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

3 Ways to Save Money and Simplify Your Life

We’re all busy, and life is pretty crazy. Juggling your personal life and a career can be quite stressful, and at times, very expensive. How often do you feel this way? If the answer is too often, it may be time to make a few changes. Here are three ways you can simplify your life and save money in the process.

Set it and forget it: Keeping up with all of your financial responsibilities can be a hassle and an unnecessary stress in your life. To make this process easier, create a budget, stick to it, and automate as many payments as you can. When you don’t have to think about bills and savings accounts, it’s a lot less stress in your life, plus you don’t have to worry about late fees and missed payments.

Stick to your household budget and learn how to create one with First Financial’s budgeting guide.

Get rid of your junk: After a long day, it’s nice to enjoy your home and all your “stuff.” But how much of that “stuff” are you really using? What’s important and what’s just clutter? You really think that kayak from college is going to ever be more than an artifact collecting dust? Getting rid of the clutter in your life can bring you peace and put a few extra dollars in your pocket. Have a garage sale, and donate whatever doesn’t sell to a local charity.

Downsize your life: Are you running yourself to death getting from Point A to Points B, C, and D? Slow down a little. Between baseball, soccer, cheerleading, and ballet, your family can get way too busy. Figure out what’s important and cut out the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Being on-the-go less means being at home more, relaxing, and spending less money on fast food and sporting goods.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

Don’t Miss These Labor Day Deals!

In between prepping for back to school and enjoying one last summer excursion, don’t forget to make the most of Labor Day sales.

According to RetailMeNot.com and DealNews.com – keep an eye out for the best deals on the following:

Travel: Look for everything from cheap roundtrip flights to deeply discounted hotel deals. It’s also a good time to make that dream European vacation a reality as flights across the Atlantic are at seasonal lows. According to CheapAir.com’s Holiday Cheap Flights Report 2018, all fares for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s flights are expected to go up in October. Lock in your holiday plans now!

Clothing and shoes: The change of seasons means stores are motivated to offload some inventory, which is good news for you and your bank account.

Furniture and decor: College students living in cramped quarters should check out Dormify.com, where all orders are 20% off. Those with homes to fill can find up to 75% off at modern furniture online retailer houzz.com.

Mattresses: Nearly every mattress retailer is runs a Labor Day sale. You’ll be sleeping better than ever knowing you saved up to 75% off your mattress.

Vacuums: If you don’t want to wait until Black Friday, now’s a good time to get that Dyson, Shark, or iRobot Roomba.

Appliances: Lowe’s and Best Buy are offering significant discounts on appliances through Labor Day – be sure to check them out.

Happy Labor Day Weekend and Back to School!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for financialfeed.com