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

Stop Wasting Time with These “Money Saving” Habits

Red Old Style Alarm Clock. Isolated on White.

You have probably heard the age old cliché “time is money,” a few times in your life. That saying could not be any truer for money saving habits. There are many great money saving tips out there, but not all of them are worth your time. Here are a few serious time wasters you should avoid.

Clipping Physical Coupons

If you play the “grocery game” using coupons and find yourself compulsively looking at deal matching sites, as well as driving to different stores each week to score a coupon deal – you are wasting your time (and gas).

Digital coupons are much faster, though try not to look at deal matching sites daily – and if you have to, maybe only a few times a month. You can simply go to your local grocery store and browse their sale items to see if items you typically purchase are discounted, or look through their offers online before you go to the store – rather than driving all over town trying to score free items you may never even use.

Using Budgeting Apps

Get rid of any money saving app that takes too long to use daily. It’s not worth the frustration or wasted time. For budgeting to truly work for individuals, it must be simple and a daily habit. You will stay on budget if you can easily look at how much you planned to spend in a certain area, and how much you have already spent in that area. For example, if you know you have budgeted $350 for groceries for the month, you should be able to look quickly at your phone to see how you are sticking to that particular goal.

Making Your Own

A few years ago, there was a huge boom of money saving homemaker blogs. These popular blogs seemed to make everything from scratch and the owners boasted a frugal lifestyle. However, if it takes you almost 30 minutes each to make homemade tortillas and bagels, you are only really saving pennies for both items.

In some cases, making your own food or craft items from scratch just make sense. Calculate the savings versus time spent to see if your DIY project is really worth it. If something saves you $5 but takes you over an hour to do it, is it really worth it? Of course, if you love doing the DIY project, then the time was worth it. Know yourself and do what works for you.

Over Researching Everything

Research is valuable and you can save a lot of money with knowledge. However, don’t research something to death or waste time trying to save just a few dollars. If it takes you 30 minutes looking for a $5 Home Depot coupon code and trying to get codes to work, is that really worth your time or the minimal savings?  If you find a money saving coupon code online right away, then great. But if the process takes much longer than expected and isn’t really saving you that much anyway, it might be better to just order the item and spend the rest of your time wisely.

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for Money Ning, http://moneyning.com/frugality/stop-wasting-time-with-these-money-saving-habits/

 

5 Tips for a Frugal Fall

fall-into-savingsFall is here and with it comes crisp weather, football, and changing leaves. For many, it is the best time of the year; for others it is the onset of a stressful, and often expensive holiday season. So, here are five tips for a more frugal fall:

Don’t go to the gym – Yes, you read that correctly. Cancel or freeze that gym membership and exercise outdoors. Enjoy the cooler weather while you go for a run (or walk) around your neighborhood, plan a hike, or take a bike ride around town.

Break out the crockpot – Spend time gathering ingredients for a hearty crockpot meal. Enjoy quality time at home with family and friends. Chances are that crockpot will produce leftovers, which will save you even more in the end!  Look for easy recipes on Pinterest.

Winterize your home – Make your home as energy efficient as possible in preparation for the colder months ahead. Seal off drafty windows or doors, shut vents in rooms that aren’t being used, and change the direction of your ceiling fan to draw cooler air up and force warm air down.

Get outside – During hot summer months, indoor activities (such as going to the movie theater or shopping) are a must, which can often come at a steep price. As the weather cools down, do research on things to do outdoors in your community (many of which are free or for a small fee). Visit a pumpkin patch, check out a corn maze, or do some apple picking at a local farm. Don’t forget to check out our monthly Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties blog series!

Start a holiday fund – Saving even a small amount for those upcoming holiday purchases can make a big difference. It can be quite stressful to think of extra expenses on the horizon, but planning ahead can ease that stress and help you enjoy all the fun that comes within these last months of the year.

The perfect way to save for your holiday expenses is by opening a Holiday Club Account right here at First Financial! No need to put yourself into debt over holiday spending – simply save ahead and come out on top (and not in debt)!*

  • Open at any time
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Dividends are posted annually on balances of $100 or more
  • Accounts automatically renew each year
  • Deposits can be made in person, via mail, payroll deductions, or direct deposit
  • Holiday Club funds are deposited into a First Financial Checking or Base Savings Account

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com, https://www.cuinsight.com/5-tips-frugal-fall.html

 

3 Weekend Money Traps You Need to Avoid

Pack of dollars on a mouse trap, isolated on white background

After a hectic workweek, it’s natural to want to decompress over the weekend. Watch out though, because these two days can be the most expensive of the entire week! Here are three common weekend money traps, and how to avoid them.

Restaurants

Dinner at a popular eatery on a Friday or Saturday night always sounds enticing after a long week. But before you make those reservations – consider how much you’ll save by cooking at home. You can still enjoy a great meal, and some quality time with friends and family without the expensive bill.

Movie Theaters

It is more expensive than ever to catch the latest movie release in your local theater. Add in some sodas and popcorn on top of it, and you’re looking at a hefty price tag. Instead, do some research on the newest releases on Netflix or Hulu (even your cable provider’s On Demand menu), and grab some snacks from the grocery store.

Shopping

Who doesn’t love shopping on the weekends?  Special sales at your favorite store may have you spending money you shouldn’t on things you don’t need. Instead, redirect that shopping urge to the grocery store. Not only will you be able to shop – but you’ll be purchasing necessary items that will encourage you to plan your meals, and keep you out of those pricey restaurants at the same time.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight, https://www.cuinsight.com/3-weekend-money-traps-need-avoid.html 

How to Save Even If You Live Paycheck to Paycheck

fishing out saving dollars from glass jar isolated on white background

You know you need to save money, but it can be hard if you’re just trying to make ends meet on a small income. After all, you have bills to pay today, so it’s hard to make saving for tomorrow a priority. Even higher-income people can find themselves living paycheck to paycheck without much room in their budget to set aside cash. Despite what you might think, it is possible to save even when you’re strapped for cash. Here’s how to get started.

Figure Out Where Your Money Is Going

You might have more room in your budget to set aside money for savings than you think. But you won’t know until you track your spending for at least one month. Review your bank statement to figure out how much your necessary expenses — rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, transportation and food are costing you. Account for credit cards, student loans and other debt payments. Then, add up how much you’re spending on things you can live without, such as cable TV or Netflix, restaurant meals, magazine subscriptions and nights out. Knowing how much of your paycheck is going toward needs and wants will help you pinpoint how much you can afford to save each month.

Pay Yourself First

You should think of saving as one of your fixed expenses that you pay at the beginning of the month rather than waiting until the end of the month to see how much you have left over to set aside. Pay yourself first, then learn to live on what’s left.

One of the best ways to pay yourself first is to automate contributions to savings so you don’t even have to think about setting the money aside. If you opted out of your workplace retirement account because you didn’t want to sacrifice your paycheck, you should opt back in and have contributions automatically withdrawn from your paycheck moving forward each month.

You also need to be saving for emergencies so you don’t have to rely on credit cards or even retirement savings to cover unexpected costs. To build an emergency fund, use the same approach as with retirement savings by setting up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to a savings account so the money comes out before you have a chance to spend it. But, don’t get discouraged if you can’t set aside that much now. Even a small monthly contribution can add up over time.

Get Free Money for Your Retirement Account

If you can’t set aside 10% of your pay each month, contribute enough to your workplace retirement plan to get the full matching contribution from your employer — if it offers one, because this is practically free money. 25% of American employees don’t contribute enough to get the full match from their employer, leaving an estimated $1,366 of free money on the table each year, according to research by Financial Engines, an investment advice company.

Keep More of Your Paycheck

A tax refund can be welcome windfall when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. But a refund means you’re letting the IRS hang onto too much of your paycheck throughout the year. You can keep more of your money each month — and use it to boost savings by adjusting your tax withholding. Ask your human resources department at work for a new W-4 to claim more allowances, which will lower the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck.

If you received the average refund in 2016 of $2,732, adjusting your withholding could put $227 back into your paycheck each month. If you invested that amount each month at a 7 percent interest rate starting at age 25, you could have nearly $600,000 by age 65.

Reduce Nonessential Expenses

If you discover you’re spending heavily on things you don’t need, those nonessential expenses are the first thing you should cut to make sure your paycheck can cover necessary expenses and savings contributions. If you gave up buying a coffee and bagel twice a week, you could save an estimated $40 per month. If you were to invest that amount each month instead with a 7 percent annual return, you could have $32,402.87 after 25 years.

Raise Your Insurance Deductibles

Another way to find more room in your budget to boost savings is to cut insurance costs. By raising your auto insurance deductible, you can lower your premium by 15 percent to 40 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Raising your homeowner’s insurance deductible from $500 to $1,000 could shave 25 percent off your premium. You also can lower your health insurance premium by opting for a high-deductible plan. With a high-deductible plan, you also get the benefit of being able to set aside money pre-tax through payroll deductions to a health savings account (HSA). Money in an HSA can be used to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Lower Your Bills

In addition to insurance premiums, there likely are other monthly bills you can cut so you’ll have more cash to stash in savings (for example – Netflix, cable, expensive gym membership, etc.). If you aren’t using these services, why are you paying for them? If you don’t want to get rid of a service completely, you may even be able to opt for a lower data plan to cut the cost of wireless service and so on.

Let Technology Help You Save

If you don’t have the discipline to save on your own, there are several apps that can help. For example, the free Digit app takes automation a step further by linking to your checking account and analyzing your income and spending habits to figure out how much you can set aside in savings. It then automatically puts that money into savings for you.

Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/save-live-paycheck/