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10 Unexpected Ways to Save Money

10 Unexpected Ways to Save Money

Every penny helps. A little savings here, a little savings there, and you could be richer than you think. Here are some money-saving tips that might help you to minimize your spending and avoid being in the red. Some of these tips will also benefit your health — so you can save money AND your life!

1. Buy fresh groceries

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    Having ample amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits will greatly improve your body in various ways. Studies have shown that consuming seven portions of vegetables and fruits a day is more effective at preventing diseases than the current five-a-day recommendation. Maintaining a healthy diet reduces the possibility of needing to visit the doctor, hence less medical spending. An apple a day still keeps the doctor away.

    2. Make your own food and snacks

    Restaurant food is generally expensive. Many restaurants serve small portions for the same price of a full meal. When you cook for yourself, you can control the portions, and you know exactly what is on your plate. Moreover, if you plan accordingly, you can save money and time by eating meals made from your leftovers. For example, pork loin, vegetables, and a package of rice cost under $20. From these ingredients, you can make a stir-fry dish with enough leftovers for several days. Depending on your appetite, you’d have healthy meals costing you about $5 each. You can also make a number of meals with any leftover rice. Here are some sites that offer a variety of recipes.

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    Do you snack a lot when you work? I know I do. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, ham, and cheese are good things to snack on. You can be environment-friendly and wallet-friendly by bringing in your own homemade snacks. Here are some of my favourite easy-to-prepare office snack recipes. Constantly buying snacks is pretty costly, so make sure you always have something to snack on when you’re out.

    3. Keep your receipts

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      The receipt you keep from buying groceries is crucial to saving money. Some grocery stores separate the food into different categories, making your receipt a handy list of your perishables. Use a magnet and stick the receipt on your fridge, then highlight the items so that you won’t forget they are sitting inside your fridge. When you use up something, make sure to cross it out. This way, you won’t waste anything – and you can really get your money’s worth!

      Keeping your receipts also lets you easily double-check your spending with your bank transactions online. This is useful for finding any unauthorized transactions on your account. Keep a box specifically for receipts so that you can find them easily when needed.

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      4. Keep a written record of the money you spent in red ink

      Keeping your receipts makes it easier for you to record your spending. When you write down the amount of money you spent in red, your brain automatically recognizes that number as a “danger” or “beware” sign, which may subconsciously help you notice how much money you have been spending. In my case, I write my spending on my calendar on the day I made a purchase. When I look back at a particularly extravagant month, I cringe from seeing all the red and the next month I tend to be particularly frugal to make up for it.

      5. Floss your teeth

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        Seeing the dentist is both costly and uncomfortable, so wouldn’t it be nice if you could minimize how often you need dental procedures? My dentist once told me that almost all cavities he has to fill are due to the patient not flossing regularly. As we eat, tiny fragments of food get stuck between our teeth, and bacteria slowly eats away at the food, causing bad breath and tooth decay. Flossing your teeth every day (or better yet, after every meal) will reduce bad breath, reduce spending on mints or gum, and reduce cavities.

        6. Turn off your power bar at night

        Ever wonder how your hydro bills could be a bit cheaper? Other than the most essential electronic items you need to keep on in your house, like the fridge, turn everything off when you go to bed. The easiest way to do this is to have your devices connected to a power bar, that way only one switch is needed to turn off several devices. Don’t underestimate how much electricity is used to keep these devices powered every single day.

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        7. Have a good sense of time

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          Having a good sense of the passage of time is a skill. A successful career relies on being punctual and conscientious. I find that the easiest way to keep track of time is to have clocks everywhere. When you can actually see time represented, you are likely to be more conscious of the amount of work you can do and procrastinate less. Keeping good track of time prevents spending money on cabs or breakfasts on the go because you’re running late!

          8. Use essential oils as perfume and air fresheners

          Perfume is quite expensive, and recent studies have shown that some ingredients in perfumes can trigger allergies and migraines. A good way to replace your artificial scent is to buy your favourite essential oil at your local health store (go on the days when they have discounts), and mix a few drops of essential oils into a body mist. By diluting a few drops of the oil in water, one tiny bottle of oil can lasts for months! To make an air freshener, just drip a few drops of the oil into a spray bottle, fill the rest with water, and you have a homemade air freshener that’s not bad for the environment or your wallet.

          9. Always have a bottle of water

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            Having a bottle of water with you when you’re out means that you can save money on drinks, stay hydrated, and be healthy. Drinking water (not tea, juice, or coffee) is the best way to hydrate your body. Additionally, drinking enough water means your skin will be better because it’s moisturized from within, and that will save you money in the long run on skin care products.

            10. Pay with cash instead of plastic

            Nowadays, people don’t carry cash with them because of the convenience of debit and credit cards. However, withdrawing cash from your bank account means that you can associate a sense of realness to your money: each piece of paper is a physical representation of the money you worked hard for. When you pay with cash, money isn’t just some number in your bank account – it’s actually a symbol of your time and work. On the other hand, using a debit card removes the sense of loss when you spend money, and a credit card gives you a false sense of wealth because you don’t have to pay right away. Keep no more than $20 in your wallet, so that when you can’t buy what you want with cash, it’s a good chance to reconsider your purchase. Try it out!

            Being frugal is not always easy, but it does come with lots of perks. You’ll be able to save money for the things you need rather than the things you want, start a fund for emergencies, and avoid accumulating debt. It’s the habit that matters. By saving a bit of money here and there today, you’ll find it easier to do the same every week, and then every month. Every penny counts! What are your money-saving tips?

            Featured photo credit: Save Money via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on January 2, 2019

            How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

            How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

            Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

            Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

            Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

            This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

            Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

            What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

            Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

            When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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            How It Leads to Financial Improvement

            It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

            Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

            Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

            It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

            Types of Personal Finance Software

            When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

            Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

            For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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            Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

            When to Use Personal Finance Software

            So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

            Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

            1. You Have Multiple Accounts

            There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

            If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

            Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

            2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

            Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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            There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

            With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

            3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

            Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

            Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

            Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

            4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

            Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

            You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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            How to Get Started

            From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

            Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

            It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

            When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

            Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

            Final Thoughts

            Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

            In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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