Buying

Saving Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

Everyone in this world knows that you can take advantage of big discounts when you use a coupon while you are in a grocery store. But what if you do not have a coupon? How will you save your money? Here are some ways that you can make the most out of your money without using coupons for groceries. So enjoy the tips below on saving money on groceries without using coupons.

saving money on groceries without using coupons

DECIDE ON WHERE TO GO SHOPPING
Choosing the right grocery shop will help you see a big difference when it comes to the cost of your food. It is helpful to know a grocery store that gives you the cheapest prices for the items that you regularly need. Spend some time in looking for a grocery store that has inexpensive necessities that you regularly purchase. You may think that this tip requires you to do a lot of work, but the ongoing benefits can save you hundreds if not thousands each year. Hard work pays off!

PREPARE AHEAD
You will save a lot of money if you plan ahead of time. Also, planning lets you avoid the impulse shopping attitude. Bring along a list of the things that you need to buy before going to the grocery store so that you will stick to necessities as you shop.

FIND SUBSTITUTES FOR EXPENSIVE ITEMS
If you are going to shop and you notice that you are buying expensive items, you may want to consider looking for alternatives for them so you can save. Sirloin steaks cost a lot of money, so why not buy some ground and/or lean beef? That is much cheaper compared to the sirloin and shares most of the same nutritious value.

BUY IN BULK
Purchasing non-perishable items in a warehouse store can make you save a lot of money. You can buy bulk of paper towels, laundry detergent, canned goods, pasta, etc. just make sure that you are buying products that will not expire soon, or else you will end up wasting your money on the things that you will just throw away in the future because they cannot be used anymore.

STOCK UP ON SALE ITEMS
When you see an item that you regularly buy and it is on sale, make sure that you jump into this opportunity and buy as many as you feel you can use. Just make sure that this item can be used in the near future and make sure that it will not be expired soon. Some stores put items on sale because the expiration of that product is coming up soon. Always check the dates when you stock up on sale items.

LOOK AROUND. LEFT AND RIGHT. UP AND DOWN
When you are searching for something in an aisle, take time to move your head up and around to look for some items that are cheaper than the product that you regularly use. You see, premium types of products pay more to the grocery owners so that they will be displayed in the level where people notice them first. If you look up a little bit, you might see some items that are the same as premium items but a different brand. These items usually taste very similar or perform similarly, however bargain brands make it possible to save dollars at a time on each item you purchase.

How do I Pick My Insurance if I Have a Choice at Work

Choosing a health plan at work can be confusing and often overwhelming. The specifics will vary with each employer, but there are ways employees can evaluate their options to find their best mix of cost and coverage.

Picking Insurance

Cost
Cost for the employee falls into two categories:
1. Up-front premiums.
2. Charges at the time of service.

The premium is the amount taken out of each paycheck for the employee’s share of the insurance company’s charge for the plan. Most employer plans are designed so that premiums are deducted pre-tax, meaning the employee saves on federal income and Social Security taxes and possibly also state income taxes.

Charges at the time of treatment are the out-of-pocket amounts patients must pay to receive medical services. Co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance can vary a lot depending on the chosen plan and services used. In evaluating this factor, the employee must remember that, under healthcare reform, any service designated by the federal government as preventative should be provided at no charge to the patient.

The cost factor in choosing a plan often comes down to balancing higher premium cost against lower charges for treatment and vice versa. But this relationship between premiums and out-of-pocket does not always hold because of the variable of coverage.

Coverage
Depending on plan design, coverage will vary among plans in multiple aspects:
1. Is a service covered at all?
2. Is there a cap on the service (number of visits, frequency of tests, etc.)?
3. How much flexibility does the patient have in choosing the provider or opting for a procedure?
4. How often are referrals and preauthorizations required?

Don’t assume a service is covered by all plans just because it is covered by one. If an individual plans to use a particular service, she should review all the plans she is considering to make sure coverage is available for that service.

Perhaps the service is covered but the plan puts a limit on the number of visits. The employee should compare any such limits with his anticipated use of the service. If the plan will not cover his full utilization, the employee must determine if, for him, the extra out-of-pocket expense is worth the service or if another plan is the better approach. Depending on the employer, the employee might also have options such as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a mechanism for the employee to set aside pre-tax dollars to use for any medical expenses not covered by insurance.

As a general rule, the more flexibility the patient has to choose doctors and services without getting a referral or preauthorization the higher the premium cost. Plans can range from the HMO, which requires all medical services be arranged through a primary care physician, to a traditional indemnity plan, which places almost no restrictions on where the employee can seek care. The employee must look at her own situation to decide how much choice and flexibility she is willing to pay for relative to the other factors.

Saving Money with Coupons

You can cut down the price of your grocery bills by means of clipping some coupons and saving them over time with persistence and control. Control how you spend and reward yourself with different things once in a while and search out coupons that will allow you to purchase some luxury items once and a while.

saving money with coupons

Here are steps on how you can start saving money with coupons:

Organize your coupons by means of making a comprehensible system, a binder can help out with filing coupons. Keep it near you and always remember it as you go shopping. Keeping it in your car will make sure it is close by.

Search for coupons in magazines, food packages, newspapers, coupon mailers, grocery store receipts and of course on the internet
By cutting out coupons for the products that you may purchase or try you can always be prepared. Do not be lured by the ‘irresistible’ savings that coupons show you. Buy only the things you need, not the things you want.

Know the prices of the products that you want to buy. Usually, products with brand names cost higher than generic products.
Hidden costs matter.

Find out if your favorite grocery store matches the coupon of the manufacturer so that your savings can be doubled.

COUPONS FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS

Almost everyone in the world uses the internet for shopping. Shopping online  is easier because of the power of comparison shopping. But how are these coupons helpful for online shoppers? Do they really help? What are the perks of using these coupons?

BIG, BIG DISCOUNTS

Consumers, presently, love to shop online. A person can now enjoy shopping more because a coupon offers more that 40% discount on a purchase of an item. That means, if you are a shopper and you have a discount coupon, you only need to pay less than 50% from the price of a product. Finding these coupons is also easy online and you can sign up for online alerts that can deliver these right to your inbox.

COUPONS WILL NOT PUT YOU IN DEBT

Even if you are shopping online and paying via credit card, you will not be buried with huge amounts of debts. Coupons actually help people lessen the debts they will incur when they use credit cards for shopping because the product that is going to be bought has a much lower price, therefore less interest is charged.

WHY ARE COUPONS THE BEST FOR ONLINE SHOPPING?

GAS SAVER

When you shop online, you do not need to get out of your house and drive yourself to an online store just to buy one thing. Meaning, your gas is saved and your energy is saved, too.

SHOP ANYTIME AND ANYWHERE

Another perk of shopping using coupons is you can shop regardless of where you are. You can shop while you are at the spa, you can shop while you are at home, from smartphones you can simply shop anywhere.

So there is no need for you to hurry from work to reach a store as it is closing, or planning your evening around shopping.

If in case you want to go shopping but you are too lazy to go out, you can always go online and shop using your coupon codes, just the same as you would use printed coupons in a store. This is ideal for people who are very busy that they do not have time to get out to do their shopping, or search through a few retailers to comparison shop.

Love Birds Love Saving

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It is not just the perfect opportunity by sweet candy and delicious chocolate for your loved one, it is also another chance to spend some money!  But here is the good news; you do not have to break the bank to show your significant other how much you care.  Give this list a good once over and you will walk away with some sweet ideas.

1. Be Crafty

Homemade gifts can mean so much more than something store bought, so be creative and get crafty!  Try using a free photo editing site to do something cool with a picture of the two of you. Make a coupon book of sweet and/or romantic requests.   So have fun with this one! Check out Pinterest for some other awesome ideas.

2. Bake Away!

I do not care who you are, cookies, brownies, cake, or any other sugary treat always hits the spot.  Break out a new recipe or an old favorite and bake up some love for your love.  Someone mind passing this tip on to my boyfriend?

3. Everyone Loves a Good Movie

You and your love bird have probably seen at least 3 movies together since becoming an item.  Renting a movie on Red Box or through Netflix is inexpensive and a great way to just spend some time together.  You will make popcorn, hot chocolate, and some great memories.

4. A Walk Down Memory Lane

This tip is definitely more for the couples who have been together for at least a couple months.  Take your significant other on a walk through your relationship. Go to the place you first met, then your first date, then to the last place you were together.  You do not have to buy anything, just talk about the good memories you have from those places. You will laugh, maybe even cry, but you will definitely make some good memories.

So happy early Valentine’s Day to all the loves birds out there and give these tips, one or more, a try. Let me know how it goes!

Tips for a First Time Home Buyer

Purchasing your own home is a big life decision, and should never be taken lightly. This is an experience that can be nail-biting and stimulating all at the same time. With that being said, you should always look into a few things before actually deciding to make the plunge. Here are some tips for first time home buyers to create a learning curve and smooth the overall process of buying your first home:
buying a house
1. Examine Your Debt (And Pay It Off!) – Ask any homeowner and most of them will tell you that they spent time saving money to make a down payment on a home rather than paying off debts, which are now causing them to struggle to make their monthly mortgage payment. You don’t want this to be you. So, instead of saving money for the down payment, pay off your debts. At the very least, pay them down significantly, so they won’t be such a burden once you do purchase that new house of yours.

2. Determine What You Can Afford – You need to have a long, hard look at your finances before making any significant purchase, such as a home. You need to also see how much you can borrow from the bank for such a purchase. In addition, you need to determine how much you realistically save for a down payment. When figuring up your down payment, make sure that you’ll have enough left over to cover any closing costs that may be necessary on your part. Keep in mind that your home insurance, mortgage payment and home taxes should not exceed 30% of your home’s gross income.

3. Examine Your Credit Report – It is important that before you purchase a house that you fully examine your credit report to find any discrepancies and have them taken care of immediately. Discrepancies can hurt your credit a little or a lot and it is a chance you aren’t willing to take when you start searching for your dream home.

4. Bad Credit? – Not everyone has perfect credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home. There are programs set into place to help those in such a predicament in their lives. These are government insured loans that are provided by the FHA, Federal Housing Administration. With an FHA loan, you may only have to put down around 3.5 percent, which is great for lower income families; however, more and more individuals are being required to put down 10 percent, especially with a credit score lower than 580.

5. Consider Foreclosures – As a general rule, there is nothing at all wrong with a foreclosure. It is simply a home that someone was unable to continue making payments on and the bank took it as their collateral. You can usually purchase these at a discounted rate, but you must act fast! Plus, you might want to make sure your real estate broker specializes in foreclosures, as it will make the process a lot easier.

6. Tax Credit – Be sure to claim that tax credit on next year’s tax return!

Now that you know a little bit about it, start planning and searching for your new home. Don’t expect to come across your dream home on the first day of home searching. It will likely take time, but after all, time is something you have, as you don’t want to rush into anything. Happy home searching!

I Love It Not…

Valentine’s Day, for some, is fondly referred to as Single’s Awareness Day. So what do all singles people do on Valentine’s Day? Well, they can wallow in self-pity or bitterness, or they can do something that shows how much they care about themselves.  What is even better is that it can be inexpensive too.

1. Polish Party.

Get a few of your single girlfriends together, bring all the nail polish you have, and take turns giving each other mani’s and pedi’s while bad mouthing all the boys who have done you wrong and what celebrity got arrested the night before.  You will not only get some polish powered confidence, but some much needed girl time therapy.  What will this cost you? Nothing, unless you need to pick up some new polish!

2. Bubble Bath… That’s Right.

Stop by your local bath and body shop and pick up some bubble bath in your favorite scent.  Nothing says relaxation more than a bubble bath.  Now light some candles, grab a book, or just turn on some soothing music and take some time for yourself.  The max this one will cost you?  $15. Try it out, you will not regret it.

3. Need a Good Cry?

Pop in Dirty Dancing or Marley and Me and enjoy some of what I so fondly refer to as movie medication.  Get your favorite drink and snack ready. Put on those pajama pants that fit just right and those fuzzy socks that you love so much and over medicate yourself to your single heart’s content.  Using Red Box?  This one will cost you a max of $5 for the movie and $20 for your drink and snacks.  Indulge a bit.

4. Go Home!

If you are a college student like me and going home is a rare luxury, plan ahead and make the trek back home.  Be around people who truly love you, aka, your parents!  If your parents are like mine, they will smother you in hugs, candy, and free food (something every college student loves.)

 

Valentine’s Day does not have to be Single’s Awareness Day.  Make Valentine’s Day about you, and tell Single’s Awareness Day where to shove it.

Five Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bills

Gas prices keep rising and lowering (but definitely more rising). Our utility bills continue to increase, as does the overalls cost of living especially while food prices steadily continue to increase.

cut grocery bills

With that being said, we are looking for ways to save money and one of the easiest ways to save some quick cash is probably a way that you have never thought of before. Cutting your grocery bills will save a tremendous amount of money and it’s easy!

Here are five ways to cut your grocery bill, which means more money in your pocket for your mortgage payment, your utilities, or even a luxurious day at the spa (or golf course for you men out there!):

1. Clip Coupons – While it may not seem like 50 cents here and 75 cents there will save you money, it will if you know what to do and when. You want to save coupons and use them at the store when the store is having a sale on that particular item. In some stores, you can double or triple your coupons saving you that much more! Here’s how it works: let’s say you pay $2.50 for Prego spaghetti sauce and your favorite grocery store has it on sale for $2. Let’s say you have a coupon to receive 75 cents off that can of spaghetti sauce and let’s go on to say that the coupon doubles at the store for a total of $1.50 off the $2 sale price. That means you are paying only 50 cents for an otherwise $2.50 can of Prego spaghetti sauce. It pays to learn how to clip coupons and use them efficiently. Note: you can get easily coupons in your Sunday paper or online with the click of a mouse! And don’t forget to always be on the lookout for “Buy One, Get One Free” specials at the store and coupons. Match them together and that’s some savings to brag about (maybe even completely free!).

2. Stockpile During Sales – When items go on sale, stock up on them. Use your coupons, too. This means you will need to have plenty of room in your pantry – or somewhere! – so that you can store the additional items, but when the price goes up, you won’t need it saving you money on your grocery bill.

3. Purchase Store Brands – We don’t always have to have name brand stuff, do we? Sure, it’s nice sometimes, but store brand food is generally just as good and you can save a ton of money. This doesn’t only pertain to canned goods, this also relates to fresh fruits and veggies, frozen foods, baked goods and much more! In some cases, the store brand foods taste better than their name brand counterparts!

4. Avoid Convenience – Don’t purchase already cut-up carrots that are pre-packaged when you can purchase carrots individually and cut them up yourself for a lot cheaper. Avoid pre-made foods because in the long-run, you will save more cooking it from scratch at home rather than purchasing it in the frozen section especially in the long-term. Same goes for pre-cooked foods. It’s just better to buy the ingredients separately and make it at home. Next time you want the same meal, you’ll already have some of the ingredients on hand thus saving money!

5. Make a List – We all know that we spend more money at the grocery store when we go in without knowing what we need. By making a list of the things that we need (and sticking to it!), we are saving a ton of money on items that the household doesn’t really need such as extra junk food, an apple pie that looked too good to pass up, etc. So, check your fridge, pantry and cabinets before heading to the grocery store and make that list of the things you need to avoid excessive, unnecessary costs.

Utilizing the above-mentioned five ways to cut grocery bills, you will save a huge amount on your grocery bills each week. In fact, you will probably save more than you could have ever imagined you could save. When you go to the grocery store, make sure you are equipped with these five shop smart ways you can save money.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Are you searching for an apartment or place to live?  Do not let your pocketbook be the only thing that holds you back.  There are a few very important aspects that you need to remember when picking out a house or apartment that can end up saving you and your pocket book a little bit of stress.

1. Home Improvements

Does the house or apartment need some tender loving care? Or more like some major repairs?  Either way, hope is not lost.  Take a look at what you will have to spare after you buy the home or apartment. Will there be enough there to make the changes you want? Changes that will really make you happy with this place and make it a home? If yes, sign on the dotted line!  If no, do not stop the search quite yet.

2. Location, location, location

If you are a college student, think about public transportation, work, and class. How far away are you?  There is no such thing as too close but there is such thing as too far.  You do not want to overdo it on gas money, nor use all that time commuting to and from your desired location.  Think about it.

3. Go Green!

Take a look at the environmentally friendly aspects that the apartment already has or can easily be adapted to.  Not only is it good for the environment, but often times going green can also save you some green.  Solar panels? Expensive, but they eventually pay for themselves.

 

Just a couple things to think about ya’ll.  Do you have any tips that need to be shared? Let’s hear them! Comment below!

Coupon Basics: Values of Coupons

The first article in the Coupon Basics series, “Types of Coupons,” hashed out the vital differences between manufacturers coupons and store coupons. But knowing which type of coupon you have before you is just the first part of the process; next you have to examine the value so you can be sure to use them.

Couponing

The best kinds of coupons are those that offer a free item, though these are the most rare. Freebie coupons are manufacturer coupons, typically often offered for new products. The manufacturers are willing to give away free products in hopes that you’ll get hooked and keep buying full priced products down the line. You can often get these by joining company email lists, checking company websites or by engaging with social media profiles of your favorite products and companies.

Single product coupons offer a set amount of money off the purchase of a single product. These will read something like “Save $1 on any one [product]” or “receive 50 cents off one [product]” Just be aware of the fine print, as you may be required to buy a certain size, variety or flavor of the product in order to use the coupon.

Multiple product coupons function like single product coupons, except they require that you purchase a set number of items, greater than one, to reap the benefits. Coupons like this will read “Save $1 on two [product]” or “Save $1.50 when you buy any three [products].” These coupons often allow you to pick from multiple products produced by the same company, or to mix and match various sizes, flavors or varieties of the same products.

BOGO coupons, or buy one get one coupons, are like a combination of freebie coupons and multiple product coupons. These coupons entitle you to a free or discounted product when you purchase the minimum number specified on the coupon. These will read like “Get one [product] free when you purchase two or more [products]” or “Buy three [products], get your 4th for $1.”

These Catalina coupons can have many different values, but usually come in two varieties: purchase or product. Purchase catalinas offer you money off your next purchase, regardless of the products that your next purchase contains, but they must be used at the same store where you earned the reward. If you receive a product catalina, for money off your next product order, the opposite is true; these are like manufacturer coupons and can be used at any store that sells the product in question.

Once you can differentiate between the various types of coupons and can easily understand the values of the coupons before you, you can move on to part three in the Coupon Basics series: Combining and Maximizing.

Rewarding to Shop

As a college student, I am always looking for ways to save money when buying the necessities.  After some major research and personal experience, I have compiled a list of stores that offer some awesome rewards programs. It pays to shop my friends, especially if you shop smart.  Take a look into these programs and give ‘em a try.

  • Target Red Card

This is, essentially, a credit card and if you are like me credit cards are a scary, scary thing.  But Target does have 2 options for their Red Card.  You can use it as is, a credit card, or connect it to your debit card, using it as your debit card when you shop their stores.  Either way you will receive 5% off your total every time you shop. Basically, just a pretty sweet deal all around.

  • Panera Bread

One of the most delicious soup, bread, and pastry restaurants I have ever gone to with an equally delicious rewards program. Just by scanning your card every time you come in, you receive free drinks and food! Free anything is fantastic, don’t ya think?

  • Hy-Vee Fuel Savers

If you are in the Midwest and anywhere near a Hy-Vee grocery store, you must be living under a rock if you have not heard of the Fuel Saver program.  Hy-Vee advertises that through purchasing certain items you can earn discounts towards gas that you can save for up to 30 days from the purchase date.  Costco and other large chain grocery stores participate in gas discount programs similar to this and are definitely worth checking out!

  • Student Advantage Card

This is a student credit card that gives you discounts on a ton of things; flights, hotels, textbooks, and clothing stores being amongst those things.  I have not used this program, but of the friends of mine who have, it has been a great success.

shopping discounts
Many stores offer shopping discount cards

These are just a few examples of programs that can help you save when you shop with them.  Do you know any store, restaurant, or company that offers a rewards program? Are they better than the ones I just listed? Oh yeah? Well, let me here ‘em! Email the store name and website to me including your name and home state to megan@investinged.com with the subject heading of Financial Ed!, and share the discounts!