How to Save Money Even on a Tight Budget

Saving money is important, but sometimes it can be hard to find extra money to save – right? While saving money can often be a challenge, it’s not impossible to do – even on a strict budget. Here are three ways you may be able to save when your spare funds are on the lower side.

Find deals online: Sites like Groupon or Living Social have a lot of deals in terms of entertainment and dining out. Did you know you can use them for much more? Both often have deals on electronics, automotive repair, health and beauty, home services and more! The best way to find these deals is to register with your zip code and browse around to find how you can save locally. If these are products and services that you’re already going to pay for or that you’re in need of, saving money in the process is an added bonus!

Trim it up: When you go on a diet, you may notice a little bit of weight loss in several different areas of your body. You should treat your budget the exact same way. Don’t try to cut back on (or completely cut out) one budget item, but trim a few dollars from different places. Some bills you aren’t going to be able to budge on, but you will most likely find a few areas you can cut back here and there. Take advantage of these savings and you’ll start to see it add up. Plus, you won’t feel as if you’re cutting anything out of your budget completely.

Spend more time at home: The more you’re out and about, the more you’re going to eat meals out and spend money on items you don’t really need. Instead of meeting your friends out for dinner and a movie, host a potluck dinner (ask everyone to bring something) – and watch your favorite movie or rent one from your local Redbox. You’ll save money, plus you can pause the movie when you need to and not spend a fortune on movie theater snacks. That’s a win-win for everyone!

Need help budgeting? Check out our online budgeting fillable worksheet!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

How to Save Money and Still Have Enjoyable Work Lunches

Your work lunches don’t have to be boring, or expensive either.  Is it really a good idea (or good for your budget) to continually buy lunch out 5 days a week though? This can quickly add up to spending anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 extra per year – depending on where you go and what you order. That’s a pretty large chunk of change! Below are some money saving tips to keeping your work lunch budget in check (and exciting to eat).

Pack Leftovers

Working people have been packing lunches for years. Before there was an office cafeteria or restaurants around, this is the way it was. Leftovers from your dinner the night before make the perfect lunch for the next day at work. Purposely make more food for dinner than you expect to eat. Put the rest in a lunch portioned container and enjoy it the next day. If you don’t want the same meal the next day, freeze it and have it for lunch one day the following week. This also makes your morning routine easier too. Grab your pre-packed lunch from your fridge or freezer and head out the door. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Plan Ahead

Sit down and look at the grocery store circulars when they arrive, or visit your preferred store’s website to view the weekly specials. Which meats and cheeses are on sale this week? Determine how much you need for the week and buy just that. When you have a plan in place you are much more likely to follow through on making your lunch and not wasting your money or food supply. Preparing your lunch in the evening is another way to improve reliability. It is much easier to find five minutes to prepare your lunch before bed than it is to find extra time in the morning. This way it’s done ahead and you won’t talk yourself into just buying lunch that day in the morning when you are rushing around.

When You Have to Eat Lunch Out

Sooner or later, even if you usually pack your lunch, you are probably going to end up eating out at some point. What options will allow you to stick to a budget?

  • The Dollar Menu – There is nothing wrong with ordering off the dollar menu. A sandwich, drink, and fries comes out to $3 plus tax.
  • Coupons – Go out with a coworker, look for a buy one get one free coupon, or one that offers 50% off a second meal. Drink water or share an appetizer.
  • Eat Small – Restaurants typically offer generous portions, so a full-sized entrée is probably more than you may be able to eat for lunch. Order an appetizer as your meal instead. You will save money, enjoy eating out, and get plenty of food.
  • Split a Meal – If you are close with your coworker, you might want to try splitting an entrée to save money on both ends. If you have a refrigerator in your office to store leftovers, eat half the meal and store the rest at work for the next day.

Work lunches shouldn’t be a large part of anyone’s budget. Planning is the key to enjoying your lunch and saving money at the same time!

Article Source:  Moneyning.com

 

6 Ways to Avoid Going Out to Eat

Probably the most common piece of personal finance advice out there is to save money by avoiding restaurants. It sounds so simple: cook at home or brown bag it. For some people, this can be tough.  Here are a few suggestions that can help you if you find it hard to avoid the temptation to go out to eat your meals.

1. Think about why you like to go out to eat.

Is the food better than you can make at home? Do you enjoy the convenience? Are you too tired at the end of the day? Do you find it difficult to cook at home because of a lack of organization and planning? If you know more about why you like to eat out, it will be easier to find a solution that meets your needs. After all, you can have a fully stocked fridge and a gourmet kitchen – but if you’re too tired or unmotivated to cook, you may give into the temptation of dining out.

2. Think about any negatives of going out to eat.

Perhaps you don’t like the noise in restaurants or having to wait for service. It can be a hassle to find parking and time consuming. Restaurants cost a lot of money, the food is often less healthy than homemade, and the portions are larger.

3. Find a way to eat home cooked meals that work with your schedule.

For some people, it’s weekly menu planning. Others may stock their freezers with frozen entrees or live on sandwiches, salads, fruit and cereal. If you aren’t sure how to organize and plan a week’s worth of meals, you can find a wealth of resources like shopping lists and recipes online.

If you don’t love to cook, you can always assemble instead. Why not stock your fridge with ingredients for sandwiches and salads? Many crock pot recipes also take very little effort and can be made well ahead. Restaurant food is great, but remember they generally use more fat, salt and sugar than we normally would at home.

4. Find the right balance in your life.

If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare food at home, it’s time to look at your schedule and find out what you can cut to get that time and energy back. If you have a partner or older children, there is no reason why everything should fall on one person. Even if they are not able to cook, they can help our with some of the other household chores to give you a break.

5. Take care of yourself.

If you’re not getting enough sleep and working long hours, it could be difficult for you to resist the temptation to eat out and have the energy to make smarter food choices. Many times we look at eating in a restaurant as a small treat for ourselves or a break from other responsibilities. By eating in a restaurant you won’t have to cook, serve, or clean up – all you need to do is order, eat, and pay the bill. It’s important to have things in our lives that make us feel good too. If restaurants filled that role for you, you’ll want to find something else that invokes similar feelings and is good for both your wallet and your health.

6. Remember that it’s still okay to go to restaurants, once in awhile.

Be sure to fit eating out into your goals for spending and healthy eating. If going out to eat is not completely off limits, it can make it easier to resist instant gratification. Try to choose places that are memorable and offer you a unique dining experience, without being overpriced.

Article Source: David Ning for Moneyning.com

3 Ways to Cut Back on Your Food Budget

If you’re spending too much money on food, the easy remedy is to eat out less. If you’ve already done that, then you may be looking for ways to cut back on your grocery bill. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to spend less at the grocery store, here are a few things to think about.

Only buy food: It can really be convenient to get all your shopping done at one place, and if you’re buying groceries at Walmart or Target, you might be on to something. But if you’re using your local grocery store as the place you always buy shampoo or soap, you might be throwing money away. Even though you may have to make an extra trip, you can save money by getting those household items elsewhere.

Don’t shop so often: Every time you go to the grocery store, it can be tempting to grab an extra item or two that isn’t on your shopping list. If you’re shopping once or twice a week, those extra purchases can add up quick. Try to do your grocery shopping no more than once a week, make a list, and stick to it.

Pay attention to unit prices: If you buy a 24 pack of bottled water each week, check out that 36 pack instead. You may not think you have room for it, but buying those extra 12 bottles could save you money when you look at the unit price. However, unlike shopping at bulk stores like Costco, you can’t always count on the higher count items being cheaper at your local grocery store. Pay attention to what’s on sale, check those unit prices, and compare to get the best deal.

Happy shopping (and saving)!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Save on Your Child’s Back to School Apparel

Although it seems like summer just started, it’s already time for parents to start budgeting and planning their family’s back to school purchases. One big purchase that comes with going back to school is buying new clothes. Here are a few tips to help you save money.

Consignment

Does your city or town hold a big consignment sale in September or October? Get online and do some research to see if there is one near you. If not, search for a local consignment shop. You may be able to find a great back to school wardrobe or backpack at a fraction of the cost.

Don’t Buy Everything New

All of the clothing styles your kids are begging you to buy will probably go on sale by mid-October. If you can, wait for clothing to go on sale or clearance or a good store deal. For example, maybe your clothing budget for back to school is $100 for each child. Instead of spending all of it upfront, try splitting it up over the next few months to keep an eye out for better prices. Don’t forget that the holiday season is also a great time to ask for clothes for your kids too.

Coupons and Clearance

Many stores will also allow you to stack coupons on top of sale or clearance items. Some examples of stores that allow this are JCPenney, Target, Old Navy, and Kohl’s.

Hit Up Garage Sales

This is a great time of year to look for a garage sale in your local area. Try to find a yard sale that sells your child’s size. Search Craigslist the day before to screen which garage sales near you will be worth checking out.

Try Saving Money on Uniforms

If your child wears uniforms for school, then you already know they can be costly. It’s hard to find uniforms on clearance because they are usually made just for one particular school. Try getting in contact with parents of children older than yours, to ask them if you could buy their children’s outgrown uniforms. You can also ask the school if they have any uniforms that were donated and available for purchase. If there is not a system in place, think about starting one. Many parents would be thankful for the savings break.

Want to earn cash back on all your back to school purchases this year? Apply for a Visa Signature Credit Card from First Financial! You’ll earn 1% cash back, no restrictions.*

*A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Visa® Signature Credit Card. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. APR varies from 15.15% to 18% for the Visa Signature Card 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 Fees. 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. No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date. Visa Signature Card Cash Back: Your First Financial Visa® Signature Credit Card will earn cash back based on your eligible purchase transactions. The cash back will be applied to your current credit card balance on a quarterly basis and be shown cumulatively on your billing statement. Unless you are participating in a limited time promotional offer, you will earn 1% cash back based upon eligible purchases each quarter.

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for Moneyning.com

5 Tricks to Save Money

Always use cash.

We now live in the days of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets. Holding your phone up to a machine really doesn’t feel like you’re spending money – but if you check your account online, you’ll see that you definitely are. Even if you don’t want to take out an exact amount of cash each week, just spending cash will feel a little more personal each time you complete a transaction. This may be enough to keep you from buying things you don’t really need.

Write down every penny.

Instead of checking your mobile banking and making sure “it looks right,” try keeping a spreadsheet of every receipt you’re spending. This is highly annoying and it just might make you want to accumulate fewer receipts, which means less spending. Just make sure you have fewer receipts because you are not spending as much, and not because you stopped keeping up with them.

Be kept accountable.

Want to spend less? Tell your friends and family. Tell them you want to cut back and you need their help. You might be surprised about how your habits change when others are constantly asking you how you’re doing financially.

Get a blanket and a fan.

If you want to save money the easy way, turn down that thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. You may be hotter/colder than you’d like, but it’s an easy fix and it will definitely save you some money.

Don’t buy name brands.

Sometimes the store brand is just as good (and probably manufactured in the same facility) as that name brand you may be paying double for. Giving up a few of your name brand purchases each month could pay for your Netflix account, gas for the week, and so on.

Article source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com