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What are Some Everyday Habits I Can Change that will Save Money?

Some of the best ways to save money are to eliminate small inefficiencies in your budget and change a few personal habits:

  • Stop throwing away receipts
  • Stop thinking in dollars
  • Reassess your eating habits
  • Take charge of impulse spending
  • Cut back on pay-as-you-go or per-use expenses
  • Eliminate reoccurring or fixed expenses

Ways to Save Money Each Month

While it may be annoying to keep track of all the money you spend, getting out of the habit of throwing your receipts away and into the habit of writing down how much you spend is incredibly useful. Once you have a clear understanding of where your money is going, you can make informed decisions about how you want to spend it. Doing your expenses monthly makes sense because so many of your other bills are also monthly, rent, phone, electricity, etc., and you get paid twice a month.

Stop Thinking in Dollars

Most people think about the cost of things in dollars, which is abstract. If you start thinking about the cost of things in how much work it will take to pay for it, it will be easier to decide if you really want it. For example, if you make ten dollars and hour, after taxes, and you want to buy a chocolate cake that costs twenty dollars, that’s two hours’ worth of work. Two hours is five percent of your 40 hours. Is the chocolate cake worth five percent of the time you spent at work that week? Only you can decide.

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Change Your Eating Habits to Save Money

If you are like most people, you go to eat at fast casual restaurants from time to time, especially if you didn’t feel like packing a lunch or if it’s a weekend. Most people probably spend more money on eating out than they realize. Do you know how much you spend on eating out?

If you are already writing down everything you spend money on, then you know how much money you spend on eating out and on groceries. Put a piece of paper on your refrigerator and make two columns. In one, writer down how much you spend on groceries each time you buy them. In the other, write down how much you spend each time you eat out. After seeing how those numbers add up, you’ll probably see that a few meals out could’ve paid your entire grocery bill for the month. After that happens, you’ll look at menu prices and automatically compare them to grocery prices.

Another easy way to reduce your spending on eating out is to plan your meals for the week and prepare them in advance if you can. It’s much easier to get yourself to cook if you don’t have to decide what to make every single night. If you can make a large soup and eat it for several meals, that reduces your decision-making and workload even further. Maybe you can make it in a large enough batch to feed multiple people and get your friends to buy the ingredients if you do the cooking. Now you’re getting free lunch!

Ways to Reduce Your Impulse Purchases to Save Money

Impulse spending is a great source of budget-crushing expenses. There are a few easy ways you can save money by changing your impulse purchasing habits:

  • Make a list of things you want and rank them as Need, Want, and Like. Things in the need column you must have and will spend money on. Things that you want you’ll purchase slowly as the funds become available, in the context of your financial plan. Things that you’d like, you’d ask other people to get you as a birthday present, but you won’t spend money on them. Once you have that list, you can add to it every time you see something that piques your fancy in a store or online.
  • Institute a 48-hour waiting period for non-essential purchases: This will give you time to determine if they are Need, Want, or Like and if you really need them or not.
  • Purchase higher-quality goods. Not only will this put more pressure on you to decide if what you are purchasing is a Need or Want, and if it is, it will last longer than a cheaper product.

Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Save Money

The issue of saving money is an age-old issue in America. A lot of people don’t understand, or practice the concept of saving money. 7/10 American have only $1,000 or less in their savings account, so just imagine how many people don’t have a savings account at all.

There are no clear-cut ways on how to successfully save money. If you ask 10 people to give you a list of 3 ways to save money, likely you’ll have all unique lists, with just a few overlapping answers. That’s because, what works for one person may not work for the next person. However, you won’t know what works for you, until you give it a try.

Here are 7 Things to Avoid When You Want to Save Money:

Waiting.

If you know that you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, and you want to get your finances in order once and for all, the time is now. There’s no need to wait until you get a new job, wait until you get your income tax return check, or wait until your next paycheck. Once you make up in your mind that you want to start your process to financial freedom, the only thing stopping you, is you.

Not having specific goals.

If you are a competitive person, try to make your savings plan a game of sorts. See how much you can save in a certain amount of time. If you are not competitive, set a logical amount to put away into a savings account, and watch it grow.

Not tracking your spending and spending too much.

You cannot save, if you spend everything you earn. Failing to track your spending, can result in you overspending. Make your budget and stick to it. There are mobile applications that you can plug your income, bills, and expenses into that tracks your spending for you. Or you can create a spreadsheet and do it yourself manually.

Claiming the wrong tax withholding.

Claiming the wrong withholding can cause the federal government to take more out of your income taxes each paycheck. At the end of the year, you get a large income tax return. This is not a good thing, you’ve pretty much given the federal government interest free money and aren’t getting what you’re owed back in return. File the correct withholding and get what you deserve each paycheck, and you that extra money to put into your savings.

Putting off high-interest debt.

If you have high credit card debts or student loan debts, it is time to start making payments to get those down. Even if you are not required to make payments on your student loans at this time, try to pay down the accrued interest on those loans. It’ll help you out in the long run and save you money. The faster you pay debts down, the less interest they accrue overtime.

Not having an emergency fund.

Emergencies are expensive, especially vehicle related emergencies and medical emergencies. We’re talking about bills into the thousands of dollars. An emergency fund is essential to help you to offset the costs of the emergency. You can have a long term emergency fund and a rainy day fund. The emergency fund should be used in the case of medical emergency or in the event that you suddenly use your main source of income. The rainy day fund should be used to cover an unexpected expense like a school trip for the kids, for example.

Signing up for retail newsletters.

Retail newsletters can really persuade you to spend money unnecessarily. Oftentimes the retailer will send coupons and special offers via emails, with an expiration date, creating a sense of urgency to buy now. It’s a way to entice you to spend money. By avoiding these newsletters, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Regardless of if you choose to do 1 or all 7 of these tips, you’re well on your way to financial freedom. The true 1st step in that process, is just doing it. Don’t let anything or anyone convince you that saving money is too hard, or impossible. You can do it. Whether you open a savings account through your financial institution, put money under your mattress, or in a shoebox, you can start saving today.

How much money you make, or don’t make, is irrelevant to how your spending habits affect your savings. It is key to understand what your spending mistakes are and how to correct them, to maximize your savings.

Ways to Treat Yourself Without Going Overboard to Save Money

Every day can’t be Treat Yourself Day, but with these helpful tips it doesn’t have to be. Find out how you can live the good life without emptying your wallet

It was the NBC comedy series, Parks & Recreation, that brought us the wonderful concept of “Treat Yo Self.” On the show, two characters, Donna (Retta) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) create a day dubbed, “Treat Yo Self Day,” on October 13. According to Donna, this means buying “clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas (and) fine leather goods.”

Kind of like the adult version of “Hakuna Matata,” “Treat Yo Self” means letting go of responsibility and making lavish purchases. While this obviously sounds like loads of fun, it isn’t so practical for your wallet.

But you don’t always have to be extravagant to properly “Treat Yo Self.” Here are 3 ways to show yourself some love, without going broke.

Treat yourself to a day trip

A day trip is a great way to get a little vacation time without having to dip into your savings. Pack food with you and eliminate the need for dining in a tourist area, which can get expensive. You also don’t have to worry about booking an overnight stay, because you’ll be going home at the end of the day.

There are historical landmarks and beautiful nature scenes in all 50 states, you can probably take a fun day trip and not even have to leave yours. Try one of these awesome places to see throughout the United States:

  • Sedona in Arizona– Sedona is one of those places you can re-visit again and again and see something new every time.

Along with miles of hiking trails and sweeping views, Sedona is packed with treats like small streams you can ride like waterslides, mountains standing taller than 7,000 feet, and spiritual vortexes.

  • The Hollywood Sign in California–  The Hollywood sign, nestled in the heights of Mt. Lee, is not only the perfect spot for an epic selfie, but according to local folklore the sign is haunted.

In 1932, struggling actress Peg Entwistle climbed to the top of the letter “H” and took a swan dive to her death into the mountain. On several occasions people hiking the mountain have claimed a confrontation with an overwhelming smell of gardenias, (supposedly the scent of Entwistle’s favorite perfume) and the sight of a woman in 1920’s clothing walking around the sign. Do you think the ghost of Peg Entwistle haunts Mt. Lee? There is only one way to find out.

  • The Willis Tower in Illinois– Although its official name has been The Willis Tower since 2009, the 110-floor building on Wacker Drive will always be known as the Sears Tower in the heart of every Chicagoan.

The Skydeck on the 103rd floor of the building is an attraction for tourists and locals alike. On a clear day you can see a span of four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Because it is so tall, the tower is designed to sway up to 3 feet, the average sway is about 6 inches. Are you brave enough to stand on top of 103 floors of swinging building?

  • Skyslide Los Angeles–  You saw it on Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen as an award for the men’s team. 1000 feet in the air you slide OUTSIDE the building on a glass tube. The slide is 45 feet and it’s outside the observation deck.

Tickets range from $25 to $48 depending if you want the observation AND the Skyslide. This unobstructed view is for the truly brave but you can also go to the open-air observation terraces. If you want a 360-degree view of downtown LA from the near top of the US Bank Tower then this is for you!

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico– First used by American Indians twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, this limestone cavern has been around for about 250 to 280 million years.  It is now one of the most popularly visited sites in New Mexico.

The national park has around 120 known caves that you can navigate alone on an audio tour or in a group with a guide. The caves are filled with history like ancient cave drawings and cooking sites, and signs of European exploration and settlement. This mostly underground park is the perfect spot for exploring another place and time, while staying within your budget.

  • Arches National Park in Utah– Home to more than 2000 stone arches, Arches National Park is known for its amazing Delicate Arch that juts from the ground like a lucky horseshoe and beautifully frames the surrounding mountains of the park.

The park is also an ancient historical site. The famous Courthouse Wash Panel is evidence that American Indians once inhabited the land that is now Arches National Park. Before it was defaced in 1980, the Courthouse Wash Panel featured a colorful cave drawing. After it was defaced, evidence of older pictographs were discovered underneath the top visible drawing during the cleaning process. Although the original color is forever destroyed, the misfortune revealed the presence of even older Native American in the area!

  • Forest Park in Missouri – Standing on the same grounds as the 1904 World Fair, this park in the heart of St. Louis is still has some of the same buildings that were at the fair. One of those buildings, the fair’s Palace of Fine Artis now known as the Saint Louis Arts Museum.

Along with the historical and cultural attractions of the park, you can also find the St. Louis zoo in this area, which has free entrance year-round.

Which one of these fascinating locations is closest to you?

Get a treat that will last

Massages and mimosas are both luxurious ways to relax, but once you use them they’re gone. Get a gift that keeps on giving, like a home improvement, so you can live the good life always.

Revamp your bathroom with a new curtain, rugs, and sink ware. The room will have a fresh feel and you didn’t have to remodel a thing. Take a bath in your new room and revel in your makeover.

Make a wish list of things you would use every day if you had them, but just can’t afford at the moment. Save this list for a Treat-Yourself-Day of your own. When you have the money, instead of buying some “fine leather goods” on an impulse, pick something from your list and make the purchase. With a new espresso maker, car gadget, or beauty tool you can enjoy your splurge all the time.

Do something you will remember with people you love

Memories last forever, even if they don’t come for free. Get together with a group of friends and do something outside of your norm. Go to a concert, see a play, eat at a funky restaurant, do something fun with people you care about for an experience you all will remember.

Stay local to keep things economical. Check out a nearby performance or art exhibit, the artists in your area will appreciate you bigtime.

Take an art class together. Not only will you have the goofy memories of trying to watch your best friend paint something, you will have your own hilarious work of art to ponder for years to come.

If you really feel like spreading the love, have a go at treating others. Take your bestie out to dinner or get your siblings together and take a picture for mom. Sometimes it feels best when we make others happy.

While every day can’t be Treat Yo Self day, we certainly can prepare for it always. Break out your piggy bank and contribute to your special fund whenever you can. You can have more fun with your money when it doesn’t put a huge strain on your budget. Stay organized, work hard, so you can play just as hard!

Free and Cheap Date Ideas to Save Money

Don’t let your tight budget affect your dating creativity. There are a lot more ways to spend time with your S.O. than going on the typical dinner date that can get expensive, or watching Netflix which can get, well…boring. Whether you’re in a new relationship, married or going on a first date, here are some free and cheap date ideas that are sure to make you and your partner laugh and get to know each other better. You don’t have to spend money to spend time together. Try these to break your typical date night routine—without breaking the bank.

  1. Attempt to set or break a Guinness World Record.
  2. Get lost on purpose for an adventure.
  3. Answer this New York Times questionnaire that might make you fall in love.
  4. Take a free class at your library or community center in something neither of you are good at.
  5. Feed ducks at the nearest park. Give them names and backstories.
  6. Go to a farmers market on a semi-full stomach so you can try lots of free samples without it turning into a meal or a grocery shopping trip.
  7. Go to a free night at a local museum.
  8. Turn it into a scavenger hunt.
  9. Volunteer at or visit The Humane Society. (Leave your money at home to avoid adopting a new pet)
  10. Have a home movie theater night. Make fancy popcorn and homemade Icees to kick it up a notch from your typical movie night.
  11. Have a sand castle-building contest. To determine a winner, ask other beachgoers to vote.
  12. Go people watching at the busiest place you can think of.
  13. Make DIY kite(s) then go fly them outside in park.
  14. Get dressed up and go to open houses of big, expensive houses in the neighborhood.
  15. Build a giant blanket fort. Then, spend the whole night inside. Bring books or a laptop to watch Netflix.
  16. Have an at-home karaoke night. Download a karaoke app or use YouTube. Only one rule: you pick the songs for each other.
  17. Go ghost hunting.
  18. Make your own custom Cards Against Humanity deck then invite friends over to play it.
  19. Go stargazing and make up new constellations named after inside jokes.
  20. Then draw them and make a map of them.
  21. Play in some sprinklers on a football field or park.
  22. Play hide-and-seek. Use Snapchat to send each other clues.
  23. Do a literary scavenger hunt at a library or bookstore.
  24. Have an impromptu yard sale. Go through old stuff, relive the memories, but get rid of anything you don’t need anymore.
  25. Have an eBay or Craigslist contest: List similar items and see who can make the most money with their photos, descriptions and salesmanship.
  26. Make a time capsule or memory box.
  27. Go on a tour of your local Masonic Lodge, then watch National Treasure.
  28. Go on a modern day treasure hunt by geocaching.
  29. Have an entire meal of Costco samples.
  30. Exchange to-do lists.
  31. Show up for a free DIY class at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
  32. Get free paint samples and arrange them on a wall to make a pixelated mural.
  33. Play Truth or Dare.
  34. Test drive your dream car.
  35. Have a Chopped style competition to see who can make the best dish out of whatever ingredients you already have in the house.
  36. Make homemade slingshots. Then load them with marshmallows to have a marshmallow fight.
  37. Take some blankets and your laptop somewhere outdoors and have an outdoor movie screening.
  38. Have a sweepstakes night where you both enter as many free contests, giveaways and sweepstakes as you can find on the internet or in magazines.
  39. Play nonsense Scrabble, where you can compete using fake words as long as you make up definitions for them.
  40. Make a dictionary of your fake words to use later as a secret language.
  41. Follow YouTube videos and tutorials to learn fancy cooking skills that neither of you know: how to make crepes, how to poach an egg, etc.
  42. Babysit or pet sit for a friend or family member.
  43. Establish a new holiday. Come up with its history, the rules, traditions, and meals. Mark the day and celebrate it each year.
  44. Pick a random place and plan a whole detailed vacation complete with an itinerary of hotels, restaurants and sightseeing. Promise to go there once day.
  45. Go on a “fakecation” and post the pictures to prank your Facebook friends.
  46. Invent your own fantasy league based off your favorite reality TV show.
  47. Have a TV marathon that doubles as a workout session.
  48. Go yarn bombing.
  49. Go eye bombing where you put googley eyes on inanimate objects.
  50. Have a prank contest inspired by Jim vs. Dwight.
  51. Pretend to be tourists in a nearby city or your own. Wear a fanny pack and a camera around your neck.
  52. Learn how to do a magic trick and practice it.
  53. Cheer on an amateur sports team or little league team in your city.
  54. Make a bonfire for two.
  55. Ride bikes through the city or some trails.
  56. Go to a flea market or hit some thrift stores. You don’t have to buy anything. Pretend it’s a museum.
  57. Go to the beach.
  58. Sign up for a rec sports league together or join a pickup game.
  59. Go on a photo walk.
  60. Go to a bingo night.
  61. Spend a night only watching funny YouTube videos together.
  62. Make a slip n slide with a tarp, a hose and some dish soap.
  63. Shoot some hoops or play 1-on-1 basketball in the park or nearby gymnasium.
  64. Go to a local community play like at a high school or college.
  65. Hike a local nature preserve.
  66. If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with a simple Netflix or movie night.

Best LA Thrift Stores to Save Money

When you’re on a budget, thrift stores are your best friend. Especially when living around a stylish city like Los Angeles, you can always leave a store with good finds. The next time you need new clothes, shoes, furniture, books to read, household items, etc. it’s a good rule of thumb to always stop by your local thrift shop first before heading to any other store to buy new things.

Thrift venues are always a great source of thoughtful, unique and (most importantly) inexpensive gifts too. So, holidays and birthdays don’t have to drag your account balance down when you want to get your friends and family something special.

Buying things at thrift stores is not only good for your wallet, but it’s good for the environment and good for the charitable organizations that many of these stores benefit. It will also fulfill your sense of adventure, because it’s more like hunting than shopping.

But, to cut down on some of your searching, we have compiled a list of the best thrift stores in Los Angeles that aren’t the obvious AMVETS or Salvation Army (although those are great too). With a little bit of cash and a lot of determination, these are your best bets for great thrifting whether you’re a fashionista or just looking to fill your home on a budget with style.

UCLA Thrift Store

The UCLA Thrift stores have a huge selection of women’s clothes and shoes, furniture, jewelry and electronics. The Annex location also carries children’s clothing, toys and games. With some patience to look through it all, you can score a lot of quality items here at bargain prices. And, the proceeds of these sales go to patient aid for the UCLA Health System.

Main Store: 11271 Massachusetts Ave., Los Angeles

Annex Store:  1601 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles

Berda Paradise Thrift Shop

This is another store where you can feel satisfied with the prices of your good finds while feeling good about where the money is going. Proceeds from this store benefit the nearby Hollywood Sunset Free Health Clinic. This store’s merchandise is always changing, as items go fast. That’s probably due to their famous $1 rack and other great deals on their one-of-a-kind pieces.

3506 W. Sunset Boulevard (at Golden Gate Avenue), Los Angeles

American Cancer Society Discovery Shop

The American Cancer Society Discovery Shops only accept high quality items, so you can be sure this wide selection will be more filtered than your average large thrift store. Shop to find clothing, accessories, jewelry, furniture, art, antiques, collectibles and other items at great prices that, again, benefit a good cause.

Find your local American Cancer Society Discovery Shop.

Helping Hand Thrift Shop

Located in Little Ethiopia, Helping Hand has a selection of furniture and home décor that ranges from antique to contemporary. They also have a selection of vintage and brand name clothes that are worth browsing through.

1033 South Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles

Council Thrift Shop

Also known as the NCJWLA (National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles), these thrift shops are known as some of the best around. Some select vintage pieces can be pricey, but there’s always a bargain if you keep looking. They’re known for getting some of the best furniture and clothing donations in the city because they give donors an itemized list for tax deductions (something to keep in mind if you have stuff to donate).

Find your local Council Thrift Shop.

Out of the Closet

These stores sell used everyday items, clothes, shoes and accessories. Their colored tag sales make their items a steal. And, their sales benefit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Their inventory is huge, so while you’re sure to discover great stuff, plan to invest some time in order to do so.

Check your nearest Out of the Closet location here.

Buffalo Exchange

This chain is curated to have up-to-date men and women’s fashion at a fair price. The items are all gently used, but not necessarily that old. They also buy current styles if you’re looking to make a few extra dollars to keep or to spend in the store to replace the clothes you sell from your closet.

Check your nearest Buffalo Exchange location here.

Sunday’s Best Thrift Apparel

This store is a gem for its organized and very inexpensive clothes and accessories. They have today’s styles along with a large vintage selection. Don’t let the outside of the storefront fool you, the large space inside has seemingly endless racks.

5960 Atlantic Blvd., Maywood, CA

Crossroads Trading

This is another fashion recycling chain that buys and sells today’s styles and name brand clothes. However, these types of stores are only as trendy as the neighborhood they’re in. Lucky for residents of LA, that means these locations are sure to be a win.

Visit one of the Crossroads Trading locations by you.

Goodwill

This one seems obvious, but it really is a tried-and-true jackpot for finding anything you might be looking for, at a great price. Because it’s probably the most well-known place for people to bring their donations, we can’t forget to mention the great selection at your local Goodwill. Plus, large stores like Target often make donations of surplus items that they couldn’t sell; they even still have the tags on them. And, while Goodwill isn’t a secret in itself, you might not know that many people say that the store on South La Brea Ave. is the best one in Los Angeles.

817 S LA Brea Ave (8th Street), Los Angeles, CA

Melrose Trading Post

This isn’t exactly a thrift venue, but this spot is definitely worth mentioning. Every Sunday in the parking lot of Fairfax High School, the Melrose Trading Post offers an open-air flea market that’s like no other. With an entrance fee of $3 that benefits the school, it’s a lot cheaper to get into than many of LA’s other flea markets. The vendors sell a uniquely curated selection of handmade arts and crafts, vintage fashion, antique furniture and more. The time and the admission fee spent will be worth all of the treasures you find. Live music while you shop is a bonus!

7850 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles

Online Thrifting

These days there are tons of online services and apps that are basically a thrift store in your pocket. Here are some of the best apps to go “thrifting” without even having to leave your couch.

Most of these apps and sites are for buying and selling clothes, furniture and more. It’s a great idea to try selling as well as shopping. You could break even on replacing stuff or even turn a small profit.

DIY Home Improvement and Time-Saving Ideas for Your Home to Save Money

DIY projects are a great way to give your home some unique and practical upgrades, whether to impress your friends, or simply make your life easier. In addition to making your home stand out, they can save you quite a bit of money over more traditional remodeling projects. There are also a lot of great time-saving projects you can do yourself to make your life easier.

Storage Ideas for Your Home

Buying baskets and shelves from storage and container stores can be expensive and make your home look like everyone else’s. Try these ideas below to up your storage game and give your home a unique look!

  1. Install a tension rod under your sink to hang and organize spray bottles. Label them too for easy identification!
  2. Add a magnetic strip to your kitchen wall to hang and organize your knives. More counter space!
  3. Cut a toilet paper roll lengthwise and put it around the outside of your wrapping paper to keep it from unrolling.
  4. Glue flat Lego strips around your house. Attach Lego blocks to keys, cords, or other things that need to be organized, stored, or occasionally rearranged.
  5. Put a cardboard box on your desk for your cat to sleep in. No more feline distractions while you work.
  6. Take some inspiration from the old foldup ironing board, and build a foldout baby changing table. Mount a multi-picture frame to the bottom and fill it photos of your child’s milestones.
  7. Use picture hanger hooks in your pantry to store measuring spoons and other things on rings. No more fumbling through draws.
  8. Use two a-frames or ladders with boards across them to make a table or bookshelf. And it’s easy to move.
  9. Mount an old window shutter, the ones with the slants, and use it as a mail holder.
  10. Add Lego strips to it and store things like your keys as well.
  11. Mount a wire magazine rack in your pantry and use it to store pot and pan lids.
  12. Glue PVC pipe together to make a honeycomb to store things like shoes, scarfs, or gloves, etc.
  13. Jazz up an old spice rack and mount it in your bathroom. Use it to store makeup.
  14. Add magnets to a can and use it to store pens, bottle openers, etc. on your refrigerator.
  15. Mount a small suitcase on your wall. Install some shelving and paper the inside with maps and you’ll have a travel-themed cabinet.
  16. In the same room, use some fluffy pillows and interesting fabrics to turn another suitcase into a dog bed. Find a few more travel-related items and it can be the theme of the entire room.
  17. Cut a fan in half, remove the fan, and use the wire frame guard to store mail or magazines
  18. Use a wire frame cd rack to store Tupperware lids.
  19. Mount some castor wheels on the back of a freestanding bookcase and slide it under your bed. You’ll have an entire dresser’s worth of space within easy reach, but out of the way when you don’t need it. For bonus panache, use wallpaper or paint on the visible portions of your new “drawer” to give it colors that complement the rest of your room.
  20. Take the back off a freestanding bookcase and mount it to the wall. Mount it in the bathroom and store a whole range of things in a convenient place! Mount magnetic strips on the side and you can store nail files, tweezers, etc.
  21. Make a container for you toothbrush and toothpaste out of PVC pipe and a cap for the bottom. Drill a small hole in it and you can use a hook to mount it on your bathroom wall. Get another cap and you can turn your storage container into your travel case as well!

Time-Saving Ideas for Your Home

Are you super busy all the time? Do you hate searching through drawers or trying different keys in locks? Try some of these DIY fixes to take some of your time back.

  1. Replace your cabinet bottom and shelves with dish drain inserts. Now your plates can air dry while they are put away.
  2. Slit a “mouth” in a tennis ball and mount it near your door. Feed it any letter or small items you need to take with you. Never scramble at the last minute again!
  3. Attach Velcro strips to video game controllers and remotes. Attach them to the side of your coffee table and never lose them again.
  4. Paint volume conversions on your kitchen wall, Metric and Imperial. Now you can upsize or downsize your recipes with ease.
  5. Use hooks or a dowel to mount aluminum foil and cling wrap on the pantry wall for ease of access and to free up drawer space in your kitchen.
  6. Or, if you use it even more frequently, slip the rolls onto a paper towel stand.
  7. Paint your look-alike keys with nail polish to tell them apart. Have multiple keys for different doors in the same building? Paint those in different shades of the same color.
  8. Candle fan? Store your matches in a mason jar with striking paper on the lid. It will look much better than a box of matches laying around and keep you from having to go hunting through your junk drawer whenever you want to light a candle.
  9. Use shims or two by fours to raise your dish drain, now the counter underneath can air dry and be cleaned with ease.
  10. Reduce mess by mounting a row of coat hooks or a long coat rack in your mud room to hang your shoes on. It will reduce clutter and keep weather-related runoff in a small space, which you can cover with a mat.
  11. Put a soda can dispenser, like the one in your fridge, in your pantry and use it to store other canned goods. If you are eating a lot of soups, you can even organize them in the order you intend to eat them in, easy meal planning.

As you can see, there are a ton of projects, ranging from ones that take a few minutes to a few hours, you can do to either to maximize your storage space or save time in your day-to-day life. These projects also look great and will give your home a unique character of its own!

These Energy and Money Saving Tips are Good for the Earth and Your Wallet

Sometimes being “Green” can seem time consuming and expensive, especially when there are items like eco-friendly flip-flops being sold for $18,000. Thankfully, helping the environment doesn’t have to mean emptying your wallet.

By making small changes in our daily lives we can significantly cut down on the energy we use in our homes every day. This goes on to help maintain a sustainable environment, as well as putting a few extra dollars in our bank accounts.

Check out these 7 tips for saving energy that can also save your budget.

Wash Clothes in Cold Water

If you are like me and can never be bothered to separate your clothes before washing them, you may utilize this tip already. But now we can say, “I’m not lazy, I’m helping the environment!”

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, doing laundry with hot water is one of the largest energy drainers in an average home. Heating water takes up about 86% of a washer’s total energy consumption. By washing your clothes in cold water, the average household can eliminate around 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Cold-washing is not only good for the environment, but it’s doing your wallet a lot of favors too. Every year, you can save about $115 by washing your clothes in cold water. Bonus, a rogue red sock will never ruin your favorite white t-shirt again.

There are even special detergents for cold-water washing. The Alliance to Save Energy says that heat produced by your washer is only one of three main ingredients that go into making your clothes clean, the other two are chemicals. So, if you improve one ingredient you can take another away, like energy-sucking heat. These special soaps are not necessary though, your clothes will still get clean using your regular detergent on the cold-water cycle.

Use Your Ceiling Fans Properly

Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Don’t leave your ceiling fans on during the day, because it won’t keep down the temperature in your home. In fact, this practice actually wastes energy and adds to your electric bill.

That undeniably satisfying feeling of sitting under a whirling fan simply comes from the quick circulation of air already in the room. When all that air moves around a contained space we feel a refreshing little breeze, even though the air has not changed temperature at all. So, while you may enjoy your ceiling fan, the rest of the room doesn’t really know the difference.

When you use a ceiling fan, you can raise your thermostat to 74°F and still feel just as comfortable as if it were set on 70°F. But make sure to turn your fan off when you leave the room to save even more energy and cash.

Move Electronics Away from Your AC Thermostat

You can possibly reduce your energy bill by moving your electronics to a different spot.

If you have a lamp or a TV set close to your thermostat, the sensor will catch the heat radiating off those items instead of the temperature of the air in the room. In the summer, this will cause your air conditioning to kick on sooner and stay running longer than you want.

Instead, try angling your lamps and TV set under your AC vent, this way when the air conditioning does come on, it will be blowing on your electronics and cooling them down in the process. This goes for other electronics that radiate lots of heat too, like gaming systems and computers.

If you ever feel like you’re in an igloo but your thermostat reads 70°F, take a look around the room at where your electronics are stationed. It might just take a mini-makeover in order to significantly reduce your electric bill, and save some energy in the process.

Air Dry Clothes and Dishes

Just like your washer uses an exuberant amount of heat to wash your clothes, it takes even more heat to dry them, especially if you always set your dryer on the longest possible setting.

Hang shirts and other clothing that you don’t plan on wearing for at least another day or so, that way there is no rush in drying them.

By picking and choosing what goes into the dryer, we can reduce the size of our loads and run the dryer for a shorter time, all while saving money and energy.

You can use the same system when drying your dishes. Save larger items, like pots and pans, for hand-washing and set them out to dry or wipe them down yourself with a dishtowel. The heat from the dishwasher can actually harm your cookware, so it is better to hand wash and dry them anyway.

Use the Microwave

Developed after World War II using radar technology developed during the war, the microwave was all the rage when it first came out in 1946. Although they may not seem as high-tech to us now, the microwave is still an energy efficient tool we all should take advantage of.

When you can, use your microwave instead of your stovetop of conventional oven. Your food will be heated up faster and you will use less energy.

Also, the microwave can help you retain some of the nutrients in your food. Some nutrients, like Vitamin C, easily break down when they are exposed to heat. Since using the microwave takes less time than a stovetop or conventional oven, food is exposed to less heat when cooked in this device. This means that more of the nutrients will remain intact so it can go on to fuel your body instead of being zapped into nothing.

Be a Star

Certain products are certified with the government-backed symbol, “ENERGY STAR,” meaning they use significantly less energy than other products just like them. Homes, buildings, and plants can even be granted an ENERGY STAR certification.

Amongst others, there are clothing washers and dryers, televisions, telephones, computers, and even windows that are ENERGY STAR certified. In 2015, ENERGY STAR helped American families and businesses save 503 billion kWh of energy.

If the energy efficiency isn’t enough to entice you, they also helped those families and businesses save a total of $34 billion on their energy bills.

You don’t have to have the wallet of a celebrity in order to be eco-friendly. If everybody starts by making small changes in things they do every day, we can all enjoy the big results that will follow.

Ways to Take Care of Your Car and Save Money!

Taking care of your car can seem expensive, but with these 10 tips it doesn’t have to be!

While we might think of our daily driving as “normal,” the automotive industry defines the following as “severe” driving:

  • Stop-and-go traffic
  • Short commutes
  • Dusty or salty environments
  • Driving in extremely hot or cold weather

Chances are we do one or more of these things fairly often, if you drive a short distance in traffic during the winter it’s possible to knock off all of them in a day. But if you take good care of your car, this kind of driving doesn’t have to be so “severe”. Try these 10 ways to take care of your car without emptying your wallet.

1. Check-ups

Just like you or your pet receive periodic check-ups, your car should get one too. You would never let little Fluffy go without her shots, right? Well, your car needs clean oil, filters, fluids, and frequent tire checks instead. Performing routine care to your car will lessen the likelihood that something will spring up on you, and your wallet.

Keep up on basic maintenance like your oil and filters. Important parts of your car’s engine need them to stay lubricated, cleaned, and cooled. Frequently changing your oil and filter keep your engine clean on the inside. A clean engine is a happy engine.

Check your tires too, they affect your cars ride, handling, traction and overall safety. Regularly rotate your tires and check their pressure. Tip: mark your tires before you bring your car into the shop, then you will know for certain if they were rotated properly.

2. Control your lead foot

Driving fast may look exciting in the movies, but in real life it’s a major drain on your budget. “You can think of it like this: Every 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon of gas,” explains Bo Saulsbury, senior researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Aggressive driving like speeding down the street or sudden stop and go acceleration is not only horrible for your car’s engine and brakes, but it racks up your gas bill big time. You can save between 13 cents and 89 cents per gallon by driving a little gentler. Squirrels running across the road will also thank you as well.

3. Extended Warranty

There are both pros and cons in springing for the extended warranty, but getting it is like buying peace of mind which is nice to have in a world of constant surprises.

As vehicles get older, the more likely it gets that something major will break, fail, or need repair. If this happens, your warranty can pay for itself. You are probably looking to keep your car for at least a couple of years, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it actually worked properly for that long?

It is also even possible to negotiate the price of your extended warranty. On average, you can save about $300 by haggling a bit, why not?

4. Get a mechanic you trust

Mechanics have a bad reputation for being exceedingly sketchy people. You go in the shop for an oil change and you walk out having spent hundreds of dollars because the mechanics scared you into thinking your car was in dire need of several mysterious repairs.

Every mechanic is obviously going to claim they are the best in an advertisement, so ask a friend, family member, or acquaintance you trust if they have a mechanic they would recommend. Sometimes companies pay for people to write positive feedback that they mask as honest reviews, so rely on word of mouth, not the internet, for authentic opinions about a mechanic’s service.

5. Care for your car in the winter

If you live in an area that experiences regular snowfall in the winter, first off let me say I’m sorry. There is nothing worse than being forced to leave the house a half hour earlier in the morning because you must scrape a small igloo’s worth of snow off your windshield.

Not only is winter the worst, its wreaks havoc on your car. Salt can lead to rust buildup on parts of your car that you can’t see, which causes damages that we definitely notice; like when the rust eats away at the metal and your exhaust pipe falls off. Whoops. Hit the car wash every other week or so to keep salt buildup under control.

Also, contrary to popular belief, you should not let your vehicle run when its cold outside. Today’s cars are built to move, and it does them no good when they sit still running for long periods of time. Instead, drive your car slowly for about 3 minutes, this will make it warm up faster and your engine will drive smoother.

6. Use YouTube for easy repairs

YouTube videos aren’t just for talking dogs and quirky cats anymore, you can get some useful knowledge if you know where to look.

There are real-life mechanics who make videos on YouTube that show you everything from the best products, to how to change your tire, to how to swap an engine. You can find someone who has your exact car, and watch them as they make repairs that you would normally have to take your car into the shop for. The Humble MechanicChrisFix, and Mighty Car Mods are some of the most popular and helpful (but definitely not the only) YouTubers who can show you how to save your money and care for your own car.

7. B.Y.O.P

When you bring your car into the shop, you obviously are paying for parts needed to fix your car as well as the labor it takes for the mechanics to make the repair. Sometimes the parts can be much more costly than the labor.

Purchase parts on your own online, or salvage them from a junkyard or other used part vendor. If you buy the parts yourself you have much more say in how much you pay than if you just wait anxiously to see what your mechanic bill says.

8. Stop idling

Leaving your car to idle is bad for your car all year round, not just in the winter.

Although it can seem convenient to leave your vehicle running while you do a quick errand or wait outside for a friend to come to your car, you are actually wasting gas and money. You lose between a quarter and a half-gallon of fuel per hour when your car idles. If you idle for an average of 2 hours every week, you can say goodbye to about $140 a year.

Turn your car off when you are not driving, it’s better for your vehicle and you won’t be throwing your money out the window.

9. Keep the outside of your car clean

Get more money for your car tomorrow, by giving it a little wash and wax today. Washing your car makes it look nice and shiny and protects the value by reducing the buildup of things like dirt, damaging chemicals, road salt, tree sap or those annoying, impossible-to-remove berries that stick to your car and look delicious but you can’t eat.

Take it a step further and get a wax to protect your car even more. It might be a little more expensive, but it will stay cleaner longer, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning it as much.

10. Car seat covers

Your car interior goes through a lot of natural wear and tear as your use it, and this can leave the inside looking like a Rorschach test we didn’t know happened. You know the mysterious splotches, smears, coffee stains and the burn hole from your friend’s friend who smoked in the backseat even though you told them not to.

Give your car a makeover and protect it at the same time with car seat covers. Cover just the front two seats of the entire car depending on which parts you use the most. You can get covers that match the already existing interior of your car, or you can get creative with a funky design.

You and your car are in this for the long haul, so it deserves some TLC every now and then. Luckily with these tips it’s easy to care for your car without breaking the bank!

Use These Tips to Save Money on Gas Prices

The search for the cheapest gas continues. Check out these 25 tips for saving the most gas money, you could even end up getting your gas for free!

Looking for inexpensive gas seems like a never-ending journey. Prices change literally daily, so how are we supposed to know the best to go? Thankfully there are other things we can do ourselves to save money on gas. Check out these 25 tips on how to save the most money on fuel.

1. Get free gas

I’m not kidding. Companies will pay for your gas if you drive around with their advertisement featured on your vehicle. You do have to drive at least 1,000 miles a month, but many of us drive at least half that commuting to work or school every four weeks. Check out FreeGasHelp.com to learn more and register.

2. Drive more like your Grandma

Easy does it. Try not to accelerate or brake too suddenly when your drive. This kind of aggressive driving can reduce your gas mileage anywhere from 15%-40% depending on the kind of traffic you are commuting in. Instead, make sure you increase or decrease your speed gradually, and coast whenever you can. Driving this way will prolong the vivacity of your car and save you money on gas.

3. Slow down, speed racer

Take some more driving inspiration from your grandmother and drive a bit slower. But don’t go overboard and always go 15 below the speed limit, that won’t make you any friends on the road.

Use your cruise control to go a steady, constant speed. Again, this is a good driving habit that cares for your car as well as your wallet.

4. Need help finding cheap gas? There’s an app for that!

Stop aimlessly driving around town looking for the cheapest place to fill up, you are going to waste more gas doing that anyway. Whip out your smartphone and download the GasBuddy app. You will get information on not only the least expensive gas in your area, but you will also find stations with the friendliest service, cleanest restrooms, and best coffee as well.

5. Plan your trips to the pump

Gas gets more expensive on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday because stations want to cash in on your weekend travel. Fill up in the middle of the week when gas is less expensive, like on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and beat sneaky gas companies at their own game.

6. Use a GPS

Pull out your GPS when your drive, even if you know how to get where you are going. There may be an accident or hold-up on the road that you don’t know about but your GPS will pick up on. When you are aware of these kinds of delays you can avoid them, and save the gas you would have wasted navigating through them.

7. Take advantage of your credit card benefits

Many times, major credit cards will offer specific cashback rewards for fuel and gas stations. If you own a credit card, look over the benefits and rewards you can acquire with your card. Sometimes credit card companies offer different benefits every few months or so, so check back every now and then to see if you can earn a little extra money when you gas up.

8. Check gas cap

How many times have you filled up your car and forgotten to screw your gas cap back on? I did last week. With an open gas cap, we leave our car’s fuel at risk of being stolen, especially if you’re parked in the wrong neighborhood. But driving with an open gas cap can cause fuel to evaporate, that is literally your money drifting away into nothing.

9. Monitor your tire pressure

Remember that time you blew a tire and had to drive home at 5 mph? Good times, right? Not so much. When tires lose the slightest amount of air they become more resistant to the road, and our car needs to work extra hard to move forward. Make sure your tires are filled and happy before you hit the road, you’ll thank yourself later.

10. Redeem gas loyalty rewards

Gas stations like Shell and BP have loyalty rewards programs. Every time you fill up at one of their stations and swipe your card you get rewards like discounts on gas prices. The cards are usually free, all you have to do is pick one up at the pump and register it online.

11. Decrease your traveling weight

When you lug around your entire apartment in the backseat of the car, it needs to work over-time to move you and everything you own around town. Keep your car tidy with weekly clutter cleanings to save your vehicle from using the extra gas.

12. Remove unused racks

Just like extra weight can cause your car to suck gas, so does keeping those bike or luggage racks on the roof or trunk of your car. Make your car more wind resistant and save on gas in the process by taking down these racks when you are not using them.

13. Take your car in for regular maintenance

Just like your baby, your car needs regular check-ups. Basic tune-ups like a clean engine and fresh oil will keep your car running efficiently, which will end up saving you gas in the long run.

14. Get a discounted gas gift card

Websites like CardCash and GiftCardGranny sell gift cards to tons of locations at a discounted price. This means you could buy a $50 gas card but only pay $45. That’s $5 of free gas just for taking two minutes to make the purchase somewhere else.

15. Ask your mechanic what kind of fuel is best for your car

Despite popular belief, premium gas isn’t always the greatest for your car. You might be able to get away with filling up with mid-grade or even regular fuel and save the extra cash. Ask your mechanic, they will be able to tell you the perfect kind of gas for your car is.

16. Get a fuel-efficient car

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, seriously consider getting an economy car or an electric car. If you drive electric you’ll save loads in gas money because you won’t be using it any more. But a fuel-efficient car could end up saving you thousands in gas money over its lifetime.

17. Don’t dilly dally

Every time we wait to pick up a sluggish friend, sit in a drive-thru or warm up our car in the winter, we are wasting precious gas money. Driving around slowly will use less gas than sitting in a stagnant idlying car. Even when the weather is cold, don’t let your car idle for too long.

18. Use benefits from other memberships

Memberships with stores like Costco or Sam’s Club come with access to exclusive gas. These gas prices are usually cheaper than the ones you’ll find at your local station.

19. Heat and air condition your car sparingly

Unless you are driving in the blaring sun or the dead of winter, try to avoid turning on your heat or air conditioning. When you use these features, your car burns up extra gas to heat or cool the air coming out of the vents. Crack a window instead, except when you are driving on the highway or freeway.

20. Close your windows when going faster

Why should you close your windows when you’re on the highway or freeway? The gushing air blowing through your car actually pushes it back slightly, so you need to accelerate more in order to move forward, which uses more gas.

21. Keep your fuel gauge out of the red

Don’t let an empty gas tank tell you when it’s time to fill up. This will force you to go to the nearest gas station, which may not be the cheapest gas station. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge and fill up before that light starts blinking and that annoying *ding ding ding* sound starts happening.

22. Pay in cash when you can

When you pay for your gas using a card, there is usually an electronic processing fee. This fee is taken out of the funds you used to pay for your gas, so you get less fuel that what you thought you were paying for. Go inside and pay in cash to know you are getting all your money’s worth.

23. Be picky about where you fill up

Gas stations right off the highway or close to a busy road will often have more expensive gas prices. If you need to fill up on the road, drive a mile or two away from the nearest gas station and you will probably find one with cheaper prices.

24. Carpool

Drive to work or school with a group of friends and split the cost of gas. Not only will you not have to drive every day, but your daily commute will only cost a fraction of what it used to.

25. Don’t drive every day

If you don’t car for carpooling, consider taking public transportation, or even walking to work or school. Five days’ worth of bus fare is significantly less than the tank of gas you would have used that week.

Ways to Save Money on Every Holiday

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are struggling to budget the costs of gifts. Little gifts can add up fast. Your overall budget at the end of the season is what should really worry you; purchasing gifts for only 5 family members could turn ugly, $1,000 later.

Though it’s the spirit of the season and giving and getting gifts is never a waste of time, effort, or love, the ramifications of squandering your funds generously may have a costly kickbacks, effecting you immediately and months down the road. While the U.S. is home to many different holidays, there are a few that usually end up costing an individual a pretty penny. Do not fear, as we can combat these financial crises, and learn to save money on (almost) every holiday.

New Year’s Day

A New Year is a new opportunity to learn how to budget time and savings. Limit your New Year’s Day sale shopping. There will be a few decent deals out there, but a better deal will pop-up in a month for President’s Day. Gym memberships are sure to be overpriced with a heap of New Year’s Resolutions that won’t pan out; if you’re in need of a new gym, best to wait until February.

The Fourth of July

“America’s Birthday” is a time for celebrating what makes our country great: sports and food! The local block parties and family/friend cookouts have been a mainstay for the last century. When attending one of these gatherings, be sure to know your audience—is it an adult-oriented party, or will family be there? The next step is to venture to a retail warehouse such as Sam’s Club or Costco, but if you don’t have a membership, Wal-Mart will do just fine.

At the market, save money by purchasing in bulk—buns, patties, condiments, beverages—but only purchase what was asked of you. It’s a party, so there will be other people just as willing to contribute to the fun!

One more tip: unless there are children around, or you’re an aficionado, refrain from buying any cheap fireworks, like pop-rocks, sparklers, or fountains.

Labor Day

Labor Day is the first Monday in September and honors the American Labor Movement, the backbone of our country. While the 4th of July honors our country, Labor Day honors the people in it. Fortunately for all of us, Labor Day Weekend sales feature some of the best deals all year long; unfortunately for you, you’re trying to save.

I would recommend that you only purchase an item that has been on your wish list for some time now and is heavily featured in the sale, otherwise, the best way to save for Labor Day is to relax and enjoy the extra day off from the comforts of your own home.

Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday

The end of November is a time for giving and family, and usually the way it pans out for most of us is a headache that’s only cure is a glass of your favorite “adult drink”. Here are some helpful ways to save over the course of the lovingly hectic weekend.

  • Thanksgiving Travel: Book your flight at least a month in advance if you want to get even a remotely adequate deal. A trick to this is using a travel app like Google Flights or Kayak and search for you flights late at night in the hours around the day change—your results may surprise you.

If you’re driving, avoid the highway around larger metropolitan cities, and make sure you’re packed and out the door on-time. Gas may be unavoidable, but you could save a few dollars on snacks from the grocery over the gas station.

  • Friendsgiving: Many of us can’t get away to see family, and instead will spend our time with a surrogate or makeshift family, formed by a collection of friends. As with the 4th of July, be a gracious guest or host, but don’t be the only reliable one. Purchase only what’s asked of you, and then something for yourself, with a little wiggle room to share.
  • Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Here’s where you need to choose between the two. More than likely, you will partake in one of these shopping events, perhaps for something large, maybe something small, it doesn’t matter—what matters is that you only choose one and then stick to your guns. Doing so could possibly save you hundreds of dollars!

The Holiday Season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa)

No matter what you celebrate, if anything, you’re going to more than likely buy something special for the people in your life that will show them you care, even though they already know that (hopefully). ‘Tis the season that could make your break your bank account.

Much like Thanksgiving, travel plans NEED to be figured out almost a month in advance—think about utilizing Cyber Monday for a Christmas flight home.

As previously mentioned, little purchases will add up. It is important to go into the holiday season with a budget: include a list of your loved ones, what you’re willing to spend on them, and what the cap is on spending. This mentality should also mean you spend some time on your decisions, well before the purchase.

Favoritism does not go in tandem with love, but when you’re on a budget, it’s okay to buy your close family members more expensive gifts, just be sure everything fits in the scheme of your budget ceiling.

New Year’s Eve

Ah yes, back where it all began. New Year’s Eve can get pretty expensive, especially if you’re bar-hopping, throwing a party, or going to a fancy shindig somewhere. Budgeting on the last day of a hard year, may be the most challenging task, but if the Holidays set you back, that may be a blessing in disguise, as you’ll want to cozy up with a loved one or some close friends and relax to watch the ball drop.

Trying new ways to celebrate holidays and just taking the time to plan ahead and budget are the ideal ways to save money over the holidays. We hope that you will be able to get more in-touch with your frugal side in the upcoming new year.

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