Category Archives: Budget

budget, budgeting, income, expenses

How We Save Money on Food During the Summer

Summer is almost here, and with its arrival often comes big changes to the average person’s diet. Hearty soups, casseroles, and chili are replaced by seasonal vegetables, fruit salads, and delicious grilled meats. In this post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that help me and my wife save money on food during the summer months while still eating well.

Generally speaking, the tricks we use to  save money on food during the summer are somewhat similar to how we save on food any time of the year. However, there are a few tricks that work far better in the summer months than they do during any other season. So grab a notepad and pen, and read on to see the steps we take to save on food during the summer!

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.

You Must Start With a Plan

Have you ever found yourself at the grocery store without a list, with no idea what you have in your pantry and refrigerator, and an empty stomach? I’ve been there, and I can tell you that this is a recipe for disaster.

However, heading to the grocery store without a list during the summer months can be worse than any other time of the year. Our local grocery store of choice always has fresh fruit and vegetables near the main entrance. It’s almost like a trap, and if we don’t have a list, we fall for it. Every. Single. Time!

If you don’t have a list when you enter the store, you’re far more likely to end up with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your cart. Normally, this is a good thing. But if you’re buying far more than your family will eat in a month, you’re just wasting food and money.

Related Reading:

Check Ads and Circulars for the Best Deals

Ten years ago, it was a normal practice to check weekly ads for the best grocery deals. I remember watching my parents do it every Sunday and Thursday. In a digital world, fewer and fewer people have a newspaper subscription, so ads can be hard to come by in some communities.

It is always a good idea to check out your grocery stores’ weekly deals, even if it means checking their website or downloading their app. Especially if you regularly shop at a few different grocery stores, checking out the deals in advance can help you save as much as $20 per week!

Helpful hint: We use our favorite grocery store’s app to save money automatically and earn rewards on items we would normally buy anyway.

Check out Farmer’s Markets to Save on Food During the Summer Months

If you live in a community with a farmer’s market, you owe it to yourself to check it out. As a kid, I spent many Saturday mornings visiting the markets with my Grandpa. He always had an eye for deals, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to head home with a back seat full of fresh beans, corn, tomatoes, apples, and watermelon.

Word of caution: Your local farmer’s market may not necessarily help you save money on food during the summer months on a weekly basis. Plenty of variables, such as your local economy, weather patterns, and even fees charged to merchants at your local market can have a big impact upon prices.

Download the Ibotta App

Simply put, the Ibotta app is one of the simplest ways to save money on the items you would already buy anyway. It is an easy replacement for people (like me) who hate couponing, and the savings add up very quickly over time. The best part is that they recently overhauled their app, making it much easier to save money.

Saving with Ibotta is easy. First, sign-up for free using my link - you'll receive a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up. Then download the app (available for Android and iOS) – you’ll need it later to scan your receipt.

Next, find your go-to stores (click here for a list of over 300 participating stores) in the app, link store loyalty accounts, unlock available rebates, and go shopping. When you’re finished, scan the bar codes of items featuring a rebate, snap a picture of your receipt, and submit. You’ll receive cash back into your Ibotta account within 48 hours, which you can later transfer using PayPal or use to buy gift cards.

Ibotta offers rebates on a wide range of products, including $2.00-$5.00 rebates on many varieties of beer/wine, toiletries, snack foods, and over the counter medicine, among other items.

Again, Ibotta is FREE to use and you'll receive a $10 BONUS if you sign-up today.

Know How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is by far our favorite time to buy and enjoy fresh produce. In our area of the country (the Midwest), it is also the best time of the year to get fresh, locally-grown produce.

One of the most important things to know when buying fresh produce is how to best store it to maximize its shelf life. Download the free printable to store on your refrigerator when you enter your e-mail address in the box – don’t worry, we won’t SPAM you or share your email address with anyone. You’ll also receive periodic communication from us, but you can unsubscribe at any time!

Score the Best Deals on Fresh Local Meats

Balancing the desire to support local farmers with the need to save money on food during the summer can be difficult. I know that when we host large groups for a barbecue at our house, I’m very conscious of how much money we spend.

If you are comfortable buying meat in bulk, Zaycon Fresh is aiming to change that one community at a time.

Zaycon Fresh provides high-quality, farm fresh meat directly from local farmers to your table – and their prices typically beat even Aldi and Wal-Mart! When you sign-up for FREE, Zaycon will leverage the buying power of several local families on your behalf and help you save money on food by purchasing items in bulk.

They send daily e-mail alerts on local sales events, and when you place your order, they take care of the rest. When your order is ready, you bring your receipt to a designated pick-up location near your home and collect your fresh, inexpensive meat without even leaving your car.

Pro Tip: Orders from Zaycon tend to be larger than the average family’s needs, but you can recruit a friend or two to divide up the bill, allowing everyone to save and still eat delicious meat!

Again, Zaycon Fresh is available in 1,200+ communities nationwide, and you can sign-up for FREE to save money on food today.

Stop Buying High Calorie, Dehydrating Beverages

During the summer months, hydration becomes even more important than it is during other seasons. If you routinely spend money on high calorie beverages, such as soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages, you can significantly reduce your budget during the summer by increasing your family’s water intake.

During the summer, my wife and I use these blender bottles for smoothies and water on a daily basis. If you make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you at all times, you’ll avoid the urge to splurge on expensive bottled water or sugary drinks when you’re on the go.

Try $5 Meal Plan

I’ll be honest: I can understand how buys families struggle to save money on food during the summer months. My wife and I don’t have children yet, but we see our close friends are always on the go to baseball practice, swim lessons, games, and much more.

When you’re this busy, it can seem like it is impossible to meal plan. Stopping in for a visit to McDonald’s is much easier, but the hit on your wallet can very severe.

If this is you, it may be time for $5 Meal Plan to come to your rescue. With their free, 14 day trial, summer can be a great time to try out their plans at no risk.

When you sign-up, each Friday at 11 AM ET, you’ll receive a meal plan in your e-mail inbox. The meal plan includes a shopping list and a detailed menu complete with the following:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • One lunch and one breakfast, plus,
  • A random goodie each week – sometimes dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!)
  • Gluten-free options (upon request)

As a member, you’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group to share recipes and tips with other subscribers.

If meal planning just isn’t working out, I recommend giving $5 Meal Plan a try. Again, you have nothing to lose when you sign-up for their FREE 14-day trial.

Final Word

I hope these tips and tricks will help you save money on food during the summer months and beyond. They have helped us save money on food during the summer while still enjoying good meals, and I believe they can work for you, too!


If you have any other tips and tricks to share that others could benefit from, please leave a note in the comments and I will add you tip to this post.

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.

 

 

The Best Financial Advice Is Not Sophisticated

Advice and pro tips on just about every topic imaginable are available in just a few clicks or swipes on a pocket-sized device today. The best financial advice is no exception. Based upon the wealth of information available to everyone with a mobile device, there are increasingly fewer and fewer reasons for the lack of wisdom and overall financial mismanagement which are common today.

Ironically, we just may be living in a period of the worst personal financial mismanagement of all-time, despite access to information having reached an all-time high.

Recently, I read a Yahoo Finance article about Derek Sall, the owner of Life and My Finances, who impressively paid off over $116,000 of debt before turning 30. In the article, Sall shared his best financial advice.

“The best tip I can give is just live your own life,” he said. “The best way to just live simply and be content is just to turn it all of and hardly pay attention to it at all. Because that’s what gets people in the most trouble.”

As I read this, I nodded my head in agreement with Sall. It’s very good advice from someone who has earned the right to talk the talk by walking the walk, so to speak.

Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments section – the place where mis-informed and overconfident readers typically congregate to spread poor ideas on large sites like Yahoo.

Apparently, Sall’s advice struck a nerve with the internet trolls. Here is a selection of some of the comments:

  • “Fake news”
  • “Thanks for the useless ad for [Derek’s] blog.”
  • “How much did you get paid for this useless tip?”
  • “So the tip is to just ‘live your life’?”
  • But folks . . . Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, BUT . . . If everyone did that, only buying what they need, just think how many people would be out of manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, mortgage jobs, etc. Also how much sales tax would the government be missing out on?”
  • “nothing new here”
  • “Bet this guy makes $100,000,000 on suckers who buy his book. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that is legal. BEWARE.”
  • “That’s awesome that this guy is out of debt. But it seems like he missed out on doing a bunch of stuff while in the prime of his life. I go to work to make money. The point of having some money is so I can do things that I want to do, as well as save some of it.”
  • “Let me guess, he cancelled his cable and quit getting a morning latte at Starbucks, it works every time.”
  • “The tip is don’t spend money, okay got it.”

After reading through all of the comments, the exact reason why so many people manage their money poorly occurred to me:

The best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Complicating the Uncomplicated

More and more, it seems that people want to reject any kind of advice which is simple at its core. We are prone to rejecting basic ideas in favor of the more complex, as if complicated advice is somehow better by default.

Based upon the comments above, many readers assumed that there was no way Derek achieved debt freedom simply by living his own life on his own terms. In their minds, the secret to financial success had to be more complicated.

This attitude is all wrong.

The truth is that achieving financial success isn’t complicated and the best financial advice out there is not sophisticated.

The Best Financial Advice is Simple

The main reason I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance is because money is simple. It doesn’t have a mind or life of its own, and it does exactly what I tell it to do. It’s like every dollar I possess becomes a tiny employee who exists to answer to my every bidding.

And at the end of the day the total value of my money is largely dependent upon the actions of one person: me. My choices determine whether my financial net worth grows or dwindles.

If I use my basic arithmetic skills and reconcile my earnings and expenses properly, I can be sure that I stay in command of my  choices and my money. And if I plan ahead a bit, I may even save money!

Many people can’t bring themselves to accept that money management is really this easy and simple. They insist that such a basic approach – keeping a budget, spending less than what is earned, and saving the rest – is only for unsophisticated simpletons.

The truth is that there is a tremendous degree of sophistication in simplicity. And realizing and embracing this truth is not only one of the keys to overall financial well-being; it’s one of the keys to happiness in general.

The problem is that we live in a society which has completely rejected simplicity. Take a walk through your local grocery store with open eyes and you’ll see what I mean – dozens of varieties of toothpaste, entire rows devoted to snack foods, and more flavors of ice cream than Dairy Queen.

Variety makes life interesting, to be certain, but there is a breaking point in which complexity leads to analysis paralysis. This is true of grocery shopping, and it is true of personal finance.

Some things in life, including money, are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. It’s time for all of us, the internet trolls included, to accept this truth, embrace it, and live happily.


What is the best financial advice you’ve ever been given? Is it complicated?

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

7 Critical Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest household names when it comes to personal finance experts. His story and teachings have helped millions of people get out of debt and build a well-balanced financial position, and his books, radio show, columns, courses, and videos are among the most popular personal finance materials available. Even so, a vocal contingent of critics question whether Dave Ramsey is right on many key issues.

Ramsey is not bashful about his strongly-held beliefs. He strongly opposes debt (other than 15 year mortgages in which the monthly payment is no more than 25 percent of a family’s take home pay), leads the charge against credit card use, and encourages people who are ridden with debt to pay off their obligations in order beginning with their smallest debts rather than base repayment on interest rates.

Millions of people have followed Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps to achieve financial success, yet his advice is more widely-criticized than many other financial experts.

If you’re looking for a financial guru to follow, Dave Ramsey is certainly a popular choice. His advice is not always easy to follow, but it is difficult to argue with his results.

Read on to consider 7 ways Dave Ramsey is right about money – even in the face of criticism.

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest names in personal finance, but he is criticized widely for many of his teachings. Read on to see 7 critical ways Dave Ramsey is right - and his critics are wrong - about money.

7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right – and Others Are Wrong

Dave Ramsey is the first to admit that his life story and beliefs may be strange to some people. Through a rapid-rise in the real estate career, Ramsey became a millionaire by age 26 and promptly lost everything in bankruptcy soon after.

Writes Ramsey,

I was making $250,000 a year. That’s more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie. That 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt—a lot of short-term debt—and I’m the idiot who signed up for the trip.

When the dust finally settled, the resilient Ramsey was determined to recover and learn from his mistakes and help others win with money.

His Advice is Rooted in Experience and Research

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, it is most important to note that his teachings and philosophies are based upon both personal experience and expert research. Critics and competitors love to paint Ramsey as a fraud, but the truth is that he lived through the trials and struggles that his followers face and came out on top.

When Ramsey lost everything, he started a mission to learn everything he could about personal finance. He read every relevant book he could get his hands on, interviewed countless people who had experienced financial success, and acted upon everything he learned.

From the rubble, Ramsey created a framework that has helped millions of people, himself include, pay off debt and build wealth.

An Expert Motivator

While many financial experts take a strictly academic approach to personal finance, Dave Ramsey understands that motivation to get started is a foundational piece of each person’s financial journey. He is an expert when it comes to empowering people who want to change – as he puts it, those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and motivating them to take action.

The short video below is a great example of his ability to motivate people to take action.

Saving is the Best Way to Get Started

In Financial Peace University, Ramsey teaches students to build a $1,000 starter emergency fund before doing anything else with money. He calls this action Baby Step One.

Dave Ramsey is right when advising people to start with saving because it is an effective way to initiate change and protect against financial emergencies which could cause people to go further into debt.

Much in the same way that a running coach would not expect a new runner to step out and run a marathon on day one, Ramsey helps people start improving their financial situation with slow and manageable change by encouraging saving.

Related Reading:

Quick Wins Are Contagious

On a related note, Ramsey understands that personal finance is not just mathematical, but also emotional, behavioral, and psychological. People are able to start his program and stick with it thanks to the power of quick wins.

Once people move on to paying off non-mortgage debt in Baby Step Two, Ramsey advises people pay off their debts from smallest to largest balance. Thanks to momentum and positive excitement, Ramsey Solutions reports that students pay off all of their debt in 18-24 months, on average.

Money and Multi-tasking Don’t Mix

Over the past decade, consistent research has emerged demonstrating that multi-tasking doesn’t work. According to Psychology Today,

  • Multi-tasking wastes time
  • It decreases accuracy
  • The human brain is not equipped to multi-task

Ramsey deserves credit for realizing this back in the 1990s and incorporating this understanding into the development of the Baby Steps.

Simply put, Dave Ramsey is right – multi-tasking with money is slow, ineffective, and expensive. It is far wiser to focus on one financial goal at a time, especially when looking to pay off debt.

A Budget is Critical

One of the most memorable aspects of Ramsey’s teaching lies in his tendency to repeat teachings in the form of catchy sound bytes. For example, regular listeners have heard Dave say the following many times:

Your biggest wealth-building tool is your income, and the best way to harness the power of your income is the monthly budget because everything else flows from the budget.

The importance of a budget is just one way Dave Ramsey is right when it comes to financial advice.
A look at Dave Ramsey’s recommended budgeting percentages (Credit: EveryDollar)

Though some experts argue otherwise, I believe Dave Ramsey is right – a budget is a fundamental component of a winning financial plan. 

The truth is that people who don’t budget are much more likely to become financial reactionaries who wonder where their money goes each month.

The word “budget” has taken on all kinds of unjust negative connotations. Many people believe that a budget is too restricting, a thing of the past, or something that only frugal or cheap people follow.

As Ramsey points out, other people are afraid to start a budget out of fear of what they might discover. However, the numbers don’t lie – people who create a budget pay off more debt and save more money.

Related Reading:

Leveraging Debt is Risky

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, his teaching on the dangerous risk of leveraging debt may be his most famous.

Even in a time of historically-low interest rates, Ramsey continues to preach the virtues of debt freedom. Why? Ultimately, a life void of debt is a life of minimal financial risk.

On his radio show, Ramsey frequently reminds audiences that 0% of homes without a mortgage are foreclosed on every year. He also is quick to quote the world’s second-richest man, Warren Buffet (“You can tell who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out”), when discussing investment risk.

While some experts continue to falsely teach that debt is a tool to be manipulated for gain, Dave Ramsey is right – very few wealthy people gained their wealth by leveraging debt, and those who did got very lucky.

Final Word

Dave Ramsey’s financial advice is not equally effective for people in all financial stages of life, but there is a reason his framework has helped millions of people get their finances in order. As Ramsey says, his plan teaches people a systematic, common sense approach to managing their finances “God’s and grandma’s way.”

Undoubtedly, Ramsey will continue to draw the ire of critics, but results don’t lie.


What Dave Ramsey advice resonates with you? How do you follow and implement his teachings?

The Biggest Reason Why Budgets Fail and the Easy Solution

If you’re like most adults, you have a love-hate relationship with your budget. You love the hope and optimism your budget gives you at the start of the month, and you hate tallying up the numbers at the end of the month only to realize that you didn’t stick to your budget – again. It is a discouraging cycle, to say the least. And it causes many people to abandon budgeting once and for all and leaves them wondering why budgets fail.

The biggest reason why budgets fail isn’t just about numbers or behavior. Budgets don’t fail or succeed because you switched from Excel to paper-and-pencil. And they don’t fail because you missed a day recording purchases. The truth is that most budgets fail because you haven’t given yourself a good enough reason to follow it.

A budget is easy to create and very hard to stick to consistently. The real reason why budgets fail is so simple that it may surprise you. We'll show you how to create a budget that won't fail you - yes, a budget that you can actually stick to consistently - just by taking a few simple steps. You'll even gain access to a FREE, 10 page printable toolkit!

Examples of Why Budgets Fail So Easily

When many people set-up a budget for the first time, they follow a simple template or pattern their budget on an example they have seen. This practice makes sense, but it isn’t fail-proof.

Part of the reason why budgets fail is the fact that many people simply copy budget parameters without considering their own realistic circumstances. For example, if you use the popular app Every Dollar to create a budget, the app guides you to create your budget based upon the following recommended percentages:

These categories and recommended percentages are definitely a great starting point when building a budget, but blindly following them without considering the specifics of your situation can doom your budget to fail.

Blindly following percentages is just one reason why budgets fail
Click to see larger version (Source: EveryDollar)

For example, maybe you aren’t big on recreational activities. Or maybe you work from home and don’t own a vehicle. In those cases, blindly allocating 5-15% of your total budgeted spending to those categories wouldn’t make realistic sense or add any value to your life. Failing to give each dollar a specific purpose in this manner is one example of why budgets fail.

A second example of common budget failure is setting unrealistic goals. For example, if you’re currently spending an average of $900 per month on groceries for two people, aiming to cut this spending down to $450 in one month isn’t very realistic. It would be much more sensible and achievable to gradually reduce the budget to $450 over the course of 3-4 months.

Similarly, a third reason why budgets fail so often lies in creating a budget that is too restrictive. When you create a budget, think of it less as a drill sergeant trying to inflict misery and more like a coach who is encouraging you to win. It’s much easier to follow a person, or in this case, a budget plan, when you know that it is leading you to where you’re trying to go.

Prevent Budget Failure By Creating a Values-Based Budget

If budgets fail because they blindly follow templates, set unrealistic goals, and tend to be too restrictive, how to create a budget to help you Take Back Control of Your Life and Money becomes clearer:

A successful budget is one which combines recommended percentages with your realistic circumstances and is designed to help you achieve the financial goals that you value the most.

If you’re going to create a budget that will succeed, you have to start with a vision of what financial success looks like to you! The best way to create this vision is by identifying your values.

Why are values the key to a successful budget? Your values are what are most important to you. When you identify your values, you realize the important reasons why you decided to create a budget in the first place.

Simply put, a budget without values sets empty, meaningless targets. If you don’t understand and feel the significance of your budget goals, you will not stay motivated to stick to your budget once the initial excitement wears off.

This is similar to filling a jar with coins for no specific reason.

Put another way: Values are the driving force for meaningful goals. Show me a significant goal, and I will point out the values that underpin the goal. Values are the reason that Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player of all-time after getting cut from his high school team. His love for Competition and Accomplishment gave him all the fuel and motivation to stick to his goals, work hard, and become the best.

Again, the reason why budgets fail is because we haven’t given ourselves a good enough reason to follow them. Identifying your values and linking them to your budget solves the problem!

Stop Your Budget From Failing and Start Winning With Money Today!

I strongly believe that the reason why budgets fail is they focus too much on “how” to manage money responsibly and not enough on “why” it matters. A values-based budget can help you fix the problem.

If you’re ready to take the next step in fixing your budget problems by identifying your values, I’ve created a FREE printable resource to help you.

The MONEY VALUES TOOLKIT is designed to help you create a budget that is built on a foundation of your Values. It will help you

  • Discover your Purpose and Values
  • Review and improve your budget in light of your Values
  • Create Values-based goals to stay on track with your budget

This 10 page guide is a great value, and again, it is FREE. Simply use the form above to become a FinanceSuperhero subscriber and you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions to download your printable PDF toolkit.


What struggles keep you from sticking to your budget? In your opinion, what is the reason why budgets fail?

13 Tips to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

Could you afford to throw away $2,000 each year? Due to food waste, that's exactly what you're doing. Follow these 13 simple tips to save $183 per month.Could you afford to literally throw away over $2,000 each year? If you’re like most families, the shocking answer is YES – because that’s exactly what you’re doing. No, you’re not tossing cash in the trash, but your food waste is costing you at least that much – if not more!

A study from the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed the unthinkable – American households throw away $165 billion in food waste every year, which equates to $2,200 per family. Yes, that’s $183 per month! And according to the report, this figure has increased by 4 times over the rates from the 1960s.

13 Ways to Cut Your Food Waste and Save Money

If these statistics make you feel sad, shocked, or even angry, then you’re ready to take back control of your food budget and stop wasting money on food each and every month. The following tips will help you control food waste and stop throwing away your hard-earned money each month.

1. Expiration dates are a guideline, not a hard-fast rule.

Thanks to well-meaning friends and fear-mongering family members, most people think expiration dates are rigid rules which were put into place to prevent food poisoning. Not so fast! The truth is that most expiration dates have little to do with food safety.

Most products today are labeled with one of two different types of dates – “best by” and “sell by.” Best by dates indicate quality, maximum freshness, and peak flavor, while sell by dates exist to help retailers ensure that they are only selling fresh stock. In any event, these dates actually tell you very little about the safety of food products, as most products should remain safe to eat for several days after these dates have passed.

The best rule of thumb is to use your best judgment when evaluating food freshness and safety. If it looks bad, smells bad, or otherwise worries you, be cautious and toss it – just don’t let dates scare you into unnecessary food waste.

2. Freeze Foods Before They Go Bad

We’ve all been there – you have a bad day at work and pick-up pizza rather than whipping up chicken alfredo, but you don’t want to waste perfectly good chicken.  Most food waste can be prevented by freezing unused foods, especially meats and vegetables, before they have gone bad.

When you freeze items, use a permanent marker to label the item with the date you froze it so you can be sure you use it within the recommended window. Also include the date by which you should use the food (see the guidelines from FoodSafety.gov).

3. Check your refrigerator temperature

Another way to reduce food waste and stop throwing away money is to prolong the usefulness of the food that you buy and use it all. The problem is that once you buy food you begin a race against the clock, and your food starts to develop bacteria.

You can keep your food fresh for longer by making sure that your refrigerator is set at no higher than 40 degrees – most refrigerator manufacturers and food scientists recommend 35-38 degrees. If you maintain the right temperatures your food will stay fresh longer.

4. Don’t Stuff Your Pantry and Refrigerator

Buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales is a great way to save money, but going overboard can lead to costly food waste.

When you overload your pantry, it is difficult to see what food you have in stock and use it before it goes bad; the same can be said for your refrigerator. And to make matters worse, refrigerated foods will not remain fresh if your refrigerator is jam-packed, as it needs adequate space to properly run cooling cycles.

5. Make a List and Stick to It!

I am constantly amazed at the number of people I see grocery shopping without a list. I love lists so much that I have had to hold myself back from making lists of lists – true story – but a shopping list is a must for all shopping trips.

When you shop without a list, you are more likely to buy extra food you don’t need, which leads directly to future food waste. Stores know this, and they prey on our tendencies to give in to impulse and buy items on end-caps and special displays. Stick to your list and you’ll avoid wasting money.

6. Use left over ingredients in future meals

Left over night was one of my biggest fears as a kid, but today it is one of my favorites. I enjoy the challenge of using whatever we have on hand to make an interesting meal.

For example, suppose you had left over cooked carrots, a can of crushed tomatoes, two grilled chicken breasts, brown rice, and green onions. You could add in Moroccan spices and make something delicious like this:

Could you afford to throw away $2,000 each year? Due to food waste, that's exactly what you're doing. Follow these 13 simple tips to save $183 per month.
Grilled chicken, rice, crushed tomatoes with a Moroccan spice blend, garnished with carrots and green onions – fresh from our kitchen

7. Make vegetable stock

If you have left over vegetables that will otherwise go to waste, you can easily reuse them to make vegetable stock. Here is a simple recipe to pin for later.

8. Plan and Serve Smaller Portions

When my wife and I first were married, I used to get in trouble for taking large servings that left us with not quite enough left overs for a second meal. She started plating my dinners for me, and I never complained because it was nice to be treated so well!

If you routinely find yourself tossing small portions at the end of a meal, dividing up portions and setting aside food is an easy way to cut food waste.

9. Take left overs for lunch

If you do find yourself with left overs that aren’t quite big enough for another dinner, use them as lunches instead. They will taste better than fast food and save you money.

10. Keep perishable foods in sight

Last month I found a wilted and mushy apple behind a bottle of olive oil on our lazy susan. It must have rolled out of the bag when I put the apples away.

One of the easiest ways to cut food waste is to keep perishables where you can see them. This will also help you to make healthier snack choices.

11. Wash fruits and vegetables right away

While it is good to have perishables conveniently in sight, this won’t help you prevent food waste unless they are prepped and ready to eat. If you wash produce soon after returning from the store, your family will have no excuses about not eating their fruits and vegetables.

12. Plan better meals

Could you afford to throw away $2,000 each year? Due to food waste, that's exactly what you're doing. Follow these 13 simple tips to save $183 per month.At the end of the day, no tips will help you eliminate food waste if you’re not planning smart meals. If you’re willing to sit down, read recipes, and form a meal plan, chances are good that you will be successful.

The truth is that not everyone is good at meal planning. Some people just don’t have time to plan well. If that is you, there’s no shame in admitting it.

I recommend $5 Meal Plan for those who struggle to make a plan and follow it. Here’s how it works:

Each Friday at 11 AM ET, you’ll receive a meal plan in your e-mail inbox. The meal plan includes a shopping list and a detailed menu complete with the following:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • One lunch and one breakfast, plus,
  • A random goodie each week – sometimes dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!)
  • Gluten-free options (upon request)

When you sign-up you’ll receive access to a private Facebook group to share recipes and tips with other subscribers as a FREE bonus.

If you’re skeptical, try it for FREE for 14 days and see for yourself.

13. Organize, Organize, Organize!

Could you afford to throw away $2,000 each year? Due to food waste, that's exactly what you're doing. Follow these 13 simple tips to save $183 per month.Be honest: which picture does your refrigerator look like? If you don’t take regular, consistent steps to organize your food and rotate items, you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary and costly food waste. If you make a plan to regularly clean out both your pantry and refrigerator and rotate stock based on dates, you will save yourself time and money.

Stop Wasting Food and Money Today!

You would never intentionally toss $2,200 in the trash, but that is exactly what you’re doing if you close your browser now and fail to act on what you’ve just read. The above tips are easily to implement, and they offer fail-proof solutions to help you cut food waste and save money at the same time. Pick a few and get started today!


What tips and tricks help you avoid food waste and save money?

 

Budgeting Made Easy – 15 Money Saving Hacks

It’s true: Many people hate the B word. I’m talking about  BUDGETING. These days, budgeting is not in style. Most of my friends do not have a budget. Unbelievably, the state of Illinois recently went an entire fiscal year without a budget. But the unpopular truth is that budgeting is the number one way to make sure that you are on track with money.

Budgeting is the number one way to take control of your money and stop money stress. Make a budget you can stick to by following these 15 money saving tips!I like to think of my budget as a road map. It tells me where to go and how to get to my chosen destination – hopefully as efficiently as possible. But I am still the one who puts together the map and follows each step. Putting together a road map is easy, and so is making a budget – sticking to a budget can be much harder.

It has been many years since I created my first budget. In September 2009, I got my first real job and was on my own for the first time. Just before the school year started, I accepted a job teaching music, moved from Michigan to Illinois, and found a roommate.

At the time, I had no idea how to manage money. I had just read The Total Money Makeover , but I didn’t know the first thing about budgeting an “adult” paycheck. This was going to be the first time I had ever earned a paycheck which included a comma in the amount field! So I did the responsible thing – I sat down and made the budget you see below.

Budgeting is the number one way to take control of your money and stop money stress. Make a budget you can stick to by following these 15 money saving tips!
In all its glory, my very first monthly budget, from September 2009

My first attempt at a budget was OK. I overspent my budget in many categories and spent more than I earned overall. To be honest, I’m sure I would have fared far worse without a budget.

15 BUDGETING TIPS FOR EVERYONE

Looking back, I wish someone had sat down with me at age 21 and showed me how to budget. Figuring it out on my own through trial and error was tough. Today, my wife and I are on the same page with money thanks to our budget. Whether you’re looking to start your first budget or fine tune your budgeting skills, the following 21 tips will help you take back control of your life and money.

1. Make a Budget Every Month

Every new month brings new expenses and circumstances, which makes this first budgeting tip the most important: you need to create a new budget every single month. 

You can use previous monthly budgets as a template, but your budget needs to be realistic if it is going to help you. For example, your expenses in December (holiday gifts, wrapping paper, decorations, baking ingredients) look completely different than those in July (sun screen, bug spray, Popsickles). Plan ahead for variable expenses and include them in your budget.

2. Manage Housing Costs

For homeowners, housing is likely to be your biggest expense until you pay off your mortgage. If it has been a while since you have considered refinancing, now is a perfect time to consider your options and possibly save hundreds of dollars each month. I recommend you take a few minutes to check out offers with GuideToLenders and LendingTree. Both processes took me less than 3 minutes to examine refinancing rates.

If you just starting out and are renting, finding a roommate can help you hack away half (or more) of your housing costs from your budget each month. In my case, I avoided spending $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and spent $400 to rent a home in a two-bedroom condo. By sharing costs I avoided spending 40% of my net income on housing costs.

3. Include All of Your Debt Obligations

When budgeting you may feel the temptation to leave out debt payments, especially if you have student loans in deferment. But avoiding your debts will not make them go away, so gather this information, including total principal, interest rates, minimum payments, and loan terms for each debt.

If you’re not sure how much you owe and to whom, you should pull your credit reports from all three major bureaus. If you are also in the market for intelligent identify theft monitoring, MyFico can provide both. Or you can pull a free credit score report from MyFreeScoreNow.com. You can also contact the appropriate customer service departments, if you have their information, to gather loan balances. Once you have a clear picture of your debt, include the monthly minimum payments in your budget.

If you’re facing high interest  rates, you should call to negotiate better rates, especially on credit cards. Be persistent and don’t take no for an answer. You can also refinance high-interest student loans with LendEDU, a company I have found to offer the best rates to people looking to save money. Even if you think your rates are good, you could save thousands of dollars in interest in a matter of minutes.

4.  Cook at home 

Preparing your own meals at home will accomplish two goals: you will save money, and you will not gain weight eating low nutrition/high calorie fast food. If you’re willing to learn basic cooking techniques and how to use spices effectively, you can slash your food budget significantly. And if planning isn’t your strong-suit, $5 Meal Plan will do it for you and send meal plans to your inbox every Friday!

5. Live simply

If you have set a precedent of living extravagantly, you have set yourself up for failure. Do you remember college life? When I was in college, I appreciated a coffee and bagel just as much as I do a steak dinner today. If you strive to live simply and manage your expectations, budgeting will be much easier.

6. Don’t lease or carry a car payment

When it comes to cars, the key is to make sure pride doesn’t influence your decisions. If your current vehicle gets you from point A to B, it’s a keeper, especially if you own it outright.

Related: Your Car Lease Is Killing You

7. Brew Your Own Coffee (and Get a Pot With a Timer)

Budgeting is the number one way to take control of your money and stop money stress. Make a budget you can stick to by following these 15 money saving tips!In general, the small things like coffee won’t ruin your budget. So by all means, enjoy the occasional coffee without guilt. But if you’re in the habit of buying a $5 mocha every morning, it’s time to pump the brakes and make your own coffee.

I learned this the hard way when at the end of my first budgeted month I had spent $80.77 on coffee on my way to work. I had a decent Mr. Coffee Coffeemaker, but it didn’t have a timer feature. If I happened to be running late to work in the morning, I resorted to a quick Starbucks stop, which cost me significant money without contributing to my happiness or nutrition.

8. Stay in

I get it: many people, especially singles, will feel the temptation to go out night after night. This habit will kill your budget. Instead, invite friends or your significant other back to your place, where food and drinks are cheap and Netflix is nearly free.

9. Save With Groupon and Restaurant.com

I’m not even sure if Groupon and Restaurant.com existed when I made my first budget, but taking advantage of them today is a key part of our dining out experience. With either platform, you can purchase certificates for what is usually a fraction of the value, which allows you to realize significant savings and still enjoy a night out. The most common Restaurant.com offer is $10 for a $25 gift certificate.

9. Build an emergency fund as quickly as possible

A key component to your budget is your emergency fund. When your budget cannot handle unexpected expenses, your emergency fund will ensure you don’t have to swipe your credit card. Whenever possible, include contributions to your emergency fund in your budget.

Related: 5 Tips to Save $1,000 Fast

10. Give Money

I have always given 10% to charity and missions organizations, but I know this isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a natural giver, start small. Even $10 per month will benefit worthwhile organizations, and the act of giving will be freeing. You will learn to value the money you have and appreciate the little things.

11. Share Your Budget

Finding a friend to help you with budgeting can be eye-opening. He or she may find solutions or wasted money that you missed. And sharing with another person can help you stick to your budget.

12. Budget In Fun

If you only budget for required expenses, you will quickly grow to hate your budget. Plan for fun expenses when budgeting to avoid budget burnout and create a budget that you can live with each month.

13. Budget Based on Your Values

Your budget should align with what you value most. In other words, your budget should be a reflection of your priorities. Someone who barely knows you should be able to look at your budget and determine what is important to you.

Related: Building a Values-Based Budget

14. Be Open About Your Budget

It is OK to explain to people that you are on a budget. In fact, if you keep it a secret, it will be more difficult to stick to your budget. Be honest with friends about how you’re using a budget to take back control of your life and money. It will be less awkward if you explain before you are invited out for drinks and dinner every weekend. And it will make it that much easier to say no.

BUDGETING WORKS

It won’t always be simple, but budgeting will keep you on track to take back your life and your money. At first, budgeting may feel restrictive, but remember – you are in charge. Your budget is only a road map for your money, and you are the one who charts the course. Use these 15 budgeting hacks to improve your own budget today!

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Readers, what budgeting tips help you stay on track?

Achieve Better Money Management in Only 10 Minutes Per Day

 

I am often asked, “What’s the key to better money management?” I always remind people that money is like unsorted laundry: it is helpless without you. If your finances require some decluttering, whether minor or major, now is the time to take control and do what is necessary to provide the organization and structure your finances desperately need.

You can start by implementing these five easy steps toward better money management. If you do, you’ll spend no more than 10 minutes managing your money per day!

1. Automate Your Finances As Much Possible

What's the key to better money management? Taking control! If you follow these five recommendations, you can manage your money in only 10 minutes per day!I value time as much as I value money. By automating common expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills (such as water, trash, electricity, gas, television/internet, and mobile phone), life insurance and disability monthly premiums, car payments, student loan payments, retirement account contributions, and even savings, you can save yourself significant time, energy, stress, worry, and, of course, money. As an added bonus, your days of writing countless checks, licking envelopes, and purchasing stamps will be over forever!

Most major banks will allow you to set-up auto-pay on these bills with very little effort involved. You can even negotiate with most providers to establish a chosen day of the month for your auto-draft to occur, which will allow you to spread out your payments to align with your pay periods. Some institutions, particularly student loan servicers, may provide a small APR reduction when you sign-up for auto draft and paperless billing.

And if you find yourself drowning in student loan debt, I recommend you pursue a better interest rate and refinance your student loans with SoFi. I no longer have student loans, but I recommend SoFi wholeheartedly. Plus, they currently offer a $100 sign-up bonus!

Related Post: Escape From Student Loans: How Two Educators Paid Off $17,831.65 in 54 Days

2. Sign-up for Paperless Billing

One of my daily chores is walking to the mailbox. You can restore fun to the act of walking to the mailbox each day by signing-up for paperless billing with all providers who offer this service. Doing so will literally and figuratively decrease the clutter in your mailbox and your finances.

Furthermore, with electronic copies housed by your various institutions on secure servers, your information will be protected, you will be less likely to experience identity theft, and you will not need to fear losing an important document or missing a bill in the mail.

While you’re at it, be sure you have identity theft protection in place, too! I recommend Identity Guard over all other providers due their high customer service rankings and comprehensive monitoring. See for yourself and sign-up for a free 30 day trial!

3. Use an Online Budgeting Tool

When it comes to monthly budgeting, I believe everyone should create at least one budget utilizing paper, a pencil, and a calculator. In the interest of decluttering and saving time, however, the average consumer has plenty of online budgeting tools from which to choose.

After utilizing Gazelle Budget for many years, I recently transitioned to a paid subscription version of EveryDollar, a product created by the team at Ramsey Solutions. EveryDollar is a very effective way to create detailed monthly budgets, track spending by linking with all of your financial accounts, and monitor progress on your goals. I particularly enjoy the features which allow users to create sinking funds and budget for irregular expenses. And the best part is that my wife and I can both use the app!

4. Use Cash Allowances to Pay for Basic Spending

While an automated budgeting platform can certainly ease the burden of tracking a multitude of debit and credit transactions within your monthly budget, I recommend providing cash allowances within basic categories such as groceries, restaurants, gas, and discretionary spending. You can include these cash allowances in your budget with one simple transaction on the first day of the month.

5. Eliminate Your Debts

For many families, debt can represent a significant percentage of their monthly budgeted income. When you shed the shackles of debt, you free up additional streams of income which may be re-allocated as automated contributions toward liquid savings, a home down payment, retirement accounts, non-retirement investments, or savings toward the purchase of rental properties.

Additionally, without multiple debt obligations, the sheer number of your monthly transactions will be reduced. Fewer transactions will lead to even greater simplification. You will also experience the peace that comes with no fear of missing a payment or incurring late fees and interest charges. Lastly, you will not experience guilt each month as financial institutions earn interest on your hard-earned income.

Final Recommendations for Better Money Management

If you are willing to dedicate a few hours this week, you can implement the above steps to get on the path toward better money management – then maintain a routine in less than 10 minutes per day! The sacrifices you make in doing so will pay great dividends, pun partially-intended, for your financial future. As a result, you will be free to turn your attention from fretting and worrying about your finances and onto building your future.


Readers, what are your tips and tricks for better money management?

Stop Wasting Money With These 5 Tips

Looking to stop wasting money on things you don't really need? These 5 tips will help you spend wisely and quit spending money on stupid things!How often do you catch yourself wasting money on absolutely stupid things? Do you want to stop wasting money? Some things – like speeding tickets, broken dishes, and extra trips to the doctor caused by illness – are just plain bad luck. Many other things are self-inflicted wounds caused by laziness, not planning ahead, or ignorance.

No matter the cause, these expenses cost you and me hundreds of dollars every month! If you want to stop wasting money on these stupid, unnecessary purchases and expenses, there is hope!

 

5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money in 2017

The following 5 tips to stop wasting money are easy to implement and will get you on track to stop wasting money and Take Back Control of Your Life and Money!

1. Brew Your Own Coffee

Coffee is inexpensive to purchase yourself, yet its price skyrockets when you pay Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or the local coffeehouse to brew it for you. At minimum, a cuppa Joe on the go will cost over $1, while the same cup brewed at home will cost pennies.

No, brewing your own coffee won’t make in you a millionaire, but if you’re in the habit of dropping $5-10 per day at Starbucks, that’s nonsense!

2. Minimize Shipping Costs When Shopping Online

Recently, I ordered a complete set of seven Star Wars movie posters for our home theater room. I shopped for the best deal I could find online, and when it came time to checkout, I was faced with many shipping options. I chose free shipping because I thought ahead in advance and ordered my items before I actually needed them.

While online shopping is simple and time efficient, it is often more costly because many people elect to pay a fortune in shipping costs in order to receive their items within 1-3 days. By shopping in advance, or taking advantage of Amazon Prime which comes with free two-day shipping on thousands of items, you can stop wasting money on sky-high shipping costs.

3. Skip Expensive, High-Calorie Appetizers

I enjoy greasy appetizer platters just as much as the next guy, but at $8 and nearly 3000 calories, I nearly always regret my indulgence. Sure, $8 won’t make me significantly richer; no, I won’t likely nickle-and-dime my way into developing a million dollar investment portfolio.

But I can stop wasting money on appetizers by acknowledging that I have better options. And besides, appetizers generally leave me unable to finish my meal without overeating.

4. Cancel Your Newspaper Subscription

Currently, my wife and I pay for a Sunday subscription to The Chicago Tribune. Shameful confession time: the edition from last Sunday is still sitting at the end of our driveway as I write this on a Wednesday. I may as well just burn my subscription fee every month, as I’m clearly not reading the paper.

Like any good American, I find my news from the most trustworthy source: my Facebook News Feed. In all seriousness, you and I need to stop wasting money on a newspaper that we do not read, especially when free news is available online.

My sources of choice have long been The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press, both of which are available via mobile app. Your local paper is probably available free of charge.

5. Stop Buying Lottery Tickets and Betting

My thoughts on the lottery system are very divided. On one hand, proceeds from the lottery in my home state of Illinois support education and indirectly pay my teacher salary. On the other, I know that dozens of my dear friends are wasting their money on a daily or weekly basis.

I myself have only indulged in NCAA basketball tournament pools, which is admittedly different than the lottery (I also won the entire tournament and collected $900, but I digress. . .), but I plan to stop that this year, as well.

While a potential big payday is theoretically always just one ticket purchase or bet away, the odds of winning are microscopically small. In my opinion, the lottery system offers false hope to the hopeless; it is essentially a tax on the poor. Stop wasting money on lottery tickets and use the money saved to invest in index funds, real estate, or just toss the money into your savings account.

Saving Money Can Be Easy

If you’re ready stop the madness and looking for a helpful, easy way to ensure that you save the money you are no longer wasting, you can do it for FREE!

I use Digit to save money automatically each month towards upcoming purchases. In the fall, we used our savings to travel to Las Vegas for a much needed vacation! I can’t recommend the app enough, particularly for those who are prone to overspending.

Opening a Digit savings account is easy and only takes a few minutes. Digit uses secure encryption technology to link to your checking account and analyzes your spending. After it has gotten to know you and your habits, it automatically saves money for you every so often by moving money into a secure Digit savings account. Some days, it moves $5 into my savings account, and other days it may move $15 – it all depends upon my spending patterns. And I don’t agree with Digits savings plan, I can always pause savings or transfer money back into my checking account with a simple text command.

If you are not a natural saver and want to stop wasting money, I can’t stress this enough – Open your own Digit savings account for free today!


What are the primary ways you need to stop wasting money? How have you wasted money in the past?

 

Looking to stop wasting money on things you don't really need? These 5 tips will help you spend wisely and quit spending money on stupid things!

41 Tips to Save Money


Today’s post, “41 Tips to Save Money,” was contributed by Tina Roth. Tina is passionate about helping people to make solid financial decisions, which motivated her to start her own personal finance blog,where she writes about money management tips and frugality. She is also the community manager at the finance guest post community.

How can I save money?

This is one of the most common questions asked by a lot of people.

Developing a habit of overspending can disrupt your whole plan of saving some money. And it can be very hard to change long-rooted bad habits. However, in order to escape from this trap of unnecessary spending, we need to find some effective ways to save money. Check out the list below and find a few new ways to save money this month!

41 Effective and Easy Ways to Save Money

Undoubtedly, there are many ways to save money. The choice to pursue any of these avenues will be dependent upon your lifestyle and preferences. Just go through this amazing list to discover some effective money saving tips.

1. Turn off your Television:

This is one of the best ways to cut down a regular expense. Paying a lower electricity bill along with staying away from those provoking commercials can actually be the outcome of your decision of cutting the cable connection or switching off the TV.

2. Keep Track of Your Spending:

Think about keeping track of your spending habits, at least for a month or two. This will help you to handle your financial issues more efficiently.

Related: How to Develop a Budget

3. Switch your Bank Accounts:

If you are being charged wrongly for your bank accounts then, think about switching your account to a different bank. You can also go for a high interest online savings account.

4. Get rid of your Debt:

Get rid of the headache of paying interest by clearing all your debts. Once you have cleared all your debts then, you can save the money for your future.

5. Plan for Having Group Dinners:

If dining out is the best refreshment for you, consider going for a group dinner. It’s an amazing way to have an access to your favorite dishes at a reasonable price.

Related: Dining Out on a Dime – 10 Money Saving Tips

6. Improve Your Credit Score:

Improve your credit score for staying benefited. Once you have a clear conception of your position, you can think about saving some money by following the above mentioned technique.

7. Build a Habit of Cooking:

Try to build the habit of cooking at home more often. This is a unique way of staying healthy as well as saving money. For the micro family, both husband and wife should take the responsibility of cooking.

8. Cancel the Gym Membership:

Think about canceling your annual gym membership if you are not going there frequently. This is a simple way to save money with minimal effort.

9. Buy in Bulk:

Buying in bulk might cost you some more money at a time, but soon you will notice the difference in the method of your savings. Opt for buying non-perishable goods in bulk.

10. Drop all the Bad Habits:

We all have bad habits. Try to get rid of those which negatively impact your health and your wallet. Stop consuming alcohol or moderate your consumption to save some money. If you smoke, stop as soon as possible.

11. Borrow a Dress:

Instead of buying an expensive dress, consider borrowing it from a friend. If you are not planning to wear a particular dress several times, it would be better for you to not waste money on it.

12. Install a Water Meter:

Install a water meter for keeping a track of your regular usage of water. Paying an excessive amount on water bills can easily be controlled by following this unique method.

13. Be Smart with your Car:

Avoid driving aggressively to stay away from accidents. Harsh driving can also cost you extra fuel, which will affect your monthly budget planning.

14. Find a Roommate:

One of the most effective ways to save money is finding a roommate to share all your expenses. The dream of living in a separate place will easily fit within your budget by getting a roommate.

Related: Would you live in an adult dorm?

15. Start Selling your Unwanted Goods:

Stop collecting items without resale value. On the other hand, opt for selling those unused items to get some money before they lose their value completely.

16. Get a Grip on your Impulses:

Don’t forget to think twice before investing in any expensive item. This will definitely save you from indulging in any kind of impulsive purchase.

17. Use Leftovers:

Utilize your fridge-clearing days by using all the leftovers of the previous day. This is an amazing way to save some money on your meal of the day.

18. Plan your Vacations Wisely:

Instead of wasting a lot of money on your overseas trips, try to find out some incredible locations near your house to visit. The money you will save from these trips can actually be utilized later.

Related: How to Save Money on Vacations

19. Transportation:

Avail public transport system instead of owning a car. If you are not comfortable traveling by bus, you can also think about getting a bicycle.

20. Conduct Purchases from Online Sites:

It may seem a critical job for you, but do consider availing the service of online shopping forums. The yearlong discount they offer on different items can help you a lot to stick with your budget.

21. Make a List Before Shopping:

Make a list before you go out shopping. This will make you think twice before getting anything that is not on the list.

22. Use Discount Websites:

You can also think about visiting the discount websites for scoring some amazing discounts on traveling or events. In this way you would be able to save a lot of money.

23. Become a Vegetarian:

If you are really willing to drastically impact your budget and health, then think about becoming a vegetarian. You can also implement meatless meals.

24. Avoid Using Candles:

Instead of buying costly room fresheners and candles, opt for using baking soda for reducing the odor. A small container of cinnamon can also work fine.

25. Clean your House Yourself:

Avoid the luxury of employing housecleaning staffs. Try to clean your house by yourself to saving at least $100 a month.

26. Get a Grip on your Phone Bills:

If you are the one who spends a lot of time outside the home, it would be useless for you to maintain a home telephone and its bill. Also review plans for mobile phones and reduce expenses as you are able.

27. Set a Budget for Gifting:

As the season of festivity is knocking at the door, you should come up with some amazing gifting ideas. Don’t forget to set a budget before getting anything.

28. Unplug Electronic Devices:

Unplug electronic devices before leaving your home. This is an effective way to save money as those devices can consume power if you let the plugs in.

29. Repair your Clothes:

Don’t throw away your favorite shirt because of a broken button. Instead of getting a new shirt, think about repairing it.

30. Brew Your Own Coffee:

Replace your habit of drinking that daily caramel mocha and brew your own coffee. This will save you approximately $4 per day!

31. Car Pool:

Sharing a ride with your fellow worker can be a huge savings. The money you save from a car pool can definitely help you in achieving something big in the future.

32. Create a Separate Bank Account:

Think about having a separate bank account other than your savings account. It can help you in reducing the chances of borrowing money from the savings account.

33. Visit Libraries:

If you are a student or live in an area with an adequate public library, you should definitely think about borrowing books from libraries instead of buying them. This is indeed an awesome way to save money to plan your future properly.

34. Read Magazines Online:

If buying magazines is the habit you cannot escape, read them online.

35. Buy Generic Products:

Brand names are catchy, but sometimes you can find similar quality goods by shopping generic.

36. Gardening:

In order to save some money, grow your  own vegetables to save on the cost of buying vegetables from the market.

37. Learn the Basics of House Maintenance:

It is very essential for you to know the basic art of maintaining a house. Try to acquire a bit of knowledge in this area, such as fixing lights, repairing walls, and painting.

38. Enjoy the Beauty of Nature:

Plan your weekend outings in beautiful parks instead of spending the evenings in fancy clubs or restaurants.

39. Buy a Water Filter:

Buying bottled water is one of the most common ways for the people to waste a lot of money. A water filter eliminates this need and helps you save money.

40. Use your Talent for Earning Extra Cash:

Maximize your skills! Starting a side business can help you earn more money, therefore increasing your ability to save.

Related: Launch Your Own Small Business

41. Opt for Leading a Healthy Life:

Leading a healthy life without any trace of bad habits like drinking or smoking is very much essential. A healthy lifestyle will save you money in the long run.

Parting Thoughts

Many times we end up spending large sums of money to fulfill our whims. The solution lies in curbing our impulsive buying nature. Just follow the above mentioned techniques to cut waste and save money today!

 

Dining Out On a Dime – 10 Money-Saving Tips

TDining out at restaurants is a quick way to bust your household budget. Follow these 10 tips and you can enjoy a night out without breaking the bank!oday’s post is a collaborative effort between me, FinanceSuperhero, and my talented wife, Mrs. Superhero. In case you missed her recent article, 10 Tips for Self-Starter Entrepreneurs, I highly recommend it, as it remains one of the most-viewed articles on this website.

Within the article below, my thoughts and comments will be denoted by my traditional Gravatar, while Mrs. Superhero’s thoughts will be denoted by a similar Gravatar, as seen below.

 

 

Now, onto today’s post. Take it away, Mrs. Superhero!

Mrs. Superhero GravatarOkay, I am just going to say it: adulting is hard! For most people, a big part of adulting is sticking to a budget. However, a budget shouldn’t mean that you can’t go out or you can’t have fun; a budget simply requires that you plan for these events.

As you grow in managing your finances, you will still want to go out on dates and have fun with your spouse or significant other! I am definitely the “deal finder” of the family and have enjoyed this skill since I was a young child. Finding a good bargain feels so good and rewarding. I absolutely LOVE that feeling!

FinanceSuperhero GravatarI, too, happen to love that feeling, but Mrs. Superhero is almost certainly a better bargainer. She manages to find great deals on a monthly basis, which allows us to satisfy our urge to dine out semi-frequently without breaking the bank.

An example of Mrs. Superhero’s bargaining ability: As a college junior, Mrs. Superhero negotiated $1,000 off the sale price of a used vehicle by playing hard ball in negotiations with the seller. I thought for sure that she would lose the vehicle entirely, but the owner relented.

Mrs. Superhero GravatarHere are some tips Mr. Superhero and I use for dining out:

1. Make the Most of Gift Cards – Aren’t they the best? Because we are both teachers, we are fortunate to receive many gift cards throughout the school year, particularly in December. We save these gift cards for months in which we are surprised by unexpected expenses. By shifting our budgeted dining funds to cover those unexpected expenses and using gift cards, we are able to avoid tapping into our emergency fund.

Panera's Greek Goddess Salad, Mrs. Superhero's favorite (Credit: Mrs. Superhero)
Panera’s Greek Goddess Salad, Mrs. Superhero’s favorite (Credit: Mrs. Superhero)

For example,  today I actually used a gift card at Panera and had a wonderful Greek Goddess Salad – if you haven’t tried it, stop what you are doing, get in the car and go to Panera!

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Mrs. Superhero and I have also had good experiences converting our credit card reward points into restaurant gift cards. I am careful to wait until a specific discount on desirable gift cards is offered before I redeem points.

 

 

Mrs. Superhero Gravatar2. Value Quality Over Quantity – Our favorite restaurant in the world (no exaggeration) is Montarra Grill in Algonquin, Illinois. It has been rated the number one non-Chicago restaurant in Illinois. Needless to say, Montarra is amazing but pricey.

When we dine here, we are making a choice. If we choose to open up the pursue strings and spend a significant sum on one meal, that means no more dinner dates for the rest of the month. Typically, we save dates like this for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary.

Always save money in your budget to splurge for special occasions.  Life is too short not to celebrate special occasions with your loved ones.

FinanceSuperhero GravatarBe sure to inquire about possible deals and discounts when planning meals for special occasions. Because I made a reservation via e-mail for our recent anniversary dinner, Montarra provided a complimentary small plate.

Similarly, another local restaurant offers complimentary entrees to all members of their e-mail list during the two weeks before and after a member’s birthday. This is a great value which we took advantage of on the eve of my 30th birthday last month!

Mr. and Mrs. FinanceSuperhero Anniversary Collage
A collage of photos from our recent anniversary dinner (Credit: Mrs. Superhero)
Happy Anniversary
English Toffee Sticky Pudding, our traditional anniversary dessert at Montarra (Credit: Mrs. Superhero)

Mrs. Superhero Gravatar3. Enjoy a Coffee Date – Sticking to an agreed-upon budget can be difficult, especially when you have spent that allotted figure early in the month. When that happens, we resort to inexpensive coffee dates, as the next best thing to food is coffee.

Let’s just be real. Especially if you are a parent or work with children, coffee is a necessity in life.  From 3-5 PM it is Happy Hour at Dunkin’ Donuts here in Chicagoland, and during this time, you can get an iced coffee or iced tea for only a dollar! (Mrs. Superhero is currently enjoying this deal!)

Not to be outdone, Starbucks is the mecca of coffee shops. I have never had a Starbucks mess up my order. So yes, they are more expensive than other places, but they provide much better service. Starbucks often offers half-priced Frappuccinos from 3-5 PM; unfortunately, they have not found a way to make them with half of the calories though! To figure out when the next deal will occur, you can sign up on Starbucks’ website to be ensured that you are receiving updates on the next deal.

4. Kids Eat Free – While Mr. Superhero and I are proud MINKs, we recognize that our friends who have children still enjoy dining out from time to time. Below you will find a list of kids-related dining deals (highly-discounted or free meals) sorted by day of the week.

*Please be sure to check with your local establishment, as there may be restrictions on some of these deals.*

MONDAY
Red Robin (kids 10 and under eat free)
TGI Fridays
Fuddruckers (4-9 PM – Kids 12 and under eat for $.99)
Applebees

TUESDAY
Chilis
UNO Chicago Grill (One free kids meal with purchase of an adult entrée)
Denny’s
Chic-Fil-A (5:30-7:30 PM – Kids receive a free kids meal)

WEDNESDAY
Qdoba Grill (All Day – Kids receive a free kids meal)
IHOP
Jason’s Deli
Firehouse Subs

THURSDAY
Carrow’s Restaurants
Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina

FRIDAY
No deals to report – let us know in the comments below if you know of a great Friday deal!

SATURDAY
Steak and Shake

SUNDAY
No deals to report

DAILY DEALS
On the Border
Cici’s Pizza

For more deals in your area, we recommend consulting KidsMealsDeals. If you live in Chicagoland, check out Kidwinks.

FinanceSuperhero GravatarWith all these great kids meal deals, I’m not sure what we’re waiting for in the family department, Mrs. Superhero!

Editorial note: I may or may not get smacked for this comment!

 

Mrs. Superhero Gravatar5. Look for Local Deals – I am constantly amazed by the number and variety of local deals which pop up during the week. One of my favorites is Mandiles in nearby Algonquin. On Tuesday’s, Mandile’s offers a great entrée for only $10: chicken parmesan, a side of pasta, and bread. The deal is available via dine-in or carry-out.

I recommend asking your friends and family about similar deals in your area. I’m the type of person who tells people in line about deals so they can get their meal cheaper. The last time I did this, the manager shot me a funny look, but that doesn’t deter me from helping others.

6. To Go Deals When In a Pinch – When time is precious or plans change in a hurry, pizza is our go-to meal.

For only $5, the Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Ready Pizza represents one of the best values on the market. My mom, who is the ultimate bargain hunter, can make amazing food on a low budget, but she calculated that it is cheaper to order a Hot-N-Ready Pizza than it is to bake her own at home.

Similarly, Domino’s currently offers three medium pizzas for $5.99 each. Despite Mr. Superhero’s nearly-insatiable appetite, we are able to order three pizzas and freeze several left over portions for days in which we don’t feel like cooking. This also saves us time, and as we all know, time is money!

7. Get Your Groupon – All of my friends know I have a slight obsession with Groupon, but it has saved us lots of money and has allowed us to do things that we normally would not have the money to do in our budget.

Within Groupon, you are able to search for restaurant deals in your particular location. However, always read the fine print; recently, I purchased a deal only to find out you could only use it on weekends. Fortunately, we still had a lovely night out during the week!

If you haven’t signed-up for Groupon yet, please sign-up using our referral link.

Love to dine out at restaurants but hate overpaying? These 10 tips will help you eat out on a dime and save major money!

8. Utilize Restaurant.com This amazing website helps you find deals for restaurants in your local area. Their app is very user-friendly, which eliminates the need to print certificates. By using this app, we have found fabulous deals at local steakhouses and other fine dining establishments, allowing us to dine like kings while paying pauper-like prices. The most common Restaurant.com offer is $10 for a $25 gift certificate. Check out the Restaurant.com offerings in your area by following the link and entering your zip code.

9. Ask About Specials – When arriving at a restaurant or calling in a carry out order, always be sure to ask about specials. Servers often forget to mention specials, and you may miss out on a great deal if you don’t ask.

10. Share, Share, Share – Mr. Superhero is not a big fan of sharing his food, but many of our couple friends go to Panera, order the Take Two option, and share their meal as a couple. We definitely did this at times during college when we were young and broke.

FinanceSuperhero GravatarSpecial thanks to Mrs. Superhero for putting together these 10 tips for dining on a dime, allowing me to order my own meals, and making sure I don’t starve!

If you missed Mrs. Superhero’s last post, be sure to check out 10 Tips for Self-Starter Entrepreneurs.

Note: This article contains affiliate links.

 


What tips do you have for saving money when dining out? Did we miss any deals? Do you use Groupon and Restaurant.com?