Tag Archives: shopping

Tips for Budgeting Your Money to Achieve Financial Freedom

An eagle soars in freedom

Making wise decisions regarding your money will encourage personal financial growth and stability. A budget gives you financial freedom. It helps you identify where your money goes, which results in better financial decisions. Here’s how to get started and stick to it.

A Plan of Action

In short, a budget provides the tools for personal wealth. Using one helps you refrain from making poor decisions regarding your money. With a clear view of your debt and your income, you can achieve financial goals. You learn how to pay down your debt and keep more of your money for personal gain.

Eliminating Wasteful Spending

Most people will admit that they waste money. You may do so without noticing. Habits you develop, such as buying coffee on the way to the office or ordering meals out a few times a week, are normal occurrences. Unfortunately, they are sapping your extra cash, leaving you short financially for the things you need. You can afford to spend money on products that benefit your personal hygiene and health, like Konjac sponges and an electric toothbrush.

Reuse Instead Using Once Then Tossing Away

The good news is there are dozens of ways to spend less on the things you need. For example, you use traditional paper towels once and toss them away. Instead, consider replacing disposables with items you can reuse. Bamboo paper towels and cotton cloths are two examples that will save you money and help reduce waste in landfills and toxins in the air. Travel mugs and water filters eliminate the need for disposable cups and plastic water bottles. You get the idea.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time eliminates accrued interest and late fees. It also helps you increase your credit score, a three-digit number that can work in your favor or against you. A poor credit score can cost you dearly. It can prevent you from buying a home, a car, or sending children to private schools and colleges. It can also make it harder to get into an apartment and cause you to pay a security deposit on utilities. On the other hand, a good credit score opens the door to the lowest interest rates on large purchases, saving you a ton of money over the term of the loan. It also gives you access to the best insurance companies and can make you a desirable candidate when searching for a job. 

Smart Shopping

Before making any purchase, it’s always best financially to shop around to make sure you get the best price. Food shopping costs the average family over $200.00 weekly. Comparing the weekly fliers of the local supermarkets and using coupons for the things you need can shave $20.00 or more off the bill weekly. That’s $80.00 or more a month and nearly a thousand dollars a year in savings. Shopping on certain days and after a holiday can provide a savings of 40, 50, or even 60-percent off a product’s original sticker price.

Establish Savings

Unexpected expenses will happen. However, if you have money in a savings account for these moments, they become more like non-events. Unfortunately, without savings, any small hiccup that requires money can quickly become a financial disaster. 

Allocate Funds to Several Places

When you have a budget, you set aside funds for the things you want. You can allocate money for a down payment on a home or to purchase a new car. You can also set aside money to fund your child’s education and to enjoy financial comfort in your retirement. 

Budgeting your money doesn’t mean that you live life without. In fact, it provides the opposite, financial freedom. Use a household budget to achieve these goals and enjoy a better quality of life. 

Shop Online and Make a Difference

As more and more people shop online and have items delivered to their homes, more and more sites have popped up that offer consumers coupon codes to save on their purchases. Some of these sites have varying success; they might offer a coupon code that works 50% of the time or less.

However, one new online coupon code savings site, Save1, is different. Not only do they test every code to make sure they are working (yeah, no more unsuccessful codes!), but they also donate a portion of the money they make when you use the coupon to feed the hungry.

If you don’t have a lot of money to donate but would still like to help others, Save1 offers the perfect win-win scenario. You get to save on your purchase by using a coupon code you know will work, and you get to help someone around the world get a meal and fend off starvation.

You can’t put a limit on how much you should give to charity, and when giving is this effortless, it’s a no-brainer.

Who Started Save1?

Save1 was started and is currently run by Joy and Todd Smith as well as two of their oldest children and their spouses. All of the families involved have a long history of working with the poor and starving. This family seeks to help others, and with Save1, it’s easy for consumers to donate while saving money when they shop online. Since consumers aren’t giving money out of their pocket, this is a perfect way to donate for people who want to help but don’t have much money to do so.

How Does Save1 Work?

To use Save1, simply type in the name of the store you’re looking to buy from or the product you would like to purchase. You’ll get results, if they’re available. Then, click on the small box on the right that says, “Use this offer.” You’ll receive the discount, and a portion of the commission Save1 receives from the company offering the promotion will go to Save1’s feeding partners to help feed those in need.

Who Are Save1’s Feeding Partners?

Save1 has several feeding partners that they work with including Action Against Hunger, Feeding America, Feed My Starving Children, and Project Peanut Butter. Thus far, Save1 has provided 93,263 meals to those in need thanks to consumers using the coupons from Save1’s site.

If you would like to receive a discount on your online purchases (who doesn’t?) AND help those in need, Save1 may be the perfect site for you to use, especially since all of the discount codes are tested and will work, unlike some codes found at other sites.

What’s Your Shopping Strategy?

Your bratty nephew just threw a football at your two-year-old LCD TV, creating a big crack in the screen. The guy at the TV repair shop says it’ll cost about $200 to fix; you can buy a brand new TV of the same model for $300, or you could go shopping and upgrade to the newer, bigger, flashier model for $200 more. Or, you could simply make do without a TV for a little while, a move which – at least for now – would cost you absolutely nothing.

What’s your shopping strategy when something you own gets broken or becomes lost?

Why Your Shopping Strategy Matters

If you don’t know your shopping strategy ahead of time – like before you end up with a broken appliance or tech gadget – it could cost you. The above scenario actually happened to a good friend of mine last year, the week before the Super Bowl. He’d never considered his options until he saw that crack in the glass, and – given the big game – felt compelled to go big as well. He acted on adrenalin instead of thinking through his options, and impulsively upgraded to a bigger TV just a day later.

When his credit card statement arrived a few weeks later – well after the Super Bowl – he regretted his spur-of-the-moment decision.

The Decision to Upgrade

Of our four options, this is almost always going to be the most expensive. Because of that, you need to have a good reason to upgrade your broken appliance, phone, laptop, etc., such as:

  • You were already budgeting for an upgraded model anyway; you’re simply moving up your timeline
  • You can’t find a comparable model of your old, broken, or lost item, rendering a replacement impossible
  • It’s something you use on a regular basis and absolutely couldn’t go without for more than a few days
  • There’s some kind of short-term deal that makes upgrading a more cost-effective option. Even though my friend regretting his splurge, it would have cost him even more had he waited until after the Super Bowl (it’s a well-known fact in the electronics industry that TVs tend to go on sale right before the Super Bowl)

You’re eligible for a free upgrade, negating the cost entirely

Of course, there are plenty of reasons not to upgrade. If your budget is already tight, stretching it even farther to accommodate a new purchase you weren’t planning on can bust it entirely. Or if you’re feeling pressured to make the pricier purchase, take a step back and sleep on it for a few days to make sure it’s something you want and not a commission the sales person has to have.

The Decision to Replace

Again, before making the decision to replace a broken or lost item, you’ve got to weigh your options,
and ask yourself a few questions:

Is the product protected under a warranty, which could get you a free replacement?

Is the product still relevant? This is particularly crucial if you’re talking about electronics, which can become obsolete mere moments after you buy them. Skip replacing an item if it’s already several model years old or if newer technology has already bypassed it. What’s the price difference between the old model and the new model? It isn’t as always as big a gap as you may expect.

The biggest question in deciding whether or not to replace an item is whether or not the original one you purchased can be salvaged, leading us to…

The Decision to Repair

You may think this would be one of the cheapest options, but not so fast. Depending on the item in question – and the damage done – repairing it could cost almost as much as replacing it. For example, if the compressor on your refrigerator goes, you could be looking at up to $700 to repair it, about the same price you’d pay for some brand new (although not brand name) appliances. Or consider a car with a bum engine, which may run you thousands of dollars in repairs – a fruitless endeavor of your old car is only worth a few thousand in resale value. However, if you did have a warranty or extended coverage on the item in question, it may cover the cost of repairs.

If you do decide to go with the option to repair, be sure you go to a certified repair shop that specializes in that type of item. Often times, work done at these repair shops will come with a warranty on the work done, protecting the investment you made in repairing the item for up to a year or two.

The Decision to Do Without

This is usually the cheapest decision, and the most difficult to make as well. When we’ve already lived with something – whether it be a smartphone or a microwave or a car – going without it for even a short time can leave us feeling a little empty.

But there can be good reasons to do without, even if it goes against your consumer-driven, materialistic instinct:

  • You know the item is going to be on sale in the future. For example, say you accidentally lost your iPhone 4S back in September – before the launch of the new iPhone 5. In this case, it makes total sense to wait to replace that 4S until after the new one hits the market, sending the price for the older (but not obsolete) model down.
  • You never really used it to begin with. I once had a TV in my bedroom, which I rarely used. Had that TV gone on the fritz, it wouldn’t have made sense for me to repair, replace, or upgrade it. You think your life could be improved by living without it.
  • Maybe you live in a bike-friendly community, or a city with a great public transportation system; yet, you never take advantage of it because you’re always driving. Going without a car – even temporarily – may give you the impetus to try out new things and create better habits.

The Choice Is Yours

Ultimately, I can’t tell you what’s the best choice for you. It depends on your lifestyle, your financial situation, and your priorities. A decision like this will also vary depending on the item in question; I could probably go without a TV for much, much longer than I could go without my iPhone.

How do you decide whether to upgrade, replace, repair, or do without a product?