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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

Summer Vacation Savings

With little more than 8 weeks to go before the summer vacation season begins, now is the time to start searching out bargains on hotels and airfares to the most popular destinations.

Some of the best advice on airfare savings comes from a chap by the name of George Hobica, founder of the website AirfareWatchdog.com. George is a well-published journalist and has written for the travel industry for many years.  His “12 Tips For Finding The Best Airfare” can be an invaluable tool in your search for the lowest fares availalbe. A wealth of information can be gathered from many of his other articles. The more you know, the more you’ll save.

If your summer travel plans include the use of hotels, there’s yet another set of guidelines to help you get the best deals.  With the average rate for a hotel room today at $110, it pays to have a few money-saving tips in your back pocket. Also, take a clue from Anthony Melchiorri, Travel Channel host and hospitality industry guru, when he tells you things hotels don’t want you to know.

Make your summer vacation airfares and hotel reservations early, then sit back and dream about how relaxing your vacation will certainly be.

It’s Never Too Early To Save For Retirement

This week I was reminded more than once about the importance of saving for retirement and, more than that, how important it was to start early to save.  A neighbor, who is 58 years old, told me that from the very first paycheck she every earned, she has put away something for retirement. She tried to put away 10% of the net amount, but if she couldn’t manage that, she nonetheless put away as much as she could afford to save without cutting into her basic necessities budget.  Since she began doing this (and investing the savings), she has accumulated over $1.5 million.

Another friend began collecting her Social Security this month. Although she is taking it early at age 62, she is also collecting two pension checks — one from a job that she held for 30 years, and another from a part-time job she held for 10 years after retirement from her primary job. In addition, she has a healthy sum above and beyond all of this because she contributed religiously to her company’s 401K plan.

Both of these friends will never have to worry about outliving their savings and will be able to live quite comfortably in retirement doing pretty much all the things they ever wanted to do — even if it’s just nothing.

—–You might think you cannot afford to save — but in reality, you cannot afford not to save, says J. Douglas Wellington, associate professor at the School of Business and Management at Husson University in Bangor, Maine.—–  Read more here.

Remodel Your Home For Your Enjoyment and To Save Money

With winter finally making its exit, thoughts are turning to spring cleaning and, for some, a complete home remodel. You’re probably thinking about granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, and all the beautiful things you can do to transform your home from mid-century to modern. It’s fun to picture your new digs and how much you will enjoy it, but go beyond cosmetics and consider some of the elements that will provide significant cost savings over the years.
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If your heating system is approaching 20 years or you have an old oil furnace, consider a new energy effecient gas furnace or a heat pump. And to keep the heat in and the cold out (and vice versa), look up. Adding a thick layer of insulation in the attic cuts down significantly on heating and cooling costs.
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Replace an old water heater with an ENERGY STAR water heater or consider a tankless system. Install low-flow toilets, shower heads, and faucets. Perform a sewer scope to make sure you’re not wasting water (and paying for more than you should) through a broken sewer line.
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Although a major expense, installing low-E windows can lower your heating and cooling bill by as much as 30%. Not only do these windows help to beautify your home, but they save you money as well.
When undertaking a major remodel, don’t stop at cosmetics. A whole-house approach can add years of savings, and go a long way to show a healthy respect for Mother Earth. You might have to make trade-offs like Formica for granite or Pergo for hardwood to keep costs down, but you’ll feel good about what you did to help make our planet more liveable.

5 Ways To Save On A Wedding

June is just around the corner which means wedding bells are in the air. When you start looking as the cost of getting married, it can throw you for a loop. For those of you that are trying to plan the big event with frugality in mind, here are a couple of ideas for trimming your budget even farther.

1. Don’t throw money away on flowers. They will only be used for one day!!  Create your own table centerpieces. Buy containers at a dollar store. Check with a flower vendor at your local farmer’s market to see if he can provide in season flowers at a discount price. Check with your local supermarket as well for a price comparison. Don’t worry if you’re not creative. Copy ideas from others at Pinterest.com.

2. Don’t do Saturday. Saturday is the most popular day on the calendar for a wedding. Some couples will forego a beautiful summer day simply to have a wedding on Saturday. If you’re wedding reception includes a venue that charges a fee for its use, consider having your affair on any day but Saturday. It could mean a considerable discount. A Friday night bash or a Sunday afternoon brunch could work just as well and save you money.

3. Let them eat cupcakes. Ditch the idea of paying $500 or more for a wedding cake. Instead, your local grocery chain like Safeway or Kroeger’s can make cupcakes to order for about $0.60 each. Display them on cupcake stands that you can buy cheaply or possibly even rent from a party supply house. Who doesn’t like cupcakes?

4. Get out of town. If you’re planning a honeymoon after the big affair, why don’t you consider having your wedding and your honeymoon at the same place. Many couples are opting for a resort honeymoon. Getting married at the same resort could save you thousands of dollars by seriously shrinking your guest list without injuring anybody’s feelings especially if it’s a few thousand miles away.

5. Be frugal with booze. An open bar at a reception can be a huge cost. If you’re being frugal about your wedding, chances are your guests won’t care if the only alcohol they get is beer and wine. After all, it’s free, so they shouldn’t complain.

Don’t Let Child Care Be A Burden On Your Budget

The expense of child care for working parents can be one of the largest outlays in a family budget. If you happen to be one of the fortunate ones that has a family friend or relative baby-sit for you at no cost, consider yourself very fortunate. The estimate by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to raise a child born in 2012 from birth to the age of 18 is a staggering $241,800. Child care is a large part of that cost.

There are, however, ways to reduce this expense that you may not have considered. At WallStCheatSheet.com discover how to get child care without breaking the bank.

If you’re between jobs, consider looking for a telecommuting job that allows you to work from home all or part of the time. Today, there are a surprising number of these types of jobs available. It’s not for everyone. Discipline is a key factor in making telecommuting work.

And even if you’re not religious, don’t discount church-based child care. Other non-profits in your area such as the YMCA or JCC might offer this type of service as well.

Clean Out and Clean Up

It’s that time of year again when temperatures start inching up on the thermometer and thoughts turn to spring cleaning. Not only is it a good time to get rid of stuff, but in the process, you can also clean up in more ways than one.

Begin by going through every drawer and every closet and removing anything you haven’t used in two years. The odds are that if you haven’t used it in 24 months, you won’t ever use it again. Next, decide if the item warrants pitching, donating or selling. You need to use a discriminating eye with clothing. Stained and torn clothes should be pitched. Still wearable but outdated clothes can be donated. Only well-preserved and still stylish clothes can be taken to a resale shop to sell. Children’s clothes in good condition are easily sold at a garage sale or a resale shop.

Beyond clothes, there are hundreds of items that you can rid yourself of. Books in all but the worst condition can be resold on Amazon.com. Many electronic items can also be resold there as well. Children’s toys, games, pots and pans, almost anything you can think of are good garage sale items. I once sold a big box of old but clean and serviceable blankets and towels at a garage sale to someone that was outfitting a mountain cabin. CraigsList.com is a good place to sell larger pieces of furniture including used but still operating appliances.

And for a unique way to clean up on stuff than you don’t use or use infrequently, think about renting it out. At SpinLister.com you can rent your bicycles, skis and snowboards for a very good price. This unique way to make extra money on things you don’t use a lot is called peer-to-peer renting and is becoming popular nationwide.

This year, turn spring cleaning into a creative adventure, and you just might find that you can not only clean out, but clean up in a big way.

Begin Budget Cuts Where It Shouldn’t Matter To You

In the beginning, it might seem like an overwhelming task to start cutting some of your favorite things from your budget.  Take your Starbuck’s coffee, for instance. You’ve probably been enjoying that AM delicacy (and at the price they charge for coffee, it’s is a delicacy) for a good long while. It’s not so easy to give it up. That AM coffee may be more than just a cup of coffee; it may just be the experience that you would have to let go of as well.

So leave Starbuck’s for another day. Instead, begin with something that isn’t quite as important, something that you haven’t become addicted to — like laundry detergent.  Do you really need to spend twice as much for Tide as you do for a less expensive product that does exactly the same thing? I personally use an off-brand concentrate that gets my clothes beautifully clean for  1/3 the price of Tide.   

Look at this price comparison from Amazon

 All Mighty Pacs – free clear Laundry Detergent, 72 Count   –  $9.97 ($0.14/count) 

 Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Spring Meadow Scent 77 Count   –   $19.22 ($0.25/count)  

That’s right. Tide costs nearly twice as much. The difference is even greater when compared to other brands that are less expensive than All. This one ought to be a no-brainer. 

Now think about underwear and, in particular, underpants – either ladies or mens. Nobody sees your underwear, so as long as it’s comfortable, designer panties or briefs are a real waste of money. Target sells good quality underwear for all family members for so, so much less than Macy’s or Nordstrum’s. The only difference you’ll notice is the price.  

Think about other things in your life that you do or buy out of habit. These are things that you don’t really think about so they may just be something that really shouldn’t matter. If that’s the case, try cutting it out completely or take a less expensive route.

Best Days To Buy Almost Anything

Weekends:  According to GasBuddy.com, the best days to buy gas are Saturday and Sunday when prices tend to be lower. The worst days are Tuesday and Wednesday when prices are the highest.  Also look for discounted books on Saturday and major appliances on Sunday.

Mondays:  According to MyDollarPlan.com, cars may be less expensive on Monday’s after less-than-impressive weekend sales, especially if you were one of those weekend shoppers that decided not to buy on Saturday or Sunday.

Tuesdays:  If you’re anticipating travel, FareCompare.com suggest starting your search for airfare on Tuesday afternoon. Cheap seat prices hit the reservation systems at 3pm Eastern Time.

Wednesdays:   Grocery shopping is a good bet for midweek. Wednesday is when new sales advertisements go out, but many grocers will still honor last weeks sale items.

Thursdays:  Clothes tend to go on sale on Thursday when retailers start rolling out their weekend sales.

Fridays:  For no apparent reason, clothing accessories (belts, jewelry, scarves, etc.) tend to be on sale on Friday’s.

Watch Out Walmart Shoppers

Walmart has been a boon to rural America. When Walmart stores began popping up, they were usually in small communities within 30 miles of a major metropolitan area. They brougth discount prices to a lot of people that would otherwise have to drive many miles to not only save money, but also to find all the items that Walmart provided under one roof. Make no bones about it. Walmart prices were substantially lower than the local merchants which led to an outcry that Walmart would drive the “little guy” out of business. Sadly, many small merchants couldn’t compete with Walmart and they did go out of business. Others creatively reinvented themselves and prospered. So goes the world of commerce.

Walmart ShoppingTimes have changed. Walmart is now building stores, if not inside the city limits of big cities, then as close to them as they can get. Walmart has come to the masses, but what was good for rural America may not be good for urban and suburbanites. For example, prices at their new, free-standing grocery stores are not as low as you would be led to believe. The same is true of their general merchandise.

Walmart uses end-of-isle displays with incredibly reduced prices to entice shoppers to buy. And they have a lot of these displays. Once beyond them, however, prices tend to be not so competitive. In addition, the quality of some of their products, especially clothing and dry goods, is lacking which means you would be replacing these items more frequently than if you’d spent more for better quality products.

Walmart has done an outstanding job of building the “perception” that they are the low-price leader in their industry. Look beyond that facade and you might just find the Wizard of Oz.

On the other hand, there is a place where Walmart completes quite well — the Internet. Because Walmart is trying to compete with America’s larges online marketplace — Amazon.com — it is competitive. Also, they carry many more items online than they do in their stores. But do be careful. Here, too, you need to compare prices. In fact, in order to become a real frugal shopper, you should be price checking everything you buy. Check out the 10 most popular comparison shopping engines and use them to your financial advantage.


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