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3 Tips to Save Money When Going Off to College

People of every age are heading to college for a degree. There are so many opportunities to pursue post-secondary education, no matter your age.

Aside from your typical University opportunities, plenty of online and adult colleges have been built up to help professionals already in the field come back for a different or higher degree. No matter what your age or reason for hitting up the school campus, school is expensive, and it will take its toll on you if you’re not careful.

If you’re one of those heading back to school, you’re probably looking for ways to cut your expenses without killing you. Luckily, there are several ways to begin saving money immediately.

Each of the following tips will help you make meaningful savings in your budget as you head back to school. Select the ones that will help you best.

Get Rid of Your Car!

The first way to save thousands of dollars a year is to sell your car. Okay, now you’re thinking we’re crazy, but the truth is, this is one of the easiest ways to save thousands of dollars every year.

With gas prices the way they are, you are going to spend thousands of dollars on gas alone this year. If you’re not making payments, insurance, and maintenance on a vehicle every year, you’re avoiding sending a lot of money down the drain.

If you have the access to public transportation and friends to help you get to and from everywhere you need to go, sell the car. If you need the car desperately, find excuses not to use it as often as possible.

Although you won’t be able to avoid the car payments or insurance, you can at least save yourself money on gas. A car is a huge expense, so be careful with how you decide to use it.

Another option is to leave your car at home, if you take your car to school you’ll usually become everybody’s chauffeur. By leaving your car at home it can also be like having an extra savings account because if you need some extra money to hold you over until your financial aid comes through you can get a short term title loan.

Put Down the Big Mac!

Second, stop eating out. For a single college student, you can choose to spend $7 on McDonald’s that will only fill you for a meal or you can put that same $7 toward sandwich supplies and feed yourself for 8 meals.

Although you may get tired of peanut butter and jelly, or ham and cheese, you’ll have the energy you need over 8 meals as opposed to just one. If you ate out three times a week normally at about $7 a plate, you would spend just under $1,100 over the course of a year.

When you replace eating out with PB & J’s, you save yourself $873.60. Now apply those same circumstances to a family.

Feeding a spouse and three kids $7 McDonald’s meals three times a week totals just under $5,500 on the year. Sandwich ingredient replacements will only cost you just under $700 for the year. Can you really argue with over $4,000 in savings?

When eating on a budget, ingredients at home will help you save money the most. It may feel like a drastic change, but it’s completely doable.

Buy Used Books Whenever Possible

Third, purchase used books as often as you can. The prices at your school’s bookstore are always overpriced for the same books you can find cheaper online.

Amazon.com set up a way for book owners to sell their books at their own prices. People are much more likely to sell the book to you for a more reasonable price.

You can find nearly every textbook you will need at places like Amazon for significantly cheaper prices. Get your booklist early and order online instead of heading to the bookstore for their more expensive versions.

Also consider looking into an older version of the same book. Textbook updates aren’t incredibly different.

Authors may update a few figures or the language they use, but the different editions aren’t normally incredibly different. Take a look at how the two editions compare and purchase an earlier version if there aren’t significant differences.

Earlier versions are always cheaper. Since you’re already reaching deep into your pockets for tuition as it is, don’t let textbook prices weigh you down as well.

These are just 3 ways that you can begin drastically saving money on your everyday expenses without killing you and your family. Our lifestyles have brought us up to think in certain ways. For instance, ever since we were given our driver’s licenses, we’ve had to own a car.

It’s the thing to do. You use that car to get everywhere you need. It’s usually more of a luxury than a necessity though. There’s always another way to get to work, school, church, or the grocery store.
We also think that we have to eat out when we don’t have enough time to make a meal. A sandwich takes all of a minute to make. Slow down and take that minute to save yourself money down the road.
Finally, you can shop for text books with care. You aren’t beholden to the school’s way of doing things. You can benefit from cheaper prices elsewhere.

Saving money is crucial at this time of life. Amenities like payday loans exist to help you through difficult financial times. When you want a good payday loan, there’s always one available to make ends meet.

How to Save Money on Food Costs

On average, American families spend just over ten percent of their yearly income on purchasing foods. If the family has a tendency to eat out, the total percentage of the cost of food for a family skyrockets.

But it does not have to be this way. With careful budgeting, planning, and a few tips on how to save on food costs, a family or an individual will be able to save thousands of dollars per year on food. The first way that a person or a family can save on food costs is by budgeting for the expense. At Check City we know that the vast majority of customers that use are payday loan services have had an expense of some sort come up unexpectedly. By implementing the concepts in this post you’ll be able to begin the process spending less on your food and being able to start setting that extra money aside incase your family finds themselves faced with an unexpected expense.

Budget For Food

Budgeting one’s income is always a smart financial move. With budgeting, an individual or family can see exactly where their money is being spent and where they can make cuts in expenditures.

This rule of smart budgeting likewise applies to the family’s food budget. By setting a limit to the overall cost per month that an individual or family is willing to spend, can afford to spend, or wishes to spend on their food costs, they will be able to begin saving money immediately on their monthly expenditure on food.

Plan Out Your Meals

After setting a budget for the money that one can afford to spend on food costs, they can begin to plan the meals around that budget. Planning the family’s meals every week will allow a provider to determine what food is being bought and at what price.

By planning out the meals for the week according to what food the family already has and by planning future meals that can all be made with similar ingredients, a family will be able to use purchased food and other ingredients to supply multiple meals. For example, the same core ingredients of that one might use to make spaghetti sauce can be used as filling for a casserole.

Make One Trip to the Grocery Store

In this way, a single trip to the grocery store can yield food stuffs that can be made into multiple meals, feeding the family for the week or until the next trip to the grocer which translates into fewer errands for food which directly translates into lowered food costs. Planning meals ahead of time also allows a family to use local grocery store coupons to direct their purchases and meal plans.

By planning for meals using the deals and coupons offered by the stores in the area, a family can create a meal plan for the week according to what food items are on sale, which will immediately cut food costs. Budgeting and planning the family meals ahead of time around local grocer deals are both ways that a family can start to save on food costs.
But those are not the only ways to cut down the food bill. Shopper tips and techniques can likewise be used to great effect by the family or individual who is consciously striving to save on their annual expenditure on food.

The first and biggest tip that experienced shoppers have learned is to avoid purchasing the big name brands of food. Choosing to buy the popular or most common food brands exposes the food shopper to sometimes incredibly high mark ups on items.

Save Some Money, Go Generic!

Even small mark ups on food items can be avoided by simply choosing to go with the generic brand over the name brand. The same can of soup with a generic label may cost ninety cents while the name brand cost a buck fifty.

This is not a huge mark up in straight dollar amount, but percentage wise it is enormous. The same high percentage mark up for things such as meat and poultry, on the other hand, can cause the unaware shopper to spend literally hundreds of dollars more per year on their protein selections.

Buy In Bulk

Another smart shopper technique that has been proven as a money saver is to buy some food items in bulk. Buying food stuffs in bulk where practical can save individual or family massive amounts of money over the course of a year on the food items they consume regularly.

For an example of how buying in bulk can save a family money, consider the price of the common staple of rice. Rice is used by many households in many different meals and can be bought in a bulk bag of over twenty pounds for as little as ten dollars where a one pound bag of rice at the same store may be marked at three dollars.

Buying in bulk on the common food items that a family uses regularly and shopping the off brands are just two ways that a food shopper can save themselves money. By budgeting a set cost for food, planning out meals and using money saving practices while shopping for food, an individual or a family can begin to cut into the ten percent of their income that they spend on food costs.

Throwing a Cost Efficient Wedding Reception through Budgeting and Other Ideas

At Check City we are no strangers to unexpected expenses. Most people need a short term loan to cover an unexpected expense such as a bill or repair, but another expense that can come out of nowhere is a wedding. Most proud parents don’t realize that when they drop their children off at college that tuition and textbooks aren’t the only expenses that might be coming their way in the near future. As a natural part of life people find that special someone, whether it’s someone they meet in college or their high school sweetheart, getting married is a natural part of life. Planning a wedding can be both a joy and a pain. With the excitement of the impending union, many things must be organized and planned for.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the wedding day is the bride’s special day, and as such must be executed with precision and grace. The combination of required perfection and celebrating a joyous occasion attributes to the claim that planning a wedding can be simultaneously a fun, pleasurable experience and a stressful, annoying trial of one’s patients.

Unfortunately for many, this strange tandem of happy and sad when planning a wedding is largely unavoidable, but this odd combination of delight and sorrow brought on by planning a wedding does not mean that the wedding reception itself has to be a bank buster. And that is the good news planning a wedding reception.

Set a Budget

When it comes to saving money on a wedding the happy couple planning the reception should remember that cost efficiency and saving money is an appropriate way to begin their married lives together. Beautifully planned and organized wedding receptions can be orchestrated to be relatively inexpensive by following five general guidelines while coordinating the event.

Perhaps the best way to save money on any large event like this is by setting and sticking to a budget. Creating a budget to guide the future expenses will ensure that expenditures are limited.

The principle of sticking to a budget will save money in any endeavor and the same principle applies to planning a reception. A reception budget should be well planned with every possible expense listed and subsequently assigned the amount of money that the couple can afford to spend on each item of expense.
A couple may wish to include such expenses as catering, venue, tables, chairs, center pieces, party favors, and the wedding cake itself. Whatever the dollar amount is that is settled upon for each expense, the couple should strive to stay within their allotted budget at all times.

Get a Head Count

An initial step in planning a wedding reception budget and save some money while planning the wedding reception is by knowing exactly how many persons will be attending the event. By having an exact head count of who will be attending the reception, a couple will be able to limit the amount of wasted expenses by limiting the amount of unnecessary ordered food and other supplies.

To gain a close estimate of how many people will be attending the reception, and therefore how much food to order and budget for as food will be the primary expense for a reception, a couple can request that all attendees RSVP to the wedding invitation. If the couple feels that requiring a RSVP is in bad taste, they can plan the reception’s head count around how many invitations they send out.

It should be noted, however, that planning for all possible attendees will typically result in wasted expense as fewer people than invited are likely to show for the reception. It is because of this that an accurate and reasonable head count of those who are planning on attending the reception should be acquired.

Find the Right Venue

Another great way to save on a wedding reception is by choosing the right venue. Reception halls are glamorous, but are not necessary for holding a successful and pleasant wedding reception.

Often there are venues that the couple can secure for free or limited cost that can serve as a suitable substitute for a more expensive or formal reception hall. Such economy locations include a family’s back yard that of an acquaintance, public parks, rentable government buildings, and churches.

All of these venue options can be decorated and adorned to fit the brides dream reception requirements. And at a fraction of the cost, these and other alternative venues for a wedding reception can be a large money-saver for a newlywed couple.

An additional idea to save on a wedding reception is to hire a professional wedding coordinator or similar service the offers a wedding package. Wedding packages often include discounted reception halls, caterers, and other services included in their bundled price.

Save on Decorations

The final way to save money on a wedding reception is to plan inexpensive centerpieces for the reception tables and inexpensive party favors for guest. These two items can rack up a surprising total to the end bill if not watched closely.

Centerpieces can be inexpensive yet elegant if they are kept simple. Party favors can likewise be kept inexpensive if the couple is willing to put in time to create their own from relatively cheap bulk candy and gift supplies.

By keeping these money-saving tips in mind and by creating a budget, a couple planning their nuptials can plan for a successful and festive yet inexpensive wedding reception.

Tip of The Week: Three Simple Steps to a Budget

For the “Tip of The Week” this week we’re going to break down budgeting into 3 easy to follow to steps. A lot of times when it comes to creating a budget for your personal of family finances you can easily get overwhelmed and quit before you’ve even started. As you start planning out your budget it’s important to understand that getting accustomed to using a budget and getting out of debt will not be an overnight process. Budgets are often the most effective when you make small and simple changes and apply them over a long amount of time. As you apply these three simple steps you’ll be amazed at what they can add up to over time.

Steps to Budgeting

Step 1: Evaluate Current Spending- As we’ve mentioned in previous budgeting posts the first and most important step in starting your budget is knowing where your finances currently stand. As you begin your budget we recommend sitting down and taking a look at ALL of your expenses. Oftentimes when we people start outlining their expenses there are several that will go overlooked but it’s important to account for not only your normal monthly expenses but also your expenses that come each year like property taxes, some life insurance plans etc.. By outlining all of your expenses you’ll have a starting point to work from.

Common Expenses Include:

  • Rent/Mortgage Payments
  • Car Payment
  • Average Monthly Fuel Expenses
  • Average Monthly Vehicle Maintenance Expenses (Oil Change, Transmission Services, etc..)
  • Planned Family Vacations (Divide By 12 To Know The Monthly Amount)
  • Home, Life, Auto Insurance
  • Weekly Groceries
  • Entertainment Expenses (Cable, Internet, Movies, Restaurant Expenses)
  • Annual Property Taxes (Divide By 12 To Know The Monthly Amount)
  • Gym Memberships
  • Movie Clubs
  • XM Radio, Sirius Radio, Spotify monthly memberships

Step 2: Set Spending Goals- Once you have an idea of your monthly expenses it’s time to set some goals. Before you can set some goals you need to first compare your expenses to your income. If you find that you’re spending more than you make each year your goal should be to cut your expenses so that you do not have to spend more than you make each month. Some of the common expenses that you can cut include cable, internet, entertainment/out to eat, and other monthly memberships. When people finally sit down and take a look at their expenses they begin to realize how they’ve let all of their different monthly memberships add up to the point that they are suffocating, this will be a good time to simplify your monthly spending. Once you get your expenses in order it’s time to set a goal to start saving, your first goal should be to start saving at least 10% of your pay each month, once you’ve accomplished that you should work towards saving 20% each month until you’ve built up a reserve that could cover 6 months of your monthly expenses.

Step 3: Repeat Monthly- As we mentioned at the beginning of this post this is an ongoing project, don’t think of this as a one month goal. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your budget keep working at it each month, continue to assess your expenses each month so that you can always be moving forward to your next set of goals. Once you’ve built up a savings, there are always more things that you can do whether it’s paying down credit card debt, paying off your car loans or even working towards paying down your mortgage early. As you work through this process it’s important to understand that everything isn’t going to go as planned, there will be months where you come up a bit short and you might need to put some unexpected bills on your credit card or take out a short term loan. If that happens don’t give up, keep working towards your goals.

Budgeting can be a lot of fun if you let it, there are a plethora of budgeting apps that you can use to make budgeting more fun or exciting. As you make your budget your focus it’s also important to remember that it’s ok to have fun every once in awhile, if you get too strict on your budget you’ll end up hating everything about your budget and giving up. If you have any questions on budgeting be sure to leave them in the comments section below or check out our other budgeting videos.

10 Last Minute Valentines Ideas Under $10

valentines day ideas

Valentines seems to sneak up every year, catching millions of boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives throughout the country off guard and left to find “that perfect gift” at the last minute and on a budget. If finding a gift wasn’t hard enough, having the pressure from the media and society to make it perfect seems to weigh on relationships even more.

If Valentine’s caught you off guard this year perhaps the procrastination isn’t entirely your fault, maybe you were hoping to somehow have some additional income in your bank account in time for Valentines and you’ve found yourself with only hours left to shop and minimal resources to use to find just the right gift. If you do find yourself in that situation and you know that you have money coming in a couple days then Check City can help with one of our affordable cash advances. However, if you choose to do Valentine’s on a budget we’ve outlined 10 ways to do Valentine’s for under $10.

A Valentine’s Card

valentines day card

While a card might seem like a bit of a cop-out you’d be surprised how many women appreciate a well thought out card. To be clear, if your last minute Valentine’s Day present is a a simple card, you better be prepared to dump your heart and soul into a nice hand written message inside because the standard pre written message isn’t going to cut it.

A Single Red Rose

valentines day gifts for him

While ten dollars might not be enough to buy a huge beautiful bouquet of 12 long stemmed roses, sometimes a single red rose can say just as much and will come in just under our $10 goal. Most local florist will have a large selection of single red roses prepped and ready to go on Valentine’s day, the sooner you can call or get there the better though because they usually go pretty quick. If you have a couple days before the big day you can usually find a deal online to have to flowers sent directly to your significant others door. To score even more brownie points you can have the flower sent to your wife or girlfriend at work, that way all of her coworkers will gush about what a great guy you are.

A Personal Playlist or Mix CD

valentines day gifts for her

While the beauty of the mix tape may be lost on this generation, the tradition of couples having songs that mean something special to them is timeless. Whether you create an actual mix tape, a CD, or share a playlist through “the cloud” taking the time to sit down and compile a list of the songs that you find special for you and your significant other is a great low cost way to show someone how much you care. If you want to go the extra mile you can write up the playlist and put a special note next to each song telling them when and where you both were when you heard each song. Regardless of which route you go, you should be able to spend well under $10, and a special hint, if you buy songs through Amazon rather than iTunes you can get them for $.99 each rather than the $1.29 that iTunes has started charging.

Journal of Your Favorite Memories

valentines day gifts

This is one idea that could sound a little creepy if you’ve only been out on a few dates and ESPECIALLY if this is your first date with somebody but if you have a history with your special Valentine this can be a great time to start a “Memory Journal.” For under ten dollars you can pick up a Moleskin Journal either at your local bookstore or on Amazon and you can take some time to write out some of your favorite memories. You can write out times you laughed together, embarrassing moments, memories of your first date and then just write out how you feel about them and how much you care. This idea can extend beyond just Valentines and you can start passing the journal off from week to week.

Little Teddy Bear with Candy

happy valentines day

While it may seem like something kids would like, most women still have a soft spot in their heart for a cute little stuffed animal, if you want to make it every better, toss in a package of their favorite candy and you have yourself a winning combination. When we looked on Amazon we were able to find a number of smaller stuff bears for under $7, combine that with a package of $3 candy and a little note letting them know how much you care and you’ve successfully mastered Valentine’s on a budget.

Dinner at Home

valentines day ideas

If you’re like most couples that have been together more than a year, you’ve most likely come to the realization that going out to a restaurant on Valentine’s night isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Between the long waits, huge crowds, and new couples being way too touchy feely there are much more relaxing ways to spend dinner together. For under $10 you can put together a number of quality Pasta dishes, combine that with some French bread and a salad and you have yourself I high class dinner for two for a fraction of what going out would cost.

Inexpensive Jewelry

valentines day cards

While some people are only happy with a product that says Tiffany’s, if it comes from the right person, sometimes that’s all that matters. This Valentine’s Day if you’re looking for an inexpensive jewelry option we recommend looking no further than a charm bracelet. Charm bracelets are a great gift idea because the initial bracelet and a single charm are fairly inexpensive and then you can buy additional charms for future events such as anniversaries, birthdays, etc..

Custom Coupon Booklet

valentine gift ideas

Remember when you were a kid and had no money at all and the classic go to gift for Mother’s Day and Father’s day was a simple coupon book you made yourself full of things like, “free breakfast in bed.” Well if you’re trying to make the most of your budget this Valentine’s Day, going back to your roots might not be such a bad idea. Rather than coupons for cleaning your room and a free night of babysitting that you might have given to your parents, coupons like a free date night or a back rub will go a long way with your significant other. And while the coupon book you give to your significant other will be quite a bit different than the one you gave to your parents you’d be surprised how many of the same ideas carryover such as cleaning up your dishes.

Free Valentines Day Personal Coupon Book HERE.

Facebook, Text, or Email

valentines day message

If your significant other is lower maintenance and hasn’t set super high expectations for this Valentine’s Day, sometimes it will be enough just to let them know that you’re thinking about them. In this day and age there are hundreds of high tech ways that will allow you to let that special someone know that you’re thinking about them and most of them are entirely free. In addition to dropping a quick message through Facebook, Text, or Email you can also make a quick video and post it to YouTube or you can hire out today’s equivalent of a singing telegram on a site like Fiverr where you can hire someone to sing a song to your loved one for $5. If you find yourself away from you Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Husband or Wife this Valentine’s you can also take advantage of free software like Skype, Google Hangout or Facetime for iPhone users to have some much needed face to face time.

Framed Picture

valentines day picture

It seems that today there is a constant flow of images, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram Blogs, and Picture Messages this generation is arguably the most photographed generation of all time. With so many images being posted to the web each day it’s easy for people to think that they don’t mean as much so it can mean a lot to your significant other to take the time and sift through all the images of you as a couple and get one printed out and framed. You can usually get a nice frame for under $10 and one hour photo through Wal Mart, Costco, or Sam’s club is pretty cheap, even for larger prints. If you decide to go the framed route you can even include a little note and tuck it away behind the picture.

 

So there you have it, as much stress as Valentine’s can cause finances shouldn’t have to be one of them. If you have any low budget or last minute Valentine’s Day ideas or traditions be sure to leave them in the comments section below.


5 Creative Ways to Save Money

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult—try one of these 5 creative ways to save money!

1. Plan Your Meals

Food can be very expensive, but can also be cheap if done properly. Set aside time at the beginning of each week to plan your meals. Once you’ve planned your meals, make a list and go grocery shopping. Shopping with a list and specific meals in mind will make it easier to avoid unnecessary impulse purchases. To make the most of your planned meals, it may be wise to set aside a day for eating leftovers. Planning meals makes it easier for you to pack lunch for work and avoid eating out during the week. Cooking meals at home is healthier and less expensive than eating out so you’ll protect your waist and your wallet.

2. Look For Cheaper Alternatives

You can save a lot of money by making clever substitutions. You don’t have to completely give up the things you need and want, just find cheaper alternatives. Here are great creative ways to save money:

  • Opt for generic brands. Often we are paying much more for the same product.
  • Go to the movies during matinee hours, or find deals through your local movie theatre.
  • Make meals from scratch instead of buying prepackaged mixes.
  • Drink water instead of soda.
  • Go hiking with friends instead of paying for other activities.
  • Plan a picnic at a nearby park for your next date.
  • Borrow books and movies from the local library instead of buying them.
  • Ride your bike to work or take public transit.
  • Trade off babysitting duty with a neighbor every other week instead of hiring a babysitter when you go out.
  • Switch to a lower data plan on your phone.
  • Look for clothes at thrift stores.
  • Settle for a smaller TV or an older model computer.

3. Socialize At Home

Spending time with friends can quickly chew through your wallet—but saving money doesn’t mean you have to give up your social life. You can have lots of fun at home, and save a lot of money. Here are some great examples of being social at home:

  • Invite friends over for a potluck dinner and have everyone bring something to share.
  • Plan a game night with your friends and play board games or silly party games (depending on the crowd). Have each friend recommend a favorite game and teach it to the rest.
  • Cook dinner together at home for your weekly date night.

4. Give Homemade Gifts

Thoughtful, homemade gifts can save you money and tell your loved ones you care about them. Use your time and talents to come up with gifts your family and friends will appreciate. Homemade gifts are great for saving money.

  • If you are an artist, draw or paint something for your friends.
  • If you love knitting, make your family scarves or hats for the winter.
  • If you love crafting, make holiday wreaths to give to your friends.
  • If you are a photographer, take photos of your friends or family members for free.
  • If you enjoy woodworking, carve small toy animals for your nieces and nephews.
  • If you love cooking, prepare a book of family recipes to give to a friend who loves cooking.

Homemade gifts have a personal touch that you can never find at a store. Save money while creating a personalized gift for someone you care about.

5. Be Patient

Part of saving money is good, old-fashioned, patience. Learn to wait for the things you don’t really need. If you find something new you want to purchase, but can do without, wait thirty days. This will give you time to be sure you want the item, and it also gives you time to save up for it.

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult. Just make small lifestyle changes and watch the little things add up.

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