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How To Save Money On Just About Everything

Welcome to My Saving Place where you will find an abundance of tips, tricks and good advice on how to save money on just about everything.

Happy Savings,
The Saving Lady

D-Y-I Air Cooler Too Cool For Words!!

With over 2 million views you can probably expect more than a few of these do-it-yourself air coolers are being used somewhere in your community.  This is really “cool” in more ways than one. And for little more than a few dollars, it’s significantly cheaper than an air conditioner. You’ll also save on electricity. My hat’s off to whoever came up with this clever hack.

Will your emergency fund see you through to your next paycheck?

emergency fundAn emergency fund is the amount of cash money you would need to cover living expenses without dipping into savings if you lost your job or couldn’t work due to sickness or injury. The biggest question asked about an emergency fund is, “How much is enough?”  The answer is not an easy one because it is different for everyone. Many factors go into determining how much is enough among which is age, occupation and  health history.

A general rule of thumb is 3 to 6 months of living expenses, but as many people discovered during the recent recession, it took a lot longer than 3 – 6 months to find a job. A young person with a degree in engineering may be able to find a job a lot faster than someone age 56 that just got laid off.

Some people would find it relatively easy to cut back on expenses while others may not.  A young man living on his own could give up his apartment and move back in with mom and dad. A senior executive with a family and an expensive lifestyle might not find it so easy to cut back. Living with less means a smaller fund in needed.

Loss of a job usually means you also lose your health insurance. A major illness could put a person or family into bankruptcy. If you are someone that has to make chronic use of your health insurance and cannot be without it, the premium for individual health insurance could be a big chunk of your living expenses.

In a recent Bankrate.com survey, nearly 30% of Americans have no emergency fund whatsoever. Another 22% have a 6-month reserve. Most people don’t even think of an emergency fund until they need it and don’t have it. The lesson learned prompts them into a saving habit that can last a lifetime.

The saving habit is one that should be taught early in life. It’s importance can never be stressed enough. It is especially important for those on the lower rung of the economic ladder, but it is more often the middle class — that many times live beyond their means — that suffers from lack of savings, not only an emergency fund, but retirement savings as well.

Only you can determine how much is enough for an emergency fund, but in any case, something is always better than nothing.  No matter how little you make, there is most certainly a way to save something.  And there is no better time to start than NOW!

5 Ways To Lower Your Electric Bill This Summer

Electric MeterThe heat of summer is upon most of the U.S. For those of us that don’t enjoy summer all year long, a reduction in our electric bill is welcomed. Still, there is more that you can do to eke out even greater savings.

1. Unless the temperatures start reaching the 90 degree mark, try using fans instead of an air conditioner. Although a fan doesn’t necessarily cool a room, it does cool the people in a room. The circulating air helps to evaporate the moisture on your skin making you feel cooler. Fans are much less expensive to run than an AC, but don’t forget to turn them off when you aren’t using the room.  Also, if you’re using ceiling fans, make sure the air is blowing downward on you. In winter, you reverse the fan and blow the air upward.

2. If you do use an air conditioner, keep the temperature at 78 degrees. Most people like a temperature of 73 0r 74 degrees, but bumping it up to 78 degrees can mean a 20% savings on your electric bill. Also, make sure your AC is in top running condition by having it inspected. And don’t forget to change the filters often.

3. Run your dishwasher and dryer at night to avoid bringing more heat into the house. Use a microwave, toaster oven or outdoor grill instead of an oven for the same reason. If possible, dry your clothes outside, and air dry you dishes.

4. Unplug devices that consume vampire power. TV’s, DVR’s, computers, and most all electronic devices use electricity even when they aren’t in use.  A smart strip makes this easy. Plug multiple devices into a smart strip and it automatically cuts power when it’s not needed.

5. Take short showers instead of baths. Baths use more water than showers. Make sure you have installed low-flow shower heads, and set your hot water heater to 120 degrees.

Enjoying The Outdoors On A Budget

Camping GearBeautiful weather brings with it the desire to enjoy the great outdoors. For many that means getting out of the city and back to nature, sleeping under the stars. Camping is a great way to spend weekends wrapped in nature’s blanket. But unless you already have all the necessary gear, it could also become a really expensive weekend. Camping gear isn’t cheap.  Tents can run to $400 or more.  Good sleeping bags start at around $100. And that’s just the beginning.  If you want more luxurious accommodations, like a pop-up camper, travel trailer or motor home, you’re looking at many thousands of dollars.

If you’re on a somewhat tight budget, whether you’re a tent camper or a more luxurious camper, think used. All matter of camping gear can be purchased used.  Check out these 5 ways to buy used outdoor gear. Look at used tent trailers, travel trailers and motor homes that are at least 5 years old or older. Typically, this equipment gets minimal use except by the most rabid outdoors people.  And don’t forget online sellers like  Amazon.com and Ebay.com.

Before you buy anything, however, do your research. Know the retail price of what you’re looking for to make sure you’re getting a good deal when you find it. Remember, this is typically a one-time outlay unless you really get into camping and upgrade in years to come which certainly can happen. In any case, set a budget for this activity and stick to it.  Buying used will allow you to get more bang for your buck

Summer Travel Savings

TravelOfficially summer doesn’t begin for another few weeks. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to put your travel plans on hold. In face, if you’re planning on getting away this summer, you probably should have made plans, including booking airline and room reservations, in April or May. But for those who still haven’t made arrangements, here’s a round-up of some of the best ways to save on summer travel:

ABC News has some good advice on how and when to book travel.

Sometimes you don’t think about how you can save money at home when you leave the house. TravelSense.org reminds us that here, too, savings can be had.

Let’s face it. Hotels can be very expensive places to stay, and especially crowded for a family or two or more. It’s no wonder that booking sites for individual homes and apartments across the world are becoming some of the most popular sites on the Internet.  Get advice on the best way to arrange a vacation rental.

Do you need travel insurance? Maybe, yes. Maybe, no. Most people forgo travel insurance because they really don’t know enough about it and because it represents an extra expense. Here are a few tips from Today that may help you decide whether you need travel insurance or not.

Don’t forget to check out some of the travel deals on Groupon and Amazon. Both have highly discounted offers on places to stay and package tours. These are also good places to find discounts on dining, activities and events at the places you will be visiting.

Whatever your plans are for summer vacation, just don’t forget to have fun, even at the expense of spending a few extra dollars.

Find Freebies In Your Area

What’s not to like about free stuff? Most people know that shopping on Saturday at Costco or Sam’s Club can provide you with a free lunch with all of the free samples that are given away on that single day.  Of course, there are many more places that provide free sample, but until now it’s been difficult to find them all.

cup of coffeeNo more. Now there’s an app. SampleUP is a free app that locates free samples, demonstrations and tastings in your area. I just tried the app, and it works like a charm. For example, at any Baskin Robbins shop you can sample up to three different flavors. See’s Candy gives anyone a free piece of candy. Peet’s Coffee has free coffee samplings. One store is giving a free Feel Good Mini Facial.

Since this is relatively new app, there probably aren’t as many freebie sites as there will be in the future when stores get wind of this app and a new way to attract customers, but more companies and locations are being added all the time.

Grocery Hacks That Save You Money

It seems like food is getting more expensive by the day. Every time I go to the grocery store, I try to think of creative ways to help cut down the amount I spend.grocery-bill-receipt

I love diced ham and scrambled eggs, but a package of ready-diced ham is over $3, so I buy a package of Farmer John’s Ham Slices for $1.98 and dice them up myself, put them in a freezer bag and into the freezer.  Same goes for crumbled sausage except that I cook the sausage first.

Perhaps my favorite grocery aisle is the bulk foods. There, I can buy as much or as little as I need of something at a significant discount over the same packaged items. This is especially true of spices. I always save old spice jars just for this purpose.

Name brands have given way to store brands for significant savings and very little difference in quality if any. One exception here is Tyson’s Frozen Grilled Chicken Strips which I use in a myriad of way — chopped up into salads or added to chicken broth and a package of frozen mixed veggies for quick chicken vegetable soup, added to pasta with a cream sauce — the uses are almost endless.

I never throw away bread. If it becomes stale, I cube it, dry it, and place it in a plastic bag to use later for croutons, stuffing or bread crumbs.

Greek yogurt with berriesI buy a large container of plain Greek yogurt. Ounce for ounce, it’s a lot cheaper than buying eight, 4-ounce cups of yogurt. If I want it sweetened, I use sugar or artificial sweetener that I buy in the bulk food bins. For flavor I use applesauce, jam, granola, chocolate syrup, honey, or whatever sounds appealing.

Saving money on groceries is no longer just about clipping coupons or buying on sale, you also need to get creative to squeeze out the maximum savings.

Double Duty Savings

Keep a box of Carnation Non-Fat Dry Milk in the pantry. It can be used in a pinch if you run out of milk at an inopportune time. In addition, for a luxurious bath worthy of Cleopatra, add a handful to warm running bathwater. The lactic acid softens the skin, and the proteins make it feel silky smooth.

coffee grounds

 

Brew your favorite coffee in the morning, but don’t throw away the grounds. They are full of nutrients that plants love. Feed both inside and outside plants with the used grounds. Just work the them into the soil. Fertilizing plans with coffee grounds also repels cats and prevents them from digging up soil.

Like to use Crisco when you bake? It’s also good for preventing and curing diaper rash. Just butter baby’s buns with a coating of it. It also works well to heal dry, chapped hands. Rub hands with Crisco, don a pair of old gloves or tube socks, go to bed, and wake up the next day with softened hands.

 

5 Ways To Save In Your Garden This Spring

Flowers

Gardening is one of the largest hobbies in the country. It can be an expensive hobby or a not so expensive hobby. Some people grow flowers while others prefer vegetables. Most gardeners grow a little of both.  Whichever is your preference, you can reduce tha amount of money you spend on your garden this spring to almost nothing. Here are 5 ways to save money in your garden this spring:

1. Post an ad on Craisglist for “Free Plants Wanted.” Most gardening fanatics love to share and help out a fellow gardener in need. If you have plants that you can trade, all the better.

2. Ask neighbors or strangers for plants or cuttings. Take a walk through your neighborhood and notice gardens and plants that you admire. Compliment the owner on the garden or the plant and ask if you might be able to get a cutting or if you could harvest a seed or a bulb for your own garden. You’d be amazed how many people will accommodate you.

3. Plan a garden exchange. Invite your gardening friends and relatives to a party where each brings a plant or two or three or four or seeds that can be exchanged for something different. Get as creative as you want with this idea. Gardening is a common theme that everyone will enjoy.

4. Seek out landscape maintenance crews, especially one replacing plants in displays, parking medians, commercial properties, etc. Most of the plants they are replacing will be thrown away or composted. More than likely, they will be glad to give you as many as you want.

5. Visit local nurseries, wholesale and retail. Ask if they have any plants that they are going to be throwing away or composting. Most times they do. Of course, these plants aren’t going to look too good which is why they’re being pitched. With a little bit of luck , some TLC a green thumb, they will reward you with their beauty and/or bounty.