It’s not too late to sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, right in time for Prime Day. Amazon Prime Day will be held on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 and it’s a great time to be a Prime member. On Prime Day, members can expect to see exclusive deals on many of their products.
Think Black Friday deals, but only for Prime members.
I have been a Prime member for years and find value in the membership. I love not having to pay for 2-day shipping and shopping on Amazon saves me a lot of time. It also saves me a lot of money, because not only am I saving on gas and shipping, but I’m also able to compare and cross-check prices.
If you were interested in Prime, but didn’t want to waste money only to find out you don’t like it later, sign up for their 30-day trial Prime membership.
If you can’t wait, you can mosey on over to Amazon now and you’ll find that there are some deals available before the 12th. The exclusive deals, especially on electronics will be available after 12:00 AM. You can still catch some good deals, but you have to I’ve already had my eye on magazine subscriptions for $0.99 with renewal at 6 months as well as 20 pack alkaline batteries for around $7.
I’m also considering purchasing an iPhone 6s leather wallet for less than $20. It’s the same one I considered purchasing previously but didn’t think the price was worthwhile.
Amazon can send you a notification if you add an item to your watch list before that item is available. They’ll let you know via email or their app when the product is available to purchase.
Like most people, you’re probably up to your eyeballs in debt.
Whether it’s credit card, housing or student loans, we as a nation have a problem. According to Nerd Wallet, Americans on the average are over $130,000 in debt.
So how did we get here?
The answer can probably be found in our actions and behaviors towards money. Too many of us are living paycheck to paycheck and spend most of our lives working to pay off our bills.
In order to fix our debt issue, let’s identify the money mistakes we make that get us in trouble.
Money Mistakes We Make That Keep Us In Debt
Not Saving Enough.
How many of us are guilty of not saving enough money to cover us in the case of an emergency? I’m sure more than we would care to admit. I learned from Dave Ramsey to first save $1000 and then 3-5 months living expenses.
Doing that was pretty difficult for me at first, but I found that catastrophe always strikes when you’re not prepared.
Not having any money in your savings can put you in a precarious situation and is the main reason people end up being one paycheck away from homelessness.
So, if you want to protect yourself, start saving today. If you have a difficult time with saving money, start putting away a percentage of your paycheck and swear not to touch it.
It’s what they mean when they say pay yourself first.
As long as utilities are not at risk of being disconnected, put money in your savings before you do anything else.
Participating in your company’s 401K or have money automatically debited from your account and placed into savings will make it easier to save. Out of sight, out of mind.
Not Checking Your Credit Report
When was the last time you checked your credit report? Now if you’re like a lot of us, you probably have no clue of what is on your credit report.
A lower credit score can affect how much you pay in interest for a loan or if you’re approved at all, so it’s knowing that number is a pretty big deal.
If you’re someone who never checks your credit, you may be surprised when you’re denied for a mortgage or a car.
Even if you pay all of your bills on time and have zero balances on all of your credit accounts, you’re not to immune to mistakes being reported.
You don’t want to find out if there is any inaccurate information on your credit report or worse, you’re the victim of identity theft.
Obtaining your credit report is painless and you can request a free one from each credit reporting agency once a year. This will give you time to review inaccuracies and have the removed from your credit report.
Though they have 30 days to review your request there are times when you must provide documentation for them to erase the information. Even small dings to your credit can increase the amount of interest you pay.
Having Too Many Overdraft Fees
I once had a checking account where I didn’t put much money in and only used it to pay for a couple of items, such as my monthly gym fee.
Well, one month, I forgot about the annual fee (I never received a reminder) from my gym and it hit my account before I could put money into it. Needless to say, my bank paid for it, but they also charged me an overdraft fee.
By the time I was able to figure out what was going on, my account was already overdrawn over $100!!! Other items that came through my account were sent back and I was charged a $39 return item fee PER ITEM.
Now I try not to have auto debits come out of my checking account and use mostly prepaid debit cards. (This one has taken the place of my traditional checking account). That way if someone attempts to charge my account and there’s no money in there to cover it, the transaction is declined. I’m not charged overdraft fees and I still have time to add money to my account.
Most merchants will try several times to debit your account, so be mindful of that when you give out your checking account number.
Purchasing a Car You Can’t Afford
Don’t become envious of your friend who has that brand new Lexus, because often times than not, they’re drowning in car debt. When you purchase a new car, you’re not only paying for interest to finance that car, but also the insurance required to cover the car.
Add on top of this, title, registration, maintenance fees, and gas – the cost of the car goes sky high.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a new car. I’m just saying don’t buy a new car you can’t afford. This includes leasing a car – just don’t do it. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck because they are spending a lot of money on items they don’t need.
If you find yourself peeking out the window every night for the repo man, that may be some indication you can’t afford that car.
If you need a car, look for a reliable used one. Many used car dealerships offer certified pre-owned vehicles and there’s always CarFax.
Better yet, save up enough money to purchase a car with cash and as your needs and funds grow, use that money to upgrade later on.
Living in a Home that is Too “Big” for You
When I purchased my first home, my mortgage was over $1700!!! That’s a lot for a single mom living off of a teacher’s salary. I had two mortgages (crazy, huh) and only one of them was fixed.
Thankfully the interest rate went down and so did my mortgage payment, but who knows how long I would have lasted paying that amount each month.
We often find ourselves wanting to live in the best of neighborhoods, but along with that security and nice schools, comes a huge price tag. If you find yourself paying more than 35-40% of your salary on housing, then it’s time for you to move.
There’s nothing wrong with moving to a smaller home in your neighborhood or moving to an area with a lower cost of living. You’ll have more peace of mind as well as money to use for more important things.
Also, consider if renting is more cost-effective than buying. I know most people will tell you it’s better to become a homeowner than a renter, but depending on the current housing market, your lifestyle and financial situation, it may be better to wait a year or two before buying.
The heart is where the home is and it doesn’t matter if you live in a 3,000 square foot home or a 1,200 one.
Trying to Keep up with the Joneses
Why do we spend money on things we don’t need to try to impress people we don’t even like? Do you find yourself looking for a new car when you see that your neighbor just bought one?
I don’t believe in trying to keep up with the Joneses because they’re probably just as broke as I am. The only difference is that they are trying to appear rich, which will put you in the poor house real fast.
Years ago, I would go shopping spending money on a whole bunch of nothing just because I was bored. I also liked the attention I received when I wore something new and pretty to work.
Once I realized how empty I felt after my shopping binges and how detrimental it was for me to shop aimlessly like that, I stopped.
Yes, I wanted those new leather boots, but did I need them?
Consider what you value most in life. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends more than I ever could with a new Apple TV. Yes, it is nice to have nice things, but you shouldn’t go broke trying to obtain them either.
If you live by the motto, “shop ’til you drop’, then you may want to seek a therapist. It’s possible you have some unresolved issues that need to be dealt with before tackling.
How many of the mistakes on the list are you guilty of doing?
Are you living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay your bills?
Are you desperate to find ways to keep more money in your pocket so you’ll have less stress and more money to enjoy life? If so, I got you covered.
Here are 25 easy ways to save more money.
25 Easy Ways to Save More Money
1. Start taking lunch every day. By packing a bag lunch, you’ll resist the temptation to go out to eat. If you spend $10 a day for lunch, you can save around $200 a month.
2. Cook more at home. Not only can you save money by eating in, you can prepare healthier meals at home. You’re the chef, so you can control the ingredients (and calories) in your food.
3. Cut the cable cord. I used to spend hundreds of dollars a month for cable. I had every premium channel but barely watched television. I now have subscriptions to Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix and can watch my favorite shows on demand. Amazon video is included in a Prime membership and Hulu and Netflix cost around $8/month each.
4. Cancel Your Gym Membership. Gyms know you’re going to purchase your membership in January only to abandon your fitness program by March. I once purchased a gym membership online and never set foot in the building for an entire year. I finally canceled my membership and purchased workout DVDs. You can get fit by equipping your home with your favorite exercise gear or go for a jog or walk outdoors.
5. Use Coupons. Cutting coupons may be a chore, but if you combine them with store sales, you can cut your grocery bill by a lot. I like to use coupons in combination with sales and a cash back app such as Ibotta. Sign up with my link and make $10.
6. Move. If you are spending more than 32% of your income on housing, it’s time to move. In fact, I encourage you to move somewhere that costs a bit less than you can afford. Not willing to relocate to a new town? You are sure to find cheaper alternatives if you’re willing to downsize or move further outside the city.
7. Sign Up and Use Ebates. This is a great way to purchase items you were planning to purchase anyway since Ebates gives you a percentage of your purchases back to you.
8. Eat Less Meat. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but meat is pretty expensive. Start planning dishes that do not include meat. My family knows what to expect on Meatless Mondays. You can find recipes to many tasty vegetable dishes online. If you or your family feel you might miss meat, try meatless substitutions such as veggie crumbles.
9. Forget Starbucks and Make Your Coffee at Home. Yes, a Caramel Macchiato may sound great in the morning, but if you make your own coffee at home you’ll not only save money but time and calories as well. I have a Keurig, but if you think that buying the K-cups is expensive, try this refill to use with your favorite ground coffee.
If you can’t stay away from Starbucks, check out How to Save Money at Starbucks
10. Cut Out Sodas. Not only are sodas bad for you, but they’re expensive as well. Start replacing sodas with water and you’ll stay hydrated. You can save more money by using a water filtration pitcher like a Brita Filter instead of bottled water.
11. Host a Potluck. Instead of going out to eat, invite friends over with a dish to share with everyone.
12. Stick to Cash. Using credit for purchases can bring the cost up on an item because of interest. Try not to purchase anything you can’t afford to pay with cash. If you can’t afford it without charging it, you may want to reevaluate if you need the item at all.
13. Look for Cheap or Free Things to Do. Instead of draining your entertainment budget every weekend, seek free or cheap alternatives around your city.
Related: Fun and Cheap Date Night Ideas
14. Switch Banks. My son had a checking account with one bank that charged him $12 a month to use it. I told him to switch to another bank and now he doesn’t have a monthly fee as long as he has an active direct deposit. The monthly bank charge goes up to $5.95 without direct deposit, but it’s still much cheaper. Sign up for Simple if you want to forgo the bank altogether.
15. Sign up for Customer Rewards. Most stores have a rewards program that gives you points to apply towards future purchases or member only pricing when you shop. I’ve signed up for Plenti which gives me points to use towards gift cards and free gas.
16. Check Out Books and Rent Movies from the Library. Your library card is your key to more than just books. Most libraries have DVDs you can rent for free. I used to frequent the library at least once a week during the summer. My library either didn’t have a book limit or the limit was pretty high because I would leave out of there with at least 10 books.
17. Join a Wholesale Club and Buy in Bulk. Purchasing a Costco or BJ’s membership will help tremendously because often they’re able to offer wholesale pricing. If you are single and have no use for bulk items grab a friend and split up the packages. Also, most clubs offer an additional card for a household member, so you can split up the membership cost with a friend.
I save a lot each month with my Amazon Prime membership. Check it out yourself and try a free trial.
18. Go Through Your Bills. Check all of your bills, including your cell phone, cable and credit cards. You may find that you are paying for services you don’t need or use. Call and cancel these services.
19. Purchase a Used Car. If you need a car, consider purchasing a used one. As long as the previous owner took care of their car, you should be able to find a reliable used one. By buying used, you’re going to save not only a car payment but on insurance as well.
20. Ride Public Transportation. If possible, forgo a car altogether. If you live in an area where you can get around on public transportation, you may find that you’ll save thousands of dollars a year. No longer will you have to worry about maintenance, insurance or gas. If you need a car, you can rent a Zipcar or a Car2go. Heck, you might just want to just call for an Uber or Lyft.
21. Switch to Generic. I know you may have your favorite brands, but consider switching some of them to a cheaper generic. Many products you purchase tend to have a store or generic brand that is just as good as the better-known brand. Check the labels and you’ll be surprised to find that they contain the exact ingredients as your favorite brand.
22. Sleep on Big Purchases. Before making an impulse buy, consider waiting 24 hours before making a purchase. If after 24 hours you still find that you want to purchase the item, then by all means, go ahead and do so. I’ll bet however, you’ll find you don’t need it right now.
23. Compare Prices. I always compare prices of an item I want to purchase. First, I usually check to see if it is available cheaper on Amazon and next I check to see if it’s on sale at my local stores.
24. Cancel Checking Auto-Debits. This has gotten me in a lot of trouble and caused me a lot of overdraft fees. Be leery of places that ask for your checking account information to make auto debits. Gyms are famous for this because they know that more likely than not the bank will pay them. Banks will then charge you an overdraft fee.
What’s worse, if there’s no money in your account to cover it, they won’t pay it and charge you a returned check fee. Try to use your check card or credit card, because they will decline them instead of charging you fees (or at the very least make sure there’s money in your account beforehand).
25. Create a Budget and Stick to It. A lot of time, we spend mindlessly throughout the week and become shocked when we’re broke 5 days before payday. When you are not able to account for where your money is going, you won’t have a grasp on your money. Create a budget and stick to it. You’ll find that your dollar will stretch a little further. Try these budget forms to download to get your finances together or sign up for Every Dollar for free.
I hope these 25 easy ways to save more money were helpful.
Have a money saving tip not on this list? Please comment below and share with the rest of us.
Looking for fun and cheap date night ideas to enjoy with your love?
If so, I got you covered.
I believe spending quality time with the one you love is more about quality than quantity. Fostering your romantic relationships is important, but I don’t think you should go broke doing it.
…Before continuing, you may want to check out my blog post 7 Silly Habits of Broke People.
Dating is expensive. If you consider going to the movies will cost you about $25 for admission (which doesn’t even include the cost of popcorn), you’re going to want to get creative on how you spend time with the one you love.
I sing the mantra that you can enjoy a romantic and fun time with your lovebug no matter the time or place.
Yes, going on a cruise to the Caribbean or a Broadway play is fun, but no one is going to go broke just for date night. I also believe your lack of funds shouldn’t keep you in the house either.
That’s why I created a list of free and practically free, ideas on how to spend your next date.
So even if you’re dead broke, having a no-spend weekend, or just saving up for your future together, you’ll find something fun (and cheap) to do on this list.
Here are a few fun and cheap date night ideas for you to start planning now
Go on a Picnic
An oldie but goodie, picnics can bring you together in the best way. I think this is the ultimate romantic date that you can probably think of. All you need is a picnic basket (I like this one right here).
Fill it up with a few sandwiches, your favorite wine and head to a great destination.
Most of the ingredients you need for your basket are probably in your kitchen right now, so minimal planning is needed.
Just don’t forget your blanket.
Make your picnic as fancy and as memorable as you want. Drinking out of actual wine or champagne glasses will give you just the right ambiance you are probably looking for.
Throw in some cloth napkins and chocolate covered strawberries and you’ll be good to go.
Some picnic related resources to check out:
Netflix and Chill
Sometimes Netflix and Chill means just that. If you’re looking to do something low-key, just get out your remote and find a great movie to watch with your honey.
Snuggling on the couch is a great way to feel close to your partner in a relaxed atmosphere.
You can pop popcorn and order pizza or takeout, it’s really up to you.
You won’t have to worry about sharing the screen with strangers and you can talk throughout the movie without hearing the sounds of “hush” from all directions. (Stop acting like I’m the only one who talks to the screen).
Here are a few date night movies I recommend.
- Something New
- Coming to America
- How to Marry a Millionaire
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Can’t Buy Me Love
- Cape Fear (not a romantic comedy, but one of my favs)
- Silver Linings Playbook
- 50 First Dates
Attend a Concert in the Park
Who doesn’t love live music? Check to see if your local area is holding free outdoor concerts in the park, especially during the summer months.
You’ll get to dance and enjoy great music by local bands outdoors for free. This is a great way to check out new talent and have fun as well.
How are they free, you ask? Well, most events are hosted and sponsored by your local parks and recreation department or by the National Park Service, so check with them to see what their lineup is.
Some places bring the concert indoors in the event of inclement weather whereas others just cancel and reschedule.
So call before you go.
Oh and don’t forget to bring a blanket or lawn chair just in case there’s no seating (usually there isn’t).
Related Post: Cheap or Free Things to Do This Summer
Want to breathe in some fresh air? Take your partner and gear up for a walk or run around your neighborhood. This will be a great way to not only spend quality time together but get a little exercise in.
Want to get a full workout in? Gear up for a hike. Take a yoga class together. Getting active together helps to strengthen your hearts as well as your bond.
Check out Trails.com before you go for a list of safety tips and trails to follow in national and local parks.
Other ways to get active together:
- Go bike riding (rent bikes if you don’t have any)
- Take a fitness class together (Try Class Pass for options in your city)
- Train for a marathon together
- Learn a dance together (Salsa anyone?)
- Walk the dog (because your pooch makes everything better when he’s around)
Related Money Saving Posts You Might Like
- 25 Easy Ways to Save More Money
- How to Plan a Road Trip Without Losing Your Mind (or Cents)
- 7 Sure Fire Ways to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Visit a New Museum
Most museums are free or charge a minimal entrance free and are great places to take your honey. Depending on where you live, there are sure to be many museums out there for you to explore.
No matter if you’re a history buff or someone who has a deep appreciation for the arts, you are bound to find a museum that tickles your fancy.
I’m lucky to live near Washington, DC, which boasts the Smithsonian Museums which are free.
If your local museums charge for admittance, try to visit during non-peak hours and check to see if your museum is hosting a special event or exhibit.
I am especially fond of museums that host After Five events (especially wine nights). Oh yes!
Other cultural and educational things to do:
- Go on a walking tour (explore your city like a tourist)
- Take a cooking class
- Sit in on a book reading
- Participate in a scavenger hunt
- Visit one of our national parks, which include historically significant places you may not be aware of
Host a Potluck Dinner
Yes, it’s great to spend alone time with your honey bun, but it’s also fun to hang out with other couples too.
Avoid the awkward “Who’s going to grab for the bill first?” and just invite your friends over for a potluck at your house.
Each couple can bring a dish and a bottle of wine to share with the group.
If the weather is nice, why not have the guys throw some of the meat on the grill while the ladies…ahem…chit chat and drink some wine.
Afterward, play a friendly game of Spades or Poker for more fun.
Fun things to do at home:
- Play board games (Suburbia and Monopoly Deal are my favorites)
- Play trivia games (Try Movie Buff or this Date Night Box)
- Watch a movie outdoors (use this to project the movie off of the garage or house)
- Host a cocktail party and pair with great desserts
Go on a (Mini) Road Trip
Nothing beats hitting the road and letting the wind hit your face on your way to a new adventure.
If you agree, how about taking a mini road trip out of the city for just the price of gas?
Find a location that is far enough to feel like it’s somewhere different, but not too far where you’ll be too tired to enjoy it once you get there. I tend to like places out in the country or near the water.
Any given beautiful day and you can find me jumping into the car and heading to St. Mary’s County in Southern Maryland. I often stop at the outdoor Amish market before heading towards the water.
Before you go, just make sure you have a map (yes, even if you have GPS), plenty of gas and a commitment to have fun together – no matter what.
Road trip ideas:
- Visit a farmer’s market
- Shop at flea markets
- Pick berries
- Visit a vineyard
- Hit the beach
- Drive on a historical highway such as Route 66