and let you call home for much less.

Ask the experts

Speaking to the locals is a must if you are to find out the cheapest ways to do things or the best value deals. It is also a great way to start feeling really at home.

Keep on track

Set yourself realistic spending limits and stick to them. Depending on your preferences these can be detailed daily plans, a weekly budget or simply a monthly allocation.

Some prefer to have living and luxury budgets that they keep separate so that treats such as trips, meals out and purchases are kept apart from general living costs. If you are going to effectively budget an online banking account is essential to make it easy to keep a regular eye on what has been spent and on what.

Explore your accommodation options

A large proportion of your budget will go on accommodation so making sure you explore all your options here is crucial. If your university-sponsored programme offers reasonable and affordable dormitory-style housing on campus then this is likely to be your best bet.

Another avenue to explore is accommodation that caters specifically for students but is provided by other organisations than the university you will attend. If neither of these is available there may be a homestay program, an opportunity to house-share with other students or local hostels that are available at cheaper rates than renting a place on your own.

Prepare to have the time of your life

With some careful preparation, ongoing research and a little bit of self-discipline there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to live within a budget that allows you to make the most of your time studying abroad without getting the first degree from your bank manager back home.

About the author

Mat Fidge studied in Seville in Andalucía for a year in 2010, taking advantage of a VoIP service to make affordable calls when in Spain. He lived with a local family who he still regularly calls, using the Vonage VoIP phone service.

Image Credit: 1,2


Pawnshops See a Spike in Small Business Clientele

Due to ever-increasing strains brought on by the seemingly terminally-ill economy, thousands of small business owners across the United States are making payroll through the pawning of their possessions. The trend has been noted by pawnshop owners from New York to Los Angeles. While the typical pawnshop exchange is a matter of a few hundred dollars or maybe a grand or two, small business owners are putting up Rolex collections and diamond rings that net them $15,000-20,000 at a time. The select minority is engaging in this behavior to take advantage of a swelling precious metals market, but the overwhelming majority is pawning items for payroll because they have no other choice.

Websites like Pawngo.com are ballooning because of this trend, with the stand alone mom and pop pawnshops picking up the slack. The reasons, apart from the fact that economic environment is forcing it, are that unlike bank loans and other more traditional lending options, pawning valuables is a way for businesses to acquire quick cash without credit checks or the risk of long-term damage to credit. It’s an in-and-out process that takes minutes with little financial risk. For small business owners, to which payroll is limited and so are lending options, no other choice makes sense.

For other small business owners who aren’t in financial straits, the pawning option is an opportunity to cash-in on the rising price of gold and other precious metals. Instead of selling the gold in a more traditional exchange which includes a capital gains tax, folks are settling on the relatively low interest rates applied to monies deposited into a bank account. Either way, there’s a high dollar charge on the movement of gold, but through pawning there’s opportunity to turnaround and invest the big chunk of capital right away. The time is now for those with large amounts of gold, diamonds, and silver to sell their precious metals and gems due to a global skyrocketing of value, and those with keen business sense aren’t wasting any time.

But for the majority of small business owners utilizing pawnshops, it’s all about payroll and making the remaining ends meet on time.

Does this trend indicate that “Small Business Pawn Manhattan” is going to become as popular a neon sign as Bail Bonds Las Vegas”? Probably not given that the rising value of precious metals and gems is historically only a blip. These prices rise and fall all of the time and when the market becomes super-saturated with gold and diamonds the bottom will fall out and small business owners will lose incentive to sell jewelry. But this trend does act as a startling tell for what kind of hardships our small business leaders are having to go through these days. Using pawnshops for payroll used to be the sign of a serious problem in the way your business is being operated. These days it’s just like a visit to the bank.


8 Small Things That Can Change Your Spending Behavior

8 Small Things That Can Change Your Spending Behavior

The million-dollar question that everyone is asking is how do I cut my budget and save money? About ten years ago, no one was as concerned with trimming the fat. Well the truth is ten years ago America was not on the verge of a recession. Today more and more individuals are looking for authentic ways to change their spending behavior. There are hundreds of ways in which anyone can contribute to less spending. The most important ingredient to any recipe is to substitute the most expensive ingredient without sacrificing quality. This can be said for budgeting as well. It is time for households to eliminate luxurious items.

The most expensive household bill that any family can control is the utility bill. For instance, rent or mortgage has a fixed rate that cannot be changed, and so does car insurance. However, gas bills, electric bills, and water bills are bills that the only the consumer can control. Not many people look at paying bills this way. By cutting back on electricity use families can save thousands of dollars each year.

  1. Start by turning off the lights before exiting a room.
  2. Change out high watt light bulbs to the low voltage ones the government is recommending,
  3. Try using a ceiling fan and opening a few windows instead of constantly running the air conditioner.
  4. Cut laundry days down to twice a week. Wash color clothes on one day and whites another day.
  5. Take a pack lunch to work 3 to 4 days per week and eat out less.
  6. Take 5-minute showers and eliminate baths as they waste a lot of water.
  7. Do not water plants on rainy days.
  8. Try shopping for clothes on clearance racks and at stores that offer the same items for less.

These are literally 8 small things that can change your spending behavior, providing the person wants to change. The most effective way would be to put you self on a spending diet. If you have allotted yourself a weekly allowance cut it in half. Only buy items that you need. You do not have to be the first one to see a new movie, wait until the price goes down. Take the extra money and invest it in an interesting bearing saving account, and at the end of the year calculate how much you have spent compared to how much you have saved. Pay off credit card debts as soon as possible, and never spend what you cannot afford to lose.


Simple and Effective Ways To Save

With the current economic situation many of us are looking for simple ways to save us money. I’ve read hundreds of articles about money saving tips, but in my experience it’s normally the simple tips that are the most effective.

It’s important that when we save money, we make our savings work for us. We all know how hard it can be to save money so don’t just your savings in your normal bank account, open up a high interest savings account and watch the interest grow and grow. The more money you add into the account, the more interest you will gain.

In the US one of the best interest savings accounts is the LSA or Lifetime Savings Account, and if your UK based like me then it’s the ISA savings account. Be sure to do your research wherever you are based to find out what’s the best option for you.

When we’re out shopping is when were most likely to spend money, and many of us get carried away. We tend not to consider the long term implications of our spending before we buy a product and we should! Here are some simple and effective ways to save money that you could think about next time you go shopping.

Use voucher codes

Before you venture out to go shopping, check some voucher codes websites online to see if there are any deals that you could take advantage of. Before you go shopping you will probably have an idea of what you want to buy so look for some product specific codes that can save you money.

Check out deal websites

There are loads of websites that specialise in providing their visitors with product specific deals. If you know what you are looking for then these sites can be a great way to save some extra money and find some bargains!

Stay away from impulse purchases

 

Impulse purchases are those purchases than you don’t intend to make when you enter a store but you see a product and you just want to buy it. These purchases can really affect your overall shopping bill, and if you add up the price of your impulse purchases over a few months, it can equate to a serious amount of money.

Take a shopping list with you

 

This is a great way to try and avoid impulse purchases, take a shopping list with you, and include of all the things that you intend to buy and stick to it. By avoiding the expensive unnecessary purchases that you don’t need you may be surprised how much money you can actually save. Give it a try and see for yourself.

Have you had a search online?

More often than not a product will be cheaper online rather than in store and price comparison shopping websites are a great way to find the cheapest price. They will compare the main retailers for a specific product for you to find the best price; they basically do all the hard work so you don’t have to.

Use Twitter as a means to save

Most of the main retailers or deal makers will have Twitter accounts, and they will regularly post their best deals for their followers to see. Follow the companies that offer the products you are interested in and see if there are any deals that interest you that will help you save money.


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