Everyone loves to get price reductions using coupon codes, those strange little phrases that help us save money during the online checkout process. But how many of us shoppers actually seek them out? Most people just stumble upon a code when they visit their favorite retailers’ websites and get some impromptu savings. Smart shoppers know, however, that there is plenty of money to be saved by searching carefully for deals, coupons and codes. Here are four more ways to maximize your efforts.
Join a Group
There are a lot of online forums where savvy shoppers share advice and resources pertaining to coupons and discount codes. You can even look for groups that are specific to your geographic area. That way, you know you have the same access to print coupon resources as the other posters have. They might share coupon codes as well, based on their own email subscriptions or just their research on the internet. The people who join these groups love to tell about their savings conquests, so you might glean some ideas for new ways to save money.
Enlist Your Friends
If the people in your life also have a desire to save money where possible, they are a great resource for creative ideas. Even if they are not bargains shoppers, they can still let you know if when there are coupon codes available or if they see great deals online, especially if they know you are in the market for a particular item, such as a new laptop. You may not get a chance to surf the internet every day, but by enlisting your friends, you have a better chance at finding good deals you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Subscribe to Emails
We all get a ton of emails each day, and many of them are unsolicited. But if you have a favorite retailer whose products you love, you should immediately be subscribing to its email newsletter. There’s a good chance it will contain daily or weekly deals on top items you have been looking for. Even if that day’s deal is not for you, you can alert your network of friends or online forum users that the code is available.
Check for Online Discounts
There are probably a hundred small things you can do in your life to save money, many of which are mentioned in an article from DontPayFull.com that was posted recently. Often, you can get a lower price on big-ticket items you see in a physical store by looking for the same products online. As an added bonus, online sites often provide free shipping, which is much better than trying to get a refrigerator home from a store in the back of your car.
Saving money on daily or major purchases can be easier if you take advantage of available resources such as forums, friends and online discounts. You don’t have to be content with paying full price anymore if you don’t want to. It just takes a little time and research to find better options that benefit your family and your finances.
The summer is my favorite time to travel. I love the hot weather. In general, it seems that cities are more vibrant and energetic during the summer. As I saw this previous weekend at the airport, I’m not the only one that enjoys traveling during the summer. The airport was filled with hundreds of folks. It makes me wonder if they paid an arm and a leg to travel or did they get a deal. Hopefully, the latter happened. In today’s post, I want to discuss a few budget summer travel tips.
The first tip can be applied for any time you want to travel. It doesn’t just have to be for summer. How can you expect to do anything without saving money beforehand? The more expensive the destination, the earlier you should start saving. For my most recent trip, I started saving in late May because I knew that I wasn’t going to need that much money. For other trips, I save a couple of hundred bucks each month.
Planning ahead can save you so much during summer travel. It allows you to save on flights and lodging because the earlier that you plan ad finalize things, the sooner you can book them and therefore save more money. Planning ahead allows you to have a better selection of flights and hotel rooms to choose from. A good rule of thumb is to book flights at least six weeks in advance. There are several travel websites that you can compare prices on. Some of my favorites are Priceline and Kayak.
Decide a date
As you know, summer is very busy for travel. The kids are out of school as well as the teachers. Since everyone is out on vacation, there is a better time to travel as a family. The summer travel season basically starts in late May and lasts until mid-September. Any time during that period is usually good to travel minus three dates. The dates that I would consider avoiding travel is Memorial Day Weekend, The Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekend. During major holidays airlines usually, charge more for flights. Hotels have been known to raise their nightly rates too during that time.
Packing light is the next tip. Most airlines charge for checked luggage. If your luggage weighs more than a certain amount, they will charge you more to put it on the plane. Fortunately, there are airlines like Southwest that will let you check two bags for free. If you pack extremely light, you can put your items in your carry-on luggage. Most airlines allow their customers to carry on one bag for free. The carry-on bag has to be a certain size. If the bag is bigger, the airlines will make you check it in.
The final summer travel tip is to drive. If you don’t have a problem driving to your destinations, this is an option that you should consider. Compared to a few years ago, gas prices are much lower. There are some places in the country where regular unleaded gas is less than $2 per gallon. If your car gets good mileage, it makes sense to drive some places instead of flying.
How are you saving money on summer travel?
Here on EYF, the goal is optimization, simplification and efficiency. We recommend that you optimize your savings long before trouble comes.
Why? Because we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining our financial health.
A common fallacy is the assumption that we’ll be better people in the future. We think, “Oh I can eat this whole pizza. It’s fine! Tomorrow I’m starting a diet anyway.” But tomorrow never comes. Or if it does, we are shocked by how much we underestimated the damage we did to our fitness goals.
The same is true of your finances. To improve your finances you’ve got to remember that your future self likely won’t have any more self-control than you do today. Once you’ve taken the time to decide what your most important goals are, do what you can to make it easier to stick with those goals in the future. Besides, don’t you like your future self?
Optimize Your Savings in Advance Because…
1. When You’re Tired You May Forget Your Goals
You’ve had a long day. Maybe you’re working a second gig to bring in extra cash. You look at your watch and see that it’s 8:00 PM, you have a 45 minute commute and you still haven’t eaten. In that moment when you’re exhausted your first thought is often going to be, “don’t I deserve a break?”
When you’re tired it’s easy to forget all about how every dollar helps get you closer to your dream of paying off your mortgage. The immediate reward can be quite difficult to resist. To prevent that, set up your finances to protect you in your weakest moments. Plan ahead of splurges, set up your funds to go into savings automatically so that the money isn’t even there to tempt you.
2. Small Purchases Really Do Add Up
Sometimes it’s just a burger; sometimes it starts as sushi then turns into buying rounds of sake for everyone. Depending on where you are in your financial journey, those little convenience splurges can really start to add up. If you’re not paying attention you could end up shelling out big bucks for things that you won’t even remember. You’ll find yourself looking at your bank balance wondering why you’ve got nothing to show for the $1000 you spent without even realizing it over the last quarter.
3. Winging It Is Risky Business
If you decide that you want to save for a specific goal, it’s a whole lot easier to set your funds to automatically transfer to your savings account now. Don’t give yourself the chance to renege. Make it easy to keep your promises to yourself.
Remember that no matter what, life keeps happening. What will you do when a friend you haven’t seen in a while invites you out to a steakhouse or to go on a weekend trip to the Caribbean? Will you have to pull out a pen and paper to figure out what expenses you have left this month? Will you be clueless about whether you have free cash? Or will you be ready with a spending plan that lets you say “yay” or “nay” almost immediately. If you have the money, you go to Aruba. If you don’t, you talk your friend down to something a little more enjoyable.
Give Your Future Self A Break
Take the time to sit down and think about your long term personal, professional and financial goals. Then, give your future self a break! Once you set your goals and then make it easy to stick to your plans. Optimize your savings today to set yourself up a healthier financial future.
The majority of former college attendees will probably confirm that budgeting and student life often go together, although how successful you are in keeping your spending under control during your college days, can vary greatly between different people.
Your finances can often come under pressure at various times in your life, and when you are part of the college crowd, there is a fair chance that your thoughts will be more tuned to enjoying a good social life rather than balancing the books, but learning some cash control tips will help you to make the most of your money.
Budget rules to work with
There may come a point in your life where you need to call upon the services of someone like the personal injury lawyers in Indianapolis, Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, to get you some compensation, but in the meantime, learning how to work with what you have got will be a good life skill to use in college.
One of the most important things to do when it comes to budgeting, is make a clear distinction between what you need to spend your money on and what you want to spend your money on. There is a big difference between the two of course, so differentiate between the two, and once you have catered for your needs, you can then spend any money left over on some of those wants.
Aim to be as realistic as possible about your budget. If you have not had the experience of putting a budget together before, it is understandable that you will make a few mistakes and miscalculations along the way.
The general rule that works, is that the more realistic and accurate you can be about the numbers, the more likely it is that you will be able to balance your budget and make it work.
Keep a record
It is not as difficult or time-consuming as it might sound, to create a simple budget and then keep all the figures up to date so that you can see if you are staying on track with your money.
Using a spreadsheet or an app that you can download on your phone for instance, will make it easy to input every amount you spend and see exactly where your cash is going. It is often quite illuminating to see just how much all those coffee’s, pizza and trips to the movies add up to.
Once you get into the habit of keeping accurate records and noting down everything you spend, you will soon be able to spot where you are overspending and work out a plan as to what you need to cut back on in order to make your money stretch as far as possible.
Watch out for credit cards
Credit cards can soon get you into financial trouble if you are not disciplined in the way that you use them.
Think carefully about getting a credit card in the first place while you are at college. If you do get one, don’t spend more on the card than you can afford to pay back on a monthly basis.
Keeping control of your cash at college can be a real challenge, but by using a few proven budgeting tips and strategies, you should be able to enjoy college life without getting into deep financial waters.
Danielle Parry has recently sent her eldest son off to college, and wow what a learning curve! She shares her thoughts and tips with other parents online in her articles.