All posts by ECVtalks

Save a Buck on National Dollar Day

Have you ever heard of National Dollar Day? This little known day commemorates the August 2nd in 1786 that Congress established the U.S. monetary system.

I was going to bore you with more facts about dollars and money. But instead I’ll leave that to the Federal Reserve and jump to the useful tips on how to save a buck on this National Dollar Day. Please note I am not being compensated to mention any of the companies or programs listed below; these are personal recommendations from one consumer.

Tips to save a dollar

  1. Couponing

    Not talking about the old school sit and cut coupons from the Sunday paper, although those are still useful if you have the patience. Digital coupons and saving apps are the quicker and easier way to save a buck. Most grocery stores will allow you to load the coupons directly to your store card. Very often there is little wait time for the coupons to load as I’ve loaded coupons at a wholesale club while walking through the store shopping.

    Saving apps and rebate websites are the next easiest way to save a dollar when shopping. My personal favorites are Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout 51. Be careful to read the details on each offer carefully and match the product exactly. Fortunately some of the apps, like Ibotta, have a built in feature that allows you to scan a product’s bar-code while in the store to confirm it matches the deal. Even with my sporadic usage I’ve still managed to save over $120.

  2. Buy generic

    Unjustified brand loyalty is a waste of money when it comes to shopping for food and other household items. I came to that realization years ago when I started trying some of the store brands and generics at my local grocery stores. At times there was a clear preference for a brand name due to a difference in taste, but more often than not the two were extremely comparable in every way except for price, where the store brands consistently won.

    The rare exception to this is when using saving method #1 makes a brand name less expensive than the generic. Here’s where I have to mention Ibotta again because they have these great any brand rebates that you can use on store brands to save even more bucks.

  3. Libraries

    In July I encountered a Twitter-storm surrounding a foolish suggestion for the closure & replacement of libraries by a corporation. Needless to say that idea, didn’t fly with all of the savvy savers out there who know the best place to pick up a book for free still is the public library.

    Besides saving when it comes to buying hard copies of books, some libraries like my local one also allow you to borrow digital copies for your e-reader, saving yet more money. It’s also a great place to get DVDs and CDs (which we all know methods of digitizing, right?), although perhaps not the newest and latest ones.

  4. Kill the vampires

    The energy vampires that is. Not everyone can afford to immediately upgrade everything in their house to a more energy efficient model. However, you can stop things like phone chargers, computers, printers, TVs, sound systems and other random appliances not used 24-7 but plugged in all the time from increasing your electricity bill.

    The easiest way is to shut them off and unplug them when done using them. But realistically when it comes to our daily electronics (PCs, TVs) we’re not unplugging these, so the best bet becomes to put them on a power strip that you can flick the switch off when you’re done. Other tips to stop the energy vampires can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

  5. BYOL

    This is the best tip but probably the hardest (at least for me) to execute: brin your own lunch. Here in the U.S., food establishments are practically everywhere. And if they aren’t close by yet, just give it a few months. Choosing to brown bag it over fast food or casual dining can save you hundreds each month. The trick I’ve found works best is planning ahead and duplicating my favorite meals from the closest casual dining restaurants near my work and office locations.

  6. Consignment

    Growing up what came to mind when I thought of a consignment store was the cluttered stores in the back of a shopping center where it became a tedious chore to find anything of value. Thankfully most consignment stores have changed. Also in all fairness, it may not be appropriate to refer to these stores as consignment at all, since they generally buy clothes on the spot as opposed to the old school method of splitting the money once the clothing is sold.

    My recent favorite is the franchise Clothes Mentor, which offers a personal shopper option. Online options like Thredup and Poshmark offer similar curation services, but to me, nothing beats being able to try something on first. Yes there are free exchanges and shipping, but who has time for that? Not me. Saving time is just as important as saving dollars.

Check out three other ways to save on my all finance blog.

What way(s) to save a dollar have you discovered? Share in the comments!

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It’s not how many times you stumble…

Who out there has ever stumbled? Who has fallen off so badly it seems pointless trying to get back up? 

The proverbial they say it’s not how many times you stumble and fall, but how many times you get back up. But how do you get back up? Where does the motivation, drive or desire to get back up come from? Who else feels like they must have slept in the day that was being passed out or that they’ve use up their supply already? 

Self-care is one widely advised method of refueling the drive to keep going. But we have to beware of that sneaky feeling of guilt. Perhaps we’ve been conditioned to believe that any amount of self-interest is selfish. This can derail our self-care and send you spiraling into an even deeper depressed state. 

If necessary, actively and verbally (yes, out loud), give yourself permission to be selfish. Set a time limit on it if you can’t get comfortable with the idea. “I will be totally self-absorbed for the next two hours.”

Then actually put in the work. This CANNOT be some superficial ‘I’m going to get my hair and nails done’ time. You need to acknowledge the deep emotional and spiritual issues that brought you to the place of being burned out, depressed, staying down. Then get to work seeing how you can right them and build a system to avoid the pitfalls in the future.

If you’re reading this,  understand this is not another one of those articles written by someone who has not been through it. I’m actively in it right now; spent all of yesterday thinking about my failed suicide attempts and how much longer I had to wait on death. I get it. But writing this has been therapeutic for me and I’m taking my own advice today. Hope you get out there and do the same.

2017 Wine, Women & Wealth kickoff

What to say about the first Wine,  Women & Wealth of 2017? Simply put you had to be there or have tuned in during our broadcast.

While this month’s recap will by no means cover everything (because there was just too much covered for me to type here) something is better than nothing. The theme was creating a financial vision and the steps to achieve it. So often people’s dreams are limited by their money, be it a lack of money or not really taking where it goes from month to month. Several studies show that a majority of households in this country live paycheck to paycheck. [Bankrate, Federal Reserve]

After the food, wine & networking the seminar officially began with an audience poll of five questions related to your financial vision and literacy. Then the difference between vision, goal, and plan were discussed followed by the steps to creating each. For one-on-one help creating any of those please consult your financial professional. If they don’t offer this assistance or try to charge for it, please contact me for a free financial vision planning session.

Wine, Women & Wealth seminar – September 2016

Do you remember the times we had in September at Wine, Women & Wealth? Well of course not if you weren’t there. So check out the highlights below.

The evening started with Barbara Tilka with Trident Consulting & Services hosting an interactive survey with a prize being offered to the person who got the most questions right. She then proceeded to clear up some common credit misconceptions,  like does you personally checking your credit negatively impact it. The answer is no and in addition to annualcreditreport.com, where you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the reporting agencies in the US, Barbara mentioned that Credit Karma is a good site to use also. At Credit Karma, you get 2 of your 3 reports. She also shared a surprising statistic that the average credit score in the US is in the 600s.
Here’s what contributes to those credit scores via the information on your credit report:

credit-report-stat

Next our speaker discussed some obstacles to saving for retirement, the most common of which considering the average credit score in the US is only in the fair range is higher loan interest rates. She highlighted the differences in buying a car and a home with good versus not-so-good credit. For each item you can end up spending hundreds of dollars a month more that you could be saving to exploit the rule of 72 if you had better credit.

ruleof72
Click to learn about the rule of 72.

So, how can I maximize my credit score?

  • Pay every bill on time
  • Pay down (or adjust) maxed out cards, 50% of limit
  • Do not cancel any accounts even if no activity
  • Do not credit “shop”
  • Establish credit if you do not have any open
  • Continue to monitor your Credit Reports
    Most common credit “surprises”

    • Medical collections
    • Short sale credit report recording delays
    • Utility companies
    • Student loan late payments
    • Apartment lease termination charges
    • Liens on residential property
  • RESOLVE ANY “STRESSED” REAL ESTATE DECISIONS

Following that advice to resolve real estate issues, we heard from Realtor Genni Jett with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. She gave a great update on the current housing market in Jacksonville, Florida providing the following interesting statistics be you in the market as a buyer or seller.

  • Jacksonville is the 9th most expensive city for renters in Florida.
  • Home values are 10-13% below 2006 prices
  • Home prices have been increasing 4-9% year over year for past 3 years. (Higher in high demand areas like the beaches.)
  • Zillow and Trulia aren’t the best place to go for home info.  Realtor.com is the only site where realtors are required to update listing information.
  • The median for sale by owner price is 15% less than when you sell your home with a realtor.
  • Mortgage interest rates are still historically low.

Next month at the final Wine, Women & Wealth of 2016 expect to hear from a life coach and as always more financial tips.