6 Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout

6 Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout

Staying focused on your financial goals can be extremely difficult, especially if everyone around you seems to be spending like money grows on trees.  If you feel like your motivation to live frugally is dwindling, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Try some of these tips to keep yourself from experiencing frugal burnout:

1) Create a financial goal that will motivate you.

Do you have reason to scrimp and save? Create a goal that will excite you! Pay off a credit card debt, build an emergency fund or save for a family vacation. If it helps to create visual charts, tables or other records of your progress, then by all means, go for it!

2) Take small steps.

There are hundreds of tips out there to living frugally, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them all at once. Make a list of tips and tricks that will work best for you and your lifestyle, and start focusing on those first.

3) Be organized.

If you’re a coupon cutter, then you probably already know how much work it is to prepare for a trip to the grocery store. Don’t let your coupons stack up. Set aside a particular day and time for organizing your coupons each week.  Also, don’t think you have to clip them all – check out these organization tips to stay on top of your coupons.

4) Keep good company.

Instead of hanging out with big spenders, try surrounding yourself with people who have good spending habits. You can also visit various frugal blogs regularly. Keeping good company will help you feel encouraged and inspired to stick with the program.

5) Don’t do things that don’t work for you.

Do you absolutely detest shopping and haggling at yard sales and flea markets? Do you hate growing your own vegetables? Then don’t do it! There are plenty of other ways to save money.

6) Don’t deprive yourself completely.

Give yourself a break and treat yourself to something every now and then. Don’t keep your budget so tight that you feel deprived of anything and everything fun. If possible, allocate a small portion of your weekly or monthly budget money for little treats and sudden sales. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional pizza, DVD, or even a new shirt on sale.

Sometimes, living frugally is easy. Other times, it is not. The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed or frustrated by your tight budget, you need to remind yourself that frugal living is a constant process and that it’s okay to mess up. Give yourself room to make mistakes, then pick yourself up and try again.

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

How to Budget with the Envelope System

How to Budget with the Envelope System

Creating a household budget may seem like a simple enough task—but sticking to a budget is definitely no joke. If you’re one of those people who have a hard time keeping within budget, then the envelope system might be just what you need.  Here’s how to budget with the envelope system:

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5 Items You Should Buy Generic


When consumers are faced with two similar products, they often assume that the more expensive item is of better quality. Of course, this is not always the case. As a consumer, it is ultimately your choice to decide on which brand better suits your needs or preferences. However, you may be interested to know that certain items are often best purchased as a generic brand. Here are a number of products you may want to consider purchasing generic:

1) OTC medication

Most people choose to spend more money on branded over-the-counter (OTC) medication. After all, it’s your health you’re dealing with, right? What consumers aren’t aware of is that the Food and Drug Administration requires generic medicine to contain the same ingredients as branded ones. Generic drugs work just as quickly, are just as effective, and are a whole lot cheaper.

2) Cereal

Purchasing generic cereal can save you anywhere from 25 to 50% or more off regular price. When compared to its branded counterpart, generic cereal looks the same and tastes very similar. It also often comes in a bigger package for less money. In some cases, branded and generic cereals are actually made by the same manufacturers, just with different packaging.

If your young ones insist on the branded cereal, then you may want to consider purchasing the branded version the first time, and then replacing it with the generic stuff inside the branded box the next time around!

3) Pantry staples

Pantry staples such as sugar, salt, flour and spices are generally all the same. These items follow the same standards for ingredients, production and storage mandated by the FDA, and it is highly unlikely that generic and branded pantry staples differ greatly from each other.

4) Batteries

Brand name batteries like Energizer and Duracell often advertise that they are longer lasting than other batteries. Although this may be true, the cost generally isn’t worth it. Generic batteries such as Thunderbolt Magnum may hold less power but they cost significantly less money.  We go through so many that we often buy batteries in bulk on eBay or Amazon.

5) Bleach

The price of bleach varies greatly between name brands and generic, and these days there are even lots of fragrance choices that are typically the same price but come in smaller bottles.  You’re diluting your bleach so much in the washer or bucket that it really doesn’t matter what brand or scent you’re using so why pay extra?  You can even buy concentrated bleach tablets and add your own water for a fraction of the cost!

These are some items you may want to start buying generic. Keep in mind that they’re just as good as their branded counterparts, but will save you a whole lot more money in the long run.

Earlier this week I wrote about 5 Items You Should Never Buy Generic and there was quite a bit of discussion – some agreed and some didn’t.  How do you feel about generics?

 

5 Items You Should Never Buy Generic

One great way for consumers to save money on everyday items is by buying generic. After all, many generic products can hold their own against their branded counterparts. However, this isn’t always the case. Some generic products are significantly poorer in quality, and will actually just cost you more in the long run. Here are some generic items you should avoid:

1) Toilet paper and paper towels

Toilet paper and paper towels are two items you don’t want to scrimp on. Generic brands of these paper products have fewer fibers, resulting in less absorbency. Sure it will cost you less, but you’ll likely use up more sheets than you would with a branded counterpart. If you want to save on these two paper products, purchase them with coupons from your favorite grocery store.

2) Garbage bags

Generic garbage bags may be inexpensive, but they are also of much poorer quality. They are often thinner and with less capacity, and are a lot more likely to leave you with a huge mess to clean up when they break open. Shop for branded garbage bags with patented materials, and opt for the black industrial strength bags over those marketed for the home for your big jobs.

3) Diapers

Every parent knows how easily a baby can go through hundreds and hundreds of diapers (I had 5 in diapers at the same time – ouch!). Although your first instinct may be to save with generic diapers, you may want to think again. Generic diapers just aren’t as high quality as branded ones. By going generic, you’re more likely to deal with a lot more messes, leaks and even diaper rashes. If you’re really looking to save money in this department, you might want to look into cloth diapers.

4) Electronics

Generic electronics may be available everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you should purchase them. They’re often made from older parts or pre-used items, and are unlikely to work over the long haul. Generic electronics have a tendency to break more often than their brand name counterparts, and will rarely come with a warranty. If you’re looking to purchase a gadget you can use for hours (and days and months) on end, then go with a respectable brand instead.

5) Paint

Are you about to give your home a facelift? A generic bucket of paint may cost a lot less than brand-name paint, but it’s not worth the possible headaches. Generic paint is often watered down or thinner, requiring more coats to cover the same area. It’s also more prone to chipping and fading. The one-time premium you pay for branded paint is definitely worth it.

 

5 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Yourself

Working a full-time job, managing a household, and paying close attention to a monthly budget can be extremely taxing. If you’ve been successfully living within your means and paying off your debts over the past few months, then maybe it’s time to reward yourself with something nice. Sure, you’ve almost paid off your credit card bill, but that doesn’t mean you should celebrate by heading to the mall and go on a shopping spree. Rewarding yourself doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money. Here are some simple and frugal ways you can treat yourself to something nice:

1) Order in.

If you’ve been cooking your meals at home in order to make your budget stretch further, then why not treat yourself to a night of ordering in? Ordering in is still cheaper than dining at a restaurant, and you can always check our restaurant coupon database first! Have a few pizzas or some Chinese food delivered, and enjoy your meal in front of the television with your family.

2) Take a bubble bath.

Ask your parents (or spouse) to entertain the kids for the night and spend a relaxing evening soaking in a warm bubble bath. Light some scented candles and grab a glass of wine for an inexpensive yet peaceful evening.

3) Read a book.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a mound of books that are gathering dust and waiting to be read. Spend the day catching up on some good reads. If you haven’t got anything ready to read, then why not borrow a book from the library or a good friend?

4) Clean up the closet.

Cleaning up your clothes closet is a wonderful way to find clothes you have long forgotten about or have never used. Apart from ridding your closet of clutter, you can also take the opportunity to find new purposes for your items. Perhaps you can turn a pair of pants into shorts, or an oversized blouse into a cute dress.  While you’re at it, why not pull out the old stuff you don’t wear anymore and take them to a consignment shop to earn some more cash?

5) Purchase something.

There’s nothing more rewarding than a little retail therapy. Treat yourself for your good work by buying something you’ve been eyeing for a while. Don’t go overboard, of course. Set a spending limit and stick to it. It may help to only bring a sufficient amount of cash and leave the credit cards at home.

Let’s face it—everyone needs a break sometimes. Try some of these suggestions and enjoy a little reward without having to break the bank!

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

6 Smart Ways to Trim Your Wedding Budget

If you are ready to tie the knot but are on a very limited wedding budget, then don’t worry. Being on a limited budget doesn’t mean that you and your groom can’t have a beautiful celebration.  Here are some great ways to trim down your wedding budget without sacrificing the wedding of your dreams:

1) Get married during an off-peak month.

The summer months are extremely popular for weddings because of the perfect weather for outdoor ceremonies. Getting married during this time of the year means higher quotes from vendors and you’ll have to adjust to their availability as well. One way to trim down your wedding budget is by choosing to hold your wedding during an off-peak time of the year. You’ll not only get better rates, but you’ll have a lot more options to choose from, too!

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Walgreens Prescription Savings Club

Although I’d heard about the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club I never really paid much attention to it because our health insurance plan does cover prescriptions, however our policy doesn’t cover everything and has pretty high co-pays so I decided to check it out.  My family of seven has four prescriptions that we fill monthly, one that is filled quarterly or as needed, and of course the occasional Rx for antibiotics or drops for ear infections and the like.  Those expenses add up rather quickly, especially when we also have to pay for the health insurance policy.

Any savings at all would be terrific, but as it turns out, the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club can actually save you quite a bit of money, depending on your needs and whether or not you have insurance.  The very best part is that your savings are guaranteed – if you don’t save at least the cost of your prescription card membership fee in one year, Walgreens will give you back the difference!

Those without insurance and people who use generic medications will likely benefit the most from a club membership because of the fabulous tier pricing they provide on over 700 value priced generics.  Prices are a low $5/30-day supply for tier 1, $10/30-day supply for tier 2, and $15/30-day supply for tier 3.  You can even get 90-day supply prescriptions for as low as $10!  Check the value priced medication list here to see what tier your prescriptions are.

We take generics whenever possible, but unfortunately the four monthly prescriptions we need aren’t available as generics, and our deductible on them is pretty high so I made a list and asked the pharmacist about them.  With the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club you can also get discounts on name brand drugs and those discounts vary based on the drug and it’s list price so the pharmacist was only too happy to check on the prices for me.

To sign up for the savings club it costs $20 per year for an individual or $35 per year for a family, which is a fabulous deal for my family of seven.  On top of your prescription drug savings you’ll also get discounts throughout the store like 10% on Walgreens brand products, 10% on in store photofinishing, 5-20% on immunizations, and you’ll even get discounts on your pet medications.  I’m thrilled to have enrolled at the store during my shopping trip today and only wish that I had learned about the program earlier.

Find out more about saving at Walgreens by following them on Twitter and Facebook!

Disclosure – I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Walgreens. #CBias #SocialFabric #RxSavingsClub

 

4 Overpriced Items to Avoid at the Grocery Store

The grocery store is one of the best, most convenient places to shop, as almost everything you need for your home can be found in just one place. However, are you sure you’re paying the best possible price for all of your grocery items? These aisles can sometimes hold hidden expenses—and it’s best that you know what to watch out for.

1)  Produce

Approximately 20% of all produce found in grocery stores is thrown away due to spoilage. To compensate for the produce that is thrown out and won’t be sold, grocery stores often add a markup of 50% to 75%.

Bagged salads and pre-sliced or pre-chopped produce are even more expensive. Consumers often pay about 35% more compared to the whole fruit or vegetable. Chopping your own veggies only takes a few minutes—is it really worth paying extra for?

If you want to get the freshest produce at the lowest prices, the best thing to do is shop at a local farmer’s market instead.

2)  Cubed or pre-sliced meat

Are you shopping for pre-formed burger patties or cubed meats? Since meats have a 5-day refrigerated shelf life, most grocery store meat sections have a minimum of a 30% markup. Chuck and round meat are often marked up to about 60%, while lesser pieces of meat used for stews can even have a markup as high as 300%.

If you want to save some money, shop for bigger slabs of meat and ask the butcher to chop it up in smaller pieces for you (for free!), or look for meats that are marked down. You can also buy meats in bulk in places such as Costco or Sam’s Club, or bulk distributors like Zaycon Foods, then refrigerate or freeze what you don’t need for later on.

3)  Bottled water

Who needs overly expensive bottled water you can safely drink water straight from the tap in most towns? It may seem outrageous, but bottled water just isn’t overpriced by a little—it has a 4,000% markup. Yes, 4,000%. It’s bad for the environment, too!  Carry a reusable bottle instead.

4)  Batteries

Batteries in the grocery store are marked up by as much as 60 to 70%, so keep in mind that you’ll typically get a better deal at Walmart and Target. To save even more money, you can start buying batteries in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club. You can even get great deals on batteries at Amazon.

These are some of the most overpriced items in grocery stores across the nation. It may require more time and effort to shop for these items elsewhere, but remember that when it comes to these outrageous markups, you’re the one who pays.

Photo Credit: iClipart

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5 Hidden Hotel Fees You Can Avoid


Have you ever been shocked by the number of hidden fees that your hotel is charging you upon checking out? You’re not the only one who has been a victim of these extra fees!  Here are some common hidden hotel fees you should learn to watch out for:

1) High-speed internet

Almost all hotels include high-speed internet in their list of amenities. Unfortunately, many hotels charge for internet use on a daily basis. Check to see if Wi-Fi is free at the hotel lobby and check your email there instead.

2) Telephone charges

The telephone in your room may look like just another hotel feature, but don’t make any calls just yet. Check with the front desk to see if there are any phone charges and what they are. Many hotels even charge for local calls—so forget about making long distance calls if you’re on a limited budget.

3) Room service

Ordering from room service can be fun, but it can also be costly. Not only does your food cost more, the room service bill at most hotels will also automatically include a delivery charge and a service charge. Plus you’ll be expected to tip the person who delivers the food.  Eat at the hotel restaurant or better yet, go somewhere off premises when possible.

4) Airport shuttle

Remember that airport shuttle that picked you up at the airport and took you to the hotel? Shuttle services are often free—but some hotels do charge for the use of their shuttles. Find out in advance before you get on one.  If the charge is per person and you’re with a group of people, it may be cheaper to take a taxi.

5) Snacks and bottled water.

Those snacks and bottled water that the hotel left on the table may seem tempting, but are they free? The hotel usually leaves a small sign by the snacks that say whether or not they are complimentary. When in doubt, call the front desk to check. If the food is from the mini-bar, however, keep in mind that you will definitely be paying an inflated price.

Be a smart traveler and familiarize yourself with these fees so you can properly avoid them the next time you’re booked at a hotel. A little precaution will save you some extra bucks later on.

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

Tips and Tricks for Haggling Like a Pro

Do you want to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year on your purchases? If your answer is yes, the solution is simple: Pay less for these products. Paying less is always a possibility with negotiation.  Here are some tips and tricks to haggling like a pro:

1) Dress the part.

Where are you shopping? If you’re shopping in a market, avoid wearing designer clothes and flashy jewelry. If you are dressed like you’re wealthy, then the vendor will likely assume that you are wealthy. If you’re shopping in a more upscale area, then avoid dressing too informally. Of course, always dress respectfully.

2) Let the vendor start the process.

If you find an item you are interested in, first ask the vendor how much it costs. You don’t want to name a price that’s even higher than the asking price!

3) Ask for their best price.

Don’t make a counter-offer right off the bat. Ask the vendor if that’s their best price. More often than not, you will get a better price on the item you are eyeing.

4) Give a counter-offer.

It’s time to name your price! Many people start negotiating at a price that’s about one-half of the asking price. Of course, use your best judgment to see if the vendor already gave a reasonable price to begin with. If you’re starting off with a very low price, then smile and be friendly when offering.

5) Be nice.

Smile! Shop vendors are more likely to be willing to negotiate with somebody who is pleasant and polite compared to someone who is rude and argumentative.

6) Buy multiple items.

Do you see a number of things that you like? Put them in your shopping basket. You’ll have an easier time getting a discount if you’re buying more than one product.

7) Let go.

If you truly want to haggle like a pro, you must learn how to walk away. If you aren’t willing to pay the amount being asked, then put the item down and walk away. It may be hard to leave the item behind, but you’ll probably find something similar in another shop. Besides, it is likely that the vendor will chase after you.

8 ) Be a regular.

It won’t hurt to be a regular customer at a particular shop that you like. You’ll have an easier time getting the best deals once you’ve established rapport with the shop owner.

Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of haggling. With an extra dose of confidence and little practice, however, you’ll see that getting a better price on an item is a lot easier than you thought.

Photo Credit: iClipart