What to Do When You’re Feeling the Pain at the Pump

Find Ways to Relieve the Pain at the Pump

Since the start of the year, gas prices have skyrocketed. This week, the national average for a gallon of gas is $4.97 for regular and $5.74 for diesel. However, during a recent trip to California, I was paying way more than the national average to fill my tank. At this point, nearly everyone is starting to feel the pain at the pump. And, it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. If soaring gas prices aren’t in your budget, here are a few ways to help you maximize your savings and offer relief as prices continue to rise.

7 Ways to Relieve the Pain at the Pump

1. Join fuel rewards programs.

One of the easiest and most popular ways to save on fuel is to join a rewards program. Many companies have created their own rewards programs and offer great savings to loyal customers. They all work with the same basic concept of earning points at the pump for every dollar you spend. However, some offer additional perks through partnerships with other retailers to offer greater incentives and savings.

Circle K Easy Rewards

What’s great about this program is that it’s free to join and easy to understand. You get 10 points for every gallon of gas and 20 points per dollar for items from their store. Once you reach 2,000 points, you earn $2 off your purchase at the pump.

Exxon Mobil Rewards+

Exxon Mobil offers even more ways to earn. Not only does it give members 3 points per gallon of fuel and 2 points for every dollar spent in the convenience store and car wash, but you also get $1 off for every $100 you spend. And if you’re an AARP member, you can earn even more points with each purchase.

BPme Rewards 

Some rewards programs, like BPme Rewards, also have incentives for new members. BP is currently offering $0.05 off per gallon during your first month. However, all members can earn an additional $0.05 when you spend $100 on gas from BP and Amoco stations. They also regularly offer special bonuses and opportunities for additional savings.

Shell Fuel Rewards

While many competitors are offering fuel rewards, Shell is taking it a step further. In addition to earning points for gas and convenience store purchases, they offer additional points from qualifying purchases with non-fuel retailers. So, you can earn $0.10 for every $50 you spend with participating vendors. This means that you can build points even faster.

Speedway Speedy Rewards

Speedway Speedy Rewards is very similar to other fuel rewards programs. You earn 10 points for every gallon you buy with them and 20 points per dollar on store merchandise. But, it offers more flexibility in how you redeem your rewards. You can use your points to claim coupons, gift cards, free merchandise, and entrance into sweepstakes. Also, be sure to check for special offers and ways to earn additional points as well.

2. Comparison Shop for the lowest gas prices.

The golden rule for budget shoppers is to compare prices before you buy. The same holds true when it comes to buying gas. Use the “gas” feature on Google maps to find the cheapest gas near you. Or, you can also download the GasBuddy app to compare prices. It works with over 150,000 gas stations nationwide to help you find the lowest rates no matter where you are.

3. Carpool or share a ride whenever possible.

Although people have been doing this for years, carpooling is gaining even more support now that gas prices are skyrocketing. So, if you live near one of your coworkers or in the same neighborhood as other families who attend the same school or activities as your children, consider starting a carpool. In addition to saving you money on gas, it will also give you more free time in your busy schedule.

4. Ensure that you are properly maintaining your vehicle.

Learning how your car consumes gas and ensuring the proper maintenance are important things for every car owner to know. However, maintaining your vehicle can save you gas money as well. When your car is at its peak performance, you get more miles to the gallon. Here are a few basic things you can do to ensure that your car is getting optimal gas mileage:

  • check the tires for proper air pressure
  • check fluid levels and choose the correct oil
  • perform regular tune-ups
  • replace your air filters
  • limit your use of the AC
  • drive the recommended speed limits
  • maintain speeds and accelerate gently while driving
  • turn off your engine when you park

Depending on what kind of car you drive, there may be additional things you can do to improve the gas mileage as well.

5. Lighten your load.

This tip for easing pain at the pump comes down to physics. By reducing the total weight of the vehicle, you gain better gas mileage. So, it’s a good idea to unload everything that isn’t necessary. Some models even have removable seats which can drastically lighten your load. You can also remove racks to decrease wind resistance and boost your savings.

6. Buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

I’m not saying you should run out and buy an electric vehicle tomorrow. But, if it’s time for a new car, perhaps you should consider a more fuel-efficient model. Large SUVs and trucks have their purposes. However, it may take a small fortune to drive them in the current conditions. If gas prices are a major concern, look at other models that consistently get more than 30 miles to the gallon. You can also compare hybrid options for even greater fuel savings.

7. Find a job that lets you work from home.

Although there are many more postings for remote positions, you don’t necessarily have to find a new job to work from home. Many offices are transitioning to a virtual or hybrid environment to save money. Therefore, choosing to work from home could also solve some of your financial problems. It would eliminate the daily commute and decrease your transportation budget. This could help relieve some of the pain you may be feeling at the pump.

The Hard Facts

Unfortunately, gas prices are spiking worldwide. While prices are high here in the U.S., Europe is paying nearly double. And, there is no telling how long we will be paying elevated prices. There is a real possibility that the price of gas could go up even further.

The only long-term solutions are to find new sources or decrease our reliance on gasoline. However, in the meantime, you can find ways to ease the pain at the pump and use these tips to lower your monthly expenses.

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When Is The Cheapest Time To Visit Disney World?

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

As the weather gets warmer and summer gets closer, many people look forward to vacation plans. If your summer vacation plans include Disney World, then you are not alone. Tickets went on sale in February 2021 for this year. However, you will need advance reservations since they often run out. Planning ahead and knowing the cheapest time to visit Disney World can make your trip much more affordable. But as with most things in life, it all comes down to timing.

Ticket Prices Vary

Date-Based Pricing

Beginning in 2016, Disney switched to date-based pricing for admission tickets. In an effort to prevent overcrowding, Disney World adjusts the price depending on how busy they are. When the demand for tickets goes up, so does the cost.

Prices fluctuate regularly. So, if you see a good price, you’ll have to book it then to lock in the rate. The cheapest one-day ticket starts at $109. However, the same ticket goes for $159 during the busiest days of the year.

If you go online, you can find great discounts for entrance and hotels if you travel in the off-season. You should check out ticket prices ahead of time and compare to find the best rate and beat the crowds.

Different Ticket Types

There are also different types of tickets that give you greater access to all the parks. Depending on what you want to do, the cheapest option may not offer the best value. If you are planning your trip around Disney World, different packages allow you to take advantage of multiple attractions. Some also give you the ability to enter multiple parks on the same day.

    • Park Per Day – entrance to one theme park for the day
    • Water Park and Sports Option (+$70) – admission to the water park or the ESPN center for one day
    • Park Hopper Option (+$65) – allows you to visit multiple parks each day
    • Park Hopper Plus Option (+$85) – visit multiple parks each day, including the water park

The Most Expensive Times to Visit Disney World

As you probably guessed, the most expensive tickets and busiest days correspond with holidays and times when kids are out of school. Generally speaking, this means summer ticket prices are usually higher. But, you can find days with cheaper rates even during the peak season.

However, budget-minded travelers will want to avoid these dates:

    • New Year’s Day: January 1
    • Spring Break: April 1 – 17
    • Memorial Day: May 28 – 30
    • Thanksgiving: November 24-27
    • Christmas/Winter Break: December 15 -31

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

Now that you know which dates to avoid, it will be easier to home in on the best prices. You will typically find that weekdays are the cheapest time to visit Disney World since it receives more visitors on the weekends.

When comparing prices, there are several factors to consider. A single-day ticket starts at $109 without any discounts. However, you will spend less per day when you purchase multi-day tickets. The longer you stay, the cheaper the prices get.

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

For those who are looking for the cheapest time to visit Disney World, these dates fall between holidays and school breaks. You can usually find multiple days with the lowest rates in these time frames:

    • mid-January through mid-February
    • mid-August through the end of September

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

The Best Discounts for Disney World

After years of practice, I’ve learned that you never have to pay full price for tickets. If you know where to look, discounts are easy to locate. Here are a few tricks to find discount ticket prices that can save you a ton of money on your next Disney World vacation.

  1. Be flexible. You will have a better chance to find discounts if are less rigid about the actual day you visit. Being flexible can land you better deals.
  2. Compare prices and multi-day discounts. Disney World rarely offers discounts on one-day tickets. If you book through the official website, you can usually find better discounts for multi-day tickets. However, you should also compare prices from different sellers. Third-party ticket agencies like Undercover Tourist, Orlando Fun Tickets, and Parksavers can help you get tickets for 8-10% below face value. You may also get lucky if you take your chances to score cheap tickets through online auction sites like eBay.
  3. Know your discounts. The last tip seems obvious. But, you may qualify for an additional discount that you aren’t even aware of. The easiest method to get discounted tickets is to purchase them online which saves you $20 right off the bat. However, here are a few other significant discounts that could net you huge savings:
    • Disney Vacation Club gets you 10% off
    • Florida residents get a 30% discount with an ID
    • the Military discount gets you up to 50% off tickets
    • first responders can also claim a discount when they book tickets
    • memberships with discount buying clubs and car clubs usually get you 5-10% off
    • an annual pass can save you more in the long run if you plan to visit several times

General Tips to Help You Find the Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

Keep in mind that your ticket is only valid for Disney parks in Florida (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios). So, if you plan to visit Universal as well, you’ll have to purchase additional tickets. Furthermore, date-based pricing only applies to the Florida parks and hasn’t been implemented yet for the California parks.

Any unused days on your ticket are non-refundable. But, if you find a cheaper ticket or choose a cheaper option before your arrival, they will usually refund the difference. If you are set on a specific date or special event, some people recommend booking your ticket prior to your arrival date since the ticket can be used after the start date. However, you’ll need to be aware of the window of time when you have to use them.

The best advice for finding cheap tickets is to plan ahead so you don’t pay more than you have to. Part of this includes knowing which dates to avoid, which passes you’ll need, and buying them online. Good luck and happy hunting!

What are the best deals you have found on Disney World tickets?

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5 Subscriptions You Need to Cancel Right Now

 

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We’ve all accidentally wasted money before. It’s quite a common problem in America. Between advertisements covering every Internet page, credit card conveniences, and the power to order anything to your door at the push of a button, it’s no wonder that so much of the average American’s income goes towards subscriptions to different services. Considering how quickly subscription costs can build up, this blog post will outline some subscriptions you should monitor closely or cancel right away.

Microsoft Office Software

Microsoft has recently opted for a subscription-based model instead of their conventional “pay once and use it for life” sales model. Instead of paying for a monthly subscription to Microsoft 365, utilize Google’s free alternatives to Microsoft software. Google Docs can replace Word, Google Slides replaces Powerpoint, and Google Sheets replaces Excel. With a free Google email and an internet connection, you can trash your old Microsoft software right now.

Multiple Food Delivery Apps

If you signed up for a free trial of Grubhub Premium, you are probably still paying for it. Ubereats +, Dashpash, and other food delivery upgrades offer perks like free delivery, but can easily be forgotten about when you don’t order often. Limit your food delivery to one app if you want to get a premium subscription to avoid fees.

The Adobe Suite

If you are paying $600 a year to open Photoshop or Lightroom a few times a year, then it’s time to cancel. Similar to Microsoft, Adobe has adopted an “all-or-nothing” approach to its software. If you aren’t opening these apps at least three times a week, consider the many free alternatives out there. GIMP and Krita serve as excellent Photoshop stand-ins, and Sejda can replace Adobe Acrobat, all for free.

Old Website Domains

With close to 900,000 domains being registered every week, there are tons of abandoned URLs still being paid for. If you had a website a long time ago, or used an interactive website for a portfolio in college, make sure you aren’t still paying for the domain name. Domain prices can rise or fall with the years, so ensure you aren’t throwing away money on some inactive site from 2010.

Streaming Services

This one may be the hardest, but it is time to kick your family off of those streaming services you never use. If you don’t use it regularly, then you shouldn’t be paying for it. Though your friends and family may mope about it, your wallet and budget log will thank you.

Before you look at your monthly budget and beat yourself up for unnecessary purchases, look into all of the current subscriptions you are paying for. Anything you haven’t used in the past 3 months, purge it. Don’t keep giving companies money when you don’t frequently utilize their services!

Is Prepaying for Gas a Smart Thing to Do?

Is Prepaying for Gas a Smart Thing to Do?

Everyone has their own budgeting tips and strategies that work for them. In truth, any approach can work, as long as you stick with it. However, prepaying at the pump was one of the stranger ones I’ve heard recently. Although not entirely convinced this is the best way to save money on gas, is prepaying for gas a smart thing to do for your budget?

Cash-Only Budgeting

The part of this money-saving strategy that I like is setting a strict spending limit. Sometimes this means creating restrictions that will prevent you from going over budget, even if you try. Prepaying for gas aligns very well with my personal habit of using cash only when I’m on a bare-bones budget.

First, I deposit my paycheck into an account that has no debit card so the money remains out of reach for daily use. Then, I only take out enough cash to cover my estimated monthly expenses. Although it was difficult to adjust at first, it made me more aware of where my money was going each month. At times when I literally had no spending cash, it pinpointed some irresponsible spending habits that were undermining my attempts to build savings. The sooner I saw the behavior, the faster I corrected it.

Another reason I prefer using a cash-only budget is that I’m less likely to go further into debt. If my funds aren’t easily accessible, it’s harder to spend. While the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality works to some extent, it has also given me greater control. In the process of learning to live within my means, I’ve also learned to tell myself no when I can’t afford it. This has also taught me greater self-discipline in the long run as well.

Advantages of Prepaying for Gas

From an objective standpoint, there are some financial benefits for prepaying for gas. First of all, it’s standard practice in most places. Gas stations usually require you to prepay, either inside or at the pump, to avoid “pump and runs.” Prepaying means that you’ll never forget to pay or have to deal with legal consequences. If convicted, not only will you still be responsible for the price of the gas, but also service charges, fines, civil charges, suspension of your license, and even jail time, depending on the state laws where you live.

Secondly, prepaying keeps you aware of your budget if you have a set amount to spend on gas. You can prepay the amount you have for each visit, and the pump will shut off once you hit your limit. This means you’ll still spend the same amount on fuel, even when prices fluctuate.

If you continually go over budget and spend more on gas than you can afford, you probably need to rethink unnecessary trips out.  Although I enjoyed my nights driving around aimlessly, it also wasted a ton of gas. For those on a tight budget, you have to find ways to reduce spending every way possible.

Is Prepaying for Gas a Smart Thing to Do?

While some people may find it is a good way to prevent themselves from wasting gas and putting extra miles on their car, this isn’t the best way to save on fuel.

For me personally, prepaying for gas is just inconvenient. For example, sometimes the set amount isn’t enough to fill the tank. So, you’d either have to use a card if you want to top it off, which defeats the point of prepaying. Or, you’ll have to go inside and pay again. Furthermore, if you overpay, you have to talk to the clerk about your change.

In a worst-case scenario, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation. If you run out of gas, you could get stranded without any gas money.

Other Ways to Save on Gas

If prepaying for gas works for your monthly budgeting, by all means, keep at it! However, I have found other methods that are more effective for saving money on gas. For example finding discounts, apps, rewards programs, and other budgeting strategies can add up to very real savings over time.

1. Buy prepaid gas cards.

Prepaid gas cards are a more convenient solution than prepaying for gas with cash every visit. When you get your card, you start with a zero balance. Then, you use only recharge when necessary. This way, you can still determine how much of your budget is set aside for fuel and transportation.

You can get one specific to a gas station, or find a generic credit card that can be used for all your monthly purchases. The advantage of prepaid cards is that they have a built-in brake system to keep you from overspending. Not only are they easy to use, but they also provide several convenient ways to recharge.

2. Join a fuel saver program.

We signed up for fuel saver rewards through our local grocery store. We accrue points from our weekly shopping, which we then redeem for a discount at the pump. There have been times I’ve gotten over $0.50 off per gallon.

Not only was this particular program convenient, but it also had a higher limit on how many gallons we could get with the discounted rate. While some only offer the lower price for 20 gallons, our allows up to 35 gallons per fill.

The other thing you should do is compare the maximum discounts allowed. While ours caps it at a maximum of a $1 discount per gallon, some will allow you to use rewards that allow you to claim rewards that reduce the price to almost nothing.

3. Use gas coupons.

Growing up, I always hated when my mom would pull out her coupon book. Now, I realize how smart she was. Nowadays you can find coupon codes, cashback sites, and credit card rewards that will save you a ton of money on fuel. However, check for expiration dates. You won’t be able to redeem the discounts once they expire.

4. Fill up all your vehicles at once.

Another way to extend the savings is to fill multiple vehicles when you get a discounted rate. This ensures that you claim the maximum amount of savings on each trip to the gas station.

5. Save gas by carpooling.

Another way to reduce your monthly fuel expense is to share it with someone else. If you live near a coworker or can split pickup and dropoff duties with other parents from your kids’ school, carpooling can drastically reduce how much you spend on gas.

As gas prices continue to rise, we are all looking for ways to save. What fuel-saving tips have worked for you?

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7 Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

This is a simple method designed to help people build their savings. Not only is it easy to follow, but it is also adaptable and applicable to all income levels. There are many reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts. However, the most obvious is that it is an easy way to help you gain control of your finances and your future.

What Is the 4 Bank Accounts System?

1. A Checking Account to Pay the Bills

Your first account should be a checking account to cover your basic living necessities. It is also the one that you should deposit your paycheck into if your employer cannot split it between multiple accounts.

The money that you put into this account should only be used to pay your recurring monthly bills. This includes housing fees (mortgage or rent), utilities, transportation, insurance, cell phone, groceries, etc. You should figure out the exact figure by tallying up your bills and ensuring you leave enough in the account to cover all your living expenses. Don’t forget to include payments that happen at less frequent intervals as well, such as property taxes.

Depositing your money in this account first guarantees that the money will be there, ready to use when bills come due. You can also automate payments to avoid late penalties as well. Since this checking account should only be used for bills, you won’t need a debit card for it. Not having one will help you avoid the temptation to use the funds for other things.

2. A Checking Account for All Your Other Expenses

Your second checking account will pay for everything else, like entertainment costs, shopping trips, gifts, and small splurges. Look at this account as spending for things you want, but don’t need. You’ll want a debit card for this account since this will be your primary expense account.

3. A Savings Account for Emergencies

Everyone needs a rainy day fund for life’s expenses that you can’t plan for such as car repairs, medical bills, or unemployment. Therefore, you should set aside money every month to create a safety net. This will help reduce the financial impact of large, unexpected expenses down the line. Experts suggest keeping a fund that could cover three to six months’ worth of expenses. However, this money is only intended for emergencies. So, you shouldn’t touch the account until you need it.

4. A Savings Account for Financial Goals

Your last bank account should be a savings account that is specifically dedicated for larger purchases like a car, a down payment on a house, or a vacation. You may view this as a savings account for your long-term desires. Or, you could use it as a retirement account. Either way, it helps you build savings for the future. Depending on how ambitious your savings goals are, you may want to create separate accounts for each one.

7 Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

1. It forces you to look at your monthly expenses and create a budget.

Shockingly, many people have never learned how to create and live on a budget. However, setting up these different accounts forces you to categorize your expenses and calculate a figure of how much you spend each month. The 4 Bank Accounts System is an easy way to correct any imbalances and establish your financial goals.

2. The 4 Bank Accounts System prioritizes your expenses.

As you calculate your expenses, you must look at each one and decide which account it goes into. While you go through this process, you also qualify each item as a necessary or non-essential living expense. If you aren’t reaching your savings goals fast enough, it will also help you decide which ones you can do without to get there quicker.

3. Having a dedicated account ensures that your bills get paid first.

Since your account for living expenses is the first one to get funded, you never have to worry about running out of money at the end of the month. And, there is no risk of having your utilities turned off or not being able to afford groceries. If you set up automated payments, it helps you avoid late fees as well.

4. It will give you a clear picture of your spending habits.

One of the top reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts is because it highlights your spending habits. It neatly divides your finances into categories and allows you to see how much you spend each month on non-essential things. The process can also show you areas where you can reduce spending and help you live below your means.

5. Multiple bank accounts make it harder to spend money set aside for other goals.

You are less likely to make withdrawals or use an account that you don’t have a debit card for. So, it’s easier to resist temptation since the money is out of reach. Additionally, it makes you think about what you are spending your money on. The truth is that most people are unlikely to go to the trouble of transferring money for impulse buys. Therefore, it helps you spend money on things you don’t need.

6. You consistently work towards your financial goals without even thinking about it.

When you deposit the money directly into your accounts, you create the habit of putting your financial goals first. And, you don’t have the chance to spend it. Furthermore, compounding interest accelerates your savings goals even more.

You can simplify it even more if your employer can deposit your paycheck into multiple accounts. Then, your savings plan can become completely automated.

7. It teaches you how to manage your money.

The sad truth is that many of us never received a proper financial education. This is a contributing factor for why so many people struggle to save and get out of debt. One of the best reasons you should have 4 bank accounts is that it teaches you the fundamentals of saving money. Not only is the system is easy to understand, but it will also quickly establish good savings habits.

The Bottom Line

People have thought up tons of challenges and systems to help people save money. However, the 4 Bank Accounts System is one of the simplest and most straightforward that I have encountered. But, the system only works if you remain consistent. Whichever method you will stick with is the best one for you.

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The Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save

 Amazon Subscribe and Save is a great way to save money on items you buy regularly Not only does it help your budget, but you can cancel at any time However, there are drawbacks to consider While it may seem like a good budgeting tool, there is also an ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save What Is Amazon Subscribe and Save? Thousands of items are eligible for this discount, and you can view them in the Subscribe and Save Store Browse a range of categories from groceries and household items to personal care products Choose which items you need, add them to your cart, select how often you need them delivered, and see how much you can save Your items will automatically ship based on the schedule you set What Are the Benefits? The discount varies between 5% and 15% They have several delivery schedule options from monthly to every six months You can postpone, reschedule, or cancel deliveries if you don’t need the item Free shipping on these items so you can bypass one of the largest fees of shopping online What Is the Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save? You are unable to lock in the price, so they may change between shipments Prices fluctuate and you may not realize it if you have automated payments and shipments Price spikes are a budgeter’s nightmare and can sneakily eat away at your monthly budget If you don’t realize there has been a price increase, you could be paying more than you need to or want to for a particular item Check you Amazon notifications, they will send a confirmation with the details of your order, including any price changes When you stay with a single seller, you could miss out on other deals by comparison shopping Although it was the best price when you joined Amazon Subscribe and Save, it might not be the best deal out there, could save more money if you shop in person as well If you cancel or postpone an item and your package has fewer than five items, you won’t receive the full discount How to Make the Most of Amazon Subscribe and Save Figure out which items you order most frequently, how much you currently spend, and decide if it is worth the savings Although it may not be worth it for cheaper items, applying it to more expensive household and personal products could save you a significant amount of money Compare prices with local stores and other sellers The convenience of having the items delivered may be worth paying a little more each month Edit your list and remove items that you skip again and again Best for non-perishable items that you can store if you don’t use them right away Paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food, diapers, toiletries, health and beauty products If you have at least five items delivered, you will receive a maximum discount of 15% Don’t just add items to fill the quota If you don’t use the products, then you are just wasting your money Make sure to read your emails and review the prices Check if prices have changed since the last shipment so there won’t be any surprises Apply Amazon coupons to save even more when you check out Clip virtual coupons, several lists around the web that lists eligible items for more discounts Read More 10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For Record Setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales 4 Qualities of a Good Online Store

People use Amazon to help them find the best deals and save money. Not only can you comparison shop between sellers, but you can also join Amazon Subscribe and Save. This is a great option for budgeters looking to save money on items they buy regularly. In addition to reducing your monthly expenses, you also have the flexibility to opt-out at any time. However, there are always drawbacks to any savings program. While it may seem like a good budgeting tool, there is also an ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save.

What Is Amazon Subscribe and Save?

Amazon Subscribe and Save is a service that offers bigger discounts when you agree to automatic deliveries from the same seller on a routine basis. Thousands of items are eligible for this discount through their marketplace. You can view them in the Subscribe and Save Store.

There are no fees to join. So, you can browse through offers in a range of categories from groceries and household items to personal care products. If you find a good deal, simply choose which items you need, add them to your cart, select how often you need them delivered, and see how much you can save. Then, your items will automatically ship based on the schedule you set.

What Are the Benefits?

The program has several benefits for frequent online shoppers. Depending on the size of your shipment, the discount varies between 5% and 15%. If you are ordering most of your groceries and health supplies online, this can save you a ton of money each month.

The Amazon Subscribe and Save program also has flexible delivery options. You can customize your schedule from monthly deliveries to every six months. If you don’t need the items, you can also postpone, reschedule, or cancel deliveries before shipment.

And, they offer free shipping on all eligible items. This allows you to bypass one of the largest fees and objections to shopping online.

What Is the Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save?

But, as with all things in life, there are two sides to every story. For every benefit, there are also drawbacks to consider.

You can’t lock in prices.

Even though you may agree to the price at the time you join, there is no way to guarantee you will get the same rate in the future. Prices fluctuate, and they may change between your deliveries. When prices decline, this is to your benefit. However, when they increase, you will be paying more for the same products. If you don’t realize there has been a price increase, you could be paying more than you think.

Although Amazon sends a confirmation email before shipment, you may miss price changes if you don’t read them. Most people would prefer to buy the same product from another seller who has a better price. But your delivery is on an automated shipping schedule, so Amazon will only cancel or edit orders when you intervene.

It doesn’t guarantee the lowest price.

Even though it may have been the best price available when you made the initial purchase, that doesn’t guarantee the lowest price on future shipments. Prices constantly fluctuate and new sellers are always looking for new customers. When you stay with a single seller, you could miss out on other deals by comparison shopping. Your regular order may not be the best deal out there.

Changing your order can affect your discount.

Although you may have received the largest possible discount on previous orders, canceling or postponing items could affect your savings. In order to receive the full 15% discount, you must have at least five items in the shipment. If you reduce your shipper and have less than five things in your cart, you will get a smaller discount.

How to Make the Most of Amazon Subscribe and Save

While you can’t deny the ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save, the trick is learning how to maximize its benefits to your advantage.

1. Review your budget to see if the savings make sense.

If you want to find out if the program is worth the time and trouble, you need to evaluate your expenses. Once you know which items you order most frequently, how much you currently spend for them, and compare prices, then you can decide if it is worth the savings.

Although it may not be worth it for cheaper items, applying it to more expensive household and personal products could save you a significant amount of money. However, you don’t want to pay more or receive items you don’t need. Therefore, you should review and edit your list before each shipment. Compare current prices and remove any items you don’t need.

2. It’s better for items that can be stored long-term.

The truth is that you will probably receive products more frequently than needed. Although this isn’t a huge deal for most items, it can equate to a lot of wasted money if you are ordering fresh produce.

So, Amazon Subscribe and Save is probably best used for non-perishable items such as paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food, diapers, toiletries, health and beauty products, and other things that will eventually be used.

3. Make sure you always have at least five items.

Another way to ensure you get the most out of the program is to ensure you meet the minimum standards. You need to have at least five items delivered to receive a maximum discount of 15%. But, you don’t want to simply add items to reach the quota. If you aren’t using the products, then you are just throwing your money away.

4. Review your shipment details.

Next time you get a shipment notification, don’t delete the email without reading it. Make sure you look at the details and review the prices. This is the time to make changes and ensure there won’t be any surprises.

5. Look for digital coupons.

If you love clipping coupons, then there is more good news for you. There are tons of sites and forums that share virtual coupons. You can apply Amazon coupons to save even more when you check out.

Although Amazon Subscribe and Save can help your budget, you need to know how to navigate the fine print to maximize your savings.

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Buy Once Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

 

Buy Once Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

Most people know that the purpose of budgeting is to help you take control of your finances. The first step in doing this is creating a monthly budget. First,  you figure out how much you make each month. From that, you monitor what you spend and deduct it from your total income. Many people look for ways to reduce their expenses as much as possible. But, is that the best approach to budgeting? Some say buying quality over quantity is more cost-effective. The ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality in budgeting may cost more upfront but can save you a ton in the long run.

What is the ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ Mentality?

Buy Once, Cry Once is the idea that you value quality over price. It means that you can purchase something one time for a higher price, and it will withstand the test of time. Believe me, I understand the importance of cutting corners here and there to save a buck. I used to be the type of person who never paid full price for anything. But after seeing the bottom line of buying multiple cheap items, the ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality is now ingrained in me.

Invest in Quality Clothing

For example, I used to buy cheaply made clothing from the large box stores to save money. My closet was full of items from the bargain bins and discount racks. However, within a year, the new items started to look worn or would fall apart and need repairs. Instead of buying a cheap, poorly made winter jacket for $20, look at purchasing something from a quality brand.  Yes, it might cost five times as much. But, you get what you pay for. So, chances are it will last you five times longer than the more economical option. And honestly, you’ll be happier with it in the end.

Don’t Settle for Cheap Knock-Offs

Another example would be buying an expensive appliance. Many high-end appliances like air-fryers and insta-pots have flooded the market, but the appeal comes from their longevity. I use both these appliances several times a week, and they are still working as well as the day I bought them. Sure, you could spend less on a knock-off, generic product. But spending more on a quality appliance will save you money in repairs and replacement costs. You buy the appliance once (and cry because of the high price), but then you have a well-made product that will last you for years to come.

Cheap Vehicles Often Lead to Costly Repairs

However, the most obvious application of the Buy Once, Cry Once approach to budgeting was when I bought a used vehicle. Several years ago, I was looking for a new car. However, there was no way I could afford high monthly payments. So, I found a used vehicle from a private seller. On the surface, everything looked clean and functioned well. But, within a few months, I experienced one costly repair after another. In total, I spent nearly as much on repairs as I did on the vehicle. Had I increased my initial budget, I could have bought a more reliable car that didn’t require so much maintenance.

Buy Once, Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

So now that we have wrapped our heads around the ‘Buy once, Cry once’ mentality, how does it fit into budgeting?

If you ascribe to this mantra, then you know your budget is going to take a substantial hit upfront. After all, paying for quality is not a new idea. In terms of budgeting, you should look at the expense as a one-time expenditure. When you plan for a large purchase, you can adjust your budget so you don’t overextend yourself. Going back to the example of buying a new winter coat, you would put aside extra money in the budget around November/December to accommodate the extra expense.

Think of it this way; a one-time expense for a quality item usually turns out to be a better value over time. Rather than having to budget to purchase lesser quality items more frequently, you invest in better-made items that you only have to buy once.

However, if you are making a larger purchase like a car that is bigger than your entire budget, it will probably require a loan. But the Buy Once, Cry Once theory still applies. Although you have larger monthly payments, buying a better quality vehicle will save you money in labor and repairs.

How to Get Quality at a Lower Cost

Even though you are going to spend more upfront with this approach, you can still find quality at a decent cost. Just because you want to buy quality products does not mean you have to buy the most expensive option. You can save a lot of money by doing some research before you spend anything. Compare product reviews and shop around for the best deals. Depending on what you are shopping for, you can likely find excellent deals with seasonal offers.

 

Another way you can stretch your budget is to find second-hand items. With online marketplaces and sales becoming more active than ever, there is a good chance you can find used products for a great price. If possible, take some time to explore used options before you blow your monthly budget.

Conclusion

Shifting your mindset to purchase something based on quality over price will reap many financial benefits over time.  The ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality in budgeting may be hard to grasp at first. But once you embrace it, I can assure you that you’ll ultimately be more satisfied.  By creating a free monthly budget, you too can be on your way to financial independence.  

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

If reading this blog post makes you want to try your hand at blogging, we have good news for you; you can do exactly that on Saving Advice. Just click here to get started.

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Keeping Your Utility Prices Low But Secure

Utility prices only seem to be on the rise. Sometimes it can feel like each year there is a new increase that bumps up the price. To put the price increase into perspective, in 2019, Americans were paying $104 a month for water and waste utilities, which was up 30% in less than a decade. That’s just for one part of the utility bills.

Yearly in the US, the average family spends $2,060 a year on utility bills. What we can say for sure is that household bills are expensive, and they won’t get cheaper anytime soon. Thanks to economical and trading factors, utility bills will continue to rise. Statista predicts electricity alone will go up by 1.3% by the end of 2022.

With every utility bill expected to go up over the years, we want to discuss how you can keep your utility prices low and secure. Secure meaning they’re ongoing utility bills that provide you with the utilities and coverage you need to live comfortably that’s impaired.

Protecting Your Supply

It’s easy to become accustomed to having instant access to any utility you need. Even simple things like turning on a light switch or running the faucet to wash the dishes are luxuries we take for granted. There are, sadly, multiple things that can happen to affect your supply.

One of the most obvious is problems with utility bill payments. When you take out a tariff with your utility provider, you’ll agree on a date that the bill has to be paid. Some are monthly, some are quarterly, and others can even be yearly. The minute you don’t pay, letters and emails will come your way. Most companies allow a grace period of a month or so before they cut the utility supply, especially for ones like gas and electric.

To prevent this, set up a direct debit with every utility provider. Direct debits are a great way of ensuring the bill is paid every month – although it’s not always secure. Sometimes utility providers can charge too much, which is easy to miss if you let the direct debit run without checking the statement first.

Top tip, always check the billing statement at least a week before the bill is due to come out to check for discrepancies.

You can protect your supply in other ways. Most homeowners don’t know that the supply lines that run under their homes are their responsibility. Some insurers offer service line coverage which protects you when damage occurs. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do in the way of maintaining these lines – you can only protect yourself if something were to go wrong.

Limiting Your Usage

Limiting your utility usage is an excellent way to keep your costs low without taking out a tariff that doesn’t suit your needs. Water usage is the perfect example. Most suppliers charge based on the size of the meter and how much you use – which is often based on submitted meter readings.

You can limit your usage by filling a bowl of water to wash up rather than leaving the faucet running, limiting the amount of laundry you do a week, and limiting your time in the shower. The same goes for electricity, which also typically runs on a meter. Out of all the household utility bills, electricity is perhaps the most wasteful bill.

From leaving lights on during the day to leaving the television on overnight, homeowners have some wasteful habits when it comes to utility bills. Simply being slightly more conscious about your usage can bring your monthly premiums down.

Getting The Best Tariffs

The tariff you’re on might not be the cheapest tariff available – especially with utility bills like the internet. Internet prices seem to be skyrocketing, with the average internet bill in the US currently costing around $64 a month. Still, that price is probably so high because the internet is running 24/7, and most people prefer to switch from their data to Wi-Fi when they get home.

Yet, most people also have unlimited data cell phone contracts, so why not consider cutting the cost of your internet price by reducing the agreed download and upload speeds and the total usage and rely on your cell phone more in the home. Similarly, you might find it beneficial to shop around and see if another provider has a better tariff- that applies to any utility bill.

Sometimes it’s better to shop around and get a better deal than to stay loyal to a provider that’s overcharging you.

Utility bills will always be expensive, yet they’re a necessity in life we can’t run away from. Although there are ways of reducing the cost slightly, it can still feel like utility bills take your hard-earned money quicker than it comes in. The tips above should help you to keep your utility bills low but secure.

Healthy Costco Foods on a Budget

healthy costco food

Many people questioned renewing their Costco membership when they announced that they were raising their membership fees.  Although it was only a 9% hike, Executive members now pay $120 a year, while Gold Star members pay $60 a year.  Despite the minimal increase in the annual fee,  Costco shoppers reap huge savings when they buy items in bulk.  It is great for large families and those looking to stretch their grocery budget.  While the savings are attractive, quality produce and products provide another significant benefit. Healthy Costco foods are good for both your well-being and your wallet.

Buying Costco Foods in Bulk

Getting  healthy Costco foods in bulk can help stretch your grocery budget when things get tight.  For example, I usually set aside $350 per month to spend on food.  This includes eating out in addition to weekly groceries from Costco and other supermarkets.  A family of four will likely have a monthly food budget closer to $1000.  The great part about buying food in bulk is that you get a better price than when you buy the same item individually.

Products with Long Shelf Lives

Many who purchase items in bulk from Costco stock up on paper products and food items with a long shelf life.  For example, paper products, dry goods, and condiments are a few items where you can receive huge savings by buying in bulk.  Even if you don’t use these items right away, they can always be used down the road when you need them.

Healthy Foods that Can Be Stored

Shopping for lean healthy meats at Costco can provide huge savings to a family of four as well.  Purchasing healthy Costco foods such as lean chicken breasts, ground beef, beans, and brown rice in bulk can provide healthy nutrition and savings.

Purchasing many pounds of meat at once can net you huge savings. Although they come in large packages, you can divide the meat into smaller Ziploc bags, and simply freeze them until a later date.  Even when shopping at grocery stores, one of the tricks I do is purchase items when they are on sale.  One week, chicken might be on sale for $1.99/lb while the next week it is $2.99/lb.  Organizing purchases so you take advantage of them during sales is the best way to optimize your monthly grocery budget.

Costco’s Reputation with Its Customers

Costco has a good reputation among shoppers. This is partly because of the quality of their products, but it is also due to their excellent customer service and robust returns policy.  So, if you’re shopping for organic food at Costco, there aren’t many downsides. Even if you come across a bad apple, chances are good they’ll accept returns.

While I’m raving about Costco, they also have good prices on tires and are open on most major holidays, so you can get your car serviced while you’re picking up your groceries.

Buying healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, and buying healthy Costco foods doesn’t have to cost a lot either.  When shopping for groceries, the keys are to buy in bulk when available and stock up during sales.  Finally, by planning your purchases ahead of time with a list, you can avoid unneeded items.  Eating healthy and sticking to your budget doesn’t have to be hard.

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