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Posts Tagged ‘Savings’

Photo Credit: Jeff Keen

 

 

 

After last week’s post, I decided to look into ways that my husband and I save money on our grocery bills.

  • Sit down and make a shopping list. This seems really elementary, but it is the most important step. Can’t figure how to make a good food list? Try working backwards. Think of the meals you like to have this month. Do you like spaghetti, chicken wings, or tacos? Break the meals down until you have a list of items.
  • Buy for the month (or longer). Our goal is to go a big grocery shop once a month. We’re not crazy about grocery shopping, so we try to make this as less painful as possible. Wal-Mart typically has the cheapest prices on our core items.
  • The shopping list is king. A shopping list can be tedious at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll save money. You’ll buy what you need to and are less tempted to pick up extras along the way.
  • Buy meat in bulk and freeze. We try to get a huge chunk of ground beef on sale. That tip drops the cost per pound down. When we get home, I immediately portion the meat into several meal sizes.  Bags and freeze it.  I have broken it down for meatloaf, spaghetti, tacos, hamburger helper, etc.
  • Take advantage of sales that you’d actually buy without the sale. Sometimes I want to buy something because it’s on sale. It’s not something that we use a lot or even at all. When you do that you’re not really saving money, you’re spending more. It’s not bad if you do this once a shopping trip if you want to expand your menu, but since you’re on a budget, save it for after graduation when you have more income to work with.
  • Making it yourself can save you money. We do grab a few prepackaged meals for when we’re time crunch, but otherwise we just cook it ourselves.
  • Cut the junk food snacks down. Sometimes grabbing 5 cans of Pringles is a bit too much. Don’t completely stop getting them, just cut down. Your waist and wallet will be grateful.
  • Eat leftovers. Some of the best food I ate was leftovers; pastas taste better the next day. Be reasonable, though, and don’t keep things in the fridge until they grow stuff. Be safe and eat it within the next 2 days. If not, dump it.

As always, please leave your thoughts.

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This week was pretty hectic for me both at work and school, so I didn’t get a chance until today to look over some articles from my favorite blogs and a few others.

Relationships

Free Money Finance‘s guest post was about Discussing Family Finances.

Motivation

DINKS did a fantastic job reviewing the American Dream (it’s not riches, but the effort).

Gather Little By Little encourages us not to give in to peer pressure about finances.

Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks is closer towards her goal of owning a condo.

Finances

Lazy Man and Money included his portfolio that is easy to maintain.

Jorge from My Adventures into the Street gave an update on the market’s reaction after the Fed lowered the interest rate.

Saving Diva at Saving for a Home of My Own includes a post about how your FICO score is computed.

The Simple Dollar shows how to save money on your electric bill by cutting electricity phantom.


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Photo Credit: Spcbrass

Many people in the Personal Finance blog community have shared their thoughts on living a less consumer-centric lifestyle. Some of the best articles I’ve seen are:

I’m trying to cut down on excess waste myself. I can be a packrat at times with things and I’m working on improving that aspect. So far, I’m learning ways to reduce the clutter in my life from Live Simple by John December.Today I was looking at the paper and I noticed an article about freeganism. I never heard of it but the title caught my attention, “From trash to treasure”. I decided to read it and learned about a culture that eschews capitalistic methods of acquiring resources. It seemed like simple living to the extreme. Some people mention in the article don’t shop at grocery stores for their food, they go through dumpsters in search of food. It’s definitely not my cup of tea but I was interested in finding out more about them.I decided to look up online a bit more about this lifestyle and thought it would be something interesting to share. The general idea I got reading some sources is that there’s no definitive means of identifying a freegan. Here are some major concepts within the movement:

  • Minimize their ecological and economic imprint
  • Communal lifestyle (share finds with others)
  • Live off of excess waste (dumpsters of grocers and restaurants)

There are some resources for anybody who wants to learn more.

My question is, Where to you draw the line in simple living? Please leave your comments so others can see.

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walllet.jpgI’m continuing on the Rich College Student Series. After yesterday’s post, Jorge made a valid observation:Under ideal circumstances (you do get financial aid as in Part 1), this is a very smart idea. My opinion, however, is that it’s too much of an ideal situation. Quite a few college students don’t have the support from family and end up taking loans and working 20+ hours / week. FAFSA’s great if you’re in the lower income bracket, but as a middle class college student, FAFSA has done absolutely nothing for me in terms of grants or federal aid (with loans as an exception).He’s right that it is an idealized situation to stay at home while you attend college. If you are in that situation, consider yourself fortunate. As regards to FAFSA not being the end all of financial assistance, I also agree. As part of that post, I also included state grants, school scholarships, and scholarships that can be found on the web. The reason why FAFSA is important is that many grants that are need based do ask if you filed for FAFSA. Don’t just count on grants and scholarships, but by all means exhaust everything before you turn to loans. If you do have to take out a loan (which is very possible), please take the minimum amount you need.As for the budget yesterday, I wanted tostart off with something simple and work from there. Today, we’re looking at someone who works part-time (30 hours) and goes to school full-time (12 credits). To complete this I had to make some assumptions:

  • Rent was calculated on national average
  • Car insurance was based on national average
  • Roommate was included
  • Pay was calculated on a part-time worker at UPS (Jobs are national and available for college students)

Within this situation I did 2 quick budgets: having a car loan and not having a car loan. As you probably know that best situation is have you car completely paid off. However many student are going back to college and already have it. (I have a car loan myself and I wished someone drilled it to me the extra costs associated with it.)While working on the budgets, here are some of my notes:

  • Rent: You really need a roommate if you’re going to school fulltime and are working part-time. Roommate would also include spouse, relatives, etc. If you have more than one roommate and everyone gets along, that’s wonderful, as you save money and peace of mind. Please put the division of bills in writing. It’s a protection for both of you.
  • Transportation: Try living close to either your school or work, as it can lower insurance rates and gasoline. Public transportation is a good option if it is reliable and safe. If you have the ability to stay under your parents’ insurance, do so as it usually makes a big difference. Maintain good grades and you can save approximately 10%.
  • Utilities: Remember to keep with the necessities. Do you really need the premium package for cable? Do you even need cable? Find a roommate who shares your values. You don’t want somebody who makes a habit of wasting electricity and then expects you to help foot the bill.
  • Food: Learn to cook beyond macaroni and cheese. Cooking saves a lot of money when you go shopping at the grocery store and it makes leftovers taste better. Make sure you have a slow cooker as that can also save you time and money. Chili, lasagna, and stews are just some of the foods you can make with it.

Here’s what I came up with on the budget:Without a car loan:

Income
Job (Net)

$1,087.47

EXPENSES
Rent

$ 450.00

Car Insr.

$ 72.25

Utilities

$ 100.00

Groceries

$ 125.00

Gas/fuel

$ 100.00

Savings

$ 54.37

Total

$ 901.62

$ 185.85

 

With a car loan (yikes!):

Income
Job (Net)

$1,087.47

EXPENSES
Rent

$ 450.00

Car Loan

$ 125.00

Car Insr.

$ 72.25

Utilities

$ 100.00

Groceries

$ 125.00

Gas/fuel

$ 100.00

Savings

$ 54.37

Total

$1,026.62

$ 60.85

Let me know what you think.

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lecture-hall.jpgCredit: Phillip CThis blog is directed mainly towards people who in my boat, working college students. As I’m working on finishing my last semester I’m looking for ways to help save money. Part I was about getting the most financial aid. This week’s topic is budgeting when you’re going to college. I found the hardest part was figuring some basic scenarios. I went back and forth dividing it up by part-time and full-time. Then I decided to break it down by single, married, or have kids (single and married).I’ll go over the first scenario which is living with your parents with the minimum amount of obligations. From there, I’ll look at more and more complicated situations. If you have any tips, suggestions, disagreements, or feedback, please leave a comment.

  • Pay ‘rent’. There are many students today who don’t pay for anything and receive money to support their spending habits. College is supposed to be a time of learning academic and life skills. A major part of life is to be able to support yourself. It also shows respect to your family who are supporting you financially while you make this long-term investment.
  • Save at least 15%. You’re at a very fortunate time in you life where bills are minimal. Take advantage of your situation and put at least 15% of your take home in a high yields savings account. A student working 20 hours making $6.50 and hour can save $1,681.95 in two years, before interest!
  • Use your own money for splurges. Don’t waste other peoples’ hard earned money. If you want something, earn t. It will give you the satisfaction of doing it on your own and build your self-esteem.
  • Think twice before getting a credit card. If you’re not able to completely support yourself, then getting a credit card can be a recipe for disaster. Many students will still go ahead and get a credit card, so my advice is to have a credit limit of no more $500. If they offer to raise your limit, ask them instead to lower your interest rate. That would be better for you. As you are well aware, pay the balance in full each month. Bad credit will haunt you long after graduation.

Here’s a sample monthly budget:

Income
Job

467.21

EXPENSES
Family

100

Groceries

100

Gas/fuel

137.7

Savings

93.44

431.14

36.07

It’s not complicated due to the relative freedom one has in this situation.

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lecture-hall.jpg Photo Credit: Phillip C

This blog is directed mainly towards people who in my boat, working college students. As I’m working on finishing my last semester, I was reflecting on some things that could help others in getting an education at an affordable rate. The most affordable rate I could think of was free. My goal with this post is to try and get you the information you need to find this money.

People don’t normally associate college students with being rich, but it is possible to have money saved while going to college. It takes some effort at first, but once you get into the habit, it’ll pay off in spades.

walllet.jpg

Photo Credit: Jeff Keen

  1. Apply for FAFSA early: As soon as you can, apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid in January. Use an estimate for your taxes when you initially fill it out. Once you get your tax return back, (or your parents’) sign in online and update the information. The earlier you do this the higher your chances of receiving more grants.
  2. Be aware of individual states’ deadlines for getting financial aid. Each state has a different deadline on getting grants from them. We’re talking about an extra hundred a semester to thousands of dollars. Remember you’re looking for grants, which mean you don’t have to pay them back.
  3. Apply for scholarships. Just because you’re getting money from the government doesn’t mean you can’t try to get some scholarships. FastWeb is a popular site that searches applicable scholarships for you. You should also check out the institution’s scholarships, which are usually based on need, merit, and/or major.
  4. Stay local. By staying in-state, you get much cheaper rates than out of state students. My university doubles the rate for a class for out of state students.
  5. Go to a community college first. In my area, the community college is close to the local universities. Many of the university professors teach at community college. You also save 40-60% on the price per credit!
  6. Maintain good grades. Most federal financial aid require a 2.0 GPA or higher to keep it. Don’t use that as a guideline; strive for a 3.0 or higher. It will help when you go to a 4year university and are looking at their scholarships.
  7. Consider work study as an option. This helps put cash on your pocket and the schedule is typically good for a college student. If you have dependents and going to college, this may not be an option, as the pay is usually $6-8/hour.  I would suggest looking at jobs from the career center.

Tomorrow Next Monday, I’ll look into how to budget on a college student’s budget and save money. I’ll do two basic ones:

  • A dependent student living at home
  • An independent student living on their own or have familial responsibilities

*Working on these budgets made me realize I was narrowing the field too much, it look I’ll have at least 5 sample budgets next Monday instead of just 2 budgets!

There are several articles great articles from other blogs that can help college students. Here’s a list of my favorite:

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It’s Friday and I’m reviewing my paycheck. Here’s what I had budgeted and here’s what I actually spent:
Paycheck: $374.40

Expenses:
Joint Account: $160
Savings: $20
Gasoline: $47.29
Food: $3.63
Total: $230.92
Net Income: $ 143.48

The extra $100 went towards my emergency fund in ING Direct. I get 4.5% APY, which is a lot more than what my credit union offers. I tried to immediately take it out so I wouldn’t be tempted to spend it.  The Simple dollar has great explanations about emergency funds and automating your savings.

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