Hello and welcome back to part 3 of our 5-part blog series about improving your finances. People are looking for financial solutions anywhere and everywhere that they can these days and, if that’s you, our first 2 blogs are worth going back and taking a look at. For now however we have another 10 tips (and the usual bits of advice) that you can start using today to save money, spend less, pay down debt and otherwise get your financial train back on track. Enjoy.
- One of the easiest ways today to save money is to cook your meals at home. The fact is, restaurant food is not only expensive but also quite unhealthy in most cases. If you can replace those restaurant meals with home-cooked meals you’ll literally save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. There’s really no excuse today either with the plethora of cooking shows, apps and other useful tools that will show you how to cook like a pro in no time.
- Going to the movies can be a lot of fun but, these days, can be ridiculously expensive also. Taking a family of five to the movies, including snacks, is approximately $75 and, when you consider that the average movie lasts less than two hours, makes movie going something that most families must do quite infrequently. When you consider that the cost of big-screen TVs is dropping rapidly, and that you can stream movies for relatively inexpensive costs on Hulu, Netflix and other providers, it makes putting money into your home entertainment system a decent investment.
- One of the biggest costs for most families as their energy bill and, if your home is leaking cooled or heated air like a sieve, you’d do well to focus on some home improvements to stop that from happening and stop your money from leaking as well. Leaky windows and doors, un-insulated attics and so forth can be quite costly whereas having extra insulation put in, installing a programmable thermostat and also some smart power strips could actually cut your energy bills by up to 30%.
- Do you know that a survey by the National Retail Federation found that, when it comes to gifts, the majority of people surveyed said that they’d like a money or gift card more than any other gift. While this may sound impersonal, it will cut down on a lot of time, gasoline and energy wasted and, since most gift cards offer loss protection and have dropped their fees, giving gift cards for the next birthday or holiday could very well be an excellent financial decision.
- One of the worst feelings that a homeowner can have is right after a storm has damaged our home and they find out that their homeowners insurance policy isn’t going to cover the damages adequately. The fact is, the average homeowner has no idea how their homeowners insurance policy works or exactly what it covers and, for this reason, asking your insurance agent to explain your policy to you so that you know exactly what it covers is extremely vital. If you find that you are not as well covered as you thought, at least you’ll know and be able to make a decision on what to do about it.
- Identity theft is on the rise and, as thieves figure out even more clever ways of gaining your important information and data, the risk of losing your identity (and your money) increases. Most financial experts suggest that you change your passwords every few months, review your bank statements every single month and check your credit report at least every six months to make sure that any new applications for credit were made only by you.
- This one’s easy; stop making frivolous purchases. Do you really need that new juicer? Is a new pair of shoes going to enhance your life or just take up more room in your closet? Do you need that television in the kitchen? If your answer isn’t “yes, definitely!” then buying whatever it is that you have your eye on isn’t necessary. Do yourself a financial favor and just walk away.
- Be aware of any email (or other type) of solicitation where a company tries to convince you that they are an official government agency and that the you’ll be ‘fined’ if you don’t act. In nearly 100% of all cases these are scam emails and, if you give your credit card information or pay the fees they’re asking, you’ll really want to kick yourself in the morning.
- Many people donate 10% of their income to the church and other charitable causes. While we’re not saying that this is a bad idea we will tell you that, in lieu of money, charitable donations can also include your time, you used furniture and clothing and even your blood. Donating a few hours a week to charity can sometimes be worth much more than just a check or cash anyway.
- While this may not affect your bottom line or your budget, teaching your children about money and how to handle it is an excellent idea. Research shows that when parents teach their children about handling money, said children go on to make much better financial decisions as adults. (Plus, if they’re successful they’ll be less likely to come looking for money when you’re retired.)
Can you believe it?! We’ve come to the end of another blog. We hope you’ve enjoyed this one and that some of the tips and advice that we shared with you today will be useful and helpful. Please come back and join us soon for part-4. See you then.