Save Money Tips. How To Save Money Each Month. Save Money On Groceries.
How To Save Money Fast. Ways To Save Money. Frugal Living. How to Save for Your Retirement?
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Budget Friendly Babysitting Ideas for Moms and Dads
Since it is important for parents to nurture their relationship with each other during those hectic child-raising years, some part of their budget should be set aside for babysitting costs. This will allow the parents to go out on a date with each other, which they probably haven't done since their courting days - or at least, their baby-free years.
But often the cost of babysitting is so prohibitive that the idea of a date or evening out together is reluctantly abandoned. But don't despair yet, there are ways to reduce that cost, or maybe even cut it down to nothing. Seems impossible? Here's how to do it.
Join or start a baby-sitting co-op; this is a group of people who all need a baby sitter. You agree to look after each other's children for free in return for the same from the others in the group. It can work with just two families, or it can be more than two. You must work out all the details to be fair, of course.
For instance, if you have six children, it's hardly fair to expect someone with only one child to mind your six, because that's a lot harder than when your turn comes and you only have to look after their one child. So team up with someone who has the same number of children - or almost the same number.
Another problem to iron out is the number of hours that each will sit. Will it be four hours once a week, or some other time? Or should it be just once a fortnight? What if one family is sick when it is their turn? Do they skip a turn or make it up the next week? All this must be taken into consideration.
Another thing is that you must be like-minded. You must hold approximately the same values and rules; otherwise your children could be allowed to do something that you don't like. For instance, do you allow them to sit up late watching horror movies? May they pig out on chocolates and candies? Do you allow them to run wild and stay out after dark? Making sure that certain rules are adhered to will prevent trouble and bad feelings in the future. Trust needs to be established in all areas.
Another way to reduce baby-sitting costs is to ask a teenager to be a babysitter. It may be that your child goes to bed early and the teen can then spend the evening studying or watching TV. If the workload is light, they may be willing to do it for less than a professional. Of course there is always good old Mum and Dad to ask if things get desperate. They will probably do it for free.
Can a Family Live on One Income?
When most families struggle to live on two incomes, you may think it would be impossible to live on one, but it can be done. But before you throw you job in, it will pay to take a good hard look at what your expenses are and how you can whittle them down.
One easier way to see what your running expenses are is to bank and pay bills online. This will enable you to see exactly how much money goes to what expense and when. You need to add up all your expenses per week or fortnight and see if they exceed your one income. If they do, then see where you can cut back.
Do you eat out a lot? Try cooking bulk meals on your days off and freezing portions to eat later. This will save an enormous amount and can be quite fun if you both get in and do it. Do you buy your lunch at work? Taking it is a great deal cheaper and probably healthier. The four or five dollars you spend on buying one sandwich will buy enough bread and fillings for one week - or more. That's not counting the cost of the drinks you buy.
Many people think that they really have to have that latest new gadget, but you might ask yourself why? Just because someone invented it, do you really have to buy it? There are other options. Why buy new stuff when you can get pre-loved stuff that's just as good at the thrift store for a third or less of the new price?
If one of you stopped work, would you need that second car? It's not just the fuel, but the insurance, registration, repairs and new tires that cost money. Of course, living on one income may not necessarily mean that one of you stops work. You might both want to keep on working and save the whole of one wage to go towards a dream you have. It may be a new house, a holiday overseas or starting up a business.
To do this, start gradually by saving a certain percentage of that one wage for a month, then you'll gradually find other ways of cutting your costs to increase the percentage. As you see your savings increase, you'll be highly motivated to continue in this manner until you are saving the whole of one wage. Others have done it, why not you?
Do You Have to Be Deprived to Save Money?
It all depends on what your definition of a good life is. If you want to spend a thousand dollars on a new outfit every week and drive around in a stretch limo, then yes, to save money you will certainly need to be deprived of these things. On the other hand if you live an 'ordinary' life with a car, a house and two kids at school then the answer is no. There are many things you can do to save money.
Take entertainment for instance. Instead of taking the kids to the movies, you could hire DVDs for them to watch. Better still; take them to the beach for the day. It's fun, healthy and FREE. Likewise with walking and jogging activities. You could let them camp out in the back yard for a treat. Have a campfire and roast marshmallows. Most kids would certainly prefer to do something like that than go to the movies, especially if they could have their best friend to stay over.
Do they have to play all that sport and do costly after school activities? Why not get the kids into gardening instead? This is good exercise, they'll learn about saving the environment and as well, save you the cost of buying vegetables. When the table is laden with all those healthy homegrown vegetables, you'll never feel less deprived. And it's a great way to spend quality time with them.
If you live close to the shops, you could consider walking there to get those things you just ran out of - but make sure it's safe. This will save you the cost of fuel, wear and tear on the car and keep you fit and trim. You could buy a second-hand bike and cycle there and back if it's too far to walk.
If you've been in the habit of driving the kids to school, then how about letting them walk? You could go with them for safety. Even doing this for two or three days a week will save quite a bit of fuel over a year.
Cutting down on snacks and treats can only make your kids healthier and if they really want some munchies, get them making their own. Popcorn is simple to make, homemade cookies much healthier, and if they make their own ice treats their creative side can get to work in a number of fun ways. Try crushed berries and fat-free yogurts, or simply mix-up cordial frozen with pieces of fruit. Deprived? Not a bit of
How to Purchase Big-Ticket Items for Less
You can save hundreds of dollars sometimes on those big-ticket items that you need; your refrigerator, freezer, washing machine and furniture. One of the best ways to save is by buying from the thrift store. Many times you'll get absolute bargains of pre-loved goods that will give you years of use. Especially when you are first starting out and are renting, you won't want to buy expensive stuff because you may have to move a lot and it will cost even more money to move it. If you buy it from the thrift store, you can have a garage sale with no qualms.
You may be able to purchase your goods new online. Many stores sell direct to the customer online and there is often free shipping over a certain amount. Even paying freight still works out cheaper than if you bought it from the local store, especially if you live in a country town. That's because stores add such a huge percentage to pay for all their own costs such as handling, storing, shipping and sales. And if your country town is off the main route, they'll have to cover the extra freight costs, so guess who helps them do that?
Second-hand goods are also available over the Internet, but if buying used things doesn't appeal to you, there are other ways to save a bundle. Firstly, choose to buy after Christmas. This is often a time of retail slump because people are maxed out from buying Christmas presents, and stores are desperate to move goods. There will be all sorts of sales to take advantage of.
Next, consider buying out of season, e.g., if you want a heater buy it in midsummer, or just before the winter season starts, when stores want to offload to make room for the new stuff they're getting. Consider getting that pool or air-conditioner installed in the winter; don't wait until the summer heat is at its highest. Winter-installed pools often attract a good discount.
Many items of furniture can be purchased from clearance centers or discount retailers such as big Lots or Tuesday Morning. These are the exact same things you would get at big name stores, but the big difference is that you will pay a great deal less; up to 80% on some things. Occasionally there may be slight marks or scratches on these things, but often there is nothing wrong at all; they are just returns or floor models. In some cases they were only used as photo shoots for magazi
How to Save Money Buying, Maintaining and Running Your Car
One of the best ways to save money on buying a car is to buy a used one. That doesn't mean you should buy something that is a clapped out old rust-bucket. This will only cost you more in the long run for repairs. But if you buy a used car that is in good condition, then you'll be ahead by at least half the new purchase price plus the interest you would have paid on the loan.
Another way to save on buying a car is to buy it at the end of the month, but never wait until then to show up. Salesmen have a monthly quota to sell and if they haven't filled it they'll be desperate to do so - to the point that you may not be able to resist their sales ploys. After all, they are trained to sell - you're not trained to resist. While the end of the month is a good time to buy, you should be smart and show up mid-month, take away all the details, get your own financing and then go back towards the end of the month.
Once you have that car home, you'll need to look after it. Keeping it under cover will extend its life both inside and outside. Rust will soon appear in a car that's kept on the street and the high temperatures inside will fade and wear out the dash and seats. Always have regular tune-ups done as these will increase the life of the engine and save on costly repairs. It's not hard to learn how to check the air filter; it should be done every month. Clean it by blowing out the junk with an air hose or replace it altogether. A clean air filter will save on the cost of fuel consumption by up to 10%.
Steel-belted radial tires will also save about the same on fuel consumption. Find out what the inflation pressure should be and check it regularly. Under-inflated tires can cost you another 6% in fuel consumption. Making sure your tires are properly balanced will increase their life by preventing unnecessary tread wear.
Keep your car hydrated with the fluids it needs. Battery, radiator, clutch, automatic transmission and brake fluids all need to be checked. To save money running your car, always buy the correct gas and other fluids for it. If the engine was built to run on regular gas then use it, not something else.
The way you drive is also important for fuel economy. If you start off by stamping on the accelerator you will use much more gas than easing smoothly into your preferred speed. Driving with one foot on the brake will tend to wear out those brake pads faster then needed, while holding your foot down on the clutch - e.g. at the traffic lights - in a manual car, will cause it to wear out quic
How to Save Money by Paying Down Debts
Many people have a great deal too much debt, but there is good debt and bad debt. What is the difference? Good debt will bring you something of value in the long run. A home or other real estate loan is good debt because it is a valuable asset once it is paid off.
A bad debt is usually something like debt on a credit card. It is bad because it has a much higher interest rate than a mortgage, and because you won't have anything of use once it is paid. Furniture wears out and so do cars. And if you are using your credit card to buy food, do something about it pronto. If you don't, then you are paying a great deal more for your food than you should be.
It will save you money to pay off whichever debt is costing you the most interest, first. This will probably be a credit card debt. If the interest is 15% interest or more, you'd have to make 20% interest on any other investment to make it a better deal. The only exception is your 401(k) plan - if your employer offers to match your investment on a dollar for dollar basis up to a certain level, you'll be making 100% profit. But only invest in it up to that level; after you reach it, go back to using the money to pay off that credit card.
One really bad way to pay off credit card debt is to use a home equity loan. Why? Because if you fail to make the payments, you can lose your home. What's more, if it sold off to pay the debt, you may not get enough out of it to pay the mortgage, so you'll still owe a lot of money and have nowhere to live. This is a horrible scenario that you want to avoid.
A credit card debt is unsecured, meaning that if you cannot pay it, you can't lose your home or any other assets if you can't pay it. That's why the interest rates are so high on credit cards, of course.
It's not a good idea to withdraw money from your 401(k) to pay of your credit card debt either. That money is considered a loan and when you repay it, you'll be doing so with money that has been taxed. That means when you take it out at your retirement, it will be taxed yet again. It's bad enough paying tax on your money once without doin
How to Stretch Your Dollar and Still Have a Great Wardrobe
Some people never buy new clothes and yet they look fantastic. How do they do it? Many people shop for clothes at garage sales these days. In our throwaway society many of those less wise buy tons of clothes, then either get tired of them or put on a bit of weight and outgrow them. You can be wiser and benefit from their foolishness.
When shopping for clothes at garage sales, be sure to examine the article closely by holding it up to the light. Sometimes there could be a stain or tiny tear; other times it will be in perfect condition. Some clothing has been stretched, has shrunk or pilled badly. Others are stained or worn around the armpit. Watch for these or you'll have wasted your money. Go for the garage sales that are a combined effort between neighbors and you'll get more variety. Garage sales are especially good for children's clothing.
To save even more, watch those thrift shops! They often have a special day or two throughout the week or month when they sell at a discount. Often you can stuff as much into a shopping bag as it will hold for a set small fee. It's worth going early to get the bargains. You can even get brand name clothing at thrift stores.
Buying online at places like eBay is another way to have a great wardrobe for a small outlay. Inspect the photo and description carefully to make sure they will fit and are in good condition. You can often get good pre-loved school uniforms through eBay or even at thrift shops. This will save you heaps. Some schools have a clothing pool to sell uniforms 2nd hand. This is a great way to save money. Children are still growing quickly and so often the clothes haven't had much wear.
If you really, truly must wear brand name clothes, you can often get them heavily discounted if you shop online for them. These are still new, and you can find them simply by typing the right keyword into our search engine. Try 'discount clothing' or even 'how to save on clothing'.
Your local retail store will often have a sale where you can get a great bargain. Often you can pick up bargains at the end of a season just before the new season's clothing is displayed. Some stores have a 'returns' bin at the back of the store, where clothing is left for those who can be bothered going through it.
How to Analyze Your Spending Habits
It's really quite easy to analyze your spending habits, but why is it necessary? If you are determined to save money, you need to know what you are spending it on. It could be that you are spending money on something that you don't need - as most of us do. But you may be spending far more than you realize, like the person who spent close to $1000 a month on comics.
It will also show you just how quickly seemingly small amounts mount up. For instance, that $3.00 latte you buy on the way to work every day and when you go out at the weekend will cost you $768 by the end of the year. So how do we analyze our spending habits?
One way is to keep a notebook and pen on you at all times and write down each purchase, even the small things like your daily newspaper and that candy bar. But when you are in a hurry, it's easy to think you'll do it later and then forget about it. In that case you could set aside a time every evening when you go over all that you bought throughout the day and write it down.
An easier way for some would be to use your credit card to pay for everything for a month, that way you'll have a record. This is a good way to go, as you will also have the record of other necessary expenditure. It is helpful to pay all those larger bills by doing online banking, and then you have a good record at your fingertips. You can see where all your money went at the click of your mouse.
Whichever way you do it, the importance of keeping records cannot be overstated. If you draw out a wad of cash to pay up all your monthly bills, there is no real record apart from your receipts, which can get lost unless you are diligent in keeping them.
Once you have that record, you can comb through it to see just what you are spending your money on. You may find it is very easy to cut out those things that you don't really need. Sometimes we just buy things out of habit. Newspapers and magazines are two things you may be able to cut back on, even if you simply halve your purchases. If you really need something to read on the train, then how about borrowing a book from the library? Or if you buy magazines for the puzzles in them, it may be better value to purchase a puzzle book. That way you'll get a great many more puzzles for about the same cost. Saving money can be quite simple; but you need to analyze your spending habits first.
How to Save for Your Retirement
If you are young you probably do not think very often about getting old and probably think even less about matters like retirement. But, regardless of your age, it is important to consider saving for your golden years and the sooner you can get started the better off you will be when they come along.
One of the best and easiest ways to save money for your retirement is to take advantage of your tax-deferred 401(k) or IRAs, but there are some pitfalls with them that you need to know about. The most common is that when you retire, these savings are then exposed to the taxes that they were once sheltered from. It is important then to take care in how you save, not just in the amount.
You might believe you've saved enough to buy that condo on the beach for your retirement, but Uncle Sam could gobble it up if you haven't done the right thing to avoid this problem. You may have crammed your IRA with stock funds from those giant companies, but when you retire and the taxman gets at it, it will be taxed as high as 35%. If what you are saving is extremely tax efficient, then you are not saving much by keeping it in a tax-deferred account.
You are legally allowed to make withdrawals from your IRA between the ages of 50 Â1/2 and 70 Â1/2, so what you should do is make regular withdrawals and place them into a tax-sheltered option such as a Roth IRA. Tax-sheltered annuity trusts are another option if your income is too much to qualify for the Roth IRA.
While saving in a bank account is better than nothing, it is certainly not the best way to invest your money. Banks don't give very good interest rates, especially on smaller amounts, so you need to be a bit more aggressive in the way you invest. Learning about stocks, bonds and annuities is an investment in your future.
There are many online helps and calculators for retirement plans and savings. They will help you estimate how much you will need to save for your retirement, among other things. While these are helpful, the rules for retirement savings are many and complicated, so it is wise to get advice from a professional. Even if you have learned lots about investing, a professional is trained in all those finer points that you may have missed out on due to other work pressures.
How to Save Money by Buying in Bulk
You can certainly save a great deal of money by buying your groceries and other things in bulk. If you have a freezer, you can buy half or quarter of a side of meat and store it with no trouble. The only thing you need to watch is that you may get cuts that you don't like so if you are fussy, don't by it this way. Instead, you can get bulk trays of your favorite meats from most supermarkets. Just compare the prices - it doesn't hurt to take along your calculator to do this. Mostly, the bulk trays are cheaper.
Perishables like fruit and vegetables may not be cheaper if you buy in bulk because they don't last that long. It won't be a bargain if you have to throw half of it out. But if you cook you can save heaps. Banana cakes are delicious; tomatoes can be used for tomato relish or jam; bulk citrus will give you wonderful home-cooked marmalades, while apples will keep you in applesauce for months. Don't forget to get that bulk sugar, though.
Flour purchased in bulk packs is great if you make a lot of cookies and cakes or your own bread. A good trick is to store it in the freezer for two days to kill any moth eggs that could hatch and spoil your flour. You can do this with anything that could have bugs hatch in it, e.g. lentils. After that, keep it in a bulk plastic storage bin with a tight lid. If milk is on a special or offered bulk, it lasts well past its use by date when frozen.
Buying other things in bulk is a good thing so long as you need it. Things that are used a lot such as diapers and toilet paper can take up lots of room, but you save a heap by buying the larger packs. Simply buying a twenty-four pack of toilet rolls instead of the six-pack will give you a saving.
Wholesale club membership at BJs, Costco or others is a great way to save money on groceries and other household useables. You can recoup the cost of the membership in a couple of months. Or better still, try Smart and Final if they are near you. They supply restaurants, but anyone can buy from them and they don't charge any membership fee.
Be careful with bulk clothing offers. Sometimes these are cheap and shoddy clothes that stretch or pill after the first wash. You need all three to keep yourself in shirts, but had you bought just one, better quality item you would be better off.
How to Save Money on Home Decorating
Whether you are buying or renting, once you are into your home, you like it to put you own personal stamp on it. But if you are on a budget, how can you? You don't have to break the bank to decorate your home. It is sometimes even possible to buy paint from the thrift or a discount store. Painting is probably the best thing to do to change the look of your home.
Apart from painting, what else can you do to decorate your home? Soft furnishings are a simple and easy way to change the look of a room and add pizzazz and style. Simply throwing a bright rug over the sofa and adding some toning cushions can make a world of difference. Adding a coffee table in the form of a tin trunk, an old table covered with lace or even a cloth-covered, round stool is cheap alternative to buying one. If you are really strapped for cash, you might even find a very strong, cardboard box to paint or cover with a cloth.
Cushions can be found at garage sales, thrift shops and discount stores. To give them a new look, simply wrap them up in new material as you would a parcel or your lunchtime sandwich and pin, staple or tack it in place. Or use a piece of ribbon to tie it down.
Decorations can make a difference to a bare wall, so go hunting for that bargain picture or wall hanging. You may be crafty enough to make one specially, but if not, there are plenty of gorgeous materials with pictures on them already. Glue the top and bottom to light dowel and there is your wall hanging. You could also make a collage of the children's artwork and stick it inside a frame from the thrift store.
If you can use a sewing machine, you'll be able to run up curtains at a fraction of the cost of bought ones. Sheer curtains can add charm and romance to a room without taking away from the window light, while rubber-backed ones will give privacy and insulation from the heat or cold. If new curtains are beyond your budget, look through the thrift stores or garage sales to get your bargain.
If you have the time and energy, furniture can be given a new glow by sanding it back and oiling or varnishing it - or doing a French polish, if you can. You might even like to paint dark furniture over with a color to brighten up the children's room.
If your floor covering is old and tatty, try pulling it up to see what is underneath. Sometimes there are lovely old boards that respond beautifully to a professional polish, and then all you'll need is a few mats to provide comfort and warmth.
How to Save Money on Income Tax
While paying income tax is something that we can't get out of doing, no one wants to pay more than they have to. In fact, it is a wise person who takes a critical look at the amount of tax they pay and sees how to reduce it. This is not dishonest; there is no need to pay Uncle Sam any more than is legally required.
One way to reduce your income tax is to be taxed on less than you make. How can you do this legally? It's simple; participate in that retirement fund your employer sponsors. If it is a 401(k) or a 403(b) scheme, you can put in a whopping $15,500. Your employer deducts this amount - or whatever you decide to put in - before your taxes are calculated, so you won't be paying tax on it.
If you are over 50 years of age and have not used that retirement fund much - or even if you have - then you are in luck because it is possible to make a catch-up 'donation' of up to $5,000. Since this also reduces your pre-tax gross income, you will pay less tax.
Most people know that if they give to a charity, it is tax deductible, but this also applies to goods and services, so if you have stuff you don't want, you can donate it to charity, get a receipt and claim it off your tax. The same goes for services; just be sure you get a receipt. Every little bit mounts up.
Your employer may also sponsor a flexible spending plan for child-care and certain medical expenses. It will pay you to participate in this, as once again, your employer will deduct this amount from your pay before calculating your income tax.
Making solar improvements to your home will gain you certain income tax benefits that may be up to the value of $2,000. Make sure this tax benefit is applicable to your improvement before you go ahead.
Whether you prepare you own tax returns or have an accountant do it, you may save a considerable amount by itemizing. You can accept the flat amount offered - which was $3,300 for 2006, or you can itemize. This is certainly worthwhile looking into, particularly if you have a mortgage, because the interest you pay is an allowable deduction for most people. This is mostly enough to put you over the limit and make itemizing worthwhile. Real estate taxes (but not added charges like garbage pick-up), and state and local taxes are also deductible.
How to Save on Medical Costs
Medical costs are something that everyone hopes they never have, but most people do end up with them at some time or another. Even those people who are disgustingly healthy can and do have accidents, so health insurance is necessary. The trouble is that health insurance often doesn't cover all your costs, so you need to be careful when paying those out-of-pocket expenses.
One thing to remember is that when you go to hospitals, they always charge for the whole of the first day, even if you go in at one minute to midnight. To make up for this they actually don't charge for the last day. At least they are not supposed to, but some do and get away with it, so watch your bill.
Some may have a cut-off time for that last day, so ask ahead of time and be sure to leave before it's up. Even if you intend to leave and cannot because the doctor is late, you may be given the day if you ask about it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! You shouldn't have to pay for another person's late schedule.
Watch for double billing and being billed for services you didn't have. Mistakes can - and are - made. An example of double billing could be if you are charged a daily rate for a room, then also charged for the use of sheets and towels. Find out if they are meant to be in the daily rate charge. I wonder what they would say if you took your own?
When getting prescriptions or over -the-counter medication, you can often buy a generic brand that has the exact same ingredients, for less. Sometimes the pharmacist will ask you if you want it, sometimes they won't. It pays to ask if it is available. You may also be able to save money on your health care plan if you compare it to others. Remember to keep records of all your health costs and you may qualify for a tax deduction. The total cost needs to exceed 7.5% of your gross income.
Free medical services such as breast screening and blood pressure checks may be offered at your local clinic. It doesn't hurt to take advantage of these; you may catch a problem you were not aware of.
The best saving of all is to pursue a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and plenty of exercise. If you stay healthy, you won't need to pay out nearly as much on health care, and you'll have a whole lot more fun.
How to Use Coupons and Save Hundreds!
Everyone loves a bargain and that's what you'll get when you go looking for coupons. Coupons are available for many products and can be found in your daily paper or magazines for a variety of products like food and cleaning products. You can save literally hundreds of dollars over a year when you are diligent in using them.
Coupons are available for baby products you use all the time like diapers and formula. Better still, if you go hunting, there will hardly be a week goes by without a special on those products at some store or other near you. Just imagine the amount of cash you can save over a year.
You need to clip the coupons out and take them shopping when you go. When you get to the checkout you can present your coupon for that product to get your discount. To save time, sort your coupons into sections so you can find the ones you want at a glance. You could even add them to the product with a dab of sticky tape before you reach the checkout.
But before you go shopping watch the store ads on TV to make sure your coupon will truly be the best buy. Occasionally, products with no coupons are on a sale price and work out even cheaper than the coupon product. Some grocery stores will offer double or triple coupons, so be on the watch for those as your lucky day is about to begin. Another hint for saving on shopping is to join up if the store offers a shopper card program. That way you'll get to hear about the in store discounts well in time to take advantage of them.
Coupons that you can download and print out are available online too. Or if you shop online, there will be a savings code that you type in at the checkout for an automatic discount. Always check your receipt to make sure it was given to you - and watch for expiry dates.
Coupons are available on toys, dell computers, furniture for the home, office and baby furniture and white goods. When you start paying for large ticket items like these, you'll really notice the savings that coupons will bring.
Top hint: don't bother with those coupons that offer one coupon for two, three or more products. You don't get your 50 cents of each one, but it is averaged out over all the products. In these cases, the generic brand is usually cheaper.
Money Saving Ideas for Travelers
Traveling need not cost an arm and a leg. If you need or want to travel for your holidays, here are some tips.
Consider RVing. This is a good way to save money on accommodation. You can stay at one destination and spend the time there on enjoyable free activities such as swimming, hiking or fishing, or you can travel from place to place and see the sights and the countryside. Whichever option you choose you're sure to have fun.
To cut costs even further, simply go in the family car and camp in a tent. You don't have to be uncomfortable with all the good sleeping bags and bed pads available these days. Make sure you travel light, keeping clothes to a minimum for warmth and comfort. Hey, it's a holiday so you don't need to wash them every day.
Make sure your car is roadworthy by checking tires, shock absorbers, fan belt and all those other things on cars that need to be kept in prime condition. It's much cheaper to do it at home than when you've broken down on the road.
Depending on where you live and the ages of your children, you may be able to leave the car at home and go hiking and tenting for a week or two. You need to be fit though as everything must be carried on your backs.
You may prefer to join a house exchange group. This is where people in different areas agree to exchange homes for a certain period of time. The register provides a certain amount of security and it saves a great deal on accommodation, if not travel.
When traveling by plane, take advantage of discounts and off-season times. Basically, if you travel when others are not as likely to, then the fare is greatly reduced.
Look into the smaller or lesser-known plane fare to the same destination. Sometimes it is a great deal cheaper than the big brand name jets.
Use public transport rather than taxis. Often you can get a day ticket for a town and to every attraction in it. Some public transport such as a monorail may be free.
If traveling to a resort, you may be able to save a great deal of money by camping on the beach or in a basic cabin, rather than in the motel. Many beach resorts have these cheaper options for the asking.
Camping in a national park is cheap and sometimes free. There are often basic facilities such as toilets and showers.
Should You Quit - the Hidden Costs of a Double Income Family
You may think you will be so much better off with a double income that the question of both working is a no-brainer. But you need to remember all those hidden costs that nibble away at your second income. The most obvious one to think about is your tax. With two incomes you may go up into a higher tax bracket and so pay lots more tax. There may be ways to reduce it, but still, that is the first bite taken out.
Childcare costs take another major bite out of the second income cookie. With no one at home, you certainly need to find child care providers. You may be able to use your parents, but they are getting older and may not be physically able to keep up with your little livewires. Besides, is it fair to ask them to raise a second family?
When you have to work all day, you'll want to get those clothes dry-cleaned or laundered professionally because you certainly don't have the time or energy to hand wash. Then of course, there is the expense of buying them in the first place; you can't turn up to work looking daggy. You'll need extra make-up too, and probably professional hair styling; more bites from the cookie.
Once you get home you'll be so tired out that it's very easy to phone for take-away, or go out again to eat. That saves you the trouble and effort of preparing meals and cleaning up. And talking of cleaning, how about a cleaning lady to take care of the mess inside the house? You'll be a slave if you try and do everything yourself. You may even need someone else to do the lawns and gardening.
Then there is the cost of traveling to work. Do you need another car, or will public transport do? The trouble with public transport is that it may take lots longer than a car, and you do want to be home before the crÃ¨che closes. And having a car means you can stop by the drycleaners and the store if you need to, rather than using up your precious weekend hours.
If you are late home, will there still be public transport available for the nanny, or will you have to drive her home or pay for her taxi?
So once the kids are in school, you won't have to worry about full-time care, until they get sick or the school holidays crop up. This means you may have to pay for holiday camps - unless you can depend on those parents. Unless you have a job that pays a really good salary, it may not be worth spending all that money just so you can go
Tips for Paying Less and Still Giving Great Gifts
It is possible to give beautiful gifts without it costing the earth. For starters, you can go online, download and print out free cards - or you can buy some relatively cheap software and print up your own. This is an excellent idea, because you can insert your own pictures - or clip art if you have none.
With your own pictures you can pop a Santa hat on the baby or your spouse, take a picture and use it to design your Christmas cards. There are many other lovely ideas. With a digital camera, photos of the grandchildren can be used to design and make a calendar that the grandparents will treasure for years. Or if they live a long way off, take photos of the surrounding countryside or your garden so they will know what things look like where you live. If you are crafty, the art of paper tole is not hard to learn and makes simply stunning cards.
Calendars and cards are not the only things to make of course, what about slide shows of various events in your life, or a scrapbook of appropriate photos. These days you can burn pictures and even music to a CD for a great gift. If your kids play an instrument, record their best songs and burn it to a CD for a great gift for other family members. You could even record them and yourself wishing people a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday, whichever is appropriate.
It's easy to grow a gift for a present. You can buy a really nice plant that is easy to propagate and get several more plants from it. Potting it up in a cheap pot that you've made special with your own decoration gives added value. Many bulb or tuberous types of plants simply increase as they grow with no help from you. All you need to do is dig and divide them, then pot them up until it's time to give the gift.
For that old uncle or someone who works all day, what could be nicer to give than some home-baked cookies, a cake, home-made candies or even a set of frozen meals? Many people don't have the time or energy to cook after a long day at work. You could even give the gift of service, such as an promissory note to clean their house, weed their garden, paint their fence (or house) or baby sit while they take a night off. This would be soo appreciated by a young couple with children who are trying to cut costs themselves.
Other beautiful but cheap gifts could be things you have made yourself, such as knitted things, hand-sewn clothing, bags or hats. Babies' bootees only take a scrap of wool and a few hours to knit. Teamed with a bar of soap and a plain white washer - or you could crochet an edging around it - they would make a beautifully thoughtful and inexpensive gift. These sorts of gifts mean a lot because the recipients can see you've put time and effort into their creation.
Tips for Paying Less on Insurance Costs
Insurance is one of those things that everyone should have. You can have insurance for car accidents and theft, household insurance, personal accident insurance and life and health insurance. While it may seem that you are paying out money for something that may never happen, remember that car accidents do happen to a great many people. Other kinds of accidents can and do easily happen and homes, unfortunately do burn down. And with the increasing crime rate, it's quite possible that your home or car will be one of the many who come to the attention of burglars. So - how can you save on insurance?
One of the first things you should do is to carefully compare the various types of insurance. Premiums vary considerably for the same basics. Some might have plans better suited to your particular situation. With auto insurance, you may be able to request higher deductibles - that is the amount you pay before the insurance takes over. You can often reduce your premiums by 40% if you agree to pay the first $1000 of repairs.
If you have other adequate health and life insurance, then don't pay for more in your auto insurance. If you haven't yet purchased a car, choose one of the less popular models - less popular with thieves, that is. If you are buying your first car, you may consider having it in your parents?name and insurance. Premiums are much less for the older age group. You have to live at home to do this.
If most of your driving is to work and back, see if your insurance offers a low-mileage discount, then you could car-pool with colleagues. Other cuts may be given for approved anti-theft and safety features in the car.
For house insurance, premiums come down for a new or newly renovated house. This is because all their stuff is in good condition and so less likely to need fixing. Depending on where you live your premiums may be less for the type of material the house is made from. In the east, brick homes are cheaper to insure due to brick being more wind-resistant than frame. In the west, a frame house will be less due to frame withstanding earth tremors better.
With all insurance, you should get quotes and compare the prices for what you get. The cheapest is not necessarily the best; some plans give far better coverage for only a small increase in premium.
Tips for Saving Money on Baby Items
It's easy to save money on baby items. With today's high standards, even generic brand products are good quality. You can save up to 30% on generic formula and diapers over brand name ones. You may even consider investing in cotton toweling diapers; after the initial outlay, you won't have to keep buying them. If your little one seems to get a lot of nappy rash, the change to natural cotton could improve it.
Why not try breastfeeding your baby? This is the way nature intended a baby to be nourished and will save you heaps on formula, bottles and sterilizing. You'll have food 'on tap' for your precious one, ready to go whenever he or she needs it. No getting up at 2 a.m. to heat a bottle.
When purchasing baby clothes, don't get too much at once. You don't know at what rate your baby will grow, but mostly they shoot up like mushrooms, so those tiny sizes won't fit for long. You can often get pre-loved baby clothing at the thrift store or online for as little as one dollar for each piece. Much of it is brand name clothing that the owner simply grew out of before it could be worn much. Garage sales are another excellent source of baby clothes and other items.
When buying new, avoid clothing with cartoon characters on it. This is twice as expensive as plain clothing and your baby won't know the difference. Parents buy this type of clothing for their own pleasure, rather than the baby's. No child under two years will know or give a hoot what they are wearing. And if you make a point of never buying it, then they won't pester you for expensive brand name stuff, as they get older.
When buying items like cribs, cots and strollers, shop at the thrift or consignment store. The big exception is when buying a baby capsule or car seat. Fractures to the frame could be so fine that they are unnoticeable. Never compromise on safety where your toddler is concerned.
You may even be able to find a crib, highchair and stroller in your parent's attic. Some paint and new covers and they'll look as good as new. When you go to decorate the nursery, you don't have to spend a fortune. Simply painting odd pieces of furniture the same color will co-ordinate them for a shabby-chic look. Joining two lengths of material can make a pretty throw for the bed that will be far cheaper than buying a special bedspread or co
Tips for Saving on Education Costs
Whether you have children in the crib or in preschool, one day you will be faced with the costs of higher education such as college and university fees. Don't wait until the day comes to think about the cost involved, but start preparing for it beforehand. If you do this, you may be able to reduce those expenses significantly.
The time to start on that all-important quest to reduce college expenses starts when you child is in 7th or 8th grade. Your child should be able to easily secure a place in the line for grants and merit scholarships by sitting for the SAT or ACT tests. If they also take the special test prep class it will boost their results. Your child doesn't have to be a genius to take advantage of a grant or scholarship. Students of average ability can boost their grades with a plan tailored to fit their strengths and weaknesses.
You can save thousands of dollars on your child's education if they pass the Advanced Placement (AP) test; they will earn college credits automatically. They may even be able to enter college at sophomore level. Students should enroll in all the classes they can possible manage; there are so many available, thee is sure to be some to suit. They can also join the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and earn credits for what they already know. Why pay more for your child to learn things they already know?
Teach your student to budget wisely once they leave home for college. It is possible to make do without all those credit cards offered on campus. While the free gifts may be tempting, they are only there as a hook to get the students?application. Credit cards make it too easy to spend unwisely and end up with a big debt that is difficult, if not impossible, to pay off.
While many students set their sights on those big name colleges that cost the earth, a wise student will look into doing at least half their chosen course at a local college. This can save a great deal of money on course fees - and if that seems confusing, you can even get help to compare academic and scholastic levels of specific colleges through CAPlus, a Christian based organization in the Northeast.
Remember that the fees charged by private colleges are usually higher than public college fees, because they don't get as much government funding. It may be possible for your child to attend college on a part-time basis and work to help pay fe
Tips for Saving Money on Family Entertainment
It's not hard to save money on family entertainment once you put your mind to it. Since even an afternoon at the movies is likely to break your carefully worked out budget, think in terms of free entertainment. An afternoon at the park is likely to be considered great fun by kids about 9 years or under. They still love swings and slides, and if you pack a hamper and stay until teatime they'll think it a great treat.
A day at the beach is also wonderful exercise and free if you live fairly close to one, otherwise, may towns have council run pools that have a reasonable entrance fee. If your kids adore swimming, it might be worthwhile paying for a year's subscription and making that the mainstay for entertainment. Take drinks and snacks with you to save on money spent at the kiosk.
Hiking is a great fun activity for the older ones - and even younger children can participate in short hikes. Walking to a specific location such as a historic place or to see something of interest will encourage them to finish the journey. Make sure they each carry a water bottle and some snacks for energy.
There is often free entertainment such as concerts and fireworks at local parks during school breaks. Keep an eye on your local paper or listen to the radio for details. But don't wait for too long; if there are none, create your own by inviting family or friends along to a talent quest - with each person participating. Perhaps those who don't take part could be responsible for baking the cookies to eat afterwards.
You could even simply invite friends over to watch a movie and provide your own popcorn. To save on popcorn costs, buy it in bulk and cook it in a pot with some butter or margarine in the bottom. You don't even need a popcorn-maker. But be sure to put the lid on the pot when the corn starts popping. Then again, you could leave it off to create some crazy fun.
If it's legal to build a backyard fire in your district, you could have a campout and tell each other ghost tales - or funny tales if the kids are really little. Toasting marshmallows, sausages or just bread by the fire will add a treat. If you can't light a fire, create a pretend one with a torch and some colored cellophane paper. You won't be able to toast marshmallows, but you could use another torch to play shadow games on a sheet or wall.
If you want to expose you kids to some culture and can budget ahead of time, there are ways and means of taking them to ballet, opera and other cultural experiences by using discount coupons. Find these with an Internet search.
Don't forget your local library for lots of fun and games. Join up for free videos, DVDs books and magazines. Why buy them when you can get them for
Tips for Saving on Moving Costs
There are many ways in which you can save money on moving costs. One way is to get free boxes from your local drugstore or retail outlet instead of buying them. While these may not be as big as purchased packing boxes, they won't be as heavy when packed, either. There's another way to get free boxes too. If you see a For Sale notice in your area suddenly taped over with "Sold" watch to see when the new residents move in. They'll probably be glad to get rid of all their packing boxes for free, instead of paying extra to have the garbage man take them. You'll need lots of tape to secure the boxes with and even this can be bought more cheaply at a hardware store than a grocery shop.
Once you've settled into your new home, getting rid of those boxes may cost you extra, so see if you can donate them to a neighbor who is moving. Otherwise you may be able to let garden worms dispose of them for you. Mulching the garden will save your water bills, too. Cover the flattened cardboard with straw and manure to get those worms munching.
It will probably save you heaps if you hire a truck and drive it yourself. But be sure you have a strong back or some good, strong friends to help with the loading. Also, check that your insurance for both household goods and auto will cover your goods in transit and any truck damage or repairs. Don't forget you have to pay for gas, so factor this into your costs.
If you hire a removalist, be sure to get at least three quotes as the cost varies considerably. Ask about insurance and times, too. Some removalists also hire out storage that could come in handy if there is a delay. Many items that you've accumulated may be things that you don't now use. Why pay for the cost of carting these items if you don't want to keep them? Instead, send them to your nearest charity of have a garage sale to dispose of them.
Remember to cancel all your utilities ahead of time; if you paid a deposit, you may be eligible for a refund. Make sure you set the date for cancellation for the day after you leave, then you won't be likely to be left without power if they come early. Do it a day early for switching on in the new house. You don't want to arrive at midnight and be unable to have a coffee or shower.
Save all your moving receipts because if your move is associated with a new job, it may be tax-deductible.
Tips for Saving on Utility Bills
With the cost of power soaring, everyone is clamoring for ways in which to cut their utility bills. One good way to do this that is not immediately obvious is to check out the air conditioning ducts. These are air pipes that are out of sight, so often out of mind and since they are often in the crawl spaces of a home, you may have to get a professional to check them. Much of the warm air from your furnace, or in summer, the cool air from the air-conditioning system can be lost through joints in the pipes that have poor seals. Typically this can be up to 40%, which represents a big savings in your fuel bill once the seals are fixed.
Your old refrigerator is another item that may gobble up lots of power, especially if the door seals are not doing their job. To test them, shut the door on a piece of paper and try to pull it out. If it slides out easily, you need to replace the seal. New refrigerators are much more energy efficient than the old ones.
Tree planting is another good way to save on utility bills. Trees on the south and east sides, if deciduous, will let in the warm winter sun and shade the house in the heat of summer. There are certain trees that should not be planted close to buildings due to their invasive roots.
If you use incandescent bulbs, consider changing to fluorescent. They are not nearly as hot when they are on, so lessen the strain on air-conditioning. They are cheaper to run, too. Simply turning off power at the wall every night can save your power usage. Televisions and computers have lights that run all night, even though you are not using them. Lights cost money.
To save on your water consumption - and expense - take shorter showers and use a water-saving showerhead. If you use a bath, then don't fill it quite so full. Watch that toilet bowl because sometimes they leak away quietly and no one notices. It pays to take compare your new water rates with the one before, then if there is a big difference you can have the meter checked. Sometimes they are faulty and no one thinks to check them.
Make sure that taps are not dripping and this includes outside taps that you may not notice. Recycle wastewater from that fish bowl onto your pot plants and wash the car on your lawn. Buy a plastic dish to use for hand washing, and then you can throw that water out onto the garden. Soapy water will help to deter aphids. All these small water savings will add up over time.
Where to Find Secondhand Items that Save Money and Do the Job
Once you start thinking in terms of secondhand or pre-loved goods you'll find that you'll save so much money it will astonish you. Used goods often have years of life left in them and you'll pay many times less than the item would have cost you new. After several years of saving money in this way, you'll quite likely have enough to pay cash for new things, or at least you'll be free of debt and able to pursue your dreams.
So where can you source these items? Start with community notice boards that often advertise goods for sale in your local area. The next step up is the classifieds section of the local newspaper. Here you'll find used cars and furniture as well as smaller items like kids swing sets, trampolines and bicycles. They also advertise garage sales where you'll be sure to find kitchen appliances, clothing, kids toys and numerous other items. You could even stock up on cutlery and crockery from a garage sale.
If you want a second hand vehicle, you may get one from the paper, or see it standing on the edge of the curb. You could also buy the Trading Post, or a national daily paper, where these things are advertised all the time.
Thrift shops and church bazaars often have small goods, appliances, curtains, linen and many other goodies. Some thrift shops are especially for used furniture and white goods, rather than clothing. They may go under a different name such as a discount store - you are sure to see one somewhere.
School fetes are another source of used goods, as most will have a white elephant or trash and treasure stall.
Car boot sales are another great place to find a bargain. These are similar to garage sales, but are usually held in a public park or school ground. People take stuff in their cars and sell from the boot, or a table in front of it. Watch for the ad in the paper or on the local radio station.
One thing you need to watch for when buying pre-loved goods are the state of repair the item is in. If you are a handyperson or good at crafty things, you may be able to either fix something if it breaks soon after purchase, or turn something shabby into a designer item with a lick of paint. But if you are not, then opt for paying a little more for the better quality used goods. Otherwise you may find yourself paying more out in repairs than the item is worth.
How to Develop Sales Resistance (and Save Money)
We have all had times where we bought something we didn't really need because the sales person was so persuasive. This is especially true of television advertising that we are bombarded with every day. It is true for children who see something advertised on TV and immediately want it because the ad is aimed at them. They see the TV models playing with it and it looks like good fun. Then they talk to their peers about it and all want to be the first one to own it - whatever 'it' may be.
Very often we buy 'the dream' rather than the product. What does this mean? If you take a good, critical look at most advertisements, you'll see they talk about a dream. A favorite ones seems to be the dream of a clean bathroom or house that gives the approval of an in-law. Or using a certain product will get you the girl, make you happier, thinner, stronger or more beautiful. You see how they promote the dream? Using the product is presented as the way of achieving this dream.
Advertisements seem to throw a mesmerizing net over people's minds so that they listen to the dream being expanded on and want it so badly that the product becomes a necessity to achieving it.
So to develop your resistance to this line of reasoning ask yourself what dream is being presented. It may be that you already have the approval of your in-laws - or the girl. Once you know you have it, then you won't need to rush out and buy the product - the dream. Or it may be that you don't care to have that dream because you have another one that pleases you more. Or it could be that the dream being paraded in front of you doesn't even apply to you any more.
If you recognize the dream as something you don't have and would like, ask yourself if there is another way of achieving it. Do you have to spend $60.00on perfume like your favorite film star wears to make your man happy? Maybe cooking him his favorite meal would do the trick just as well, and a great deal more cheaply. If he comes home tired after a hard day at work, he might appreciate a massage rather than you smelling like a film star.
Once you become aware of the sales ploys being used, it is easy to resist them.
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