Deals, Personal Finance

Can Coupons Cost You Money?

coupon cutting

Coupons are supposed to save you money. Hoard and bookmark those online coupons, cut out and collect the printable ones, and redeem them to get big savings, right? Not necessarily. Coupons can actually cost you money rather than save you money. How’s that? Well let’s consider a few scenarios when this could happen.

Beware of Retailer Coupons

Retailers will issue coupons to lure you into their stores. Sometimes it’s a great way to discover new deals on stuff you need. On other occasions, you wind up making impulse purchases you might not need. Once again, don’t use retailer’s coupons unless you already have items from that store on your shopping list.

Before you decide to use a retailer coupon, comparison shop and check out other alternative stores to make sure that you’re getting the best deal. Also, take note of the case when you may have several coupons that you can’t use simultaneously. And realize that a 15% Macy’s promo code is worth less than a 25% in-store discount at Macy’s, so make sure to do the math.

But if used correctly, retailer coupons can translate to savings. If you’re interested in what some top retailers are offering, check out some of their latest promotional codes.

Let’s Just Try It Once

Unless you had plans to try a new product, don’t be lured into spending money just because you have a coupon. Manufacturers and retailers know that you can’t wait to try new goodies and therefore issue coupons as soon as new products hit the shelves. Don’t buy any merchandise unless you actually need and have the item on your list BEFORE the coupon is made available.

Buy One, Get One Free

Buy one, get one free coupons are great for items you use all the time. Large families and groups also benefit from using buy one, get one free coupons. On the other hand, it doesn’t pay if you’re unable to use the extra item. If you still want to experience the savings, consider donating any extra items so that they aren’t wasted. You might even qualify for a tax deduction if you donate several items at once.

Maybe We Will Like It

The fact is, we all have some type of brand loyalty. Our children refuse to drink certain juices. Our husbands prefer a particular mayonnaise on lunch sandwiches. We might like a certain brand of coffee in the morning. Why stray from a tried-and-true brand just to use a coupon? Spontaneously using a coupon (without planning) may actually cost you more than you think you’ll save.

I refuse to purchase stuff we don’t really like or need even if I happen to have a coupon for the item. I would rather trade this coupon for one I really want. I don’t like dumping juice down the sink or seeing coffee grounds sit in a can unused for six months. Sometimes a sure thing saves you more money in the long run.

I Don’t Need It, But I Can Really Save A Lot Right Now

If you don’t need an item but you buy it anyway because you have a coupon, then how is that saving money? Use common sense when you clip and cash in coupons. If you don’t need something, don’t buy it… even if you have a coupon. The only exception is when you’re shopping for non-perishable items that you can store indefinitely such as toilet paper and paper towels. Otherwise, items with limited shelf lives tend to expire before you actually use them — a major source of waste for many American households.

Is The Store Brand Cheaper?

Why buy a brand name with a coupon when the store brand can still be cheaper? If you like store brands and want to save money, then don’t let brand coupons distract you. But if using a coupon will allow you to buy a brand name item for much less than a store brand item, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise, it might be better to stick to generic or store brands to save the most money.

Later on, I plan to discuss the benefits of using coupons for your inevitable impulse purchases!

Deals, Travel

Simple Ways to Get the Best Deal on Your Next Hotel Stay

hotel

Who wouldn’t like to travel more? There’s no better way to broaden your horizons than to explore new places and become acquainted with new cultures. But for many people, travel is just too expensive to really be that practical. The good news, however, is that it doesn’t have to be.

In reality, there are a number of easy ways that the average person can greatly lower the cost of traveling, especially if they’re only taking one or two major trips per year. That’s because there are only two real big costs associated with travel – airfare/transportation and hotels.

Sure you’ll face other expenses – such as dining and entertainment – but those are things you’d still be paying for at home, regardless.

Here, in this article, we’re going to focus on perhaps the easiest aspect of traveling to cut costs with – hotels. We’re going to outline a few of the best tips for saving money, as well as some alternate places to check for accommodations.

Saving Money with Hotels

Hotels can easily be the largest portion of any travel budget. But they don’t have to stop you from traveling. Here are a few of the best tips for reducing your next hotel bill:

  • Book early and with a refundable rate. This gives you the chance to keep checking back in case prices drop. If so, simply cancel your initial booking (that’s why it’s important it’s refundable) and re-book.
  • Plan your travel during the off-season. For example, check out Miami in the summer or Europe in the winter. Fewer crowds mean less demand for hotels.
  • Book directly with the hotels. Many properties offer the lowest rates on their own website, or offer a rate guarantee that matches (or beats) and other, lower booking channels.

Alternative Ideas for Accommodations

In additional to booking a hotel, there are a number of other ways to stay for cheap when you travel. Here are a few of the most popular and affordable:

VRBO

If you’re looking to rent an upscale house or apartment for your travels, VRBO should be your first stop. They definitely offer a wide range of luxury residences, but many destinations also have places for rent at much more reasonable prices.

Airbnb

One of the most popular new players in the game, Airbnb has completely changed the way that people travel. With them you aren’t renting a room in a hotel – you’re renting a local resident’s house (or even just a bedroom). Perfect for getting a true feel of living in your destination, Airbnb is often priced much more reasonably – for less than the cost of a hotel room you may be able to get an entire house.

Couchsurfing

Not for everyone, Couchsurfing is similar to Airbnb in the fact that you are staying in someone’s house, but typically your host is home during your stay. The kicker here is that Couchsurfing is free – it doesn’t cost anything to stay with a local anywhere in the world. But just be ready for a more communal approach to living!

Buying Guides

Buying a New TV – Everything You Need to Know

tv

When it comes to buying a television set, there are a seemingly countless number of options to choose from. And to make matters worse, every single one of them seems to claim some sort of unique feature or new technology. For the experienced technology geek, this can be a lot to keep up with. But for the average person, it can seem impossible to figure it all out.

If you’re in the market for a new TV but aren’t sure which one to buy, don’t worry – we’ve put together a handy guide to buying a new television and have included all of the most important things that you should know.

Size Matters

No matter what they say, size does matter when it comes to your TV. That doesn’t mean that bigger is always better, however. It’s important to choose a set which fits well with the dimensions of your rooms. For example, you’d probably want to have a larger television in your spacious living room than you would in your cozy bedroom.

Don’t Get Ahead of Your Time

It may be tempting to pay a little bit extra for a television with some sort of brand new feature or technology, but for most people this is simply a waste of money. While it may seem like they’re cool or destined to be the next big thing, these features are often poorly supported meaning you won’t get much use out of then. And more often than not, they never end up catching on in the mainstream.

How Do You Plan on Using It?

Sometimes, choosing the right television set will depend on exactly how you plan on using it. Are you looking for something to hang in your den and watch sports in high definition? Is this a lower-cost set for a children’s room? Are you going to be using it hooked up like a monitor to your computer? These are all questions you need to ask before narrowing down your list of sets.

Last Minute Tips

To make things easier, we’ve put together a list of a few last minute tips that you should always be sure to follow:

  • Make sure that any TV you’re considering comes with at least a 1080p resolution and 120 Hz rate of refreshing.
  • If you’re spending money on a high-end television, invest in a quality sound bar to maximize the experience.
  • Don’t buy a mid-to-high level set without at least taking a look at it in person first.
  • Be cautious not to waste your money on any “brand new” technologies that may not be well supported now, and may never make it to widespread usage.
  • Are you planning to use your credit card to make your purchase? If so, it may come with its own warranty – make sure to check your terms.

There’s no one specific television set that’s going to be right for everyone. Each buyer is going to have his or her own specific needs and uses for their TV that will greatly affected which one they should choose. But by following the tips and techniques we’ve outlined in this article, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect set for you and your family.

Personal Finance, Real Estate

3 Tips for Saving Money for Your First Home

buying a home

One of the biggest achievements of being an adult is purchasing your first home. The feeling of ownership – that you’re no longer going to be stuck renting from someone else – is amazing, and not having to rely on anyone else when you want to paint or redecorate is worth its weight in gold.

Buy while nearly everyone aspires to purchase their own home, the reality is that it isn’t always that easy. Becoming a homeowner can mean putting down a lot of money towards your new residence, a large sum that some people have real trouble saving.

If you have dreams of owning your own home but are finding yourself having trouble getting started, we’re here to help. In this article you’ll find a ton of great advice and practical methods for setting aside a little extra money for your down payment.

Taking On Some Extra Work

When you break it down into its simplest form, there are two different ways to add to the money you’re saving for a home – to earn more or to spend less. Depending on your schedule and abilities, if you’re able to pick up some extra work – whether through your normal job or through a side gig like freelance writing – all of that money will be additional to what you have budgeted meaning that it will be a lot easier to set aside.

Identify Your Biggest Expenses

If you think it’s more practical for you to save money by spending less, the first thing that you need to do is to look at your monthly expenses and identify which areas consume the most of your income. While you may not be able to do much about fixed payments such as rent, utilities, and your vehicle, other things like dining and entertainment may have a little bit more wiggle room.

Look at Reoccurring Charges

Another area where many people find it easy to save some money each money is their reoccurring charges. These are anything that you get billed month after month, with some of the most common culprits being gym memberships and online services. More often than not, by analyzing exactly what they’re spending money on, people find reoccurring charges that they don’t actually need to pay. By cancelling them, that money which was being wasted can be allocated towards your new home fund.

Of course not all home purchases need to involve a large amount of money down. There are some loans – especially VA and FHA-backed ones – which can require as little as 3% down. Depending on where you live, that could be a much more reasonable amount of save. But be warned – on top of that 3% of the purchase price, you’ll also be responsible for other taxes and fees associated with closing on the deal.

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with having the dream of home ownership, but it’s important that you’re realistic about how to achieve it. Buying a home can be expensive, but if you’re prepared with a well-planned strategy for saving a little bit of extra money each month, you’ll be on your way to your goals in no time at all.