4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut

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4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut
The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark federal funds rate on Wednesday. It’s the Fed’s third rate cut this year — and bad news for your money sitting in the bank. The interest rates that banks pay on interest-bearing accounts like savings accounts rise and fall with the federal funds rate. So, after the latest Fed rate cut, the chances are good that the interest rate your bank... [...]
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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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2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick

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2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick
A CPAP machine is designed to boost your health. But if you aren’t careful, it could have the opposite effect. These machines are often used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to periodically stop breathing while they sleep. By pushing air through a tube, into a mask and down your throat, CPAP machines help keep your airway open throughout the night. (CPAP stands for &# [...]
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Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances

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Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances
We all have a roommate horror story, right? That roommate who ate all your cereal, the one who borrowed your favorite shirt — without asking — and the one who Never. Washed. One. Plate. That’s the tradeoff though, right? You’ll put up with a few annoyances because having a roommate can substantially cut your living expenses. But what if your roommate stops paying the water bill or moves out halfway through your lease and you’re stuck paying all the bills? Deadbeat roommates can leave you owing hundreds — or thousands — in unpaid bills. And if you’re unaware they’re skipping out on payments and your name is on the lease or utility bill, it could potentially wreck your credit score. While we can’t really help with the irritating roommates (maybe a lock on the cereal box?), we do have ways to split your costs upfront and avoid getting stuck paying more than your fair share. Ways to Ensure Your Roommate Pays Their Share In theory, if you have one roommate, you split everything 50/50. But what if you have the master bedroom — do you pay per square foot? What if your roommate has a dog — does that affect the cut for the security deposit? Putting as much as you can in writing before you move in together will help you both understand the expectations and help preserve the relationship, according to Mark Bauer, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Pro Tip If you’re moving in with someone you didn’t know before, ask for references from former roommates and previous landlords. Be prepared to provide the same. “A lot of people think that having a formal agreement, particularly if the person is a friend, is off-putting,” he said. “But a friendly agreement spelling out responsibilities in advance is something that people who trust each other do.” Protecting your finances becomes even more important when you move out because you are no longer there to monitor what’s happening — and whether bills are being paid. We’ve come up with four ways to help protect your finances from the moment you find a roommate right through the day you move out.  1. Ask for Separate Leases If you haven’t signed a lease yet, this could be an opportunity to protect yourself from getting stuck with the entire rent — typically, the biggest shared expense — if your roommate decides to move out early.   That’s important since if you and your roommate sign a lease, you’re each responsible for 50% of the rent. But it also means either one of you is responsible for 100% of the rent — legally known as joint and several liability, Bauer explained. So if your roommate decides to stop paying their share — whether it’s because they moved out or simply stopped sending in their half of the rent — the landlord can come after you for the entire rent. Pro Tip If it’s your first time living with someone, consider signing a month-to-month lease. That way, if you find out you got a bad roommate after a couple months, you’re not stuck there for a whole year. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month including when the other person didn’t,” Bauer said. “As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable.” Instead, request two lease agreements stating that you’re separately liable — it might result in the landlord having some say over your next roommate (since the landlord can choose another tenant to sign a lease with), but at least you won’t be responsible for covering your roommate’s half of the rent.  2. Create a Roommate Agreement Regardless of the lease, creating a roommate agreement can help everyone get on the same page, so to speak, about responsibilities. Considering you’ll probably be dealing with smaller amounts of money, it’s unlikely you’ll recoup your losses if your roommate really didn’t pay the final month’s electric bill, for instance. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month, including when the other person didn’t. As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable. “What are you going to do — pay for an attorney to sue?” Bauer said. “It’s just not worth it. “Small claims court doesn’t yield readily-enforceable judgments, so that’s just kicking the can down the road, too.” For most people, simply seeing everything in writing is enough to prevent most issues — without having to go through the hassle (and money) of making it official. “Whether it’s legally binding isn’t relevant — the fact is that you’re more likely to follow rules that you’ve agreed to,” said Bauer.  He noted that spelling out responsibilities in a document “makes it less likely that there’s going to be a dispute that can rise to the level of contract dispute or legal dispute or a judgment from a landlord in the first place.” So what should you include in a roommate agreement? You can include as much detail as you want — who takes out the garbage, when quiet hours are, the number of guests allowed on the premises — but you’ll want to include some basics as far as financial responsibilities are concerned: Basics For any agreement, make sure to include all of the tenants. You can include separate sections for beginning and end dates for each roommate if they move in after the initial lease agreement, but at the very least, you should include the following info: Names of the tenants. Landlord’s contact info. Address of the residence. Beginning and end dates for the lease. Dated signatures. Financial Responsibilities  For each entry, include the amount due (or indicate each tenant must acknowledge receipt of the amount due if it varies monthly), payment due date, payment submission info, percentage each person owes and the responsible party for submitting payment: Security deposit. Rent. Utilities. Additional shared expenses (for example, food, parking or pets) Roommate and/or Lease Obligations Besides the expenses, you can include sections that address rules and regulations in regards to the residence: Responsibility for finding a replacement and notifying the landlord if a tenant moves out before the lease ends.  How to handle maintenance issues, including purchasing common room supplies like paper towels.  Rules for bringing in outside guests or animals. How the security deposit/damage charges should be divided at the conclusion of the lease. 3. Make Sure Anything That Has Your Name on it is Paid There’s a lot to take care of when you’re ready to move: figuring out the fastest commute route to work, reserving that four-hour window for the cable company, begging your friends and family to help you move. You might be tempted to split up some responsibilities with your roommate to save time, but you should be careful that you’re not setting yourself up for potential unwelcome surprises if your roommate relationship goes south. “Usually they split it responsibly: I’ll call the city to get the water taken care of, you deal with the electric company — that’s a problem if things go wrong,” Bauer said. “I would recommend as many roommates as there are, everyone’s name be on everything because there’s just no other way to secure yourself.” FROM THE DEBT FORUM Debt Payoff Strategy Tips? 9/16/19 @ 3:56 PM Parent loans 9/30/19 @ 11:17 AM Sallie Mae Loans 10/2/19 @ 7:33 AM [...]
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18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill

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18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill
Looking for some creative ways to cut your grocery bill? Here are 18 strategies from my followers that you might not have thought of doing: Creative Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill I recently asked my followers to share some of their best creative ideas for cutting their grocery bill. Here are a few of my favorites that were submitted… (Psst! Have more creative ideas to cut your grocery bill? Please leave a comment on this post and let us know!) 1. Can you make it yourself? “Make homemade items instead of buying them in the store. Example: homemade taco seasoning. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Use less meat and more veggies in your recipes. You don’t have to use all the meat that comes in the package. “Make homemade laundry detergent (for coloreds and darks). It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment just long enough to help you save money now. Almost anything you get at the store you can make at home. Think outside the box.” -Christine 2. Pretend you’re Ma Ingalls! “I always pretend our family is Little House on the Prairie and it’s a day’s horse ride into town to get groceries. So, once I have purchased groceries, I don’t go back to the store. I get clever about what I can make with what I have. Kind of my own version of Chopped.” -Kathleen 3. Order groceries online. “One thing that helps us save money is to order groceries online. I can closely watch what is being spent. Yes, that means I may give up my 25-cent-off coupon, but if I’m saving $5 because I bought something on an impulse, then I still see it as saving. Or, I’ll order online and then shop my coupons in store. Saving money is hard, you always need to be watching, always counting, always scouring for the best deal. It’s a job all in itself. But when it pays off…boy does that feel great!” -Jessica 4. Cash is king! “If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it! We spend $100/week on food and toiletries for our family of 6. It’s hard but doable. The reality is, if you only have $150, you’ll only spend $150. Maybe working a zero-based budget will help you succeed more?!” -Alicia 5. Stretch your chicken. “I buy big packs of chicken breast and can use 1 pack for 3 meals. I separate the chicken tenders from the breast and cut those into cubes for casseroles. Then, I place those pieces and seasonings/marinades in labeled freezer bags and freeze them. The breasts, I fillet, turning one portion into two. These I season/marinade and place in bags or parchment lined tins and freeze — it just depends on how I plan to cook them.” -Jessica Pro Tip: Check out this post on How to Stretch One Package of Chicken to Make 4 Dinners. 6. Have a Waste Not, Want Not Day. “Take a look at what’s leftover at the end of the week from your most recent shopping trip. What meal(s) can you make out if it? Or snacks, treats, etc.? Every so often I have a “Waste Not Want Not Day” and I use up every odd/leftover food items I can find. Be creative.” -Helen 7. Stop using so much! “Rethink how you use some items. Using too much laundry soap? Only use the bare minimum. And sometimes hand wash small batches! Shampoo? Wash your hair every 2nd or 3rd day, rather than every day.” -Sue Pro tip: Read my post on How I Only Wash My Hair Once a Week. 8. Think in terms of cost per meal. “I try to break it down by cost per meal. Most meals (dinners) I make regularly can be done for under $10-12 for my family of 5… $4 or less worth of meat, a couple bucks in veggies, a couple bucks in carbs. “I try to keep snacks under $0.30/each, at most $0.50, so I’ll break down the cost per item or estimate the number of snacks I can get from one box and divide. “It really helps to see exactly what your meals are costing you, if the ingredients you use in your average dinner costs $25 to buy, you either need to reevaluate your menus or reevaluate your budget.” -Jessica 9. Use a store gift card & shop with a calculator. “A tip to avoid going over on groceries is IF you shop at stores like Safeway (Vons) or QFC (Kroger) that offer gift cards for purchase… load up a gift card each week for the dollar amount you have planned. Only use that gift card (as best you can) for grocery shopping. “If your card doesn’t have enough to cover it at checkout, it’ll really make you have to think twice when you have to pull out your debit card to cover the difference. “Also, shop with a calculator in hand. I’ve done that so many times during tight payday periods. Then you can re-evaluate what’s most important in your cart before you get to checkout.” -Helen 10. Shop Dollar General for OTC medicines. “I’ve recently been introduced to Dollar General brand of OTC meds. They actually seem to work better than most of the name brands.” -Alice 11. Simplify your meals. “Simplify your meals. Some nights we don’t do the traditional meat, starch, veggie. We hardly ever have a bread/roll or even dessert. We might have just a casserole or just spaghetti alone with no sides.” -Allison 12. Shop at CVS. “CVS is the best for personal care items. Although their regular prices are high, their deals can’t be beat. One day recently, I walked out with 2 bottles of L’Oreal shampoo, 2 Pantene hairsprays, and 1 shaving cream for $0.53. I used the coupons at the kiosk, with manufacturer’s coupons on sale items. When I get an overabundance, I share with my daughter or donate to one of the local shelters.” -Kathy 13. Make your own convenience items. “Making cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, ammonia provides lots of savings. Also, we stopped using paper towels years ago. (You can even cut up old t-shirts for hand towels. I keep them in a basket by the sink.) “Make convenience items from scratch. Or find homemade solutions for expensive items. “When I had kids at home, I made lots of muffins, baked oatmeal, homemade frozen hot pockets, and frozen burritos. Hillbilly Housewife had a great basic muffin recipe and I made it with whatever I had for add-ins. “Eating breakfast for supper saves lots and having things like pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or eggs and toast. Cooking once to re-use leftovers saves a lot also. Taco meat becomes chili, baked chicken becomes soup.” -Gina 14. Cut down on what you buy. “You can still go broke chasing a good deal! Former coupon instructor here. You can up the amount of your budget OR you can cut down on what you buy. “Perhaps one week a month (or a quarter), do a spending fast and don’t shop. Use what’s in the pantry, and eat what’s in the fridge/freezer.” -Amanda 15. Use Walmart Grocery Pickup. “Walmart Online grocery pickup has been great for me lately. You can see exactly what you’re spending before you get to checkout and you are only buying what you need for the week/two weeks versus buying things that you see that jump into your cart. “I still have to supplement with trips here and there to our local grocery store, but knowing I can purchase the bulk of it for very low prices and control what I’m spending WHILE I spend it, has been a great thing for me.” -Susan Pro tip: Did you know you can earn United Airline Miles by using Walmart Grocery Pickup? 16. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. “Bar soap is also a fraction of the price of liquid, one $2 bar of Dove lasts more than a month compared to a $6 bottle of liquid for 2 weeks!” -Marge 17. Try the Envelope System. “I highly recommend the envelope system. Put your grocery money for the week envelope and only spend that amount (you might need to leave your credit/debit cards at home until you get the hang of shopping with a set amount of cash).” [...]
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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints

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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best online photo printing deals? If you love to order prints online but hate paying full price, check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints! {Looking for all the latest photo deals? Go HERE.} Reader Kara wrote in with this great question: “Hello, I was wondering what is the least expensive way to print pictures? I used to wait until Shutterfly did their free prints deals but last time I did that it seemed that their shipping fees had gone up. Any other suggestions?” How to Get Cheap Photo Prints I know many of you are probably like Kara and on the hunt for cheap photo print deals! So I decided to take this question to the readers on our Facebook page to see what their best tips were (thank you to those of you who commented!). They came up with a lot of great suggestions, but these were the top companies! Before you go to order prints online, be sure to check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints: 1. Shutterfly While shipping costs have gone up slightly over the years, Shutterfly is still a go-to option for discounted photo prints because of the amount of coupon codes they offer on a regular basis. In fact, Shutterfly regularly offers free print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 50 free prints and select free products when they sign up. Shutterfly also has prepaid print plans that can give you photos for just 9 cents each. To keep shipping costs lower, try ordering 95 prints when a free print deal is going on. The shipping fees can be up to $4.00 less by simply decreasing your order by a few prints. Or, consider doing in-store pickup instead. During the checkout process, click the “1-Hour Pick Up Available” link under eligible 4×6 prints to search for your preferred local Target, Walmart, or CVS store by zip code. The Shutterfly app offers unlimited free 4×6 and 4×4 prints. You only have to pay for shipping. The app also regularly offers free deals and you’re able to edit within the app. 2. Snapfish Snapfish offers standard 4×6 prints starting at 9 cents each, plus shipping. They regularly offer free and discounted print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 100 4×6 prints when they join. Sometimes they even offer deals where you can get FREE prints with FREE shipping! If you choose to pick up your prints in-store from participating CVS or Walgreens stores, you can see the cost difference on the order screen. For instance, you can get up to 49 prints from CVS at 29 cents each. If you get 50 or more prints, the price goes down to 19 cents apiece. It might end up being cheaper to choose this option instead of paying for the 9 cent prints plus shipping. The Snapfish App gives you 100 free prints each month for the first year you sign up with the app. You only have to pay for shipping and one reader reported her shipping was only $2.95. Shipping costs may vary according to where you live. You can edit photos within the app and see how they will print. 3. Amazon Prime Photos Amazon Photos offers 4×6 prints for 9 cents each with free shipping. Members receive 5 GB of storage free but after that, you’ll need to choose a digital storage plan. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited storage for free! They do occasionally offer free prints. Note: If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial! 4. FreePrints App Customers receive 85 free 4×6 prints per month and only need to pay for shipping. You can get up to 1000 free prints in a year! If you need more than 85 prints, you can pay for those. Shipping starts at $1.99 and is never more than $9.99 no matter how many prints you order. There’s also a FreePrints Photobooks app, which will give you one free photo book per month. There are not subscriptions and no commitments. 5. Walmart Walmart offers 9 cent 4×6 prints for home delivery, plus shipping. If you do the 1-Hour Rollback option in the store, it’s 25 cents per print for 74 photos or less and then 15 cents apiece for 75 photos or more. They offer free shipping on orders over $25. 6. Adoramapix Readers really loved Adoramapix’s photo quality, especially for photo albums. 4×6 photos are currently 29 cents each and economy shipping is $5.95. (See their price list.) They also offer a full range of photo sizes so keep them in mind if you need a non-standard print. You can sign up for special deals on their website. And if you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order with coupon code Pixnew15 at checkout. They also have an app for Apple products. 7. Mpix People who prioritize photo quality will also want to take a look at Mpix, a service even photographers recommend. Readers are impressed with the quality, as well as the care they take in packaging your products. 4×6 prints are 29 cents each. Economy shipping is $3.95. They have a Reward Program where you can earn points toward discounts and special offers with every purchase you make. You can earn 100 points just for signing up for a Mpix account. 500 points can earn you free shipping or a $5 off coupon. 8. Costco Prices start at 17 cents for the first 99 4×6 prints at Costco with warehouse pick-up and decrease to 14 cents for 100 or more prints. 4×6 prints are 9 cents if you opt to have them shipped to the warehouse instead; shipping costs vary but it is free if you opt for standard delivery. 9. Sam’s Club 4×6 photos are 10 cents each for 1 Hour Photo. They are 8 cents each if shipped to your home. They regularly offer special deals and you can upload your photos on their app. New customers get 50 free prints when they sign up for an account. 10. Walgreens The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each. 75 or more prints are 23 cents. The price is the same for in-store pickup and mail delivery. Standard shipping costs start at $0.99 and go up to $5.89. Many readers report they’ll place their order through the app or website and pick it up at the store an hour later or at their convenience instead of having it shipped. Customers can sign up to receive special deals by email. The Walgreens app allows you to print the photo off your phone. Readers report they regularly receive free print and coupon deals, along with earning Balance Reward points. One reader went so far as to say she’s saved more money than she’s spent! 11. CVS As a competitor of Walgreens, they have a very similar pricing structure. The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each and 75 or more prints are 23 cents. 12. Groovebook Groovebook is a unique option that lets you create a 4×6 “photo book” with between 40-100 pictures each month. The photo are perforated, so you can tear and share them just like regular photo prints. Subscriptions cost $3.99 per month — so it’s like paying just under $0.04 per print! You can get your first Groovebook for FREE with code MYFREEBOOK at checkout. If you have fewer than 100 photos that month, they’ll fill the rest of the book with duplicates. The app seamlessly integrates with the photos on your phone and is available for iPhone and Android. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use and love Groovebook! Bonus Tip: You might also try your locally owned photography shop, because they typically offer coupons and have some of the best quality around! While this will vary by location, it’s definitely an option to look into! Do you order prints online? What are your best suggestions for getting cheap photo prints and finding the best online photo printing deals? [...]
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5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer

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5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer
For a limited time, the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has an increased welcome offer for new cardholders: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. While... Caroline Lupini is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones

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8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones
This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com. You don’t have to be a student to get in on great back-to-school cellphone savings. But you’ll need to act fast, because these amazing discounts won’t last long. By taking advantage of a buy one, get one free sale, you can potentially cut costs in half when purchasing a phone for yourself and the student in your life (or anyone... [...]
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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap
Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget. How to Eat Out on the Cheap Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a 1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner. 2. Always use restaurant coupons. 3. Order water instead of beverages that cost. 4. Split an entree with someone else when possible. 5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out. 6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal. 7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted. 8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies! 9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks. 10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights. 11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry. 12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts. 13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant. 14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!) 15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu! What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments! P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out. [...]
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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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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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10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids

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10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids
Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Did you know there are over 400 National Park Sites in the United States?! This includes national historic sites, national recreational areas, national sea shores, national monuments, and just over 60 national parks that you can explore with your family. Check out the National Park Service’s website to find one near you (or for your next vacation). Here are 10 ways to save on your next national park adventure! 1. Purchase or Sign Up for an Annual Pass Families who frequent national parks that charge a fee may benefit from an annual pass, which is good for 12 months from the purchase month. Seniors (ages 62+) can take advantage of an annual pass (or even a lifetime pass) aimed specifically at them for an even steeper discount. The senior pass will cover the cost of everyone in a non-commercial vehicle if the site has a per vehicle charge. Great way to enjoy some time with grandkids! Families with a fourth grader can enjoy free entry at hundreds of locations from September through August by getting a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. Even homeschooling families with a fourth grader can take advantage of this opportunity! Active duty military members can receive free annual passes for many sites for them and their dependents by asking for a U.S. military annual pass. Even if your family has an annual pass, it is still advisable to contact parks ahead of time to ensure the pass is accepted at that location. 2. Go on Free Days If you don’t plan to visit the national parks multiple times in a 12 month span, an annual pass may not make sense for your family. Instead, check to see if they offer any free days. It’s suggested to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds of people on these days! (NOTE: Some national sites are free all year round.) 3. Check the Event’s Calendar Junior Ranger days, astronomy programs, family days, historic days, nature walks, sled dog demonstrations, movies, archaeology days, and photography walks are just a few of the low cost or even free events offered throughout the year at national sites. Schedule your visits accordingly by checking the events calendar. 4. Check out the Junior Ranger Program Kids may enjoy participating in the free Junior Ranger Program where they can complete fun yet educational activities and earn badges at each national park. Even kids who don’t have an opportunity to visit many national parks can earn badges at home by completing booklets about bats, archaeology, caves, the Underground Railroad, and more. 5. Create a Webrangers Account Kids (and even interested adults) can earn virtual badges and rewards as they complete activities while learning about people, history, animals, nature, science, puzzles, and parks through the Webrangers program. Registration is free and simple- just create a user ID and password. Once an account has been created, all of the completed activities are saved so progress can easily be tracked. Kids may even have fun personalizing their own virtual ranger station by choosing a theme and customizing the walls, shelves, chair, desk, floor, picture, and window view. What a great way to get kids excited about visiting National Parks and learning more! 6. Carpool By carpooling with others, you can split the cost of the entrance fee if the site charges a per vehicle fee. 7. Visit the Visitor’s Center Visitor’s centers often provide free maps, guides, suggested tips, exhibits, and even videos to ensure you get the most out of your visit. 8. Talk to Park Rangers Park rangers are often quite knowledgeable about the area and can offer additional suggestions and information about the site. You may even be able to get a personal tour if you ask (particularly on a non-busy day)! 9. Plan Ahead Check out the site’s “plan your visit” section to learn more about fees, hours, things to do, suggestions, and more to make the most out of your visit. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want to see ahead of time since some parks are so big! Also, check the weather to ensure you are wearing weather-appropriate clothing for the day. 10. Bring Supplies Besides wearing weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear, and a hat, it may be beneficial to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen. Finally, don’t take a bag for collecting specimens since it is illegal to remove items from national sites. Instead, bring a bag for any trash you may have and take pictures of all of the neat rocks, shells, and leaves if you want a record of them! What other tips do you have for your next national park adventure? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of the Adventure Writing Prompt Journal, 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 BrigitteBrulz.com. [...]
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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
fizkes / Shutterstock.com Retirees usually have a limited amount of money to spend during their golden years. Unfortunately, some people make costly mistakes that can deplete their nest egg prematurely. From giving away cash indiscriminately to refusing to embrace lifestyle changes, here are some surprising ways retirees waste their hard-earned savings. The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need... [...]
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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending

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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending
When you open a menu, you’re looking at a marketing tool that’s designed to steer you toward choices that increase profits for the restaurant you’re visiting. Like all businesses, restaurants exist to make money. The goal of menu design is to draw attention to the items they are most eager to sell. Typically, these are the costliest choices. So, knowing the techniques of menu... [...]
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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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Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books

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Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books
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. What’s better than curling up with a good book? Or, better yet, a series of books? “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Baby-Sitters Club” or “The Boxcar Children,” anyone? But books can get pricy. How can you find books for your little ones to read without spending a fortune? By getting free books, of course. While it’s great to support authors whenever possible, sometimes buying new books just isn’t in the family budget — and you don’t want to deprive your kids of the love of reading How to Get Free Books for Kids Use these strategies to get free books for kids. Some are physical books and others are PDFs or ebooks, but they all offer great ways to give kids access to a wide variety of reading material — without spending a cent. 1. Imagination Library Dolly Parton loves reading so much, she wants every child to have the opportunity. In 1995, the country music superstar started Imagination Library to give free books to children in her home county in Tennessee. She wanted to help preschool-aged children develop a love of reading, even if their families couldn’t afford books. In 2000, she expanded the program, partnering with local communities to send more than 60 million books to kids in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Local partners include preschool programs, libraries and service organizations along with many other groups. To get free books for your child, check the program availability in your area, then follow the instructions to get registered. 2. Free Kids Books Download free PDFs from this online library of kids’ books. With picture books for toddlers, books with pictures and words for bigger kids and chapter books for young adults, this site has something for everyone. You can even get coloring books. The site recommends printing the PDFs and stapling the pages together — or reading them on a tablet or other electronic device. Titles include classics like “The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse” by Beatrix Potter and  newer ones like “Wilbur the Lost Whale,” about a whale who reunites with his family in a conservation area. 3. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program Kids in first through sixth grades can earn a free book by filling out the Summer Reading Journal. Just have your kids read eight books and write about their favorite parts of each one in the journal. Bring the journal into a local Barnes & Noble between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, and your kids can pick out a book from a selected list. 4. Read Conmigo Immerse your children in pre-k through fifth grade bilingual reading by signing up for Read Conmigo. If you live in California, Florida or Texas, the program will mail you a book every four months. Online resources like bilingual activities and educational tools are available to everyone, regardless of location. The program also offers free ebooks that are compatible with most Apple iOS, Amazon Kindle and Android devices. More than 108,000 parents have signed up for the program since it started in 2011. 5. Little Free Libraries Neighborhoods all over the country are adding Little Free Libraries. These small shelves allow people to share books and always have something new to read. Find a free library near you, leave a book you’ve finished and grab a new one to share. Different libraries will have different offerings. 6. Craigslist, Freecycle and Facebook If you’re looking for some kids’ books, why not put up a “wanted” post on Craigslist, Freecycle or even Facebook? Plenty of people have books they’re not using and would be happy to share, but it’s not on their minds unless you ask. 7. Libraries Of course, your local public library has plenty of books to borrow for free. This is a great option for families who like to constantly switch up their reading selections. But some libraries will even have books you can keep, such as older books they’re planning on tossing out. Ask your local librarian if they may have any available. 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 How to Get Free Online Books for Kids Ebooks are increasingly becoming more popular with readers, and that includes young ones.  Here are several sites where you can find free online books for kids. 8. Amazon Free Books Amazon has a ton of free kids’ books available for Kindle downloads. Just search for “children’s books, Kindle edition” and sort price “low to high” to see all the freebies. Plenty of books are available to download, from “Wiggly the Worm” to “Diary of a Private School Kid.”  A couple of other sites also make it easy to find free kids books in Kindle format, including eReaderIQ and Goodreads. 9. Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Amazon Prime members can borrow books for free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows users to borrow one book each calendar month. The program offers a wide range of kids’ books to pick from, but you’ll need a Kindle (and a Prime membership) to read them. 10. Project Gutenberg While mostly for older kids, Project Gutenberg has a wealth of free downloads available. Type “children” in the search field and classic kids’ books will appear, from “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” to “Peter Pan” to “Anne of Green Gables” and many other favorites. The site offers a total of over 59,000 ebooks to download for free, including many books for kids. 11. ManyBooks Launched in 2004, ManyBooks aims to create an extensive library of digital books that are available for free on the internet. The site adds new books on a near-daily basis, including an entire section dedicated to kids’ books The books are available for download in a variety of formats and can also be read on the site itself using ManyBooks’ online ereader. 12. Free Children Stories The founders of Free Children Stories set up the site in 2008 as a way of offering quality storytelling to every child, parent or teacher with internet access. The site has a variety of books for all ages, and even offers audio readings of the books for kids who like having a grown-up read to them. 13. Read.gov The Library of Congress has put dozens of classic kids books online for free, including “Anne of Green Gables” and “White Fang.” The ebooks can be read using the Library’s online e-reader, and the ebooks themselves are scans of the original books held in the library’s collection. 14. International Children’s Digital Library The International Children’s Digital Library was established to provide a collection of digital children’s books from around the world. It contains more than 4,600 books in 59 languages, including Spanish, French, Farsi and even Mongolian. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Editor Caitlin Constantine contributed to this post. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, wh [...]
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10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

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10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill
Need some practical ideas to cut your grocery bill? Here’s a list of 10 simple ideas to shave money off your grocery budget. Looking for more tips? Check out my post on 25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and my $70 Grocery Budget posts. photo by KitAy Guest Post by MaryEllen from Centsible Savings While picking up my milk for the week, I stopped to consider how many people might wonder why I was digging all the way to the back of the refrigerated section. Then I started thinking about how easy it is for anyone to reduce their grocery budget just by following a few simple guidelines. I’m not talking about spending hours every week clipping coupons and scouring the sale papers for deals. These are simple strategies that everyone can use to help keep their food costs down: 1. Look toward the back of the refrigerated section for the latest-dated milk, cheese, meat and other perishables. It certainly won’t help you cut expenses if your food goes bad and you have to throw it out and buy more. 2. Buy whole milk and mix it with water. It will taste different at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. If you can bring your taste buds to agree to mixing your milk half and half with water then you’re getting two gallons for the price of one! (Note: Keep in mind that if you have young children, watering down your milk will affect the nutrition of it.) 3. If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple. 4. Shop early in the morning if at all possible. That is when you’ll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you can’t shop in the morning, be sure to still keep an eye out for products that have been marked down. 5. Don’t buy too much produce at one time. Produce (especially if it has been shipped a long distance) will not last very long before it has to be thrown out. Try to buy only enough for about one week at a time. 6. If you find a good sale on something you normally buy that has an extended shelf-life or freezer life, stock up. Why wait until later and pay full price when you can buy several now at a much lower price? 7. Be creative and cook with what you have on hand. Make your weekly menus based on what is already in your pantry or freezer. Then you’ll just need to buy a few ingredients to fill in the gaps. 8. Make a list and stick to it when you shop. Unplanned “extras” add up very quickly. 9. Consider how badly you really need something. For example, it doesn’t really take any longer to make pancakes or biscuits from scratch than from a box mix. Yet those box mixes often quite a bit more than just buying the ingredients would cost. (Cooking from scratch is much better for your health, too!) 10. Use coupons. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about spending hours each week on clipping coupons and scoping out deals. But if something is on your list, you should at least check to see if there is a coupon out for it. A good place to check is the coupon database. You’ll be surprised at the difference fifty cents here and a dollar there can make! What other tips or strategies for cutting your grocery bill would you add to this list? (originally published in 2008) [...]
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Planning Your Wedding? Here Are 4 Ways to Cut Costs Without Compromising

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Planning Your Wedding? Here Are 4 Ways to Cut Costs Without Compromising
Getting engaged is amazing, but the thrill of the engagement can last just a few hours before conversations turn toward the next step: wedding planning. You might be overjoyed while still feeling a rising gnawing in your stomach. You’re going to plan a wedding, and weddings are expensive: In 2018, the average wedding cost more than $33,900. I can think of a handful of other worthy investments for such an amount. A down payment on a house. A brand-new car. A hearty portion of a college degree (or student loan). All of those options seem more worthy of this kind of cash than a one-day celebration. After celebrating the nuptials of many friends and family members, I know there is no “perfect” wedding, and the celebration can be enjoyed on any budget. But managing your wedding budget can be stressful. Do-it-yourself projects offer savings, but require time, some level of skill and patience. But there are ways to lighten your financial load without having to exert a huge effort on the Pinterest front. You want your wedding celebration to be simple and fun — not complicated and stressful. So here are my tips for cutting wedding costs without compromising. How to Save Money on a Wedding With 4 Simple Tricks 1. Seek Alternative Venues When it comes to setting a date and picking a place, some tips are well-known: Some months are priced at a premium; Saturday weddings are usually the most expensive; dinner will cost more than brunch or lunch. One easy tip: Think outside the hotel ballroom. Consider art galleries, performance spaces, church halls and grounds, parks and other “nontraditional” venues for your ceremony and reception. Locations that don’t host weddings around the clock are likely to have more amenable price tags. But many of the beautiful venues you’ll see online are merely shells when you write the deposit check. It takes decorations, a caterer, linens, china and sometimes even table and chair rental to turn a beautiful spot into a reception site. Those costs add up.   So consider a venue that already has what you need for your big day: a restaurant. It may seem prohibitive to rent out an entire eatery, but check out spaces that have separate sections for private or semi-private events. Rental fees for these areas (before food, drinks, fees and gratuity) is often the same as you would pay to host a bridal or baby shower luncheon. And restaurants usually come with place settings, tablecloths and other items you’ll need. If you’re happy with the restaurant’s decor, your job is so much easier. 2. Arrange Your Own Flowers Speaking of decor, let’s discuss floral arrangements. The average cost of wedding flowers in 2017 was nearly $2,400, according to a study by The Knot. Only a few lucky couples will have a neighbor with beautiful flower gardens who offers to contribute bouquets. Instead, turn to a more practical option: a flower wholesaler. Simply search “flower wholesale + [your city or region]” to find one in your area. Pro Tip If you’re not set on having identical centerpieces, search for vases at your local thrift store. You’ll pay a lot less for vases you’ll likely only use once, and the variety may be satisfying. Wholesale warehouses are often open to the public, and staff can advise you on what’s in season or what you could mix and match. By doing a bit of arranging yourself (or with help from friends and family), you can have beautiful bouquets for a fraction of the price.    3. Cut the Cake If you enjoy baking reality shows as much as I do, you know that wedding cakes can be extremely expensive. But when’s the last time you thought about a cake you ate at a wedding? Consider skipping a tiered cake with globs of icing in favor of treats like cookies, doughnuts or maybe even pie. Think about your favorite dessert options, and decide what’s most meaningful for you. Pro Tip Crafty types who aren’t afraid to DIY can skip a custom cake altogether and doctor up a grocery store cake. A Practical Wedding shared a few tasty-looking tutorials. If you’re set on having a cake but want to stick to a reasonable budget, Bridal Guide curated a dessert directory with tricks and tips from professional bakers. Some of my favorite ways to cut costs before you cut the cake: Choose buttercream frosting over fondant; display a small cake while offering unstacked slices from the same recipe to your guests; and choose in-season fruits for garnishes or fillings. 4. Say Yes to a Different Dress I know, brides, I know — your dress is a big deal. It’s hard to compromise on this item. But wedding gowns can run the price gamut, and if you fall in love with a dress with an unexpectedly high price tag, it could singlehandedly wreck your budget. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Save my money! 6/13/19 @ 9:38 AM D SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 9:31 AM Always buy used when possible 6/12/19 @ 1:48 PM Over Couponing 4/15/19 @ 12:43 PM B See more in Save Money or ask a money question Instead, consider doing a bit of research and embracing the idea of wearing “something old.” Beyond eBay, sites like Once Wed, Tradesy, Nearly Newlywed, Wore it Once and Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses have page after page filled with beautiful dresses that have typically already been cleaned after their first big day. If you have a favorite designer in mind, spending a bit of time searching these sites can help you get a great deal. Just remember to also research tailors near you who can make any alterations you may need. Willing to wear something even older? Many vintage shops sell wedding dresses from yesteryear that could use a little bit of love — a bit of stain removal or seam repair — for as low as $100. If you love the thrill of the hunt, you may find the dress of your dreams. Pro Tip Don’t forget to check the formalwear racks as well. Just because a dress wasn’t designed for a wedding doesn’t mean it can’t make you shine on your big day. But consider that you can skip buying a dress altogether. In that case, try renting your wedding dress instead. If you can’t find a local shop in your area, check out Rent the Runway, an online platform that caters to brides across the country. Other platforms, like Happily Ever Borrowed and Adorn have you covered when it comes to accessories. Want more tips on saving on your big day? Check out this list of 90 (yes 90!) ways to do just that. Lisa Rowan is a former 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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8 Ways to Cut Your Internet Costs Every Month

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8 Ways to Cut Your Internet Costs Every Month
Whether you use the internet for business or pleasure, there’s a chance you’re paying too much for it. The cost of internet service is only going up — even with lower-tier plans. If you can’t live without the internet, here are some of the best ways to cut your costs: Companies like BillCutterz and Trim will evaluate your monthly bills — for internet and other services &# [...]
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21 Ways to Sharpen Your Memory at Any Age

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21 Ways to Sharpen Your Memory at Any Age
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com It’s time to think beyond crossword puzzles and sudoku. While some research does show that these activities and other “brain-training” games can slow cognitive decline, they aren’t the only ways to keep your mind sharp. Try one of these other strategies to avoid embarrassing memory lapses. [...]
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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet

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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet
One day I noticed my puppy was acting strangely. She walked a few steps, stumbled, fell over and slowly got back up, only to fall over again. I realized her tummy was extremely bloated. I rushed her to the vet. The vet examined her for a few minutes and started to chuckle. Then my puppy let out a bellowing burp, and the vet actually started to laugh. When he asked me if I had left dog food out... [...]
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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas! (Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!) We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe. I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage. When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them. What to Do With Ripe Bananas I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas! The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, plus some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon. Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!! Breakfasts: Homemade Breakfast Cookies Banana Walnut Oatmeal Fourth of July Toast Healthy Banana Pancakes Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole Pan-Fried Cinnamon Bananas 3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes Breakfast Banana Split Banana Pancakes Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups Healthy No Bake Banana Bread Breakfast Bars Snacks: Chocolate Banana Roll-Ups Banana Coconut Pudding Breakfast Banana Pops Copycat Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas Baked Banana Chips Banana Chocolate Chip Energy Bites Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pops Nutella Banana Crepes Nutella & Banana Sushi Raspberry Banana Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Banana Ice Cream — 10 Different Flavors Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas Breads: Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Gingerbread Banana Bread Honey Cinnamon Banana Bread Scones Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Scones Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Chocolate Banana Muffins Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins Banana Crumb Muffins Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins Whole-Wheat Banana Coconut Muffins Smoothies: Clean Eating Banana-Coconut Smoothie Pick-Me-Up Smoothie Blueberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie Green Monster Spinach Smoothie Cinnamon Roll Smoothie Desserts: Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake No Bake Banana Split Cake 4-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies Double Chocolate Banana Cake Brown Sugar Banana Blondies Whole Wheat Banana Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Banana Fritters with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Chocolate Banana Tart What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments! #groceryTaglineMobile,#groceryMobileHeading,#groceryMobileHeadingSm {display: none;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_background.jpg) right bottom no-repeat; background-size: cover; margin: 30px auto; position: relative; font-family: "Open Sans", Helvetica, sans-serif;}#groceryImage { position: absolute; top: 0; left: -20px; width: 290px; height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_ebook.png) no-repeat; background-size: contain;}#groceryWordingWrap { position: absolute; top: 20px; left: 0; width: 100%; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding-left: 255px; padding-right: 20px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px; font-weight: 300; line-height: 1; letter-spacing: -2px; color: #4d841e; margin-bottom: 9px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 18px; color: #444; letter-spacing: -.5px; line-height: 1.3;}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 60px; bottom: 0; left: 0; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding: 15px; background: rgba(220, 220, 220, .5);}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { text-align: center;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input { width: 34%; float: left; border-radius: 0;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="text"] { padding: 6px 10px; text-align: center; margin: 0 1.5% 0 0 !important; font-style: italic;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"] { background: #61a328; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; text-transform: uppercase; border: none; padding: 6px 10px; font-size: 12px; float: right; width: 29%; position: relative; bottom: -1px; cursor: pointer; transition: all .3s ease;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"]:hover { background: #4d841e;}@media screen and (max-width: 1020px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 230px;}#groceryImage { width: 250px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 232px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 28px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 15px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {#groceryImage { width: 290px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 255px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 700px) {#groceryHeading { font-size: 30px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {#groceryImage,#groceryWordingWrap { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { display: block; position: absolute; padding: 0 30px; bottom: 65px; text-align: center; letter-spacing: -.5px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.2; color: #444;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 275px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 255px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 400px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 260px;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeadingSm { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { bottom: 70px;}#groceryTaglineMobile { font-size: 15px;}} Need to overhaul your grocery budget? I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(){var x=document.getElementsByName('FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114b');for(i=0;i<x.length;i++){x[i].EMAIL.style.display='block'; x[i].action='http://app.feedblitz.com/f/f.Fbz?AddNewUserDirect';}} function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bs(v){v.submit();}FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(); Want to take better control of your grocery budget? Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget! This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!) In this eBook, you’ll learn: How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances! New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store! How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come! Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook! Ready to get started? Just use the form above to sign up! medianet_width = "600"; medianet_height = "120"; medianet_crid = "568454786"; medianet_versionId = "3111299"; [...]
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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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8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help

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8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help
Parents aren’t perfect. Shocking, I know. So even though you may have been planning out your college career, your family’s financial situation may not have kept up with your dreams of campus life. On average, 34% of college costs were paid from parents’ income and savings, according to a national study by Sallie Mae. But families who have a limited income and haven’t been saving may not be able to help cover a higher education price tag. Including tuition and applicable fees, the cost per credit hour at a four-year institution is $301.23, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of National Center for Education statistics. If an average bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours, the total price comes to $36,148 — not including room and board. Whether it’s by necessity or by choice, your parents could end up saying you’re on your own if you want to go to college. But that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to a mountain of student loan debt or to skipping college altogether. But you do need a plan of attack, which is where we come in. How to Pay for College Without Your Parents’ Help You may not want to hear this right now, but paying for your own college education can actually be good for you (just like brussels sprouts or liver). Taking on the responsibility can teach you budgeting techniques and saving strategies that you might not have learned if your parents were picking up the tab. You can start saving on college by choosing a less-expensive school — here’s our list of the best college bargains by state. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, check out these eight ways to pay for college without money from your parents — or student loans. 1. Scholarships and Grants From Your School Already have a college in mind? Then the first place to start looking for scholarship money is the school’s financial aid office. If you’re still in high school, ask your guidance counselor for their help reaching out to the college. It’s important to know what money is available, so ask the financial aid officials about deadlines for applications, opportunities for need- vs. merit-based funding and options for renewable scholarships and grants. Pro Tip Some schools won’t consider you for any of their scholarships until you’ve submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Transferring from another college? Whether you started at another four-year institution or you’re continuing your education after completing your associate’s degree at a community college (a great way to save money, BTW), transfer scholarships offer a niche option. Here are 25 transfer scholarships we’ve found. 2. Federal Pell Grant Federal Pell Grants are need-based awards that are awarded on an annual basis (meaning you need to reapply every year). Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply — here’s a step-by-step guide for filling out FAFSA. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,195 for the 2019–20 award year (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020). The amount you get will depend on the four following factors, according to the Federal Student Aid office: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The cost of attendance at your school and your specific program. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. If you plan to attend school for a full academic year or less. Filling out FAFSA requires your tax information, and unless you’re no longer a dependent, that means you’ll need your parents’ most recent tax returns. Providing this information doesn’t leave them on the hook for your college bill, but it could affect your financial aid package. Pro Tip To avoid debt, don’t take more money than you need. Accept free money (scholarships and grants) and earned money (work-study) in your financial aid package first, then student loans only as needed. If your parents won’t provide these details, there are a few options that you can explore. One option is to claim yourself as an independent, but that’s typically only allowed if you are over 24 years old, are married, have kids, are a veteran or can claim special circumstances. 3. Grants From Your State States use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state financial aid, so you get a two-for-one with that application (actually, it’s more like a three-for-one, since your school will probably use it, too). But some states require additional documentation, and their deadlines are not always the same as the federal ones. Note that most state grants are only applicable for in-state schools, but there are some state grants and scholarships you can use for out-of-state tuition. Check out your state’s FAFSA requirements for rules and deadlines. 4. Work-Study Program Federal aid doesn’t stop with scholarships and grants. If you’re able to work on campus part time while attending classes, you can apply for federal work-study (FWS), which is essentially federal aid you receive for working. Pro Tip IRS Publication 970 outlines 10 tax benefits that students can claim to reduce the income tax they owe. Read more about it on irs.gov. Work-study jobs typically allow you to earn extra money without having to leave campus — that’s helpful if you’re without a car or if making the hike from campus to a job would be cost prohibitive. But don’t expect a work-study program to cover all your costs. Under the FWS program, students typically work no more than 20 hours a week during a semester. And you won’t be allowed to exceed the allotted hours from your financial aid award, so don’t bank on overtime to cover extra costs. Learn more about on-campus job opportunities here. 5. Other Scholarships After you’ve talked to your college’s financial aid office and filled out your FAFSA, it’s time to get a little creative in your scholarship search. Start with your intended career. Corporations and professional associations often offer grants and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in related fields. As a bonus, researching and contacting these organizations early in your college career will help you make connections that can come in handy when you’re applying for jobs when you graduate. Pro Tip Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so start applying during the summer between your junior and senior years. Also check out nationwide databases like Career One Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and The Penny Hoarder, which has its own compilations of awesome scholarships — and weird scholarships. 6. Part-Time Job On-campus work isn’t the only way to make extra cash — and off-campus jobs don’t require you to qualify for federal work-study.   Among the other benefits of an off-campus job is the potential to earn more money than at a FWS job since you can work more hours and keep the job year-round. Additionally, you can potentially turn a part-time gig into a job upon graduation. Here are six tips to help you move from part-time to full-time employee. And if you don’t want to leave campus but still want to earn part-time or full-time money, check out our handy work-from-home portal for legit ways to make money from your dorm. 7. Paid Internship Internships provide on-the-job experience, which can help bolster your resume as your college career draws to a close. Not only does a paid internship offer the same potential experience as an unpaid version, it could actually improve your chances of finding a post-graduation job. Among the 2019 graduates who had an internship, 66.4% of paid interns received a job offer, while just 43.7% of unpaid interns were offered a job, according to the survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. You can start your internship search at your own college, whether it’s contacting the career services department, attending on-campus career fairs, reaching out to your alumni network or asking professors within your o [...]
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Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around

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Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around
Are you one of the thousands of households that started an allowance at some point in the last few years and it just kind of…fizzled out?   You’re not alone. Many parents have told me that they started an allowance that, just like Downton Abbey, ended for one reason or another. Sometimes they don’t even ... Read More about Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around The post Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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