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Frugality

Winter Holiday Cards Sale

Vistaprint is having a sale for a limited time only on Winter Holiday Cards.  You can get a set of 20 winter holiday cards for only $1.99. There are many designs to choose from including cards that you can add your own photo to. Go check it out because it’s for a limited time only. Stock up on cards now.

Vistaprint – 20 Holiday Cards for $1.99

Frugality

Saving Money This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be really expensive. If you are in charge of the Thanksgiving dinner you probably will spend hundreds of dollars on turkey, side dishes, centerpieces, family entertainment and more. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some great money saving tips to help you stick to your budget this Thanksgiving.

Make Dinner- Don’t Buy

It can be tempting to order a premade Thanksgiving dinner from a local restaurant or caterer. While these dinners are convenient, they are also very expensive. The cost of buying and cooking a turkey and side dishes is much less than the cost of ordering these.

If you want to save money this Thanksgiving, offer to host the meal at your house rather than spending the money to take everyone out to dinner. When family comes over, make the food yourself rather than ordering in.

Ask for Help

Many people hosting a Thanksgiving dinner think that they have to do everything alone. This is not true and is a great way to spend a fortune feeding the entire family dinner. Instead ask for help. Ask each family that is coming to bring a couple of dishes. If you create a sign up sheet, or assign specific dishes like green beans, mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie you will be sure to get everything you need without having to buy and make everything yourself. This can save a lot of money while still ensuring a delicious family dinner for everyone.

Stay Home

While no one wants to be alone for Thanksgiving, sometimes travel is just not financially possible. If you only have a few days off for the holiday, don’t fly out of town unless you have the money available. Flights are more expensive around the holidays.

If you do have to stay in town, connect with your family on this special day in other ways. Consider having a live video chat using Skype or another free service. You can also share in the Thanksgiving festivities by making a traditional family recipe. Invite some other friends over and have a special day from home.

Focus on Affordable Entertainment

Many families love to go out to a big football game or spend Thanksgiving afternoon at the movie theater. While these fun family traditions are important, they should not be at the expense of your budget. If you can’t afford the usual family traditions this year, start some new ones. Consider playing board games with your family or host an all family football game in your backyard. You can also rent movies and watch at home instead of going out. Fun family traditions are based on creating memories, not overspending.

Set Up a Gift Exchange

When the whole family is together at Thanksgiving, it is the perfect time to start saving money for Christmas. Rather than buying everyone gifts this year, consider setting up a family gift exchange instead. You could have everyone draw one name for gift giving or could assign each family another family for purchasing. This can really save money and allow you to focus on getting one special gift rather than several less expensive ones. It is a great way to help your family start saving money as well.

If a gift exchange isn’t something you are interested in, consider buying your gifts in advance and taking them to Thanksgiving dinner so that you don’t have to spend money on postage closer to Christmas.

Hopefully these money saving tips will help you have a delightful and affordable Thanksgiving this year. If you keep your budget in mind over the holidays you will be better able to enjoy spending time with your family. After all, who wants to worry about money the entire holiday season? Choose a couple of these tips and start saving.

How do you save money on Thanksgiving?

 

Frugality

How to Compare Your Utility Company Options

One of the biggest shocks to many residents is that they have a choice with regards to their utility company. Since the deregulation of electricity, many citizens have more than one option. This is not true for every state. But in those deregulated areas, it is possible that portions of the population are not aware that they can choose something else. The first thing you have to do is determine if you are in a deregulated area.

The state of Texas is one of those states that offer citizens a choice of electric companies. Where there is choice, there is responsibility. We have a responsibility to research our options, and make informed decisions about what is right for us. Here are some of the things you should look for when weighing your options:

Deregulated Areas

It is not enough to know that Texas offers areas of deregulation. You can live in Texas and still not have a choice of power companies. If you do live in a deregulated area and are enjoying the benefits, you will want to be sure that your next move is to another deregulated area where you can pick up with the service you had.

TXU Energy is one of the big electricity retailers since deregulation in 2002. A site called Local Electricity Companies shows you where you can get that service. And provides a little information about service in that area. The first, most important thing you can do is arm yourself with where, and what your choices are.

Dollars and Cents

The main thing people want to know about their electric company service is how much their monthly bill will be. While there is no way to know for certain, we can make reasonable guesses. When comparing prices between electric companies, the only number you really need to know is the price per kWh. That is the number each provider can control. The rest are fixed costs like state and local taxes. Those costs will be the same regardless of provider.

The price per kWh can vary widely within a given market. One service might charge a price of 6.59¢ kWh, while another charges over 10¢ kWh. If price is your only consideration, then the comparison math is pretty easy. The state of Pennsylvania provides a handy price chart, along with an introduction to comparing the various services offered in that state.

Beyond Price

If money is the only thing we care about, then we cannot claim the moral high-ground over the greedy and heartless companies against which we like to inveigh. In every case I could find, the highest monthly rate goes to energy options that are 100% renewable. While I cannot tell you exactly why those options are higher, it is not entirely unexpected. In the same way that healthy eating is more expensive than less healthy options, there is a price associated with responsible alternatives. Each individual must decide how important those alternatives are to them.

There is also a matter of service. Monthly savings mean little if the service is dicey. When you call, do you get a machine or a person? If a service call is needed, how much is that visit going to cost you? Good service will almost always cost more than poor service. Often, a low monthly rate is made up by poor service and hidden fees. The important thing is that all of these rates and fees can be known beforehand. For many, quality service and responsible energy management will be more important than the variable price per kWh.

Choice does not just stop at electricity providers. For heating, you might be able to choose between electric or gas. You might also have more than one water option. The important thing is to choose what is best for you. And the only way you can do that is by doing your homework for the choices in your local area.

Frugality

Financial Freedom And The Grocery Store

One of the biggest expenses that we all face is food.  While it isn’t a good idea to stop eating to save money, there certainly are some great tactics that you can use at the grocery to make sure you don’t spend too much.

Watch for Sales

Some items, especially canned and long lasting products, can be purchased in bulk when on sale.  This can save you from spending a fortune on product by buying them at full price.  Additionally, it is always a good idea to glance over your grocery store ad to see what is on sale.  It can even help when making a plan for the week to have the ad nearby.  Remember that if you buy sale items that you won’t use, you aren’t getting a good deal no matter how low the prices are.

Don’t Fall Prey to Tricks

Grocery stores have a few tricks up their sleeve to make you spend more.  If your store uses these tactics, it doesn’t mean that items aren’t a good price.  You really just need to pay attention and determine what you need.  One common trick is to list items as 2 for $5 or 3 for $12.  Most of the time, you can buy just one and still get the same sale price.  Just because they say 10 for $10 doesn’t mean you need to buy 10.  Decide what you can use and then buy that amount.  Also it is wise to calculate the price per item to make sure you really are getting a good deal.

Store Cards

Many stores require you to sign up for their store card to get their advertised prices.  It only takes a few minutes and can really save a lot of money.  Sign up for these cards.  If you really don’t want  a card, many states will require the stores to honor the lower prices without a card upon request.  Talk with your grocery store and see what they can do.

Figure Out What You Actually Need

Sadly, if you don’t plan, you can end up throwing your grocery budget into the trash.  Food is perishable and if you buy things you aren’t going to eat, you are wasting money.  Honestly consider how much produce, fresh meat and other perishable products you will use before they expire.  It is usually best to buy less than you think you will need, since inevitably things come up.  You will probably end up eating out or going to dinner at a friend’s so buy a little less than you might need to reduce waste.  Use perishable items first to keep them from spoiling.

These few tips will help keep your budget in line at the grocery store.  Often, by just buying what you need and not wasting, you save quite a bit on groceries without even having to change your eating habits.

How do you save money at the grocery store?

 

Frugality

Use Coupons To Beat The Recession

When you’re trying to manage on a tight budget, it is often life’s little luxuries that are first to be sacrificed. After all, when you’ve got bills to pay, a mortgage to keep up and quite possibly a family to care for, you can’t be splashing the cash as freely on shopping and going out as much as you might like to – especially during a recession.

While we all have to make concessions during these difficult economic times, there are a number of ways you can allow yourself to indulge in little extras without breaking the bank.

One such strategy is to use promotional codes to obtain money off your favourite products. Also known as voucher codes, these coupons are readily available on the internet. Retailers love to put them out there, as the codes drive customers to their online stores, increasing what is known as ‘footfall’ – the number of people entering the shop, as it were. The promotional codes are great for consumers, as they entitle the user to discounted rates.

Promotional codes can be found carrying money-off deals for a wide range of different consumer products, so you really are spoiled for choice if you choose to use voucher codes to save a bit of money. A particularly useful strategy is to search the internet for voucher codes that apply to products you already buy, in order to avoid missing out on the benefit of the voucher by spending money on something you do not really need.

For example, say your mobile phone provider is Vodafone and your contract is almost up. Perhaps you don’t wish to leave Vodafone but you’d really like a cheaper tariff. A quick search for a Vodafone promotional code on the internet will tell you whether or not there is a code out there that could save you some money on your new contract. If there is, you can simply enter that promotional code when you order your new phone deal online to get your discounted rate, free talk time or whatever the promotional code entitles you to.

Another great time to use promotional codes is when you are doing your weekly grocery shopping. During the recession, most of us have had to take luxury items off our shopping lists to save money. But with promotional voucher codes that save you a certain amount of money off your bill, you may just be able to treat yourself to that favourite cheese, a good bottle of wine or something sweet for the kids.

Simply search the internet for voucher codes and the name of your local supermarket. For example, if you usually do your shopping at Tesco, a search for Tesco vouchers may well give you money off your bill when you order your groceries online rather than in store.

Voucher codes might not seem like a big deal if you use them just once or twice but used over time the savings really add up and make a positive contribution to your budget.

Voucher Seeker