How To Slash Your Bills and Get Your Expenses Under Control

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In January, many people are looking to take care of their new year resolutions, be it losing weight, eating well and saving money. I have goals that I want to achieve in 2013, I have given up making resolutions as I have failed in a few months to keep those up. So I create mini goals that I break down from a one big goals so it makes it easier to me to achieve it and stay focused.

One of the thing I am passionate about or should I say, I am forced upon is to save money. When I decided to not go back to my six figure salary work and be home with kids, something had to give so I started reading and learning new ways to cut down on expenses. Some of my early favorite personal finance blogs were Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly and Zen Habits. Trent from Simple Dollars still writes his money tips with passion after so many years so do check out his blog. J D Roth has sold his “Get Rich Slowly” blog and I admit I do not read regularly anymore but there are some great articles out there still. Leo from Zen Habits has achieved his financial freedom so he does not write about money tips much but I still read his blog for changing habits and inspiration.

I have done No Spend Money experiment and written about saving money tips before, as 2013 is starting, I am looking back to find more ways to save money so that I can continue to follow my passion of being home, work at home part time and homeschooling mom to my kids.

One of the most expense that people now a days have is phone related that is to say, phone, cable, cell phones and internet bills that keeps growing. Ten years ago or so family needed only single land line phone and television was simple choice enough choosing whatever came in local handful channels that came mostly free. But now there are thousands of channels and programs for television are there. For phone there are multiple lines, data plan, test plans, apps, ringtones and what not. I am not even sure I am all updated with what is available technology wise currently.

If you add this for spouse and kids, bill can run higher and higher. Although, television program says “Must See TV”, there is no such a thing as I and many others have given up or reduced watching Television for good. If you still decide to watch it, you can let go of many overlapping services to save money on bills.

How To Slash Your Phone Bills:

There are a few ways to slash your phone bills and most of these tips will not cause to feel deprived either.

  1. Reconsider Land Line Phone: For long time, we kept up our land line phone just in case there was internet or cell phone outage, mostly in case for emergency. We have given up land line phone for using Vonage service (internet based) for 7 months and could not complain about it. Monthly savings can be $30-$75 depending on services you were using, not bad for saving $360 to $ 900 savings for year.
  2. Drop Extra Services: This tip seems so simple and obvious however, many of us are having so many overlapping services with cell phone and land line phone combine. This also works if you want to keep your land line phone service without costing you big in monthly spending. Example of these extra services can be, You can let go of voice mail and buy answering machine phone, you can let go of your long distance services and use cell phone for calling long distance instead.
  3. Talk Free Via Computer: I am not tech savvy, despite having an electrical engineering but Zenguy is master geek and tech guy so we save money through talking to relatives and friends far away via Skype, Google chat. These services are free and can be downloaded free to your computer. What I like about this plan is it is free, you can chat and also use video chat so grandparents or friends can kids and vice versa. Also, thing to note is that grandparent or any person you call does not need to have Skype or Google chat program, you can call cell phone, land lines on other side.
  4. Buy For Busy Talk Month: I learned this the hard way, as phone carriers have hefty fees and charge if you go over minutes. It might be better to pay some extra every month to cover your busiest talk month to not get these charges during high usage month. If you do not plan this, just be careful to stay within your allowed minutes to not get charge ridiculous amount of fees.
  5. Shop around: I like being loyal to my family, friends but I have learned hard way to remain loyal to a company. I used AT&T for 8 years as I really liked them and what they did for that loyalty? They charged me crazy amount, so reluctantly I left, only to be offered same deal that I was asking them while being a customer.  Since that incidents, I always shop around to see best deals and choose phone company that works for my budget and customer services.
  6. Ignore Texting: In US texting is not free, unlike a few Asian countries. A relative from India sent us text messages and only to read those it ended up costing us $35. So, if you have teenagers or relatives who get free texting, be careful and avoid these texting charges either by ignoring those or reading text messages through some free reading services.
  7. Be careful for Roaming Charges: If you travel out of town or country, be very very careful of using your cell phone. It is almost always a good idea to get local cell phone or have roaming service plan added (if you travel a lot). Otherwise you will be billed $1-$5 per minutes, I have once read a news regarding someone getting a roaming charges for $12,100. (I am unable to find that news link now, but I am sure you may see those once in awhile too) So don’t be one of those statistics and save money by using local phone services instead.

Slash Your Cable and Movies Bills:

I love watching movies and a few Television series such as from BBC, A&E and Master Piece Theater. So, one does not have to give up watching their favorite TV shows or movies just to cut down on expenses. There are many ways to save and cut the bill in half or even more.

  1. Let Go of Premium Channels: Having premium channels such as HBO, Showtime, AMC can cost about $10-$15 each monthly. In most cases you can watch these movies through Netflix, or DVD rental. Now netflix gets DVD released movie much faster so you will still get to see it early.
  2. Track Your Watching: If you really note down how you or family tend to watch, such as which channels, how often you may cut down on other unwatched and UN-necessary channels from your services. Sometimes you may even find that you’re not watching as much cable as you thought, and in that case you can let go of cable services.
  3. Ask For Discounts: If you like to keep some favorite channels or services, ask the provider for discount or better offer. In some cases the company want to keep you as a customer and will negotiate a better deals and other case some stone- hearted company may ask you to cancel and in such case you can choose other provider or wait for a few months to really see before you sign up for new plan.
  4. Day has only 24 hours: Remember, having so many channels and movies choices may be futile as even if we watched one movie a day (2-3 hours each), we will not finish all movies produced and released and same thing with television series. So pick what you truly like that is best for your time. Watching TV and Movie all day no matter how much you like would not be a good thing for anyone.
  5. Buy HDMI Cable: I learned this from Zenguy as I would not know what it was. Thing is this HDMI cable costs like $5 or so and you can connect your computer to television. That allows us to watch free shows from network downloaded. Do not ask me how it works yet but I know it is time and big money saver for little cost. (I will update it once I find out how it works here)
  6. Skip Subscription Plans: Netflix, itunes and Amazon video on demand subscription plan varies and can be useful if you watch lot of movies or occasional movies here and there. In some cases, skipping the subscription plans and getting movies from red box or local store may be a better deal. If you do not mind getting new movies later, and somewhat less choices local library is also a good place to get movies and television series rentals.
  7. Watch it Free on Internet: There are many places such as you tube, hulu and other video sites where you can watch movies and television series for free. Remember, you tube have free and cost movie rental both. You can just view free movies there. The one problem I see is sometimes movies can be removed by copyright violation so it might be gone. I have watched a few movies on you tube movie section and I buy only movies that I like to see it again and again from amazon when deals comes in.

How to Save Money On Internet:

It has been said that over 70% of household have an internet access. That means many of us can find ways to slash our internet bills so we can still save money and still read best blogs, deals and news online.

  1. Group Services Together: Sometimes going with same company and grouping services can reduce your bills significantly. Many company nowadays offer bundle on land line, cell phone and internet services. In some cases doing individual service and billing may work however in most cases grouping services together works the best.
  2. Use library or free Wifi Cafe: Unless you’re buying unlimited internet data usage, you can save money by occasionally using library or free WiFI-cafe for internet for supplementing using internet.
  3. Get a Tablet: Many tablet users who use tablet and watch movies together, so why just use tablet for everything. There are so many apps for iphone and android that can help as free channel guide can be helpful. According to CNN post, replacing your cable with tablet can pay off in 7 months or so and with tablet one can do many things
  4. Know Competing Offers: In many cases most great offers are for new customers and not current customers, so know your offers from your internet providers as well as from competition every 6 months or so. Then call your provider and ask to match the deal, if they do great if not, switch to another company.
  5. Check for Overlap In services: If  you are using smart phone data plan and broadband internet services both, you have overlap in service plans. If you only play occasional games at home, 3G wireless service is not needed. Checking this overlap and how you use smart phone, internet and cell phone can save you $30 per month or more. That is over $240 a year savings on things you do not use anyways.

Enjoy using phones, internet and watching movies, Television series without breaking your wallet this year!

Why Our Grandkids Will Pay For Our Debt :Infographic

For one of my friend, she has 9 credit cards and I do not know how she juggles all the bills. Credit cards use without control make your life topsy turvy.There are so many dangers of unwisely using credit or credit card. I have one credit card that I use and I try to pay in full every time I can.

If you spend without thinking, that practice can be very costly, financially as well losing mental piece. Here is a nice info-graphic that show you, how you can keep paying the credit card debt, and it will keep increasing instead of going down, thanks to compounding interest rate. Check it out below, and judge for your self.

What is scary thought is, if you paid minimum required on your average debt (current national average number) $10, 679,  in 1000 years your remaining debt will be $212 million and you would have paid $5.1 billion dollars on your little over $10K debt. No wonder many of us keep paying debt and never see the light of the day. Danger of credit card debt is mind boggling and scary.

As no human has ever lived for 100 years, the debt can go in to next generation. Let’s be careful of what you buy today on Credit card, else our grand children and great great grandchildren might pay for our debt.

Source: via: Cracked

5 More Tips To Save Money

5 More tips to save money and be little bit richer

This is second in series of how to save money for daily expenses. As a stay at home mom for 2 kids, I have learned a few tricks that helps me keep within my budget and that too without feeling too much deprived. When I decided that I want to be home, leaving my cushy six figure job it was drastic change, one that I am happy to volunteer to leave my stressed job so I can be home with kids.

There are easy and simple ways we can save money for everyday savings. Once saving habits are ingrain in our mind, saving money or being frugal comes as easy as breathing and it will have so many benefits that your quality of life will be improved.

Start today, do not wait for special occasion or a new year to start a new habits. We can save money on everyday expenses such as phone services, insurance, groceries and travel and more. When we are starting, every penny will count. Do not think, what you will do with saving a few pennies here and there. Just imagine, saving a few pennies will make a dollar and few dollars savings will makes hundreds of dollar. Just imagine you putting this saving towards debt or in saving account, how much money you can save in interests.

5 More Money Saving Ideas and Tips

If you have not read yet part 1 of this series, you can read it here: 5 Tips for saving money for everyone.Let is look at 5 more additional tips that save us money for everyday expenses which anyone can do and add to our savings account.

Tip 6: Do not carry too much debt:

I personally like to say no debt is always the best but it is not realistic for many of us. Buying a home or car without a loan is not possible for 80% people unless you are already rich, have rich parents or rich friends with benefits. If you are like me and majority of people, we carry some debt. But that does not mean we are doomed, we can be smart and pay off these loans faster by paying $10-$100 extra towards our loans and pay off credit card debt when bill comes.

The worse part of debt or any loan is excessive interest that we pay on each loan, so faster we pay off, better we will be. Use cash only for many small daily expenses and paying off debt faster is way to go. Make sure your debt to income ratio is reasonably manageable for your monthly income.

Tip 7: Save money for emergency:

Emergency expenses can happen to any of us, any time. Like Dave Ramsey says about Murphy’s law, expenses and problems comes when you are not expecting it. Until someone invents a 100% future predictions, best we can do is save money for it, just in case of such a emergency. If it happens you will be prepared for it, and if it does not happen you will be bit richer, either way it is a win-win situation.

Just make sure you do not count buying diamond for your girlfriend as an emergency.Best way to save some money without feeling deprived is to auto deduct from your paycheck or your checking account and in to your saving account that you can not touch.

Tip 8: Wise Buying Decisions:

What do I mean by wise buying decisions? I have done impulse buying based on emotions, hunger and sheer joy of showing off to someone and I bet some of you might have done it too. Simple thing is do is, do not go grocery shopping when hungry, the truth is I have bought more junk food when I have shopped when I have been famished. Don’t try to keep up with jones, they might have nice stuff but I bet some of them may have nice debt too. Be smart and do not compete with someone in buying cars, vacations and diamonds. Comparison shop, do bulk shopping to save money as mentioned in part 1 of this series.

Tip 9: Eat IN more often:

As a vegetarian person who loves to cook at home, this comes easier for me. Even if you are not like me, you can still cook a few simple things at home and eat out occasionally only. Check out tips to save money when eating out. Food outside is usually ten to twenty times more expensive than if you would have made it at home and sometimes you can have more healthier food when you make it yourself. Occasional eating is fine and keep you from feeling deprived, just do it sensibly so you can save money as well as your health.

Tip 10: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse:

In USA, where I live, we tend to throw away things and buy new in this consumerist society. Buying a new shoes or new Television is much cheaper compared to repairing it here so it makes sense to do so, but we are wasting resources and earth’s environment by dumping things in garbage. We can consume less, reduce our materialistic things, recycle whenever possible will save us money and live sustainable life.

We can make small changes such as using

  1. Little less soap when doing dishes
  2. Using less shampoo when washing hair,
  3. Putting on sweater before turning on heater
  4. Donating good used items and not throwing in trash
  5. If you have child, supplementing with cloth diapers
  6. Turn off light of Television or computer, when not in use

Conclusion:

If we saved money without feeling deprived, we will do it for long term. Only two ways to save money are earn more income and be frugal. We can do both and save our environment at the same time. Start today.

5 Money Savings Tips

Everyday Money Savings

Source: Free Digital Images

Right now with economy being down and jobs are far and few to find, life has been tough.  While economy seems to be improving, I see many good and hard working people are struggling and hard to keep paying bills for mortgages, medical treatment and worst of all credit card payments.

While we can not help some bills such as medical and emergency situation but we can take precautions to make sure we are never in this uncomfortable situation where we may have to lose a house or lose credit ratings. Saving money has been practiced since early days of our great great grandparents to our parents.

There are easy and simple ways we can save money for everyday savings. Once saving habits are ingrain in our mind, saving money or being frugal comes as easy as breathing and it will have so many benefits that your quality of life will be improved.

Start today, do not wait for special occasion or a new year to start a new habits on our personal finance. We can save money on everyday expenses such as phone services, insurance, groceries and travel and more. When we are starting, every penny will count. Do not think, what you will do with saving a few pennies here and there. Just imagine, saving a few pennies will make a dollar and few dollars savings will makes hundreds of dollar. Just imagine you putting this saving towards debt or in saving account, how much money you can save in interests.

Grocery tips for Saving Money

Good Money Savings Articles

11 Steps for Money Management

No Spend Month Money Challenge

How They Calculate Your Credit score

5 Tips to Save Money

Top 5 Money Saving Ideas and Tips

There are many ways to save money in our everyday life. Here are my to ways to save money for everyday expenses. Some tips may need getting used to in the beginning but, it is doable for any of us. Why wait, read on and start saving now.

1. Spend Less Then you Earn

Spend Less, period. This seems simple enough but sometimes hard to achieve, at first. This step is really important if you are serious about saving money for long term effect. Best way to do this is to write it down, each day what you spend money on; it could be gas for your car, or cookies from vending machine, a dollar for homeless guy, no matter what it is, write it down. Can you do without any of this expenses? When I looked at my expenses, I was spending on Latte a day, that saved me $4.50 a day and $135 a month when I stopped buying. And you know what is great about it? I had extra $1620 money which can be used towards traveling or paying off debt. See how every little things adds up?

Cooking at home also helps spending less money. One way you can start doing is by starting no spend money challenge to set a budget and spend only within that budget for the month.

2. Create a Budget and Stick to it

Budget is dreaded word. At least it was for me a few years ago. Now, I have have a budget and I like to call it as a spending plan instead. It sounds better but it is actually budget plan so I know how much money I am spending in various categories such as phone services, groceries, eating out and more. Establishing a personal budget and sticking to has helped me and it can help you too, whether you are a single student or large family with kids.

Just think of this way, if you do not know where your money is going, how can you know if you enough money coming in and going out? In order to know your own finance on piece of paper or a software spreadsheet, it will be much easier to stay motivated and stay on course.

3. Shopping Habits for Savvy Shoppers:

Many times buying bulk saves us bunch of money. Think of buying groceries such as dry staple, soap, and other necessities of daily expenses. If you plan you meals in advance you can do bulk buying and buy necessary ingredients when in sale and not at last minute. Sometimes buying food item in season and freezing or canning them for later also helps. You can buy not only food items but other needed items in bulk to save money, for example, printer paper, soaps, dish washing and laundry detergent, shampoo, diapers and so on in bulk when using a coupons or when in sale. If you are buying gifts for friends and family in advance, it will help you look out for sales and discount and can make you save money and plan things, so you are not buying things at last minute at retail price.

4. Do research before buying:

Before you buy an item, do a research online, ask friends and family before making a purchase, specially if it is a large ticket item such as flat screen Television or camera. Make sure the sale price is really a sale before making any large expense that cost $100 or more. What do I mean by that? Some product may it is 40% off retail price, while that many sounds good, not many product companies pay retail price, so check to see where is the best price comparisons such as similar stores, ebay or other online shops to make sure you are getting a best deal on item you want to buy.

Many time, “Buy one get one free”, “50% off”, and “Huge Discount” will make you think you are saving money, double check to make sure it is really a huge discount as they say as it is our hard earned money we are spending.

5. Buy used or generic when possible:

I have made a rule except a few items, everything can be bought used. I personally am fan of used items as it saves me tons of money. I have 2 years old car that is running fine and has saved money. I just make sure with a mechanic to make sure there are no hidden repairs and check car fax report before buying it. Cars loses 33% of value in its 1st year so if you wait a couple of years you can save a lot. You can buy used and good quality furniture, toys and so on. Other than diapers, medicines, food items, many of us can buy quality items from garage sale, craigslist and ebay.
How do you save money?

How do you save money with Budgeting or Spending Plan?

See part 2 of the series: 5 more tips to save money

Top 10 Saving Money Tips: (How to Save When Buying)

Great depression happened during our grandparents time. Closet we came to seeing recession is 2001 and later in 2008, with jobs being lost, people losing houses and more economic downturn. In end of 2011, many people still feel the effect of it now, even things might be turning better for some but quite not for all.

I have been living somewhat simplified life since I decided to stay home with a child, years ago. For awhile, Zenguy was with zero to little income, so I learned more about how to save money more efficiently and without feeling deprived. Surviving without money is possible for rare few and is not for most of us.

I often get asked about saving money tips, I do not claim to be money expert but I know thing or two that has worked for us, which I wanted to share here again. It will help those in need and even if you are well off, you can save money for retirement, kid’s college or long waited vacation you may want to take.

See more related articles:

Easy ways to save Money

How to create a life that does not need an escape Part 1,

How to create a life that does not need an escape, Part 2

How to reuse Halloween Candies

Top Money Saving Tips For Everyone

Buying Tips:

1. Do not buy things that you can get for Free.

Use Local Library to  get Books (Including classic, new bestsellers, fiction, non fiction), DVDs (Kids, old, new), Music CDs, and sometimes even art pieces can be borrowed from it. Technically it is not free, if you are house owner, you are paying taxes for it anyways. Why not use it and buy it only books, movies that you really love to watch again and again.

2. Buy used when possible, new is not necessary.

Most things can be bought used with exception of a few items such as medicine, underclothes, food (dented can and boxes can be bought at reduced price), brush, diaper, tissue paper and so on.

Buying used is not only cheaper, and if you buy it from garage sale, or moving sale, you may not pay for the taxes on it. Many items such as car, house, furniture, laptop, computer, printer, textbooks, most clothes for kids and adult, shoes, art pieces, some kitchen appliances, washer and dryer can be and should be bought used. If you buy it used, make sure it is decent condition and pay fair price for it.

3. Buy things out of season.

Buying things right after Halloween, Christmas can save you tons of money, sometimes as much as 50% to 75% off, when you buy it right after the holidays. One of my friends always buy wrapping paper and Christmas decoration on Dec 27th for the next season. Same can be done for Valentine day, Buying Roses one day after Mother’s day or Father’s day can be lot cheaper.

4. Buy things locally.

Buy local produce, fruits and vegetable from local farmers. Buy and support local artist and designer, it will not only help the local community but also will help you pocket. One of my friend loves One specific designer shoes and she pays great money for it, because she has money and she loves the product. If you are not in debt, then go ahead, but if you are trying to save money and pay off bill like most of us, it is best to buy local products.

5. Buy Christmas items through out the year.

My brother always buy things on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it seems to work well for him. But it is hectic, and crazy few days. If you are laid back like me, you may want to buy Christmas or even birthday gifts throughout the year.

If you are frugal, and creative, you can give an experience gifts to friends and family instead of buying little gadgets. You can also make some food, jams and cookie mix as gift, it will be more meaningful.

You can check out my post on how to have great Stress free thanksgiving and holiday and you can download my free ebook in pdf version meaningful celebrations for ideas.

5. Don’t buy groceries when you are famished.

This is universal truth for many of us, when we are hungry and doing grocery or any type of shopping, many of us will buy junk food, unhealthy snacks. Eat some fruit or snacks before going any type of shopping, specially buying groceries related trip.

6. Almost never lease or use “Rent to Own” product.

Leasing a car sound attractive on the surface, you pay some money, presumably reasonable monthly payment for 2 years and you get to return the car and get new lease. They may tell you that you may never have to pay for repairing a car, as you will be always driving a new car, but amount of money you end up spending is outrageous and in 99% cases not worth it.

Same things goes for “rent to own” products, you can buy used items much cheaper price or you might be better off saving money for it compared to amount you have to pay to get “rent to own” an any type of product, be it house, piano, laptop or computer. Buy used instead.

7. Buy Generic brand

Zenguy once checked the ingredient in generic headache medicine versus brand name headache medicine, he found 100% same ingredients on both medicine list. Only thing different was, generic brand did not have advertising budget like brand name. In many cases, we might be paying the extra cost of advertising and top model they use to sell the product.

Even when you have prescription to fill up, one can ask for generic brand of medicine from doctor which might be much cheaper. In most cases buying generic brand makes lot of sense over top and popular brand. If you are getting same thing, why spend extra?

8. Do Comparison Shopping

When you can not get the item for free (i.e. borrowing etc.) or buy used and you have to buy an item, you can save lot of money by comparing prices at different stores, online places before making a decision to buy it. You can get some best price or amazon or ebay, but watch out for shipping cost, as they can add up. Compare and know your option before buying anything new, specially if it over $100 priced product, you will save more money this way!

9. Before buying, sell or donate old item

I have made this rule which I try to follow. When I have to replace an item: for example a skirt, I sell or donate old skirt. This step has two benefits, first I make money if I sell it, even little bit counts, if I donate it I can use in tax break later at the tax time, again how little it may be, it helps. However I like the second benefit the most, which is that my closet won’t get cluttered. And living in clean, decluttered place is a mental bliss for me.

This tip works for almost any item, it could be old Television set, replacing bed, or furniture or car. It keeps your place clean and save you money, what is not to love?

10. No shame in haggling for price.

Many of us think that in US, we can not haggle for price, everything is fixed price and must be paid in full. While it is generally true but not complete truth. Still we  in US we can still haggle for best deal and best price. If you do not ask, you will certainly not get discounted price. Worst case people may say no, in best case, you will save some money so why not ask. Now, haggling does not mean to be so el-cheapo and be annoying, it simply means to ask politely and with respect for best price.

Some of the places in US you can negotiate the price or deal are

  • car buying (new and used),
  •  loan (lower rate),
  • credit card rates (lowering),
  • waving some bank fees,
  • cell phone contracts,
  • phone and internet contract,
  • cable contract, and so on.
  •  Lawn service,
  • kitchen, bathroom remodel,
  • a few car repairs,
  • buying a big furniture set,
  • buying big piece of art,
  • at flea market,
  •  garage sale and so on.

Always pay fair price and be respectable to seller when haggling the price to be fair.

Conclusion:

I am sure I can add many more ways to save money when we buy, but these are top 10 that are most important ones. One can keep his or his respect, save money and not feel deprived, yes all in one sentence. It can be true.

Your turn: How do you save money when you buy?

Zengirl

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 and Savings Tips

This month I am doing an No Spend Month challenge, where our family of 4 will try to fit budget under $300 for the 31 days for daily expenses.

To see Past update click on links below:

No Month Spend Challenge

No Month Spend Challenge: Update 1

Our family usually lives pretty much every month like this, living on less and spending less but this month I am making a public account of our expenses. Only difference is this month I have to make sure and remind myself to stay under budget to make sure, as some other months, some unexpected expenses and emergency situations makes our expenditure higher. For example, we had to replace water heater last month and so on. Sometimes there might be an other situation such as health and family situation that might cause to spend more than our budget.

Last week, we spend about $80 or so, on gas, and groceries for home, everything we needed. We did NOT pre-fill gas in cars or stock up on groceries to make it easy.

This time we did much better, we spent total of $24.65 for following items, food, sand toys and 2 used books.

Week 1 Spending: $80.38

Week 2 Spending: $24.65

Total for Jul1-July10th =$105. 03

That leave us about $195 (little less) for remainder of the month.

One of the major expenses that many of us have is eating (groceries, eating out) and gas for cars. Here are a few ways to save money for those who want to save. There are a few people who have plenty, than you can spend and save you like.

Ways to save money in Gas

1. Drive less

2. Carpool with others

3. Combine errands together

4. Walk to nearby places, instead of driving

5. Fill gas at costco or cheaper gas station

6. Fill gas in morning

Ways to Save Money Buying Groceries

1. Check your pantry, stocks before going shopping

2. Never shop hungry

3. Use coupons (double or matching coupons will even help better)

4. Make a list before you go and stick to the grocery list

5. Buy generic brands

6. Watch cash register for any possible price mistakes (it happens)

7. Use in store coupons with manufacture coupons (see #3)

8. Do not buy non grocery items at grocery store.

How do you save money in Groceries? Are you saving money towards retirement, emergency?

No Spend Month Challenge: July 2011

Last July, I did No Spend Month Experiment, and I am planning to on doing it again this year, hope you can join me in my adventure. We have reduced our wants and simplified our life a little but there is always a possibility of meeting our budget or not.

I will post my spending for the week, every Monday sometimes to calculate and write up a post about it.

What is No Spend Month Challenge?

Family: 4 people: Me, Zenguy, 6 Year Old R, and 2 Year old P

Budget for July: We can only spend $300 whole month

What is Included in $300.00 Budget:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertaining Guests and Friends
  • Clothing
  • Gas for cars
  • Any entertainment such as books, movies, dvds, museum etc
  • Household cleaning and toiletry items
  • Household repairs
  • Credit card bills
  • Any want items such as books, toys, snacks, magazines, gadgets
  • Gardening supply (if any)
  • Any Household items

What is not included in $300 budget?

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Savings and investment (if any)
  • Health and doctor’s visit and medicines
  • Gifts, Charities (we do not want to skimp on it too much)
  • Job related expenses
  • Any unforeseen life emergency situation
  • Utility bills
  • Kids education related expenses
  • Any gifts card and cash gifts from family or friends
  • If we sell any household items on craigslist, it can be used for expense if needed.

No Spend Month Challenge Plan:

  • I have no set plan. Either I have become too lazy or too comfortable that I am going to take one step at the time.
  • No pre flling of gas in cars
  • No buying groceries from June budget

No Spend Month 2010 Challenge Recap:

If you want to check out the last year’s experience, see below;

No Spend Moth Challenge: Introduction $0

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1 Money Spent 1st week: $104.73

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 Money Spent 2nd week: $33.72

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3 Money spent 3rd week: $97.15

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4 Money spent4th week: $18.50

No Spend Month Challenge: Take Away: Total Money Spent: $299.66

Would you like to Join the Challenge?

In past, I know many people who have done no spend month challenge in past such as Rachel, Sharon, Kait and Carla. I am not sure who else other than myself are going to do No spend month challenge. You are more than welcome to join and let me know, so I can add it to the post and more the merrier! Join in.

See Updates and Progress here:

No Spend Month Challenge Update 1

No Spend Month Challenge Update 2

No Spend Month Challenge Update 3

No Spend Month Challenge Update 4

No Spend Month challenge Take away (2011)

Zengirl

Easy Ways to Save Money For Everyday Expenses

Life has taught me many things. Last few months have been busy with various things going on in my life. Dust still has to settle, but we must keep trying to bring our life back in to balance slowly as possible. I wrote about 6 key area of balance for everyone’s life before. See Life Balance: 6 Key Area for Life Balance . They are;

Life Balance:

1. Family
2. Social
3. Knowledge/Learning
4. Finance
5. Health
6. Religious/Spiritual

Money is not certainly most important thing however, managing money right ways can bring much more peace in your life, compared to when spending is out of control. Let’s face it, sometimes we have no choice but to be in debt, such as health or hospitalization can be expensive, even when one has a health insurance. Losing a job, having kids and other unforeseen circumstances can bring many money woes.

There are two ways to have extra money:

1. Spend less then you earn: By staying in budget can be boring sometimes but it sure helps when you have a financial goal in mind such as paying off debt or saving for house.
2. Earn more : This is easier said then done though. Some people work at multiple part time jobs to increase income, some consultant work the same but charge more to earn more. Some people dabble in stock market and other income earning opportunities. Check out :  Easy Ways to Earn More Money for more ideas.

Out of these 2 ways to have extra monies, easiest ways to save money is to cut down on your un-necessary expenses; and find ways to make more money. This post, I will share a few ways to save money and go green.

How to Save Money in Everyday Expenses:

Food/groceries:

1. Buy generic brand.
2. Limit pre-packaged and frozen meals. Making meal from scratch will be cheaper and lot healthier.
3. Use coupon when buying brand name product. Just do search for coupon for “item” and most likely you will find something. Sunday newspaper are good source for coupons.
4. Look for “almost” expired bakery goods to cheap bread.
5. Buy in season fruits/vegetables (when cheap and fresh) and cut and freeze of later use.
6. Buy most vegetables from ethnic store, as there it tends to be cheaper, buy Chinese noodles from Ranch 99, and Mexican items from Mexican stores to get best price.
7. Buy Can-food, when on sale, stock up.
8. Eat little bit before shopping to avoid impulse food buying.
9. Set our budget and make a list before shopping to stay focused on “need items”.
10. Use up what you have, instead of buying new food item.
11. Write down grocery list and go only once a week shopping.
12. Do comparison shop to see where items are cheaper to buy from there.
13. Buy in Bulk staple items that will not go bad with time such as lentil or rice.
14. Cook food from scratch as much possible.
15. Eat in season fruits and vegetables.
16. Eat Local and support you local farmer’s market.
17. Garden for veggies at home in your backyard or container gardening in apartment.

Eating out:

1. Do not eat out often. If you do, share a large entree with someone or eat 2 appetizers.
2. Avoid ordering alcoholic drinks whenever possible.
3. Order glass of water instead of sodas, which is healthier and cheaper.
4. You can still eat cheap without going through fast food, if you eat at local mom and pops and use coupons.
5. Eat out during Lunch time instead of dinner time, as generally same item is cheaper at Lunch time.
6. Join Frequent diner club for discounts and coupons in email.
7. Look for coupon in Sunday Newspaper, Pennysaver ads, online for deals.
8. Buy entertainment book for your local area. It will have not only coupon for eating out, but also for movies, rental car, kids entertainment and more. They generally cost, $10-$15 per year.
9. Try restaurants have free appetizers while you order to stretch your dollar further.
10. Eating near colleges campus is good idea as food tend to be cheaper with students in mind.
11. Some restaurants have birthday person eat free, or have dessert free.
12. Many have 2 for 1 deals and day when you can use them.
13. Many restaurants have “kids eat free” day, when adult is buying. Look at Kids eat free for more ideas.
14. Be vegetarian: Eating vegetarian meals are generally cheaper.
15. Be a mystery shopper, when you get to survey a local restaurant and get reimbursement for one meal.
16. Pick healthy choices such as broiled instead of fried. It will be healthy and bit cheaper as well.
17. Get takeout sometimes, instead of eating out, you can eat-in.
18. Sometimes just go for coffee and dessert instead of full meal.

Baby/Kid items:

1. Most of the advertised items are not needed to buy for baby. All new parent need is car seat and a few essential and lot of love and patience.
2. Little kids grow out of clothes fast, so use hand me down or gently used clothes for babies along with some new clothes.
3. Breastfeed. It is easier once you get started and lot cheaper even if you one buys breast pump. It is lot cheaper than formula for 1 year.
4. Use cloth diapers along with disposables ones for certain times. It is cheaper in long run and lot more environment friendly.
5. Use sling or baby carriers instead of stroller. You will be able to move fast in store without bulky stroller to move about. Have stroller for long hikes and walking.
6. Make baby food at home, simply by steaming the fruit or vegetable and puree it with little water. You can freeze in ice cube container and use as needed.
7. Many things you can do without, but being parent is very personal so make choices according to what you are comfortable with.

Household:

1. We try to see, if we can borrow, rent or go without an item before replacing it.
2. Try to see if you can repair item. If you can repair it yourself from many DIY type of sites and all you have to do is pay for the part.
3. Sometime repair is complex or if you do not have time to do it, call a few handy man and ask for free estimate before buying a new item.
4. If you know you must replace item, start saving up every month for it. It will make it easier on your budget.
5. We find some item/cleaning supply etc from dollar store, it is only $1 each. Everything in dollar store is not a bargain so value compare before you buy it.
5. Try to get multiple car insurance discounts and home insurance from one company to see if that save you bundle. Always comparison shop and call at least 3 companies to get best rates possible.
6. If you have company insurance choose one that works for you. If you are like us, self employed or unemployed, look for high deductible health insurance to get affordable rates for your family.
7. Buy what is minimum required for insurance when money is tight.
8. Forgo or put minimum on retirement fund when your debts are high or income is low.
9. Many creditors such as hospital can installment programs without interests, so ask for it.
10. Choose generic brand of medicines if you must have it as it can be lot cheaper.
11. Do pot luck instead of meeting friends in a restaurant for a meal.
12. Do board games gathering instead of going to play pool in a sport bar.
13. Do movie and dinner at home, instead of watching in theater.
14. Watch movie in DVD at home with subtitles and extra features at home, instead of when it comes out in theater.
15. Do staycation, meaning staying home and do local traveling.
16. If you go out, do couch surfing or stay at family or friends house for a few days (without burdening them).
17. Let go of cable and netflix subscriptions.
18. Same goes for newspaper, magazines and other subscription except what you really care about.
19. Go to museum on free or special discount days.
20. Buy some items used, such as dresser or sofa as long as it is good condition. Local craigslist has many great deals. Also look for free section for sometimes great bargain.
21. Do birthday party at home or at Park, no need for spending $1000 on one party, although we have done it in past.
22. Wear sweater before turning on heater. Open up windows and doors before starting an AC or fan.
23. Shut off lights in room you are not using to save electricity.
24. Use water as you need and turn it off between brushing. Take shower instead of bath to use less water.
25. Use special package deal to combine internet, phone and cellphone for better discount. Shop around for deals, call and ask for it.
26. Always check your bills (credit cards, medical, utility) for any errors and call them to correct it or understand it right away.
27. Keep tab on your checking account balance to not overspend.
28. Good idea to tally your check book every month to make sure everything is current.
29. Use local library for movies, CDs, books (fictional and non-fictional), kids books and entertainment. It is not free, we pay taxes for it so why not use it.
30. Use bike or walk to near by places to go to.
31. Fill up gas in morning according to experts.
32. Buy only what you “needs” and save for “wants” when you have extra monies.

I am sure there is more creative ways people save money when we are buying stuff as well. As long we save money in simple and small ways without feeling deprived, we will be encouraged to do it for loner time. Want to share yours?