Tag Archives: saving

Money Moves for 2021

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!

2021
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

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!

Healthy Financial Habits

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?

Budgeting for Vacation? Don’t Overlook These Expenses | ShermansTravel.com

The next time you plan for a trip, be sure to take these expenses into account.

Source: Budgeting for Vacation? Don’t Overlook These Expenses | ShermansTravel.com

Money Mistakes to Avoid – 3

The last two posts in this series have been primarily about saving early and wisely. But what if you didn’t do that in your past and now have a lot of debt? What should I do first, save or pay off debt?

It’s a question commonly asked by clients and friends facing this dilemma. If you have enough income our first suggestion is to do both. Develop a plan of systematic debt payments and saving contributions that you can manage within your budget. But many people who pose this question feel that they are not in a position to do both simultaneously. In this case, saving money instead of paying off high-interest debt would be a huge mistake.

True if your only savings is your emergency reserve, paying off your debt first can be risky. But it’s a risk you have to take if you ever want to be debt-free. Here’s why. Once again it comes down to the math.

Notice we referenced HIGH-INTEREST debt. If you put money into a typical savings account (with the “high yield” ones currently offering about 1%) instead of making larger payments on a debt that has an interest rate of 30%, you’re still paying 29% and not doing anything to shorten the length of time you’re paying that debt off. Unless you pay the debt off quickly it doubles in about 2 and 1/2 years according to the Rule of 72. By saving instead of paying off the debt quickly you would be trading freedom from debt for a sense of security that depending on other financial circumstances may not be genuine.

So how do you take this risk of paying debt off first responsibly?

One option is begin by focusing on paying off the smallest debt first. Pay more than the minimum on that debt while maintaining minimum payments on the others. Once the first debt is eliminated, you can either roll that payment amount on to the next smallest debt or split the payment amount between your savings and the next lowest balance. Repeat this process until all your debts are gone. An alternative strategy is paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first thus saving yourself added interest payments.

Other options to consider when eliminating debt is consolidation to zero or low-interest rate credit lines or debt relief programs. At the end of it all there is no one size fits all approach to the question of whether to save or pay off debt first. If you are unable to decide which method would work best in your situation, consult with your banker or other financial professional for a personalized plan.

Money Mistakes to Avoid – 1

If you’re over the age of 18 it’s likely you’ve made some mistakes with your money. Even I have made some because let’s face it no one is perfect. So we’re starting a new series on the money mistakes you want to avoid if you haven’t made them yet.

Mistake #1: Not saving from an early age.

By gringer on Open Clip Art Library. (Created by 'gringer' on Open Clip Art Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First let me state this mistake is not always our own to claim. I strongly believe that anyone who has a baby should make their first outing into the general public include a trip to your local bank or credit union to open at least a savings account for the child. So if you didn’t have one as a child, this is one time you can rightfully say it is your parents’ fault.

Now I understand some parents become parents unexpectedly and that $25 you need to open an account needs to spent on diapers, formula and all the other necessary baby paraphernalia. That’s when taking it old school and getting a piggy bank to save that spare change will help get you there.

Once you have the account opened for your child, create a regular savings plan. Determine what amount you can reasonably deposit into the account on a regular basis. Then stick to it! The great part about starting this savings plan for your child is that they have a longer amount of time for the money you deposit to grow, no matter how small the amount. I recently had the opportunity to help a business partner grasp compound interest by stating, ‘You’re earning money (interest) on free money (interest)’.

Compound interest Einstein quote
Listen to the genius..

Once you’ve started your child off saving early, it’s important that you include them in the process when they are ready. There’s no set age for this as children all mature differently, but it can be as simple as teaching them what change in your local currency looks like so that when they spot some carelessly discarded on the ground they know to pick it up and put it in that piggy bank you got them earlier. From there you can teach them how to count it, show them how to deposit it in their account, and start helping them to understand how to read their bank statements. So far no complicated math involved.

Oh but there will be some…

But it’s simple Math, something you can use for your own savings no matter when you started and that you can teach your children once they learn how to divide. To get a general idea of how long it would take to double your money simply from interest alone, divide 72 but whatever interest rate their account earns. For example, a savings account earning 1% (one of the highest rates we could find for a savings account btw) would double in 72 years [72/1=72]. Just one more reason it’s important to start saving early.

Of course since you’re adding money to the account it won’t take quite as long to see your money double. But let’s say you want to earn more than 1%. Up until this point we’ve only been looking at regular savings accounts and we haven’t mentioned a specific savings goal. Let’s talk saving for retirement now. Once you have a couple of hundred dollars in that savings account it’s a great idea to go ahead and open a Roth IRA at an early age. That concept of compound interest applies to those accounts also, they can be opened for children, and require relatively low initial deposits, some as low as $100. There are other benefits as listed in this Investopedia article. Talk to your financial professional for more details.

Check back in 2 weeks for another money mistake.