Category Archives: Money

How to Curb Impulse Spending

It’s not your fault that you’re an impulse spender. The economy encourages you to be. What do you think all that candy and those magazines are doing at the checkout stand? It’s not convenience for you. It’s a tactic created in hopes that you’ll make a last second purchase on your way out. And sometimes you do. Here are some tips for cutting down on impulse spending, whether it’s in-store or online shopping that you tend to slip up.

Use Cash

We can’t use cash for everything since we make a lot of purchases online. But if you’re making an in-person shopping trip, like going to the grocery store, using cash can be a great way to stay on budget. When we’re using cash we can set an actual limit that might not be found on a credit card. At the same time, we tend to have more of an awareness of how much we’re spending simply because we see the cash leaving our hands.

Make a List

You might already be making shopping lists to help you keep track and remember what you need to buy. Make it a rule that you have to stick with the list. Occasionally you’ll remember something that you really need and in that case, it makes sense to throw it into the cart. But know the difference between needs and wants so that you can avoid coming home with tons of stuff you don’t actually need.

Sleep on It

Impulse spending happens in the moment. But most items that we actually need will still be available tomorrow or next week if we don’t buy them today. When you see something that you really want make a deal with yourself to sleep on it. Many times you’ll realize that the initial excitement wears off a bit or you remember that you already have a similar pair of jeans in your closet. If you can’t stop thinking about something after a few days then at that point consider if it’s worth treating yourself.

Compare Costs With Your Real Wage

You probably know how much money you make in an hour. Don’t forget that number when it comes time to shop. Some smoothies cost nearly minimum wage, and someone living off that salary probably wouldn’t be able to justify working for an hour to buy one. But when something is a need or a truly exciting want, then you’ll be happy to trade your time in work to buy what you want.

Remember Your Goals

If you have long-term saving goals, refer to those when you get the urge to shop. Often our impulse to buy is simply a pleasure seeking response. Remind yourself that you’re saving up for a vacation or a special purchase that will feel way more exciting that giving into this sale today will. It can take some time to retrain yourself if you’ve been an impulse shopper all your life. But it’s definitely possible with some awareness and dedication to change.

5 Ways to Save Money when Traveling

It’s no secret that travelling is expensive. According to American Express, the average cost of a vacation is over $1,100 per person. For many, this amount just isn’t attainable, so they simply don’t ever take trips out of fear for what it will cost.

It’s possible to take a vacation without spending a fortune, though. Driving is almost always cheaper than flying, especially for multiple people. Road trip expenses can add up quickly though, so it’s important to plan ahead to avoid spending more than expected.

Ready to make some memories on the road, but want to stick to a budget while doing so? Here’s 5 tips to save money on your next road trip.

Pack snacks

Head to the grocery store a day or two before your road trip and stock up on your family’s favorite snacks. Think about things that will be easy to keep fresh while you travel, and plan to eat any perishable snacks (fruit, veggies, hummus, sandwiches) on the first day (or have a good cooler in the car).

Don’t forget drinks – bottles of water, cans of soda, juice boxes, and other drinks are great to bring in a cooler on your trip. If your overnight accommodations have a fridge, chill your drinks as often as you can to keep them cold. If your hotel offers free ice, take advantage of the opportunity to re-chill your cooler for free.

Even if you splurge (within reason) on some of your family’s favorite special treats at the grocery store, you’ll still save money. You can often buy a package of food for close to the same price as an individual serving at a convenience store. It’s tempting to run in for a snack when you’re stopping for gas or a restroom break, but having plenty of snacks in the car will save you money.

Don’t overpay for sleep

It’s fun to stay in hotels when you travel, but it’s also super expensive. With the average cost of a hotel room in the United States during peak summer travel months at around $130, the cost of a bed really adds up and can blow your budget fast. If you choose to stay at a hotel, plan ahead and book your room before leaving for the best rates. Some chains offer deals for staying at their hotels multiple nights in a row, which is definitely something to look into as well.

If you have friends or relatives who live on or near your path, spend a night with them instead of shelling out for a hotel. This might also include a home cooked meal, which can be a bigger treat than expected after several days on the road.

Another option is to rent with AirBNB or VRBO (always ask for a discount!). It’s often possible to find cheaper accommodations than a hotel, and you can book a place with a kitchen and save money by cooking your own meals.

Dine cheaper

Small, locally owned restaurants tend to be cheaper than chains. Ask for recommendations at your hotel, the gas station, or look online for suggestions of the best local restaurants to check out at meal time. You might save money while also supporting small business owners, and who knows when you will find a hidden gem. Eating a large meal at lunch instead of dinner can also save money as many restaurants offer reduced prices on their lunch menu.

If you stay in a hotel, book one with free breakfast. Even if you don’t normally eat breakfast, taking advantage of a free meal in the morning can reduce food costs if you can skip lunch and snack through the afternoon. Don’t be afraid to grab an extra piece of fruit as you leave breakfast to take in the car for later, and be sure to fill up your insulated thermos with coffee to stay caffeinated without a $5+ latte.

Car Maintenance

Take your car in to have it looked over before leaving on a long trip. If there’s any concerns, it will save you a significant amount of money and stress to be able to take care of the issue before hitting the road.

GasBuddy.com is a great way to look for the cheapest gas prices near you. While a few cents per gallon savings may not seem like much, it adds up quickly!

Bring cash

Withdraw cash to have on hand before leaving town. If you find yourself somewhere that doesn’t accept plastic, or end up needing to pay a toll road, withdrawing cash at your financial institution before leaving town can save you from ATM fees on the road. And, while you’re at the bank, be sure to tell them you’re headed out of town to prevent out of state charges from being flagged as fraudulent.

It’s also a good idea to keep emergency cash hidden safely in your car should your wallet get stolen or your credit card get shut down for fraud. It’s always a good idea to travel with more than one payment method, and cash as a backup is best.

Why We Switched From Cable To YouTubeTV – And Saved $450 Per Year!

Like many people, we’ve seen our cable bill creep up over the past few years. Between cable and internet, we were paying $85 just a few years ago, and all of the sudden it was over $100 per month! Every year I call, and typically that results in a long conversation about how we can get rid of our DVR box to save $10 per month, but we like being able to watch shows later (with kids, this seems like a must), so wasn’t a good option for us.

So we started looking at our options for non-cable tv. We do plenty of Netflix watching, but I kept cable because I watch sports, and Bravo was a must for Lauren.

It’s a good practice to regularly reevaluate your budget and spending to see if there’s places you are spending more than you should. In doing this, many people quickly realize they are spending a lot – maybe even too much – on their cable TV bill.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the average cable bill was just over $100 in 2017. This is a huge jump from what it was 10 years prior in 2007 – an increase of over 50%. A hundred bucks is a pretty serious chunk of change to pay monthly for what essentially boils down to entertainment, and comes out to $1,200 a year for catching your favorite TV shows.

As cable bills keep rising, consumers are on the lookout for more affordable options and ditching their cable contracts for good. As demand for alternative services has risen, so have the number of options available. Many of these options do require a Smart TV or a receiver like an Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV. Making a small investment in one of these devices can save you quite a bit of money on cable long term, so it’s definitely worth considering.

Thinking about cutting the cord and breaking up with your cable TV provider? Here are five alternative options to consider.

Netflix

Netflix is probably the most popular option for cord-cutters. With literally thousands of options, Netflix users pay a relatively small fee for access to TV shows and movies. Plans currently start as low as $7.99 per month, and they don’t show ads (!!!).

One downfall to Netflix is that you often have to wait awhile before your favorite show is available. This can be a good thing because you’re able to break out the popcorn and wine and binge watch the entire season in one weekend when it’s up, but if you’re worried about spoilers or are just impatient to find out what happens to your favorite character, waiting might not be worth it to you.

The other great thing about Netflix is that they have a lot of Netflix original shows that you can’t get anywhere else.

Hulu

For those of us who are too impatient to wait for our beloved shows to make it to Netflix, Hulu can be a great option. Hulu offers shows from several networks as soon as the day after they air on network television. There are also a variety of throwback shows and movies available for your viewing pleasure.

Hulu offers monthly plans for $7.99 as well, but they do often show commercials during their shows. If you can stay away from spoilers for 24 hours, this can be a better way to see your favorite shows sooner after they air.

Amazon Prime Video

Are you already paying for that sweet, sweet free 2-day Amazon delivery? Be sure to take advantage of the wide variety of TV shows and movies available to Amazon Prime members – for free via Amazon Prime Video!

There are additional shows and movies available to rent or purchase for a fee, but Amazon does offer quite a few free options. This benefit of Prime membership can easily be forgotten, but is worth remembering!

Sling TV

Want an option to watch live TV? Sling TV works similarly to cable as it allows you to stream live TV over the internet and includes some channels that are otherwise more difficult to watch without cable.

If you’re worried about getting the sports fans in your house on board with cutting the cord, Sling TV is a great option as you’re able to choose channels that stream games live (like ESPN). Plans start at just $25/month, and you can add DVR for $5/month. If you want to add more users (up to 3 streams at a time), you’re looking at $45/month including DVR.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is fairly new, but for $40/month, you get unlimited DVR, and a whole host of channels. Far more than what I was getting with cable. I got in when it was just $35/month, and allows up to 3 simultaneous streams, and 6 users. We’ve been splitting with family, so effectively paying just $11.66 per month! Add in the $45/month for Internet and we’re still paying less than $60, savings of over $480 over the course of the year!

Most of these services have free trials, so if you’re thinking of getting rid of cable, I encourage you to test them out for a week to see if they might be for you before taking the plunge!