Archive for Savings

Save on Back-to-School Lunches


Did you know…Back-to-school lunches don’t always have to set your budget back as well?

Let’s start with the big money-drainers…the pre-packaged snacks. Sure, they’re convenient, but those chips, pretzels and nuts can be marked up by as much as 50%! Instead, buy snacks in bulk or family size, and split the goodies into your own re-usable snack and sandwich baggies for each meal.

Next, we have the little juice boxes, notorious for their big mark-ups. Bottled drinks can cost up to $2 a pop. So to keep your kids hydrated without squeezing your budget dry, ditch the drink packs and invest in a re-suable bottle. Not only will you recoup your initial cost in the first week, you can use low-cost drink mixes and even start introducing healthier alternatives to soda.

Finally, a good time to find other re-suable containers is during back-to-school sales in early September. Make sure they’re dishwasher safe and are durable enough to last through the year. And don’t forget to have your kids test them out to make sure they can open and close easily too!

So when it comes to your little scholar, try out these tips, and you’ll see that you don’t have to spend big to pack a smart lunch.

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Category: back to school, food and grocery, packed lunches, Savings Experiment, school lunches

The Do’s and Don’ts of Saving with Bulk Bins

When we hear the phrase, “buy in bulk”, a lot of us think of warehouse clubs, where buying higher quantities gets you a lower bulk rate. But today, we’re going to talk about the bulk bin section of your grocery store – you know, that aisle with the clear bins filled with beans, nuts and grains? With bulk bins, buying only what you need is what’s going to help you bag the most savings!
Let’s start with spices. Things like cinnamon can be ridiculously overpriced in the bottle. If you look at how much you’re getting versus how much you pay, this stuff prices-out at around $60 a pound! But, head over to the bulk bins and you’ll only pay about $8 a pound! That’s a savings of over 80%! And this doesn’t only apply to spices! Grains, beans, dried fruit, coffee and tea can also be super-low cost in the bins.

Now before you start hoarding pounds of cinnamon in your basement, remember that all these ingredients have a shelf life, and the key to saving is to buy only what you need. Nuts and seeds can only hold for a few months unrefrigerated, and spices can go stale and lose flavor after about 6 months so it’s important to know how long your items will last and store them in a cool, dark and dry place.

Lastly, remember that just because some items are cheaper in the bulk bin section, it doesn’t mean that all items will be cheaper by default! Like with most groceries, make sure to compare the per-ounce or per-pound prices to make sure where the best deal lies.

So don’t let the lack of flashy packaging and marketing fool you! Check out the bulk bins, and you can save a lot of money, and keep your ingredients fresh as well.

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Read more here: The Do’s and Don’ts of Saving with Bulk Bins

Category: bulk buying, bulk food deals, grocery savings, grocery shopping hacks, grocery shopping on a budget, grocery shopping tips, grocery store bulk bins, Savings Experiment

Save loads with homemade laundry detergent

Did you know: You can make a year’s worth of laundry detergent for you and your family for under $20?
An average family can spend over $70 on store-bought detergent per year. Making your own isn’t only better for the environment, it can save you over 80 percent — and it only takes three ingredients.

First, take one bar of natural soap (like castile or a gentle glycerin soap) and finely grate it with a cheese grater. Then, take the soap flakes and sprinkle in one cup of washing soda and one cup of borax, sealing your new cleaning concoction in an airtight container.

When it’s laundry time, mix in about 1-2 tablespoons per load. It doesn’t take much with this concentrated material — one batch of super-soap can get you through 40-50 loads.

Make more as needed, and you can even add powdered fabric softener and essential oils for a fresh scent. And yes, it’ll even work in your high-efficiency washing machine too.

Spend a few minutes making your own laundry detergent, and you and your family can see savings all year long.

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Category: cleaning products, did you know, home hacks, Laundry Detergent, savings experiment

6 Reasons You’re Failing At Saving Money


When it comes to your finances, positive affirmations, a willingness to learn, and a good attitude are a plus. However, none of these attributes will help you grow your bank account unless you back them up with some action.

To add to that, far too many people are plagued with bad financial habits as well. Whether it boils down to overspending, not being realistic, or not setting goals, it’s much easier to bury your head in the sand than to make an uncomfortable change.

6 Reasons You’re Not Saving Money

If you’re not saving money, the first question to answer is “why?” If you’re drawing a blank, here are six possible scenarios that might apply in your situation:

You’re wasting money haphazardly.

If you’re spending all you make or more each month, you should do your best to locate your “budget drains,” says Peter Huminski, President and Wealth Advisor at Thorium Wealth Management.

Wasteful spending can come in many different forms, and it’s not the same for each person. For someone, weekly stops at the local mall might be a problem. For another, it might be an addiction to pricey electronics and gadgets.

For a large percentage of people, however, it’s food spending that’s to blame for their money troubles. If you’re heading out to a restaurant for lunch each day, for example, you could literally be eating your savings away.

“Stop going to out to lunch at work and bring your own lunch,” says Huminski. “If you have a job that is conducive to bringing your own lunch, you can save over $50 per week. That is $2,600 per year. If you do it for 10 years you would have saved over $26,000 and you will be healthier as well.”

You don’t have any goals.

According to financial planner Joseph Carbone, Jr. of Focus Planning Group, not having goals hurts more than people realize. When it comes to retirement planning, for example, people often contribute enough to get their company’s 401(k) match to feel good, yet don’t have a clue if their retirement savings will be enough. And the same can be true for any of their other savings goals, whether it’s saving up the down payment for a house, saving for a new car, or simply building an emergency fund.

If you’re going to save towards a goal – and you should, Carbone suggests starting with the end in mind then working backwards. For example, after fiddling around with a retirement calculator and speaking with your financial advisor, you might figure you need $2 million dollars to retire. If you have thirty years left until you reach retirement age, you should determine how much you need to invest each month – and how much your investments need to earn along the way.

“If you don’t go through this simple task, you need not even bother to start working toward this kind of goal because you’re setting yourself up to fail,” says Carbone.

You’re not taking action.

Often times, people honestly …read more

Read more here: 6 Reasons You’re Failing At Saving Money

Category: saving

4 ways hotel points beat airline miles

If you’re facing sticker shock from your travel this summer, earning points and miles is a great way to save on next year’s vacation. And while you might think airline miles are the best place to start, there are several ways hotel points can save you more with less hassle. They’re worth a look if you’ve given up on airline miles, or of you’re just getting started thinking about travel rewards.
1. Finding rooms with points is easier than flights with miles.

Hotels aren’t as aggressive with blocking rooms from awards as airlines are. While there are some restrictions, most of the big programs let you book just about any standard room with points. If there’s a room for sale with cash, you can book it with points, and don’t have to pay double the points on popular days. It’s a lot easier to score one hotel room in a good location for your family than 4 award seats on the same flight at a reasonable time.

2. They’re more flexible.

Hotel rewards don’t have change fees, and you can often cancel them right up until a day or so before you arrive, so you have lots of flexibility. Adding or deleting a night is just a quick phone call.

And if you decide you’re just not interested in hotel rewards, most hotel points can be transferred into real airline miles, though they’ll get diluted some in the process.

3. You can earn them more quickly.

Many hotel credit cards let you earn bonuses in categories like dining and gas spending, while the big airline credit cards tend to only give you one mile per dollar spent on anything but tickets with the airline. So with the right card, you can earn miles a lot faster.

If you want to compare the best hotel credit cards, this calculator at lets you see what the hotel points you earn from various cards mean in dollar rewards, so you can compare more easily.

Several cards also throw in a free night each year, without having to use points.

4. You can share them easily.

Some of the big hotel programs let you share points with family for free or a small charge. So if your spouse has just enough points to top off your account to get a free night, you can combine your points. Hyatt Gold Passport and Starwood Preferred Guest let you do this free, while Marriott Rewards charges a small fee.

Airlines charge you for this privilege, often hundreds of dollars, so the cost of combining miles is often more than buying a ticket in cash without miles.

The downside to hotel points is they can be harder to compare than airline miles. A mile gets you pretty much the same thing at each of the big airlines. But with hotel programs, what a point means varies a lot more.

If you’re trying to pick a hotel points program, this tool lets you see a map of what hotels …read more

Read more here: 4 ways hotel points beat airline miles

Category: bonds, cloud, computers, data, dell, earnings, earnings season, healthcare, nasdaq, nyse, oil prices, stock market, stocks, utilities, wall street, csx, nj, jnj, tast, intc, jpm, fast, gs, bac, ge, lly, wfc, c, unh, emc, tri

New Questions Emerge About the Strength of the Economy

The rise in stock prices since February has lifted valuations to their highest level since the financial crisis. It is now time for economic fundamentals to show that such optimism is justified. Such proof was expected to begin to emerge with last week’s second quarter GDP report. What we got instead was a surprisingly weak estimate that was less than half the pace expected. Thankfully, consumer spending held up well, since it received no help from the business sector, which continued to liquidate inventories and postpone capital investment. Government spending even declined.

Inventories are an important swing factor, and continued drawdowns can lay the foundation for renewed stockpiling ahead, but only if business has the confidence that demand will be firm. Consumer confidence has softened a touch recently, but has not cracked, and could get a boost from gasoline prices, which are the lowest since April according to AAA. But, rather than confirming a widely expected bounce from the anemic first quarter, the GDP report raised new questions about the strength of the economy.

Corporate Earnings Dependent on Economic Activity

The expectation that corporate earnings growth will turn positive in the second half rests mostly on forecasts of accelerating economic activity. The apparent absence of momentum at the start of the third quarter raises a new element of doubt about those conditions arising. Second quarter earnings season is rapidly fading into the past. Although, as is typical, it was slightly better than expected, it was nevertheless quite weak, representing the fifth consecutive quarterly decline according to Factset.

Once again the energy sector is responsible for much of the weakness with earnings expected to decline 85 percent according to Factset. But looking ahead, energy was expected to be a large contributor to the pivot to growth as the year-over-year decline in prices was removed from the calculation. Unfortunately, the price of oil is not cooperating. Since its recent peak of $52.31 a barrel in early June, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is in a bear market, having closed last week at $41.60, with most of the decline coming in July at the start of the third quarter.

Earlier optimism regarding the long anticipated rebalancing of the market has been tempered by persistently high inventories and renewed worries about the pace of demand growth against a backdrop of lowered global growth forecasts. In the third quarter of last year WTI averaged $52.36 a barrel and $47.55 in the fourth quarter. What was thought to be fairly benign comparisons suddenly looks more challenging.

Global Central Banks are at a Crossroads

Monetary policy also appears to be at something of a crossroads globally. In the U.S., after the Fed only gently nudged markets a little closer to another rate hike last Wednesday. Friday’s GDP report quickly took the wind from the hawk’s sails. What had been slightly better than even odds of a rate hike next March were quickly pushed out to September. In Japan, the Bank of Japan offered far less additional stimulus than expected, no doubt chastened by the ineffectiveness of its earlier move to negative interest rates, in what may be a tacit acknowledgement of the limitations of monetary policy. In the UK, the Bank of England (BOE) is widely expected to lower interest rates in response to the Brexit vote.

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Read more here: New Questions Emerge About the Strength of the Economy

Easy and cheap ways to make your home more secure — Savings Experiment


Did you know: Home security doesn’t always need to come with a hefty price tag?

To make sure your home isn’t a target for burglars, use inexpensive plug-in timers to operate your lights and appliances while you’re away. Leaving a small desk radio on for 6 hours a day only costs about 22 cents per month.

Also look into motion-detecting floodlights, which cost as little as $12. Just remember to put them in a high enough place so they can’t be broken or dismantled easily.

Lastly, remember the most common entry points for thieves — the front, side and back doors, the first floor window, and the garage. Always keep these points locked and secure, and while you’re at it, put up home security stickers in these spots too. You can find these for as low as $10 on eBay. Having a few displayed will make anyone think twice before breaking in.

So remember, even if you don’t have a big budget, there are some low-cost ways you can protect your home.

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Category: did you know, home security, Savings Experiment

More airlines are auctioning off seats

By The Economist online

AS LONG-TIME readers of The Economist can testify, this newspaper likes auctions. For economists, it is the best solution to most problems. It is more elegant than the other two main forms of setting a fee: haggling and menu pricing. The former is inefficient because the seller might not be negotiating with the person prepared to pay the most. The latter will be inefficient unless the seller has exhaustive knowledge of the supply and demand conditions and can quickly adjust his prices accordingly.

Airlines generally take a version of the latter approach. They use dynamic pricing that calculates demand for seats on their planes and updates the fare accordingly. Generally, their algorithms do a pretty good job. Even though the price of the same seat on a flight can vary greatly over the period it is on sale, the average plane is around 80% full.

But more and more are also having a look at auctions, particularly for those looking to upgrade their seats. Some 30 carriers around the world have tried it out. The latest is Singapore Airlines, which has unveiled a new bidding system in which economy-class flyers can bid for a swankier seat in premium economy. Passengers receive an e-mail around a week before the flight asking whether they would like to bid for an upgrade and setting a minimum price. This can then be changed or cancelled any time until 50 hours before the flight, when the “winners” are informed.
Premium-economy seats offer a few marginal benefits over the standard ones, such as more legroom. For this, they cost perhaps $50 more. However, they are not always full. So sometimes airlines will simply shunt a few lucky passengers forward from the very back of the plane. But that is becoming a less common practice. As we have discussed before on this blog, many carriers now prefer to keep those hallowed seats empty, and in full view of the doleful souls who have refused to stump up the extra, pour encourager les autres.

Auctions should alleviate this problem. Assuming it is done efficiently, the issue of empty seats accruing no extra cash should disappear. For those who consider premium economy essential—the long-legged for example—the marginal saving of going through an auction will not be worth the risk of missing out altogether. For those who have always thought that the benefits do not warrant the extra expense, there is a chance to try their luck with a price they do consider to be worth it.…read more

Read more here: More airlines are auctioning off seats

Category: Business and finance, Gulliver

The Spend-Free Weekend Challenge


Meet Jonesy and Brittany, a young Californian couple. This adventure-seeking twosome is planning to embark on the ultimate trip — a two-month backpacking sojourn through South America — next year, but there’s one significant hitch. Thanks to their penchant for pricey weekend getaways, they can’t seem to save up the $8,000 they estimate they’ll need to make their dream vacation a reality.

That is, until The Savings Experiment team proposes a potential fix: spend-free weekends. Can Jonesy and Brittany enjoy time off without paying a single dollar? Check out the video above to find out!

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Read more here: The Spend-Free Weekend Challenge — Savings Experiment

Category: savings experiment, spend-free weekend, weekend getaways

What’s the cheapest week to travel this summer?

Did you know: The last week of August can have the lowest prices for summer air travel?
Recent studies by Cheap Air and show that the final week before Labor Day is the cheapest time to fly to most destinations. During this time, tickets can be about $40 cheaper per person than in July. For a family of four, that’s savings of $160!

Also, book your flights around two months in advance if you want to get the best summer rates.

And it gets even better. According to Orbitz, hotel prices are at their lowest the last week of August as well. Rooms average over $15 less per night than in July. For longer stays, those savings could really add up!

So when it comes to summer travel, remember that the biggest savings come to those who wait!

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Read more here: What’s the cheapest week to travel this summer? — Savings Experiment

Category: cheap flights, cheap hotels, did you know, Savings Experiment, summer travel

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