Grocery Shopping on a Budget

You just scheduled your move with Black Tie Moving, and now it’s time to head to the grocery store. As you have just spent a considerable amount of money on your new home, you’re wondering how you can cut back spending in other areas of your life.

 Cutting back your spending on groceries can save you a ton of money in the long run. Here are some tips if you’re grocery shopping on a budget.

 Create a Budget

 We’ve all left the grocery store shocked at just how much money we spent. It’s easy to overspend on groceries when we don’t show up to the store prepared. If you’re wanting to cut back on your food spending, it’s important that you first set up a budget.

 Creating a grocery store budget doesn’t have to be complicated. You should start with saving receipts from your grocery hauls for a few weeks to keep track of how much you’re spending and on what. After you’ve analyzed where your money is going, it will be much easier to create a budget for your weekly trips to the store.

 Plan Ahead

 Grocery lists are underrated. You don’t often see people pulling out a piece of paper and checking things off their list as they walk down through the produce section. However, creating a list is key when you’re shopping on a budget. Whether you want to keep the list on your phone or write it down, find what works best for you.

 In order to create your grocery list, you’re going to need to plan your meals out ahead of time. You want to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snack items that you like to have on hand. Try and pick meals where you can make them in bulk – like chicken and vegetables!

 Start Couponing

 Coupons are a necessity when it comes to saving money at the grocery store. You may be used to receiving grocery store flyers in the mail and tossing them in the recycling. Not anymore! You’d be surprised with just how much money you could save by using coupons at the checkout.

 You’ll also find coupons in places you wouldn’t expect like local doctor’s offices or on the back of restaurant receipts. You want to use coupons to your advantage. After all, it’s saving you money on products you’d be purchasing anyway. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to cut them out and scan them at the store.

 Shopping Apps

 Did you know that there are some mobile apps that give you money back on grocery items? That’s right, there are currently hundreds of apps that pay you to shop for your food. Some apps are more user-friendly than others, but most of them are simple to navigate once you get the hang of it.

Upside is a popular app that’s designed for both grocery shopping and fueling up your vehicle. It’s incredibly easy to use for the consumer. All you have to do is open the app, check in where you are, select your method of payment, and the app does the rest. You can get up to 14% cash back on your entire grocery bill. The top users make around five-hundred dollars a year by checking in on Upside.



4 Things You Can Do to Save Your Family Money

Even if you can afford to pay all of your bills, you want to save your family money. If you are struggling, then these savings are even more important. By saving money around the house, you’ll have more to put into savings or toward other goals. Here are some ways you can save your family some money.

1. Maintain Your Home

Sometimes, people will avoid doing maintenance so that they don’t have to pay for it. While this might save you money in the short term, it will be disastrous in the future. When you take care of your home, you can catch problems before they grow. With regular roof inspections, you won’t need to worry about replacing your roof before its expected lifespan is over. Likewise, your heating and cooling system will use less power and will last longer if you clean and inspect them regularly. Grand View Research, Inc, says that an average of two to three million heating and cooling systems are replaced in the United States annually. These replacements are expensive, so you want to space them out as much as possible. By paying for regular inspections, maintenance, and minor repairs, you’ll save the money you’d have to spend on bigger repairs and unnecessary replacements.

2. Check for Water Leaks

Water damage can cause major issues within your home. Statistics Database says that one in ten American homes have leaks in their pipes. Which is only one way that water can get into your house. Make sure that you’re looking for leaks throughout your home. This includes damage to your roof and windows, leaky pipes, and a lack of waterproofing in the basement. If water does get in, it can cause structural damage as well as provide an environment for mold to grow. When you get mold in your home, you’ll have to pay for its removal. Your family could also have health issues associated with it, leading to many expensive medical bills. By keeping your home free of water damage and mold, you can save a lot of money.

3. Write Your Will

Even if you’re young and healthy, you should write your will. That way, your family is taken care of if something happens unexpectedly. About 60% of Americans don’t have a will. This means that their loved ones might not get all of the money they should be getting after that person dies. By writing your will, you put your wishes down clearly and expect them to be followed. You can find ways to save your family money in taxes and fees after your death, allowing them to hang on to more of your assets for their own use.

4. Use Coupons and Discounts

You can find coupons and discounts for many of the things your family uses every day. While it takes a little extra time and effort to find these options, they can save you a lot of money. Sign up for coupon and rebate programs, both in and out of the stores you use. Look at the sales ahead of time so that you know what will be cheaper than usual. You can then plan your meals for the week around the sale items, allowing you to avoid more expensive options. The time it takes to use coupons and look for sales will be worth it when it saves your family money.

Saving money for your family does not need to be difficult. While there are big steps you can take to save money, there are also a lot of small, simple tasks that will help as well. Apply these tips to your everyday life to gradually save your family money.

6 Health Factors Your Budget Should Account For

If you’re budgeting your money, it’s essential to understand what health factors to prepare for. Once you take into account these health factors below, you can be ready for any health emergency that comes your way. Consider creating a budget for your health concerns to save money in the long run.

1. Lost Time at Work

If you’re injured at work, you only have 20 days from the date of the accident to notify the employer you were injured. Unfortunately, many employers won’t cover all the costs of lost wages if you are out of work for an extended period. That’s money out of your pocket, and worker’s compensation will only cover one-third of these costs. Instead, you should consider saving money for any time off from work due to health reasons.

You can ask about a health savings account (HSA) at your workplace or open one independently. This money can be withdrawn tax-free if used to pay for medical expenses, including time off from work due to illness or injury.

2. Medical Bills

Medical bills can add up quickly, even a minor injury may cost hundreds of dollars just in doctor’s appointment fees and medications. It’s vital to save money so you can pay down debt. For instance, one out of three orthotic patients are adults, showing the importance of budgeting money for orthotic care.

It’s also important to look into private insurance options and health savings accounts (HSAs). Private insurance can help you cover any medical expenses you incur when an injury or illness strikes, while HSAs are tax-free money that can be used for medical expenses.

3. Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or naturopathy, may be able to help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort that come with a health issue. However, these treatments aren’t always covered by insurance companies. You should save money so you can pay for alternative medicine if you need it. For instance, an estimated 50-75% of people could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Alternative medicine can help with both orthotic treatment and other conditions as well.

4. Long-Term Care

You may need long-term care if you develop an illness or injury that leaves you unable to take care of yourself. Depending on the severity of your condition, this type of care can be costly. Long-term care insurance is available to help cover these costs and should be taken into consideration when budgeting money for health concerns. Some long-term care insurance policies may even cover other services such as home health aides, skilled nursing care, and assisted living facilities.

5. Mental Health Treatment

Mental health treatment is usually covered by health insurance companies, but you might need to pay out-of-pocket for certain medications and additional therapy. Therefore, it’s important to have money saved specifically for this purpose. Consider budgeting money for therapy sessions, medication, and other treatments that may be recommended by your mental health provider.

In addition, you might also need to budget for specialized treatment. For instance, if you’re looking for intensive outpatient therapy, it can cost more money than traditional one-on-one therapy.

6. Addiction Treatment

If you feel like you’re struggling with addiction, it’s essential to seek help. Unfortunately, treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues can be expensive. Budget money specifically for addiction treatment so you can afford the care needed to get your life back on track. For instance, consider asking about sober living programs if money is an issue.

It’s essential to have money saved in the event of a health emergency. Doing so can help you cover the costs of medical bills, alternative medicine, long-term care, mental health treatment, and addiction treatment.

Your money is important, so make sure you account for these health factors in your budget. Doing so will ensure that you are financially prepared for any medical emergency that comes your way.

How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

Although many people put off costly car repairs, it is impossible to ignore the terrifying squeal of failing brakes. Every time you come to a screeching stop can feel like a constant reminder of the price tag that comes with the repairs. However, if your brakes start to feel “soft” or scream at the lightest pressure, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic. But, what happens if your emergency funds have run dry? Although it will still require an investment, here’s how you can stay under budget to fix your brakes.

What Is the Average Cost to Fix Your Brakes?

Before you have your brakes looked at, you should know how the repair shop will quote the work and have a general price range. However, the actual cost will vary greatly depending on their labor fees, the number of hours required, how many need to be replaced, and the extent of the damage. The longer you ignore the issues, the more components it will affect.

When the shop gives you an estimate, it is quoted by each axle. The final bill will be much cheaper if you only need to replace one. Unfortunately, the price will double if they need to repair both.

The average price will probably be around $300 – $500. But budget brake shops may start as low as $40 while the most expensive charge over $1,000. Hopefully, your quote will be on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Here is a rough breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Brake Pads: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Rotors: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Calipers: up to $130 per axle
  • Labor: $50-$100 per hour

What Are the Cheapest Places to Have Your Brakes Done?

Based on the current market, these providers consistently offer quality service at the best prices. Each one will have slightly different rates for labor and parts. However, they frequently run discounts and promotional rates to help you save. And, they will typically guarantee their work and use parts that come with warranties.


Once you give them the make and model of your car, AutoZone can give you an exact estimate for the repairs. And, they use their top-of-the-line parts. Depending on what needs to be replaced, it will usually be between $300 and $1,000.

Jiffy Lube

Many car owners like Jiffy lube because they have quality parts and low prices. A simple brake job starts at $40, but more serious issues will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.


Many happy customers continue to have their work done through Firestone because of the good service and product warranties. They also offer competitive prices on brake repairs, ranging between $175 – $450 per axle.


Although their labor fees start at $80 an hour and complex jobs can cost nearly $1,000, Midas still has some of the most competitive rates.

Pep Boys

Pep Boys is another good option for budget brakes since they offer frequent discounts. You can expect an invoice ranging between $210 – $300 per axle.

Other Budget-Friendly Options to Fix Your Brakes

DIY Brake Replacement

While these retailers will give you a fair price, the cheapest way to fix your brakes is to do it yourself. So, if you can turn a wrench, you may want to consider this option. In addition to saving on the cost of labor, you can also look for the best prices on the parts themselves through sites like Rock Auto.

Phone a Friend

Another option would be to talk to people you know who are more mechanically inclined. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who would be willing to give you a hand or could refer you to a trustworthy mechanic.

Go Online for Cheaper Options

You may also be surprised to find how many capable mechanics offer their services through online marketplaces like Craigslist, Angi, Next Door, and Facebook. A quick search in my area brought up several local professionals who offer their services for about half of what the repair shops charge for their time.

From my encounters, many of them are people with experience working in garages but have since moved on to other careers. They have always done quality work at a fair price for me. However, there are always risks when you hire people from these sites. It’s easier for them to take advantage of unsuspecting people since they don’t have to guarantee their work or adhere to industry standards. So, I prefer to ask for a referral from someone I trust first.

How to Avoid Excessive Repair Fees

No one wants to be taken advantage of. To help you avoid excessive repair fees when you are shopping for budget brakes, here are a few tips.

1. Ask for an inspection report.

Even if you know what’s going on with your vehicle, ask for an inspection report before you commit to anything. Most places offer free estimates for their services. But, they will also sell you the report for future reference and quotes. This will come in handy if you want to shop around to compare prices.

2. Beware of scams.

One of the best proactive methods to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of is to stay informed. Before you visit any repair shop, read up on the commonly reported problems and quirks that are specific to your car. It will also make you appear more knowledgeable to the mechanic if you are already aware of these issues.

Furthermore, it will make you aware if they are trying to perform unnecessary repairs to drive up the bill. When the inspection report comes back, you shouldn’t receive a laundry list of unexpected issues. This is a major red flag.

Other indications that the shop may be trying to scam you is if they are vague with the costs and lifespan of parts or try high-pressure sales tactics to have you commit to the costly repairs right away.

3. Do your research.

As stated above, knowledge is your most powerful tool. The more informed you are, the more aware you become. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your vehicle and review the inspection report.

You can go online and look up the cost of the parts to make sure they aren’t overcharging you. Another idea is to call around to other shops to compare their rates. It never hurts to get a second or even a third opinion.

However, I believe the best resource is the customer reviews. Places that have hundreds or thousands of positive comments from their customers are usually a safe bet. If you spend some time sorting through them, you can surely find a reputable mechanic for a fair price.

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5 Places to Find Budget Suites

5 Places to Find Budget Suites

If you never had the chance for your summer vacation this year, it’s not too late to plan a relaxing getaway. Now that the high season has passed, you may be able to find even better travel deals. Since the tourists are gone and the kids are back in school, now is the perfect time to plan a budget vacation. Not only are the prices more reasonable, but you may be surprised to see what else you can afford, such as upgraded amenities or suites. For those who are looking for a little more luxury or a weekend staycation, here are 5 places you can find budget suites.

5 Places to Find Budget Suites


When I start looking for accommodations, is one of the first stops along my buyer’s journey. It has a wide array of properties around the world, with more than 28 million listings in 228 countries. When you start searching, the site shows the cheapest rates available, including discounted rates for last-minute deals. You can browse through hundreds of hotels, homes, condos, apartments, and unique accommodations for popular destinations. So, you can see why it would be one of the best places to find budget suites.

I also appreciate that it offers greater flexibility to change and cancel reservations. Many listings don’t require a credit card to confirm the booking and have reasonable cancellation policies if plans change. And, they have filters to help you find accommodations and suites that fit your criteria and budget.

However, the top reason I visit their site is for the discount. I’m a member of their loyalty program. So, I save an additional 10% with my Genius discount which you qualify for if you have two stays in two years. You can save 15% off the total booking if you move up to level two with five stays in two years.

Priceline Express Deals

When I’m looking for budget suites, price and location are my top priorities. Therefore, Priceline makes it easy to find what I need. I often prefer to use Priceline for their map and search features alone. When you type in a destination, you can use the map to compare hotels near the attractions and neighborhoods you want. And, it provides pop-up information about the prices, star ratings, and customer ratings. I can get all the information I need at a glance.

But, the real savings are for those who have flexibility with their travel plans. The Priceline Express Deals make it one of the cheapest sites for spontaneous travelers. If you have some room with your dates, you can save big on last-minute travel accommodations. Many people confirm that they regularly get 60% discounts on their stays, including 5-star resorts and hotels. Furthermore, many properties often apply the same discount to all room types, including suites.

This site has been around for a while and has become a trusted place to find accommodations in over 19,000 locations. The search engine is easy to navigate and has listings at hotels, B&Bs, apartments, vacation homes, condos…even castles if you want. And, they have a vast list of filters so you can find the specific amenities and room types you are looking for.

The reason I come to though is for their industry discounts. Since the company has been around since 1991, they have a good relationship with most hotel chains. Therefore, they often have better rates than other travel sites. And, they often extend the discount beyond their standard rooms. It will also flag hotels with significant discounts as well to help you get the most for your money.


Although I was hesitant to use a site that doesn’t reveal the location until you confirm your booking, HotelTonight has proven to be a reliable site for discounts on high-quality hotels. As the name suggests, it is one of the best places to find same-day deals on accommodations.

HotelTonight offers discount rates for hotels that haven’t reached capacity. The site advertises the rooms at deep discounts, sometimes up to 50%, to help hotels improve occupancy rates. But, they will only provide the general location and ratings before booking. Each time I used it, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that we landed a 3-4 star hotel for 2-star prices.

The Daily Drop gives you the best deal of the day. But, there’s a catch; you only have 15 minutes to claim it. If you are lucky enough to snag this deal, you could pay pennies on the dollar for budget suites.

Google Hotels

Google Hotels is a one-stop shop for destination information. And, it is specifically tailored for anyone who already uses Google. You can easily navigate straight from the search engine. You can just type “hotels” in the search bar to get started. From there, you can filter by price and location. Plus, it often has more current information on hotel availability than other websites.

It is also integrated into Google maps which makes it easy to compare prices in specific locations. Furthermore, it will also tell you about local attractions and give you an idea of which times will be the busiest. Although the site isn’t designated as a discount search option, it is one of the most reliable metasearch options for hotels and last-minute deals.

Tips to Find the Best Deals

These sites are 5 great places to shop for budget suites. However, here are a few tips to help you find the best deals out there.

  • A travel agent once told me that most companies in the travel industry start looking at dates and adjusting prices based on availability about 45 days in advance. Start your search early and check back regularly.
  • Set alerts and notifications for dates you potentially want to book.
  • Compare websites since they may have different rates.
  • Be flexible.
  • Look for dates in the off-season or on weekdays.
  • Refine your search filters to get exactly what you want.
  • Ask for corporate or membership discounts.
  • Read the fine print. Some accommodations may have restrictions or strict cancellation policies. Make sure you know what you’re booking before you pay.
  • Check the final total. Sometimes, an offer seems like a good deal until you include all the taxes and fees. Make sure you have a final tally before you give them your information.

Do you have any more suggestions on how to find budget suites? Share them in the comments below!

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How To Look Expensive on a Budget


If you want to look like a million bucks without spending a fortune, this post is for you. From the basics to bold, here’s how to look expensive on a budget.

1. Start With A Solid Foundation

You should always start with solid foundation pieces. Look for timeless pieces in classic silhouettes that you can mix and match to create endless looks.

Basics are the key to looking expensive on a budget. A well-fitting pair of jeans, a crisp white shirt, and a versatile black blazer are essential items that will never go out of style. Investing in high-quality basics will save you money in the long run because they will last you for years to come.

When shopping for basics, look for timeless silhouettes and classic cuts that will never go out of style. A great pair of straight-leg jeans, a tailored blazer, and a simple white tee are essential items that will make you look expensive without breaking the bank.

2. Choose Key Pieces

A great way to look expensive on a budget is to choose key pieces that can be dressed up or down. Look for items such as fur vests, leather skirts, or sequined blazers that can take your outfit from day to night. These pieces will add instant luxury to any look and can be worn again and again.

Look for items that make a statement and that you feel comfortable wearing.

If you’re not sure how to style a piece, start by pairing it with basics like a white tee or black pants. From there, you can experiment with different shoes and accessories to create a look that’s all your own.

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Colors Or Prints

One of the best ways to look expensive is to experiment with different colors and prints. Don’t be afraid to try something new — you might be surprised at how good you look in a bold hue or an eye-catching print.

When shopping for colored or printed pieces, look for items that are versatile and that can be worn multiple ways. A great printed blouse can be dressed up or down, and a colorful dress can be worn day or night.

Have fun with your wardrobe and don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and prints. You might be surprised at how good you look in something new.

4. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!

A few well-chosen pieces can add a lot of personality to an outfit and make your outfit look expensive. Look for statement pieces like a great pair of earrings, a bold bracelet, or an eye-catching necklace.

These items will add instant luxury to any outfit and can really make you stand out from the crowd. When shopping for accessories, look for pieces that are unique and that you feel comfortable wearing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and silhouettes. A great way to find accessories is to check out antique and consignment shops. You may find a wide array of unique older pieces that accentuate your outfits.

5. Shop Around for Great Deals

One of the best ways to look expensive on a budget is to shop around for great deals. Look for designer pieces that are being sold at a discount. For example, offers beautiful designer handbags and clothes at a discount. You can also rent one-of-a-kind pieces from online shops like RentTheRunway. To save even more money, check out consignment and vintage shops for unique finds.

You may be surprised at how much you can save by shopping around. With a little patience and effort, you can find high-quality pieces that won’t break the bank.

So there you have it — five tips to help you look expensive on a budget. By following these simple tips, you can create a luxurious wardrobe without spending a fortune. With a little effort, you’ll be looking like a million bucks in no time.

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How to Save Money During Your Renovation

Doing a home renovation is something that could cost you a lot of money if not done right, as many homeowners know without a doubt. This means that it’s important for you to know how to make some savings during your home renovations. Here are some of the ways in which you can save money during your renovation and enjoy an upgraded home without breaking the bank.

Set a Budget From the Beginning

The first thing that you should do before you start your project is to set a budget to work with. This will help you to get a good grasp of how to handle things and enable you to know what you need to do. With a solid budget, you will know how much money you can spend at each stage of your project. You will be less likely to splurge where you don’t have the luxury to and cut back when the expenses start to get overboard. You will therefore have a better chance of completing your project on schedule and with less hassle than if you had to find a way to get extra money along the way.

Research Before You Start

Another important thing that you should do is to research the project that you want to do before you begin. When you go in with information about your project, it may be easier for you to complete the project with a reasonable amount of money. With thorough research, you may also be able to find cheaper alternative ways of doing things and not have to stick to an expensive method. For example, you can find out that new windows can lower your energy bills. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, depending on where you live, you can save up to $501 each year by replacing old, single-pane windows with brand-new models approved by Energy Star.

Shop Around

Next, rather than settle for the first contractor you come across or buy your materials from the first store that you find, you ought to shop around. This will enable you to get a good idea of the industry average. You will be better placed to tell if a deal is just right, or it’s too good to be true. This way, you could save a reasonable amount of money as you won’t settle for the most expensive options of getting things done. You will enjoy solid workmanship and good materials without having to pay a premium price.

DIY Where Possible

If you consider yourself to be a handy person in general, you should consider DIYing part of the project. For example, if your project involves demolition or cleanup, these are things that you could plan to do yourself. If your project is installing solar panels, for instance, you can do the cleanup after the installation has been done. This is one project that you may be keen on doing yourself, with the average cost of PV panels, according to the United States Department of Energy dropping over 60% since 2010. The cost of getting solar electric systems also dropped by 50% since then, so this is a popular project that has good reason to be on your to-do list.

Work With Experts

Finally, while this last tip may sound counter-productive, it’s actually a good one. Working with experts may cost a bit more but you will have the assurance that your project is done well. Something like a roof replacement, which, according to Forbes, can return about 60% of its value in a real estate transaction, is an example of a sensitive project. Having an expert do it and get it right the first time will save you from costly do-overs that are inevitable if you have a shoddy job done.

Keep these tips in mind and you may save reasonable amounts of money during your home renovation.

What Is Helping Your Family Budget and What Is Hurting It?

Having a family budget is one of the best financial management steps that can make you financially successful. Nonetheless, you must understand how to go about the budgeting process and identify what is good and bad for it. This information can be pretty overwhelming, but this article will paint a clear image of handling your family’s budget in the best way possible. That starts by understanding what is good for your pocket and what hurts it.

Understanding Your Home’s Expenses

It is critical to understand how much you spend and what you spend it on. Careful spending is one of the best practices you should embrace to ensure your finances last to cater to all your needs. Some people think that failing to spend money on essential matters helps them financially, but that is not true.

There are some expenses, such as home renovations, that you should never ignore. Windows are among the critical parts of a house, especially regarding energy saving. Fortunately, replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows can save you up to $465 annually.

Consider Getting Insured

There is a reason why, as a homeowner, you are advised to get appropriate insurance and ensure it is valid. Home insurance will cover the cost of damages in fire accidents, floods, and other disasters. Motor insurance will help you maintain your vehicle’s condition, handle the necessary repairs, and replace it if damaged beyond repair in an accident.

Lack of such insurance may only lead you to spend more. If your car is not insured, you may spend between $200 and $300 to replace its windshield. Over time, a couple hundred dollars here and there add up tremendously.

Budget Together

One of the best ways to have a clear and viable budget is to go through the process with your spouse and family. Such collaboration will help you know how much you can both contribute to your financial needs. Consider splitting your residential financial requirements. For example, you could be the one to cover the cost of groceries while your partner handles your kid’s school fees.

Focus on the Most Important Necessities

Starting with what matters most is a critical consideration. Some people focus on saving that they forget some of the necessities they should prioritize. Your budget should first cover the four crucial basic needs. Your top priorities should be shelter, food, utilities, and transportation. Once you’ve satisfied these, you can assess how much disposable income you have left to save or invest.

Consider a ‘Staycation’

Going for family trips and vacations is critical and has many benefits, but such journeys can adversely affect your budget if you are not careful. Financial experts recommend sourcing for local vacation spots instead of spending thousands of dollars traveling to distant places. Plane tickets to foreign countries alone can cost several thousand dollars.

Besides covering the transportation expenses, you will be required to pay for accommodation, which can sometimes be costly, depending on where you choose to spend your vacation. Timeshares have gained popularity today, but you should know that spending one week on a timeshare can cost $21,455. That is a substantial amount you can put to better use by foregoing such an expensive vacation. Instead, you could invest it and watch it grow, help eliminate student debt, and more.

What Can Hurt Your Budget?

Lack of Savings

Sometimes it can be challenging to save money, especially when you are on a tight budget. That said, it is recommended to embrace a saving habit regardless of how tight your budget is. Savings are the best ways to prepare for the future.

Many Debts

Debts, majorly high-interest ones, will negatively affect your family’s financial health. Acquire loans only when it is inevitable and ensure you work with a lender with lenient terms, including their loans’ interest rates.

Lack of Emergency Funds

You are not immune to things going wrong, such as your vehicle breaking down, getting sick, or your HVAC system becoming non-functional. These events will need money to get things back to normal. You should ensure cash in your emergency savings accounts to handle such situations.

Having a budget is a wise idea, but you should also know its dos and don’ts, as explained above. The critical thing to help you create a reliable budget is avoiding unnecessary expenses. Some homeowners assume that they can replace their furniture just because they have money, even if the current ones are still in good condition. That is a careless expenditure that can significantly hurt your financial health. If you can resist the impulse to gild the lily and spend unnecessarily, you can literally set yourself up for a long life.

Essential Budgeting Tips That Everyone Should Know

Every guide to keeping your finances in order will tell you how important it is to budget, but they usually don’t tell you exactly how to do so. It isn’t always as simple as recording your incomings and outgoings, and there is plenty of discipline involved in sticking to it. To help you budget more efficiently, and leave you some money left over at the end of each month, we have four essential budgeting tips that everyone should know.

Don’t Spend More Than You Make

This is a very obvious statement to make when talking about budgeting. However, the number of people who do not keep within their means is surprising. If you overspend, you won’t have money towards the end of the month, which means you will have to find cash from somewhere. This could be from your own savings or, most likely, you will have to borrow the money from somewhere, which means debt. Make an accurate list of what comes in and what goes out so that you are aware of how much money you have.

Use Software or An App

Apps and software make the whole process of budgeting easier. No one is saying that it is an exciting thing to do and, if anything, it can make you more aware of how little money you have to play with. However, by using an app, most of the boring part is taken out of your hands because each purchase will be recorded as and when you spend your money. This is an easy and convenient way to keep track of your finances so make sure you take advantage of it.

Have a Goal in Mind

Having a budgeting goal in mind will make it easier to stick to. Maybe you want to purchase something, or you want to have money available for monthly bills and repayments. If you’ve been struggling to do so before, once you start budgeting effectively and you meet these needs, you will gain a sense of achievement. Student loan repayments are an example where you can budget so that you meet your monthly commitment and still have money left for yourself. Think about refinancing your loan with a private lender if you’re struggling to make the repayments. They may be able to give you better terms, which will lower your monthly expenses and improve your budgeting.

Budget For Fun

Budgeting is rarely fun, but you can make it easier though by setting goals for yourself and seeing it as a game. Use all the available tools to make sure you stick to your budget and think about trying to save a bit more than you have initially budgeted for. Ideas like a four bank system might excite you in terms or variety and strategy with your money. You will find that this will incentivize you to try and find bargains, not make those unnecessary and expensive extra purchases, and give a sense of purpose to your budgeting. Set yourself a certain amount of money that you want to make last as long as possible and see how far you can make it stretch.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

10 Things You Shouldn't Pay For

We are all guilty of spending money on things we don’t need. Although sometimes it is worthwhile to pay for the convenience, there are some things you shouldn’t pay for. Here are ten items that are costing you extra money.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

1. Water

Bottled water is one of the biggest wastes of money people have bought into. Each year Americans spend an estimated $100 billion on bottled water. Not only does it produce tons of waste and pollute the environment, but several quality tests show that it is just as safe as the tap water from your sink. America has some of the cleanest potable water in the world. So, save yourself a ton of cash and use a refillable water bottle instead.

2. Books

Books are another item you shouldn’t pay for. New books cost anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on whether you get the paperback or hard cover copy. Instead of buying new ones, I browse these free online resources or visit my library when I’m looking for new reading material. Some of my favorite novels have come to me from book exchanges with friends as well. There are endless ways to access free books. So, unless it’s a must-have in your library, you don’t need to spend extra money to find good books.

3. Mobile Apps

At one time or another, most of us have paid for downloadable apps. Most of my paid apps only cost a few bucks a month. However, once I found the free alternatives, I canceled this unnecessary expense. By avoiding these microtransactions, particularly in-game purchases, I saved money every month. It can be hard to resist spending a dollar or two here and there. But, simply remove your credit card information to also remove the temptation.

4. Cable TV

Cable TV is no longer considered a necessary expense. In fact, many would say it is becoming more obsolete as we get more online streaming options. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and YouTube have largely replaced cable TV. With bundled services and customized packages, you only pay for the shows you want to watch. So, you shouldn’t pay extra when you have better and cheaper options available.

5. Late Fees

Late fees are another expense you can completely avoid. With the ability to automate payments and set reminders, there is no reason you should incur late fees if you have the funds. You can schedule and manage alerts from your credit card, bank accounts, and monthly bills right from your phone. However, if you do overlook a payment and receive a late fee, most companies will waive the fee as a courtesy if it is only a one-time mistake. However, if you have a history of late payments or cannot pay the full amount, call the company and arrange a payment plan to avoid additional fees in the future.

6. Banking Fees

You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money. Therefore, banking fees are among the things you shouldn’t pay for. If your bank charges high ATM, maintenance, or overdraft fees, you may want to consider changing banks. However, you can easily avoid these pesky fees by using your bank’s ATMs and setting alerts on your accounts to notify you when balances are low. Mobile apps like Mint can also help keep track of your finances and offer free ways to help you better manage your money.

7. Credit Reports

Although you likely have seen several advertisements for paid services, you should never pay for your credit report. Simply go online and request your free ones at or ask your bank for your FICO score. There is no need to spend money on something that the law entitles you to. Every citizen can receive a free copy of their credit report from all three reporting bureaus every year. I prefer to stagger my requests to receive one every four months to better monitor my personal finances. Regular checks ensure that my information is safe and that there is no fraudulent activity with my accounts.

8. Newspapers and Magazines

With news available through TV, radio, satellite, and online, there is no need to spend money on newspapers or magazines. You’re also more likely to receive up-to-the-minute information through these sources since print media can’t keep up with breaking news. However, if you still want to find copies of your favorite periodicals, visit your local library or digital copies online.

9. Extended Warranties

Whenever you make a large purchase, the salesman will always offer to sell you an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Although you might be tempted to buy in, remember these companies only exist to generate profit. They exist to bring in more than they pay out. Furthermore, the extended warranty usually provides poor coverage that reduces payouts through the fine print. And, you will still have to pay deductibles as well. Unless there are higher probabilities of your purchases needing repairs, extended warranties are usually just another waste of money.

10. Car Leases

If you want to drive a new vehicle but can’t afford the price tag, car leases can be very attractive. It may seem like a good deal if they offer low monthly payments, but it will actually cost you more in the long run. Unless you decide to buy it once the lease is up, you must return the car with no benefits of ownership. Moreover, dealerships limit your annual mileage and ability to customize your car. However, you will still be on the hook for any damage and repairs to the vehicle. Leasing a car gives you all the responsibility of owning a vehicle with none of the benefits.

Tracking your finances is crucial to your long-term goals. So, it is important to review your spending on a regular basis and adjust your budget. So, if you are looking for ways to save money, cutting out these unnecessary expenses could save you significant chunk of change each month.

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