Tag Archives: save money

5 Tips to Help You Survive the Holiday Shopping Season

4 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Shopping SeasonShopping for the holidays can turn the most wonderful time of the year into the most stressful time, but a little planning and creativity can turn the season’s most dreaded task into a bearable (even a pleasant) one…and these tips will help you save money! BONUS.

(1) Do Your Homework

Before the start of the holiday season, compile a list of the people in your life you need to buy gifts for. When your loved ones start dropping hints about electronics they would love to own or start admiring a sweater in the store window, you can make note and start your shopping early. Also, if you buy gifts for clients or business associates, plan those well in advance, so you are ready and are not “panic shopping” which can lead to overspending.

(2) Avoid Overspending

Decide how much money you want to spend this holiday season, and divide that amount among the people on your list. Be sure to leave some of your budget for those holiday extras that take so many people by surprise, like holiday dinners and clothes for work parties. Once you have your budget set, stick to it.

Check the app store for apps that will comparison shop for you, and sign up for your local retailers’ e-newsletters—insiders will often get access to sales and coupons not offered to the public. And when you’re shopping—whether online or in person—keep your focus. Buy only what’s on your list, and avoid the holiday displays and Instagram feeds meant to tempt you into breaking your budget.

(3) Personalize Gift Cards

Gift cards are a popular present, because they are easy  and suit all ages, budgets and tastes. They can, however, seem impersonal, especially when you tuck one into an envelope and hand it over at the holiday party. To personalize a gift card, include a small extra present with it. Tuck a gift certificate for a movie pass for two into a tin of gourmet popcorn, or wrap a gift card for a clothing store in a scarf.

(4) Skip the Presents; Give Experiences Instead

Do your children really need another gaming console? When the kids can’t figure out what they want, skip the stores and give them an experience instead. A day’s adventure can cost less than the newest electronic gadget, and it will still be remembered even when the gaming console is collecting dust in the basement.

For a sports enthusiast, try a day’s pass on a ski slope. A daredevil would love a trip to a treetop obstacle course. And if you have a teenager into culture, take them into the city for a tour of a museum and dinner at a high-end restaurant. Wrap up a lift ticket, a flyer for the adventure park, or a museum brochure to hint at what’s to come.

(5) Bonus Shopping Tips:

  • Don’t wait til the last minute. This can cause you to “panic shop” which is expensive and often leads to your buying any gifts, not necessarily the ones you want to buy.
  • Go during off-peak hours – maybe during your lunch hour, later in the evening, or first thing in the morning, before the mad dash of shoppers hits your favorite stores.
  • Subscriptions are an easy gift to buy (and give) online, allowing you to give a gift that truly keeps on giving.
  • Online shopping has become so much easier. While this is helpful in many cases, it can also lead to overspend. We recommend filling your shopping cart of items you want to buy, checking it against your list to be sure you aren’t buying too much, and then “sit” on the shopping cart for a day. Go back and if you still want to buy those gifts, go ahead! If not, delete unwanted items from your cart before checking out.
  • Make sure you get gift receipts and know what store return policies are before you inadvertently buy a gift that can’t be returned!

Save Money at Home with These 10 DIY Home Hacks

Save Money with these 10 DIY Home HacksEveryone likes to save money, especially on expensive home-related projects. With these DIY home hacks, inspired by This Old House, you can save time, money and energy! Here are 10 of our favorite home hacks.

  1. Closing closet doors reduces the square footage your home must heat and cool. Cost: $0. Approximate savings: $50 per year.
  2. Turn down the temperature on your hot water to 120 or 110 degrees. Cost: $0. Approximate savings: $30 or more per year.
  3. Install a dimmer switch and use energy-efficient halogen bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. It will cost about $10 per switch and $5 per bulb. Approximate savings: about $20 per fixture over 3 years.
  4. Use a microwave to make meals instead of your stove. A microwave consumes about half the power of a stove. Cost: $0. Savings: $40 or more per year.
  5. Insulate hot-water lines using pre-formed foam tubes. Cost: $0.29 to $0.35 per foot of insulation. Approximate savings: $50 per year on your energy bill.
  6. Put your computer to sleep. When you aren’t using your computer, put it in sleep mode manually or adjust the setting on your computer to do it automatically after 10 minutes. Cost: $0. Approximate savings: up to $75 per year off your electric bill. (Bonus tip: laptops use less energy than a desktop PC.)
  7. Plant deciduous (leafy) trees on the south, west or east side of your home. When the tree matures, it will provide natural shade and cooling for your home. Cost: $25 to $70, depending on the species and age of the tree you purchase. Approximate savings: $120 per year on cooling costs once the tree reaches maturity.
  8. Install ceiling fans in living areas (e.g., bedroom, living room, family room, etc.) A ceiling fan can help keep your home cool in the summer, but running it at low speed and clockwise can also help keep your home warmer in the winter. Cost: $30 to $300 at Home Depot. Approximate savings: up to $100 a year.
  9. Buy home-related products in the office season to get the best prices: firewood in the spring, grill, lawn furniture and lawn equipment in the fall, etc. Cost: Varies. Approximate savings: Varies.
  10. Perform annual maintenance on your furnace and air conditioning unit, including professional maintenance and DIY maintenance like replacing furnace filters on schedule. Routine upkeep can help you save energy and money. Cost: Varies. Approximate savings: Varies.

Thanks to Josh Garskof of This Old House magazine for these great DIY home hacks. See the original article for more ideas to save time, money and energy at home.

Save Water, Save Money!

The average household spends $500 a year on water and sewer bills. But with a few simple changes, you could save as much as $170 a year! Practicing water conservation is also a good way to protect our precious water supply. Try these tips to make the best use of your water:

Inside your home:

– Fix leaky faucets, pipes, shower heads and toilets or replace them with water-saving devices.

– Wash only full loads of dishes or laundry.

– Take shorter showers, and don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth or shaving.

Outside your home:

– Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening hours and only as needed.

– Use mulch around plants, shrubs and trees to retain moisture.

– Repair leaky faucets and hoses, and use water-saving nozzles.

– Wash your car using water from a bucket, and save the hose for rinsing into an approved area.

For more tips, visit these resources:

Use Water Wisely

EPA- Watersense

Sources:  City of Kent Water Quality Report 2010 and Watersense