Category: saving money

3 Expert Money Saver Tips You Need in Your Life

money saverDo you ever feel like every month you try to save some money, and every month you come up short of your goals? It seems like no matter how hard you try, something comes up and you can never get ahead.

If so, don’t feel bad. You certainly aren’t alone in your struggles to save.

According to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve, “nearly 50 percent of Americans wouldn’t be able to come up with $400 in savings in the event of an emergency.”

This statistic certainly is frightening. However, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re not one of these Americans.

Let’s take a look at the top 3 expert money saver tips you need in your life.

1. Create a Plan

As French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Now, even though he probably wasn’t talking about financial savings, the quote undoubtedly still applies.

It may seem obvious, but creating a detailed savings plan is something many people overlook.

Use a spreadsheet to create a plan that includes how much money you want to save and in what time period. Also, include what you want to save for. Is it a nice vacation or are you paying off a loan? Doing so will help you keep yourself accountable and on track.

Many banks actually have easy-to-use savings planners built into their apps, so be sure to check these out.

2. Be a Smart Shopper

Many people are under the impression that “smart shopping” means buying items that are of lesser quality.

However, this simply is not the case.

There are many ways to be a smart shopper without comprising quality. Here’s what we suggest:

Buy Out of Season

Buying a pool in July or a Christmas tree in December might be the “festive” thing to do, but it’s not always the financially savviest.

Nearly every product you buy has a demand cycle. Buy when demand’s the lowest, and you’ll save some money. Buy last year’s model when shopping for tech devices. Buy sweaters during the summer. And buy holiday decorations after the holiday is over.

Buy Lasting Products

Sure, a 6-pack of shirts from a big box retailer may seem like a good deal, but how long are those shirts really going to last you?

Often times, buying the quality item that is more expensive will save you more money in the long run.

Ask For Discounts

It never hurts to ask for a discount before purchasing.

Often times, a quick chat with a customer service rep is all you need to get a discount on a big purchase item.

3. Earn More

Sometimes the best way to save more is to earn more.

Now, this may seem impossible for someone who works a salaried job with no overtime pay, but really anyone with a little dedication can find ways to earn more money.

Here are a few simple ways to earn more:

  • Sell items on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon
  • Work as a freelancer — writing, photography, graphic design, etc.
  • Get a part-time job on nights or weekends
  • Take paid surveys online

Money Saver Tips Can Save the Day

Hopefully, these tips help kick your saving efforts into gear.

Saving money is hard for everyone, so don’t get discouraged if you’re off to a slow start.

What’s your favorite expert money saver tip to follow? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Save Money on Independent Health Insurance

Independent Health Insurance Saving money on independent health insurance can change your life for the better, especially when it saves you money! Although the hunt for a cost-saving plan can be a tiring one, it is well worth the energy.

Whether it’s a covered Fresno resident or an LA native, finding the right independent health insurance plan doesn’t always mean it has to be the most expensive.

There are a number of ways to save money on independent health insurance. Here are some of the most effective:

Do the Research

Don’t just settle for Google searches or chat forums. It’s so important to talk to friends, relatives and trusted third parties. Listen to their experiences and gain insight that will benefit your search for the best plan.

There is no better resource for finding the right independent health insurance than people in your network who may require the same care you do.

If you have a good relationship with your primary care physician, don’t hesitate to take the conversation into their office. Receptionists, nurses, and doctors are all people, too. And, they might have insider tips to help you save more money!

Shop Around

Go a step further by chatting up insurance agents from different companies. Keep notes about each provider, and be prepared to compare differences in coverage and cost.

If coverage from one provider is the same as another but has a bigger price tag, talk about it! Ask questions, and see if there are other options that can match or reduce the cost you’re looking at.

Keep notes about each provider, and be prepared to compare differences in coverage and cost.

If coverage from one provider is the same as another but has a bigger price tag, talk about it! Ask questions, and see if there are other options that can match or reduce the cost you’re looking at.

Cut Costs Even More

Using these tips, you can save beyond the price of independent health insurance.

Non-insurance options

These types of discounted plans can be offered by banks to customers or unions and nonprofits to their members. Contact a representative to find out what the qualifications are.

Find a local dental program

Schools and dental academies are always looking for patients to practice on. And don’t worry, everything is supervised by professional educators. The cost of these services is extremely low, and the quality of the service can sometimes be better than a regular dentist office.

Visit clinics instead of the ER

Trips to the emergency room can rack up a lot of money. Unless the situation is an actual emergency (if it is, go to the emergency room!), opt for an urgent care clinic instead.

Use free screening services

Use the state website to find low-cost or free preventative screening services. Find out the ones closest to you here.

Keep tabs on medical bills

Sometimes the administrative personnel at hospitals or doctors can make mistakes. Watch bank account statements to ensure that you are not overcharged for visits and services.

Mix it up

If someone doesn’t need medical, dental, and vision insurance, weigh different options. Maybe medical and vision are crucial, but dental work will be sufficient with dental school visits. There are always options. Weigh them, and pick the best combination for the lowest cost.

One of the key takeaways is to always ask questions. Ask insurance agents any and everything that comes to mind.

After all, the more someone knows, the more they can save!

Check out more beneficial tips here at our blog!

5 Ways to Save Time (and Money) Moving Out of State

moving out of stateAre you moving out of state? Dreading the costs of packing your home and moving to a new location?

From truck fees to mover fees, there are a lot of expenses. Let’s not even talk about the time it takes to pack your whole life into boxes!

But, moving doesn’t have to break the bank. It also doesn’t have to consume all of your time!

Want to make moving less stressful? If so, keep reading!

We’ll discuss 5 ways to save time and money when moving out of state.

1. Sell What You Don’t Need

Over time, we all buy things we just don’t need. If you’ve got items in your closet that you’ve never used, why pack them?

Moving out of state is all about new beginnings. There’s no need to bring items that you haven’t touched!

Go through your closets and spare bedrooms. Find things that you don’t need anymore, such as clothing, kid’s toys, and other items.

Sell or donate your stuff! In turn, you may earn some real cash. Your donations may also equate to a tax deduction.

2. Move Early in the Week

Timing is everything. When moving to a new state, you want to plan your move accordingly. To save time and money:

  • Avoid moving on a weekend
  • Don’t move on a Thursday or Friday
  • Avoid moving during rush hour traffic

Moving earlier in the week saves money. Most people move later in the week when truck rental fees may be higher.

Save some cash and put those Monday blues to work!

3. Optimize Utility Shut-Off Timing

Depending on your moving date, you may end up paying for utilities even though you aren’t living in the home. To avoid dishing out money, be wise about utility shut-off.

While you need water and electricity, chances are you can go without cable for a few weeks.

4. Compare Costs of DIY vs. Professional Movers

You may be quick to assume that professional moving services are overly expensive. But, the items needed to DIY your move can be just as expensive.

Shop around for a professional moving company. Gather quotes from at least three local companies and learn more about their services.

When looking around, don’t hesitate to negotiate.

Moving companies may be willing to drop fees in exchange for your business. Without you, their company is missing out on profit.

If DIYing your move is the cheapest option, avoid moving in rush hour traffic. You’ll also want to avoid overloading the moving truck. A weighed down truck has even poorer gas mileage.

5. Don’t Pay for Boxes

You can’t move out of state without boxes. If you’ve shopped around for boxes, you’ve probably seen just how expensive they can be. Companies know they are a must-have item so they charge super high prices for them.

The good news is that you don’t have to pay for boxes at all! You can easily get your hands on free boxes.

To find boxes:

  • Ask friends and family members who have recently moved
  • Ask a local liquor store owner
  • Use empty boxes from work, such as printer-paper boxes
  • Check Craigslist’s free section or Freecycle

Saving Money is Our Specialty

Want to save money in all aspects of life? Looking to live frugally?

If so, ThrifyMommaRamblings is the website for you.

We provide all sorts of thrifty living and business tips. From working from home to money-saving showerheads, we help keep money in your wallet!

Now’s the time to be a frugal consumer. Check out our website today to get started.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or comments!

5 Home Improvement Services That’ll Save You Money in the Long Run

home improvement servicesSpend money to save money? That’s a tough pill to swallow. But in the long run, going green will keep some of that green in your wallet.

For as little as $1.25, an energy-efficient light bulb can use up to 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb. Seems worth it, right?

Let’s take a look at a couple home improvement services that will bring you one step closer to that ocean front hotel room in Hawaii.

Weatherstrip Your Home

Take a look at this gorgeous dual pane corner window. What a wonderful way to let in that early morning light.

Making sure all your windows and doors are not only stunning, but sealed, is one of the most valuable home improvement services you’ll invest in.

Weatherstripping your windows and doors can save you up to 15% in energy costs. The next time you pay your electric bill, you’ll be glad to know that none of your cool air escaped out into the humidity.

Install a Low Flow Shower Head

Just like the wasted cold air, there’s a way to make sure every bit of hot water in your shower is being used. Did you know that water heating accounts for 18% of your utility bill?

A low flow shower head comes in at $10-$20, saving you upwards of 25% on your utility bill.

Update Your Appliances to High-Energy

You’ve probably seen that little Energy Star sticker on appliances before. Did you know you can receive a tax credit for installing them?

Imagine slicing your utility bill as much as 30% and receiving a tax credit.

Use Energy Efficient Lighting Where Possible

This can be as simple as purchasing LED or CFL light bulbs. LED light bulbs are the most expensive option. But they also pack the biggest punch in energy savings. This makes them a smart investment in the end.

CFLs are a little bit behind the LED technology, but will absolutely save you money in the long run.

Consumer Reports has broken it all down for us, room by room, price tag by price tag.

Consider a Programmable Thermostat

This one requires a licensed HVAC technician. But again, it affords you the luxury of a cool and comfortable house – no matter the time of day or season – without wasting a drop of air.

They also tend to be more accurate than regular thermostats, keeping an extra eye on your savings.

Other Home Improvement Services

This list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have you thought about ceiling fans? For as little as $50, you’re looking at added savings and cooler rooms.

Bigger ticket items like tankless water heaters go a long way, too. (They also offer a federal tax rebate.) But, if you start with these five home improvement services, you’re well on your way.

We hope you’ll stop by our blog as often as you can. Thrifty Momma is always finding new ways to pinch those pennies, and we love to share. If you ever want to chat about cutting costs without cutting corners, we’re only a click away.

5 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Band Before You Book

wedding band 1Live music at a wedding reception can turn a celebration into a party! It — along with photography — is a part of wedding planning most people agree is worth spending money on.

But that doesn’t mean it has to break the budget. When shopping for a wedding band, do your homework to get the best value for your money.

It’s not like last-minute travel that can give you a major financial break by waiting. You need to start early to get the band that going to make you happy and help boost the celebration on the big day.

Here are 5 questions to ask every wedding band you interview:

1. What’s Your Style and Repertoire?

It’s a no-brainer to not hire a rock band if you and your beloved are fans of country music.

But asking a wedding band about their style of music goes beyond genre. It’s also about the way they play. Are they ultra-serious or playful? Is their energy mellow or ecstatic?

You also want to hear how they describe the way they interact with wedding guests. Do they talk to them between songs and make jokes? How do they respond to requests?

Find out the range of songs they know how to play. If people make requests, is the band going to know how to play the songs? Pay extra attention to this if you’ll have many older people at the reception.

Ask to see videos of the wedding band’s previous gigs. Better still, see if it would be okay for you to stop by an upcoming reception where they’d be playing. Clear it with the bride and groom first and then only stay for 15-20 minutes.

2. What’s Included?

Wedding bands either charge by the hour or a flat fee. But the real wedding band cost isn’t measured in dollars. It’s measured by value.

Either way, know what’s included to avoid surprise costs or worse, a disappointing experience for you and your guests.

Find out how they expect to be involved in setup and packing up. Most venues have rules and guidelines about that.

Will the band provide all sound equipment? If not, what equipment will you or the venue have to arrange?

Will the band leader also act as emcee for the evening?

Make sure you know if their travel and equipment transport costs are included the fee or hourly rate. Also, get the details on their liability insurance and terms of cancellation.

Bands will sometimes reduce the fee in exchange for having CDs available for sale.

3. Do They Have Recent References?

Hearing from other couples about their experience with the wedding band you’re interviewing can help you make a good decision.

Ask about the quality of the band’s performance during cocktails and dinner when their music should be in the background. When they played dance music, how did they encourage guests to get on the dance floor?

If you’re unable to speak to previous clients, ask for 2-3 short videos of the band’s performance at recent weddings.

4. Is the Wedding Band Familiar with the Venue?

When a wedding band has played at a venue before, it reduces the risks of something going wrong. They know the layout and acoustics. And they’ll often have business relationships with the venue staff.

If the band has no previous experience with your chosen venue, ask them to check it out before you sign a contract. This benefits them too. They can identify and resolve any logistic or equipment issues ahead of time.

5. What Are Their Contingency Plans?

The best planning can’t eliminate the risk of a musician getting sick or equipment malfunctioning just before your big day.

But good planning includes backup plans for critical issues. Asking reasonable “what if” questions can help the band put together a plan B, if they don’t already have one.

More, More, More

Do you have other questions you asked a wedding band? Share your story on our Facebook page. And if there are other wedding plan tips you’d like to see, contact us with your ideas.

Get a Brighter Smile on a Budget With These Whitening Products

whitening productsEver look in the mirror while you’re wearing a white shirt and realize your teeth are not as white as you thought? Note to self: time to buy some Crest whitening strips.

But aren’t whitening products expensive? Luckily, they’re really not. And whitening products aren’t only for celebrities and the wealthy.

Look Like a Celeb

Even those who won’t admit it would love the broad, white smile of a Hollywood hero. Is a large vanity budget all that sets them apart, or do they know something you don’t?

Before thinking too much about removing the stains, consider what’s causing the stains in the first place–because once you DO erase the stains, you’ll be back to square one pretty fast if you don’t tackle the source.

Coffee, black tea, and red wine leave dramatic stains. Unfortunately, those are pretty hard to give up. Instead, consider diluting your coffee and tea with milk, and either brushing immediately after drinking any of these beverages or at least rinsing with water.

Also, avoid carbonated drinks–they will erode your teeth, creating tiny craters where stains will become unreachable.

Whitening Products for Everyone

Whitening products are for anyone who cares about their appearance. Better yet, they’re for every budget.

In fact, for very little, you can buy Crest 3D whitening toothpaste and Crest 3D whitening rinse and see results in as little as 14 days. Now, if the stains are severe, this isn’t the answer–but it is a place to start.

Higher-priced kits are also available in most places that sell tooth care products. These are great and can be used every three to six months after you do the initial de-staining.

Seeing a Professional

Of course, if you have the resources, having a professional whitening treatment is also simple and effective. Is that how celebrities manage? Probably.

A dentist registered with the General Dental Council can perform professional-grade laser treatments to eliminate stains. Note: this should only be performed by a dentist–whitening salons without a real dentist are illegal and dangerous.

Laser treatments are done over several visits, so don’t expect to pop in before a big date and leave with perfect teeth.

Another great though costly tool a dentist can provide is dental trays that are created from a model of your own teeth. Once you have the trays, you use a special gel to whiten on a prescribed schedule.

Do What You’re Able

Pearly white teeth don’t have to come at a high price. Remember the basics before you stress about pricey treatments:

  • Brush at least twice a day. Be gentle! Use a toothpaste with hydrogen peroxide in it.
  • Either avoid coffee, tea, and wine or rinse and brush after you drink them.
  • Try the products you can afford, like whitening strips, whitening toothpaste, and whitening rinses.
  • Whatever treatment you choose, do it before bed to maximum effectiveness–you won’t be eating or drinking for hours.
  • Even if you don’t plan to have your dentist whiten your teeth, still inquire about the proper (and less costly way) method to use at home.

That next look at your teeth when you’re wearing white will soon not be as startling if you start following these steps today!

5 Money Saving Tips All Pet Owners Need to Know

petPet ownership can be pricey. One study found that a dog can cost over $40,000 over its lifetime.

But having a pet doesn’t have to break the bank. You can still give your four-legged friend the care they need while keeping costs down. We’ve got five money-saving tips that will keep both your pet and your wallet happy.

1. Buy Food in (Realistic) Bulk

It’s no surprise that buying pet food in bulk can lower the costs. You’ll pay less per pound by buying a bigger bag, especially with some online retailers.

But these savings are no good if the food goes bad!

Before getting sucked into the idea of bulk savings, think realistically about how much your pet eats. The amount a husky eats will be drastically different than a pug.

Measure out your pet’s daily intake and compare that to the food’s best before date. This way, you can get the best bulk discounts without wasting food (any money).

2. Make Your Own Pet Toys

Have you shelled out for store-bought toys only to see that your cat is more fascinated by a crumpled up tin foil ball?

While you may prefer the look of toys from the pet store, your pets aren’t so picky. There are tons of online tutorials that let you get crafty with household materials.

Plus, you can make it a family event and keep both your kids and pets entertained with the same craft!

3. Be Pro-active

Think of ways that you can avoid future problems and expenses by preparing now. For example, if you drive with your dog in the back seat, get a seat cover.

The seat cover itself isn’t that expensive, but it can save you a ton down the road. If your dog has an unfortunate accident, the cover will ensure you don’t have to pay for a full upholstery cleaning.

This also means preventative care for possible medical problems. Getting dental treats — or better, brushing their teeth — keeps your pets healthy and helps avoid expensive medical bills. Flea and tick medication for dogs who go outdoors can help prevent insect-borne diseases.

4. Don’t Pay for a Kennel

Do you have neighbors or friends with pets? Instead of paying for costly care for your furry friend every time you go out of town, consider making a pet-care agreement.

You agree to take care of your friends’ pets when they’re on vacation, and they’ll do the same for you. Just make sure to keep expectations fair and reasonable for both sides.

5. Brush Up on Grooming

Grooming your pet is definitely something you can do at home. Invest in a good brush and clippers and find some breed-specific grooming tutorials online.

If you’re not comfortable doing all the grooming, you can at least do some maintenance at home to lengthen the time between trips to the pet store.

Wrapping Up

Your pets should always be a source of love and joy, not financial stress. With these easy tips, you can save a ton on pet care without sacrificing their care.

How do you save money on your pet care? Let us know what tips we missed in the replies!