Surprising Ways You’re Wasting Money Every Month

Surprising Ways You’re Wasting Money Every Month

Surviving financially in today’s world isn’t easy. Many homeowners are surprised to see how little they’re actually able to save each month. Here are some of the most common money-wasters and some tips on how to avoid them.

Gas

The exorbitant price of gas is a common conversation starter, and for good reason: gas is one of the most infamous money guzzlers on the planet. Many drivers unknowingly waste a surprising amount of gas every month gas.

There are many ways in which this may be taking place in your life. For example, failing to keep your car’s tires inflated properly will make your car work harder than necessary, and cause you to waste gas.

Choosing premium gas for your car when it’s not required is another way you can waste money—this will actually cost you 20 to 25% more each time you fill up.

Additionally, while it may feel like the fast track to glory (or to work), accelerating too quickly is also a surefire way to waste money. Instead, try driving at a slower, steadier pace.

Subscription Services

Many consumers drastically underestimate the amount that they pay in subscription services every month. While a TV or music subscription may only cost a few dollars a month, they can add up quickly. A recent study by Waterstone revealed that the average consumer spends a whopping $237.33 on subscription services each month!

Subscription services automatically charge you every month, so it’s easy to forget when you’re not using them anymore. It’s a good idea to take inventory of all the services to which you have subscribed, and then assess whether or not you really need to be paying for them.

Utilities

Almost every homeowner would answer affirmatively when asked if they would like to save money on their utility bills. However, many homeowners do not realize that they have the necessary control to make this happen in their lives. It’s likely that you are wasting money on utilities because of poor insulation, inefficient appliances, ineffective lighting, and wasteful water fixtures. Fortunately, these problems are relatively simple to correct.

One of the best ways to save money on utilities is to replace your windows. There are numerous benefits to getting energy efficient windows. Through a combination of multiple panes, gas fills, and insulated frames, energy efficient windows will reduce your reliance on your HVAC.

Buying Name Brands

It is sadly common for people to make the false assumption that a name brand automatically comes with higher quality. This simply isn’t true. Buying name brands when the quality isn’t better than other brands is a waste of money.

Next time you go shopping, experiment with a brand that costs less than the one you usually buy, and see if its quality is acceptable. You can blindly even compare the two products to see which one you really like better. Making informed, intentional shopping decisions is far better for your wallet. There are even grocery budgeting websites and apps that can help you to make smarter choices when grocery shopping.

Not Using Coupons

Many customers make the mistake of not using coupons, thinking they are not worth the hassle. However, not using coupons is equivalent to literally throwing away your money. If customers knew that many millionaires use coupons as part of their savings plan, they might think twice before passing up a coupon. Shoppers who used coupons from U.S. Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) were able to save $30 every week, depending on their level of coupon participation.

These days, using coupons is easier than ever. Most store websites have online coupon features available, and your local supermarket can accept coupons just by seeing them on your phone. If you seek coupons out, keep track of them, and use them often, you will be surprised at how much you can save.

Eating Out

It’s easy to rationalize eating out by saying you’re too busy, and argue that the cost is worth the convenience. But if you’re not careful, it’s easy to find yourself eating out for all three meals. This is one of the fastest ways to blow your next paycheck.

You can save hundreds of dollars every month on food by making a grocery list, purchasing your groceries intentionally, and spending a few extra minutes cooking your meals for the week. This practice is healthier both for your body and your budget. After a while, you will be glad you passed up that cheeseburger and brought a lunch from home instead.

Groceries

Your weekly shopping run can be a waste of money, even if you have good intentions. Many people accidentally buy more groceries than they can actually use, causing them to waste money in spoiled food every week.

You can counteract this problem by putting together a menu of what you actually plan to eat each week. This will help you shop more intentionally and accurately, and ultimately save money.

Credit Card Debt

Homeowners often feel that it’s necessary to make frequent purchases on their credit cards in order to raise their credit score and build up a solid credit history. While this can be true, credit card debt is a slippery slope. Credit card companies have sky-high interest rates that can cause you to pay hundreds of extra dollars each month and year, just in interest. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible.

Impulsive Spending

Impulsive spending is a lifestyle that can be hard to change. There are many factors which work together to persuade shoppers to buy what they want, exactly when they want it. These factors include subtle advertising, entitlement culture, short attention spans, and many more. But, by simply exercising some restraint and taking some time before making a big purchase, you can save hundreds of dollars.

The next time you feel the urge to buy something, take a second to slow down and give yourself some time before you go through with your purchase. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself at least a few days before splurging. It’s likely that you will decide you actually don’t need that product after all, and you can save money to buy something you really do want.

Knowledge is the first step to improvement. Now that you know a little more about the ways you’re wasting money, you can make the simple lifestyle changes you need to save money for what you really want.

Using coupons is a great way to save money each month. See our coupons here!

3 Financial Concerns Homeowners Should Stay Aware Of

3 Financial Concerns Homeowners Should Stay Aware Of

Being a homeowner is a pretty significant milestone. It’s not without its challenges though, especially when it comes to financial responsibilities. There are some financial concerns that are especially important for homeowners to keep in mind and stay on top of.

Your Insurance

Homeowners insurance technically isn’t a type of insurance you are required to carry, but it’s still a good idea. Homeowners insurance helps cover your home, your property and possessions, and you from being financially responsible for injuries that happen on your property. These problems can be incredibly expensive, so having insurance to help can be valuable. There are different types of homeowners insurance, and they each cover different things. Some are best for homeowners, while others are designed for renters, condo owners, or even those who own mobile homes. Which one works best for you will depend on your situation, so take that into careful consideration when choosing coverage.

Your Home Equity

Your home’s equity is calculated by taking the fair market value of your home and subtracting the amount of money you owe on it from that amount. You can build equity in a number of ways, which will put you in a more secure position. Home equity grows as you pay off your mortgage and if your home increases in value. You can wait for your home’s value to increase. Alternatively, you can take matters into your own hands by doing home improvement projects that will increase your equity by increasing the market value of your home. This can put you in a better position if you are selling your home.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs are another expense homeowners should keep in mind as they plan their budgets. Performing regular home maintenance is essential to keeping your home in good condition and preventing the need for more costly repairs. If you find the prospect of all the maintenance you should have done to be overwhelming, sort the tasks into more manageable segments by assigning them to be done by season or even further by month. When it comes to figuring how much you should be saving for home maintenance costs, plan on somewhere between 1 and 4 percent of your home’s market value.

Being a homeowner comes with additional financial responsibilities. These costs are important to keeping your home protected, in a good financial position, and in proper working order. It is important to keep up with these expenses and be aware of them. Make sure they are included in your budget and spend accordingly.

Read this next for more great tips: Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

What You Should Do if You Can’t Pay Your Bills Because of a Job Loss

What You Should Do if You Can’t Pay Your Bills Because of a Job Loss

If you can’t pay your bills because of a lost job during the pandemic-related recession, you have options. It won’t be easy, but if you take care to cut spending on non-essential expenses, make time to negotiate with your lender, and file for unemployment insurance and benefits, you can get the help you need to continue making it through.

Cut Non-Essential Expenses

Cut your non-essential expenses. According to Scotia Bank, creating a survival budget can help you save as much of your money as possible and put the essentials first. Look at trimming your cell phone services, get rid of any services you can live without for a little while (such as premium cable television channels, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, lawn service, etc.), and get rid of your landline phone if you have one. Look at your usual expenses and cut whatever is not necessary. Until you have the money for it again, stop eating out and spending money on activities like going to the movies.

Negotiate With Your Lender

According to Roswell Infiniti, missing a payment can reduce your credit score or result in late fees, so you should contact your lender before all else. Negotiate with your lenders and banks to come up with a payment plan that’s manageable. It is sometimes possible to negotiate reduced interest charges or a deferred payment schedule.

Especially during a pandemic-related recession, some creditors may be willing to work with you. Some may not, but it is worth a try. Banks and other mortgage lenders face greater pressure to agree to mortgage modification requests, so you may find success there.

File For Unemployment

According to FindLaw, depending on your situation, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance and other benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor has unemployment insurance programs which provide benefits to people who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. During a pandemic-related recession, it is probable your loss of job will qualify you for these benefits. Check your state’s individual requirements in order to verify your eligibility. Unemployment benefits can include financial assistance, educational help, and even self-employment assistance to help unemployed workers start their own businesses.

Even if you are unemployed and don’t have the money to pay your bills, you can find ways to continue surviving. Stop spending money on things you don’t need, negotiate with your lenders, and file for unemployment in order to keep your head above water before you can get back in the game.

Read this next: Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

A home is one of the most expensive investments you will ever make, but when buying a home, you need to consider more expenses than just the mortgage. Taking care of a home requires other fees simply to maintain it and keep it in good living condition. Here are three additional costs to factor into buying a home.

Repairs

Repairs can come unexpectedly, and they can drain the bank if they aren’t planned for. Before buying your home, make sure it is inspected. But even if the home is completely inspected and approved, things might go wrong. The dryer might break. The roof might need replacing. The basement might unexpectedly flood from a broken sprinkler pipe. Repairs can be incredibly expensive, with $3000 being average for many repairs. Plan to have an emergency fund for when things break and need to be repaired.

HOA Fees

Some homes come as part of a homeowner’s association (HOA). A homeowner’s association requires you to pay a fee and live a certain way to maintain the vibe the community wants to give off. HOA fees average $200 a month in the U.S. That fee allows you access to the shared community spaces, like a community rec center, but it also comes with certain obligations. For example, you may not be able to paint your home the crazy colors you’ve always wanted, or park recreational vehicles on your property because of the aesthetic HOA wants to maintain in the neighborhood.

Any Renovations

Another cost to consider would be any renovations you want to make on the home. For example, if, when you move in and you discover the kitchen is too small, you will have to pay the costs for a kitchen remodel. Renovations can be incredibly expensive, depending on the amount of renovating you want to do. Small renovations are cheaper, but the cost still needs to be considered if you’re planning on doing one after you buy the house. When buying a home, if you are planning on any renovations at all, make sure to factor those costs into the costs of maintaining a home.

Before you purchase your dream home, consider that there may be other fees other than those on the surface that you will need to pay, either monthly or when they’re needed. Buying a house is a big decision that comes with many costs.

How to Spice Up a Socially Distanced Summer

How to Spice Up a Socially Distanced Summer

Social distancing has put a damper on many summer plans. Instead of going on that vacation you were planning for months, you’re now unexpectedly stuck at home. Instead of getting with friends every other night, you’re camping on your couch for the fourth night in a row. Being stuck at home can be monotonous after a while. What can you do to change that up? Here are three ideas to spice up your socially distanced summer.

Pick Up New Hobbies

One of the nice things with having more down time is that you can work on hobbies, which can greatly benefit your life. If you’ve always wanted to try painting with watercolors but have never had the chance, you can pick up a set and some paper (or even have it delivered to your doorstep so you don’t have to leave your home) and watch some YouTube videos as you learn to paint. You can learn yoga with your children, or practice by yourself. Your kids could have a weekly arts and craft day. There are many hobbies that you and your children can explore during this time of social distancing.

Move it Outside

You can also move normal activities outside. There are plenty of ideas to spice up your backyard and make it your family’s new favorite “room” in your house. For example, if you like reading to your kids, spread out a blanket under a tree and read to your kids outside. You can even have meals outside as well as playtime. Staying inside is hard for children as well as adults, and if you have a yard, you might as well use it to your advantage.

Make Use of Video Calling Platforms

Yet another thing you can do is use video calling technology to stay in touch with friends and family. It can be hard to be distant from people you’re used to seeing on a daily, weekly or at least bi-weekly basis. It can be hard for your children as well. Instead of having grandma and grandpa over, do a video call with them. Spend time with your family and friends in any way you can—even if that’s only calling on the phone.

Social distancing has affected the world, but don’t let it get your summer down. Use the free time you have to help yourself and your family grow. You won’t regret it.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Preventative Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money in the Long Run

3 Home Additions That Help You Lower Your AC Bill

3 Home Additions That Help You Lower Your AC Bill

Your air conditioning bill is likely rising along with the summer temperatures. While you cannot control the weather, you can take some small and simple, yet effective actions to keep that bill as low as possible. Here are three home additions that can help you lower your air conditioning bill.

Add Reflective Film to the Windows

Reflective film can direct some of the sun’s heat away from the house, preventing heat retention and reducing the need for you to run your air conditioner.

You can also reduce the amount of sunlight in your home by installing sunlight-blocking curtains, window shades, or blinds. Adding these sun-blocking features to your windows doesn’t have to mean that you’ll lose all that gorgeous natural light in your home—you can use them strategically during the hottest parts of the day, but open them when temperatures are cooler in the mornings and evenings.

Add a Programmable Thermostat

Adding a programmable thermostat is a smart idea because it can automatically adjust the temperature settings in your house. You can lower the cost of your bill by setting the AC to 80 degrees when you aren’t home during the summer.

Another way you can use your thermostat to lower your AC bill is setting it at a few degrees higher during the day, then making use of ceiling fans to circulate the air throughout your house. Coupling your AC and ceiling fan usage can help you save money while staying cool. However, make sure to turn off your ceiling fans when you leave the house, since these do not actually lower the temperature of your home; they merely create a wind-chill effect.

Add Some Greenery

Adding trees to your yard can block some of the sunlight and heat from getting to the house. Additionally, planting shrubbery near an outdoor AC unit can help it run more efficiently. Some experts have said that strategically landscaping your yard with trees and shrubs can save you up to 25 percent in energy bills. As you plan to add some greenery in your yard, consider planting trees to the east and west sides of your home. These are the areas directly affected as the sun travels during the morning and afternoon. Of the two, the west side of your home should be the highest priority, because the sun’s intensity is highest in the afternoon.

If you’re looking to lower your AC bill this summer, consider these three smart additions to your home. Reflective window coverings, a programmable thermostat, and trees and shrubs are great, creative ways to save money and stay cool at the same time.

Read this next: 3 Preventative Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money in the Long Run