The Simplicity of Living Beneath Your Means

simple lifeComplicated strategies and theories fill the personal finance blogosphere, but you can put them all together and none of them have the effectiveness of one very simple concept: living beneath your means.

An oversimplification? Read on.

More money for savings

If you’re always living beneath your means, even if it’s only by a little, you will always have money for savings. Even if you only bank 5% or 10% of your net paycheck every month, your savings are perpetually on the rise. The longer you’re able to do that, the closer you will come to true financial independence.

Because you condition your self to live beneath your means, you’re in a savings pattern that will stack the financial deck in your favor no matter what else is happening.

Less debt

One financial issue that plagues millions and millions of households is debt. But if you’re living beneath your means debt has a way of either going away on its own or never happening in the first place.

Debt is usually a symptom of the exact opposite of living beneath your means. If you live above your means, even if it’s only a little above, you will end up in debt. And your debt will grow for as long as you’re living above your means. It’s simple, if you’re spending more than you earn you will have to make it up somehow. That is usually with debt.

If you are living beneath your means, that isn’t a problem you will ever have for very long.

Survive at nearly any income level

When you’re into the discipline of living beneath your means, you can generally survive at nearly any income level. Losing a job and being forced to take another that pays 10 to 20% less than what you’re making isn’t a major problem. You simply lower your living expenses by 10 to 20% and you’re back in business. You’re survival is never in doubt.

Ability to quit a job

There’s an unmistakable freedom that comes with that lifestyle. If you are living beneath your means, you can afford to lose a job or to quit one without fear that you’ll be plunged into poverty. You always have extra in your budget and you know that you can survive because of it.

When you live beneath your means, you develop employment independence. You’re never completely dependent on any given job, or pay level. Since your dominant financial philosophy is living beneath your means, you can adjust to live on any income level and not only survive but also thrive.

That situation heightens the chance that you will be able to pursue nearly any job, career, or business that you choose. Since income paralysis will not be a problem in your life, you can do the kind of work you want, that you love. Of course, another big advantage here is that if you are doing work that you want to do and like to do, chances are excellent that you will earn more money doing it.

It’s another one of side benefits of living beneath your means.

Living with less worry

Everyone has worries in life, but when you are living at or above your means you can have a lot more worries. Every month is a struggle to make your budget, or else to go deeper into debt. Either scenario comes with its own set of problems. This can cause you to lose sleep, to under-perform at work, to be inattentive to family and friends, and even to degrade your health.

When you live beneath your means, most of those worries will go away. This will give you more stress-free time to be more productive in your work, to build better relationships, to take care of yourself and have more fun in life all around.

All of these advantages come about because of one simple philosophy: living beneath your means.

Have you ever thought about how this single, simple strategy can change everything about your finances?

photo by pagedooley

New Years Goals: How To Finally Save Some Money

new year's goalsThe New Year is upon us, and with it, a fresh start! This is the time for everyone to make their resolutions about losing weight, staying fit, spending more time with their families, and of course, saving some money. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for us to keep these resolutions as the months go by, but I think it’s because we try to do way too many things at once. Remembering to floss your teeth every night and do 30 pushups in the morning and track your spending can be a little overwhelming. No one can keep up with all of those habit changes at once. What’s best is to start one of these habits slowly and steadily, especially when it comes to saving money. I know that I personally will keep up with money goal #3 that I have listed below, but I hope all of these ideas will inspire you in some way!

1. Put Your Change in a Piggy Bank

It sounds a little silly, but the ol’ piggy bank has worked for years for kids and adults alike. If you find that you’re unlikely to move money into a savings account each month, try walking in the door after work every day and dropping your change in a piggy bank. When you clean your house on the weekends and you find a quarter in the cushions, put it in the piggy back. When you pick up a penny off the ground, continue with the same habit. Save it all year and next New Year’s Day, see how much you have. There have been news stories about people buying entire cars with the coins they have saved up over the years. Read up on those for a little inspiration!

2.  Tell Someone About It

We’re more likely to save for something if we have someone to keep us accountable. However, I would recommend taking it a step further. Instead of just telling you mom that you want to save for a new car, ask her to check in on you regularly to see how you’re doing. If you know someone is going to ask you about it, you’ll be more likely to save so that you have something new to report. You can also start a blog and make other blogger friends who can encourage you when you meet small goals.

3. Track Your Spending

A great habit to get into is simply tracking your spending. I always recommend this to people as a first step. You don’t have to vow to save any money. You don’t have to promise to cut corners. All you have to do is simply write down what you spend every day. The reason this works is that once people start doing this, they realize which areas they can improve upon. Once it becomes habit, you have to really want something in order to put it on your list. If you’re married, do what I do. I jot down my own spending every day and then each night I ask my husband if he bought anything that day. He usually remembers, but it should be a daily question, since most of us are apt to forget 2-3 days down the road.

So there you have it: 3 ways to get motivated to start saving some money during the new year. As I said, taking on all three of these suggestions would be too much for one person. Just choose the one that seems like it would work best with your lifestyle and start slowly. As with any budgeting and savings journey, there are always bumps in the road. What’s important is that you always get back on track and remember your goals. Good luck this year!

photo by Cherry Point

Affordable Marketing for Your Small Business

smart marketing tipsMarketing and operating expenses are two costs every business faces — and when the rubber meets the road, the marketing budget evaporates first.

It’s easy to understand why this happens. The operating expenses keep the lights on and the employees working — a clear and present priority. You simply cannot manage growth without a firm hand on operations. Yet, the inverse is also true. You’ll be hard pressed for sales growth without repeated marketing and advertising sufficient to grow and maintain a customer base. So, what’s a budget-minded business owner to do?

Frugality is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be constrictive. In some cases, a reduced budget forces creativity. It may also enforce a commitment to the “softer side” of marketing and advertising: building customer relationships and encouraging word-of-mouth.

Below are some specific, cost-cutting approaches to reducing your marketing costs.

Before we dive into those, consider that your individual circumstances, business industry, and geographic location each present unique opportunities to spread the word. Ask yourself,

What’s my budget, realistically? “How much can I afford to spend on marketing on a monthly basis?” You might only have the ability to “spend” your time — writing educational blog posts, connecting with customers on social networks, or building a targeted email and/or mailing list. These are all worthy investments of time.

Am I zigging when others are zagging? “What are others in my industry doing to market their business, and how can I do something different?” Differentiating your offer from the competition is not only necessary but can present unique ways to message your offer, too. For example, early on we marketed our business on our blog in the imagined voice of our dead founder. Cost: just the time to write it.

Am I simply and clearly conveying my expertise? Narrowly defining your products and services in your marketing materials paints you as the expert rather than the jack- or jill-of-all-trades. When you’re on a budget, distill your message to as few words as possible for greatest simplicity and maximum impact. Cost: just the time to evaluate and verbalize how you help your customer.

Now, let’s examine some frugal marketing tips.

Share advertising costs with a complimentary business.

This works best between businesses that share a geographic or thematic tie. Examples of sharing include radio spots, magazine ads, or event sponsoring.

Ask for referrals.

Don’t be shy about collecting feedback and sharing positive customer or client testimonials. Social proof — other people using your business services — is a powerful marketing tool. Depending on your business, you can do this online for free using a service like Wufoo. If you receive a nice compliment in person, write it up and then send the person an email to ask permission to use it. Be sure to get permission before sharing any testimonial.

Find your own press release opportunities.

HARO — Help a Reporter Out — is a free service that connects journalists to business experts. If you are quick to respond to media queries (you’ll need to do it the same day), you can get quoted in major media outlets. This builds your ability to say, “As seen in⦠.” The downside is that HARO sends a lot of email, often 3-4 emails a day. You’ll also need to have easy access to a prepared pitch, background story, and images to share in a timely fashion. Journalists will not wait for you!

Piggyback on other promotions.

A few years ago, City Hall had a month-long Star Wars❠display. This was advertised on the radio, on the local television station, and on a weekly citywide email for the month of May. (“May the Force Be With You”.)

We decided to ride this publicity by announcing on our blog and in our shop that we were “taking on City Hall.” We set up a tongue-in-cheek “competing” display using my husband’s childhood toys. This brought additional foot traffic to our shop and remains a conversation piece today.

Create your myth.

All remarkable and memorable businesses find a way to be noticed and stay in the spotlight. A friend of mine calls this “creating the myth,” that is, “What remarkable thing dependably happens when I patronize business X?” My friend runs and independent toy and bookstore. One hugely differentiating aspect of the experience entering her shop is its emphasis on handmade crafts. Children and adults alike know that when they visit her shop they will walk away with the experience of making something that they can take home. This experience is separate from her primary business of books and toys, but so memorable and desirable it brings people to her shop repeatedly, not just at holidays or birthdays.

If your marketing budget is squeezed, don’t despair. Focus on providing an excellent product and service. Find ways to be unusual — but not off-putting — and your customers will help you market through word-of-mouth. When the purse strings loosen you can go back to investing in more expensive marketing efforts.

Katie McCaskey is a small business owner, author and freelance journalist who writes for Vistaprint, a leading provider of custom promotional items, websites, and other marketing products to small businesses across the globe.

photo by nebulux

Saving Dos and Don’ts: 14 Ways to Cut Back Spending

on saleEven if you’re making a decent paycheck, saving money can be difficult when you don’t cut back on spending. Reducing your expenses isn’t always easy, but there are some small ways that you can keep your spending in check and put more money into your savings account.

Do

1. Sign up for Loyalty Programs

Most grocery stores offer reward card programs that entitle their members to discounts and coupons. They may ask for your email address so they can send you coupons. If you decide not to sign up to receive emails, then all you need to sign up is a phone number. It’s quick, easy, and can save you a lot of money. The only downside is that the cards will take up space in your wallet.

2. Give Handmade Gifts

Learning how to make a few simple crafts means you can make thoughtful gifts for loved ones around the holidays. Not only will your friends and family be impressed by your considerate present, but you’ll avoid overpaying for something you could have made yourself.

3. Have Friends Over Instead of Going out

If you find yourself going out frequently, try switching up your routine by having a fun dinner with friends at home. It’s much less expensive to host a potluck or group barbecue instead of visiting a restaurant. It’ll be just as much fun as going out, and chances are your friends will reciprocate soon.

4. Learn Basic Mending

It’s easy to throw out damaged clothes, but if you know a little basic mending knowledge — hemming pants and skirts, sewing on buttons, adding patches — you can repair them instead. If you can fix up torn clothes, you’ll end up spending a lot less on new clothes.

5. Quit Smoking

Expensive habits, like smoking, can end up eating away at your budget. At more than $5 a pack, cigarettes cost a lot, but give you nothing in return. In fact, they may end up costing you a lot more in the long run, considering how detrimental they can be to your health.

6. Visit Yard Sales

If you’re hunting for odd and ends or used furniture, check out local yard sales. Often the clothes, items, and furnishings folks give away are in fine condition and cost very little. And if the prices are a little too high for your taste, haggling might not be out of the question.

7. Go to the Library

Many still believe that libraries are dusty old tombs lined wall to wall with books, but there’ve been leaps and bounds in what public libraries offer. Most of them offer the newest best sellers and DVDs — including new releases and popular series.

Don’t

1. Get Cable

While keeping up with the latest shows is great fun, cable is expensive. Many companies charge their customers over $100 a month for the full package. Consider drastically less expensive online alternatives: Netflix ($8/month), Hulu Plus ($7.99/month), or Amazon Prime ($79/year). All offer a wealth of shows and movies for much less than cable.

2. Make Big Purchases Without Waiting 30 Days

The thirty day rule is designed to help you decide whether you want to buy something new. Before spending your money on an item that you don’t really need, let it wait for 30 days. You may find that your urge to purchase has decreased once you’ve given it a little time to reflect.

3. Buy Lunch Every Day

Instead of going out for lunch every day, try bringing a packed lunch. It’s much less expensive to buy groceries and prepare food for yourself the night before rather than spend $10 every day. It will also be easier for you to eat healthily when you pack food for yourself.

4. Go Shopping Without a List

Visiting the grocery store without a list is an easy way to overspend on items that you don’t need. Make up a list of all the food you need at the beginning of the week, and make a point to visit the supermarket only once a week. Cross items off your list and make sure not to stray from what you already decided upon.

5. Throw Away Leftovers

At the end of a meal, don’t throw away the excess food. Instead, put it in plastic containers and keep it for later lunches and snacks, or combine it with other meals.

6. Shop to De-Stress

Many find themselves turning to shopping as a way to release stress. It may feel great to buy yourself a few new things when you’re down, but it puts an unnecessary dent in your wallet. Instead of shopping, try going to the gym, curling up with a good book or TV show, or taking a hot bath.

7. Drive When You Can Take Public Transportation

With gas prices rising, driving keeps getting more and more expensive. If you live in a city with a decent public transportation system, consider taking advantage of it. It will cost much less to ride the bus or subway than fill up your tank and drive through city traffic.

Sometimes, the smallest tricks can make the most difference when it comes to your savings. Make your best effort to cut back your spending and keep more money in your savings account.

Donna Parshall writes articles for Check n Go about online commerce, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting. Visit their site to learn more about Check n Go payday loans and other services like installment loans.

photo by VectorPortal

Avoid the Dangers of Using a Credit Card this Holiday Season

christmas debtMany people fall victim to holiday credit card pitfalls every year due to a lack of knowledge about credit, in addition to failure to adequately prepare for holiday shopping using a credit card.

Should you open a retailer branded credit card?

One of the major pitfalls of holiday credit card usage is that consumers often get convinced by retailers to open a department store branded credit card in order to realize about 10 to 15% savings on purchases at those retailers. While these savings may be tempting, most people don’t realize that the credit cards offered by these retailers generally feature a very high interest rate. If you, as a consumer, plan to carry a balance on this new credit card at all, then you will lose the amount of money that you originally saved by opening the card, and more. In addition to these high interest rates, opening new lines of credit too often in a small period of time has the potential to damage your credit score. As a rule of thumb, respectfully decline when retailers ask you if you want to open a new credit card with them to receive a discount on your purchases.

Set yourself a holiday shopping credit limit

Consumers can avoid putting too many gifts on credit simply by setting themselves their own personal limit, and keeping track of what they buy. For example, a consumer could set a personal limit of $500 to spend on credit during this holiday season, and when they reach that limit, they have to stop putting purchases on their credit card and instead start paying in cash. While its always tempting to spend a bunch of money to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, they will understand if you simply cannot afford to spend outside of your means. If you’re looking for a good way to monitor your spend, many credit card companies offer free mobile apps that allow you set up alerts that notify you when you’ve reached a certain spend.

How can using a credit card for your holiday shopping benefit you?

Using a credit card for your holiday shopping, however, can definitely benefit cardholders because of the vast amount of rewards that can be gained by putting purchases on your credit card. You should compare rewards credit cards in order to maximize the rewards you will receive based on your spending habits. As long as you know you can afford to pay off your balance without incurring large interest fees, you should put your holiday purchases on your credit card because most credit cards offer some sort of reward for each dollar spent.

photo by paparutzi

5 Ways To Save Money At The Grocery Without Cutting Coupons!

groceryWhere I live in Grenada, food prices are sky high. I’m not sure if it’s because of the tourism or if it’s just pain expensive to import so many things. Either way, I’ve had to figure out a few ways to cut my grocery budget. The catch is that because I live in Caribbean, the store  doesn’t  accept regular coupons. They don’t really do that here as far as I know. So, I’ve found a few ways to save money without having to clip them. I know many of you have very busy lives and might not have time to clip either, so here’s hoping these techniques help you as much as  they’ve  helped me.

1. Buy Off Brand When Possible

Most grocery chains offer their own brand of many items, and they’re usually cheaper than the name brand (especially if you don’t have access to coupons.)   Plus, many grocery chains have contracts with manufacturers and guarantee large quantity purchases in exchange for getting to put their own label on the item.   So, that off brand tomato sauce is likely to be every bit as good as the name brand sitting next to it.

2. Buy In Bulk

If you have the storage space and the price is right, buying in bulk often decreases the price per unit.   For instance, buying dried rice in large quantities often decreases the price per pound.   You get more for your money that way.   Depending what your grocery store offers, rice, beans, meat, cereal, coffee, cooking oils, and nuts can all be good items to buy in bulk.   Pay attention to what you buy most often and see if you can find them in larger quantities.   Spend a minute to do the math though, because not everyone reduces the price the more you buy.   Sometimes they’re banking that you’ll assume bulk is always cheaper. It’s your job to outsmart them. 🙂

3. Avoid the Pre-packaged Kits

I’m just as guilty as the next person for wanting to buy those frozen meals that practically cook themselves. However, I’ve realized that those just aren’t cost effective. I’ve actually found that buying the items separately and prepping them myself saves me money in the long run and never takes as long to make as I’ve envisioned in my head.

4. Use That Membership Card

I know it seems obvious, but this is an easy one to forget. How many times have you dropped into the store to grab something quickly and left your card at home or in the car? Those missed opportunities can add up to a lot at the end of the year, so be sure to have it on you to get the perks.

5. Substitute When You Can

Lastly, if you base your grocery shopping off the recipes you plan to make each week, consider making cheaper substitutions when applicable.   Need cake flour?   Use a little less all-purpose flour than what the recipe calls for.   Does your recipe call for a fancy cooking wine?   Use fruit juice.   Dried herbs are also a great substitution for buying fresh herbs each week.   Even chicken thighs are often cheaper than chicken breasts.   Get creative and look around when you’re at the grocery store; you’ll likely see similar but cheaper options that can add just as much flavor, creaminess, etc. to your meal.

I hope these suggestions help you to cut down those grocery bills just a little bit. I know that it’s often difficult to find the time to plan, cut coupons, and remember those grocery cards, but even changing your habits slightly can add up to big bucks saved over the course of a year. Good luck!

photo by qmnonic

Three Financial Decisions Newlyweds Need to Make

newlywed choicesGetting married involves dozens of big and small financial decisions, and if you successfully negotiate combining your finances, it’s easy to feel like  you’ve  done it all.

When my husband and I had been married for a year, I thought we’d done pretty well. Joint checking, joint savings, one credit card for each of us, and no debt. We were exactly where we needed to be.

Or so I thought, until I talked to a financial planner.

Turns out, savings and credit  weren’t  the only part of our finances that needed attention. There were other key decisions we needed to make that I  didn’t  want to think about until years down the road. But, as I found out, I needed to.

1. Life Insurance

No one wants to think about the worst possible scenario, but imagine if your spouse died, and you were suddenly left without his or her income. You could have medical bills, funeral arrangements, rent or mortgage payments still due, all while dealing with incredible loss and grief. Make sure you have at least minimal life insurance for each of spouse, especially if you are planning to have kids.

Many employers provide various forms of insurance, but if yours  doesn’t   you need to set a plan up for yourself. Buy it when you’re young and healthy, and not in immediate danger, and you won’t have to worry about jumping through difficult hoops further down the road.

2. Will

Most states will simply deed all your property to your spouse if you die without a will. Having one, though, makes your wishes clear and prevents your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions while they’re grieving. If you have children, it also protects their interests. A living will is also important, as it lays out how you want important medical decisions handled if you are unable to make them for yourself.

3. Retirement Accounts

If you invest $19 a month, earning 8% a year, starting when you’re 25 and not adding any more after you turn 35, you will have $169,000 by the time you are 65. If you start when you’re 35 and invest the same amount every year until you’re 65, you’ll only have $125,000. So while you may not want to have the money taken from your paycheck right now, even a small amount will make a huge difference.

If your employer offers any sort of retirement benefits, including a matching program, take advantage of it immediately.  If not, or if you’re self-employed or a student, you still need to start planning. Talk to your bank to see what kind of accounts they offer.

When you’re newly married, it’s hard to think beyond the present moment, or to consider the worst that could happen. But you and your spouse will both be better off if you think past your basic finances and plan for a secure future.

photo by comedynose

How to Vacation on a Budget and Actually Have Fun

vacation on a budgetIn our culture of work a lot, then work some more,❠it can be nearly impossible to find some time off.   But taking a break, even just for a weekend, can be critical to our mental and physical health, not to mention our day-to-day productivity.   Time off allows us to relax, recharge, and come back to our regular commitments with a fresh perspective.

Even if we’re determined to take that break, though, feeling like we can afford to is another matter.   The costs of going away for just a weekend can add up pretty quickly, and financial stress can undo all the benefit your vacation might give you.   So how do you make it all work?

1. Pick your location that’s easy to get to

The cost of flights, or even train tickets, can really drive up the price of a vacation.     If you want to get away from cities, pick somewhere you can drive on a single tank of gas.   If you’d rather head downtown, consider leaving your car behind.   Try a discount bus line, like MegaBus or Bolt Bus, and get friendly with the public transportation once you arrive.   If you’re going to fly, book your flights in advance to get a lower price and use sites like Expedia or Kayak to compare airfare.

2. Use the internet to get a deal.

Discount sites like LivingSocial, Groupon, or Travel Zoo offer inexpensive travel packages that can give you over 50% off at pricey hotel and b&bs.   These will often have a certain number of meals or admission to local activities included in the cost, which makes them even more affordable.

3. Ask for a discount.

If it’s getting close to the date of your vacation, try calling local hotels and asking for a discount on room rates.   Often they’d rather book a room at a lower price than not make any money from it at all.

4. Stay with family or friends.

If you’ll only be there for one or two nights, ask people you know if you can stay with them.   You might even get a great local guide into the bargain.

5. Try camping.

Ditch the cost of hotels by camping.   Most national parks have free campgrounds; commercial venues will usually run under $20 a night.   If you have kids, setting up and exploring a campsite will keep them busy for hours, and many campgrounds have additional features like swimming pools or mini-golf for just a few dollars extra.

6. Use cash instead of credit.                      

It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending when it’s just being charged.   To keep track of what you’re spending on gas, meals out, and entertainment, have a set amount of cash with you and set a limit for what can be spent each day.

7. Eat out less.

If you’re going to be in the car, fill a cooler with sandwich fixings and bottled drinks.   Buy breakfast foods and keep them in your hotel.   Not every meal has to happen at a restaurant, even on vacation.

8.   Look for entertainment off the beaten path.

Museums, art galleries, national parks, historical sites, and beaches all provide low-to-no cost entertainment.   Ask at your hotel for ideas on places most tourists don’t go.   Take the family bowling or to play tennis; sporty activities last a long time and get everyone involved, but usually don’t cost very much.

9. Build in some time to relax.

Trying to fill every minute of a vacation is not only expensive, it can defeat the purpose of taking the vacation in the first place!   Instead, set aside time to relax with a good book, go for a walk around town, or take a nap in the afternoon.   It won’t cost anything, and the downtime will leave you feeling refreshed, even when it’s time to pack up and go home.

Traveling can be pricey, but if you plan carefully and, you can have a great trip that’s still easy on your bank account.

What’s your best tip for traveling on a budget?

photo by a2k

 

How To Save An Emergency Fund

emergency fundIf your AC went out right this second, and you found out it would cost you $500 to fix it, would you be able for pay for it? For the vast majority of Americans, the answer is no.

What is it about saving up for an emergency fund that is so hard? In theory, it should make sense to all of us that because life is so unpredictable, we desperately need a lump sum of cash somewhere that can be easily accessible and used in a pinch. Yet, time and time again we encounter life’s little bumps and have to go into debt to move past them.

So, is there a simple way to build up an emergency fund without giving up your lifestyle? The answer is a resounding, yes!❠Here are a few foolproof ways to do so:

1.  Open Up a New Savings Account At A Different Bank

Even if you put money into your primary savings account, most of us do not have the discipline to keep it there throughout the months. So, sign up for an online account that automatically withdraws a certain amount each month. This can be as little as $5 or $10, an amount I recommend starting with because you barely miss it. As you get comfortable, slightly raise the amount so that you can save up faster.

2.  Give Up One Small Thing And Set That Cash Aside

It would be too easy for me to tell you to cut out your gym membership or your coffee from a nice coffee shop every morning, but that’s too abrupt of a change. What I recommend is one small thing. Skip the coke at the vending machine and put that dollar in a different fold in your wallet and continue to move past small purchases like that until you get more comfortable going without.

3.  Pass On The Upgrades

Perhaps you want a new car, a new phone, or a better TV. That’s not abnormal. Our world is full of advertisements that make us want upgrades. Push yourself to live with what you have. If you want a better TV but know the one you have works just fine, put the money you would have spent in an emergency fund and enjoy using what you already have.

4. Utilize Work Incentive Programs

Many jobs will let you withhold certain amounts from your paycheck. Take advantage of programs like this that help you save automatically. The name of the game is saving without even realizing you are doing so.

5.  Save Double The Amount

If none of the above works for you, you can go through one of my favorite exercises: saving for something you actually do want while concurrently building up an emergency fund. For example, if you want to save $2,000 for a vacation before you go, force yourself to put one dollar in the emergency fund for every one dollar you put in the vacation fund. It will take you twice as long to save for the vacation, but when you actually get to go, not only is it paid for, but you’ve built up a nice savings in the process.

By using the tips above, you will be well on your way to establishing an emergency fund. It doesn’t have to be quick nor does it have to be a large amount right away. Just going through the exercise and developing good habits is all you need for a nice financial cushion in the future.

photo by trenttsd

Online Gaming Money Saving Tips

If you are struggling to make ends meet and rising costs are causing you to despair you are not alone. The worldwide recession has caused people to tighten their belts, reassess their spending and examine areas where they can save money or cut back on costs. To put it simply, there is now less money for people to spend on luxury items or entertainment and the focus has shifted to saving money and paying off debt in order to attain financial freedom.

One of the areas we have seen people cut costs on is entertainment, as it can be considered a luxury and not a necessity. However it is not necessary to cut out entertainment entirely and there are some recreational activities that can be enjoyed at no cost. Online casino games are one of these activities and many top online casinos now offer players the chance to enjoy all their favourite games at no cost. These free games are full versions of the real money games and offer players endless entertainment and the perfect way to relax.

Rather than rushing headlong into purchasing expensive computer or video games visit an online casino and choose from the huge selection of free games on offer. Gaming Club is an established and respected online casino that has brought players top quality gaming for over a decade, never compromising on quality purely because there are free games on offer. A visit to this site will give you a very clear idea of the free entertainment on offer and the state of the art gaming will impress even the seasoned online player.

Saving money by playing online casino games works in a twofold way. The first being the fact that players will enjoy unlimited access to entertainment and won’t have to spend any money on purchasing games or paying for entertainment. The second being that time spent playing free games does not equal money spent, if you substitute paid entertainment like movies, games or DVDS with free gaming there is no need to seek out any other forms of recreation that have costs attached.

Saving money by choosing a free gaming option is a definite way of keeping your finances under control and avoiding a debt trap. Save the money you would have usually spent on entertainment and enjoy a large and varied selection of free games as an alternative. You can live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget but in order to do so you will need to make some smart choices when looking for ways to save money. Taking advantage of anything free is always sound advice, especially when it offers you relaxation and leisure time at no cost.

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