Easy Ways to Save Money Each Month

Saving money is a goal most of us probably have in common.  Some people may want to save money to just simply add to their wealth, and others may want to have a good amount of savings in case emergencies arise.  Whatever your motive, it can sometimes be hard to find the extra money each month to put back for a rainy day–especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.

Here are some simple ways you may not have thought of to save money each month:

Fees Are (Sometimes) Negotiable

Does credit card interest deter you from paying down your debt in a timely manner?  Do you pay checking account fees to your bank? What about processing fees to other vendors?  If you can answer any of these questions with a “yes,” you may be able to negotiate these fees or even waive them all together.  This falls into the “you never know until you ask” category. Call your credit card company or bank and simply ask if they will either waive your fee or at least give you a lower interest rate.  If they say no, you are no worse off than you were before the call, but if they say yes, you’ve just saved yourself some money each month. You’d be surprised how many times they actually do say yes.

Check Your Subscriptions

If you are like most Americans these days, you probably have a lot of subscriptions to a lot of different things.  It’s good to sit down and take a good hard look at everything you are subscribed to. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, subscription boxes, grocery subscriptions, meal plan subscription, book subscriptions–anything that you pay monthly is technically a subscription.  Compile a list and honestly go through it and ask yourself if you really use that subscription or get your money’s worth out of it. Does it add any value or happiness to your life? If so, then keep it. If not, it’s time to cancel. You will probably be surprised at how much you will be willing to let go in the name of saving some money each month.

Meal Plan

Food is always a big category in any budget.  If you are ever looking to cut money, the food category is a good place to start.  How much money do you spend eating out? How much money do you spend on food out due to poor planning on your part?  If your honest, probably a lot. Each week (or month), make a meal plan for every meal and snack you are going to eat.  When you make a plan, account for any leftovers that can be re-purposed into another meal. When you plan everything out like this, you will always know what your next meal is going to be, and therefore, you won’t be stuck in a situation that forces you to spend money to eat out.  Buying groceries off your meal plan instead of daily meals out will save you a ton of money each month if you stick to your plan.

Direct Deposit To Savings

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you save money each month is to have some of your paycheck direct deposited into your savings account.  That way, you don’t even have a chance to spend it on anything else. Even if it is only $20 per check, it’s better than not contributing anything. After a few paychecks, it will become normal and you won’t even miss the money you are saving.  Your savings account will grow automatically without you even having to touch it.

So you see, when you put a little thought into it, it’s easy to save a few bucks here and there.  What you won’t realize is that all these little savings add up each month to a rapidly growing savings account with which you can feel secure.  

Cheap Ways to Celebrate Fall

Even though it’s still warm outside right now, the official start of autumn is this weekend.  Soon the air will be cooler and it will be time to celebrate all the things that make fall so magical.  Here are some ideas of fun fall activities your whole family can participate in that won’t break the bank.

Apple-Picking

Find a local apple orchard that will let you come and pick your own apples.  You will be outside in the crisp fall air, and you will get to enjoy nature as you pick the perfect apples for fall baking, or even just for snacks.  This proves to be a really entertaining activity for children.

Bake Fall Treats

This activity is a great follow-up to apple picking because you can use your apples to bake all sorts of fall treats.  Apple pie, candy apples, applesauce–the possibilities are near endless! Outside of apples, think about what you could make with other autumn produce like pumpkins, acorn squash or sweet potatoes. The internet is saturated with mouth watering recipes for the fall. Get your kids in on the action and let them make their own treats (supervised, of course).

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches these days are packed with tons of different activities other than pumpkin picking.  They have corn mazes, hayrides, kettle corn and many more activities for kids and adults alike. They are basically a fall festival happening every weekend.  Find a pumpkin patch that has lots of activities and consider taking your family one weekend. If you have one close to you and want to go multiple times, see if a season pass might be more cost effective for you.

Take A Hike – Literally!

A free activity that is great for the whole family is to take a hike in a local park or forest near you.  Hikes are perfect for fall because the temperature is cooler and the leaves are beautiful this time of year.  You will get to enjoy the stunning nature of autumn as well as get some exercise. Take a picnic lunch and make a day out of it–you won’t regret it!

There are many other activities not listed here that are fun to do during the fall season.  To find out more, just search the internet for “Fall Activities in _____” and enter your city name.  You will find tons of possibilities just waiting for you to explore. Happy Fall!

Effective Tips for Pay Raises

When you work hard at your job everyday, it’s really nice to be appreciated with a pay raise. Any raise, even a small one, not only boosts your morale, but it helps you financially.  If you are working to improve your finances, it’s best not to jump right in and spend all that extra money. Instead, make that extra money work for your financial goals with one of the following tips.

Wait Before Spending

Before you run out and start upgrading your life and budget with your new paycheck, try to wait a few weeks to see how that paycheck is going to look with your new wages. Exactly how much extra per paycheck are you getting after taxes are deducted?  Once you have calculated the difference between your old and new paycheck amounts for a few weeks, then you can figure out how to allocate it the most effectively.

Budget Better

With the higher paychecks you now receive, it’s time to recalculate your budget.  Look over your current budget and find areas that could use the extra money. If your budget is great as it is, think of extra categories that you could add to help reach your financial goals faster.

Save the Extra

One of the easiest options for your raise can be to take everything extra over your normal paycheck amount and put it in savings.  Even if it is only $20 extra per paycheck–automatically put it into your savings and pretend it’s not there. You will still be living off of the same amount you were previously, but now you have more to put into savings.  

Pay Off Debt

Similarly to saving the extra, if you have any debt whatsoever, use that extra money every week to pay it off faster.  Again, it may not be the most fun option, but you were already used to living off your “before-raise” amount, so you won’t even know it’s missing.  

Invest

Another option is to automatically put the extra money into your retirement or other investment accounts.  Planning for your future is never a bad option, and like most of these tips, every little bit adds up. If you don’t feel like you make enough extra in each paycheck to invest, just save it all up and make one lump sum investment each month.

As you can see, there are many options for your pay raise to be used effectively.  When you really plan for the extra in your life, you can methodically reach your financial goals faster.  

Money-Saving Tips for Fall

As the summer season is quickly approaching its end, it’s time to gear up for cooler temperatures and lots of activities.  Fall can be a very busy time of year with kids going back-to-school, fall sports and the holidays looming in the near future.  So that makes right now the perfect time to get prepared for fall and save some money while doing it. Here are some top money-saving tips for the autumn season.

Quit the A/C

As the temps cool off you can drastically reduce using your air conditioning unit.  Yes, here in the south the temps stay hot for quite a while, but there is always that sweet spot during the fall where you don’t need your A/C or your heating units turned on and that’s a great time to save on your electric bill.  Heating and cooling make up a large chunk of your utility bills every month, so whenever you can turn the units off, do it!

Declutter

We’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but another great time to do some decluttering would be in the fall.  Think about it–in a few short months the holiday season will be in full swing. That usually means decorations, house guests and gifts you have to find a place for.  Before all that madness begins, take this time to clear out all of the things in your home that you no longer use or need. Your home will be clear and ready for the holidays, and if you decide to sell some of the items you got rid of, you could make a little extra cash for the holidays as well.

Fall Sales Shopping

There are some great sales that happen during the fall season.  Take advantage of all of these sales, and stock up on items you may need for next year.  At the end of summer, the Labor Day sales are in full swing. This is a great time to stock up on items for next summer such as outdoor furniture, water toys and summer clothing.  Back-to-School Sales will help you save money on school supplies and fall/winter clothing. Of course in the late fall, all of your Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales come along to help you out with holiday gifts.  However, when shopping these sales, it’s important not to get caught up in buying things just because they are cheap. Make a plan and take advantage of these sales only for items you will need, and then you can enjoy your savings.

So you see, this is a great time of year to plan ahead and save money.  The more you plan and save now, the easier your life will be when the chaos of the holidays approaches in a few months.