Two Cents And a Whole Lot More
Practical Financial Tips for You and Your Family
Saving for the Future Saving money for your future should be an integral part of your financial planning. Save now to be rewarded later, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. Here are some useful tips to get started: Utilize Your Budget Before you’re able to begin setting cash aside, you’ll need to know where your money is going. Budgeting allows you to make cuts or eliminate unnecessary expenses. Check out page 10 to learn how to build your budget. Pay Yourself First Each month, pick a specific date to set aside money to put into your savings account. Treat your savings contributions as an expense, much like you would any other bill. Take Advantage of Your Employer’s 401K Benefits If this type of benefit is available to you, jump on it. Meet the company match or contribute as much as you can. financialplan.about.com/od/personalfinance/a/secret-to-saving-money.htm
Plan for Your Loved Ones’ Futures Thinking about how your family will live without you is not a pleasent thought, however, it is necessary. Plan ahead by investing in life insurance. You can breath easy knowing everyone will be taken care of when the unexpected occurs.
Around the House There are numerous ways to save money around the house. By making a few changes to your normal routine, you can pick up new habits that save money over time. Rememberâ€”a penny saved is a penny earned. Follow these tips on how to save money: Be Frugal with Electricity One easy way to do this is by switching your light bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFLs). Each bulb replaced with a CFL can save about $30 off your energy bill over the lifetime of the bulb. Many utility companies offer CFL bulbs for free or at a reduced rate. You can also save on your electricity costs by turning off lights when not in use, washing your clothes in cold water, and installing a low-flow shower head. Wear Clothes a Few Times Before Washing Cutting back on laundry will mean cutting back on your electric and water bills. Encourage your family members to only put things in the laundry that are truly dirty.
Invest in Efficient Appliances Upgrade your appliances to energy and water effecient models. Most utility company offer incentives and tax deductions may also be available. Swap Items with Friends Once or twice a year, invite your friends over for a clothing swap. Everything is free and you can go home with what you need. Donate remaining items to a local charity. Re-Use Before Tossing Not all disposable items need to go to the trash after one use. You can wash and re-use plastic storage bags, aluminum foil, and deli and yogurt containers. Check Out Books and Movies From the Library Donâ€™t overlook your local library as a source of free entertainment. You can special-order nearly anything you want, and a trip to the library with the kids is a fun, free activity to do together. ehow.com/how_4554232_save-money-around-house.html
Shop Smart Shopping smart may take some time to learn, but it is truly worth the effort. You can increase your money without having to sacrifice the things you want and need. ehow.com/how_5934348_increase-money-smart-shopping.html
Extend Your Buying Dollars Consignment, resale and secondhand stores offer a wonderful way to extend your buying dollars. Mondays are a great day to stop by because they often have new items that people brought in over the weekend. family.go.com/household/article-sk-955106-how-to-shop-secondhand-for-the-holidays-t couponing.about.com/cs/toppicks/a/consignshop.htm
Shop at the End of the Season With a bit of thought it’s easy to save money on small and big purchases. One of the best ways to do this is to think ahead and shop the end of season sales. This is when the best discounts are offered. You may be shopping for something you won’t use immediately but you’ll be thankful for the money saved. freeshipping.org/blog/best-time-to-buy-guide thenewsdaily.org/2011/03/22/shopping-tips-for-end-of-season-sales
Comparison Shopper Compare prices, even with coupons. One store may have better prices on dairy products, and another on meat. Plan your route around the stores that are near one another and your home to save on transportation costs. ehow.com/how_4859980_money-using-smart-shopping-tips.html
Cut it Out Coupons offer discounts on everything for items like cereal, computers and theme park admissions. There are lots of different places to find moneysaving coupons including online, in newspapers and mailers. The following suggestions give you great ideas for where to find coupons to save money every day: •
Food for Thought Eating at home is an easy way to cut costs from your monthly bills. You can prepare meals in your house for a fraction of the cost of eating out. Try this frugal but fabulous family dish. Itâ€™s quick, easy and cheap but doesnâ€™t compromise on taste. recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/10-ways-to-cut--your-grocery-bill-in-half.htm
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas 2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey 1 cup chopped green or red pepper 1 8-ounce jar picante sauce 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed 8 flour tortillas (6 inches) 3/4 pound Velveeta cheese spread or Velveeta Light, cubed 1/4 cup milk 1. Stir chicken, green pepper, 1/2 cup picante sauce and cream cheese in saucepan over low heat until smooth. 2. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam side down, in lightly greased 8-by-13-inch baking dish. 3. Stir cheese spread and milk in saucepan over low heat until smooth. 4. Pour sauce over tortillas; cover with foil. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 5. Pour remaining picante sauce over tortillas. 6
Once you’ve made the move to home cooking, you can save even more by becoming a smart grocery shopper. Here are some tips that could help you lower your grocery bill: Eat Leftovers One of the great things about cooking at home is the leftovers, and it’s a sure bet for saving money. Let’s say the ingredients of your home-cooked dinner cost $20. If you eat leftovers for lunch for a couple days after, go ahead and divide that cost by three and you’ll have an idea of just how much money you can save. Casseroles and crock pot meals are great because they can feed your family for more than one night. Use What You Have Before you go to the store, take inventory on your pantry. Chances are you can find enough of the staples to make a few meals if you buy some protein and veggies to go with it. See how much of those dry pantry goods you can use in meals each week. Each item that you already have is something you won’t have to buy. The same goes for the fridge and freezer. You’ll want to use up frozen goods before they become freezer burned. So don’t forget about that package of chicken breasts you froze when it was on sale at the grocery store. If you can keep your fridge and pantry organized you’ll get better at using up what you have.
Set a Firm Budget Just like any area of finance, the key to saving is to set a budget and stick to it. If you have no boundaries in place you’ll likely overspend and buy things you want but don’t need. Separate your wants from your needs when setting your budget. Stick to the items that get you the most value for your food dollar—a sure way to save. Don’t forget to include things like spices, beverages and prescriptions in your budget. These items are often overlooked. recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/10-ways-to-cut--your-grocery-bill-in-half10.htm
Buy Store Brands A family of four spends nearly $10,000 a year on food, housekeeping supplies, personal-care products, and services. Buying store brands for just one-third of those purchases could save $1,000 a year. ehow.com/how_5736203_save-purchasing-store-brand-products.html
Fun at Home You donâ€™t need to sacrifice having fun with your friends and family to save money. Play games at home. Not only will you save money by not going out but you will be spending quality time together.
Johnny Applestack Required Items: 5 apples, table 1. When the clock starts, player may begin stacking apples. 2. Player may not alter the apples in any way. 3. To complete the game, player must stack 5 apples so they are freestanding, 1 on top each other, within the 60-second time limit. They must remain freestanding for 3 seconds. nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/episode-207/johnny-applestack
Scavenger Hunt Required Items: pencil and paper 1. Separate the family into teams. 2. Give each team a list of items to find inside the house. 3. Use small or unique items to make the game interesting. For example: a bobby pin, an orange peel, and a red sock are items that may take some hunting to find. 4. The team that finds all of the items on the list first, wins. ehow.com/list_6748508_fun-family-games-play-home.html
Required Items: 1 cereal box
Required Items: 3 balloons (inflated)
1. Cut the front of a cereal box into 16 even rectangles and stack them face down in random order. 2. When the clock starts, player may begin turning over pieces. 3. To complete the game, player must assemble the pieces to recreate the original cereal box within the 60-second time limit.
1. When the clock starts, player releases all 3 balloons into the air. 2. Player may not hold balloons, allow them to rest on the body, or hit the ground, or the game is over. 3. To complete the game, player must keep all balloons off the ground for 60 seconds. nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/episode-124/defying-gravity
For more activities that can provide great entertainment and lasting memories check out these websites: www.eduplace.com/hac www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to 9
Build Your Budget A household budget is a helpful tool to keep track of expenses and income. Creating a budget is easy, but it must be kept up to date and allow for some flexibility. When finances are tight, a household budget can assist in saving money where needed and keeping finances orderly. ehow.com/about_6591427_household-budget-information.html
Identify Goals The first and most important step in budgeting is to identify why you are creating a budget in the first place. Without budgeting goals, the budget would be much like a map without a destination. Before even setting up a budget, decide what youâ€™d like to accomplish. Review Current Income Sources In order for a budget to be effective, it must take into account current income sources. Such sources may include jobs, investment income and side business income. By tracking income sources, you will be able to clearly see money inflows, which you can use to either pay expenses or put toward goals outlined in your budget.
Review Current Expenses Expenses offset income and defer funds that you could use toward the budget’s goal. In order to build an effective budget, you should record all of your expenses to clearly illustrate where you spend money each month. By reviewing all expenses, it’s possible to see where each penny goes and to gain ideas of where to reduce expenses for the budget. Build the Budget After you set your budget goals, track income and review expenses, the next step is building a budget. In order to reach your budget goals, you may have to increase the level of income, decrease expenses or establish a combination of the two. ehow.com/info_7845817_understanding-budget-planning.html
Resources Use the interactive worksheets on the websites below to help build your budget: Income — financialliteracymonth.com/30Steps/Step7.aspx?#aWorksheet Expenses — financialliteracymonth.com/30Steps/Step21.aspx#aWorksheet 11
College Planning It’s less expensive to save for a college education than to borrow—start planning now. Make Saving Automatic Whether it’s $10, $25, or $50 you could set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings each month. Saving a little is better than nothing. Contribute Extra Incomes If you get a tax refund, a bonus, have a second job, jars of loose change; you could contribute portions of this extra income to your college savings. Reallocate Old Expenses As you pay off old debts or find you’re not paying for diapers anymore, reallocate the money you were putting towards those items and contribute to a college savings fund. You won’t miss this money because you were already spending it. fastweb.com/financial-aid/articles/1481-introduction-to-saving-for-college
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned