Posts Tagged ‘Budgeting’
In today’s economy, moms are always looking to save money any way they can. Saving money on gas is no exception. Often almost as much money is spent on gas in one month as is spent on groceries to feed a family. Here are some ways to help trim your gas budget so that you can put that money to good use elsewhere.
Gas Price Comparison Apps
If you have an iPhone or other smart phone, there are many free apps you can download that allow you to compare gas prices.
Apps such as GasBuddy list current gas prices for most of the gas stations where you live, which as you know, can change almost daily. It even allows you to update the app with current gas prices if you find a price that has not yet been listed.
Tools like this help make sure you are always paying the lowest gas prices. It is also very useful on road trips. You can list gas stations by state or zip code and still find the best gas deals while you are traveling.
Many grocery stores now offer gas rewards. For instance at Albertsons, you earn 5 cents off per gallon for every $50 in qualifying purchases using your Albertson’s Preferred Card. Many other stores offer similar savings.
If the grocery store where you shop at offers a similar savings program, then make sure you take advantage of the extra savings. All these savings add up.
Credit Card Rewards
There are also many credit cards that give you cash back for your gas and grocery shopping purchases.
While it is not normally a good idea to use credit cards, if you use them just for the purpose of getting the rewards and pay them off every month, then they are actually paying YOU to use the cards. You can’t beat that.
A lot of moms often let vehicle maintenance fall by the wayside, but keeping your vehicle properly maintained will actually get you better gas mileage in the long run.
Sticking to a regular maintenance routine is key. Get your oil changed regularly, have the air filter looked at and replaced if necessary, and make sure you always maintain correct air pressure in your tires. All these things add up and keep your vehicle running properly.
Did you know that running your vehicle’s air conditioner all the time significantly lowers your gas mileage? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the air conditioner, but rolling down the window once in awhile instead will help save on the gas bill.
Using cruise control when possible also helps improve your gas mileage. So does limiting the amount of weight you carry around in the back of your car (don’t use the trunk of your car as a storage area).
There are many things you can do to help save money on gas, and these are just a few ideas. A penny here and a penny there really adds up, so try just one idea or two so that you, too, can save on your gas bill.
Copyright 2013, Christian-Parent.com
by Jason Benton
Technology has revolutionized the way people communicate, access information and work. And after how far technology has taken us, the next logical question is how it will shape the world of the future. But given the choice, most people would rather forgo the lofty pontificating and find out how technology can get them discounts on stuff. That’s where mobile apps come in.
For years, Apple had the market cornered with mobile apps, and indeed their flagship provider – the App Store – doesn’t show any sign of waning in popularity. But Android is catching up on the mobile app front, and users of these devices have their pick from an extensive library that features apps in all genres – including coupons and savings.
Here are just a few coupon app options that are available for either the iPhone or Android – many for both! And the best part is they are all free.
RetailMeNot – free, iOS/Android
This is one of the most popular options on the list for the simple reason that RetailMeNot offers thousands of discounts from a variety of online and brick-and-mortar retailers. The app is location-based, so users can get real-time alerts on deals when browsing their favorite shops at the mall. The simple drag-and-drop interface also makes it easy for users to redeem their mobile coupons.
SnipSnap – free, iOS
The days of clipping mass amounts of coupons may be long gone, but there are still deals to be found in that antiquated information vessel of yesteryear known as print media. Those who do happen to come across a sweet deal in paper form needn’t panic because SnipSnaprescue! All that’s required of the users is to use their smartphone’s camera to snap a photo of a coupon barcode and the app stores the information for future use.
EZ Coupon – free, Android
There’s no reason for Android users to feel left out of the coupon-scanning scene. With EZ Coupon, users can scan a variety of formats straight to their handheld device.
ShopSavvy – free, iOS/Android
Great for comparison shopping, iOS aggregates price information from a variety of sources. All the user needs to do is scan any item’s barcode using the app’s built-in scanner and the price info from various online and brick-and-mortar retailers is then displayed front and center. Users can even purchase the lowest-priced item right from the app, as long as it is on offer from an associated retailer like Best Buy or Walmart.
ShopKick – free iOS/Android
This is another location-based mobile app that offers consumer rewards in the form of “kicks” that the user receives merely by walking into his or her favorite retail store, as long as the store in question is in ShopKick’s network. But this an extensive network that includes retailers such heavyweights as Target, Starbucks and Macy’s. Once the user accumulates enough of these kicks, he or she can then redeem them for gift cards at the same store or another one in the network.
CouponCabin – free, iOS/Android
This is sort of the Swiss Army knife of mobile coupon apps. CouponCabin does it all, from searching daily deals across the Internet to keeping track of discount and rewards cards. Users can also browse their favorite stores and brands, look for grocery coupons, compare gas prices, find in-store offers and share all of the above info with friends.
The above list of coupon-app options should provide iPhone and Android users with all the discounts they could ever want and more. On a final note, shopaholics should pay close attention to the location-based technology used in many of these options, as it stands to be the prime driver of consumerism in the near future and will shape the culture of retail savings and discounts.
I am always looking for ways to save money on health care. As if health insurance premiums aren’t high enough, there are high deductibles that never seem to get met. My challenge this year is a $200 cap on preventive health care, and I have an infant who needs his immunizations. Every time I take him to the doctor, I receive a bill that is anywhere between $200 and $500. Unbelievable. It’s not so bad when your insurance pays for it, but when they don’t, what can you do?
Low income families are very familiar with their local health department. Many people who do not have health insurance go to their health department for their children’s immunizations. Most people who have insurance coverage overlook this option. Anyone can go to the health department for immunizations. In fact I have been told the doctor’s office gets their immunization shots from the state health department. At the health department, the shots are a fraction of the cost that they are at a doctor’s office. At the doctor’s office a lot of what you are paying for is the office visit.
Last week I took my son to the health department for his last infant immunization. The cost? $26! He received the exact same shot he would have received at his doctor’s office. Of course his pediatrician would be mortified that he missed his 15-month-old check up, but I really think doctors these days are a little excessive in how many times they want to weigh and measure a perfectly healthy child. Just my opinion!
A couple of nights ago we had some relatives over for dinner and they mentioned that they give their 7-yr-old son an allowance of $7 a week. At first I was really surprised that he was paid so much to do household chores. Then they explained what the money was for.
Their son was allowed to spend $3 of his allowance any way he chose. The other $4 he was saving to buy a car. A car! You might think what in the world is a 7-yr-old doing saving for a car. His dad said that when he was a teenager his parents told him that when he was old enough to work he would have to go get a job and then save the money to buy a car. He was frustrated that he had to find a way to get to work so he could earn the money to buy his car!
He decided that he wanted his son to be able to buy an inexpensive car before he went out to find his first job. He also wants his son to pay for the car. If he starts saving $4 a week now, he will have almost $2000 to buy a car when he is 15 years old! It’s amazing how saving so little can add up in time. It is a great lesson for kids to help them understand that if they really want something that they can save the money that they earned to buy it. Especially with cars, I think it is very important for them to contribute to the purchase of their car, the gas they use, and even their car insurance. We required our daughter to pay for her own gas and car insurance, and she really appreciated the work that went into making the money to pay for those things.
Of course it may not be a car you want your child to save for…that is just an idea. You may want your child to help save for college and/or give a tithe to your church. What your child does with his or her allowance is up to you and your child. Just don’t miss this opportunity to teach your child an important life lesson.
Consignment shopping can be fun as well as rewarding. I was first introduced to consignment shopping when I was pregnant with my daughter, about 12 years ago. The trend of buying second-hand items was just beginning. I started shopping at a store that consigns women’s and children’s clothes, toys, and baby furniture. At first I just bought some baby clothes there and marveled at how inexpensive they were (1/3 or less of retail prices). As my daughter got older I didn’t have any little girls to give her clothes to, so I started consigning her clothes. The consignment store decided how much the clothes should sell for, and after the clothes had sold, they gave me 30 to 50% of the purchase price. For just a few items that might only add up to a couple of dollars, but if you make a practice of taking in all of your children’s outgrown clothes, it can add up quickly. Where I shop, they will either give you the cash when the item sells, or they will hold your money “on account” so that when you buy something there in the future, your purchase is subtracted from your account.
After I had started consigning my daughter’s clothes and realizing the benefits I was receiving (when you both buy and sell items at consignment stores, you get the benefit of low prices, your children get the benefit of wearing the clothes until they quickly outgrow them, and then you get to re-sell them, making a profit that almost equals the value of buying the clothes in the first place!), I started going through my dressers and closet and realized how many clothes I had that I never wore. I was a little reluctant at first to get rid of so many clothes, but I took a deep breath, and consigned them. I ended up bringing home at least $50 for a couple of grocery bags full of clothes. I realized that I could use that money to buy new (used) clothes that I really would wear, and that no money would have left my pocket! That’s when the adventure really began. As time went on, I got braver and braver about simplifying my life and getting rid of all of the things I didn’t want or need anymore. Have you ever paid a lot of money for an outfit and then didn’t like it after all? Of course you have! Many times people are reluctant to part with clothes that they paid a lot for and never wear (maybe because it shrunk the first time you washed it). Consignment shopping takes all of the guilt away! The first step is to let go of the guilt and get rid of the clothes. When you start buying your clothes at consignment stores, that guilt is never there. If you decide you don’t like something you bought there, take it back and consign it. You didn’t pay much for it in the first place, and you can use the money you get from consigning it to buy something else.
At first I usually just kept the money and didn’t buy new clothes with my profits. I only shopped there occasionally and didn’t see much I was interested in. Then I started going more often and realized that there really were great clothes there, but they go in and out of the store so fast that you have to go often to find the best deals. I haven’t bought a brand new pair of jeans in years. I have, however, bought many brand-name pairs of jeans consignment shopping that would have cost anywhere between $30 and $50 new, and I paid about $8 a piece for them. Many look like they’ve never been worn.
I bought and sold my daughter’s clothes there from the start. She is now 11 years old and I have very rarely ever bought new clothes for her. My sister spent about $50 on a shirt and a pair of corduroy overalls for her last Christmas. A few weeks later we found a similar pair of overalls in another color at the consignment store for about $8. My daughter was thrilled. I’m glad she can also find joy in consignment shopping. I know that in a couple of years she may not be as thrilled about buying second-hand clothes, but buying used clothes is becoming a lot more acceptable. More and more people are becoming fed up with expensive prices and the high cost of living in general. Our favorite consignment store even recently created a section just for teens that looks just like a department store display.
If you don’t have a consignment shop in your town, the next time you visit the nearest big city, check out their yellow pages or ask around. Even if you make a trip once or twice a year to clean out your closet, it’s well worth the effort! In these times of corporate “down-sizing” and just trying to get by, don’t spend a large portion of your money on new clothes. You don’t have to be as extreme as I am and buy all of your clothes at consignment stores, but if you keep your eyes open and look for opportunities to spend less on clothing, you won’t regret it!