Fall Savings Tips
That long-anticipated day has finally come and gone. Your kids looked sharp and neat sporting spiffy backpacks and dressed in their spanking new back-to-school clothing. You watched them board that bus and waved them off from your perch at the bus stop until your arm hurt.
1.) Layer up
2.) Take inventory
3.) Shop the sales
4.) Shop online – without paying shipping
5.) Time it right
6.) Shop the overstock
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Do you believe money is the key to happiness?
Somewhere deep inside, we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Many people overspend and rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt to live a lifestyle they believe will make them happy, only to discover they are living beyond their means. This, in turn, adds stress and worry … causing unhappiness. Believe it or not, living frugally can actually make you happier than living lavishly.
- You’ll learn to appreciate what you have. You’ll become thankful for your resources and learn to make the most of them. Rather than throwing away old items, you learn to repurpose them and let little go to waste.
- You’ll tend to choose experiences over objects. Rather than going to the mall and purchasing a new outfit or the newest video games, you’re more apt to go for hike, to the beach or play board games with friends or family. These experiences provide memories and happiness that can last a lifetime. Conversely, that new outfit or video game will provide only temporary happiness.
- You’ll start to notice your debt diminishing. The burden of debt often ties people to jobs and locations that they hate because they feel they have no other choice. Once your debt disappears, you’ll have the freedom to choose a profession and location that makes you happy.
- You will have more leisure time. Once you’re able to pay down debt, you won’t need to work as many hours to make ends meet. This will give you more free time to spend on hobbies and other leisurely pursuits.
- Living frugally may put you on the path to early retirement. Rather than spending your golden years working, you could be gardening, traveling, enjoying your grandchildren or any number of more pleasurable things. Being able to put more funds away for retirement will help you reach a financially comfortable level long before many of your colleagues.
- You might find joy in helping others. By reducing your own expenses and saving money, you are able to give more to others and support social causes that are important to you.
Give living frugally a try! You have nothing to lose but debt and can gain some unexpected happiness along the way.
Cut Energy Costs
Are your summertime electricity bills astronomical? Check out our list of 10 creative ways to trim your bill in the summer and all year ’round!
1.) Plant trees
If your home has lots of west-facing windows, you’re likely getting loads of sunlight each afternoon, and that’s making your AC unit work harder. Lower your energy consumption by planting trees or large shrubs in front of some of those windows.
2.) Go solar
If you can’t afford to buy solar panels, consider leasing them instead. You’ll be given a set monthly fee which makes budgeting easier year-round. Also, the monthly payment is often 15% less than the local utility rate.
3.) Rethink your roof
Is your roof dressed in black for 90-degree weather? By installing a sunlight-reflecting “cool roof,” you can reduce your roof’s temperature by up to 60 degrees. This will trim your AC use by as much as 20%.
4.) Keep your cool
Large, heat-generating appliances can warm up a room quickly. Consider running your washing machine and dishwasher at night or in the early morning when it’s cooler outside.
5.) Lighten up
Replace your light bulbs! By swapping out just five incandescent light bulbs in a high-traffic area of your home to CFL or LED bulbs, you can save $65 on annual energy costs.
6.) Seal all leaks
If your home isn’t a new build, you likely have leaking windows and doors. Caulking regularly shrinks. Structural walls of houses tend to shift with time. To check for leaks, run the match test. Shut down your AC unit and close all doors and windows. Hold a lit match near the windows and exterior doors of your home. If the flame moves, that will indicate an airflow, which means a leaky seal.
If you’ve got leaks, reseal your windows by weatherstripping the problem areas. A leaky door may need a door sweep replacement. Just peel off the old one and bring it to a home improvement shop so they can help you find a new one that fits your door.
7.) Get smart!
By installing a smart thermostat, your home will be programmed to cool off at exactly the times you need.
8.) Pull out the plug
Up to 75% of energy consumption by home electronics happens when they’re turned off. Save big by pulling out the plugs when you’re done with your electronics.
9.) Fire up the grill
An oven cranked up to the standard 350° makes your AC unit work harder. Use your grill for dinner prep. You’ll keep the heat out and enjoy the sunshine at the same time!
10.) Laundry smarts
About 90% of the energy used when doing laundry comes from heating the water. When possible, choose the cold setting on your washing machine. Hanging your clothes to dry will also trim your bill. If you must use the dryer, stick some tennis balls in there to make it more efficient and finish faster.
12 Ways to Save During Back-to-School Season!
1.) Do a house-wide sweep
Before you spend a penny, scour your closets and drawers to see what you have lying around the house. Round up all the supplies and list everything you’ve found. Keep the list handy so that you don’t forget what you have and end up buying things you don’t need.
Also, while digging through your kids’ closets, sort and purge. This way, their closets won’t be cluttered with junk and you’ll know exactly what each child needs.
2.) Get the teacher-approved list
Pay close attention to specifics on the supply list sent home by your child’s teacher or found at major retailers. This will prevent you from being forced to later repurchase supplies that fit the teacher’s criteria.
3.) Spread your purchases
Spreading your back-to-school shopping throughout the summer will allow you to take advantage of weekly sales. Also, by scattering your purchases, you won’t feel the financial squeeze as much as you would if you bought everything at once.
4.) Take advantage of sales-tax holidays
Many states have a sales-tax holiday sometime during the summer. Look up the timing of your state’s tax holiday and do your shopping at that time.
5.) Organize a clothing swap
Organize a clothing swap party with other parents in your area. Choose a date and venue, and instruct all attendants to show up with three or more items of gently used children’s clothing. At the party, parents can exchange their kids’ outgrown clothing and go home with incredible finds – all free of charge!
6. Find the best prices
Hunt for specials in the weekly circulars and look up coupons and deals online, on sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin. You can also check out PriceGrabber.com or use the ShopSavvy app to find the lowest possible price on an item.
7.) Use Twitter and Facebook to save
Many companies send coupon links to followers and let them know about upcoming sales. Monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds and Facebook updates to find super deals.
8.) Save through Ebates
When you buy through Ebates, you earn cash back on every purchase. You’ll also find exclusive deals and offers on the site. You can shop major stores like Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s on Ebates. It’s like getting paid to shop!
9.) Time it right
Purchase what your child needs for now, and save the rest for later. You’ll find deep discounts on fall clothing just a few weeks into the school year.
10.) Set limits
Every year there’s a must-have school supply or clothing trend that costs a bundle. Set limits. Allow your child to choose one or two pricier items – but that’s it!
11.) Cash or debit card only!
Paying with cash or using your debit card so it draws from your checking account helps you stay within your budget. Resist the urge to charge if you can. This will help ensure you aren’t paying interest long after the pencils have already broken.
12.) Plan ahead
When school supplies and backpacks are ridiculously discounted a few weeks into the school year, stock up for next year.
The ocean is calling – and so is the open road. Your dream vacation awaits! But first, you need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway? How much can you realistically spend? Where is the money for your vacation going to come from?
Ideally, a plump vacation fund that’s fed throughout the year is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, we often don’t think about how to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away. To make things even worse, according to LearnVest, an alarming 74% of Americans go into debt to pay for a vacation.
Don’t become part of that statistic! Be proactive in planning your vacation by saving up for it in advance. Forgo some luxuries in the months or weeks leading up to your vacation and save the extra cash for your getaway. Consider running a yard sale featuring all of your forgotten treasures and use the profits to fund your trip. Skip your weekly dinner out for a while and put the money in your vacation budget.
Now it’s time to plan your vacation! When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget. These six vacation saving tips will help you plan the perfect getaway while staying well within your budget.
Challenge yourself to enjoy one day of your vacation without spending any money at all. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about fantastic free things to do nearby. You might find a charming family farm, a gorgeous waterway, a fun splash pad for the kids or a scenic hiking trail. Or, just spend the day at the closest beach!
Don’t eat out on this day either. Many hotels include a continental breakfast – take full advantage. For lunch, you can picnic on sandwiches. Dinner can be something effortless and delicious that you brought from home or pick up at a local supermarket. Consider packing a travel grill or panini maker for easy meals. You can heat up some hot dogs or burger patties, or bring some baguettes and an assortment of sliced cheeses for fresh paninis. Round off the meal with some pre-sliced veggies.
You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have without spending a penny!
The taste of dessert is what lingers after the meal is through. End your vacation on a sweet note by saving your most exciting event for your last day away.
Single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18 – and many single parents
shoulder that responsibility alone. Even with adequate child support, it’s smart to be proactive about financial matters as a single mom or dad.
1.) Credit cards
Single parenting is tough. While retail therapy may be a tempting salve to pull yourself out of a funk, the added debt you’ll incur will make you feel worse. Plan all shopping carefully and avoid impulse purchases.
4.) Ask for Help
Managing money is a foundational life skill. There are so many factors involved and so many open-ended questions at play. How much should you be saving? When is it worth spending more? How do you keep spare change from burning a hole in your pocket? It takes years of discipline and training to perfect this skill, and ongoing self-control to maintain it.
That’s why it’s best to give your kids a head start on money management and saving. As a parent or guardian, remember that the lessons you plant today will take root and blossom, enriching your child’s life for years to come.
Section 705 is proud to offer specialized youth savings accounts that are designed just for kids. We know that different ages and stages have different needs. That’s why we offer Youth Accounts for children aged 0-17, as well as Teen Club Accounts for teens aged 13-17.
Our youth savings accounts offer (no annual fees and quarterly dividends) to help you teach your child that saving money always pays. Another perk that comes with having a 705 savings for your child is our Learn 2 Earn program. Bring your child’s report card to the credit union when they make honor roll or have perfect attendance. They get to choose a gift card to places like Barnes N Noble, The Grand, iTunes, Target, and Toys R Us! Plus, their name gets entered into a drawing to win $150 at the end of the school year.
Ready to open an account for your child? Does your child already have one? Read on for three steps to take for ensuring your child gets the most out of a new or existing account:
1.) Set a goal
Now that your child’s money will be sitting in an account instead of a piggy bank, let her use this opportunity to save up for something big. Sit down with her and discuss what she’d like to save for. You can create a long-term goal, like saving up for college or for a first car. Also establish a short-term goal, like a new gaming console.
Set a date for your goals, and then set up a savings calendar for illustrating how much money needs to be saved each month to reach the intended target by the designated date. Discuss ways to add to the savings, being sure to include money from birthday gifts, summer jobs, allowances and chores.
2.) Bank together
Whether your child is a first-grader or a lanky teenager, if this is their first time owning an account, they’ll need you to show them the ropes.
Always bring your young child along with you when you stop by the credit union to deposit his savings. Show him how it works and let him see the account balance growing. If your child asks you to withdraw money from his account, make sure he sees how this translates into a dip for his savings.
For teens, you’ll need to walk them through that first deposit and withdrawal. When they’ve probably got the hang of it, it’s time to take a step back and let them be on their own. They’ll feel like a million dollars managing their account independently.
However, share with your teen that every swipe of their debit card also means a dent in their account balance. Also be sure to warn kids of all ages about security. They should know to never share their account information with anyone, and to keep their debit card in a safe place.
3.) Monitor your child’s activity
Don’t aim to be a helicopter parent, but do keep an eye on your child’s account. If he’s depositing a lot less than planned, ask him where his money is going. If your teen is maximizing his daily ATM allowance, speak to him about money management and impulse purchases.
Your teen’s daily withdrawal limit may need occasional adjustment, so keep a careful watch on spending to see if any modifications are needed.
Remember: Every financial lesson you teach your child today equips them with money management skills for a lifetime.
Your 20s may seem like an odd time to think of saving for retirement, but it’s actually the perfect moment to start planning for your later years. That’s because the earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow.
Savers who begin setting aside 10% of their earnings at 25, for example, could amass significantly more by retirement age than those who wait just five more years to start saving. You can use a retirement calculator to see how much you should start saving now to reach your retirement goal.
Building a nest egg on a starter salary and a shoestring budget can seem daunting, though. Focusing on the incremental savings, rather than the goal, can help your savings objectives feel more manageable.
HOW MUCH TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT
For those earning around $25,000 a year, the median income for 20 to 24 year olds in 2015, saving the recommended sum of 10% amounts to a little more than $200 a month.
It may seem like a reach, but consider this: If you start saving $100 a month at age 25 and invest it to return 7.7% a year — the average total return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks over the past decade — you’ll have more than $378,000 available at retirement age. And it could be tax-free.
If you wait until you’re 30 to start and save the same monthly amount at the same rate of return, you’ll wind up with less than $253,000.
Several vehicles can help you build a retirement fund. A 401(k) plan, typically offered by your employer, is often the most convenient and easily accessible of these. Contributions you make usually aren’t taxed, which helps reduce your income tax liability.
Pre-tax 401(k) accounts make up around 80% of retirement plans offered by employers, according to the American Benefits Council. Roth 401(k) accounts are another option, though these are less widely available, and money contributed to a Roth 401(k) account goes in after it’s taxed. Money withdrawn from this type of account — including earnings — is usually tax-free.
Companies that offer a 401(k) plan often match employee contributions, up to a certain percentage. This is essentially free money toward your retirement.
If your employer will match your contributions, try to take full advantage and commit a large enough percentage to get the full benefit.
Beyond a 401(k), individual retirement accounts, commonly referred to as IRAs, offer another solid option. There are two types: traditional and Roth.
Money put into a traditional account is tax-deferred, similar to funds put in a traditional 401(k) plan. That means those funds aren’t taxed until they’re taken out. But typically any earnings you make with the money are also subject to income taxes on withdrawal.
Money put into a Roth IRA has already been taxed when you earn it, so there’s no immediate tax benefit. When it’s time to withdraw the cash, however, you usually don’t pay taxes on it. And anything the money earns also can be taken out tax-free.
Contributions to both types of IRAs are currently capped at $5,500 a year for those under age 50, and $6,500 for older workers.
HOW MUCH TO SAVE FOR EMERGENCIES
In addition to retirement, it’s also wise to save for a rainy day. Ideally, your emergency fund should be enough to cover three to six months of living expenses.
Some experts suggest setting aside even more for savings and investments: 20%. That’s roughly $415 a month on an annual income of $25,000.
That’s not always feasible, especially if a big chunk of your monthly income goes to student loan and credit card payments. Consider saving what you can, even if it’s just $10 a month.
Making a habit of saving now could serve you well down the road. And, as your income increases, the percentage you save can as well.
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