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6 Little Money Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Every Month (Fix Them and Save)

By Daniel Bortz | Consumer Reports

When was the last time you took a close look at your expenses? If it’s been a while, the new year is a good time to figure out whether you’re wasting money on things you don’t really need—or may be overlooking.

This isn’t about giving up restaurants or skipping vacations. Instead, it’s about plugging those “money leaks”—small, often hidden costs that slowly drain your checking account without you even noticing. Over months and years, these small leaks can add up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Here are six common money leaks you should look out for—with tips on how to patch them up:

1. Paying too much for car insurance. 

Once your car is 10 years old, the cost of collision coverage can be more than the vehicle is worth, says Margarita Dilone, an independent insurance agent with Crystal Insurance in Washington, D.C.

So check your car insurance policy to see whether your premiums and deductible for collision coverage equal or exceed the value of your vehicle, Dilone says. If your car truly is a clunker, it might be time to skip that coverage, which can cut your insurance bill as much as 75 percent, she adds.

2. Not bundling all of your insurance. 

If you buy insurance policies for your car and your home separately, you could be paying more than necessary. But if you bundle, you’ll probably save money.

According to Angela Testa, a State Farm representative, for each insurance policy that you buy bundled, discounts generally range from 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on where you live. According to data compiled by insuranceQuotes.com, if you live in Louisiana, for example, you could save an average of 19.68 percent off your total auto insurance and home insurance premiums by bundling. That amounts to an average of $584 per year in premiums paid in that state.

3. Overlooking checking account fees. 

Some financial institutions charge service fees typically ranging from $5 to $15 per month for checking accounts. That’s a fee some customers overlook when opening an account.

Many banks will waive these fees, however, if you meet certain requirements, such as setting up a direct deposit account, opening a second account, or completing a certain number of transactions each month.

A Bank of America Core Checking Account, as it is known, levies a $12 monthly fee but will waive it if you make a direct deposit of $250 or more, maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more, or are a student under the age of 23.

Check with your bank to see whether you’re paying a checking account fee. If you are, find out whether there are ways to have it waived—or whether the bank has a different no-fee checking account that meets your needs and can help you save money.

“If neither pans out, switch to another bank that does,” says Greg McBride, a chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

4. Not using a programmable thermostat. 

In the U.S., energy costs consume between 5 and 22 percent of the average family’s total after-tax income, according to WalletHub.com. But buying a programmable thermostat ($150 to $250 on average) can cut costs significantly.

Turning the temperature down 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours each day (such as at night) from its normal setting can help you save money—up to 10 percent, or about $180 per year, according to Energy.gov.

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10 Smart Ways to Save Money AND Transform Your Life

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Save Money
Saving Money | Flickr

By Martin Snepp | Huffington Post

Most people would like to have more money. Whilst earning more money is sometimes out of your control, and might not always be immediately possible, how much money you spend is within your control. By becoming more conscious of how and where you spend your money, you can make your money reach further for you. Here are ten suggestions on how to save money and transform your life:

1. Stop impulse buying. When you feel the impulse to buy something, stop for a few seconds and ask yourself ‘do I really want and/or need this’? If, after stopping to ask yourself this question, you still want to buy it, that’s fine. The point is to start building awareness about when you feel the impulse to buy something and how you are feeling when the impulse arises. What do you believe the item will add to your life and how do you think it will make you feel once you own it? Many people live their lives on autopilot. Bringing awareness to the choices you make can help you to make more conscious decisions and spend your money in a more conscious way.

2. Shop smarter. With the wealth of information readily available to most people, there are many opportunities for you to shop smarter. Ways to shop smarter include: buy items online and have them delivered; requesting a discount (where appropriate) instead of paying full price; buying your groceries somewhere cheaper; buy at discount stores or thrift shops; team up with others to receive group discounts; buy in bulk; reach out to your network on Facebook to find the best deals; or you could exchange your time (instead of money) for products or services. If it is important enough to you, you will find ways to shop smarter and save money.

3. Watch out for tricks used in marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising campaigns are very clever at making you think and believe you want something you don’t really need. They are also good at convincing you to buy something simply because it appears to be a good deal. They pull on emotional strings and play on people’s weaknesses and insecurities. Building more awareness of the tricks they use helps you to resist their temptation.

4. Grow your own food. Grow your own vegetables, grow your own herbs, grow your own fruit. Not only will it help you to get outside and get in touch with nature, you know where your food is coming from, you are reducing transport mileage and you have the choice whether to grow organic produce or not.

5. Instead of buying, share items with your family, friends or community. Instead of always buying new clothes, why not try sharing with others. You could also do this for appliances such as lawn mowers, various tools etc. instead of buying expensive items you might rarely use. In Vancouver, there are multiple car share companies where car ownership is shared among many members, thus significantly reducing costs.

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Doing This Will Save You Money & Improve Your Relationship with Your Neighbors

 Does everyone in the neighborhood really need a lawn mower? Sharing Communal Property Benefits Everybody & Strengthens Relationships

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By Madeleine Somerville | The Guardian

One year ago I owned a house. Today I rent a one-bedroom suite with my daughter.

There were dozens of factors contributing to this drastic shift in my life, the majority of which were beyond my control. But from where I stand now, even after what might be called a downgrade in our living arrangement, I feel oddly happy.

Related Article: How Saving $8 A Day Can Make You A Millionaire

This contentment comes in large part from the fact that when we needed to move, a suite became available in the same house my sister rented. It was a sweetly serendipitous coincidence, and I’ve felt grateful for it every day since.

At the time, I was mostly just overcome with relief. Relief because the decisions I’d made to live a life with few possessions meant that moving from an entire house into a one-bedroom suite was not only possible but easy. We fit, with room to spare.

I was also relieved because I knew I’d need emotional support from my sister during this challenging transition (not to mention the free babysitting), but in the eight months I’ve lived here an unintended benefit has emerged.

Our possessions have become shared, ownership is fluid. Small appliances are constantly exchanged between my sister and I. We trade meals and split resources. This arrangement goes far beyond borrowing a cup of sugar: we pool resources together in order to save money, increase our quality of life, and reduce the amount of stuff we each have to own and store.

It’s been eye-opening.

It had been years since I’d started consciously shifting my choices to mitigate my negative impact on the environment. I’d focused on decreasing my footprint, using fewer resources. And while I initially approached things like a well-intentioned martyr, I quickly learned that creating a life with less means more choice. This latest discovery was no exception.

An extensive wardrobe means you need somewhere to store it. A home with walk-in closets doesn’t come cheap, and your university furniture looks shabby against a gleaming background of hardwood floors and polished granite.

Your cost of living increases with the amount of stuff you require, and so too does the amount of hours you work; your leisure time is reduced to evenings and weekends, and a one-week holiday here and there.

Related Article: The Rapidly Rising Cost Of Living Is Absolutely Killing the Middle Class In America

We choose that. Perhaps not consciously, but we do. Like a dieter who eats one small donut a day, the dozens of little decisions we make every day snowball into shaping larger life decisions.

There’s a lovely quote by Thoreau which has remained close to my heart since I first read it: “The price of anything is the amount of life we have to pay for it.”

We, many of us, have bought in and are paying dearly. We’re mortgaged to the hilt and trying in vain to dig ourselves out of debt. We can’t quit our jobs, or reduce our workloads, or even take more than a few weeks off a year because we need keep working for the things we want, and we pay for them with the minutes and hours that make up our lives.

Often we don’t even question these habits, which is a shame because other options are out there.

Related Article: 5 Money Lessons You Need to Know By 30

I’d always focused on simply buying less, but moving just a few feet away from my sister meant that I began to see a different perspective – communal ownership. Shifting our lives away from needing to own everything and beginning to resurrect the traditions of sharing, lending, trading and borrowing.

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Can You Build a Home for Under $500? This Man Did!

| Gizmag

Brooks didn't keep an exact tally of costs but estimates it as "well below" the $500 mark (Photo: Scott Brooks/Brendan McGarry Photography)

Brooks didn’t keep an exact tally of costs but estimates it as “well below” the $500 mark (Photo: Scott Brooks/Brendan McGarry Photography)

The tiny living community is filled with enthusiasts who think outside the box in a bid to turn what’s essentially a shed into a viable home at minimal cost. Pacific Northwest resident Scott Brooks offers a great example of what can be achieved with a shoestring budget under the right circumstances, with the recently-completed Transforming Tiny Home, which was built for an estimated cost of under US$500.

Until now, the cheapest tiny house project we’d reported on was the $489 conversion of a storehouse by two college students. Though he didn’t keep an exact tally, Brooks estimates his home as coming in at “well below” $500. Like the storehouse conversion, this was largely made possible thanks to the use of salvaged and gifted items, which in this case included skylights, a door, a window and a wood-burning stove.

The Transforming Tiny Home measures just 7.7 sq m (83 sq ft), and isn’t designed to be easily movable. It sits atop concrete blocks in a large 8.1-hectare (20-acre) plot of rural land in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The land is owned by Brooks’ friend, who designed the basic shell of the tiny house to use materials he already had lying around, and Brooks and a few more friends then built it.

read rest of the article here




How Long Can You Go Without Spending Money?

 

Daisy Luther Activist Post 

Most people spend money every single day.

I’m not talking about your day-to-day necessities like house payments and fuel for the vehicle. I’m talking about those little impulse buys that most of us make without thinking twice about them.
MoneyOnIce
We spend more money on silly things than we realize.  If you spend money on the following, you could go a lot longer than you think without spending.

  • Drive-thru coffee
  • Delivery or takeout pizza
  • Lunches out with friends from work
  • Buying a drink while you are out
  • Buying magazines
  • Going for manicures/pedicures/facials
  • Driving places just to have something to do

It’s these little things that add up and can take an enormous chunk out of your budget. We’ve become a nation of consumers that think nothing of plunking down 5 times the value for something because we’re out and it’s convenient.

Instead of the above, you could…

  • Bring your own coffee in a thermos from home
  • Make pizza from scratch
  • Organize a workplace potluck
  • Keep a small cooler in your vehicle with drinks from home
  • Read online
  • Change to a simpler beauty regimen
  • Stay home

By doing this, you could save thousands of dollars per year.

CoffeeToGoCostMy favorite calculation is this: If you went to Starbucks every morning before work and purchased a $5 coffee, you spent a whopping $1300 on that morning routine.

One thousand three hundred dollars.

And that is just for one frivolous expenditure. What if you added them all up? My guess is, you’d discover you were spending far, far more money than you realized.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying we should never have a treat. We tend to go out to a nearby city for supplies once a month, and we often grab a coffee out when we do so. That day is our big outing, and picking something up then is a treat.  That’s because a treat is, by definition, something outside the norm. When you do something every single day, it’s no longer a treat – it’s a habit, and an expensive one in this case.

Consider these big questions. How deeply ingrained is your spending habit?  Could you institute a spending freeze for an entire week? For a month? How long could you go without spending money?

Breaking the Spending Habit


Spending itself is a habit. If you can break the habit of thoughtless spending, you’ll be much further ahead. You can put that money towards large investment purchases that you never realized you could afford. If you took you $1300 in Starbucks spending at the end of the year, you could make one large purchase that could help your family be more self-sufficient – maybe you could build an outdoor kitchen or put a solar pump on your well. Now imagine if you corralled all of that frivolous spending what you could do.

It might be more than just saving your pennies for a large expense. The way the economy is going, it might be a matter of survival to learn to limit your spending.  Prices are going up, incomes are staying the same, and jobs are getting lost and not replaced.  It’s better to start now on the road towards non-consumerism, than when you are forced to do so in order to eat. I’d rather these things be my choice, not just the effect of a personal financial downturn.

Here are a couple of different ways that you can start a spending freeze:

First, give yourself an allowance.  That’s right – give all of the people in your family who spend money an allowance.  Make it cash, and collect the bank cards, credit cards, etc.  This doesn’t mean that purchases cannot be made, but it will take some effort to do so, and that effort will give you time to think it through.  Do you really need that pair of shoes that goes with that one outfit in your closet? You know, the outfit that you wear once every two years?  By giving yourself a little cool-off time, you’re less likely to make regrettable purchases that just don’t add enough value to your life.  By having your spending money in cash, you have a very tangible way to see how much you’ve spent. Your goal should be to finish the week with a little money left over, instead of ending the week trying to dip into next week’s money.  This also helps to limit the amount of frivolous spending that any family member can do.

Second, challenge yourself to see how long you can go without spending money.  Once you’ve gotten your food for the week, paid your bills, and fueled up the vehicle, see how long you can go without spending anything. Nothing will make you more aware of your normal habits than stopping them completely.  Because I work from home and I have to drive half an hour to get to anyplace to spend money, this is a little easier for me than it is for someone who goes to work outside the home every day. But it’s possible. I know, because I haven’t always had this lifestyle, and as a single mom with no other financial contributions, it was a matter of survival for us.  I tried to make it a game and came up with all sorts of creative ways to avoid spending money. We’d walk instead of driving, have movie night at home with stovetop popcorn when something good was on network TV, and read books from the library.  Life without spending money does not have to be grim and miserable.

Third, turn off your “consumer” button.  It’s time to stop being such a consumer. Think about that word, “consumer” – it always makes me think of a horde of locusts, descending on a field and picking it clean.  I don’t want to be one of those locusts, consuming just because something is there, until it’s gone. Whatever it is you want to spend money on, you might not even need it.  If you do need it, instead of buying it, try making it. Not only do you save money, but you develop skills too. Learn to entertain yourself without spending.  Teach your kids to be entertained without electronic devices. Develop hobbies that are productive instead of expensive.  Truly give thought to where your money is going when you purchase things created by multi-billion dollar conglomerates. Do you want to contribute to some executive’s annual million dollar bonus or do you want the satisfaction of doing something yourself?

How to Become a Happy Non-Consumer


So how can you switch gears and become happy about making changes that might initially feel like a step “down” or a punishment?  When you change your mindset, you can successfully change your life. Start with these 8 mental adjustments.

1. Be grateful.  An “attitude of gratitude” is the most vital part of embracing your cheap side. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, you will find that you “need” far less than you did before. That’s because you aren’t seeking some momentary hit of joyous adrenaline by purchasing something. That rush rarely lasts and you’re just left with more stuff and less money.


2. Be creative.  How can you make something, save something, or repair something in a totally original way?  Embrace the challenge and tap into your creativity – you may just discover that, in your originality, you’ve come up with something far better than the purchased alternative. (We’ve found this to be especially true with fashion accessories, home decor, and birthday parties!)

3. Give.  Don’t let your pursuit of frugality make you stingy. There are always people who are worse off than you. It’s important to give a hand up to those people. If your kids were hungry, or cold, or without shelter, wouldn’t you hope that some kind person would help them? Even at our absolute rock bottom financially, we donated one can of spaghetti sauce and a package of noodles to the food bank every week, which hopefully provided a warm comforting meal for someone who needed it. It isn’t really necessary to debate whether people are truly in need or just milking the system. That is a subject for them and their consciences. Just give. You are responsible for your intentions, not theirs.

4. Spend your money where it really matters.  We opted to move to a very small community into a drafty little cabin in the woods. We made this decision as a family, in order to reduce our monthly output. By getting rid of “city rent” and all of the bills that came with it, we cut our monthly output in half. This means that I can spend a little extra on high-quality meats and dairy, for example. When my daughter needs new glasses, it’s not a problem to pay for them. It means my older daughter can get through college without crippling student loans.

5. Less need equals more time.  Not only does a thrifty lifestyle mean that I can refocus where my money goes. It means that I can refocus where my time goes. I don’t have to work quite as hard on stuff outside the home and can focus on farm and family.  I have the time to make hats and scarves instead of purchasing them. I have time to garden and can the harvests. I have time to perform money-saving tasks like cooking from scratch, which goes into a big happy circle of having more money to put towards important things.

6. Stay home. When you stay home more, you are tempted less. You aren’t thirsty, requiring a beverage. You aren’t hungry, requiring a snack. You aren’t using the car, requiring gas. You aren’t tempted by all the colorful and wonderful things in the stores.

7. Hang out with like-minded people.  It is so much easier to embrace your cheap side if you don’t have people telling you how deprived you are all the time, or berating you for being too cheap to spend $27.85 on a movie ticket, popcorn, and a soda pop. Most of my closest friends are thrifty. We swap clothing, we borrow and lend tools, and we cheerfully hang out without spending a dime. Instead of going out to sit in a boutique coffee shop sipping a $6 latte with whipped cream, we sit in the garden at one of our houses sipping a coffee that one of us made, along with a nice fresh blueberry muffin. We enjoy the same conversation we would have had at that coffee shop too. Instead of heading to the mall, we chat on Skype. When your nearest and dearest are on the same page, life is a whole lot easier.

8. Turn off the TV.  People go to school for years to study how to make people want what they don’t need. That great big brainwash box sitting in the living room is a direct pipeline into your brain. From the beautiful homes on the TV programs, the fancy clothes and cars, and the ads for food, recreation, and new cars, the whole racket is designed to make you feel you what you have now is inferior to what you could have. Kids are the biggest target of product placement advertising in popular shows. If you watch TV, limit it. Become aware of the scams and discuss them with your kids so that they can easily identify how marketers are attempting to manipulate them. (Confession: we do watch a little bit of TV in our home, and when we do, it’s a big game to identify the hidden ads. While this may sound contrary to the advice to turn the TV off, I believe that some limited viewing coupled with an awareness of the marketing techniques inoculates my children against the sales pitch.)

To switch over to a frugal lifestyle successfully, you really have to want to do it. If you’re constantly bemoaning what you don’t have, you’ll be miserable.  If you are resentful that you can’t have “stuff” then you won’t stick to your frugal plan.

The most important thing of all is to switch off your personal “want” button. When you don’t want or need the things that the “elite” and the big corporations are selling, then you are suddenly free of their restrictions. You are no longer a slave to the wages you must earn to pay for the things they tell you that you should have. You don’t have a lifestyle built on expectations, debt, and the never-ending search for happiness bought from a store.

(This previous numbered section is an excerpt from a previously published article, found HERE)

How long can you go without spending money?

If you put yourself and your family on a personal spending freeze, how long could you go?  Here’s the challenge for the week ahead.

Make a careful list and plan out your meals, 3 per day, for the next week. Fill up your car with gas, and put aside money for more gas if you use more than a tank per week.

Then lock up your bank cards and credit cards and put away your cash. Can you go for an entire week without spending money?

Post your results here!

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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