Some people claim that using certain brand names helps them save money. Others swear that brand name items are the financial devil. I like to keep my opinion somewhere in the middle. Some brand names are so high quality they are worth their cost. Others would be foolish to buy. Here are a few ways we discern between the two.
Some products come with loyalty points. The two Point products I collect are from Coke and from Huggies. I have redeemed Coke points for magazines and a few gift cards to either restaurants or stores. Huggies points can be used to get free toys or childre’sn books. When choosing to go with a certain brand it’s best to see what perks can go along with staying true to your brand. If there are none, perhaps it’s time to see if another brand does.
We use some brands because other brands aren’t just less expensive. They are cheap. They fall apart, don’t taste right, or were made of the least expensive materials. Most store brands are just as good (and sometimes better) than the big name brands. Every now and the,n however, we come across a name brand that is worth every extra penny. Some of these items have been kitty litter, diapers, and soy milk. It’s great to try new items, just in case it is better than the name brand item that you purchase, but be sure not to spend more trying new things that don’t work rather than keeping to a tried and true name brand.
Coupons and Smaller Amounts
Some items that we buy wouldn’t be quite as expensive if we used the tools available to us. For example, if you can find a coupon for a product you usually use it would save you money to use it. Another trick is to buy brand name items in smaller amounts. How little can you get away with? This works particularly well with treat items like chips or chocolate. Not only will you save money and still get your snack, you will also most likely keep it to a more healthy serving size.
The holiday season can be a time of stress for many households, rather than a time of joy. It’s not because our minds are in the wrong place. It’s because we have the desire to give more than we actually have. It can be very discouraging to discover that we don’t have the means to give our loved ones what we want to. This is why we need to think about the holidays now instead of November or December.
What traditions are the most important to your family? Do you want to have stockings? Is there a pajama tradition for your family? What do you plan to have for a holiday dinner? Will there be traveling during that time? It’s best to plan for these expenses long before it’s time to pay for them. At least then you know what your financial goal is for the end of the year.
Now that you have a number in mind for the holiday season and it’s time to make a savings plan to achieve your goal. Some people have more difficulty making money during the winter season. If you work as a gardener, pool cleaner, or even a diesel mechanic, you know what I’m talking about. Summer is a time of abundance, but if you don’t save up for the winter you have a few hard months ahead of you. It doesn’t have to be a large amount that is saved every month, just so long as you are saving up.
Buy It Now
Not all items that need to be brought are difficult to get outside the holiday season. Even gifts aren’t time sensitive. It is especially easy to shop for younger children throughout the year. I just use the age appropriate markings on the packaging for how old my children will be during the holiday season and buy these items months earlier than Christmas. Then I store them in a closet and wrap them when December comes around. I don’t have to worry about getting them all at once and making a huge dent in our budget. Best of all, I can snag them on sale or clearance.
One of the more time consuming money savers during the holidays are crafted gifts. Blankets, toys, and clothing all take time to make. So do scrapbooks and picture albums. The holidays are a busy time, often too busy to start and finish any project. It’s best to start early in the year when there is time to actually produce a quality gift, especially if you’re planning to make several gifts.
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We all share our money from time to time. Sometimes we share more than we should. Sometimes we share with those that would take advantage of us. It can be difficult to deny help to those we care about, but it can also be difficult when we lend more than we can really afford to write off. How do we balance our needs and the needs of our friends? Here are a few tips.
Ask For Their Budget
If you are going to be helping a friend or family member financially it can be awkward asking them about their budget. Instead ask what they need the money for. Your friends may view what a need is differently than you and your family. It’s okay to find out if you are keeping their Netflix subscription active when dipping into the grocery money to help them. If you find that their need isn’t really a need, you don’t need to justify not lending them money. Simply say that you wish you could help but that your budget is tight as well.
Buy It Personally
When you have a friend or family member that may not spend your money as they have said they would, but have a valid reason to ask, consider making the payment or purchase personally. For example, if a sibling claims to need diaper money, but you know that diaper money has gone to something else in the past, don’t give them money. Buy them diapers. Should they have a bill that needs to be paid, pay it online for them personally, rather than putting money into their account.
Military members are familiar with this acronym. In this case we’ll say it means cover your assets. Do not leave your account information on a friends computer. Do not give them access to your credit card information. While all of us would like to believe a family member or friend is trustworthy, it is better to be safe with your assets than proven wrong.
When financial help is not a gift set a specific day that you expect the money to be paid back. Do not loan more money to the same friend unless previous loans have been paid back. Remember, you have a budget that you need to live with as well. It’s not mean to say no, it’s caring for your needs and your family’s needs first.
Money comes and goes, but it feels like debt is always with us. It’s something that I know most people would like to change. It can be confusing though, when trying to juggle bills while paying off bills. What should we pay off first? Here is how we dealt with debt as a family.
Perhaps it’s a twenty dollar tool bill at work or an arrears balance in our health care. Paying off little items often goes a long way financially. We may only have to pay twenty dollars per paycheck, but depending on how frequent the paycheck comes out, it can save forty to eighty dollars monthly. It’s also good to pay off personal debts, such as money that a friend loaned us as soon as possible. It doesn’t just keep our debt low, it acknowledges our friend’s financial help as well as their potential financial issues.
Nothing feels more horrible than a company representative calling about an overdue bill. It’s important, however, not to avoid these calls. Let the person on the other end know what your financial situation is. They may be able to grant you a grace period. Then pay the bill off as soon as possible. It’s not just financially healthy. It keeps the lights on and water running.
There are many deals out there for credit cards that include a limited amount of time without interest, but then the interest goes up quite a bit. Interest can be a financial killer. We always ended up owing at least 10-20% more than we borrowed. It may not sound like much, but it can add up when the money is borrowed to begin with. The first bills we tried to pay off were those that had a high interest rate. For us these were our credit cards. High interest items can also include mortgage and vehicle payments. It might be tight for a few months, but it’s well worth getting these items out of the way.
Being thrifty doesn’t mean dressing frumpy. When you can save 60% off designer goods you can have the luxuries without breaking the bank. How do you do this? Be signing up with Amazon My Habit! It’s free to join, so why not sign up then shop online?
Some traditions that we keep are time honored and have meaning. Others are culture driven stress builders. They serve little purpose and in the end consume many resources that could be used in a better way.
The diamond ring as an engagement ring is not only a recent development in history, it also has become quite an expensive tradition. The normal cost of a ring is said to be two months salary. Imagine what a broke young couple starting out could do with two months worth of money. Then there are the added costs from sizing, cleaning, and insurance. I have found as a young mom half the time I can’t even wear my ring because it doesn’t fit while I’m pregnant or I’m afraid I will scratch my young children while playing with them.
I’m not saying don’t get a ring, but get one that is less expensive or from a different stone. If you must have a fancy diamond ring, make it a goal for your 25th anniversary.
That Amusement Park Trip
You know which park I’m talking about. Most likely your children have hundreds of DVDs, toys, and even bedding with their name scrawled across it. They begin with a D (as in dollars) and ends in a Y (as in why would we spend $100 per person to get into a theme park?). They have cruises and resorts and hotels. People will stress over when to take their children and how to get there before the magic has died.
I promise you, it’s okay to let the magic die. I never visited that particular theme park until I was 24 years old on work related trip. From my adult eyes I could see that I hadn’t missed out on something essential to my childhood.
With the amount that you spend one of these trips there are thousands of other family memories that could be built with that money. Even better you could have numerous more affordable trips and a lot more fun for the price of that one.
It has become a tradition to buy a car for your child as a high school graduation, Christmas, or birthday gift. While I agree that a car should be safe and it may not be when paid with a part time high school job, the car doesn’t need to be new. Teenagers, even when doing their best will get into fender benders, misjudge the space between cars while parking, or drive fast when they are emotional. Let them break in a used car. If you still want to get them a new car do it for a college graduation. They will have gotten the hang of driving and will most likely need a new car by then.
I love living in this modern age. Gone are the days that we had to go outside to the outhouse to use the restroom. No more do we have to go out to the well or river to get our water. We have climate control in our homes… and we have homes! Modern life is good.
With that said, I also think it’s important to remember how to live without modern conveniences. You never know when it may become a useful tool for you and your family.
Don’t Go Disposable
This one seems fairly normal until you think of all the disposable items we use in our lives. We aren’t just talking about paper towels or cloth diapers. There are female hygiene products, baby wipes, and even toilet paper. In this day in age it seems crazy to even consider using a reusable product in place of these items. Instead imagine the money that can be saved buying these items. In a month we spend at least $110 dollars on disposable items that get flushed away or thrown away. This isn’t including the cost of garbage removal.
Using items that can be used over and over again may mean that your amount of laundry will go up. It also means buying the items and having a proper place to store them when they are clean or soiled. These, however, are often a one time expenses that pay for themselves within the first two months.
Yes, you can grow a garden and, in the right living setting, keep a goat and a few chickens for milk, eggs, and meat, but that’s not foraging. Foraging is when you go out and find food in the wild… or at least at a park. Doing this requires knowledge of edible plants and berries. It also requires a recognition of plants that are dangerous, not just a passing knowledge, but a certain knowledge of these topics. It’s also important to have an understanding of what certain wild herbs can do medically.
It’s also good to know what the community does regarding the area you are foraging. If you choose to forage in a place like a public park, know if they are sprayed with chemicals as part of their upkeep. Some places I have lived use fruit trees as decoration near sidewalks and roads. It’s important to know what the laws are regarding harvesting from these trees.
I’m talking about never buying anything that you can make. Make your own clothes, non disposable items, or even toys for children. Sometimes materials can be costly, but often the scraps can be used for something else. Learning to make certain items at the very least teaches us to be more self sufficient. You will almost always be able to give a unique gift with the skill you have learned. Most of all in times of financial hardship your skill can even save a good deal of money.
What old-fashioned ways do you use to save money?