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Watch Your Money….

5 Tricks To Curb Your Spending And Save Money

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Every year, it seems there are things we vow to do more of—exercise, eat healthy, drink more water. Grouped in with those items is always save money. Today, Arin is sharing how she has curbed her spending so far this year and five ways you can do the same!

We’ve all heard it—‘stop going out, stop splurging on clothes, stop buying things you don’t need.’ Easier said than done, right? My husband and I recently purchased our first home, and we’re quickly realizing that home-ownership comes with a hefty price. Obviously, we were aware that it would be costly, but there’s so many hidden expenses that we didn’t even think about. This has resulted in some serious budgeting (ah, the dreaded ‘B’ word!) and retail restraint. We’ve also had to make some major sacrifices to meet our financial goals. These sacrifices include limited nights out, vacations, etc. Obviously, we’ll be able to do these again in time, but, until then, we’re on the road to financial freedom! I wanted to share a few things we’ve been doing that have really helped us along this journey and helped up save money.

  1. Ditch the cable: We were spending close to $100 each month on cable, and this is an area we decided to cut back on. With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Chromecast, it was a no-brainer for us. Here’s a trick: If your parents/family have a cable account, ask if you can use their login credentials. Download the apps of your favorite networks, and you can actually watch live television (with a cable log-in) while streaming to your TV! I still get my Food Network on a Saturday morning, and it’s 100-percent free thanks to some generous parents (p.s. it does absolutely nothing to their account).
  2. Small weekly saving transfers: Each week, I have my bank set to automatically deposit $30 into my savings account. By the end of each month, I have $120. This just helps curb my spending, and ensures that I’m setting aside money. It’s a great way to build an emergency fund, too.
  3. Use cash: This brings me back to those ‘allowance’ days! Take out a set amount of cash for the month, and once it’s gone, your spending is done. If you’re anything like me, swiping a credit card adds up. All of those little purchases make a dent on your checking. Utilizing this cash method ensures that we will not spend more than the allotted amount. This has seriously worked! Because the cash tends to go quickly, make sure you’re tracking that spending!
  4. No drinks: Here’s a tough one for some. If you are going out to dinner, skip the drinks. By ordering two drinks alone, we’d spend an extra $22 on the bill. By cutting out alcohol while dining out, we saved close to 40 percent on our bill. This honestly makes a huge difference when you’re saving money. Our average dinner bill is usually around $30 or less!
  5. Check your bank statements: I’m guilty of not checking my bank statements regularly. I recently went through it, and noticed that my bank was tacking on unnecessary fees. I also noticed several other errors (Uber charging me twice, etc) and it saved an average of $25 each month. My bank was nice enough to reverse the charges, so it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on statements each month to ensure everything looks correct. It just takes a few minutes, and it really is worth it. In fact, it paid for our dinner!
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Money Matters…..

Uncle Sam Wants to Help You Save Money – Really

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usa  uncle sam counts us...
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Want to put your tax dollars to work for you? Online and in print, the federal government publishes thousands of ideas that will help you save money from womb to tomb. Here some highlights:

A Place to Search

The Government Printing Office offers a directory of 380,000 documents, in 41 collections, that have been accessed more than 200 million times.

Your One-Stop Savings Stop

Another good place to start is www.mymoney.gov. Under its life events tab, this site offers advice from how to prepare financially for the birth of a baby and the attendant expenses through major life events like buying a house, getting a mortgage and planning a funeral. Under the tools tab, the site also offers calculators on figuring out student loan repayment plans, tax withholding amounts and credit card repayment schedules.

Insurance and Investing

USA.gov also offers plenty of advice on all aspects of your life, including homeowners insurance and investing. This is the go-to website for all consumer issues. On investor.gov, the Securities and Exchange Commission will help you research investments and brokers.

Save on Food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodKeeper app — free at the Google Play and iTunes stores — tells you how long food can stay fresh and when it’s time to toss it. It should keep you from throwing away the 36 pounds of perfectly good food that the average American family throws away every month. The USDA also offers tips on growing your own food. You can find advice on nutrition, dieting, eating healthy on a budget, food safety and recall notices from the Centers for Disease Control website.

Slash That Utility Bill

The Department of Energy’s website is one of the best money-saving sites to help save on all your home energy. The site offers DIY project how-to’s to make your home more energy-efficient. Spring gardening tips to save water and offer shade before the summer heat make this a site to visit before hitting Home Depot. This site offers a laundry list of ways to save on energy, from lighting and landscaping to yes, saving money on doing your laundry.

Paying for College

The Department of Education website is a must-read for this huge undertaking. It offers comprehensive information on student loans and federal grants. You may think you make too much money to apply for these programs, but at least check out ed.gov and then to fill out the FAFSA, the one form virtually every college requires to apply for financial aid.

Strange but True Tax Help

The Internal Revenue Service offers advice to save money and places to help you file for free yourself or at low-income taxpayer clinics (run by groups independent of the IRS) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for elderly and low-income taxpayers. Publication 910 is a guide to the various IRS publications.

Vacations and Recreation

On www.recreation.gov, Uncle Sam shows his fun side with info on spelunking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, fishing and mountain climbing. Here you can make reservations for camping or overnight stays at hundreds of parks and facilities run by a dozen federal agencies at more than 60,000 federally run locations. The about us tab includes how to get free tickets to popular activities like the White House Easter egg roll and holiday tree lighting. Seniors can check out discounts on Amtrak and parks and recreation passes.

There’s an App for That

There are hundreds of free government apps available for Android and iOS. Dwellr, an interesting one from the Census Bureau, gives info on housing statistics, home values and lifestyle by neighborhood, a very useful app if you’re looking to move, actually on the ground house-shopping or just dreaming about it. The Bureau of Engraving’s Eyenote app can read U.S. currency on an iPhone or Android device and speak the denomination back to the visually impaired.

Save Money on Your Car and Driving

Fueleconomy.gov offers ways to calculate your mileage, tips on driving to save mileage, a calculator for saving money while driving on vacation and an app for finding places to get alternative fuels for your plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle. If you’re selling a car, the site can find its fuel economy and how to print a label to advertise it. This site also offers tips on buying a fuel-efficient car and where to find the cheapest gas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s SaferCar app offers tips like washing the undercarriage of your car in states that salt the roads to prevent rust and dangerous corrosion.

Free Money?

Not really, as Benefits.gov says. “Many people have heard that the government will give you money for almost any reason. This is not true. You must complete an application and meet specific eligibility requirements in order to receive financial assistance from the government.” However, you may qualify for some sort of grant or loan if you are a senior, run a small business, farm or quality under low-income guidelines.

 

Get Your Money Right!!

 Millennial’s Approach: How To Get Rid Of Debt

January 24, 2014
 
Do what Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic did; freeze your credit card. Don’t do what she did afterwards – unfreeze it and use it!

Most students, if not all, graduate from college with a hard-earned degree and loans to match. Granted some of us take out loans for reasons not pertaining to school (My Canon DSLR was totally worth it!), but still. Chances are you didn’t have a decent-paying job while attending school (got one right after college and traveled to London instead of paying off loans) and couldn’t pay the loans, even if you wanted to.

Debt

Why can’t returning money be as much fun as borrowing it? Remember this the next time you’re tempted to use your credit card. If you’re ready to free yourself from debt and go on vacation without thinking twice about it, here are a few pointers:

Take a look at the due dates, interest rates and balances. Feel free to make a list (and be prepared to start crossing things off that list!).

Set your own due dates. Coordinate so you’re not juggling several payments at once. This will make it easier to budget.

Create a budget. What other bills are you responsible for, and how much are you spending per month? Organization diminishes stress.

Next, take a look at interest rates. The first credit card you’ll want to pay off in full is the one with the highest interest rate. If you’re still struggling, double the minimum and pay that much. Paying just the minimum doesn’t help ease the interest you’ll accumulate.

It will be hard, but you must’n hesitate to make payments in full. If need be, start by paying off the smaller balances. This will be a challenge and you may have to limit your spending, but the freedom that comes along once you’re worried free is well worth the effort.

Are you in debt? Have you created a payment plan that works for you?