Archive for March 2015

What to Do When You?ve Already Failed Your New Year?s Resolution

new year's resolutions

5409231464_88d690c3ee_zNot unlike most, each year I set several New Year?s resolutions. The New Year just leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to get new things accomplished and I generally reflect those feelings in my resolutions.

This year I tried not to get too carried away with my New Year?s resolutions, my numerically focused financial goals?are a lot more realistic and attainable than the goals I set for 2014, and yet I?ve already failed miserably at one of them.

Shopping for new clothes, shoes, and accessories is one of my spending weaknesses, so I decided to set a limit for how much I could spend on this budget leak in 2015, $500 for the whole year! This was a lofty resolution considering how much I spent on this category in 2014 ($914 the last time I counted in October and there was more after that) and in year?s prior (at least 3-4 times as much as 2014).

In January I didn?t do too badly at staying on track with my resolution. But then in February I went a little crazy. I wish I could say things got better this month, but alas they didn?t. Now I haven?t tallied it up yet, but I?m almost certain I?ve overspent my yearly limit already and we?re only 25 percent through the year!

Rather than giving up completely on my resolution, here are a few things I am doing to help myself get back on track and get my spending under control.

Tally It Up

I?m going to make a detailed and itemized list of how much I?ve spent on clothes, shoes, and accessories so far this year. Many of the things I?ve purchased are not necessities, however a couple of them were. I need to make that distinction so I can avoid giving in to these impulse purchases in the future.

Re-Set My Limit

After I figure out exactly how much I?ve spent this year so far, I need to decide where I want to set my limit for the rest of the year. I don?t want to make it too easy, but I don?t want to re-set my goal too low and end up having to repeat this entire process next month.

Avoid Temptations

This year is different from last year. Last year no one in my real-life circle of friends and family knew about my debt or that I was working to get out of it. This year my parents and my best friend are aware and thus they are not the ones tempting me to spend anymore.

Shopping used to be one of the things my best friend and I always did when we visited each other, but now we focus on other things instead. Now my biggest temptation to spend money on clothes, shoes, and accessories comes from a new young (my age), fashionable co-worker. We often get to talking about clothes and trends while we are on breaks at work. This can be a real temptation for me, so I?m going to try and steer clear of these conversations whenever possible.

Remember Why I Set the Resolution

The last thing I?m going to do to keep my shopping under control is remember why I set the resolution in the first place. There are actually several reasons why I set my limit, including:

  • I don?t need any more clothes. I get rid of some that are in perfect condition each year during my closet clean out.
  • I want to allocate more money to pay off debt. This is my main focus, but I also want to increase my savings.
  • If I do meet my goal of quitting my full-time job in the near future, I won?t need a lot of business casual clothes anyhow and I?m sure I won?t want to change out of my yoga pants and t-shirts to sit at home on my computer.

If I can successfully do all of these things, I believe I can still keep my spending on clothes, shoes, and accessories to a somewhat-acceptable level for the year.


How are you doing on your goals/resolutions for the year? How many goals do you typically set for the year? How do you get back on track when you’ve not met a particular goal?



Photo courtesy of: Lindsay Sz?ch?nyi

5 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

Summer VacationTaking a summer vacation is a great opportunity to get away from work for a week or more and spend time with your family or friends. Whether you choose to head to a new destination or back to a spot that you have visited many times, your summer vacation is likely to be one of the highlights of the year.

Of course, vacations aren?t free. Balancing the planning of a great trip with the costs that come with it can be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. The good news is that you don?t have to break the bank in order to plan a trip that everyone will enjoy.

# 1 ? Stay Close to Home

One of the biggest expenses associated with vacations is the cost of traveling to your destination. If you take a trip across the country, you will have to purchase costly plane tickets in addition to likely renting a car when you arrive.

However, if you pick out a destination that is closer to home and allows you to drive, you can save on both plane tickets and car rental. Take a look on a map and you might be surprised to learn how many great options are close enough for a road trip.

#2 ? Avoid Tourist Traps

They are called ?traps? for a reason. While the touristy spots might have a few fun things to see and do on a vacation, the added cost usually just isn?t worth it. Instead, try picking a location that is a little less traveled to keep the costs more under control. Not only will you save money by avoiding tourist traps, you’ll also not have to deal with the clutter?the cheap junk can create.

#3 ? Don?t Go for Quite as Long

With good planning, you might be able to pack everything you would do during a week vacation into 4-5 days. Even cutting two nights off of your trip can save you a significant amount of money in hotel expenses. If you use this idea, make sure to put an itinerary together before you leave to take advantage of the time you have available as efficiently as possible.

#4 ? Dine In While on Your Summer Vacation

This is a great way to save money, when possible. If you are able to find lodging with a kitchen, consider doing grocery shopping when you arrive for your trip and eating in as often as possible. One of the big costs of a vacation is dining out for every meal, so you can find some significant savings just by cooking some of your own meals. There are a variety of hotel chains that offer kitchenettes or free breakfasts, though we usually go with Starwood Properties?so we can earn points as well.

We do this quite a bit when we go on vacation as it gives us extra time together as a family, not to mention being able to eat healthy?as well.

#5 ? Free Activities

Try to plan that includes activities which are mostly free or inexpensive. For example, visiting state or national parks is a great way to see some incredible sites on a budget. While you might have to pay small admissions charges to these locations, they will pale in comparison to more commercially-focused options. You might be surprised to learn just how many of these kinds of activities are located all around the country when you start to plan your trip.


What are some of your tips to save money on summer vacation? Where are you planning on going on vacation this year? Do you travel hack so you can travel for cheaper.



Photo courtesy of:

How to Use Coupons and Not Be a Jerk About it


10866048103_89ca6e3fdd_zI used to use coupons like they were going out of style, but I found that I was actually spending more money to ?save? rather than actually saving money. I got so obsessed with using coupons that I was buying things I didn?t need or larger quantities of items I do use but they would go bad before I could use them all up.

These things actually cost me more money rather than saving me money like I had intended when I started couponing in the first place. Honestly, I think my obsessive couponing phase was born out of watching the TLC show ?Extreme Couponers?.

If you?ve ever watched that show, the people on it are really extreme. They walk out of the grocery store with four shopping carts piled up with goods they?ll never be able to use before they expire, and yet they only had to pay about five percent(or less) of the original retail cost.

When coupons are used properly in a non-extreme way, they can still be a great way to save on groceries and other household products. But there are a few unwritten etiquette rules you should keep in mind when you are couponing.

Don?t Clear the Shelves

One of the most annoying things about wannabe couponers is their selfish desire to clear off entire shelves of products. It might look cool when the people on TV sweep their arm across the shelf effectively putting all of the products from that shelf into their shopping cart with one fell swoop, but in real life it?s simply rude and annoying.

I hate going to the grocery store?only to find out that they are completely out of the sale products that week, especially when I go on the first day of the sale before many shoppers have even been to the store either. Usually they are out of stock due to an ?extreme couponer? having been there right before me.

Stealing all the Coupons From the Store

You can commonly find coupons placed with products around the grocery store, including ?peelies? that are attached to product packaging, or ?blinkies? which are usually spit out by a blinking machine attached to the shelf of the corresponding product.

These coupons are there for your use, but they are not there to be abused. If you really feel that you need to steal the coupons off of and buy 30 packages of Oreos be my guest. I guess I didn?t really need them anyway. But it is even more irritating when couponers do this with products I do actually need, like household cleaners or personal care products, like deodorant.

Shopping During Peak Hours

Couponers take longer to shop than most everyone else because they have to be extremely organized and detailed to get the best deals. I understand that and I can respect that. But these couponers should keep in mind when peak shopping times are, like right after 5 p.m. on any given weekday, and right after church on Sundays.

During peak times the grocery store is busy and it?s not very fun to be stuck behind one of these extreme couponers?in one aisle after another as they make their way through the store. If you plan to use a lot of coupons and take your time shopping, please consider shopping during non-peak times.

At the Check Out

One last thing. At the checkout please be kind to the cashiers as they ring up your items, check over your coupons, and apply your discounts. Your orders can be really complex and they are doing the best they can to do everything correctly. Sometimes computers mess up and ring an item in at the wrong price.

When this happens, don?t hesitate to point it out but please do so kindly. You should also try to avoid doing multiple transactions or large transactions during peak shopping times, again this is highly annoying to the after-work and after-church crowds who usually just want to pick up an item or two before heading home to make lunch or dinner.


What other coupon etiquette can you think of that should be followed? Do you use coupons or do find other ways to save money? How many packages of Oreos is too many in your opinion? 😉



Photo courtesy of: Carol Pyles

How to Make Money by Selling Old Gadgets

Old Gadgets

Old GadgetsThese days it seems that new smartphone?s are launched onto the market every month, whether it is Apple, Samsung, HTC or Nokia – it doesn’t matter who the manufacturer is.?To make matters worse, we get commercials telling us why the latest phone is a must have and that we’re losing out if we don’t buy one.

The thing is, the average American upgrades his or her phone roughly every 20 or so months. These ?old? phones that were once flagship models then get tossed into the junk drawer in your kitchen, given to your kids to play with or worst of all thrown in the trash.?I’ve not read an actual report, but the latter can make you shudder to think of the number of smartphones that get thrown away each year.

If throwing away your old phone isn’t something you want to do and you want to make a little extra money?for your efforts you can use a trade-in site like? get you top dollar for your old phone or tablet. While some sites won’t allow you to sell gadgets that are damaged or broken, some will. The point is that just because your gadget is not in top condition doesn’t mean you can’t get cash for it.

SellCell, as with some other trade-in sites, allows you to compare prices from a variety of vendors. Not only does this give you more control in the situation but also allows you to get a better idea of what the market is for the item in question.

The Advantages of Using Trade-In Sites

  1. You are preventing phones ending up in landfills
  2. You are cashing in on a phone or tablet you may no longer plan to use
  3. You get the price you see (no fees for advertising, or final value fees)
  4. Guaranteed sale
  5. You don?t even need to leave your house

Using Your Cash For an Upgrade

If you happen to be upgrading, another option to consider is using the cash from your trade-in on the new to you model. With most cheaper model smartphones starting out at several hundred dollars it makes sense that you’d want to lower that cost – thus the beauty of trading in one phone for another.

While you’re at it, as you’re changing out your phones, this is a perfect time to look for ways to save money on your cell phone bill?and ditch the $150+ you’re on. 🙂

Time is Money

The one thing to keep in mind is that technology is somewhat like cars – if not worse. The older your phone or tablet is the less it’s going to be worth and the more it will depreciate. Thus, if you know you’re item is getting up there in age the best bet might be to try and sell it as soon as you can to get top dollar.

I know it might be a hassle to round up your old gadgets. They may be covered in dust or being used as a door stop somewhere, but why not try and make a little money out of it? Depending on what you have lying around the house you may have a nice little sum of cash you can get back – but you’ll never know until you check it out.




Photo courtesy of: Canned Tuna

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Car

new car

new carBuying a new car can be one of the most exciting purchases you can make, but also one of the most expensive. Even a modest car is going to run you up to $30,000 or more, and luxury models can easily cost two and three times that much. Deciding which car is right for you from the hundreds of models on the market is a daunting task at first, but a little research will make your shopping experience much more smoother.

If you have never bought a new car before, you might be a little worried about making a mistake along the way. The key is to take your time and make sure that it’s something you can afford without adding any undue financial stress. With that in mind, ?below are four common mistakes that you will want to make sure you avoid before deciding to buy a new car.

#1 ? Thinking Short Term

Most likely, you are going to want to own your new car for many years to come. With that in mind, think about your car purchase with the long term in mind rather than just your immediate needs. For example, if you are planning to have kids in the next couple of years, you will want to purchase a vehicle that has room for them when they come along.

Also, if you are considering taking a job that will have you making a longer commute than you have now, good gas mileage will be something to look for. This is also not to mention the fact you’ll want to make sure your car purchase is budget friendly.

#2 ? Going In without a Plan

There is no doubt that a car dealership can be an intimidating place for a first time buyer. Everyone has heard stories of pushy sales people talking buyers into all sorts of options and features that they really don?t need. While those horror stories are usually exaggerated, they are based in some amount of truth.

To avoid that happening to you, the best strategy is to go in with a plan for exactly what you are looking for and stick with it. It isn?t enough to know what model you are interested in, but also which trim package and additional options you would like. Be as detailed as you can, so the salesperson won?t be able to upsell you on costs you don?t need. I’ve personally used both they both provide quality and unbiased information on a wide variety of different cars.

#3 ? Being in a Rush

Heading to the dealership with your mind made up that you are absolutely going to purchase a car that day is a recipe for paying too much. Try to be as flexible as you can, and don?t be afraid to walk away if you aren?t happy with the deal that they are offering you. In fact, I make it a practice to regularly walk away in the beginning so as to communicate I’m in no rush. It might seem rude, and you don’t want to be rude about it, but the salespeople are used to it.

Remember, it is your money, and another dealership will be happy to sell you a car if the one you start with doesn?t want to play fair. Another reason why you don’t want to be in a rush is that you want to make sure you cover all your bases with what having the given car will cost you. If you’re interested in saving money on car insurance?for example, then you’ll want to take the time to see what cars you’re interested in will cost you each month.

#4 ? Skipping the Test Drive

This should be obvious even for new car buyers, but it is worth mentioning anyway. You don?t want to buy any car that you haven?t taken on at least one test drive, if not more. Even if a car gets great reviews from magazines and other owners, that doesn?t mean you will love driving it as much as they do. Get behind the wheel and see for yourself before you commit to the purchase.

If you’re looking at buying a used car then I even recommend taking it to your mechanic to have them check it out for anything major. They might charge you a small fee to do so, but it can be well worth the cost if it means you avoiding a mistake.


What do you like least about buying a new or new to you car? Have you been guilty of any of these mistakes in the past? Have you ever bought a car in all cash?



Photo courtesy of: NRMA Motoring