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Money Management

Ways to Alleviate the Cost of Your Largest Expenses

Consumers are always searching for ways to reduce their living expenses. This effort typically includes reducing the cost of maintaining a home, operating a vehicle and buying groceries. There are many opportunities live more frugally, but sometimes the best way to achieve these goals can be a simple adjustment. By freeing up extra money, you can put your hard-earned income towards better use such as building an emergency fund, paying down debt, or saving for retirement. Here are some of the most potent ways to instantly lower the cost the “big three” consumer items: housing, vehicles and groceries:

Opening the Wallet to Owning a Home

The average U.S. homeowner spends about one-third of their annual income on maintaining and operating a home. For apartment dwellers, the percentage is only slightly less. Because home ownership represents the largest single expense on the personal budget, it only makes sense to protect that investment wisely. Sadly, too many property owners are under-insured or carry no catastrophic-style insurance at all. With that thought in mind, here are the top three ways to lower the cost of home ownership:

  • Immediately slice monthly energy bills by installing a “smart” thermostat. The cost of the unit is minimal and will likely be paid for by the first month’s savings on your utility bill. 
  • Carry the right amount of insurance. Having no coverage, or too little, might seem to boost the monthly bottom line but in the long run it’s a dangerous move. Paying a slightly higher monthly insurance bill now can mean huge savings for the average homeowner should something unexpected happen, like a fire. 
  • If you’ve been in your house a while, it’s possible your credit scores are better than when you obtained your mortgage. See about a refinancing deal that might carry a lower interest rate and immediately reduce your monthly house payment. 

Operating & Maintaining a Vehicle

Each week, make a list of every trip you took in your vehicle. Try to identify two or three journeys that were totally unnecessary and eliminate them the next week. One way to reduce the cost of your vehicle is to protect it for less. Too many consumers don’t comparison shop for auto insurance and end up paying much more per month than they should. 

You can Boost your car’s MPG by having regular oil-changes and tune-ups. Don’t forget to keep track of all car service in a paper record or e-log. When the time comes to sell the vehicle, all your careful attention will pay off. Buyers will be happy to pay more for a used car that has been well-maintained. 

Groceries Instead of Restaurants

You may remember your parents always making a grocery list before shopping, but it can still hold true as one of the best ways to reduce household expenses. It’s easy and effective to simply walk through the kitchen and write down each item you need for the upcoming week. That way you can avoid going up and down the grocery shopping at will. Also, most grocery chains now sell dozens of generic staples, which can mean big savings for sharp-eyed consumers.

Money Management

3 Ways To Get Over Your Financial Demons

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We all have them.  Those little things that we love to buy that totally blow our budgets.  Some people love buying shoes and clothes.  For others, the latest technological gadgets are their downfall.  Whatever your financial demon, overcoming it and learning to control is essential for financial freedom. 

Have you ever looked at your monthly credit card statement only to be amazed that you spent thousands on particular item?  This is a good way to know that you have a problem. 

Often, when people recognize they have these financial demons, they decide to eliminate them cold turkey.  Not a good idea.  You buy these things because they matter to you.  Cutting them out of your life entirely will only lead to frustration and possibly the eventual abandonment of your financial goals. 

Of course, you can’t just spend all of your money on these pleasures like you have been doing.  The trick is to find a balance between buying every item that you want and buying nothing. 

Finding a balance can be tricky at first.  Spending money can almost become an addiction.  Having the latest and greatest things can make you feel better about yourself.  A new purchase can make a bad day seem a little less miserable.  To successfully break your habit of overspending, you need to establish a plan. 

Learn how to overcome these demons using these three simple tips. 

You Better Recognize

The best way to overcome your spending demons is to first recognize them. A little bit of this recognition probably occurs each month as you look at your bank statements.  Did I really spend that much money?  It can also come through contemplation.  Think about where you spend your money and more importantly why.  Figure out a reasonable budget for these favorite things. 

Cash Out

A great way to start controlling your spending demons is to start carrying cash.  You don’t need to use cash for all of your purchases, just for the ones where you tend to overspend.  Each check, take out your decided budget from the bank and then use this money to buy whatever it is that you can’t resist.  Everyone’s purchases will be different.  If you have the cash, don’t feel bad about your purchases.  When the money is gone, wait to buy the item you are wanting until the next check. 

Walk It Out

If you see something you feel you really need to have, walk around the store for 15-20 min. Eventually that feeling will wear off and you will have a clear head to make the decision on if you need it or not.  If you do need it and don’t have the money available right then, the item will still be there next week. 

Financial freedom isn’t about never getting to have the things you love.  It’s all about controlling yourself so that you can have these things more often and without guilt.  These three tips will get you started and along the way, you may find some ideas of your own. 

Do you have any great ways to overcome these financial demons? 

photo credit: L.C.Nøttaasen 

 

Money Management

Mobile Coupons Save You the Hassle at the Register (And a Lot of Money)

Your smartphone could be one of the most powerful weapons in your money-saving arsenal. Mobile coupons help shoppers save instantly — while they’re in the store — without the paper-wasting hassle of printing or clipping. Say goodbye to extreme couponing: There are a whole host of mobile apps designed to deliver relevant, free coupons directly to your smartphone.

Pushpins

Allows you to scan an item while you’re in the grocery store and automatically redeem pushpin coupons.[1] Your savings are instantly applied to your store savings card and are redeemed when you swipe your card at the register. You’ll also be able to check an item’s nutritional information, and share your saving savvy over social media. If you allow push notifications, they’ll let you know when your coupons are expiring, so you don’t miss out on a killer deal. Pushpins works in over 2,000 grocery stores and is adding new locations across the country every day.[1] Check Pushpin for your local grocery store and write to them if you don’t see it. They’re working to incorporate local and chain stores close to their customers.

Coupon Sherpa

This app provides you with coupons directly through your smartphone. You’ll be able to access hundreds of in-store coupons and search either by product category or store name.[2] If you’re having trouble finding a store location, Coupon Sherpa can help you find the store nearest to you. With this app, not only will you receive exclusive coupons, you’ll also be able to skip scouring the internet for discounts. The Coupon Sherpa staff will hunt down those deals for you and add new coupons daily.[2] You can share your coupons with friends via email and invite them to participate in the savings too.

WOWPONS

Combine green shopping and bargain hunting with WOWPONS’ mobile coupon app. They accumulate grocery coupons for everyday brands and provide them to their app users daily.[3] A big part of saving is staying organized, and WOWPONS’ grocery list feature allows you to do just that. You can create, share, and save multiple shopping lists and access them from your phone as soon as you step into the grocery store. Additionally, WOWPONS will remind you when your coupons are close to expiring and alert you to new discounted products that you might appreciate.[3]

Yowza!!

This app has taken going local to heart: they provide app users with free coupons and deals from nearby businesses. When you’ve entered your geographic location, Yowza!! will hunt for offers as close as a mile away, and as far as 50 miles away. Customer satisfaction is one of their top priorities, so they won’t spam your phone. You can access deals on your own time instead of being bombarded with messages.[4]To cashin your coupon, all you have to do is let the cashier scan the product’s barcode on your smartphone. Since the deals come straight from merchants, there’s a much lower chance of your coupon being rejected; Yowza!! is working to add new merchants across the country every day.[4]

Cellfire

With Cellfire, you can find deals on the Cellfire website and save them to your smartphone to use at your convenience. Just show the coupon to the cashier to receive your discount. When you hut for grocery coupons, your selected savings will be saved directly to your store savings card, so that they are automatically deducted when you swipe your card.[5] Cellfire emphasizes relevance, so they take care to send you offers that you’ll actually be interested in and remind you if any of your saved coupons are due to expire soon.

Download any one of these apps to join the mobile coupon revolution. They could save you a ton at stores that you visit every day. Get access to coupons for groceries, clothes, electronics, and more, that are all easy to use and conveniently located on your smartphone.

Rachel writes articles for Allied Cash about, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting.

References 

1. “Pushpins:About.” Pushpins. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Jun. 2012. <http://www.pushpinsapp.com/about>.

2. Coupon Sherpa LLC. “Coupon Sherpa Mobile Coupons.” iTunes Preview. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Jun. 2012. <http://itunes.apple.com/app/coupon-sherpa-mobile-coupons/id309938343?mt=8>.

3. “Mobile Coupons.” WOWPons. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Jun. 2012. <http://www.wowponsmobilegrocerycoupons.com/mobile-coupons.html>.

4. “Yowza!! Is Savings in Your Pocket.” Yowza!!. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Jun. 2012. <https://getyowza.com/learn>.

5. “What is Cellfire?” Cellfire. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Jun. 2012. <http://www.cellfire.com/whatiscf.php>. 

Money Management

Should Politicians Tell You How To Spend Your Money?

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David Cameron got a little heat recently for “instructing voters to pay off their credit card bills” in a recent speech he was going to give. Because of that heat they changed the line. It was read out of context and I don’t think it was really a financial lecture, but none the less, it brings up the question of whether or not politicians that are dealing with our nations debt problems should be telling you how to handle your finances.

My take is that it doesn’t really matter. It’s just words and you can take the advice or not. It’s really up to you. Some of the best advice is given by people that don’t follow it.

Just because the advice is coming from a bad source doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad advice.

Another point brought up is that some people worried that what he was telling people would cause them to stop spending thus slowing down the economy. I say good. What got us in to this mess in the first place was spending too much money. We cry that the government has a lot of debt and needs to cut back yet we shouldn’t do that ourselves?

Of course we should.

Will that cause us to lose more jobs?

Yes!

But it’s not that jobs are just going away, it’s that they’re moving into different sectors and even newly created sectors.

For instance, after the housing boom tons of jobs were lost in the real estate and housing sector, but do you know what grew? Businesses that make money from bankruptcy. They grew at incredible rates, and what were they doing? Hiring people!

Debt consolidation companies and all of the other financial education companies grew too.

If a job goes away, there’s another job popping up somewhere to fill that void.

So what can be done about jobs?

Reeducate people so that they can find jobs in a new field.

All jobs aren’t going to be around forever. If I’m not mistaken, there aren’t any more Pony Express Riders. Do you think they rolled over and died? No they used their skills for something else, or learned how to drive.

So, if you don’t have a job and it’s not looking bright, Google something and learn all about it. Maybe start your own business.

What do you think?

Money Management

The Importance of Payday Loans

Many people often show an aversion towards loans that are not properly warranted. For these people, any form of debt is often bad debt. The truth however can be wildly different; loans or debt are bad when you don’t use them properly and you are not able to pay off the loaned amount in time. However, if you can take care of these concerns, you can actually be confident that the loan is good especially if it betters your situation in the way you envisioned the loan would help you, and there are many options where you can find a loan if you find it, you can even go online to sites as Loans Now to find the best loans for different needs.

Enter payday loans! The importance of payday loans lies in the fact that it is one of the most readily accessible types of loans out there. True, the short-term nature of payday loans lends itself highly to risks like higher interest rates but this does not negate how this loan type can be tremendously helpful for many people.

In times of emergency, payday loans can provide the quickest access to money needed to help you survive a rough period. If you’re expecting an income that is delayed, payday loans can help cover your expenses for a few days until the money arrives. If there’s a school project for the kids that needs immediate funding, payday loans can be the most important lifeline that you have to make sure the kids get what they need. There are so many scenarios that lend value to the importance of payday loans, none more so than the fact that you can use it for medical emergencies and the likes.

All this can be traced to the fact that payday loans require little documentation to support and are generally payable within two weeks or so after the loan is secured. In essence, you don’t have to think about it for extended periods thereafter. It’s really a short-term infusion of cash meant to help you move along until you are in a much better financial situation. When used properly, as already discussed, it’s more than just a life saver. It’s something that can help better your life on days when you feel you are really at a low point financially.

Think of finding payday loan lenders and getting payday loans the next time you are hard on cash. It might just be the option you need to continue taking care of the importance things while the payday is still some days away.