The Importance of Budgeting for Health Reasons

Research shows that there is a direct correlation between stress levels and finances. People who are worried about their finances have significantly higher stress levels compared to people who are comfortable with their financial situation. While some forms of stress are good, financial issues can have an adverse impact on your health. Research shows that increased stress can boost your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. If your financial situation is starting to overwhelm you, here are a few reasons why you should consider implementing a budget to protect your health.

Creating a Budget

More people are creating a budget seemingly every year. However, sticking to a budget often becomes complicated. Budgeting is designed to take some pressure off and allow you to live life more comfortably. It’s recommended that you avoid setting a strict budget initially, as that can cause even more stress. You may start to experience negative thoughts if you aren’t reaching your financial goals. It’s important to settle on a budget that aligns with your financial situation. Many financial analysts believe that the best way to budget is by giving every aspect of your finances a role. This helps you stay in charge of your money, which minimizes potential stress.

Budgeting Can Improve Your Immune System

Setting a budget reduces stress and strain on your immune system. When you start feeling anxious, your body naturally goes into a defensive mode. Your body’s energy becomes overpowering. As a result, your immune system slows down. This may leave your body open to catching a cold or other serious ailments. When your stress levels fall back down, your body leaves its defensive mode, and you’ll start to feel healthier. Avoiding sickness is especially important if you are uninsured. A recent study showed that over 8% of adults over 18 fail to obtain health insurance due to rising costs.

Budgeting Helps Keep Your Body Strong

Setting a budget helps minimize the physical toll of stress on your body. You help take back control of your finances and reduce the amount of anxiety throughout your body. Your body will avoid common stress triggers, and you can avoid physical issues like muscle aches, stomach pains, and migraines.

You Avoid Being Overwhelmed

Establishing a budget allows you to set up a plan for how you want to spend your money. This helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Once you start feeling overwhelmed, you expose yourself to potential physical and emotional pain. Your body may shut down. Creating a budget can help you look toward the future. By having a clear long-term objective, you can relax, and your body will feel refreshed every time you reach a new goal.

Setting a Budget Can Help You Find Better Health Coverage

Thousands of people have been adversely impacted because of rising healthcare costs. On top of that, thousands of Americans die every year because of avoidable medical mistakes. This horrible stat is primarily due to many people having to settle for low-quality health care or none at all. Setting a budget can help you save money to live a healthy lifestyle. You can receive regular healthcare visits, enjoy regular massages, and practice healthy eating habits. Things are especially complicated if your doctor prescribes medication. Paying for medication, deductibles, and co-pays really makes it hard for people to afford health insurance. Creating a budget can help you cope with unpredictable health insurance costs. Consider opening a healthcare spending account.

With around 47% of adults over 30 having some form of periodontal disease, having the right healthcare is crucial. Setting a budget may improve your health because it allows you to take control. You’ll feel happier and more excited about what the future entails. Now that you know these tips, you can create a budget for better health in the future.

5 Tips for Caring for Your Dog on a Budget

Your pet is just as much a member of your family as everyone else, so it’s important for you to take good care of them. You may be thinking that it will cost you a lot of money to do, but it’s possible to take care of your dog on a budget. Doing this will help you ensure that they’re in great health and you can enjoy spending time together all the more. Read on to see the ways in which you can take care of your dog on a budget and enjoy the benefits of doing so.

1. Feed Them Quality Food

While you may feel as though buying quality food for your dog is an expensive affair, this will be the better thing for you to do. This is because low-quality food may not cater to your dog’s health well enough to make it worth it. Quality food may help you keep your dog away from the vet as it will give them all the nutrients that they need. Depending on the feeding schedule that you have for your dog, you may split the amount of food that you give them between two to three meals. This may keep them full for longer and help them to stay fit.

2. Consider Getting Pet Insurance

It’s also a good idea to think about the benefits of getting health insurance for your dog. Good health insurance can help you to avoid paying a hefty amount out of pocket in case something goes wrong. Since different companies have different policies and details, it’s important for you to shop around for one that you feel will sufficiently fit your budget and also cover your dog’s needs.

3. Don’t Impulse-Buy Pet Items

Having a dog may see you doing your best to keep them happy, and this includes buying toys and other pet items for them. Rather than buy these items on impulse without a plan that’s well-thought-through, you should plan to make the purchases over time. This will enable you to shop for deals and make savings as you may come across stores that are holding sales. This may make it easier for you to keep your expenses in order, keeping the fact in mind that 95% of taxpayers in America receive at least one of over 30 pieces of information returns that allow the government to know exactly how much they earn. These returns give the government all the information that it needs in order to fill out the returns of most taxpayers. When you keep your tax information organized, you’re likely to get a larger return that will allow you to buy more items.

4. Keep Them Fit

To maintain your dog’s health and happiness, you should also make sure that they stay fit. Do this by making sure that they stay active enough. When you have a moment to spare, take them for a walk or go to spend time at the local park with them. There, they can play with other dogs and enjoy being outdoors. Make sure you spend time at different parks and areas so your dog doesn’t get confused if you move like the nearly three million Americans who move interstate every year.

5. Learn to Groom Them at Home

Last but not least, you should learn how to groom your dog at home by yourself. This will help you to keep them clean and presentable without spending a fortune at a professional dog groomer. While you may take them to one every now and then, it’s going to be beneficial for you to groom them a majority of the time. This may even present an opportunity for you to bond.

With these five tips, you can take care of your dog without ruining your budget. This will help them feel like a truly valued member of your family, so it’s worth taking the time to do so.

Will an Electric Vehicle Save You Money In the Long Run?

All the buzz about electric cars has a lot of people wondering if they are worth the money. Electric vehicles are designed to run on an electric charge, which means you do not have to worry about paying for gas. Of course, it is not free to drive an electric vehicle. Here are some costs that you need to consider.

The Cost of Fueling an Electric Vehicle

If you are not paying for gas can you save money with an electric vehicle? Yes, but electricity is not free. On average, according to the EPA, you can expect to pay the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gas to charge your electric vehicle. That seems like that would be a lot of money to save on fuel costs.

You can check fuel savings off as something you will save money on with an electric vehicle. Over the years the savings will be significant. On average an American driver will spend over $1,700 a year on fuel costs, with an electric vehicle you will pay a fraction of that cost.

The News Is Not All Good

Electric vehicles have been around for a while. However, charging stations have not quite kept up with their popularity. Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a charging station. Installing a charging station in your home can be expensive, which of course cuts into the amount of money you can save by owning an electric vehicle.

Additionally, there have been some reports recently about the cost of replacing batteries in some brands of electric vehicles. Revenue for U.S. motor vehicle parts suppliers was $1 trillion, according to IBIS, which includes the cost of replacement parts for electric vehicles.

Batteries for these vehicles can cost more than $20,000. If you do the math and include the risk of having to pay for a replacement battery after the warranty period, it may be difficult to see how you can save money on fuel when all that savings will have to go to the cost of a replacement battery.

While most people have had very good experiences with battery life, there are some people that have had terrible experiences with battery life and have had to fork over 20K plus to get a new one. In the United States, about four out of five vehicle repairs are directly related to durability issues. Because electric vehicles are still relatively new long-term studies have not been performed to determine which vehicles are durable and which are not. It may be a risk to jump right in and buy an electric vehicle with the plan of saving money on gas only to find that you have to pay for the cost of a battery in a few years.

Other Costs to Consider

Another cost that can dent your overall money savings is the cost of other repairs. You may only be able to go back to the dealership to get repairs done on your new electric vehicle because it can be difficult to find an independently owned-auto repair shop that has the expertise to manage the repairs.

Historically, dealerships are more expensive for repairs than going to your local privately-owned auto repair shop. It may cost you more to maintain your electric vehicle which can put also put a dent in your money savings.

Overall, Is It Worth Owning an Electric Vehicle?

Electric vehicles can be a way to save money on fuel costs. They are better for the environment, and as time moves forward they are becoming much more reliable with longer ranges. However, there are some downsides to jumping on the bandwagon and buying an electric vehicle.

Choose your options carefully and do some research before you decide if this is a money-saving option that will fit your needs. Learn more about electric vehicles and the potential for saving money.

5 Money Saving Tips for Your Next Dental Procedure

Dental care is essential to your health. However, it can also be very expensive. If you need dental care, you’re not alone. 69% of adults between the ages of 35 and 59 have lost a tooth to an accident, gum disease, or decay. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of adults over the age of 75 have lost all of their teeth. Many times, this is because of a lack of dental care, often due to the cost. If you want to save money on your next dental procedure, here are some tips to help.

Get Dental Insurance

Dental insurance, like all other forms of insurance, is something you buy to prepare yourself for the future. 40% to 50% of Americans rely on their employer for health insurance, but dental might not be included. You’ll likely need to find dental coverage on your own. If you need expensive dental treatments, your dental insurance can save you a lot of money. Look for different policies and compare the costs, as well as what they cover. You might find that you can save a lot of money by researching different dental policies and buying the one that fits your needs.

Get a Second Opinion

While your regular dentist is likely very skilled, they aren’t infallible. If they recommend a dental procedure that would cost you too much money, you are within your rights to get a second opinion. Go to another dentist and ask their opinion. They might have a less expensive solution for you. If they agree with the first dentist, they’ll confirm that this is a price worth paying. Make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar.

Shop Around

Many times, dental offices will provide specials to get new patients into their practice. Take advantage of these specials; shop around and find a good dentist for your needs. Different offices charge different amounts for the same procedures. If you don’t look at all of your options, you might end up getting overcharged at your current dental office. While shopping around can take time and effort, it will save you money and potentially find you the ideal dentist for your needs. You should also shop around when your dentist refers you somewhere else. About 3.9 million children in the United States are orthodontic patients. Look for an affordable orthodontic clinic when it comes time for you or your child to get braces.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to save money on dental procedures is through prevention. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth every day. If you take care of your teeth in between dental appointments, it will reduce your risk for a lot of different problems. If you avoid these problems from the start, then you won’t need to spend any money to fix them. While you can’t guarantee that good hygiene will prevent the need for dental procedures, it can certainly help prevent unnecessary ones.

Go to a Dental School

Dentists in training need people to practice with. You can save a lot of money on dental procedures by having them done by dental students under the supervision of a professional trainer. Look for dental schools in your area and see what kinds of programs they do for free student clinics. This option can get you professional treatment for a fraction of the usual price. This is beneficial to both you and the dentist in training, so why not get your teeth cleaned at a reasonable price while helping out a student?

Dental procedures are expensive, but most are very necessary for your health. If you don’t get them done, you increase your risk for more damage and bigger bills in the future. Keep these tips in mind as you plan for your next dental procedure. They can save you a lot of money and grief.

4 Simple Budgeting Tips for Hobbies and Interests

create a budget for hobbies and interests

Outside of work, you may be looking for something fun to do to balance things out. This is when our hobbies and interests come in to fill this need. However, depending on what activities you are into, they can be costly.

I think we should always find ways to do the things that are important to us, even with money constraints. Here are 4 simple budgeting tips for hobbies and interests.

1. Allocate

The first thing you need to figure out is how much money in your budget can be set aside for your hobbies and interests.

If you have a hard time sticking to a budget, try the envelope method. With this method, you will physically put the money you’ve allocated for your hobbies and interests into an envelope. Once the money in the envelope is emptied, you can’t spend on your hobbies and interests any more for that month. This will help you stay on track and not overspend.

2. Separate Your Expenses Into Categories

Once you know how much money you can set aside each month, the next step is to break down your recreational expenses into different categories. This will help you see where most of your money is going and if there are any areas where you can cut back.

Here’s an example of categorizing your recreational expenses:

  • Travel
  • Dining out
  • Entertainment
  • Shopping
  • Sports and Fitness
  • Recurring Streaming Services

If you have trouble coming up with categories, take a look at your bank statements from the past few months. This can give you a good idea of where your money is going.

3. Review Your Budget Regularly and Make Adjustments As Needed

Your budget for hobbies and interests should be reviewed regularly, at least once every few months. This will help you to see if you are on track with your spending or if there are any areas where you need to make adjustments.

If you find that you are consistently overspending in one area, try setting a limit for yourself. For example, if you find that you are spending too much money on dining out, set a limit of $50 per month. This will help you stay within your budget and not overspend.

4. Stick to Your Budget and Have Fun!

The most important and usually the hardest part of creating any budget is sticking to it. If you find that you are consistently overspending, make adjustments to your budget so that you can stay within your means.

Don’t fool yourself and you’ll be able to enjoy your hobbies and interests without breaking the bank.

Do you have any tips for creating a budget for hobbies and interests? Share them with us in the comments below!

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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



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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