8 Ways to Save Money When Dining Out

8 Ways to Save Money When Dining Out

Everyone loves dining out. It’s fun, relaxing and extremely convenient. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive. Here are some tips for saving some money when eating out at a restaurant:

1) Choose lunch over dinner

If your schedule permits, choose to dine out for lunch instead of dinner. The lunch crowd is often made up of office workers on a tight schedule and a tight budget – and restaurants know this. Dine at this time of day and you’ll be able to enjoy lunch specials at great prices.

2) Split your meal in two

Most restaurants offer food portions that are fit for more than one person. Save on your meal and split an entrée with your spouse. Young kids rarely finish their food – so have them share an entrée, as well! If you don’t feel it’s quite enough food, split an appetizer too.

3) Ask for a doggie bag

Is the size of your entrée too much for you? One trick is to separate your meal into half as soon as it arrives, then take the other half home for your lunch or dinner the next day. Restaurant leftovers are just as delicious the following day and you end up with two meals for the price of one.

4) Drink water

Drinks can definitely help rack up a bill if you’re not careful. Skip the soda or iced tea and choose to drink house water instead. If you want to drink something other than water, then ask your spouse if he or she wants to share a drink with you.

5) Have dessert somewhere else

A tiny dessert can cost quite a bit at a restaurant. If you’re on a limited budget, then settle your bill and head somewhere else for dessert. Why not satisfy your sweet tooth at a nearby fast food joint or bakery? Often you’ll get way more for your money.

6) Don’t split the tab

If you’re out with a group of friends or co-workers, then avoid splitting the bill evenly. Ask for your own bill so you won’t need to fund your friend’s beer while you drink your glass of water. If the entire group is sharing a bill, then beg off and say you need to leave a little earlier than everyone else.

7) Pay in cash

The next time you dine out, try paying for the entire meal in cash. You’ll be more watchful of the items you order, and you’ll also be forced to stick to a certain budget.

8) Use a Groupon

You can find lots of great local restaurant deals on Groupon where you can often save up to 50% off of your bill. I use Groupon deals quite a bit for several of my favorite restaurants and it’s been a great way find new places to try out.

9) Always leave a tip

Yes, we know that you’re trying to save money – but don’t save money at your server’s expense. If your server provided you with excellent service, then let him or her know you appreciated it!

Keep both your stomach and wallet happy. Try some (or all) of these tips the next time you dine out and you might even find yourself dining out more often!

5 Things You Can Cut from Your Monthly Budget

5 Things You Can Cut from Your Monthly Budget

Have you been looking for ways to beef up your savings account? Take a good look at your monthly budget and you’re bound to come across several things that you might be able to do without. Here are some suggestions on ways to reduce certain monthly expenses or take them off your budget completely:

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6 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Value of Money

As parents, it is important that we teach our children many things, but one of the most critical things we need to teach them is the value of money.  Here are a few tips that you can practice to help educate your kids about managing money and personal finance:

1) Introduce them to money at a young age.

Children learn best through observation and repetition. Introduce your kids to the concept of money as soon as they can count.

2) Teach your children how to make wise spending decisions.

Spend time to teach your children the differences between their wants, needs and wishes. Once they are able to distinguish these three from one another, they will be able to make wiser spending decisions.

3) Set goals.

Take the opportunity to teach your children to set goals each time they want a new video game, doll or other toy. By setting goals, your kids will be able to learn the value of both saving money and of being patient.

4) Open a savings account for each child.

Take your children to the bank and open a savings account for each of them. To encourage your kids to save a portion of their allowance, offer to match some of their savings. You could, for example, contribute $1 for every $5 they put in the bank.  Don’t say no if they want to withdraw some of their savings in order to purchase something. Doing so might discourage them from putting money in their bank account and they need to learn how to make responsible choices with their money.

5) Teach your kids how to work for their money.

Money doesn’t grown on trees—and this is something your children need to learn at any early age. Help your kids understand that money is something that is earned through hard work. Teach them to complete age-appropriate household chores such as setting the table for younger kids and mowing the lawn for your older kids.  When I was young my mother actually paid me a penny for every weed I pulled – they had to have the whole root attached or I didn’t get paid!

6) Encourage saving.

When giving your kids a daily or weekly allowance, give them small denominations in order to encourage saving. It will be easier for them to set aside some cash if they have several $1 bills instead of one $10 bill.

You may have great financial habits, but that doesn’t mean your kids will automatically know what to do when holding cash in their hands. Teach your kids the value of money at a young age, and they’ll definitely thank you for it later.

Photo Credit: iClipart

5 Practical Ideas for Wasting Less and Saving More

Saving more by wasting less—it’s an obvious thought, but it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds. Wasting less entails having to make smart decisions. It means saving the money that you have not yet spent.

Here are some simple ways you can waste less and save more:

1. Pay your bills online.

When possible, pay for your bills online. Go paperless! You’ll save on time, postage, envelopes and gas to do your errands. You’ll even save trees.

2. Take quicker showers.

It may feel wonderful to take a long, hot shower, but you have to remember that you’re wasting a lot of water and are overworking your heating bill. You don’t need to give up hot water completely. Spend a few minutes less in the shower and you’ll be saving hundreds of gallons of water each month.

3. Stop buying bottled water.

As you're probably already aware, bottled water is extremely hazardous to mother nature. It’s also pretty rough on your wallet. Why not carry around your own reusable plastic or aluminum bottle of water? It’ll help make a difference on both your budget and the planet.

4. Use washcloths and cloth napkins.

Say goodbye to paper napkins and paper towels. Limit your paper trail considerably by using washcloths, cloth napkins and reusable towels instead of their paper counterparts. Cloth can even clean your messes better too.

5. Don’t start new projects—complete unfinished ones instead.

Did you ever finish cross-stitching that pattern you started several years ago? You already purchased all the thread for it anyway. Instead of buying new art for your walls, why not finish printing and framing the family photos you set aside last summer? Why not pick up where you left of?

These are five great examples of ways to waste less and save more. Keep them in mind and you’ll be well on your way to making a huge difference on your household budget. What tips do you have to save more and waste less?

Photo Credit: iClipart

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How to Book Cheap Airline Tickets

Shopping around for inexpensive airline tickets can be a tedious and frustrating task. Airline ticket prices change frequently, and it seems like there’s no right time to book a flight.

Are you traveling on a light budget? Here are some useful tips on booking cheap airline tickets:

1. Surf the Internet

The Internet is a very powerful tool—so make the most of it! Travelocity.com and Expedia.com are popular sites for travel deals. You may also want to try airfare-monitoring websites like Yapta.com and Airfarewatchdog.com.

2. Book on a Wednesday

Believe it or not, the cheapest day to travel domestically is Wednesday. If Wednesdays don’t work for you, then try traveling on either Tuesdays or Saturdays. Keep in mind that you want to avoid flights on Fridays and Sundays, as these days are said to be the most expensive.

3. Be flexible

If you have no real agenda in mind, then be flexible when finalizing your travel dates. You’ll find that moving your flight one day forward or backward can make a huge difference on the cost of your ticket.

4. Head out early

The first flight out for the day (and red-eye flights) are said to be the cheapest. Sure, you have to wake up ridiculously early, but what’s that compared to saving a little cash?

5. Know your airport options

Check fares from the different airports in your area. You might be able to save money by driving an hour or two out of the way to depart from a smaller airport. Of course, remember to factor in costs of fuel and parking to see if the extra drive is worth it.

6. Travel light

Many airlines offer better deals for passengers with no check-in luggage. Check your airline’s policies to see just how much you can save. If you’re going on a short trip, then do away with the big suitcases and pack light.

7. Take the scenic route

You may be able to save a bundle by choosing a route with several layovers instead of a direct flight to your destination. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, then why not take the long way?

These tips will help you save a considerable amount of money on your airline tickets. Now there’s nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the flight!

Photo Credit: iClipart

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)

How to Make Everyday Items Last Longer

Are you tired of making unplanned trips to the store because you’re out of toiletries or even printer ink? There are certain steps you can take to make everyday items last for a longer period of time.

Candles

Help the candle wax burn slowly and evenly by putting your candles in the freezer for a few hours before using them. Another thing you can do is trim the candle wick to about ¼ inch before lighting it. Trimming the wick every few hours can extend the life of a candle by about 25%.

Clothes

One of the simplest things you can do to extend the life of your clothes is to skip the dryer completely. Air-dry your clothing when possible. If it’s necessary that you use the machine, avoid overloading the washer and dryer with clothes. Filling up your washer to the brim may seem like the easiest way to get things done, but it’s actually doing more harm than good as your clothes won’t get clean as efficiently.

Food

The most common cause of food spoilage is improper storage. Take the time to research how to properly store the foods that you regularly have in your kitchen.  For example, tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until fully ripe for best taste, then you can place them in the refrigerator for a few more days to extend their life.  Also, you should never keep a bottle of olive oil on the counter near the stove as exposure to light and heat will cause it to oxidize and lose its quality.  Instead store it in a cool dark place.

Laundry Detergent

Next time you do the laundry, try using half the amount of detergent as you normally use. Using more detergent won’t necessarily make your clothes any cleaner. Experiment with using a half or a third as much as usual and see how your clothes turn out.

Markers

Markers dry out extremely quickly. Make it a point to keep the cap on whenever they aren’t in use. When they seem dried out, store them vertically (with the tip down) for a day. You can also try dipping the marker tips in alcohol to revive them.

Mattresses

Make it a point to rotate and flip your mattress regularly in order to prevent premature sagging from occurring.  If yours is a pillow-top variety you may only need to rotate the mattress.

Printer Ink

The simplest way to save on printer ink is by printing only what you really need to print. You can also opt to change your printer settings from the default to the lowest available print quality and you can also choose the grayscale color option.

Shampoo and conditioner

The best way to store your shampoo and conditioner bottles is upside down. By keeping the bottles upside down, you’ll use up every little drop – including the liquid that always gets stuck at the very bottom of the bottle. Just when you think you’re out of shampoo, try adding two or three capfuls of water and shake the bottle.

Shoes

There are a number of things you can do to make your shoes last longer. Always do your best to keep them clean and dry. Avoid permanent damage to your shoes by cleaning and wiping off any scuff marks and dirt as soon as you notice them.

Toothpaste

Most of us use too much toothpaste, but a pea size amount is all that you need. If you think you’ve reached the end of the toothpaste tube, try cutting off the end of the tube with a pair of scissors. You’ll find yourself with enough toothpaste for a few more brushings!

These simple tips are great ways to extend the life of your everyday items. Try them out and you’ll surely see the difference in your budget!

4 of the Best Ways to Save When Online Shopping

Millions of people around the world are hooked on online shopping—and with good reason. By shopping online, you waste no time or gas driving from mall to mall in search of a particular item. The great news for smart shoppers is that you not only save time, but a little money too.

These are some of the best ways to save a little money when shopping online:

1) Use online coupons.

Coupons aren’t just for your local grocery store. Thousands of online retailers accept discount and coupon codes, which can get you anything from 5+% off on your purchase to free shipping. Most retailers only accept one promotional code at a time, so be sure to look for the best one!

2) Shop on cash back websites.

Another great way to save a little money on online shopping is to use cash back websites. These sites will give you a monetary reward for your purchase, which you will often receive in the form of bank checks, bank transfers or gift vouchers.

3) Compare prices.

One of the greatest things about online shopping is that you can easily compare prices from the comforts of your own home. With a little extra effort, you’re likely to find that you can get a much better deal on a particular item at another website. You may also want to try using online comparison sites like Shopzilla and PriceGrabber to make your search more efficient.

4) Buy in bulk.

Why not stock up on presents for birthdays, weddings or even the holiday season? Most online retailers will offer you free shipping or even a percentage discount once your total bill has reached a certain amount. Of course, only buy items in bulk if you’re sure to use them!

Living frugally doesn’t mean that you have to give up shopping completely. Living frugally just means that you need to pay more attention to your spending habits and decisions. Try keeping a record of your savings from shopping online, and marvel at the amount of money you’ll have saved in a year’s time!

Photo Credit: iClipart

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)

7 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store

There are many ways to stretch your budget a little further. One way to do this is by making small changes in the way you shop for groceries.

Yes, comparison shopping and clipping coupons are effective methods of saving money—but here are some other things you can do to make your trip to the grocery a success:

1. Write down a grocery list and stick to it.

Create a grocery list containing everything you need for the week and bring this list with you to the store. Do your absolute best to buy only the things written down on your list so you won’t be tempted to spend on unnecessary items.

2. Eat before shopping.

Yes, I know how silly it sounds – but grocery shopping on a full stomach can help save you a lot of money. You are more likely to make impulse purchases when you’re hungry.

3. Shop alone.

If possible, find a day and time when you can do your grocery shopping without your children. Without your kids, there will be no rushing and hurrying to get out of the store. You’ll be able to concentrate on finding great deals instead of dealing with your children’s misbehavior and sudden cravings.

4. Look around.

Grocery stores often put more expensive items at eye level so they are easier for you to see and want. Be sure to look around and compare your options. You might find better deals on the lowest and highest shelves.

5. Stockpile with caution.

When an item is on sale, you tend to purchase more than you actually need. There’s no problem with stockpiling on items like toilet tissue and shampoo, which are items you use on a daily basis. However, be extra careful when purchasing perishable items. Food items sold at bargain prices often mean that their expiration dates are nearing. Always check an item’s expiration date before buying.

6. Avoid the temptation of the checkout stand.

As you’re lining up at the cash register, be wary of purchasing anything from the checkout stand. The checkout stand is full of enticing little items like candy, batteries, magazines, and other items that you might want to purchase at the very last minute. It might take some willpower, but you’ll likely be glad you didn’t buy that chocolate bar later.

7. Keep an eye on the scanner.

Everyone makes mistakes. It is very possible that you could be charged full price for an item that is actually on sale, or an item may accidentally be scanned twice. Keep an eye on the scanner to make sure that you are being charged correctly. If you see a pricing error, immediately bring it to your cashier’s attention.

A little effort can go a long way. The next time you head to the grocery store, follow these simple tips and watch your savings add up!

Photo Credit: iClipart

Boost Your Budget Pantry Challenge

In January of this year I participated in a Pantry Challenge where we attempted to eat from our cabinets, pantry, freezer and stockpile as much as possible and keep our spending for the month to a bare minimum.  It was a lot of fun and actually pretty amazing to see just how little we could spend for the month.  Another great side effect was starting out the year so far below budget!

I’m excited to be doing a Pantry Challenge again in January 2012 and I’d like to invite you to join in!  I’d also love to find a few bloggers to co-host this event by hosting the challenge linky on their blogs and doing a post each Monday of the month. 

Jan 2nd – Goal Week

Jan 9th – Update

Jan 16th – Update

Jan 23rd – Update

Jan 30th – Final Notes

This is not a “no spend” month, this is a “make do with what you have on hand and spend as little as possible” month.  Everybody’s personal goals will be different and we can each set our own rules – the point is merely to challenge ourselves and start off the new year with a boost to our budgets!  We’ll also be giving away a $25 Coupon Clutch gift certificate each week to one participant who either leaves a link to a challenge post or a comment about their challenge goals.  Won’t you join us?

If you’re a blogger and you’d like to help co-host this event, simply leave your blog name and info in the linky below and I’ll email you soon with the linky code and further details.