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Archive for the ‘Saving’ Category

How to Dine Out Without Breaking the Bank

Tomorrow is Friday. But not just any old regular Friday.  Its a Valentines Day Friday! So before you take your special someone out for dinner, Yahoo Finance has a few great tips on how to save yourself a few bucks!

How to Dine Out Without Breaking the Bank

Eating in restaurants can be expensive. It’s estimated that each American spends on average $2,620 a year eating out. Roughly 93% of consumers enjoy eating out and the restaurant industry holds 47% of the share of food dollar expenditures. Instead of spending thousands of dollars eating out at restaurants each year, try these tips that will not only allow you to dine out at restaurants, but will save you money as well.

1. Time of Day If you are looking to try out the newest restaurant in town, try going for lunch instead of dinner. Dining in off-peak hours can save you money while still allowing you to try fabulous new dishes. There are even apps for your mobile device, such as “Savored,” that advertise the discounts restaurants are offering during off-peak hours. Another time to look at going to restaurants is during happy hour. Not only do some restaurants offer buy-one-get-one-free deals on beverages, they also typically have specials on appetizers. (more…)

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Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill

written by Erin Huffstetler, originally posted on about.com
Simple Ways to Cut the Cost of Owning a Cell Phone

Does your monthly cell phone bill send you into shock? It doesn’t have to. Here are fourteen ways to save money on your cell phone bill.

Make Your Calls for Free

Get more mileage out of your minutes by making free calls whenever you can. Viber, Skype Mobile and Textfree are all free apps that allow you to call anyone else who has the app for free.

Track Your Talk Time

Do you go over your minutes each month? Then, it’s time to start tracking your talk time. Sign up with overmyminutes.com, (a free service) and you’ll receive an e-mail or text message to let you know when you’re about to run out of minutes.

Use the Same Plan as Friends and Family

Many cell phone service providers offer free in-network calls or allow you to choose a small group of in-network friends and family that you can call for free. So, get all of your most-called people on one plan, and you could save big.

Don’t Use Your Cell Phone for Toll-Free Calls

Toll-free calls aren’t free when you make them from a cell phone; so save your 1-800 calls for times when you access to a landline. After all, being put on hold is painful enough when you aren’t paying for it by the minute.

Don’t Use 4-1-1

Dial 4-1-1 from a cell phone, and it could cost you $1 or more. Crazy! Fortunately, you can skip the charge and still get the information that you need by calling 1-800-GOOG-411, a free 4-1-1 service provided by Google.

Another free 4-1-1 number to try:
1-800-free411

Bundle Services

Move all of your services – cell phone, cable/ satellite, Internet and home phone to one provider, and you’re likely to be rewarded with a bundled service discount.

Go Prepaid

If you only use your cell phone for occasional calls, a prepaid plan may be the cheapest service option for you. Shop around, and you could spend as little as $20 every three months. Now that’s a deal!

Pick a Plan that Matches Your Talk Times

Do you make a lot of calls in the early evenings? On the weekends? Mid-day? Examine your phone habits; then, pick a plan that best matches them.

Switch to Unlimited Texting

Text messages can cost 10-cents a piece (or more) to send and receive. Youch! If you do a lot of text messaging, a plan with unlimited text messages is definitely the way to go.

Use a Free Texting Service

Or go one better, and switch to free texting. Heywire and Textfree are two free apps that allow you to send texts and pictures for free.

Ditch the Extras

Phone replacement insurance, road side assistance, GPS, ringtone downloads, games, premium voicemail, data plans – there are lots of cell phone extras to choose from, but in the end they all do the same thing: add to your monthly cell bill. Stick to the basics, and you’ll receive a more basic bill.

Be Realistic About Your Phone Use

When choosing a phone plan, people generally do one of two things: choose too small of a plan or choose too big of a plan. Be realistic about how often you’ll use your phone, and you’ll avoid paying more than you need to for service.

Pick a Plan with Rollover Minutes

If you’ve determined that a minute-based plan is best for you, choose one that allows you to rollover unused minutes from month to month. After all, you’ve paid for those minutes, so you should get to keep them.

Minimize Your Data Useage

If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, it pays to watch your usage. Start by downloading, Onavo’s free apps to track your usage and compress data. Then, turn off your mobile data connection, so apps can’t connect (and drain your bandwidth) without your realizing it. If you’re really serious about minimzing your bill, only turn your data connection back on when free wi-fi isn’t available.

For specific instructions on how to turn off the mobile data on your phone, just Google “how to turn off mobile data connection” and the type of phone that you have.

Snag an Employee Discount

If you or someone in your family works for a large company with a cell plan, you could be eligible for a discount on your personal line(s).

Grab a Senior Discount

Over the age of 55? Then, you may be eligible for a senior plan.

Tip: Ask your provider if they have a senior discount. Often times it’s just unadvertised.

Avoid Contracts

Cell phone companies try to lure you into a two-year contract with the promise of a free phone, but did you know that they’ll also charge you more per month than the people who buy their own phones? It’s true. Increase your bargaining power (and maintain your ability to switch providers), by buying your own phone whenever you need a replacement.

Switch to a Local-Only Plan

If you don’t use your cell phone to make long distance calls (and you don’t use it to make calls when you travel), shop around for a local-only plan. They’ll be considerably cheaper (and more tailored to your needs).

Only Use Your Phone for Emergencies

Did you know that you can use a cell phone to dial 9-1-1, even when it’s not connected to a service plan? It’s true. Just make sure cellular 9-1-1 service is available in your area, and you can keep a cell phone on hand for emergencies without having to foot a monthly bill.

Rely on Your Landline More

Local calls on a landline? Free. Local calls on a cell phone? Not so free. Try to make more of your local calls from your home phone, and you’ll spend less for your phone time.

Block Third Party Charges

If you aren’t in the habit of purchasing games, apps and ringtones for your phone, consider having all third party charges blocked. This will prevent shady companies from tacking fradulent charges onto your bill – a nasty practice known as cramming.

Need to allow third party charges to be able to do everything you want to with your phone? Just be sure to go over your bill carefully each month. If there are ever any charges that you don’t understand, call your provider up and ask about them. They’ll happily remove any charges that don’t belong.

Ask for a Better Deal

One thing you can be sure of: Your service provider doesn’t want to lose you to the competition. So, ask for a better deal, and you’ll probably get it.

[end of article]

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Tips to Save Money on Gas

The article “How to Save Money on Gas” from WikiHow gives some great advice for being prudent about gas and your car.

Gas prices keep going up, and the money in our wallet keeps evaporating more quickly. There are many ways you can spend less money on gas and reduce your overall fuel consumption. But, you must think it through and begin formulating new plans! One technique that has been around for a while but has drawn more attention recently is hypermiling. However, use your head because some hypermiling techniques are illegal and extremely dangerous.

1. Change those spark plugs often! Platinum spark plugs may claim to last 100,000 miles, but they have been known to foul up at just 75,000 miles. Spark plugs are relatively inexpensive and (depending on the vehicle) easy to replace. If you’re not that handy or mechanically inclined, read some auto repair books or be-friend a mechanic.

2. Limit your driving. This article includes ideas such as carpooling, combining trips and taking the first parking spot you find.

3. Find good gas prices. This article offers tips about making sure you are paying a competitive price for the gas you do buy.

4. Take care of your car. A properly maintained vehicle will run more efficiently and give you better mileage, which saves you money in gas.

5. Fill up efficiently. This involves three things:    Fill the tank full. If you need to fill up, fill up all the way. The more money you try to save by adding $10 today and then $20 tomorrow will be wasted since each time you will have to travel to the station and wait for a pump. Instead, do it all at once to save time and money.

Don’t top up your tank between fills. It is wasted money and bad for the environment because it invariably forces liquid fuel into the evaporative emissions system where it overwhelms circuits that are supposed to only route fuel tank vapors to the engine while it is running and can be burned.

Wait until you have a quarter tank but don’t push this any further. Doing this can extend your gas mileage because you are hauling a lighter fuel load. It also gives you the opportunity to buy more gas if you run across a bargain. However, in cold weather, you run an increased risk of condensation in the fuel tank. Running a car with less than a quarter tank can shorten the life of the electric fuel pump and running on empty will often destroy the pump.

6. Top off the air in the tires every few weeks to the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure. This is best done when the tires are cold (have not been driven on more than a mile or so) — it is proper for them to have a few psi higher pressure after extensive driving, but filling them hot should generally be avoided unless they are very low on air to avoid inaccuracy. Excessive pressure adds very little efficiency and can cause bad handling and uneven tire wear. Some gas stations, notably some Sheetz gas stations, have air pumps that are free to use and automatically inflate the tires to a pressure set on the pump. These are very convenient. (If an automatic pump seems to be adding an unexpectedly large amount of air, double-check its progress with a hand air gauge to avoid overfilling.)

Buy a different car

1. Buy a diesel. Some diesel cars offer mileage comparable to popular hybrids. Getting a diesel car also allows for use of bio-diesel or even waste vegetable oil (WVO/SVO) fuel. Though diesel pricing can vary widely from traditional petrol.

2. Buy a hybrid. Not only do hybrids give you immediate savings at the pump, the U.S. government and your local state offer tax breaks for people who use gas-saving cars. Federal deductions for using gas-saving cars can be as high as $2,000, but check before buying to see if they’re still in effect. Also, check with your insurance company because Hybrids have higher insurance rates.

3. Buy a smaller car. Generally speaking, smaller cars are lighter and get better mileage.

4. Pay more attention to the torque specification than horsepower when evaluating a vehicle for purchase. Many engines produce maximum torque at a rarely used RPM. An engine that produces maximum torque in the range of 2200 to 3000 RPM will yield usable power. An engine operating at its torque peak will be more efficient.

5. Buy a motorcycle or scooter instead of a car. They are cheaper and often get 70 MPG or more. Riding gear is available for most weather conditions. A good example is the Kawasaki EX250, which costs about $3,000, gets 60-70 MPG at highway speeds, and can go 0-60 MPH in under 6 seconds!

Driver smarter

1. Avoid idling. While idling, your car gets exactly 0 mile per gallon while starting the car uses the same amount as idling for 6 seconds. Park your car and go into the restaurant rather than idling in the drive-through. Idling with the air conditioning on also uses extra fuel. Also, avoid going so fast that you have to brake for someone. Whenever you brake, you waste the gas it took to get going that fast.

2. Plan your trips in advance. This can prevent wasting fuel and wasting time. Plan to use alternative routes. Often back roads can prevent you from stopping at traffic lights and more importantly sitting in traffic jams. Try to schedule your trips and errands when traffic is lighter.

3. Use a global positioning system (GPS) to help you navigate and find the fastest and shortest distance to your destination. Avoiding hills and stops will increase your gas mileage.

4. Drive at a consistent speed. Avoid quick acceleration and hard braking. Cruise control will keep you at a constant speed, even when going up and down hills.

5. Avoid using cruise control when driving on hilly highway roads. The cruise control will try and keep you at a constant speed which means it will not be able to anticipate a coming hill and accelerate to meet it. It will make the car idle downhill and then flaw it for the uphill sections. It is far more efficient to turn it off when driving on these type of roads and maintain the flexibility of normal driving.

6. Avoid stops. If approaching a red light, see if you can slow down enough to avoid having to actually stop (because you reach the light after it is green). Speeding up from 5 or 10 miles per hour will be easier on the gas than starting from full stop.

7. Anticipate the stop signs and lights. Look far ahead; get to know your usual routes. You can let up on the gas earlier. Coasting to a stop will save the gasoline you would otherwise use maintaining your speed longer. If it just gets you to the end of a line of cars at a red light or a stop sign a few seconds later, it won’t add any time to your trip. Ditto for coasting to lose speed before a highway off-ramp: if it means you catch up with that truck halfway around the curve instead of at the beginning, you haven’t lost any time. In many cities, if you know the streets well, you can time the lights and maintain the appropriate speed to hit all green lights. Usually this is about 35 to 40 MPH.

8. Maintain a safe following distance. Don’t stick to the bumper of the car directly in front of you. You will brake more and accelerate more to keep that unnecessary and dangerous narrow gap. This also gives you a lot more room to play with when you are timing traffic signals. Likewise, ignore tailgaters. They will tailgate you whether you go the speed limit, or 100MPH over the speed limit. Allow them pass when it’s convenient.

9. Slow down. Air resistance goes up as the square of velocity. The power consumed to overcome that air resistance goes up as the cube of the velocity. Rolling resistance is the dominant force below about 40 mph. Above that, every mph costs you mileage. Go as slow as traffic and your schedule will allow. Drive under 60-65 since air grows exponentially denser, in the aerodynamic sense, the faster we drive. To be precise, the most efficient speed is your car’s minimum speed in it’s highest gear, since this provides the best “speed per RPM” ratio. This is usually about 45 to 55 miles per hour.

10. Take off slowly from a full stop. This is one adjustment that will have dramatic effects on your gas mileage; don’t tear off from a stoplight or stop sign!

11. Stay well away from store fronts where you will spend significantly more time idling and waiting for pedestrians and other vehicles.  

12. Use A/C only on the highway. At lower speeds, open the windows. This increased the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, but not as much as the AC at low speeds (35-40 mph). Even better, at any speed, turn on the vent when it is cool outside or open windows just a few inches. The air con – when used a lot – is known to use up about 8% of the fuel you put into your car.

13. Shift into neutral if you are not comfortable with downshifting. Standard transmission vehicles may save gas by shifting into neutral when going down hills steep enough to maintain speed (although engine braking is safer on steeper declines). Do not do this in a Hybrid car, they use this “regenerative engine braking” to generate electricity and charge the batteries. NOTE: This strategy will result in more wear and tear on your brakes. Neither of these strategies is recommended for normal automatic cars.

14. Park in the shade. Gasoline actually evaporates right out of your tank, and it does so faster when you park directly in the sun – winter or summer. Parking in the shade also keeps it cooler inside, and you will need less A/C to cool off when you get back in. If there is no shade available, park so that your gas tank (the actual tank under the car, not the valve to fill it) is facing away from the direct sun. Also, today’s fuel systems are supposed to be airtight. Your gas cap should have a seal in it. Make sure that the seal is keeping the fumes in and outside air out.

[end of article]

Having trouble making ends meet? Learn about the pros and cons of Short-Term Loans.

The Importance of Saving for a Rainy Day

Originally posted on theglobeandmail.com Sep 5, 2012.

Only 54% of Canadians have emergency savings

A job loss, a sudden illness, a leaky basement. No one expects these things to happen to them but the reality is that they can.

That’s why an emergency savings fund – money set aside to cover unforeseen and hopefully non-recurring expenses like the ones above – is essential. Financial planners say individuals or households should set aside between three and six months of their income, which would allow them to weather a stretch of trouble without permanent financial damage.

A survey released Wednesday by Bank of Montreal found that 54 per cent of Canadians have more than three months of savings available, while 49 per cent “have access to” more than $5,000, if needed.

Two-thirds of those polled said they feel ready to withstand a financial emergency this year, up from 40 per cent in 2011. However, one-third feel unprepared for a financial downturn, and 19 per cent said they would deplete their savings in less than a month.

The online survey, conducted by Pollara early in August, asked 1,000 Canadians how prepared they are for an event like a change in job status, a change in their financial situation or another unforeseen emergency. The survey also asked how long they could weather the tough times and what sources of contingency savings they had available to them.

When asked what their fallback plan would be, should they find themselves without a source of income or finances for six months, 45 per cent of those surveyed said they would rely on financial support from family and friends. Other responses included selling assets, relying on a line of credit or RRSPs.

Tina Tehranchian, a certified financial planner with Assante Capital Management Ltd. in Toronto, says most of the people she sees don’t have even the bare minimum three months’ savings set aside, which she describes as a big mistake.

“An emergency fund is the base of the financial planning pyramid,” she says in an interview. “You need to be able to access this kind of money. You can plan for retirement or sending your kid to college, but not for this.”

In an ideal situation, the three to six months of savings should be available in cash, according to Ms. Tehranchian. Failing that, people should have a home equity line of credit to tap into. “It is important that this money be liquid and accessible. This should be a huge financial priority,” she says.

The BMO survey found that Canadians hold their emergency finds in savings accounts, high-interest savings accounts, in investments outside of a registered plan and in tax-free savings accounts.

Albertans were most prepared to handle a financial “rainy day,” at 79 per cent, while Quebeckers were least prepared, at 44 per cent.

Among higher-income households, defined as those earning more than $100,000 a year, 25 per cent feel “unprepared” for a financial emergency and 31 per cent would be unable to survive more than three months using their rainy day fund.

The release noted that according to BMO Economics, the personal savings rate in Canada has dropped to near historic lows of 2.9 per cent. That is down from a recent high of 20 per cent in the early 1980s.

[end of article]

Control Your Spending: Money Saving Tips

Deanne Gage offers simple tips to help earn and save more money. Originally posted on canadianfamily.ca.

Money-Saving Tips: How to Earn More Than You Spend

How many times have you heard the catchphrase “spend less than you make?” If you have some debt or want to save for the future, all prudent financial advice usually points back to that one statement.

While I certainly agree with spending less, I look at things in a slightly different manner. “Earn more than you spend” is another catchphrase that basically means the same thing, but with a subtle difference—the focus isn’t about putting your spending on an enforced diet, but rather finding a way to make more money to afford the things you want.

Like saving, earning more still requires delayed gratification. For example, you won’t want to commit to buying an item until you actually earn the required money.

In some cases, earning more money simply means taking on an extra shift at your current job. But that option isn’t available for most families, so it may mean taking on a second job for a few hours a week. I know parents who deliver flyers one night a week, offer babysitting or tutoring services to kids to make some extra cash.

Perhaps you can turn a hobby into a possible income stream. A local running shop, knowing that I have more than 20 years of running experience, offered me the chance to teach a learn-to-run class one night a week. I got paid a few extra bucks for doing something I love and sharing that passion with others.

You should also consider selling some of your stuff on Craigslist, Kijiji and/or eBay. I used to think that I had nothing of interest to others, but in the last year I’ve made more than $1,500 selling everything from small appliances and furniture, to children’s items, musical instruments, rare magazines, CDs and DVDs.

[end of article]

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