6 Ways You Can Save More Money in 2016

Save-Save-SaveDid you close out 2015 with a little less in your bank account than you would’ve liked? If you’re like a lot of people, you might be disappointed in how much you managed to set aside.

Saving more was the biggest financial priority for 29% of young people, as revealed in a recent survey by Bankrate. The only money issue millennials were more concerned about was paying bills.

Knowing you need to save more and being able to do it are two different things, however. How can you set aside more money when you’re stretched thin as it is? Thankfully, saving a little extra each month isn’t as hard as it may seem. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Pay yourself first. One of the hardest parts of saving money is doing it consistently. You can make it easier on yourself by automating the process.

“Pay yourself first by setting up automatic savings through payroll deduction in your work retirement plan or through automatic transfers through your bank account,” Antonio Morello, the chief investment officer at McMahon Financial Advisors, said. Aim to save 10% to 15% of your salary every year, including contributions to your retirement plan. As an added bonus, those deductible retirement contributions will also save you money come tax time.

2. Spend less on food. Frequent delivery orders and dinners out with friends add up quickly. Save yourself some money by being smarter about how you eat.

“Plan your meals for the week to avoid last minute take-out orders,” Willie Schuette, a financial coach with The JL Smith Group, said. You can also save by buying in bulk and saving leftovers for later rather than tossing them in the trash, Schuette suggested.

3. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use. Do you have a gym membership you barely use or a monthly box subscription you don’t really need? Cancel those recurring charges and funnel the extra money into your savings or to pay down debt. You could end up with a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket at the end of the year.

Have trouble keeping track of which subscriptions you’ve signed up for? There’s an app to help you out. Trim will comb through your credit card statements and bank accounts, find the recurring payments, and ask if you want to cancel the service. It’s free to use, though there’s currently a waiting list.

4. Donate to charity. “Donating to charity is a great way to boost your deductions while helping others,” said Don Chamberlin, a Saint-Louis-based financial advisor and president of The Chamberlin Group.

Donations can come in the form of cash, stock, and even big-ticket items like cars, but you’ll need to itemize and keep accurate records to get the tax breaks.

5. Keep an eye on your credit. Don’t pay more than you have to the next time you need to borrow cash. Maintaining a good credit score “can save you money when it comes to buying a car or anything else on credit, car insurance, or buying a home,” Herb White, a financial planner and president of Life Certain Wealth Strategies, said.

Credit scores above 700 show lenders that you do a good job of managing the money you borrow, according to Experian. You can boost you credit score by paying bills on time, not running up balances on your credit cards, and reducing your debt.

6. Check your withholding. A big tax refund sounds pretty awesome. That is, until you realize that the government is really just paying back the interest-free loan you gave them.

“If you got a big tax refund it means you are having too much taken out of your paycheck every pay period,” Schuette said. File a new W-4 with your employer so that you get more of your money when you actually earn it. Then, shift that extra cash to savings or use it to meet another financial goal.

*Original article source courtesy of Megan Elliot of Money & Career Cheat Sheet.

How to Save Money Even When It Feels Impossible

When living paycheck to paycheck, it’s hard to set aside any money at all, let alone start saving substantially for things like retirement and emergencies. You get a paycheck, you immediately use it for rent, student loan payments, utilities and more, and all of a sudden you’re left with just barely enough to get by. So how can you even think about saving?

Well, the truth is, you can and you should, because the last thing you want is to be stuck with an emergency room bill or totaled car and have absolutely no money. In fact, most financial experts agree that everyone should have at least $1,000 in savings for those types of financial emergencies. To that end, here’s how to save money– even when it feels impossible:

Get in the Right Mindset.

Saving money is more than just a habitual practice– it’s a mindset.  Like starting a new workout regimen, saving money must be a lifestyle you’re completely committed to in order to be effective. So, the first step to saving money is making the decision to do so. That way, when you’re enticed by that sale at the mall or a nice dinner, you’ll have a clearly defined reason to say “no.”

Start Small – Very Small.

Saving money doesn’t have to mean putting 10% of every paycheck away. You’ve likely heard it before, but every dollar counts. At first, save more like 2% or even just $20 per month. OK, maybe that won’t make you rich as fast as saving a more substantial amount, but the important thing is it’s a start. For weeks or months that you don’t spend quite as much, put a bit more in savings than you normally do. Just commit to saving something,no matter how small the amount.

Make it Automatic.

When many people first start learning how to save money, they find it’s easiest when it isn’t a conscious decision. In other words, if you have your bank automatically transfer money into your savings account every time a paycheck is deposited, you won’t even see that money for long enough to consider spending it. If auto-transfers make you feel a bit out of control, take on that responsibility yourself.

Deny Yourself Access.

One of the hardest parts about saving money is seeing it accrue and knowing you could use it if you wanted to. If that sounds like a feeling you’re familiar with, do yourself a favor by setting up an account that’s a bit harder to access. For instance, ask your bank if they can add an account that can only be accessed by physically walking into a bank to make a withdrawal or using an ATM card. If you don’t have a debit card attached to it, you’ll be less likely to swipe first and regret later.

Keep Careful Track of Your Spending.

It goes without saying, but how much you spend has a direct impact on how much you’ll be able to save. If you know you have some spending problem areas (like eating out a lot or buying an unnecessary amount of upscale sneakers), focus on reducing those however you can. The best way to spend less (and save more) is to know where every dollar is going– then you can pull back in certain areas. If you can’t do this without a bit of help, try using budgeting apps like Mint, Mvelopes, or BillGuard to track your spending and come up with a financial plan.

Cut a Few Expenses (At Least for Now).

As you start keeping better track of your spending, look for certain regular expenses that you may be able to do away with completely. Are you still paying for cable that you rarely watch, a magazine subscription that goes unread more often than not, or a gym membership you could replace with free workouts in your apartment? Get creative, and know that you don’t have to give these things up forever. Even just cancelling for a few months can allow you some wiggle room to save more money faster.

You can also look at refinancing options for certain expenses, like car payments and student loans. See if you can spend less each month on those- at least for now while you’re working on building a savings account.

Find Ways to Earn More.

If you have some extra time on your schedule (even if you work a 9-to-5 office job it’s likely that you do), consider finding ways to earn some more money each month. Pick up dog walking or babysitting gigs, or even do some freelance work on the side. This is beneficial for two reasons: One, you’ll be making more money. And two, you may find yourself spending a bit less if you’re, say, babysitting on a Friday night instead of going out.

If you’re trying to figure out how to save money, remember: It’s doable, you just have to be committed, organized, and focused on an end goal. You can do it!

*Original article source courtesy of Forbes.com.

21 Ways to Save Money On Your Next Trip

bigstock-Man-Traveler-relaxing-alone-in-84557870Every cent counts for budget travelers, and the internet is full of helpful tips for saving money. There are so many, in fact, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Here we’ve pulled some of the most helpful suggestions for strategies and tech to use while you are out on your adventure so you can save up every last dollar (or Euro, or peso…)

Financial Institutions and Credit Cards

1. Open an account with a financial institution with no ATM fees or with international partners so you can withdraw money for cheap, wherever you are headed.

2. Make sure you are using a credit card that gets miles that can be used easily — i.e. there are no blackout dates or restrictions on which airlines you can use. Travel-themed credit cards also often give huge mileage bonuses when you sign up, so be sure to do your research to see which one has the best deal.

Flights

3. Subscribe to airline newsletters so you are the first to know about sales or special promotions. Airlines like Alaska, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin offer promo codes and special deals through email notifications (though sometimes you must register for their frequent flyer program to receive the alerts).

4. Follow flight deal accounts, like @TheFlightDealand @FareDealAlert, on Twitter and check in regularly for information on sales and the occasional mistake fare.

5. If scheduling allows, fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Even better, take the 6am flight. The less popular the flight, the cheaper you are likely to get it.

6. Look for flights on Tuesday — this is still the traditional best day to buy U.S. domestic tickets because it is the day that airlines are matching their competitor’s deals and offering lower prices.

7. Don’t wait until the last minute (the belief that airlines offer last-minute bargain deals is mostly a myth). Book at least 1.5 months out for most destinations, though some U.S. domestic fares are still good through about two weeks out.

8. Clear cookies on your browser before looking for flights (or check on an incognito window). Airlines and booking websites like to keep tabs on you, and if you search for a flight multiple times, it will bump the price because it knows you are likely to buy.

9. Having a single favorite airline or booking website may cost you — sometimes checking the same flight on a different website can yield a significant price difference. Check a couple price comparison sites, like Kayak, Momondo, or SkySkanner, and then once you have a general idea of the flight you want, check the airline’s own website.

10. Take a little extra time and be creative with how you look for flights. “Hacker” fares — combining two one-way trips or booking two round trips with a “layover” in between — can save a lot of money, but you’ll need the patience to try lots of different options manually.

Hotels

11. Compare hotel prices on Gogobot to make sure you are getting a good deal. (Duh!)

12. Traveling with a big group? Consider a vacation rental — it can be cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms, and give you a more authentic local experience. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen where you can cook your own meals and save a little more dough.

While You Are Traveling

13. Get a collapsable water bottle. You can take it through security at the airport, and it will pay for itself pretty quickly when you don’t have to buy a $5 bottle of water at your gate. Plus, you can keep it tucked away in a purse or backpack and refill it on your travels to save even more.

14. Take public transport as often as possible. Especially in foreign countries, it can be daunting, but grab an app for your phone (or print a public transportation map) before you leave to make things easier. Google Maps can be viewed offline if, while you are still on WiFi before you set out, you type “ok maps” into the searchbar to save your current view. MetrO (for IOS and Android) is another great app for navigating public transport around the globe.

15. Bring your student ID card to get discounts at attractions. Even if you graduated a few years ago, many student IDs don’t have expiration dates.

16. Do a bit of research on when the local museums and attractions have free or discounted days to save on entrance fees.

17. International data plans for your phone can be pricey. If you don’t plan on needing much data (and can mostly stick to WiFi), a basic international plan with your carrier might work. If you need to take internet with you wherever you go, try a mobile option like MiFi or Tep Wireless. You can also use apps like WiFi Finder to map out where you can grab free WiFi while you are out and about.

18. How easy is it to accidentally buy twelve too many gelatos in Rome and end up throwing your travel budget out of whack? (Really easy, for the record.) Manage your finances while you travel with easy-to-use apps like Trail Wallet (only IOS).

19. Do not — we repeat, do not — use the phone in your hotel room to make international calls (or any calls, for that matter). There are lots of apps that you can use over WiFi to call for free or cheap, like Skype, Viber, and Google Voice. Need to make a local dinner reservation or book tickets for an event? The hotel concierge or front desk will often do that for you, so you don’t have to pay for the call.

20. Street food should be your go-to meal. Empanadas in South America, kebabs in Turkey, samosas in Mumbai — these foods are cheap, easy, and delicious.

21. Shop at local grocery stores. This is, first and foremost, a cultural experience — you’ll get to see what new and exciting foods and drinks stock the shelves (and guess at what they might contain if you don’t speak the language). It’s also considerably more affordable than eating out for every meal.

*Article source courtesy of Alix Farr of the Huffington Post.

9 Basic Pieces of Money-Saving Advice No One Follows – But Should

download (1)Good advice can be hard to take – especially when it comes to money. Often, the thing that’s best for us is the thing we really don’t want to do. Saving more and spending less is boring; why do that when you can have fun now?

Well, you know what else sounds boring? Working for the next 50 years.

There are some very basic pieces of money advice that experts give, but no one seems to follow. So, let’s make a deal: How about we start listening to what these experts are saying? The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll reach our financial goals.

Here are nine pieces of financial advice you need to stop ignoring.

  1. Run your financial life like a business. You should treat your budget like a business because, in the business of life, the bottom line matters. Many of the same principles business owners use can be applied to your personal life: prioritize, assess and restrain. Everything that keeps a business running will keep your personal finances in order: prioritize your spending, assess your profits and losses, and don’t lose sight of the big picture, like saving for retirement or getting out of debt. This is fairly common advice, but when it comes to actually saving and making more money, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Just like every business has its own unique goals and needs, you will too – so manage accordingly.
  2. Make saving part of your lifestyle. Saving money doesn’t always come naturally. Successful savers usually fail a few times (or more) before they figure out what works best for them. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up, but just like exercising and eating well, saving money takes a while to get right. It’s also important to remember that a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean living in deprivation. People who live with less and save more know where to cut back. Even shrinking your grocery bill by just $15 a week will save $780 a year – imagine all the other little cutbacks that are possible. So instead of making drastic lifestyle changes, build your savings muscle slowly by making small adjustments over time. After a while, you won’t even notice a difference – except in your bank account balance.
  3. Save the difference. Are you a bargain hunter, coupon clipper or thrifty shopper? What do you do with all the money you save? If you’re like most consumers, you just spend it on something else. The point of getting a discount is to save money, right? The next time you get a discount or score a sweet deal, save the difference of what you didn’t spend.
  4. Automate the process. This is a piece of money-saving advice that is echoed by nearly every financial expert. Paying yourself first is the first step, which means setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account into a savings or investment vehicle. You can set up one large transfer to go through monthly, weekly or whenever works best for your finances – as long as it’s automatic, you’ll be saving without even realizing it. Some experts recommend transferring a portion of your paycheck into savings, and once you reach a certain balance, transfer any additional funds into an investment account. If you aren’t sure where to start, try automatically transferring 10 percent of each paycheck and see how that feels.
  5. Seek advice on your 401(k). It’s official: People with 401(k)s are better savers, according to a study last year by Natixis Global Asset Management. Want to get the best returns out of your nest egg? Get professional help. The study found 74 percent of people who see a financial advisor for 401(k) advice know exactly how much they need to have saved by the time they retire. Set up your complimentary appointment with First Financial’s Investment & Retirement Center to discuss your retirement and investment goals. Contact Samantha Schertz at 732.312.1564 or at samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com.
  6. Save your spare change. We all have loose change filling our pockets or strewn on our bedside tables. Start banking that change, and you could put a serious dent in your savings goals. For example, putting just 50 cents a day in a jar can help you save nearly $200 over the course of a year. Some experts also recommend only using paper money for daily expenses, such as coffee and lunch, and then saving the difference. If you don’t carry cash, consider using an app like Acorns, which invests your spare change for you.
  7. Fill a need. Many experts say the trick to making money (so you can save more of it, of course) starts with thinking about others before you think about yourself. Basically, the path to success starts by first identifying a need and then filling it. Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience. So, focus on filling your customers’ or boss’ needs, or solving a problem, and you will likely make more money (whether through a raise or increased profits). This concept can also be used for people who freelance or want to start a side business – find out what people want, and give it to them; you’ll be in high demand.
  8. Live like a student. No, you don’t have to survive on a diet of ramen and frozen burritos in order to get ahead, but you can take a lesson from struggling students everywhere and learn to live with less. If you are just starting out in the workforce, try living on half your paycheck. Since you’re probably already used to living off very little, half your paycheck should be enough to get by. Meanwhile, you’ll pad a robust savings account with the equivalent of a full paycheck each month. For those who aren’t fresh out of college and have large expenses like a mortgage or child care, try saving a penny of each dollar you make; then, step it up another penny every six months. In five years, you’ll be saving 10 percent of every dollar you make; in 10 years, you’ll be saving 20 percent.
  9. Trick yourself. Many behavioral economists say mental accounting (i.e., treating different piles of money with different intentions) helps trick your brain into better budgeting and saving. This strategy might sound a little complicated, but it’s really a take on the classic envelope system, where you allocate your paycheck to a weekly or monthly budget and put the cash into different envelopes – one for each budget category. Once the envelopes are empty, your budget is maxed out.
 *Original article source by Morgan Quinn of US News – Money.

7 Easy Ways to Save More Money Today

downloadSaving more money doesn’t necessarily mean giving up restaurant meals for good or never buying a new outfit again. In fact, there are plenty of ways to save money without making too many sacrifices. The following seven ideas might take a bit of extra effort, but they also have the potential to pay off, right into your bank account.

  1. Get healthy. For people who struggle to stay fit, eating healthy and staying in shape is easier said than done. But for those who are in good shape, you can save a lot of money on life insurance and individual health insurance plans. And as an added bonus, you’ll feel better and have more energy. You don’t have to join a pricey gym, either: You can take up walking or jogging, or download a free app that helps walk you through different exercise programs.
  2. Rethink auto insurance. Every year, re-examine your auto insurance policy for savings opportunities. For example, consider raising your deductible, which lowers premiums. For older vehicles, evaluate whether you really need collision coverage, which covers damage to your car when your car hits or is hit by another vehicle or object. And make it a habit to compare auto insurance quotes annually, which can be done online in minutes. (While you’re at it, consider taking time to compare other insurance policies that you currently have, including homeowners insurance).
  3. Improve your credit score. Of all the painless ways to save money, improving your credit score is arguably the most important. From home loans and car loans, to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a small fortune. Over a lifetime, the savings can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars. The simplest way to improve your credit score is to make on-time payments each month on all of your accounts.
  4. Think triple play. One of the biggest monthly expenses for some is the cost of Internet service, cable and phone. The majority of providers offer discounts when you bundle all three of these services together. Called a triple play, you not only save money, but you also get the convenience of a single bill each month.
  5. Go prepaid with your cellphone. While this option won’t be right for everybody, many can save a small fortune with prepaid cellphones. You can find prepaid cellphone plans that start at $25 a month. And because they are prepaid, you don’t have to commit to long-term contracts. Two of the more popular prepaid cellphone carriers are NET10 Wireless and Cricket.
  6. Shop online. There are several benefits to shopping online – convenience being chief among them. But shopping online can also save big money. Many retailers offer special discounts to online shoppers. And virtually every company that sells products or services online offers promo codes, discounts or coupons. Particularly if you have a big purchase, make sure to search the Internet for deals before buying. You can also track discounts and coupons through online tools, including RetailMeNot and PriceGrabber.
  7. Get cash back. If you have good credit, there are a number of cash-back credit cards that pay up to 5 percent on purchases. The key is to use the card for monthly bills and everyday expenses, not to charge things you don’t need. Put monthly bills that accept credit cards on automatic payment, and use the card for everyday purchases such as groceries and gas. And as an extra precaution against overspending, pay the credit card bill in full several times throughout the month. It’s easy to do online, and it prevents any surprises at the end of the month.

*Original article source courtesy of US News – Money.

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