10 Life Hacks to Help You Free Up Money

Screen-Shot-2015-09-17-at-2.15.00-PMAre you looking for ways you can cut down on expenses and put a little extra money aside? Maybe you’re looking to budget more efficiently, fund that big vacation or save for retirement.

This post is dedicated to little tricks to keep more of your money in your pocket. You can have a little fun with these things, too.

1. Call to Cancel. See How They React.

Savings doesn’t always mean going without. Sometimes when you call to cancel a service (e.g. cable, Internet, satellite radio, etc.), they’re very motivated to retain you as a client. After all, some of your money is better than none at all.

If they’re focused on retention, they may give you a reduced rate for a certain period of time or direct you to a plan that costs less without 37 channels that show 20-year-old movies.

Another good strategy in this situation is to research their competition. Tell them you’re switching to Competitor X who’s offering the same or better level of service for $50 cheaper. Play them against each other. Even if they just offer to match, this works to your advantage. You don’t have to take the equipment back.

2. Cut the Cord.

A lot of people are cutting the cord and canceling cable for good. A couple of technological developments happening right now make this very possible.

For starters, you can now get HDTV out of an antenna to watch your local programming. You can also subscribe to multiple services like Netflix, Hulu and even HBO online to get your television for less than you would pay on a monthly basis for a cable subscription.

However, you might run into a problem with sports. Many games are shown on cable, but all the major professional leagues have their own subscription services now. Just be aware you may have to pick and choose sports to make cutting the cord cost-effective.

3. Reacquaint Yourself with Your Local Library

Take some time to browse your local public library. While it is good to see they still have books at the library, they also have a large selection of CDs and DVDs.

You can also check out e-books! Seriously though, your library may have a lot more education and entertainment options than it used to. It may be worth checking out if you haven’t been there in a while.

4. Lunch at the Grocery Store.

Check out your grocery store’s sample selection – it’s worth your while. A motivated person has many choices, often including dessert, from various sample lines. Why do you think everyone is queued up when you go in there on a particularly busy Saturday? They’ve discovered a secret.

“Of course I’ll try the chicken cordon bleu…Why yes! I think I’ll have a butterscotch cookie.”

It’s important to note that the portions are small. You can definitely make this work for lunch, but not dinner.

5. Pay Attention to Those Receipts.

After you’ve done your shopping (and maybe gotten a midday meal in the bargain), it’s time to head to the cash register. However, it’s important to remember the savings doesn’t always stop when you check out.

Many stores add coupons to the backs of receipts now. It’s their way of keeping you coming back for more, but it also saves you money to use those coupons.

6. Get That Deposit Back.

Many states charge a small deposit on the purchase of all bottles and cans. You get that deposit back when you bring them back to the store and feed the machine.

You won’t be able to retire early on the amount you get back, but it will give you some spare change for the drive-through.

7. Save Those Ketchup Packets.

Save those extra ketchup packets from fast-food restaurants. If they give you four sauce packets and you only use two, stick the others in a drawer. They could come in handy when you run out. You’ll also be well-stocked when the zombie apocalypse causes a worldwide shortage of whatever that stuff is they use for onion ring sauce.

8. Rewards Programs.

Many businesses have rewards programs for their customers. You can shop around to see who gives you the best deal. There are programs for things like credit cards, airline miles and grocery stores. Although these are the more traditional ones, you can find rewards programs for all sorts of things like movie theaters, pharmacies, etc.

9. Attend Matinee Movies.

There’s not many things you want to roll out of bed before 9 a.m. on a Saturday for, but it might be worth it for a matinee movie. Different theaters will have different times, but if you go to one of the early showings, you can often get a ticket for $5 or $6.

It can be super cheap entertainment if you manage to run through without succumbing to the smell of the popcorn stand. But there is one trick that could save you a couple bucks: If you and your friend are going to drink the same beverage, don’t go with two smalls. It’s often cheaper to get a large drink and two straws. Just make sure you know whose is whose. Plus, the same matinee strategy will work if you go to the theater for a play as well.

10. Gift Card Sites.

There are sites online where you could sell such unwanted gift cards to someone else at a slight discount to benefit you both. Convert a gift card you’re not going to use into cash and get a great deal on something you would use!

*Original article source courtesy of Kevin Graham of ZING!

8 Ways to Recover from a Financial Setback

financial_crisis

From big emergencies to minor setbacks, learning how to deal with money crises is a key aspect of healthy financial management. Losses are a part of life, and while planning and preparing for them can help, you can’t always stop fiscal setbacks from occurring.

When faced with financial hardship, individuals need to adapt their money plans to deal with present challenges. After all, your normal fiscal approach isn’t going to work when times are tough. Here are eight tips designed to help limit the damage of financial problems and get you and your money back on track.

1. Calm Emotions and Stay Smart.

The stress that results from financial setbacks can lead individuals to make foolish mistakes with regard to money.

“Setbacks often leave us reeling, since they’re often unexpected and can involve high emotion, and when emotion goes up… intelligence goes down,” said Robert T. Kiyosaki, author of No. 1 personal finance book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Kiyosaki went on to advise people to stay rational about the choices ahead.

According to Kiyosaki, a financial crisis represents an opportunity to learn more about money and improve your financial habits.

“Financial education and getting smarter with your money is always a great way to prepare for the future — whatever it holds, good and bad — and hedge against all the unexpected speed bumps (and potholes, and road black and detours) on the road to financial freedom,” Kiyosaki said.

2. Adopt a Problem-Solving Mentality.

When faced with financial hardship, savvy individuals face their problems head on.

Kyle Taylor, founder of the popular personal finance blog, ThePennyHoarder.com, said, “When going through a financial setback, it’s important to develop a problem-solver mentality. After all, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.”

While money problems might seem insurmountable, it’s important to look for ways to address financial issues proactively.

“Regroup and re-strategize when things go awry,” said Taylor. “You may need to adjust your budget and figure out additional income streams.”

3. Make a Plan.

While adopting a positive, forward-thinking attitude is essential, individuals must also create specific plans to deal with their new circumstances.

“We all have financial setbacks, but it’s how we handle these setbacks that often separates those who win with money from those who don’t,” said Chris Hogan, a retirement expert with the Dave Ramsey team. “Create a plan to help you overcome the obstacle, whether it’s a job loss, costly emergency or simply regretting a large purchase.”

When crafting your plan, one of the aims is to modify your spending behavior and use the extra money to tackle your financial setback.

“That may mean cutting back on your expenses until you’re able to build your emergency fund back up, or you may need to start budgeting so you can avoid overspending,” Hogan said. “Remember, your past doesn’t determine your financial future.”

Everyone has the power to change fiscal habits and do better moving forward.

4. Get a Money Mentor.

When you’re in the middle of a monetary crisis, it can feel like there’s no way out. To combat feelings of hopelessness, money experts recommend seeking out people who have been in situations like yours (or worse ones!) and determining how they dug themselves out of the hole.

“Get a mentor/coach to help… someone that has been there,” said Josh Felber, an entrepreneur and business coach.

This person can provide individualized advice about how to improve your situation, give you encouragement when you’re feeling down and keep you accountable to ensure you stay on track.

Here at First Financial, our first priority is helping you achieve your financial dreams by defining your dream goals and lifestyle, empowering you through financial education, building your wealth, planning your retirement, and managing your risk. Establishing financial goals is an important part of saving enough money, and being ready for the future and we are here for you! Stop into any one of our branches and sit with a representative to have an annual financial check-up for a review of your finances and portfolio. 

5. Start Saving Right Away.

While finances might be tight right now, that doesn’t mean you should abandon important money habits like saving. Even in the midst of a financial crisis, business experts like Whitney Johnson recommend that saving habits be maintained.

According to the author of the bestselling book, “Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work,” individuals should strive to save each month, “no matter how small the amount … even before you think you can.”

The truth is, you can’t afford not to save, especially while your finances are still recovering.

6. Give Yourself a Raise.

If you need to secure some extra money to tackle a big financial issue, you might be able to find it by lowering your expenses.

“Remember that you have the power to give yourself a raise,” said Jeanette Pavini, money expert and spokesperson for Coupons.com. Here’s what she means: “Spending less can be like making more.”

According to Pavini, individuals might also need to sacrifice extra luxuries while recovering from a financial setback.

“Get rid of the $150 a month cable bill, and it’s like giving yourself an $1,800 after-tax raise,” Pavini said, adding that financial stress can be detrimental to mental health and overall wellness. However, she suggested that simplifying one’s life can have positive consequences as well.

Said Pavini, “You may even find that when you simplify and learn to live without, your life becomes rich in so many other ways.”

7. Keep Your Credit On Track.

While a financial crisis can feel overwhelming, money experts recommend keeping credit ratings on track. Clark Howard, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Clark Howard Show,” advised consumers to keep an eye on their credit scores during financial setbacks and take steps to improve them.

Howard says, “If you’re suffering from poor credit, there are several surefire ways to get your credit healthy again.” He recommends that individuals take the following steps to start:

  1. “Always pay your bills on time and pay down the total amount you owe. If you forget all else after reading this, remember this one! This is the single most important rule for having a good credit score.”
  2. “Keep a low credit utilization rate.” This means keeping credit card balances low and resisting the urge to charge more to accounts.
  3. “When you pay off a credit card, don’t close the account. Doing so only reduces your available credit and drives your score down.” He also recommends keeping four to six lines of credit open, using each twice a year and paying them off right away. “That will keep them active in your credit mix.”

8. Target Credit Card Debt.

Paying off credit card debt is a key part of recovering from financial hardship. Bestselling Finance Author, Nicole Lapin, notes that charging purchases is all too easy and cautions individuals against getting behind on debt.

After factoring in interest, Lapin said, “you may end up paying $50 for a pair of socks before you’re through paying off your cards.” With that in mind, she advises individuals to “double-time” their credit card debt and strive to pay off balances monthly. Lapin went on to acknowledge that people in the midst of a financial setback might not be in the position to pay off credit card debt immediately.

“Instead, try to curb enough of your other expenses (take from your ‘fun money’ category first) to double-down on your payments each month,” said Lapin.

The money expert also recommended that those with debt get an early start on their taxes and use any refund checks to pay down credit card bills. Not anticipating a refund this year? If you racked up credit card debt with too many purchases, you can always put your loot to use in paying off the balance.

“Pull out the clothes, appliances and household items that you haven’t used in a while, or don’t want anymore,” Lapin said. “You can auction them off on eBay, or post them on your local Craigslist, and then use this ‘free-money’ to pay down debt.”

Financial setbacks are inevitable, but you don’t have to stay in debt long term. By following the expert tips above, you can get back on the road to fiscal health.

*Original article source courtesy of Elyssa Kirkham of GoBankRates.com.

10 Ways to Bounce Back After Holiday Spending

holiday_spendingIf you’re waking up with a holiday spending hangover, you’re not alone. According to the Experian Holiday Shopping Survey, 60 percent of adults say holiday shopping puts a big strain on their finances.

“We have Black Friday, then dark January,” said Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian. Consumers tend to find themselves trying to dig themselves out of debt and get back on track financially in the new year. This is typically because they spend more than they expect to during the holidays and use credit to fund their shopping.

If you exceeded your holiday shopping budget, racked up debt and depleted your savings, you can bounce back. Here are 10 steps you can take to get your finances back in shape in the new year.

1. Review Your Holiday Spending.

The first step you should take after the holidays is to review all of your spending, said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Look at how much you charged to credit cards, how much you spent from savings and the categories you were spending on — such as gifts, food and entertainment. “It gives you a good starting point to get out of debt and rebuild savings,” McClary said.

2. Make a Plan to Tackle Debt.

Plenty of consumers will be digging out of debt in the new year. Those surveyed by Experian expected to charge about a quarter of their holiday spending to a credit card. To quickly eliminate that debt, you need a plan.

“The worst thing you can ever do is plan to pay the minimum payments,” said McClary. “That debt may be around for the next holiday season, and may be in the way of planned purchases and activities.”

Ideally, you should aim to pay off your credit card balance in one to two months, he said. If you owe money on more than one credit card, he recommended using one of these two strategies: tackling the smallest balance first or paying off the card with the highest interest rate. “The process that is most motivating is the one that you should go with,” said McClary.

You might need to tighten your belt to wipe out your debt quickly. “Look at everyday spending to find ways to cut back to contribute more to debt repayment,” said Bethy Hardeman, chief consumer advocate at Credit Karma. You can also put yourself on a cash-only diet so you don’t rack up more debt as you’re trying to pay it off.

3. Put Extra Cash Toward It.

In addition to cutting back, look for ways to generate more cash in the new year to pay off your debt, or to rebuild savings you might have tapped to cover holiday spending.

If you loaded up on gifts this holiday season, you can make room for your new things by selling some older items online, said Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert and Chase Slate financial education partner. “This will not only help declutter your space, but you can earn some extra cash to help pay down that December credit card balance.”

You can sell clothing and accessories at sites such as Thredup.com and Tradesy.com, which get a commission for reselling your items. Or you could try listing items for sale on Craigslist, or download the Poshmark app to your mobile phone.

4. Set up Automated Payments.

Nearly a quarter of adults surveyed by Experian said they’ve paid holiday shopping credit card charges late. Not only will you get hit with fees if you pay your credit card bills late, but your credit score will take a hit, according to the NFCC.

Torabi said you can avoid making late payments by setting up automated payments through your bank or card issuer. Apps such as Mint Bills can also send you reminders when bills are due.

If you plan to skip a payment because you can’t afford to pay your bill, McClary said you should call your credit card company first to see what remedies you can find together while your account is in good standing. “If you have good credit, there are plenty of options to give yourself some breathing room so your credit score doesn’t take a hit,” he said.

5. Transfer Balances.

Here’s an easy money tip to follow: If you have good credit, lower the cost of your holiday debt by transferring balances to a low-rate card.

Be sure you read the fine print, though, before accepting a balance transfer offer. Most balance transfer cards have waived interest, which means you’ll pay interest only on any remaining balances that haven’t been paid off at the end of the introductory period.

Transfer your high balance from holiday shopping to First Financial’s Visa Platinum Credit Card today!* Enjoy great low rates, no balance transfer fees, no annual fees, and 10 day grace period.** Getting started is easy – click here to apply online, 24/7. 

6. Develop a Support Network.

You won’t be the only one needing help getting your finances back on track after the holidays, Torabi said. So team up with someone else in a similar position to share your goals and keep each other accountable. “Hitting the reset button on your finances is more manageable and fun with the help of a friend,” she said.

Some people even create bill-paying clubs — similar to book clubs — to get together with others in debt to talk about the progress they’re making and offer support to one another, Griffin said.

7. Seek Professional Help.

If you’re really struggling to pay off the debt you owe, or need help getting your finances back on track, get advice from a professional. “Don’t be afraid to seek help,” Griffin said. It won’t affect your credit score or credit history, but it can help you manage debt, he said.

Also consider meeting with a financial representative if you tapped savings that were earmarked for things other than holiday spending. “If you’re raiding your short-term emergency savings or long-term retirement savings, there’s a bigger issue about priorities,” McClary said.

Here at First Financial, our first priority is helping you achieve your financial dreams by defining your dream goals and lifestyle, empowering you through financial education, building your wealth, planning your retirement, and managing your risk. Establishing financial goals is an important part of saving enough money, and being ready for the future and we are here for you! Stop into any one of our branches and sit with a representative to have a complimentary annual financial check-up for a review of your finances to get you back on track. 

8. Avoid Quick Fixes.

Even if your debt seems overwhelming, you should avoid companies that promise to help you settle debts for pennies on the dollar of what you owe. “It’s very tempting, but it’s also probably illegal,” Griffin said.

Debt-settlement firms might charge an upfront fee before providing any services. But Griffin said that firms promising credit repair have to fulfill the terms of their offer before taking any money.

Don’t forget about First Financial’s free, online debt management tool, Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live.

9. Monitor Your Credit.

Holiday shopping has negatively affected the credit scores of 10 percent of consumers, according to the Experian survey. So it’s important to see where you stand by reviewing your credit report. Griffin said your score should include risk factors that are affecting your score and what areas you should focus on to help build your credit.

Another reason to monitor your credit report and your credit accounts closely after the holidays is to look for signs of fraud. If you see any unauthorized charges on your statement, contact your credit card issuer immediately to cancel your card and dispute the charges. Check your credit report for accounts you don’t recognize, which could be a sign that someone has used your identity to get credit in your name.

Be sure to enroll in our newest, upgraded Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa – don’t wait until it’s too late! The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. 

10. Start Saving for Next Year.

Help yourself avoid a holiday debt hangover next year by saving money throughout the year. Add up all of your holiday spending, and divide that total by 10 to determine how much you should set aside each month from January to October. That can help you save enough for when the holiday shopping season starts in November, McClary said.

If that monthly amount is too high, create a strategy to have a more affordable holiday season next year, he said. As you follow these steps to bounce back, try to stay positive.

“Patience is key — don’t get discouraged,” McClary

*APR varies from 10.90% to 17.90% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card. **No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date.
Original article source courtesy of Cameron Huddleston of GoBankingRates.com.

 

Top 5 Budgeting Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them

January is the number one month when people launch new financial regimes, and nearly a third of respondents according to a GoBankingRate survey, said their 2016 goals include “saving more and spending less.”

All sounds great, says Lauren Greutman, a budgeting expert who blogs at IAmThatLady.com, where she walks you through how to up a successful budget, stick to it, and become debt-free. “Many people start off the new year excited about a budget, but quickly fall off the wagon, only to feel defeated,” says Greutman.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be stressful. Know the likely pitfalls, and how to avoid them. 5 budgeting mistakes (and how to avoid them):

1. Fail a set budget.

“Feeling overwhelmed by the time it takes to track expenses and set a budget is one of the main reasons why people don’t do it,” Greutman says. By carving out a chunk of time, you will save yourself money and time throughout the month. “For every 1 hour of planning, you save yourself 4 hours of execution,” Gretuman says.

Do this instead: At the beginning of next month, collect all your expenses and income. Understand exactly where your money comes from, where it goes, and commit to what you will save and cut back on. “Instead of spending your time throughout the month tracking where you spend your money, make a money plan for the upcoming month, and just follow the plan. It saves so much time and energy,” she says.

2. Create the exact same budget every month.

Setting a budget that looks the same every single month is a big budget mistake, since expenses differ depending on holidays, birthdays, vacation time, energy costs during warmer or cooler months, taxes, and home or car repairs.

Do this instead: To avoid breaking your budget, plan each month out one at a time at the start of the month.

3. Don’t allow for wiggle room.

Making your budget too rigid is something most people do, but then something comes up unexpected and the entire budget falls apart.

Do this instead: “Give yourself some play money every month – it can be as little as $10 or as much as you can afford,” Greutman says. ”This helps you keep the budget on task, keeps your budget successful for that month, and helps maintain motivation.”

4. Rely on credit cards.

If you are using a bucket budgeting system — a set sum of money for food, clothing, entertainment, transportation — tracking expenses can make book keeping more complicated, since combing through statements adds another layer of work. Plus, reliance on credit cards means you run the risk of over-spending and racking up debt.

Do this instead: Switch to a cash-only budget for the first month of your new budget, then you can visually see where your money is going.

5. Quit too soon.

Successful budgeting takes a few months of tweaking and practice. In our culture of instant gratification, people want to the budget to be perfect the first time. In reality, it takes a few months of tweaking, messing up, and readjusting for the budget to be right and attainable.

Do this instead: Commit to lifelong budgeting, and understand that each family’s finances are a constant evolution as members needs, incomes and priorities change.

*Original article source courtesy of Emma Johnson of Forbes.com.

Frequently In Debt? Discover Your Personal Pitfalls

DebtManagement1.jpgYou don’t have to be a reckless spender to find yourself in debt. CNN touts that “one in three American adults have debt in collections.”

An Urban Institute study reported that 77 million people are so severely in debt that their account has gone to collections, while a Detroit Free Press article warns, “Young adults have more credit card debt than savings.”

Regardless of the angle, debt, severe debt – it’s an American epidemic.

So, how do you climb out of debt once and for all? Especially if you notice a recurring theme of continual debt-to-safety-to-debt wheel of fate, it is important to stop and analyze the causes for initial debt and the reasons for apparent insurmountable financial disease.

As with your medical health, financial heath is propelled by lots of hard work, dedication and realistic awareness. Denial will only perpetuate decaying health, physically or financially.

Step One: Take an honest assessment of your financial situation.

Before you can make a plan for diminishing debt once and for all, you have to understand the severity and expanse of the situation. Take into account all loans: student debt, mortgages and car payments. Know exactly how many credit cards you and your family have – make sure to count retail cards and reward cards in addition to traditional credit cards. Any plastic that can hold a debt/requires payment needs to be acknowledged forthright. Finally, collect all bills: anything that requires a payment plan or regular payment must be added into the mix. When you’re in debt, every $100 medical bill, $25 late fee for utilities or billed car repair must be accounted for.

Step Two: Take responsibility.

Playing the blame game or lying to yourself will not change the circumstances. Nobody cares if you don’t think it’s your fault. You owe the money. You have to pay the money. You can’t talk your way out of substantial debt. Take credit for your own shortcomings and accept the situation.

Step Three: Educate yourself and your family.

Money management is not an innate human skill. We are not born knowing how to allot, predict, and plan with 100 percent accuracy. And, sometimes, it is due to sheer ignorance that adults find themselves in debt. Whether or not a lack of financial education or money illiteracy is the root cause, understanding how credit works and how to budget are both beneficial life skills.

Step Four: Set realistic goals, with the end result being permanently digging yourself out of debt.

Each step should be attainable and based on practicality. However, do not fall into the mindset that “it’s going to take too long, so it’s not worth it.” Keep your eyes on the goal, but use baby steps to get there if necessary.

A good thing to do is to create a visual aid for you to help you along, like a financial plan. The important thing to remember is that your plan is a guide, not a crutch. It is a tool to keep you on track. Like any good guide, though, it can be tweaked to meet your needs and adjusted based on what obstacles you encounter on your journey to financial security.

Step Five: Perseverance.

It’s not an easy path. It’s not fun. The journey is oftentimes downright painful. But, avoidance and half-hearted efforts will not grant you the ability to squeak by. Debt can affect marriage, stress levels, relationships, and your future, but people often aren’t motivated enough to make a change. Many times, just climbing out of debt is not the largest challenge, it’s maintaining the healthy financial security that is attained through a debt-free life.

Don’t forget about First Financial’s free, online debt management tool, Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live.

*Original article source written by Joe Young of Nasdaq.

Smart Shopping Tricks to Make Your Budget Last All Month

shopping cart postitWe can all use ways to stretch our paycheck each month, but it’s not always easy to know which expenses to focus on minimizing first. The fact is, some costs are easier to trim down than others. The strategies below will help you always score the lowest price, making it easier for your budget to go farther.

Always look for the deal.

Local drugstores often feature special deals on everything from personal care to grocery items. While the selection is generally smaller than at the grocery store, drugstores can offer even better discounts. Looking for these deals, and applying them to your purchase can generate big savings.

Register for rewards programs.

Many stores feature rewards programs, including drugstores. Walgreens has Balance Rewards, CVS has ExtraCare, and RiteAid has Wellness+. If you register for these programs you’ll likely receive frequent emails, but there will be gems among them, and you might even save 20% off an order. A smartphone app like Key Ring makes it easy to track account numbers for multiple programs.

Use manufacturers’ coupons.

In addition to browsing through Sunday circulars, you can rely on websites like coupons.com to search and print coupons at no cost to you. Since most manufacturers’ coupons usually have an expiration date that is at least one month into the future, hold onto the coupons until you find a great deal.

Look out for store coupon books.

Many stores offer coupon books, usually at the front of the store near the pile of circulars. They often contain many high value store coupons that can be combined with sales and manufacturers’ coupons for additional savings.

Shop online.

When it comes to essential drugstore items, you can often find the lowest prices online, especially when coupons are applied. Some coupons offer deeper discounts to online shoppers, and you can find everything from vitamins, cleaning supplies, personal care items and pain relievers for reduced prices.

Use blogs.

Many blogs and websites collect coupons and deals for readers, which makes your job even easier. Retailmenot.com, bargainbriana.com, and MoneySavingMom.com are three examples – they research and sort deals for you, and you can often match the deals with sales in circulars.

Don’t pay full price.

Many retailers, including J.Crew, Kohl’s and the Gap, make it easy to find deals online. In fact, you should never pay full price for your purchases, at least before checking for discount codes. Signing up for the stores’ email lists will also help make sure you don’t miss out on discounts.

Get an Amazon Prime membership.

It might sound counterintuitive, but purchasing a $99 Amazon Prime membership can actually end up saving you money. That’s because it comes with two-day shipping on most orders, movie and TV streaming, and one free book rental per month. You can try out a 30-day free trial membership to see if it would end up saving you money.

Write a review.

Some companies are willing to pay customers, in the form of discounts, for leaving reviews on their products listed online. HonestFew and SnagShout are a couple companies that make this process easy. Once you receive items at a low price (or sometimes even free), then you simply log in to leave your review, whether it’s good or bad.

Buy a reusable water bottle.

Going through a handful of water bottles a day is expensive, unnecessary, and bad for the environment. Instead, pick up a reusable water bottle for yourself. You can even get one that comes with a built-in carbon filter to remove tap water impurities. Your body, and the Earth, will thank you.

Use apps.

Many stores have made it even easier to save these days by introducing their own apps, such as the Target Cartwheel app and the Sears Shop Your Way App. Both of these apps offer special discounts to shoppers that cannot be found anywhere else, and saving is as easy as opening the app and seeing what deals are available. You can even do this while standing in the checkout line. Other apps, like Shopkick, work at many stores. You can earn points by checking in at stores and making purchases, and then using those points to earn gift cards.

Plan ahead.

Planning out meals in advance is one way to keep grocery store costs down because you can minimize waste or unnecessary purchases. You not only cut out impulse purchases at the grocery store but also eliminate the need to order delivery on those nights you realize you don’t have anything to make. Pinterest can also help with new recipe inspiration if you’re feeling stuck.

Article Source: Lisa Koivu for http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/10/20/smart-shopping-tricks-to-make-your-budget-last-all-month