4 Ways to Save Money on Transportation Costs this Summer

It takes money to go somewhere. Whether you drive or have someone drive you, you’re going to have to budget a portion of your income to help you get around. If you’d like to spend a few less dollars in that area, here are some tips that can help you save money while getting from Point A to Point B.

Drive better.

It takes gas to make a vehicle run, but it takes less gas when you’re driving more responsibly. We all get in a hurry from time to time, but you can improve your gas mileage if you try to speed less. Some cars have an “ECO” light that turns on when you’re cruising at an economically favorable speed. If you don’t have a similar feature, try and stay at a constant speed and not brake/accelerate so much.

Find the cheapest gas.

When you have a need, there’s usually an app for it. GasBuddy can help you find the cheapest gas around and it’s powered by users, so you get to help let others in on the discounts as well. Just try to never let your tank get too low or you won’t be getting many options on where to fill up.

Get a bike.

If you have a short commute, you can solve two problems at once. If the weather is nice and your commute is short, why not leave the keys at home and take your bike to work?

Start a carpool.

Have some coworkers who live nearby? If so, there’s no excuse for not starting a carpool. By taking turns driving each week, you’ll save a lot of gas money over the course of the year. If you like driving too much to be a rider, why not pick up that coworker everyday? They can pay you a flat fee for the ride, you’ll make a few bucks, and they’ll save the wear and tear on their vehicle. Everybody wins.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

3 Bad Habits to Break if You Want More Money in the Bank

Even if you’re doing a good job of saving money, you probably didn’t start as early as you wish you had. If you’re still overspending your budget, there are probably some bad habits you need to break. Here are a few things you should stop doing to save more money.

Waiting for a bigger paycheck before you start investing.

We’ve all probably thought about the things we would be able to do if we made more money. Some of these things make sense, but others are just plain wrong. Investing in your future is something you should never put on hold. Thanks to compound interest, you have a great way to prepare for retirement, and the earlier you start – the better.

Questions about retirement savings or investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1564, email samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

Not paying attention to spending habits.

If you don’t know where your money is going, you definitely have a spending problem. You should keep track of every dime you spend, so you can find out ways to cut back on unnecessary items and save.

Dipping into savings.

Whether it’s a retirement account or an emergency fund, leave it alone. If you take money from your IRA, you’ll suffer penalties and taxes and it’ll damage the progress you’ve made with your compound interest. If you take from your emergency fund, you’ll be hurting when that emergency arises. Keep this in mind before you spend all that you’ve put away.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

How to Save for Your Summer Vacation

There’s no better time than the present to start planning your summer vacation. The sooner you get things planned and booked, the more you’ll save in the end, as prices commonly go up the closer you are to your departure date. What better way to look forward to the months ahead then to plan your vacation and turn your sunny dreams into reality?

Save weekly, not monthly.

Most of us try to put a little money away each month, but when your trip is just a couple months away, you’ll have very little time to save a sufficient amount. Instead, decide how much you need to stash away and begin saving each week to meet your goal. That way your savings plan will stay on the top of your mind weekly until your trip arrives.

Count your pennies.

Who doesn’t find random spare change in pants pockets or under couch cushions? Keep a change jar right by the door and add to it anytime you find yourself with extra change. It may seem like a small idea, but change jars can be more valuable than you think. Every little bit helps and when it’s vacation time, you’ll be happy to have even $15-20 extra spending money.

Spring clean for cash.

Spring is the perfect time to declutter your closet and make some extra cash. Go through your home and be decisive on ridding yourself of things you don’t actually need. Take part in a community yard sale (a great way to make side cash and get to know your neighbors better), or take detailed photos and post items for sale online. Check out Material World, PoshMark, and thredUP for easy and innovative ways to sell your gently used clothing.

Trim the fat.

When an extra expense like summer vacation is on the horizon, it’s time to really sit down and cut out anything unnecessary (and pricey) from your life. Do you watch programs from your streaming device and rarely watch cable? Cancel your cable television subscription if that’s the case. Do you find yourself taking walks at the park or going on a hike as opposed to running on the treadmill at the gym? If so, cancel that gym membership and stay outdoors. Take a close look at last month’s expenses and don’t hesitate to trim the fat – you’ll be glad you did when you’ve reached your savings goal and find yourself on a beach under a palm tree.

If you didn’t reach your savings goal – apply for a vacation loan from First Financial! You could get away for as little as $88 a month. Our summer personal loans also feature rates as low as 10.24% APR, flexible terms up to 60 months, and no pre-payment penalties.* Apply now!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. The $88 payment example is based on a $1,000 loan at 10.24% APR for 12 months. Actual rate will vary based on creditworthiness. Subject to credit approval. A First Financial Federal Credit Union membership is required to obtain a Personal 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. Terms and conditions of this offer may be subject to change at any time. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

7 Money Saving Party Hacks

Group Of Mature Friends Enjoying Buffet At Dinner Party

Hosting a party is a fun way to express hospitality to friends and family, but the expense can also be a strain on the budget. The concern with trying to throw a party on the cheap is that it will end up looking or feeling just as cheap. So how do you pull off an amazing, classy party that’s much less expensive than it looks? are seven simple ideas for you to try next time you want to host a gathering.

1. Make your own decorations with inexpensive materials rather than purchasing them pre-made.

Decorations are one of the easiest things to get away with doing cheap without sacrificing appearance, especially if you borrow ideas from frugal decorating blogs or Pinterest. Here are a few fun ones, just at a glance:

  • Construction paper stars
  • A “chandelier” made from a spray-painted umbrella frame and a string of lights
  • Window displays made by hanging single bulbs from tension rods
  • Ribbon — cheap, plenty of variety, and it looks good everywhere

2. Go to the dollar store for disposable paper goods, but serve from real flatware.

Not everything at the dollar store is a deal, but it’s a good place to find cheap disposable paper goods and supplies, holiday decorations, and bulk party favors that make it more affordable to customize for one occasion. To avoid even this expense, make your party a little classier by serving on real dishes. That’s right – pull out that fine tableware you never use and put it to work. The savings and elegant appearance of your party will be worth the extra load of dishes later.

3. Plan your menu based on sales, make your own appetizers and dips, and opt for cheaper desserts, drinks, and cheese.

Base your menu around what’s on sale, and get creative just like every other occasion. Appetizers like dips and breads are cheaper if you make them yourself, and a DIY dish has the added effect of appearing gourmet. For dessert, a punchbowl trifle is easy to make, visually appealing, and serves a large crowd. Instead of buying expensive, aged cheeses, use cheaper varieties like ricotta and feta and add herbs, honey, or spices for extra flavor. Finally, a common recommendation for saving money on drinks is to feature just one signature cocktail.

4. Presentation is everything.

You also don’t have to serve rich foods to impress your guests. Even the cheapest appetizers and dishes can look impressive if you take the extra step to plate them appealingly in glass dishes or trays and spruce them up with garnish and added touches.

5. Go with a theme: appetizers-only, dessert-only, cheese and wine, or a cookie swap.

Choosing to elaborate on a limited category adds uniqueness to your party while cutting out the expense of a multiple course meal. Sticking with small-plate finger foods that can be carried also encourages people to walk around, mingle, and creates a livelier party.

6. Ask your guests to contribute food, but with class.

Potlucks are a cheaper way to handle gatherings with family, but you might feel awkward asking guests to bring food to your party. Instead, ask people to bring a specialty item to share, such as a batch of their favorite cookies, or make it a “bring and share your favorite wine” event. This also makes the food or drinks a focal point for conversation and a natural ice-breaker for interaction.

7. Less is more.

Finally, less is always more when it comes to throwing a classy party. Too much stuff and fuss can come across as cheap no matter how much money you spend. The fewer, tasteful decorations and key foods (in plentiful quantities), the more memorable your event will seem.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for MoneyNing.com

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