Tag Archives: savings

8 Essential Black Friday Shopping Tips

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Shopping on Black Friday is clearly not for the faint at heart.  You’ve undoubtedly seen hideous videos of the masses literally trampling each other at various ‘Marts’ around the country, but the unfathomably succulent savings still call out to you, siren-like.  So, if you truly are ready to face the hordes of rapacious sale-mongers, please abide by these money, time (and possibly, life) saving tips.  

Know why you’re there.

Under no circumstances should you just saunter into the mall to “browse”; you’ll be shoved to the gleaming floor like a sack of leftover sweet potatoes.  Read up on the internet (and whatever promotional materials were mailed to you) about what sales are happening where.  Like a thrifty Santa, make a list and check it thrice; compare and contrast what certain stores are offering, online and off.  Here are some sites that actually compile the best Ebony Day After Thanksgiving options for you: bfads.net, DealNews.com, gottadeal.com, theblackfriday.com.

Get an early jump on it. 

Since the whole idea behind this day is for the stores to do stellar business (they’re obviously thinking quantity over quality), many businesses try to get a leg up by offering supreme deals before Friday even hits.  At this very moment, there are tons of shops that are offering beyond competitive deals in an effort to pre-beat out their competitors.  Do a quick search right now and possibly do some pre-emptive consuming; you may get the same low prices as on Friday and you won’t need to wear full contact football equipment to remain unscathed.   

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Even if a price looks good, it can be beat.

Don’t just fall prey to the first low marked item you see; just Google that guy and check if there are any better prices in the near vicinity.  You may be shocked to see that a competing retailer across the street is offering a way better deal – and even more surprised to learn that the store you’re currently in has a ‘match-price’ policy.  That means that if a warring chain offers an identical piece of merchandise at a lower price, they will meet that price right there on the spot, so you don’t have to burn precious gas and/or calories chasing it down.  Score! 

Loyalty pays.

If you have any shops that you frequent, there’s a good chance you can rack up points (aka ‘discounts’) by enrolling in whatever sort of rewards program they have.  If you’re the type of person who, understandably, doesn’t like filling out boring forms and receiving annoying promo emails, perhaps you should temporarily reconsider your position on the matter when dealing in this particular Black Friday milieu.  Rewards Members typically are given first dibs on B.F. deals, via discount codes and the like. 

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“Like” ‘Em.

Aside from mailing lists you may be on, you can also bolster your B.F. amalgamation of sale options by following and ‘liking’ certain brands on social media.  There’s a host of companies that offer extra special savings codes when you like, heart, retweet, tag, pin, hashtag, hashmark or hashbrown them.  

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Stick to it. 

Just as mentioned in our Holiday Savings Tips post, create a budget with strict limitations and do not deviate from it.  This is not the time to ‘see what’s out there’ and, heaven forfend, make impulse purchases.  

Don’t Accessorize. 

One of the ways that stores recover the money ‘lost’ during the feeding frenzy of low-priced B.F. items is by the inevitable ‘additional’ purchases that people make while in the store.  You’ve just saved 200 hundred smackers on a TV – but then, high on the adrenaline of having ‘saved so much,’ you turn around and buy a superfluous rotating wall mount that costs 300 dollars.  Be smart.  Know when you’re victorious and leave on a high note (like after winning a big hand in Vegas).  No extra items!

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Cheapest is sometimes just that…

Just because a particular piece is at a jaw-droopingly low rate doesn’t mean it’s going to be an intelligent purchase.  The manufacturers are acutely aware of what goes down on B.F., so they sometimes create products specifically for the day that resemble their fully functioning brothers, but are blatantly inferior in quality.  You’ll notice these can take the shape of electronics that do not come with all the features that their regularly priced counterparts offer, or dolls that are missing limbs.

So, prepare yourself for a whirlwind shopping experience for the ages.  Registers clamorously clanking along to the merry holiday tunes inundating your eardrums, elderly shoppers elbowing your ribcage and tryptophan infused lethargy will be no match for you if you stick to these tips.  Happy deal-sealing; let’s make this the blackest friday yet!  

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-Joe Leone

Trick Yourself into Saving More Money

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While you may not have gotten a raise, you can still save more money if you introduce smart saving habits into your daily lifestyle. Being able to save really just means you take a closer look at the ways you manage and spend your money, then find avenues for putting cash away. Creating rules to follow and developing smart habits will change the way you think about your cash flow, and can be a great way to trick yourself into saving more money.

Use Cash

Striving to use only cash will cause you to force yourself to pay closer attention to how much money you really spend every time you go out, to the grocery store or clothes shopping. The trick is to put your plastic away so you feel like you don’t even have it to use. You may also want to consider removing your credit cards from easy pay and 1-Click settings from your online accounts to make it harder to make purchases. You might be surprised at how much less you want an item you see online when the added difficulty of typing in your 16-digit credit card number is in your way.

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Check Your Credit Card Statement Every Month

Your credit usage may have run away from you because you are like the thousands of other people who do not check their credit card statement every month. Looking at how much money you spend and the places you spend it is a good way to make yourself think about your choices in a more deliberate manner. Seeing that you spent $80 at the bar instead of the $40 you planned may shock you into being a little more careful next weekend, or realizing you spend half of your paycheck on new threads may encourage you to create a budget for your wardrobe.

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Attorney Leslie Tayne who writes for Fox Businesses advises you wait five days before making a big purchase. While that hot tub sale is enticing, give yourself five days to ponder whether a hot tub purchase is really in line with saving for your kids’ college tuition. Thinking about what you want to buy is a great way to prevent yourself from spending too lavishly on items you don’t need. A bonus benefit of waiting to buy something is that it gives you a chance to find a better deal, whether you look online or in competitors’ stores.

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Ignore Extra Income

Even though your surprise income may look like it has “jet-ski” written all over it, try instead to imagine it saying “Save me!” and put it away into an account you don’t use immediately. Tayne advises that you only rely on the money you make regularly to make big purchases. That means you should take that big fat tax refund or even the $10 you found in the parking lot and put it toward debt or into a savings account. Extra income is anything outside of the realm of your weekly or monthly income, including cash you make from selling your unneeded wares, (like diamonds that you sell with us!) By putting that extra cash away, you’ll never be tempted to dump it down the drain on something you don’t need. The unexpected kind of money is best spent by not spending it at all.

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Automate Everything

Investopedia advises against taking care of your financial business on a day-by-day basis. Instead, get your employer to deposit portions of your paycheck not only into your checking account, but into your savings account and IRA as well. In addition, set up your credit cards to pay off the balance each month, not just the minimum. A penny paid off is a penny and a half earned in the credit world, because each time your balance equals zero, that means you don’t have to pay annoying off bank fees later in life.

Saving money is really just about changing the way you look at money. If you don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket and instead let it burn a hole in your debt or build your savings, you’ll be on your way to securing a bright financial future in no time.

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Manage Your Money From Your Phone

Great Money-Managing Apps
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If money worries are keeping you up at night, or if the mounds of bills and receipts or even URLs, log-ins, and passwords you try to keep organized are driving you bonkers, you may need to turn to your phone for help. Apple’s trademarked advertising slogan, “There’s an app for that,” has a place in the world of personal finance as well as in the world of fun.

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While having an app for each of your banks and credit unions is a good idea for individual accounts, you can also manage all of your accounts in one place with financial management apps like Mint, Level Money, Check, and LearnVest. CNET associate editor Sarah Mitroff reviewed several great money management apps, each with slightly different features. Check, for example, which is free on both iOS and Android, allows you to pay bills without having go to each bill pay website. While the app is free, some functions are only available if you pay a fee.

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Mint and Level Money are both good for monitoring your bills and expenses, both of which will actively help you stay on track with notifications and emails to let you know how well you are doing. With this type of app, you give the app permission to connect with your bank accounts and other financial accounts, and it monitors those you’ve added. Mint is helpful for people with more expansive financial portfolios, including 401(k)s, loans, and IRAs. It constantly updates in real time, so you can see where each expense fits into your budget.

DailyWorth, a website dedicated to talking about personal finance, reviewed Mvelopes, another app that links to your bank accounts, but asks you to set your own budgeting goals. While Mint and Level Money focus on your net worth, Mvelopes lets you focus on your daily cash flow.

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Safety is key with BillGuard, another app that will monitor your bills, but it is better for people who are concerned about fraud activity or incorrect charges on your account than for people who aim to focus on their budget.

If you are not comfortable with connecting your bank accounts directly to a third party app, something like Expensify, with which you manually enter your payments and expenses, may be more suitable for your needs. PocketExpense also lets you monitor your expenses without having to link your bank accounts. You can enter expenses manually to monitor how much you spend, where you spend it, and when. The app then breaks down expenditures by category that you can visualize using a chart generator within the app. GoodBudget is another free app that helps people who budget based on income and outgoing expenses by using “envelopes” for changing elements of your budget, like holiday expenses and vacation savings.

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In addition to budgeting apps, you can take better control of your money situation with other apps that deal with your finances in different ways. DigitalTrends.com magazine recommends using apps like Slice, which help avid shoppers monitor their habits, or Credit Karma Mobile, which monitors not only credit scores, but things that may affect your credit score. SavedPlus is a great way to help you passively save money by automatically moving an allotted percentage of the amount you spend from your checking to your savings account.

In addition to tracking spending on your own, sometimes you have to track the expenditures of the group you’re with. For that, Tricount can help you out by splitting up the expenses for you. If you only need to pay someone one time, Google Wallet, Venmo, and SquareCash are all apps that allow you to pay another person directly using only their e-mail address. Venmo even allows you to pay with credit cards, but takes a three percent transaction fee.

With the proper use of these apps, you hardly need a financial planner to help you get on top of your money situation and begin to have a realistic view of your incoming cash and outgoing expenses. Help secure your financial future from your phone or tablet with these apps that feature attractive interfaces.  They are way more fun to use than a paper-and-pen expense book, and definitely better than a spreadsheet.

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Single and Broke

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Dealing with Post Divorce Financial Stress

Divorce is tough.  There is the natural emotional turmoil that occurs, potentially irksome new living situations, possible missteps in considerations of custody – and then there is the financial hole one can find themselves suddenly in.  Divorce can be devastating to your psyche and bank account; but there are several ways you can successfully combat the latter. Continue reading Single and Broke