Archive for the ‘Home & Garden’ Category

Tips on How to Cut your Medical Expenses

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Moreover, there is no such thing as free medication. Some time or another, all of us will need medical treatment. Whether it would be for simple colds or for serious illnesses, these things would hurt us and burn our pockets.

According to a recent study, Americans spend more money on medical expenses than any other nationality in the world. As prices get higher and life gets harder, saving some money from your medical expenses will definitely benefit you.

Here are some practical tips on how to cut your medical costs:

Mind Your Health

Prevention is always better than cure. Being fit and healthy seems to be a 21st century fad and it wouldn’t hurt us if we join in the bandwagon. An analysis of the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey revealed that people who are more active spend less on medical expenses than those who live lethargic lives. The analysis equated the benefit of being physically active to $330 (1987 dollar value) per person.

For smokers and drinkers, reducing cigarette and alcohol consumption is an option which you may find feasible. You will not only reduce future medical costs but also reduce direct costs from purchasing these products.

Go Generic

Taking generic drugs is the way to go. Patents are used by manufacturers to be able to set a price so as to recover their costs in developing their products. But these patents don’t last forever and sooner or later, generic versions of these drugs will be available. Generic drugs are basically the same as the branded ones in terms of ingredients and quality.

Going generic can save you a lot of money. According to the Association of Chain Drug Stores, the generic drugs are priced at $24 on the average in 2004, while the average price of the branded ones is $96 dollars.

Deal with your Doctor

Take time out to discuss things with your doctor, for this can also save you a lot of cash. Don’t be shy to ask him about the possible alternatives that you can take. Ask him if there is a generic drug that you can take if he prescribes you a branded drug. If you are going to have surgery, try to schedule wisely, so as to prevent overstaying in the hospital. And most importantly, do as you are told. If he asks you to quit your vice, quit it. If he tells you to be active, then you’d better be!

Medical expenses can really dig a hole in your pocket. Try to be wise in your medical transactions and more importantly, take care of your health.

High-low Numbers: Tips on Saving Money on Clothes

Are you craving for the newest designer clothes, a pretty tank top, and that pretty dress? All this fashion comes at a price — you choose.

Buying clothes these days is always a choice between the designer-made outfit or those cheap but quality items that you could pull together and express your personality in many different ways.

Most experts contend that clothes can definitely make or break a person. They say that your personality is usually reflected on how you dress up. But it does not necessarily mean that good fashion would absolutely mean expensive clothes.

Hence, you can still make a remarkable fashion statement without having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars just for your clothes.

Here is a list of some money-saving tips when buying clothes that would turn other people’s heads to you but would not definitely break your wallet.

1. Do the math

Choosing fashionable clothes can be really tricky, not unless you know how to do the math! So before you buy three sets of clothes that would cost you hundreds of dollars, try to go for the budget-friendly dozen of items that you can even match alternatively.

The number of expensive items that your money can buy is definitely doubled or even tripled when you buy cheaper ones but can still make a good fashion statement.

2. Know what you want

Saving money is definitely based on knowing what you want whenever you spend your money on something. If you know what you want, this means that you have researched the item, have compared them with the other items, you will be able to come up with the lowest price of the product.

3. Drive your way to a “thrift store”

Usually, these “thrift stores” are non-profit organizations. This means that they are usually operating for charity. They give their proceeds to some charitable institutions.

Hence, the prices of the clothes being sold in the thrift store are absolutely cheaper than the ones being sold in the department store. So that would mean many savings for you.

Best of all, you do not only get to save more money, you get to do some charity work as well.

The bottom line here is that when shopping for clothes, do not shop for the brand name, shop for the quality.

Nowadays, you just have to be practical. Better spend your money on more important things than those designer clothes.

IMPORTANCE OF SAVING: SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST

The value of money cannot be underestimated. In a recent national survey, more than 96% Americans agreed that early monetary savings would help one achieve a fruitful and stable life.

Saving is a way of insulating oneself from the many symptoms of health and natural adversity. While an average youth of yesteryears thinks more about short-term financial goals such as purchasing a new pair of signature shoes, owning a new jet ski or a brand new car, statistics show that more and more are starting to realize the importance of keeping a personal savings.

Long terms goals are described as goals that have a lasting effect should a person’s present actions be religiously maintained.

The following statements are outlined to provide information and tips on how you can start up your money-saving gimmicks and ensure a happy and financially stable future and list the reasons as to why saving money should occupy a greater place in our list of priorities in life.

Reasons for Saving:

Ш Saving for your Future and Present Needs – Saving today will provide you with flexible financial resources in the future.

Keeping at least 20% of your monthly earnings while using the other for your household, personal and unexpected expenses will surely play a big part in your pursuit for a stable future.

Ш Saving for an Investment Need – Savings can also be a source of your future capital for engaging in business enterprises.

It will provide you more opportunity for venturing on your unexplored talents and earn you a huge potential in increasing your money exponentially.

Ш Saving for your Retirement – More than 23% of today’s elderly were shown to have failed in one instance in their lives, to save and strategically used their money for preparing their way to retirement. As a result, these folks extend their entire retirement career working on an equally satisfying job that pays them enough to cover their basic expenses.

Keys to Fulfilling your Saving Goals:

No matter how good our intentions and objectives for saving are, we should also take note that goals can fall and touched the following baselines or characteristics.

Ш Attainability – Goals should be something attainable and one which can be achieved without you doing something extraordinary or illegal. A little amount of patience and hard work are key.

Ш Consistency – Changing your goals from time to time due to incidents that may arise in the near future are sure ways to deterring your intention to save.

While we need to focus on the present incidents, we also need to take hold of our original intention and continue until you have gained enough leads to get it.

No Fret Family Budget

For some, the idea of a budget is often a blur. It is frustrating to see how hard it is to do a budget and realizing that with one wrong purchase, you can actually ruin the entire thing. And this has been a perennial headache for most homemakers.

It is about time to overhaul the way people look at budgeting. It can actually be a great way to keep track of your family’s expenditures and help you evaluate the things that you spend the lion’s share of the family’s earnings on.

What is a budget? A budget is a tool for handling your finances by controlling the family’s expenditures in a way that money is enough for paying up bills, and still ensuring that savings are set aside for future expenses – vacations, or children’s education, or even for retirement.

Try these simple steps in preparing a no fret family budget, and see the benefits of intelligent spending.

1. Gather three months of your pay stubs and get your average monthly earnings.

2. Get out three months of your monthly bills. Do this for the fixed expenses like the rent, phone bill, car payments and other loans that come monthly. Add them up and get the average. Do the same for other expenses like groceries, and credit card bills.

3. Evaluate the results of your computations. Looking at your average monthly earnings against your monthly fixed expenses and other monthly expenses, think of some ways to economize. Cut back on some items that are somehow unnecessary.

4. Knowing the facts of your income and expenses, develop a family budget and try to stick to this monthly budget.

5. Now that you have a monthly budget, set up a savings account. Save up by making regular deposits to this account.

6. Keep track of this monthly family budget just to see if it is working for you. Try to fine-tune the “rough edges” of this budget as you go along.

7. If you can get hold of a personal budgeting software or spreadsheet application to keep record of your budget, the better. This will make organizing your expenses very easy.

These are the basic steps in developing and implementing a no fret, easy to stick to monthly family budget. Of course each family has diverse needs and wants. You have the freedom to develop your own monthly family budget, depending on your family’s financial background and needs. No matter how you do it, just focus on the end result, which is building a savings that leads to a bright and financially stable future for your family.

Self-Discipline And Saving Money

A great way to save money is to be aware of the fact that one has the power to define the state of his finances specifically through a conscious effort of disciplining the way one spends and controlling one’s expenditures.

Self-discipline will most definitely be the key to reducing one’s debts therefore increasing the possibility of growing one’s savings. And in the long run, improve one’s standard of living.

According to money management book author Robert Hastings, “Undisciplined money, usually spells undisciplined person”. Therefore, if one notices how his hard-earned money seems to slip away so darned easy, then it is about time that he rethinks his ways and try to discipline his unpleasant spending habits.

One of the essential keys to successful money management, specifically saving money is to possess proper attitude. Self-discipline is at the topmost of this proper attitudes list, of course.

Only with self-discipline that people recognize that they do have the freedom and power to do the right thing over doing as their impulses dictate.

Sounds complicated? Well, not really. Knowing fully the fantastic rewards of disciplined money in a disciplined person’s hands should be motivation enough for one to do all that is humanly possible to achieve that elusive financial stability everyone hopes for.

Here are some helpful money saving tips.

1. Realize that the most convenient method of building one’s wealth is through saving money. Money is the only sensible material to save.

2. Focus expenditures on the things one needs. Live day-by-day knowing that you have enough.

3. Avoid buying on impulse. Take your time when buying, especially the expensive items. If you really need it, it would most definitely not slip your mind. Otherwise, if you go along forgetting all about it, then it isn’t really worth the money you have to spend on it at all.

4. Credit card debts hold the number one slot as the cause for financial drains these days. Control your spending by using your credit cards less. Or for unavoidable circumstances when you really have to use the credit card, consider using the ones that charge less interest. Then dump the high interest ones for good.

No matter how you look at it, saving money is so easy to do. A little bit of imagination, some creativity and a lot of self-discipline will take you a long way in keeping hold of your hard-earned money.

Budget Like Mom

Budgeting is truly the turf of most mothers. Aside from the traditional role imposed on mothers as the one who budgets the family finances, mothers have the instincts and foresights on what might happen in the future.

But how do moms really stretch the budget? She neither uses complicated formulas nor magic tricks but simple ingenuity and common sense. Peek in through moms’ secrets in budgeting and learn. Role modeling is a good way to encourage attitude, especially towards money.

1. She clearly knows where all the money goes. Usually it goes to child care apart from the housing, health insurance, food and clothing. It is unlikely for her to cut cost on her children.

2. She studies all options given to her in terms of child care. Before she decides, she examines all aspects like safety, health and education.

3. To understand more, she talks to local child-care specialists and works out schedules with her employer for bonding time with kids.

4. For working moms, it is double the effort. They take care of the house and the children and at the same time work. She incorporates practical ways to accomplish both roles.

• Wearing professional clothes than trendy ones.
• Stays elegant but simple through a combination of basic colors.
• Dry cleaning costs a hefty amount, so, she dons on wash-and-wear clothes.
• Tone down on accessories.
• She engages in a lot of do-it-yourself habits like in cleaning spots and ironing wrinkles in her personal wardrobes.

5. Moms always shop with a list in her hand to keep track of her budget and expenses. She makes sure she does not exceed. Also, she has no time for checking out tempting stuff at the shopping mall.

Tips on How to Save Money When Shopping

Shopping is very addictive. Most of the time, the household budget is sacrificed once you go shopping. Shopping should not give you headaches as long as you know how to budget. Here are the things that you need to remember:

1. Always remember to spend your money wisely whenever you go shopping. Bring only the exact amount of money you need in buying your items. To ensure that you only buy the important things, you have to make a list of the items that you need to buy. You may then budget your money wisely and will prevent you from buying things that are not that important.

2. It is advisable that you compare prices from different stores before buying an item. Do not limit yourself to just one store. There are stores that offer the same quality but can have a lower price. A smart thing you may do is to be attentive to the prices of the items that you buy regularly when shopping. There are instances that a store has an untimely changing of prices on different items.

3. It is recommended that you do your shopping during the end of the season. Prices of many items, especially clothes, are very low and affordable during this time of the year. You may buy clothes in the months of August and September if you are looking for bargain clothes for your summer wear.

4. You may shop in dollar stores where you can find items that are on sale and where prices are low. Although the quality of some items is not the same when you buy in malls and shopping galleries but the merchandises are still new and not yet used. These stores can provide you the best prices that can cope with on your budget.

5. Another way to save money while shopping is to economize the travel you make in finding the stores you want to buy an item. You may take a stop on your daily route to check if the items you buy regularly have not changed their prices or are still in the price of your budget. You may purchase the item even before you do your shopping schedule. This can save you fuel and time.

6. Try to find discount stores that offer quality items that have discounts and can offer a very affordable price on your desired item. The prices on discount stores may vary depending on the season of the year. These stores can be located in large shopping areas like in malls and shopping galleries.

Why Banking Works

When it comes to financial management, even business professionals reach a consensus as to what is the most effective, reliable, and secure means to manage your money, and that is through the bank. Your bank is an effective means to manage your bills payments, keep track of your transactions, receive your income and whatever extraneous cash inflow, and help you save effectively.

The last one is perhaps the most obvious feature of the bank that people do not take advantage of. A bank, being a financial intermediary, can actually help you save money efficiently. Here’s how.

First, you are required to keep what is called a maintaining balance in your bank account. This means that even if you make deductions in your account, the bank requires you to save a bare minimum in order to continue enjoying their services. And yes, that translates to a forced saving on your part.

Another feature of bank saving is the fact that you are free to continuously add to your account whenever you can. Otherwise, your money will remain safe in your bank. Moreover, while it’s staying in the bank, you are actually earning interest rates on your money.

What are savings interest rates? These are payments made by the bank to you for leaving your money in the bank. By depositing your money in the bank, your bank utilizes a portion of it in its loan operations where it subsequently earns through interest and loan charges. In effect, the income they receive trickles down to you, their source of money. This savings interest rate is actually an effective incentive system. Why so? If you save more money in your bank account through your deposits and savings, you end up receiving a higher return on the savings interest rate than other people would.

Banks have a threshold amount for you to be able to participate in the bank’s long-term, higher yield savings schemes. Time-deposit accounts, mutual funds and the like require you to leave your money untouched for a longer period of time. In exchange for the bank’s use of your money for a longer period of time, the percentages of interest return are double those that you would get in a regular savings account. You can add increments of a certain amount in order to increase the capital you invest in your time-deposit account or mutual fund. An increased account obviously translates to bigger interest gains.

Talk to your local bank about their savings schemes. They offer various mechanisms to encourage us consumers to entrust their money to them. In a bank, your money is in a safe place, and it is growing while it stays there.

We are Family: Budget Tips for Today’s Familial Ties

If you are in charge of creating the family budget, chances are, you’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a brilliant budget plan that isn’t executed well. This happens to many families and couples, and with a little attitude tweaking, you can solicit the help of your family in making your budget work.

Create a family budget vision. Talk to your spouse and children about whatever budgetary constraints you are facing, or whatever financial goals you intend to set. By being completely honest about the bills and loans you have to pay, or your intention to save a certain amount of money for a family emergency fund (or a college fund, for that matter), you can help your family understand better your collective financial situation. This will allow them to change their perspective on purchases they make, and will help you make sure that whatever money crunching strategies you utilize won’t be counteracted by a subsequent spree by your teen.

Another good technique is to create a list of usual expenditures per member of your family. Together, identify which items you can do away with in order to save up some extra money from your monthly income. By doing this altogether, you are making your family participate better and see the contributions they can make into making your family’s finances better.

Should your child have the habit of continuously asking for money for minor and oftentimes unnecessary purchases, you can let your children learn to manage their own week’s allowance. With their limited money to budget, they will realize the value of money.

Put a cap on the amount of expenditures you make in a week. The best way to do this is set aside a fixed amount of cash that you will spend for a week. By putting this limitation on your spending, you are forced to prioritize spending on the most essential over other things.

Make it easy for your family to save more. How often do you eat out? Most family budgets are blown over because of the frequency of dining out and the accompanying exorbitant expense of that activity. Eating at home will reduce your expenses, not to mention allow for your family to bond over cooking at home. Do you spend on routine purchases like coffee and newspapers? Cut back on the latte and the paper, and put aside the amount you would otherwise spend. Your family’s collective saving will surprise you.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to create a most efficient driving route, as well as grouping together activities into one car trip. This way, you can save a lot on time and even on gasoline and car expenses.

Tips on How to Teach Your Kids to Save Money

A lot of teens nowadays do not understand the value of earning and spending money. They were not oriented that investing is necessary even if they are still students. As parents, you play a crucial role in this area.

You should be able to teach your kids on how to save money. They should be able to understand the concept of money and investment as early as childhood. This will prepare them to learn money management, as they grow old.

Here are some tips on how you can teach your children how to save money:

1. Your children should be educated of the meaning of money. Once your children have learned how to count, that is the perfect time for you teach them the real meaning of money. You should be consistent and explain to them in simple ways and do this frequently so that they may be able to remember what you taught them.

2. Always explain to them the value of saving money. Make them understand its importance and how it will impact their life. It is important that you entertain questions from them about money and you should be able to answer them right away.

3. When giving them their allowances. You need to give them their allowances in denominations. Then you can encourage them that they should keep a certain bill for the future. You can motivate them to do this by telling them that the money can be saved and they can buy new pair of shoes or the toys they want once they are able to save.

4. You can also teach them to work for money. You can start this at your own home. You can pay them fifty cents to one dollar every time they clean their rooms, do the dishes or feed their pets. This concept of earning little money will make them think that money is something they have worked for and should be spent wisely.

5. You can teach them to save money by giving them piggy banks where they can put coins and wait until they get full. You can also open bank accounts for them and let them deposit money from their allowance. You should always show them how much they have earned to keep them motivated.

Money and saving is not something that is learned by children in one sitting. You should be patient in teaching them and relating the value of money in all of their activities. Children will learn this easily if you are patient and consistent in guiding them and encouraging them in this endeavor.