Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

by Drew Allen on May 11, 2017

Let’s face it, the grocery store can be an overwhelming place.  The parking lot is crowded, store is packed, and people are leaving their shopping cart in the middle of the aisle.  You don’t see too many people that are excited to do the grocery shopping, unless I guess if this is your only avenue to get out of the house for the day.  If you don’t have a plan of attack when you get there, you can end up spending way more than you had budgeted for.

Eat Before You Shop

The first advice to give is to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.  You will buy anything that sounds good, so buying too much will end up going to waste, and probably not be a healthy option anyways.  Get a meal in at home before you go to the store and you could end up saving huge at the checkout.

Make a List

You always hear people say that they went in for milk, bread, and eggs, and came out with bags of groceries, spending a hundred dollars easy.  It is definitely not hard to do.  Make a list of all items that you need before you leave the house and you will avoid walking down every single aisle, asking yourself if you need that (or want it), and stick to only your list.

Use Store Rewards Card

While you never want to pay full price for anything, that is also true at the grocery store.  You can get discounts across the store just by signing up and using your store rewards card, which typically entails just putting in your phone number at the register, and you will see the savings start to add up at the end.  You can also load digital coupons to your card that will automatically come up at the register when the item is scanned (you will just have to print out the list of coupons so you remember).

Shop During the Week

Going shopping on the weekend can be a nightmare, it is always crowded unless you go Sunday night before they close, so why would a grocery store put much on sale on the weekend when they know people will be in there anyways.  During the week, not only will you see less crowds, which reduce your stress level, but you may also find more “10 for $10” or “Buy 5 Items and Save” type sales that could add up to huge savings.

Avoid Impulse Purchases

Whether it is items at the register, or just anything that looks good when you pass in the store, avoiding impulse purchases are the key to saving at the register.  If you are looking for fruits and veggies, avoid the pre-cut, as although it is a time saver, it is at a premium price.  I’ve often heard people say to stick to the perimeter of the store, as you will not only find the healthier fresh items, but you will avoid stocking up on unnecessary items when walking around the store.

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I used to be scared using a credit card for all purchases.  I was afraid that I would not be disciplined enough and would just keep charging and not paying off the full balance, but since I have switched from using cash/debit and rely solely on using credit, it has been worth the change and continue to see the rewards dollars add up.  I started using the Costco Citi card (used to be American Express), and they offer anywhere from 1-4% cashback on purchases, depending on the type of purchase, and after getting a reward check back of almost $700 for purchases made the previous year, there is no going back.  It’s free money just by making the purchases I would have made anyways using debit/another card without rewards.

Find the Best Credit Card Deal

To maximize the adding up of your rewards points or dollars, it is good to limit spending to not only one card, but a credit with the best perks.  If you have open credit cards, take a look at each and see what they offer as far as cashback, and if not good, then search for the best (only applying for one so it doesn’t hurt your credit score).  With so much competition these days, as long as your credit is solid, you should have no trouble finding one that meets your needs.

Avoid a Shopping Spree

Now that you have decided which card to use, you can start making every purchase you would normally have made in the month with either your debit card or a combination of other cards.  Although you cannot typically make your mortgage or car lease payment using a credit card, just about every other bill can be, plus spending money.  Now that you are not having money come directly out of your checking account, it is important to watch spending habits so that it is not a shock when the statement bill comes in, so that you can pay the full balance by the due date to avoid interest.

Put the Rewards to Good Use

Whether you accumulate rewards points or receive a cashback check once a year, there are plenty of places to put your newfound money to good use.  For points, you can redeem for retail, gas, and even home improvement store gift cards if you need to use towards a home improvement project.  Restaurant gift cards are nice to use for a free meal, however you should try to limit and put towards better use, as it is easy to just go out to eat, but probably unnecessary to go out to eat more than needed.

Don’t Ignore Your Debit Card

I have been so focused on using my credit card for all purchases that I didn’t realize that my debit card had been adding up points from previous use, although it took purchases for a better part of a year just go add up to a $25 gift card, so your best option is probably opting with using a credit card, but it can’t hurt to double check debit card rewards.  Every little bit helps!

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Deciding whether or not to borrow money is always a choice you should not make hastily. First, you need to see if it’s really something that you have to spend money on now. If it’s something you want, it’s better to save up for it versus taking out a loan with interest attached. If on the other hand it’s something urgent like a car or home repair, make sure that you have the means to repay it.

Is a short-term loan right for your budget?

If you’ve suffered a temporary setback such as an unexpected home or auto repair and you don’t have the money to cover it, then a short-term loan like a payday loan alternative might be a way to solve the immediate crisis. It’s a way to get cash fast to fix the repair without having to come up with the full payment quickly. Most of these short-term loans have several payment options allowing you to repay it a little bit at a time over a few months or a couple of years. They are also easier to get an approval on versus a conventional loan from your local bank with minimum requirements. If you can work the payment into your budget without being late, then this is a great way to solve the problem. If however, you don’t make enough to cover your current bills, borrowing more money, even a small monthly payment, is going to put you further behind and end up costing you more than you might imagine.

Getting on track and establishing a budget

Living week to week is very stressful. Any setback, major or minor, can cause you to have a continuous habit of making late payments, or even worse, missing a few. In order to dig out of the hole, you need to learn how to properly manage your money and stick to a budget. Start by making a list of your monthly expenses and then deduct your total income for the month. If your income exceeds your expenses you can turn your current status around and get back on track quickly. The problem then lies with your spending habits. Start by prioritizing your bills, putting your mortgage or rent and household utilities first, a car payment next, and then your other loans and credit cards last. If you have several credit cards, keep just two or three. Start by taking the one with the lowest balance and pay more than the minimum payment and with the rest pay the minimum only. Once your card reaches the zero mark, close it.

Spend your money wisely

In order to make your money work for you, you need to spend it wisely. Having too much debt is never a good idea. It takes just one emergency to create a chain reaction of late payments followed by a lower credit score.  Take steps now to ensure that this scenario doesn’t pay out. Learn to live frugal and make better choices. Having money left over at the end of a month doesn’t mean you get to go on a shopping spree. Instead of blowing your money double up on a car payment or pay down a credit card.

Freeing up money from your budget to pay off debt

There are many ways to free up money each month. Write down every penny you spend for a month. At the end of this time, you’ll have a good idea where it’s going. If you enjoy eating out, dine out less. If you like to pamper yourself with treatments at a spa, do them at home. It’s important to get a visual on where your money goes each month so you know the areas you need to improve upon. If you cut back on a few unnecessary expenses you’ll free up money that you can use to pay down your debt, which ultimately leads to move money in your pocket.

Learning to live within your means

Wanting nice things is nothing out of the norm. But, sacrificing your health is not the way to go. Instead of taking on more debt that you can’t afford, save up for the things you want. If you have an older car and want a new one, work your way up to it. Save up the money and buy it with cash. This probably means you’ll have a car a few years old, but you won’t have a payment to go along with it. Save up for another year or so and then you’ll have the money for your new car, without the interest attached. The same goes for other large purchase like a new HDTV – shop around and wait for a sale. Then pay cash for it. It may take a little longer to acquire the things you want but you won’t be adding any new debt.

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Ways to Start Saving Today

by Justin Weinger on April 1, 2017

I would venture to say that most of the world falls short of sticking to their budget every now and again. Most of us have issues separating our needs versus our wants, it’s simply human nature. The old adage that you must spend less than you earn and you will never go broke still holds true today, and probably always will. It’s a simple formula for not going into debt. Still, it doesn’t very little to give you specifics on how to accomplish what seems to be such an easy feat. While being diligent with saving and spend, and utilizing Groupon Coupons when needed, you still can do so much more to right your finances. Below are some tips that will help the budget conscious stay true to their finances!

Find a Side Gig

Most people don’t necessarily enjoy going to work, so the suggestion that they get a second job is usually a vile thought to even consider. Some people get a job as a pizza delivery driver simply because it won’t conflict with their day jobs. These days with the sharing economy it’s much easier to find a side gig that has an overly flexible schedule. You could work for Shipt and be personal shoppers for busy consumers, or start driving for Uber and Lyft which gives you the freedom of flipping the “on” switch whenever you decide to work and earn a few extra dollars. It has literally never been easier to earn extra money as it is now.

Improve Your Credit

While improving your credit isn’t quite as quick and easy as picking up a side job, it can do a great deal to improve your financial well-being and save money. Think about all the interest rates attached to the loans you take out. You can save money on your mortgage, save money on your car loan, and just about every other area you have borrowed money by simply paying your bills on time and not over utilizing your credit. This also holds true with credit cards. While I don’t necessarily advocate charging up a bunch of items on your credit card, they are there for emergencies, and if you do need to put something on credit it’s best to pay as little interest at possible.

Automate Your Savings

Automating your savings is a great way to “set it and forget it”! This can greatly improve your financial status without much though. By automatically diverting money from your paycheck or checking account to your savings account each month you can easily building up an emergency fund without really noticing. You should also look into opening a higher interest earning account with an online bank, and then avoid receiving an ATM card so you are less tempted to touch it.

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5 Smart Ways to Reduce Debt Stress

by Justin Weinger on March 30, 2017

Debt can eat away at your financial future and cause you to reach monstrous levels of stress and anxiety. You may have a mountain of debt that seems insurmountable, and you may feel challenged at the mere thought of taking action to eliminate it. These are signs that you may be feeling debt stress. Living with high levels of stress can negatively impact your emotional and physical health, your relationships and even your career. By following these steps, you can reduce your stress level while also managing and ultimately eliminating debt.

Consolidate Your Debt

Debt consolidation may be one of the best ways to deal with huge debt bills. You may be able to refinance collateral loans to obtain a lower rate, but unsecured debts should be consolidated. Ideally, these debts will be consolidated into a fixed term loan with a low interest rate. This can create lower and fewer monthly debt payments that are easier to manage. Because the debt is on a fixed term loan, the balance will be eliminated by the end of the loan term.

Create a Debt Reduction Plan

When you create a solid debt reduction plan, you can more easily establish realistic goals. You can also monitor your progress toward attaining these goals, and this can be mentally rewarding. A consolidation loan is a great first step at creating a debt reduction plan. In addition to focusing on this debt, look at your other secured debts. Using a debt snowball strategy is a great way to plan for debt reduction and elimination.

Focus on the Present

After you have developed a debt reduction plan, you need to focus your attention on the present. You may have adjusted your debts and have new payments to input into your budget. Your budget is an exceptional financial resource that you can use to keep you on track with spending and savings. Get in the habit of reviewing your budget daily. It may be wise to create a rolling budget that shows each pay date you will have and that allocates all of your expenses to be paid based on your pay dates. Some people will project their budget out by several months or years for the best results.

Reward Yourself at Milestones

It may have taken you many long years to amass your debt, so it reasonable that it may take as long to pay the debt off. Set milestones in your debt reduction plan, such as each time you pay off a credit card. Create rewards, such as a small trip or another incentive, that you can enjoy when you meet those milestones.

Increase Your Savings Balance

Focusing on saving money when your goal is to pay down debts can seem counter-intuitive. After all, you may feel as though all of your extra money should be allocated to debt reduction. Debt and savings are directly linked, and studies have shown that those who have higher savings account balances have less debt. Allocate a small portion of your available income each month toward savings. Over time, your balance will grow as your debts shrink.

Debt stress can be difficult to live with. It can keep you up at night, cause you to lose focus during the day and more. If you are challenged by debt and are looking for a way to reduce your stress level while managing your debt, consider implementing these tips in your life today.

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