How to Save Money When You’re Short on Time

From cutting coupons to searching out the best deals online, getting creative allows you to save money in almost every area of your life—but when you’re busy juggling work, family and a social life, the task can seem daunting. Who has time to sift through newspapers to save a few cents on peanut butter?How to Save Money When You're Short on Time

Fortunately, there are ways to save money when you’re short on time. We’ve assembled some quick and easy tips for cutting costs that are simple to implement and won’t occupy much of your day.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are a treasure trove of savings, from grocery store rewards cards to frequent purchaser cards. When in doubt, if you are offered access to a free rewards program, agree to join. Among money-saving tips, this is about as easy as it gets.
Most rewards programs are tracked via a physical card or your phone number. Whether you save money immediately at the point of purchase or build up to a single reward, rewards programs are simple because the store does the tracking for you while you reap the benefits.

Automatic Bill Payments

Many people don’t realize that agreeing to automatic bill payments can amount to significant monthly savings. For starters, having funds automatically deducted from your checking account means you will never accrue late fees or additional interest because you forgot to initiate a payment. Some lenders or organizations also grant a discount to customers who are signed up for automatic payments.
From your student loans to your electric bill, you may be eligible for a percentage off of your interest rate or monthly dues simply by having your payments taken out on a regular schedule. That makes automatic bill payments a responsible way to keep on top of payments and one of our favorite money-saving tips.

Automatic Savings Transfers

Some banks make it easy to put money into a savings account by instituting “keep the change” programs. These initiatives work by rounding up every purchase to the next full dollar and putting the extra cash into your savings account.
For example, a purchase of $7.50 with your checking account would be rounded up to $8; the actual purchase price is deducted from your checking account to pay the vendor, and in this case, an additional 50 cents would be transferred from your checking account into a savings account.

An automatic transfer program is a reliable, slow-paced way to store away some money that will come in handy on a rainy day. Best of all, you don’t have to take even a moment from your day to manually transfer money into a savings account.

Buy in Bulk

Buying non-perishable items, such as canned goods or shampoo, in bulk stands to result in major savings. Generally speaking, items that are bundled into groups are sold at a cheaper price than those sold alone. If you have extra storage space, there is really no good reason to purchase items piecemeal that could be picked up in bulk.

Stores like Sam’s Club or Costco make it easy to buy items en masse, since they deal pretty much exclusively in bulk products. These stores, however, do charge a membership fee. To avoid the cost of membership and still save money, look to other major retailers for the “family size” of groceries and toiletries. If you don’t have a family to share with, consider splitting a bulk purchase with a friend or neighbor.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a time consuming endeavor. These tips can give your wallet a break without hindering your daily schedule. Always remember that saving just a few cents here and there can really add up over time. Even if the savings you’re offered seem insignificant, you will thank yourself later if you take advantage now.

What are your tips for saving money without spending a lot of time? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!

Photo Credit: TaxCredits.net

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How to Save Money When You're Short on Time

Money-Saving Tips for Moving

By Brian Wilson

The cost of moving is often easily underestimated—the process involves many moving parts (no pun intended), and the rundown of expenses required to transition fully from Point A to Point B quickly adds up.

Money-Saving Tips for Moving

Going as cheap as possible with your moving expenses can certainly be a bad idea, but there are a multitude of smart ways for you to save on everything from packing to installation without cutting corners. 

Don’t Buy Boxes

While this bit of advice is the simplest (and arguably the most common tip you’ll hear when moving), the impact of grabbing your boxes and other moving materials for free can’t be overstated. Local retailers, online personal ads and many more avenues will often offer a virtually infinite amount of free cardboard boxes and other leftover shipping materials completely free of charge—the only prerequisite generally being that you come and get them yourself.

Opt for the Off Season

If you have any control over the time of year that you and your family move, it can be a surprisingly wise choice to move during the months that the moving industry refers to as “off season.” May 15 to September 15 mark the busiest time of year for movers, and this bustling season comes with larger moving quotes to accommodate the high demands and higher temperatures.

Scheduling your move during the off season outside this summer rush can prove financially advantageous (and not having to lug your boxes underneath a hot summer sun is certainly a nice bonus.)

Plan for Distance

Rates and billing methods across movers have the propensity to vary largely, and the potential expenses quoted for many can be a source of confusion. It’s important to factor details such as distance and proximity into your choice of mover—long distances can give rise to the greatest spikes in the cost of your moving quote if not accounted for properly.

If you’re set to move to a new city, state, or beyond, you may find it advantageous to consider movers that place an emphasis on long-distance travel. International movers can often offer better rates for cross-country moves, due to the fact that their infrastructure and business model are better equipped to handle large demands when it comes to gas, lodging and more.

Reach Out to Friends

It may surprise you how much it can ease the stress and financial strain of moving by simply reaching out to a handful of friends—even just one or two extra hands helping you pack can be the difference between a disaster and a great memory.

Having a few close friends help you through the DIY aspects like packing and setting up your new place will save you valuable time and resources, leaving you with more flexibility to move with. Just be sure to thank them with refreshments, impromptu housewarming parties, or other informal tips.

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Money-Saving Tips for Moving

Brian Wilson is a content writer representing North American Van Lines. North American Van Lines is a moving service that specializes in corporate relocation, long distance and residential moving.

 

Photo Credit:TaxCredits.net

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

Whether going by air, land, or sea, the cost of traveling adds up quickly, and ticket prices can skyrocket around popular travel dates. Aiming to go home for Christmas or visiting friends for NYE can turn into an expensive experience if you want to pack two bags and fly into a major airport.

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

If you’re struggling with how to make a trip happen without going bankrupt, you’re in luck. We’ve assembled some helpful travel tips for folks who are filled with the spirit of travel but lack disposable income.

Don’t Set Your Heart on One Travel Date

The holiday season is packed to the rafters with travelers, which often means competing with hundreds of other people hoping to book a similar flight or bus to your destination city. One of the best ways to save some money when you’re living on a budget is to keep your travel dates open.

If you can travel by December 21, for instance, you’ll likely pay less for a flight than those who fly on the more popular 23rd or 24th. If your schedule permits, you may even want to postpone your holiday trip until early January. Your travel will be much cheaper, and your gifts won’t go bad (assuming you’re not handing out fresh fruit this year).

Explore Regional Airports

If you’re flying to a major city, bear in mind that the main airport may also be the most expensive. For example, going to Washington, D.C. by way of Reagan National Airport is often cheaper than going directly to Dulles International Airport.

Most travel websites allow you to search for nearby airports, making it painless to expand your search to other airports in the area. You can often take a train or other public transportation into the city from these alternative airports.

Pack Light

Once upon a time, you could pack a suitcase full of goodies and carry only a handbag–or less–onto the plane. These days, nearly all airlines charge for checked baggage. Assuming your travel is round trip, you may save yourself a pretty penny by packing only a carry-on.

Rolling up shirts into the corners of your bag, wearing your largest jacket on the plane, and limiting yourself to two pairs of shoes all help you avoid the need for a checked bag on travel day.

Don’t Hoard Your Points

If you use a credit card, get one that offers travel points for dollars spent. You are often awarded a large number of points just for signing up, and they can quite literally pay off big time. While certain days around the holiday season are blacked out for travel on points, others are permitted.

If there was ever a good way to spend your frequent flyer or credit card points, it’s getting home for the holidays. In fact, while you may be responsible for some fees, you can often fly during the holidays for less than $100 when cashing in travel points.

Put Your Bartering Hat On

Before you book anything travel-related online, be it a flight or hotel stay, consider picking up the phone. If you’re a long-standing customer of a certain hotel, ask to speak to the manager. Quote a price you’ve paid in the past, and ask if they can match it.

Likewise, an airline representative may be able to search for a better fare or give you a heads-up about a discount you didn’t even realize you qualified for. One of the secrets to living on a budget is not being afraid to ask for a reduced fare or rate. You may just end up talking to a company representative with a heart of gold who gives you an awesome deal.

Holiday travel is notoriously expensive. While you can’t entirely get around this fact every year, there are ways to keep your holiday travel costs down. Not sure you can afford to travel at all? Keep your eyes peeled for last-minute fare deals. If an airline can’t get rid of seats on a flight, you may be able to afford the marked-down price that appears a day or two before take off.

How do you manage to score budget-friendly travel deals? Follow us on Twitter and tell us all your secrets!

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Budget-Friendly Travel Tips
Photo Credit: Andrew Malone

5 Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Depending on the season, location and amount of usage, your electric bill can be an intimidating expense. After all, electricity powers nearly everything in a modern home–from the appliances and entertainment devices, to air conditioning and lights.

5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

Despite its importance, you don’t have to let your electric bill break the bank. There are some easy tips that renters can follow to make sure that electricity costs stay down and amount of money in your bank account stays up. Here are five easy ways to reduce your electric bill:

1. Unplug

It goes without saying that turning off the lights when you don’t need them can reduce the cost of your electric bill–but did you know that simply unplugging your appliances can help reduce costs, too? Of course, you don’t want to unplug things that need to stay plugged in like the refrigerator.

However, unplugging phone chargers, toasters, hair dryers, and other small appliances when they’re not in use can shave dollars off your electric bill every time. Consider getting timed surge protectors or outlet additions that can turn off and on things that you don’t need to use while you’re not home, like television cable boxes, modems, routers and the microwave.

2. Cool Naturally

One of the biggest uses of electricity in a home, particularly during the summer, is the air conditioning. Nearly all air conditioners–whether they are window units that can be turned on and off, or they are controlled centrally by a thermostat–use electric power to run.

While some hot days are unbearable and it’s impossible to go without a/c, on more temperate days, try to cool your home naturally. Open windows, block sun from streaming in windows, and use fans. Try opening two windows; then place a fan backward in one open window to draw hot air out. This will allow the cool air from the other open window to flow in freely.

3. Go Green

If you use a lot of lights in your apartment, one way to reduce your electric bill is to use eco-friendly light bulbs. There are lots of eco-friendly light bulbs available, and they’re much more durable, long lasting, and environmentally-conscious.

Fluorescent light bulbs are not only better for the environment, they’re also better for your bank account. Switch your regular bulbs out for fluorescent ones; then reduce their usage as much as possible. Consider trying different fluorescent bulbs to find just the right color for your home (some can be very bright).

4. Upgrade and Update

New appliances are much more energy efficient and responsible than older appliances. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn’t you don’t have any control. Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco-conscious include computers, televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.

5. Clean Your Filters

Your air conditioner has a filter in it that keeps things like dust and dirt from blowing into the air. However, it needs to be changed regularly, and some people try to save money by not replacing the filter. In reality, a dirty filter is not only bad for your lungs, but it can also drive your electricity bill way up.

Full filters make air conditioners inefficient, causing them to work harder (or you to turn them on a higher setting) in order to make your space cool. If your “change filter” light is on, or if you haven’t changed yours in a while, check with your landlord to see if he has a replacement filter for you (or, if the air conditioner belongs to you, head to a hardware store to get a new one). You’ll spend much more on cooling your space with a dirty filter than you will on the one time expense of buying a brand new one.

Do you have any great ideas about how to save money on your average monthly electric bill? If so, we want to hear them! Comment below or reach out on Twitter.

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5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bills

Photo Source: alliecat1881

How to Vacuum Refrigerator Coils and Keep Your Cool

how to vacuum refrigerator coils

Vacuum your refrigerator coils twice a year to keep your fridge running efficiently.

Let’s face it: In the summertime, your refrigerator is your best friend. There’s nothing like the first sip of a cold beverage to cool you off when temperatures are sweltering, and you don’t even want to think about where you’d be without the freezer. A summer without ice is not a summer you’ll enjoy.

Since so much is riding on this relationship, this month’s green tip focuses on keeping your favorite appliance running smoothly. Regular refrigerator maintenance involves vacuuming the condenser coils on the back or the bottom to clear out the dust and gunk about twice a year. Removing this debris will ensure the fridge doesn’t have to work too hard to keep the insides cold.

Even better, the less the refrigerator has to work, the less energy it consumes – which translates to lower energy bills for you. Now that’s cool.

So how do you go about vacuuming those coils? We’ve got the process laid out for you, step by step.

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Where are Rent Prices Getting Cheaper (and Where are They Rising the Most?)

If you think the rent is too damn high, you’re in luck – if you live in a city where rent prices are actually going down.

Rent prices are going up nationwide by 4 percent on average, according to the National Association of Realtors. But Apartment Guide data has revealed several areas where the rent has been getting cheaper over the past year. We compared the median of the entry-level rent prices for apartment communities across the nation from May 1, 2013, to May 1, 2014, and found several areas in which there was a decrease in rent prices:

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How to Decorate Your Apartment for Under $100

Keep fruit in glass jars for a bright, inexpensive decor detail in your kitchen. Image: @1377, Atlanta, GA

Keep fruit in glass jars for a bright, inexpensive decor detail in your kitchen. Image: @1377, Atlanta, GA

When you live in an apartment, sometimes it can be difficult to make it really feel like home — especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune. You usually don’t have the option of changing a lot of things in the apartment, since you don’t own the place.

However, if you get creative, there are still a lot of ways to decorate your apartment, personalizing it in a unique and interesting way. Here are some unique ways to add spice to an apartment, all without lightening your wallet too much.

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Take a Tip from Tucson: Conserving Water in Your Apartment is an Easy Way to Observe Earth Day

Click to see the full infographic!

Click to see the full infographic!

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22 – and we’ve got water on our minds.

Saving water in your apartment, that is.

Water is perhaps the most necessary substance we need for life, yet because of its easy availability, it is equally easy to take for granted.

In cities where location makes water more difficult to find, citizens often step up to the challenge. We’ve noticed a city where conserving water is taken just this seriously. Tucson, Arizona, has risen to the challenge of careful water conservation with great results.

Read on for a discussion of Tucson’s Earth-loving achievements, as well as a few easy tips to help you remember to conserve water in your own home.

A desert city where conservation is a priority
Consider places in the country where fresh water is harder or more expensive to come by. In desert cities, like Tucson, AZ, water is all the more valuable because of its scarcity.

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Furnished or Unfurnished Apartment? How to Make the Call

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

Whether you’re renting your first apartment or just moving on up, you might ask yourself a question that many renters face: Furnished or unfurnished? Furnished apartments are far less common, but it might be the right choice for you if you’re a student, a traveling professional, or you just don’t want the hassle of buying and moving furniture.

Furnished apartments usually come equipped with furniture, basic kitchen appliances and tableware, bathroom necessities such as a shower curtain, a washer/dryer set, and possibly a few other amenities. The exact items will vary depending on the landlord and what kind of place you’re renting. Here are a few pros and cons to consider before you decide if furnished or unfurnished is right for you.

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