Tag Archives: Money

The 5 Best First Time Car Buying Tips

by Jennifer Wieland
The 5 Best First Time Car Buying Tips #CarsCom
This is a sponsored post by Cars.com. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

The 5 Best First Time Car Buying Tips #CarsCom

Car buying can be a scary prospect. I know every time I have to start the hunt I cringe a little. The reason? It’s a big purchase and can greatly affect your life. My oldest son is 24 and just recently bought his first car. I did share with him the 5 best first time car buying tips to make the whole process a lot easier and less overwhelming.

The 5 Best First Time Car Buying Tips  #CarsCom

Do Your Homework Before You Head Out

My son was just going to head out and just randomly roam around dealerships to look at cars. I told him not to waste his time with all that. Look online at Cars.com and research what’s available at what dealerships. Then you can contact the dealerships online too in order to verify that the car you actually want is in fact still available. Doing his research online really helped. He was so sure he wanted a brand new Honda or Toyota Sedan. In the end, he went a totally different route with what he bought after he did his research.

Know What You Can Afford

My son, like most college graduates has student loan debt. He makes good money and lives at home with us to pay his loans from school down faster. With all that though I still wanted him to know that most experts suggest your total car budget (payment, insurance, gasoline & maintenance) don’t total more than 15-25% of your gross income. You don’t want to end up car poor. My son had to take into account that while he was taking on a payment and picking up paying for his own insurance for the first time. He also needed to realize that a newer car would get him MUCH better gas mileage than his old car did and wouldn’t need the frequent repairs that had been hitting his wallet.

Know What You Have to Spend 

Walking into a dealership with a pre-approval from a bank makes car shopping SO much easier! I told my son to contact his bank and credit card companies to get pre-approved for a car loan. Walking in to a dealership with a number in your head makes the process easier. There’s no guessing at numbers or hoping you can get what you want. My son had no credit cards after graduation and had waited to open some. That meant he didn’t have as much credit history built up as some kids his age might have had. He was pre-approved for a decent amount $15,000 from one of his credit card banks. That’s not a bad amount but that a new car was out of the question and he then had to look at his other options. In the end he was able to find a car he loved and the paperwork took no time at all since he already had a bank approval.

New Isn’t Your Only Option

New cars are great and that new car smell is awesome! Buying a brand new car though is not the only option that’s out there for car shoppers though. You can get a really good, budget friendly, low mileage used car. The advantages of a used car is that the cost is way less. It also means you may be able to get more bells and whistles than you could afford on a new car. You may only be able to afford a base model car if you buy new. If you opt for the same car that’s got low miles and is a year or two older you may be able to get an upgraded model. Think leather seats over cloth. The other options is leasing. With a lease you get the brand new car that your basically renting on average for 24-36 months. The payments are generally lower than if you bought the same car. The other nice thing with a lease is that maintenance is usually included which reduces your out-of-pocket expenses.

Try It Before You Buy It

Once you’ve done all of your homework and think you know what you want it’s time for the real fun to begin. Head out to the dealerships that have the cars you’ve settled on. Take the cars for a test drive. You may find once you test drive a car that it’s not at all what you wanted. You may not find you like the dashboard layout. The ceiling height may not suit you. It can be all sorts of things. My son was so set on a sedan. He found after his initial search and test drives that he didn’t want a sedan at all.  

Buying your first car or any car is a huge step. It effects your budget, your family and can even change your life. Knowing how to make the process go more smoothly can take all the stress sand anxiety out of the car buying process.

So What Did My Son Buy?

My son was able to buy his very first car and he loves it! In the end the idea of new went out the window. Along with that he also bypassed his idea of a Toyota or Honda Sedan. He instead ended up with a 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan. The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV. The one he purchased only had 21,000 miles on it and came with the remainder of the warranty.

The 5 Best First Time Car Buying Tips #CarsCom Now that he has this safe and awesome new car, I can have him do all sorts of things like run his younger siblings around for me or my sister can have him come babysit his godson. To make sure his siblings and godson are safe in his car. I’m going to have him learn all about car seat installation since this week is Car Seat Safety Week.




Free Insurance Advice to Help You Save Money on Your Coverage

by Jennifer Wieland
Free Insurance Advice to Help You Save Money on Your Coverage

Yes, it would be super if you could secure insurance coverage for free, or at least a sample of insurance coverage, but you can’t. You might be able to get a month free or another valuable discount, but you will need to pay something for your insurance, because the company may need to pay something should you file a claim. So, let go of the concept of “free” when it comes to insurance, but accept that you can save money, and that’s better than nothing is. Here are some things you can do cut your insurance costs.

Free Insurance Advice to Help You Save Money on Your Coverage

Work With a Professional

The thought that it costs more to secure your policies through a local insurance agent is a misnomer. This rumor has been spread for decades, but the truth be told, these industry experts know how to get you discounts. These people work directly with the insurance companies, and they know every perk each carrier offers. They can get you discounts that you weren’t aware of, and they can also help you cut costs where safe to do so.

For example, you might see that a so-and-so insurance company offers you 10 percent off an online policy, but other insurance companies are offering 15 to 20 percent discount incentives through their agents. In addition, you just paid off your car, and the agent can look at cost-saving measures to reduce your policy coverage and, thereby, its premiums. The agent knows state requirements better than you do, so enlist expert help.

Combine Your Policies

Another benefit of working through an agent is he or she can help you combine all of your insurance coverage into one policy with one company. This actually saves you money. The insurance carrier doesn’t want to insure your vehicle only. It also wants to insure your home, your belongings, your life, and even your health if your company doesn’t offer benefits. When it has all of your business, it has more of your business, and this means it makes more money.

Many companies have enticed new customers by offering significant discounts on combined policies. They will cut your premiums if you secure all of your needed coverage with them. In addition, if you are a safe driver, have a home alarm system, and are healthy, these are just some of the ways you will pose less risk to the company, and they may just award you with additional discounts, as well. An insurance expert can help you find savings where you didn’t know there were ones.


As mentioned above, you’ll be hard-pressed to find free insurance, but you might be able to get a free month or two of coverage. Some companies will lure new customers in by offering a month free; others will give you one month free if you pay your annual premium all at once. Even if a company doesn’t offer a free month, check out the discounts for full payment. Oftentimes, the money saved by paying for your policy all at once rather than monthly will equate to one or more free months.

Coverage No Matter What

The most important thing is that you’re covered no matter what. You might be tempted to get free insurance by not having insurance at all, but what happens if something happens. One policy that many people skimp on is life insurance coverage… and then the unthinkable happens. Imagine your family without you or your income; it’s unimaginable. This is why you should speak with an expert about getting all the coverage you need to protect you and your family.

This is what insurance is for: to protect. You won’t get a free policy, but you can realize significant savings on your policies if you work with an expert. Don’t skimp on protecting you and your family.




College Saving Tricks for Moms

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.College Saving Tricks for Moms

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?




Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

by Jennifer Wieland
Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates
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.

Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

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. 

Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

The selection and variety of food was great! After we ordered our food was brought out quickly and came precisely as ordered. 

Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

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!

Enjoying Breakfast Out is Easy with Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

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!”



7 Tips to Save On Christmas Gifts for Kids

by Jennifer Wieland
7 Tips to Save On Christmas Gifts for Kids



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.

7 Tips to Save On Christmas Gifts for Kids

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.

Direct Energy – Live Brighter and Earn Plenti Points

by Jennifer Wieland
Direct Energy #LiveBrighter



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. 

Direct Energy #LiveBrighter

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 #LiveBrighter


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 #LiveBrighter

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!



52 Week Savings Challenge

by Jennifer Wieland
52 Week Savings Challenge Printable

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 cialis 20mg australia.

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.

52 Week Savings Challenge 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?


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