Category Archives: Budgeting

Save Money when you Purchase Refurbished Products

Most of use enjoy being able to buy the items we need as well as enjoy some luxury items now and then. The cost of many items though makes it difficult to budget for them if you don’t want to simply run out and charge up your credit cards every time you want or need something.

One of the best ways to get what you want, or need is to take a close look at refurbished items, also referred to as reconditioned, that are for sale. These items offer you the same name brand and the same quality, but they are sold for less. This is because the item has been returned because it did not work properly. Yet it has been looked at and repaired so it is just as good a purchasing a new one. Many refurbished products come with a warranty as well but several of them are purchased in an as is condition. Make sure you ask about this before you make the purchase.

Some individuals avoid refurbished products because they fear they won’t work well for them. They figure since the product has already proven to be defective one it surely will again. This is very rarely the case as refurbished products are examined by those trained to repair them. Once the problem is identified the work hard to correct it. Before the product is resold it is thoroughly tested.

Some items that get refurbished are more common than others. Generally, all of the various types of electronic products out there can be refurbished. Vacuum cleaners and computers are two of the most popular. Why pay for a new computer or a new vacuum when you can get the same model with the same features for less than of the price just by purchasing one that has been refurbished?

iPods are popular items many of us would like to have but not everyone is able to pay a couple hundred dollars for one from a retailer. Buying a refurbished iPod can be done for less than $100 and it will work for you just the same as one you buy off the shelf in the box. Other big-ticket items where you can save a great deal of money is on television sets and home theatre systems or stereos.

Most people don’t realize it, but the computers, cameras, and other products that are opened and placed on display in stores are often sold as refurbished items rather than new ones. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the product it has just been handled by many people and it likely won’t have the original packaging. You can ask the store manager about getting the store model at the refurbished price. They can contact you once the display period has ended.

Buying refurbished electronic products is an opportunity to save money over buying them new. To get the best bargain for your money, make sure you take the time to research the product you are interested in. If the reviews show that many of them have problems operating correctly you really don’t want to make that purchase. However, if the product has a good review then you can reasonably expect what you purchase to last you a very long time.

Try to find refurbished items that offer you the option to return them to the store if you have any problems with them. You should also look for items that offer you a warranty with the product at no charge. Too many refurbished items only come with an extended warranty period that you must pay for in addition to the cost of the item.

To find out where to pick up a refurbished product that you are looking for, contact the various retailers that sell it in their stores. You can also look around on the internet to get some great information. Make sure you only purchase refurbished items from reputable retailers though as you don’t want to be disappointed with your purchase.

10 Tips for Buying On eBay

eBay has become a household name for shoppers. A lot the buyers on eBay are not regular internet shoppers but they still shop on eBay. Such is the power of eBay giving simplicity of shopping and top bargains. From time to time, there is some fraud on eBay about fake fashion items, event tickets that do not exist, some expensive electronic items that do not exist.

eBay does its best to intervene and resolve such disputes. As a shopper, you can follow these 10 safety tips to avoid being conned.

1. Check the seller’s feedback. Positive feedback rating of over 95% is good. If there are many recent negative feedbacks, then this is not a good indication. Also, read all the negative feedbacks. Are these negative feedbacks reasonable? What type of response does the seller have for these feedbacks? Does the seller’s defense sound reasonable? Sometimes new members who buy items on eBay are paranoid and they leave a negative feedback in a haste so make sure if the seller has defended himself/ herself in a reasonable manner. If there are too many complaints of the same nature, then it is probably true.

2. The sellers must have identification or recognition seal like PayPal verified, or Square trade or a Power seller seal on the auctions. Such sellers are more reliable. This is especially a good check when you are buying an expensive item.

3. Ask seller a question before bidding on the item. Responsible sellers reply promptly to questions. Also, if the seller has the item, he/ she may be able to answer a valid question otherwise not.

4. If you are buying something expensive, then get the contact information of the seller at http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQtZvbQQsofindtypeZ9. You have to login to your eBay account and send a request. You can get the sellers address and phone number. In doing this, your address and phone number will also be emailed to the seller.

5. The items must have pictures unless it is a service that is sold on eBay. If there is no picture, then the items are probably not there. Almost all sellers will put at least one picture of the item. Let’s assume that the item is there but the seller has been lazy in not putting the picture in the auction ad. Would you like to deal with someone who is so careless? It just shows that the item may not be in good condition, maybe defective or broken.

6. Check description of the item. Research other websites for the same item. Some of the shopping websites to research would be shopping.yahoo.com, overture.com and shopping.msn.com. These sites are adequate for researching items and get the description that you need. The eBay description should match item description on other sites.

7. Research prices for the item on sale. If the item on sale is Gucci handbags, then search for this model of handbag on shopping.yahoo.com. If it retails for $800 on Yahoo and seller on eBay is selling a brand new one for $90, then this item may not be authentic! Large wholesaler are able to sell items for around 50% of retail but something like an original Gucci handbag, it is unlikely that a seller would let go for $90 because these items sell like crazy. Just a note on fraud items, a lot of fraud eBay occurs on fashion items. This is very unfortunate, and eBay has taken a lot of steps to eliminate fraud.

8. If the seller has not mentioned any shipping and handling terms, then ask before bidding. There are many auction ads, where the seller mentions that shipping and handling will be mentioned to the winning bidder. Surprisingly, there are bids on that item! If you start bidding on the item, then it means that you agreed to the terms and condition of the sellers and there is less room for you to dispute later so ask for the clear instruction on shipping and handling.

9. Reliable sellers have clear description on their refund policy. If it is not there, then ask the seller for it. If the seller has no refund policy, then do not bid on the item. If the there is no refund policy in the auction description, then make sure you get the refund policy in an email from the seller. In this way, you have a document of the refund policy.

10. Do a search for the sellers past items on eBay. Check to see if the seller has sold similar items in the past. To search on the past auctions, go to the Advanced Search page. Here click on the items by seller link and type in the seller’s ID and check the box for Include Completed listing. It is always good to check this especially if you are considering buying something expensive.

How to Save Money When Buying High End Home Air Filters

Are you in need of air filters?  If you are looking to replace the air filter on your air purifier, you may be.  Unfortunately, there are some individuals who put off replacing their high-end air filters, as they are concerned with the cost of replacement.  Although high end replacement air filters can be costly to replace, there are several steps that you can take to help you save money.

The first step to go about saving money with the purchase of high-end home air filters is by knowing that you do have several different options.  This is important as it allows you to compare prices.  In fact, comparing prices is one of the best ways to save money on high end air filters.  What you can do is visit several home improvements stores to compare prices.  This approach is one that most decide to take, but it can be time consuming.  A better approach is to compare prices online.

When using the internet, whether it be to shop online or just compare prices, it is best if you already know what type of air filters you are looking for.  You may have more freedom if you can purchase a universal air filter.  If you are looking for an air filter for a specific make and model, be sure to know exactly what it is that you need.  You can then perform a standard internet search with that information.  This will help to give you targeted search results.  These results should include links to stores that sell the high-end air filters that you need or are interested in buying.  Targeted results with the use of a standard internet search can also help you save time when compare prices.

As previously stated, the internet is a great way to compare air filter brands and prices, but the internet can also be used to buy.  What you will want to first do is check the online websites of air filter and air purifier manufacturers.  Many not only have their products sold in retail stores, but many also sell right on their own websites.  This is a great way to save money, as you often gain access to lower prices when buying directly from the manufacturers.  That is why manufacturer websites should be your first stop.

Even if you must shop for high end home air filters locally, there are a still several ways that you can go about saving money.  As for comparing prices, you may first want to call your local home improvement stores, instead of visiting them.  This approach can save you time, as well as money on the cost of travel.  One way that many try to save money when buying air filters locally is by visiting department stores and discount stores, as they are known for their affordable prices.  This is true, but they do not always carry filters that can be considered high end.  That is why you may find the best luck and best prices on high end home air filters by shopping with home improvement stores instead and by buying your filters in bulk.

Searching for sales is another great way to find high end air filters for the home at affordable prices.  Keep your eyes and ears open, even before you officially need to have your air filters replaced.  Many retailers advertise their sales online or in newspaper inserts for local stores.  Also, be on the lookout for coupons.  Some home improvement stores place them in their newspaper inserts.  You may also be able to find printable coupons or moneysaving certificates on the websites of air filter or air purifier manufacturers. 

As you can see, there are several different ways that you can go about saving money on high end home air filters.  In all honesty, no matter how much money you are able to save, any savings is still nice since these filters can be costly to purchase, although they are more than worth the costs.

5 Apps to Help You Save Money

Lots of us are barely scraping by with our earnings after paying bills and basic living expenses and living like that can make saving a big problem, sometimes even impossible. Luckily for you there are apps out there to help you save some cash, these apps certainly aren’t going to make your money problems go away but if you keep using them it will certainly pay off.

Here’s a list of 5 apps that help you save money:

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

This app gets your finances super organized and aims to change the way you manage your finances. It does it by using four rules for you to stick to in order for your finances to stay or get in shape.

The only downside to this app is software you have to purchase for your Mac or Windows in order to use it costs $60 but you could argue that you would save much more in the long run by using it to budget.

For all you students out there trying to eat on a budget can be a challenge, especially if you want to eat takeaways with friends, but not with this app. Campus special shows you all the best deals on places to eat located near your campus or university. You use the app to place your order and earn rewards to be redeemed at your favorite places to eat. The more you use the app to place an order the more rewards you can get.

Lots of people don’t bother buying Sunday newspapers anymore, I suppose with all the news we get online there’s not much need in buying them, but one thing we are missing out on is the amount of coupons you could get from the newspapers. With Flipp you can still have all those free coupons.  It has all the coupons from 800 retailers big and small. The best thing about this app is the fact that coupon clipping is not a must. By adding the identification numbers from your loyalty numbers and get some discounts automatically while your items are scanned through at the store.

Gas prices can be harsh on your finances, especially if you rely on your car for work commutes.  With GasBuddy you can compare prices and find the cheapest price that’s local to you, the app even uses your location so if you’re not in your hometown you can still find the best prices nearby. You can even earn points that go towards winning their weekly $250 gas prize just for alerting them of app prices.

FinalPrice is a must get app for frequent travelers. This is a subscription based app that costs $99 for a year’s subscription, but it will save you up to 10% on flights with over 750 airlines, not just major ones. If you travel throughout the year this app will pay for itself quickly and to top it off it even includes the best prices for hotels and rentals.

Can They Really Save You Money with Travel Sites?

Are you interested in taking a trip or a vacation soon?  If you are, you may be looking for ways to save money.  When it comes to finding great travel deals and discounts, many individuals are told to visit online travel websites.  With that said, many are still left wondering if online travel websites can really save them money.

When it comes to determining if online travel websites can save you money, there are several important points to keep in mind.  Yes, online travel websites can save you money, but you need to proceed with caution.  If you are not careful, online travel websites can end up costing you more money in travel costs, like with airline reservations.

The best way to find affordable airline reservations and other travel arrangements is to know what you are getting.  This is important to the overall success and satisfaction of your trip.  For many individuals, online travel websites can be tricky to use, especially with several rules, restrictions, and exceptions.  When you buy a ticket on an online travel website, make sure it is for an actual set of tickets; do not purchase any standby tickets, as you may not be able to fit onto the flight in question.

In keeping with knowing what you are getting, it is important to thoroughly examine any airfare quotes that you may receive through an online travel website.  What many do not realize is that most online travel websites charge consumers a fee for using their services.  This fee is often hard to notice, as it is typically included in with the quoted airfare rate, but that does not mean that it will not exist.  Keep an eye on online travel websites and the fees that they charge, as they should be reasonable, but not too high.

In staying with costs, you will want to compare prices, when looking to buy airline tickets on an online travel website.  What you will want to do is examine similar flights on different online travel websites.  Since most travel websites charge different fees, you will likely see some differences, but be cautious of any huge price gaps.  Significant gaps in quoted prices are a good sign that you are being overcharged or at least over quoted.

In addition to buying airline tickets through an online travel website, you may be interested in booking a stay at a hotel or booking a reservation for a car rental.  When doing so, you will likely end up buying a vacation package.  Vacation packages are nice, but they are designed so it is easy for consumers to overpay or at least walk away without getting a good deal.  When you are quoted a price for a vacation package, the name of the hotel in question should disclosed.  Quickly visit the website for that hotel and perform your own private quote.  Do the rates match?  Are you getting a good deal or not?

In conclusion, online travel websites are a nice way to make travel arrangements, especially where airfare is considered.  If you are careful and watch every step that you make, you can use online travel websites as a quick, easy, and convenient way to book your travel arrangements, including your airline reservations, while saving money at the same time. 

Are you getting ready to take a trip?  If you are, will you be traveling by air?  If you will be, you may be nervous about the costs of doing so.  Any type of travel can be expensive if you are not careful, but air travel can be the worst. With that said, it is important to know that there are ways that you can save money.

One of the best ways to save money when traveling by air is to compare airline fares.  This allows you to save money right from the start. Also, if you have more than one airline to choose from, which most travelers do, be sure to price compare.  Also, being flexible with the dates and times that you can fly can also result in a little bit of money saved.

Speaking of flights, be sure to choose an airport that is close to your destination. This is important if you must rent a car or take a bus or a cab.  Ending up close to your destination should result in saved money as well as saved time, by eliminating unnecessary travel.  On that same note, you will want to experiment with airports that are close by.  For example, did you know that a simple thirty-minute drive may result in huge price gaps, depending on the airport in question?

As for packing your bags, be sure to know airport security rules.  You will want to use your best judgment, but you can also learn more about airport security rules by visiting the online website for the TSA.  Don’t pack anything that is sharp or buy a drink to take with you to the airport, unless it is for a child.  Chances are, you will have to toss these items in the trash, which, essentially equals money lost. 

Although you will need to be careful with bringing liquids to the airport, you will want to bring snacks with you.  Most snacks are okay, if they are dry food.  Great items include fruit, chips, and crackers.  Stop and pick up some of these items at your local grocery store before your trip or, better yet, buy them when they are on sale.  Snacks and candies are usually very expensive at the airport and their costs can easily add up

As for parking at the airport, see if you have a close friend or family member who can drop you off and pick up back up when you return.  This will allow you to save yourself a considerable amount of money on parking, especially on extended trips.  If you must drive yourself, like if your flight leaves or comes in when most people that you know are at work, be sure to examine all your options.  For example, outdoor parking is usually much cheaper, as opposed to indoor garage parking.  Also, the farther away you can park, the less money you will likely have to pay.

If your flight has an in-flight movie and you want to watch, buy the headphones.  Yes, this will cost a couple of dollars, but most standard headphones will not work with airport movies and seats.  If you do buy the headphones though, be sure to save them, as you can use them on another flight, like your return flight.  Also, if you already have a set of headphones that you purchased on an airplane before bringing those, as they will likely work.

To save yourself a couple of dollars on headphones, don’t watch the movie.  Instead, bring other stuff to keep you occupied.  Great items include portable DVD players, laptop computers, books, magazines, music players, and portable gaming systems.  When using electronic items, be sure to have extra batteries on hand.  As for a laptop computer, charge your laptop at any layovers you have.

As you can see, there are several different ways that you can go about saving money on your next trip.  In all honesty, if you use your best judgment and plan, you shouldn’t have to incur to many additional costs.

7 Steps to Getting Rid of Student Loan Debt That Most People Haven’t Tried

Student loans can be a huge pain. To make matters worse, the more you ignore it, the more money you will end up paying in fees and interests. 

However, there is something you can do about it.

Tips for Paying Down Your Student Loans

Know How Much You Owe

This is the first step to clearing the debt. Many people sign off on this loans when they are young and a little naïve. So it is okay if you have no idea where to start. 

Visit Credit Sesame’s website to see the amount you owe and institutions you owe to. In addition to showing your balance on both federal and private loans, they will offer a few tips that you can use to reduce the debt. 

Lower the Interest Rate

This method may work very well for some people. 

Refinance the student loans to pay them sooner. There are services that can help you with this, such as LendKey. It quickly shows you low-interest loans from community banks and credit unions.

Smaller community banks have loan terms that are borrower-friendly, unlike the big national bank chains. You will enjoy more flexibility and lower interest rates.

Set Aside Savings to Pay Off the Student Loans

The point here is to owe less than you owe right now. 

You can do this using Stash. It is an app that will help you invest and grow your money which you can, in turn, use to pay off your debt. It simplifies things for you. All you need to do is select the portfolios that align with your goals, interests and beliefs then turn on Auto-Stash. 

Join an Income-Driven Repayment Plan

With a plan like this you may not consolidate your loan but they can, at least, help you avoid deferment or default. This way, you will make steady progress towards paying for your loan.

The loans are in four varieties:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE Plan)
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE Plan)

Reduce Your Expenses

You will have a hard time paying off your student loans if you spend too much money elsewhere. Everyone has a unique financial situation but you should check your budget once again.

A Side Hustle Can Help

If there is nothing you can cut from your expenses, then maybe you need more money. Start with little things like using apps. If time is not a problem, you can resell thrift items such as clothes. 

Another thing you can do is list any extra room you have on Airbnb. 

If All Else Fails, Declare Bankruptcy

This is not a common strategy and is a difficult one. However, it can be a great option when you are desperate. You are eligible if:

You cannot maintain a minimum living standard.

Your situation is likely to remain the same.

You have tried to repay the debt in a good faith effort. 

4 Tips on How to Cut your Medical Expenses

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Moreover, there is no such thing as free medication. Some time or another, all of us will need medical treatment. Whether it would be for simple colds or for serious illnesses, these things would hurt us and burn our pockets.

According to a recent study, Americans spend more money on medical expenses than any other nationality in the world. As prices get higher and life gets harder, saving some money from your medical expenses will benefit you.

Here are some practical tips on how to cut your medical costs:

Mind Your Health

Prevention is always better than cure. Being fit and healthy seems to be a 21st century fad and it wouldn’t hurt us if we join in the bandwagon. An analysis of the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey revealed that people who are more active spend less on medical expenses than those who live lethargic lives. The analysis equated the benefit of being physically active to $330 (1987-dollar value) per person.

For smokers and drinkers, reducing cigarette and alcohol consumption is an option which you may find feasible. You will not only reduce future medical costs but also reduce direct costs from purchasing these products.

Go Generic

Taking generic drugs is the way to go. Patents are used by manufacturers to be able to set a price to recover their costs in developing their products. But these patents don’t last forever and sooner or later, generic versions of these drugs will be available. Generic drugs are basically the same as the branded ones in terms of ingredients and quality.

Going generic can save you a lot of money. According to the Association of Chain Drug Stores, the generic drugs are priced at $24 on the average in 2004, while the average price of the branded ones is $96 dollars.

Deal with your Doctor

Take time out to discuss things with your doctor, for this can also save you a lot of cash. Don’t be shy to ask him about the possible alternatives that you can take. Ask him if there is a generic drug that you can take if he prescribes you a branded drug. If you are going to have surgery, try to schedule wisely, to prevent overstaying in the hospital. And most importantly, do as you are told. If he asks you to quit your vice, quit it. If he tells you to be active, then you’d better be!

Medical expenses can really dig a hole in your pocket. Try to be wise in your medical transactions and more importantly, take care of your health.

How to Save Money on Gifts

Giving gifts does not have to be spendthrift. As the adage goes, it is the thought that counts. This goes to show that people can start cutting back on gifts that would cost them hundreds of dollars. It is best to opt for things that may not be that expensive but would bring joy and amusement to the one who will receive the gift.

So, if you want to give gifts but with a tight budget, worry no more because there are many ways to cut back on the prices but still be able to give gifts that will be deeply appreciated.

Start a Gift Closet

If you have not done this before, try to do it now. Shop for gifts the whole year-round. This would mean less hassle and less expense, a definite money-saver.

The point here is that if you do not plan, you will end up spending more.

You could try buying gifts at bazaars, special sales, and out-of-town trips, which you can deposit in your gift closet. In this way, you can buy the items at a much lower price than it would be sold for during the holidays.

However, to make sure that you do not give the same gift twice, you should make an inventory of all your gifts. This will also allow you to keep tabs on what you have in your stock.

Alternatively, apart from stockpiling gifts, collect wrapping paper, ribbons, and other accents as well. A gift is better appreciated when it is beautifully wrapped.

Be Creative

Nothing could be more amusing than a gift that was specially made by the person who gave the gift. Personalizing your gifts is far better than commercially made items. In this way, you do not only create a smile to the one who will receive the gift but would also cut back a large amount from your expenses.

Organizing Tip

One of the best ways of saving money on gifts is to be organized with the process. That is, before going to the store to shop for the gifts, always bring with you a shopping list. It should be stated there the names of the person to whom you will give the gift and the budget for each person.

The bottom line is that gifts should not be expensive. What matters most is that you have thought of the person on that very special day and that’s enough to make them feel they are special to you.

How To Save On Your Electric Bill

An electrical appliance that does not work at maximum capacity results in less than ideal performance and higher electricity bills. That is why it is best to save on electricity in order to save more money.

Here is how you can get everything saving up:

1. Keep your appliances clean and well maintained. Regular cleaning and maintenance keep your appliances in top shape, hence, it will perform better and consumes lesser energy. Energy saved is money saved.

2. Have an annual checkup by a qualified service technician. This can reduce the appliances operating costs by as much as 20%, extend the life of the system, and improve its safety and air quality.

3. When using air conditioners, it is best to establish your comfort temperature, and then setting your thermostat at that level permanently. This will definitely save on electric bills because the air conditioning unit takes less energy to cool air four to five degrees than it does to cool air eight to ten degrees.

4. Replace any items that may have been 10 years or older already. Old appliances are most likely not at their optimum efficiency. By replacing them, your electric bills may be cut by half.

5. If you experience a power outage, make sure you turn off the switch on your appliances and allow time to pass before turning the appliances on again when the power returns.

6. In refrigerators, do not overstuff compartments with bottles and plastic containers. Cool air must circulate freely to avoid overworking the condenser.

Also, try not to leave the door of your refrigerator as open as possible or open longer than what is needed. This will have the tendency to allow the cool air to break out.

7. Always try to look for the energy saving logo or notes whenever you buy your new appliances. Buying an appliance with a logo that states it consumes lower energy, it will let you save more money on your electricity.

8. Always use energy saving lights or light bulbs. These energy saving lights or light bulbs usually last up to 12 times longer. Plus, energy saving light bulbs consume less energy. Hence, you will be able to save more money just by saving on electricity.

9. Use energy-saving facilities at home like energy-saving windows or energy-saving appliances. This will lessen the consumption of energy and, thus, will let you save on money.

For instance, use a double-glazed window instead of the ordinary window.

10. Use insulators at home. This will not let the warm or cool air out, and vice-versa.

Indeed, saving on electricity will save more money.

Money Saving Tips – Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo is an awesome and crazy city. There are tons of things you can do such as eat all kinds of fantastic food, sing karaoke, party in the nightlife district, see amazing cherry blossoms, visit the morning fish market, go to the imperial palace and much, much more. It is one of those cities that you just have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Although it’s a fast-paced modern city, it still holds on to traditional roots. It is crowded but not chaotic. Traveling to Tokyo can be super expensive. However, this guide will give you tips on how to travel cheaply and have an impeccable experience. 

Top 5 Things to Do and See in Tokyo

Check Out Sensoji Temple

This temple is the oldest in Tokyo. It was built for two brothers who fished Kannon’s statue from Sumida River. Kannon was the goddess of mercy. It is said that, even after taking the statue back, it floated back to them occasionally. 

Admire the Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower resembles the Eiffel Tower. It is, however, taller and is made purely of steel. To go to the top, you will have to pay 1600 JPY but you can get just as good a view for 900 JPY from the main observation deck.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This fish market is globally famous. The fish sold here is the sushi you see in restaurants all around the world. Tourists cannot participate in the tuna auction for now but you can visit once the auction is complete. Rise up and have sushi for breakfast.

Check Out the Imperial Palace

The residence of the Emperor of Japan is an exciting place. You will love it if you are interested in the current events and history of Japan. There is a beautiful garden and park surrounding it. Just like in the Buckingham Palace, there is a daily guard change. Admission is free but advance booking is required. 

Go to the Ueno Park

Go there and relax for a day. It is more interesting when trees are blossoming because a big festival is held at this time.

Typical Costs

Hostel Prices: you will pay around 2000 to 5000 JPY for a dorm bed per night. Most of them are clean but there are filthy ones as well. A capsule hotel is the best.

Budget hotel prices: you will pay about 7000 – 11000 JPY for a private room with breakfast.

Average cost of food: donburi stalls and ramen noodle shops are all over and range from 250 to 1240 JPY. A restaurant meal will cost you roughly 1850 JPY. 

Transportation: an all-day train ticket will cost you 750 JPY while a bus ticket is 500 JPY. You can get a combo ticket for 1600 JPY.

Money Saving Tips

  • Avoid taxis.
  • Shop at 100 Yen stores.
  • Eat at 7-Eleven.
  • Acquire a transportation pass.
  • Use sites such as Couchsurfing.
  • Work to stay in your room for free.
  • Sleep in a manga/internet café.
  • Make use of rideshares.

The 13 Best Hostels in Tokyo

Tokyo is a very expensive city.

But you can still get great affordable hostels. The hostels reflect Tokyo in cleanliness, charm and art. Many of them will have Wi-Fi and cooking facilities. Generally, you will pay between 2000 and 5000 JPY for a bed per night. 

There are hostels for all kinds of people—those that want a peaceful time and the party animals.

As you plan your trip, check out the following 13 hostels that are some of the best in Tokyo. 

Khaosan Tokyo Origami

Located in Asakusa, this hostel is only a few minutes’ walk from the Asakusa station and Senso-ji Temple. It is a clean facility with air-conditioning. You will enjoy comfy beds and spacious rooms. There are also privacy curtains. 

There is a common lounge with lots of free tea and coffee. The kitchen is available for use 24/7. 

Beds range from $29/3200 JPY and privates form $80/8800 JPY.

Sheena and Ippei

This hostel is small and is in downtown Tokyo just close to the Ikebukuro station. It features unique décor and is quite homey. There is a refrigerator and microwave but no kitchen.

Beds are from $37/4104 JPY and private from $138/15120 JPY.

Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo

It is near the Skytree station and is a family-run hostel. The dorms are well-equipped and modern. You will enjoy a beautiful view of Sumida River.

Beda are from $36/3900 JPY and privates from $84/9200.

Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki

Enjoy clean, comfy rooms with en-suit bathrooms. The hostel is a minute walk to Senso-ji gates.

Beds are from $25/2700 JPY and privates from $116/12750.

Hostel Bedgasm

It has a lively bar where you can meet fellow travelers. It offers a rooftop patio area and common kitchen.

Beds are from $32/3500 JPY and privates from $77/8500 JPY.

Kaisu Hostel

This hostel is a little expensive because it is fancier than other hostels.

Beds are from $39/4300 JPY.

Backpackers Hostel K’s House Tokyo

You will enjoy a beautiful, sunny common area. There is also a full kitchen.

Beds are from $26/2900 JPY and privates from $42/4600.

Unplan Kagurazaka 

This hostel is relatively new and is quite stylish and clean.

Beds are from $38/4200 JPY and privates are from $168/18500 JPY.

CITAN Hostel

There is a great kitchen and relaxed common area. It is in a peaceful neighborhood. 

Beds are from $27/3000 JPY and privates from $82/9000 JPY.

Space Hostel Tokyo

The best thing about this hostel is the rooftop lounge and comfy beds. It also offers a number of exciting events.

Beds are from $25/2700 JPY and privates from $120/13200 JPY.

Book and Bed Tokyo

This is both a hostel and a bookstore. It is peaceful and unique.

Beds are from $35/3800 JPY.

Hostel & Café East57

This hostel has so many beds and different kinds of rooms. You will get a laundry room and Wi-Fi too.

Beds are from $20/2200 JPY.

IRORI Hostel & Kitchen

This one offers lots of equipped kitchen spaces. 

Beds are from $27/3000 JPY.

How to Stop the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle

Almost everyone has caught themselves anxiously waiting for the next paycheck—counting days obsessively. 

You may have received a shocking credit card bill. Or maybe you are supposed to get your car repaired soon. Or maybe you have a pressing need and you can’t wait for the check. You probably also fear that it will not be enough. 

This is a common scenario for the 78% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. As soon as they get paid, the money gets eaten up by expenses and they go back to waiting for the next paycheck. It is like going around in circles and ending where you started—with no way out. But there is actually a way to escape this cycle. If you are tired of living like this, you don’t have to.

Create an Emergency Fund

Life is always taking unexpected turns. And that is one of the reasons that make it so hard to move forward. You may be prepared for all your usual expenses and then you’re hit with an emergency. Your entire budget comes crumbling down and the money problems begin. But you can prepare for these unexpected events and avoid all that.

Set aside an emergency fund, about $1000, to help you handle the money surprises. You can keep adding to the account.

Have a Budget

A budget allows you to control your money. You direct every single dollar and tell it what to do. You always hear people say that you should, “let your money work for you.” Well, this is where you start. 

Create a monthly budget, where you see your income and expenses. For the first few months, this will not be easy. But you’ll soon get used to it. Some people opt to use budgeting apps. 

Monitor Your Spending

Your budget will be pretty much useless if you don’t follow it up with actions. Even the most organized budget won’t help if you never look at it. 

Sticking to your budget doesn’t get easier with time, unfortunately. But when you see the benefits that come with it, the effort will be worth it. 

Track all your expense within the month. Know where your money is going. If it seems like too much work, get an app that lets you link to your bank. 

Save for Big Items

Making big purchases without thinking will keep you in the cycle from which you are trying to escape. You buy the newest gadget as soon as it is released. When invited for a vacation, you don’t think twice. 

You can still go for vacations and buy expensive stuff. But don’t ruin your budget. Get the total cost and divide it into smaller amounts. Then save up over several months. 

Assess Your Wealth-Building Tools

Your income is your biggest tool for building wealth. So sit down and assess your job. Do you love your job? Are you utilizing your talents and skills? Do you feel like you’re paid enough? 

Money Habits: How to Ditch Bad Ones and Create Good Ones

Money is a huge part of most adults’ lives—if not all. You put in a lot of effort to make it. So it can be painful when you can’t accomplish what you hope to with it. 

This post focuses on healthy money habits and how powerful they are.

Creating Lasting Money Habits

When you make something a habit, you are able to do it without much effort or thought.

Your money habits—how you spend, save and give—can either bring you peace or worry. But the good news is that you can change your money habits for lasting peace. 

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, even though you earn a good amount, its time to make some changes. Assess your habits and see which ones are holding you back. Then start dropping them. Here are a few tips to help.

Make a budget. The first habit you need to adopt is using a budget. A monthly budget directs your money, so every dollar is accounted for. Before you get your paycheck, you should decide the amount to save, spend and give. 

Establish goals. Before you get into new money habits, set a goal. Why do you want to do this? Maybe you are trying to save for your child’s college or a dream vacation. A goal is a great motivator.

Create a habit to help you attain the goal. Assume your goal is getting a new phone. You can decide to start a habit of cooking instead of eating out. 

Have a reward system. If you keep up a good habit for a certain amount of time, reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be something big. 

Monitor your progress. Every month, come back to your budget and see how you are doing. Make any necessary adjustments.

Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t do everything right. Learn from your mistakes. 

Good Budgeting Habits to Adopt

Budgeting habits are easier to get used to.

Monitor transactions. Do you sped more than you plan to? If you always find yourself spending more than you had planned, it is time to make adjustments. 

Get a budgeting app. Sometimes, entering every transaction manually can be tiring. Apps automate the process for you.

Where to Start: Easy Money Habits

Thinking of all the habits you need to adopt can seem like too much work. But the best thing to do is start small. Every week, try one or two habits and see if you can keep them up. If you don’t have any ideas, here are a few.

Make your own coffee. Coffee at home is cheaper and you don’t have to pay additional money for more hazelnut syrup. 

A new grocery routine. there’s so much money to be saved in grocery shopping. Buy everything at the farmers market, download coupons or order online so you don’t overspend.

Get books at the library. Instead of spending money buying books on Amazon, go to the local library.

Cash only. If you always overspend at your favorite store, leave your debit card and only bring cash. 

10 Unexpected Debt Traps – and How to Avoid Them

Staying debt-free doesn’t seem that hard in theory. All you need to do is spend what you can afford, right? Well, the millions of Americans in debt would disagree. It is not that simple. Anyone can easily sink into debt if they don’t have the right attitude towards spending and money management. 

Many people have the “buy now, pay later” mentality. If you don’t want to slide into the debt hole, here are 10 things you should avoid.

Paying Off Debt Using Savings

When you have a high-interest debt and some money in a low-earnings savings account, you may see it wise to pay off the debt with the money. But this strategy can blow off in your face. You will end up making things harder for yourself. You will not have any cash for emergencies. If you get an unexpected expense, you will be forced to borrow again to take care of it. 

Splitting Cash for Bill Payment

Say you have an extra $600 and decide to send $200 to three creditors or $100 to six creditors. This is not as smart as it appears to be. Small payments will not make much of a difference. Focus on one debt at a time.

Subscription Plans

Most subscription plans don’t cost that much. So you sign up on a number of them. When you add all your plans up, you will see how big of an impact they have on your savings and other goals.

Financial Purchases

You can buy anything with financing nowadays. What you don’t know is that with financing, you end up paying more. And you will also start buying things you don’t necessarily need.

Long-term Auto Loans

With most institutions, you can now finance a car for up to seven years. You may not even keep it working for that long. Always opt for a shorter period and a cheaper model.

The Rewards Game

With credit cards offering rewards, you may find yourself charging more purchases to win the rewards. but just keep in mind that you will have to pay off the balance plus interest rates.

Trying to Please People

Some people get into debt while trying to make others happy. You want your spouse to have a nice vacation or the children to enjoy their holidays. Communicate with your loved ones and help them manage their expectations.

Lack of Financial Planning Knowledge

A good number of Americans don’t know about financial basics. They have no idea how rent-to-own agreements, payday loans and other plans work. Fortunately, there are a lot of apps, websites and financial books with all the knowledge you need.

Ignoring Options

Almost all the purchases you make are optional. A new car is not a necessity and neither is that expensive degree you are financing. If there is a more affordable option, go for it.

Assuming That Debt is a Way of Life

Tons of people believe that debt is normal. There is no way to be debt-free. But you can change your mindset and be intentional about finances.

How to Budget for Your Pet

Owning a pet may cost you $560 to $1764 a year. 

This is a lot of money. It makes you wonder why anyone would own a pet. But pets are worth that and more. And if you are thinking of becoming a pet owner, go for it. However, there are things you should consider first. 

In another case, you may already own a pet and you have no idea how to incorporate it into your budget. Whatever your situation, this post is aimed at helping you. 

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Pet?

Dog Costs

Initially, a dog will cost you somewhere from $680 to $4495. There is the adoption fee, vaccinations, food bowls and other essentials. 

From there, you can expect to spend $50 to $80 every month for food, poop bags, etc.  Annual expenses will include the monthly expenses plus toys, routine cares, among other things. The total annual cost could range from $770 to $660. 

Note that other expenses may come up such as a major medical issue and grooming. 

Cat Costs

Initially a cat will cost $435 to $2405. This includes adoption fee, litter box, neuter, etc. The monthly expenses may be anywhere from $35 to $72. 

The annual expenses will include the monthly expenses, toys, routine care and pest prevention. Total annual expenses range from $560 to $1764.

You may incur other extra costs such as grooming and major medical issues. 

Some Pet Costs Break Down

Breeders Vs Pet Stores Vs Adoption

When it comes to getting a dog or a cat, you have several options. 

With breeders and pet stores, you get matched with an animal based on its temperament and your lifestyle. Breeders tend to be picky and breed selectively. They can even help you get a pet that is hypoallergenic. But then there is the price. 

You need to know, however, that you won’t get a pet for free in most shelters. 

Whatever path you choose, budget for the costs.

Medical Expenses

The first medical expense you should think of is neutering or spaying. And it can be expensive. If you get a pet that already has this done, well and good. You will save money.

You will also need to keep up with vaccinations, tests and prevention. 

Budgeting for Pet Ownership

Sinking fund: some expenses only come once a year. Budgeting in advance ensures that your budget will be intact. Divide the total cost by 12 and save a little every month.

Emergency fund: instead of a pet insurance policy, create an emergency fund. If something happens, you’ll be ready; if not, you won’t have wasted money on a policy.

Pet budget line: in your monthly budget set a category for your pet.

Saving Money as a Pet Owner

  • Get cheap bags for poop or reuse your grocery store bags.
  • Invest in grooming tools then learn to do it yourself.
  • Buy pet food on sale and use coupons.
  • Don’t pick the first vet you see, shop around for great prices. 

Consolidating Your Student Loan Debts Makes Sense!

So you’ve finally finished school and have officially entered what so many adults like to call “the real world”, you may feel as though your newly earned money is going directly from your paycheck to your debt repayment plan (with nothing left for your pocket!). So you think about consolidating your loans, but is that really the best option you have? Yes, it is actually! Here’s why. By consolidating now it’s possible to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest that would have been incurred over the years. Especially right now because interest rates are at their lowest and now is a great time to take advantage of that fact. Also, by consolidating your loan, you make it more convenient to pay off your debts. Most importantly, you are lowering your overall interest rates which will save you lots of money over longer periods of time. It’s essential to get a fixed rate though, or eventually the interest rate could rise. Be wary of companies that try to pull you in by offering very low introductory interest rates, these jump up soon leaving you stuck with a high interest rate.

Consolidated loans mean you only have one lump payment, instead of several smaller ones. Generally, the monthly payment is less than all your loans put together, which frees up a little more money for your wallet. Over time, this could save you money and allow you to have more money readily available to use for stuff like furniture or maybe stereo equipment. Or instead of spending it, having that cash to put into savings will turn out good in the long run. Having one payment makes keeping track of your loan easier which could mean less late payments and a clearer view of where you are at when it comes to your debt load.

When you consolidate, you create the possibility of a lower interest rate. This is because sometimes opportunities arise in which you can defer or through forbearance have a chance to make that interest rate drop even more, thereby putting more of your monthly payment to the actual principle amount of the loan. Which for you means a faster payoff. If you can look for a consolidation that allows for no prepayment penalty, because you can pay off these loans quicker. As you earn more money a plan where you can prepay without punishment is ideal as having this option can bring you closer to being debt free even faster. Another benefit to consolidating student loans is tax breaks. There is a deduction that you can claim whether you itemize, this can reduce the amount of taxable income up to $2,500.

And yet another advantage that consolidating your student loan can do is raise your overall credit rating. This is because you will have reduced the number of creditors on your credit report. The more creditors you have on your credit report wanting to collect from you the worse off your actual credit score will appear. One consolidated loan means only one creditor, this will immediately improve your credit rating. Then eventually when all your payments have been made your credit rating will improve further.

Now that all the benefits and advantages to consolidating your student loan debts have been laid out for you, doesn’t it make sense to do it? With more free cash, easier and more convenient payments and payment schedules, an improved credit rating, tax breaks, lower interest rates, and even being out of debt sooner, consolidating is worth looking into! So, what are you waiting for?

10 Tips To Make Sure Your Financial Budget Will Succeed

You’ve analyzed your past expenses, put them into spreadsheets, loaded Quicken with all of your data and come up with a budget. Now what? The tough part! You actually have to stick to your budget and put your plans into action. This is easier said than done. In many cases you will have forgotten about your budget and your financial goals 6 months or a year down the road. How do you keep this from happening to you?

Here’s how. Make sure you follow some of these tips below so this doesn’t happen to you.

  1. Create a budget with realistic targets – Let’s say one of your budget goals is to not eat out for lunch or dinner on a regular basis. If you are honest with yourself you may find this to be an unrealistic goal. Sometimes it’s a nice break to eat out and have a relaxing rewarding evening. In other words, don’t set the bar too high. Drastic and unrealistic goals are one of the surefire ways your budget will not succeed.
  2. Budget for expenses that don’t occur on a routine basis – Make sure you give consideration to expenses that occur once a year, such as holiday presents, birthdays, vacations, weddings, car maintenance costs, etc. These expenses don’t occur every month and they will bust your budget plans wide open. Make a list of these events on a calendar and put a dollar figure to them. Place them in the month they are expected to occur so you can plan in advance how you will pay for them. The regular routine expenses are not the reason your budget will fail. It is these gotchas that will wreck havoc on your budget if you don’t plan for them.
  3. Put your budget in writing – Take the time to write down your budget plans. Making a mental note of your budget goals is a recipe for failure. Don’t assume that your financial future will take care of itself by making a simple mental note to yourself. If you have your budget goals detailed in writing you can review and remind yourself weekly and monthly of your financial goals.
  4. If you have a bad month or week, don’t give up! Let’s say you have been reaching your budget goals for three months. In the fourth month, for whatever reason, you didn’t reach your budget goals. Maybe you even stopped trying to stick to your budget! If this happens, don’t just throw your hands up in the air and admit to failure. Everyone falls off the wagon sometimes. Your budget is a journey. There will be bumps in the road, so the key is to realize that everyone makes mistakes. This relates to a story I like about a great old time golfer named Walter Hagen. Before each round of golf, he told himself that he would have 4 or 5 bad shots. During the golf round, if he hit his ball into a bunker, he would tell himself, There is one of my bad shots that I was expecting, hit the ball out of the bunker and move on. It didn’t phase him one bit because he had knew there would be some bad shots in his round.
  5. Adjust your budget over time – This one is a biggie! It can take months or even years to fine tune a personal budget. When you initially made your budget plans, you probably had to guess at some of your figures. They might not have been in touch with the realities of every day life. For example, you may have underestimated your monthly grocery or utility bills. If this happens, analyze all of the underlying money that was spend in this category to see if your initial estimate was unrealistic. If it was, try to come up with a more accurate number and then to stick to that new figure. It is this type of adjustment that is one of the keys to making sure you can stick to your budget.
  6. Review your budget every month – This is where you will make any adjustments that are needed. Set aside the first day of each new month to review your income and expenditures and match them to your budget goals. By actively reviewing your finances and comparing it to your budget, you can adjust your spending habits. This gives you a chance to analyze areas that exceeded your budget expectations and make the adjustments in your spending habits or your budget. The goal here is to not forget about your budget. One tip that has worked for me is to put a printout of my basic budget goals on the refrigerator. That way every day, several times a day, I would notice my budget goals sheet. I may not read it every time, but I notice it and it reminds me that I need to stick to my budget. That is why tip number 3 is so important.
  7. Set specific short-term goals – Let’s say one of your budget goals is to have all of your credit card bills paid off in two years. If your credit card balances total $20,000 that would be $10,000 a year. Divide that number further into quarterly reductions in your credit card bills, in this case $2,500 every 3 months. Now, this is a more tangible budget goal to shoot for isn’t it? I find that when I divide intermediate and long term goals into short-term tangible stepping stones, I am able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment and am more likely to succeed. This brings us to number eight.
  8. Reward yourself – That’s right! Treat yourself when you reach your some of your short-term goals. Since your financial budget is really a journey, take some time to smell the roses on your way. Sticking to your budget should not be a restrictive, unpleasant experience. Not only should you take the time to enjoy your financial accomplishments along the way, but use part of your budget for fun things that you enjoy. Just make sure your rewards don’t end up breaking your budget!
  9. Pay yourself first I’m sure that one of your budget goals is to save and invest a portion of your income. One of the keys to make sure you succeed at this is to do what the IRS does with your paycheck, take it out of your discretionary income immediately. This way, the money is saved away right off the bat. Move the money immediately into a savings or mutual fund account. Many mutual fund companies can setup automatic deductions from your paycheck. Despite your best intentions to save, the hectic, daily demands of life can reduce the amount you are able to save.
  10. Attitude is everything when most people think of a budget, they picture restrictions and pain. Almost like a diet. You know what happens with most diets? They don’t seem work for long! First, if your budget is too strict, too restrictive on your spending, it won’t work either. However, you will need to limit your spending in some areas and this will take some adjustment in your attitude. I found that when I am feeling limited and sorry for myself when I can’t purchase something that I want, I remember my financial goals I set with my budget. I think about the satisfaction I feel when I reach those goals. Over time, you find that you don’t want to disappoint yourself by breaking your spending goals on a spur of the moment purchase. Now, I actually get more pleasure knowing that I am reaching my budget goals when the thought of an impulse purchase crosses my mind.

If you follow these tips, your budget plans are more likely to be a great success. By taking some simple steps you will find that living within a budget is not as tough as you imagined. It can actually be fun and rewarding!

31 Ways to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards

Many side hustles pay with Amazon gift cards. You can use these gift cards to buy whatever you need without spending your money. 

Here are a few simple ways to get Amazon gift cards. 

Survey Junkie

This site offers survey invites daily so you will get your gift cards quicker. If you like, you can opt for cash instead of gift cards. 

Swagbucks

You’ll get paid for doing simple tasks such as surveys and watching videos. 

Ipsos I-Say

Earn Amazon gift cards by testing products and taking surveys.

LifePoints

It has been around since 1946 and accepts members from different countries. Earn gift cards by taking surveys and testing products.

Nielsen National Consumer Panel

This company pays you to shop. 

Toluna

Test products and answer survey questions to earn gift cards or cash. 

PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel will pay you to test products, watch ads and take online surveys. 

InboxDollars

There are many things you can do on this site including shopping online, playing games, surveys, etc.

Survey Spot

You can redeem your Survey Spot points for PayPal, Amazon and iTunes gift cards among others. 

YouGov

You get paid in redeemable points for giving your opinion on various things.

Harris Poll

Harris Poll accepts teens as well as adults. 

Amazon Trade-In

They will buy back things you no longer use such as music, kindle E-readers, etc.

Amazon Coupons

You can get Amazon gift codes for select items with some Amazon discount coupons. 

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Joining is free and the tasks are simple and quick. 

Reload Amazon Gift Card Balance

Anytime you reload, you could get a cash bonus.

Opinion Outpost

The surveys don’t take more than 10 minutes. There’s also a $10,000 quarterly prize drawing.

MyPoints

This one is similar to Swagbucks.

instaGC

Open emails, play games, answer quick surveys and watch videos to earn gift cards.

Microsoft Rewards

Make Bing your default web browser for reward points and earn points with every search. 

AppNana

The site pays you to test mobile apps.

Bananatic

Test games and apps and get paid with gift cards. 

Gift Wallet

This is another way to get paid for testing apps.

Honey

Earn cashback every time you shop online. 

TopCashBack

You can get up to 40% cashback with TopCashBack. It is at over 3500 stores.

Ibotta

Save money on groceries with Ibotta and get gift card rewards or cash.

Shopkick

You don’t have to make a purchase to earn with Shopkick. 

Listia

With Listia, you get reward points by selling items. 

Mobee

Mystery shopping is fun and Mobee rewards you with points for doing it. 

Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog pays you for in-store purchases. And you can get an Amazon Gift card with the coins. 

Drop

You have to link your debit or credit card with this one. When you use it, you get cash rewards. You can link several cards.

Recyclebank

To earn points, you can read Earth-friendly online articles. The points can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, among other options.

10 Easy Tips To Save Money On Your Home Heating Bills

With energy costs higher than they have ever been in recent history, it pays to find ways to reduce your home heating costs. I put together some tips that are easy, cost effective and will all add up to reduce your home heating bills by a significant amount! You don�t need to be Bob Villa either. Some take just a minute or two. Even small changes will add up to big savings over the course of this cold winter!

Here are the 10 tips that I have personally used to save on my home heating costs:

  1. Head down to the basement and reduce the setting on your hot water thermostat by about 10 degrees. I wouldn’t go below 120-115 degrees. The adjustment dial is typically a red knob towards the bottom of the water tank.

  1. While you are downstairs, make sure you have clean filters for your central air-heating unit. A dirty and clogged filter will force your unit to work much harder and stay on longer as it struggles to fresh air through the clogged filter to heat the rest of your house.
  2. Check your air ducts for gaps, leaks or disconnects. If you have any disconnects or leaks in your duct-work, your heating bills could be 25% higher than they need to be if these gaps were sealed. If you can’t do this on your own, hire a professional. This expert can also clean your ducts for added efficiency.
  3. Adjust your thermostat a few degrees lower. Believe me, this really adds up. It may not seem like much of a difference to you, but you will notice the difference when you get a lower bill each month!
  4. While we are on the subject of thermostats, consider replacing yours if it is not programmable. The reason is, you can set the thermostat so the temperature setting in your house is lower at night than during the day, when you are awake. Also, if you are away at work during the day, you can set it for a lower temperature and have it programmed to start heating the house a little bit before you come home. These aren’t too expensive and are easy to install and configure yourself.
  5. Insulate your attic. Heat rises, right? If your attic isn’t properly insulated, all of the heat in your house (and your money) goes right through the roof. Literally! This does require some effort on your part, but following through on this tip will save you a ton of money over the years. Measure the square footage of your attic and buy rolls of insulation, greater than R-13 but no higher than R-30. Wear a mask and gloves when working with insulation because it irritates the skin.
  6. Find those leaks and cracks! If you were to add up all of the small cracks and holes in your house, they would probably add up to a small window, wide open, letting cold air in and hot air out. Take the time to find gaps in windows, doors, pipes, electrical and phone lines, your dryer duct and much more. Put weather-strips around your doors and windows. You can buy insulation foam that comes in a can with a straw at the top that allows you to fill in tight spaces. It expands to fill even the smallest cracks. Of all of the tasks, this was the most fun finding and filling these gaps all around the house.
  7. Close the vents in rooms that you do not use. I have one room in my house that is not currently in use. I shut the hot air ducts and made sure the windows and doors were properly sealed to limit energy leakage. Why waste your money heating up extra square footage of your house that you don’t even use?
  8. Open drapes and shades for all of your windows during the day to let the sun heat your home. In the evening, pull them back down for added insulation. It is amazing how much direct sunlight streaming into your home helps to heat things up.
  9. Your fireplace can help and hurt your heating costs. If you are not using your fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. When it is closed, inspect the damper and feel if cold air is still leaking in. If you are using your fireplace, make sure the heating in the rest of your house is reduced or turned off.

Taking the time to implement these tips will drastically reduce your home heating bills. You can get most of them done in just one day, but the payoff will last for as long as you live there! I followed through on each one of these tips and the following winter, my bills were about 25% lower, saving about $100 a month! So roll up your sleeves follow these tips and start saving money on your heating costs!

9 Places You Can Save Money For Your Family

Most families are spending more and more money every year (and not just because the cost of living rose) while also saving less and less. One reason is that few household managers spend much time reviewing expenses and expenditures to find ways they can save money. However almost every family has places where costs can be cut and pennies can be pinched — and if those freed up funds are then used to pay down debt and save for the future it could have a dramatic impact on their quality of life.

Food is one big area where many families could be more thrifty. Families spend an average of $2,434 on food away from home, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you (and your spouse and your children) eat lunch out every day of the week then try brown-bagging at least one of those days. If just one of you does it you may save up to $400 a year and if you can double or triple that savings you could finance a family vacation with it.

Another major expense is your home. When was the last time you looked at refinancing? Can you find a lower interest rate? Can you renegotiate to a shorter time frame? Even if you can’t change your mortgage payment you may be able to pay a bit extra each month which over time will help pay down your mortgage faster. Also, don’t overlook your utilities. There are ways to save in this area as well including updating your insulation and weather stripping, keeping up-to-date with maintenance and cleaning of your furnace and air conditioner or using a programmable thermostat to take advantage of those times when your house is empty or the family is asleep.

Transportation is another major expense for many families. Not only are vehicles expensive to buy but also to maintain and operate especially with gasoline prices at such high levels. Is carpooling an option for any members of the family on at least a part-time basis? Make sure to combine errands and trips to cut down on your travel and save money when buying gasoline by taking advantage of special programs and discounts and remaining vigilant about gas prices. In addition, following a regular maintenance schedule and proper tire inflation can also help you achieve maximum gas mileage for your vehicle.

Choosing your bank wisely can be another way to save money. Make sure the bank you use offers free (or at least low cost) checking as well as electronic bill-paying. Electronic bill-paying and a debit card can cut down on your need to use checks and postage which will save you in the long run as well as help you better manage payments so you will avoid fees, penalties, and higher interest rates.

Cutting your credit card costs can be another major savings. This means making sure you are using the best possible credit card with a low interest rate and low or no annual fee. Shop around until you find your perfect match and don’t forget to cancel and cut up those rejected suitors.

Health care is not really an area where you can cut expenses but you can save money by taking advantage of special offers and programs. For example, many employers offer a Flexible Spending Account where you can save money before taxes for out-of-pocket medical expenses for prescription and nonprescription drugs, dental expenses, and eye care.

Tuning up your insurance policies can also help you save money. When did you last compare rates for your home, your vehicles, and yourself? Some other ways to cut costs are to raise your deductible level or using the same company for multiple coverage (your home and vehicles). When you are shopping around make sure to give your current company a shot at keeping you. Sometimes they can offer a better rate too.

Another major expense for many families is the cost of communication including local and long distance phone service, cell phones, cable or satellite television, and Internet access. Review your expenditures and cut out the services you don’t need. Can some of these expenses be bundled to save money? Are there better plans for your needs?

When looking to save money it is important to become an aggressive shopper. The Internet makes it possible today to compare prices and product reviews while not spending a lot of time and money driving from store to store. Any big ticket item (and that includes your weekly groceries, cleaning products and health and beauty aids) deserves a closer study.

Over the next, month take time to review your family expenses and expenditures in each of these nine areas. Making a few alterations in your family’s spending habits will soon make a difference in the overall household budget. You can raise your family’s quality of life by making just a few changes in your monthly budget.

How to Budget Successfully

Deciding that you need to create a budget is one thing. Actually creating and executing it is another. This is something that many people know and understand. Some go ahead and create a budget, including financial goals that are unrealistic. But if you want to budget successfully, you should consider a multi-step strategy instead of making common budgeting mistakes or budgeting excuses. If you have tried budgeting before and failed, try incorporating these steps next time. 

Before Budgeting

People fail for many reasons. One of them is having little faith in budgets and not seeing how they can help you improve your financial situation. You may feel like you don’t earn enough to budget. So before you start budgeting, establish your goals. What do you wish to accomplish with the budget? It could be paying off debt, saving for a home or becoming financially secure.

  • Write down four goals that are achievable in five to ten years. Examples include starting a family, home ownership, etc.
  • Write down financial goals achievable in one year such as paying off debt, getting a new job or creating an emergency fund. 
  • Write down goals achievable in a month such as giving up credit cards.

Create the Budget

Now that you know what you hope to accomplish with your budget, you can sit down and create it. Having clear guidelines and goals makes it easier for you to make necessary sacrifices. Write down your income and expenses then try to balance the numbers. This is the easiest part. Be sure to include the money needed to achieve your goals. 

Track the Budget

Creating a budget is not hard—following it is! This is where many people give up and fail. Recording your daily transactions and then subtracting them from the account isn’t easy. Not to mention you have to enter everything in its right category. You may transfer money from one category to another. The most important thing is to ensure that expenses never exceed the income. 

Budgeting can be done with a pen and paper, computer software or the envelope system. 

Evaluate Your Budget

After your first month of following the budget, you should evaluate it. This is a key step if you want it to work. It’s recommended that you come back and assess your budget every month, at least for the first six or so months. See if there are any weaknesses. Adjust where necessary. You can then start cutting back spending so you can have more money for your goals.

Set Goals for the Budget

If you attain your goals, set new ones. To make things interesting, some of the new goals should include rewards for attaining the already-set goals. This can be really motivating. For instance, a great meal out can be the reward for eating home cooked meals for a month. 

Cut Back Spending

Every year, come back to the budget and see if there’s an expense you can cut. Shop around for new car insurance, internet, etc. You may get a better deal.

Budgeting For Beginners : The Ultimate Guide On How To Get Out Of Debt And Start Building Financial Wealth

Surefire Ways to Stay Motivated and On a Budget

Creating a budget is way easier than following it. This post will teach you how to stay motivated.

Why Does Motivation Leave?

Many people don’t create a budget because they would love to. They do it because it will bring peace and happiness in the long run. It is just another thing that you have to do as an adult. 

But it gets hard. Sometimes you want to do what feels good in the moment. You don’t have the energy to keep up the discipline. When that happens, try the ways discussed below.

Have like-minded friends. If you are surrounded by careless spenders, it will be difficult for you to stay the path. People who have similar goals will motivate you and remind you of your own goals. 

Make it easy. On your calendar, mark dates within the month for you to check in on your budget. Alternatively, get a budgeting app. 

Have short-term goals. These are easier to achieve and they don’t take long. Attaining them motivates you to go for bigger ones.

Come up with rewards. celebrating budgeting victories is highly recommended. But be careful not to overspend in your rewards.

Make goals visual. On a book or a board, stick pictures that remind you of where you want to be. And look at it every day.

Test your budget. Try accomplishing a goal with your budget—like saving for a pair of shoes or paying off a small debt. 

Watch and listen to helpful content. Whether you’re watching a TV show, reading a book or listening to a podcast, ensure that the content is financially sound.

A budgeting journal. Check in occasionally to monitor your progress. The notes will help you track your comfort level, savings and debt.

Plan activities around your budget. You can still do fun things but keep them within the budget. Or take advantage of free activities like movie night at home.

Make money decisions individually. Controlling one choice is easier than several choices at once. 

Refer to yourself as a budgeter. When you slip, tell yourself that you can still do better because you are a budgeter.

A standard response to money urges. Anytime you are tempted to spend, try a new recipe or do something to distract yourself.

Track expenses seriously. If you have a budgeting app, open it first in the morning before your socials. 

Define a goal. What do you hope to accomplish with budgeting? This is what will motivate you. 

Long-term Motivation

Divide bigger goals. If you have a big goal, like a huge loan amount to pay, divide it into several smaller amounts.

Eliminate decision fatigue. Thanks to technology, there are many things that you can automate. For instance, you can set up an automatic system to send money to your lenders, mortgage or retirement account. 

Be ready for burnout. This is unavoidable, so you might as well be prepared. Plan for it and what you will do. Maybe schedule a small break. 

Budgeting For Beginners : The Ultimate Guide On How To Get Out Of Debt And Start Building Financial Wealth