5 Ways to Slash Halloween Costume Costs

October is not just about getting that pumpkin spice fix, but also finding the perfect Halloween costume.

According to the 2018 National Retail Federation Halloween survey, Americans are expected to spend $9 billion on the holiday. Because both adults and children celebrate Halloween, 8% of shoppers plan to buy costumes for a projected total of $3.2 billion.

Here are 5 ways you can avoid feeling haunted by sticker shock this Halloween season:

Expand your store options: Don’t just limit yourself to your standard go-to’s like Walmart, Target or Spirit of Halloween. Check out Walgreens, the dollar store, Party City, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Kohls, warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s or BJ’s, thrift shops and consignment stores. You may be surprised by the finds and discounts available.

Take a detour from the Halloween aisle: Sometimes finding a deal on kids’ costumes means exploring other areas of the store. You really do pay more for seasonal costumes set aside for Halloween. Try checking the toy aisle for dress up outfits or the kids sleepwear section for action hero or princess options with a cheaper price tag. If your kids are into sports, take a look at the athletic/active section of the store.

Explore online deals: Check online coupon offerings found on deal sites like RetailMeNot.com or Groupon.com.

Get creative: Why not get crafty this year and make your own costumes? Or, build an outfit around a staple piece like a wizard’s cloak (dust off that graduation cap and gown), a cape or a mask. Let your imagination run wild. Maybe you could put your own twist on a popular character, superhero or villain. Just make sure your ambition doesn’t lead to spending more money (or time), to bring your vision to life.

Timing is everything: Either buy your costumes early on or just before Halloween to find the best bargains. If you don’t mind having your options limited to whatever is left, then wait until the last minute for deals on the Halloween items retailers want to move. The BEST time to buy costumes and decorations is actually AFTER Halloween. Hitting the stores November 1 will land you savings of anywhere from 50% to 75% off – perfect for next year!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

 

11 Ways You Can Save On Your Wedding Day

If you’ve ever hosted a wedding of your own or attended a wedding, you definitely know how much it can potentially cost. From venues to flowers to photography, the expenses add up quickly. And considering that it’s actually only one day of your life, the cost of a wedding can be very daunting.

While weddings can get really expensive, there are ways to cut back without sacrificing the experience for you or your guests. Being strategic about how you stick to your budget can significantly impact your costs in a good way. Here are 11 tips to help you save on your wedding day:

Venue

1. Date: Flexibility is key when you choose the big day. Wedding season typically runs from May through October, with some venues extending peak season to November. Pricing for peak season is substantially more expensive – as much as 50% for some venues. Having your wedding outside of these months, particularly the winter, will save you quite a bit. Also, be sure to ask about July and August. Some venues will consider this off-peak because many couples prefer not to get married in the heat of summer. If you’re having your ceremony and reception indoors where there is air conditioning, outside heat won’t really matter.

You should also consider a Friday or Sunday wedding, instead of a Saturday. Many couples are also opting for weekday weddings as well, particularly a Thursday, if many of their guests are taking time off and flying to the destination anyway. Lastly, Saturday brunch weddings are becoming more and more popular. Afterwards, the bride and groom can take the after-party elsewhere while the night is still young.

2. Location: Location is also a big one. The cost of a venue can be astronomical in big metropolitan cities, but you can save a lot if you move the wedding just a few miles out of the city. This could be a great option if there is public transportation available or most of your guests are driving.

3. Guest List: Lastly, if you can’t do anything about the date or location, it’s time to cut the guest list. Think carefully about who you really want to be spending your big day with you.

Food and Drink

4. Bar: The bar is arguably the most important part of your wedding, but also one of the most expensive options. You can cut down on liquor costs by only serving a select few beverages. Many couples are also opting for beer and wine only or a cash bar these days, as mixing unlimited alcohol can get expensive and can potentially make some guests a bit too rowdy.

5. Cocktail hour & Reception: Many couples overdo it with the amount of food available at the cocktail hour and reception. You can have your cocktail hour serve only a few hor d’oeuvres, and your reception two courses instead of three (or cut down on your meal selection options – give your guests two choices instead of four). Your guests won’t even notice, and you could potentially save big bucks.

6. Cake: A cake is definitely a symbolic part of your wedding, but not everyone cares for it (or maybe they are too full to eat it after cocktail hour and dinner). To save, you can choose a smaller cake and have other desserts for your guests. Many couples are also going for cupcake towers instead, which are fun and much less costly. If you must have a large cake, minimize the decorations to save yourself some money.

Invitations and Decorations

7. Flowers: It’s crazy how much fresh flowers can cost, especially when vendors seem to automatically double the price when they know it’s for a wedding. Replace flowers with other decorations like candles or framed pictures. Also, look for flowers that are in season and limit yourself to two different types to save even more.

8. Favors: The best way to save on favors is to DIY. Gather the bridesmaids (and even groomsmen), to put together small treats for your guests. Candy is the easiest. It’s simple and something your guests will enjoy.

9. Invitations: Invitations and programs from a printer can cost several dollars each. Consider printing them yourself on nice cardstock if possible. Some couples are also going digital these days and sending invites via email.

Photography and Entertainment

10. Photography & Videography: You definitely want to remember your big day with photography and videography, but these services aren’t cheap. However, most photographers and videographers will work with you to find a package that fits your budget, so don’t hesitate to ask. Many will also give you a nice discount if you book your engagement photos, wedding photos, and videography together. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

11. Band: Bands can really take your wedding atmosphere up a notch, but they also cost considerably more than a DJ. If you really want a band, consider looking locally. Many local up and comers would love the exposure and won’t charge as much as a typical wedding band.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming and stressful – but it’s your big day! Take the time to enjoy your first day as a married couple.

Getting married in the Monmouth or Ocean County NJ area? Apply for a Financial Helper Wedding Loan from First Financial. We’ll help you cover the expense of your big day with a low interest rate!*

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Connie Mei for moneyning.com

3 Free Apps That Cook Up Savings

At some point, we all get tired of our go-to meals. For a family, going out to eat (or ordering in), two to three times a week can really add up.

In 2017, according to restaurant industry analyst firms Acosta and Technomic, 51.8% of U.S. food spending went toward eating out. The average amount spent on food prepared outside the home kitchen per month totaled $144. Millennials tended to spend more ($202 a month), with 42% of their total monthly food budget allocated to eating out.

Who doesn’t enjoy someone else doing the cooking and the easy clean-up? Our wallets, that’s who.

Still, gazing into your refrigerator and pantry, trying to figure out a new spin on the same old chicken, can be a real struggle.

Check out the following three free recipe apps:

SideChef: There are step-by-step voice instructions! No going back to check the next step. There are also many recipes to choose from, as well as fun food facts and videos.

Tasty: This app will help anyone believe cooking is easy and they can make anything. The short videos are fun and easy to duplicate. You can even get recipe recommendations based on the time of day, day of the week, and major holidays.

Yummly: It’s easy to tailor searches based on your specific needs whether dealing with food allergies, vegetarian dishes or kid-friendly meals. The app learns your likes and dislikes over time and it shows in the recipe recommendations.

Happy cooking (and saving money at the same time)!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

3 Easy Ways to Save Money this Fall

You probably spent a decent amount of money this summer on vacations and just having fun in general. Then you had to spend money on all kinds of things so your kids were ready to go back to school. The sad part? The holidays aren’t too far off. If you need a few easy ways to save money this fall, here are 3 ideas that may help you.

Keep your systems off: You’ve probably been keeping your house frosty during these hot summer months. Now that it’s starting to cool down slightly, it’s a good time to think about shutting it off before the cold weather arrives. If you can wait until closer to November to turn your heater on, you can probably save a few hundred dollars. That’ll come in handy on Black Friday!

Stop going out so much: In the summer, it’s fun to spend time and money doing fun things outdoors. Now that it’s cooling off, take advantage. Instead of dining out, break out that crock pot, make a big batch of chili, and enjoy a hot bowl on a cool evening. Haven’t been using that gym membership you bought back in January? Cancel it, and go for a run or a bike ride in the great outdoors. It’s finally cool enough that you won’t melt.

Unsubscribe: Is your inbox full of promotional emails? As the holidays will be right around the corner before you know it, it may be a good idea to unsubscribe to some unnecessary ones. Sure, you might need some gift ideas for family, but you also may be tempted to buy a few discounted items for yourself. If you need help with unsubscribes, check out Unroll.Me.

Preparing ahead now, will have you ready to go and saving a bit before the most expensive time of year hits shortly!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUinsight.com

4 Tricks for Fall Road Trips on a Budget

Fall is the perfect time for a road trip. The leaves are changing and there’s so much beautiful scenery to take in. Before you hit the road, take a hard look at your budget and plan accordingly. Here are 4 tips to consider for your autumn road trip that can save you some money before the pricey holiday season.

Get a tune up.
Before you take off on your road trip, be sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Getting a legitimate tune up and inflating your tires to the proper pressure will ensure you’re riding in a safe car. It will also help prevent you from making costly repairs to your vehicle down the road.

Stock up.
We all know eating out can cost a ton, but so can simple snacks purchased at convenience stores. If you pack a cooler with your favorite food and drinks, you can skip those frequent stops at fast food chains and gas station markets. Then, you can save up for more enjoyable meals when you reach your destination.

Go mobile and save on gas.
Over 70 million people have downloaded the GasBuddy app, which helps travelers locate gas stations near them, and most importantly the ones carrying the cheapest gas. When mapping out your trip, plan in advance to fuel up at these more economical gas stops. This will help you budget ahead of time and give you a better idea of how much extra spending money will be left over.

Book outside the box.
Can you think of the last time you spent less than $100 on a hotel room? The key to saving on accommodations is to think outside the box and step out of your comfort zone. Couchsurfing.com connects travelers with local hosts and can give you the opportunity to stay for free (and safely), at the home of someone in the area. Or if you don’t like the idea of staying in someone’s house, compare hotel prices within your destination city by using a site like trivago.com, trip advisor, or kayak.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

4 Family Dates for $20 or Less

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to create memories for your little ones. September is a beautiful month for some outdoor family fun with gorgeous weather. There are plenty of options to enjoy a family date on a budget. Here are some great September weekend family fun ideas:

Beach Picnics and a Movie

In Monmouth and Ocean Counties, we all know the best kept secret once Labor Day has passed – local summer! Take some time to pack up and stick your toes in the sand. Bring some beach toys, get on Pinterest for some DIY beach games, and don’t forget the sunblock.

$15 for picnic fixings at the market
$5 for an Amazon or iTunes Rental

Playground and Frozen Yogurt

Watching your kids play tag with some new friends or bolster up their confidence on the “big kid slide” is completely free. For an added zing, check out Yelp or Google and search the best parks in your area and explore some new ones.

$10 for gas
$10 for frozen yogurt after the park

Secondhand Shops and Board Game Night

Thrift shops are a great spot to pick out an inexpensive “new to your kids” toy or two. After visiting a few shops, pick up a cheap board game, head home, and play a family game of Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders.

$10 for thrifty items
$10 for a board game

Book Store and a Walk

Reading to your children is one of the best ways to teach them to use cognitive skills. Book stores are typically happy to accommodate parents who enjoy taking their kids out for some reading (check out the local library too!).

Spend about 20-40 minutes reading together as a family. At the end of the date, buy a new book to take home and then head over to a beautiful setting (beach, park, etc.) to enjoy a walk.

$8 for a new book
$6 for snacks
$6 for gas

As you can see, you can create great family memories and save money on activities at the same time. Happy bonding!

Article Source: Jeremy Hartley for moneyning.com