Archive for Savings Hacks

10 HACKS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HITTING THE MALL

Holiday Shopping Hacks

family shopping for holiday gifts in a mallQ: When the holiday season rolls around, I practically take up residence at the mall. There’s so much shopping I need to do and the mall is the best place to pick up most of my gifts. And yet, the experience causes so many headaches—and it’s expensive! Is there a way to spend less at the mall and to make the entire experience more pleasant?

A: You’re not the only one who feels like skipping out on their mortgage this month and paying rent at the mall instead. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the crowds at the mall can be as dense as the foot traffic on a street in Manhattan.

There’s more than just the thick crowds you have to battle at the mall, though. There’s also heavy manipulation by retailers priming you to overspend. Kit Yarrow, PhD and professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, says the red and green décor that covers the malls this time of year urges us to splurge. Red energizes us and green is perceived as an optimistic, lucky and wealthy color. Both colors will push us into going over budget.

The crowds and the endless spending can take a toll on anyone. No worries, though; we’ve got 10 incredible mall shopping hacks to make your trip a little easier on you and a bit lighter on your budget!

  1. Map out a route

The less time you spend at the mall, the better off your budget will be. Before spending yet another afternoon roaming aimlessly until you find what you’re looking for, jot down a short list of your intended purchases before heading out and then create a route of the stores you’ll hit to look for them. Most malls offer a printable map on their websites to make this task a little easier.

Have your route pre-planned and do your budget a favor. As a bonus, you might even make it home headache-free!

  1. Turn it up

Plug into your favorite playlist while scouring your favorite stores for fantastic finds. You’ll be calmer and less stressed—and a lot less likely to overspend.

  1. Cash only

If you can’t seem to stick to a budget at the mall, leave the plastic at home and only bring along the amount of cash you plan on spending. It’s hard to feel the hole a swipe makes in your pocket, but slipping the cashier a pile of bills actually feels like you’re spending money—and you’ll spend less of it. You’ll also be forced to stick to your budget no matter how tempted you are to overspend.

If you dare, consider only bringing newer, high-denomination bills, like 50s and 100s. You’ll think three times before breaking up those crisp, large bills.

  1. Find the hidden cashier

Skip the endless lines in the bigger stores this holiday season by seeking out the cashiers set up in out-of-the-way spots of the store. You might find these quieter checkout lines near the lingerie department, in a far-off corner or near the fitting rooms. Zip in and out of the store in minutes!

  1. Box it

When a cashier offers to box your purchases for you, say yes! It might mean a bit more time for you at the checkout, but you’ll get a head start on all that gift wrapping and save money on wrapping paper, too. Ask for a box even if your purchase isn’t a gift and then use it to wrap another gift item when you get home.

  1. Shop late in the day

Skip the crazy crowds by shopping right before closing. The malls usually see the fewest shoppers during the late evening hours, so you’ll be able to shop quickly without jostling your way through the crowds.

Also, many stores stay open an extra hour after the mall closes in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Hit the mall first, and then shop the extended hours at the department stores to get a whole lot done in one stress-free trip.

  1. Shop in heels

Leave your comfortable flats at home! A Brigham Young University study found that shoppers spent a lot less money when their minds were focused on staying balanced. If you don’t like teetering through the mall, you can hit the shops after a yoga class or after riding an escalator for a similar effect.

  1. Don’t become fast friends with the checkout clerks

According to Forbes, shoppers tend to overspend when they feel a kinship with the cashier. Be cordial and be polite, but don’t get too chummy with the checkout clerks this season.

  1. Carry a snapshot of your financial goal

What’s your financial dream? An Alaskan cruise? A luxury car? Print out a photo of your dream and stick it into your wallet. Pull it out whenever you’re tempted to bust your budget on a purchase and it will help you keep your mind on your goal.

  1. Suck on a mint

Did you know that stores use scents to manipulate shoppers into spending more? Suck on a mint or chew a piece of mint-flavored gum to help you block out the store’s smells and stick to your budget.

Don’t get stressed or go broke at the mall this season! Follow our hacks for a budget-friendly and stress-free shopping trip.

For more savings tips, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

SOURCES:

https://www.seventeen.com/fashion/style-advice/tips/a37264/money-saving-shopping-hacks-that-will-you-money-at-mall-stores/
http://ourfinancialpath.com/spend-less/
https://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/psychology-tricks-spend-less-shopping/
http://www.coupons.com/thegoodstuff/shop-smart-12-mall-shopping-hacks-you-should-know/

6 Times A Bargain Is Not A Bargain

SaleIn the words of writer Franklin Jones, “A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.” And we couldn’t agree more. 

With the biggest spending season of the year looming ahead, it’s time to brush up on your shopping smarts. Don’t get caught springing for something you can’t afford! This year, give yourself the gift of an intact budget and a credit card balance that doesn’t haunt you for months or years to come. 

Here’s when that steal of a deal you can’t wait to show off to your friends is not such a bargain after all. 

  1. When you don’t need it 

The price might be right. But, if the heavily marked-down item is one you don’t need, you’re not getting a bargain at all. You’re just blowing money you could be using to put into savings or purchase stuff you actually do need. 

Those flashy signs and hyped-up ads are enough to blind the most discerning shopper, so think carefully before plunking down your money on sale items. If an item is marked down 75%, ask yourself: Would I ever buy this item at full price? Would I buy it if the price was slashed just 30%?

  1. When it’s a faulty product

Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be cheap. If an item is retailing at a ridiculously low price, inspect it carefully. Hold it up to this checklist to determine its quality and durability:

  •   Where was it manufactured? If the product bears a designer label, but also has a “Made in China” tag stuck on it, you’re likely looking at a cheap knockoff that isn’t such a bargain after all.
  • Are there any noticeable defects or missing parts? 
  • Does the item appear to be worn out? You don’t want to be buying someone else’s heavily used returns.
  • Is the material cheaply made? Some clothing will start attracting lint and will sport unsightly “pimples” while still in the store. Unless they’re giving it away free, such poorly made clothing is hardly worth the price.
  1. When it’s going to go bad before you can use it 

Costco, we’re looking at you! Sure, that gigantic package of peanuts that looks like it can feed a herd of elephants is insanely cheap, but who are you kidding here? We both know there’s no way your family can eat it before they start going bad. And there’s no money saved when half of an item gets chucked into the trash. 

Before buying in bulk to snag a great deal, be sure the food won’t go rancid or get stale before you can eat it. 

  1. When the “sale price” is the highest the item’s ever been sold for at this location 

Retailers often use underhanded strategies to attract consumers. One of these tactics is featuring an item’s price as a “sale price” when, in reality, the store has never sold it for more than the tagged amount. 

Sometimes, the store operators will be basing their sale price on an inflated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). But if the MSRP was artificially inflated from the start, you’re not really getting a bargain, are you? 

Other times, the item will come with a pre-marked-down MSRP. The manufacturer’s label might read: “Original price: $49.99. Our price: $39.99.” Of course, the item was never sold at $49.99 and the retailer is just playing games with you. If an item is really marked down, you’ll see a new price tag slapped on top of the manufacturer’s label with the newer, lower price. 

  1. When you need to mail in a rebate to get the discount 

Rebates are a retailer’s best friend. Most of us are just too lazy or forgetful to mail them in. So, we instead end up paying the full price with the retailer getting the last laugh. For instance, in one TiVo subscription promotion that included a mail-in rebate deal, a whopping $5,000,000 was never claimed.

If you’re the super-responsible type who doesn’t know the meaning of procrastination, enjoy those rebate deals. But, for the rest of us mere mortals, it only pays to pick up a rebate item with an instant at-the-register rebate. Otherwise, consider the item as being marked at its regular price.

  1. When it’s part of a liquidation sale 

Avoid liquidation sales like crime-ridden neighborhoods. While shoppers sometimes snag great deals at these sales, liquidation events are ripe with rip-offs. Retailers post signs claiming “Everything Must Go!” – but that’s where the honesty ends. The “Rock Bottom Prices” they advertise are often as high as the original MSRP – or even higher. The store owners are depending on shoppers to assume that all items are bargain-priced just because they’re at a liquidation sale. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes! Stay away from liquidation sales or proceed with extreme caution.

Sometimes a bargain is just that. But too often, what we think is an incredible deal is just another item we don’t need with a perfectly ordinary price. 

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SOURCES:

https://www.fnbn.com/3199-2/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2012/03/03/beware-sometimes-bargain-sales-are-no-bargain/amp/
https://www.consumerreports.org/shopping/why-a-sale-isnt-always-a-sale/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/5695886/how-to-figure-out-when-a-sale-isnt-really-a-sale/amp
https://www.section705fcu.org/borrow/loan-products/

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Making A Large Purchase

Considering a Large Purchase? Make a Plan!

You’re convinced: You really want that Coach handbag. Or maybe you just know that gigantic entertainment center will transform your weekends. So you swipe your card and the dream item becomes yours. You’re thrilled! 

That is, until a few weeks later when the credit card bill comes, and buyer’s remorse hits. You can’t help wondering: Was it really worth the price? 

Don’t get sucked in again! Before you say “yes” to a large purchase, ask yourself these 7 questions: 

1. Do I have cash to pay for this item? 

woman coming out of a store after purchase a television

This question will help you determine if you can really afford the purchase. You need to have liquid funds that can cover the cost of your item. Putting it on credit means you’ll be hiking up the price once interest is tacked on, and you’ll be reminded of a possibly regrettable purchase for a long time to come. 

2. Is this the best price? 

 

When making a large purchase, it’s important to comparison-shop by checking several online listings and some brick-and-mortar shops as well. Visit coupon sites like CouponCabin.com for automatic savings. Also find out the best season for buying this particular item and wait for a sale if it makes sense to do so. Finally, consider purchasing a previously owned item for less.  

3. How many hours of work will you need to do in order to pay for this purchase? 

 

Calculate the total number of hours you’ll need to work to pay for this “must-have” item. Is it really worth the price? 

4. How else can I spend this money? 

Think about the money you’re about to spend on this single item. What else can that money buy? A few weeks’ worth of groceries? A year’s worth of monthly dinners out? Take some time to think of other ways you can spend this money before making a final decision. 

5. Have you splurged recently? 

 

If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional pricey indulgence. But, when luxury purchases become a habit, it can spell disaster for your finances. If you picked up a designer handbag just last week, you may be best off waiting a bit before buying the one that’s caught your eye today. 

6. How often will I use this item? 

Yes, it seems essential today, but looking ahead, how often do you think you’ll really use this item? If you can see yourself only using this purchase a few times a year, you may want to re-think your decision. 

7. How much will this money be worth if I put it into savings? 

You have the funds for this purchase, but how much would that money earn if you saved it? Check out this investment calculator to get that magic number. The results might leave you pleasantly surprised. 

Here at Section 705 FCU, we have several long-term savings accounts that can help your money grow. Give us a call or stop by, and we’ll help you choose one that’s perfect for you! 

SOURCES:

https://www.frugalrules.com/questions-to-ask-before-a-large-purchase/ 
https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/08/what-to-do-before-a-large-purchase.html 
https://www.thebalance.com/before-you-make-large-purchases-2385817 
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/sc/things-to-consider-before-major-purchase-2016-10 

SAVING ON MOTHER’S DAY

8 Mother’s Day Ideas that Will Save You Big Bucks!

woman reads Mother's Day cardQ: I love showing Mom how much she means to me, but with the money spent on a pricey bouquet, a nice gift and dinner out, I’m looking at an awful lot of spending! Is there any way to give Mom a Mother’s Day to remember without it costing a small fortune?

A: If you find yourself overspending on Mother’s Day, you’re not alone. The average American will spend close to $200 this month, all aimed at making Mom feel special. It’s wonderful to show your love and appreciation, but you don’t need to blow your budget to make that happen.

Read on for some low-cost ways to show Mom how much you care. 

Give Mom a stay-cation

Give your mother a day off – at home! Make arrangements for her to be completely free of all housework on her special day. There’s no laundry, cooking or cleaning for her today! Offer to assume the responsibilities of all her daily chores, being sure to tidy up as per Mom’s standards and to prepare all her meals. You can create a homemade gift card entitling the bearer to one full day of all household chores, and present it to Mom in the morning.

Give your mother a small vacation – she deserves it!

Go out – for free

Search your neighborhood forums for local attractions that don’t have an admission fee. You might get lucky with an interesting museum or a beautiful overlook point that’s just a small drive away. Otherwise, you can prepare a picnic lunch, bring along some balls and Frisbees, and spend the day at a scenic park together with the whole family. Pack a portable grill and some hot dogs to make it a full-day event!

Make some memories

Celebrate Mother’s Day with the most enjoyable trip of all: down memory lane. Spend some time gathering and editing the best home video footage you can find. Include major family milestones and memorable events and/or vacations. Put it all together and present your gift to Mom on her special day. Then, sit back with the rest of the family and reminisce togethelr about the good old times.

On a similar note, you can give Mom the gift of priceless memories by creating a family scrapbook. Use patterned cardstock, your best family photos, ticket stubs and other fun mementos to help Mom remember old times. If Mom’s a grandmother several times over, you can even have each family member – or each grandchild – design their own page for Grandma.

Look for bargains online

If you can’t get around spending money on Mom’s gift, search for seasonal discounts online before spending a penny. You’ll find excellent Mother’s Day deals on Amazon, Coach, Kohl’s and other major retailers, sometimes as steep as 84% off retail price.

Best Buy puts a twist in the discount game by rewarding you for money you spend on Mom. Choose something from the site’s “Top Tech for Mom” section and you’ll get a savings coupon that’s valid until late June – just in time to help you save on a gift for Father’s Day.

Have a family movie night

Spend a relaxing day at home binge-watching Mom’s favorite movies together. Prepare lots of fresh popcorn and all of Mom’s best snacks, pour her a glass of her favorite drink, and get comfy on the couch. Remember: Mom is in charge of the remote! It’s her day, after all.

Look for restaurant deals

It’s always cheapest to eat your own home-cooked food, but if you know your mom is looking forward to a dinner out, look for local restaurant deals before deciding on a place to eat. Lots of eateries offer special Mother’s Day deals or even free menu items just for moms.

To keep costs down while still enjoying takeout food, order your dinner in. You’ll save on beverages and service fees without the hassle of preparing your meal. Be sure to set the table with Mom’s best china – and to do the dishes when you’ve finished eating.

Go easy on the flowers 

Flowers are always appreciated, but they can cost a bundle! Save on Mom’s bouquet by shopping around for the best Mother’s Day deals. Save even more by purchasing your flowers in the supermarket and arranging them in a vase or pitcher you already have in the house.

Game night

For a fun family activity that puts the focus on Mom, turn your favorite games into Mother’s Day material. Love trivia? Put together a list of random questions about Mom’s life, hobbies and daily schedule and play a super fun game of Trivial Pursuit. Pass around the most hilarious pictures you can find of Mom and let everyone take a stab at guessing when and where they happened. Get creative and host the family game night that Mom will always remember.

Showing Mom how much she means to you doesn’t have to strain your budget at all. With a bit of research and proper planning, you can give Mom some priceless memories she’ll cherish forever.

Want more ideas like this? Connect with Section 705 FCU on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube!

SOURCES:

http://www.frugalfanatic.com/save-money-on-mothers-day/
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2016/05/08/mothers-day-deals
https://www.grandparents.com/money-and-work/saving-and-investing/monday-money-savers-mothers-day

6 COMMON TAX MISTAKES TO AVOID

Image of Uncle SamIt’s Tax Time!

It’s that time of year again! Get ready to break out the calculator and pencils; dig out the enormous pile of receipts, tax forms, and pay stubs, and get to work. Whether you choose to go it alone, use a tax-prep computer program or hand it all over to an accountant, start with checking out our handy list of common mistakes people make on their tax returns.

1.) Faulty math

One of the most common errors on filed taxes is math mistakes. A small miscalculation can throw off all your numbers and get you into trouble with the IRS. However you choose to prepare your taxes, be sure to triple-check the math before filing.

2.) Name changes and misspellings

When preparing your taxes, you’re thinking about numbers, but don’t forget to pay attention to everything else on your form! If you use a name that’s different than the one the IRS has on file for your Social Security number, or even if you spell it wrong, that can mean trouble for you and your taxes. If you’ve recently changed your legal name, be sure to let the Social Security Administration know.

3.) Omitting extra income

Many people neglect to include secondary sources of income on their tax forms. This may include freelance work and any other side work they may have done throughout the year. If you’ve taken any side jobs in 2017, fill out a 1099-MISC and file it along with your taxes.

4.) Deducting funds donated to charity

Charity laws are complicated! First, only donations given to an organization with a tax-exempt status can be deducted from your taxes. Second, if you’ve donated food items or used clothing, they had to have been in decent shape to be eligible for a write-off. Finally, calculate the value of your non-monetary donations according to what they would be worth if you’d sell them now. Don’t forget to include those charity tax receipts when you file!

5.) Using the most recent tax laws

The current administration has made some major changes to the tax code. While most of these changes won’t take effect until you file your first taxes for 2018, there are some changes that are effective for this year, including the following:
  • The standard deduction increased to $6,350 for single, $9,350 for head of household, and $12,700 for married filing jointly.
  • The maximum earned income tax credit increased to $6,318.
  • The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $53,930.
  • The foreign earned income deduction increased to $102,100.
  • Annual deductible amounts for Health Savings Accounts increased for individuals only, to $3,400.

6.) Signing your forms

If you’re filing through the USPS, be sure to put your signature wherever necessary, and get a mailing receipt. If filing online, you can use a PIN instead. Most places that require a signature will need to be dated as well.
 
Check your forms for errors before submitting and file with confidence.

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Energy Saving Tips When Buying New Appliances

Limiting Household Appliances’ Energy Use Can Save You Big Bucks!

Ecologists are always searching for ways to save our environment. Focusing on energy-efficient appliances is one aspect of this endeavor.
washing machine and dryer

Photo Credit: http://ow.ly/SQGS30j5gio

In fact, 30% of the charges on your electric statement stem from your appliances. That’s why the government and many appliance manufacturers are replacing standard devices with new energy-saving models.
 
Is one of your appliances on the blink? Before running out to purchase a new model, consider if it’s worth contacting a technician to fix your machine. Since prices for electrical appliances have decreased over the years, it might be worthwhile to buy a new model. Besides, the costs of a new part for your old apparatus and the technician’s visit can be high.
 
Also, remember that the new energy-efficient appliances will save you money on a monthly basis.

What Does Energy-Efficient Mean?

In simple terms, this means the process that is used to make the appliance function is using less energy.
Now that you decided to go with a modern, energy-efficient refrigerator, how can you be sure you’re getting the best product at the most cost-effective price?
 
Here are some tips to guide you in your search:
 
1. Determine the total cost. The first thing to consider is the operating cost. This amount, along with the actual purchase price, should give you the real cost of the appliance.
 
2. Check the energy rating. There are several reliable rating services that provide information about appliance energy consumption. The federal government uses the Energy Star Standard sticker to inform consumers of the operating cost and the annual energy consumption of each appliance.
 
3. Select the right size appliance. Running a large machine – even the most energy-efficient one – uses more electricity than a compact one.
 
4. Look for economy choices. Many dishwashers and washing machines offer a variety of different cycles. If you find one with an economy cycle, you’ll save money when you only need to wash a small load of clothes or dishes.
 
5. Stay Simple. When it comes to choosing a refrigerator, go easy on the add-ons. Top-to-bottom fridge/freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-sides. Features like water dispensers, ice-makers and auto-defrost use lots of extra electricity. This holds true for self-cleaning ovens, too.
 
6. Contact your utility supplier for the latest ways to save on utility charges. With today’s smart devices, appliances can be programmed to use less energy at certain times of the day.
 
7. Check out your home. Hire a home assessor to identify ways you can save on your overall energy and water costs.
 
8. Comparison shop. Never buy the first model you see. Household appliances are not cheap, and to find the most energy-efficient one at the best price, you’ll need to comparison shop. Don’t pay for the name in a specific model; compare the details of each machine.

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A Different Breed Of Diversification: What Multiple Certificates Can Do For You

Earn More with a Share Certificate!

Coins

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/money-home-coin-investment-2724241/

For planned savings, share certificates (aka “savings certificates” or “certificates”) are a great option. They allow you to earn a pretty good return on your money while keeping it accessible enough to use for major expenses. If you’re planning on buying a house or a car, keeping your down payment money in a certificate can help it grow toward your goal a little faster.

 
What if, though, you’re saving for both of those things? It’s difficult to make partial withdrawals from a certificate, and doing so can hurt your earnings. Let’s take a look at three ways to solve this problem, and consider the pros and cons of each.

1.) Lump it all together

One option would be to put all your savings goals into one certificate. You’d take your house down payment, your car funds, your vacation savings and your rainy day money and put them all in a single certificate. This strategy is simple and straightforward.
 
The good
 
First, there’s only one statement to keep track of each month. At tax time, you’ll only have one document that shows the dividends you’ve earned, and you won’t have to track down multiple pieces of paper to figure out how much you’ve got saved. You can make withdrawals when it comes time to achieve your savings goals, and put the remainder into a new certificate at that time. Sometimes, larger sums of money earn better rates, so lumping all your money together can improve your return over the long haul.
 
The bad
 
Because all the money is in one pot, it can be difficult to determine how close you are to each goal. You’re also stuck on the time frame of your shortest-term goal. If you want to buy a car in a year from now, you can only get a one-year term to save for everything, including the house you want to put a down payment on in five years. That short-term rate may not be as good as you could get otherwise.
 
The bottom line
 
If all your savings goals are on a similar time frame, or if simplifying your financial life is your foremost priority, a single certificate for all your savings is a good idea.

2.) Different certificates for different goals

In this slightly more complicated approach, you would open one certificate for your car down payment, one for your house savings and one for your emergency fund. These would all be held in different certificate accounts, and would earn interest separately.
 
The good
 
Since each of your savings goals are in individual accounts, you can get better rates by locking long-term goals into long-term certificates. Instead of keeping all your money tied to the term of your shortest goal, you can stagger your terms to meet the individual needs of all your goals. This will allow you to lock in better rates and make more strategic withdrawals at the time you need the money. Dividend rates change over time, so multiple certificates allow you to avoid the risk of missing better rates, since you have more opportunities to re-lock rates.
 
The bad
 
The variable interest rates can make figuring your earnings difficult, and the multiple accounts can create some confusion when tax filing time arrives. Having multiple accounts also might keep you from getting the best dividend rates, which are reserved for larger balances. So-called “jumbo” certificates can magnify returns if your savings exceeds a certain amount. You may also have an emergency that requires you to dip into savings; in these instances, you may have difficulty accessing a significant portion of your money.
 
The bottom line
 
Multiple certificate accounts offer a combination of flexibility and security that would be helpful for those with a diverse range of goals.

3.) The ladder

A certificate “ladder” is a strategy that uses multiple long-term certificates opened at regular intervals. The objective of a ladder is to secure the best rates possible while ensuring some money is still available at regular intervals. For example, a five-year ladder involves buying a series of certificates so a five-year account is maturing each year.
 
The good
 
A ladder is very flexible and it helps to lock in the best available rates. Long-term certificates have the best rates, regardless of size, and a certificate ladder lets you take advantage of them. It also protects you against the usual problem of long-term certificates. When rates change, you have the flexibility to reinvest and secure those rates.
 
The bad
 
Setting up a certificate ladder can require some very careful planning, and the minimum investment is much higher. Instead of needing the minimum deposit for one certificate, you need the minimum deposit for five of them. Additionally, only one-fifth of your savings are available at any one time. If you’re saving for a large single goal, this can complicate matters considerably.
 
The bottom line
 
Ladders are a complex strategy that can maximize returns for those who are saving for flexible goals like vacations, home renovations and vehicles.
 
Whatever your financial plan, certificates have an important role to play. They make saving for your goals, near and distant, easier. If you want to discuss how certificates can fit into your savings portfolio, call, click or stop by Section 705 FCU today!

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Sources:

How To Shop For Fall On A Budget

Fall Savings Tips

fall leaves

Photo Credit Union: http://ow.ly/QpzC30j5hAr

That long-anticipated day has finally come and gone. Your kids looked sharp and neat sporting spiffy backpacks and dressed in their spanking new back-to-school clothing. You watched them board that bus and waved them off from your perch at the bus stop until your arm hurt.

 
Then you breathed a great sigh of relief, grateful that the busy back-to-school shopping season is behind you.
 
Unfortunately, though, the fun is just beginning!
 
While your child may be outfitted for the new school year, you might need some warmer autumn clothing for yourself. And of course, if the leaves are starting to change colors, it can only mean that winter isn’t far behind. That brings with it a whole slew of wardrobe necessities and accessories you’ll need to purchase, both for yourself and the rest of your family.
 
If the dollar signs dancing before your eyes are starting to look frighteningly large, you can relax! As always, Section 705 Federal Credit Union is here to help you navigate this potentially expensive task and show you creative ways to save, even as you bundle up your family for the fall and winter seasons.
 
Read on for six timely money-saving tips this shopping season.

1.) Layer up

Don’t pack away your summer clothing just yet! The temperatures may be dropping, but you can still find many uses for those tank tops and summer dresses; save them for layering up in colder weather. You can stick a long-sleeved T-shirt under a dress and add leggings and boots to make it warmer. If you’re a genuine fashion guru and will wear any trend, you can even wear shorts in the winter and stick a pair of leggings or warm tights underneath.

2.) Take inventory

You check your pantry before heading to the supermarket; shouldn’t you also take stock of your closets before hitting the mall? This is especially important when shopping for a new season. It’s easy to forget pieces you’ve got hidden in the back of your closet or buried deep in a drawer from last winter. Take a careful inventory of what each family member has and what they still need and write it down. This way, you won’t come home to find that you already have what you’ve purchased.

3.) Shop the sales

Fall has a few observed holidays that bring awesome sales – so take advantage! There’s Columbus Day, Veterans Day and then the markdown day of the year, Black Friday. There’s also Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. It’s worth waiting for the next holiday to buy what you need. You’ll save a lot just by being patient!

4.) Shop online – without paying shipping

Online shopping can be significantly cheaper than retail stores – until you need to chalk up $6.99 for shipping, that is.
Beat the system by looking for free shipping on sites like Freeshipping.com, or by taking advantage of the free in-store pickup available at many retailers. Many stores also offer coupons to first-time online shoppers. If you’ve already shopped a store online, you can sign in using another email address and still snag the deal.
 
Even if you prefer live shopping and like to try on your clothing before you buy, it pays to check out a store’s online inventory before going to the brick and mortar shop. This way, you’ll know what they have and what you like instead of wasting time browsing racks and finding the perfect top with the perfect price several hours later.

5.) Time it right

There’s a season for every purchase. If you wait until a specific item goes on sale, you’ll save big. For example, jeans always get marked down in October and last winter’s boots will show up on the sales racks at the end of September. It’s worth it to wait until these times to buy these items.
 
Also, winter coats hit the sales racks as soon as Christmas is over. Depending on the climate in your area, you may be able to hold off on buying a coat until after the holidays to await a super deal. Alternatively, if your old coat is in fairly good condition but you’d like a more updated look, consider making do with last year’s coat for now, and buying a new one when they go on sale.

6.) Shop the overstock

Stores that specialize in deeply discounted merchandise, like DSW, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls, can be a terrific source for name brand clothing at generic prices. You may have to sift through rows of racks until you land a real bargain, but it’ll be well worth your time. These stores are especially beneficial for stocking up on basics.
 
On a similar note, be sure to check out secondhand stores and sites like Overstock.com for incredible deals on stuff you need.
Don’t break the budget this shopping season. With a bit of planning and strategic shopping, you can outfit your family for warmer weather.

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SOURCES:
 

Can Living Frugally Make You Happier Than When Living Lavishly?

Do you believe money is the key to happiness?

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Photo Credit: http://ow.ly/fZf030eATAm

Somewhere deep inside, we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Many people overspend and rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt to live a lifestyle they believe will make them happy, only to discover they are living beyond their means. This, in turn, adds stress and worry … causing unhappiness. Believe it or not, living frugally can actually make you happier than living lavishly.

 
Living a frugal lifestyle isn’t necessarily about pinching pennies and denying yourself things you want. It’s about making your life easier and worrying less about money.
 
If you’ve decided it’s time to start living more frugally, ask yourself why you want to do it and establish a goal. Without a reason to change your spending habits and a goal to work toward, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Maybe you’d like to retire early, or travel the world or buy your dream home. Maybe you’d like to work less and spend more time with your family. Whatever your reason, write it down. Place reminders of your goal where you’ll see them often.
 
Once you’ve started your new frugal lifestyle, you may be pleasantly surprised at your newfound happiness. Below are some benefits of living the frugal lifestyle that can lead to more happiness and better money management.
 
  • You’ll learn to appreciate what you have. You’ll become thankful for your resources and learn to make the most of them. Rather than throwing away old items, you learn to repurpose them and let little go to waste.
  • You’ll tend to choose experiences over objects. Rather than going to the mall and purchasing a new outfit or the newest video games, you’re more apt to go for hike, to the beach or play board games with friends or family. These experiences provide memories and happiness that can last a lifetime. Conversely, that new outfit or video game will provide only temporary happiness.
  • You’ll start to notice your debt diminishing. The burden of debt often ties people to jobs and locations that they hate because they feel they have no other choice. Once your debt disappears, you’ll have the freedom to choose a profession and location that makes you happy.
  • You will have more leisure time. Once you’re able to pay down debt, you won’t need to work as many hours to make ends meet. This will give you more free time to spend on hobbies and other leisurely pursuits.
  • Living frugally may put you on the path to early retirement. Rather than spending your golden years working, you could be gardening, traveling, enjoying your grandchildren or any number of more pleasurable things. Being able to put more funds away for retirement will help you reach a financially comfortable level long before many of your colleagues.
  • You might find joy in helping others. By reducing your own expenses and saving money, you are able to give more to others and support social causes that are important to you.
 
Now, you may be thinking – the frugal lifestyle doesn’t sound all that bad, but how do I get started? The key is to start small. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, how much money you’ll need to achieve it, and formulate a plan. Figure out expenses you can live without. Instead of buying high-priced gourmet coffee at a drive-thru in the morning, brew your coffee at home. Brown bag your lunch rather than eating out. Make a weekly meal plan and cook your meals at home. These items alone can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month.
 
If you’re paying down multiple credit cards, look into consolidating them into one loan or to a single, lower-interest credit card. This can give you significant savings on interest charges. [Check out Section 705’s low interest credit card option and apply here.] Once you’ve consolidated your credit card debt, keep your your oldest credit card, but use it infrequently and close all others. Keeping your oldest card open may positively impact your credit score. Leaving the others open, though, may lead to a temptation to use them again, thus defeating the purpose of paying them off.
 
Learn to stretch your money as far as you can. When purchasing groceries, clip coupons and look for sales. When purchasing clothes or other non-grocery items, check thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks for the best possible deals.
 
Look for ways to lower your monthly bills. Are you paying a huge bill for cable TV? Could you live without it? Many people pay a large cable bill and only watch a handful of channels. Check to see if there is a cheaper package available. Is your electric bill higher than it should be? Try hanging your clothes outside to dry rather than using your clothes dryer whenever possible. Also, washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot will save your hot water heater from working as hard – and your clothes will still get cleaned. Another good habit to get into is unplugging electronic devices when you’re not using them.

Give living frugally a try! You have nothing to lose but debt and can gain some unexpected happiness along the way.

SOURCES:

http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier
https://www.thebalance.com/frugal-living-4074014
https://toughnickel.com/frugal-living/101-Frugal-Living-Tips-You-Need-to-Know
https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/life/frugal-living-rich-life/
https://www.thebalance.com/lower-your-electric-bill-1388743

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Creative Ways To Save On Energy Costs

Cut Energy Costspiggy bank and light bulb

Are your summertime electricity bills astronomical? Check out our list of 10 creative ways to trim your bill in the summer and all year ’round!

1.) Plant trees

If your home has lots of west-facing windows, you’re likely getting loads of sunlight each afternoon, and that’s making your AC unit work harder. Lower your energy consumption by planting trees or large shrubs in front of some of those windows.

2.) Go solar

If you can’t afford to buy solar panels, consider leasing them instead. You’ll be given a set monthly fee which makes budgeting easier year-round. Also, the monthly payment is often 15% less than the local utility rate.

3.) Rethink your roof

Is your roof dressed in black for 90-degree weather? By installing a sunlight-reflecting “cool roof,” you can reduce your roof’s temperature by up to 60 degrees. This will trim your AC use by as much as 20%.

4.) Keep your cool

Large, heat-generating appliances can warm up a room quickly. Consider running your washing machine and dishwasher at night or in the early morning when it’s cooler outside.

5.) Lighten up

Replace your light bulbs! By swapping out just five incandescent light bulbs in a high-traffic area of your home to CFL or LED bulbs, you can save $65 on annual energy costs.

6.) Seal all leaks

If your home isn’t a new build, you likely have leaking windows and doors. Caulking regularly shrinks. Structural walls of houses tend to shift with time. To check for leaks, run the match test. Shut down your AC unit and close all doors and windows. Hold a lit match near the windows and exterior doors of your home. If the flame moves, that will indicate an airflow, which means a leaky seal.

If you’ve got leaks, reseal your windows by weatherstripping the problem areas. A leaky door may need a door sweep replacement. Just peel off the old one and bring it to a home improvement shop so they can help you find a new one that fits your door.

7.) Get smart!

By installing a smart thermostat, your home will be programmed to cool off at exactly the times you need.

8.) Pull out the plug

Up to 75% of energy consumption by home electronics happens when they’re turned off. Save big by pulling out the plugs when you’re done with your electronics.

9.) Fire up the grill

An oven cranked up to the standard 350° makes your AC unit work harder. Use your grill for dinner prep. You’ll keep the heat out and enjoy the sunshine at the same time!

10.) Laundry smarts

About 90% of the energy used when doing laundry comes from heating the water. When possible, choose the cold setting on your washing machine. Hanging your clothes to dry will also trim your bill. If you must use the dryer, stick some tennis balls in there to make it more efficient and finish faster.

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