admin / May 31, 2018

Summer Money Makeover

 

It’s not yet ‘officially’ summer but Memorial Day’s been and gone so I thought we’d kick off a summer financial makeover.

What gave me the idea?

Over at my writing site, I’m setting up a summer writer’s retreat where we’ll get books started or half-finished ones will get completed. It’s running from June 1st through September 1st. Three months to get something done that maybe you’ve been talking about or even just dreaming about doing. So I thought how about something similar here at BSG.

What would your financial makeover look like?

Maybe you want to finally set up a budget?

Perhaps you want to get started on saving for that emergency fund you’ve always hoped for?

Maybe you want to save ready for holiday purchases or next year’s vacation.

It could be you want to organize your pantry or stop throwing away so much food?

Maybe you want to educate yourself on money matters?

My goal for this three month makeover is to track my spending and get an in depth view of where my money’s going.

How about you, and are you up to the challenge of doing something for your financial good? Can we count you in? If so, leave a comment.

Throughout the next three months I’ll be posting tips and hints to keep us motivated. Which reminds me…what would you most like to see here at BSG? I’m planning content and I’d love your input.

Would you like to see book and product reviews, interviews with experts and everyday people who have saved and worked toward financial independence? Recipes and food centric posts? How about details about side gigs you can do to make more money?

Let me know because this is your community and if you haven’t already done so, check the subscribe area above and don’t miss a post.

Oh and before I go, if anyone’s an aspiring writer and wants to join in on the summer writing challenge, here’s the link to my writing site www.thiswriterslife.com

admin / May 24, 2018

The Added Cost of Fear and Uncertainty

 

 

What if it breaks, what if the car breaks down, or I lose my cell phone…

We all have one of those days, sometimes one of those weeks. Put it down to bad luck or the universe not being on our side. We’re human so that makes us worry and companies know that. Sometimes it’s the fear and uncertainty of everyday living that costs us more money than it should.

What got me thinking about this? I’ve been reading a couple of financial books (I’ll be reviewing them here on BSG at a later date), and both of them mentioned that oftentimes we pay more because a company has played into our fear.

For example, the extended warranty on the TV you just purchased. The security system in your house because you’d never forgive yourself if someone broke in and took all your stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong, some of these things are a great idea but some of them can be a waste of your money. So how do you separate the real fear from the fear factor companies would like you to feel as you make a decision about handing your money over to them?

Do Your Research

I remember my late father would check and check on prices, deals; you name it, before he purchased something. Back in those days, they Internet wasn’t around so he had to either physically go to a store or make lots of phone calls. It’s a lot easier now because you can surf the web. Things I look for are-What’s the general feedback about the product? Are people reporting the same issue? Has the same part broken for just about everyone? This not only helps you decide if you want to buy something in the first place but buy its extended warranty too?

Get a Second Opinion

You wouldn’t take one doctor’s word about an illness, treatment or surgery and the same goes for buying things or fixing things. Get a second opinion before you buy an extended warranty or have work done to fix an issue in your home or car.

How Valuable Is This To Me?

Another thing both these books have in common is they talk about the relationship between money and value. How much do you value something? Are you willing to pay more for it? I always think if I use something for my work and I’d lose money if it broke and I had to replace it then I’m more inclined to take an extended warranty or buy a better brand or model.

Bottom line is don’t get talked into something before you’ve done your homework, don’t let a salesperson play on your fears, but judge each situation on a case by case basis. It’s what I’ve learned to do, what the authors of these books have learned to do, and in the long run it can save you money.

 

What’s your criteria for buying extended warranties or added services? Share it with the BSG community and if you’re not already a subscriber, think about joining us so you don’t miss one single post.

 

admin / May 10, 2018

Compound Interest-Friend or Foe?

Compound interest…

Two words that make me think about my maternal grandmother.

I know what you’re probably thinking why would something connected to money make her think about grandma?

Let me explain…

My grandmother was widowed when she was just 51 years old. She was a very independent lady, didn’t rely on her family, didn’t want to burden my parents so she’d adopted a mindset that made sure she was financially secure to the day she died (at 87). She had two ways of looking at money and debt.

First one was, make money work for you and save up for something you want and then buy it. Never buy it and pay for it later.

I hope you’re seeing where the compound interest factor plays into this.

When I was seven, my grandmother opened my very first savings account for me. She added, if I can remember correctly, ten pounds and taught me my first money lesson of life. That money left in the account would continue to grow and grow due to compound interest. Ten would become eleven, twelve etc. without me having to add any more of my own money. That was money working for me and not me working for money.

 

One other thing she always did when she knew she needed something like a new winter coat was think ahead. Throughout the summer she’d put part of her pay check aside ready to buy the coat when the temperature dipped. She knew that if she had to pay for a coat on credit, she’d not only pay its actual cost but she pay more because of the added interest just for the privilege of borrowing money (yes, compound interest again!) That’s money working against you and not for you.

 

There have been lots of articles lately on how much credit card debt people are carrying and just as many written about the possibility of interest rate increases. It’s actually what got me thinking about compound interest and my grandmother.

Compound interest can be your friend as in the case of having a savings account, adding to it and not touching the money. Or it can be your foe when you have credit card balance and the compound interest causes you to get deeper and deeper into debt until one day you realize you’ll be paying it off until even after you retire.

So think about if you want compound interest to be your friend or foe. Is now a good time to start paying more toward your credit card debt and once that’s done be like my grandma and make money finally work for you and not against you.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post and my trip down compound interest memory lane, if so consider subscribing to Budget Smart Girl so you don’t miss more money and budget related goodies.

Happy saving.

 

 

admin / April 26, 2018

The Added Cost of Being on Auto-Pilot

 

We all know being disorganized can cost us money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed out to buy something I know I already own but can’t remember where I put it. I’m getting better at being organized but one thing that can also eat away at your budget is payments that are on auto-pilot.

I’ve signed up for services, memberships to sites etc. without thinking about how payments are made during the second year. A couple of times I’ve been sent e-mails saying thank you for staying on as a customer for another year.

But what, you say, I didn’t make a payment to you. In fact, I wanted to cancel.

I’ve lost count how many times it’s happened to be in the last year or so. When I’ve checked if they are indeed right and were able to automatically renew my membership or service for a year, I’ve discovered that yes, they can and it’s my own fault for not being diligent.

These days it seems like it’s a default setting for most companies to put your account on auto-renewal and by the time you realize it, you’re paying for another year. That’s fine if you really want it but if you don’t, well, it’s wasted money.

I’ve been slowly checking all my services and memberships and going through the process of unchecking the auto-renew box on anything I no longer want to keep.  Some of them don’t let you do that and instead you have to simply cancel. In those cases, and so I don’t lose the remaining part of the membership I’ve already ready paid for, I’ve made a note on my calendar that a few days before the subscription or whatever ends, I’ll cancel it.

It’s also a great opportunity to look at all the things you’re still paying for that you may no longer use or have an interest in. I have three this year that fit that category and I’ve worked out I’ll be saving close to $300. That’s $300 that would have wasted had I not been watching for the auto-renew feature on these sites. If it’s a service or something you do use, it’s a good time to also check if they’re giving you the best price. I switched my domain registrations off of auto-renew and changed to a service offering much lower prices.

So bottom line is look at payments that are on ‘auto-pilot’. Are they still things you need and if they are, is someone else offering you a better deal?

 

admin / April 19, 2018

Going Green Means Saving Green

Earth Day is this Saturday and here are five easy ways I’ve found to go green and save money at the same time-

 

 

Showers

You can buy low water flow shower heads or even buy adapters to go on your current one. Neither are that expensive and if you’re think the water will just dribble out of the showerhead, you’d be surprised how the new versions are so good that you hardly notice the difference.

 

 

 

Dirty Laundry

Where I live, putting laundry outside to dry isn’t something I can do year round but when the temperature heats up a great way to save money on electricity (and your clothes too), is to hang everything outside to air dry. It also prevents heating up your home in the summer.

 

 

Fan Favorites

If  you live in a humid climate, fans won’t always work but on the days when it’s just hot but humidity’s low, how about turning off the air conditioning and turning on a fan or two.

 

 

Dirt Cheap Gardening

Here’s something I’ve going to do this year instead of buying compost at the store…make your own. Buy a compost bin or even put your DIY skills to use and make your own. Another way you can save money in the garden is to install a rain barrel and catch all the free rainwater.

 

 

 

Walk or Bike

This one also gives you some free exercise too. Leave the car at home and either bike or walk to your destination.

 

Do you have a favorite eco friendly idea that saves money? Leave a comment and share your tip for us.

 

Also, be sure to subscribe to Budget Smart Girl so you don’t miss a post. You’ll find the sign up form at the top of the site.

 

admin / April 4, 2018

YouTube a Goldmine for The Budget Minded

 

I don’t know how many of you ever spend time on YouTube but over the last year or so I’ve discovered there’s a goldmine of information there for budget savvy people like us. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite channels in various categories so here they are-

For the Budget Minded

A YouTuber based in Utah has this fun and informative channel called The Melea Show-

https://www.youtube.com/user/Freebies2Deals

Another one of my favorites is the Do It On A Dime

https://www.youtube.com/user/DoItOnaDime

And who can leave out The Krazy Coupon Lady

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

Or even discovering free stuff…free is always good.

https://www.youtube.com/user/freestufffindercom/about?

 

Organizing

I’m a firm believer in that being organized can save you money and time which actually does save you money too and one of my favorite organizing channels belongs to this lady-

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/OrganizedClutterbug

 

Crafts and Hacks

What budget smart girl doesn’t love crafts and finding easy (yes cheap) ways of doing stuff around the house

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

 

Cooking

Did you think I’d leave out the food? Here are some of my favorite cooking channels

Mind Over Munch

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

The Domestic Geek

https://www.youtube.com/user/thedomesticgeek1

 

 

Exercising

And last but by no means least, a channel I discovered last year when I realized I had to start exercising again, a fitness channel belonging to a fellow Brit named Lucy. Believe me when I say if you eat right and do these exercises (I can finally get pants and skirts zipped up again), you’ll get results. Best thing is if you’re a super busy BSG they don’t take up a lot of your time. Thank you Lucy!

https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel

admin / March 10, 2017

Friday Round Up-Organizing and Decluttering

 

Happy Friday to you. The weather took a downward turn and it looks like winter is back. I guess last week’s 60 degree temperature spoiled me and I have to face up to reality. Roll on spring and summer.

 

Speaking of which…

Getting Ready for Canning Season

I’ve been on a decluttering and organizing binge. One of the areas in the basement that was in most disarray was the section where I keep all my canning jars and equipment. After searching online for some ideas, I stumbled upon an item called a Jar Box that’s not only a way to organize your canning jars, but keeps dust, dirt…and yes, sometimes we have the old mouse or two running around, keeps pesky intruders from running over them. While I was on the Fresh Preserving site I also saw they have some other accessories that are on sale. I thought the wooden tags are perfect it you want to give jams and jellies as a gift. And one other thing I was excited to finally see…dissolvable labels. Yay, no more soaking the jars every year to get the old labels off.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/all-accessories/

Dollar Stores

A related topic of organizing is the high cost of things to organize with, like bins and dividers. One place I’ve come to rely on to keep my organizing budget in check is my local dollar store so definitely pay it a visit if like me you’re doing some tidying up.

It’s Almost Spring which Means…

It’s almost Easter and yes, all things chocolate eggs and candies are in the stores. While you won’t get the rock bottom deals until after Easter Sunday, now is a good time to stock up supplies for future baking. Plus, the price of eggs goes down too. And what better source of cheap protein than an egg.

What’s Your Budget?

Those are four words I’m hearing more of these days. I guess retailers and companies need to catch every consumer’s dollar these days to stay in business. It’s good for us because it means we do have some haggling clout. Don’t be afraid to tell a salesperson that you are on a fixed budget because I’ve found many times they’ll at least meet you half way, if not all the way.

Coming Up on BSG

I’d hoped to put some posts on the site this week but it was yet another week that got away. I’ve been teaching, tutoring, working on books and before I knew it I was sitting down to write the Friday Round-Up. No idea where the week’s go but my goal is to get at least one post added to the site next week.

 

Have a fun weekend and a money saving week.

 

 

admin / February 24, 2017

Friday Round Up-Save Money On Soap (that’s ugly)

 

 

 

Good Friday to you and it’s the last one in February. The weather’s taken a winter like turn but I know spring is around the corner.

The Ragu Giveaway

I don’t know if there was a glitch in the system last week or what, but no one entered the Ragu sauce giveaway so I’m running the contest again. The first person to e-mail me, gets the Ragu sauces.

Ugly Soap

I’m a huge fan of artisan soaps and if you’ve tried buying them you’ll know they’re pricey. However, as every Budget Smart Girl knows there’s always a way around the price. While I was doing some research I discovered that makers of the soaps are oftentimes left with bits and pieces of soap or ones that didn’t turn out quite right. Nothing wrong with them but they’re too ugly. Rather than have all this ugly soap piling up many of them sell you bags of the not so pretty stuff for a steep discount. I purchased one pound of ugly Dead Sea mud soap for around $14. So take a look to see if any of your favorite artisans offer the same deal or even ask them if they’d sell you some of their ugly soap.

Long Lasting Soap

While I’m on the topic of artisan soap, or any soap for that matter, we all want products to last longer. One way to do that with soap is to let it air dry between uses. I purchased a bamboo soap dish with slats and let the soap dry completely before I put it make in the shower or in a drawer…wherever. I’ve found it lasts twice as long.

Gourmet Supermarkets

You might remember me mourning the loss of my nearest supermarket when it closed about three years ago. In its place a gourmet supermarket opened its doors with prices that weren’t in my budget. However, things have changed. Over the holidays I went in there when they had a sale and was happy to see their prices have come down and in line with other stores, they often have great BOGO sales, and even offer a couple of discount lines, including an organic one that fits my budget. So my tip is at least go inside a gourmet supermarket and roam around because you’d be surprised what you can find.

 

Budget Smart Classes

Okay guys, it’s time where you can help me out again. Some of you might know I teach writing classes but someone recently suggested I teach classes about saving money too. I have an idea about one platform that might be perfect because it would allow me to give away some free spots for the class for anyone who can’t afford to take workshops.

What do you think? Is the Internet already overcrowded with classes about saving money or just saving money in general? Let me know your thoughts?

Another thing you can help me with which will allow me to put more targeted content on this site…tell me what’s you biggest financial challenge? Is it buying food and staying within your budget? Paying off debt? Saving money…funding your retirement maybe?

Leave me a comment or e-mail me and tell me what you think about the classes and/or your money dilemma.

 

Have a fun weekend and a money saving week.

admin / May 2, 2014

Friday Round-Up-Substitute Pie Crust

Just a quick Friday round-up.

First up, congrats to Cheryl who won the China Study All Star Collection cookbook.

Lots of strawberries are already in the produce department. I can’t wait to see how my own strawberry plants (and the blueberry plants) do this year. Last year was the first time I planted them so I don’t know if I’ll have enough to make any jam or pies. I’ll probably use them just for snacking.

Speaking of snacking ,one of my favorites is homemade hummus on cucumber slices. It’s filling and keeps the hunger pains away until mealtime. Plus, with cucumbers soon to be in abundance and chickpeas always on sale, it’s a budget priced treat.

By the end of the summer I’ll take a guess that most of us will have more zucchini than we know what to do with, so this year I’ve planned ahead. This week I came up with a substitute for pie crust for things like quiches. It’s low cost and can save you lots of calories too.

I used one green and one yellow zucchini. I shredded them over a sieve and then sprinkled on some salt. I let them sit for about 15 minutes and then squeezed them to get all the water from them.

Next put them on some paper towels and blot them dry with more paper towels.
Add them to a bowl, add some pepper and one well beaten egg and mix well.

Spray a quiche pan or baking dish with non-stick spray and then put the zucchini into the pan. Using the back of a spoon form it into a pie crust.

Bake this at 375 for about 20 minutes or until it’s set and golden brown.

I used mine for the base of a cheese soufflé. It’s a great way to sneak in some extra veggies into meals…especially for children. If you want a deeper crust just use more zucchini.

And finally, I found two money saving articles of interest-

MR900439512Sometimes things we already own are the best for saving the pennies-
http://news.yahoo.com/save-money-items-already-own-131900777.html

If you’re like me and wouldn’t think of traveling without your best buddy, check out this article-
https://www.yahoo.com/travel/what-it-costs-to-take-your-fur-baby-on-vacation-83869253948.html

Happy savings.

admin / April 4, 2014

Friday Round Up-Saving Money While You Eat Well

MR900439512I finally squeezed in some time for a Friday Round-Up-

First up, two links I found today with a money saving theme-

Five products you can get for less this month-https://homes.yahoo.com/news/5-products-deep-discount-april-162008234.html

If spring has you wanting to decorate your home, this might be of some use-https://shine.yahoo.com/at-home/10-easy-ways-decorate-less-193400078.html

As many of you know I’m working on a budget focused cookbook and as I’ve been developing and working my way through the recipes I’ve learned even more about cooking and eating on a budget. Here are some things I’ve discovered-

Homemade Isn’t Always the Best or Cheapest
One chapter of the cookbook focuses on foods you’re better off making at home rather than store bought. However, it’s not always true. Besides factoring in cost and your time, also take into consideration if you like the store brand better. If you don’t like, you won’t eat something you make than it’s a waste of money. An example here is refried beans. I tried to make my own three times and each time just didn’t like them as much as the ones I buy in cans.

Cook Lots of Things At Once
Saving money on food isn’t just about the ingredients; you have to factor in the cost to cook the food too. Some days I’ve been testing four or five recipes at a time and I made sure that when the oven was on, it was full of a couple of things, maybe a casserole and some scones, or a pizza crust and a cake. Plan ahead. I’ve also been cooking things like lentils and rice in the oven so I can have them on hand for recipes I’m testing later in the week.

Plan Meals around Leftover Ingredients
A couple of recipes have left me with egg whites. Deserts are perfect for using up these sorts of items. The egg whites became meringue nests that I filled with canned fruit. Leftover pasty became jam tarts. Also, if you use them straight away there’s less chance you’ll put them in the fridge and forget about them.

Think Seasons Ahead
When you’re testing recipes on a schedule you can’t wait for things to be in season, for example, cranberries, or cherries. Freezing, canning or drying them is the perfect way to have them on hand without having to one, search for them, and two, pay more for them.

Frozen and Canned Are Okay
My mindset used to be fresh produce is the best, but after testing so many recipes I’ve resorted to frozen and canned vegetables and fruits to keep the cost down. One example is I have a recipe for potato crusted Brussels sprouts. The week I wanted to test the recipe, they were very expensive. I headed to the frozen food section and found a large bag for under $2, and yes, there was less waste because they were already cleaned and trimmed and ready to eat.

Pantry, Pantry, Pantry
And finally my last tip for saving money is to have a well-stocked pantry. If you’re just starting out on stocking it, buy one or two items a week. You’d be surprised how many ingredients I’ve used in these recipes that were already sitting on the pantry shelf and I’ve saved lots of money that way.

Happy Savings

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