4 Ways to Save in January

The holidays are over and that means most of us are strapped for cash. January can be a tough month for many recovering from holiday spending. Here are four ways you can save a little this month as you work to get your finances back on track.

Winterize your home.
This is the coldest time of the year, so make sure your house is ready for the cool temps. There are a variety of things you can do to save this month by lowering your energy bills. Check out these simple tips for winterizing your home. Your wallet will thank you.

Eat what’s in season.
After all the groceries needed for preparing those holiday meals, it’s no wonder you’ll want to cut down on food costs this month. Check out the various fruits and vegetables that are in season in January, many of which are sold at a lower cost. Surprisingly there are a number of yummy seasonal foods that are at their prime in the dead of winter, such as: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, tangerines, and turnips.

New year, new budget.
Take a look back at last year, what worked for your finances and what didn’t? Learning from the past is an excellent way to make smarter choices this year. This month, take a look at the year ahead, anticipate months that will be more costly, and plan accordingly.

Shop sales.
After holiday sales can be an excellent way to save on items you need for the coming year. Check out reduced prices on everyday household items (like household cleaners, soaps, and baking supplies) that are marked down simply because they come in holiday packaging.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

5 Tips to Saving on Your Gym Membership Before the New Year

With all the excitement, festivities, and of course food around the holiday season, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the gym. Most of us probably eat to our heart’s content over the holiday season and wait until January to deal with the aftermath. However, it might be worthwhile to start planning ahead now to get the best deals at the gym.

Once the new year arrives, people seem to turn to “get in shape” mode, which means hitting the gym hard. You definitely see the best deals at the end and beginning of the year, so be proactive now. Here are some tips to getting deals at the gym in the new year:

1. Sign Up for a Trial

It’s hard to commit to a gym membership without testing it out first. Almost all gyms offer free trials, some for a day and others for up to a week. Use your trial pass to get a feel for the gym, what equipment they have and whether or not it’s the right place for your workout. Also, be sure to visit during the times you would normally workout, to see what the crowd is like.

2. Pay Upfront

Most gyms will bill you month-to-month with charges based on the level of access you want to the gym. However, if you offer to pay upfront, you might be able to score a better deal. Many gyms will have promotions that may include anywhere from one to three months free if you pay for a year in advance. Yes, it’s a large sum of money initially – but doing so can save you money in the long run.

3. Be on the Lookout for Offers

Of course, the biggest way to save money on your gym membership is to take advantage of offers and promotions. And the best time to do so is during the new year. January is the busiest time of the year for most gyms and they’ll be offering many different deals and incentives to get more people to join. Look out for discounted monthly fees, waived enrollment and processing fees, and other perks.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

As with almost anything in life, don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are so many gyms to choose from and all of them are competing for your business. There is almost always wiggle room to negotiate your membership. You never know until you ask!

5. Create a Gym at Home

Don’t worry if you still can’t fit a gym membership into your budget, because you can create a gym at home. All you really need is a set of dumbbells and an imagination. Look to Youtube for free exercise videos and tips, or on warmer days go out for a run. You can definitely accomplish a lot without having expensive equipment.

The biggest key to getting in shape is willpower, and you don’t need to pay for that.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

5 Time Consuming Things That Don’t Really Save You Money

Everybody loves to find new ways to save. After all, it’s quite thrilling to know you did something productive to save some money. And plus, every little bit counts when you’re trying to build your savings. But could your money saving habits actually be hurting you? Despite the best intentions, many people are actually doing things all wrong. Yes, certain habits might save you some money, but it can cost you quite a bit of time too. Spending your time to save a few dollars isn’t always worth it. Here are five instances when spending extra time doesn’t actually save you money:

Always Buying Used

There are many times when buying used might actually be a good idea. For instance, buying a used car can save you a lot of money. You can find plenty of used cars in like-new condition at a heavily discounted price. On the other hand, many other items should not be bought second hand. For example, you shouldn’t buy used car seats or tires for safety reasons. So how do you know which items to buy used? You need to research, and that can take a ton of time. It’s a balancing act, but sometimes waiting for a sale and buying new makes more sense.

Stalking the Sale Section

Who doesn’t love a good sale? Sometimes, you walk by and find the best things just sitting in a sale section waiting to be bought. But other times, it’s not so easy. Do you always gravitate to the sale aisle once you walk into a store, only to spend a considerable amount of time rummaging through a pile of things and not find anything useful? And worse, you end up leaving with one or more items you never really needed? Break the habit. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it.

DIY Projects

It’s awesome if you have the gift of being handy and crafty, but not everyone is a DIYer. If you’re not comfortable making something on your own, you don’t have to make an attempt unless you find it enjoyable to give the job a try. It’s perfectly okay to buy something at the store already made. This is especially true for items you plan on using for a long time like furniture. In the long run, it might be worth it to spend a little more now. Not only will you save yourself some frustration and time, but your furniture will likely last longer and look better from the beginning.

Not Using a Credit Card

Having an “all cash” system is definitely beneficial for those who can’t control their credit card spending. However, using credit cards to pay can definitely be beneficial too. First, you don’t have to spend extra time counting change. Second, you can get reward points and cash back when using your card, which is like getting a discount on every purchase. Third, it’s actually easier to track your spending with a card, helping those who are disciplined and willing – improve long term spending habits.

Waiting in Line for a Deal

If you waited in line for Black Friday deals this year, you weren’t the only one. But is it really worth it? It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons for yourself, but spending hours waiting in line is definitely not time well spent. Plus, most online retailers offer huge discounts and promotions this time of year too. If you shop online you can avoid the long lines and still earn great seasonal discounts without ever having to leave the house. You just have to do a little research and price comparison shopping first.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

How to Save Money While Staying Healthier Through Cold and Flu Season

Fall is the time of year known for vibrant colors, crisp weather, pumpkin patches, and spiced cider — but it’s also known as the beginning of cold and flu season.

Whether you blame it on the changing weather patterns, the lack of daylight, or spending more time in close quarters with other people, getting sick can impact not just your health, but your wallet. Between missed work and medical costs, sickness can get expensive very quickly.

1. Get More Paranoid About Germs

You don’t have to be a germaphobe, but basic things like washing your hands frequently (for a full 20 seconds) — and using hand sanitizers, provide a first line of defense against getting sick. It’s also wise to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth throughout the day.

2. Consider a Seasonal Flu Shot

Many employers will offer or pay for flu shots for their employees, and if you have public health insurance, the Affordable Care Act requires providers to pay for the cost. Seniors with Medicare Part B can get free flu shots, as well.

Even out of pocket, you can usually find flu shots for $15 or less from retail-store pharmacies, school programs, and health department clinics.

3. Take Preventative Care to Boost Your Immune System

There are also many natural, low-cost ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season — without buying into pricey immune-boosting OTC products. The first tip is to eat a whole food-based diet, exercise regularly, avoid unnecessary stress, and get enough sleep. Secondly, be sure you’re getting enough of these key nutrients through the foods you eat:

  • Protein
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A

4. When You Get a Cold, Save Money with Generics and Natural Remedies

We all know there’s no cure for the common cold, but many home remedies and basic medications can help you deal with the symptoms and recover faster.

With medications, remember that the effective ingredients are what matters — not the brand name. Don’t hesitate to try the store brand of an antihistamine or decongestant. If you’re not sure whether there are generics for a name brand drug, check with a pharmacist.

Natural remedies can also provide effective relief at very little expense: try a neti pot to relieve and prevent sinus infections, herbal teas to boost your immunity, and salt water gargling to relieve a sore throat. Hot soup also works wonders.

Cold and flu season may be here, but it doesn’t mean your health or finances need to suffer. Use these tips to prevent sickness, reduce your medical costs, and save money even when you do succumb to the common cold.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for moneyning.com

4 Ways to Save Money During Football Season

If you love football, this is probably one of your favorite times of year. As fun as it is, it can also be expensive. Here are a few things you can do to enjoy yourself and save a few bucks.

Fund your football addiction. 

If you’re going to spend a lot of money during football season, try figuring out a way to raise some dough before the season starts. It might be too late for this year, but you can start planning ahead for next year right now. Having a yard sale next spring and summer could be a great way to raise some pocket cash for a ticket you want or that party you want to throw. Have an old guitar or piece of workout equipment you don’t use anymore? Sell it online and turn it into cash.

Go big or stay home.

We all love the big games, especially when our team is involved. When those weeks roll around, do it big but plan ahead! If you’re throwing a party, stock up ahead of time and see what you can buy on sale. If you’re going to the game, plan out an exciting tailgate and do it up right. When your team is in a less exciting matchup, watch your game – but keep it light and try not to spend any more cash than you would on a non-football Sunday.

Split season tickets.

Feel the need to be at the stadium as much as possible? Try splitting season tickets with a friend or family member. You can go to games together or divide the games and take other friends and family. Even that way, you’ll still get to see 3 or 4 games for a decent price.

Involve everyone in your party plans.

If you love to constantly have people over on game days, just make sure you’re not footing the bill every weekend. Make it a potluck and get your guests to all contribute to the spread. It’s a lot easier to have a great party week after week, if it’s not costing you hundreds each time.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight

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 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