Do you have a family road trip planned? How would you like to go on a road trip with your family without having to break the bank? Here are some great tips to remember when preparing for a road trip that can save you some bucks:
Building an emergency fund is vital but it can be hard to do when you are living paycheck to paycheck. Build your emergency fund with small steps that you will barely notice and you can stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. Small steps add up and you’ll enjoy the padding of a nice savings account.
Use these painless tricks to build your emergency fund.
1) Look for bonus money
that you can transfer right to savings. This can be ATM fee refunds, interest on accounts, or cash back points. Check with your bank to see if it has options to send funds over directly to your savings. If not mark you calendar for the appointed dates these deposits come in and move them over yourself.
2) Save the change
When you find or receive change don’t spend it, save it instead. Put the change right into a coin jar and fill it up. When the jar is full take half for fun money as a reward for sticking it out and toss the other half into your savings account. You have gone without spending this money for a long time and you won’t even notice it missing.
3) Look for rebates on items you already buy
Rebate money saving apps are a great way to do this. Build your emergency fund with these by putting the rewards amount into your savings. If you receive payment in a way you can not add to savings just swap and use cash for the savings and spend the reward on things you need. Walmart has a great Savings Catcher program and app that helps you get money back when something you buy is cheaper at another local store.
4) Get a side job as a mystery shopper
Mystery shoppers make a small amount of money but they get reimbursed for the things they buy. This lets you earn a bit of extra money you can put into savings and get something you want or need for virtually free. The extra bonus of free stuff and a bit of cash means you can toss the money you earn into savings without feeling any hit to your budget.
5) Host a yard sale
Get the clutter out of your house and earn a bit of cash for your savings account at the same time. Have fun with it and reap the rewards of building your savings painlessly while clearing out things you probably shouldn’t have spent money on in the first place. This can also help you become more mindful of your spending.
You can build your emergency savings without feeling the pain of extra financial strain by looking for money that you do not already expect and budget for each month. By building up your emergency savings you end the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and the financial devastation of emergencies.
Back to school shopping is my favorite shopping season of the year since I work on Christmas and birthday gifts all year long so it’s less painful to the budget. One of the best ways to save another 7% to 10% right off the top (depending on where you live) is to plan ahead and shop on your state’s tax free shopping days. Many Use the list below to find out if your state has a tax-free weekend and what items it exempts. Dollar amounts in parentheses indicate the maximum cost for which an item can be tax-free. Most of the information below is courtesy of TaxAdmin.org and I’d recommend verifying each state through the links provided.
Alabama: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100), computers ($750), school supplies ($50), books ($30)
Arkansas: Aug. 1-2, clothing ($100), school supplies (no limit listed)
Connecticut: Aug. 16-22, clothing and footwear ($100)
Florida: Aug. 7-16, cchool supplies (no limit listed), clothing ($100), supplies ($15), computers ($750)
Georgia: July 31 – Aug.1, school supplies (no limit listed), clothing ($100), supplies ($20), computers ($1,000)
Iowa: Aug. 7-8, clothing ($100)
Louisiana: Aug. 7-8 All Tangible Personal Property, which usually refers to stuff that you could take with you somewhere, such as furniture, art, clothing and household items ($2,500)
Maryland: Aug. 9-15, clothing and footwear ($100)
Mississippi: July 31 – Aug. 1, clothing and footwear ($100)
Missouri: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100), computers ($3,500), school supplies ($50)
New Mexico: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100), computers ($1,000), computer equipment ($500), school supplies ($30)
Ohio: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($75), school supplies ($20), instructional material ($20)
Oklahoma: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100)
South Carolina: Aug. 7-9, clothing (no limit listed), school supplies (no limit listed), computers (no limit listed)
Tennessee: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100), school supplies ($100), computers ($1,500)
Texas: Aug. 7-9, clothing, backpacks and school supplies ($100)
Virginia: Aug. 7-9, clothing ($100), school supplies ($20), energy star products ($2,500), hurricane preparedness items ($60), generators ($1,000)
Everyone loves saving money. Whether it’s getting a discount at the supermarket or snagging a deal on free clothes online, there are many great ways to enjoy discounts on the things you buy every day. Finding the right coupons, however, can be time consuming. By following a few simple tips, you will be able to maximize your savings while minimizing your planning time.
Use Aggregate Sites
Aggregate sites gather information from around the Web and package them in easy to find databases. These sites allow you to view coupons from multiple websites and select the ones that are right for you. CouponsHQ is one of the top aggregate coupon sites on the Web and you can find deals on everything from clothing to groceries, shoes and more.
Set Aside a Coupon Day
Instead of constantly scanning the Web for coupons every day, simply set aside one day for coupon hunting. You can often find multiple coupons for the same items, saving you even more money. Sites that compile coupons from multiple vendors can save you time by sending them right to your store loyalty cards. Take advantage of this time-saver and enjoy even more savings.
Manage Your Coupons With Specialty Apps
There are many great applications that can help you manage your coupons right at your fingertips. Use an app on your mobile phone to keep track of all of your coupons and see your deals at a glance. Never again will you have to worry about losing money with expired coupons. The app will remind you when the expiration date is approaching. You will also get notifications about deals in your area. There are many coupon tracking apps to choose from, some that allow you to create custom grocery lists based on your savings.
Join Coupon Clubs Online
Joining a coupon interest club online is a great way to learn more about couponing and save even more money. These clubs bring together other money savers to share tips, upcoming specials and deals. Learn how to double coupons and get free stuff online from these veteran coupon experts. Participate in discussion forums and share ideas of your own in these online communities of savers.
Saving money online with coupons is easy if you know where to look. By using coupon aggregate sites, you can find great deals from sites across the Web. Join forums and download mobile apps for even better savings. Find your deals today.
Photo Credit: Stockmonkeys.com
Are you ready for all the back to school sales yet? I know it’s a little bit early but with five kids I sure don’t mind spreading the expense out a little longer since it’s less painful on the budget. You can save even more on all your back-to-school shopping needs at RetailMeNot , the largest digital coupon website in the United States. RetailMeNot has the hottest back-to-school bargains for students of any age. From preschool to grad school, they’ve got you covered. Get ready to grab your list and save with the top coupons for school uniforms, books, laptops and more!
They’re also having a great contest where a lucky teacher is going to win a classroom shopping spree. Do you know of a teacher that’s in need of supplies to better serve their students? If so, you can create a YouTube video nominating your favorite teacher to give them a chance to win a 3-minute Costco shopping spree provided by RetailMeNot! Check out the official rules and details here and be sure to submit your nomination by Saturday, August 10, 2013.
If you’re like me I know you’d love some more great offers! Check out these great clearance sales for top brands, as well as awesome deals at local restaurants on pizza and more! Also, be sure to download the RetailMeNot Mobile Coupons App so you can receive deal alerts while you’re shopping at your favorite malls!
We are right in the middle of moving across state lines to be closer to my parents so we’ve been eating from the freezer and stockpile quite a bit this month, but I was still surprised to come in so far below my monthly budget of $300! For the month of June I spent $80.11 to buy $390.51 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 79%! According to the spreadsheet I’ve spent $802.58 so far this year for $3,220.48 worth of stuff, or 75% off. That equates to an average of $134 per month for our family of six, or 74¢ a day per person! Of course I’ll need to start stocking up the freezers again once the move is finally over, but it feels good to be keeping expenses down right now while we’re having all these additional moving costs.
Although our house wasn’t that old when we bought it, the carpet had already been stained in several places because the previous owners had a bunch of dogs and kids. Since I was expecting quadruplets at the time, and the carpet was in great shape other than the stains, we decided to live with it until the kids got a little older so we wouldn’t have to worry about them ruining new carpet. The quads are seven now and it’s past time to have new carpet installed in the house so I went on a mission to get the best deal.
There are three different components to look at when comparing prices for having carpet installed – the price of the carpet, the price of the padding, and the price of the installation itself.
Since the major home improvement stores in my area will match or beat their competitor’s prices, I started out by checking carpet prices at other smaller local stores and began keeping track of sales ads in the paper. Lowe’s has a low price guarantee where they either match a competitor’s percent off sale offer, or they’ll beat the competitor’s price on an identical item by 10%. Home Depot also has a price match guarantee where they’ll beat a competitor’s price on identical items by 10%. The guarantees don’t typically cover labor or installation costs so when I narrowed down my carpet selection I ended up choosing Home Depot since they currently have a $37 whole house carpet installation deal going on, as opposed to the $97 deal at Lowe’s.
The thing that surprised me the most during my research is that the carpet pricing actually varied from store to store in the same chain so that’s definitely something else to keep an eye on. I live on the state line between Alabama and Florida so I had picked out my carpet in Florida but then I went to the Alabama store to actually place my order and I was shocked to see that they had a sale section where in stock carpet was under $1 per square foot. The sample that I had chosen at the other store was $1.65 per square foot and had a 5 year guarantee, imagine my surprise when I found a better carpet with a 10 year guarantee for just 93¢ a square foot. Add that to 49¢ per square foot for the padding and the total of $1.42 per square foot was cheaper than my original selection BEFORE adding padding. I’m thrilled to report that I saved nearly a thousand dollars on three rooms of carpet just by shopping around and also checking at several different stores within the same chain.
UPDATE! Beware of hidden charges!
Home Depot’s installers did a beautiful job of installing my carpet, however they told me that because there was paint on my concrete floors they couldn’t use nails on the tack strips and had to glue them down instead, then they proceeded to bill me an additional $331 for GLUE! I explained that I felt like it was a bait and switch so we renegotiated and I ended up paying an additional $30 since I felt that more than covered the cost of the glue.
The other day I pulled up at my parents house to pick up my kids from camp grandma and they were out front playing basketball using the recycle can as a hoop. They were having a grand old time but I was a little embarrassed that they didn’t have a real basketball goal to play with so I posted a “want” on Freecycle.org and within a couple hours I had two people offering me their used basketball hoops for free. I ended up grabbing both of them and have put one up at my house and another at mom and dad’s place.
There are over 5,000 local Freecycle groups around the world so you can go to the main website and find one near you. With over 9 million members you’ll see tons of great useful stuff being traded on a daily basis. It is completely free to join and members don’t buy or sell anything, everything is given away for free.
If you’re moving or spring cleaning and have some items that you don’t need anymore but that still have some life left in them, you can list them on your local Freecycle page. Other members that are interested in your stuff will email you and make arrangements to come do a pickup.
They frown on people only using the site to get free stuff so be prepared to list some of your own things from time to time if you’d like to get some free goodies. I’ve seen everything from empty wine bottles to furniture and cars being donated through the system and you never know what you’ll find. I subscribe to their daily emails and like to watch for cool stuff for the kids, plus I enjoy the convenience of having somebody come pick up things that I need to get rid of. Let me know in the comments below about any treasures you’ve found through the Freecycle website!
We’ve been eating from the freezer and stockpile quite a bit this month, but I was still surprised to come in so far below my monthly budget of $300! For the month of March I spent $182.43 to buy $677.12 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 73%! According to the spreadsheet I’ve spent $500.50 so far this year for $1,975.52 worth of stuff, or 75% off. That equates to an average of $167 per month for our family of six, or 93¢ a day per person!
If you want to support your local economy AND get some fantastic fresh veggies, there is no place like the farmers market. When local farmers come together and offer their wares, you have the best local food selections right at your fingertips. Since this cuts out the middleman, you can often find some fantastic deals. To make your visit to the farmers market more enjoyable, here are a few tips:
Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk. Wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers if the day starts off cool. You can always remove a layer as the day begins to heat up. An umbrella or a jacket can come in handy if you run into a shower as well.
2) Bring Your Own Bags
Although some farmers will bring a supply of sacks, it helps them out if you bring your own bags. And you would hate to miss out on some yummy goods if you have no place to put them.
3) Know What You Want
The sights and smells of a farmers market can be so enticing that you overbuy. You may want to visit the market once before you actually do any buying to get an idea of what they sell. The next time you visit you can come prepared. Keep in mind, however, that the offerings do change based on the season. Make a list of what you would like, but be flexible based on what’s for sale.
4) Come Early
If you want the best selection, get to the market early. Once a vendor is out of a certain item, that’s all they have until next week, so don’t miss out!
5) Get to Know the Farmers
It really is nice to get to know more about where your food is coming from. There are often friendly folks who are more than happy to tell you about what they have for sale, what’s particularly good and what they may have in the future. In addition, the more you visit a given vendor, the more likely they are to throw a freebie you way once in a while. They are also usually good for some wonderful tips on how to prepare the food they sell.
6) Use Your Finds Quickly
One of the greatest parts of the farmers market is how fresh the food is. Use or preserve what you buy quickly so that it offers you the most nutrients AND you don’t waste anything by having to throw it away.
Photo Credit: iClipart