Category Archives: Saving

We Are Donating Everything We Save This Year To Charity

Donate Everything You Save To CharityWe never feel like we give enough to charity, and there are great reasons why we should donate more, so this year, we’re going to take everything we save and give it to charity.

To clarify, we’re not going to take everything we earn and give it away, we’re just thinking of a creative way of finding more money to donate to charity.

How Will We Calculate

Any time we save money that we would have spent, we’ll tally it up and give it to charity. There’s a difference between spending less and actually saving money.

You’re simply spending less if you’re shopping for a TV and decide to go with a $500 version instead of the $800 version. You still spent money, you just spent less of it. That’s not real savings.

Contrast this with the example of bringing that $500 TV to the register and it ringing up for $400 because of a special sale that you weren’t aware of. You were fully prepared to pay the $500, so the $100 savings is very real.

Our First Donation Of The Year

The first instance happened this week when I was getting ready to file my taxes. I use TurboTax, which this year would have been $69.99 for the federal return + $36.99 for the state return. I was fully prepared to pay that because what other choice do I have? Luckily, someone at work had a code that made it totally free. So I made a $106.98 contribution to charity on Saturday night.

There are a few categories that I can think of right now where we’ll be saving money this year.

Using coupons when we shop online. Anything we were going to buy but a quick Google search results in a price drop is a perfect candidate.

AmEx Offers. Sometimes there are offers for “save $10 when spending $20” at a store. If it’s somewhere I shop anyway, that is real savings for me.

There will be others that pop up throughout the year, like random $15 off Google Express orders that we use.

Which Charities We’ll Donate To

There are charities we support every year, but I’d like this money to go toward new causes. With all of the recent changes to our country, we feel it’s important now more than ever to put our money where our mouth is and support social causes that we think are important to the fabric of our society.

The first payment of $106.98 went to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I can’t think of a charity more deserving of our money, whose mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

I am really excited to start this adventure, and it motivates me to be extra vigilant in finding real opportunities to save money.

What do you think of my plan? Can you think of other situations where I’ll find real savings?

How to Save Money On Restaurants

How to Save Money On RestaurantsFor harried singles and families, dining out has become a lifestyle necessity. Drive-through fast food and counter service eliminate food shopping and preparation time by providing hot and tasty, if sometimes unhealthy, ready-to-eat meals for people on the go.

But for those on a tight budget, eating out can be costly. And if you are dining in, the time factor may cut into other scheduled activities. Due to high-calorie menu choices and the cost of eating prepared foods, many people are trying to reduce their excursions to fast food and family dining restaurants. Here are a few tips that can help:

Cut Back

You may be surprised to find out the number of meals you eat at restaurants each week. Include coffee stops and purchased snacks. Set a goal to reduce your total prepared food or meal count by a certain amount. For example, if you dine out twice a week, try to cut back to once weekly. You will soon notice significant savings in your budget if you eat at home more often.

Stick To Your Entertainment Budget

When you calculate money spent on food when tied to other activities, like bowling and video rentals, food costs can skyrocket. Look for cheaper ways to have fun and bring a packed lunch that can be fun and nutritious instead of settling for fast food, which, let’s face it, is often greasy and gross. You can also attach restaurant spending to the grocery budget. Set a specific monthly amount for eating out, whether you consider it entertainment or an auxiliary expense to leisure activities, and don’t go over the limit. You’ll appreciate newfound control over food and money, two indispensable commodities.

Exchange Dine-In For Takeout

Sit-down dining often leads to the temptation of ordering beverages, appetizers, and dessert, along with tax and tip, running up a sizable tab. Instead, make a run to the supermarket for rotisserie chicken or pizza. Eat at home with homemade salad and ice tea as you savor the hefty cost saved by skipping the restaurant.

Eat Light Occasionally

Rather than eating out, make it a veggie and dip night with a fun dessert or pack a cooler with sandwiches and lemonade for a picnic. Get frozen custard afterward for a special treat. Soup, chili, and casseroles with tasty bread are more great light meals to enjoy.

Share Meals

Most entrees these days are large enough for two, so share a meal by dividing food in half or ordering two different sides while sharing the main item. You can also use this method with the help of coupons that you can find online at sites like Groupon or at some restaurants’ websites. Use a coupon and split the remaining cost with a friend or family member. You can also share a huge appetizer with bread or a side and skip the large entree to cut the cost.

Eating out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Try tips like these to continue dining out while reducing the cost of prepared food and perhaps some calories, as well.

5 Ways To Save On Utility Bills

5 Ways To Save On Utility BillsWe spend millions of dollars on utilities in America each year, and the rates seem to keep rising. Your heating bill could be seemingly under control until you have to turn your heat on in the winter, or crank up the AC in the summer, at which point you could be in for a surprise. Water bills fluctuate from state to state, and depending how much water you use, your bill can go from normal to a nightmare quickly. For someone in a one bedroom apartment, keeping the water on is very manageable while the water bill for a 5 person home can be a shocker each month.

Although utilities like lights and water are necessities that we’re all entitled to, all the bills can be overwhelming, especially if you are on a fixed income. With other monthly bills we accumulate such as cellphone plans, credit cards and student loan repayments, you may find yourself having to choose between which bills to pay while letting others fall to the wayside.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to lower utility bills without having to decrease your quality of life. Let’s take a look at five great tips that can help shave your utility bills down and give you more wiggle room to save.

Unplug and Unwind

The first step in saving money on your electric/gas bills is as simple as turning lights off when nobody’s in the room. Make it a point to perform a walk-thru of your home at the end of the night. Make sure all lights, TVs, and other electrical devices are turned off and unplugged before going to bed. The savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly.

Monitor Your Meter

Compare the meter reading on your utility bill to what actually appears on your meter. If the amount on your meter is lower than the one on your bill, you might be getting overcharged. However, remember that we’re human and mistakes do happen sometimes, so don’t automatically assume the worse if there is in fact a discrepancy.

Plug Those Leaks!

If you have any leaky faucets around the house, those tiny drops of water can turn into big bucks at the end of the month. Make it a point to check all of the sinks, tubs, and toilets in your home for leaks and get them fixed immediately. It could be as easy as simple tightening a screw, so pay attention to slow leaks and handle them accordingly.

Give Autopay Some Love

Some companies knock a couple of dollars off just for signing up with automatic bill pay programs where money is taken out of your bank account each month on a set day. If this is an option that’s reasonable for you, try it out and see. You might find that autopay not only saves you money, but also time as you won’t have to worry about stopping your day just to pay a bill. Also, talk to a customer service agent about other programs they offer that could save you money. You never know until you ask.

Bundle It Up

Many cable companies these days offer phone, cable, and internet bundle packages which cuts down the price of having to pay for them individually. However, do a little research before signing up for a bundle package. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for, what channels you’re receiving, how vast the phone coverage is, how fast the internet speed is, and if there’s any hidden fees. The key is to be completely aware of where your money is going. With a little time and research, you could reduce your bills by half!