10 Money Spring Cleaning Tips That Will Help All Year

Spring is here.  That means it’s time to start cleaning.  Many people clean their house or their yard.  Even cleaning out the car feels great after a long winter.  It’s also a great time to give some attention to your money.  Last year I gave a few money spring cleaning tips.  Here are ten more that will help your finances for the rest of the year.

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Where is your money? Make sure you know!

Budgeting

Update Your Budget Categories

Hopefully you have a budget in place.  If you don’t there are some great resources out there.  But if you do have a budget, it’s time to take a look at it.  You likely have budget categories in place.  Now is a great time to review them and make sure they’re still current.  Something that you spent money on in the past may no longer be applicable.  Conversely, you may have a recurring category that you need to add.  Now’s a great time to update all this.  Accurate information leads to better informed decisions.

Read more10 Money Spring Cleaning Tips That Will Help All Year

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

Have you done your 2018 taxes yet?  Are you one of the unfortunate people who are seeing a smaller tax refund this year?  If you are, I hope that it won’t impact your finances in a negative way.  Thankfully, we were able to avoid a smaller tax refund this year.

tax refund checklist

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund

When we got our tax forms back, we were happy to see that we’re getting a little more back than last year.  While many people think getting any sort of refund is bad thing, I actually welcome a refund.  We don’t count on the refund.  For us, it’s just nice to have money that isn’t a temptation to spend during the year.  The removal of that temptation is worth the small interest we’re foregoing.

So, how did we avoid a smaller refund? There were two main reasons.

Read moreHow We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

12 Easy Ways To Save Money

Everybody wants to save money, right?  Saving money gives you opportunity and financial security.  If you want a few ideas on how to get started, here are a few.

how to save money
Save your money!

Our Tips For Saving Money

Before we get started, let me just point out that these are things we do to save money.  They work for our household, but they may not be for everybody.  In any case, I hope they give you some ideas to get started.

Brew Coffee

I can’t tell you the last time I set foot in a coffee shop.  If we get gift cards for Starbucks, we usually sell them.  We either make our own individual cups or pots of coffee.  This saves us big time.

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Are You Doing The Right Thing The Wrong Way?

For years, I’ve undertaken a strategy to make sure that I was getting enough water.

For years, I was doing it the wrong way.

At work, I have a cup that I keep at my desk that gets filled from a container that I keep in the fridge.  I like cold water, so I pour water from the container in the fridge into my cup, then fill the other container and allow it cool off.  Both containers held about 2.5 cups of water, so if I drank three containers worth per day, I was getting a good intake of water.

mb-201309waterThis seemed to be working, until one day I realized that I was going about the right idea (staying hydrated) the wrong way.

What was wrong?

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Pay Debt Away But Keep New Debt At Bay

One of the things I love most about being a personal finance blogger is reading stories about other people who have reduced or eliminated their debt.

Our debt is pretty simple:

  • A mortgage – We re-financed our original 30 year mortgage (set to pay off in 2037) with a 15-year mortgage in late 2011.  This will put us on pace to pay that off in 2026.
  • A student loan – My wife has one outstanding student loan.  It is a private loan with a rate lock of just over 2% and a payment under $100 per month.  It’d be nice to pay this off early but we’re not changing our current strategy to do so.  Additional cash flow would have to open up.
  • Credit cards – None.  We use credit cards simply to earn cash back rewards
  • Car – None. We have two cars, both fully paid off.

It’s great as I see a lot of bloggers write about paying down debt, paying off debt, or discussing their personal debt payment strategies.  For the most part, they’re usually pretty good.

However, there is one thing that I usually see left off, and that’s to have a ‘No New Debt’ provision, and a plan to reach it.

If you start off with $100,000 in debt, work hard, and pay off half of it, that’s awesome!  What if you have $10,000 in debt, and you pay it all off.  That’s great, too!

And, with most debt payment stories, that’s often the ‘end’, so to speak.

What it doesn’t address is to make sure that number never goes higher.  In other words, if you pay off half of that $100,000 debt, you should make sure to do everything possible to avoid having that number go higher.

Read morePay Debt Away But Keep New Debt At Bay

Just By Asking, I Saved Us $7.50

Back in June, when my wife was going into the hospital to deliver our second baby, I was all about priorities.  Was she comfortable?  Would she get in her room right away?  Would they have her midwife paged?  Could we avoid paying for the phone?

Ever the frugal daddy-to-be, I remembered that last time we were there, we made one phone call during the entire course of the hospital stay, and payed a few bucks as a standard phone charge.  Figuring we could just avoid the phone charge, I asked them if they could disable the phone for outgoing calls.

The nurse told me that they couldn’t, and that it was a bundled charge with the TV.

Bummer.  Kind of a rip-off really, because I’m sure that they know that pretty much everybody is going to watch TV if possible.

Read moreJust By Asking, I Saved Us $7.50

Saving A Bundle On Baking Soda

It took a few months, but I was able to put to the test a couple of tips left by a loyal reader (and great friend) regarding baking soda.

In a previous post, I had griped about how Arm and Hammer changed the print on their ‘designed for fridge and freezer’ boxes, recommending them to be replaced every 30 days instead of 90 days.

Reader Cappatia had suggested:

  • Looking at a warehouse club for baking soda
  • Replacing the contents of the fridge box with fresh baking soda

On our last Costco trip, I purchased a really big (and heavy) bag of baking soda for roughly 40% less than I had been getting it at Meijer.

Step one, complete.  Ca-ching!

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9 Ways to Slash Your Spending Now

This is guest post written by Mindy Claribel.  Mindy runs MyCCFinder, an online coupons blog that updates at least 4-8 deals a day at your favorite retailers both online, as well as offline!
Everyone has monthly bills and unless you’re still living in your parent’s basement, I wanted to give you some killer tips that you can honestly implement today.  I’m going to take the basic bills that most people today use and what you can do in order to cut them in half.
#1 Your cable TV bill – Most of us today have a cable TV bill and if you’re paying more than $50 for your bill, you’re already paying way too much!  Simply call up your cable company and ask for a reduction.  If they refuse, tell them that you’re going to change services.  Call up competitors and see if they can match.  I know it’s a hassle, but it can be done.  You will find that most of the times they will give you a discount just for asking.
#2 Start using coupons for groceries – You grocery shop and I know you do.  Did you know that there are coupon related sites out there that will help you save on your grocery bill?   Websites such as CouponMom and AFullCup can both help you find printable coupons, as well as show you what coupons you can use on top of the sale price to save a ton of money.
#3 Use coupons on everything – Not only do you want to use coupons on groceries, you will also want to use them on everything else.  From shopping at a hardware store, to eating out at a restaurant, to getting your favorite shoes, you can get what you want and keep money in your pocket.
#4 Buy clothing at a cheap rate – You don’t have to go to the mall to get your favorite clothes.  Outlet stores, as well as thrift stores such as Goodwill and others can save you 80% easily when you want to buy clothing.  Yes, you can find a lot of name brands here!
#5 Analyze your health insurance – I switched over to a higher deductible health insurance account.  Since I’m self employed, I used to pay over $500 for my policy with a $250 deductible.  Today, I have a $3,000 deductible and I only pay $64 a month.  If you’re a healthy person, heavily consider this one.
#6 Look at other insurance – Your car, home, and other types of insurance should be checked up on annually.  See what kind of deals that you can get from other places.  If you can find it cheaper, see if your current insurer will match it.  Most places will give you a discount just for combining all of your insurance.  Check into this as well.
#7 Watch your utilities – It’s not too hard to save on your heating / electric bill.  Invest into a programmable thermostat and even set your temperature down to 62 or so at night when you’re sleeping.  By doing this, you can cut your bill back by at least 30%.
#8 Your phone bill – There’s no reason to pay $100 a month for a simple telephone.  If you do a lot of calling from your home, consider services like MagicJack that can save you $100s over the year.  If you don’t use your cell phone that often, you may want to consider a prepaid plan.
#9 Always compare prices – It sounds easy enough but no matter what you do, make it a habit to get at least 3 different responses.  Whether you want to get something painted, or maybe you want to buy a TV.  NEVER buy from the first place.
As you can see, it’s not really that hard to save.  It looks good on paper, but make a promise to implement it yourself.  By doing so, you can save 100s, if not 1000s per month!