Archive for the ‘Money Saving Tips’ Category

03/29/10
Amy
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(Money-Saving Tips) Easter Baskets on a Budget


You think of the cost of filling Easter baskets as minor. Afterall, the baskets are small and you are filling it with small items….right? These small items can add up, though, especially if you are filling multiple baskets.

Before you spend too much, try visiting your local dollar store. Their Easter section will supply you with everything from Easter baskets to grass filling and plastic Easter eggs to candy. Then browse their isles for non-candy basket fillers. They have small real tools (a little boy’s dream!), hair bows and clips, coloring books, flash cards, pencils, calculators, little handbags, stickers, etc. You’ll be surprised at what you can buy for a dollar! And before you know it, you will have filled your baskets without breaking the budget.

02/12/10
Amy
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(Money Saving Tips) Paycheck-to-Paycheck


There are few things more stressful than needing to shuffle funds or worrying about your bank account going negative at the end of the month while you wait for the next paycheck to come in. Especially if you are self-employed, paychecks can often be delayed, putting great strain on the budget.

But with a just a little bit of organization and planning, you can easily eliminate this stress from your life.

Begin by setting up an additional checking account. This will be your “holding account” and it is what all of your paychecks are deposited into. Before each month begins, you and your spouse work together to determine your budget and the amount of money you need to meet that month’s expenses. On the first of the month, transfer the amount of money you determined that you need into your regular checking account. Any extra money in the holding account can then be transferred into savings. As that month progresses, your paychecks will again replenish your holding account and will wait for you there until you do your budget and transfer again at the beginning of the next month.

Gone are the days of living paycheck-to-paycheck. You will always be one month ahead.

*Tip – If you do not initially have the money to set your one-month-ahead-plan in motion, temporarily use your holding account as a savings account. Deposit your savings into that account until you accumulate one month’s worth of expenses.

01/21/10
Amy
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(Money Saving Tip) Grocery Sale Cycles


When it comes to food, there are sale prices and then there are sale prices. If the item you are buying is less than 10% off, then it is probably a phantom sale and not worth stocking-up on. But when an item really goes on sale, how much should you buy? You don’t want to break your pantry shelves, but you also don’t want to run out before the next good sale. It is hard to make that call when you don’t know when it will be on sale again…or do you?

img_1227As it turns out, stores generally run on 12 week sale cycles and coupons follow a similar pattern. Your best deals are going to be found when you save your coupons to match those great, rock-bottom sale prices. But even if you aren’t a coupon clipper, just watch the sales and transition to making the bulk of your purchases based on the 12 week cycle. You will save a ton of money and can make a calculated decision on quantity based on the 12-week rule-of-thumb.

Note – There are always exceptions to rule. Start observing the sales at your store and you will soon see patterns emerge.

01/07/10
Amy
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(Money Saving Tips) Dishwasher & Hot Water


faucetRun the hot water in your kitchen sink before starting the dishwasher. This will ensure that the first water running into the dishwasher will be hot and not cold. If you have a dishwasher that heats the water internally, then it will save you on your energy bill. Otherwise it keeps your dishes from being washed with cold water.

11/29/09
Amy
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(Money Saving Tips) Re-purposing Produce


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Many fruits and vegetables lose their fresh appeal after sitting on the counter for several days. Then they enter that awkward, slightly-over-ripe stage. If you are like me, you find yourself ignoring its presence until it reaches a point when you can justify throwing it away.

Look for ways to re-purpose the produce during that in-between stage. While it may no longer be optimal for eating fresh, it may be at a prime time to be made into another yummy treat.

Fruits can be used in smoothies, cobblers, muffins, breads, or in a simple fruit salad. Many fruits can even be frozen with a minimal amount of effort. Strawberries, blueberries (and other berries), peaches, mangos, and even bananas (for later use in baked goods) freeze really well.

Vegetables also have many ways that they can be re-purposed. They can be cooked and eaten as a side dish, added to a stir-fry or soup, used as green salad toppings, or frozen. Fresh green beans, broccoli, onions, and peppers are examples of some vegetables that freeze well for later use and cooking.

So the next time you recognize that the produce on your counters is teetering on over-ripeness, capitalize on the qualities that they still have to offer. It will save you money and maybe even provide you with fresh flavors that you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.

11/19/09
Amy
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(Home Management) Date Labels


Don’t you hate the Expiration Date Debate? You know, the one where you stand in front of the fridge and look at the deli meat or leftover chili, knowing it is on the brink of not being fresh, but you are unable to make a commitment one way or the other. So you choose to eat something else and repeat the same debate the next day. This continues until you are absolutely sure that the food is past its prime or it has become a science experiment in the making and you can confidently throw it away.

labelsRemove the guesswork from your leftovers in one simple step. Purchase a package of small white labels, kind of like the ones you would use at a garage sale. When you first open an item or put away the food from dinner, predetermine the expiration date that you are comfortable with, write it on the sticker and stick it on the package or container. Then when you open your refrigerator, you will immediately know what is edible, what needs to be eaten today or never, and what is destined for the trash.

11/16/09
Amy
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(Money-Saving Tips) Holiday Menu Shopping


You may not put much thought yet into what you will cook for holiday meals or include on your Christmas cookie plates, but a little bit of planning can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Sales on baking supplies and ingredients are already happening. With your menu in hand, you can begin to keep an eye out for great sales and coupons on items that you would otherwise overpay for in a last minute rush. This also gives you the opportunity to gradually accumulate the needed ingredients and holiday foods, making it much gentler on the budget.

Holidays cost enough as it is. By simply doing a little bit of planning, this is one area where you can minimize holiday expense.

11/04/09
Amy

(Money-Saving Tips) Christmas Shopping Tips


We make a lot more purchases than normal during the holiday season and, after awhile, they can all blend together into a mess of expenditures. As you make your gift purchases, here are a few ideas on how to keep costs down and your purchases intentional:

1. Set a Christmas budget on a large scale as well as an approximate amount to be spent on each person.

2. Keep a running total of how much has been spent on each person.

3. Set up a separate checking account to manage Christmas purchases. I guarantee that you will spend less money on your holiday purchases when you have a limited and defined amount of money to spend.

4. Purchase kids’ toys earlier rather an later. Especially when ordering from places like Ebay, prices tend to rise as the number of people shopping increases. Make your purchases before the rush.

5.  Most stores are already running great sales to attract early holiday shopping. For stores that you know you will be making purchase from, sign up for their promotional emails. You can often get additional discount coupons or certificates.

6. Plan out your purchases at each store. If you are ordering online, this can save you on shipping. For in-store and online purchases, there are often promotional discounts that you can get for spending larger amounts of money (compared to multiple smaller purchases).

7. Keep all of your Christmas receipts in a designated envelope. That way if you need to make a return or find a better deal, you know right where they are.

Happy shopping!

10/21/09
Amy

(Money Saving Tips) Insulated Outlets


switchOutlets and light switches on outer walls can be a hidden source of heat loss. When an outlet is installed, a hole is cut in the drywall, creating an opening for cold air. To make matters worse, there is usually little to no wall insulation behind the outlet.

For pennies a piece, you can purchase thin insulation pads that are made specifically for outlets and light switches. They are available at any home improvement store. To install them, you simply remove the outlet plate and the insulating pads will easily slide in around the socket or switch.

It is a simple and cheap improvement that you can make this winter to help keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

10/05/09
Amy

(Cooking) Cooking Magazines


We all go through phases of being tired of our recipe rotation. Recipes that were once favorites and fresh can seem unappealing and bland after cycling through them too many times. Cooking becomes more of a mundane chore and you either come to dread it or spend more money eating out.

Cooking magazines are a fabulous way to spice up your menu. For less than the cost of one dinner eaten out, you can get an entire year’s subscription to a cooking magazine or two. This puts fresh new recipes and inspiring ideas in your mailbox every month. When you are menu planning, incorporate one or two of the new recipes into each week. Your recipe collection will gradually take on a new face and it will give you something to look forward to cooking. A few new ideas can have a big impact on dinnertime.

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*Tip #1 - The “Cooks Country” magazine pictured above is my all-time favorite cooking magazine! Their recipes are always delicious and they walk you through (in an upbeat and simple format) the cooking experimentation process of most of the recipes so that you also learn technique! To start finding your favorite cooking magazines, spend some time in the magazine section of your local bookstore. You can also send off for a free trial of most magazines.

*Tip #2 – When you cook up a new family favorite, be sure to add the recipe to your file so that you don’t forget it!