Showing posts with label Ways to Save Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ways to Save Money. Show all posts
Ways to Save on Food - Fruits and Vegetables

Ways to Save on Food - Fruits and Vegetables

Here are several good ways to save on food, or at least on fruits and vegetables. Saving money on other grocery items is covered on other pages.


Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables often cost much less than fresh, depending on the season. You can use frozen vegetables in cooked dishes and frozen fruit in "smoothies" (just blend orange juice with frozen blueberries, strawberries or raspberries).


Now for the really good news: The frozen versions may have more vitamins than the fresh. This is because fresh fruits and vegetables travel for days and sit in the store displays for days, and then sit in your refrigerator for days, all the while losing vitamins. The ones in the freezer department are usually cleaned and flash-frozen shortly after being picked, thus locking in much of the vitamin content.


How to Save on Organic Fruits and Vegetables

If you sometimes buy organic produce to avoid pesticides you know that they can be expensive. But there is a way to keep your pesticide exposure down while saving money. Just buy organic when shopping for those foods with the most pesticides and spend less to get non-organic fruits and vegetables when buying those that typically are lowest in pesticides. The lists:

Foods with most pesticides:

Bell Pepper
Grapes (Imported)

Foods lowest in pesticides:

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato


More Ways to Save on Food

Do you want the freshest, best produce at the lowest cost? Then buy whatever is in season at the moment. That's when you get the highest quality, and because of the abundant supply this is also when prices are normally the lowest. You get the same fruits and vegetables as you normally do, but when they are ripe and probably better for you.

You can also adjust your diet to include more fruits or vegetables that are cheaper. Habit alone may have you buying some of the things you eat, while there are cheaper alternatives that you would enjoy just as much. Try any produce that's on sale and see what you really like. Then among your favorites just buy whatever costs the least each time you go shopping.

Gardening might seem like a way to save on food costs, but this rarely works if you have a small garden. By the time you figure the costs of seeds supplies and water you may be paying twice as much for each tomato or cucumber. On the other hand, why not visit friends who like to show off their gardens. They will probably send you home with a free zucchini or two.

Cheap Insurance Secrets

Cheap Insurance Secrets

Cheap insurance? Not only can you spend less on all types of insurance, but you can get more of the coverage you need for less. Here are some insider secrets to help you out.


Cheap Auto Insurance

Of course you should get several quotes. You also probably know that having as high a deductible as you can afford will save you money. Here are some money-saving tips you might not have known.


- Demand the legal minimum for liability coverage if you have few or no assets. Many companies try to sell you their "company-recommended minimums" on liability, and even pass them off as the legal minimums. Get the legal minimums. If you have no assets, you are not a target for a lawsuit.

- Review your policies. Have your policy reviewed and get new quotes every year or so. If the ticket you have is now past the three year mark (or whatever the company thinks is important) they will drop the rate, but not automatically, so ask.


- Remove kids from your policy. If the kids are at a college that's more than 100 miles away, you can have them taken off the insurance policy and save a lot of money. You can't let them drive the car when they come home to visit though.

Cheap Life Insurance

- Buy multiple policies. Instead of buying one large policy, you can save money by buying two, and staggering the terms. Have one run until the kids are out of the house, for example, and the other until your retirement fund kicks in.

- Check out the company. Visit This is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners site. It has links to check out companies, including their financial condition, and the complaints filed against them.

- Get rebates. Some states allow agents to rebate a portion of their commission to you. Check online or by phone. You don't have to be from the state to buy insurance there.

Other Cheap Insurance Secrets

- Health insurance: Find a group to join. If you don't have health insurance through your employer, join a group that enables you to get a better policy rate. A fraternal organization or the chamber of commerce sometimes have arranged for group policies.

- Home owners insurance: Consider higher deductibles. Insurance is for disasters, not small stuff. Plan to pay the first $1000 someday when something happens. In the meantime you'll save money every year on your policy.

- Credit life insurance: Just say no. It pays the balance of your auto, home or other loan if you die. If you feel you need it, regular life insurance for the same amount is much cheaper.

No matter what type of insurance you are buying, be sure to get several quotes. Ask about every part of the policy. Don't pay for things you don't need. Ask if there are any special discounts you might be eligible for. Asking a lot of questions and really understanding the policy is the key to getting cheap insurance.


Why is Debt Consolidation Necessary?

Why is Debt Consolidation Necessary?

Why is debt consolidation necessary? Maybe it isn't. It seems like the easy way out of the problem of too many payments every month. When your credit card and loan payments add up to $900 every month, why not just get a loan that will pay all of these debts off and have a nice easy payment of say, $300? There are two reasons why this may be a bad idea.


Debt Consolidation Ignores the Cause

Too much debt? Why? Rarely is the cause due entirely unforeseeable circumstances. Most often, if you have debt problems, it is because you buy too many things on credit. In other words, it is due to bad financial habits.


Now what happens when you combine all that debt? Do you have less debt? Maybe you get a lower interest rate on average, but you still owe all the money, right? Your consolidated debt is just easier to pay, because it is in one lower payment stretched out over a longer period. What else becomes easier now? Adding more debt.

This is exactly what many people do. They get their $900 of various payments rolled into a loan with a $300 payment, and now they have all that excess income. Time to go buy some things on credit. Obviously, debt consolidation can be a way to postpone reckoning with the real problem - bad financial habits. Postponing dealing with debt makes it much worse, of course.


Debt Consolidation Costs More

It may seem like you are saving money on interest with some consolidation loans, but this isn't always true. The problem is that you are converting short-term debt into long term debt. The longer you take to pay off the money owed, the more you pay in interest.

Let's look at an example. If you owed $6,000 on a credit card, with 18% annual interest, it would take a payment of $176.26 per month to pay it off in four years. You would pay a total of $2460 in interest. Suppose, in order to get the best interest rate and easiest terms, you rolled the debt into your 30-year mortgage on your home (many people do this). If it was a 7% loan, it would add only $39.92 to the payment. That's easier than $176, and a much lower interest rate, but how much total interest will you pay over the years? $8371 - more than the original debt.

Of course there are debt consolidation loans that are not for 30 years, but you get the point. Even with a 15-year, 7% loan, which would costs $53.93 per month, you would pay at least 50% more in interest than with the 18% 4-year payoff. Converting short-term debt into long term debt can cost you a lot more in interest.

Try hard to make those payments and get rid of that debt sooner. You'll be glad you did. Of course, it may be impossible to make those payments. That happens, but for a reason. At least work as hard on changing your habits as you do on getting that consolidation loan.


Is a Bad Credit Rating a Good Thing?

Is a Bad Credit Rating a Good Thing?

Could a bad credit rating save you from bigger problems? It has done just that for many young people. How can this be? I'll start with a true story.

A Good Credit Rating Story

A friend, whose name I will withhold, started his adulthood with good credit. He soon was able to get credit cards at will, and finance cars, snowmobiles and more. He managed to make the payments on his debt, and went deeper and deeper into debt while he was at it. By the time he was 30 years old, he had over $20,000 in credit card debt, plus loans on cars and business tools.


It was too much to handle. He considered bankruptcy, but was convinced that the credit card companies would reduce his balance due if he just threatened to do so. First, though, he had to stop paying on the cards, or the credit card companies wouldn't believe he was in financial trouble. He did this, then drafted a nice letter to the companies, explaining his situation. Most of them cut at least 30% off what he owed, provided he paid the remaining balance immediately. This he did with a home equity loan.


In the end, his bad credit rating wasn't as bad as if he had actually declared bankruptcy, so he was able to rebuild his credit score. He has also begun to rebuild his credit balances. His good credit rating has enabled him to begin again the stressful process of overburdening himself with debt.


A Bad Credit Rating Story

Another friend of mine had her first credit rating based on the phone bill in her first apartment. She didn't ever pay the phone bill on time, and it was eventually disconnected. This, and a few other minor credit infractions when young destroyed her credit scores. What has this meant?

She can't borrow, so she hasn't had the pleasure of being at the edge of bankruptcy. She can buy things for cash when she has it, or wait until she does. Has this inability to have a bunch of things around that are worth a fraction of what she owes on them made her a less happy person? The opposite is true, in my opinion. She just doesn't have the debt-stress that is so typical today.

Is Bad Credit Good?

I am not recommending that you purposely try to get a bad credit rating, but if you already have one, it isn't all bad. The habits that got you there would probably get you into even more trouble if you could borrow more. Look at it as an opportunity to stop going further into debt, and a chance to learn better habits.

Start paying cash for everything. Pay down those credit card balances (the higher interest ones first). The moment you get those cards paid off, start setting aside money to buy a good used car for cash. When you've done that, start putting what would have been a car payment into a savings account, for a future down payment on house or a business (the only things you should borrow for). A bad credit rating can be good thing, if you take it as a lesson and an opportunity.


1040 Tax Tips : A few lesser-known ways to save at tax time.

1040 Tax Tips : A few lesser-known ways to save at tax time.

1040 Tax Information

Note: This is not an IRS site, but a collection of ways to save money at tax time - ways that you may not have heard of.

IRA Tax Deduction Secret

Starting an IRA (Individual retirement account)? There is a way to get two tax deductions from your contribution. Instead of using cash, sell any stock you own which has decreased in value, and then put THAT cash in your IRA. Why? Because you can write off the capital loss for the sale of the stock, and thereby reduce your taxes even more than if you just put savings into the IRA.


What if you still like the stock? Buy it back using your IRA. There is a "wash rule" in the tax code that says you can't sell and repurchase a stock (within a certain amount of time) just to claim a loss. However, you and your IRA are separate entities as far as this rule is concerned, so you can immediately repurchase the stock in your IRA and still write off the loss.

The Telephone Excise Tax Refund (TETR)

This is a one-time payment available on your 2006 federal income tax return. It is designed to refund previously collected long distance telephone taxes. Individuals, businesses and tax-exempt organizations are eligible to request it.

Taxpayers have a choice: a standard refund amount between $30 and $60, based on the total number of exemptions claimed on their 2006 tax return, to eliminate the need to locate old phone bills; or they can locate those bills and use the actual amount. Ask your tax preparer about this one.

File Your Taxes Electronically For Free

Free File is a relatively new IRS program is a free service offered by companies for taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $52,000 or less. You can find the links to these companies at the IRS web site.

Before selecting a company link, review the tax software company’s criteria to confirm that you meet their eligibility for preparing and e-filing your federal return for free.

Fees for state tax returns may apply. Some companies offer free state tax return preparation and e-filing.
Some companies offer free e-filing of the Form 1040EZ-T, Telephone Excise Tax Refund, for those who want to claim the refund credit and are not required to file a federal income tax return.

You are under no obligation to buy any of the company’s other products or services.


General Tax Savings Tips

1. Take every deduction you can. Audits are rare, and if you honestly think you are entitled to a deduction, taking it is not a crime. If you are not entitled, at most you'll have to pay a penalty and interest - but only if you are audited.

2. Put off income or capital gains. We once delayed a closing on a property we sold by a week, in order to close after the new year. Our profit wasn't taxed for an extra year that way.

3. Accelerate your deductible expenses. If you pay the property taxes on that rental unit this year, you get to claim it as an expense this year, and so pay less tax.

4. Get good advice. If you have a high income, or a business, stock market or real estate investments, you need to talk to a good tax accountant (not just a tax preparer).


Save Money by Knowing the Games Stores Play (They don't want you to know these)

Save Money by Knowing the Games Stores Play (They don't want you to know these)

Save Money By Knowing the Games Stores Play

Who wouldn't like to save money when shopping? But looking for sales is just a start. You also need to be aware of the games that retailers play, starting with the two common ones explained here.


Reference Price Advertising

You have seen advertising like, "Was $119. now only $89!" Similar signs will confront you once you get to the store. Interestingly, regardless of whether the retailer ever sold a single unit at the $119 price, you feel like you are getting a deal, and that is the point of this game.


States often have laws requiring that these be honest advertisements, meaning the store must have the item for sale at the stated price for a certain amount of time before they can claim that it was the "normal" or "regular" price. Of course, not surprisingly, many have it at that price for the absolute minimum time required by law. They may not actually expect to sell any at the "regular" price, since it is solely there to make you feel good about the new "sale price."

One way some retailers use this tactic is by having many similar models of a product. A furniture store might have several mattresses that are very similar, for example. Which one is on sale is rotated, so there's always one that looks cheaper than the others. If you notice this, certainly don't pay the regular price, but wait until the one you want has its turn on sale.

You can also save money in this situation by buying one of the "sale" items. Alternately, since they never expect to sell the items at that price anyhow, the store manager may give you a similar discount if you ask (or insist) for it on the one you really want.

Price Matching Scams

Stores find that it costs nothing to guarantee the lowest price in town. It may be true that they'll match any competitor's price, but then again, they will only match the price on the exact same item - and they may not carry the same models as other stores do. They're also very aware that we rarely check the prices in other stores before buying - and almost never after buying.

Consumer research shows that when a store advertises that it will match competitors advertised prices, we generally think they have lower prices than other stores. Interestingly, this impression is there even when they are one of the higher-priced stores. This is because we often just don't check the prices at other stores.

There are some customers who actually compare prices and demand a reduction. This doesn't cost the store much, and meanwhile, they can sell for more than other stores to all the "average" consumers who don't check other stores.

You might wonder if comparison shopping worth the trouble and time. A study done by the Consumer Literacy Consortium in 2002 found that buyers who spent 16 minutes comparing prices online save an average of $100 on a television. Does that sound worthwhile?

Pricing Secrets That Can Save You Money

Pricing Secrets That Can Save You Money

Want to save money on that next purchase? It can help to know the pricing secrets of retailers, like the two covered here.

The Secret of the Minimum Advertised Price

Sometimes pricing doesn't seem to make much sense. For example, why does whole wheat pasta cost three times as much as regular pasta? Doesn't regular white-flour pasta require the extra trouble and expense of removing parts of the wheat? Economist will tell you that price is determined by what the market will bear. This is certainly an important principle to understand, but does it always apply in real life? Well, yes, in a way - but it is complicated.


Consider the "manufacturers suggested retail price," or "MSRP." Also called the "list price," it is the price a manufacturer suggests to the store - at least in theory. But in practice it is generally the maximum price a retailer can charge us. After all, who really wants to buy something that is priced higher than the manufacturers suggested retail price? So in this case, "what the market will bear" has been limited by the manufacturer.


Another price that manufacturers suggest to retailers is the MAP, or "minimum advertised price." This is one we don't hear about. It's not an absolute minimum that retailers can sell for, and they certainly want to sell for more if they can. But if they sell for less than this they risk upsetting manufacturers and suppliers. Why? Because they can't convince new retailers to carry a product if competing retailers are selling it so cheap that it is difficult to make a profit. The new retailer could sell it for more, but who would buy it when it is advertised cheaper somewhere else?

Of course, you want to buy at the MAP, so to determine (approximately) what it is for a particular product, check several stores. If all are advertising the product on sale around the same price, it is usually close to the MAP. The "big box" stores stick to the MAP in their sale advertisements, as often as not.

What if you want it even cheaper? Look at small stores. They can get away with sales that price the product below the manufacturers minimum advertised price, because they have less to risk by angering suppliers.

Be careful, though. Some stores sell below the MAP because they're selling incomplete products. For example, if it is a computer, you might have to buy a keyboard and speakers as separate items. When other stores are selling a complete product, compare the total cost of everything you need to get a product that is functional.

Why Prices End in 99

$29.99 might as well be $30, and we know this, so why do retailers play this game? Simple explanation: Because this pricing secret works. You may automatically round up a price like this, but you may not have looked at it in the first place if it said $30 instead of $29.99. We process information from left to right, so you see the "2" before anything else, and this is more appealing than a "3" when you want a lower price.

You see, even if only unconsciously, your mind is probably thinking "20-something dollars" versus "30-something." Your next thought might be "Oh, it's $30," but you are already looking at the product, right? It makes you more likely to buy it than if you never stopped to look at it in the first place.

In any case, retailers get caught in this game whether they like it or not. After gasoline retailers started pricing a gallon using ".9" cents, for example, how could any of them stop doing it that way? Just imagine if all the other gas stations had gas at $2.99 and 9/10 and one at $3.00. Ten gallons would be just a penny more there- not worth driving on. However, drivers just see the sign and immediately think they are the most expensive gas station (they are - it just isn't enough difference to matter).

How do you put this knowledge to work for you? Be aware that the 9/10 caught your eye at the gas station, but a penny or a tenth of a penny savings won't justify going out of your way. Save more money by just stopping at the first reasonable station - at todays prices you can't afford the gas to drive around looking for a penny savings.



How to Buy a Used Car for Less

How to Buy a Used Car for Less

Want to buy a used car for a lot less money? There are two good ways to do so, and one good reason to buy used - to save money. Okay, that seems obvious, but this isn't just about spending less initially. The research shows that a four-year-old car can cost 40% less over its lifetime versus a new car, when you include the costs of gas, oil, repairs, insurance, and everything else. In fact, almost half of the millionaires in the United States buy used cars, according to the book "The Millionaire Next Door," by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.


First Way: Buy The Right Used Car

The idea here is to look for the cheapest "type" of car that will provide you with everything you need. The bottom line is that some cars just cost more than others. You pay more to buy and to operate them, so look for the lowest-cost one that will suit your needs. Whatever your negotiating skill, a four-year-old Jeep Wrangler is still going to cost more to buy and run than a four-year-old Dodge Caliber. So unless you need the four-wheel drive or space of the former, why not buy something smaller and cheaper.


Some of the factors to consider when looking at the overall cost of a used automobile:

- The initial price. The popular auto "blue-books" or price guides will give you an idea of what used cars are selling for in your area. Some of us think the accuracy of these may be suspect, but they are better than nothing for comparing the relative values of various models of car.

- Ongoing repair costs. Find a copy of the Consumer Reports auto edition at your local library. It has ratings for all major systems and parts of different models. Usually there is also an average annual repair cost for each car too.

- Gas mileage. Ask an owner about the mileage he or she gets - if you think he or she is honest. There are also websites like where you can find fuel economy figures for used cars. With 15,000 miles per year, the difference between 20 miles-per-gallon versus 34 MPG is an extra 309 gallons per year, or $1,000 at $3.25 per gallon.

- Auto insurance. Different cars have different insurance rates. Ask an agent about the cars you're considering, and take notes.

- Future resale value. Plan to drive the car for just a few years? Then you have to consider what it will lose in value during that time. Different used cars may cost $8,000 each, but one may be worth $6,000 a couple years later while others are only worth $4,000 or even less. Research resale value online, or look over a used-car price guide to see which models tend to retain the most value.


Second Way : Negotiate the Right Price

The next step in buying a used car for less is to negotiate a lower price. There are a few tricks you should know, but start with a good idea of what the car is worth according to whatever guide you have available. Look for the wholesale cost, and make your first offer lower than that. Here are some other pointers:

- Invest time. When you think you want a car, spend some time with the owner or sales person, and looking at the vehicle. Expert negotiators call this "time investment," and use the technique often, because the more time the seller has invested with you, the more they want to sell to you. They don't want to "waste" that time. In other words, you can get a lower offer accepted if you first take more of the sellers time up front.

- Subtly point out any issues. Examine the engine and the underside of the car, even if you aren't sure what you are looking at. Hint at any problems you see politely, but never contradict or insult the seller. The idea is for the seller to like you but to also start to doubt the value of his vehicle.

- Be prepared to walk away. Always be ready to say, "I'll think about it," and leave (unless you really need a car today). It's one of the oldest and surest ways to get price concessions when negotiating. Car salesmen in particular know that when people "think about it" they rarely return, so this is a strong tactic on your part, and they'll usually make their best offer at this point.

- Get a mechanic look at it. Bring the car to your mechanic, or have a friend with some mechanical knowledge come with you to look at it. A car isn't necessarily cheap if it breaks down a week after you buy it, and in any case everything that your friend or mechanic finds wrong is a negotiating point that may result in a lower price.

To summarize: Use both ways to buy a used car for less.

1. Look at the right cars - the cheapest for your needs.

2. Negotiate the lowest price you can get.


Five Tips on How to Save Money

Five Tips on How to Save Money

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

We all have things that we really don't use. Some of these things may not cost us anything to keep around, or at least it may seem that way. On the other hand, suppose you could comfortably live in a smaller house that cost $30,000 less than your current one - except that you need the space for all the things you rarely use. With a 30-year 7% mortgage that extra space will costs you almost $72,000. Is it worth that much to keep those things around?

Then there are the things that have more direct ongoing costs. Even if you owe nothing on an unused motorcycle or snowmobile, they still require insurance and licensing. Subscriptions cost money whether you read those magazines or not. Look at what you really use and what is unnecessary. Get rid of the latter. You lose nothing eliminating these kinds of expenses.

Avoid making the same mistakes again in this area too. We often buy things without honesty assessing how often we'll use them, and without considering the future expenses they create. Buying a fish tank and a few fish, for example, can add up to more ongoing costs than you might have thought. Fish food, cleaning supplies, and occasional replacement of parts are some of the expenses this "one time" purchase adds to your life. Buy it if you will really enjoy it, but be sure you know what the real costs are and have decided that they're worth it.

2. Look First at the Big Expenses

It doesn't hurt to find ways to buy a cheaper pair of socks or less expensive dog food. But start your efforts to spend less with the large expenditures first. You might spend an extra hour finding a great deal on a car, and save $2,000. That's more than you'll save with years of coupon clipping for groceries. So start big and then combine that with the next of these tips on how to save money.

3. Reduce Regular Expenses

Where can you find the most potential for saving money? With things you have to pay for again and again. Look first at the big regular expenditures. Find ways to cut your utility bills, driving expenses and perhaps even the mortgage payment or rent. There may be ways to save on all of these and more. Small stuff matter too if it is regular enough. For example, replace that three-dollar cup of coffee you stop for every weekday with a fifty-cent one at home and you'll save $650 each year, or about $30,000 in the working years of your life.

4. Track What You Spend

Here's a simple but enlightening exercise: Write down every dollar and penny you spend each day for a month or two. People probably avoid doing this because they are afraid to see the truth spelled out on paper. But do it and you'll see how much actually goes to your bills, meals and habits. It's possible you'll discover that what you think you value isn't reflected in how you spend your money. This could prompt some money saving changes in your life. That leads us to the last of our tips on how to save money.

5. Be a Conscious Consumer

It's easy to spend money without thinking about whether we need the thing we are buying, or if there is a cheaper alternative. We shop almost unconsciously at times, but becoming more aware of our choices is a great way to spend less. Once you have actually tracked your spending for a while this awareness is easier. Spend a month consciously thinking about each thing you spend money on. Make it a habit to ask yourself questions like, "Is it worth what it costs?" and "What alternatives do I have?" and "How important is this to me?"

Delaying purchases is another way to become more aware of how momentary impulses and feelings lead us to make purchases. Wait a week and most things will still be there to buy, but many things will no longer be desired. Apart from the lessons this can teach us, it is also just a great way to save money.


How to Spend Less ? Three basic strategies

How to Spend Less ? Three basic strategies

There are thousands of answers to the question of how to spend less. But this article isn't about the specific ways to pay less for this or that item. It is about the few basic methods to spend less and still get everything you need in life.

Don't Buy It

This is perhaps the most obvious way to spend less. It is also perhaps the way that is most commonly overlooked. Whenever we buy something we clearly think it is worth the price at that moment. yet how often do we later realize that it doesn't have quite the value we thought it would have?


For example, you might buy some gadget and then notice a year later that you haven;t used it more than once. There is a simple way to avoid this: wait a week to buy. If you get in the habit of procrastinating on purchases you'll still buy the things that are truly important to you. But there are many purchases that won;t be made if you wait a week.

Then there are the things bought that are never really analyzed in terms of their total cost. You buy a snow mobile for example, and use it only eight times in the years that you own it. If you did the math you might find that it costs you $500 per use or more. So do the math!


Pay Less

This is the usual way we try to spend less. Using coupons and sale-shopping fall into this category. The following is another way that you may not have thought of trying.

Learn to negotiate. We tend to think that learning negotiating skills is for business people and those in sales, but why not for you too? If you can occasionally save $50 on a large appliance or $5,000 on a home it might be worth your time to learn a few "tricks of the trade," right? I have even paid half-price for a new book in a traditional bookstore using simple negotiating tactics.

Look For Alternatives

This is really another way to spend less for the same thing or for something similar. But it is often forgotten when we are buying things. It's easy to think that you just need to find cheaper planes tickets for you trip to Florida, for example, and forget that there are other wonderful places to go that nay cost you hundreds of dollars less.

This is true even with small purchases. You may be used to eating fresh fruit, for example, but it may be just a habit. You might enjoy blended "smoothies" in the morning just as much, and pay less for frozen fruit you use for them. Look for alternatives and you can spend less - sometimes a lot less.


How to Save Money on Food

How to Save Money on Food

A typical article on how to save money on food will mention coupon shopping, maybe stocking up during sales, and buying generic brands. The following is about some of the lesser known basic strategies for spending less.

Alternatives to the Usual Food Purchases

Would you like to eat all the same things you currently do throughout the year and even add more variety, while spending less money on your groceries? You can if you're willing to enjoy whatever is on sale at the moment instead of catering to the fleeting demands of your taste buds and temporary desires.


You might enjoy oranges, strawberries, and apples for example, and normally buy whichever sounds good at the moment you are shopping. However, they each go on sale when in season, sometimes for as much as 70% less than they cost off-season. Now suppose that you eat oranges when they are cheap, then buy strawberries when they go on sale, and do the same with apples. You still get all the variety you normally do, don't you?

However, you might pay an average of 50% less for your fruit throughout the year. Now add kiwi fruit or other fruits and vegetables as they become plentiful and cheap. You get even more variety. You get the best products as well, because these foods usually go on sale when they are at the peak of the season and sitting around for the least amount of time.

Apply this strategy in restaurants too. Look at the specials which are offered before you look at anything else on the menu. You certainly get variety in this way, and save money on the food you eat. There is no need to see this as denying your desires, since you'll get to eat everything you like and get more variety. Each meal or grocery purchase just becomes an enjoyable surprise.

Eat First, Then Shop

It's one of the most important tips on how to save money on food. My "research" into this (having tried it both ways myself) shows that we buy as much as 30% more at the grocery store if we are hungry while we shop. And if we have more food in the house we eat more - that's especially true of the snacks we load up on when shopping on an empty stomach. This then is a tip for healthier eating as well as a way to save money on groceries. Always eat before you go.

If you are a bit hungry it helps to have list and stick to it. But make an exception when you find those great sales on foods you would normally buy anyhow.

Eat Less Spend Less

No, you don't need to actually go hungry as a way to save money on food, nor eat less over-all. On the other hand, the things an average person eats vary tremendously in price, right? So why not eat less of those things that cost the most and maybe aren't so healthy, and replace them with more of the healthier cheaper alternatives? You can do this at home and when you eat at restaurants.

I might as well have titled this section "Eat More Spend Less," because one of the easiest ways to cut your consumption of expensive foods is to eat more of the foods that costs less. Fill up on a delicious and healthy cheap dishes like seasoned rice and beans, and you won't have room for expensive and unhealthy deserts or snacks. If you are in a Mexican restaurant, for example, you could fill up on the free chips and salsa and then just order a delicious appetizer in place of a full meal.

Save Money on Heating Bills

Save Money on Heating Bills


Turning down the thermostat is probably the most common tip on how to save money on heating bills. It may be a good idea, and it is true that you can put on a sweater to stay comfortable. But some people feel the cold more than others, right? And among all the ways we can save money, should giving up our physical comfort at home be one of the first things we try?

The expensive options suggested for saving money on heating bills include adding insulation to your home, buying solar panels to reduce your furnace use, and upgrading your heating system to a high-efficiency unit. Those ideas may work as well, but you may not have the money to invest. Also, the arguments for these as money-saving plans sometimes don't make sense.

As an example let's suppose you spend $20,000 to put a solar heating system on your home. It saves you half of your annual $1,200 heating cost, or $600. Now suppose you have to finance the system. The interest alone could be more than the $50 monthly savings, so you may not ever recoup your costs, let alone save any money.

You have to do the math and consider the real costs, including the interest paid if financed, or the interest lost if paid from money you have in the bank. I recently read on a solar advocacy website that a solar hot water system costs "only" $5,000 and could save 50% of the costs of running my regular hot water heater (which is still needed due to cloudy days). Now, our hot water probably costs about $240 annually, so we would save just $120 each year. We can do better than that leaving the money in the 3% account we have at our online bank! The $150 we would make annually in interest pays the extra $120 and leaves us an additional $30 versus having the solar water heater.

Insulation can be more cost-effective if you are deficient in insulation right now. There are other major upgrades that may pay off too. On the other hand, what if you haven't got the money for the big fixes and you like your home to be a warm place to live? Then you need to apply some of the following ways to save money on heating bills without spending a fortune.

- Close of any air leaks. Look for drafty areas, find the air leaks and seal them up with caulk or weather stripping. Closely check around windows and other possible openings. Three dollars of caulk might be sufficient for any and all leaks you find, and weather stripping around leaky doors is cheap as well.

- Check each room and adjust the registers as necessary. In most forced-air systems these can be opened or closed somewhat, so if you have rooms where you don't spend much time, close the vents off partly to reduce the hot air going there. It costs nothing to do this.

- Adjust drapes, blinds and curtains. If you open curtains when the sun is shining you'll notice the heating effect pretty quickly. You can also get in the habit of closing them once they are in the shade or each night after the sun sets.

- Install an electronic thermostat with a timer. A decent electronic thermostat can cost $100 or more, but they are still one of the cheaper ways to cut your heating bill by 5% or more. The timer can be set to turn the heat down at night when you are cozy in bed, to turn it up thirty minutes before you get up, and to turn it down during times when no one is home, like when you are at work

- Manually adjust the thermostat. If you want to save the cost you can do the same thing the automatic thermostat does by adjusting the heat control whenever you go to sleep or leave the house for a while. One disadvantage: you'll have to put up with the cold for a few minutes after you wake up or get home. It is a no-cost way to save money on heating though.

How to save money on heating bills? The easiest quickest way is still the one first mentioned: turn down the heat permanently. If you do this, wearing a sweater isn't the only thing you can do to compensate. Floors sometimes chill us more than the air, so wear warm slippers or thick socks. A cup of hot tea can warm you up for an hour. Lounging in the sunniest chair is another trick. Or... find another way to save $20 per month and turn that heat back up to where it is comfortable.



Save Money Grocery Shopping And without coupons

Save Money Grocery Shopping And without coupons

One of the most common ways to save money grocery shopping is using manufacturers' coupons to get things a bit cheaper. This is not only time consuming, but it rarely saves you much money in the end. Even with the coupon a given product is usually more expensive than a perfectly adequate alternative, such as a store brand version. There are better ways to cut your costs, including the following.

Calculator and Cash

If budgeting for groceries is necessary, then bring only what your budget allows for the week - and bring it in cash.A debit or credit card makes it too easy to go beyond your budget. With just the cash for the week's needs, you'll have no way to spend a penny extra. Of course, you don't have to tell the cashier to take half of your things back, which is why you need a calculator. Add as you go, and allow for sale's tax too.


Fresh Versus Frozen

Sometimes fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper and sometimes the frozen versions are less. Buy where the value is, if either will work. If you are buying strawberries for "fruit smoothies" that you blend up in the morning, for example, it doesn't matter whether you use frozen or fresh, but sometimes the frozen ones are half as much for the same amount. And the good news is that frozen fruits and vegetables may have more vitamins according to some studies, because they are flash frozen shortly after picking, locking in the vitamins, while the fresh ones travel for days in hot and cold trucks, and then sit for days on the shelves or in the storerooms.

Eat First

We laugh about this, but it is absolutely true that we tend to buy more when we are hungry. Then, when we have more food to eat the house, we tend to eat it. The type of foods we buy is affected as well. Go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and you'll probably buy more snack foods that aren't as healthy.

Check Unit Price Tags

Many grocery stores, including the largest, are playing with prices on different sizes of products. Don't assume that the larger sizes are a better buy, costing less per ounce. It isn't always the case. The "family size" may actually cost more per ounce or pound. Who can say if this is being done on purpose, but it is common now, so check those tags to see which size is actually the better value.

Watch Pricing Patterns

Grocery store chains regularly change prices of popular items for marketing purposes. The 9.5 ounce box of Triscuit crackers in our local Wal-Mart is currently (fall 2009) $2.99,which is the same price as the 13 ounce box at the moment. It seems strange, but there is a reason for it. I'll get to that shortly.

When watching those tags you might just think you should always buy the big box. In the example above it comes out to 23 cents per ounce, after all, compared to 31.5 cents per ounce for the smaller one. It's not that simple though. In about a month or so the price will go back to $2.00 for the 9.5 ounce box, which is only 21 cents per ounce. In fact, the price goes up and down throughout the year, so it makes sense to buy an extra box or two when it is low and hold off when the price is up.

These pricing games have to do with legal and marketing considerations. It helps sales to have a "new lower price" on an item, but they can only legally say it if the price was actually higher for time. The law says it has to be at a given price for thirty days to call it the "regular price" or to say that the new price is lower. This is why some stores rotate prices from time to time. Once the crackers are $2.99 for a while they can be lowered to $2.00 and it looks like a major discount - and can be advertised as one. Do this with enough products and it can appear as though all the prices are always dropping. Keep an eye on cycles like these and stock up during the lower-price times.

These few examples of the ways to save money grocery shopping should get you thinking and save you some money, and none of them require clipping coupons.


To Spend Less Money is Like Making More

To Spend Less Money is Like Making More

 Though I often report on unusual ways to make it, spending less money is an interest of mine as well. Saving a little on each purchase or expense can effectively be a way to make money. Suppose you want to make two thousand four hundred dollars for a vacation. You might work extra shifts or find other ways to generate the three thousand dollars necessary to meet your goal after taxes are taken out. But you can also find ways to spend forty-six dollars less each week, and set those savings aside for a year to raise that $2,400.


Spending less money as a substitute for making more is not unusual, but it is less common than it was in the past. Today many people look to spend less only when forced to do so by circumstance, rather than as a way to set aside savings for those things that are important. Actually saving those savings is the key, of course. You'll need to actually put the money aside when you spend less - preferably in a separate bank account set up for your important goals. If not, you're just changing how you spend your money - spending less here and more over there without noticing any real change in lifestyle.

To save big, and to therefore have the money for your goals, start with the big expenses first. For example, to build up that vacation fund fast, or put together a down payment for a house, or save for a business, you need to look at things like housing costs, utilities, car payments and anything that take a big chunk of your monthly pay. You might cut your house payment by a hundred fifty dollars monthly, for example, by refinancing at a lower interest rate. Save the difference and you'll have $18,000 in ten years. Or if you rent a smaller apartment for a hundred dollars less per month, and save another fifty on utilities because it's small, this can also add up to thousands of dollars over the years.

Besides the large items in the budget, there are many small things you can spend less on. You might look for other uses for things that you already have or would normally discard. A few suggestions follow, for saving on the small stuff in this way.

Repurposing to Spend Less Money

Computer mouse pads are common enough now that they are often thrown out. But you can use them as kneeling pads when gardening or doing projects that require you to kneel on the floor or ground. This can save you a few dollars versus buying the pads made for that purpose. Mouse pads also work as jar openers (the thin rubbery ones anyhow).

You might receive free address labels as part of direct mail campaigns for charities. My wife and I get them almost every week. We have more than we'll ever use for our letters. Fortunately they can used to label possessions, or to stick notes to things with no need to tear off a piece of tape, and as staple substitutes. For the latter just fold a label over the top corner of two pieces of paper to hold them together. No big savings, but it adds up.

Gallon jugs that milk and orange juice come in have many which might allow you to spend less money on other things. You can tie one to a cement block and use this to mark a good fishing spot, for example. You can make a good funnel (for some purposes) by cutting the jug in half and using the top part. The bottom half can be used as a water dish for pets, or as a small, lightweight dish washing basin for backpacking and camping.

Cut the top of a jug off diagonally and you have a scoop with a handle (leave the screw-top on), which can be used for scooping out dog food, as a sand scoop for the kids to play with, and as a seed or fertilizer spreader for lawns. You can store things like bird seed, rice, salt for the sidewalk, or anything that gets too messy in a bag in these plastic jugs..

Ideally you want to look not just for other uses for things, but for uses that substitute for something you would have otherwise bough, so you spend less money. And though these are not ways to save big money, if you find enough of these small ways, it adds up over time. Just be sure to set aside the savings, and this can be effectively the same as making more money, but perhaps with less effort than taking a second job or working more hours.







Ways to save money - but don't try these

Ways to save money - but don't try these

Funny Frugality

Frugality makes sense in these times, but it can go too far. The funny ways to save money that follow are thus not meant to be serious - at least I don;t mean them that way. But I'm not sure about the intentions of the blogs, websites and the minds of twisted scrooges where I got these ideas. Let me be clear: these are for entertainment purposes only.


Ways to Save Money

Request extra religious tracts from the next zealots to knock on your door. Then replace half of each restaurant tip with one of these gifts. Your annual savings based on eating out four times monthly and an average normal tip of four dollars (replaced by $2 and that nice little booklet): $96


Stop by to visit your neighbors while they're working in their gardens. Continue to compliment them on the great job they've done with the garden until they finally offer you some free vegetables or fruit. Do this with several neighbors in order to spread out these foraging trips and limit them to one or two per month for each one. Your estimated annual savings on vegetables: $106.

Visit the lost-and-found departments at businesses, governmental buildings and other places. Look through the items and say, "There it is!" whenever you come upon something you need. For the most savings with this strategy you have to focus on taking things that you would have otherwise bought. Skip the fancy umbrellas you never would have paid for anyhow. Avoid day planners, books and other things that might have the name of the owner written in them. Your savings depend on your acting ability and the number of places you can check.

All fast food restaurants offer you packets of ketchup, mustard and other condiments for free. Teach your kids to take seven or eight extra packets before you leave. Just stop buying condiments for the house altogether, and have them take extra napkins too. Your potential savings each year: $120

Go ahead and pee in the shower every day while you are there. It goes down the drain in any case. With a three gallon flush for the toilet replaced each time, you'll save 1,000 gallons of water annually - unless you skip your daily showers to save even more money see next tip). You'll have to multiply that by the per-gallon charge from your local water company or municipality to determine the annual savings you'll get.

Take the downspout off your gutter so you can shower under the resulting stream of falling water when it rains hard enough. A once monthly outdoor shower that saves you ten gallons of hot water like this can save you at least thirty cents every year.

Carefully cut open lotion and shampoo containers to get the last 20% that Consumer's Reports says is normally thrown away by people. Your potential savings? $1.17 per hour of effort at least.

Want more funny frugality? Train your dog to beg neighbors for scraps to save on dog food. Stop by your friends' houses right around dinner time to get fed for free. Make calls during lunch and leave a message so the other person has to return the call and use his paid minutes. Soap up your car just before a thunderstorm and let the rain rinse it to save on car washes.

Ways to Save Money

Ways to Save Money

Why have ways to save money on a site about ways to make money? Because saving money is like making more. When I found a way to pay $413 to go to Ecuador, instead of the lowest online quote of $1700, it meant over $1200 extra in my pocket - and for a lot less effort than making that much at work.

Dollar Store Deals and Ripoffs

Some of the best dollar store deals are overstock and closeout items that are distributed through these outlets. That's because they go cheap at the wholesale level, so you can find some quality merchandise for much less than normal--for a dollar. For example, polished granite "eggs" were popular briefly a few years back, and were selling for $15 at gift shops. Some store or middleman went out of business, and so they were also available (at the same time) for $1 in the local dollar store where I lived.


The dollar store ripoffs include many of the items that are specifically manufactured for these stores. Some dollar hand tools, for example, will fall apart the first time you try to use them. here's a look at some more dollar deals and ripoffs.

Dollar Store Deals

Window cleaners - There is little to mess up with the making of window cleaning solution, and it often cost less at dollar stores than anywhere else.

Other cleaning solutions - Other cleaners are also normally cheapest at these stores, but you'll have to test them one by one to see which are of decent quality.

Gift bags - Much easier than wrapping things, and these colorful bags will usually cost at least $2 in other stores.

Greeting cards - Quality of the paper is not an issue with greeting cards, and it is rare to find them for a dollar at other stores.

Glassware - You can get glasses cheap at other stores, but usually only by buying a large set.

Picture frames - Although they can be low quality, you can generally tell by looking at them, and it doesn't get cheaper than than this for a wooden frame.

Hand mirrors - Try to find one for a dollar anywhere else.

Brooms - The quality is very low usually, but these are a great buy for spares to use for garages and sheds.

Storage bins - The plastic storage bins are not strong, but they work well for many purposes.

Decorations - Since most ribbons and other decorations are thrown out after parties, why pay more?

Dollar Store Ripoffs

Paper products - The trick here is using low-quality paper for napkins and toilet paper, making them look like a normal size package while actually having far less product than normal. There may be exceptions (there can always be closeouts on quality paper plates or paper towels, after all), but generally these are a ripoff.

Dish washing detergent - The quality might be okay, but the bottles sold are often very small, and it is cheaper per-ounce to buy a larger bottle at any other store.

Knives - The quality is low enough to be dangerous when it comes to most dollar store knives, both for the kitchen and pocket knives.

Candy - Most of the packages contain less candy than you might think, making it expensive compared to buying bigger bags in a supermarket.

Batteries - There are exceptions, but the batteries sold in these places are often the lowest-quality thing that can be called (just barely) a battery.

Bottled water - It is cheaper in bulk in other places, and I'm not sure I would trust dollar store water.

Toys - It looks like there are some great deals here, and there may be a few, but most of these items break easily and often have flaws from the start. Then there is the possibility of lead in children's toys that come from China.

Extension cords - Low quality, and possibly dangerous.

Pet food - These stores can be a dumping ground for low-quality pet food that can't be sold elsewhere.

People food - Smaller-than-normal sizes make many foods less of a deal than they appear to be, and labels are often designed to look like they are a name brand when they are not.

There can always be exceptions to these dollar store deals and ripoffs. Those cheap brooms might be so low quality that they fall apart after one use (I've had it happen), and a store can sometimes get a cheap closeout supply of high-quality name brand food or merchandise.

How to Save Money on a Pool Purchase

How do you save money on a pool purchase? Shopping for a great sale or negotiating a lower price are two ways that come to mind. But there are more fundamental ways to save money on any large purchase that have to be addressed first.

Pool Purchase - Questions to Ask

Think carefully about how you will use the pool, and what your true purposes are. Do you just want a way to cool off in the summer? Or do you want something to use year-round? Do you want the pool primarily for your own use or for parties with friends? Do you want a pool to impress people (a far more common purpose than you might think)? If the latter is the case, it will be especially difficult to save money.

Before I go any further, I have to tell a short story. I was at the house of a friend the other day and as we stood there in the 95-degree heat I noticed that his swimming pool was empty. It was just one of those free-standing pools that costs a few hundred dollars, but it seemed a waste to not be using it.

His daughter had been gone for a couple weeks, and since she was the only one that really used it, he decided to drain it. It had been collecting dust and leaves and growing slime. That was earlier in the summer. Although his daughter had been back for a month, he just hadn't gotten around to cleaning it and filling it up again.

Now, there are important two lessons here. First, that a pool is a lot of work, and unless you can afford to hire a pool maintenance company, you get to do that work. There is cleaning, emptying, filling, adding chemicals on schedule, replacing parts and making repairs.

The second point is that we all tend to overestimate how often we will actually use the things we buy. This is especially true with large purchases like pools. You might imagine yourself coming home every summer day to take a swim, but the reality is usually something else. Although I have not seen a survey done on this, I see a lot of pools around that are mostly decorative. I suspect that many people use their pools about once or twice per week or less during summer.

That brings us to the most fundamental way to save money on a pool purchase: Don't make it. I can't speak for you, and it is possible that you'll get every bit of value from that pool that you hope to get. But you might want to at east do some realistic calculation before you make the decision.

For example, suppose you have an in-ground pool built for $30,000 in your backyard, with a nice deck and all. You roll the cost into a home refinance. Of course that means that your true cost with interest will be closer to $65,000 (30 year 6% loan). Then there are the other costs. Water, cleaning, repairs, chemicals, added property tax due to the home value going up. These probably will add another $1,200 per year even though you only get to use the pool for a few months each year unless you live in a warm climate.

Now suppose that you use the pool more than most - we'll say several times weekly for four full months each year. Your net cost per use will be lower than most people's then - maybe only $20 to $30 per hour. That's still pretty expensive, isn't it? It might make more sense to go to a water park several times each summer. Certainly the kids will like that, and it almost certainly will cost less in the long run.

There is one more issue here. If you spent a thousand dollars each summer going to public pools and water arks and beaches, you always have the option of discontinuing this expense if times get tough. It is much harder to stop paying on that loan and stop maintaining that pool. That's worth thinking about unless you have a lot of money and your income is very secure. To save money on a pool purchase then, seriously consider just saying no.