Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Tue, 16 Oct 2018 23:22:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 7 Things to Do Now So Your Holidays are Happier http://yourpfpro.com/7-things-to-do-now-so-your-holidays-are-happier/ http://yourpfpro.com/7-things-to-do-now-so-your-holidays-are-happier/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:00:51 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=8288 Long gone are the days when retailers weren’t allowed to put out any Christmas merchandise until Thanksgiving was over. I made a trip to Walmart a few days ago and noticed that they are, in fact, already well stocked with Holiday decorations. Despite the fact that it seems too early to be thinking about the […]

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Do find that you are extra stressed during the holiday season? There are lots of things to do now so your holidays are happier later.Long gone are the days when retailers weren’t allowed to put out any Christmas merchandise until Thanksgiving was over. I made a trip to Walmart a few days ago and noticed that they are, in fact, already well stocked with Holiday decorations.

Despite the fact that it seems too early to be thinking about the holidays, at least some of us should be. If money is already tight, where will you find the extra money you need during the holidays?

The truth is that there are lots of things to do now so your holidays are happier later. I use as many of these ideas as possible to reduce stress and be more relaxed each holiday season.

1. Start a List

Start a list now of who will need gifts, big or small. Figure out what you’ll make or get as early as you can. This will help you prepare early and save money so your holidays are happier. It’ll also help you avoid overspending later because you’ve put off Christmas shopping for too long.

2. Make (and wrap!) Home Crafted Gifts Early

Although it may feel like there’s still plenty of time until the holidays, they can sneak up on you. If you want to have a less stressful, happier holiday, make home crafted gifts now.

When you finish one, wrap it and set it aside. Once you’ve decorated for the season, all you’ll have to do is put the premade, prewrapped gifts under your tree.

3. Spread Out Shopping

If you haven’t begun to holiday shop yet, start now. Beginning well ahead of time will help you spread out the cost instead of waiting until December. It may even help you avoid running up big credit card bills and paying tons of interest.

4. Watch for Ways to Save

Another advantage of starting your holiday preparations so early is finding savings on what you buy. Because you’ll have more time you can comparison shop, look for sales, clip coupons, and buy clearance merchandise. You should also use promotions, coupon codes, reward points, and other discounts to lower your holiday spending.

Need another idea? Try buying gift cards when they go on sale at grocery stores or discount stores like Walmart or Target. You don’t have to give the gift card as a gift.  You can use it to buy other gifts and still save money.

5. Bake as Much as You Can

Do you love to do holiday baking? I do, but sometimes it’s hard to fit it in with everything else. To save both time and money, look for sales and coupons on ingredients you know you’ll use. Then bake whatever you can ahead of time and freeze it until you need it.

6. Set Aside Money

Another of the things you can do now so your holidays are happier is to set aside money. You can do this by looking for ways to save around your home and in other places in your budget.

Eliminate waste by being frugal with water, electricity, and other services you normally take for granted. Shop your pantry and eat what you have in the freezer before you buy more food at the store. Use the money you save for holiday purchases instead of using savings or credit cards.

7. Earn Extra Cash

Work hard now and earn extra cash quickly so your holidays are happier later. There are tons of things you can do to add money to your budget. Here are a few temporary jobs to consider:

Dog Sitting/Dog Walking

Many people struggle with enough time to walk their dogs regularly. Also, if they travel, they may not know where to turn if their pets can’t travel with them. If you like pets, offer to help them out in return for some extra cash.

Babysitting

Babysitting is the perfect way to earn extra cash during your off work hours. If you have kids, you’ll give them playmates and make money doing it.

Cleaning

You could clean commercial buildings in your community or clean homes for others. Even if you can’t find, or don’t want, a full-time gig you might be able to fill in for someone else. Pocket the additional money and use it for the holidays.

Baking

As you do your own early holiday baking, offer to bake for others. It’s another of the things to do now to earn extra cash for the holidays.

Completing Surveys

Online surveys take time but they aren’t difficult to do. Additionally, there are tons of different companies that will pay you to complete them. Try signing up for a few and put extra money in your budget for the holidays.

Obviously it’s too early to decorate your home for the holidays. However, there are still things you can do to prepare and reduce your holiday stress later. Try out some of these ideas to make sure your holidays are happier this year.

What do you do ahead of time to ensure your holidays are happier and less stressed?

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4 Money Wasters College Students Should Avoid http://yourpfpro.com/4-money-wasters-college-students-should-avoid/ http://yourpfpro.com/4-money-wasters-college-students-should-avoid/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 11:00:30 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=8218 When I attended college, I ended up with a very small student loan when I graduated. Thinking back I believe it was just under $3K. But that was quite a few years ago. I’m sure if I had gone more recently I would have had student loans for several times that amount. These days the […]

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These days the costs of attending college are higher than ever. To help with that, here are some money wasters college students should avoid.When I attended college, I ended up with a very small student loan when I graduated. Thinking back I believe it was just under $3K.

But that was quite a few years ago. I’m sure if I had gone more recently I would have had student loans for several times that amount.

These days the costs of attending college are higher than ever. In fact it’s become a less and less affordable option for many. Some high school graduates are even opting to move straight into the work force and skip college altogether.

Of course, plenty of people still attend college and many end up in serious debt as a result. However, some of that debt might be prevented if college students were more careful with their money. To help with that, here are some money wasters college students should avoid.

1. Housing Costs

While some colleges have strict rules and require certain students to live on campus, not all do. If students don’t have to live in the college dorms, it might be cheaper to live elsewhere.

They should check the price of college dorms against the cost of rent somewhere else. Additionally, they keep in mind that their living space doesn’t have to be a palace because it’s temporary. When they’re done in a few years, who will care what the place looked like or if the curtains matched?

Sharing housing expenses with a few friends would lower their costs. Keeping their “stuff” at a minimum can also allow more people to share a house or apartment. That will make their housing costs more affordable.

2. High Priced Tuition

There’s more than one way to keep high priced tuition from being a money waster. Here are a few that might help out.

Don’t Go Out of State

Out of state tuition costs can be double, or more, of what students would pay within their own state. Therefore, this is one of the money wasters college students should avoid if they can. Instead, they should attend college in their own state (clearly this doesn’t apply to students who are attending college on a full scholarship).

Take Classes Early

Some high schools offer dual enrollment. This lets their students begin taking college courses a few years earlier than they normally would. Also, these credits can often be earned at a lower cost than they would usually pay.

Spreading these classes over a longer period of time is another cost savings when going to college. This can make college a little more affordable for many people.

Attend Community College First

College students should avoid wasting money on high tuition costs by attending a community college first. Courses taken at these colleges are usually more economical. Students may even be able to get half, or more, of their credits completed for far less money.

3. Parties and Entertainment

It makes sense that when college students leave home they want to go out and enjoy themselves sometimes. But the more parties and social events they attend, or host, the more it costs.

Keeping these events to one or two a month can help them avoid overspending and wasting money. The rest of the time they should try alternative entertainment that is cheap or free.

4. Food Costs

Fast food and restaurant meals can kill a budget fast. They are definitely some of the money wasters to avoid in college.

Does that mean students should never eat out at all? Of course not. Indulging a few times a month is ok. The rest of the time college attendees should fix meals themselves, if they can.

When it comes to eating on campus, those costs can be just as much as restaurant food. Unless it’s unavoidable, college students should avoid paying for pricey meal plans.

Certainly when students go to college they should have fun while learning. That doesn’t mean they should have to pay for it for the rest of their lives, though. That’s why it’s critical for them to avoid these, and other, money wasters while in college.

What are some other money wasters college students should avoid?

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5 Ways to Save Before the Holidays Hit http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-before-the-holidays-hit/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-before-the-holidays-hit/#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2018 11:00:07 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=8185 The closer it gets to the holidays, the less time you have to save for additional expenses. At the same time, saving money for holiday extra’s isn’t always easy. This double whammy can easily take a huge toll on your budget in the few months leading to Christmas. To keep up with these expenses, many […]

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The closer it gets to the holidays, the less time you have to save for additional expenses. At the same time, saving money for holiday extra’s isn’t always easy. This double whammy can easily take a huge toll on your budget in the few months leading to Christmas.

To keep up with these expenses, many people resort to using their credit cards. But that leads to credit card debt and high interest you might not get paid off before next year.

Fortunately, no matter what time of year it is, there are plenty of ways to save before the holidays hit. Here are few you could use to help you save.

1. Track Every Cent

Although this tactic could be a bit tedious, it is one way to know for sure just where your money is going. Of course, the idea is that knowing where your money is going will help you tighten your wallet.

You can do this easily by setting up a spreadsheet on your computer. But you could use a simple notebook to write everything down too. Or, put all of your receipts in an envelope and add them up every few days.

Some of these methods are probably a little more time intensive than others. However, as you add up what you are spending, you might see expenses you can lower or eliminate entirely. Then, bank this money in a separate account or put cash in an envelope for holiday spending.

2. Compete with a Friend

If you have a friend or two who don’t mind sharing what they spend you could compete with them. Having another person to help you stay accountable can keep you on track with your savings.

Share with each other once a week or every few days so you always know who’s on top. Then you can give each other encouragement to lower your spending.

Another thing you could do to make it fun is give little weekly prizes. For example, one incentive could be a trip to Starbucks for the person with the lowest expenses. Just make sure you say no to large or extravagant prizes so you don’t undo your savings.

3. Have “No Spend” Month

You could have a “no spend” month to save before the holidays hit. This is an additional way to help you pay for gifts, décor, and food.

Obviously you still have to pay your rent or mortgage, electricity, water, and other mandatory expenses. So, I’m not talking about those monthly costs. What I mean is, no buying anything else on top of that for a whole month.

If that seems to drastic, do it for a week and then take a week off. After that, do it again. Over a two month period you will have had your no spend month.

Get your family on board with your goals and have them help you have a “no spend” month. Talk to them about money and your ideas to lower spending. That way you can avoid debt and still enjoy the holiday.

4. Eat Only What You Already Have

Eating only what you already have on hand is one way to save money before the holidays are here. Try starting it on a Sunday and going the entire week without a trip to the store.

I actually have a friend who is doing this right now. She’s trying to use what she has and not cook anything not already in her cabinets until the holidays. You could try that too to save money for other things in your budget.

To stretch your money even more, go through your pantry and freezer. Use what you have on hand to create meals without buying anything more. If you must buy to cook, make it a purchase that helps you use what is already in your cupboards.

5. Only Use Cash

Aside from the bills that are deducted automatically, or must be sent through the mail, use cash. When you spend cash you tend to want to hang onto it rather than spending it. That means you’ll naturally spend less and save more.

You can also set it up in multiple envelopes for each category. As an example, you might have an envelope for food, one for personal items, and another for pets. Paying for what you need this way can help you tweak your overall budget and make changes that make sense.

Let’s say you budget $250 for food each month but never spend more than $200. That could mean your budget needs to be adjusted.

As stores begin to put out their holiday items it becomes a greater temptation to give in and spend. But if you need to save before the holidays hit, try some of these tips. Once Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around you’ll be prepared and won’t have to whip out your plastic.

What ways do you save before the holiday’s hit?

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How to Save Money by Saying “No” http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-save-money-by-saying-no/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-save-money-by-saying-no/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2018 11:00:29 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=8163 Many people are trying to save money these days. Of course, there are multitudes of ways you can do it if you are one of them. But I’ve found one of the simplest solutions to fix your budget problems. If you really want to improve your finances, save money by saying “No”. Reduce Shopping Expenses […]

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There's a simple solution to help you fix your budget problems. If you really want to improve your finances, save money by saying “No”.Many people are trying to save money these days. Of course, there are multitudes of ways you can do it if you are one of them.

But I’ve found one of the simplest solutions to fix your budget problems. If you really want to improve your finances, save money by saying “No”.

Reduce Shopping Expenses

Shopping is a big problem for some people. For me the solution is simple because I live in a very small town. The only way for me to shop is traveling literally hours to a city, or ordering off the internet.

Since traveling costs gas money, my husband and I don’t do it very often. As far as ordering off the internet, I have almost stopped doing that.

To stop placing internet orders I have done a couple of things. First, I get rid of catalogs the moment they enter my home. Out of site is out of mind and if I don’t look, I am not tempted. Secondly, I delete those email offers I get unless it is a discount for an item I truly need.

When you want to save money on shopping, do what I did. Just say no to those email offers and catalogs without even looking at them.

Eliminate Extra Work

If you want to save money by saying no, try saying it when you are asked to take on extra work. Obviously it could mean extra pay in the form of overtime for you at your job. But is it worth the extra stress?

Consider that working overtime or extra could mean you order more takeout food. That extra work means extra expense. In fact, you could end up spending more for that convenience than you are making by working extra.

Correct Bad Habits

Another way you can save money is to say no to bad habits.  Those bad habits could be anything from drinking too much to not budgeting.

If you want to make your finances better, you have to look at all of the ways and reasons you spend money. That includes outside influences, such as friends and family, and how they impact your budget.

Quit Competing with Others

It’s easy to be envious of others when they appear to have more than you. However, keep in mind that those fancier, newer cards or houses cost them money too. Just because they have name brand clothes it doesn’t mean they don’t have debt.

Resist the temptation to compete or compare yourself to the Joneses. Say no to new stuff just because a friend or neighbor has it. That isn’t a good enough reason for you to go into debt too.

Never Loan Money to Others

If your own family is struggling, why would you loan money to a friend or family member? You could end up putting your own family in financial peril. Save money by saying no when they make such requests, even when it is difficult.

Scrapping Your Budget

When you make budgeting errors or your budget isn’t working at all, resist the notion of scrapping it. The odds are that you will save money by using a budget of some kind.

Instead, consider trying something else. Check out the cash envelope budgeting system or the zero –based budget. Look at other budget alternatives and try them one at a time to find the one you like best.

Stop Procrastinating

Everyone gets busy and it’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to budgeting and saving money. Still, if you want to save, start by saying no to putting it off any longer.

Get a budget made, organize your bills and filing, and use a calendar to keep track of bill due dates. Nobody is going to do the work for you. You have to start saying no to procrastination and get your finances in shape.

As you can see, there are lots of ways you can save money by saying no. Why not start today and start saying no too? You might be surprised by how much you can save.

Have you ever saved money simply by saying “No”?

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Are You Prepared for Back to School Expenses? http://yourpfpro.com/are-you-prepared-for-back-to-school-expenses/ http://yourpfpro.com/are-you-prepared-for-back-to-school-expenses/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2018 11:00:01 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=8130 Although summer isn’t quite over, many of my teacher friends are preparing for the next school year. In addition, store displays and email advertisements alike are targeting parents who’ll soon be shopping for school supplies. Unfortunately, that means extra expenses for many people’s budgets this month. Pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, markers, and other supplies do […]

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Many parents end up spending hundreds preparing for back to school. The question is, are you prepared for back to school expenses?Although summer isn’t quite over, many of my teacher friends are preparing for the next school year. In addition, store displays and email advertisements alike are targeting parents who’ll soon be shopping for school supplies.

Unfortunately, that means extra expenses for many people’s budgets this month. Pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, markers, and other supplies do add up when bought all at once.

But the spending doesn’t end there. On top of supplies, there are usually school clothes and shoes to get as well. When all is said and done, many parents end up spending hundreds preparing for back to school.

Of course, the more children you have, the more money you will spend. The question is, are you prepared for back to school expenses?

Take an Inventory

Shopping for school supplies and clothes is, in truth, a lot like shopping for food. Before you go blow money on stuff you already have you should take an inventory.

If you have a supply list from your children’s school, compare it to what you already have on hand. That way you won’t spend money on things you don’t need to.

When it comes to clothing and shoes, you should inventory those items as well. Then you’ll know where to spend your hard earned money.

Create a Budget

The next thing you need to do to prepare for back to school is create a budget. If you have more than one child, and a limited budget, don’t worry about making the amounts equal. How much you spend on each child should be based on need more than anything else.

Your child’s age may also be a factor. For example, the needs of a kindergartener may be far different from that of a high school student. Therefore, the amounts spent on each could be vastly different.

Make Extra Money

If you need cash to supplement your budget, there are lots of ways you can get it. You could try mowing a few lawns, babysitting, or selling stuff online that you no longer use.

Just think about your knowledge and skills and how you could use them to make money quickly. Then, use the extra money you make to help you be prepared for back to school expenses.

Be Thrifty

Thrift stores are a great resource when you’re preparing for back to school. Sometimes you can even find items that are brand new with the tags still attached.

There are some great online thrift stores if you don’t have any nearby. A few to try are Stitch Fix, Thred Up, and Ebay.

Go to Garage Sales

Many garage sales have clothing of various sizes for sale. While some items may be worn and stained, not all of them will be. Some will be barely used and cost next to nothing.

If you really want to stretch your money try shopping at a few. You may be able to knock a few things off your list for very little money.

Shop Clearance Racks First

You’ll be able to stretch a tight budget further when you buy back to school items off the clearance racks. In fact, you should first check the clearance racks before shopping anywhere else in the store.

The same holds true for shopping online. There’s usually a sale or clearance section you can check before looking at other categories.

Check Out Discount Stores

Not all supplies and clothing have to be name brand. You can find plenty of great choices when you shop at discount stores like Walmart and Target. Furthermore, you’ll find the prices are better than some of the pricier clothing stores at the mall or online.

Use Coupons

To help your budget take the smallest hit possible, use coupons and coupon codes for back to school stuff. Watch for them in flyers and ads in newspapers, in the mail, online, and in stores. If you’ve signed up for text alerts from your favorite stores you may get savings codes there as well.

Some can be printed but others may need to be shown when you’re in a store paying at the register. Be prepared when you get to the cashier by pulling up your coupon codes ahead of time.

Watch for Sales

Obviously you can also save by buying school supplies and clothes when they are on sale. That will help you save as much as possible – especially when you combine sales with coupons and coupon codes.

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

Another way you can be prepared for back to school expenses is by signing up for store loyalty programs. Some will provide discount codes just for signing up. If you were planning to buy there anyway, why not save while doing it?

Do Price Comparisons

At times, different stores will carry the exact same items. However, the prices could vary greatly. Before you buy the first thing you see, do some price comparisons. That will help you save the most on back to school expenses.

Clearly buying back to school supplies and clothes will cost some money. But it you haven’t saved up for it, use these tips to help you be prepared and spend less.

How do you save for back to school expenses?

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How to Keep Your Cool in Summer Heat http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-keep-your-cool-in-summer-heat/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-keep-your-cool-in-summer-heat/#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 11:00:49 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7909 Now that Mother’s Day has passed and school is nearly out, summer is around the corner. As much as I love summer, I must confess I don’t necessarily love the heat that comes with it. The other part of summertime I don’t like is having higher bills from trying to keep cool. If you have […]

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Do you have higher bills in summer because of the heat? If you do, here’s how to keep your cool in summer heat.Now that Mother’s Day has passed and school is nearly out, summer is around the corner. As much as I love summer, I must confess I don’t necessarily love the heat that comes with it.

The other part of summertime I don’t like is having higher bills from trying to keep cool. If you have the same struggle, here’s how to keep your cool in summer heat.

Use House Fans

If you have ceiling fans or portable, oscillating fans, turn them on to keep your cool in summer heat. Then, turn your air conditioner up a few degrees. This is one of the ways you can lower your summer household budget.

Don’t Use Your Oven

When you cook with an oven it heats up the whole house. While this is nice in winter when it’s cold, during summer months it makes it harder to cool off. One thing I do to combat the heat is use smaller appliances for cooking instead of my oven.

My summertime cooking choices are my crockpot, toaster oven, stove top, and microwave. Using them lets me keep the oven turned off.

As a result, my air conditioner doesn’t work as hard. The result is that the house stays cooler, and my electricity bills are lower.

Open Windows

Whenever you’re lucky enough to have an evening breeze, open the windows and cool down your house. This will help you keep your cool in summer heat and lower your utility bills too.

See a Movie

I don’t know what your local movie theatre is like, but the ones I’ve been in are usually cold. You can use this to your advantage in summer months to stay cool. Just go to a movie for a break from the heat.

Go Swimming

Take a dip in a cool lake, pool, or other recreational body of water. This is just one more way to keep your cool in summer heat.

Getting your body temperature down can cool you off enough to prevent use of your air conditioner.

Use Vegetation

Have you ever thought about the landscaping in your yard? Some trees and bushes will provide shade that can keep both you and your home cooler during the summer heat.

Keep Up with Maintenance

If you’re not keeping up with maintenance around your home it can cost you more money each month. Fix leaks around doors and windows. Change furnace filters at least monthly and have ductwork cleaned.

Eat Cool Foods

As wonderful as popsicles are, they’re even better when it’s hot outside. But you can also enjoy cold sandwiches, ice cream, cool salads, and other foods that aren’t hot. These are a few more ways to keep your cool in summer heat.

Install Whole House Fans

Installing whole house fans can keep you cooler in summer. They can create a cross breeze with open windows. Also, they allow you to send hot air out of the top of the house.

Buy a Programmable Thermostat

Another way to keep your cool in summer heat is to buy a programmable thermostat. They’re relatively inexpensive and pay for themselves in short order.

Close Things Up

If you’re looking for other ways to keep your cool when summer heats up, try closing thing up. As an example, close vents and returns in rooms you aren’t using. Then close the doors.

But don’t stop there. Try closing blinds and drapes also to keep the heat and sun out.

Wear Cotton

The clothes do make the man, and woman, when it comes to summer heat. Wear cotton to stay cooler and beat the heat during warm months.

None of us can change the fact that summer will be here soon. But you don’t have to suffer when the thermometer starts rising. Use some of the ideas here to keep your cool in summer heat.

What other ways do you beat the heat in summer?

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5 Ways to Keep Summer Camp Fees Down http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-keep-summer-camp-fees-down/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-keep-summer-camp-fees-down/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2018 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7860 Summer is fast approaching which means school lessons will soon be at an end. Kids will excitedly make their escapes from cramped classrooms for the last time until next fall. For the first few days they’ll likely be busy burning off excess pent up energy. Still, within a short time, some will inevitably mutter the […]

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Summer camps keep kids occupied but are not without fees. If you don’t want to pay them, or simply can’t afford to, you can keep summer camp fees down.Summer is fast approaching which means school lessons will soon be at an end. Kids will excitedly make their escapes from cramped classrooms for the last time until next fall.

For the first few days they’ll likely be busy burning off excess pent up energy. Still, within a short time, some will inevitably mutter the words parent’s hate to hear: “I’m bored.”

Does this sound like something you anticipate hearing from your kids soon? If so, you may have considered sending them to summer camp to keep them occupied.

Of course, summer camp is not without fees. If you don’t want to pay them, or simply can’t afford to, you can keep summer camp fees down.

1. Limit the Number of Camps

When I was young, my brothers and I attended a few different summer camps. However, my parents chose to keep summer camp fees down by limiting the number of camps we went to.

Rather than paying huge fees to 3 or 4 different camps for each of us, they took an alternate approach. They let us choose one camp to go to.

Obviously, they could have simply chosen the cheapest one to send each of us to. But by allowing us to choose we were able to pick the one we most wanted to go to. Our parents were happy because they saved money and we were happy attending the camp of our choice.

2. Choose Alternate Activities

Another way to keep summer camp fees down is to choose alternate activities for your kids. This is another tactic my parents took to save money.

For example, we were each allowed to play one summer sport. To keep us occupied we also played lots of free or cheap outdoor games too. A few we played were tag, catch, and Frisbee. We also rode our bikes and had lots of squirt gun fights to cool off. On cool, rainy, indoor days we build blanket forts, played board games, and had pillow fights.

There are plenty of different inexpensive activities to choose from that are great alternatives to summer camp. Letting your kids pick a few of them puts them in control of their own fun.

3. Let Kids Pay Their Own Way

As my brothers and I got older, the camps we wanted to go to became more expensive. In order to attend even one of them we had to use some of our own money.

One of the great things about this approach is that your kids learn about money. Have them complete odd jobs at home for pay or earn money on their own.

Then, meet them part way by paying half of their camp fees. You’ll keep summer camp fees down and they’ll learn how far their money goes.

4. Plan Ahead for Summer Camp

Planning ahead for summer camp is one more way to keep summer camps fees down. While it won’t actually decrease the costs of camp it can decrease the financial burden come summer.

You can budget for the cost of summer camp by setting aside a few dollars each month. Once summer comes around you’ll already have the money without feeling extra strain on your wallet.

5. Encourage Spending Time with Others

To keep summer camp fees down you can also encourage your kids to spend time with others instead. This is also a good way to save on summer childcare costs.

Let your kids go visit their grandparents for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Another option is to hire a dependable, trustworthy teenager or college student to spend time with them.

Your kids might learn new skills and build or strengthen relationships by spending time with others. It’s also a good way to keep them busy and engaged throughout the summer.

Having your kids spend time with others can reduce the fees you pay for summer camps. But it also helps them grow as individuals at the same time.

Trying to get your finances in shape by summer can be difficult enough on its own. You don’t need the added stress of paying hundreds in camp fees. Use these ideas to help you keep summer camp fees down and save money at the same time.

How do you keep summer camp fees down for your kids?

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4 Monetary Benefits of Having Friends http://yourpfpro.com/4-monetary-benefits-of-having-friends/ http://yourpfpro.com/4-monetary-benefits-of-having-friends/#respond Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:00:25 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7734 As I worked on my computer this morning, my husband and our good friends worked cattle. My husband taught their kids how to show their steers for the fair this summer. In turn, they helped us plant new windbreak trees on our farm later in the afternoon. Today’s give and take among friends got me […]

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Give and take among friends doesn't only benefit us in the kind acts we do for each other. There are many monetary benefits of having friends too.As I worked on my computer this morning, my husband and our good friends worked cattle. My husband taught their kids how to show their steers for the fair this summer. In turn, they helped us plant new windbreak trees on our farm later in the afternoon.

Today’s give and take among friends got me thinking about all of the ways friends help us out. Not only do we perform kind acts for each other, but there are monetary benefits of having friends too.

1. Care for Each Other’s Children

In the past, when my kids were young, we often traded childcare duties with friends. Of course, this was very helpful for date nights with our spouses.

We didn’t just use it for romantic evenings, though. When emergencies came up, our good friends were there when our families were too far away to help.

But no matter the circumstances, having good friends prevented us from hiring a sitter many times. This saved us money at a time when we didn’t have a lot.

If your budget is also tight, try trading with friends when you need a helping hand with your kids. Not only will it help your finances, but it makes your friendships much stronger.

2. Help Move Large Furniture

Another of the monetary benefits of having friends is when they help move large furniture. In the area where we live, furniture is not always delivered free to our home due to distance. This means it must be moved on our own.

Many times we have traveled several hours to and from the city to buy needed furniture items. Since choice it limited in our small town it is not unusual to do this.

Unfortunately, once we arrive at home, there are no strong young workers there to unload for us. That is when good friends come in handy. In addition, they save us from having to find and hire other help on short notice.

When you need help unloading furniture or other large items you can call friends to help out. They can save you a bundle and are usually willing to help with a smile.

3. Prevent Hiring Other Professionals

There are monetary benefits of having friends you can seek for professional advice. They can even prevent you from having to hire other professionals.

For example, when my children were toddlers, I had a close friend who was a nurse. On a couple of occasions she saved me from paying unnecessary medical bills when I thought my child was ill.

As it turned out, I was just a nervous parent with a colicky baby. Thankfully, I sought her opinion before spending money needlessly and embarrassing myself at the doctor’s office.

Having friends that can do nursing or other professional services allows you to barter and save money.

4. Buy Food Together in Bulk

One of the other monetary benefits of having friends is buying food items together in bulk. When you are trying to save money on groceries this is one tactic that can really help.

We raise our own beef and have it butchered and processed nearby. This saves us a ton of money, but we still have to buy chicken from the grocery store.

Sometimes a large package is too much for the two of us. But I can still buy it for a good price. Then I just split it and the cost with a friend or family member.

I also buy vegetables in bulk since I don’t have time for a garden. Then I cut them up and freeze them for future casseroles, soups, and stews.

You can maximize your food savings the same way. Just purchase groceries in bulk and split it with friends or relatives.

It’s true that sometimes friends cause us to spend more money instead of less. But they can also help us to save in many ways as well. Try some of my ideas to save money in your budget and help your friends out too.

What monetary benefits have you enjoyed just from having good friends?

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Eliminate Bad Habits and Save Money http://yourpfpro.com/eliminate-bad-habits-and-save-money/ http://yourpfpro.com/eliminate-bad-habits-and-save-money/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:00:32 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7628 Just about everybody has a habit or two they would like to change. I confess that I have definitely developed a few over the years. Thankfully there are some I have successfully broken or changed. Unfortunately, like most other people, I have a few I am still working on. But the bad habits that deserve […]

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Eliminate bad habitsJust about everybody has a habit or two they would like to change. I confess that I have definitely developed a few over the years.

Thankfully there are some I have successfully broken or changed. Unfortunately, like most other people, I have a few I am still working on.

But the bad habits that deserve top priority in everyone’s lives are the ones that cost us money.

Blowing a Cash Windfall

One of the ways to eliminate bad habits and save money is to stop blowing extra money. Cash windfalls in the form of tax refunds, end of year bonuses, or inheritance money are often spent on stuff.

Rather than using found money on things not within the normal scope of your budget try using it differently. Pay down debt, add to your emergency fund, or invest it for your retirement instead.

Ignoring Ways to Save

A great thing about the new year is the resolutions we all make. Yet, at the same time, I really don’t like them. But let me explain.

New Year’s resolutions are just excuses to start doing the things we should already be doing. That’s why I don’t like them.

However, I also think New Year’s resolutions have their place. They can be a time to reset and get back into good habits. When you use them to make real and permanent changes in your life I think they are useful.

One of those new habits could be to always watch for new ways to save. For example, try replacing your high cost cable television with something cheaper, such as Hulu. But to save even more you could simply shut it off all together.

Believing Wants are Needs

Another way to eliminate bad habits and save money is to correct your perspective. It is easy to find excuses that justify spending money on things we want.

For example, I used to “need” to get my nails done every two weeks because I worked with the public. I felt like my hands were constantly on display. Therefore having a manicure would make me appear more professional.

Once I realized the amount of money I was spending on my “need” I was able to readjust my thinking. In fact, doing away with this monthly bill helped me quit my full time job to freelance instead.

Neglecting to Save for Emergencies

When you don’t have money set aside for emergencies you will probably land in financial hot water eventually. There’s just not a way to plan for everything that could come up in your life.

Do yourself a favor and save a little money each month, even if it’s as little as five or ten dollars. Each time you have a little extra money add to your emergency fund. Then when a real emergency arises you will be able to handle it.

Trying to Keep Up with the Joneses

If you really want to eliminate bad habits and save money you need to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.  What they think of you isn’t as important as your financial well-being.

Quit buying more stuff in order to fit in with them or rise above them. It isn’t worth putting yourself in debt and sacrificing your retirement.

Keeping a Budget That Never Changes

Life happens and things change. As a result, needs, goals, and budgets must change too. If you keep the same budget month after month and year after year it won’t be accurate after a while.

Expenses and needs that change drive your budget to change. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your budget at least once each year.

When you get off track occasionally with your budget, examine why it happened. This is an important part of preventing it from happening again.

We all have bad habits we’d like to change. Nevertheless, if we wish to eliminate bad habits and save money for the future we must not ignore them.

Do you have a financial bad habit you’d like to change?

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How to Give Gifts on a Small Budget http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 21:00:30 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7525 Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree. I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them. But shopping for holiday […]

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Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree.

I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them.

But shopping for holiday gifts is a lot more challenging when you are on a budget. While some people find the challenge exhilarating others have a hard time being up to the task.

Is there a way to give gifts on a small budget and still see satisfied smiles from your family?

1. Make a List

Make a list and check it twice. I’m not kidding. First list everyone you want to get a gift for. Next slash the list to only those people you absolutely must buy a gift for.

When you give gifts on a small budget you must think in terms of what you must buy first. After buying those gifts if you have a little money in the budget left over you can start adding names back to the list.

2. Decide What to Buy

Once your list has been made you can determine what to get each person. Remember, you need to keep the cost down enough for each person to be able to get a gift for everyone on the list.

3. Shop When Items are On Sale

It isn’t easy to find inexpensive gifts that you like for the holidays. One strategy that may help is to buy items when they are on sale.

Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as well as other sales throughout the holiday season to use your money wisely. If you made your list far enough in advance you can even shop in the spring or summer and save on off season and clearance prices.

4. Make the Gifts Yourself

If you are creative and talented you might be able to make many of the gifts you give and keep costs down further. For example, I can sew so I sometimes make gifts for my friends who can’t.

You can also set up an assembly line process to make similar gifts faster and cheaper. A friend of mine did this last year and saved a bundle.

5. Save on Internet Orders

Look for savings when you order gifts online by using coupon codes and rewards points. Some of the sources you order from may give cash back and other discounts. Look on their websites to get more information and take advantage of these money savers.

6. Avoid Shipping if You Can

Buying items in bulk may help you to avoid shipping charges. However, don’t order extra just to get the shipping free if it doesn’t make sense.

Did you know some stores will ship for free if you have items delivered to the store and then pick them up? Of course, you may have crowds to deal with, but it could save you enough to make the hassle worth it when your budget is small.

7. Comparison Shop

Comparing prices can help you give gifts on a small budget too. Check more than one store and the internet to see if the item you are buying is available elsewhere for less.

Don’t forget to look over items carefully to make sure features are the same or similar enough not to matter.

Holiday shopping can be a fun and rewarding experience despite the challenges of a small budget. Use these tips to help you give gifts on a small budget and still enjoy the happy smiles of your loved ones.

Are there other ways to give gifts on a small budget?

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Cheap Holiday Candy Alternatives http://yourpfpro.com/cheap-holiday-candy-alternatives/ http://yourpfpro.com/cheap-holiday-candy-alternatives/#respond Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:00:05 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7426 Time is supposed to be a constant, but I’m not sure I believe it. Fall seems to have arrived faster than ever this year. Not only that, but Halloween is just around the corner, and the other holidays will follow shortly thereafter. One thing I used to struggle with during the holidays is how to […]

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Holiday Candy AlternativesTime is supposed to be a constant, but I’m not sure I believe it. Fall seems to have arrived faster than ever this year. Not only that, but Halloween is just around the corner, and the other holidays will follow shortly thereafter.

One thing I used to struggle with during the holidays is how to address candy in our home. Because my son is a diabetic, and has been since the age of four, candy was mostly off limits for him.

He’s grown up and moved out on his own now, though, so it’s not really an issue for us anymore. However, there are several reasons, other than diabetes, why candy is not the best thing to give all young children at holiday times.

For instance, some children can’t have candy because of sensitivities to certain foods or dyes. Others may have allergies or become hyperactive if given too much sugar.

But what can people give as a holiday candy alternative that won’t cost an arm and a leg? Here are some cheap holiday candy alternatives you could use instead.

1. Stickers

Young children really like stickers they can use on pictures or in coloring books. Pick up a few packs and hand out a sheet or two to young kids for the holidays without breaking the bank.

2. Balls

Little bouncy balls keep some kids entertained for hours. Snag a few from a discount store or online party supply store for only a few bucks and give them out during the holidays.

3. Bubbles

What child doesn’t love bubbles? They have been a hit with youngsters for years and they never seem to go out of style. Pick up a few inexpensive small bottles to hand out to trick-or-treaters or put in stockings.

4. Glow-in-the-Dark Items

Tiny glow-in-the-dark creatures, balls, or other fun items always bring smiles to young faces. Give some of these to small party guests instead of candy and keep your costs low at the same time.

5. Stuff That Lights Up

Little pocket flashlights, glow necklaces, or glow bracelets are great fun for young kids when the lights go out. If you only have a few guests you could use these as a great holiday candy alternative.

6. Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos are another item you can use as a holiday candy alternative. They won’t rot teeth and they’re cheap too. Give these away at Halloween or Christmas and yours will be the most popular house to visit on the block.

7. Hand Sanitizer

Children that are a bit older like pocket hand sanitizers. Pick up a few to give out as small gifts instead of candy and stay on budget.

8. Travel Size Lotions

Another cheap holiday candy alternative is small travel size lotions. Grab a few when they are on sale and use as small gifts in place of sugary sweets.

9. Matchbox Cars

Small kids love little cars they can collect or take with them to pay with. Purchase a few at a local discount store you can give away and still keep your holiday finances on track.

10. Fake Mustaches

Buy some fake mustaches for just a few dollars and distribute them instead of candy. Take it a step further and have everyone post pictures on social media of themselves wearing them.

11. Pocket Games

Pocket sized puzzle games or miniature card packs are great party favors and holiday candy alternatives. They don’t cost a lot so you can pick up several for only a few dollars.

12. Balloons

If you are giving balloons as a holiday candy alternative make sure you are giving them to the right age kids. Packages of balloons are inexpensive and have lots of colors so each child can get their favorite.

Even though it can be tricky trying to come up with cheap holiday candy alternatives that keep your budget on track it is possible to do. It also feels like a bonus when you see the smiles you’ve put on all those young faces.

What cheap holiday candy alternatives have you used?

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How to Use BillSnip to Save Money On Your Bills http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/ http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7370 When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past. As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking […]

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When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past.

As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking for other ways to save. In fact, it can almost become addicting – but in a good way.

Unless you are really good at negotiating, though, you may discover it can be difficult to get reductions when dealing with creditors.  Let’s face it, not all of us are comfortable making those kinds of phone calls.

Therefore, having help could make all the difference. To assist you, below I am going to review just how to use Billsnip to save money on your bills.

1. Identify Bills

If your month to month bills are overwhelming you, lowering them can make all the difference to you and your budget. However, first you have to identify which bills could be lowered. Some examples include:

  • Loan rates, including fees
  • Credit card interest charges
  • Cell phone bills
  • Internet fees
  • Cable or satellite television bills
  • Various music streaming services
  • Storage unit charges

Of course, they are not limited to only reducing your bills for these services alone. There are many other bills they can help you with.

2. Send Bills

Getting the bill to them is actually pretty simple. Just scan your bill into your computer or take a picture with your phone. Then, text or email the bill to them. That’s it.

3. Let Them Do the Work

Billsnip has staff members who are trained in negotiation techniques. These personnel will first look over your bills and figure out approximately what your savings could be.

Next, they contact businesses for you thus eliminating wasted time on your part waiting on hold or making zero progress.

Once they help you free up additional cash you can use it to pay off other debt, invest it, or use the extra money in other ways that improve your finances. It’s that simple.

4. What They Charge

Their billing is pretty simple. They charge 35% of the amount they saved you. You can pay that fee monthly or pay the whole thing at once and get 10% off the total.

But if they aren’t able to help you, you owe them nothing. Discounts for future bills should appear on your statements.

5. Who Qualifies

Anyone needing help with their bills can use the services of Billsnip. If the idea of calling one of your creditors makes you break out in a cold sweat and turn green, you may want to contact them for help. They can call in your place and remove the anxiety.

If you have no time in your schedule to call those places to whom you owe money, contact Billsnip instead. They can make the calls you just don’t have the time to make yourself.

When you call Billsnip you are making additional progress toward a future of less debt. So, go ahead and contact them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Do you need help negotiating your bills? If so, use Billsnip to save money on your bills and do the work for you.

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