Posts Tagged ‘savings’

Saving Money While doing Your Household Shopping

February 22, 2008
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One of the ways to save money while doing your shopping is to maintain a price list. This is something we learned about while looking for ways to save money after our fallout. It is simple to do, yet the savings can profoundly affect your budget. There are a couple different ways to go about the process, as always pick what you can use and leave the rest.

Take a notebook with you while shopping. This recommendation is that you jot down items that you normally buy along with their price as you do your shopping. We have also seen the suggestion that you shop at a different store each week for three weeks to compare your prices. If you live in a city where competition is level, this would be fine. However, where we live there can be a two dollar difference in a gallon of milk. It would not be feasible for us to shop there and blow our monthly budget in one trip.

Save your shopping receipts and make the list once you get home. It is alright to do this if you wish to do this every week for a while and shop at your three different stores. The only problem is that you are only going to have the items listed that you are using for your current menu.

Make a list of the items you need most, then go compare. This is the method we use. We sat down and made a list of the 56 items that we use most on a monthly basis, and then we went shopping. In our area we have a Kroger, Save-A-Lot, Wal-Mart, and an Aldi. We made our list before we left, looked for sale items that we could purchase from each place, and away we went. We were able to write down all our prices and do business with each store.

Our findings were different than we thought they would be. We were able to take around $70 off our monthly budget just by doing this to compare prices. Even though we are now shopping at three different stores, our trip only takes about an hour and a half every two weeks.

The same principle also works for household goods as well (toilet paper, shampoo, soap, carpet cleaner, etc.) Just make your list and compare.

By doing this you will have a good idea on what you are paying for items at several places, thus it will allow you to take advantage of sales more effectively. Have you ever bought something on “sale” only to find it cheaper at regular price elsewhere? We sure have. By knowing your average prices, when you see items that you use regularly you can stock up on them and help your budget even more.

How do you try to find the best deals? Do you keep a price list? What about coupons? Are they worth the trouble?

Start Your Savings 2: Your 401k or 403b plan.

February 20, 2008

In this series we are discussing various savings accounts and how to possibly fund them. To get the rest of the series click here, or subscribe to our RSS feed. The post will be delivered as soon as they are made available!

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Lets take a few minutes and talk about your 401k or 403b retirement plan. If your employer does not offer one, take heart, you may change jobs in the future and work where one is offered. If you are very influential, you may convince your employer to offer one (encourage as many coworkers as possible.)

Taxes. We just completed our taxes the other day, so this is foremost in my mind. Your contributions to your 401k come out of pre-taxable income. Depending on your income level, this could place you in a lower tax bracket if your income is right on the line.

Employer match. Most employers will match a certain amount of your contributions. The amounts vary greatly, but it is usually x% of your contributions up to y% (example-they may match you 25% on the first 4% of your contribution). Regardless of the amount, this is free money. If you contribute nothing more, at least get the maximum amount that your employer will kick in.

Tax deferred growth. Again, I am going back to taxes. The contributions, and the earned interest/dividends (compounding is your friend), grow tax deferred. The 401k’s have investment options in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., but the capital gains and dividends are not taxable until withdrawn.

It is automatic. You can set this on auto-pilot and forget it. We found that if it was gone before we seen it, we did not miss it. I would review once a quarter, and only change after careful consideration. Avoid watching CNN and other news networks at all cost. They live on promoting fear and the gloom and doom of “the coming recession.” The facts are these: recession or not, the market has cycles. It will forever go up and down. Whether it be the tech bubble bursting, or the sub-prime market falling on its face, it will always be a roller coaster ride. The Dow Jones started in 1896 with an average of 40.94. It is now over 12,000. Yes, it has seen low periods, but it continues to grow over the long run. Which brings me to my next point.

Stay in for the long haul. Unless you plan on retiring in the next 10 years or so, do not stress over the ups and downs of the market. Just keep plugging along and ride it out.

As we have stated in our about page, we are not financial advisers or professionals. Your situation is unique, and you should consult a competent professional before making any decisions. We are only sharing our thoughts and what has worked for us.

Do you contribute to your 401k? How much does your employer match?