3 Easy Ways to Save Money This Summer

It’s summertime!  The kids are out of school and it’s hot outside, and that usually means higher home costs.  If you have kids living at home, you know that during the summer months when they are out of school, they not only raise your food bill, but they also use a lot more electricity than during the school year.  The good news is there are simple things you can do to help combat those costs! Take a look at these tips to keep you cool and collected this summer.

Close the Curtains

Did you know that your air conditioner is one of the biggest pulls of electricity in your home?  When it is hot and sunny outside, perhaps the simplest way to save money is to close the blinds and curtains in your house.  This will keep the sunlight from warming your home too much and making your air conditioner work overtime. This easy method could end up saving you big time on your electric bill this summer.

Unplug the Unused

Believe it or not, there are appliances and other items in your home that use electricity even when you aren’t using them.  Ever wonder how the clock stays running on your cable box, stove, coffee maker, etc.? Even though you aren’t using these appliances all the time, they are still using electricity to run the clocks and maintain your settings.  A charger of any kind still plugged into the wall pulls electricity even when you aren’t charging anything. Obviously, the easiest way to stop this is to unplug your devices from the wall when not in use. Even if you don’t want to unplug the TV or cable box, you can still make sure all chargers aren’t plugged into the wall.

Halt the Heat

Keeping the heat out of your home during the hot summer months is not only pleasing to your body, but is good for your wallet.  Like closing the curtains, not using your stove or clothes dryer very often during hot periods can help keep your electric bill at bay.  Air dry your clothes and cook meals that don’t require you to use your stove. Both appliances heat the house more than you would think while they are in use.  This makes your A/C kick it up a notch to try to combat the heat, and the results show up on your electric bill.

So you can see that these tips are extremely basic and easy. It’s crazy to think how just small bits of energy conservation can add up to a big difference on your electric bill.  Doing these tips regularly will be very helpful in your quest to combat the rising costs of summer.

 

Tips for Saving for A College Education

It’s graduation season, so the topic many people are talking about right now is college.  If you have kids of any age under 18, the topic of college may bring a side of panic when you think of it.  That’s because college educations can be super expensive. You may wonder how you are ever going to afford sending one kid to college, much less multiple kids if you have them.  Well, take a deep breath, because today we are going to show you a few easy tips for you to get started saving for college.

Start Early

Obviously, getting a savings fund together is a great place to start.  If your kids are young, putting just a little in each month can yield a good chunk of money over the next 10-17 years.  It may not be enough to completely cover all the tuition for each child, but it will definitely help to not start at zero.  If your child is nearing college age–don’t worry! Just start to put a little money away each month into an account. Even if it isn’t much, it can still pay for a semester, books or supplies your kid may need.  Every little bit helps, and the earlier you start, the more you will have to work with.

Automate

Perhaps the easiest way to save money for college is to have it automatically taken out of your paycheck every pay period.  If you have a 529 plan, let a small portion of your check be allocated to going into your savings plan. If you just have a regular savings account, just allocate part of your check there.  Wherever you decide to stash your savings, if it is put there automatically, chances are your account balance will be higher than if you physically put it in there yourself.

Set Goals

As with any savings plan, it’s best to set goals along the way to help you stay on track.  Take a look at the overall number you need to save. Divide that number by the number of months, weeks or days you have until you need to reach that goal.  By breaking up your large goal into smaller chunks, your goal will become more attainable, and you will be motivated to keep going.

Saving for college is just like saving for anything else–it takes motivation, determination and organization to reach your goals.  Funding a college education is a lofty goal, so if you don’t have all the money saved up at the beginning, it’s ok. Don’t be afraid to accept financial aid, enroll in work study programs or even take out student loans.  Just save what you can and work out the rest. In the end, the education will be worth it.

4 Ways to Save Money On Vacation

It’s that time of year–school is on its way out, and everyone is planning their summer vacations!  Taking a vacation every summer is great for de-stressing and spending time with your family. However, if money is tight, it can be hard to find budget-friendly travel options if you aren’t looking in the right place.  Today we are going to show you four easy ways you can save a little money on your vacation without any fuss.

Book It Right

When booking flights or hotels for your vacation, you want to make sure you get the best price possible.  There are several ways you can do this, but one way to make sure you are getting a good price is to do your research.  Sign up for newsletters that will send you info on the cheapest flights for the week. You can do this by just searching “Cheap Flight Newsletters” in your internet browser.  Another subject to research is cash back websites that offer a certain percentage of cash back if you book hotels or flights through their sites. Some sites can give you up to 15% cash back!  Giving Assistant and Ebates are two popular platforms for this type of savings.

Take Advantage of Freebies

When you book your hotel on vacation, make sure you look at the amenities you get with your room.  Is there a free breakfast or complimentary wifi? Do they have a pool and fitness center? If they have a free breakfast, that’s one meal you don’t have to pay for.  If they have free wifi, you don’t have to use data on your phone or pay ghastly by-the-hour internet fees at the hotel. A pool and fitness center can be free entertainment for kids or teens during down times.  It’s important to think about what your needs are going to be and how the hotel you book can fit your needs. This may be an obvious tip, but this type of planning can save you some real money–especially if you have a larger family.

Don’t Eat Out Every Meal

Eating out can be one of the most expensive parts of going on vacation.  When thinking of vacation destinations, find a place to stay with a kitchen if at all possible.  If there is no kitchen available, at least try to find a place with a refrigerator and microwave.  When you arrive at your destination, get your family to decide what meals you would like to eat out.  (Hint: it’s often cheaper to eat out at lunch rather than dinner.) Go to the grocery store and buy items for the meals you decide to eat in, depending on what kind of amenities you have available.  A trip to the store is much cheaper than eating three meals out every day.

Find Free (or Cheap) Events

When researching your vacation destination, look for upcoming events in the city you want to visit.  More often than not, you can find community calendars with free or extremely cheap events that you can attend.  Whether it is a concert in the park, a free movie night or a free admission day to a local museum, you might be surprised at what you find.  Sprinkle these type of events in with the more costly attractions to save a little money.

With a little research, it’s clear that you can find ways to reduce your costs while still having a great time on your vacation this summer!

 

4 Things Every Mom Should Teach Their Kids About Money

Teaching your kids about money from a young age can be kind of daunting when you think about it.  However, it is important that they learn savvy financial skills early so that they don’t have to learn about money the hard way later on in life.  As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s talk about some of the money lessons your kids need to know while they are still young.

Saving

Learning how to save money at an early age is very important.  If they get into the habit of saving when they are young, then it won’t be hard to continue doing it for years into the future.  To help them learn about saving, give them a set allowance every week or 2 weeks and show them how to spend some and how to save some.  Make sure that they put the “saving” money in a separate piggy bank or money jar from the spending money. As they are putting their money away, tell them why they need to save money and the importance that it has later in life.

For a fun lesson on saving, get them to make a savings goal.  It could just be a certain amount they want to reach or a big ticket item like a game console or a new bike.  Whatever the goal, have them make a saving poster that they can hang on the wall and track their progress. Every time they put more money into the savings jar, make a big deal about marking it on the poster.  This will give them a visual of their savings and make it more fun and exciting.

Banking

Your kids need to know all about credit unions and banks.  When they are old enough, help them learn by taking them to open up checking or savings accounts in their own names.  Show them how to deposit and withdraw money, balance their checkbook and check their balance online. The more hands-on experience they have with banking, the easier it will be when they are on their own.

Credit

Learning about credit cards, loans and other lines of credit is essential to raising money savvy kids.  Teach them what consumer debt is and how dangerous it can become if not handled correctly. Talk to them about the different types of loans they may encounter in their future like school loans, auto loans, mortgages, etc.  Explain what interest rates are and how to find the best interest rate for the loan you are seeking. Show them how to be responsible with credit cards by giving them examples from your own experiences–good or bad. If your kids go off to college or into the workforce knowing all about credit, they will be way ahead of the game when it comes to handling financial matters on their own.

Bills

Another great money lesson to teach your kids is how to handle bills.  Teach them what bills are, why you have them and how to pay them. Whether it’s a physical bill or an online version, take them through your bill paying routine.  Show them the importance of paying them by the deadline and explain to them what will happen if you pay too late or not at all. Teach them how to keep track of all their bills’ amounts and due dates.  This is an essential part of growing up, and you would be surprised to know how many teens/young adults leave home and have no clue how to handle their newly acquired bills.

Preparing your kids for their future by teaching them these basic money lessons will only further your dreams of them becoming self-sufficient, responsible and financial sound adults.