Archive for 'Frugal Living' Category


5 everyday ways parents can save money

Published 6/16/14

5 everyday ways parents can save money By Holly Johnson

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year, the average cost to raise a child born in 2013 to age 18 is expected to be $241,080. Government number-crunchers examined weighty expenses such as groceries, transportation, shelter, day care, health care and education to reach this frightening figure.

The cost of raising children is definitely something to think about before you have kids. Your kids will need necessities like food, shelter, health care and education, and some of these expenses may be hard to skimp on without losing something in return. However, it is extremely easy to save on other everyday needs your children will have. Here are a few ways to do it.

1. Stick to secondhand

Thanks to garage sales and the magic of the Internet, you can find all kinds of used kid's stuff for pennies on the dollar.

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Helping a financially troubled friend (without spending a cent)

Published 4/3/14

Helping a financially troubled friend (without spending a cent) By Georgie Miller

So you've done it: Your financial life is under control. You've strengthened your finances by completing most, if not all, of these key financial tasks:

  • Created a budget to ensure you're not spending more than you earn.
  • Stashed some funds in a high-interest savings account in case of an emergency.
  • Taken advantage of a low interest balance transfer to decrease the interest you are paying on consumer debt (or paid off your debt entirely).
  • Optimized your spending by choosing the best credit card reward programs for your habits.

You feel like shouting about your success from the rooftops! You are excited to share how time, patience and determination allowed you to conquer your debt demons. Unfortunately, friends or family may not appreciate your success story -- particularly if they're still struggling.

How can you help the people you love through their financial difficulties, especially when lending money to loved ones can be dangerous? Let's say you can't (or won't) drop a wad of cash to solve someone else's money woes. Try these simple strategies for offering support:

1. Give them time to recognize their mistakes

It can be tempting to lecture people if you believe their problems are of their own making -- especially if the solution seems obvious to you. Similarly, it can be tough to hold your tongue when a loved one is on the verge of making what you believe is a financial mistake.

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3 tips for hassle-free couponing

Published 3/4/14

3 tips for hassle-free couponing By Georgie Miller

I used to think that couponing was complicated. Buy the newspaper, sort the coupons, keep a binder, maintain a calendar of expiration dates. Extreme couponing may be fun for some people, but I found it frustrating.

Additionally, while there are amazing deals out there, they weren't necessarily for the items I wanted or needed. Fortunately, there are lots of couponing options these days. Here's my quick and easy process for saving money at the grocery store.

1. Pick a store

The first step is to pick a grocery store. Yes, different stores have different deals, so it's hard to get the best deal on everything in one place. However, it takes time (and gas money) to drive all over town, and for what? Ten cents off eggs? No thanks. I like to keep all my monthly spending on one credit card, and all my grocery shopping in the same store.

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3 things to remember when your credit improves

Published 2/10/14  (Modified 2/13/14)

3 things to remember when your credit improves By Justin Boyle

I traveled back to my hometown for an extended holiday this winter, and it isn't a full trip home without the whole crowd of my aunts and uncles standing in coats and hats around the brick firepit outside, drinking whiskey by the glass and jawing loudly about one thing or another deep into the darkness of the early morning.

One of my uncles has long been the butt of jokes among his siblings for some hilariously bad mistakes he'd made with money in his 20s. This year, though, he put the fun on ice -- he'd been smarter than ever with his money over the last several years and things had really turned around.

Hang on, he said amid chuckles of disbelief, look at this. He then reached into an inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a stack of envelopes.

"Look," he said, "they're trying to give me platinum cards!"

If you've been doing all the right things with your own credit cards -- keeping tabs on your credit score, paying your bills on time, staying well below your limit, and so on -- then sooner or later you'll also find yourself with better credit than you've ever had. Here are some tips to help you hang on to it once you get there.

1. Resist new credit opportunities

As you might expect, the best credit card reward programs and low interest credit cards are often reserved for customers with credit ratings that prove them to be an acceptable lending risk. So once your credit gets into shape, you're likely to start getting some tantalizing offers.

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You know you need a new car when ...

Published 1/30/14  (Modified 1/31/14)

You know you need a new car when ... By Peter Andrew

Earlier this month I celebrated (admittedly, it was a low-key affair) my car's 19th birthday. When I bought it, nine years ago, a gear-head friend sniffily observed, "Oh, it's a BMW 520i. Bit basic and boring, but as long as you keep it topped up with oil and water, it'll go on forever."

And so it's proved. It gets routine servicing, and every few years I have to spend a couple of hundred dollars on replacing some part or other, but overall everything on it still works perfectly, and it delivers very cheap motoring. And it's now worth so little, I no longer suffer noticeable depreciation, nor have to bother with high insurance costs.

As you may have guessed by now, I'm fine with older cars. OK, if I won a huge lottery jackpot, I'd buy a whole fleet of brand new ones, but having one of the oldest vehicles in town doesn't bother me at all. However, there are plenty of circumstances when you (and even I) should know it's time to make a change. Here are five.

1. An embarrassing episode

If your teenage kids suddenly decide they want you to drop them off a couple of blocks from school, because they'd "enjoy the walk" (even though it's raining), you can be pretty sure you're seeing your car through rose-tinted spectacles. Maybe it's just not destined to become the classic you have in your mind's eye. Maybe it would look positively better as a cube of mangled metal after a scrapyard remodeling.

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Give like Santa, spend like Scrooge: 4 tips

Published 11/19/13

Give like Santa, spend like Scrooge: 4 tips By Holly Johnson

Whether we like it or not, the holidays are back. Did you miss them?

It really seems like last year's shebang just ended, but yards are already filled again with Christmas light displays and blow-up Santas. And if you're loved one's gift expectations are already through the roof, you're surely not alone.

But, regardless of those expectations, not everyone is able to shower their friends and family members with gifts this time of year. In fact, many are struggling just to pay their bills, let alone buy gifts. And for every family who is struggling, there's another who is tight on cash simply because they're saving for a new home, college tuition or other important expense.

Whether your funds are tight or you're saving for a goal, you may be wondering how to get through the holiday season without being renamed Ebenezer. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save on gifts without calling attention to yourself or your situation.

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