Archive for January 2015

How to Shop Smart for Groceries


GroceriesGrocery shopping is something that we all do, but how many of us truly enjoy it or are ?smart? at doing it. Sure, we can drive to the grocery store and pick some food off the shelves for us and our families to eat, but what kind of deal are we getting?

As we started our family and lived much more closely to a budget we found that a key part to that was being wise when it came time to go to the grocery store. If you?re looking for some ways to shop smart for groceries, the below tips should help.

Try Your Hand at Couponing

We don?t do a whole lot when it comes to couponing, though we used to. The reason? It largely goes back to lack of time and not really buying most things there are coupons for. That said, when we did clip coupons we could easily save a good bit of money at the grocery store.

There are many who will spend hours looking for coupons as a means to cut down their grocery bill as much as possible. You certainly don?t need to go to that extreme, but it can be a good way to save money on groceries.

Make Friends With Aldi or Save-a-Lot

The grocery stores might be called something different where you are, but Aldi is the grocery store to go to in my area if you want the cheapest prices. I know in other area of the country that Save-A-Lot is another similar option. These stores only employee two or three workers that either run the cash register or stock the shelves (which means putting the box on the shelf for you to see).

Their operation is very basic, which enables them to save money on useless costs and then pass on the savings to the consumer. There have been numerous studies that compare Aldi to Walmart and other grocery chains. In almost every study I have seen, Aldi always wins ? they always have the cheapest prices. If you don?t like to mess around with coupons, then a store like Aldi can save you a good amount of money on groceries.

Buy in Bulk

If you have a big family and can go through a considerable amount of groceries in a month or two, then you might want to look at buying some things in bulk. Typically, when you buy more of something the per unit price goes down. So, instead of buying a single box of cereal for $3.50, you can buy a carton of 10 boxes for $25.00, which means you?re now only paying $2.50 per box.

The beauty of this technique is that there are many non-perishables that will stay fresh for quite some time, so as long as you have somewhere to store the food, you can save a fair amount of money by buying in bulk. We buy some items in bulk at Costco, but have to be careful in order to make sure it?s food we?ll be going through as otherwise we’d simply be wasting money.

Don?t Let Your Food Go to Waste

The downside to buying in bulk, or any shopping really, is the risk of food going to waste. I absolutely hate dealing with food waste as it?s pretty much like taking cash and putting it in the trash can.

Don?t believe me? I guarantee you that if you cut your food waste down you?ll see your grocery budget working that much better for you. There are many ways to help cut food waste from shopping with a list to freezing meals that can help you immensely in terms of killing that waste.



What tips do you have to shop smart for groceries? How much is your grocery budget per month? Do you coupon, and if so, how much time do you spend on it per week?



Photo Courtesy of: greggavedon. com

4 Easily Overlooked Ways to Cut College Costs

cut college costs

11746780193_b86134dda0_zWith the ever-growing amount of student loan debt that young people are struggling with these days, it’s vital for soon-to-be college students to figure out ways to cut college costs.

We all know that discovering the availability of student loans, grants, and college education funds are crucial to a financially stable college journey. Here are four different ways to cut college costs and help ensure that you graduate with the smallest amount of debt possible.

Decide if College is Really for You

There may be a load of pressure on you to go to college, but college is not for everyone. What are your career dreams and aspirations? If you’d be much happier being an auto mechanic than an auto mechanics teacher, don’t waste precious time and money getting a teaching degree.

Instead, determine what you’d love to do with your life, and figure out a way to make that happen. So many adults have college degrees that they don’t use in the least in their current career. Determine if you truly want to go to college, and if so, what degree makes the most sense given your passions and talents.

Consider Alternative Types of College Learning

There are ways to earn a college degree that can be a huge cost savings compared to traditional colleges. PSEO classes in high school grants college credits that are paid by the state.?CLEP programs allow students to study for and then test out of certain credit requirements, at a fraction of the price of taking the actual college course. Online schools also allow certain classes to be completed at a discount compared to going to school on campus.

If you’ve determined that college is for you, look for ways to help cut costs by looking into some of the college alternatives.

Research All of Your Potential College Costs and Funding Options

Private universities generally cost more than a state-run school, but sometimes the private schools offer more in scholarship and grant money too. Also, depending on which school you choose, there may be varying costs when it comes to living expenses. “A” college might be a bit less expensive, but its cost of living may be double that of college choice “B”.

When deciding on a college, research every cost and option for help with funding at each individual school that you’re interested in before you make your final decision on which college you’ll attend. Don’t simply look at tuition price alone.

Cut College Costs By Thinking Long-Term

When deciding on the college you’ll attend and the major you’ll choose, it’s vital to think long-term. For instance, could you go to a community college for your first two years of college, and then graduate from a university, saving thousands of dollars in the process? Speaking as a parent, this is only the beginning of thinking of how we can prepare our children for college.

Also, it’s important to consider the cost of your college degree vs. the earnings rate of the career you’ve chosen. Work to match up the major you’ve chosen with the most economical way to get your degree in regards to the earning rate your career will provide. Considering these questions before you choose your college will help you make wise financial decisions regarding your college degree.

If a college degree is a dream of yours, don’t give up that dream. Just make sure you achieve that goal in a way that will provide you with the most economic stability you can achieve. If you’re looking at the distinct possibility of needing access to student loans to fund college then do so wisely. There are options available, like Achieve Lending, that can help you either find the lowest rates available or consolidate outstanding loans to get better rates.


What out-of-the-ordinary ways can you think of to help reduce college costs? Do you think college degrees are a necessity in today’s work world?




Photo courtesy of: Lending Memo



5 Hidden Benefits of Credit Cards

Credit Card

Credit CardCredit cards can be a valuable financial tool – when they?re used properly. As long as you don?t abuse the credit line that you have been extended, and make sure you use your card in a responsible fashion, you can enjoy many benefits that credit cards have to offer. By simply only buying things you can afford to purchase, and not thinking of your credit card as free money, you should be able to steer clear of getting yourself into trouble and racking up debt.

We often hear about the dangers of using credit cards but we don?t hear as much about the benefits of having a credit card. With that in mind, I?ve come up with five of the common, yet sometimes unknown benefits of using a credit card.

#1 ? Credit Cards Can Help Build Your Credit Score

Having a good credit score can help you to get approved for loans, get better terms on those loans, and much more. It is in your best financial interest to have as good of a score as possible, and using and paying off a credit card on a regular basis can help to build your credit score as time goes by. Simply use your card periodically, and make sure to make your payments on time each month.

#2 – Earn Rewards

This is one of the more obvious benefits of credit cards, though many don’t take advantage of it. Many credit cards include some kind of rewards program through which you can earn points that are redeemed for goods, cash, travel, etc. You can even take this a step further and churn credit cards so you can earn free trips. I will say though that churning is not for everyone and that is ok. That is especially the case if you?re in debt or are tempted to overspend when having too many credit cards. That said, if that?s not an issue for you then a rewards credit card can be a great way to get something back for spending you might already be doing.

#3 – Protection

Again, this is a feature that varies from card to card, so make sure to check the fine print on any card you apply for. Some credit cards offer forms of protection such as rental car insurance, travel insurance, and more. Find out what your card has to offer so you know that it is available if the need arises. Like with rewards, the protection features alone shouldn?t be the deciding factor in your card selection, but it is a nice feature to have available in the event you may ever need it.

#4 -?Price Matching

There are many retail stores out there that offer price matching, but many don’t know that some credit card companies offer the very same service. This is another one of those areas where you’ll need to read the fine print of the disclosures but is a great benefit to have if you can get it. The price matching will very with regards to the amount of time as well as to the amount you can claim each year but can be a nice little way to get some sort of refund on?a given item.

#5 ? Concierge Services

This is one that is going by the wayside somewhat, but there are still credit cards that offer concierge services. This can range from something as simple as helping with dinner reservations to that restaurant you want to try out, to concert tickets, to travel agent type services and much more. We?ve had a card like this in the past and loved being able to take advantage of it when we had need. As many cards don?t offer concierge services any longer, you?ll want to check the fine print to see if they do and what it covers.



What other benefits can you think of to using a credit card? Besides rewards, what?s the main reason why you use a credit card? Have you ever had a card that offers concierge services?



Photo Courtesy of: Kaiyan

Why You Should Set Goals For Your Side Income

side income

108403132_25ee192050_zThere are many reasons to start a side hustle. I began a new side hustle in July 2014: freelance writing online. Some of the reasons why I decided to try my hand at making money online?included using writing as a way to express myself, using writing to help and motivate others to get their finances in order, and using writing to occupy my free time with something productive instead of wasting away in front of the TV. 🙂

But of course, the main reason I decided to start a side hustle was to earn more and accelerate my progress toward my financial goals.

Unfortunately, I didn?t make the best use of my side hustle income in 2014. Most of it was used for things like shopping, going out to eat, and paying for entertainment instead of going toward my financial goals. Then I decided to get?more serious with my finances for 2015. One way I?m being more serious with my finances is by tracking ALL of my spending, including the spending I do with my side hustle income.

In order to help me stay motivated to continue hustling, I?ve also set some goals for how much side hustle income I?d like to earn each month. Here are just a few goals I’ve set with my side income.

Side Income is Part of My Budget

Due to some changes in my full-time employment status and income, I?ve had to make my side income a part of my budget for 2015. Making my side income part of my budget is a good way to keep myself motivated to work hard and earn more.

For example, if I need $100 from side income to cover expenses in my budget, I know that I have to earn at least $130 from side hustling (because of self-employment taxes). If I don?t earn enough to cover my budget shortage each month, I?ll have to find a way to cut my expenses instead, which is never a fun thing to do when you?re already living on a strict budget. Making my side hustle income a part of my budget gives me an income goal to work toward each month.

Side Income Will Help Me Meet My Other Goals

When I set up my main?personal and financial goals?for 2015, they were heavily reliant on my side income. For example, one of my goals in 2015 is to quit my full-time job. In order for this to happen, I?m going to have completely replace my full-time job?s income by side hustling.

In reality, this means I will have to earn at least 30-35% more by side hustling each month than what I am currently making at my full-time job thanks to self-employment taxes. Keeping this end goal in sight helps me to continue seeking new client and opportunities to make more money from my side hustle.

Side Income Report Goals

When I first started reading blogs, I loved how some bloggers shared a monthly report of how much they made by side hustling. Since I started side hustling, I too have been sharing a monthly report of my side income and experiences. I find these reports very motivating and now it?s my goal to grow my side income and always beat the month before.

Incorporating side income into as many goals and aspects of your life as possible is a great way to make sure you stay motivated to keep hustling when times get tough and you get tired. This will inevitably happen and when it does, you want to make sure you have good goals in place to help you keep going so you can reach your final outcome, whatever that may be.


Do you set goals with your side income? Do you make it part of your budget or do you put it towards a certain category? Why do you try to make side income?



Photo courtesy of: wetwebwork

How to Ask For a Raise: A Step by Step Guide

ask for a raise

ask for a raiseDo you think that you deserve a raise, but it has been a while since your current hourly wage has made a move? How should you approach this with your boss? These were always questions I asked when I was still working for ?The Man? and know I?m definitely not alone when it comes to figuring out how and when to ask for a raise.

If you?re wanting to ask for a raise but not certain where to start some of these steps should help you get started and hopefully result with more money in your pocket!

1) Over-perform on the Job

If you want a raise today, you really have to go above and beyond consistently. No longer can you get a raise just for showing up – at least from what I’ve seen. If you don?t prove that you?re worth of a raise by doing extra each and every single day, then you’re likely in for an uphill battle.

Over-performing can be accomplished by either putting in extra hours at the office or by taking on extra projects. These are both ways that your boss can notice your extra efforts that might work out in your favor when you ask for a raise.

2) Keep Track of Your Extra Efforts

If you indeed are over- performing at your job, then you should make a point to take note of all your duties that you have taken on that are not currently part of your job description. You can take this a step further by quantifying either the amount you saved or made for the company.

How this can help when you ask for a raise is showing to your boss the value you bring to the company, that you?re a hard worker and that you think outside the box, and return your diligence with a raise.

3) Gather Data on Salaries of Similar Jobs

With the help of and other job boards, you can search job titles that are identical or similar to yours and get a relatively clear idea of what others are earning in other companies. Ideally, you should find salaries of those that are within your area and at competing companies. If you find that your earnings are quite low in comparison then you can use this data to help prove your case for a raise.

4) Kindly Ask For A Raise

If you truly want a raise, griping, complaining, and getting upset about it will not get you any extra cash. Instead, approach your boss kindness and professionally and explain that you enjoy your job as well as the company and would like to ask for a raise. Ask him what he thinks. If he does not jump on board immediately, leave him your findings and tell him that he can get back to you at his earliest convenience. If, even after looking through your data, he does not grant you a raise, you can then consider moving on to step #5.

5) Kindly Accept the Refusal and Look For a New Job

This step is one you?ll want to proceed with wisely. Without telling your boss that you?re searching for another job, entertain other offers in your field of knowledge. If you are offered a new position elsewhere, but would like to stick around with your current company, let your boss know about the offer and give him one last chance to increase your salary.

Do your best not to make him feel like he has a gun to his head, but kindly let him know that you are entertaining the offer and might choose to stay if you are properly compensated. If he still does not increase your pay, then maybe it is time for you to leave.?Again, take this step wisely, but that also doesn’t mean you have to stay in your old job.



What steps do you take when you ask for a raise? Have you ever been denied a raise, and if so, what did you do? How often are you reviewed for a raise?



Photo?courtesy of: Steven Depolo