by Jennifer Wieland
As a mom, it is your job to keep everyone on track. You are responsible for ensuring everyone is fed and clothed. You also have to think ahead to college. By taking control and starting a college savings account for your children, you can help to give them a bright future. However, when finances are tight, as is the case in many homes, it can be tough to figure out how to save. Here are some college savings tricks you can enjoy.
Know the Options
While you certainly can open a savings account to put money aside for your child’s college, there are some other options that allow you to make more use of your money. The most popular choice is a 529 plan. You can either use a 529 savings or 529 prepaid tuition plan. The savings plan is similar to a retirement account except you can get a lot of tax breaks with them. The money in these accounts is invested to hopefully help build it at a quicker rate. The prepaid tuition plan, as the name suggests, lets you prepay tuition at your chosen institution at current rates, which can save you big on inflation. Reviewing your college savings plan options is a good first step.
Develop a Plan for Saving
Before you can start to save, you need to know you have the money to do it. You should go over your budget and add in college savings as an expense. Putting it in your budget makes it much easier to just slip the money away each time you pay bills.
You also can go over your bills and try to find a way to reduce them. Often shopping around or just calling in can help you get lower rates. A good trick for saving on insurance is to visit a local insurance office. The face-to-face interaction makes things more personal and encourages them to work hard to find you a good deal.
Give Up Something to Help Out
Sometimes extra money is hard to come by. However, most people have one or two things they spend money on that they don’t really need. Fast food lunches and expensive coffee drinks are two examples. These things may be something you really enjoy but cutting them out or just cutting them down can free up a nice amount of money that can go towards the college savings.
Use the Grocery Store Trick
When you are shopping for groceries, always hunt out the deals. These days most grocery store receipts will include a line that tells you how much you saved. This leads to a nice trick to saving money easily. Every time you grocery shop, you put whatever you saved in a savings account. This can add up really fast, especially if you shop for deals and use coupons.
Saving money for your kid’s college expenses doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. You can work ways to save into your everyday life easily. It is all a matter of just being a bit more aware of how you spend and making a few new choices in what you spend.
Are you or did you save for your child(ren)’s college?
by Jennifer Wieland
I am part of the Resurant.com Review Crew.
I absolutely love a good breakfast! I am one of those people who can eat breakfast for any meal of the day. There are just so many good options. This week I got to go out and enjoy breakfast with my oldest child and was able to save money doing it with a Restaurant.com gift certificate.
With our Restaurant.com gift certificate in hand we headed to the Egg & I, a popular breakfast spot near our house. The staff at the Egg & I was very friendly and nice! We were seated immediately and our drink orders were promptly taken. One of the things i liked best was that when they brought out my iced tea and my son’s soda, we not only got a glass of it but a carafe of each too so we could keep our glasses topped off.
The selection and variety of food was great! After we ordered our food was brought out quickly and came precisely as ordered.
Our waitress stopped by several times to check on us and make sure we were okay. She also brought us a frequent diner card and explained how that program worked. I will definitely be using that card more!
Remember, for more information on Restaurant.com be sure to check out their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, find them on Google+ or check out their blog, The Dish.
“The only thing better than going out for a great meal, is getting a great deal. Restaurant.com has been filling tables since 1999 and is the destination for dining whether you like to plan ahead or find a meal on the go. Restaurant.com helps diners discover the perfect dining experience and boasts nearly 50,000 dining deals available every day, even on the weekends! And, the deals are easy to use – present the certificate to the server on a mobile device, or print out a copy, and voilà – the savings will be deducted from your final bill. Bon Appétit!”
by Jennifer Wieland
The holidays are rushing up fast and the bill will soon go up even faster. If you haven’t finished shopping yet who are we kidding if you’re reading this you are NOT done. With a few simple tricks you can get save money on Christmas gifts for kids and still enjoy the holiday season without all of the financial stress. This season is not about the gifts. It is about the family.
Halloween costumes on clearance make great pretend play / dress up outfits for kids. Grab them in the days following Halloween and put them away for Christmas.
Find cute DIY projects that you can make for your kids. From upcycled lamps to cute bath products the possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination (and Pinterest.) Clearance and resale craft supplies can make the cost even lower.
Check the clearance section to save money on Christmas gifts for kids. In the months leading up to the holiday season So much goes on clearance to make room for new sales.
Take some time to hit your local thrift and resale shops or your local yard sale page. This is a great way to find new unopened toys, boxes of Legos, and fun items that would normally not be in budget. Bigger items like bikes, furniture, and games systems are more affordable used.
Team up with friends and family for black Friday/cyber Monday. Getting all of the deals at all of the stores is next to impossible but with the help of friends and family you can get more of the deals. Plan out together with someone you are close too. One of you each take a shop and both lists. When doing cyber Monday shopping gather together with your laptops at your dining table. split orders to take advantage of free shipping with minimum orders.
Get your child basics for Christmas like pjs, socks, and warm winter clothes. While these are not the top of your child’s list they are practical and give the feeling of getting more while providing for needs. This is a great one for parents that feel pressured to give kids more.
Go for quality over quantity. So often we feel the need to keep up with the Jones’. The neighbors go on rattling off long lists of items they have gotten for their kids and you wonder how you can keep up with that. Let me let you in on a secret… You don’t have too. Your kids will be perfectly fine without loads of junk falling apart before the new year. Go for quality items made to last. If you really feel they need MORE see above.
by Jennifer Wieland
Summer is a time in my house where energy consumption goes way up. Try as I might it just happens. With the kids out of school and getting more time on electronics and with the central air running our energy bill just likes to creep up. That’s why this summer I have been working to #LiveBrighter through greener living. Luckily for my rewards program loving self, Direct Energy has made it easier to live brighter and earn Plenti points all at the same time.
This year I have made an investment in my home and my energy consumption by switching out all of my light bulbs to LED ones. These use significantly less energy (even less than CFL bulbs) and have helped to reduce my family’s energy consumption. I’m also working to change out curtains in my house to energy-efficient ones that will help with not only my cooling bills during the summer but also my heating bills during the cold months. Making my home greener and more energy friendly is a great thing not only for my wallet but for the environment as well.
Direct Energy Plenti
Have you already signed up and been earning rewards points with Plenti? No?
Plenti lets you earn points at one place and use them at another, all within a single rewards program so that keeping track of your rewards is simple.
That’s right people. You can go shopping at certain stores, book travel, buy gasoline for your car at certain places and yes, even get your home energy from a great company all while earning points to be used at tons of places. Right now new customers will be able to earn 1,000 Plenti points at enrollment when they sign up for Plenti at www.Plenti.com and link their Plenti card number to their Direct Energy account; Existing Direct Energy customers will also earn 1,000 Plenti point when they sign up for Plenti at www.Plenti.com and link their Plenti card number to their Direct Energy account.
Visit www.directenergy.com/plenti for more information on Direct Energy’s Plenti points program.
Direct Energy Savings
Now if that isn’t awesome enough, you can sign up for Direct Energy and you will receive a $75 pre-paid gift card when you sign up. Use promo code LIVEBRIGHTER75 – valid until August 15th!
by Jennifer Wieland
I am sure by now everyone has seen the 52 week savings challenge online somewhere. It’s been all over Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It was all over the place last year too. It is a very simple idea on how to save over $1000 this year. Each week you set aside some money in a bank account, jar, piggy bank, drawer, sock, whatever you want to use for storage. The first week of the year you set aside $1. The 30th week of the year you set aside $30. The 50th week of the year you set aside $50. When all is said and done you end up with $1378. That is a nice little chunk of change at the end of the year that can be used by everyone I’m sure, for something.
The problem I have with the challenge though is that come November and December, holiday season, you are having to set aside large amounts of money each week. I don’t know about you but $202 just for the month of December when I am Christmas shopping is going to be rough for our family and I can’t believe that we are the only family in that situation.
I decided to go ahead and do the challenge but I changed it up to meet my needs. I get to pick what amount goes in for each week. I will save my low amounts for times when money is tight and get the big amounts out-of-the-way when we have more financial leeway. So to do this though, I knew I would need a printable that I could cross the amounts off of as I went along. Now all I have to do is pick an amount each week and then draw a line or punch a hole through the corresponding amount on my printable.
You can get the printable version below.
52 Week Savings Challenge
Hopefully this helps me finally start to save some money. I am horrible at it! Do you have any savings tips to start off the New Year with that you follow each year?