Smart Ways To Save

Jul 05

Saving money is more important than ever during these tough economic times. The cost of housing and even food has gone up, which is why more and more families are living paycheck to paycheck. Many people can’t even survive on their paycheck, which is why it’s good to know how to cut corners and spend less on everyday items. You can’t stop buying food, but you can shop differently so it’s cheaper without sacrificing quality. The trick is knowing what to spend on and what to cut back on. Here are some money saving tips to help you get the most for your dollar.

Watch For Hidden Costs

I know you’ve heard it before but the best way to stretch a dollar is to spend it only when you have to. People spend on things that are completely unnecessary because their convenient and appear to be a bargain. For example, sending clothes out to be washed is a huge waste of money. Yes, it’s nice to not have to wash and fold, but it’s expensive. They put up signs saying ten cents a pound to make you think it’s cheap, but over time it adds up. Either do the clothes yourself or invest in a washing machine if you are allowed to have one where you live. You can get a quality machine for under $500, which is a lot less than what you pay a year at the Laundromat. Plus, it’s even more convenient because you don’t have to go anywhere to get your clothes clean. Bonus: you don’t even need a dryer, you can hang your clothes and save even more.

Forget About Name Brands

Having a designer name across your butt may look good, but it’s not going to feel so good if you have to eat canned soup for a month to pay for them. When it comes to clothes, unless it’s for your teenage kids, you don’t need to have everything you own be name brand. For women especially, as long as an outfit looks good and fits well no one will notice where you got it from. Store brands, like Target or Old Navy, have some great pieces at great prices. Shopping in these stores means you can buy five shirts instead of one designer one. Plus, often times the more expensive pieces are not made any better than the less expensive ones. If you have to have a designer name, buy one signature piece, like a jacket and keep everything else simple. You will be amazed at how much extra money you have by the end of the year.

Decide What You Need Versus What You Want

You may want to have every cable channel, but do you really need the full package-especially if it’s costing you $50 more? Step back and evaluate your monthly bills and see where you are spending necessarily. Do you pay for unlimited internet on your phone but never use it? Consider switching to a lower data package then. It’s good to have service if you need it, otherwise why pay extra? Do you have every cable channel but only watch two of them? Downgrade your package for big savings. Cable companies are notorious for their high prices, so if you don’t watch it you don’t need it. The same goes for other household expenses like ordering out. Treat yourself every once in a while, but don’t make it a habit. If you do order out and the place is nearby pick it up to avoid delivery charges. These might sound like little savings but they will accumulate throughout the year and you will see a difference.

Buy Smart

Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. This is a big mistake many of us make: we see something that is 50% off and think it’s too good a deal to pass up. You may think it’s foolish not to buy it, but that fact is it’s foolish to buy something just because it costs less. Unless it is something your house needs, like a new computer because yours just died, wait until you have extra spending money. You may not realize it but a lot of stores have “sales” that aren’t sales at all. They will raise their prices a few weeks before, then drop it for the “sale”, so in reality you aren’t getting a discount at all. If a price seems too good to be true it’s because it probably is. If you’re going to buy an item on sale, make sure it’s really worth it.
Saving money can be a struggle, but if you’re smart eventually it will get easier and you will have more money for the things you and your family really need. More importantly, saving now means living the good life later. You are taking steps to provide for you and your loved ones for years to come. No one wants to work during their later years in life. They’re called the golden years because they are meant to be enjoyed. Save now, spend later.

 

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Water Softener Tap Water – Saving Money at the Faucet

Jul 03

My family recently purchased a water softener for our home, and it got me thinking that I should post about saving money when it comes to drinking water. I decided to buy the softener because I knew that it would reduce expenses around the house – especially as we were able to drop our expensive bottled water habit.

Tap versus Bottled Water Costs

Here’s another money saving tip – you don’t need a TV above your faucet!

Did you know that that soft drink manufactures make almost 12 billion dollars a year selling you bottled water? Shocking but true and study after study has shown bottled water is not as pure and pristine as you are led to believe in the commercials on TV. Everything from chemical contaminants to feces has been found in bottled water. Moreover, here is the real kicker a Federal government report states 40% of all bottled water comes from the tap anyway.

This means you are paying over 300 times the cost of tap water for bottled water in order to drink tap water. This sounds a bit confusing to most people’s ways of thinking. Such is the power of advertising in America and the rest of the world. Bottled water use has tripled since 2009. By using tap water and a water softener, you can beat the cost of bottled water!

Water Softeners Increase Appliance Life

Hard water can cause build-ups of calcium and scale buildup, which coats the inside of your pipes and outlets such as nozzles and spigots. It also coats the inside of hot water heaters and heating elements. This can cost you a lot of money in energy costs due to lose of efficiency. In fact, it can raise your monthly electric bill. What is worse the life of your appliances will degrade over time and you can shorter the life of your water heater. Some water heaters have over 15 kilograms of calcium and scale build up.

Not to mention what calcium build up does to cooking utensils and home appliances that use water, like electric coffee and tea makers or even one of those small heaters used to heat a cup of tea, your appliances age quickly and again cost you more money to have them de-scaled or replaced.

Cost of Installing a Water Softener

When installing a water softener unit you have to take into account a few factors when consider price. The best tip I can give you is to do your homework and read softener reviews at a site like this one. If your home is an older one say 15 to 30 years The house may not have the piping or be plumbed to support the unit which will entail additional costs for the plumbing changes. After that is taken out of the equation the basic unit’s price for a simple Ion-exchange type soften starts around $400-$1,000 dollars.

Add to that $100 to $500 for installation costs, brings the total cost for an average home to between $500 and $1500 dollars. Larger homes can run you $1000 to $2500 and with installation costs, can run you as high as $3000 to $10,000 in total costs.

So depending on your home size and the options you choose will determine the price. Shopping around can get you the best deal possible.

You now know why you want to install a water softener in your home; it protects your plumbing, Water heater and appliances about the house. It also saves you the astronomical costs of bottled water. If you want to be frugal and save money, spend some money on a water softener.

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Stay-at-Home Mom to Save Money

Jun 19

Being a stay at home mom, for a long time, has been taken as a waste of time and money. Most people are of the opinion that instead of staying at home, a mom should be out there looking for money to help pay the bills. Others think that by being a stay at home mom, a lot of time is wasted instead of being channeled to something useful. In my opinion, both ways of thinking are wrong. Absolutely wrong! Every woman who chooses to be a stay at home mom does it for the sake of her children. They time she spends raising her child is not a waste of time; it is an investment in the child’s life. In terms of money, being a stay at home mom helps you save money, not waste it. Wonder how?

 

Eliminate daycare expenses!

Instead of taking your child to the day care every single day as you go off to work, you get to spend time with your child as you take care of him or her. Since you don’t go to work and take care of your kid, there is no need for you to take him or her to the day care. Neither do you have to hire a nanny. Apart from cutting the daycare expenses, you get to teach your kid the basics of life, watch him or her grows and be there during every stage of their childhood. In addition, your kid gets to enjoy full adult attention as opposed to the daycare. There, the helps are put in charge of many other kids and it may be hard to give them full attention.

Less Cleaning and Dry Cleaning Costs

When you leave for work every day, early in the morning and come back late in the evening, you have no time to do your cleaning. Because of this, you will find it necessary to hire a house help to do these chores for you. If not so, you will have to take your clothes to the dry cleaners and call for cleaning services once in a while. On the other hand, if you are a stay at home mom, you will have plenty of time to do the cleaning yourself. As a result, there will be no need to hire a house help. Besides, you will be able to clean your house thoroughly using your preferred method of cleaning. You get the chance to look at your house every single day and be satisfied knowing that it is the work of your hands.

Opportunity to Earn the Unconventional Way

The most annoying thing about going to work is being bossed around. The very thought of answering to someone who only cares about profit and getting work done is kind of annoying. When you are a working mom, you have no choice but to work for someone, make them profit and carry out their orders. If you escape this, you get to be the one who gives the orders only you will have more responsibilities on your shoulders. Being a stay at home mom gives you a chance to make money in an unconventional way. In most cases, you always are your own boss. You work at your tome of convenience, it gives you time to do house chores and look after your kid. In addition to all this, these jobs pay well.

Working is Expensive

It costs money to make money. When you go back to work you will need a number of things, from clothing to travel money on a daily basis. Depending on where you work you may need a whole new business wardrobe or a complete set of uniforms. You won’t have to go shopping every week, but the initial trip can cost hundreds and you will have to maintain and update it every so often. Then there is the money you will need to get back and forth every day. Public transportation is getting more and more expensive and can take a big chunk out of your budget. If you can’t use public transportation and have to drive there is the added cost of gas every week. You may even need to park in a garage, which will get real costly really quick. Finally there is the daily cost of food and drinks. Even if you bring lunch you will still end up buying waters or juices, not to mention snacks if you get hungry late in the day. All this can add up to big spending and little saving.
Most people think that being a stay at home mom is boring and a waste of time. The fact is, being a stay at home mom is the best thing a mom can be as long as she has small kids. Besides raising your kids, you get to save lots of money and even make some.

 

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Think Like A Woman: Spend Less and Save More

Jun 19

Women, particularly stay-at-home moms, get a bad rap for being irresponsible when it comes to money. They are portrayed on television and in the movies as being obsessed with shoes, bags and any other little trinket they can get their hands on, without a care for where the money is coming from to pay for it. TV has exacerbated that image and seared it into our brains to the point that women themselves have fallen for this gross characterization. In reality though it is women who are the more frugal, practical spenders. Here’s why women don’t spend as much as you think they do.

Women Don’t Have Time For Spending Sprees

Contrary to popular opinion, stay-at-home-moms do not have hours to spend in the mall looking for the perfect pair of Louboutins or to get a massage and facial. They are called stay-at-home-moms for a reason: they have children to take care of. For anyone who has kids you know that kids require 24 hour monitoring, especially if they’re under the age of 8. So as great as it may sound to spend a day at a spa it’s just not realistic. There are chores to do, noses to wipe and meals to make.

Women Know How Much Things Cost

Women are programmed to be fair, which helps when it comes to money. Women are usually the ones who go shopping for household items like paper towels, cleaning solutions and other every day must-haves. So they know how much something should cost and when they’re getting a good deal and won’t overpay. Men will buy blindly, not realizing a $10 box of cereal is beyond absurd, where as a woman will make her own cereal before paying that much when she knows she can get it for less. Since they are the primary shoppers they understand that certain “sales’ aren’t sales at all and are savvy enough to go elsewhere to get what they need at the right price.

Women Actually Spend Less Than Men

A 2010 study by the National Retail Association finds that women spend 19% less than men. This includes the big holiday period at Christmas as well, where it turns out that men spend 3% more than women. Plus, they have less to work with to begin with. Yet, the myth of big spenders continues. Even worse, men also tend to buy higher priced items than women, according to the National Retail Association, thus adding to the spending difference.

 

Women Use Coupons and Discounts More Than Men

A survey done by the Harris Institute for CouponCabin shows that 44% of women use coupons whereas only 38% of men do on a regular basis. The same data shows women are likely to take on average 40% longer to consider a purchase than do men, and this time is more likely taken up with price comparisons.

Women Put Their Families First

Most moms will walk around in sweatpants with holes in them if it means their husband and kids can have the very best. Moms are hard-wired to sacrifice for their families so when they do shop it is rarely for themselves. They are conditioned to put others needs before their own, so instead of looking for the perfect dress or jewelry shopping they will save every last dime to get their daughter the doll house she wants or get her husband tickets to the game. The last thing they are thinking about is going on a shopping spree for themselves.

Women Are More Practical

Men have a reputation for being business-minded and practical, but that description is better suited to women. They have an innate knack for budgeting and sticking with it. They can be very analytical and will bargain shop and haggle to stretch a dollar. They know that sending clothes out to be cleaned when there is a washer and dryer in the house will save time, but not money. Men though, will only see that it is one less thing for them to do. Men do not have that same tendency: they usually rely on their wives to set a budget and the idea of haggling is a foreign concept for most of them.

Women Can Control Their Impulses

This is probably the biggest misconception when it comes to women and spending. People believe women are ruled by emotions and will buy what they want when they want no matter the consequences. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Men are the real impulse buyers; they are visual creatures and if they see something they want they will but it without thinking it through. That’s why when men go to the supermarket they come home with more things that weren’t on the list than women. Women can step back and say, “I don’t need that”. Men just think, “ I want that”.
As you can see the idea that women are extravagant spenders is grossly misconstrued. Women are actually the ones to keep the household running smoothly and efficiently without going into debt. Men and women can both go a little crazy at times, but on an everyday basis it is women who spend smart and save for a rainy day.

 

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Saving More By Earning More Salary

Aug 10

The economy is recovering, and students graduating today can actually think about earning a decent wage when they get a job! My niece wrote the following essay for a college application on tips for finding a career that pays well and interests you. She knows I run this blog and offered to let me post it in case it can help others – she’s a sweet kid, and of course I wanted to encourage her to be a blogger! The following was written by her.

As I have graduated recently and am entering what many consider a difficult job market, I have recently been looking into jobs for my future. To do this, I completed the following.

Using the Internet to do Research

There is a wealth of reliable information on career and salary on the internet. I’m interested in the health field, as I’ve heard that I can make a good living and help people at the same time! I’ve always enjoyed keeping others healthy all the way back to when I was young and would play “doctor”  with my younger brother. I’ve narrowed down my interests to becoming either a registered nurse or ultrasound technician. I was able to find the following websites to help me out:

I’ve settled on the ultrasound technician career for now and plan to pursue it.

Contacting Prospective Employers in the Area

To do further research and get a feel for how the day-to-day life as an ultrasound technician would be, I called a hospital and asked to meet with some people already working in the field I met with the Human Resource Department, who talked with me at length about my recent graduation. I was then given an extensive tour of the hospital. As we toured each department, employees greeted me warmly and talked about what they loved about working there. I was able to tour the Ultrasound Department, and learn how many employees worked there, what shifts they worked, and the primary types of patients seen. I was able to see firsthand the ‘perks’ of working in a large hospital, such as employee lounges, a large twenty-four hour cafeteria, even workout facilities for employee use. The tour was invaluable, and allowed me an inner glimpse into what my career would be like working there.

Encouraged, I began contacting other prospective employers.  Some allowed me to ‘shadow’ an employee, following them throughout their duties.  I learned so much about the different work environments, their structure and what my place in each might be as an ultrasound tech.

After I obtained the information I needed, I sat down and examined each prospective area of employment. It soon became apparent that, for me, a large hospital would be ideal. The fast-paced work environment as well as versatility of night shift work strongly appealed to me. Rather than applying to all Ultrasound Tech positions that were available, I was able to focus on areas where I believed I could truly shine – hospitals.

Focusing on several large hospitals in the area, I began the application process. After interviewing with several, I was quickly hired. I am proud to say I am an ultrasound tech at my hospital.  My dream job makes me excited to go to work each and every day.

Consider these Factors

I was advised to consider the following and offer them as advice to you now. After obtaining your education, determine your priorities and preferences. Don’t be eager to grab the first high paying job. What if you chose a position that pays $3.00 more per hour but requires you to travel three times the distance? What if you obtain employment at a hospital but soon find yourself wishing you worked at a smaller specialty center instead?

There may be additional factors to take into consideration as well as pay. These include:

Advancement

If you are interested in advancing in the ultrasound field, will there be opportunities to do so? Or, will you be ‘locked’ into your position?

How often are employee reviews conducted? How is good / bad performance handled? What are the employer’s policies on performance evaluations, advancement and pay increases?

Reimbursement

Are insurance benefits important to you? If so, does the Employer provide full coverage, or will you have to pay a portion of the dues?

Do you anticipate going back to school? If so, what are the Employer’s policies on tuition reimbursement? Some Employers pay tuition up front, while others require the employee to pay. Once a passing grade is obtained, the employee is then reimbursed.

Salary / Hourly

What is the expected salary or hourly wage? What are the employers’ policies on advancement, overtime, shift differential and holiday pay?

Hours

Is it important for you to have set / scheduled hours? Or are you flexible if overtime is needed or forced? What are the Employer’s policies on trading shifts, picking up additional hours, or rotating Holidays?

I learned a great deal in my search for employment. By obtaining an inside view into a prospective work environment, I was able to really see where I might best be able to shine as an ultrasound tech.  Examining my priorities allowed me to seek employment at those places I knew could be a good match for me as well as my goals.

The doors are wide open for me (and you) – good luck to the both of us!

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