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Saving Small Now Can Add Up to Big Money Later

If you’re a young consumer (and even if you’re not so young) you probably think to yourself all the time that you should be saving more money. The problem is that, on today’s starting salaries, it’s tough to put aside extra money. Add to that the fact that, as a young adults, there are a lot of temptations out there, and putting aside money might seem impossible.

The fact is however that, even if you can only save $100 a month, it’s definitely worth it.

The reason is simple; compound interest. Even a small amount of money, put aside for 20, 30, 40 years or more, can turn into quite a bit down the road. Here’s a great example; let’s say that, at 25 years old, you start saving $100.00 a month for 10 years. If you let that money sit and grow until you turn 65 years old, and have an annual return of 8%, you’ll have $174,920 waiting for you.

Wait 10 years more however, and do the same thing for 30 years, and when you hit 65 you’ll only have $135,940 in your bank account. What that means is that you’ll have contributed three times as much but will end up with $39,000 less than if you had started 10 years earlier.

That’s the power of compound interest.

In simple terms, even a small amount of money put away for a long time can add up to quite a bit and, if you put away a small amount on a regular basis and let it sit for a long time, you could end up with quite a nest egg by the time retirement comes.

And let’s face it, how many of us can’t put away $100 a month? If you consider all of the things you waste money on, like expensive coffees, going out to eat, buying more pairs of shoes then you need, getting an expensive sports car or wasting money on bad habits like smoking or drinking, you probably waste much more every month than $100

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have fun, not enjoy yourself and not do things that are pleasurable when you’re young. Hey, most of us old folks would love to go back to our 20s and 30s and shake things up again. At the same time however, most of us would also have the hindsight to take that $100.00 a month (or even more if possible) and put into an IRA, 401(k) or other investments where it could sit and grow (and grow, and grow).

So yes, you definitely should be saving and, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, now is definitely the time to do it. Catching up later will make it a lot more difficult and won’t let compound interest turn your small amount of money into a big amount of money. So get started today. Seriously, for $25 a week, you’d be crazy not to.

Easy Ways to Start Saving

Today we live world where being a big spender is a symbol of status and is seen as positive, but saving money and frugality were once considered great virtues. Today, they are cultural oddities. Those who can save money, however, in most instances will have a much easier life than those who are reckless spenders. Saving money can be done in two ways. The first is the traditional idea of saving money that involves stashing funds away in a sock or a bank account. The other way that people can save money is through finding ways to cut spending. 

Credit card debt is a major problem for many. The average UK household has about $54,000 in debt. Many of these households will have their debt spread over several different cards, each requiring a monthly minimum payment.

Consolidate Credit Card Debt 

Debt management companies exist to help consumers find ways to cut their expenses, and one of the easiest ways that they will recommend to save some money each month is by consolidating this credit card debt. Those who are able to qualify for 0 percent balance transfer offers and consolidation plans can move some of their credit card payments into one monthly payment that will have a minimal finance charge that will be much better than the 10 to 20 percent rate that most credit cards charge. Consolidating cards through debt management is a great way to achieve financial stability for those who can work it out. Companies like Consolidated Credit can help with debt management greatly, as well as credit counseling.

Use Coupons

Another great way to save money is by using coupons. These little strips of paper that give a discount on the purchase price of an item were once considered mainly the domain of older ladies who lived through the Great Depression. With the Great Recession, many people lost a substantial amount of income and are now taking advantage of coupons. People who are able to watch for sales and combine the lower sale price with a coupon can get name-brand items for a fraction of the normal retail price. In areas that have stores that offer double coupons, it is sometimes possible to get quality items for free. Buying a Sunday paper will usually cost about £2 and most of these papers will have a coupon insert or two that can lead to big savings. Additionally, there are several internet coupon sites like Coupon Sherpa that allow thrifty users to save money as well. 

Buy Used

Name brand clothing can cost a very sizable amount of money. Many people that have quite a bit of money are always trying to get the newest fashion. They will then donate older clothes that might not fit as well to a thrift store or put them on sale at a consignment shop. While these stores will sell them for more than they actually paid for them, used clothing items will sell for a fraction of the regular retail price at a consignment shop. Most stores will be fairly thorough in checking the quality of their merchandise so the clothing doesn’t look like it is ten years old.

Buying used clothing can save a substantial amount of money, but it is not the only area in which used items will make financial sense. Another option in the realm of buying used that can save people money is related to transportation. Getting a slightly used car can save thousands on the purchase price. One of the best ways to get a vehicle that still has quite a bit of useful life left is by visiting a dealer and looking for cars that were a part of a fleet or that were previously leased out. These cars will generally have some of the initial manufacturer’s warranty left to fix any bugs or faulty parts. They will also tend to be several thousand dollars cheaper than a new vehicle and the savings will go to the consumer. 

Use Cash Only 

Many people are able to save money by moving to an all-cash method of payment. The goal in this instance is to avoid making any purchases unless there is cash in the wallet or the cheque book. Avoiding credit card buys will ensure that there is no interest cost associated with purchases. Additionally, buying an item only when cash is available will cut down on impulse spending that can eat up a large chunk of a monthly budget. Those who want a big-ticket item might decide they do not really need it if they have to wait until they have cash to pay for it. 

Reckless spending can become a problem for anyone. The recent recession has shown people that the old proverb about money not growing on trees is accurate. Saving money and debt management has taken on a new importance for many people. These quick tips will help those who are struggling with saving money to start cutting expenses. Less money going out will allow for more in the way of savings and a better financial future.

Grocery Shopping ‘Tips’ That Don’t Actually Save You Money

The average American spends nearly $4000.00 a year on groceries making it one of the biggest expenditures after mortgages and energy bills.  Is it any wonder then that most people are constantly searching for new and better ways to save money when they go grocery shopping? Apps to track coupons, coupons themselves, in-store savings and frequent shopper discounts are great, don’t get us wrong, but there are several accepted ideas out there that, while they sound good, might not be saving you as much as you think on your weekly grocery bill.

With that in mid we out together a list of some of the worst grocery ‘tips’ that are out there so that, if you really are keen on saving money next time you shop, you concentrate on the things that help and leave behind the things that don’t.  Enjoy!

There are many (many) people who absolutely live and die by their grocery coupons but the fact is that most items that have coupons are overly-processed foods that have little or no nutritional value to them.  We suggest that you toss most coupons and search for the best deals on fresh fruits, vegetables and minimally processed foods instead.

If you normally don’t buy generic brands when the well-known brand is on sale you’re probably still spending more than the generic brand that has the same quality and uses the exact same ingredients.  Store brands, in most cases, are identical to national brands and you usually will pay far less for them.

If you ‘stock up’ on anything when it’s on sale you are probably going to throw a large portion of that item away.  If you can’t or won’t eat it in less than a month then you shouldn’t buy it because you’ll end up wasting it.  Also, anything that can last on a shelf or even in the freezer for more than a month is so over processed that it is more than likely quite unhealthy.

Lastly, if you purchase ‘multi-packs’ of something you may indeed be getting a rock-bottom price but, in the end, anything that comes pre-packaged is usually highly refined.  Children’s snacks, ready-to-eat meals and the like, at the end of the day, may actually cost you more money down the road in health care costs because they don’t have anything nutritious in them at all.  Again, if it can sit on the shelf or in the freezer for over a month it probably isn’t very healthy.

We hope you haven’t been disillusioned by this Blog and that, on your next grocery run, you can use these tips to not only get a great deal but also purchase food that actually has some nutritional value for you and your loved ones.  Cheers!

Money Saving Tips You Can Use Now

Saving money really doesn’t have to be that hard.  There are literally dozens of ways that you can save every single day and, at the end of that day, they will have added up to a decent amount of money.  If you’re keen on saving this year then have a look at the Tips below and start putting them into effect ASAP.

No matter what you are buying ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ The simple fact is this; most of us have housefuls of junk that we don’t need, don’t use and even don’t want.  If you don’t really, truly need that new whatever it is don’t buy it.

Never go food shopping when you’re hungry.  This may sound silly but a hungry person is much more apt to buy a lot of junk than one who isn’t hungry at all.

If you eat a lot of a particular item or you have a big family join a shoppers club and buy it in bulk.

If you can avoid it don’t take your children with you when you shop.  Kids are kids and they always want something.  If your willpower is weak you may be better off leaving them at home.

Stop worrying about the neighbors.  Chances are, if they have a bigger house or ‘better’ car they’re also probably drowning in more debt than you too.

Don’t rush out to buy all the latest gadgets.  Usually they will be on sale a few months later and, even though they may not be the ‘latest thing’ they will still be incredible.

Use your local library.  The simple fact is that you library has thousands of books, magazines and brochures that they will let you read FOR FREE!  They even have DVD movies, CDs with music and a quiet place to get away from the kids for a little while. What more could you ask for?!

Most supermarkets and clothing stores have a ‘reduced’ aisle.  Sometimes you may find just what you’re looking for there and save 30, 40, 50% and more.  Wal-Mart has an entire aisle for this in their stores with lots of stuff that is deeply discounted.

If you’re not handy but want to save money on basic home repairs get a book (see notes about the library above) or take a course at the nearest community college.  This can save you a small fortune over the course of your lifetime.

Car pool.  Yes we’ve been saying that for years but there are few other ways to save as good as this if you can figure it out.  You’ll save on gas, car repairs and even get a few extra minutes of sleep if you’re the passenger.

If you have a Thrift Store in your town USE IT. If it’s well run you’ll be amazed at some of the great deals that you can find on clothes, home goods, toys, books and even furniture.

Want a bunch more tips?  Here they are in no particular order.

  • Make your own cleaning products from lemon juice and vinegar.
  • Grow your own vegetables.
  • Raise chickens for the eggs.
  • Save greeting cards for tags next year.
  • Refill your used ink cartridges.
  • Shop locally.
  • Turn your TV completely off if you’re not using it.

That should help you save all sorts of money this year.  Good luck and come back soon for more!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Tax Return

Tax time is a stressful time of the year, no matter who you are or what you may owe. It is complicated, anxiety-inducing number crunching that everyone except for accountants dreads and tries to put off when it comes time.

 

But you can get great benefits from your tax returns, and if you know what you are doing, can see a great return on your taxes that you can put towards that big purchase you’ve been eyeing. Here are a few tips.

 

Talk To An Accountant

Instead of trying to do your taxes on your own and saving a few bucks this year, talk to an accountant. They can point you in the right direction and maximize your deductions and more, so that when it comes time, they can find a great chunk of money that can come your way in the form of a return.

 

Plus, they know their stuff inside and out, and a good accountant can ensure that you won’t miss anything on your taxes, or be penalized for any misfiling or late filings. In short, an accountant can make your life much easier for just a few hundred dollars in investment.

 

File Early

File early and get it out of the way! Don’t wait until April 15th to file your taxes. Instead, quit dreading the day and get it done early and easily with no problems in January or February.

 

Plus, when you file early and get an accountant, you can be sure they are available for work in January or February. Too many people dump their taxes all on their accountant in April and expect them to be ready then; avoid that trap by getting it out of the way, for both you and their sanity!

 

Look For Deductions Before You File

Check out what you are purchasing, spending money on, and investing in, and find out if there is something you can add to your list that will qualify you for a deduction. If you go through the year with the right mindset on taxes and deductions, it becomes much more obvious come tax time what you are allowed to deduct and what can benefit your overall tax burden.

 

Remember for Next Year

Don’t forget everything you did right this year, just to screw it up again in twelve months! If you like the service you got, use the same accountant next year. As they become more familiar with your situation, they can greatly help you with any finance-related questions that may come up through the year, and can work wonders for you come tax time when it rolls around in a few short months.

 

Saving Money on Clothes

Clothing can eat up a very large chunk of your paycheck, especially if you need specialized clothes for work or need to ‘dress to impress’ every day for work.  If you have kids then all bets are off as they need new clothes seemingly every other week.

If you’re in the position that you need to buy clothes on a regular basis then this article is for you.  It is chock full of great tips and tricks that will help lower your monthly clothing bills and keep some of your hard earned cash where it belongs; in your wallet.

Make a list of all the clothing sizes of all your family members so that, when you’re out shopping, you won’t buy something that will be too big or too small and won’t be used.

Consider making a monthly clothing budget for your clothing. Having a clear amount set will keep you from splurging and will show other family members that you’re serious about your spending.

Shopping at thrift stores, especially if you have little children that won’t make a fuss about having to wear ‘used’ clothes.  The simple fact is, most children’s clothes get tossed before they’re barely even used and are perfectly fine to use (if sometimes a little stained).

Speaking of thrift, Goodwill usually has an amazingly well stocked clothing area where you can find some incredible deals on many items that are practically brand new.

Purchasing clothing out of season is an excellent way to save money on new clothes.  Buying jackets in the spring and summer clothes after summer has ended for example is a great way to get new clothes ate a fraction of their original retail price.

When you’re buying used always make sure that the size, color and style are something that you or the family member you’re buying for are going to like.  If you buy clothes at a great price that are never used you’re still wasting money.

Wherever you like to shop always check out the clearance racks for some extra special deals. Make sure that you check the items your buying thoroughly to make sure that they’re not stained, ripped or otherwise damaged.

Check back soon for part 2 of this 2 part series about saving money on clothes and good luck in your search for good, cheap clothing.

 

How to Lower an Expensive Water Bill

One of the easiest ways to save money in your home is to use less water. Not only will it reduce your water bills every month but it will also help conserve water, something that is becoming ever more important. Reducing your water use will also reduce the amount of electrical energy used by water treatment plants and produce less toxins that are released in the air when water is cleaned.

By taking some of the small steps below every single day you will not only save money but you will save a precious resource that is fast running low all over the country. With that in mind let’s take a look at some tips that will help you do just that.

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce your water bill is to reduce the amount of water that is leaking down the sink all over your house.  Did you know that a typical home loses nearly 300 gallons of water every year just from drips? It’s true, so get those leaky faucets, toilets and taps fixedASAP.

Upgrading your toilets and shower heads will save you a lot of water.  In the shower a new head can save upwards of 2 gallons a minute and a high-efficiency, low-water toilet can greatly reduce the amount of waste water in your bathroom.

Another great idea is to reduce your shower time and take fewer baths. The typical 5 minute shower uses approximately 25 gallons of water compared to a bat that uses 70.  Also, getting wet and then turning off the shower while you wash your body and your hair is an excellent way to cut way down on water use.

Only wash full loads in your washing machine and your dishwasher. This will greatly reduce waste and you’ll use less detergent too.

Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth and you could save 2 gallons of water every single time.

Flush your toilet only when it’s absolutely necessary.The old saying goes, ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’.  Sounds silly, saves money and water.

There you go; plenty of great water saving tips that you can put into effect today and start saving money and water tomorrow.

 

How You Can Save on a Rental Car

The average traveler is under the very false impression that car rental prices and car rental companies are pretty much all the same. With that false pretense they also believe that shopping around is not only unnecessary but also a waste of time.

That couldn’t be further from the truth however as rates can vary greatly from 1 company to the next depending on where you rent and where you’re going. If a rental car looms in your future then read on as we take a look at some excellent tips for saving money on your next rental.

One thing to keep in mind; generally speaking, car rental companies reward people who make it easy for them as far as the renting procedure is concerned and definitely make it hard for people that don’t.

Tip 1- Never agree to let the car rental company fill your tank when you bring it back empty.  They normally charge 20 to 30% higher for the same gas that you could pump in yourself around the corner. Instead always fill it yourself before you drop it back off unless they make an excellent offer to fill it for you for less (which rarely happens).

Tip 2- Always take a look at the ‘fine print’ and look at the additional charges before you make a decision.  A ‘great deal’ can begin to look mighty average once a ton of extra charges and taxes are tacked on.

Tip 3- Don’t rent at the airport.  The ‘airport charges’ that can and usually are tacked on can increase your rental fees by 25% or more!  Better to take a shuttle to the car rental place near the airport as most have them for free.  An extra ride in a fee shuttle bus can save you gig bucks.

Tip 4- Don’t let them hype you into taking extra insurance.  The simple fact is this; your auto insurance will cover you while you rent.  The amount of extra money you will pay for insurance is ridiculous and the odds are super slim that you’ll ever need that extra coverage.

Tip 5- Ask to rent a subcompact car. The chances that they will have one when you arrive to rent (no matter where you rent) are low because nobody likes to rent subcompacts and the rental companies know this. If they don’t have one they’re obliged to give you an upgrade to whatever they have which could mean a 1 or 2 car class upgrade for you for free.

 

5 Steps to Creating a More Efficient Budget

Many people cringe when they hear that they need to make a ‘budget’. The fact is, a budget simply gives you control and, in time, may surprise you by how much you will be able to save.  It’s also imperative if you want to stay debt free, (or close to it) pay off your existing debts and grow a nice savings account. Read below to see 5 Tips for Budgeting that will help you become a budget master.

Tip 1) Write down your specific, exact earning as thoroughly as you can, even so far as side money, hobby income and overtime.  This needs to be as accurate a reflection of your true income as possible.

Tip 2) Using the same pad and pen, write a complete list of all your monthly fixed expenses. Rent, your mortgage, utilities, credit card payments, car loan, cell phone, etc.  Once you have that done divide every payment into 4 parts to know what you need to take out of each check to pay for the entire month’s bills.

Tip 3) Use a notebook and keep an exacting record or every single expense for 1 month that isn’t a monthly bill.  Even something as trivial as a cup of coffee or a candy bar.  At month’s end sit down with your list and take a look where you could save money, like buying coffee from the local convenience store instead of Starbucks or bringing lunch a few times a week instead of going out.

Tip 4) Once all of those numbers are crunched subtract your expenses from your income.  If the number you end up with is a negative number you need to go back with a sharp knife and trim more until the numbers work.  The last thing you want to do is relay on credit cards to keep you afloat, they’re only for emergencies.

Tip 5) Experts say that you should put 10% of your paycheck aside every week for savings.  If you crunched the numbers and you can’t do that you need to keep shaving off stuff until you can.

If you can handle all of these tasks and make them happen you will not only have a balanced budget but will be well on your way to building a nice nest egg for yourself.

Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Teachers or students, who have taken a loan in order to pursue further education like a master’s degree through the Stafford Loan or the Plus Loan programs, may have some good news. There is a federally sponsored program for those individuals who may have some difficulty paying back their loan through a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. With this program an individual may actually be able to save as much as $17, 500 by getting it cancelled. In fact, any loan supervised by the Federal Family Education Loan Program(FFEL) as well as William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program may be eligible for the forgiveness program. However, the federal loan forgiveness program has its own criteria and you need to meet those criteria in order to qualify.

Qualification for the federal loan forgiveness program

The first thing you need to do is to apply for the forgiveness but in order to do that you need to complete at least five academic years of full time work in a low-income school which qualifies for funds from the government under Elementary and Secondary Education Act. If the school goes from low-income to high-income or if there is any other status change for the school while you are still working there, you will not have to compromise your eligibility for the loan forgiveness program. However, you must also remember that neither alternative private student loan nor the Perkins loan may be eligible for the forgiveness program.

With the kind of qualifications that you have you can get reimbursements at two different levels:

  1. Less than or up to $5000: For those of you who started to teach before October 30, 2004 in elementary school, teaching any one of the following – reading, mathematics, writing or any other curriculum in the school or you could be teaching in secondary school,teaching a subject that you may have majored in or may be related to your major you may qualify to receive $5000 as forgiveness. On the other hand, if you started to teach after October 30, 2004 you may still receive the loan forgiveness but you must be a very highly qualified teacher at the elementary or secondary school.
  2. Less than or up to $17, 500: This kind of loan forgiveness is available for those who are highly qualified as a teacher and teach science or mathematics. You can also qualify for loan forgiveness for up to $17, 500 if you teach at elementary or secondary school as a very qualified (with full-certification)special education teacher who works with disabled students attending your training for special education.

Things you must be aware of

You must remember that a portion of the loan that you take can be forgiven and not the entire loan. However, you must also remember that if you have been a defaulter on your student loan, you may not qualify for the forgiveness. Defaulters are not viewed in good terms when it comes to determining whether or not a portion of the credit should be forgiven. You must make arrangements for repayment with your lender in order to still qualify for the federal forgiveness program. The amount of money that you may have already paid will not be given back to you even when you apply for the forgiveness. Your loan will only be considered for the amount that may be remaining and based upon the eligibility criteria a portion of the balance will be forgiven.

Once you apply for the federal forgiveness program, you must have a certificate from the Chief Administrative Officer who may be the principal at your school, stating that you qualify for the program. Again, if it was more than one school that you taught in, then you need to get a certificate from each of these school administrators approving your eligibility. Once you complete five years of teaching you can start to apply for the forgiveness.

There are also other forgiveness programs that you may turn to if you in case you do not qualify for the federal forgiveness program or if your application gets cancelled. You could also seek help from the National Defense Education Act, which could also get your loan forgiven for a large amount.

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