We all have good intentions when starting a New Year's resolution. Along with dieting and exercising more, saving money is a popular resolution that many people vow to start once the clock strikes midnight. However, just like becoming healthier, you'll only start noticing a change when you develop healthy habits. Sound overwhelming? It doesn't have to be. With a few tweaks to your spending habits, you'll be on the fast track to financial success all year long.
Most people—after they calculate a budget—are shocked to find out how much they’re actually spending at the grocery store each month. And if you’re the average American family, you’re probably spending around $650. Grocery purchases (or budget busters) add up quite a bit and end up blowing the budget every single month.Save money on groceries by planning out your meals each week and taking a good look at what you already have in your pantry before you head to the store. Look online to put together a shopping plan that includes weekly deals, manufacturer's coupons, and store coupons you can stack.And if you’re really trying to find ways to save money, try grocery pickup. Most major grocery stores offer it (sometimes for free). This is valuable because picking up your groceries gets rid of any temptation to grab any unplanned purchases that will go over your budget.
In most cases, the only thing that’s better about brand-name products is the marketing. Generic brands of medicine, staple food items (like rice and beans), cleaning supplies, and paper products cost far less than their brand-name, marked-up competitors—and they work just as well.
It’s no secret that cable prices are continuing to rise. The average monthly price for cable TV is about $106 a month—which adds up to over $1,200 a year. Here’s the good news: Cable isn’t the only way to watch your favorite shows these days. Cut the cord and find out how to save big with alternatives to cable like network apps and streaming services.
Did you know that you can save money without thinking about it? Try setting up your bank account to automatically transfer funds from your checking account into a savings account every month. If that sounds scary to you, you can also set up your direct deposit to automatically transfer 10% of each paycheck into your savings account.
Put your fat work bonus, inheritance, or tax refund to good use. If you’ve still got debt, you’ll be better off using those funds to pay off your student loans or the balance on your credit card instead of stashing that money away. If you’re debt-free, use those extra dollars to build up your emergency fund—you know, for emergencies.Bonus tip: If you regularly receive large tax refunds, it’s time to adjust the withholding on your paycheck so you can bring home even more money each month.
Did you know that you can save money on your electric bill just by making a few tweaks to your home? Start with some simple things like taking shorter showers, fixing leaky pipes, washing your clothes in cold tap water, and installing dimmer switches and LED lightbulbs.While new, energy-efficient appliances are a great way to save money on your electric bill, they’re expensive! But if you work it into your monthly budget, you can pay cash for those small improvements.
Email marketers are really good at what they do. They know the irresistible temptation of a flash sale or exclusive coupon.If you just can’t resist shopping when you see a special offer, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. You’ll be less tempted to spend, and your inbox will be a lot less cluttered.
You never know until you ask—and you should always ask. Next time you’re getting tickets at a movie theater, museum, or sporting event, check to see if they have any special discounts for seniors, students, first responders, military, or AAA members. If not, never underestimate the negotiating power of cash!
If your monthly cell phone bill competes with your monthly grocery budget, it’s time to find ways to cut back. Save money on your cell service by getting rid of extras like costly data plans, phone insurance, and unnecessary warranties. And don’t be afraid to haggle with or completely switch your provider! It might require a little persistence and research, but the savings are worth it.
Don’t buy any nonessential items for a week—or, if you're up for a challenge, a month! Think about it as a contentment challenge. Make your spending freeze successful by prepping meals with the food you already have, avoiding stores where you tend to impulse buy, and saying no to anything that isn’t a basic necessity.
Before you shell out the cash to pay for a new backsplash, fancy light fixture, or even changing the oil in your car, think about doing it yourself! Usually, the cost of materials and a simple Google or YouTube search will save you a ton of money on your latest home project. (Plus, you won’t have to pay someone to do something you can most likely do yourself). But if you’re the type that can’t seem to hit the nail on the head, you might want to ask a friend or neighbor for help so you don’t have to spend extra money to fix what you messed up.
We get it. This one is painful. But instead of spending $5 on that daily latte, you can save money by just making your coffee at home. Listen, we’re not saying you should only drink instant coffee (unless you’re into that sort of thing). But even purchasing a bag of local beans from your neighborhood coffee shop and brewing it at home will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Before you click “add to cart” on that brand-new book, check your local library to see if you can borrow it! Most libraries also have audiobooks and digital copies of your favorite books for rent. It’s an easy way to get your reading in without breaking the bank.
When your goal is to save money, a vacation is the worst thing you could spend your money on. Instead of whisking your family off to Cabo, try being a tourist in your own city or state. Not only will this save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars, but you can also explore your neighborhood with fresh eyes and have some fun while doing it.
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When it comes time to sell or refinance your home, getting a high home appraisal cost is crucial. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your home's value hits maximum dollar.
Although clutter is inevitable with a busy family, it can also lead the appraiser to question if the homeowner is capable of maintaining the entire home. Some quick decluttering tips:
While this seems like an obvious step, many homeowners are understandably busy with jobs and family concerns and overlook the fact that a clean home is a desirable home.
Investing $100 in grass seed to reseed, or at least patch bare spots, in your lawn can really pay off when it comes to appraising your home.
Few things in life are certain, but if you see a small crack in your home's sidewalk or driveway, it will only get worse if left unattended. Ready-to-use sealant for patching cracks in concrete is sold in tubes (about $5 for a 10-ounce tube) and applied with a simple caulking gun, while asphalt repair products are even less expensive.
Whether it's a roadside mailbox or one mounted by the door, the mailbox is one of the first things visitors to your home notice. Shop carefully and $100 could buy an attractive new mailbox and perhaps even a new post to mount it on. You could also just invest in some fresh paint for an easy and affordable spruce up. Plant a perennial, like ornamental grass or a climbing vine, near your rehabbed mailbox for added appeal.
Buying a quality power washer to pressure hose decks, patios and other outdoor surfaces is expensive. But for about $50, you can rent a power washer for a day from a home improvement store and scrub down everything that needs washing.
Clean your shutters with soapy water. If you need a ladder, position it where appropriate. Scrub all surfaces that need painting; dirt and dust will prevent your paint from adhering properly.
Place old newspapers under each shutter and around your doors.
Use the painters tape to cover the house around the shutter to protect against accidents.
Get your buckets ready and put your vinyl gloves on. Pour primer into the first bucket.
Paint at the top of the shutter and work your way down. Make sure to get in between the slats. Use light pressure to eliminate brush strokes.
Once your primer dries, repeat the steps for your paint in the second bucket.
Some colors require two coats to achieve a richer shade. Be sure to let each coat dry before you start on the next coat.
Solar landscape lights are a cheaper, greener, and easier alternative than having a complicated lighting system installed in your yard. Simply place the lights around your sidewalk, let them drink in the sunshine for power and enjoy your newly lit pathway at night.
Consider repainting the door in a contrasting color that really pops, polishing or replacing worn hardware and perhaps springing for a new set of house numbers.
As you decide what changes to make, keep an eye out for maintenance problems, such as torn window screens, dripping faucets, running toilets, missing trim and broken door handles. These should be fixed prior to the appraiser's arrival.