Save money while also enjoying life

Starbucks’ Happy Hour

by Ashley

It’s that time again! After a successful run last year, Starbucks decided to throw in their happy hour again this May. From May 3-12, the coffee shop will sell their frappuccinos half-priced, from 3-5 PM.

Essentially, the drink is a cold blended beverage made with coffee, milk, syrups, and ice, topped with whipped cream. Customers can order from a menu of standard Frappuccino flavors, or design their own custom beverage by adding espresso shots and custom syrups

With the warm weather now in full swing, the offer coincides well with the temperatures so this is definitely a great opportunity to take advantage of the offer.

Reminder: Spring weather means allergy season. Take advantage of savings on your meds by using the RxRelief card.


Apps that Save the Smart Way

by Ashley

Who loves free apps? There’s thousands of different apps available to download and new ones always being created daily. Fortunately, there’s a good bunch that are essential, free, and can save money. With these apps, your monthly bill costs can be significantly lowered. Here’s are some top ones to download and check out.

Texts. Do you pay a great deal of money to receive and send unlimited texts? A few app creators came up with the genius idea of communicating with others via text – for free. KaKao Talk is a free app that allows the use to text and call anywhere for free. Pinger is also another free app that allows one to communicate with others, free of charge. The only downside to this is that you won’t be able to use your own phone number as they provide one for the use of their services. Other notable text apps include Textfree, textPlus, and WeChat. All should be free and some come with special notification alerts to indicate if a text was received. So if unlimited texts hurt your budget, this can be a good alternative to use and consider.

Music. A majority of us have relied on iTunes as a main outlet to extract music, but with a cost of course. While it’s only fair to pay for music that we listen to, there has been other apps out there that allows one to formulate playlists with their favorite songs on them. Spotify allows this option for users who want to sample music before they do choose to later purchase it. Janga is another player that allows users to skip songs continuously without limit. And there’s the popular Pandora that many people continue to use. These options serve as a great method to sample music, in full, before actually purchasing it – or you can just mooch off these apps and listen for free!

Coupons. Remember the days when people used to clip coupons? Fortunately, for us, we live in an age where coupons can be accessed digitally. The Coupons App provides access to hundreds of coupons for food and household items. The RxRelief Card app provides discounts of up to 75% on medications. Yowza!! also gives relief to home and food items, and keeps track of how much one can save.

Books. Who needs to buy books if you can read them on your phone or tablet? Amazon Kindle provides free books especially old classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Tom Sawyer, and Wuthering Heights. B&N eReader allows one to download and store books in iCloud so you can access your books for free on a handheld device or desktop. Borrowing or downloading books at your fingertips sounds more convenient than buying them in hard copy. It allows one to save a significant amount.

If you want to save a few bucks like I did, look into these apps that you can download on your smartphone or tablet. It will save you a good amount for life.


Ways to Ensure Savings for Retirement

by Ashley

For some people, it’s difficult to live comfortably after retirement, with debt piling up and waiting to be paid off. And unfortunately, the greatest complication that comes with that is ensuring that money will be there for the rest of your retirement. While retirement may be far away from our minds, it’s better to plan ahead to avoid this big headache. Here are some ways to go about ensuring that money is set aside.

Start saving. This is the most common phrase you will hear for most of your life and it’s true, in order to ensuring money in your account – start saving now. Break those unnecessary daily habits such as spending money on coffee and lunch. Focus on the needs rather than wants. And always check in how much you have in your savings account.

Social security. When you retire and have Social Security, you will most likely get some funds from there, in addition to your savings account. Don’t forget about your pension, 401(k), etc from your last employer. Those three options will end up being your source of income.

Plan your budget. Know that you need to save about 70% of what you earn to go to your savings. Ditch unnecessary expenses, it will hurt you in the long run. Approximately measure the amount of income you will need post-career. If you plan ahead before you retire, securing money wouldn’t be an issue. Just think about how you will live during your retirement years and pinpoint what’s important during that period of your life.

Pay off debt. Make sure you always pay bills on time and you will avoid being in debt during retirement. It’s the worse case scenario to be in debt because all the money you’ll get from SS, pension, etc. will go towards that and you’ll be then left with nothing.

With discipline and planning ahead of time, you won’t be stuck in a rut once you settle into retirement life.


Why Bulk Buying is Smart

by Ashley

It’s smart to do bulk buying, especially if you want to save major bucks on items that you frequently use on a daily basis. Especially if you have a large family, it would be smart to buy necessities such as food, household products, and prescriptions in mast quantity at affordable pricing. Here’s what you need to know about the perks of this particular practice.

Compare. When planning on bulk buying items, look into what is the current value of the item when bought individually. If you do bulk buying, notice that merchandise sell it well below retail competitors. The more you buy, the less each unit will cost you. Compare prices using accessible digital tools such Calc Nexus or PPU Calculator and then decide which scenario gives you a better deal. The purpose of this tactic is to figure out if the product size provides a great value for money.

Awareness. Be aware of the quality of the items you purchase. Some merchandise require short shelf life so if you and your family do not typically use the products, it’s best not to buy items that spoil too easily and quickly. But on the contrast viewpoint of this, bulk buying is more cheaper. Keep in mind, once you buy a lot, you need to learn to love it. Experts recommend purchasing bath essentials, storage, and little things such as gum when it comes to bulk buying.

It’s Green. Not only it saves money but bulk buying, but this method allows people to use materials less frequently, and possibly reuse storage containers. And in terms of produce, most are organic, making this option more pleasing.

 


DIY Fashion Essentials Save Big

by Ashley

It’s hard to frequently splurge on materialistic items especially when you’re on a budget. Fortunately in this age and time, new approaches have been implemented to complement those who need to live in a affordable lifestyle – yet wish to also look fashionable and stylish. And with numerous comprehensive to-do guides available, many people have turned to ‘do-it-yourself’ (or DIY) projects; with that, hop onto the bandwagon and you can start a mini project to create looks to help alleviate your spending habits. Here are important must-haves to start your crafts.

White Canvas (or any neutral-colored shoe, for that matter). Keds, Toms, and practically every retail store carry a pair of clean white canvas shoes and any colored-shoe that you can beautifully craft yourself. And I’m sure sure you have seen a lot of tutorial guides online on how to design your own look and style without overspending on shoes with styles that are mediocre at best. Here is an excellent demonstration of how you can create your preferred style.

Steel. Who needs to throw in hundreds of bucks on jewelry? Spend no more (than over $50), if you buy the materials, follow guides, and make them. Hundreds of people have created their unique spin to rings that have been sold at retail stores. Thin, flexible metal pieces are available

Yarn. Learn how to knit or crochet in these easy steps. With that particular set skill, you can easily create your fall and winterDIY bracelet made from a heart and string clothing and accessories with a simple understanding and dedication to the practice of this longtime leisure activity. They save you money, and make great gifts during the holidays.

String. I remember seeing these at a store and wanting them but thought they were extremely overpriced so I went to google how to make these and bam – there were sites and sites to choose from. Create your own bracelet to your liking simply by purchasing  your choice of charms and colored-strings at craft stores, thrift shops, and flea markets. There are numerous step-by-step guides to show

Rope. Spring and summer are right around the corner and what better way to mirror the warmer and sunnier seasons than to rock colors and trends that infuse this. Nautical themes have been a rising trend and its no exception that accessories will remain popular.

There are many more accessories and clothing that you create. With time and dedication, you can achieve these hobbies…and save money while you’re at it.

Go on DIY! Happy crafting!


Vacations On A Budget

by Ashley

It’s about time you take that well-deserved getaway you’ve been wanting to take for some quite time. While vacations can be costly, there are ways to take some time off at a minimal budget. Here are some ways to tackle budget-friendly trips.

Road trip. Go on a road trip with friends or family. There’s so many places to see on the road even if you plan on just traveling within a few states away. I, myself drove down to Miami with family, from New Jersey; we saw so many landmarks that we would have missed if we took the plane ride over there. Plan it all: the budget, the sight seeing, etc. The vacation will undoubtedly be a memorable one.

Cruise. Take advantage of cruise deals that include packages, especially when you plan on going on a spontaneous getaway soon. Certain cruises, if not all, offer affordable deals if you decide to go on vacation. Keep on a look out on Cruise Expedia especially their last minute deals.

Local Tourist. Do you live in a city like LA, Boston, or NYC but haven’t seen all of the area, and always keep pushing it off to tomorrow or sometime in the future? Stop right there. Take a day or two and explore what’s in front of you. You deserve to have some me time or share it with someone else. It’s local so you won’t be spending as much as if you were traveling in another country, even state.

Volunteer. Giving back in a positive way while on vacation is the perfection combination for happiness. Volunteering provides the opportunity to see the world without spending too much money because a majority of volunteer agencies such as the Peace Corps and Help Exchange provide room and board; the only expense you need to take care of is your plane ticket and personal items.

These are alternatives to what people perceive as vacations. Even if the trip is small or local, make the most out of the experience. Cheers and happy trip!


Delicious Meals for Less

by Ashley

When it comes to food, convenience plays a deciding factor in our decisions. However, with a few simple changes, we can make healthier and less expensive choices. Here are some tips.

Brown Bag It. If you have a budget, let’s say, spending less than $10 a day on meals at work or school, then you’d be saving hundreds of dollars per year. Bring lunch in a brown bag two-three times a week. It saves major bucks, and you can use that money elsewhere, like happy hours and weekend purchases or leisure activities.

What’s Cookin’. Plan your meals for the week based on what’s on sale at the grocery store is a solid strategy. Try making meals for the week centered on what was purchased.

Bottle Me Up. Bottled water isn’t just bad for the environment; it’s also a great way to pay a lot for something you can get for free. Purchase a filter system like a Brita, and spend money on reusable thermos or bottle containers.

Take It To-Go. Make your own coffee or tea in the morning, instead of stopping at a chain store. The five bucks you could of spent on drinks in the morning can go towards a necessity instead.

Food Shopping. You will spend less on food if you shop with a list, take advantage of sales, and purchase basic ingredients, rather than ready-made items. Save hundreds of dollars a year by shopping at lower-priced food stores. Convenience stores often charge the highest price. Shop at grocery stores, not convenient marts.


The Art of Couponing

by Ashley

We feel you – when you say that you would love to save money, and would be willing to go the distance to utilize every option possible to achieve this goal. Fortunately, coupons (still) exist, and many have taken this course of action to save major bucks, and some even declared it as a hobby.

The definition of couponing states that it’s, “the practice of distributing discount coupons to consumers as a form of product promotion.” It goes way back to 1887 when Coca-Cola distributed coupons to promote their beverages to the public. And then the Depression era came, and the practice dramatically rose up and people continue to still do it today.

There are lots of coupons up for grabs, if you know where to find them. Thanks to technology, they are available right at your fingertips, via phone or tablet. However, if you insist on going the old fashion way, they are accessible as well. Here are some methods to learn the art of couponing.

Print publications – Newspapers and magazines offer coupons if you look through their pages. Some Sunday newspapers, even contain booklets of them. It’s all about the setting aside the time to browse through them. Magazines such as Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Parents feature coupon on their ad pages, making it accessible for readers.

Receipts – Think twice before tossing your receipts because a few offer printed coupons behind it. A few grocery stores offer this type of perk and it really saves on food and home items during future shopping visits.

Online – We get that you hate getting emails after you subscribe to consumer-related websites. However, there’s that option of congesting from daily to weekly or monthly emails to limit their emails flooding your inbox every day. Be sure to sign up at places and shops you frequently visit because being in the loop about their savings does save major bucks.

Snail mail – Every now and then, you get dozens of catalogs and flyers stuffed in your mailboxes on a weekly basis. Take the time to go through them on a weekend day, during your free time. You never know; you might find some coupons of value and put into good use for future purchases.

Product packaging – Remember looking into your cereal box and finding coupons stamped on the cardboard boxes? Or what about bottles that had printed savings aligned on their labels? Before tossing out packaging, peek around, especially if you are so keen on their items, you will have savings already for them. It’s a win-win situation.

Couponing is an effective marketing tool for companies who hope to drive in more consumers into purchasing their products. And good thing, it’s offered so easily to us now.

 


Swapping Fashion Duds Save Money

by Ashley

There’s an old idiom that continues to be heard here and there that, “a man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” And when it comes to fashion, the saying is certainly true, as fashion trends simultaneously come and go every year. So what to do with the clothes that you once cherished so lovingly a few months ago? No worries because there’s always a solution. I recently engaged in a conversation with a woman waiting for the bus with me the other day and she shared with me a random hobby of hers: fashion swap.

Fashion swaps allow people to bring new to gently used clothing and accessories that are sitting idle in their closet and trade them (if expensive, pay a small monetary fee) for something that will bring new life into their personal wardrobe. After all, shopping at thrift shops and vintage boutiques continues to be a fad so this method is no different.

Find local clubs. Clothes Swap Meetup Groups (clothesswap.meetup.com) is a website that allows individuals to meet others in the local area for a clothes swap session. With cities hosting events worldwide, there’s always a convenient location where you can meet a fashionista who will admire something you own.

Research websites. If meeting someone isn’t really your cup of tea, there are tons websites that offer fashion swaps. Etsy, Beacon’s Closet, and Swapstyle feature an array of items for people to indulge in. Simply take a snapshot, post, engage in conversation, and ship out the item you have traded in.

Essentially, fashion swaps allow one to prevent from habitually shopping because after trading in old duds for another, it feels like you’re getting something new in the end.



Career Change: Asking Your Parents For Help

by Ashley

Spring has sprung, the skies are blue and the flowers they are a bloomin’. For many ambitious women the leap into Spring means just one thing—time to do something new. I’m not talking about finally starting your 2012 exercise routine or revamping your closet. I’m talking change, baby! A new job, venture or project—the personal decision to really go out on a limb.

For Lisa, the timing was right for a new adventure. The holidays and the gray months of winter were nearly done. She was sick of her job and ready to focus on her dream of being a photographer. Wedding season was heating up and Lisa was ready to capture the full range of marital emotions with her brand new digital camera.

There was just one problem. Although Lisa had lots of experience (an art major in college and lots of side jobs taking photos at weddings) she didn’t have savings or the independent business experience. This was going to be a big risk. And when she asked her parents for their blessing (and any financial help they might offer) they were less than generous. In fact they flipped out, lecturing her about financial risk.

It’s a challenging situation getting your parents to love your job as much as they love you. Here some techniques to get even the most skeptical parents to jump on board:

Choose your words carefully. For Lisa this meant reminding her parents that weddings were big business and booking just three jobs a month could provide some serious income. Also, leverage experiences you know they’ve had such as the HR professional in their office that left and successfully started her own bakery. Equating your venture with something they can relate to—especially if it is a successful example—will help them better see your vision.

Take a breather. Often when we deal with our parents we revert back to old parent/child dynamics. Dad puts his foot down, daughter cries. Don’t do this. Once they relate to your point of view they are more likely to understand your choices. If all they see is your stress, you risk seeming like the child they may still think you are.

Employ the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” strategy. Don’t think of your parents as your board of directors! They don’t need to know if you’re having problems with contacts or if you aren’t getting paid. Only tell them what they absolutely need to know. You don’t want them getting concerned and calling six times a day, do you?

Sing your own praises. So you keep the bad under wraps, but share, share, share the good. They will beam with your accomplishments and love basking in your success. However, do avoid making every call and email about work. Remember that more important than their monetary investment is the bond you share as family.

Put them to work. Have you noticed that parents can talk about their children endlessly? Use this! Parents are a great PR and networking tool. In the first six months of Lisa’s business, all her best jobs came from people her parents knew. Without them she might not have been as successful. Just don’t forget to thank your folks for the referrals—it will help them feel more invested in you and your new business.


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