Money-Saving Tips for the New Year

In case you are looking forward to achieving something this New Year, the probability is that the plan is money-related (saving more and spending less). It may also involve settling some bills for the moments that you spent money that you did not have.

Recent findings show that the average household in the United States has nearly $7,000 worth of credit card debt. What this figure means is that such people will have to pay an interest of about $1,000 per year. If you are in this situation, all is not lost since you can still put your financial matters in order. Check out some great tips from Kimberly Palmer, who is NerdWallet’s personal finance specialist, to help you achieve your financial resolutions.

Obtain a Balance Transfer Card

In case you have credit card debt, think about getting a transfer. According to Palmer, interest rates are currently going up. Hence, the best thing you can do is obtaining a balance transfer card for 2019 before interest rates rise any further. With that, you can easily transfer debt from your previous credit card while enjoying a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR).

If you can service the least payment every month, especially in the course of the 12 to 15-month introductory duration, you can comfortably settle your credit card debts without being charged additional interest. Also, try sticking to a strict budget by using debit cards or cash. Doing so protects you from piling up more debt.

Get Rid of Banking Fees

According to Kimberly Palmer, most people are not aware that they pay monthly fees for banking services. The charges include costs for utilizing out-of-network automatic teller machines, overdraft fees and monthly maintenance fees. However, the kicker, in this case, is the minimum balance. Failure to maintain this balance causes the average individual to part with more than $12,000 in charges over his or her lifetime.

To avoid such banking fees, find a free savings or checking account (ensure that it has the FDIC insured label). It ought to be one that gives you a high yield of at least 2% or more. Therefore, if you have $10,000 in your free savings account, which is earning 2% interest rate, you will be getting an additional $200 each year.

Adhere to the 50, 30, 20 Rule

Saving money revolves around budgeting. To achieve this, Palmer suggests following a basic breakdown whereby 50% of your money goes to your basic needs including food and housing among other things, 30% goes to meeting your wants such as going out for a dinner date or going to the cinema, and lastly, the remaining 20% ought to be put aside for future planning including savings and debt payments.

You can try reducing your want expenses such as eating out or taking a taxi. Also, even though it is quite hard, avoid paying for subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix among many others. Most of these can derail your financial plans. However, you do not want to touch money set aside for things like your retirement contribution or even emergency savings, which ought to be worth six months of living expenses.

Try Re-shopping your Auto Insurance

It seems little gecko could be right after all: fifteen minutes assist you in saving 15 percent.  According to Palmer, it is quite surprising how only a few individuals shop around or go from one insurance company to another to get the best auto insurance deal. As such, most people end up paying more money for such insurance services than they actually should. This figure, on average, is more than $400 per year.

The surprising bit is that all that can be avoided by shopping around. All you have to do is spare some few minutes from your busy schedule to do some online search, key in your details, and see where you stand as far as getting yourself a lower rate on auto insurance is concerned. Yes, it is that simple. With that in mind, it is time to kick out such excessive bills this New Year and the years to come.

Set Some Money Aside

Bills or expenses are part of life since you need to take care of yourself, family and survive. However, planning for your future is equally vital. To achieve long-term saving success, you need to cultivate a saving habit. Palmer recommends that you try transferring money to your savings account automatically every month. For instance, you can do this after receiving each paycheck.    

Make this transfer either through your work’s direct deposit or your bank. Hence, if you save $40 for each bi-monthly paycheck cycle, you will have reached nearly $1,000 of savings at the close of the year; this can help navigate unexpected expenses which you can offset with your savings and thrifty deals from places like Home Depot. When you make saving an ingrained habit, meeting this year’s and future New Year’s financial resolutions will be undeniably easy.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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Fab Ideas For A Fun Family Evening

The stresses and strains of parenting on a day-to-day basis is a rewarding chore – but a chore nonetheless. The beautiful creature you created is a gift to you as a well as an annoying pain in the backside! Whether it’s their behavior or their well-being, you can never switch off. After a long, hard stint of watching over them – whether they’re six or sixteen! – being freed from the struggle of guardianship sometimes feels like a huge weight removed.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way, you know! You may have forgotten amidst all of the chaos, but good old fun can be had with the whole family, and it’s always nice to cherish times together that can be almost exclusively joyful and anxiety-free! Here are a few suggestions that can boost your evenings together.

Movie Night

A movie night is a common pastime among families and friends. But that doesn’t stop it being a fantastic evening and a great idea for everyone. You could make a plan one night to surprise the kids and take them to the movie theatre. Nowadays a lot of streaming services make movie nights a lot easier. As long as you have a TV and an internet connection you’re pretty much good to go. Careful, though, you may want to test the speed of the connection – you don’t want it to get to the crux of the story and start buffering! It happens!

Games!

From silly activities like charades to video games. Getting a laugh and a smile on faces is a feeling like no other and stimulating the brain while enjoying yourself is one of the best ways!  

Cooking

Cooking is a beautiful hobby to take part in – especially one with the whole family. We all like food don’t we? Getting to enjoy a meal while learning how to make it is rewarding not only for the stomach but for the brain too!  

Arts And Crafts

Similar to cooking, it’s fun and simple to do. You can open someone’s creative side, and with kids at a young age taking things in like sponges, it can be super beneficial for them as they may grow up with an artistic side or a problem-solving side!

Build A Fort!

You have to be a real grumpy goose to not get on board with the idea of a fort in the living room! Similarly to before, it’s creative as well as a good laugh. Just make sure you plan for it all and are ready to clean up and get everything back in order!

Puzzles

Puzzles are another great way to get the whole family involved. If they’re super young, the kids can have a whale of a time working out what goes where in a small, cheap jigsaw. But they can also help out with big family projects that take a lot more time. Some take weeks and months so the whole family can spend some evenings getting these little projects completed – having fun and developing the brain in the process!  

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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How to Bake on a Budget

If you’re baking on a budget, you need to be creative to ensure that you prepare quality products without straining your finances. However, this does not mean that you survive on minute rice and pasta every night! A little planning will turn your kitchen into a den of creative recipes that no one will believe that you conceived and implemented them on a budget.

The season is ripe for hot chocolate, frosted window panes, and roasting of chestnuts on an open fire. Do not be left behind just because you are on a tight budget!

You may want to invite your friends over for a glass of wine and gingerbread cookie. Everyone has that special urge to make your house smell of chocolate while treating your family for a decorating and cake-eating festivity. These feelings are absolutely normal and you shouldn’t resist!

We will give you several tips that will ensure that you achieve your baking desires.

 

Apply Smart Spending

When you are working with limited finances, you may have to think through the necessity of everything you purchase.  With a little preparation you can save money which comes in handy especially around holidays like the 4th of July or Christmas, where food and gift-exchanges like secret Santa are common additional expenses.  

We advise that you buy a few must-have baking ingredients (ensure that you do not overbuy; if you need 200 grams of a specific ingredient, ensure that you don’t buy a whole kilogram of the same). Some of the crucial baking ingredients that you may want to consider include vanilla extract, whole nutmeg, molasses, and cocoa powder.

For more savings, consider buying your baking supplies in bulk around November. These things often go on sale then!

 

Make Proper Use of all The Ingredients Already in Your Kitchen

Before you go out shopping, it’s necessary that you embark on a stock-taking activity to avoid double buying. Only buy those ingredients that you do not have. If you have some stocks, it’s paramount that you check the quantities and top-up in case they are insufficient.

You should optimally utilize all the ingredients. For example, you can brown your butter, and toast your nuts and spices to level them up. If you have anything that’s perishable or fragile, you should ensure that you store it inside your freezer for later use.

 

Use Your Leftovers to Bake

There is the point when your creativity will count! You can use your leftovers to prepare an incredibly delicious cake for your family. For example, you can use leftover eggs to create a tasty meringue. Need more ideas? Well, get this; you can use wine leftovers for making poached pears, and beer leftovers for making bread!

 

Be Creative and Crafty!

You can DIY some of the expensive baking ingredients which will help you to cut the cost of baking significantly. For example, you can make your coconut milk or almond meal at home!

 

Use Cocoa Powder

Using cocoa powder instead of chocolate is cheaper yet it makes equally delicious cookies! Use the trick to cut your baking cost by a significant percentage.

 

Make a Big Batch of Cookie Dough

You can prepare a large batch of  dough and then preserve it in the freezer. This will reduce waste and ensure that every time you need a cookie, you’ll get the best quality fast.

 

Bake a Loaf of Bread

If you need to satisfy your urge to bake but you do not have enough money, you can always bake a loaf of bread! You will just need to invest in a few packets of yeast and you’ll have your bread in a few hours.

 

Freeze Excess Fruits and Vegetables

When you realize that you have extra fruits and vegetables, never be in a hurry to discard them. Instead, you can freeze them and use them later.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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20 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Trying to spend less this year? Cooking dinner for your family doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your wallet. Here are 20 tips on cutting costs while buying groceries:

 

  1. Avoid inner isles

Go straight to the shelves of essentials groceries. Stores place basics on opposite ends to trick you into buying more products.

 

  1. Use coupons

Coupons will save you money on groceries. Combine products that are on sale with coupons to save more.

 

  1. Forget toiletries

Toiletries are expensive at the supermarket. Instead, buy them at a cheaper price at the pharmacy.

 

  1. Avoid fad brands

Generic brands are cheaper than name-brand products, but they still are made up of the same ingredients. Don’t be fooled!

 

  1. Check out all the shelves

You first see products in your eye level. Stores often place pricier items on these shelves. Look for cheaper groceries on the shelves below or above your eye-level.

 

  1. Consider rain checks

Basic items sell out fast when placed on sale. Ask for rain check items; these products’ sale has been extended.

 

  1. Buy dried beans

Cooking dried beans is cheaper than buying canned beans. They have a superior taste, too. Beans make for a cheap and easy meal.

 

  1. Eat before shopping

Don’t shop on an empty belly. You will buy more groceries than you actually should.

 

  1. Avoid pre-cooked meals

Pre-cooked foods can be twice as expensive as the ingredients and are often not as tasty.

 

  1. Buy produce that is in season

Buy fresh produce that is in season. Out of season products aren’t as fresh and cost more.

 

  1. Check out international markets

Most exotic spices at your local store are expensive as they have been shipped from afar. Buy cheaper imported spices at an international market in your city so that you can create meals inspired by some of the most amazing places in the world!

 

  1. Rethink when buying bottled water

The bottled water industry is worth a billion dollars, with a 16oz bottle going for a dollar. The recommended four bottles will cost you $120 every month. Why not treat water at home?

 

  1. Go with a shopping list

A shopping list helps you stick to your budget for things you need while avoiding groceries you don’t need.

 

  1. Say no to children!

Your kids will only help you increase your expenditure with stuff you don’t need. Learn to say no to their requests for junk food and toys.

 

  1. Pre-washed groceries cost more

You will pay a price for the ready-to-cook groceries at the store. Purchase groceries that have not been pre-washed instead.

 

  1. Pre-packed fruit is expensive

The store hired someone to cut and pack their fruit, and you will pay for it too. Do not buy fruit that has already been packaged for you.

 

  1. Pick fresh herbs from your kitchen garden

If you aren’t gardening, you may be paying a small fortune for herbs at the grocery store. Consider using the space available to you on your kitchen or porch for a small herb garden.

 

  1. You’re paying for the convenience of grated cheese

Grate your cheese at home with a box grater. It is easy and will save you loads of dollars.

 

  1. Prepare your spice mix

Make your spice mix at home with easy to find seasonings and spices. This way, you aren’t paying extra for someone to mix and package it.

 

  1. Compare similar products

Products such as potatoes can be cheaper when bagged as opposed to loose ones. Check product prices and make big savings.

 

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