Money Saving Tips and Ideas That Work
A money saving tip is only good if it works for you. The Fat Dollar will help you use what you already have as well as things you can easily get. Our motto is that a money saving tip should be interesting, fun, relatively easy, and should awaken your creative spirit. Oh, and one more thing ....saving money should make you feel comfortably rich, not miserly or deprived!
Fat Dollar Money Saving Tip of the Day
Review Your Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Bills
Now is a good time to review your regular bills. Make a list of the bills that are paid regularly, such as electric and gas bills, internet and TV, cell phone, trash service, home and auto insurance, etc.
Start with the monthly bills and select one. Review every line item on the bill. Do you understand everything that you are being charged for? Are there items on the bill that you don't need or use anymore? Are you being charged to rent a piece of equipment that you don't have anymore?
For internet, TV service, and other similar bills, if you have had the same service package for a year or more, call the customer service center and ask if there are any discounts or different packages that may be available.
I recently called my internet and cable TV service and found that we were eligible for a free upgrade to a much faster internet service. The customer service rep did the upgrade while I was still on the phone. While that call didn't save any monthly money, I felt it was a very worthwhile call. I am thrilled with the faster internet speed. As well, she gave me another number to call because it appeared that we were also eligible for a lower-cost package. I'll be calling that number soon!
Go through each of your regular bills one by one, slowly and in detail. If you find a charge that should not be there, make the call or send the email and get the process started to get it eliminated. While it may only be a few dollars of savings, keep in mind that a few dollars each month adds up. Saving $5.00 a month is a savings of $60.00 a year. What would you do if someone handed you $60.00 at the end of each year?
Credit card bills should be reviewed each and every month as they arrive. Did you sign up for a monthly "club" that you haven't used in 3 months, but are still getting a $19.99/month charge? Did a company accidentally double bill you for something? Are there charges you don't recognize? Even a $.25 charge that you didn't authorize should be investigated. It may be a test charge by a card thief to see if the card is good as well as to see if they are able to make undetected charges on your account.
A periodic review of your regular bills helps to prevent money being completely wasted on services or items that you no longer use or need.
Even better, as soon as you discover and remove an unnecessary charge, set up an automatic monthly transfer of that amount to your savings account. You won't miss the money and your savings account will start growing effortlessly.
Take a look at The Fat Dollar's article on Automatic Investing for more ideas on increasing your regular savings.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and patpitchaya.
Cost-Saving Home Heating Ideas
While snowed-in and thinking about home heating costs, I found five low-cost, offbeat, ways to heat your home .... read more
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and artur84
Year End Tips for 2013 to make 2014 a Better Year
As 2013 comes to a close, here are a few things to consider doing to help make 2014 a better year:
1. Contribute to your IRA, Roth IRA, SimpleIRA, or other individual retirement plan
2. Review your percentage contribution to your 401(k) or other employer plan and increase your participating contribution, even if it is only by a small percentage.
3. If you can itemize deductions on your income tax return for 2013, then scout around your home and donate your unused items to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or a similar local non-profit agency. Be sure to ask for a receipt.
4. If you have money in your medical savings account that will expire at year end, then do your best to use it. Can you schedule a dentist or doctor's visit? Chiropractor? Wellness check? Refill a prescription? Get a new pair of glasses or contacts? Make sure that whatever you spend is for a qualified medical expense.
5. Make a budget for 2014 for both expenses and savings.
6. Draw up a plan for paying off credit card debt in 2014.
7. Get your papers organized for getting your 2013 taxes prepared. Pull out your 2012 tax return to see what items of income and deductions you reported last year. This is a good guideline for what papers to expect for 2013.
8. Review your 2013 spending and compare that to your budget and to your 2012 spending. How does it compare?
9. Write down your financial goals for 2014, along with the steps and deadlines for each goal.
10. Review your investments and savings. What is the rate of return for each one? How much risk do they have? How are they rated on investment sites, such as Morningstar, and the ratings services offered by various brokers, such as Fidelity?
The more organized your financial data is and the more aware you are of your financial details, the better the chance that you will improve your situation.
A Visit to a US National Park Is a Fun, Low-Cost Vacation
One of my best childhood memories is camping with my family at various Indiana state parks.
Every summer, my dad would pick one or two state parks and we would pack up our gear and head out. We were a tent and sleeping bag family - my dad wouldn't have it any other way.
Visiting of our 401 National Parks is not only a refreshing way to experience the beauty of nature, but it can be a very inexpensive vacation, too! Read more ....
Does it Save Money to Use Vinegar or Baking Soda Instead of Fabric Softener?
Did you know that using too much fabric softener can be dangerous, especially for small children and the elderly?
Stay Cool This Summer:
You can stay cooler and save energy costs at the same time. Try these tips posted on The Fat Dollar Blog.
With May already heating up, it's time to change the direction of your ceiling fan, open your windows to the cool morning breezes, and use your heat-generating appliances wisely.
Check on your income tax refund:
Try the new IRS "Where's My Refund?" site. This year the site includes information on whether they have received your return, whether any issues with your return came up, and an exact date for when your refund will be issued.
This bit of good news is especially welcome as we begin this 2013 tax season (for 2012 tax returns). It 's already gotten a late start and some forms cannot be filed until at least mid-February or early March.
Still, an income tax refund is a very welcome sight.
More about this on The Fat Dollar blog .... read more
If you take only one financial step this year, you can make it a powerful one by setting up an automatic savings plan. Best of all, it is an easy step.
Simply have a set dollar amount transferred from your paycheck or checking account to a savings or investment account on a regular basis. Ideally, you will set this up as an automatic transfer which will eliminate your need to write a check or remember to do something to complete the transaction.
David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, considers this a secret of getting rich. You can make it your secret, too.
More money saving tips:
Gift Ideas For $10 or Less
It's that time of year again and The Fat Dollar is here to help with more gift ideas that won't have you reaching for your credit card.
There is something for everyone on our list, from bamboo coaster sets for your down-to-earth friends to leather Kindle covers to books for the cat lover to a long list of ideas for your practical friends.
Be Flexible With Recipes
Save even more by being flexible with your recipes. Experiment with substituting less expensive ingredients for costly ones. Substitute ingredients that you already have for ingredients that you have on hand.
The US Census estimates that a family of four with older children and a moderate food budget spends $221.00 per week on food. (Really?! That seems like a lot!). If we use this figure, and estimate that creative substitutions will help this average family reduce their food budget by 10%, then this could create $22.10 per week in grocery savings. That is $1149.20 per year in easy food savings.
Make a Refrigerator List
A refrigerator is a wonderful, modern way to keep food fresh longer. Because of it's many shelves and nooks, it's also a good place for food to get misplaced and to eventually spoil. A container of delicious leftover meatloaf can get pushed behind the yogurt containers and the next time you find the meatloaf container, a week has passed, along with your chance (and desire) to eat the meatloaf.
Uses for Used Coffee Grounds
Mmm, coffee does taste good in the morning. The aroma of a freshly-brewed pot of coffee draws me to the kitchen with my favorite coffee cup in hand. We brew at least one pot of coffee nearly every day. It's one of our morning routines - make a fresh pot of coffee and feed the cats. Not necessarily in that order, depending on how loud the cats are meowing.
After the coffee is made and enjoyed, there is a filter full of coffee grounds. Day after day, more and more grounds. We don't throw them away, though. Those used coffee grounds can be re purposed in many useful ways. Following are a few of them, 26 to be exact:
NOTE: In most of these alternate uses, the coffee grounds should first be spread out in a thin layer to dry. If you can place the drying grounds in a patch of sunshine on your kitchen counter, that is even better, it will speed up the drying process.
(If you don't drink coffee, but want to try some of these uses, then see ideas for Where to Get Coffee Grounds at the end of this article.)
26 Good Uses for Used Coffee Grounds
1. The obvious - use the grounds to make a second pot of coffee. Leave the freshly used grounds in the filter and simply measure new grounds on top. You may need to adjust this to taste, but I'd recommend starting by adding 1/2 to 3/4 of the grounds you would normally use. I've found that this makes a very good second pot of coffee at half the normal cost. This is likely because my coffee maker brews the coffee very fast, which leaves a lot of the flavor in the grounds.
Not everyone will appreciate re-brewing coffee grounds: The National Coffee Association USA, indicates that "once brewed, the desirable coffee flavors have been extracted and only the bitter undesirable ones are left."
Note that the coffee grounds should be used immediately after the first pot is brewed. I have found that the second pot is not nearly as good if you used leftover, refrigerated grounds. Nonetheless, If you still want to save the grounds for later, they MUST be either refrigerated or quickly dried. Mold develops fairly rapidly on coffee grounds simply left damp and dark in the coffee maker.
2. To eliminate an ant problem, sprinkle dried coffee grounds on anthills and around and across the ant entry areas. (Sorry, does not really work with fire ants.)
3. Work the coffee grounds into the soil around house plants and garden plants as a fertilizer. Coffee contains acids, nitrogen, potassium, copper, and other trace elements that are beneficial to plants.
Coffee grounds are slightly acidic, so they are especially effective with acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, blueberries, azaleas, iris, pachysandra, ferns, and pine trees.
Coffee grounds are also an excellent fertilizer for tomatoes, and make a good soil for mushrooms.
(Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory has a good list of acid-loving perennials and trees: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/soiltestinglab/pdfs/ph-Lime-req.pdf)
See the resources below for an article from Sunset.com with detailed, in-depth information on using coffee as a compost in your garden.
4. Use the grounds as a pesticide. This does not work with decaffeinated coffee - it's the caffeine that does the trick. According to The Harvard Crimson, a Harvard scientist has determined that caffeine disrupted the behavior and reproduction cycles of insects, and in concentrated doses, killed insects within hours. The study also found that mixing caffeine with pesticides could increase the pesticide's potency by ten times.
While there may not be enough of a concentration of caffeine in the coffee grounds to kill insects, sprinkling the grounds in the soil and also applying pesticide may allow you to use much less pesticide. It is certainly worth experimenting with. ...... more.......
Milk is a staple in my kitchen, as it probably is in your kitchen, too. When we run out of milk we usually need to make a special trip to the store for milk to use for the next day's breakfast or for a recipe for dinner. When you add in the gas to stop at the store and the cost of the occasional impulse item, that makes the gallon of milk pretty expensive!
It finally occurred to me that maybe I could save some money and time by freezing milk.
Yes, milk can be frozen. The secret is that the longer it is frozen, the more the fats in the milk tend to separate from the water in the milk. ... Read More ...
Rechargeable batteries can be a major cost savings in a household that has many battery-powered devices.
According to All-Battery.com, premium alkaline batteries will power your digital camera to take about 45 photos for a cost of $2.99. Rechargeable NiMH Batteries will take about 30,000 photos for a cost of about $18.98. This calculates to about $0.0664* per photo with the alkaline batteries and $0.0006 per photo for the rechargeable NiMH batteries. This makes the rechargeable batteries about 100 times less costly than alkaline batteries. The cost difference is staggering.
Save Money on Gas for Your Car With a Gas Mileage ToolThe US Department of Energy has a nifty little tool for looking up the expected gas mileage of your vehicle. This tool works for both new and used cars. It has updated expected mileage figures for older cars, as well as mileage reports from actual drivers of your model of car. Knowing the expected gas mileage of your vehicle is a good step toward increasing the gas mileage of your vehicle. If your car's actual gas mileage is noticeably lower than these estimates, then you should first look at your driving habits and then look at the possibility that your car's engine or tires need some attention. (See The Fat Dollar's article on Saving Money on Gas for ideas on changing your driving habits for better gas mileage.)
Another use for this tool is estimating a vehicle's yearly gas cost when you are considering purchasing a new or used car. A few hundred dollars in gas savings each year can add up to a few thousand dollars in gas savings over the life of a vehicle.
The tool can also help you if you are putting together a spending budget and want a starting figure for your monthly gasoline expense.
And hey, if your gas mileage figures are noticeably better than the estimates on the site, then thumbs up! You're already ahead of the gas-saving game. And that is the Fat Dollar way!
Here is the US Department of Energy link: www.fueleconomy.gov
The Fat Dollar Ideas
In the Kitchen - grocery shopping, cooking, planning ... get some Fat Dollar Ideas
Vitamins and Fruit Juice - save $63.87 a year and 20,440 calories
Microwave Muffins - Worth the Energy Savings? - the experiment and the recipe
Save Grocery Money Books - free bonus cookbook with purchase
In the Home - tips and ideas to save money in your home
Make Your Own Shampoo and Rinse - Herbal or Plain
Manage Your Money - Tips for managing your Fat Dollars
Bartering Online or Offline - To fatten up your dollars
Fat Dollar recommends Simply Free Stuff site - Free samples and products
Books to help you save money and regain control of your Fat Dollars