Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Laziness Pays

Do you want to save money but just don't have the discipline to put forth the extra effort to do so? You can be lazy and save money. Here are some ideas.
  • Automatic payments. Try scheduling at least your fixed monthly bills to automatic payments so that you don't miss a payment and get charged the extra late fees.

  • Eat the food in your house. What?! Yeah, just eat your own groceries. Stats show that Americans regularly throw away nearly 15% of the food they buy from the grocery store. That can really add up to a lot of money depending on your budget.
  • Watch the dates. Mark it on your calendar when you rent things like library books, videos, etc. so you can avoid the late fees. Many places now also offer email reminder notices. Be sure to sign up!
  • Use your perks. Are you an AAA member? Do you belong to the AARP? What about your local credit union? Check organizations you have memberships with to see if they offer buying privileges or discounts.
  • Just Ask. Really?! That's right, just ask. Doesn't hurt, just ask if you can have your interest rate lowered on your loan or credit card. Worst they can say is no. Can't go any higher. Or ask for discounts on services like your cell phone or pet care instead of switching to another vendor to save money.
  • Have the awkward conversation. According to Financially Fit by Bank of America, Americans average more than $750 yearly on holiday gifts and that's probably much more than most would like to spend. If your gift-giving is costing you more than you can realistically afford there's a good chance it’s more than your relatives can afford (or would like to spend) as well. Take the plunge and broach the subject. Offer a more reasonable alternative. More than likely your relatives will be grateful SOMEONE finally raised the subject and you’ll save money in the process.
  • Forget the pet. I can't agree on this one but do want to share the idea. Sure it sounds heartless but did you realize that welcoming home a little puppy can cost you an average of more than $1,500 a year - or $15,000 over 10 years? Kitties are pricey too - just under $1,000 a year or approximately $9,000 for 10 years of care.
Thanks to Bank of America for sharing some great ideas.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knock Down Rising Food Prices

Don't let rising food prices discourage you or throw you budget out of wack. Consider these ideas to keep your food budget at bay.
  1. Eat at home. You can make the same healthy and nutritious meals you get in restaurants at home. And that includes the great tasting coffee. This excludes meals with lower nutrition as those can be found at bargain prices throughout fast food chains.
  2. Shop with a plan. Don't just put everything that catches your eye in your cart. Plan it out. Make a list at home before you go to the store and stick to it. Planning your meals out helps too so that you only buy what you need for those meals. All helps you not to buy extra and spend extra.
  3. Put on the blinders. Don't let the impulse purchase items catch your eye. Shopping with a plan and a list will help as you will find you will not have to go down every aisle and be tempted.
  4. Eat before you shop. You will be less tempted to buy the extra things not on your list if you are not hungry when you go shopping.
  5. Avoid prepared foods. Yes, its convenient in this fast paced world we live it. But, it also comes with a premium price tag. Instead, buy the ingredients and make it yourself and save money.
  6. Avoid the bottled water. Easier on the pocket book and the environment. If you don't like tap water consider installing a filter. You can also add lemon to your water which will also add nutrients to your diet.
  7. Avoid shopping with kids. They can add minutes to your shopping trip and added time can equal extra purchases that can sneak into the cart that you didn't plan on.
  8. Use coupons. And pay attention to use them at stores that offer doubling deals. Many websites also have coupons you can print off. The few minutes you spend looking for coupons can equal great savings.
  9. Buy locally. Its often cheaper since there aren't any transportation costs.
  10. Look down and around. Stores often place the more expensive items at eye level. Look down to see cheaper alternatives. This also applies to the brand name item. Look around them to find cheaper generic alternatives.
  11. Watch the dates. As the "sell by" or "best before" date approaches, you are virtually guaranteed a discount.
  12. Substitute recipe items. If you have a higher-priced item that reoccurs in your favorite recipes, it may be time to shake up your taste buds. Often a lower-priced alternative can be found. "For instance, if you consistently bake with olive oil and you see that the price has skyrocketed, a simple switch to applesauce (something that you might even be able to make if you have an apple tree) is a great cheap and low-fat substitution for many recipes."
  13. Shop less. Keep the number of shopping trips at bay to reduce chances of unnecessary purchases and money spent on gas.
  14. Keep items on hand. Keeping your kitchen well stocked will help you to not run out of staple items and have to run to the store at the last minute. This will also allow you to be able to wait for sales.
Thank to Lisa Smith from Investopedia for some great ideas.
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