5 Ways Technology Can Save You Money

Overhead view marble counter top with male hand holding cup of coffee with computer keyboard, cell phone, reading glasses, and bagel on plate. Work at home concept.

In this world of instant gratification, technological advancements sure can make life easier. If you use technology correctly, it can also save you a lot of money. Here are some ways technology can save you more than a few bucks.

Smartphone apps

There are a ton of apps available that can save you money. There are apps that will help you monitor your budget, find travel discounts, find the cheapest gas prices, as well as loyalty apps that will help you earn rewards for what you spend. Do a search for these topics in your phone’s app store and start saving!

Doing everything online

All the best deals are online. If you spend time in line at the store buying birthday presents, you’re wasting time, and time is money, so you’re also wasting money. Shop online. If you’re driving to your bank to deposit a check, you’re wasting gas and gas costs money, so you’re again wasting money. Deposit that check with your mobile banking app. If you’re mailing in a check to pay a bill, you’re spending money on checks and postage and that’s also wasting money. Pay that bill online!

Get rid of that landline

We all remember that phone on the wall in the kitchen that had the super long cord that would allow you to talk and walk to the other side of the house. These days, landlines aren’t as popular. Some people like the security and reliability they provide, but they are probably few and far between. But if you’re looking to save a few bucks on something you’re probably not using as much as your cell phone, it may be time to disconnect.

Get a smart thermostat

Some of the more advanced thermostats know when the house is empty and will adjust your heating or AC accordingly. Thanks to GPS, they also can see when you’re heading home and re-adjust the temperature for your arrival. This may sound a little creepy, but it’s also super cool and cost effective.

Cut those cable cords

If you’re still paying for cable or satellite tv, you may as well go outside and light your wallet on fire. With all of the available streaming options out there these days, you can almost get the exact same channels for half the price.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

4 Ways to Curb Your Excessive Amazon Shopping Habit

amazon-logoIf you’re human you probably enjoy the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership: Free 2-day shipping on tons of products and access to free music, movies, and TV shows are great justifications for a subscription to the online giant. If this describes you and you want to curb this habit, here are few things you can do to make it harder for you to buy things you don’t really need.

Delete the app from your phone

If you have the Amazon app on your phone, you may have perused it many times out of sheer boredom. Sitting in a waiting room or a traffic jam can spur purchases that aren’t exactly wise. By taking the app off your phone or tablet, you’ll be way less likely to make that impulse purchase. If you need to look up a product from your device, use the web browser and don’t login to your account (aka: online window shopping).

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Are you the type to see a deal you like and immediately buy it? If this is the case, make sure you unsubscribe from Amazon emails. Sometimes those $10-$20 products are too enticing to pass up. The less you see it, the more likely you’ll resist the temptation.

Delete your credit card information

If you’re reading this you’re more than likely an Amazon Prime member and that means you probably have your credit card info saved on the site. This is great for ease of use but it also makes it easier to buy items that are totally not needed. If you want to put a roadblock between you and those purchases, delete that information. Having to input that info every time you want to buy something will hopefully make you change your mind every once in a while.

Create an Amazon Wish List

Now you probably don’t think this is a very valuable bit of advice, but by putting something on a wish list, you’re delaying a purchase. A wish list can help you sort out the things you need, the things you want, and the things you think you want but don’t really care about.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Stop Spending Money

Stop Me on the Open Hand on a White Background.

Give yourself a waiting period

We all make impulse purchases from time to time. One minute you’re harmlessly surfing the internet, the next minute you’re looking at a $100 pocket-size flashlight and before you know it, it’s on your doorstep two days later. The best solution for this problem is to give yourself a mandatory 24-hour waiting period. Often, the purchase won’t seem like such a great idea the next day. Use this method online and in-store. If shopping on sites like Amazon is a problem, you should definitely read this!

Eat at home

Cooking at home is probably easy for a lot of people, but some days you probably don’t feel like cooking and you may instead decide to venture out. If you feel like you’re in the same boat, just track this for one week. Start on Sunday and keep track of all your restaurant receipts for the week. The following Sunday, go to the grocery store and buy enough for a week’s worth of meals. Guaranteed you’ll see a huge difference in your bank account.

Don’t go off your list

When it comes to meals, planning ahead definitely helps when you’re trying to spend less money. Figure out what you want to eat for the week, make a list of what you need to buy, (remember you can use some ingredients for multiple meals) and don’t buy anything you haven’t planned for.

Leave your credit card at home

You may be thinking it’s not responsible to leave your house without some sort of payment, in case of emergency. You’re right, so take your debit card or cash. If you need to buy something, you can use “present money,” as opposed to using a credit card, which is “future money.” You should have a good idea about the money you have, so hopefully this will keep you from spending more than you should.

Borrow before you buy

You can’t ever go wrong with borrowing items from friends and family. Just don’t go overboard. You probably shouldn’t ask your neighbor to borrow his lawnmower every weekend, all summer long. But if your brother has those Marvel Blu-rays you’ve been wanting, watch his copies and save the money.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Tips for Saving Money During Cold and Flu Season

A young woman lying on her couchEven if we wash our hands and try our hardest to stay healthy, the reality is that winter and cold and flu season are upon us and often can’t be avoided. Even if you’re not feeling well you don’t have to let your wallet feel the pain too. Here are three tips to help save a few bucks when you’re dealing with a cold.

Buy generics

You may lean toward buying the name brand, and more expensive, over-the-counter cold and flu medicines thinking they will work better. Before you do, compare the ingredients with that of the store brand products. More often than not, you will find that they are identical and the generic brand can save you a great deal.

Try home remedies

When your symptoms first show up and before you rush to the pharmacy, be patient and try the remedies you learned from mom. Sometimes a sore throat can be caused by the change in seasons so first try vitamins, hot tea with honey, or gargling with salt water. You may be able to nip it in the bud before it gets worse and you end up at the doctor.

Clip coupons

Remember the last time you checked out at the pharmacy and received a long sheet of coupons along with your receipt? It may seem annoying at the time, but hold on to them for the future. Saving even the smallest amount when you’re not feeling well can make your illness seem just a little bit better.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

4 Tips for Bouncing Back from Holiday Shopping

metal spring for a car on a white background

You say you won’t go overboard every year – but once again holiday shopping may have gotten the best of you already. In spite of your best intentions, you overspent, you’re probably full of regret, and you’re getting a headache just thinking about your January credit card statement. Now what?

1. With a sober mind, go through what you bought and return/exchange if it’s not too late.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the moment — the rush of shopping, the allure of good deals and sneaky sales tactics — and you probably made a few impulsive decisions, even if you didn’t overspend.

Shoving the items you felt guilty or embarrassed about to the back of the closet might make you feel better, but the act might also cost you the 30-day return/exchange window — in other words, an opportunity to reverse your losses. If you didn’t give some items as gifts, return them stat.

2. Offset over-budget spending by cutting elsewhere.

If you’re in the red after the holidays, it’s time to offset your spending by cutting a different area of your future budget to accommodate it. Start by totaling what you spent and comparing the total to discretionary spending you’ve budgeted for January 2017. Is there something that matches the exact dollar amount? What about two or three ‘luxuries’ that match one half or one third of what your spent? Cut them. You may only need to cut a service or two for a month before you’re back on track, so it’s really not much of a sacrifice. Consider cutting the following:

  • Extra cable channels
  • Netflix and other streaming media accounts
  • Scheduled hair treatments, massages, or manicures
  • Magazine, book club and other subscriptions

Beware: cutting one of these temporarily might show you how little you’ve missed it… and how much nicer it is to have the cash!

3. Pay it back — fast.

If you charged up your credit card(s), the debt you accumulated and the interest attached to it may have even longer side effects than a light bank account. Resolve to pay your shopping debt off entirely within one to three months. If that’s not feasible, try to pay at least three times the minimum amount. Ultimately, aim to keep your balance below 40% of your credit limit so you won’t hurt your credit report.

4. Redeem those freebies.

Many retailers offer cash back in the form of gift cards on special buys through the holiday season or early into the new year, but reports show that many are never used. Don’t let your freebies go to waste – use them to retroactively pay for over-budget spending. If the gift cards aren’t for stores you shop at, go online and sell or exchange them for something you’ll be able to use. Just don’t let them go to waste.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for Moneyning.com

5 Financial Reviews for the New Year

2017 year on the sea shore. Element of design.

Happy New Year! 

How did you do financially last year? Did you meet all your goals? Now is the perfect time to take a look at what went your way financially last year so you can repeat it for the new year, and what may not have gone the way you wanted it to – so you can adjust in 2017.

1. Your Spending

What did you spend money on? Did it match your priorities? Did you overspend more than you should have? Were most of your purchases planned, or did you make a lot of impulse purchases?

If you want to get your finances under control, it’s essential to know where your money is going. Personal finance software is a great way to keep track. All you have to do is run a report to see which categories got the most attention from your pocketbook.

2. Your Saving

Did you save enough money in 2016? Review your savings habits. Did you put money toward retirement and do you have an investment portfolio? Do you have an emergency fund? Do you save up for large purchases?

Consider your long-term and short-term savings goals. Make sure you are on track with them. In some cases, it can make sense to cut back on the extra spending in order to divert some of that money toward your savings.

This is also a good place to review your debt load. Pay down your debt as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of interest you pay others.

3. Your Giving

One of the best ways to ensure a well-rounded financial life is to give to others. It seems counter intuitive, but it actually works. Look at how you use your resources to help others. Research charities to make sure your money is going where it should.

4. Your Taxes

Let’s not forget about a review of your tax situation. What deductions and credits are you eligible for? Review your spending and see if you can reduce your tax liability with a couple of well-placed contributions.

Don’t forget to review your pay stub as well. Are you withholding too much from your paycheck? A big tax return is an indication that you are withholding too much and giving the government an interest-free loan. Consider adjusting your withholding to improve your monthly cash flow — and put that money to better use.

5. Your Asset Protection

Are you covered in case of an emergency? Asset protection is a big part of your finances so make sure you are covered. You need to check your health care coverage, as well as your auto and home coverage. Tweak your coverage if necessary to balance cash flow with protection. You don’t want to overpay above what’s necessary.

Once you finish the financial review, you will have a better idea of what you did well in for 2016, and how you can improve for the new year.

Have you done a financial review with First Financial recently? If not, a brand new year is the perfect time to start! Stop into your nearest branch or call 732.312.1500 to get started today.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for Moneyning.com