6 Alternative Housing Options That Can Help You Save Money

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6 Alternative Housing Options That Can Help You Save Money
The rent is too darn high, and it’s hard to catch a break. The same can be said about paying the mortgage each month. With housing costs eating up about a third of many household budgets, it’s typically the highest single expense Americans face each month. Still, you’ve got to have a roof over your head. Here are six alternative housing options with the potential to significantly cut costs while keeping you comfortably sheltered. 1. Coliving Imagine living with a bunch of strangers for the sake of saving money on housing. Coliving is an alternative housing concept where multiple, unrelated individuals live under the same roof sharing common space like living rooms and kitchens while enjoying private bedrooms … and private bathrooms, if they’re lucky. While the living arrangement is not new, it has gained popularity in recent years among cash-strapped millennials in urban areas. But coliving can also be found outside major metropolitan cores. Jillian Warwick moved into a St. Petersburg, Florida, coliving space this summer. She pays $600 in a city where rent on a studio apartment can exceed $1,200. Her monthly payment includes utilities and high-speed internet, and the home includes free laundry access and is stocked with complimentary coffee and household supplies. 2. Tiny House According to the National Association of Home Builders, a median new single-family home was 2,355 square feet in the beginning of 2019. Tiny homes, in comparison, are typically less than a quarter of that size. Though the living space is smaller, the potential to save is larger. In addition to spending less on the home itself, tiny house dwellers often pay less in utilities, and they buy less things because of the limited space. Andrew and Gabriella Morrison and their two kids cut roughly $300 in monthly expenses (or about $3,600 a year) from their budget by switching to tiny house living. Joel Weber built his own tiny home while in college. After spending between $13,000 and $16,000 for the build, his combined cost to park his home and pay for utilities came to about $300 a month — almost a third of the cost of living in a dorm. 3. RV Experience a nomadic lifestyle by living in an RV. These tiny houses on wheels are a fraction of the size of a typical home but also a fraction of the cost. Cortni Armstrong ended up moving to an RV five years ago. Her living situation was the catalyst to a new career: renovating and flipping RVs. Armstrong has sold remodeled RVs in the $30,000 range — which can sometimes be a mere down payment for a traditional home. Like with tiny house living, don’t forget to factor in the rent at a campground or RV park if you don’t own land to park on. 4. Skoolie Similar to an RV but in a more unique package, a skoolie is a decommissioned school bus that has been converted into a home on wheels. It can also be less expensive than an RV. Phil Risher bought a bus for $5,000 and spent $2,000 transforming it into his living quarters for a 95-day trip around the country. He and his father took on the renovation themselves using a free layout from Pinterest and tips from YouTube videos. 5. Off Grid Ever want to distant yourself from the constructs of modern society? Off-grid living is an alternative housing option that requires you to be self-sustaining. You rely on independent power and water sources rather than municipal services. You grow or hunt your food rather than shopping at a grocery store. Tyler and Ashley Selden and their daughter Sydney maintain an off-grid lifestyle in Alaska. Though it’s a lifestyle choice rather than a financial one, they estimate they save up to $10,000 a year just by growing, fishing or hunting their own food. 6. House Hacking House hacking, in a nutshell, is buying property and recruiting others to help you pay the mortgage. Riley Adams and his girlfriend (now wife) lived in a three-unit residential property in New Orleans cost-free for three years. Their house-hacking arrangement involved renting one unit out and having Airbnb guests in the other, which covered the mortgage. House hacking is also possible without living in a multiunit property. Kristine Dowhan became an Airbnb host, listing three bedrooms of her four-bedroom home to afford her mortgage. She even made a $1,200 profit her first year renting out rooms. Even if you don’t have extra bedrooms in your home, you can get creative with the space you do have. John Potter rented out a tent in his backyard on Airbnb. Talk about thinking outside the box! Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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How to Get on the Same Money Page As Your Spouse

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How to Get on the Same Money Page As Your Spouse
You and your spouse are tight. You’ve got your catalog of shows you love to chill and watch together. You communicate with words and phrases built over the years of your marriage. And insider jokes? The two of you share these naturally by text throughout the week. But then…there’s money. It seems to be this ... Read More about How to Get on the Same Money Page As Your Spouse The post How to Get on the Same Money Page As Your Spouse appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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How To Make Money Creating Printables

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How To Make Money Creating Printables
Did you know you can make money creating printables and selling them online? This is such a great way to make some extra income from home! Guest post from Bridget of SunshineAndRainyDays.com When my kids were young, I remember putting them to bed and just sobbing. I absolutely LOVED being a stay-at-home mom and didn’t want that to change, but I felt empty. I needed something more — something that would allow me to have my own identity. As the kids got a little older, I poured myself into volunteer work. A friend and I started a MOPS group at our church, and I volunteered in my kids’ classrooms, with the PTA, and at church. At one point, I realized my volunteer hours had become a full time job. Counting Box Tops is no joke! When the kids hit high school, the volunteer opportunities started drying up. I stepped away from my roles at church and decided it was time to pursue something just for me! I followed a few bloggers, took one of Crystal’s blogging courses, and eventually started creating printables. That’s when everything started to click, and I realized I had found what I really, truly enjoy! Printables made excellent opt-ins for my blog, but then I discovered you can also make money selling printables. Yay! What Is A Printable? A printable is a digital file suitable or fit to be printed or published. That’s a stuffy dictionary definition. Are you ready for MY definition of printables? Printables are digital files you can download to your own computer and print at home to make life easier, add fun to your life, keep you organized, or help save you money! Examples Of Printables The best printables to sell are the ones with everyday, practical uses. Think about what printables might make life easier or more fun, help someone stay organized or save money — the possibilities are endless! Here are some examples below of printables I’ve created in the past… Birthday Party In A Box — This one makes your life easier when you want to send a Birthday Surprise to someone you can’t celebrate with in person. You don’t have to come up with your own box decorations because we’ve done it for you! Leprechaun’s Loot — Surprise your co-workers, friends, and family with Leprechaun’s Loot to make St. Patrick’s Day a bit more FUN! Medical Binder — This one is a great example of one way to stay organized with printables. Christmas Trivia Printables — These make Christmas party planning easier, the party more fun, you’ll impress your guests with your organized game, and you’ll save money because it’s a super inexpensive way to entertain! How To Create Printables In the beginning, I created printables using a combination of free programs like Canva, PicMonkey, Numbers, and Pages. Then, I discovered Affinity Designer. I now create all of my printables in Affinity Designer and can make them look just the way I want with this one app. It’s so easy! Here’s how to create a printable: Come up with a printable idea. Make a quick sketch of your design. Set up your page in your design software. Design your printable. Include your URL and copyright symbol. Print your design to try it out. Save as a PDF to share. For more in depth instructions on creating printables, be sure to check out my guest post over at Your Blogging Mentor. Where To Sell Printables Are you excited to create printables, but you aren’t quite sure where to sell them? You actually have quite a few options! Here are just a few ideas: 1. Gumroad — This is a marketplace for creators to sell their products. I like Gumroad because you can start selling printables without a monthly fee — which makes it a great way to test out your new products. At the time I wrote this article, they take $0.30 + 3.5% one-time fee per sale. You only pay the fee if your product sells, so there’s very little risk. And Gumroad collects the money for you and deposits it (minus fees) into your account. You can go here to see an example of a product I have listed on Gumroad. 2. Shopify — While I still have a few sales trickling in from Gumroad, I pretty much have exclusively switched over to a Shopify store. I love Shopify, because it allows me to create an entire store with different printable collections and they offer a great user experience for your customers. There is a monthly fee, so this is only a good option if you’re at a place where you’re selling printables on a regular basis. 3. Etsy — I have not personally ever sold anything on Etsy, but I know plenty of people who do and are very successful with it! The advantage of Etsy is the massive number of people who frequent the site looking for specific item. Buyers may stumble upon your printables in Etsy through a search on the platform. 4. Teachers Pay Teachers — If you plan to create a lot of educational printables, Teachers Pay Teachers is an excellent platform for you to sell on. Your very first product that you list has to be free, and then you can start charging after that. 5. Sell as a virtual assistant — If you aren’t interested in starting a blog or having your own online store, you have other options — one of which is to sell to bloggers! Most bloggers don’t have time to do everything, so they hire virtual assistants to create printables for them. A great way to find work with bloggers is by searching for Facebook groups where you can advertise your printables to bloggers. One example is this VA for Hire Facebook group. Once you make a sale, you can use a PayPal business account to invoice and collect payment. 6. Create printables for people you know — Another option is to create printables for people you know! Showcase your work on social media and get the word out that you are creating printables for others. As you do more and more work, the word will spread! It can be fun to create printables for customers, because you get to experiment with bringing their vision to life! Just be sure to correctly estimate how long the work will take you and decide on a fair hourly rate that’s worth your time. Tip: When you create printables for others, be sure to look at it as a business transaction. They will likely have changes they would like you to make and that’s okay! That’s a part of the process and it’s important to not take it personally. Over time, you will learn the likes and dislikes of your customers. This will make future projects go quicker! It’s nearly impossible to be on every platform, so I recommend that you just pick one to start with and dive in! Learn everything you can about the platform and try it out. How To Advertise Printables Once you’ve created a few printables, you need a way to point buyers to your product — which is where advertising comes into play! If you’re looking for some easy ways to advertise, try one of these: 1. Advertise Through A Blog — The first printables I sold were through blog posts on Sunshine And Rainy Days. I used Gumroad to sell those printables and it worked quite well! (You can see one of my early months of sale from back in 2017 above.) And blog posts continue to be the primary way I advertise printables! 2. Create Pinterest Pins — Pinterest is considered a search engine and many people go to Pinterest to find ideas and solve problems. Create your Pinterest pin, highlight your printable, link it to the product, and pin away! Don’t forget to add keywords and hashtags in the description to help Pinterest users more easily stumble upon your pin in search! 3. Share On Social Media — You can also share your printables on social media with a link to your product. Share on your own page or in Facebook groups. (Just be sure to read group rules to make sure you’re allowed to share in the group.) Printables Have Huge Potential! Last year, the kids wanted to throw a Christmas Party for their friends. I [...]
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You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables

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You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Saving the planet doesn’t always come cheap. Many of the disposable products we use and love are easy to buy at lower prices than their reusable counterparts. But the convenience of disposable products often comes at a steep cost to the environment. Plastic bags and straws pollute the ocean and end up being ingested by sea animals. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. Reusable products often cost more up front, but you may be surprised to find out how soon they end up paying for themselves since you can use them again and again instead of buying more of the disposable versions. 9 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over Time We took nine household products, searched for both reusable and disposable versions on Amazon and compared the costs. Here’s how they stacked up. Editor’s note: The prices in this post are valid as of Sept. 23, 2019. Diapers Diaper prices can vary widely. For example, cheap (read: leaky) store-brand diapers cost just a few cents each, while Pampers can set you back $40 a week. The same is true of cloth diapers.  For this comparison, take a cloth diaper costing $4.50 and 16 disposable diapers at 28 cents each, and the cloth diaper has paid for itself after 16 diaper changes. Multiply that over two years of a child’s life before potty training, and there are major savings to be had by reusing cloth diapers — many of which have different settings that adjust to your baby’s growth. Dryer Balls If you’ve never heard of dryer balls, they’re little wool balls about the size of a tennis ball that you throw in your dryer with your wet laundry in place of fabric-softening dryer sheets. Because the wool can absorb some moisture from your clothes, manufacturers claim they cut down on energy use and drying time. They can also save you some pennies. A set of six reusable wool dryer balls costs $7.97, while a box of 240 disposable dryer sheets costs — wait for it — a buck more. This one’s a no-brainer. Feminine Products Listen up, gal pals. We’re here to tell you that you are not — we repeat, NOT — doomed to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for tampons and liners and pads (not to mention Midol) simply for the privilege of being female. With a box of 40 tampons costing $6.47 and 38 pads ringing in at $6.97 times every month of your adult life, it’s … a lot. So consider this: One pair of Thinx period underwear is $23, and a Diva cup is $24.48. K-Cups Did you even know there was a reusable alternative to those little pods of delectable, life-giving coffee? There totally is!  While a box of 40 Starbucks K-Cups will set you back $28.36 (OUCH), a set of four reusable pods that you just refill with your favorite ground coffee runs $9.95.  Paper Towels One cloth kitchen towel at $1.33 is only slightly more than the cost of one roll of paper towels at a cost of $1.10 per roll. Enough said. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 8:24 AM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ 4:40 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 2:00 PM Saving money on pet meds 9/11/19 @ 11:41 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question Razors Razors are synonymous with disposable. A box of 100 of the plastic ones: $17.90. A single chrome reusable safety razor (that will make you feel like Don Draper): $12.66. You do have to replace the blade on the reusable one. Don’t worry, they’re cheap. A box of 100 is about $7. Straws A stainless steel straw costing $.75, or $5.99 for a set of eight, is equal to the cost of about 19 disposable straws at 4 cents each. That means that after 19 uses, the reusable straw has essentially paid for itself — plus you’ve got seven more left over. Sandwich Bags This set of six reusable sandwich bags costs $9.99, while a box of 280 Ziploc bags runs about $8.38. Think about it this way: The first time you replace that box of disposable bags, you’ve nearly bought another whole set of the ones you could be reusing. Water Bottles One reusable water bottle costing $15.76 is equal to the cost of about 72 single-use water bottles at 22 cents each.  Translation: Refill your bottle 72 times and then you’re done paying for water entirely. That’s a considerable up-front cost, but these products — and really all reusable replacements — are all about long-term savings. Not to mention tossing a little less waste in the landfill. Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Derek Peth of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’: It’s OK to Talk About Money with Friends

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Derek Peth of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’: It’s OK to Talk About Money with Friends
Trying to maintain a social life while still paying the bills? That’s easier said than done. Bar tabs, brunches, vacations and birthday celebrations don’t pay down student loans or help you save for a down payment on a home. If you’re not a careful budgeter, your social spending can even put you behind on rent. But that doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Derek Peth, a financial executive who’s most known for stints on “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” suggests the opposite. Becoming more financially intimate — sharing your financial situation with your friends or significant other — can strengthen your relationships while protecting your budget. Peth, a senior vice president at the online lender Laurel Road, told The Penny Hoarder it’s time to remove the taboo around talking about money. “Your finances are a part of who you are,” he said. The people you love should be accepting of that, even if it prohibits you from going out and spending money as often as they’d like. Talking about your financial situation, however, doesn’t mean you have to dish out the explicit details of how much you make or how much debt you have to an acquaintance or someone you just started dating. Instead, Peth suggests sharing your goals and limits.  “You can say something like, ‘I’ve got a lot in student loans. I’m really trying to focus on that and my goals right now, and I’m kind of limited on what I can do. Here’s my limits,’” he said. “You don’t necessarily [have to] put numbers behind it, but at least start having the conversation.” While you’re being more open about your money situation, make sure to share your financial wins too. Paying off $10,000 of your student debt is worthy of the type of celebration you’d have if a friend was turning 30, Peth said. “Achieving something like paying off a large amount of debt and then celebrating it in a fun way is something that we should do more of,” he said. When you don’t have as much disposable income as your friends, it can be disappointing to say no to an invite. “FOMO is a real thing,” Peth said. True friends should accept the occasional “no thanks, I can’t make it” reply. If someone is constantly trying to push you outside your financial comfort zone or can’t accept your explanations as to why you can’t afford going out every weekend, Peth said it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship. “You don’t want to be begrudgingly doing something and you also don’t want to — if you’re real friends — be guilt-tripping someone into doing something either,” he said. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM Money management in general 9/17/19 @ 12:59 PM J Out on sick leave 9/19/19 @ 5:48 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question To avoid some of these situations, Peth advises taking the lead and being the one to plan the outing. You can come up with something enjoyable that doesn’t involve spending a bunch of money, like a backyard barbecue or a picnic where everyone chips in and brings a dish. Living in New York, Peth said some of his favorite things to do are hanging with friends on a rooftop or in Central Park, which are very low-cost. When it comes to dating, Peth suggests taking a note from the Bachelor franchise — with adjustments to fit your budget, of course. “There are multiple layers to their big dates,” he said. “Although they’re crazy expensive, you can start out somewhere that’s got nice drinks, grab one there, walk to another place that’s maybe lower cost to get tacos together and just laugh and chat, and then go through a final walk through some park.” Adding layers to a date involves a little more effort than just making reservations at a restaurant. Peth said it shows you value spending time with that person, and the change of scenery helps break up some first-date awkwardness.  “The first time you’re meeting somebody, mix it up a little bit,” he said. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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How to Make Money Selling eBooks (free online class!)

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How to Make Money Selling eBooks (free online class!)
Have you ever thought about writing and selling an ebook? If you’ve always wondered how people actually make money doing this and if it’s something you could do, too, I want to invite you to next week’s online class I’m co-hosting with best-selling eBook author, Kelly McNelis. She’s going to share how she went from making a mere $100 per year selling eBooks to making over $100,000 per year selling eBooks…all while working less than 10 hours a week! Plus, she’s going to teach you how you can do this, too! You’ll learn how to stand out from the crowd, serve your audience, and sell more eBooks in an authentic way. The Class is Completely FREE! Best of all, this class is completely free! To sign up, just go here and type in your name and email address and you’ll be registered! The class will be Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. EST. It will be one hour long, with time at the end for you to ask questions! Yes, I want to sign up for the free ebook class! I’m so excited to get to learn from Kelly and be inspired by her story and practical advice and ideas. P.S. Can’t make the class live? Just click her to register and Kelly will send you a link to the replay after the class is finished. photo credit [...]
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30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money

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30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money
Want some easy ways to save money? Here are 30 easy ways to save money submitted by my Facebook followers. How many of these do you currently do? 30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money 1. Set up auto deposit to a bank that is hard to access. Susan suggested: “Auto deposit to a bank you don’t have easy access to. I use our local credit union that is only open 9-3. While I’m working.” Rachel says: “This is how I saved enough money to buy my first home outright. Lived on one check and sent the next 2 to a bank I didn’t have easy access too. (I had an account at a credit union 3 hours away so it was definitely a job to get the money out.)” Kim says: “I automatically have money transferred into a savings account before I even see it from my check.” 2. Ask some questions before making a purchase. Kelley says: “I ask myself more than once before making a purchase, ‘Do I really need this and will this make me happier a year from now?’ Pretty much stops me in my tracks most of the time!” 3. Take advantage of free family fun! Lacy suggested: “We like to do outdoors activities and nature adventures as a family instead of dining out and shopping as ‘something to do’ as our family time.” 4. Cook and eat at home. Hope says: “Cooking all our meals at home and making my own coffee drinks is enabling me to stay home.” Moni also said: “Cooking homemade food and eating at home saves us a lot of money. My hubby also saves a ton of money each week bringing lunches and eating breakfast before he goes to work in the morning. Also coffee! Brewing our own saves as much as not getting food out!” 5. Shop at thrift stores. Rachel says: “Shop at salvage stores and thrift stores.” 6. Record every purchase. Shannon says: “Recording every purchase (yes, even things like a vending purchase!) in our budget spreadsheets helps us track categorized expenses and make sure we are staying within budget.” 7. Cancel your catalogs and unsubscribe from emails. Jennifer says: “Limiting my exposure to beautiful things by canceling all the pretty catalogs and email blasts from the same stores is an easy way to save money.” 8. Cut your cable. Rachel says: “Cut off your cable! Wish I had done it months ago!” Laura also said: “We just did this, too! It’s saving us $65/month.” 9. Set a goal. Tammy says: “When I have a goal set (usually travel), I can save money very easily. I have no problem not spending unnecessarily. No goal = I buy things I DO NOT need.” 10. Do it yourself! Rachael says: “Easy ways we save money: Making my own DIY face/skin/cleaning products, canning, freezing, gardening, making our own wine, cutting my daughter’s hair, and doing handmade/homemade Christmas/birthday gifts!” 11. Only buy groceries on sale with coupons. Valeria says: “Only buy groceries when on sale, using coupons and app rebates. Plus, purchase enough to get you to the next sale of that item.” 12. Order groceries online. Edith says: “I save money by ordering groceries online. It keeps me out of the store and eliminates impulse shopping. I make my list at home, do the order, and pick it up outside the store.” 13. Stock up when an item is on sale. Keiva says: “I use coupons with sales to buy more than we need at the time so it’s available to us when it’s not on sale. Also, stock up on sale items. This week, our grocery has Mott’s Apple juice 64oz. for $1. I’ll buy 40. With 6 kids, it goes quickly! They also have Peter Pan PB for $1, so I’ll buy about 20. I’ll be set for the next 6 months!” 14. Get rid of expensive habits. Tiffany says: “Get rid of habits that cost money. I gave up coffee and tea a long time ago. Started saving me $15 to $25 a week. I stopped buying books unless they are $1 or less and just reserve books at a library.” 15. Cut your hair at home. Barbie says: “Doing my husband’s and sons’ haircuts myself. My husband and older son only take about 10 minutes a piece. My younger son takes twice as long because he fidgets. I still figure I save on time by not going to a barber shop, and I save $60-ish every round of haircuts. My boys think going to a barber shop is quite the treat!” 16. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it! Tosha says: “Remembering that just because it’s posted on MSM or another blog doesn’t mean I need to buy it! If I don’t need it and I buy it because it’s on sale, I’ve spent money I didn’t need to spend.” 17. Stay out of Target. Sandra says: “Staying out of Target and buying necessities on Amazon is an easy way to save money.” 18. Don’t shop without a list. Oghma: “I don’t go inside a store until I have a list. Also, don’t shop just one item and then feel like you need to buy other things so the trip is ‘worth it’.” 19. Use a wood burning fireplace. Holly says: “We bought a wood burning fireplace insert to save money. We’ve gotten firewood free but when we’ve bought it, the wood was still 1/3 the price of natural gas. Also, when we had a natural gas outage, we had no power but we still had heat.” 20. Use Rakuten to earn cash back. Michele says: “We save money by using eBates when online shopping (now known as Rakuten). In the years I’ve been using it, I’ve gotten almost $1,000 back. They send you a check every three months. I never order anything without checking to see if the website is on eBates first.” 21. Get a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year. Melisa says: “We have a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. Yes, monthly payment is higher, but not double. Plus, it’s going to save us $112,000 in interest on a $290,000 home.” 22. Use your local library. Patricia says: “We utilize every aspect of our local library. DVDs, audiobooks, reading programs with prizes, free events for kids, game night, kid computer games, online library for ebooks, etc.” 23. Pack food before you leave. Bethany says: “We save money by packing lunch/dinner if we go out, bringing coffee along for the ride, and eating before we leave!” 24. Don’t buy beverages! Robin says: “We don’t drink pop and we don’t buy beverages when we are out and about. Bottled water is also a no-no. I can fill a bottle at home real cheap.” 25. Watch the prices as they are scanned. Beverly says: “I watch the prices as items are scanned in at the register. I save often by catching an accidental higher price being scanned in. Also, 2 main stores I shop at offer a price scan policy. If it scans in wrong, you get one free if it’s under $10. Or, you get $10 off if it’s over $10.” 26. Don’t buy things the same day. Betsy says: “I take pictures of things I like at stores like Target and don’t buy them the same day. Sometimes I do this and then find something similar at the thrift stores.” 27. Plan your menu based upon what you already have. Elizabeth says: “When I’m meal planning, I shop my pantry and freezer first and try to utilize what I have and not let things go to waste.” 28. Don’t shop just to kill time. Andrea says: “Don’t go shopping just to fill time. If I go wandering because I’m bored, I will find things to buy. I’m trying to simplify and save money for adventures instead of ‘stuff’ for my little one and me.” 29. Ditch your clothes dryer. Tricia says: “I save money by hanging all my clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.” 30. Don’t buy it just because you want it. Jennifer says: “I’m learning to be an adult and understand that I don’t HAVE TO buy everything I want.” What are some of yo [...]
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*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!

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*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. WHOA! If you’ve been needing to stock up on Clorox Wipes, this is a deal you don’t want to miss! Top Cash Back is offering a $14.65 rebate on any $11 or more Clorox Wipes purchased from Staples, making it FREE! But that’s not all! Right now when you sign up as a new member, you also get a $10 bonus! That means you’ll get back $24.65 when you purchase this slow cooker — which is a $10 money maker deal! Here’s how to get your FREE Clorox Wipes + Bonus $10: 1. Head here for the special Clorox Wipes offer and sign up for a new Top Cash Back account. 2. Spend at least $11 on Clorox Wipes. Select free in-store pickup at your local Staples to avoid shipping costs. 3. Within 21 days, your Top Cash Back account will be credited with $14.65 — so all you’ll pay is tax! Once your account is credited with the $14.65, you’ll immediately see the bonus $10 in your account, too! That means you should get $24.65 cash back total! 4. After you receive the $24.65 payment in your Top Cash Back account, you can choose to transfer it to your bank account or request a Paypal payment. This is for new TopCashBack members only. If you are already a member, you are allowed to sign up another adult in your household. This deal is valid through October 20, 2019 — or while supplies last. [...]
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How to Save Money on Groceries When You Only Eat Whole Foods

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How to Save Money on Groceries When You Only Eat Whole Foods
Is it possible to save money on groceries if you only eat whole foods? In this post, I give some of my best tips and encouragement for how to keep your grocery budget low, even if you only eat whole foods. I have been scouring the internet for easy, budget friendly meals for those on a strict diet. Over a year ago my health was a mess and we figured out my body has a sensitivity to toxins in the environment, particularly from plastic, treated water, and also chemicals used on food. I found I feel so much better when eating whole, organic foods and organic meats. However this shot our grocery budget up to a crazy high amount. We live in a sparsely populated area in the midwest, one stoplight in our whole county. Healthy food is not cheap. I am desperate for ideas on how to have a “beans and rice” budget but not sacrifice the progress I have made in my health. I would love to hear insight on this. Thanks and God bless your journey! -Kristy First off, Kristy, I just want to encourage you to know that you are not alone. I have heard from many other women who are in similar situations. And I’ve also seen many women who have found very creative ways to eat very healthfully on a tight budget. One of my local friends, Cheapskate Cook, is a fantastic resource for how to eat healthfully on a budget. She constantly inspires me with her outside-the-box ideas! I also wanted to share some other strategies and suggestions that might help you in your journey: 1. Have a can do attitude. The first step to lowering your budget is believing that you can. If you think you can’t, you probably won’t be able to. But if you believe you can, you’ll likely be motivated to figure out creative ways to make it happen. When there is a will, there is usually a way. 2.  Cut your budget in other areas. Now, that said, I’m not saying you should be unrealistic or put undue pressure on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people or other budgets. Also, realize that getting creative could mean choosing to cut back in other budget categories in order to give you more wiggle room in your grocery budget. For instance, maybe your family choose to drive an older car and not go on vacations and live in a smaller home in order to free up extra money for your grocery budget. Everyone has different priorities and it’s okay if your priorities are very different from another family’s priorities. 3. Buy in bulk. Research all of the local farms in your area to see which ones would be willing to sell to the public. Could you drive an hour or two to buy half a cow and save $1 or $2/lb.? Are there any orchards or farms nearby that would be willing to sell you their produce “seconds” for less? Sure, it might not be as pretty as full-priced product, but they will taste just as good! What about stores that are within a 50-mile radius of your home that might offer organic items and would give you a discount if you were to purchase in bulk? Also,  check to see if Azure Standard delivers in your area. If not, could you start a group so that they will come to your area? 4. Grow your own. One of the best ways to save on produce is to grow your own. If you have kids, make it a family affair. Challenge yourself to see how much of what you usually buy at the store can be grown or made yourself! 5. Look into online options. There are so many great online options nowadays that offer great deals on natural and organic products. Grove.co, Amazon, and Vitacost are a few of my favorite sites. But I’m sure if you start looking, there are many others, too! Tip: Type in the price point you want to pay for items you routinely buy from Amazon.com at CamelCamelCamel.com and they’ll send you an alert when the price goes under that amount! What others ideas do the rest of you have for Kristy? I’d love to hear in the comments! More posts to check out: 10 Ways to Afford Organic Foods on a Tight Budget How to Eat Well on a $40 Grocery Budget Going Vegan on a Budget photo credit [...]
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5 Types of Car Insurance Coverage That May Be a Waste of Money

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5 Types of Car Insurance Coverage That May Be a Waste of Money
The cost of owning a car goes well beyond the sticker price at the dealership. There are fuel costs, routine maintenance and, of course, car insurance.  The seemingly endless options for car insurance can be overwhelming, so many drivers end up opting for coverage they don’t actually need. Liability coverage is the most basic form of car insurance and is absolutely necessary. Should you be deemed at fault for an accident, liability coverage will take care of the medical costs for other people injured and costs of repairs for other vehicles — but not yours. Some states require additional types of coverage beyond liability.  However, there are certain types of coverage that you can and potentially should opt out of, depending on the value of your car, your current finances, your health insurance policy and more. So what types of car insurance can you skip?  1. Do I Need Collision Insurance and Comprehensive Coverage? When to Skip Collision insurance covers damage to your car in the event of an accident, whether you were at fault or not.  Comprehensive instead covers damage to your car outside of an accident, like flood damage due to a hurricane, vandalism, theft or fire.  If your car is worth a lot of money, you should absolutely carry these coverages, and if your car is financed, your lender may require you to. But you may be wondering: Do I need collision insurance, especially if my car is old? If your car is old or you paid a small amount of cash for a used car that may only last for a few months, you’d be wasting your money to get collision and comprehensive. “Your reward is diminished greatly once your vehicle has depreciated over the course of time,” said Melanie Musson, insurance writer for CarInsuranceComparison.com. “So, if you’re paying monthly for coverage that’s going to provide you with minimal payment should you total your vehicle, and then you’ll face higher rates after making a claim, it’s just not worth it.” One caveat: Be prepared to pay out of pocket to fix the car or, more likely, to purchase a replacement vehicle. But if your vehicle is only valued at $1,000, it may be better to put money each month into savings for a replacement vehicle than to shell out money for coverage on that low-value vehicle. Chris Tepedino, also of CarInsuranceComparison.com, warns that bundling uninsured motorist and collision is often a mistake.  “Uninsured motorist protects your car if it’s hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance,” he said. “Collision, well, protects your car. Don’t be suckered into thinking you have to buy both. Overlapping generally doesn’t help.” 2. GAP Insurance: It Depends on Your Down Payment Vehicle depreciation can be a major detriment to your finances, especially if you wreck your vehicle shortly after financing it.  Because a car loses about 20% of its value when you drive it off the lot, insurance will only cover 80% of the initial sticker price should you get in an accident on your way home. That means you will be responsible for the other 20%. With the average new vehicle costing $37,401, that could mean you lose out on nearly $7,500. That’s where gap insurance (guaranteed asset protection) comes in, covering the difference between what you paid for a new car and how much your regular insurance is willing to pay for the totaled vehicle. But depending on how much you put down for the car versus how much you financed and how much that car is worth, you might not need gap insurance. “Gap coverage isn’t necessary if you’re able to financially handle the risk of paying the difference between what you owe and what your vehicle is worth when you’re upside down on a vehicle loan,” Musson said. “If you make a 20% or greater down payment, your risk for needing the coverage is greatly lowered, and you may be able to forgo that coverage.” Similarly, you don’t need gap coverage if you’ve paid off your vehicle or if you purchase an old vehicle that won’t depreciate as quickly, Tepedino said. FROM THE INSURANCE FORUM Self Employed Medical Insurance 10/12/19 @ 10:52 AM Car Insurance 9/28/19 @ 7:33 AM Total loss valuation 9/16/19 @ 10:40 AM What happens to my FSA if I leave a job? 8/5/19 @ 9:37 AM I See more in Insurance or ask a money question 3. Rental Car Reimbursement: Probably Not Worth It A luxury option you can add to your policy is rental car reimbursement. If your vehicle is damaged and must be repaired, this coverage gets you a rental car to use while your vehicle is out of commission. However, the cost of paying for this each month would likely exceed the cost of a rental vehicle, unless you crash frequently or need a rental for multiple weeks.  Even then, you may be better off relying on friends and family for temporary transportation, if possible. If you live in a two-vehicle household, consider getting by on one vehicle temporarily instead of opting for this coverage. 4. Roadside Assistance: Check Your Warranty First Similarly, you can opt for roadside assistance for help with jump-starts, flat tires and more serious problems that leave you stranded. However, many new cars come with roadside assistance, often throughout the length of the warranty. “You can skip roadside assistance, as long as you realize you’ll have to pay for a tow out of pocket,” Musson said. “You may even be able to find it cheaper from AAA or a similar service.” If you live paycheck to paycheck, this additional insurance expense is one to avoid. 5. MedPay: Depends on Your Health Insurance Medical payments coverage, also known as MedPay, is an optional coverage that assists with medical expenses after an accident. However, if you have decent health insurance, you can likely skip this coverage. Want to Save Money on Car Insurance? Proceed With Caution The cost of your insurance is proportional to the deductible and coverage limits you choose. The lower your deductible and higher your coverage limits, the more you’ll pay in insurance premiums. “This is a little dangerous, but if someone is wanting to save money, going with lower coverage limits may help,” Tepedino said.  But Tepedino warns that this is a risky way to save money. “The average cost of an accident with property damage alone is $7,500,” he said. “That number obviously jumps with a death or severe injury, so go at your own peril.” Brent Weiss, a certified financial planner and co-founder of Facet Wealth, believes there are some types of coverage you can consider avoiding, but he urges caution when you’re shopping for car insurance. “I am not a fan of simply meeting state minimums,” Weiss said. “It puts too many families at risk of a financial loss they cannot cover. In general, I recommend having liability coverage for bodily injury and personal property, underinsured and uninsured motorists, and collision and comprehensive coverage for most cars. There are some personal injury coverages that may be required, but limits are typically low. The bottom line is that you want to get the right coverage with the right limits and not simply shop for the lowest premium. You often get what you pay for.” Timothy Moore leads a team of editors and graphic designers at a ma [...]
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This crazy journey I’ve been on the last 14 years (and yes, you CAN make money blogging!)

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This crazy journey I’ve been on the last 14 years (and yes, you CAN make money blogging!)
Yes, you can make money from blogging! In this post, I share my story — and I tell you how you, too, can start making money from blogging! How I Started to Make Money Blogging In 2005, I started this thing called a “blog” — something that most people in my circle of friends and family had never heard of before. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I had a big dream: I wanted to find a way to earn enough money from home so I can supplement our meager income to allow me to be able to stay home with our baby girl, Kathrynne. In addition to my big dream, I also had perseverance — something I was going to need in big supply over the next few years. I was very, very determined and that determination drove me not to give up even during the many, many times when I wanted to. That little blog had a few readers. Then a few dozen. I kept blogging, kept commenting on other blogs, kept writing articles for other sites and linking to that blog, and kept networking with other online entrepreneurs. Over the course of many months, that little blog grew a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more. Pretty soon, I woke up one day and realized that I had a few hundred readers. That idea just blew my mind. {My first official professionally done website header — added when I switched from Blogspot to Typepad.} The Income Began With a Little Trickle I started watching what other successful people were doing, read books and blog posts on monetizing a blog, and jumped out and experimented with a number of things. Pretty soon, there was a little trickle of income coming in from that blog. When I say “trickle”, I truly mean it. It started with $10 per month, then $20 per month, then $50 per month. If you would have divided my blogging income by the hours invested in blogging, I was probably making what would amount to a few nickels per hour. However, I was learning, the blog was slowly growing, and I was truly enjoying the process of writing and interacting on a blog. Speaking at my first blogging conference — I was a scared, insecure mess inside and I can see it written all over my face in this picture. Starting to See the Potential to Make Money Blogging As time marched on and I kept plugging away, I found other creative ways to make money blogging — like selling ebooks and then an online course on cutting your grocery bill. I went from making $50 a month to a few hundred dollars per month. I started to see the potential. And I began to believe that it truly would be possible to earn a part-time income from blogging someday. My husband and I began talking about adding a niche blog dedicated to frugal living. There was a lot of interest in the topic, it was something I was passionate about and experienced in, and I was pretty sure I could do some specific things to monetize a frugal living blog that I couldn’t do on the blog I currently had. My second blogging conference — I was still nervous and scared, but I felt more myself and more whole and I can see it in my face here. How MoneySavingMom.com Began It took about a year from the time the initial idea was birthed to when the final product, MoneySavingMom.com actually happened. But in the fall of 2007, I announced the launch of MoneySavingMom.com on the other blog I had. I still remember the post where I let the world know MoneySavingMom.com was official. I said that I was probably going to blog on MoneySavingMom.com “about 3 times per week”. {Yes, 3 times per week. That still cracks me up!} The first version of MoneySavingMom.com was on Blogspot. It was an all white background with capital letters at the top of the page that said MONEY SAVING MOM. {Clearly, I was very into bells and whistles. ;)} I had spent $10 to buy the website URL and that was all I could afford. Later, I paid $25 to have the teen daughter of a mom I knew design a header for me. But those were the very humble beginnings of something that I could have never imagined… My first radio interview — again, this was a completely unnerving experience for shy me. I felt like just going back to my hotel room and crying when it was over because I was sure I had totally bombed it. Rapid Growth Beyond What I Could Imagine Since I’d already put in countless hours to build an online platform over the two previous years, knew how to run a blog, and had a pretty good grasp on what topics people were interested, jumping in with MoneySavingMom.com was much easier than it would have been had I been starting from scratch. I also was at the right place, at the right time, because the economy was beginning to tank, coupons were becoming popular, and the media started to do a lot of coverage of money-saving ideas and frugal living topics. My initial readers told their friends who told their friends, people found me from random searches and stuck around, and within a few months, MoneySavingMom.com had grown to 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day. It. was. mind-blowing! I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew that I needed to continue to produce good content and continue to do all I could to help people save money. I also continued to learn all I could about win-win ways to make money blogging. My first book: basically an exercise in how to do everything wrong! I learned so much, and wished I could have done it all over again because there would be so much I would change! Fulfilling My Dream — and Making So Many Mistakes Within a few months, I was making $800 to $1200 from MoneySavingMom.com. And the income just kept increasing. By the end of the first year, I was making the equivalent of a full-time income from blogging. All of a sudden, I woke up and realized that not only was I living my dream, it was a LOT more work than I could have ever imagined — especially as the blog continued to grow! The past 14 years have been a journey… one riddled with many ups and downs. I’ve made many mistakes, let people down, and sometimes posted things before taking time to really think through what I’d written. Over the years, I’ve also been arrogant, said and written hurtful things, and taken on too much and stretched myself too thin. Many times, I’ve had my priorities out of whack and given my family the leftovers instead of my best. Through it all, I’ve grown, matured, been humbled, had to ask forgiveness, and learned a great deal about my own limits. I’ve gone from a very black and white person who thought she had everything figured out and thought she should share her very legalistic, dogmatic views with everyone, to discovering this beautiful thing called “grace” and realizing that there are very few hills worth dying on. My first TV interview — I was a complete nervous wreck. Literally shaking from head to toe! I’ve grown up a lot,  faced a lot of fears, and done things I never thought I was humanly capable of. In addition, I’ve confronted many of my long-held insecurities head on. And I’ve had many opportunities to work through my long-held tendencies to be a people-pleaser. Scared of the Scrutiny from Making Money Blogging You see, as the blog took off and became something more than a little mommy blog, I struggled a lot. Part of me was so excited about the growth and the possibilities. The other part of me wanted nothing more than to just run away from it all and go back to being a stay-at-home mom. As a normally private person, I hated having my life scrutinized by people I didn’t know. I was scared to come out and talk much about the business side of my life — the meetings, the responsibilities, the opportunities — because I knew some people wouldn’t be happy and would criticize the fact that I was making a good income, was running a thriving business, and was no longer just the frugal stay-at-home mom blogger struggling to make ends meet that I had b [...]
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How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family

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How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family
If you ask many Americans, one thing that they need to save money on it is healthcare.  With the rising costs of both insurance and medical bills, it certainly can keep you up at night. You need healthcare coverage.  That is especially true if you have children.  They are good at getting sick and injured, ... Read More about How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family The post How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money
Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.   The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the official bullet journal website). What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.  Unlike with pre-designed planners, bullet journal money management allows you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.  So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.  And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills. And you don’t have to be creative to get started.  How to Start a Bullet Journal Budget Because the bullet journal is what you make it, there are an infinite amount of options for how it can help you manage your money.  To start with, you’ll need an index (aka table of contents) to avoid flipping through endless pages of your journal each time you want to look at your budget. Depending on the type you use, your journal may come with a few pages at the front pre-designed for an index or you can simply create your own. Come up with a list of initial ideas — no worries if you’re not sure about everything you want to cover, as you can always add more pages or sections to the index later.  And because a bullet journal is so customizable, you can address your own specific problem areas or goals.  Pro Tip If you’re getting overwhelmed by ideas you see on Pinterest and Instagram, forget the embellishments and just track your expenses and goals in a format that is easy to follow and maintain. Do you need to be better about sticking to a budget? Do you need to pay off debt? Do you have some big savings goals? Great! There’s a bullet journal “spread” (official lingo) for that. Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances. She recently used her journal to save $2,500 for a trip to Italy. “Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a bit stumped, we have some ideas to get you started. 1. Monthly Budget Tracker Seeing where you plan to spend and where you actually spend your money each month is a good way to start your budgeting journey. You can break down your budget into categories, starting with the unavoidables (bills, rent, gas and the like) and work forward from there. Include everything, right down to your Spotify subscription and the fact that once in a while you just need to order the more expensive pizza.   One option is making a monthly budget spread in bars. That way, you can visually gauge your budget based on the week of the month. Color in the bar each time you spend, and you’ll have a simple visual representation of how much you have left in that category.  At the end of the month, add up your total spending compared to your total budget. To create a little internal competition (because who doesn’t like wins?), write your total spending on next month’s budget page, then see if you can spend a little less.  Put the extra money saved toward bigger goals, like paying off student loan debt or saving up a down payment for a house.  Another option for the number lovers: Create a spread that looks just like a checkbook, then write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance. This method will hold you accountable and help prevent unwelcome surprises when you look at your bank account.  2. Bill Tracker This spread is perfect for the forgetful person. If you’re constantly writing down reminders to yourself (think: All. Those. Sticky. Notes.), a bill tracker should be a must in your BuJo financial strategy.  One idea for a bill tracker is to create a big-picture spread that stretched from now through the next several months.  Start by going back through your bank and credit card statements to make sure you count every bill you pay each month. Then draw your grid, making sure to include a space for the amount, the due date and whether or not you’ve paid it yet.  Leave a few extra boxes at the bottom of my tracker in case you need to add an extra line item or two over the next several months.  Put your monthly bills in one spread, and your quarterly and annual bills together in a separate tracker. As you pay each bill, check the box so you can see at a glance which ones still need to be addressed.  3. Spending Tracker If you’re pretty good about sticking to your budget and paying off your debt (or if you have no debt!), you may decide not to use a spending tracker every month.  Sometimes, though, you might want to add a spending tracker into your weekly or monthly section for a financial reboot of sorts. If you feel like your finances are getting a little out of control in any given month, it helps to see exactly when and how you’re spending every dollar. It can be quite an eye-opening experience. Pro Tip If you see you’ve spent too much half way through the month, don’t give up. Create a mini spending tracker that incorporates the remaining budget for the remainder of the month. The spending tracker has a lot of flexibility in how you choose to set it up, but the main things to include are a space to write the item/food/experience purchased, the store/venue where you purchased it from, the date, the cost, what type of payment you used and whether it was a want or a need.  After a month — or even a week — of tracking your spending, you may start to see patterns and problem areas that you otherwise might not be aware of. 4. Savings Tracker This one is the most exciting of the financial trackers (in our opinion, anyway).  While all of the other BuJo trackers help you watch your paycheck dwindle away each month, the savings goal tracker gets you amped each and every time you get to fill in a little more of that bar because you know you’re one step closer to that dream vacation or that new, extra-deep couch you can’t wait to curl up on.  One idea for a savings tracker: Give each goal its own horizontal or vertical bar. As you move money to your savings, color in the appropriate amount of the bar for the savings goal you’re working toward. Some goals might be small, and some might be huge — but you can move the bigger, unfinished goals from journal to journal as you fill each book.  Need a little more visual enticement? Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?  Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to complete the picture as you reach your goal.  FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? [...]
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Start With a Money Summit to Hit Your #couplegoals

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Start With a Money Summit to Hit Your #couplegoals
Spreadsheets and savings goals aren’t sexy. That’s probably why great love stories, when retold, don’t delve into household finances. But money is a central part of any relationship. And how you deal with it (or don’t) can determine whether your own tale is a short story or a novel. “Getting on the same page financially... Kelsey Sheehy is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ksheehy@nerdwallet.com. The article Start With a Money Summit to Hit Your #couplegoals originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)

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7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)
If you plan to do a kitchen remodel, you know it can be expensive!  And, that may mean you don’t get the kitchen of your dreams (or even one that functions better). The truth is that most of the time, it will blow your budget.  But, if you know what to do, you can get ... Read More about 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) The post 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care

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21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care
We consider our cats our children. We once spent $1,000 to cat-proof a back yard so Jack and Opie could roam outside without escaping to the dangerous world beyond the fence — the life expectancy of a cat is several times longer if it doesn’t run free. Our guys have a variety of cat furniture, and they eat food that costs more than $7 per pound. Maybe you spoil your pets, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money on pet care. For example, you can buy expensive food, but on sale. You can build elaborate (or simple) pet furniture, instead of paying a fortune for it. Here are some more ways to save money on your pets. 1. Buy Smaller Pets If you haven’t yet chosen a pet, consider smaller ones as a way to save money on pet care. A small dog will cost you $295 less per year than a large one ($580 vs. $875), suggests ASPCA data on pet care costs. That’s even less than a cat ($670 per year), partly because of the cost of cat litter. Of course, you could consider even smaller animals. You’ll spend an average of $200 per year on a small bird, and just $35 on a fish. Note: First-year costs for all pets are substantially higher than the figures above because of one-time costs like spaying or neutering, and buying pet carriers and other equipment. 2. Adopt Instead of Buying The breeder price for a dog is multiples higher than the cost of adopting one from a shelter. You’ll probably save money on pet care by getting your dog or cat from a shelter, and you could also save a life. Over 2 million shelter animals are euthanized in the U.S. each year. We adopted Opie from a shelter, and Jack adopted us when he was finally ready to upgrade his alley-cat lifestyle. 3. Join Pet Store Loyalty Clubs I just received a $5 gift certificate from Petco, because I used my Petco Pals Rewards card for the last $100 in purchases there. I bought food that was on sale (rewards card required, of course). Most of the major pet supply retailers have similar programs. Sign up for several if you shop in more than one place. 4. Use Discounted Gift Cards You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of good websites. Most carry cards for more than one pet supply chain. For example, you’ll find Pet Food Express on Raise and Petco on ABC Gift Cards. 5. Watch for Pet Food Sales We buy expensive cat food, because there’s a difference in quality. And evidence linking canine diseases to grains in dog food suggests you could make your pet sick and have future vet bills if you go too cheap. But even the best pet foods go on sale, so why not stock up when it costs less? You can find weekly ads for pet supply retailers online. You can also link your email address to your customer loyalty card to get sales alerts. 6. Feed Your Pets Some Human Food What do baked carrots, steamed broccoli and boiled eggs have in common? They all cost less than cat food (at least the stuff we buy) and they’re all safe and healthy for cats to eat, according to Animal Planet. WebMD has a list of people foods your dog can eat. (Not that cooking for your pets means they’re spoiled or anything.) 7. Stack Savings Tactics for Cheaper Food To really reduce the cost of pet food, try deal-stacking. For example, I recently bought our usual brand of cat food at Petco using a coupon, while it was on sale. And, I paid with an American Express card with an “Amex Offer” for a $5 statement rebate. Or, buy discounted gift cards and use them when there’s a sale — a simple strategy that could make a good sale even better. 8. Store Pet Food Properly We discovered early on that our cats refuse their food if it’s too old — and then we have to throw it away. Even if we just overfill their dishes and the remainder sits there overnight, they won’t eat it.  Check the expiration date for your pet food, dole it out a little at a time and store it properly to keep it fresh. We prefer to use up our cat food months before the expiration date. We store it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. The cats like the food better this way (yes, we tested), and we save money not having to throw away any of it. 9. Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered You spend money upfront to spay or neuter your pets, but there are long-term savings. For example, some of the negative behaviors associated with not spaying or neutering dogs and cats can be expensive. Unspayed cats can damage furniture and carpet by spraying urine on them to attract males. Unneutered dogs can be more violent, leading to injuries or possible lawsuits if they attack people. There’s also the obvious huge cost of not fixing those pets: puppies and kittens. 10. Call the Vet Before You Need One The worst time to find an affordable vet is when you have a medical emergency. If you love your pets, you’ll pay whatever it costs in the moment. To save money on pet care — both routine stuff and emergency treatments — choose an affordable vet before you need one. Use websites like VetRatingz.com to avoid bad vets (we can tell you from experience, they’re out there). Call the acceptable ones and ask what they charge for a basic checkup, vaccinations, teeth cleaning or other procedures. If you have an idea of what services your pet might need, ask about those. In any case, ask about a few different services so you get an idea of the general price level of each veterinary office. 11. Don’t Shop at the Vet Office In our experience, everything from cat toothbrushes to flea collars costs more at the vet’s office. You’re better off buying anything you can at a pet supply store, including any non-prescription medications or treatments. 12. Buy Pet Medications Online Many pet medications are cheaper online. Here are a few places you can fill pet prescriptions: Discount Pet Medicines PetCareRx VetDepot 1-800-PetMeds 13. When It Comes to Pet Insurance, Choose Wisely Unexpected vet bills can be the most expensive part of having a pet. Pet insurance for dogs, cats and even birds can keep the costs of pet care reasonable. While the monthly premiums are an additional expense on top of food, toys, treats and grooming, pet insurance is worth it for medical emergencies, especially serious illnesses or injuries. Like all insurance, it’s a gamble. You will likely spend more over the course of your animal’s life on monthly premiums than the cost of regular vet care if your pet is healthy.  But if your furry friend gets sick or suffers a major injury, insurance will potentially save you a lot of money on pet care. Here’s how to choose the best insurance for your pet. Pro Tip Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet has health problems, try to save the money you would spend on insurance, and instead put it into savings for future care. 14. Make Sure Your Pets Get Exercise Pets benefit from exercise just like humans. It helps keep them healthy and avoid obesity, which means fewer vet bills for you. 15. Make Pet Furniture Why buy pet furniture when you can make it for a lot less? Here are some examples of what you could build: Cat Condos Pet Beds Dog Houses Pet Stairs 16. Make Pet Toys We buy toys for our cats at least a couple times each year. The result is almost always the same: What seemed so cute and fun in the store is completely ignored by Jack and Opie. The good news is they love almost everything we make for them, especially paper balls and anything involving string. Moral of the story: Don’t spend a fortune on unwanted pet toys when you can make better ones. Here are a couple resources to get you started: DIY Dog Toys DIY Cat Toys 17. Make Your Own Pet Enclosures Want to provide a fenced area for your dog or an outdoor “catio” for your cats? Why not do it yourself? You can see one of my own creations in my post about building cat enclosures. More recently, I fenced in a patio area and cat-proofed it for $450 ($140 just for a building permit). The lowest quote I got before going it alon [...]
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What You Can Do When Your Prescriptions Cost Too Much Money

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What You Can Do When Your Prescriptions Cost Too Much Money
Save money on your prescriptions This is a sponsored post on behalf of InsideRx.com. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties. If you look in your home medicine cabinet, you will probably see at least one prescription.  You, or someone in your family, may need to take these medications due ... Read More about What You Can Do When Your Prescriptions Cost Too Much Money The post What You Can Do When Your Prescriptions Cost Too Much Money appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money

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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money
Looking for ways to save money? Don’t limit yourself to the ideas you think up on your own. There’s great benefit in joining a group of others who can share their tips, tricks and advice. That’s the reason we started The Penny Hoarder Community. Another resource where tons of ideas are shared is Reddit. If saving money is your aim, check out these eight Reddit forums, also known as subreddits, that’ll help you cut costs on food, travel, weddings and more. 1. r/Frugal Over 1 million members belong to the frugal living subreddit. Here, you’ll find a wide range of discussions about how to save money in your everyday life. There’s advice on reducing the costs of necessities like food and utilities as well as nonessentials like electronics and vacations. 2. r/budgetfood You can’t cut food out your budget, but there are so many ways to save. The 150,000 members in Reddit’s budget food community share ideas on meal planning, low-cost recipes, grocery shopping tips and more. 3. r/CordCutters Sick of your $100+ cable bill, but on the fence about canceling your service? The cord cutters subreddit is where to go to ask questions about various cable alternatives, so you can pay less while still enjoying what you love to watch. 4. r/NoContract We can’t live without our cell phones, but we can definitely do without being locked into pricy phone service contracts. Reddit’s no contract community is the forum to join if you’re interested in learning about cheaper phone service without a long-term commitment to a particular carrier. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving Money on a very fixed income 7/31/19 @ 2:14 PM Extra Job 7/30/19 @ 2:52 PM The Power of Saving Money || Where to save 7/30/19 @ 1:36 PM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. r/Shoestring The shoestring subreddit is where world travelers go to share advice and post questions about ways to travel on a budget. If you’re looking for cheap airfare, inexpensive lodging or ideas about low-cost things to do at your destination, this is the group to join. 6. r/BuyItForLife Saving money isn’t always about buying the cheapest thing out there. Sometimes it’s worth spending more initially for something of better quality that lasts for years and years. Reddit’s buy it for life forum is where folks go to show off their long-lasting purchases, share feedback on the durability of various products and seek advice about how to maintain what they own so they don’t need to spend money on a replacement. 7. r/Weddingsunder10k Planning a wedding but don’t want to go into debt getting hitched? The weddings under $10K subreddit has all the ideas about how to get married on a tight budget. Get inspiration from other brides or ask the group to weigh in on your upcoming nuptials. 8. r/MUAontheCheap If you’re looking to spend less on beauty items check out the MUA on the cheap subreddit. It’s full of announcements about sales and special deals for popular makeup brands, nail polish, skincare and more. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Live in Seattle? See How Much Money Your Home Could Earn For You This Summer

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Live in Seattle? See How Much Money Your Home Could Earn For You This Summer
Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know. So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks. But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income. You can share a spare room — or list your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation. Hollis Giammatteo, a writer and Airbnb Superhost in Seattle, has been listing her downstairs guest suite since 2015. She says it’s a great way to earn extra money — and to capitalize on living in a city that’s so popular with tourists. Seattle has come a long way from the slow-moving port and manufacturing town Giammatteo remembers it being when she first moved there in 1979. Today, it’s known for its big businesses and major tourist attractions — something she says works in her favor as an Airbnb host. With Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and professional sports galore, there’s always a demand for space. In fact, Seattle is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of hosts. If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, see how much money you could make by listing your place. How Much Could Your Place in Seattle Fetch? First things first: list your property on the Airbnb website. You’ll want to create a listing that stands out from others so potential guests will take notice. You can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently. Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting and see if you like it — if you’re curious, it’s worth a shot. Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area. We’ll walk you through the process with some insider tips from Giammatteo. How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Seattle The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.) We’ll show you everything you need to know to make your place stand out from others, with some added insight from Giammatteo. Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities To set up your listing, you’ll start by answering some basic questions, such as how many guests your space can accommodate and what amenities are included. It’s fine if you don’t have an entire house or apartment available for guests. You can rent out one floor or even just a room. Giammatteo has made her downstairs area available as a guest suite, which gives people the feeling of having a one-bedroom apartment to themselves. Set the Scene with Photos Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would you want to see in the photos of an Airbnb listing? The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective. Of course, you’ll want to include pictures of the bedrooms, kitchen and backyard. But Giammatteo knows from experience that guests also like photos of items that may seem like small details but can actually be game changers. “Guests typically want to know about such amenities as washer/dryer, ironing board, Wi-Fi, parking,” she says. Think about the details that make your home inviting. Maybe you own a nice ironing board guests can use, or you boast both a drip coffee maker and a Keurig. Capture those amenities. People might not take the time to read about them, so providing pictures could capture guests’ attention. Write a Description Now that you’ve provided stellar images for potential guests, it’s time to describe your place. You’ll want to highlight what makes it unique. Do a little market research by browsing Superhosts’ listings in your area to see how they describe their places. (They’re Superhosts for a reason, right? Their descriptions draw guests to their homes!) Giammatteo’s main advice? “Never be too wordy.” She has a point — this is the internet, after all. People like to skim. In fact, in Giammatteo’s listing, her description is a mere two sentences. She explains how guests can relax and rejuvenate in various parts of the spacious suite. She’s obviously pinpointed her audience: people who want to take it easy on vacation. Another big tip? “Be as honest as possible about the glories, and limitations, of your space,” Giammatteo says. “Don’t oversell, and don’t omit.” If the master bedroom has a window with a great view of the Space Needle, let potential guests know. On the other hand, if sound carries throughout the house, give readers a heads up. You don’t want a negative experience to surprise them, resulting in a bad review. Giammatteo’s home was built in 1948, so there are lots of squeaks and creaks. She lets guests know ahead of time that they will hear her when she walks around upstairs. Name Your Listing “Like choosing a color for your new car, naming your space is a tortuous journey,” Giammatteo says. She’s right — naming your Airbnb listing might seem like a shallow detail. But it matters. When guests scroll through places to stay on Airbnb, the first details they see are the pictures and name of your property. The title should provide an accurate description of the space, catch people’s eye and draw them in. Giammatteo recommends combining information about both your listing’s location and atmosphere. Her accommodation is listed as “Secluded Spa Retreat with Woodland Garden Deck in Queen Anne.” “Our space was designed to be a sanctuary, really — to envelop guests in the comfort of high-quality materials, plentiful lighting and a spa/luxury bathroom,” says Giammatteo. Think about what type of traveller would enjoy your home. (You might better pick up on this once you have your first few guests.) Is it set in a quiet part of town where people won’t be disturbed? Is it in the middle of everything, perfect for thrill-seekers? Giammatteo also made sure to include Queen Anne in the name, because the neighborhood is walking distance from downtown and a prime spot for festivals and trendy shops. Think about what your home’s location offers guests. Is it close to a lot of high-end restaurants? Does it provide a view of Mount Rainier? Is it near a Light Link Rail stop or the Seattle Art Museum? Let your guests know. Set House Rules Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, no smoking allowed, and no events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules. Giammatteo sets pretty standard rules for her guests, such as banning smoking and requiring people clean up after their pets. Like many Seattleites, she takes recycling seriously, so she requires guests to read and follow her recycling instructions. Set Up Your Calendar You’ll arrange a calendar of when guests can stay at your listing. This step is important, because Airbnb will charge you a fee if you cancel after guests have booked time at your home. Here are some questions you’ll answer: How often do you want to have guests? How much notice do you need before a guest arrives? How far in advance can guests book? What time can guests check in? How long can guests stay? You can change your calendar settings down the road, so you aren’t married to the dates and times you set now. Price Your Space Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool. If you choose to use this, Airbnb will automatically adjust your pricing based on demand. For example, if the system notices that a lot of music lovers are booking Seattle spots for Bumbershoot or tourists are flocking to town in August in attempts to avoid the rain, it will likely increase the price of your listing at these times. You can set a price minimum and maximum so your h [...]
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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s

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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s
Love Culver’s? Don’t miss out on these 6 easy ways to save money at Culver’s! {Also be sure to check out 16 Ways to Save More at Restaurants and our Master List of Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free!} Guest post from Bridgitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Ask anyone in my immediate family what their favorite restaurant is and Culver’s is the answer! It’s something we all agree on! What’s not to love about ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard? Well, if you are on a tight budget… possibly the price. On the rare occasion my family does go out to eat, we often end up at Culver’s. As a result, I have learned a few tips to save money on those Culver’s visits. 1. Buy kid’s meals. One of the easiest ways to save money at Culver’s is to eat kid’s meals. Even adults can purchase a kid’s meal at all of the Culver’s I have visited. Less calories, less cost, and enough to fill my belly (but not my husband’s who does order from the “adult” menu). Each kid’s meal automatically comes with a coupon for a free scoop of custard and a Scoopie token. Just don’t forget to take the coupon and token off the side of the kid’s meal bag before throwing it away! You can save ten Scoopie tokens to get a free kid’s meal later. You can also save the free scoop of custard coupon for a future visit. It’s nice being able to go out as a treat for just custard and not having to pay anything! I keep the coupons and tokens in an envelope in my purse (along with gift cards) until I am ready to use them. If you are automatically charged for a drink with the kid’s meal but prefer water, you can ask for a cup for water (free) and bring the carton of milk (included in the meal) home to use later. 2. Sign up for their e-mail list. If you want to save money at Culver’s, be sure to sign up for their email list! Those signed up for a free MyCulver’s account receive coupons, updates, a monthly flavor forecast, and coupons for free custard on each family member’s birthday by email. The monthly flavor forecast gives you a calendar of the “flavor of the day” for each day of the month for your local Culver’s. Just keep in mind those flavors are only for your local Culver’s. If you are traveling, you can find the flavor of the day for any other Culver’s on the Culver’s website or the Culver’s App. 3. Purchase Culver’s gift cards during the holidays. Culver’s typically runs a promotional deal on gift cards just before Christmas. For each gift card you purchase (at the amount required), you receive a free value basket coupon. You can keep the free value basket coupon for yourself and give the gift card to someone else for Christmas. You can also purchase the gift cards for yourself to use throughout the year (and still keep the free value basket coupons)! 4. Use expired coupons. One of my tricks to save money at Culver’s is to not throw away my expired Culver’s coupons! You may want to ask your local Culver’s if they will accept expired coupons, but all of the ones I have asked have accepted them. The birthday coupons for free custard typically state they expire in two weeks. The free value basket coupons received with the gift cards at the end of the year typically state they expire at the end of February. BUT, since my local Culver’s accepts expired coupons, I don’t have to use them (or throw them away) until we are ready to use them. 5. Fill out the survey on your receipt. Sometimes the receipts will have information about taking an online survey. If your receipt does, you can go online, answer the questions about your recent visit, and receive a code for a free scoop of custard. Write the code at the bottom of the receipt and bring it in the next time you want a a scoop of custard (possibly on a day that has your favorite flavor of the day). 6. Only go if you have coupons and/or gift cards. I typically purchase a set number of gift cards at the end of the year (when Culver’s has their gift card promotion) using money set aside for that. We also get Culver’s gift cards as gifts from others who know we enjoy Culver’s. Those gift cards and coupons last us for the entire next year of Culver’s visits. If we don’t have a gift card or free custard/free value basket coupons, we don’t go! What are your best tips to save money at Culver’s — or your favorite restaurant? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of Reading Journals for kids, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com. [...]
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Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas

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Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas
Filling up the gas tank can be a thoroughly miserable experience as you watch the counter flip past $40, then $50, and keep on going.  But you can save money on gas based on where you fill up, how you pay, when you visit the gas station, how you drive and even the condition of your car. We’ve compiled 20 smart tips to help you spend less on fuel. You could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. How to Save Money on Gas at the Pump The biggest savings will be evident in the price you pay at the gas station. So it’s worth shopping around and employing a bit of strategy before filling up. 1. Use Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas You don’t want to buy gas at one place and then come across a station with cheaper fuel just down the street. Several websites and apps tell you the price of gasoline at the stations in your area. GasBuddy and Waze are two popular options.  Look for the cheapest gas stations along any of the routes you normally drive for work or shopping. Don’t wait until your tank is near empty and be forced to buy gas wherever is closest.  The price of gas can vary significantly across state lines, so if you’re planning a trip, check where prices are lower throughout your route. Avoid getting gas at stations just off a highway exit or in the middle of a major city — stations in those locations tend to charge more than ones a little more out of the way. 2. Skip the Premium Option Higher-octane gas isn’t necessary or beneficial in most cars, so you’re just spending more money when you buy premium. Premium gas can cost about 20 to 40 cents per gallon more than regular-grade fuel. Use regular-grade gasoline unless your car’s manufacturer specifically requires premium. 3. Join a Fuel Rewards Program Many gas station chains and grocery stores across the country offer fuel rewards programs to try to turn you into a loyal customer. Each gas station fuel rewards program and grocery store fuel rewards program has its own set of rules on how much you can save and what you have to spend in order to get the rewards, so read up on the details.  GasBuddy also offers its own fuel savings program called Pay with GasBuddy. Join for free, and you’ll  save 10 cents per gallon on your initial fill-up and 5 cents per gallon on every subsequent fill-up. You can also sign up for paid versions (Pay with GasBuddy Plus is $4.99 a month and Pay with GasBuddy Premium is $6.99 a month) to save 20 cents per gallon. (Note: Exxon Mobil, BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club, H-E-B, select Walmart stations, select Arco stations and some small, local gas stations don’t accept the Pay with GasBuddy card.) 4. Use a Rewards Credit Card When you fuel up, choose a credit card that pays you cash back or one that allows you to earn rewards points when you purchase gas. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before opening a rewards credit card. Pay the fuel charges off in full each month so you’re not paying interest on your gas purchases. 5. Use Cash Instead of a Card Some gas stations charge a lower price per gallon if you pay with cash rather than a card. It’s their way of avoiding card processing fees. While some stations will let you pay the cash price if you use a debit card, others won’t. Check with the gas station before you swipe your card, or simply use cash when it’s time to fill up. 6. Use Free or Discounted Gift Cards You can earn gift cards or cash from survey sites like Swagbucks or Survey Junkie. You can also purchase discounted gift cards from sites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. 7. Fill Up Early in the Week According to a 2018 GasBuddy gas price analysis, gas prices tend to be the lowest on Mondays. Sundays and Tuesdays are also good days to buy cheap gas. Avoid filling your tank on Thursdays or Fridays when gas prices tend to be the most expensive. How to Save Money on Gas With Better Driving Habits How frequently you drive and how you operate your vehicle both play a role in how much you spend on gas.  8. Share Rides If you live near your co-workers and have similar schedules, take turns driving so you can all drive less each week. Organize a carpool with neighbors or friends to transport your children to school or extracurricular activities, and swap driving duties among the parents. Less time on the road means less gas used and more money saved. 9. Plan Routes Plan your shopping trips and other outings in efficient ways to reduce your drive time. If the grocery store is near your job, do your shopping after work rather than waiting until the weekend. Do your errands all in one day rather than making several trips on different days. Cutting a few miles several times weekly can add up to hundreds of miles saved annually. That could save a fill-up or two. 10. Reduce Your Idle Time Don’t start the car and then leave it running for a long time while you wait for everyone to get in or to fiddle with your navigation. Make sure you’re ready to go before starting your engine. Idling just wastes gas and causes more air pollution. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 5:27 PM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 7:38 PM What to buy (and not buy) from Fourth of July Sales 2019 6/27/19 @ 1:00 PM M Airfare 6/24/19 @ 5:19 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 11. Accelerate Slowly and Coast More Be gradual when you’re speeding up or slowing down. Generally, the faster you accelerate, the more gas you use. Be gentle on that pedal when getting up to highway speed. You’ll also get better mileage by coasting more, so plan ahead for stops and turns. Take your foot off the gas a bit sooner, and slowly glide to a stop. This actually works. 12. Use Cruise Control — Sometimes When it’s hilly you might get better mileage without cruise control, because the system will tend to downshift too much and waste gas. But otherwise, cruise! Staying at a steady speed with cruise control has been shown to save on fuel usage — plus you can make sure you don’t go over the speed limit. 13. Reduce the Use of Your Heater and Air Conditioning Blasting the heat in the winter or the A/C in the summer has an effect on your fuel economy, so keep that in mind. There’s a long-running but still inconclusive debate about whether using air conditioning or rolling down the windows contributes more to increased fuel consumption, since wind resistance from open windows creates drag on your vehicle.  When driving low speeds you may want to cool down by lowering your car windows, but if you’re driving on the highway (or even driving above 30 miles per hour), you might be better off with the air conditioner on and the windows up. 14. Slow Down Following the speed limit or driving just under it can pay off in more ways than you might think. The faster you drive, the more wind resistance you face, which reduces your fuel economy.  How Your Car Affects How Much You Spend on Gas The condition of your car makes a difference in gas consumption. Learn how to keep your ride in money-saving shape. 15. Check Tire Pressure Having underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage and cause you to lose about 2 cents per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To find the proper tire [...]
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You’re Probably Storing These 13 Foods Wrong… and It’s Costing You Money

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You’re Probably Storing These 13 Foods Wrong… and It’s Costing You Money
Americans waste a lot of food.  In fact, 31% of retail and consumer food goes uneaten, according to the USDA. That’s almost a third. It’s easy to understand why.  We’ve all been there — you go grocery shopping with great intentions. Then you come home, only to be seduced by the convenience of pizza delivery or takeout Chinese.  But if you store your groceries properly, they’ll last longer — and you’ll have a better opportunity to cook them. Most of what you’re throwing away is probably fresh produce.  Shelved items usually have a pretty decent, well, shelf life. And most of us know how to quickly freeze up the meat from the grocery.  But produce is a fickle mistress. Different items need to be treated in surprisingly different ways for the best results.  How to Store Fruits and Vegetables So They Stay Fresh Through proper food storage you will not only contribute to ending food waste, you will also save a ton of money, too. So here’s how to store your fruits and veggies. 1. Apples Although they look lovely in a basket, apples are actually a great fruit to put in the fridge!  In fact, they only stay fresh a few days on the counter. They’ll do best in the crisping drawer.  Make sure your fridge isn’t cold enough to freeze them! All of their cells will rupture, leaving you with mealy apples — yuck. Also, because apples produce a gas called ethylene as they ripen, never store them with potatoes. The gas is harmless, but it can make your potatoes go soft and sprouty well before their time.  (Your potatoes shouldn’t be in the fridge, anyway! But we’ll get to that.) 2. Avocados This is a fun one, because you have so much control over the ripening process! If your avocados are still hard and green, leave them at room temperature on the counter to ripen.  If you need to speed up the ripening, stick them in a brown paper bag so they’re trapped with their ethylene gas — they’ll be ready for guacamole in no time. But if you’re trying to keep a ripe avocado around longer, the solution is simple: Stick it in the fridge.  The cool atmosphere slows the ripening process, so you can keep your avocado’s freshness level right where you want it for a few extra days. 3. Bananas If you want to keep a whole bunch of bananas fresh for a longer period of time, here’s a secret: Wrap the stems in plastic wrap.  You can either leave them in the bunch and wrap all the stems together, or separate the bananas and wrap them separately — which might make them last a little bit longer. Why does this work?  It’s ethylene gas again — and by wrapping the stems, you trap the gas and keep it from reaching the rest of the banana so you can take your time eating them. You can also peel your bananas and freeze ‘em. I love using frozen bananas as a healthy base for my morning smoothie!  4. Broccoli No matter how many times you’ve seen broccoli tightly wrapped in plastic at your local grocery, it’s not the best way to store it — unless you’re eating it tonight. Raw broccoli requires airflow and moisture to stay fresh.  One ideal way to keep it is something you probably don’t do: Put it stem-side down in a vase with water in the fridge.  By making a broccoli bouquet, you’re providing water and still letting the bushy tops get the oxygen they need. Your head of broccoli might last up to a week this way! If that seems a little intense to you, you can also loosely wrap your broccoli in damp paper towels and refrigerate. It’ll keep this way for up to four days. 5. Berries If you love fresh berries, but hate how quickly they go moldy in your fridge, here’s the secret: Give them a vinegar bath.  Then store them on paper towels to help soak up moisture. White vinegar kills the spores fresh berries accumulate before they arrive in your kitchen, giving you some extra time to snack on them before the fuzzies set in. And if you rinse them well, they won’t taste a hint like vinegar, promises Allrecipes’ Vanessa Greaves. One caveat: This treatment might be a bit much for raspberries, which are quite delicate.  Just rinse before you eat them — and do so quickly (which shouldn’t be hard! Raspberries are so good…) 6. Carrots Slice off the green tops, which draw moisture from the carrots, making them wither more quickly.  Then place them, unpeeled, in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to two weeks. If you buy pre-trimmed carrots, like baby-cut, here’s a hint: They last longer if you submerge them in water in a tightly-covered container!  Just be sure to change the water frequently. 7. Citrus Fruit Today in “stuff this Florida girl should’ve known:” Citrus fruit should be refrigerated!  Apparently, the vegetable drawer is the best spot — and don’t enclose oranges in airtight bags or containers. 8. Cucumbers These guys shouldn’t be in the fridge, which is definitely news to this salad-eater!  They’ll go soft days in advance if they’re stored below 50 degrees. They’re sensitive to ethylene, so keep them away from other countertop dwellers like bananas and tomatoes. 9. Fresh Herbs Fresh herbs can be one of the biggest problem items when it comes to throwing groceries away. Recipes always call for so little, and they’re sold in such big bunches! Having trashed a phenomenal amount of cilantro and parsley in my time, I won’t even pretend to be an expert on this.  Fortunately, J. Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats is.  The short story? Rinse herbs and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner, then transfer to paper towel rolls or stand upright in mason jars of water depending on the herb.  The long version? Click through for the full details. 10. Leafy Greens If you’re trying to get more of these nutrient powerhouses into your diet, good for you! But they can be a little intimidating to clean, prepare and store.  To keep leafy greens like spinach, chard and collard greens fresh longer, wash and dry them well, then wrap them in paper towels.  Keep the bunches whole, unless you plan on using them soon. Then place the paper towel roll into a perforated, unsealed plastic bag.  If you’re dealing with salad greens, dumping washed leaves into a paper towel-lined plastic storage container is your best bet.  11. Onions First things first: Don’t store onions in direct sunlight. Keep your onions in a cool, dark, well-ventilated and dry place.  Some people store them in tied-off pantyhose and hang them on the back of a pantry door. It allows them to breathe, while evaporating any moisture they come in contact with quickly.  Properly stored onions can stay fresh up to six months! 12. Potatoes Potatoes do best in a cool, dark, dry place — but not too cool.  If potatoes are stored under 50 degrees, their starches can convert to sugar, which may sound good, but is actually (really) bad. Potatoes exposed to too much light may sprout. They’re still safe to eat, but you should cut the sprouts off first. P.S. You may notice that potatoes and onions like similar environments, but you’ll want to find two different cool, dark, dry spots in your house. If you store them together, they’ll both go bad more quickly. 13. Tomatoes You’ve probably heard that putting tomatoes in the fridge ruins their flavor.  But if you’ve come into an abundance of tomatoes you can’t quite keep up with, stick the overripe ones in the fridge to keep them from rotting for a few more days. Just bring them back to room temperature before you consume them. Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Live in San Diego? You Could Make Money With This Side Gig All Year Long

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Live in San Diego? You Could Make Money With This Side Gig All Year Long
So you live in San Diego, the land of beaches, beautiful weather and a bunch of tourist attractions. Have you thought about becoming an Airbnb host? In a region that’s so expensive to live in, home sharing can be a great way to supplement your income. Thousands of Airbnb hosts list places in and around San Diego, according to data from the home sharing platform. “There’s so much to do here — the beaches, the harbor, all the microbreweries. Within one hour from here, you could be in the mountains or the desert,” says JoAnn Jaffe, a 60-year-old Airbnb Superhost. “It’s just a great place to be. There’s always something going on here.” Between the beaches, attractions like SeaWorld San Diego, and annual events like San Diego Beer Week, there’s a demand for space year-round. If you’re curious to see how much money you could make by listing your San Diego space, use the Airbnb calculator: Then, follow our step-by-step guide to set up a listing in the San Diego area. How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in San Diego Before becoming an Airbnb host, you’ll want to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.) Creating a listing itself is simple, but you’ll want to put some thought into it, so your space stands out from all the others. We’ll walk you through the process, plus share some pro tips from Jaffe, a yoga instructor and nonprofit organizer who lists a three-room suite in her historic home near the San Diego Convention Center. She’s been hosting since 2014. Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything — an apartment, an extra bedroom or house, a campsite, yurt or even an RV, depending on your local laws. Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities. If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room. Set the Scene With Photos With Airbnb listings, photos are everything. “Have a good photographer,” stresses Jaffe, whose listing highlights the beauty of her restored historic Victorian home and its remodeled kitchen. The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash, and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective. Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. You might also include photos of the surrounding neighborhood and nearby tourist attractions. If you’re near the beach or the San Diego Zoo or the Gaslamp Quarter, include a picture of that!  Write a Description Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description. Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique — in Jaffe’s case, it’s the historic nature of her home and the availability of a three-room suite.  If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight. In San Diego, hosts’ listings often make a point of noting exactly where in San Diego they’re located. So you’ll see titles like “Small Room Gaslamp/SeaWorld” or “RV near Mission Bay.”  After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that.  Name Your Listing This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space. Jaffe’s listing is named “San Diego Historic Victorian Private 3-Room Suite,” which highlights the most appealing things about her property. A three-room suite isn’t always easy to find on Airbnb, and the historic nature of her home appeals to certain travelers. Set House Rules Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking not allowed and whether events or parties are allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules. Jaffe, for example, prefers to be present when her guests first arrive. “I’ve chosen not to have anyone come here when I’m not here to greet them,” she says.  Set up Your Calendar Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee. A few questions you’ll answer include: How often do you want to have guests? How much notice do you need before a guest arrives? When can guests check in? How far in advance can guests book? How long can guests stay? You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you. Price Your Space Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand spikes during San Diego Beer Week every November, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically. You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Jaffe urges new hosts to do their own research. Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers: Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements. Be realistic. Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in and accumulate reviews, which will help increase bookings in the long run. Note Your Local Laws You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws. San Diego officials have long debated restricting short-term rentals in the city, but there currently are no clear restrictive rules. In the city of San Diego, you have to get a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate, which you can do online. You also have to pay a 10.5% tax on your rental income, which Airbnb collects and remits on behalf of hosts. Also Consider… In addition to hosting laws, you’ll also want to check with your homeowners association or landlord to make sure short-term rentals are permitted. Also note that short-term rentals could invalidate some homeowner’s insurance, so check these policies with your provider. Airbnb also includes liability insurance for up to $1 million, but Jaffe suggests setting aside some money for damages.  As you start booking guests, you’ll also want to keep tabs on expenses and revenue for tax purposes. She also reminds hosts to take advantage of tax deductions. Because she has guests staying in her space, she can deduct many charges as business expenses, including utilities, furniture, home improvement, even electronics — basically anything guests will also benefit from or use. Listen to Feedback from Your Guests If there’s anything about your guests’ experience you need to improve, they’ll let you know. All you have to do is listen. “Guests would tell me things, and I would accommodate them,” Jaffe says. “Someone would say, ‘You need a hook for the towels right by the bath,’ or ‘You don’t have enough wine glasses.’ So I went out and bought wine glasses.”  “I didn’t take the comments personally. I used them to inform how I was going to be a good host.” Ready to Give This Whole Hosting Thing a Try? How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your place on Airbnb is simple — but it does require some creativity and strategy. The good news is you can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not locked into anything permanently. Jaffe’s favorite part of hosting has been all the interesting people she’s met. “Everyone who comes here has been genu [...]
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Piggy Banks vs. Banking Apps: Teaching Kids About Money in the Digital Age

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Piggy Banks vs. Banking Apps: Teaching Kids About Money in the Digital Age
When you buy food with a swipe of a card and pay bills with a click of a button, what are your kids learning about money? “It is getting harder and harder to teach our kids about money and finance in the digital world because there’s just not as much opportunity to interact with money,” said Liz Frazier, a New York-based financial planner and author of the upcoming book “Beyond Piggy Banks and Lemonade Stands.” In a world of neat budgeting apps and debit cards for kids, Frazier recommends sticking with the basics — at least initially. Start kids on the three piggy bank system — one for spending, one for saving, one for sharing. Frazier uses simple clear jars so they can see their money grow. Children also learn about money by watching their parents. While swiping a debit card at the store makes sense to you, kids don’t concretely view that transaction as spending money. “As parents, we should try to expose [children] to real money whenever we can,” she said. For those who don’t regularly carry around cash, this is easier said than done. Frazier recommends starting off with smaller purchases like coffee or lunch at a restaurant. Show your kids the bill, help them count out money for payment and ask them to check if they received the correct change. When you aren’t using physical money — like when you use a debit card for groceries or a check for a school fundraiser — treat those moments as opportunities to advance the money conversation. “Start explaining the differences between what payment method you’re using — the debit card, credit card and cash — as you’re using it,” Frazier said. “They’re not going to totally understand everything in the beginning, but you just want to get them comfortable with the product.” Once you feel your child has an understanding of money basics and has had plenty of interaction with physical cash, opening a bank account for your kid can serve as a good transition to working with online tools and digital transactions. Fight the temptation to start an online account from the convenience of home. Visiting a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union is a better learning experience, Frazier said. “Go to the bank together and have the banker explain to your child that you’re opening up an account,” she said. “At this point you can get a debit card and start using it together at the store or getting out money at the ATM. You can also look at the statements every month, or every week if you want to, and walk through what money you put in [and] what you took out.” Opening a savings account is a good opportunity to introduce your kids to the concept of interest — how their money increases when they let their savings sit. Pro Tip When introducing your kids to money management apps, Frazier recommends including them in the research to find one that is established, secure and engaging. Conversations about money lessons for kids should stay positive and focus on useful information. If money stresses you out, do your best not to convey that to your children. Instead focus on the lessons you’ve learned from your financial mistakes. And don’t forget to tell your kids about your success and what goals you have. It’s Never Too Late to Provide Money Lessons for Kids Speaking of financial mistakes, Frazier said exposing your kids to money at an early age allows them to make mistakes when they’re young enough that the consequences aren’t so weighty. Maybe they spend all their money on a trendy gadget that turns out to be a dud, or they give in to an impulse purchase that sets them back from saving for something they really want. The fallback from those choices isn’t as devastating as not having any savings when an emergency pops up as an adult. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Budgeting as a Couple 5/10/19 @ 7:21 PM How to get better coupons 4/30/19 @ 9:41 PM Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 9:58 AM Teacher Budgeting for the Summer 5/22/19 @ 9:18 AM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question If you’ve missed out on teaching your kids about money in kindergarten and now they’re in their teenage years, it isn’t too late to start having personal finance discussions. As a financial planner, Frazier sees the negative consequences that come from people not being taught about money. The Penny Hoarder conducted a financial literacy survey in March and found that adults who didn’t grow up learning about money made less income and had less savings than those who were exposed to financial literacy growing up. Teaching your kids about money is the best gift you can give your children, Frazier said. “They are going to learn it one way or the other so you want them to learn it the right way,” she said. Key Takeaways Give your children experiences with tangible money. Include your kids in conversations about financial decisions. Open a bank account for your kids to transition them to the world of digital finance. Share your personal lessons, successes and goals with your children. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She already talks to her 4-year-old about money. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy!

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How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy!
I get asked all of the time, “How can I make money at home?”  While blogging is what I do, I know that is not always the answer for everyone. If you happen to be creative, why not sell your stuff on Etsy?  Using Etsy can be a great way to make money! I’m one ... Read More about How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy! The post How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun

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5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun
The temperature is rising, but that doesn’t mean your spending level should go up, too. The long, hot summer months, when the kids are out of school and there’s lots of idle time to fill, can feel like a giant cash trap. But they don’t have to be. Here are five ways to save money this summer. Go Camping Instead of booking airfare and a hotel, save money by spending your vacation in the wilderness. Camping provides a great opportunity to unplug and unwind. Borrowing or renting equipment can help you shave down the cost of your adventure. Anything you cook over a campfire will be cheaper than a restaurant, so plan out your meals, avoid the fancy outfitter stores and be strategic about when you visit campgrounds. Don’t forget the marshmallows — and bug spray! Be Mindful of Utility Use Electricity bills can run high during the summer months when you want to keep cool. Save on your bills by being conservative about your usage. To avoid a high electric bill, adjust your thermostat at different points of the day. Turn it up when you leave in the morning — but avoid setting the temperature too high so your system doesn’t have to work harder to cool down your home once you’re there. Blackout curtains and fans can reduce the need to blast the A/C. Keep your air vents clean and swap out dirty filters to improve your air conditioning unit’s function. Check if your electric company offers the option of letting you pay the average cost of your usage throughout the year rather than getting stuck with super expensive bills in the summer. Join a CSA to Enjoy Summer Produce The summer sun makes for a bountiful harvest of berries, watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, bell peppers and more. A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program can help you save money on fresh — often organic — fruits and vegetables. You may have to pay upfront for the entire season’s worth of produce, but buying directly from local farmers means you don’t have packaging, shipping and grocery store overhead costs tacked onto the price. If you find the weekly haul too plentiful, you can split your share (and the cost) with a friend, or freeze or can the produce to enjoy later. Find Fun Things to Do at No Cost Whoever said you had to pay to have fun? Now’s the time for free summer concerts and outdoor movies at the park. Take advantage of the good weather and go on a walking tour of your city. Or spend your free time indoors playing video games or reading a book from the library. If you think you can’t come up with enough creative free things to occupy your time, check out this list of 100 free summer activities. Work Out for Free Outdoors Take a break from all the A/C and head outdoors to sweat this summer, instead of paying money for a gym membership. Get your heart pumping by using workout equipment at your local park, taking a run around the neighborhood or swimming in the pool at your apartment complex or subdivision — or a friend’s. If you already belong to a gym, ask if you can pause your membership plan for a couple months. Some fitness centers (such as LA Fitness) may still charge you while you’re away but at a lower rate than the regular monthly fee. That way when you want to return when the weather turns cold, you don’t have to pay an initiation fee as if you had canceled your membership. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over

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12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com Sometimes, shopping trips can feel like deja vu. Are we really out of dish soap already? Where did all the paper towels disappear to, anyway? Here’s a shopping secret: More and more products now come in reusable versions. Buy once, and you’re set for months or years. Not only is it better for your budget to buy reusable items, but you&#8217. [...]
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Make Your Money Work for You: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Financial Goals

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Make Your Money Work for You: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Financial Goals
Saving money is all well and good in theory. It’s pretty hard to argue having more cash in your pocket could ever be a bad thing. But what are you saving for? After all, money is just a tool. If you don’t have solid financial goals, all those hoarded pennies might end up floating in limbo when they could be put to good use. Figuring out where your money should go might seem daunting, but it’s actually a lot of fun. You get to analyze your own priorities and decide exactly what you think you should do with your hard-earned cash. Talk about adulting, right? But to make the most of your money, follow a few best practices while setting your goals. After all, even if something seems like exactly what you want right now, it might not be in future-you’s best interest. And you’re playing the long game… that’s why they’re called goals! What to Do Before You Start Writing Your Financial Goals To keep yourself from deciding your financial goals are “buy the coolest toys and cars, get deeply into debt and watch my credit score plummet” — all super easy to do — we’ve compiled this guide. It’ll help you set goals and create smart priorities for your money. That way, however you decide to spend your truly discretionary income, you won’t leave the 10-years-from-now version of you in the lurch. First Things First: How Much Money Do You Have? You can’t decide on your short- or long-term financial goals if you don’t know how much money you have or where it’s going. And if you’re operating without a budget, it can be easy to run out of money well before you run out of expenses — even if you know exactly how much is in your paycheck. So sit down and take a good, hard look at all of your financial info. A ton of great digital apps can help you do this — here are our favorite budgeting apps — but it can be as simple as a spreadsheet or even a good, old-fashioned piece of paper. It just takes two steps: Figure out how much money you have. It might be in checking or savings accounts, including long-term accounts like IRAs. Or, it might be wrapped up in investments or physical assets, like your paid-off car. Assess any debts you have. Do you keep a revolving credit card balance? Do you pay a mortgage each month? Are your student loans still hanging around? Take the full amount of money you owe and subtract it from the total amount you have, which you discovered in step one. The difference between the two is your net worth. That’s the total amount of money you have to your name. If it seems like a lot, cool. Hang tight and don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket. We’re not done yet. If it seems like… not a lot, well, you’re about to fix that. Keep reading. Create a Budget Once you’ve learned your net worth, you need to start thinking about a working budget. This will essentially be a document with your total monthly income at the top and a list of all the expenses you need to pay for every month. And I do mean all of the expenses — that $4.99 recurring monthly payment for your student-discounted Spotify account definitely counts. Your expenses probably include rent, electricity, cable or internet, a cell phone plan, various insurance policies, groceries, gas and transportation; and other looser categories like charitable giving, entertainment and travel. Pro Tip Print out the last two or three months of statements from your credit and debit cards and categorize every expense. You can often find ways to save by discovering patterns in your spending habits. It’ll depend on your individual case — for instance, I totally have “wine” as a budget line item. See? It’s all about priorities. Start by listing how much you actually spent in each category last month. Subtract your total expenses from your total income. The difference should be equal to the amount of money left sitting in your bank account at month’s end. It’s also the money you can use toward your long-term financial goals. Want the number to be bigger? Go back through your budget and figure out where you can afford to make cuts. Maybe you can ditch the cable bill and decide between Netflix or Hulu, or replace one takeout lunch with a packed version. You don’t need to abandon the idea of having a life (and enjoying it), but there are ways to make budgetary adjustments that work for you. Set the numbers you’re willing to spend in each category, and stick to them. Congratulations. You’re in control of your money. Now you can figure out exactly what you want to do with it. How to Set Your Financial Goals Before you run off to the cool-expensive-stuff store, hold on a second. Your financial goals should be (mostly) in this order: Build an emergency fund. Pay down debt. Plan for retirement. Set short-term and long-term financial goals. We say “mostly” because it’s ultimately up to you to decide in which order you want to accomplish them. Many experts suggest making sure you have an emergency fund in place before aggressively going after your debt. But if you’re hemorrhaging money on sky-high interest charges, you might not have much expendable cash to put toward savings. That means you’ll pay the interest for a lot longer — and pay a lot more of it — if you wait to pay it down until you have a solid emergency fund saved up. 1. Build an Emergency Fund Finding money to sock away each month can be tough, but just starting with $10 or $25 of each paycheck can help. You can make the process a lot easier by automating your savings. Or you can have money from each paycheck automatically sent to a separate account you won’t touch. You also get to decide the size of your emergency fund, but a good rule of thumb is to accumulate three to six times the total of your monthly living expenses. Good thing your budget’s already set up so you know exactly what that number is, right? You might try to get away with a smaller emergency fund — even $1,000 is a better cushion than nothing. But if you lose your job, you still need to be able to eat and make rent. 2. Pay Down Debt Now, let’s move on to repaying debt. Why’s it so important, anyway? Because you’re hemorrhaging money on interest charges you could be applying toward your goals instead. So even though becoming debt-free seems like a big expense and sacrifice right now, you’re doing yourself a huge financial favor in the long run. There’s lots of great information out there about how to pay off debt, but it’s really a pretty simple operation: You need to put every single penny you can spare toward your debts until they disappear. One method is known as the debt avalanche method, which involves paying off debt with the highest interest rates first, thereby reducing the overall amount you’ll shell out for interest. For example, if you have a $1,500 revolving balance on a credit card with a 20% APR, it gets priority over your $14,000, 5%-interest car loan — even though the second number is so much bigger. Pro Tip If you’re motivated by quick wins, the debt snowball method may be a good fit for you. It involves paying off one loan balance at a time, starting with the smallest balance first. Make a list of your debts and (ideally) don’t spend any of your spare money on anything but paying them off until the number after every account reads “$0.” Trust me, the day when you become debt-free will be well worth the effort. As a bonus, if your credit score could be better, repaying revolving debt will also help you repair it — just in case some of your goals (like buying a home) depend upon your credit report not sucking. 3. Plan for Retirement All right, you’re all set in case of an emergency and you’re living debt-free. Congratulations! We’re almost done with the hard part, I promise. But there’s one more very important long-term financial goal you most definitely want to keep in mind: retirement. Did you know almost half of Americans have abs [...]
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