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Summer Saving Tips: How to Holiday on a Shoestring

How to Holiday on a Shoestring

If you want to get away this summer, but don’t fancy spending a fortune – fear not! There are plenty of ways to vacation (or holiday if you want to sound fancy) on a shoestring, so take a look at these money-saving tips.

Pay with a low interest credit card

These days, many people pay for flights and accommodation electronically – be it online or over the phone. If you do this, however, remember to use a low rate credit card to make the transaction as this will keep your borrowing costs down. You’ll accrue less interest if you fail to pay back the total sum on time and should be able to clear your outgoings quicker.

Shop around for the best deal

With the economy in a fragile situation, a significant number of holiday companies have slashed their prices in a bid for business. There are some pretty great deals out there at the moment, so always shop around for the best offers. Compare hotel prices online, look for low budget packages and see if you can visit your dream destination on the cheap. Of course, if it seems too good to be true it might just be, so read all the terms and conditions before booking.

Fly off peak

If you’re willing to fly off peak, you might be able to get a reduced airfare. Prices tend to drop during unsociable hours, so be as flexible as you can with your travel times. Look for early morning or late night flights if possible and don’t be afraid to book outgoing and return flights with different providers. What’s more, you’re likely to get a better deal during winter, so if you can delay your summer break by a month or two you could make a significant saving.

Think about your commute

Getting to an airport or port is one thing, but paying for the commute is another. Public transport is not always cheap, so think about booking a rail ticket in advance or searching around for the most affordable taxi company. If you have friends or relatives living nearby, ask if they can help or convince your siblings to drive if they have a license. Getting a lift could save you a lot of money and will help you avoid high airport parking fees.

If you’ve not been away for a while, it can be tempting to take out a loan or apply for a credit card in order to fund your trip, but there’s no need to rack up additional debt if you don’t have to.

Tax Free Savings, How to Get the Best Deal

Which side of the pond saves better, the British or the Americans?  I thought about it and I’m not sure I know who is better saving money!  Maybe some of my UK friends and readers could help fill me in but here’s what I’ve found so far.

Americans have IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts), and the British equivalent of that is a PPP, (Personal Pension Plan). British also have an Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a tax-efficient way to save or invest.  I’m sure a cash isa in the UK comes in handy.  I think those are all great ways to save for the future!

All British pay into the National Insurance Fund which is a weekly paid as a pension at age 60 so those, too, are very similar and are a way to save for the future.  Americans pay into and eventually collect {or hope to collect in some cases} Social Security.

Many Americans have both checking and savings accounts and utilize both for saving money and a British Current Account is what many use to do this in the UK.

I know that many Americans take advantage of 401-K plans offered by our employers and some times employers will even offer a matching donation.  For instance, if the employee gives up to 5% to their 401-K plan, then their employee will match whatever percent they contributed.  This is definitely something to take advantage of!

A few other money trends that I’ve observed here in America include Extreme Couponing, parents have started saving earlier and earlier to pay for their children’s college, and elderly couples are investing in long term care so that the spouse who lives the longest will be taken care of.  American readers feel free to chime in as well and let me know if I missed anything.

Even though our currency looks different it seems that people on both sides of the pond use many of the same methods to save and spend money. You have to choose the best IRA to suit your needs (or the best isas for my UK readers).  I don’t think it matters where you live, saving money is a smart idea to protect you in the futures.  As an old idiom says, “Save for a rainy day!”  I think that with a bit of discipline and common sense everyone can save money.  What do you think?

Saving for a Better Future with #MassMutual

Ever since I was a little kid I knew how to work hard and save for what I wanted.  I can explicitly remember cleaning family members houses  to earn money for a new Barbie doll.  In elementary school they encouraged us to open a savings account and we could add our money to it each week by bringing it to our teacher.  It was fun to see that money add up over time and the more it grew the more I wanted to contribute to it.  It was a great feeling of accomplishment for a small child.

When I was in high school I got my first job and I made $6.50 an hour.  It was a great job just starting out and there was opportunity to earn more through incentives.  I worked hard and earned over $12 an hour.  I gave my tithes out of each paycheck and the rest of that money went into a savings account.  I didn’t spend even a penny on anything for myself.  After I graduated I bought a laptop with the money I had saved and the rest of that money went toward my tuition.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m married and a mom to a beautiful little girl.  My husband has a good job that has allowed me to stay at home.  We’re so grateful for his job!  For several years now I’ve been blogging and that has helped bring in an extra income while staying at home and caring for my family.  It’s a win-win!  It’s something I love doing and it feels great to be able to contribute to the family’s finances a bit.

A few years after we were married we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University together and we absolutely loved it.  It has transformed the way we think about money and it has enabled us to make wise financial decisions together.  We not only want to have our needs provided for in the here and now but we also want to plan for our future.

A new research study, MassMutual’s State of the American Mom, found that many moms have strong hopes and convictions about providing financially for their families, but given the multiple demands of the life of a mom, many also find it hard to achieve.  I think we can all relate to that, right?  College savings, saving for retirement, managing day-to-day expenses and educating yourself and children all rank as top priorities, yet some moms shared that they may feel overwhelmed about ways to start thinking about all of them.

Mom Research Study Infographic

My husband and I are doing our best to plan for our future.  We’ve agreed to cut back on certain budget areas like clothing, vacations, and entertainment until we get to the financial state we want to be.  We have been putting money into retirement regularly now for a good number of years.  We have life insurance policies set up for each of us just in case.  We don’t have a college savings plan for our kid(s) yet but we’re waiting a while to start that until we get to where we want to be financially.

As busy parents it’s easy to focus on the immediate and put off thinking about the future until it’s too late.  It’s far better to be prepared than to be hurting later.  MassMutual has created a handy new quiz to help moms start thinking about their financial future and gives them tips on how they can take small steps to plan for their financial futures.

Take the Quiz


I took the quiz and it labeled me as a “successful planner,” and I think that’s a fair assessment.  I feel fairly optimistic about our financial situation but it’s always a good idea to revisit our plans every year.

Where are you at financially?  What steps are you taking to ensure a financially secure future?

If you are seeking guidance concerning your financial state, MassMutual has a family finances page with some helpful resources for financial planning, ideas for teaching your kids about money, and even how to find a financial professional in your area.  You can also like MassMutual on Facebook and follow MassMutual on Twitter.

 

 

I wrote this post as participation in in a blog tour for Mom Central on behalf of MassMutual and received compensation in the form of an Amazon gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.

3 Money Wasting Wardrobe Items I Refuse to Buy!

3 Money Wasting Wardrobe Items I Refuse to Buy!

 

Let’s be honest. Nobody likes to throw their money out the window during the best of times.  With the uncertain economy that we have now it’s even more important to pinch every penny and stretch every dollar.  I’m going to share with you three clothing items that I think waste  your hard earned money.

I’m not a fashion expert, however, I am someone that likes to look nice when I’m out of the house interacting with others.  Sweatpants and hoodies won’t always do! {Check out our How to Wear a Hoodie article}

Here are three of my biggest historical money wasters:

Cheap shoes.

Any of these I’ve ever purchased have lost their comfort way faster than I found acceptable.  I use to think that rotating through them to transfer my discomfort was a smart idea.  Yes, I never got blisters that way but my feet were constantly uncomfortable.  It might have been a sore heel one day and then a cramped toe the next.  It wasn’t worth it!  When I met my husband I found someone who spends as much money as me on his wardrobe but he has a significantly smaller selection.  While I’m not ready to minimize as much as he has, I have learned from him.  I’ve found that investing in two good pair of comfortable shoes a year, shoes that will last, is worth more to me than 30 pair that I can’t wear two consecutive days.

White bras.

Ugggh, how I hate these!  They easily stain under shirts of a different color, they aren’t discreet under a white shirt, and well, I just don’t think they are very exciting.  I like fun colors but if I’m wearing something light in color or a white shirt, I’ll go with a flesh tone bra that can’t be detected.  Avoiding white bras saves me from being immodest, spending my Saturdays trying to get unwanted dye out of them, and I get to add a little bit of color to my day.

Way too cheap T-shirts.

I’ve fallen into this trap multiple times!  Never, ever, ever, ever buy a shirt that is under $5 at a non-sale price.  I’ve bought shirts for $1 that have lasted me 10 years (and counting!) but they were originally $30.  Every shirt I’ve bought for $5 and under has made it’s way to the trash can within a few weeks.  They don’t even hold up well enough to donate!  Don’t get me wrong, thirty dollar T-shirts aren’t in my budget either but that’s why I know where the clearance racks are at my favorite stores and what day of the week they mark new items down.  The fading, stretching, pilling, and loosening of seams isn’t worth it to me to buy the cheap shirts.

There you have it.  Those are my top three money wasting wardrobe purchases that I refuse to buy any longer.  Do you have any other items you would like to add to the list?  I would love for you to share!  We’re all trying to save money during these tough economic times and I would love to hear what ideas you have for shopping and saving!

Ways to Save This Fall – 2012

Ways to Save This Fall

 

Each season comes with it’s own beauty and splendor…and special opportunities for savings.  Fall is not only one of the most beautiful times of year but it’s also one of the best times of year to save money!  You can save money on your heating bill because there are usually a few weeks there in between air conditioning and heating season.  Plus, who could forget the awesome Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and pre-Christmas deals awaiting us.  I can’t wait.

 

Don’t forget to consult our Best Time to Buy Everything list.  Here are the items it recommends buying during the month of November:

  • Baby products
  • Baby furniture
  • Baking supplies
  • Bikes
  • Camcorders
  • Candy
  • Carpeting and other flooring
  • Disposable baking pans
  • Gas grills
  • GPS device
  • Halloween costumes
  • Tools
  • Toys
  • TVs

 

Here are some other great ways to save this Fall:  

 

If you have any other tips to saving this Fall I would love for you to share them!  Happy Fall Ya’ll!
“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Scott. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and am able to earn additional rewards throughout the campaign.”

The 5 “S”s to Savings

S

 

If you have been thinking about starting you & your family on a shopping budget, then couponing is definitely something you should look into doing. Couponing is a great way to save a few bucks at the grocery store. Just remember, you don’t need to start out buying 30 bottles of mustard, start small, and evaluate your family’s needs. If you’re a beginner couponer, here are some tips you might find helpful:

 

Search – Where to get my coupons?

Well, this would be the best (and obvious) place to start because without coupons you simply cannot save money on groceries. You should definitely also take advantage of printing coupons off the internet. You are allowed 2 prints per coupon per computer. There are also a few other ways you can get your coupons besides just buying newspapers. Check out Embracing Beauty’s post Where to Find Coupons for more creative ideas.

 

Sample – Try new things

The one thing I have learned from years of couponing is that you have to be open to trying new brands and products. First off, you will save more money and second, you will open your mind (and tummy) to products you never knew existed. For example, my household were Scott’s snobs (yes I’m talking about TP), until one week my store ran a sale on Marcal (it was during dollar days) so essentially, the Marcal TP was FREE, so I decided to try some, we used it and liked it, we saved a ton of money and tried something new! Now if someone asks if I’m brand loyal, I always say “Yes, to whichever brand is on sale that week!”

 

Schedule Meals – Plan ahead

Planning your weekly menu, based on the coupons you have, is another great way to maximize your savings. For Example: I purchased Chicken Thighs for $0.69 lb for a 4 lb package (when it was on sale) at that price, I bought 4 packages. Then I cut up some Onions ($1.49 Bag) Carrots ($0.75 Bag) I added some spices and put it in the crock pot. I made enough that I froze the remaining leftover for another day in the week. Total spent making that meal, $5.00!!!

 

Stockpiling

When we are able to purchase products for free or at a very low price we purchase multiple items of it. Sales of products go in cycles. If you’ve got a coupon for basic non-perishable items such as toothpaste, Toilet paper and paper towels, take advantage of them even if you aren’t running low on supplies yet. There’s nothing wrong with stocking up on some items if you know you’ll eventually use them.

 

Savings

Remember that the ultimate goal behind couponing is to save money! Just because there is a coupon, don’t feel obligated to use it. You maximize your savings by pairing up your coupons with your store’s sale cycle. Always remember, if you do overbuy (which I think all of us do when we first start out) it’s OK, you can donate what you will not use before expiration to a charity.

 

This is a guest post from B and V Savings.  They strive to bring you the very best (and most reliable) coupons, samples and freebies around. Together they have saved their families over $6500.00+ in groceries. Their goal is to spread their knowledge and provide tools to help you save!

Upromise: Start Saving for College Today!

College fund savings

Sign up with Upromise and start saving for college today!

 

With the cost of everything on the rise, many parents are at a loss these days as to how they can realistically save for their children’s college.  Since you are visiting this website, you are probably already aware of the savings extreme couponing can bring. Now that you have that area under control, maybe it is time for you to take a look at saving for college.

 

Upromise is a tried and true program that helps you save for college as you buy the purchases you normally buy, like  gas, going out to eat and online purchases.  You earn a percentage of each qualified purchase and that total goes into your Upromise account.   I’ve used Upromise since 2009 and I’ve saved hundreds!  Here are simple instructions to help you start maximizing your savings with Upromise today!

 

1. This program is for everyone:

  • Don’t have kids yet? No problem. If you are planning on kids in the future you can start saving now. It doesn’t cost a thing and the little savings you make today will add up for tomorrow.
  • Don’t have a kid or plan on having kids?  No problem.  You can use Upromise too!
  • Don’t have kids but still have your own student loan with Sallie Mae hanging around? This program is for you. Upromise savings can be applied to your current Sallie Mae student loan balance!
  • Don’t have kids but want to help your family members? Have grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, or nephews? Upromise allows you to use the savings you acquire toward someone else’s college costs.  The recipient would be appreciative and you can have access to money-saving coupon codes.

2. How it works:

  • Sign up for Upromise online.
  • Once you have an account set up, link your current savings cards (CVS, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, etc.) to your account by entering the number on the back of the card.  Readers tip (Thank you Amy!): If you shop at Publix, simply go the customer service counter to request your Upromise savings card. Link this number to your Upromise account as you would your other store cards and have your checkout person swipe it when you shop at Publix. Simple!
  • Go to Upromise’s home page and click the coupons & deals tab.  From there you can add coupons directly to your store savings cards. These coupons do not take the value off of the items you buy but for each item you buy, the value of the coupon goes directly into your Upromise account! Coupons change every month so come back regularly to add new coupons.
  • Shop online with Upromise!  When you’re shopping online, go and click through Upromise, you’ll earn money that is deposited into your Upromise account.  If you are familiar with ShopAtHome.com or Ebates, Upromise works the same way. There is even a downloadable TurboSaver toolbar app that adds savings for online purchases without having to click through Upromise. The cash back percentage is different for each store but can go as high as 25%!
  • Take advantage of the preferred diner program. It is free and is easy to sign up for. This program lets you save up to 8% of your total dining bill which includes taxes and tip! These savings are added to your Upromise account.
  • They also have a MasterCard that…blah blah blah, you know I hate credit cards so we’ll just skip over this part!

3. How to get your money:

  • You can invest your savings into a high-yield savings account with Sallie Mae.  This lets the free money you are already earning become even more free money! Plus Upromise will match 10% of your annual savings in your high-yield savings account! Woohoo!  More free money for college!
  • You can choose to invest in a tax-deferred 529 plan (only available in certain states).
  • You can put the money towards paying down your current student loan.
  • You can invest your money into a high-yield savings account.
  • You can also request a check and do whatever you want with it!  This is a new edition to the program and I think it will be a popular option for cash-strapped families.

Don’t forget that family members or friends can sign up and link to your account so that their savings are going to fund your child’s college.  It’s simple to add their store savings cards and they’ll be earning for you without lifting a finger.  Even though you know grandma would do anything to help send her little darling to college!

 

The Upromise website has a wealth of free college savings information that you can read up.  Check it out, sign up for Upromise today, and see how easy it is to save!