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Understanding a Spending Freeze

There is a lot of different financial guru’s out there giving different advice, usually contradicting one another’s advice. Lately there is a lot of talk about spending freezes but the advice towards taking one is clouded. So here is my take on understanding a spending freeze and how best it can serve your spending habits and ability to save money.

What is a spending freeze?

spending freezeThe basic understanding of a spending freeze is a period of time in which spending stops. Many self help books and pro financial freeze advocates believe that spending freezes should occur between a week and two weeks at a time. A spending freeze is not a bad idea, but it is not applicable to many people. What a spending freeze does not take into account it the state of the economy, the state of the job market, or how personal finances are doing currently. A spending freeze can be a good idea because of the good intentions behind it but tends not to offer solid application in our modern day. A spending freeze often comes across as a knee jerk reaction to try and make every penny go as far as possible. But there are ways to use the best parts of a spending free to help you save money.

Starting a calculated spending freeze

The key to using a spending freeze for the best factors involved is simple. First you have to look at the money you are spending on a weekly and come up with a goal on how much you are looking to save. The starting cause for spending freezes often come out of the desire to stop spending ones money frivolously. Smart spending is often the best remedy to foolish spending. a spending freeze can happen as long as your bills and monthly expenses are still being met.

Step One: Identify the goal

Your financial goals when considering a spending freeze should be in the mindset of f saving as much money as possible. Often our weekly finances go unchecked even when our monthly expenses are calculated and accounted for. Identifying what your financial goals are will allow you to access them faster and more effectively. The best ways to enact a plan are to come up with the guidelines first and solidify how you think is the best way to achieve them.

Step Two: Don’t Let Your Monthly Expenses Get Awayspending freeze 3

Just because you are considering a week or two week spending freeze doesn’t mean that your monthly obligations should go unchecked. The spending freeze happens outside of your monthly bills and month to month operational expenses. It is important to remain steadfast in paying those student loan invoices or that car payment. Just because a bills due date may fall into the time frame in which you are planning to cease spending doesn’t mean that your monthly expenses should go unchecked.

Step Three: Plan Ahead and Curb Costs

When I was younger and worked in a grocery store there was an old lady that would come in every day and buy a pint of milk, some bread and deli meats. When she was approached and asked why she didn’t buy enough for the week her answer was that if she died that night all of her food would go to waste if she bought more than needed. When it comes to planning for a spending freeze this is not the mentality one should have. If you are looking to cut your spending down then you should be looking to plan ahead and make your meals as well as your weekly allowances go further. The idea behind how a spending freeze works is to train yourself not to spend your money on things that aren’t needed. Instead of going out to drinks with your friends after work, curb your cost and buy a bottle of your favorite drink so that you can hang out at home or someone else’s place. Curbing one’s cost will only help you to be able to better plan for the road ahead and the best opportunities to spend and save alike.

Step Four: Stay Committed

The very characteristic that keeps many people from succeeding in their financial goals is that they lack the commitment to their goals and to themselves. If you choose to enact a sending freeze when it comes to your spending habits, give it 110 percent. Do not back down or buy those cute shoes simply because they are 10 percent off this week. Remember your financial goals and remain true to them. This is the only way that you are going to be able to realize them.

The key to a successful spending freeze starts with understanding how one works. The best way to understand how one works starts with understanding why one would need that type of action. Lay out a goal and understand what you are looking to achieve is the first step towards achieving your monetary savings not only on a monthly basis but on a weekly one as well!

 

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The Secret to Saving Money

Saving money is a way of life. The secret is self discipline. Easy, right? If it were easy we would all be living a life of comfort and not struggling to pinch pennies and make out salaries go as far as they possibly can. The secrete to saving money first comes when we understand how to save and not fool ourselves on savings that do not exist, and focus in on the best ways to save your money. So please continue reading below on how to harness the secret to saving money.

Understanding How Saving Occurssaving money

Saving money is a lot easier when you have a connection to the reason you are looking to save that money. You are more likely to save money when there is a clear cut goal behind the reason for you to save money. Maybe it is a college fund for your child, or you are looking to put some money aside for a new car. Maybe you are putting money into an envelope in your sock drawer just to teach yourself how to save money for the future. Understanding that the best way to save money comes from practicing how to save money over time. As stated above, saving money is a way of life and if it does not come second nature to you at first, like many of your current skills it is one that will have to be honed in over time.

I think one of the best examples to give purpose to saving money for a goal is if you went to a doctor complaining about failing eyesight. If that doctor told you that the only way for you to keep your eyesight was to pay for procedure worth 20,000 dollars, would you not do everything in your power to save as much money as possible to pay that off? Chances are if you were faced with an extreme issue of that regard, there wouldn’t be much stopping you from saving every penny. The same can be attributed to your other financial goals. If you need a new car to get you to and from work and help you manage other aspects of your personal and professional life, then saving your money shouldn’t be viewed as impossible. Take the time to lay out a plan on how much money per week that you are willing to put aside in order to help finance your long term goals and needs.

saving money 2Actually Saving Money

When I was younger, I remember my father telling me that the difference between failure and success was knowledge and what you do with it. When it comes to saving money that advice is one of the best representations of how to act that I can think of. You have a clear understanding of what you need monetarily, and the knowhow of saving money. All that is left is enacting this knowledge and putting it to use. When we were younger we were taught the basic understanding of saving our money so that we could buy the things we liked. The same basic principles that were taught to us in your youth are the same in our adulthood. The concepts have remained the same but are now to be practiced on a much larger scale.

Now that we are all adults there are programs that are already put in place that are there to help us save our money. Banks are offering programs that help you save by rounding off the difference of purchases to the highest dollar in order to transfer the difference into a savings account. The purpose of programs like this are to help you curb your spending habit and train you how to save money. The secret to saving money is understanding that saving money is easy when you know how best to do it. Having the self discipline to save money and not break away from your goal is the best way to train yourself. Take a dollar a day and put it away so that you can train yourself effectively. At the end of the year you will have saved up enough money to convince yourself that this is something you can do. Remaining positive is one of the best ways to continue having the discipline to keep saving money.

Making the act of saving money your biggest priority is the best way for you to put money aside for your goals or even your retirement. Whether you are saving for retirement, college tuition, a vacation or even a weekend getaway, the best way to save your money is to understand how to save money and enact it into the daily routine that is your life. Saving money is easy when you become accustomed to it.

 

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4 Items to Avoid Buying at a Grocery Store

Let’s face it, due to the ever constant running around of life, we tend to put the little things off until the last minute. As we are all aware, we pay the most for convenience and paying for convenience at the grocery store isn’t any different. The coined term of smart shoppers that have been clipping coupons like it is a religion may be somewhat of an exception when it comes to cost  In fact it may cost you more to get these 4 items that you should avoid buying at a grocery store.

One: Gift Credit Cardsgrocery store

We’ve all been there, forgot to buy someone a gift and bam gift card rack is standing there to tempt you while waiting in line. The problem with buying gift credit cards that are provided by the credit card companies (MasterCard, Visa, and American Express) often have a heavy activation surcharge attached to their gift credit cards. While it may be nice not to be limited where it can be used, it does add up over time if you are buying more than one in a given transaction. There are also state laws and corporate policies that are designed to fight those looking to scam retailers and people out of these gift cards. There is another way in which gift cards can be given as a gift without having to pay a surcharge that may increase over time. By purchasing grocery store gift cards, of the brand that you are shopping in you are getting the amount you pay for without having to pay a surcharge to activate. Chances are the person you are giving the gift to needs to eat right? So it is less of a hit or miss and allows for smarter spending.

Two: Greeting Cards

If you are anything like me, you care less for what the greeting card actually says than the price attached to the back. This doesn’t mean that you should pick a cheap card at random and hope for the best, but that you should understand that at the grocery store there is a mark up on price when it comes to this product. Greeting cards often sell for 4 or 5 dollars per each which are very costly when buying them in a grocery store. Sometimes the frugality you saw in your parents when you were growing up may have had more sense to the action than the madness you attached to it. Buying greeting cards in bulk online or at bulk item stores is a better way to get the greeting cards you need at a better price without breaking your finances.

Three: Batteriesgrocery store 2

Usually when you are shopping for batteries it is because they are needed to fill a very real and immediate need. And grocery stores understand this, which is why the item usually carries a higher mark up on it. Batteries are a high value item to grocery stores who already operate on a very small margin of profit because they will always sell. There is virtually no out of code date on batteries so they can sit on the shelves almost indefinitely. I remember looking at my mom recharging batteries with some odd contraption that helped to regain a charge. The goal is to make your purchases last longer and go farther and not just throw out batteries when they’re seemingly done. There are ways in which you will be able to save your money without wasting your money, time, or effort.

Four: Plastic Water Bottles

There are many arguments about consumer buying bottled water. You can take on the environmental issues with the plastic being introduced as garage and polluting the Earth. But at the end of the day, the cost of a bottle of water outweighs the reason for buying them. For less than the cost of a bottle of water which us usually only 12 to 16 ounces of water, you can buy a gallon of water for a dollar. The very cost of three individually sold bottles of water is enough to buy a 24 pack of water bottles. Many people buy bottled water because of it convenience but there are ways in which consumers can save money with a simple step. In the place of buying either a bottled water or even a case of bottled water a consumer can purchase a water filter system and reusable plastic or stainless steel water bottles to refrigerate and take throughout the week.

This articles is not designed nor is it intending to bad mouth grocery stores. Like any other business it is looking to gain profit in its set industry. By identifying these products you can better save your money and spend smarter as well. Saving your money on purchases that can be avoided in certain outlets will allow you the flexibility down the road to grow the money you’ve now saved.

 

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Combating Rising Fuel Costs

Some of the highest gas prices since 2008 will be felt over the holiday weekend in part to the uncertainty and violence currently plaguing Iraq. As ISIS rages its campaign between Iraq and Syria, the price per barrel of oil has risen sharply due to the conflict. While gas prices have begun to rise, car owners have also been victimized by longer ownership on certain car models due to achieved gas mileage on older cars versus their newer counterparts. Depending on the amount of miles driven yearly, it might be time for some people to upgrade and sell their older car for a newer one which might help decrease extra spending on fuel.

Fuel efficiencyfuel 1

The old adage of you have to spend money to make money was always bothersome to me when I was growing up. I could never understand how to make money if you had nothing in the first place, but the underlying message was more geared towards not being afraid to invest money and time into a means towards an end. As newer fuel sipping technology emerges, newer models of cars are performing more efficiently and at a lower cost than most of their older counterparts. In a little less than a decade the fuel consumption of has lowered overall across the passenger vehicles currently being offered on the roadways. Some of the more recent achievements in fuel sipping technology are offering more substantial increases in fuel economy. More and more brands are offering full and midsize sedans, popular buys among the U.S. consumer market that are mirroring the same fuel economy that compacts and sub-compacts have had for years.

Experts at the University of Michigan have researched and come to the conclusion that the average new car owner is saving at the very least 28 dollars per month. That number is based on national the current national average of price per gallon at $3.66 per gallon, miles driven per year and average fuel economy. The research has concluded that Americans that buy either newer cars or newer versions of their current cars are more likely to see savings within a few weeks of purchasing.

fuel 2Is a new car worth the cost versus savings?

I know what you are thinking, if I drop tens of thousands of dollars on a brand new car – how is that worth saving 28 dollars a month? That’s only 336 dollars per year! Those who conducted the study at the University of Michigan had also taken into account the average age of older cars being driven on the road as well as the average cost of upkeep and maintenance. The group’s study found that key consumer patterns were also changing. Ten years ago more households were buying SUV’s to accommodate for bigger families and more monetary embellished needs. With the state of the economy over the last ten years and the scarcity in the job market, many people have maintained the trend of downsizing their vehicles as well as their spending habits. In an effort to cut car and insurance payments, gas consumption, and wasteful spending – people have been trading in their SUVs and going for smaller vehicles in the full and midsize sedan range. This pattern has been easily supported by the auto industry’s best selling vehicles such as the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry models. In the past two to three years the market has also seen the decline of the SUV and the birth of more crossover vehicles, which are essentially smaller SUVs sitting on car frames with smaller more fuel efficient engines.

For example, Nissan’s #1 selling vehicle is the Altima, their #2 is the Rogue, which is a small crossover that sits on the Altima’s frame and is powered by the same engine. The Rogue averages about 28 miles per gallon where as ten years ago its counterpart the old Pathfinder averaged about half of that.

The cost of a new car may be worth the savings pending you do a lot of driving per year and what type of driving you do. If you do more highway driving than city, your current car should be doing just fine. If you are more prone to be doing stop and go city driving, chances are you are burning more fuel than a newer car would be doing in the same situation. As always the best option for you to do is see what you are spending and what you can afford and make your decision on the best knowledge at your disposal.

Combating rising fuel prices may be easier than you think, as long as you remain committed to educating yourself on the available technology and sales options that best suit your needs. If you do that then you will be saving more money on a daily basis which will then translate into your monthly and yearly budgets.

 

 

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5 Ways to Buy Organic Food Smarter

The cost of grocery shopping is going up across the board, from the basics to specialty items. Typically as certain government agricultural subsidies expire, consumers tend to see a bump in prices that are a mere reflection of the grocery and supply industries reeling in on higher costs in the ability to bring the product you desire to the store shelves. There are ways to buy your natural or organic products without going broke. Here are 5 ways you can still eat healthier without having to drain your funding.

One: Follow the sale prices

Once upon a time there was brand loyalty, where maybe your parents or more likely their parents only shopped at one brand of grocery stores. Now the competition in grocery retail is so high due to every type of retail or convenience location looking for an edge and carrying more and more types of products. The grocery stores are looking for the best ways to attract customers without cutting into the small profit margins they operate on. With that being said, consumers should be looking at the sale prices on the natural or organic products they are looking for. Chances are that prices in areas where there is more physical competition means that the consumers will be able to find better and lower prices, as more grocery locations equates out to more strict competition for the money in the area. If you live in a town where there is only one grocery location, chances are pries will be higher than in a location where there are two or more grocery retailers fighting for customers.

Two: Farmers’ Marketsorganic 2

Look at bringing your business to your local farmers markets. Many billion dollar retailers have been focusing lately on supplying their stores with local produce in order to help out the local farms and to profit on the tastes of the area. When buying from your local farmers markets you are more likely to find the organic produce and products that are closer to what you are looking for. Smaller operations tend to be able to produce relatively cheaply and unlike the bigger grocery stores, you are much more likely to be within a matter of day if not hours from when the produce was picked. Buying from local farmers means that unlike the grocery store you may actually be able to talk to the farmer that harvested what you are looking to consume.

Three: Shop for seasonal items

Sometimes we get caught up in the concept that buying in bulk in big box stores are the best ways for us to maximize savings. That can be true if you plan on regularly buying massive amounts of organic or natural chicken or meats. However, the bulk of consumers only buy what they need about a week at a time. If you are looking for the freshest organic fruits and vegetables and are looking to keep costs down, your best bet is to buy when certain products are in season. When buying in season products chances are that  supply is high which means prices will be low and consumers can achieve the greatest amounts of savings.

organic 1Four: Convenience costs more

We pay a lot for convenience, already prepared organic meals, salads, and frozen dinners tend to put a hefty dent in your grocery finances. Eating healthy doesn’t have to bankrupt your coffers as long as you know the best ways to spend your money on the foods you’d prefer to eat. If you are looking to buy organic products it is often much cheaper to buy them and cook from scratch. You’ll be more likely to make bigger meals that can then be divided up throughout the week, saving you money on lunches and giving you better control over your weekly organic intake.

 

Five: Clip Couponsorganic 5

If your childhood was anything like mine, you remember sitting at the kitchen table helping to clip and sort coupons. The use of coupons can really help you to save money when selecting what product to buy. You’re in luck too, because the demand for natural and organic products is currently in high demand which means companies producing these types of products are offering coupons for you to buy their version over a competitor. Chances are that your loyalty is less vested in the company that produces an organic salad dressing and more in the cheaper price for the same item. Remember that when it comes to the industry standards, whether it be the more expensive company X, or the store brand company Y, both are held to the same standards.

Saving money where you can, can help you continue to purchase the organic and natural items and products that you’ve come to love. By following the above mentioned 5 steps, you will be able to buy organic food smarter while being able to save more money.

 

 

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5 Steps Toward Long Term Wealth

The American dream may not be dead but it has definitely evolved since its inception. Understanding how a goal evolves can help you to better achieve it. So here are 5 easy steps towards achieving long term wealth.

Step One: Plan Where you want to go financiallywealth 1

Some of the first advice athletes are given is to picture the shot they are seeking. Whether it be making that next free throw or lining up that slap shot, visualizing the shot before taking it is one of the most sound ways to prepare for the goal you are seeking. This primary advice can be applied to your financial goals as well. Financial experts often tell people that there should be short, medium, and long term financial goals set forth in 5 year planners. When there is a clear goal in sight, you are more likely to put aside the necessary resources in order to best achieve your goals. Usually what comes to mind when thinking about how to gain long term wealth, residual income via investments often comes to mind. But understanding how to save is the first step towards achieving long term wealth because it teaches you how to save and spend. When it comes to saving money in short, medium, and long term funds you are only slightly closer to achieving your long term wealth goals.

Step Two: Pretend you’re rich and no one knows

Many people when they think of wealthy people see mansions, expensive cars, boats, and maybe even a private plane or helicopter to shuttle you to and from the house to your place in the islands. However, most wealthy people don’t live to that extravagant lifestyle. There is an old adage that states, “rich people stay rich because they don’t ever spend their money.” Living by that statement is too far from the truth. Many people who are able to retire earlier than most of us and are more financially stable or wealthy are that way because they live below their means. The same advice is often given to people just starting their careers because they are more able to live below their means. That being said, let’s say you work two part time jobs and make $25K a year. Then you are offered a job for double what you make, if you are able to maintain your living expenses at when you were making half of your current total salary, you are more apt towards saving long term.

Step Three: Start planning for retirement now

The key to being able to retire from having to work, is the first step in being able to achieve long term wealth. Your retirement funding is your wealth, because it will allow you to travel or take on that second career you always wanted. By just putting away 50 dollars per month at a 7 percent return, after 30 years you will have complied 56,000 dollars in just thirty years. Don’t wait until your are 30 or 40 or 50 just because of the funding you currently have available to you. Good things may come to those who wait, but when it comes to saving for retirement you are only shorting yourself. Start saving now so that you can worry less as time goes on.

Step Four: Budget your moneywealth

Budgeting your money is one of the best ways to track your money and your spending habits. Understanding how much money you have and where it is going will help you better plan for how to save and spend better over time. Look at your pay stub and balance your checkbook. We tend to over look how we spend our money in the day to day which throughout the week adds up over time. How much do you spend in a given week? Is it possible to cut that expenditure in half per week? Multiple that spent money times 52 weeks in a year and see how much money you are wasting that could be better used in either a savings plan or in your emergency funds.

Step Five: Pay off your debt

Paying off your debt is one of the best ways to build your wealth over time. If you have high loan or credit card debt chances are you are paying a higher interest rate on those outstanding lines of credit. If that is the case then you are spending more than you are saving by just having those lines of credit open. In order to cut your spending, you might have a better shot of achieving your long term wealth building goals by paying down your bills and debt sooner.

These five steps towards helping you build long term wealth are here to help you set up and achieve your financial goals. Following and practicing them in a day to day mentality will help you master them as they become part of your daily routine. Your road to building long term wealth starts here!

 

 

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