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In Budgeting, Guest Posts on
February 15, 2018

14 ways to save on everyday household expenses

Article written by Sarah Smith. Edited by Jessica Speer

People are always talking about how difficult it is to save money. But for me, with little guidance and self-control, I believe it is possible to save more than you think.

In this world we live in, saving is becoming more of a ‘should’ than a ‘have.’ It seems that it would make no such difference without saving, but in the long run, you will always find yourself either being happy you did or end up regretting why you didn’t.

One of the biggest concerns in our lives is how to save more and spend less. To accomplish this task, we will need to cut down our monthly expenditures for the best results. Some of our bills may seem to be small, but if you calculate their yearly effect, you may be surprised by what you find.

Allocating or saving money can be hard sometimes or seem unimportant in the moment, but saving just a small amount can do wonders for you in the long run.

Even if you are not mounting with debts right now, do not be the one who waits for the storm to hit. Be someone who is prepared to fight all the battles ahead of them.

Below are 14 ways to save on everyday household expenses:

  1. BUDGET YOUR MONEY

Always and always, budget your money. I have always loved the 50/30/20 idea. It suggests spending 50% of your income on your needs, 30% on your wants and 20% on saving or paying off your debts. For me, this is the perfect balance. You can maintain your finances without depriving yourself of anything and saving up too. You just need to know what to do when.

  1. INSTALL ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

Often times we forget the impact of an appliance or even a bulb, can have on our expenditure. Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard incandescent bulbs can lower your monthly expenses and electric bill.

  1. MAINTAINING YOUR BILLS + PAY ON TIME

Now that our life without mobiles and internet is becoming impossible, it is so important that we pay close attention to our bills and the dates that we are due. Late bills can add up and are unnecessary if we are paying on time and in full at the end of every month.

  1. SHOP ON SALE DAYS

To shop on better days means to look out for the sales (all year round). For instance, around Christmas or when a certain season is ending, most brands offer a clearance sale.

I suggest that you make up a list of things that you want, but not at that very instant. Wait for the sale to come and take advantage of the extra savings.

Also, keep an eye on the weekly brochures these superstores publish and buy from the one which is offering the best discount.

  1. BUY SECOND HAND

Buying a brand new product is exciting, until you see your bank account empty. Technology is changing almost every day and we need every new gadget on our shelf. Take advantage of Facebook marketplace or the Let it go apps, to find great ‘used items’ for cheap!

As Dave Ramsey said,

You can typically rebuild a car two or three times for the amount of money you save by buying used.

By buying something at cheap rate, we can always upgrade it at a lower rate.

  1. USE COUPONS

We all get coupons every now and then in the mail, but let’s be honest- half the time we throw them out! Keep them tucked away in your car and use them next time your at the Dunkin Donut drive through 😉 These little savings add up big-time.

  1. CUT DOWN ON TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES

Most of us have to travel a lot, may it be for college or work. If you can take public transportation, that is great. But some of us are not a big fan of public transport. Well, in that case you can also look out for people on your route to carpool with.

  1. FIND OTHER MEANS OF ENTERTAINMENT

You don’t have to go out every weekend. Now, I am not asking you to become a couch potato or anything. I am only asking you to keep it a little low, for a while at least. For all the extroverts out there, being home and doing nothing is scarier than anything else, after all, what is life without a little fun.

All I am saying for now is, if you are going out for two movies in a month- try to go for just one and you will see what impact that will bring to your finances eventually.

  1. AVOID MEMBERSHIP FEES

We all have been there, we all have done that. We have memberships to a gym or club that we never go to, so why do we even bother keeping it?

If you find that you are not using your membership fees to their full potentials, cancel them. You are basically throwing money down the drain.

  1. MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD

When I was a student, I had no idea how to cook. Being away from my mother, I had no choice but to find a way to fill my belly. Those were the worst few years for my health and budget. I spent almost 50% more than my friends were spending on food, just because I used to order out all the time and they use to cook themselves.

Try to cook for yourself to live a healthy and wealthy life. Also, plan your meals ahead to make sure to stay on budget and to set a healthy lifestyle.

  1. SET YOUR THERMOSTAT

I know compromising on the room temperature can be difficult for some of us 😉 but to agree to change it (even just a little) can reduce your bill by so much.

  1. STAY IN MORE

Instead of going out and spending money, suggest ‘staying in.’ Grab a movie, some popcorn and make a night of it. You don’t always have to spend money to have fun. A game night even sounds like a fun option!

  1. GROW SOME GREENERY

Sounds crazy? It isn’t. Trust me- growing some food-related plants in your backyard will not just give your garden or your terrace a pretty look, it will save you on spending money on herbs and now you may just have a new hobby 😉

  1. QUIT UNHEALTHY HABITS

Unhealthy habits are bad for our life and our financial life both. As smoking, drinking or any other habit of this kind can make us unhealthy, it can also make an impact on our budget. Take care of you body and mind and you will avoid unnecessary hospital and doctor costs.

 

 

Author Bio: Sarah Smith has been a personal finance author for the last five years. She is also an independent and very passionate finance and investment advisor. She regularly posts at www.personalincome.org.

 

In Budgeting on
October 18, 2017

Age-Based Investment Strategies That Will Put You On The Path Toward Financial Success

Am I the only person who from time to time, googles how much money should I have in my 401k by age X?

I honestly wish there was someone to tell me the answer to how much money I should be investing by a certain age. But truthfully, there is no answer- everyone is different, every situation is different. There is no “secret number” as to how much you should have in your bank every time you turn a year older. I do believe however that there are simple strategies that we can take to set ourselves up for financial success at each stage of life and the earlier that we start, the better.

In your teenage years, lets be honest, you are not thinking about saving for your future. Your current worries are about what car to buy or where you are going to grab your next bite to eat. You have all the time in the world to save, so why start now? I am sure that this is what 90% of teenagers nowadays are thinking (and can you blame them?) I wish someone had sat me down at the age of 18 and told me what the importance of saving early really meant. It could be the difference between tens of thousands of dollars in your bank account. A little investment at this age can add up (with compound interest) to a WHOLE LOT of money later. Do not hesitate to start a secret stash- you will be way head of the game later if you have this mindset now.

Aged-Based Investing:

If you are a 20 something, like me, you are most likely focusing on school, your career and possibly marriage. At this age, I would encourage you to avoid debt at all costs. Try to pay in cash and only buy things that you need. Of course, have a little fun here and there- but keep your end goal in mind! I also would highly recommend starting to pay off your student loan debt NOW, if you can afford to do so. Don’t let the interest accrue daily to the point where you owe double the amount of where you started (yes, I know some people with this problem). You may also find yourself at the point in your life where you are considering moving out of your parents house and renting and/or purchasing a condo/house of your own. If you can set aside $200 a month from age 20 to age 30, you will have saved $24,000. This is a great start toward a great down payment. Lastly, open up a 401k- put aside whatever money that you are comfortable with. If your employer offers a match, take it (it’s free money!)

Now… fast forward- you just turned thirty. You are now shifting gear from focusing on yourself to the possibly of starting a family. It is important to try putting a little extra money aside each month towards an emergency fund. I would recommend having a safety net of around $10,000-$15,000 set aside in case of emergency. Hopefully at this point you have a place of your own or are looking into home ownership. Try to put down as much of a down payment as you can (while still keeping your Emergency Fund intact). The more money you can put down, the higher the chances of avoiding fees such as PMI. Believe me, I know it is hard to come up with a 20% down payment (I am with you). Try to think outside of the box. Is there someone who may be willing to help out financially? It will save you a lot of money in the long run if you can come up with more money now. 

If you are reading this and you are in your forties, you already know that it’s time to buckle down. You are at the peak of your career; your kids are growing up and now is the time to start thinking about college costs. Have you set aside some money for them? Consider opening a 529 savings fund, if you haven’t already. Being that you have been saving for a while now, you should have a little bit more of a cushion in your bank account. Now is a good time to open a good growth stock mutual fund or Roth IRA. Try to contribute 10-15% of your household income into it. Retirement should be at the forefront of all financial decisions that you make from this point forward. My husband and I started on this step early. We opened our first Roth at age 25- again, the sooner the better! 

Speed ahead. You are now fifty. Keep focused! Hopefully now you are investing the full 15% into your 401k and maxing out your Roth per year. You may be tempted to dip into your retirement savings, but hold off if you can- let that compound interest keep working for you. Now is the time to focus on paying off your mortgage faster.

60 onward. This is your time to relax, travel and enjoy all of what life has to offer. Hopefully you have saved up a large enough goose egg that you do not have to live paycheck to paycheck and can actually afford to give back. Have a little fun with your money, you earned itliterally. At this point, you might also consider purchasing long term care insurance. Prepare now for the care that you may need down the road.

You made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me. I hope that this article has helped provide you with a working guideline on how to be saving at different points in your life. Remember, the heart of investing is all about your attitude. No matter your age, it is never too late to start saving. The time is now and your future depends on it!

This post was written by Jess but first seen on at Ashlee & BinderFor valuable financial advice from Ashlee, be sure to check out her blog, Ashlee & Binder. Tell her I sent you!

In Lifestyle on
September 13, 2017

Why investing in travel improves your life

As you probably already know, I love to talk about money.  I am “all about” saving and setting yourself up to have a successful financial future. However, there is one area in particular where I find it so important to invest some of your hard-earned money. That is, in the area of travel

I have been fortunate enough to travel more than the average twenty year old. When I was thirteen, my grandmother took my cousin Laura and I to explore Holland for the first time. She wanted us to get the chance to see where she came from and meet our Dutch family. It was at that time I fell in love with the country and the people. Ever since I was young, the importance of travel was ingrained in me.   

Six years ago, I had a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to travel abroad to The Netherlands, to live and work for my family’s company. At the time I was not happy in my current job and wanted any excuse to get up and leave. I emailed my cousins over in Europe, asking if I could come over to learn about the ‘ins and outs’ of their company and to my surprise, they said yes! 

I lived in the Netherlands for nine months in total and during that time I was able to explore so much of the beautiful world we live in.  On weekends and time off from work, I would visit as many new cities as I possibly could. A lot of the places we explored by bike, as Holland is famous for cycling, which made sightseeing so much more fun and enjoyable. Luckily, I had met some wonderful people there who were more than happy to drive me around and explore their own country with me. 

Travel can be such an eye-opening experience. It gives you the opportunity to view the world around you through a different lens and a wider scope.  When you travel, you have the opportunity to build memories, and memories are moments you will remember for the rest of your life. The younger you start, the more stories you will have to tell later on about all of your adventures!

It’s important to set money aside for these sort of things. You don’t need to have $2,500 to be able to tour Europe right away, but you can start locally. For example, grab your girlfriend and take a weekend trip to Niagara Falls (if you’re an East Coast girl like me!) Now…that’s what I call a $500 well spent.When I spend money on traveling, I know that I am putting my money to good use.  You are paying for an experience and you will remember that experience forever. 

When Landon gets older, I will encourage him to travel, to take any opportunity to study abroad, visit friends in different states and tour this beautiful country of ours. There is so much to see and only so much time to do so.  

Traveling has many benefits, but here are the biggest ones, no matter how far, or how close, you travel. 

  • 1. You’ll find a new purpose.
  • 2. You’ll appreciate your home more.
  • 3. You’ll realize that your home is more than just where you grew up.
  • 4. You’ll realize how little you actually knew about the world.
  • 5. You’ll see that we all share similar needs.
  • 6. You’ll realize that it’s extremely easy to make friends.
  • 7. You’ll experience how interconnected humanity is.

 

Where is your favorite place you have traveled?  Leave me a comment below! 

This post was written by Jess, but first seen on Society Letters here.

 
 
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