Monday, December 26, 2011

Buy Holiday Goods Now

Christmas is over which means it is the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas 2012 for those who want to save money. Before you begin rolling your eyes at the thought of having to think about the holiday season when you thought that is was finally over, remember that the better prepared you are before the holiday season starts, the more you'll save when the holiday season arrives. Just imagine how much more pleasurable December 2012 will be if you have all your decorations, ornaments and gifts bought and wrapped long before the 2012 holiday shopping season even begins?

The first thing you need to do is take a quick inventory of all the Christmas items that you have taking special need of anything that needs replacing or you wish you had during the holiday season. This is by far the best time to do this since it is still fresh in your mind so that you don't wish you had it again next year. With your list in hand, head to the stores where all Christmas related items should be heavily discounted.

You should be able to find all that you need to replace and anything that you know that you needed for 50% off or more. Once purchased, place with all your other Christmas and holiday goods and decorations and you will be set to go next year without having to worry about what you may still need. If you buy holiday related gifts for friends or family, this is also a great time to purchase these at great discounts to give for next year.

By beginning early and determining holiday needs now, you'll be in the position to significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on decorations, ornaments and holiday gifts next year. best of all, you won't have the pressure of having to find them with crowded holiday shoppers since it will all already be taken care of.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clean Out Your Car Trunk To Save Money

Often it is simple little baby steps that can save you money over a long period of time. A good example of that is to empty out all the stuff you have been storing inside of your car's trunk.

There seems to be a law that if something goes into a car trunk, it must remain there indefinitely. As the months go by, the trunk starts looking less like a trunk and more like a storage closet. While your car's trunk may be a convenient place to store all those items that you are not sure where to put otherwise, that storage comes at a price. All those items resting in the trunk of your car add weight, and that added weight costs you money.

If you are the type of person that uses your car trunk as a storage area, make the time to go to your car and empty everything out of the trunk and back seat that doesn't need to be there. In addition to cleaning out the inside of your car, it's also a good time to take off the car rack if you have one. Car racks significantly reduce the aerodynamics of the car which lowers your overall gas mileage.

The more weight that you can shed from the car, the lighter and more fuel-efficient it will be. Emptying out your trunk should save you a minimum of $20 for the year and possibly much more. An added bonus to reducing the weight in your car is that your car's driving performance should also improve.

An added benefit of cleaning out your car is that you will likely find a lot of things that you thought were lost. Keeping it clean can also mean that important papers or other documents don't accidentally get lost in the mess. once your car is clean and organized, it should be much easier to keep it this way and save you both time and energy (on top of money) knowing where everything is.

getting your car and car trunk clean is a great first step in getting all the places in your life better organized and clean. Remember, it's a first baby step.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Credit Cards Have Advantages

There is often an assumption made by people who have gotten into credit card debt that credit cards are terrible. The truth is that they are terrible if you don't pay them off in full every month. If you have the discipline to pay them off each month in full, credit cards have many advantages. A few of these advantages include the following:

Creating A Credit History: Having a credit card that you pay off each month helps create a credit history which will improve your credit score. An improved credit score will allow you to get loans for a car or house at much better interest rates saving you money.

You Get An Interest Free Loan: from the time you buy something with a credit card until the time you pay off the credit card, you get an interest free loan.

Your receive Damage and Loss Protection: When you purchase something with a credit card, you are protected from damage or loss. You do not receive this protection when you use cash.

You Get Theft Protection: If an item that you purchase gets stolen within a specified period of time, your credit card often covers the replacement of the stolen item.

These are just a few ways that credit cards can be advantageous. The key point to remember is that this is only the case if you pay of the balance of the credit card each month in full.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Why You Should Pay Bills Right Away

For those of you who have had late payments on bills, learning to pay bills on time can have a profound impact on your savings so it's an important one to master.

If you haven't had any late payments in the last year, you have already figured out a quality system to get your payments in on time. You should change nothing and continue with the method you have devised that works for you.

If you made even one late payment in the past year, you've made one too many. A single late payment on any bill can have ill effects far beyond the bill in question including a decline in your credit rating and the raising of your credit card interest rates. What you want to do is to make sure you don't have another late payment from this day forward.

In order to achieve this, start by paying your bills the day that they arrive instead of their due date. When you bring in the mail, before you read any letters from your friends, before you look through the advertisements, before you read your favorite magazine, you should sit down with the bills and write out a check for each of them if you don't have an automatic payment system set up with your bank. The next day you will put them in the mailbox and send them off. That's all you have to do to avoid all the money you have paid in late fees in the past. By committing to do this you will avoid all late fees in the future.

Even if it seems early to pay the bill, you are far better off paying it too soon than accidentally forgetting it and paying too late. By paying bills the day your receive them, you will actually save yourself both time and money. That is, you will free up time that you would have wasted if had placed the bill somewhere to pay later. You will only look at the bill once and you will never have to spend the time searching for where you placed it again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get Your Credit Card Interest Rate Lowered & Annual Fee Waived

Here's a money saving method that will ultimately save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. In today's challenge we are going to take the first step in learning how to ask for savings.

To begin, call your credit card company and ask for one of the following: a) to have the credit card interest rate you're charged lowered, b) to have your credit card annual fee waived or c) both a and b.

The first thing you need to do is to find the number of your credit card company. It should be on your credit card or on your credit card statement. When you call, you want to say something like:

Hi. I have used your card for the last 3 years and have been happy with it. However, I recently received a competing credit card offer with no annual fee. Would it be possible to have my annual fee waived?


Hi. I have used your card for the last 3 years and have been happy with it. However, I recently received a competing credit card offer with a much lower interest rate (have a percentage rate in mind in case they ask). What is the best interest rate that you can give me?

If you are currently paying a annual fee and a high interest rate, feel free to ask about both in your call. One of two things will happen: 1) you'll get your annual fee waived or a lower interest rate or 2) you won't. While it will be great if you do, the result is not nearly as important as actually getting up the courage to make the call because when you learn to ask for discounts on a regular basis, even if they don't all work out, many will and you will save money.

Take the challenge. Get up from the computer and go to the phone right now. Even if you're a bit nervous, that's fine. Just commit to making the call and ask for a better deal.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Save On Prescription Drug Costs

By Megan N.

Almost everyone cringes at the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on prescription drug. Shelling out for expensive drugs is an especially grueling experience for seniors, and those who take multiple types of medicine daily. Because these costs can add up to hundreds out of your pocket every year, the first method for is to be proactive. Know which medicines are absolutely necessary for your health, if there are any alternatives, and whether or not your insurance covers them.

When it comes to being prescribed new drugs, remember that talking to your doctor can mean a world of difference. Doctors would rather have a conversation with their patients about drug costs than see them skip out on filling prescriptions or stop taking important medicines all together due to lack of money. Usually they can offer alternatives, including generic versions of drugs that can be a fraction of the cost. They may also be able to give samples which can reduce costs.

In fact, before you even make it to the doctor's office, it makes financial sense to check up on a few different but similar drugs that could provide alternatives to the one your doctor is likely to prescribe. Call your insurance company and ask the copayment on each one, so that when you reach the doctor's you are armed with knowledge. Tell your doctor what you've discovered financially about these drugs, and your doctor can tell you what the differences are medically. You could save yourself hundreds each year by choosing a drug with a smaller copayment and less restrictions than its alternative if there are no major differences in effectiveness.

Another two simple ways to cut prescription costs are by prescription coupons and trying different pharmacies. Buying prescription medication is a lot like shopping for the best price on milk -- different stores offer various incentives and discounted prices to retain you as a customer. You can also look out for money saving programs, like the one offered by AARP, which help fill the gap that some coverages don't.

The best defense against prescription drug costs is speaking up. Often, your doctor, neighbor, or family members can recommend pharmacies, discounts, and alternative drugs that will keep more money in your pocket.

Friday, November 04, 2011

How To Break A Soda Habit

If you are anything like I once was, you may have a terrible (health wise) and expensive soda habit. I tried for years to break it and failed miserably each time. Then about 5 years ago, I came up with a method that worked, and eventually cut my $1000 a year soda habit down to $0.

My main problem was that when I tried to quit drinking soda, I always felt deprived. The deprivation had me always thinking about it and at some point I would cave in and start drinking soda again. I had to come up with a way so I didn't feel deprived.

My simple solution was to say I could drink as much soda as I wanted, but I had to drink a full glass of water before I could. The result was that I didn't feel deprived of my soda since I could have as many as I wanted, but drinking a full glass of water before each one made it so I didn't drink nearly as many each day.

After a month, I made the rule that I had to drink 2 glasses of water before drinking a soda, and that eventually increased to 4 glasses of water over time until I was in the habit of drinking water instead of soda. I'm not sure it that will work for you, but it is certainly a set of baby steps that are worth a try if you are looking for a way to break this type of habit.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Pay Yourself $1.00 Game

If you are having trouble saving money, I have found that playing a pay yourself game works wonderfully and it's easy to implement. Basically, you pick something that you do around the house and charge yourself every time you do it. Turn on the TV, pay $1.00. Do the laundry, Pay $1.00. Open the refrigerator, pay $1.00. Each week take the money collected and place it into a separate savings account. It's amazing how fast the savings can add up.

It's also an effective way to keep you from being lazy. If you feel you are watching too much TV, charging yourself to do it will help discourage you from doing it so much. Give it a try and I think you may be surprised at how effective this baby step can be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How A Towel Can Save You

No, this is not a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Much like the the simple washer savings baby step, I loved this idea because it only takes a second and it isn't something that I would have thought about on my own.

I live in a community where I can't line dry my clothes outside and I haven't reached the level where I am comfortable with wet clothes lying all over my house to dry. That means that I use my dryer and according to dryer tips there is an easy way to reduce the cost of each dryer load by 10%.

After throwing in all the wet clothes that have come out of the washing machine, take a big, fluffy, dry towel and throw it into the dryer with all the wet clothes. As this fluffy towel tumbles in the dryer with all the wet clothes, it helps to absorb the moisture in the wet clothes which allows them to dry more quickly. In the end, you get your clothes dry in less time and save a bit of money in the process.

I started doing this about a week ago and it seems to work just as claimed. it's one of the easiest 10% savings I have found in a long time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Throwing on Cold Water

I love finding little baby steps to improve my finances which take very little time or effort to accomplish. This baby step does both in a matter of seconds and can save about $100 a year according to washer tips.

All you need to do is take a stroll over to your washing machine and turn the wash cycle switch so that it's pointing to a "cold – cold" wash. I have been doing this for a few weeks and I can't tell a difference in the cleanliness of my clothes at all. Unless your clothes are terribly dirty, I highly doubt that you will see a difference either.

It is the cost of heating the water that is the most expensive part of washing clothes. When the washing machine is set to "cold - cold" there is no cost to heat the water, and this is where the money savings comes from. A small and easy baby step that I took to help improve my finances.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dave Ramsey Baby Step 3

Once you finished Baby Step 1 and Baby Step 2, you are ready for Baby Step 3 which is to put aside 3 to 6 months worth of expenses into your savings account. This will be your full emergency fund. Take the time to look at your monthly expenses and figure out how much money you would need to live for 3 to 6 months if you lost your job. Whatever amount you come up with is how much you should have in your full emergency fund.

The important thing to remember is that this money is for emergencies only such as any unexpected incident which would have a major impact on you and your family. This emergency savings should be kept in a money market account so that it can easily be accessed in an emergency. The key to remember is that this money is not investment money, but insurance money for you to use when the unexpected things in life happen.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dave Ramsey Baby Step 2

Once you finish Baby Step 1, the next step according to Dave Ramsey is to make a list of all your debts, excluding only the house. This debt list should be ordered from smallest to largest and the smallest debt balance becomes the number one priority. According to Dave, you shouldn't worry about interest rates and focus only on the debt amount. If two debts happen to be the same amount, then you should list the debt with the higher interest rate first.

Dave calls paying off the debts this way a "debt snowball" and he likes this order because it allows you to have pay off some of your debts quickly which should give you motivation about getting out of debt. Dave understands that paying the higher interest rate debts will save more money, but feels that paying off debt is not always about math. A lot of it is emotional and about motivation. He believes that personal finance is 20% knowledge  you know in your head while the other 80% behavior. With this in mind, he believes that once you are able to get rid of the lower debts, you will see the results you are producing and stay motivated to get rid of all your other debt as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dave Ramsey Baby Step 1

When it comes to finances and baby steps, many people often think about Dave Ramsey's 7 baby steps. Over the next few weeks I will be going over each of them and you can decide whether they are a good approach for you. The first Baby Step in Dave Ramsey's program is to save up a $1000 emergency fund.
Everyone really should have an emergency fund for the unexpected events that happen in life to all of us. The amount of the emergency fund probably varies from person to person depending on their situation and lifestyle. $1000 is definitely much better than having nothing at all and creating an emergency fund is a good place to begin financial baby steps.