First, we’re sorry that this didn’t post yesterday as planned.
Secondly, we’re sharing this post from Todd Garlington because he asks a number of good questions that we’d like to know our readers’ responses to after you take a look. So please talk back to us below in the comments or on our social media.
“I Want to Live Happily Ever After.” This sentiment is understandable in a child. Vulnerable and inexperienced, their growth relies on fantasy to some degree. But retirement services aren’t peddled to children.
At the start of each calendar year, people make plans about how they are going to do things differently to change or improve their situation. Typically money moves are somewhere on the list. Unfortunately by mid-January we often see people giving up on those plans. But let’s face it, after everything we’ve faced in 2020 if you only change or improve one thing, YOU’RE WINNING!
Here are a few money moves you can make for 2021. But more than that we’re giving clear action steps that you can incorporate that should help you stick to the changes past January.
#1 Cut your expenses and debt, if possible
I know you’ve heard this one countless times before, and probably rolled your eyes. (🙄 here we go again!) You think you really need cable or satellite with 300+ channels to catch that one show on that premium channel or to keep the kids entertained. You NEED Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, AND Apple TV. (Yes, we realize their ads are probably popping up on the page since we mentioned them.) That new gaming console and subscription service is ESSENTIAL for your kids, so that they stop bothering you before you end them after how many months of trying to shelter in place as much as possible. So we’re not going to mention any of those changes. But here are some ways to cut your expenses that you may not have thought about.
· Shop for less expensive insurance
If you have a car, apartment, or house, you have insurance on those items (unless you like riding dirty and living dangerously). But why spend more for a truly necessary item than you have to? So often we stick with the same company year after year while they slowly inch up our premiums while providing the same level of coverage and at times less service. Shop around prior to each renewal and see if your company still has the best premium. If not, switch. If they’re not valuing your business by keeping your cost low, why are you out here being loyal to a corporation?
Don’t know where to start? Just tell us below which insurance quotes you’d like and your residential (or commercial if you own a business) zip code and you’ll receive an invitation email to get multiple quotes within minutes.
· Refinance and/or payoff your debt
Are we recommending you go through a long credit approval process here? Not necessarily. Look at the interest rates on all of your current debt. If you have lower interest rate funding sources (a line of credit, credit card) that isn’t maxed out, it might be advantageous to move some of that debt over to the lower interest rate source. Especially while the Fed has held rates hovering just over 0% for most of 2020. (We’ll do a post later about what that means in detail; just know while you won’t get that rate necessarily you should be able to find lower interest rates because of it depending on your credit score.) Just be sure to watch out for transfer fees that may offset the money you’ll save in lower interest costs.
If you have the means to payoff some of your debt with money you have sitting in a low-interest rate savings account, go ahead and do it. You’re not going to make any more keeping that money in the account any time soon at 0.01%. Still not convinced? Play with these calculators to see how much your debt is costing you and how to get rid of it.
#2 Save money on food and cut food waste
So many people are struggling to afford food right now. The nightly news displays how the lines at food banks continue to grow in length. If you’re able to still buy the food you need first let’s take a moment to be grateful for that. 🙏 Now on to how to cut costs…
· Always. Make. A. List.
We know, we know. You’ve read and heard this one before too. So why aren’t you doing it? “I’m too busy.” Really? Too busy to save money? You’re going to end up spending one or the other (time vs. money) so why not spend a little time to save more money. “I write the list and forget it at home.” Ever heard of a phone? They have cameras and apps to make lists. “The kids always end up asking for things in the store.” Uh, here’s an idea. Teach them to make a list too! Good habits are taught and learned early just like bad ones, like shopping without a list and worse yet, hungry.
Stores are designed as mazes to make you wander around and notice as many products as possible. After all, you might just see something you “need” but didn’t plan on getting! (Darn kids 🧒) That’s why bringing a list with you is key. You’re far more likely to stay on track if you have a few written objectives. Making that list also helps you find all of the best sales, discounts and coupon codes. Speaking of coupons, here are some of our favorite apps:
Ibotta While it doesn’t include a list feature like another app on our list, it does offer a wide variety of coupons and our new fave for saving money and staying on budget, digital gift cards. Set your budget for groceries at lets say Walmart, buy the gift card in that amount through Ibotta for a percentage back immediately. Then, pick out all of the available coupons at Walmart for your shopping list and use the gift card to pay. In a few days (often a few minutes but we don’t want to overpromise), those coupon amounts will be credited to your account. Cash out whenever you reach a $20 balance.
Coupons.com So SavingStar went the way of the dodo bird and everyone had to migrate over to Coupons.com. We’re not mad at this as the offerings from SavingStar had gotten less desirable over the years. Also, Coupons.com was a site we had used in the past, albeit less frequently because it was associated in our minds with printing out coupons to take to the store. While you can still print coupons, there is an app now that we’re getting acquainted with. Follow our social media for updates on our experience with the app.
Checkout 51 This used to be the app to turn to for discounts on fresh produce, which at times can be challenging to find. While those offers have become fewer and farther between, this app has started expanding into other savings areas like gas and online shopping. It also has a built-in pharmacy savings card and a newer feature we’ll also be sharing on social media, surveys for money. 💲💲
KeyRing Ok while this one doesn’t offer any coupons or rebates, it is great for storing all of those customer loyalty cards. It’s also one of the only apps we’ve discovered so far that also allows you to create a shopping list for each specific store that’s not dependent on whatever rebates are available.
What apps do you use to save money on groceries? Share in the comments below. And while you’re grocery shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store. That’s where the more healthy, essential items you’ll need are often stocked!
Talking about healthy foods…
· Wait until evening to hit up your farmers market
ECV Talks is based in Florida, USA where finding farm grown foods is relatively easy. If you’re blessed to have farmers markets near you, make sure to shop local and support them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal. Local vendors usually don’t want to lug their unsold goods back home with them. That’s why they’ll often start discounting their produce as the day drags on. Hit them right at the end of the day to get the best deals. And don’t be afraid to ask them for items that aren’t visually perfect but are still usable.
But don’t over-purchase just because you’re getting this great deal without a plan to avoid tossing all those fresh fruits and veggies. Try canning, blanching and freezing to preserve your purchases and cut back on food waste. Or if you want to spend a little more, we highly advise investing in a Foodsaver or similar vacuum sealing appliance. Saving money on food is a long game. If you’re preparing your own meals instead of going out (which let’s face it alot of us are doing right now), you’re already well ahead of the curve. Trying out these tips can take your frugality game to the next level!
What money moves do you plan to make in 2021? Talk to us below!
Are you in a mad dash to spend money you probably shouldn’t spend? Are you looking for tips on how-to start 2021 without the soul-crushing debt some come out of this sucker season with? Here are three…
1. Spend time, not money.
Money is tight for a lot of people right now. Instead of feeling pressured to buy a gift that may put you in a financial bind, think about an activity that you can spend time engaging in with the people that are special to you. No matter if you’re in person if they are already in your circle or virtually if they are far away, make sure to put some thought into how to make it special and memorable which oftentimes does not require a huge amount of money.
2. Set one goal & make it a number.
Whether you trying to buy gifts or improve your financial situation, pick your main goal and focus on it. To help you focus, actually attach a number to it. So it might be “spending $1500 or less on gifts” or “paying off $2000 worth of debt.” Whatever your goal, making it a tangible number gives you a target and a way to measure your progress.
3. Practice healthy habits.
Health and wealth are intricately linked and a lot of times that connection is overlooked until it’s too late. So here’s your reminder to practice healthy habits year-round to avoid expensive healthcare costs later. While the tendency may be to overindulge this time of year, try to eat and drink responsibly by listening to your body and choosing healthier options. If you do overindulge, increase your activity level. Depending on your location and the weather, you may be able to venture outside and get active while remaining physically distant to limit exposure to COVID 19.
Right now in the US we’re all at a certain level of sheltering in place at home. While we all love to eat out, it might not be as easy to do depending upon your location and what phase of reopening your community is in. So besides the obvious obstacle, what are some other reasons to eat at home or at least put eating at home in a positive light?
Spending some precious quality time with your family.
In a lot of homes, family dinner was a thing of the past prior to this global pandemic. We were all just too busy doing other things outside of the home. This can be a good time to reconnect with your family, not just around the dinner table but in the kitchen during meal prep.
So many mothers in particular are sharing their frustration with having to make a never ending series of meals during quarantine. Get your kids to get in there and help. As the good book says:
If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:10
Cooking with kids gives you an opportunity to teach them to make healthy food choices. It also allows them to have hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods. Just call it Home Economics! (Remember that class?)
Getting a refill on your drink as soon as it’s empty.
We’ve all been there. Even with the best waitress or waiter in the world, you end up sitting for a minute or two looking at the bottom of an empty glass. At home there’s no need to sing like Elle Varner; just get up and get your refill.
Another benefit is if you partake of alcoholic drinks, no worries over whether the drinks are being made with a really light pour. You know what we’re talking about; the barely there tequila in your margarita or the mostly Coke & a whisper of rum in your Cuba Libre. You know exactly how strong (or weak) the drink is going to be when you make it at home AND you don’t have to buy another drink for a refill.
Avoiding that restaurant markup.
Each ingredient at your favorite restaurant has a markup. (Obviously – otherwise they wouldn’t be in business very long.) But how much do you think they mark up their meals? 50%? 100%? Nope. The average markup for each ingredient at a restaurant is 300%! A $9 hamburger (that’s right – without cheese) at a diner would cost you less than $2 to make at home. If you’re trying to stretch your dollars, cutting back on restaurant-prepared meals can make a big difference.
Cooking at home can improve your health.
A recent study conducted by the University of Washington found that those who cooked at home 6 times per week met more of the US Federal guidelines for a healthy diet than those who cooked meals at home 3 times per week. In other words, if you’re eating at home more often than you’re eating out, you’re more likely to be getting in your fruits, veggies, and other essentials of a balanced diet.
Taking better care of your health and saving money? Now that’s a reason to fire up the backyard grill! Wishing you wellness!
Consistency is essential for anything, and the key to consistency is habit.
Habits are behaviors that we do so frequently that they feel second nature. So your friend who’s woken up at 5:00 AM to work out for so long that it seems normal to him? He’s unlocked the power of habit to wake up, get out of bed, and make it happen.
Healthy money habits are the same way; they open up a whole new world of financial fitness! Here are a few great habits you can start today.
Begin with a Budget Developing a budgeting habit is foundational. Consistently seeing where your money is going gives you the power to see what needs to change. Notice in your budget that fast food is hogging your paycheck? Budgeting allows you to see how it’s holding you back and figure out a solution to the problem. The knowledge a budget gives you is the key to help you make wise money decisions.
Pay Yourself First Once you’re budgeting regularly, you can start seeing who ends up with your money at the end of the day. Is it you? Or someone else? One of the best habits you can establish is making sure you pay yourself by saving. Instead of spending first and setting aside what’s left over, put part of your money into a savings account as soon as you get your paycheck. It’s a simple shift in mindset that can make a big difference!
Automate Everything And what easier way to pay yourself first than by automatically depositing cash in your savings account? Making as much of your saving automatic helps make saving something that you don’t even think about. It can be much easier to have healthy financial habits if everything happens seamlessly and with as little effort as possible on your part.
Healthy financial habits may not seem big. But sometimes those little victories can make a big difference over the span of several years. What financial habits do you have that are making a positive difference in your life?