Budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4804/all en-US Zooey Deschanel Never Pays Late Fees and 5 Other Smart Money Lessons From Celebrities http://www.wisebread.com/zooey-deschanel-never-pays-late-fees-and-5-other-smart-money-lessons-from-celebrities <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/zooey-deschanel-never-pays-late-fees-and-5-other-smart-money-lessons-from-celebrities" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/celebrity-57283707-small.jpg" alt="celebrity" title="celebrity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you're Angelina Jolie and have Brad Pitt by your side, you can make anything look good.</p> <p>That's why Angelina spent a measly <a href="http://www.today.com/id/19215552/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/angelina-jolie-wears-outfit-premiere/#.U79OqxZ9LWo">$26 on a velvet dress</a> at a thrift shop for a major movie premiere. She is a good example of taking charge of your finances: while raking in the big bucks as the face of an American fashion brand, St John, she saved by dropping tags at the thrift shop. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-surprisingly-frugal-lifestyles-of-12-famous-superheroes?ref=seealso">The Surprisingly Frugal Lifestyles of 12 Famous Superheroes</a>)</p> <p>So crank up the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes">Macklemore and Ryan Lewis</a>, and let's learn some smart money lessons from six of our favorite celebrities.</p> <h2>1. Winona Ryder</h2> <p>If you think that a $26 dress is cheap, wait until you hear the price range for Winona Ryder. The star of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AGXEAG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001AGXEAG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=FLFWNXVKPPYV7D2I">Beetlejuice</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679746048/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0679746048&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=46SHNOYWOSWNENCO">Girl, Interrupted</a> confesses to wearing <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2569347/Winona-Ryder-reveals-love-elder-peers-including-landlady-Helen-Mirren.html">$10 dresses to star-studded ceremonies</a>. But that's not at all. In an <a href="http://www.redonline.co.uk/red-women/interviews/winona-ryder">interview with Red Magazine</a> she admits that she wore the same dress from a 2005 film premiere to Sean Penn's Haiti gala in 2014. Winona wears a dress until it falls apart.</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: In her own words, &quot;I know that's kind of a no-no in the fashion world, but why wear something just once if you love it?&quot; Don't become a fashion victim and avoid buying new clothes every single season.</p> <h2>2. Zooey Deschanel</h2> <p>If you're making $9 million annually (including a cool $95,000 to $125,000 per episode of New Girl), you'd expect to get an invitation from the ultra exclusive American Express Centurion Card, aka &quot;The Black Card.&quot; Well, not Zooey Deschanel. In <a href="http://tmz.vo.llnwd.net/o28/newsdesk/tmz_documents/0104_zooey.pdf">court papers</a> from her 2012 divorce with Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, the actress/musician revealed that she has three credit cards and all with zero balance. Even more, two of her cards have a maximum credit line of $2,000 and one just $1,000. With a monthly budget of $500 for dining out, Zooey must be paying all meals with cash.</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: Have a credit card for emergency uses only. If you have to use it, pay the balance in full every month.</p> <h2>3. Tobey Maguire</h2> <p>Not just the ladies are frugal. For example, take the original Mr. Spiderman. While Tobey Maguire is estimated to have a <a href="http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/tobey-maguire-net-worth/">net worth of $75 million</a>, he is just comfortable wearing jeans and T-shirts. Google for non-gala pictures of him and all you will see are clothes that your neighbor down the street would wear. Tobey got his frugal mentality from his rough childhood. The star of The Great Gatsby confesses that <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/may/11/tobey-maguire-interview">his family lived on food stamps</a>, used government medical insurance, and even had to wander into shelters every now and then. This explains why he is so structured in his spending and doesn't spend in frivolities.</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: Don't live beyond your means. Tobey explains his <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=YEdwW78QWj0C&amp;pg=PA250&amp;lpg=PA250&amp;dq=%22I+just+never+wanted+to+put+myself+in+the+position+where+my+spending+was+so+huge+that+I+had+to+keep+making+movie+after+movie%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=HWr-vAUsYW&amp;sig=J59lc0Tz8ZHdJAissTU427Jh4qQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=U2K_U_CNG8K9oQSlxIGICA&amp;ved=0CCYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=%22I%20just%20never%20wanted%20to%20put%20myself%20in%20the%20position%20where%20my%20spending%20was%20so%20huge%20that%20I%20had%20to%20keep%20making%20movie%20after%20movie%22&amp;f=false">frugal philosophy</a>: &quot;I just never wanted to put myself in the position where my spending was so huge that I had to keep making movie after movie.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Mindy Kaling</h2> <p>The super funny comedienne is a great example of how to tame shopping addiction. Like plenty of people, Mindy loves to shop 'til she drops. She confesses to have even memorized her credit card number so that she can shop online anytime, anywhere up to three times a week. However, she keeps herself in check by forcing herself to return about <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/the-office-s-mindy-kaling-dishes-on-fashion-beauty-and-hollywood">75% of what she buys</a>. Also, she is a big believer in sharing clothes with her girlfriends. In her book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307886271/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0307886271&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=MLEV3BOM4LWXYLDP">Is Everyone Hanging Without with Me?</a>, she insists that best friends can borrow from each other anything in their closet, no matter how fancy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-greatest-frugal-fashion-makeover-ever-refresh-your-wardrobe-for-25-or-less">Refresh Your Wardrobe for $25 or Less</a>)</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: If you have a shopping habit, kick it by returning clothes as much as possible and sharing cool clothes with your friends.</p> <h2>5. Kristen Bell</h2> <p>If somebody has the highest probability of leaving Hollywood and becoming the next host of <a href="http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/extreme-couponing">Extreme Couponing</a>, that has got to be actress Kristen Bell. On an <a href="http://teamcoco.com/video/kristen-bell-loves-bed-bath-and-beyond">interview with Conan O'Brien</a>, she reveals: &quot;I shop almost exclusively with coupons&quot;. Like most of us, Kristen is a major fan of big box retailers, especially Bed Bath &amp; Beyond and is a major fan of its 20% discount coupon. Just the thought of saving $80 on a purchase puts Kristen in an ecstatic mood!</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: Whenever you need to shop, first look for coupons to maximize your savings.</p> <h2>6. Vincent Kartheiser</h2> <p>Another famous male celebrity is mindful of living on a budget is Vincent Kartheiser. Even though he plays an upper class slick ad salesman in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000YABIQ6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000YABIQ6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QIEST5HAVBXCYZGI">Mad Men</a>, Vincent is one of the 10% of Angelenos that relies only on public transportation. Yup, this big time actor doesn't own a car. He believes using <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/fashion/03With.html">public transportation is wonderful</a>. &quot;Instead of driving and being stressed out about traffic, you can work your scene, you can do your exercises or whatever on the bus. Everyone's got their own deal.&quot; Vincent is not alone: the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/31/american-driving-car-decl_n_5424867.html">average American household now owns fewer cars</a>, returning to the levels of the early 1990s.</p> <p><strong>Smart Money Lesson</strong>: Consider consolidating into a single car and increasing your use of public transportation. You'll save on gas, create an opportunity to relax, and reduce your carbon footprint.</p> <p><em>Any thrifty celebrities I've missed? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/zooey-deschanel-never-pays-late-fees-and-5-other-smart-money-lessons-from-celebrities" class="sharethis-link" title="Zooey Deschanel Never Pays Late Fees and 5 Other Smart Money Lessons From Celebrities" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping famous thrifty people frugal celebrities money lessons Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Damian Davila 1161549 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Smart Ways to Make Yourself Love Saving Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-make-yourself-love-saving-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smart-ways-to-make-yourself-love-saving-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-kissing-piggy-bank-96398684-small.jpg" alt="woman kissing piggy bank" title="woman kissing piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with saving.</p> <p>On one hand, I love saving because my endgame is always an investment that I'm confident will change my life for the better. On the other, saving causes me to cut back, miss out on certain activities, and otherwise frown when I'd rather be spending money on frivolous and fun things instead of staring at it in my online bank account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-things-everyone-should-be-saving-for?ref=seealso">10 Things Everyone Should Be Saving For</a>)</p> <p>While I can't take away all the pain of saving from you in a simple article, I can offer a few tips on how to get into a positive mindset that will make your decision to improve your life an easier pill to swallow.</p> <h2>1. Set Goals You Must Save For</h2> <p>When making any kind of resolution or major lifestyle change, you need to set goals. Why do so many people fail after three weeks into the New Year on their plan to get in shape? Because the only thought they put into it was taking their gym membership off hold and buying a new pair of sneakers. Unfortunately, that doesn't cut it. To succeed when you set goals that require a significant change in the way you live, you need to establish small, achievable steps that will hold you accountable on a regular basis along the way &mdash; and that will result in an achievement at the end.</p> <p>In my case, I'm in savings mode right now to buy a new home. In order to hold myself accountable, I've cut the fat out of my expenses, mapped out my income over the next six months, set dates by which I need to have a certain amount of money in the bank (for instance, $X,000 by July 31; $XX,000 by October 31, etc.), and a semi-solid plan to invest that money when I've reached that goal.</p> <h2>2. Establish Milestones and Rewards When You Reach Them</h2> <p>The end result of your savings effort is your final reward, but it doesn't hurt to reward yourself along the way for a job well done &mdash; if only to help you stay motivated. This tactic works especially well if you've set a long-term savings plan in place. These rewards shouldn't be huge, but rather a small prize in the form of whatever makes you happy. Personally, I enjoy traveling and shopping, so my reward when I've achieved a goal may be a new pair of shoes or a weekend trip to someplace affordable but new. By treating myself to something I love once in a while, I can pat myself on the back while re-energizing my motivation to stick to this challenge.</p> <h2>3. Think of Your Income in Terms of Specific Bills</h2> <p>I'll be completely honest in telling you that I don't have a monthly budget written on paper. Still, I'm able to manage my money effectively using a different method of spending and saving.</p> <p>First, I know how much I need to pay every month on necessary expenses, which includes my half of two mortgages and household expenses, my cell phone, my business phone, and two school loans. Essentially those are the only required expenses I have at the present time (because, as I mentioned earlier, I recently did a major trimming of fat to expedite the saving process), and they're pretty static from month to month.</p> <p>Next, I assign the monetary value of my projects (I'm self-employed) to a specific bill so I can be sure that I'm bringing in enough to cover it, to let me know when I need to work harder to earn more money, and gauge an estimated amount of money I can spend on non-essentials and how much I need to put into savings per month.</p> <p>As a personal example, I have to write X articles per month for Wise Bread to pay my cell phone bill and school loans. And I use this trick with all my clients &mdash; each one is assigned to a specific bill. I have to earn enough from each particular client to pay the bill to which they're assigned. Once I've met that goal on a monthly basis, everything else is surplus.</p> <p>For me at least, this is a great way to take the pressure off of earning and saving money.</p> <h2>4. Get Creative Socially</h2> <p>It's very easy to go to a sports game or out to a bar with your friends and spend upwards of $100 to have a good time; there's really not much thought involved in that process, in fact. But when you're dedicated to saving, changes will inevitably need to be instituted &mdash; most likely to your social life &mdash; if you want to meet your goal. This isn't necessarily a bad thing either. Rather, your dedication to saving gives you a chance to be creative with how you spend your time and money, which will most likely allow you to experience things you wouldn't have otherwise experienced while introducing a new lifestyle habit that will probably stick with you well after you've reached your goal. In this case, the grass is greener on the other side.</p> <h2>5. Find a Savings Buddy</h2> <p>We have friends and family to help us with countless other goals in our life &mdash; whether it's getting in shape, successfully completing school, getting a new job, etc. So it only makes sense that you find someone you can lean on during this goal as well. It will help the situation even more if you find someone who's in the same position as you &mdash; committed to saving &mdash; so you can relate to each other's struggles and accomplishments, and, frankly, spend time with each other when everyone else is out blowing their paychecks on a Friday night. You'll start to enjoy Saturdays much more when your bank account is growing &mdash; and you don't have a hangover.</p> <h2>6. Find Some Fun Money-Making Opportunities</h2> <p>Now that you're spending more time not spending money with your savings buddy, you can take advantage of your newfound physical wellness on the weekends by replacing your boozy brunch binges with money-making opportunities that will help you reach your goal faster. These don't have to be major commitments like a regular part-time job. Instead, I recommend one-off opportunities on Craigslist or another site conducive to these gigs. By picking and choosing short projects to take on &mdash; I used to help senior adults around their houses and yards when I was a teenager and in college to make extra cash &mdash; you'll keep the experience fun and fresh, and you might even make a few unexpected friends along the way.</p> <h2>7. Rethink Your Expenses</h2> <p>I've alluded to this tactic twice already in this post, so let's dive into it head on.</p> <p>First, identify what you truly don't need in your life and get rid of it. That will differ from person to person, but examples include ditching the cable and entertaining yourself with streaming content online, canceling subscriptions to other entertainment services you don't use often, dropping your gym membership and working out at home, carpooling to work to cut your monthly gas bill in half, and more. In my situation, I dumped my outside office space and got rid of my gym membership for the time being. These are things I can live without right now, and it's an extra $400 a month that I can put toward my goal without any extra effort. No brainer.</p> <h2>8. Turn Shopping Into a Fun Challenge to Maximize Your Savings</h2> <p>I love saving as much as I can when I'm shopping (I treat it like a game), so this is easy for me, but it may not be easy for you &mdash; and there are two main reasons why:</p> <ol> <li>You don't know how to save.</li> <li>You're too lazy to save.</li> </ol> <p>I can't do anything about the latter (expect to tell you that your laziness is costing you <em>a lot</em> of money in more ways than one), but I can do something about the former. And that's why I write for Wise Bread.</p> <p>You can browse the hundreds of posts I've written on the site about saving money &mdash; several of which specifically relate to shopping &mdash; but some quick examples of how to turn shopping into a fun savings challenge include learning how to coupon like a pro, download money-saving and cash-back apps (check out <a href="http://cartwheel.target.com/">Cartwheel</a> by Target and <a href="https://ibotta.com/">Ibotta</a> &mdash; two of my personal favorites), always search for discount and free shipping coupon codes when shopping online, hit the clearance sections first (even in the grocery store), and sign up for email lists to score exclusive deals.</p> <p>Of course, you shouldn't go on shopping benders when you're in super savings mode, but when shopping is necessary, it's important to employ these tactics to pinch as many pennies as you can.</p> <h2>9. Put It &quot;Out of Sight, Out of Mind&quot;</h2> <p>A really simple trick to reduce your savings stress: Funnel a certain amount of money into your savings account via direct deposit every paycheck. After a while you won't miss what you don't have &mdash; except you do have it, just in a better place.</p> <h2>10. Give Yourself Plenty of Breathing Room</h2> <p>Whenever you set major goals for yourself, you run the risk of going off track along the way. You're especially susceptible to this inevitability when it comes to saving money &mdash; and there's only one way to deal with it: Relax. Accept that mistakes happen, and get right back on course. As they say, slow and steady wins the race &mdash; and this one is a marathon. Learn to love it along the way, however, and you'll finish in first.</p> <p><em>Do you have other tips on how to make yourself love saving money? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-make-yourself-love-saving-money" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Smart Ways to Make Yourself Love Saving Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping cost cutting goals saving savings strategies Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1153957 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money http://www.wisebread.com/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cutting-credit-card-76686395-small.jpg" alt="cutting credit card" title="cutting credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="138" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even if you know that your spending is out of control, you might not have the strength to break your shopping addiction. However, a spending problem isn't going away on its own. And although you might feel powerless over your addiction, you ultimately control whether you spend. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-bizarre-ways-to-stay-on-budget-that-actually-work?ref=seealso">7 Bizarre Ways to Stay on Budget That Actually Work</a>)</p> <p>You're not likely to break your addiction overnight, but these 13 tips can give you power not to spend.</p> <h2>1. Freeze Your Credit Cards, Literally</h2> <p>If you truly want to stop spending, do not carry credit cards in your wallet. Better yet, make your credit cards as inaccessible as possible. Fill a small bowl halfway with water and freeze. Once solid, place your cards in the bowl on the ice (you may need to weigh them down with a nickel), add more water, and freeze again. With your credit cards on ice, you can't swipe your plastic for frivolous purchases.</p> <h2>2. Cancel Retail Emails and Catalogs</h2> <p>Those tempting emails from your favorite retailers do more harm than good. The less information you receive from the retail world, the better off you'll be. Unsubscribe to email blasts advertising discounts and sales; and if you receive mail-order catalogs, ask these retailers to remove your name from their mailing lists.</p> <h2>3. Get Rid of Your Debit Card</h2> <p>Your credit cards might be on ice, but you can still do plenty of damage with a debit card in your wallet. Cut your bank debit card in half. This will stop impulse purchases and alleviate unnecessary trips to the ATM.</p> <h2>4. Do It Yourself</h2> <p>Yes, it's easier to pay someone to do your grunt work. However, everyday conveniences come with a hefty price. If you're trying not to spend money, start doing things yourself. This can include your housekeeping, lawn care, laundry, and anything else you might usually pay other people to do for you. Handling your own chores might cut into your free time, but the payoff is a bigger bank account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores?ref=seealso">Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores?</a>)</p> <h2>5. Borrow Instead of Buy</h2> <p>If you need a new &hellip; whatever &hellip; call some friends to see if you can borrow it. Let's say you're attending a special event, and you don't have anything to wear &mdash; a friend might have exactly what you need in his or her closet. Borrow the item for a few hours, and save your cash.</p> <h2>6. Eat Your Pantry</h2> <p>Rather than weekly trips to the grocery store, only shop when you're actually out of food. Plan meals around what's already in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. This approach cuts down on the number of times you visit the grocery store and significantly reduces your grocery bill.</p> <h2>7. Pay Your Bills Before Going Out</h2> <p>If you're meeting up with friends, paying bills or balancing your checkbook before leaving home might motivate you to spend less, or not at all. Sometimes, we forget about our financial state. However, reviewing your money before going out offers a dose of reality, providing the inner strength you need to watch your pennies.</p> <h2>8. Know the Company You Keep</h2> <p>Your friends might be genuinely good people, but their poor financial habits can rub off on you. And if you're trying not to spend money, spending your free time with shopaholics or those who don't care about personal finances doesn't make it easier to achieve your goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-friends-can-save-you-money?ref=seealso">11 Ways Your Friends Can Save You Money</a>)</p> <h2>9. Wait at Least a Day Before a Major Purchase</h2> <p>Whenever there's the urge to spend, take a step back and give yourself at least a day to think about the purchase. Sometimes, the excitement of buying something new wears off the second you hit the parking lot.</p> <h2>10. If You Shop, Bring a List</h2> <p>Whether you're grocery shopping or buying necessary items for the home or yourself, always shop with a list, and only buy what's on the list.</p> <h2>11. Look for Freebies</h2> <p>You'd be surprised at the number of freebies you can find scouring the Internet. I put this to the test on Craigslist &mdash; there were all types of free stuff, such as jewelry boxes, tube televisions, old furniture, bicycles, and children's toys. You might find exactly what you're looking for without spending a dime.</p> <h2>12. Shift Your Focus</h2> <p>If you're fighting the urge to shop, all you need to do is redirect your focus. Clean out your closet, read a book, go for a walk, or start a project.</p> <h2>13. Reflect on Your Goals</h2> <p>Is there a reason why you're trying not to spend money? Some people stop spending to save up for a house, pay off debt, or build their rainy day fund. Whenever you're tempted to open your wallet, think about your goals and how happy you'll be once you achieve these. Don't let instant gratification derail your plans.</p> <p><em>Do you have more smart tactics to institute to avoid spending money? Let us know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money" class="sharethis-link" title="13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping control spending impulse spending saving spending Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1153225 at http://www.wisebread.com The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn't Money — It's This http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/paying-bills-157864480-small.jpg" alt="paying bills" title="paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="154" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial planners always stress the miracle of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-most-important-financial-lessons-people-learn-in-their-20s-did-you">compound interest</a>. The earlier you start saving, the more compound interest works in your favor. Time is on your side.</p> <p>When you have debt, however, compound interest is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/key-terms-new-credit-card-users-must-understand">the worst</a>. It's what makes paying down credit card debt so difficult. It's one of those things that make it harder to gain financial independence. Luckily, even when compound interest is working against you, time is still your friend. You just have to turn your relationship with time from a long-term partnership to a short-term fling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lifestyle-inflation-the-ultimate-financial-trap?ref=seealso">Lifestyle Inflation: The Ultimate Financial Trap</a>)</p> <p>I am hugely motivated to pay down my debt by the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor">icky sensation</a> that I am just one step away from the poor house. I will do just about anything to avoid feeling finance-related stress. I am all about pain avoidance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-debt-is-killing-you-heres-the-cure?ref=seealso">Your Debt is Killing You</a>)</p> <p>My husband, on the other hand, has a much higher emotional tolerance for debt. He hates scrimping as much as he hates paying the bank for previous purchases. That said, once he discovered that paying down debt quickly saves a crap-ton of money, he jumped on the frugal bandwagon.</p> <h2>Think of the Time When You Won't Have Financial Stress</h2> <p>As of today my husband and I have both been unemployed for 177 days. Luckily, my husband starts working at a fantastic, new job tomorrow, so I will finally be able to go to the dentist without worrying about paying the bill.</p> <p>That said, even with the new income, my husband and I are going to continue to live on our no-frills, crisis budget, until we pay off all our debt.</p> <p>The big lesson of the last six months has been this: Regardless of how upper-middle class we appear, as long as we have debt we are actually poor. That's kind of the definition of poverty right? Not having money. So, as long as we have debt, we not only have NO money, we've got less than no money.</p> <p>After 177 days I don't see the point in extending our poverty for one day longer than we need to. We've got five years to pay off my Home Equity Line of Credit. But why extend our poverty for half a decade when we could save three years of financial stress and pay off the debt in two years instead? We've just lived through six months of grinding poverty, which was no fun, but survivable.</p> <p>Is 24 months of the same, cash-poor life, worth the reward of early financial freedom?</p> <p>I think so.</p> <h2>Less Time in Debt Equals Huge Financial Gains</h2> <p>Paying of my HELOC early will also save me thousands of dollars in interest. Money that I can turn around and spend on furthering my education, so I can get a higher paying job, put toward my retirement fund, or blow on an extravagant vacation.</p> <p>While I love to travel, what I will probably end up doing is using the savings to pay down the mortgage on my rental property.</p> <p>Like most Americans I don't have enough money put away for retirement. People in my family live to be 90. That's several decades of retirement income I've got to find sooner rather than later. Instead of a 401(k), I have a rental property that currently breaks even, but will be an income generator, once I pay off the mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/just-saving-isnt-enough-how-cash-flow-allocation-helps-you-retire?ref=seealso">Just Saving Isn't Enough: How Cash Flow Allocation Helps You Retire</a>)</p> <p>While most people, even bank loan officers, refer to my house as an asset, I don't. Unless something makes money for me while I sleep, it's not an asset.</p> <p>I'll just come out and say it: I'd like to make money in my sleep ASAP.</p> <p>Shockingly, As Soon As Possible is a lot sooner than I expected. Using a <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/debt-free/">debt calculator</a>, I discovered that I could be making a passive rental income from my house that's bigger than my current poverty budget in just 13 years.</p> <h2>Here's the Math</h2> <p>If I make the minimum $1800 mortgage payment on my house every month with my current, yucky interest rate of 5.9%, it will take me until March of 2037 to pay off my house that cost $270,000 (including my HELOC). In addition to the $270,000, I will also spend a whopping $220,866 in interest.</p> <p>However, if I spend just $150 more per month (the equivalent of an one additional mortgage payment per year), I will pay off my mortgage in November of 2033 and instead pay $183,979 in interest. If I really stretch myself and my budget and start paying $2500 a month (an additional $8400 per year), I will pay off my house in May of 2027 and pay a total of $115,940 in interest. So what's the obstacle that's keeping me from becoming financially independent almost ten years sooner, saving $104,926 in interest, and owning a rental property that (by the current rental market) will make me $2000 per month in profit?</p> <p>$8400 per year.</p> <p>Do I think I can find a way to make an additional $8400 per year with that kind of incentive?</p> <p>Yes.</p> <p><em>Have you ever paid off a debt early? Please share your story in comments. Was it worth the extra suffering?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this" class="sharethis-link" title="The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn&#039;t Money — It&#039;s This" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Debt Management budgeting debt mortgage saving Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Max Wong 1151880 at http://www.wisebread.com These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finance-app-160888117-small.jpg" alt="finance app" title="finance app" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="137" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say money has wings and that it tends to fly away before we even realize it. That's a product of the time we're living in, unfortunately. The good news, however, is that some wasteful spending can be curtailed and prevented, and a great way to do that is to use something else that's a product of our time: Smartphone apps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking?ref=seealso">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a>)</p> <p>Our phones do a lot of things that we don't really need on a regular basis, but one thing that they're capable of that we'd do well to take advantage of regularly is tracking our expenses. There are a lot of great apps (free and paid) that allow us to do this without having to sit down at a computer or write in a checkbook. These are the ones worth looking at.</p> <h2>1. Mint</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mint.com/how-it-works/"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Mint.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Mint is one of the most popular and widely used apps available for tracking spending, and it's completely free.</p> <p>The data itself is stored in a cloud account where it can be accessed by a number of different supported devices. Either your phone, Internet browsers, and even a Linux application can be used to access your data and track your spending.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/">It works</a> by keeping all your transactions and balances in one spot and can even pull data from your respective financial institutions.</p> <h2>2. Quicken</h2> <p><a href="http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/quicken-mobile-app.jsp"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Quicken.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Originally one of the more popular desktop applications for tracking your spending, Intuit's Quicken provides a <a href="http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/quicken-mobile-app.jsp">mobile version of their software</a> as well.</p> <p>Some of the more helpful features include the ability to snap and store receipts, syncing with the desktop application, graphical GUI with tablet versions, and secure password protection with encryption.</p> <p>The mobile app is perfect if you're already familiar with Quicken's software and would like to use your smartphone to manage it.</p> <h2>3. iSpending</h2> <p><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ispending-expense-tracker/id484100875?mt=8"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/iSpending.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Graphical reports and a sleek UI give this <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ispending-expense-tracker/id484100875?mt=8">free app</a> a lot of appeal for the more casual user.</p> <p>Though it lacks some of the features that you'll find with other apps like receipt snapping or a desktop counterpart, iSpending is ideal for someone who primarily keeps data on their phone with no need to sync with other devices.</p> <p>It handles all the basic spending and expense tracking the average person needs, including custom spending categories, summaries and adding income/expense transactions.</p> <h2>4. Visual Budget Expense Tracking and Management</h2> <p><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visual-budget-expense-tracking/id458571562?mt=8"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Visual%20Budget.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Assigning budgets to individual categories, managing multiple accounts, accessing overview tools, and taking advantage of easy-to-read pie graphs can all be done with the free version of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visual-budget-expense-tracking/id458571562?mt=8">this awkwardly named app</a>, though it does limit you to 10 transactions per account.</p> <p>Purchasing the unlimited version is $5, which lifts the transaction limit and gives you full use of the app.</p> <p>It's also compatible with iTunes file sharing if you want to import spreadsheets.</p> <h2>5. Spending Tracker</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mhriley.com/spendingtracker/"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Spending%20Tracker.jpeg" alt="" />The interface</a> is pleasant, intuitive, and easy to use, offering all the essential features for tracking your spending.</p> <p>Budget mode, spending categories, and reports are all available to you without the pro upgrade, which is only $2.99 regardless.</p> <p>If you do upgrade, you'll have the app ad free and will be able to set up repeat transactions and export transactions. Otherwise, the app is completely functional without you having to pay any money.</p> <p>It's available for iOS, Android, and Windows phone.</p> <h2>Making It a Habit</h2> <p>Expense-tracking apps are valuable tools in your hand, but they'll only make a difference if you make a habit of using them. Work it into your daily routine to either download or manually input your income and expenses of the past 24 hours. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">10 Sites and Apps That Help You Track Spending</a>)</p> <p>If you keep it up, you'll eventually be able to use reports and graphs to get a clearer picture of how you're spending your money and where you need to cut back or where you could save. It's a time commitment, for sure, but it won't get much easier than being a few swipes away in your pocket. And, let's face it, it's still easier than writing everything down in your checkbook. All hail technology!</p> <p><em>Do you have an expense-tracking app that you like to use? Has it changed the way you handle your finances? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances" class="sharethis-link" title="These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Productivity Technology apps budgets expense tracker expenses spending Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1150925 at http://www.wisebread.com 23 Money-Saving Items Everyone Should Own http://www.wisebread.com/23-money-saving-items-everyone-should-own <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/23-money-saving-items-everyone-should-own" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/energy-efficient-lightbulbs-483426561-small.jpg" alt="energy efficient lighbulbs" title="energy efficient lighbulbs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Can I get this cheaper?</p> <p>This is a question that all thrifty shoppers ask themselves before opening their wallets. And well they should: Less expensive is good. But what about items that actually <em>save</em> you money over time? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-around-the-house?ref=seealso">101 Ways to Save Money Around the House</a>)</p> <p>It's time to pile savings on top of savings with these 23 money-saving items that everyone should own.</p> <h2>1. Rechargeable Batteries</h2> <p>Remote controls, wall clocks, cameras, toys, smoke alarms. There are just too many items that take batteries around the house. Instead of shelling out big bucks for new batteries every month or so, invest in a set of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/b/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=1272237011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=2VIAGTZEQEOYDQF5">rechargeable batteries</a>. Not only will you stop wasting time running to the store, but also you will avoid the frustration of finding out that stored batteries have no charge. Just make sure to unplug the battery charger when not actively charging your batteries. Battery chargers continue to draw electricity even then.</p> <h2>2. Efficient Showerheads</h2> <p>Showering accounts for about 17% of residential indoor water use. High efficiency showerheads optimize the amount of water that needs to flow through your hot water heater. By installing efficient shower heads, the average American family can save about $70 on water costs per year and more on water heating costs. Look for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's <a href="http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/showerheads.html">WaterSense label</a> to ensure satisfactory showerhead performance.</p> <h2>3. Outdoor Solar Powered Motion Activated Lights</h2> <p>Outdoor lights represent a challenge in many ways. By being on for several hours, they use a lot of electricity. Also, you need to remember to turn them off the next day or they keep ramping up your electricity bill. Harness the power of the sun and motion sensor technology and get solar powered motion activated lights. The lights draw energy from the sun during the day and activate only when they sense nearby movement.</p> <h2>4. Energy Star Washing Machine</h2> <p>The average American family does about 300 loads of laundry every year. An Energy Star certified washing machine uses about <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/clothes_washers?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&amp;pgw_code=CW">20% less energy and 35% less water</a> than conventional ones. If your washing machine is over 10 years old or a top loading model, you need to take action! It is estimated that if every household in the U.S. switched to an Energy Star washing machine, we would together save about $250 million every year!</p> <h2>5. Energy Star CFLs</h2> <ul> <li>Change a single bulb for a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), save $40 or more over the lifetime of the bulb<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Change 5 bulbs for CFLs, save $200 or more over the lifetime of the bulbs.</li> </ul> <p>Use this <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/?c=cfls.pr_cfls_savings">savings calculator</a> to get a more accurate estimate on how much you can save based on your local electricity cost and desired type of bulbs.</p> <h2>6. Baking Soda</h2> <p>At just a bit over $1.50 per pound, this is the ultimate household tool. With baking soda you can:</p> <ul> <li>Wash produce.</li> <li>Clean your grill.</li> <li>Freshen up rugs.</li> <li>Remove hard stains from clothes.</li> <li>Wash your teeth.</li> <li>Clean the dishwasher or coffee machine.</li> <li>Treat throat infections.</li> <li>Deodorize a cat litter box.</li> <li>Fight dandruff.</li> <li>Melt icy sidewalks.</li> <li>Clean toilets.</li> <li>And many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesomeness-of-sodium-bicarbonate-27-uses-for-baking-soda">more fantastic uses</a>!</li> </ul> <p>Think about how much you spend on products for each of these uses. Switch to baking soda and start saving money.</p> <h2>7. Foam Roller</h2> <p>Chiropractors and massage therapists are expensive. The average rate for a massage is about <a href="http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-much-does-massage-theraphy-cost">$60 per hour</a>. This doesn't mean that you should totally give up on taking care of your body. You can take care of your pain points and &quot;knots&quot; on your own with a foam roller. Starting at about $5, a foam roller is the most budget friendly way to <a href="http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/what-is-a-foam-roller-how-do-i-use-it-and-why-does-it-hurt">take care of tight muscles</a> and <a href="http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/almost-magical-foam-roller">prevent common injuries</a>. From hardcore runners to couch potatoes, everybody can benefit from a foam roller. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-your-home-into-a-spa-with-these-5-frugal-stress-relievers?ref=seealso">Turn Your Home Into a Spa With These 5 Frugal Stress Relievers</a>)</p> <h2>8. Grocery and Shopping Bags</h2> <p>Stop wasting money on trash bags and reuse the bags that you get from grocery stores and retailers. Reduce and reuse. Grocery bags are perfect for bathroom trash cans, and bigger bags can be used for tall kitchen cans and certain diaper pails. Small grocery bags are perfect for keeping smelly kitchen residues, such as onion and garlic, contained. You save money and do your part in helping the environment.</p> <h2>9. Reusable Water Bottle</h2> <p>Stop your plastic habit! If you buy a $6 water bottle case every week, you end up spending over $300 per year. This is before redemption fees and applicable taxes. Switch to a reusable water bottle and use those savings for a credit card payment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-we-love-a-lifefactory-reusable-glass-water-bottle?ref=seealso">Stuff We Love: A Lifefactory Reusable Glass Water Bottle</a>)</p> <h2>10. Herb Garden</h2> <p>Cooking at home is always cheaper than dining out. Fresh herbs are great to give your dishes that extra &quot;oomph.&quot; However, buying fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, and parsley, can be quite expensive. If you have a spot that gets about six to seven hours of daily sunlight, such as a ledge on a kitchen window, you can have an <a href="http://www.hgtv.com/gardening/how-to-plant-a-kitchen-herb-garden/index.html">indoor herb garden</a>. You can pick only the amount that you need and let the rest double as a nice kitchen accent piece.</p> <h2>11. Olive Oil</h2> <p>Besides being great for cooking, olive oil helps you:</p> <ul> <li>Moisturize your skin by drinking it and adding it to warm tub baths.</li> <li>Preserving extra <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/freeze-herbs-in-olive-oil-173648%20">fresh herbs for later use</a>.</li> <li>Untangle your hair and moisturize damaged hair.</li> <li>Prevent hairballs from your cat by adding a teaspoon into your cat's food.</li> <li>Free stuck zippers by dipping a cue tip into olive oil and swabbing the zipper's teeth.</li> </ul> <h2>12. Canning Jar</h2> <p>Attention wine drinkers: <a href="http://food52.com/blog/3319-saving-leftover-wine">Save leftover wine for up to a week</a> by storing leftover vino in a canning jar. It preserves the original flavor longer than just a cork and bottle, a method that only keeps the original flavor for a day or so. This tip is especially useful to prevent that $30 wine bottle from becoming vinegar in just a few days.</p> <h2>13. Mouthwash</h2> <p>At Walmart you can get a whole 1.5 liter bottle of mouthwash for around $5. Here's how to stretch that bottle even further:</p> <ul> <li>Use as an antiseptic if you have no nearby alcohol.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make a 50/50 solution of alcohol-based mouthwash and vinegar and treat nail fungus.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Treat athlete's foot with the same 50/50 solution.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Apply alcohol-based mouthwash to a cotton ball to your face as an astringent lotion.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Clean your windows.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Deodorize your toilet with a cup of mouthwash and let it sit for about 30 minutes before flushing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mix 4 parts of water to one part mouthwash in a spray bottle to help plants affected by mildew and fungus.</li> </ul> <h2>14. Spare Change Jar</h2> <p>Avoid the coins-in-couch cliche and get a spare change jar to keep all those coins around the house. In just a couple of months, you will be surprised how much you can save without even trying. Encourage your whole household to chip into the spare change jar. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-smart-ways-to-spend-your-loose-change?ref=seealso">20 Smart Ways to Spend Your Loose Change</a>)</p> <h2>15. .edu Email Address</h2> <p>Ok, so this one isn't really an &quot;item&quot;, but still. Current college students and past graduates that keep their .edu email active can often:</p> <ul> <li>Get free <a href="https://www.dreamspark.com/Student/Software-Catalog.aspx">Microsoft Dreamspark software</a>.</li> <li>Download <a href="http://www.autodesk.com/education/free-software/students-university/all-products">Autodesk software</a>, such as AutoCad and Revit, for free.</li> <li>Read the <a href="https://account.washingtonpost.com/actmgmt/registration/get-nonpaid-access">digital version of the Washington Post</a> without a paid subscription.</li> <li>Apply for a <a href="http://blog.coinbase.com/post/85758038492/10-of-free-bitcoin-for-college-students">one-time $10 bitcoin</a> stipend.</li> <li>Receive <a href="http://www.sumpto.com/">freebies from companies</a> through your social media activity.</li> <li>Free two-day shipping with <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/student/signup/info">Amazon Student</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Some high school students may be eligible also for .edu email accounts so check with the student's educational institution.</p> <h2>16. Cash Back and Reward Credit Cards</h2> <p>Competition among credit cards is constantly increasing. There is no need to be tied to a card that offers neither rewards nor cash back offers. With <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">cash back credit cards</a> offering up to 2%, it is amazing how some companies will pay you to use their credit cards. If cashback is not your cup of tea, then there are also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-gas-rewards-credit-cards">gas rewards cards</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">air miles programs</a>.</p> <h2>17. Vacuum Sealer</h2> <p>This is one of the kitchen gadgets that can save you the most money. A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/b/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=1090768&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=6WDSEJXJXN2LN2DG">vacuum sealer</a> allows you to buy items in bulk and not have any of them spoil. Think beyond meat, poultry, and seafood. How many times have you bought a two-pound basket of strawberries at low prices during the summer, only for over half of it to spoil? With a vacuum sealer, you can seal half and freeze it for later use. Zero waste.</p> <h2>18. Blender</h2> <p>Some people gotta have their daily Jamba Juice fix. With the cheapest smoothies starting at $4, this habit can cost you about $120 per month. Save money by making your own smoothies at home with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-blenders">blender</a>. With $20 or less you can get a blender. Not only you save money, but you can control the amount of sugar and extra calories that go into your drinks.</p> <h2>19. Electric Toothbrush</h2> <p>My wife has the most beautiful smile. Every time that she goes to the dentist, she passes the checkup with flying colors. Her secret is that since she turned 29, she followed the advice from her dentist to switch to an electric toothbrush. Ever since that switch, she has been able to minimize the amount of additional necessary dental work during her visits, which lowers our medical bills. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-electric-toothbrushes?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Electric Toothbrushes</a>)</p> <h2>20. Twitter Account</h2> <p>Another non-item item,Twitter is not only for catching up your friends and the latest news. It can be a major tool for savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-easy-ways-to-save-money-with-twitter?ref=seealso">3 Easy Ways to Save With Twitter</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Several retailers release Twitter-specific flash deals, giveaways, and coupon codes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Customer service reps are under pressure to give outstanding service in this public format.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Some companies, such as <a href="https://sync.americanexpress.com/twitter/Index">American Express</a>, are willing to sync your Twitter account to its online platform for perks and special services.</li> </ul> <h2>21. Square or Paypal Here</h2> <p>How many times have you tried to collect from a friend who owes you money and she gets away because she doesn't have cash on her? Fix this problem by using your smartphone as a credit card processing machine with the <a href="http://www.squareup.com">Square</a> or <a href="https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader">Paypal Here</a> apps. Both companies ship you a credit card reader for free &mdash; nothing else is needed. Square and Paypal do take around a 2.7% cut but a payment in hand is better than an IOU.</p> <h2>22. Whatsapp</h2> <p>If you have friends and relatives abroad, sending text messages is very convenient but gets expensive quite fast. Even if you sign up for an international SMS plan through your cell carrier, you're looking at about $0.25 per SMS, depending on carrier and country.</p> <p>The reason why Whatsapp is superior than other international messaging apps is that the app is designed for <a href="http://www.whatsapp.com">virtually every smartphone</a>. Even though my Mom uses a Blackberry and lives in Ecuador, my sister uses a Nokia and lives in Germany, my wife uses an iPhone, and I use an Galaxy S3, we are all able to text with each other from our own phones. I used to spend over $50 in international SMS and now I spend zero. That's four of us not spending a dime while keeping in touch across the world.</p> <h2>23. Crockpot</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;keywords=crock%20pot&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1403798343&amp;rh=i%3Agarden%2Ck%3Acrock%20pot&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=E6BM4RAVRGYW54H4">crockpot</a> is a lifesaver for busy people. You know that eating at home is cheaper, but often there is just no time to prepare a meal. With a crockpot you just need to chop up your ingredients, throw some spices, and you are good to go. You can leave a crockpot running before leaving for work or overnight to have a meal ready for you when you come back from work or to take there for lunch. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes?ref=seealso">25 Cheap and Easy Crockpot Recipes</a>)</p> <p><em>What is your favorite money-saving item?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-money-saving-items-everyone-should-own" class="sharethis-link" title="23 Money-Saving Items Everyone Should Own" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping money savers purchases that save saving shopping value Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Damian Davila 1150189 at http://www.wisebread.com Laser vs. Inkjet: Choosing the Wrong Printer Could Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/laser-vs-inkjet-choosing-the-wrong-printer-could-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/laser-vs-inkjet-choosing-the-wrong-printer-could-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/printer-494236371-small.jpg" alt="printer" title="printer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Costing more than luxury perfumes and high-end alcohol, printer ink is probably the most expensive liquid per volume that you buy. Consumers deride the high cost of printer ink yet accept it as a necessary evil. It seems as though we have no other choice but to plunk down big bucks on cartridges that seem to evaporate overnight, right? However, you'll be happy to know that with a little bit of research and some basic math skills, you can substantially decrease your printing costs by choosing the right printer for your needs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-small-ways-to-save-big-on-ink?ref=seealso">11 Ways to Save Big on Ink</a>)</p> <p>First and foremost, there are two types of printers available to the average consumer &mdash; inkjet and laser. By recognizing and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each type, you will be able to determine which printer will best suit you. Traditionally, inkjet printers have dominated the home printer market, while laser machines were associated with offices and businesses. The differences between the two are complex, however for the layperson they can be summarised in a few key points.</p> <h2>Functionality</h2> <p>Inkjets take the lead in versatility, as they are often &quot;multi-function&quot; machines that can copy, scan, and fax in addition to delivering quality color printing. Many inkjet printers on the market today have the entire kitchen sink thrown in them, offering wireless networking, document feeders, automatic double-sided printing, and mobile printing capabilities with <a href="http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4356">Apple AirPrint</a> and <a href="http://www.google.com/cloudprint/learn/printers.html#setup-hp%23setup-kodak%23setup-epson">Google Cloud</a> compatibility. In addition, inkjet printers are more likely to be compatible with various types of media including iron-on transfers, adhesive labels, and thicker paper.</p> <p>While laser printers are also available with a wide variety of features, inkjet machines are offered at a cheaper, more attractive price than comparable laser printers. However the initial high cost of lasers is usually offset by a cheaper running costs, detailed later in this article.</p> <h2>Color</h2> <p>Inkjet color printing is superior because of the viscous liquid ink used in image production. Not only are the colors more vibrant, but the Dots Per Inch (DPI) or resolution is much higher when compared to a laser printer. Because of this, inkjets are able to produce images with superior color blending. One caveat is that black text can be fuzzy due to the ink &quot;bleeding&quot; into the paper.</p> <p>Laser printers are known for crisp, perfect text production, which is why they are normally associated with monochrome (black &amp; white) printing. However, laser printers can be found with color printing capabilities. While satisfactory for text and basic graphics, laser color printing is grainy due to a lower DPI.</p> <h2>Running Costs</h2> <p>Since printers themselves are relatively affordable, the true cost of home printing comes from the operating cost. On average, laser printers have a lower cost per page than inkjet printers. The consumables in laser printers, called toners, have a much higher page yield than inkjet cartridges. These high yield toners, coupled with the lower DPI of laser printers, often equates to lower operating costs. Because of their efficiency, printer manufacturers know they will generate less profit from their consumables, and as a result the price of laser machines often increases significantly based on their available features.</p> <p>This doesn't mean that all inkjet printers are inefficient, in fact many &quot;office&quot; inkjet printers are quickly bridging the page yield gap, however they tend to be fewer and farther between. Unfortunately, the running cost of lasers and inkjets is not as cut and dry as it once was. This is why it is imperative to&hellip;</p> <h2>Do the Math</h2> <p>When shopping for a printer, most folks make the mistake of comparing the face value of ink cartridges, and many base their decisions on the perceived value of the ink. The old assumption that laser printers are cheaper to run than inkjets isn't always true, with some bargain basement lasers using toners that are just as expensive as the much maligned inkjets.</p> <p>With so many different printer models and cartridges it is nearly impossible to say what the &quot;average&quot; cost of printing with an inkjet or laser machine will be. Luckily, with some basic math skills you can get a pretty good estimate of the overall running cost of a machine. Not all printer cartridges have the same page yield, nor do they have the same price. In order to figure out the running cost of a printer one has to divide the cost of the cartridge by the estimated page yield. Most printer manufacturers like <a href="http://h10060.www1.hp.com/pageyield/us/en/PSD7200/index.html">HP</a> and <a href="http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/dlp/dynamicLanding.do?dlpId=n_1101_ink-yield-disclaimer&amp;ref=van_cartrdige-info_2012-04-001">Epson</a> make these estimates available to consumers, however many people who deride their choice in printer often <a href="http://www.computershopper.com/small-business-tech/printers/features/how-to-calculate-cost-per-page-and-save-money-printing">fail to do the math</a> that is necessary to determine the printing per page cost.</p> <p>While determining the cost per page of your printer will certainly give you a better idea of the ongoing expenses you will incur over the lifespan of your printer, it is still <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2183959,00.asp">oversimplifying the method of determining the true cost</a>.</p> <h2>Don't Rule Out Buying Both</h2> <p>So you've figured out what your printing needs entail and you've made a shortlist. You've consulted the estimated page yields of the consumables and you're still on the fence. Unfortunately it is a scenario that many people face, making everything even more frustrating than it already is. While it may not seem entirely practical, investing in both an inkjet and a laser printer might actually make the most sense.</p> <p>If you need to produce high quality photos but you also need to print high volumes of text, no one machine is going to cut it. In order to get the best of both worlds without compromise, you should consider making space on your desk for both machines.</p> <p>Otherwise, decide what your primary use will be, and choose based on that.</p> <p>Having a printer in the home can be both a blessing and curse. You don't have to choose between the convenience of printing at home versus the potential cost of ink. Instead, take the time to ask yourself what the printer will be used for. There are numerous <a href="http://www.cnet.com/au/topics/printers/buying-guide/">websites</a> and <a href="http://www.howtogeek.com/102092/buying-guide-printers/">guides</a> that can help you navigate the staggering number of printer models available. By weighing the pros and cons of both inkjet and laser printers and doing a little number crunching, you can determine the balance of features and running cost that makes financial sense to you.</p> <p><em>Have you purchased a printer for your home or business lately? How did you choose?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/laser-vs-inkjet-choosing-the-wrong-printer-could-cost-you" class="sharethis-link" title="Laser vs. Inkjet: Choosing the Wrong Printer Could Cost You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ryan-lynch">Ryan Lynch</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping computers home office inkjet laser printers Fri, 20 Jun 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1145229 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Add Luxury to Your Life Without Paying Luxury Prices http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-add-luxury-to-your-life-without-paying-luxury-prices <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-add-luxury-to-your-life-without-paying-luxury-prices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dinner-home-200420370-001.jpg" alt="eating at home" title="eating at home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="154" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Turn on the TV or flip through any popular magazine and you'll be assaulted with images of luxury: fast cars, sparkling jewelry, expensive clothes, and the independently wealthy people that enjoy them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-needless-9-insane-luxury-items-for-you-to-laugh-at?ref=seealso">9 Insane Luxury Items for You to Laugh At</a>)</p> <p>We can't help but want nice things, but luxury isn't found only in things. The most luxurious moments &mdash; like sleeping in on a rainy day, reading a good book while lounging in a hammock, or enjoying a delicious meal with someone you love &mdash; don't require a trust fund. Focusing on things that really matter to you, and spending less on things that don't, is the path to true luxury. For everything else, refer to the list below.</p> <h2>1. Eat Well at Home</h2> <p>If you're a fan of fine foods, dining out can cost a fortune. However, if you've got cooking skills (or are willing to cultivate them) many mouthwatering dishes can be recreated at home for a fraction of the price. Use the money you save to splurge on a good bottle of wine and some chocolate for dessert! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-exotic-meals-you-should-be-making?ref=seealso">10 Easy Exotic Meals You Should Be Making</a>)</p> <h2>2. Rent Your Fashion</h2> <p>Love big name designers but can't handle the price tag? Platforms like <a href="https://www.renttherunway.com/">Rent the Runway</a> and <a href="http://www.bagborroworsteal.com/">Bag, Borrow or Steal</a> make it easy to snag designer garments and accessories for a fraction of the retail price &mdash; and without the permanent commitment. Wear them for a while, then return and request something new.</p> <h2>3. Embrace &quot;New to You&quot; Furnishings</h2> <p>A well-appointed home doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Thrift stores and consignment stores often hide great pieces that just need dusting or a coat of paint to look completely new. You can also search mobile options like <a href="http://shop.chairish.com/">Chairish</a>, <a href="http://krrb.com/">Krrb</a> (pronounced &quot;Curb&quot;), and <a href="https://www.moveloot.com/">Move Loot</a> to score stylish-yet-used stuff from your neighbors.</p> <h2>4. Share Your Car</h2> <p>Owning a luxury automobile means living with a hefty monthly payment, but who says you need to own it? Most cars are only in use a couple of hours a day. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/car-sharing-why-own-when-you-can-just-share">Car sharing</a> platforms like <a href="http://www.zipcar.com/">Zipcar</a>, <a href="https://relayrides.com/">RelayRides</a>, and <a href="http://www.getaround.com/">Getaround</a> make it easy to only pay for a car when and if you need it &mdash; and these fleets include everything from SUVs to the newest hybrids.</p> <h2>5. Skip the Hotel</h2> <p>Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, a big chunk of your budget get gobbled up by the hotel bill. Unless you're smart enough to seek alternatives. Platforms like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed">Airbnb</a>, <a href="https://www.couchsurfing.org/">Couchsurfing</a>, <a href="http://www.tripping.com/">Tripping</a>, and <a href="http://www.lovehomeswap.com/">LoveHomeSwap</a> make it easy to find luxurious, unique accommodations in the most desirable cities around the world, all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional hotel. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-get-a-vacation-rental-instead-of-a-hotel?ref=seealso">When Should You Get a Vacation Rental Instead of a Hotel?</a>)</p> <h2>6. Be a Secret Shopper</h2> <p>Want access to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sign-up-for-half-price-flights-and-free-hotels">half-price flights, free hotels</a>, and cheap meals around the world? Sign up to be a secret shopper for big brands who want to test customer service without tipping off employees.</p> <h2>7. Get Crafty</h2> <p>If you want a home that looks like a million bucks without going into debt, think about crafting your own furnishings and decorative items. You'd be surprised how different things look after a fresh coat of paint, the addition of a few plants, and a funky DIY lamp or two. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-cheap-home-decorating-projects-that-look-amazing?ref=seealso">7 Cheap Home Decorating Projects That Look Amazing</a>)</p> <h2>8. Look for Marketing Events</h2> <p>Many businesses are willing to offer free food, booze, and swag just to get people in the door. Pay attention to grand openings, orientations, and customer appreciation events that are open to the public. Be sure to dress the part and be ready to ward off aggressive sales people.</p> <h2>9. Leverage Your Skills</h2> <p>I've used my skills as a freelance writer to land concert tickets, press passes to conferences, and awesome gadgets. Do you have a skill that could make you a desirable audience member? It never hurts to ask!</p> <h2>10. Go Local</h2> <p>Whether you're planning a staycation or headed to a new place halfway across the globe, one thing's for sure: The memorable experiences you crave won't be found in tourist traps or the hotel lobby. Use platforms like <a href="https://www.vayable.com/">Vayable</a>, <a href="http://www.eatwith.com/">EatWith</a>, and <a href="https://www.triip.me/">Triip</a> to find unique and affordable excursions hosted by locals who know and love the area.</p> <p><em>How do you enjoy life's luxuries without paying full boat? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-add-luxury-to-your-life-without-paying-luxury-prices" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways to Add Luxury to Your Life Without Paying Luxury Prices" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-buczynski">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle Shopping cheap luxury discount luxury luxury Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1145230 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-ways-to-save-50-every-month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-easy-ways-to-save-50-every-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/50-dollar-bill-115900576-small.jpg" alt="50 dollar bill" title="50 dollar bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What would you do with an extra $50 this month?</p> <p>That extra Grant could go towards bumping up a credit card payment or contributing to next month's electricity bill. Or maybe a nice night out with your partner. The list of possibilities is endless. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-save-5-this-week?ref=seealso">25 Ways to Save $5 This Week</a>)</p> <p>Stop daydreaming and make that extra $50 a reality this month with these 9 tips.</p> <h2>1. Harry's or Dollar Shave Club</h2> <p>Shaving is a necessity for most men. As blades evolve and newer, better shaving technologies appear, the prices of shaving blade refills have skyrocketed. Unless you plan ahead you are very likely to end up paying around $20 for a 4-pack of blades at most retailers. That's a crazy $5 per blade!</p> <p>Fortunately, two new players have emerged in the shaving industry: Harry's and Dollar Shave Club. Taking a cue from Amazon.com and Columbia House (remember that CD mail club?), New York-based Harry's offers <a href="https://www.harrys.com/auto-refill">shaving plans</a> that deliver blades straight to your doorstep at $1.88 per blade. The Columbia House component comes in that you can select what type of blades get delivered. You save both money and time, which means no more paying crazy amounts for a pack of blades.</p> <p>If you want to pay even less than $1.88 per blade and are fine with less than 5-blade razors, then <a href="https://www.dollarshaveclub.com/our-blades">Dollar Shave Club</a> is also a good choice. Both companies also offer additional shaving toiletries that can be delivered over mail.</p> <h2>2. Ceiling Fan</h2> <p>Before you crank up that AC this summer, consider this:</p> <ul> <li>A central air conditioner unit uses about 3,500 watts per hour.</li> <li>The typical window AC unit uses between 600 to 900 watts per hour.</li> </ul> <p>This is why during the summer months, energy bills can skyrocket up to 50% more. The best tool to put a big dent on your electricity bill is to install ceiling fans, which even on the highest setting need only 75 watts per hour.</p> <p>Several retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, carry ceiling fans that are <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/manuf_res/ceilingannouncement.pdf">Energy Star rated</a>. Look for the Energy Star label and follow these <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=ceiling_fans.pr_ceiling_fans_usage">installation and usage tips</a> to maximize your energy savings. (Remember: Counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter!)</p> <h2>3. Programmable Thermostat</h2> <p>If you cannot live without your central AC unit, then don't fall for the myth that running your central <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5928931/the-five-biggest-myths-about-saving-energy-in-the-summer">AC all day uses less energy</a>. If you are away from home for long periods of time or have a bad memory, you need a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Home-Improvement-Programmable-Thermostats/zgbs/hi/2054378011/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=BU5QT4MGNZGSESQP">programmable thermostat</a>.</p> <p>Through the proper use of its preprogrammed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you close to <a href="https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac">$200 every year in energy costs</a>. Programmable thermostats start at $60 at home improvement stores and are a quick job to install.</p> <p>Don't forget about your window AC unit. If your unit doesn't come already with programmable features, you can buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Home-Improvement-Plug-Timers/zgbs/hi/6291363011/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=COWR22C3OTMW4PVI">plug-in timer</a> for about $5 and program its on and off times.</p> <h2>4. Coffee Maker</h2> <p>Your coffee habit is killing your wallet.</p> <p>Depending on where you buy your cuppa, you can expect to pay $1.40 to $1.80 for a medium sized jolt (12 ounces, or a Starbucks &quot;Tall&quot;). And that's just for regular old brewed. That's $7 to $9 a week, $28-$36 a month, not counting weekends.</p> <p>Starbucks says <a href="http://www.starbucksstore.com/Coffee-Preparation-FAQ/coffee-prep-faq,default,pg.html">a pound of coffee yields 320 ounces</a>, or about 25, 12 ounce cups. Starbucks' &quot;Kenya&quot; coffee beans go for $13.95 a pound, which works out to 56 cents a cup, or $11.20 for four week's worth, and a savings of $14.80 to $24.80 a month &mdash; more if you purchase cheaper beans.</p> <p>The answer is clear. Buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002EJF8TI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002EJF8TI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NDAMYWIME3JFJMM7">cheap coffee maker</a>, a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0032Z7UJE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0032Z7UJE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=B6VA3OTBSQ6OHWHR">reusable travel mug</a>, and a pound of coffee. After the initial outlay, you'll be in the black in no time.</p> <h2>5. Cash Back and Rewards Programs</h2> <p>Nowadays, many credit card companies offer cash back programs that give you up to 2% back on qualifying purchases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=seealso">5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>Additionally, many cards offer additional &quot;points&quot; or rewards for spending in particular categories. Maximize the amount you get back by choosing the best cards for your lifestyle.</p> <p>Your favorite stores might have similar rewards programs, too. For example, by joining the <a href="http://www.safeway.com/ShopStores/Reward-Points-Fuel-Partner-Chevron-FAQ.page">Safeway Reward Points</a> program, you can gain points to save up to $1 per gallon of gas at participating gas stations. This program is a major perk for places that have high gas prices, such as California, New York, and Hawaii.</p> <h2>6. Reusable Water Bottle</h2> <p>Those plastic bottle waters are not only harmful to the planet, but also to your wallet. If you buy a $6 case of bottled water a week, then you are spending $312 a year. This amount doesn't include applicable redemption fees and taxes. If you have a large family your water bottle expense ends up being much more.</p> <p>Instead invest a good reusable water bottle and fill up on water at home and at the office's water cooler. You'll keep extra money in the bank and socialize more often at work.</p> <h2>7. Energy Star-Rated Refrigerator</h2> <p>When my wife and I first bought our apartment, we didn't have enough to upgrade the old refrigerator from the previous owner. This was a refrigerator from the early 1980s. We didn't think it would be a big deal and started saving for our kitchen renovation for several months.</p> <p>With the renovation, we opted for an Energy Star-rated refrigerator. The change in our electricity bill was dramatic: between $40 to $50 per month! If you own a very old refrigerator, the investment in an Energy Star-rated one pays for itself in a few months. For us it was even faster than expected because of the <a href="http://www.hawaiienergy.com/appliances">$125 rebate for trading</a> our old refrigerator for a new Energy Star one in the State of Hawaii.</p> <p>Remember to search online for rebates for switching to Energy Star appliances in your state and learn what are the requirements.</p> <h2>8. Discounted Gym Plan Memberships and Fitness Reimbursement Programs</h2> <p>For a one time fee of $100, Kaiser Permanente's <a href="http://www.activeandfit.com">Active &amp; Fit</a> fitness facility program provides members unlimited access to several participating fitness facilities as long as they maintain their health care coverage with Kaiser Permanente.</p> <p>For example, a 24 Hour Fitness monthly membership for a single location costs about $39.99 before taxes, more if you want to access additional locations. With Active &amp; Fit, you can access <em>all</em>24 Hour Fitness locations for $100 per year.</p> <p>Other health insurance carriers, such as <a href="http://www.capitalhealth.com/Members/Live-Healthy/Health-Fitness/Health-Fitness-Reimbursement">Capital Health</a>, <a href="http://www.optum.com/employers/health-management/wellness/physical-activity.html">Optum</a>, <a href="http://uhctogether.com/uhcwellness/16181.html">United Healthcare</a> or <a href="https://www.harvardpilgrim.org/portal/page?_pageid=213,217714&amp;_dad=portal&amp;_schema=PORTAL">Harvard Pilgrim</a>, offer fitness reimbursement programs. The reimbursements are usually up to $150 per year and require you to hold your gym membership for a minimum of a few consecutive months.</p> <h2>9. Warehouse Memberships</h2> <p>If you are hesitant to pay for a warehouse membership, think again. You can make back that fee in no time and continue to save throughout the whole year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-you-could-buy-at-costco">10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco</a>)</p> <p>At Costco you can buy almost anything from tires to funeral supplies. Additionally, you can also save on a common budget buster: dining and entertainment. Get dining gift cards like <a href="http://www.costco.com/Buca-di-Beppo&reg;-Two-%2450-Gift-Cards.product.100108132.html">$100 worth of Buca di Beppo gift cards</a> for $74.99 or discounted movie tickets.</p> <p>Think of your warehouse membership as the key to access a world of high end and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-buy-at-costco">everyday items</a> at much lower prices.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite ways to save? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-ways-to-save-50-every-month" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting Shopping cost cutting expenses saving Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1145792 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/investment-plan-dv1693007-small.jpg" alt="investment plan" title="investment plan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="160" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A penny saved is a penny that can be earning investment returns in a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-steps-to-getting-started-in-the-stock-market-with-index-funds">well-diversified investment portfolio</a>. At least, that's what I think one of the late, great founders of our nation once said.</p> <p>It's hard to find ways to put money aside, but here are a few creative options that are often overlooked. Check out the strategies below, and you could have $26,000 (or more!) stashed away in just five years.</p> <h2>Shop Homeowner and Auto Policies</h2> <p>It's easy to become complacent about recurring-but-necessary bills like home and auto insurance policies. &quot;Most people sign up with a carrier and stay with them for 10 to 20 years,&quot; says Patricia Nelson, founder of the community outreach program Wise Women Workshop. &quot;Today though, there are no savings for loyalty. When a client switches carriers I see them save, on average, $600 to $800 per year.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: Up to $800</p> <h2>Negotiate With Cell Phone and Utility Carriers</h2> <p>It's a little known fact that <a href="http://bgr.com/2014/01/29/att-bill-discount-how-to-guide-shrink-bill/">cell phone rates are negotiable</a>, but even less known is that you can also haggle with your utility providers. &quot;Most of these companies will figure out a way to knock $20, $30, $40 per month off of your bill because they want to keep your business,&quot; says Nelson. &quot;But, they're not going to call you and tell you ways to save money on your existing services with them.&quot; If you have success with just one utility bill and your cell phone provider, you could cut about $60 off your monthly expenses.</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: $720 or more</p> <h2>Forego Cable TV</h2> <p>Most people think that the only way to get network TV stations at home is to pay for at least a basic cable TV package. That's just not true. Similar to the analog days, you can put a digital antenna on your roof and watch network TV for free (it's 100% legit and the shows come through in HD quality). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-everyone-can-cut-cable-and-still-watch-what-they-love-even-sportsfans?ref=seealso">How Everyone Can Cut Cable and Still Watch What They Love</a>)</p> <p>Expanded cable TV packages average between $60 and $75 per month, and <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/document/report-average-rates-cable-programming-service-and-equipment-1">costs are on the rise</a>. If you can't make it without your shows, there are plenty of cheaper options like Netflix or Hulu Plus, and you can play them on your TV thanks to all of the streaming boxes now available. In my house we gave up cable TV 10 years ago (except for the occasional, infrequently used introductory package after moving), and I was surprised to find I barely missed it. (Cable Internet, though? Like bread or water. Must have.)</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: Up to $900</p> <h2>Shop Around for Prescription Drugs</h2> <p>Surprising but true, the cost of prescription drugs are not fixed. &quot;You could be purchasing your medication at the wrong store,&quot; says Nelson, who adds that Walmart offers a list of over <a href="http://www.walmart.com/cp/4-Prescriptions/1078664">1100 drugs at $4 each</a> for a month's supply, substantially lower than most co-pays. &quot;If you're taking two medications and paying a $15 co-pay for each,&quot; she says, &quot;you could be saving $22 per month.&quot; No prescription plan required.</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: $264 (more or less, depending on your prescription needs)</p> <h2>Bank Your Annual Raise</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-lessons-from-millionaires">millionnaires next door</a>are notorious for maintaining a consistent lifestyle, despite rising incomes over the years. The average raise is expected to be 3% this year. If you make $50,000 now, that's a $1500 increase. Why not add that extra cash to your bank account instead of using it to trade up to a grander lifestyle? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-new-income-streams-anyone-can-create?ref=seealso">5 New Income Streams Anyone Can Create</a>)</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: $1500 on average</p> <h2>Brown Bag It</h2> <p>Bankrate.com estimates you can <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/bring-lunch-savings-calculator.aspx">save $70 per month</a> by packing your own lunch (more if you live in a high-cost area).</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: $840 (or more)</p> <h2>Cook Dinner at Home One Extra Night a Month</h2> <p>A recent study estimated the <a href="http://retailfeedback.com/component/k2/item/6-home-cooked-meals.html">cost of a home cooked meal</a> (per person) is $5.93 on average, compared to an average $12.28 to eat out. Skip family pizza night just <em>once</em> per month for your family of four, and the savings add up.</p> <p><strong>Annual Savings</strong>: $304.80</p> <h2>(BIG) BONUS: Ditch the Car</h2> <p>According to AAA, the <a href="http://newsroom.aaa.com/2014/05/owning-and-operating-your-vehicle-just-got-a-little-cheaper-aaas-2014-your-driving-costs-study/%20">average annual cost of owning a car</a> is $8,876 per year. If you live in a walkable area or in a city with a good transportation system, you could forego the cost. Of course, not everyone lives in a walkable area or can get by without their own transportation, so this is a bonus option.</p> <p>Add up the savings (minus the car) to see how quickly a few small changes can add up.</p> <p><img width="605" height="360" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Alaina%20T%20Saving%20Chart.jpg?ggnoads" /></p> <p>Over five years, all that savings adds up to $26,644 ($71,024 if you're lucky enough to not need a car!). The results could get even better if you invest the money in a well-diversified investment portfolio.</p> <ul> <li>At a 3% average annual return over five years: $29,140.06.</li> <li>At a 5% average annual return over five years: $30,917.23.</li> <li>At an 8% average annual return over five years: $33,762.90.</li> </ul> <p>(Please note that investment returns cannot be predicted, and you should talk to an investment professional before selecting your investment portfolio.)</p> <p>Of course, the key to this and any other cost cutting plan is to remember to <em>bank the savings</em> you find. Otherwise, you're just shuffling money from one spending category to another, and not actually saving and getting ahead.</p> <p><em>What is the most effective way you've found to cut costs and boost wealth? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Investment bargains discounts investing saving savings shopping Mon, 16 Jun 2014 09:00:04 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1142780 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Have an Above-Average Life for Below-Average Prices http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-an-above-average-life-for-below-average-prices <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-have-an-above-average-life-for-below-average-prices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/wine-shopping-87333040-small.jpg" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average person is stuck paying the average price for everything. But you're not an average person. You're a unique person. Your choices can boost you above average.</p> <p>A while back, I happened across a chart of &quot;average apartment prices&quot; for different cities, and I was surprised to find that I was living in an apartment that cost quite a bit less than average (and it was a great apartment). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/studio-apartment-living-a-5-point-survival-guide?ref=seealso">Studio Living: A 5-Point Survival Guide</a>)</p> <p>It wasn't a matter of great bargaining either &mdash; I have no particular skill at bargaining at all. My wife and I found our great apartment by investing some time and effort. The main things we did were:</p> <ol> <li>Think about what we wanted in an apartment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Research how those features &mdash; and the features we <em>didn't</em> care about &mdash; affected the price of an apartment. Because everything affects the price of an apartment &mdash; size, floor plan, whether it allows cats, is on a bus line, has washer/dryer hookups, covered parking, a balcony, and so on.</li> </ol> <p>Once we had some data, we were able to pick an apartment that lacked some features that we didn't care about, but that other people are willing to pay more for. Since our apartment didn't have those features, it was a &quot;below average&quot; apartment that rented for a below average price &mdash; even though it had all the features <em>we</em> really cared about.</p> <p>This strategy doesn't work for everything. It only works for things that are unique. Things that are all the same &mdash; a gallon of fuel, a pound of sugar, a month of basic cable &mdash; are going to cost whatever they cost. Things that are unique &mdash; a house on the beach, a used car, a painting by a local artist &mdash; are going to have wildly different prices.</p> <p>You can take advantage of this fact to get a much better standard of living than the average, because while the average person has to pay the average cost for an average item, all that matters to you is the price of the <em>cheapest one you really like</em>.</p> <p>Here are two strategies to focus on.</p> <h2>Emphasize Unique Items</h2> <p>The more of your budget that goes for ordinary mass-market items just like everybody else, the more of your budget you're going to be spending on average (and averaged-priced) goods.</p> <p>Where the mass-market item is cheap, this is okay &mdash; you're not getting an above-average standard of living, but at least you're getting low costs.</p> <p>But the more of your budget where you can satisfy your needs with unique choices that are <em>better</em> than the mass-market choices, the more opportunity you have to live at an above-average standard of living for a below-average cost.</p> <h2>Emphasize Long-Lived and Expensive Items</h2> <p>The extra time and effort involved in finding the above-average choices really pays off when you find something that you can use for a long time.</p> <p>Anything that you can buy once and keep for years is a great candidate for the extra effort of finding one that's above average.</p> <p>Our apartment, that I used as an example above, was a great deal the very first year. But the real win for us has been that it continued to be an above-average apartment at a below-average cost year after year. The effort we put into finding it really paid off.</p> <p>Other things don't justify the effort. Of course, sometimes you'll find an above-average item at a below-average price without a lot of extra effort. We once found some locally grown organic stone-ground whole wheat flour for about <em>half</em> of what ordinary flour cost. We bought all we could carry, and we really enjoyed the bread we baked with it &mdash; but it only raised our standard of living for a few weeks.</p> <p>Of course, making your things last is great even if you didn't get an above-average deal on them.</p> <p>So, get strategic. Look at the things you buy and identify the ones that are unique. From within that list, start with the items that you're going to keep for a long time, and the high-dollar items. That's where the extra investment is going to have the most impact on both your standard of living and your cost of living.</p> <p><em>How have you made strategic purchases to boost your standard of living without boosting your costs? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-an-above-average-life-for-below-average-prices" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Have an Above-Average Life for Below-Average Prices" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle budgets spending standard of living strategic spending Fri, 30 May 2014 08:24:25 +0000 Philip Brewer 1141050 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 of the Best Free Things to Do Abroad http://www.wisebread.com/14-of-the-best-free-things-to-do-abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-of-the-best-free-things-to-do-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel-154076695.jpg" alt="tourist" title="tourist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacationing abroad is going to put a dent in your wallet. Sure, you can search through<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-resources"> money-saving travel websites</a>, book with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">insane travel rewards programs</a>, and even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-secrets-to-eating-great-food-for-cheap-while-traveling">eat cheap while you're abroad</a>, but it's still all but unavoidable: at some point, you're going to have to fork over some cash.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-venture-rewards?ref=1140149">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <p>Which is why finding just one amazing free activity in a foreign city can be so liberating. Beyond the activity itself, a fun freebie can go a long way to putting your mind at rest that you're not over-spending.</p> <p>So if you're thinking about a trip sometime soon, or just want to be reminded that you can take one without splurging on <em>everything</em>, check out this list highlighting 14 of the Best Free Things to do Abroad.</p> <h2>1. Hong Kong's Symphony of Lights Show</h2> <p><img width="605" height="268" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/hongkong_0.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>The Guinness Book of World Records calls it &quot;<a href="http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/highlight-attractions/harbour-view/a-symphony-of-lights.jsp">the world's largest permanent light and sound show</a>.&quot; You'll call it &quot;free&quot;. Enjoy the show that involves over 40 buildings along the impressive Victoria Harbour, and synchronizes laser beams, spotlights, and music.</p> <h2>2. Amsterdam's Buiksloterweg Ferry</h2> <p><img width="605" height="341" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/amsterdam.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Americans often think of ferries as ways to commute, not beautiful scenic tour-boats. And very rarely to they think of them as free. But so it is with the <a href="http://www.amsterdamcityblog.com/tag/buiksloterweg/">ferries that leave just behind Amsterdam's Central Station</a> and take you to all sorts of different downtown neighborhoods.</p> <h2>3. Raffles Hotel, Singapore</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/singapore.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>&quot;<a href="http://www.raffles.com">The grand of dame of Singapore</a>&quot; feels like it should cost you and arm and a leg just to walk through the colonial majesty of its grounds&hellip; but it doesn't. Just don't even <em>think</em> of staying the night if you're on a budget.</p> <h2>4. Parisian Flicks at the Parc de la Villette</h2> <p><img width="605" height="341" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/paris.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Just outside the city, this <a href="http://goparis.about.com/od/parismovietheaters/a/cinemalavillette.htm">enormous outdoor movie theater</a> plays free movies (both classic and contemporary) every night during July and August.</p> <h2>5. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/tokyo.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>You're on an adventurous vacation in an exotic country looking for excitement. &quot;Metropolitan government office&quot; probably isn't the first attraction that pops into your head. But <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/tokyo/sights/architecture/tokyo-metropolitan-government-offices">Japan's towering Tokyo Tocho building</a> will change all that with its 45<sup>th</sup> floor (free!) observation deck providing views of the city and even Mt Fuji.</p> <h2>6. Riverdale Farm, Toronto</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/toronto.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Imagine what would happen if you plopped a <a href="https://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=a4f8dada600f0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD">7.5 acre farm</a> full of sheep, goats, and cows in the middle of Chicago or San Francisco? In Canada, they can get away with that sort of wackiness, most notably at this free farmland sanctuary tucked inside a bustling downtown neighborhood.</p> <h2>7. The Art of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/vatican.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Want to see works from some of history's best artists for free? Then don't go to an art museum, go to <a href="http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/vr_tour/index-en.html">this holiest of Catholic holy sites</a> filled the artwork of Raphael, Bramante, and Michelangelo.</p> <h2>8. Biking in Copenhagen</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/copenhagen.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Denmark may just be home to <a href="http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen-tourist">the world's most bikeable city</a>, and the Danes want your pedal power so badly, they'll let you ride for free with the Go Bike bikeshare. Just pop in a small coin deposit, and hours of parks, beaches, and 17<sup>th</sup> century neighborhoods later, lock the bike up and you'll get your money back.</p> <h2>9. Northern Lights in Oslo</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/oslo.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>It would be very, very difficult for the Norwegian government to charge you for looking up. So take full advantage by visiting in the winter, and more than likely <a href="http://www.visitnorway.com/en/what-to-do/attractions-culture/nature-attractions-in-norway/the-northern-lights/?gclid=CjkKEQjw-uubBRDs6rqExIXy7ZsBEiQACq4FqWQ9ENLCN43jrRZcihUARaM117kdY7vu4KqyNS6rwDnw_wcB">seeing the sky turn green</a> without having to spend any green.</p> <h2>10. The Kensington High Street Roof Gardens, London</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/londonken.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Until 2012 <a href="http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com">the largest rooftop garden</a> in Europe, this charmingly lush 1.5 acres are free and open to the public, but not visible from the street, so locate them by looking for the Virgin flag.</p> <h2>11. Sydney's Harbour Bridge</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/sydney.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Though walking <em>up</em> the bridge's catwalk can cost an arm and a leg (also what you'll lose if you fall&hellip;), walking across the bridge is free, and provides some amazing views of the city skyline and famed <a href="http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/homepage.aspx?gclid=CjkKEQjw-uubBRDs6rqExIXy7ZsBEiQACq4FqXMhk76TSfPE8T01_YFe6dVW3j2guZsv1EL3RGjUPS3w_wcB">Sydney Opera House</a>.</p> <h2>12. Lindt Chocolate Factory in Zurich</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/zurich.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Even Charlie's golden ticket cost the price of a candy bar. Not so at the home of <a href="http://www.lindtusa.com">the world's most famous (real) chocolate</a>, which offers free tours.</p> <h2>13. Santa Skiing in Quebec</h2> <p><img width="605" height="342" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/quebec.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p>Just because it's free doesn't mean you don't have to work for it. But if you're willing to dress up like Old Saint Nick, you can <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7f5pOnTmEE">hit the slopes at Le Massif in Charlevoix</a> at no charge.</p> <h2>14. The Tate Modern, London</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/londontate.jpg?ggnoads" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/things-to-do">T</a><a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/things-to-do">he most-visited art gallery in the world</a> is also&hellip; the free-est! Except for special exhibitions, there's no charge to visit London's famous museum.</p> <p><em>Done any equally amazing (or <strong>more </strong>amazing) free activities aboard? Then help grow this list by sharing in the comments below!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-of-the-best-free-things-to-do-abroad" class="sharethis-link" title="14 of the Best Free Things to Do Abroad" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Entertainment Travel budget travel free travel Wed, 28 May 2014 15:08:24 +0000 Joe Epstein 1140149 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-470351123.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My family is looking to move into a new house in the near future. With all the added rooms and exciting DIY projects on the horizon, I realize we'll also need to more carefully watch our utilities costs. More space equals more places to heat, plug in lamps, and otherwise use electricity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill?ref=seealso">4 Ways to Win the War With Your Electric Bill This Summer</a>)</p> <p>Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a sprawling McMansion, there are some smart, easy ways you can cut down on your electric bill. And many of these tips are things you can implement today to garner savings immediately. As always, if you have more tips to share, please leave them in the comments!</p> <h2>1. Open and Close</h2> <p>For some of us, switching on lights is more habit than necessity. So, in the daylight, avoid using lamps and other illuminating devices. Instead, open blinds to let the sun flood in. On the other hand, you can keep a home considerably cooler on hot days by closing curtains. I know this from personal experience! Before hitting high on your AC unit, you might want to try this trick.</p> <h2>2. Set the Bar</h2> <p>Have you looked at your water heater lately? Chances are your temperature might be set above the energy efficient suggestion of <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/does-turning-down-my-water-heater-really-make-a-difference.html">120 degrees</a> (or often marked &quot;warm&quot; or as a triangle on your heater's settings). If you need scalding hot water for tea or cooking, heat it on the stove.</p> <h2>3. Maintain It</h2> <p>Something as silly as a dirty furnace filter can cost you money when it comes to heating costs. The same goes with any other machine or component you must maintain. Plus, keeping your operations up-to-date is safer than neglecting them, and it may extend the life of the appliance &mdash; meaning even bigger savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso)">Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Unplug Yourself</h2> <p>This tip is twofold: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use &mdash; including battery chargers and power adapters &mdash; they still suck power from outlets and power strips even when off. Better yet, truly unplug by heading outdoors to read a book or to exercise. Totally free!</p> <h2>5. Negotiate</h2> <p>Take stock of your bills from the past year and see if you can strike a deal with your provider(s). You may also explore spreading out your costs so they are the same each month versus fluctuating seasonally to help make your budget more predictable. Don't be shy to shop around if there's more than one electric provider in your area.</p> <h2>6. Shift Your Day</h2> <p>While you're at it, ask your provider if there are &quot;off peak&quot; or &quot;time-of-use&quot; rates or times of the day when electricity costs less. You can choose to do your laundry, blow-dry your hair, cook a great meal, wash your dishes, or do any other task at the cheaper rate.</p> <h2>7. Slow the Flow</h2> <p>I think we all remember the &quot;<a href="http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheShowerhead.htm">Seinfeld&quot; episode</a> with the superintendent switches out the showerheads to low flow. If you're really into pinching pennies, swapping yours out can mean <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/mar/14/switchtolowflowshowerheads">less water to heat</a> over the course of your shower. Limiting yourself to a shorter shower, too, is another drop in the bucket.</p> <h2>8. Upgrade Your Thermostat</h2> <p>When we had to upgrade to a new furnace (ouch!), our contractor also updated us to a programmable thermostat. By setting designated temperatures for night and day, we have definitely saved money. Plus, now I don't have to remember to adjust the temperature every night before bed.</p> <h2>9. Survey Bulbs</h2> <p>By now I think most of us are familiar with compact fluorescent bulbs as a great alternative to conventional incandescents. But did you know there are other energy efficient options like LED? A little extra money up front can mean <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/light_bulbs">up to $40 to $135 per bulb</a> over a bulb's lifetime.</p> <h2>10. Put Your Laptop to Sleep</h2> <p>Enable your computer's energy savings features, they could save you upwards of <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-computer-use">$30 each year</a> on electricity costs per computer. Sounds like an insignificant amount, but it's still your money and a super simple fix.</p> <h2>11. Put a Damper on Things</h2> <p>If your home features a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when its not in use. Otherwise the outdoor air, whether hot or cold, will infiltrate your home and suck energy (to adjust your home's temperature) along with it.</p> <h2>12. Fan Yourself</h2> <p>No matter the time of year, ceiling fans can be useful for inexpensive temperature control. In the summer, run them on low to keep air flow up and air-conditioning costs down. In the winter, use the switch to reverse the blades to draw warm air down into a room from the ceiling.</p> <h2>13. Cook Smart (I)</h2> <p>Use the correct sized burners when heating up a tea kettle or dinner on the stove. For example, using a &quot;six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner can waste <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">more than 40%</a> of the heat produced.&quot;</p> <h2>14. Cook Smart (II)</h2> <p>While you're at it, resist the urge to check on baked goods by opening the door, which can drop the temperature by <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">up to 25 degrees</a>. If you need to use your appliance's self-cleaning option, try planning it after cooking a meal to use less energy heating to the highest temperatures.</p> <h2>15. Switch It Off</h2> <p>And one of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is to always remember to turn off lights or other electronic devices when you're leaving a room. It sounds ridiculously easy, but it can take some getting used to for the whole family. You may wish to place a reminder note at each switch as a first step in the right direction.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve energy and keep your electric bill in check? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Home conservation electric bill saving energy utilities Tue, 27 May 2014 08:12:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1140317 at http://www.wisebread.com New Study Says You Should Spend Less on Kids Sports. Here's How. http://www.wisebread.com/new-study-says-you-should-spend-less-on-kids-sports-heres-how <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-study-says-you-should-spend-less-on-kids-sports-heres-how" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kid-sports-4735861-small.jpg" alt="kid basketball" title="kid basketball" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Good news: spending less on your kid&rsquo;s sports will actually make him <i>better</i> at them.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s according to a Utah State University study <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303851804579558103723377142?mod=e2tw">just reported by the Wall Street Journal</a>, which contends the more you spend on your children&rsquo;s sports, the less they&rsquo;ll enjoy them, and the less successful they&rsquo;ll be at them.</p> <p>Researcher and former pro-football player Travis Dorsh explains, &ldquo;When parental sports spending goes up, it increases the likelihood either the child will feel pressure or that the parent will exert it.&rdquo; And other experts agree, with the Director of Michigan State University&rsquo;s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports concurring, &ldquo;the more parents do, the more they expect a return on their investment.&rdquo;</p> <p>So now that you&rsquo;ve got a guilt-free justification for trying to save on your kid&rsquo;s sports, how do you go about actually doing it?</p> <h2>&nbsp;1. Choose Wisely</h2> <p>Not all children&rsquo;s sports are created equal, and some are much more expensive than others &ndash; just check out <a href="http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/2013/06/17/high-cost-of-youth-sports-infographic/">this TurboTax infographic breakdown</a>. While the three most expensive youth sports are somewhat predictable (football, baseball, and hockey), the three least expensive might surprise you. Swimming and diving clocks in as the single cheapest despite pool rates, so&hellip; go ahead, toss your kid in the water!</p> <h2>2. Make Them Earn the Nice Equipment</h2> <p>Kids try new sports like adults test drive new cars: it can take a few different tries until they really settle into something. Which is fine, but it also means you shouldn&rsquo;t go out and splurge on the latest model football pads when your child may end up playing soccer after one set of downs as an offensive linemen. Try renting or looking for hand-me-downs first.</p> <h2>3. Make Them Earn the Nice Leagues&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</h2> <p>&hellip;ditto for league memberships. Start them off in an inexpensive rec league, and make sure this is really their sport before shelling out money for select teams, traveling teams, etc.</p> <h2>4. Get Involved</h2> <p>Parent participation in a league means they&rsquo;ll often waive fees (or even pay you). So if you know a sport well, try reffing and coaching. And if you don&rsquo;t&hellip; try reffing or coaching little kids! Creating drills for five-year old soccer plays is somewhat less technical than creating them for the under-18 squad.</p> <h2>5. Carpool</h2> <p>Youth sports have costs beyond the purely monetary. Namely, a hell of a lot of schlepping. So make some friends on the sidelines and organize a carpool.</p> <h2>6. Just say &ldquo;no&rdquo; to team photos</h2> <p>Take pictures of your kids playing sports, just don&rsquo;t <i>pay</i> for pictures of your kids playing sports. Official team photos can be cheesy, and your little athlete would probably prefer an action shot anyway. Besides, what else is there really to do on the sidelines anyway?</p> <h2>7. Seek Out Sponsorships or Scholarships</h2> <p>Ok, so <i>you</i> paying more can have an adverse effect on your kid&rsquo;s sports career, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean <i>someone else</i> paying more will. If your child really is that good, consider putting her up for a sports scholarship, whether through a local program or a national organization like the <a href="http://familyfitness.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&amp;zTi=1&amp;sdn=familyfitness&amp;cdn=health&amp;tm=6301&amp;f=10&amp;su=p284.13.342.ip_&amp;tt=3&amp;bt=1&amp;bts=1&amp;zu=http%3A//www.womenssportsfoundation.org/sitecore/content/home/programs/travel-and-training-fund.aspx%23/Programs/Travel%20and%20Training">Women&rsquo;s Sports Foundation</a>.</p> <p><em>What's the most you've ever spent on your children's sports?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-study-says-you-should-spend-less-on-kids-sports-heres-how" class="sharethis-link" title="New Study Says You Should Spend Less on Kids Sports. Here&#039;s How." rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Family saving youth sports Wed, 21 May 2014 14:24:34 +0000 Joe Epstein 1139535 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Freedoms You Gain by Spending Less http://www.wisebread.com/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-86516249.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Spending less often feels like a chore, but it's actually one of the most freeing tasks we can set our minds to. Learning how to save money through frugal living and smart shopping makes many things easier and can get you that much closer to your long-term life goals. Keep reading to find out how. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-100-or-more-a-month?ref=seealso">Ways to Save $100 or More a Month</a>)</p> <h2>1. You'll Be Free to Enjoy a Reduced-Stress Retirement</h2> <p>It's never too early to think about the future. Saving for retirement is a challenge for many, regardless of age. Spending less can reduce some stress about how you'll live on a fixed income. Use <a href="http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/spending_less_calculator/">this AARP calculator</a> to see just how much your budget reductions may be worth, if you were to invest them. (That's a key thing to remember: always bank your savings!)</p> <h2>2. You'll Be Free to Do What You Love</h2> <p>Too many people are trapped in jobs they hate because they need the salary to survive. When spending is under control, you're free to take a job that inspired your passion, even if the paycheck is less-than-competitive. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-first-step-to-finding-your-dream-job?ref=seealso">The First Step to Finding Your Dream Job</a>)</p> <h2>3. You Can Enjoy Tax-Free Earnings (Sorta)</h2> <p>It's far easier to spend less than make more. And when you increase your disposable income this way, it pays off on tax day. &quot;The money you save from <a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-advantages-of-spending-less/">cutting spending</a> isn't taxed &mdash; more income is taxed. Every time you take a frugal step, your savings is after taxes &mdash; meanwhile, any increases in earnings that you accrue are still yet to be taxed.&quot;</p> <h2>4. You'll Be Free to Prepare for Emergencies</h2> <p>Ask most people what they're afraid of, and they'll say the unknown. The future is full of potential, for both success and disaster. Somehow those disasters have a way of hitting us in the wallet &mdash; hard. Spending less means you're ready for an unexpected expense whenever it pops up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">Figuring the Size of Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>5. You'll Have Less Clutter</h2> <p>Until it's time to move or do some spring cleaning, we rarely realize how much clutter has collected around us. This clutter drags us down, making it difficult to be comfortable and productive. When we spend less, we free up valuable space in our spaces, minds, and bank accounts.</p> <h2>6. You'll Be Free of Debt</h2> <p>A big chunk of unnecessary spending is made possible by credit cards. While perfect for instant gratification junkies, that temporary happy feeling comes at a high cost. Spending less with credit cards means paying less interest, which in turn puts more money in your pocket. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-commandments-of-credit-card-use?ref=seealso">The 10 Commandments of Credit Card Use</a>)</p> <h2>7. You'll Be Free to See the World</h2> <p>Is the wanderlust strong in you? Do you long visit new places and experience new cultures? Spending less is an easy way to boost your travel budget, so you can stop saying &quot;someday&quot; and book your flight sooner rather than never.</p> <h2>8. You'll Be Free to Enjoy Happier Relationships</h2> <p>Look up any list of common <a href="http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/7-relationship-problems-how-solve-them?page=2">relationship problems</a> and you'll see &quot;money&quot; up near the top. Money (or usually a lack of it) stresses us out and creates conflict with those we love. Spending less frees us up to enjoy time with our loved ones without worrying about our finances.</p> <h2>9. You'll Be Free to Champion a Cause</h2> <p>We all have things we're passionate about, from saving the planet to finding stray animals a new home. When you create financial stability by spending less, it frees you up to donate time and resources to the causes you love.</p> <h2>10. You'll Be Free to Expand Your Skillset</h2> <p>When we commit to spending less, it compels us to get creative. Maybe you'll need to repair that coffee maker instead of buying a new one. Or maybe you'll DIY that lamp with materials from the thrift store instead of rushing out to Target. Being frugal means reduce, reuse, recycle, and reawakening DIY skills you didn't know you had.</p> <h2>11. You'll Be Free of Eco-Guilt</h2> <p>If you're worried about protecting the environment, spending less is an easy way to reign in consumption of natural resources, as well as the creation of waste. When you're focused on the essentials, your carbon footprint shrinks automatically. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-be-nicer-to-the-environment-and-your-wallet?ref=seealso">10 Easy Ways to Be Nicer to the Environment and Your Wallet</a>)</p> <p><em>What freedoms have you gained by spending less? Feel free to share them in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Freedoms You Gain by Spending Less" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-buczynski">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting less spending spending spending and freedom Fri, 09 May 2014 09:00:24 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1138263 at http://www.wisebread.com