Money Saving Tips for Young Professionals

For young professionals, managing their money is a huge challenge. There are those who are earning an overwhelmingly large amount, that they don’t know how to deal with it.

On the other hand, there are also young professionals, who seem to live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. It’s not really because they are only earning a minimal salary, but has something to do with being unable to adjust their lifestyle based on what they are earning.

No matter which of these two categories you fall under, it is best to know how to deal with the task of managing their finances, and which tips you can follow to save those hard-earned dollars in the process.

Saying No (thank you)

There are so many things that could pop up and change your financial plan and priorities. Things like vacations, dining out expenses, impulse big-ticket purchases, and overall fear of missing out (FOMO) can cause a financial plan go awry. The key is to learn to be as protective of your money as you are of your time. You only have so much to allocate over a set period. Prioritize for those areas that matter most and make a commitment to say “no” to the rest, even if it does mean turning down lunch, happy hour, or a weekend getaway. Be nice about it though, the goal is for people to still want to hang out with you

As a young professional, you should take steps not just to guard your wealth, but your health as well.

Find work that you’re passionate about so that you would not dread the thought of getting up each morning to do your job which pays the bills. When you’re healthy and inspired while doing your work, the financial aspect of it will naturally follow.

Appropriately investing for your future

This applies not only to saving for retirement but also furthering your education through an advanced degree or career training. As you’ve likely been told many times by Gen X & Boomers alike, “the earlier you start saving, the better” and “never stop learning.”

Both of these are true. We all know that saving early is important but it’s the habit of doing so automatically and on an ongoing basis that is important here. By setting yourself up on automatic paycheck deductions or transfers to savings accounts and “forgetting about it” (except for the one or two times a year that you review and update it), you’re getting into the habit of putting money aside for your future. A habit that should likely continue until retirement.

Make lifestyle adjustments based on your current salary

Let’s say that you just landed an entry-level position at a mid-scale company in your state. When you were still in college, your parents financially provided for everything you need. Now that you’re living on your own and are supporting yourself, you do not necessarily have to follow the lifestyle of your parents.

If they can afford to take cruises to exotic destinations, become members at exclusive country clubs or regularly eat out at pricey restaurants, it’s because they are already past that stage when they are working for their keep. They have already earned the luxuries that they are enjoying. As a young professional, you’re still at that level where you need to work your way from the bottom up – to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going out during weekends or buying good quality shoes, you still need to stick to a budget. Don’t buy anything that you can ill afford and while you are still saving up for that dream vacation, enjoy a lifestyle that is fun yet affordable.

Knowing where your money is going

You’re part of a tech-savvy generation and if you don’t track yet your spending online, you should start doing that. Budget apps like MoneyCoach can help you for not only tracking your spending but setting parameters around it as well. You have the opportunity to watch your net worth grow as you begin saving money and paying down debts. Cash flow management (or mismanagement) can make or break your financial health. Once you know where your money is currently being spent, you’ll be able to make adjustments as needed.

Asking questions

You can apply this habit not only in finances but in life in general but since we’re talking about finances, it’s incredibly important that you understand what is happening with your money. Get in touch with your attorney, and your financial planner and ask them financial questions. Read books on personal finance. Read the fine print on contracts, agreements and anything else you put your signature on and ask questions before signing. Knowledge is power when it comes to your money and there are no stupid questions.

20 Easy Ways to Save Some Money Every Day

These days, in our world of instant gratification, it’s more important than ever to be able to stay focused on saving money any way you can. So to help you monitor your spending habits and cut expenses, here are 20 easy ways you can save every day—starting right now. How’s that for instant gratification?

1. Host a potluck. The more friends you have, the more money you spend on lunch dates, birthday parties and gifts. Switch it up and, instead of meeting over a fancy dinner, host a potluck and have everyone bring his or her favorite dish. That way, you can save money you’d spend on restaurant extras, such as tax, tip and parking—and you’ll usually have a more intimate meal together, too.

2. Make a weekly “money date.” Commit to sitting down with your money once a week for a money date. During this time, update your budget, review your accounts and track your progress against your financial goals. Like any relationship, if you want your financial life to improve, you must spend time with your money.

3. Plan out your meals for the week. Taking a few hours every weekend to grocery shop and meal plan for the week will definitely save you money, as dining out is the No. 1 expense for most households. By eating at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent on tax and tip—and you usually save calories, too.

4. Cut out cable. Gasp! Cut out TV?! Never! But with services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can now watch your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the cost of cable TV.

A study by market research firm NPD Group shows that cable bills will soon grow to an average of $123 per month, or $1,476 per year. By switching over to an online service or cutting out TV altogether, you can save that money for another financial goal—such as paying off debt, traveling or saving for a down payment on a home.

5. Switch to an exercise pass program. If you love working out, an exercise pass program such as Class Pass is the way to go. By paying a membership fee of $99 per month, you are welcome at many of the best studios in your area. And classes—like cycling, yoga, Pilates, barre, strength training, boot camp, dance and more—are unlimited. This beats having to pay for each studio’s monthly membership or individual class fee, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

6. Leverage lodging rental websites. Finding a place to stay while traveling is so convenient when you use a lodging rental website such as Airbnb, Travelmob or Housetrip. You can often find a place that has a kitchen (so you can cook meals at home to save money) at a rate that’s comparable to hotels. You can even rent out your own place on sites such as Airbnb while you travel to make some extra cash to pay for your own travel expenses. It’s a win-win scenario.

7. Make coffee at home. This one’s not my favorite, as I absolutely love going to coffee shops and drinking delicious organic coffee. However, spending $4 to $5 on coffee every day definitely adds up. So try my approach and allow yourself a few days a week to buy coffee at cafés, and make it at home the rest of the time.

8. Work more. When you’re working a lot, there’s not much time left to shop and spend money. So stay busy and pursue a career you love.

9. Wait 48 hours before you click “buy.” Since we can have anything we want these days with just the click of a button (there’s that instant gratification again), you need to find a system to help buffer your impulse purchases.

Example: Wait 48 hours before spending money on things that cost more than a certain amount. When you do, you will find that, most of the time, the item was more of a “want” than a “need.” Plus, you’ll save money and work toward being more mindful with your spending.

10. Use blogs and Pinterest to learn DIY beauty treatments. Self-care is important—but going to spas and getting pedicures, massages, etc., can really add up. Allow yourself a certain amount to spend on these things; then use blogs and apps like Pinterest to find at-home beauty treatments to help you save money. Often you can find a DIY organic option using common household or kitchen products.

11. Outsource online. Time is a commodity, and your time is precious and valuable. And these days, there are so many tasks you can outsource that will save you time and money. But how do you figure out if outsourcing something is worth the expense?

A great thing to do is to actually calculate the cost of your time, which will help you figure out if you can pay someone to do something for less than your hourly rate. Here’s an example: A monthly net income of $3,000 divided by a total of 160 hours worked equals an hourly rate of $16.75. Now that you know the value of your time, you can strategically outsource it using a service like Fiverr or Task Rabbit for a fraction of your own hourly rate.

12. Choose quality over quantity. This can apply to food, clothes, electronics and much more. Although it’s tempting to choose the more budget-friendly version of an item, sometimes choosing quality over quantity will save you more in the long run. Save up your money and get the best-quality product you can afford, and leverage the cost-per-wear philosophy with more expensive clothing and shoes.

This applies to food, too: Buying quality organic food can nourish you in ways that fill you up more than the prepackaged, processed stuff and potentially save you money on health-care expenses in the future, since you’re taking good care of yourself. Find a balance that is right for you and choose quality whenever you can.

13. Deal with your emotions. Excessive spending is often a way to avoid feeling certain emotions. If you check in with yourself before you go on a major spending spree, you may be able to identify if you’re feeling bored, lonely or stressed and are therefore spending money as a means to avoid the underlying emotion. Check in with yourself before you buy, and be mindful with your spending.

14. Stop trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s hard to keep your blinders on and not compare your financial life to that of others, especially celebrities. However, it is really important to be clear about what matters most to you and make sure you build a financial plan that supports that vision. This will keep you moving toward your financial goals and stop you from spending money on things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t like.

15. Read a personal finance book. When you learn about personal finance, you’ll learn even more strategies to help you save money for your goals in life. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you can save.

16. Get creative with gifts. Find creative ways to express your love to friends and family members with free, lower-cost or handmade birthday and holiday gifts. After all, a handwritten note explaining why you love someone can be more sentimental than some expensive gift he or she may never even use. Most people will appreciate the thought behind your gifts more than anything, so don’t be afraid to save money and find free ways to celebrate birthdays and holidays.

17. Balance your “FOMO/YOLO” mind-set. With social media controlling our lives like never before, people often fall victim to the “fear of missing out” phenomenon and instead go overboard with a “you only live once” mentality.

While it is important to live in the present and soak up each precious moment of life, make sure you balance that out by saving for your financial future, too. Without checks and balances in place, you can find yourself saying yes to everything and spending more money than you have—all due to the fear of missing out.

18. Map out your financial goals. Be very specific with your financial goals. For example, saying, “I want to save for a home down payment” is not enough. You need to map out how much you need, by when and what you need to save every month in order to reach the goal. When you know what your targets are, you’re more likely to stay the course and continue saving for them for the long term.

19. Track your progress. Americans save only 5.5 percent of their money compared to the 20 percent that personal finance indicates you should put away. But instead of feeling ashamed about your lack of savings, just start by saving something.

Even 1 percent is better than nothing. Track your progress and continue to increase the number year after year. Step by step, day by day, you can get to that 20 percent savings level.

The truth is, there are many ways to save money. Find the ways that work for you, and slowly start incorporating the strategies into your life.

20. Keep your eye on the prize. Staying focused on your goals takes discipline and determination. Saving can be easy and exciting at first, but after a while you may lose that initial motivation and start to find other things you can spend that money on. To avoid veering off course, check in with your goals regularly and keep your eye on the prize.

How to Save Money for Your Kids

Start your kids off right in life by putting money away in strategic savings accounts.

Whether you want to teach your child smart money-management strategies, help them pay for college or set them up for financial success as adults, it’s important to jump-start saving for kids early on. However, it’s critical to use the right account.

“A lot of parents view their home equity as a savings account,” says Jon Brodsky, CEO, USA of, a personal finance comparison website. “The problem with that is you don’t know if you’ll have access to that money.” If the housing market or economy fluctuates, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to sell your home or refinance to tap into its equity. Fortunately, you can secure long-term savings for your kids with a few strategic methods and accounts.

Here’s how to save money for your kids:

Open a Coverdell Education Savings Account

Similar to 529 plans, Coverdell education savings accounts allow parents to set aside money for education expenses, including both college and private tuition for grades K-12. Contributions to a Coverdell account are limited to $2,000 per year and are not tax deductible. However, withdrawals for qualified expenses are tax-exempt.

Prior to the creation of 529 plans, Coverdell accounts were one of the best ways to save for a child’s college expenses. However, they have since fallen out of favor.

“My advice is: Why not use a 529 plan?” Mahaney says. A 529 plan doesn’t specify a contribution limit and may offer a state tax deduction, which are key benefits a Coverdell education savings account doesn’t offer.

Create a Children’s Savings Account

Most banks and credit unions offer children’s savings accounts which parents can co-own. These accounts can help children develop the habit of saving, rather than spending, all their money.

“The whole teaching aspect of it is huge,” says Sarah Hussain, a product manager at Alliant Credit Union. Parents can set up recurring allowance transfers and children can take an active role in managing their money while earning some interest as well. At Alliant Credit Union, for instance, dividends are paid out on Kids Savings Accounts once the balance reaches $100.

As children age, they may be moved into teen checking accounts and issued a debit card. “The teen Visa debit card (for teen checking accounts) has lower spending and withdrawal limits,” Hussain notes. Parents remain co-owners of teen accounts to help them oversee and assist with money management as needed.

Open a Custodial Account

A custodial account may be best for those who want to save money for their children but don’t want them to have access to the cash until they are adults. The money is held in the child’s name, but “you deposit the money,” Brodsky explains. “You manage the account.”

Custodial accounts may be set up at banks such as Bank of America or brokerage firms like Schwab and Franklin Templeton. They are governed by the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. The accounts allow children to own securities or other assets that may otherwise be off-limits for them.

While custodial accounts don’t provide the same tax benefits as other college savings vehicles, they may be a good choice for parents who aren’t sure their child will go to college or who want to provide a financial gift upon adulthood. Once a child reaches the age of majority as governed by their state, money from a custodial account is transferred to him or her.

Leverage a 529 College Savings or Prepaid Tuition Plan

When it comes to college savings, no account may be more valuable or more underutilized. “I’m shocked by the little use of 529 plans,” says James Mahaney, vice president, strategic initiatives for the financial firm Prudential.

Only 44% of parents with children ages 8 to 14 years old are using 529 plans, according to the 2018 Parents, Kids & Money Survey from financial firm T. Rowe Price. That’s despite the fact that 529 plans are widely considered the best savings vehicle for college expenses.

There are two types of 529 plans. One is a general college savings plan that allows parents to put money aside into an account that can be used at any school, including private K-12 institutions. Some states provide a tax deduction for contributions to their state’s 529 plan, and withdrawals used for qualified education expenses are exempt from federal income tax.

The other option is a prepaid tuition plan that locks in current tuition rates for public institutions. While the ability to lock in tuition rates is a valuable benefit, the college savings option offers more flexibility and may be a better choice for most families, according to Brodsky.

Open a Health Savings Account

If you have adult children who are covered by your high-deductible health insurance plan, a health savings account is another option to consider. “It’s the only triple tax-free savings tool in America today,” says Shobin Uralil, co-founder and COO of Lively, an online health savings account provider.

Those with a qualified high-deductible family health insurance plan can contribute up to $7,000 in 2019 to a health savings account. This money is tax deductible, grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free for qualified medical expenses. At age 65, money can be withdrawn for any reason and only be subject to regular income tax, the same as a traditional 401(k) or IRA.

While a married couple can only open one health savings account, each adult child covered by a family plan can open their own account and anyone can make contributions totaling up to $7,000. While there are limitations to the use of this money, having an account dedicated to health care costs can help smooth your child’s transition into adulthood. “The best time to fund your HSA is when you don’t need the money,” Uralil says.

Set Aside Money in a Trust Fund

Though not as common, a trust fund is another way to save money for children. “Most of us don’t have access to (one) because most of us are not that wealthy,” Brodsky says.

A trust fund can be set up with any amount of money, but it usually doesn’t make sense unless you have a large amount of cash to deposit into it. An attorney needs to draw up the trust documents, and someone must be appointed to manage the money. Still, for wealthy families, a trust fund offers more control over disbursements, protects cash from creditors and ensures a child’s assets aren’t split during a divorce.

Use Your Roth IRA

Dipping into retirement savings for your kids’ college tuition may not sound like a smart plan, but finance experts say there is no reason you can’t use a Roth IRA to cover education expenses. “Money needs to be saved for college and retirement anyway,” Mahaney says. Comingling the funds is OK as long as it’s done with proper planning.

A Roth IRA allows people to save after-tax dollars for retirement. In 2019, workers younger than age 50 can save up to $6,000 while those age 50 and older can contribute $7,000. Money withdrawn after age 59 ½ is tax-free, and the principal amount can be taken out at any time without tax or penalty. However, withdrawing any gains prior to age 59 ½ results in a 10% tax penalty. Depending on your age, you could use some or all of the money placed into a Roth IRA for your child’s college education or other expenses. If you plan to deplete the account, make sure you have another source of retirement savings, like a 401(k).

There are income limits for those who want to contribute to a Roth IRA, but Mahaney says high-earning households can use a backdoor Roth IRA strategy to access these accounts. In 2019, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA begins to phase out for married couples, filing jointly at incomes of $193,000. To get around this limit, they can make a non-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA and then convert to a Roth IRA.

10 Best Travel Tips After 10 Years of Traveling

For us, travel is not just about checking places off our list.

Our motto has always been “accumulate memories and moments, not just possessions”, and we like to do that through travel.

From our travel experiences and 7 years of travel blogging we’ve accumulated our fair share of top travel tips along the way and it was difficult to limit this to just ten!

1. Don’t Expect Things to Be Like They Are at Home

If you want everything like it is at home, then what’s the point of going anywhere?

Keep an open mind to learning and experiencing new things when you travel abroad, that includes trying new foods which can tell you a lot about a culture – and don’t be scared to eat the street food!

We travel abroad to experience different cultures, environments, and ways of thinking. So don’t shut yourself off to experiencing all a country has to offer.

If you travel with an open mind you can have a much more enriching experience.

There will be moments when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. When this happens, sit back and say, “Isn’t that interesting, tell me more!”

2. Make Travel a Priority

If you want to travel more, you’ve got to make it a priority!

Seriously, if you don’t have enough money for travel yet you have a wardrobe full of designer clothes that you never wear, or a garage full of expensive toys collecting dust, then you’re not clear on your priorities and purpose.

We’ve been able to travel overseas consistently over the past 20 years because we made travel one of our top priorities.

We channeled most of our energy, focus, and finances towards travel.

Currently we don’t own a lot of stuff, but we sure have a lot of memories.

3. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

When you’re planning a trip, don’t try and go everywhere and do everything – that’s a recipe for burnout and blowing your budget!

Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, get to know a region well.

Constantly having to pack and unpack, spend time searching for cheap flights, deal with different time zones, currency changes, and even visa issues can lead to burn out.

And moving around to too many travel destinations can really eat into your finances.

Slow down and take more in. This way, you’ll get a better feel for a place.

Traveling with kids?

Plan for a slower pace than you would if traveling solo or as a couple. Be realistic about what you accomplish, especially when traveling with toddlers.

The less you feel you have to see and do, the more enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.

Understand that you will never have time to see and do EVERYTHING. And be okay with that.

4. Travel Does Not Have to Stop Once You Have Kids

We often get emails or have conversations with people we meet on the road who express that once they have kids their travel days are over!

Take it from us, family travel is possible and need not be a hassle. In fact, it can be one of the best experiences you have as a family!

Sure, we don’t travel around the world like we used to or party as much as we did pre-kids, be we obviously still travel and so do MANY other families – the family travel niche is alive and growing.

Over the past 20 years, our travel style has evolved from traveling solo, to traveling as a couple, to now traveling with our two daughters and many of our readers are inspired to follow in our footsteps.

Yes, family travel has its challenges and there are pros and cons of traveling with kids, but creating priceless memories is something to cherish!

There are valuable benefits to traveling with kids. They force you to evolve your style of travel, and in my opinion, usually for the better.

Top Tips for Traveling with kids:

There are three key essentials to having a stress free family vacation. 99% of the time your child will be irritated, cranky or screaming because they are either:

1. Bored

Choose a kid-friendly destination that has enough activities to keep them occupied, and bring along a few home comforts such as a stuffed toy, reading books, or activity packs which can be a lifesaver on flights and road trips.

2. Tired

Provide enough opportunities for them to rest and an environment for them to get a good nights sleep.

3. Hungry

Pack enough healthy snacks to keep them satisfied, especially on flights, buses and road trips. Long road trips or flights can leave kids feeling cranky and hungry.

When eating out, go out for breakfast or lunch as we find it easier to handle than dinner as they tend to be cheaper and more casual affairs. Plus by dinner time our kids are tired and can get a little crazy!

A hungry or tired kid is a grumpy kid, much like me actually!

5. Plan it Together

Sit down with all members of your family and talk about your trip.

The best way to get your kids interested and excited is to have them involved in the travel planning process.

Talk about:

  • How many days will your trip be?
  • What types of places will you visit: beaches, mountains, big cities, small towns?
  • Do you want relaxation or adventure?
  • When will the trip start?

Memorable trips are those where each member of your family gets to experience something they love.

Grab a few brochures or travel magazines and flick through the colorful pages. Everyone gets to choose a destination and activity they’d like to see and do.

Go through the list as a family, discuss the pros and cons of each and vote.

Next, jump online or on the floor with a big paper map and plot out your basic route with a highlighter, leaving room for flexibility.

When you plan a trip it’s important you choose a destination and activities that suit the interests of all family members. If your kids (or you) are bored or dislike a place it’s not the recipe for a memorable vacation.

Planning to travel soon? Let us help you know what to do and when. Our pre-departure checklists will arrive in your inbox at the right stage of the travel planning journey and tell you what to take care of. They’re free.

6. Learn the Basics of the Local Language

Do not shout at the locals, they are not deaf, they probably just can’t understand you!

And NEVER complain that the people of the country you are visiting do not speak fluent English. Remember where you are!

Learning the basics of the local language is a great way to show respect and break down barriers. Plus a smile, a wave, and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier where language isn’t understood.

Get a phrase book, or an app, and make the effort to learn at least a few basic phrases.

It can make life easier for you, you’ll immerse yourself more in the culture, and the locals will respect you more.

7. Travel In Your Own Backyard

If you can’t afford to travel overseas or out of state, if you don’t have the time to go away for more than a few days or the thought of traveling makes you nervous, start off by traveling in your own backyard.

You don’t have to be rich to travel and it doesn’t have to involve long flights.

A great way to bring more travel into your life is simply by exploring new areas in your home city or state.

Start off by taking a day trip to a nearby town or a weekend getaway to the coast or mountains. Or simply explore your own town with new eyes.

  • Visit a new cafe or market
  • Go kayaking in a nearby river
  • Climb a new mountain
  • Visit a different park or beach.
  • Grab a drink at a different bar
  • Walk around a different neigborhood

After a while, you’ll be looking for bigger and longer adventures.

This strategy is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of bringing more travel into your life.

The benefits of local travel include:

  • Less planning
  • Less packing
  • Les time away
  • No jet lag or burnout
  • Usually cheaper

8. Do the FREE Stuff

If saving money when you travel is a focus for you, then one of our best budget travel tips is to seek out all the free things to do.

Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low cost.

There is absolute joy in the simplest of moments, such as swinging in a hammock while watching the sunset over the horizon.

Other free things:

  • Take a walk or bike ride
  • Swim at the beach or lake
  • Climb a mountain
  • Catch a magnificent sunrise
  • Attend museums or tourist sites on free days or when they are discounted
  • Play in the park
  • Visit a market
  • See a street fair or cultural event

We LOVE walking. It’s one of the best ways to get to know and appreciate wherever you are instead of racing around by car.

When you walk around you have time to stop and marvel at all the nooks and crannies.

You are better able to soak up the atmosphere and feel the energy. And walking is FREE and good for your health!

And walking is FREE and good for your health!

9. Stay in Apartments or Airbnb (and share the costs)

This is one of our favorite vacation tips!

Depending on the length of our trip and the destination, we tend to chop and change between accommodation styles.

If we are planning a trip that is longer than a weekend getaway, we prefer to stay in apartments or an Airbnb.

They offer several benefits:

  • Access to a full kitchen (saves money on eating out)
  • Separate bedrooms from the living room (easier to get the kids to sleep)
  • You have your own laundry.
  • You can book a 3 or 4-bed apartment and split the costs with another family or friends.

These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable.

Apartments and Airbnb are also typically cheaper and more practical than a hotel – especially for families or small groups.

But if it’s only a short city stay, or we’re just traveling as a couple, we’re happy to stay in a hotel.

10. Talk to the Locals

One of our best travel tips and what we always do is talk to the locals!

They usually have the best travel advice and insider knowledge on what to see, do and eat in their own town.

It’s truly amazing what you will learn by striking up a casual conversation.

We ask simple questions like:

  • Where can we get the best coffee?
  • Where is the best spot to see the sunrise?
  • What are the top three things you would show a friend from out of town?

You’ll find that the locals love sharing travel info and stories about their town and are more than happy to help you have a memorable visit!

Some of the best locals to talk to are those working behind the front desk in your hotel, or the bell boy. We always ask them for tips on where to eat, drink and explore.

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House

When buying a house, offering a big down payment can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here’s how to save for a down payment the smart way.

Even if you don’t plan to buy a house for several years, you’ve probably started thinking about how to save for a down payment. Unlike saving for retirement, where the funds you stash away likely won’t be accessed for many more years, a down payment is a large sum of money that you’ll need to access soon.

This means slowly setting aside small amounts and investing them in the stock market just won’t work.

In these seven steps, we’ll cover how to start saving for the biggest purchase you’ll likely every make, and how to do it in the smartest way possible.

Step 1: Find the best way to save for your down payment

As a rule, since the money that you are saving for the down payment on a house has a definite purpose, and needs to be reached within a specific timeframe, you should not save money in risk-type investment vehicles (stocks, realestate investment trusts, ests.) Instead, you should save your money in super-safe vehicles like a boring old savings account or a certificate of deposit.

Sure, you may be able to earn more money by investing your down payment account in higher risk vehicles, but there is also the very real risk that you will lose money in the process.

Remember, if you’re saving for a house, the worst-case scenario would not be missing out on returns, it would be losing some of the money you needed to buy your home.

Step 2: Figure out how much you’ll need to save

Before you begin saving a down payment for a house, you first have to know how much you’ll need to save. Plan to sit down with a mortgage lender who will let you know how much of a mortgage you can qualify for.

Generally speaking, your housing expense should not exceed 28 percent of your stable monthly income. So if your income is $5,000, you can safely allocate $1,400 of that ($5,000 x .28) to your future house payment.

The $1,400 will include mortgage principal and interest, real estate taxes, private mortgage insurance (PMI), homeowners insurance, and homeowners association (HOA) dues, if any.

With mortgage rates at about 4.5 percent, this will translate into a mortgage loan amount of about $177,500.

To arrive at the amount that you can afford to pay for a house, you’ll have to add the down payment on top of that. In today’s tight lending market, you should generally expect to make a 20 percent down payment on a house. No, that’s not a requirement–it’s just the minimum down payment to get the best-priced deals.

You can certainly put down less, but you will likely be paying a higher rate and, if you have any kind of credit issues, you may not be able to get a mortgage at all.

So taking our example of a mortgage for $177,500, and making a provision for a 20 percent down payment, we can calculate the actual dollar amount this way:

$177,500 divided by .80 = $221,875, minus the $177,500 mortgage loan = $44,375, or rounded up, $45,000

Rounding the numbers up, you’ll be purchasing a house for $222,000, with a $177,500 mortgage, and a down payment of about $45,000.

Don’t get hung up on those calculations– a mortgage lender can perform the same calculations for you based on your own financial circumstances. We’ve done this for illustration purposes only, and so that we can carry that $45,000 number forward for more calculations.

Step 3: Determine your timeframe

The next step is to determine your timeframe. If you plan on purchasing a home in five years, you’ll have to be prepared to save $9,000 per year ($45,000 divided by five years).

Naturally, the shorter your timeframe is, the higher your annual savings goal will be.

Step 4: Make room in your budget

Since we’re talking about saving thousands of dollars per year, you have to clear some room in your budget to make sure that your savings goal is doable. That means you may have to earn additional income, cut back on expenses, or both.

But, making room in your budget can help you save the kind of money you’ll need for your down payment, and it will also prepare you for managing the type of tighter budget that homeownership requires. Embrace it for all it’s worth!

Step 5: Bank those windfalls

You can make the process of saving money for a down payment on a house easier—or even shorten the process—by banking periodic windfalls. These can include income-tax refunds, gifts received, bonuses or large commission checks, or even the sale of personal assets.

By depositing these funds into your down payment savings account, you fast-forward the process of saving money to buy your future home. Regularly depositing a few thousand dollars per year in windfalls can chop a couple of years off of your savings timeframe.

Step 6: Build flexibility into your savings plan

Whatever the size of your down payment, it is important to build flexibility into your savings plan.

While you’re saving up money, there’ll be other demands on your finances. These can include major car repairs, replacement of a car, uncovered medical expenses, or even the temporary loss of a job. None of these will magically stop just because you have a goal of saving money for a down payment on a house. You’ll have to be ready when they happen.

Make sure that you have an emergency fund—before you even start saving for your down payment—and keep it well-stocked. And if you have predictable expenses, such as replacing your car, you’ll need to simultaneously prepare for that expense as well.

Step 7: Set up an automated savings plan

Unless you’re a saver by nature, and most of us aren’t really, you’ll need to automate the savings process. That will mean some sort of payroll savings plan. Just like your 401(k) plan, you should allocate a certain percentage or dollar amount of your regular pay to go directly into a savings account or money market account dedicated to accumulating the funds for your down payment.

Not only does this make the process automatic, but it also makes it invisible. Money moves from your paycheck to your dedicated savings account without you even seeing it happen. That will remove both the temptation and ability to spend the money on other purposes.


Buying a home can be a long process that requires a good chunk of your savings, but think of it all as preparation for homeownership. You’ll have all of those expenses after you buy your home too, but you’ll also have large expenses related to the home itself. So think of this as a dry run to prepare both your finances and your psyche for the extra expenses that homeownership brings.

5 Steps for Saving for a House

If you’re saving for a house, here are simple, straightforward steps to get you started.

When my husband and I got married, we had big dreams of owning our own house one day. But with $45,000 in debt and my husband making only slightly more than minimum wage, we knew we were going to have to put our dreams on hold.

We created a five-year plan with the intention that we would pay off our debt, save enough for a down payment, and own a home within five years of getting married. Living in Southern California, there were many times we thought we would never be able to afford a house, especially when the market rebounded quickly in 2013.

Our five-year plan seemed laughable at times. Every financial setback seemed to pull us away from our goal. But we kept at it. We kept working hard, and eventually we paid off our debt and saved enough money for a down payment. We bought our house in November with a $55,000 down payment and in April celebrated five years of marriage — totally meeting our five-year plan goal!

If you find yourself in a similar situation and are wondering how you can save up for a house too, here are five steps for saving for a house.


If you’re trying to figure out how and where to save money if you already feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck, start by reducing your expenses 10% across the board. That means if your grocery budget is $500 a month, try reducing it $50 for a total budget of $450. That’s not a huge difference, but the money will add up when you apply this technique to all your expenses. And soon enough you’ll have enough money saved for that down payment. Just remember to give yourself time to save enough money — it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Prior to even looking at homes, decide what amount you can comfortably afford. What the bank may say you can afford might be drastically different from what you can actually afford. Calculate your total home costs, including mortgage, property taxes and home insurance, which can often add several hundred dollars to your total mortgage.

By figuring out how much house you can afford, you can then decide how much you need for your down payment. Ideally, a 20% down payment is best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, which can easily add hundreds of dollars to your mortgage. However, if you live in a higher cost of living area like we do and have a solid credit score (700 or better), you can most likely still qualify for good mortgage loans with at least a 10% down payment.


For almost a year before we bought a house, we started living as if we were already paying that new mortgage. This means that in addition to your rent, put the difference between your rent and assumed future mortgage payment into your savings account and treat it as you would any other monthly bill. This habit will get you used to the idea of paying a bigger mortgage and the bonus side is that you’ll also be saving toward your house.


The general rule of thumb is that your housing costs should never exceed a third of your total income. However, if you have other debts, such as a car loan, student loans or credit cards, they could easily limit the amount of money you can put toward a mortgage. Consider paying down some of your debt first, which will not only help alleviate some of the financial pressure but also help you secure a better mortgage rate.

While it may sound counterintuitive to pay down debt in order to save, once those debts are paid off, you could have hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars freed up that can help you save faster.


Many people wait until the end of the month to see how much money they have left over before putting any money into a savings account. This is the absolute worst way to go about it because most of the time, you’ll find you don’t have any money left over. If you want to get serious about saving, you need to calculate how much money you can put into savings first. It might take some getting used to, but once you start putting the money away, you start to adapt to it.

If you’re tempted to dip into your savings account, keep your savings account in a different bank from your checking account. We actually use an online bank for our savings account — just to diffuse some of that temptation — and many of them have better interest rates than conventional banks.


The Easiest Tips & Tricks to Save Money

There are countless ways to save money every month, so no list is going to be exhaustive. That being said, here’s a list of the best ways to save money each month. If you have more ideas, we’ll happily add them to the list.

  • Save money when you buy with a rebate app like Ibotta. Ibotta works at over 300 retailers, not to mention your local grocery store, and you can redeem funds once you hit a $20 balance. Shopkick is another excellent app that let you save money at the store. Check out our guide on the other best cash back shopping apps to find a good option for you.
  • Save your raise.
  • Save your spare change in a change jar – include $1 and/or $5 bills as well. You can do the same thing digitally with CIT Bank – as they have a $100 minimum balance requirement and you can earn 1.80 percent if you choose a money market. If you automate it, then it’s done for you without any effort on your part.
  • Take your lunch to work.
  • Avoid out of network ATM fees. The average out of network ATM charges nearly $5 per transaction, according to CNBC. It doesn’t make sense to pay money to access your money.
  • Start a garden and can or freeze the produce.
  • Get free Amazon gift cards by taking surveys with Pinecone Research. If you regularly buy items from Amazon free gift cards can be a great way to save money. Pinecone Research lets you redeem for cash, Amazon gift cards, and more. Taking surveys won’t make you rich, but they can be a great way to monetize your free time by helping you save money.
  • Take Uber as opposed to a taxi. In most instances, one or both can be the cheaper option.
  • Ditch the whole life or permanent life insurance. You can save significant money by switching to term life coverage. If you don’t know where to start, try PolicyGenius to find the best options available.
  • Don’t play the lottery. The average person spends $25 per month on the lottery.
  • Refinance your house to get a lower interest rate. Compare rates at LendingTree to get the best possible rate.
  • Bring snacks to work so you’re not tempted to go to the vending machine.
  • Find cheaper auto insurance. Nearly 40 percent of drivers haven’t compared rates in three years. If that’s you then you might be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table each year. Compare rates at Esurance to see how much you might be able to save.
  • Consolidate or refinance your student loans. Not only does this make repayment simpler as you have only one monthly payment to manage, but it also lets you pay them off quicker through the reduced rate. Check rates at Credible to see how much money you can save on student loan payments.
  • Buy used when you can, especially clothes. Find the best consignment shops around you and shop at them to save money.
  • Break out of the bundle pricing offered by cable companies. Here’s how to get internet without cable and save more money each month.
  • Don’t buy extended warranties.
  • Use your unused gift cards. $1 billion in gift cards go unused each year, according to Marketwatch. You can use them to buy something you need, sell them or use them to buy a gift for someone. If you like to use gift cards, you can buy used gift cards at Raise at a discount.
  • Get rid of unused memberships or subscriptions with Trim. Trim is a free to use app that analyzes and find subscriptions you don’t use and cancels them to save you money.
  • Buy a programmable thermostat to save on energy bills. We work from home so don’t have much need for this. Assuming that’s not the case for you, this lets you save money every month on your energy bills.
  • Negotiate doctor’s bills. We ask every time we go to the doctor or dentist. We commonly get a reduced rate by offering to pay up front.
  • Go to the library. The library offers many ways to save money every month from books and movies to a lot more.
  • Consolidate your debt through Even Financial, to reduce the monthly interest you’re paying and they allow you to compare up to 17 lenders at once. If it’s credit card debt you have, get a balance transfer credit card to lower your rate to 0 percent and kill the debt.


There are many ways to save money every month; you just have to put some into action. Like I said in the beginning, you won’t be able to do all of them, but even a few of them will help you save several hundred dollars per month – that’s life-changing kind of money.

Simple Ways to Save Money Every Month

I love to find ways to save money every month as it means we have more of our money to apply towards our goals. Finding ways to save money each month gives you the power to reach any number of goals, such as:

  • Paying off debt
  • Going on vacation
  • Saving for retirement
  • Saving for a house, car, or other large expense

The struggle many people have is staying motivated to save money. It’s easy to think that saving an extra $2o or $30 per month won’t matter, and before you know it, you don’t have the funds you need to do something you want.

If you need motivation to save more money, or simply don’t know how to save money on a monthly basis, know that it is possible. In fact, you can save money easily with very little effort.

When you save money each month you help yourself financially. It allows you to accomplish numerous goals. When you combine it with making extra money, you instantly multiply your progress.


Do you want to save more money this year, but don’t know where to start? This post is for you. Not each option on the below list will apply to everyone – and that’s fine. However, it’s possible to take a small handful of the options here and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars this year alone.

If you’re looking for the best ways to save money every month, combine some of the below tips to put your savings game on the fast track.


If you want to know how to save money fast, one of the best options is through the 52-week challenge. If you’ve not heard of the 52-week challenge, it’s simple. You start out week 1 by saving $1. Week 2 you save $2, week 3 you save $3 and so on.

The plan is to add one extra dollar per week until you put away $52 the final week of the year. This alone will allow you to save $1,378 per year. Even if you don’t start at the beginning of the year you can harness a lot of power by making stashing money away in savings a regular habit.

Make it easy on yourself and automate the transfer so you don’t even feel it. You can do that with Chime Bank as they operate entirely online. The fee-free bank pays just .01 percent interest on your cash, but their checking account pays .10 percent plus rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar and places it in your savings account.

Total savings = ~ $1,400


Cutting cable is the easiest way to save money every month. I’ve written about how we canceled DirecTV and are now saving almost $90 per month. The average cable bill is over $110 per month.

There is no reason to spend this much to get television content as there are so many cheaper options available.

We use our Amazon Fire TV Stick and Netflix to get the shows we want. Check out the Amazon Fire TV Stick channels list to see what kind of content you can expect with the dongle.

There are many other options from Hulu with Live TV to getting a digital antenna, that it just makes no sense to have a cable bill.

If you don’t know how to watch ESPN without cable, have no fear. Most of the streaming providers make it possible without a nasty contract. Losing sports was what held us back from cutting the cord. It’s relatively simple to replace it with a streaming service.

Total savings = $80+ per month


Should you keep your gym membership if you want to lose weight? In a word – NO! According to Statistic Brain, $40 per month is wasted on the cost of the average gym membership.

You can lose weight without paying to join a high-priced gym. I lost 100 pounds on Nutrisystem and didn’t step foot in a gym. I walked and used free videos on YouTube. I’m proof it can be done without paying a lot of money to exercise.


Like cutting the cord, this is another one of the best ways to save money each month. The average cell phone bill for Verizon and AT&T is almost $150. There is no need to spend that much every month.

We switched to a cheap cell phone plan and now save over $100 per month. You can get a plan with Tello for as low as $5 per month. You can customize your plan based on your specific needs and situation.

Total savings = $100+ per month


I almost can’t believe this number, but the average person spends $190 per month (assuming a pack a day habit) on cigarettes. I’ve never been a smoker, but I just don’t see the appeal.

Not only is cutting smoking one of the best ways save money every month, but it will also help you save significant money in the long-term on medical bills by improving your health. That’s a win-win.

Total savings = $190 per month

15 Ways To Save Money While Traveling

Who doesn’t like to save money when possible? Traveling can be expensive, but with the right strategy you can bring down the cost. Try these 15 tips on your next vacation and your wallet will thank you.

1. Shop at farmer’s markets and local stores. Farmer’s markets often lower the price of their food towards the end of the day. Also, shopping at local stores allows you to taste the local cuisine without having to pay the price of a restaurant. Buy some local fish and cook it up at your condo.

2. Look for free activities. If you do a little research, you’ll see there are often lots of free activities in the area. Look at community calendars to see what is going on in town while you are there. Do a self-guided walking tour to familiarize yourself with your destination. Museums often have a ‘pay what you can’ day once a week and sometimes have discounted admission after a certain time of day.

3. Book a room with a refrigerator/microwave or kitchen area. Although some people might not like to cook while on vacation, I don’t mind making breakfast in my room. I love having a cup of coffee on my deck, but room service can be very pricy. I’d rather eat-in for breakfast and lunch and then splurge on a fancy dinner. A microwave and fridge will also be helpful for reheating leftovers.

4. Before you book, be aware of the location of where you’re staying. Transportation can add up quickly, so you may want to stay in a central location. Ideally, somewhere you can walk everywhere would work best. If you’re staying in a city, will you be near a subway or bus stop?

5. Carry snacks/water during outings. Kids will need snacks while you are exploring, and it drives me crazy to spend money on silly snacks. Throw some granola bars in your bag and pull them out when the kids need fuel. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate spending money on bottled water when I can buy an entire case for the same amount. Always carry your own water. However, splurge when it comes to treats that you can only find in that location.

6. Use points or miles. Chain hotels, like Hilton and Marriott, have a reward system that give you points for staying there and they are great to use for free overnight stays. When traveling, try to exclusively stay at those hotels and fly the same airlines to build your points.

7. Don’t get the best room. How much time are you actually going to use your room? Will you just be sleeping there? Do you need a room with a good view or so much extra space? Will you use the amenities, such as a pool or a fitness room?

8. Be flexible when flying. If you are not on a tight schedule, can you be flexible with the time of day you fly, the number of stops, or your seat selection? Do you mind having a long layover? If possible, check the dates of your trip and see if the price would go down if you tweaked the dates a bit.

9. Stay outside a city. You often pay for location, and it’s sometimes cheaper to stay away from areas with big tourist attractions. You can always go to the attractions and then head back to your hotel to sleep.

10. Look for city tourism cards. Depending on the card, you can gain free entry to top visitor attractions, discounts at restaurants and shops, skip-the-line options at busy attractions, free public transportation, and even free guidebooks. Depending on your itinerary, it might be worth the money.

11. Rent an apartment instead of having to get two rooms. My friends with three or more kids are often complaining how expensive it is to stay in a hotel because they need to get adjoining rooms. An apartment or condo is often much cheaper. I love to use VRBO, HomeAway, and have even used TripAdvisor.

12. Go off season. You can usually find cheaper plane tickets and hotel rooms by going off season, and there may be more availability. You will not have to deal with large crowds and attractions could also be cheaper at that time. Just make sure places are open.

13. Don’t eat in areas that are close to tourist destinations. In some cities, walking just a few blocks can slash prices at restaurants. I try to never eat at attractions because they tend to raise the price to their captive audience.

14. Create a budget and stick to it! Know when to save and when to splurge. We always eat at a nice restaurant on our last night of vacation. Look for ways to save money but also treat yourself during the trip. Having a budget is a wonderful way to keep yourself on track.

15. Have a big lunch. Restaurants often offer lunch specials with less expensive prices. You could also buy extra food at lunch and save it for dinner later.

How to Save Money on Groceries: Complete Guide

Are you tired of seeing prices rise every time you go to the grocery store? The Federal Reserve may say that inflation is pacing the 2-percent target, but anyone who looks at their till slip after a shop can say otherwise.

Food prices will continue to escalate as the world teeters on the brink of a global recession. Threats to food supplies cause increases in prices, and you’ll find you’re paying more for some food products than others. For example, the recent global shortage of pork due to Chinas “pig ebola,” means that pork prices are set to rise exponentially over the coming months.

At the same time, wages aren’t rising, and people are experiencing a cash crunch on their monthly budget. The grocery store is the place where most of us notice the cost of living starting to encroach on our budget.

Fortunately, we put together this list of tips and ideas you can use to bring down your monthly spend. Give each of these strategies a try, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars over the year on your trips to the grocery store.

Set a Budget and Write a Shopping List

After you have your meal plan ready, it’s time to execute. Start by writing a comprehensive shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need for your meals. Creating a shopping list provides a method to the madness of visiting a grocery store.

With a list, you can laser-target the items you need at the store, and save time. Time is our most valuable asset in the modern world. If you add up all of the minutes you spend aimlessly wandering around the grocery store during the year, we bet it adds up to hours of your life. With a list, you get in and get out of the store in the shortest time possible.

Create your list on an excel sheet and print it out or send it to your phone. If you think that feels too much like work, then a simple hand-written list will suffice. Once you have your list ready to go, it’s vital that you don’t differ from the plan and only shop for items you need.

Plan Your Shop

The most important part of your money-saving strategy starts before you walk out the door to go to the grocery store. Creating a meal plan for the week helps you identify all the ingredients you need when you visit the store.

With a meal plan, you know all the ingredients you need, and you don’t waste your time wandering around the isles. With a meal plan and ingredients list, there’s no chance of you picking up items that you don’t need for the week.

Think about the meals you want to make this week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eat as healthy as you can, and avoid relying on TV dinners and prepared meals for your food. Prepared meals contain sub-standard ingredients that have a low nutritional value. In many cases, these prepared meals come with meat offcuts and processed foods that are terrible for your health.

If you have little time to make breakfast or lunch during the week, then preparing meals that you can store throughout the week is a good idea. Mueslis and yogurt jars, soaked oats, and salad jars are all pre-made options you can make on a Sunday, and leave in the fridge for a few days. Pull them out when you need them, and get a nutritious meal instead of relying on the drive-thru at lunchtime.

Never Shop When Hungry

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when visiting the grocery store is to walk through the doors feeling hungry. Two types of hormones govern our appetite and food choice – Leptin and ghrelin. When you get hungry, the body ramps up production of ghrelin to stimulate your appetite.

Unfortunately, when ghrelin is rampaging through your body, you make poor food decisions. If you visit the grocery store when you’re feeling hungry, there’s a higher chance that you’ll buy things that aren’t on your shopping list. Hunger makes us do silly things, and you’ll find yourself picking out loads of snack foods and other items you don’t need.

Only visit the grocery store after you enjoy a meal. Try to avoid going to the bravery store after work, as this is the time of the day when you’re likely to be feeling hungriest. Plan your shopping trips on weekends, and hit the grocery store after you enjoy a substantial breakfast.

Double Up On Ingredients

Research shows that Americans waste around 25-percent of the food we eat. That’s a shocking statistic. Imagine if you could save 25-percent of the money you spend at the grocery store each year? That figure would likely be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

One of the best ways to ensure you waste less food in your home is to double up on your meals. Cook enough to make two meals when it’s time to prepare food. While this strategy may seem like you’re making more food, you’ll waste less. Pack the extra food and use it for a second meal during the week. Store it in Tupperware and freeze it for a snack later in the month.

Use this strategy for making breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll find it surprising how much food you save during the week. Plus, there’s the convenience of having frozen home-cooked meals on hand when you’re feeling tired and don’t want to cook in the evenings after work.

Visit Sites for Coupons

Visit sites like eBates, and other similar discount sites for virtual coupons on thousands of grocery items. Sign up for a cashback program with eBates, and you could earn up to 40-percent of your spend in cash back credits that payout to your PayPal account.

Clipping coupons may seem like you’re cheap with your money. However, there is nothing wrong with taking a frugal approach to your grocery shopping. Clipping coupons may take some time, but you’ll save thousands of dollars over the year using this strategy.

Stock Your Pantry

Keeping a well-stocked pantry ensures that you don’t run out of crucial items. If you’re ready to make a salad, but there’s no olive oil for the dressing, you’re more likely to go and visit the grocery store. While you’re there, you’re probably going to pick up a few other things that you don’t need.

Keeping your pantry packed with everything you need helps you avoid situations where you have to waste time and money going to the grocery store. Make sure you stock up on all the non-perishable items you use throughout the month. Ensure that you don’t leave the house for any unexpected shortages.

Use Your Leftovers

We all have leftovers after making a meal. How many times have you finished your enchiladas, and put the leftovers in the fridge? The next day, you forget they are even in there. When you return from work, you start cooking something fresh, and the enchiladas sit in the fridge overnight.

The following day, you open the fridge door to a rank smell of rotting enchiladas. You throw out the meal in disgust, both at the state of the food and yourself for wasting food. Stop these situations from occurring and use your leftovers.

If you’re cooking something like enchiladas, where it might be too much for one serving, then double up the ingredients and make a second meal you can store in the freezer.

Shop for Deals

Before you head out to the grocery store, take some time to shop for deals online. Most large grocery store chains will post price deals on their website. Smaller stores may use local newspaper inserts to promote discounts on items. It’s vital that you look for the best deals possible, and compare prices between products.

For instance, toilet paper is one of the necessities we can’t do without in our life. It may shock you to find that there’s often a 25 to a 30-percent difference in pricing of this consumable between different retailers. However, you can be sure that a retailer is offering a special deal on toilet paper every weekend.

Proteins are also another item where grocery stores have promotional deals all year-round. Some grocery stores may offer deals or discounts if you take more than one item of the same type. For instance, buy three batches of asparagus and only pay for two.

Buy Your Food in Bulk

If you’re heading to the grocery store, make sure you buy in bulk where you can. Canned foods and other items with long shelf lives are fantastic for buying in bulk. When you visit the grocery store, look at the shelf pricing. The chances are that you’ll find there are two prices.

The higher price in the bold or large font is for a single unit. If you look under that, you’ll find a smaller, cheaper bulk price if you take more than a set amount of items. Buying in bulk is an excellent way to save money on canned foods, sauces, dry foods like rice and pasta, and bottled things like olive oil.

Prep Your Meals

We already discussed the importance of meal planning. However, meal preparation is essential. After you visit the grocery store on Sunday, return home, and spend an hour or two preparing meals for the next few days. Most meals will keep in the fridge for up to four days before they start to spoil.

Putting together items like salad bowls and jars of soaked oats saves you plenty of time during the week when you oversleep in the mornings. All you need to do is grab a jar and hit the road. Using this strategy will help you avoid the drive-thru line at lunchtime, saving you plenty of money during the year. Scour forums and blogs online for tips and tricks for preparing meals in minutes.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture Program

One of the best ways you can save thousands on your annual grocery shopping is through joining a community agriculture program or co-op. These programs are a collaboration of community members that support a local farm. The members pay an annual or monthly fee to join the program, and this entitles them to some of the crops each year.

These programs can save you a fortune of your vegetable bill over the year. Having fresh, organic veggies on hand for a fraction of the price you pay in the grocery store is fantastic. Plus, you get genuine organic fruits and vegetables, which is far healthier for you and your family.

Joining a community-supported agriculture program is the best way to improve the health of you and your wallet. Look online for programs in your area, and participate for a small fee.

The Final Tip – Don’t Give in to Your Impulses

When you finish your shop and move to the checkout, don’t fall for the impulse trap. It may surprise you to learn that suppliers pay the grocery store for shelf space. The premium shelf space in the aisles is at eye level and the shelf below. However, the most expensive shelf space is next to the cashiers.

You’ll notice that grocery stores put candy and convenience products near the cashier. This situation is not a coincidence. Food manufacturers spend millions on research to understand what triggers consumer’s impulses. By placing the candy and convenience products near the ill, the study shows that you are more likely to buy these products on a whim.

Therefore, avoid the temptation to fill your grocery cart with a few candy bars and snack foods while you’re waiting for the cashier. If you pick up one candy bar every time you go shopping, then that’s a couple of hundred dollars over the year that you’re spending on impulse purchases you don’t need.

Don’t fall for this sneaky tactic that retailers use to upsell your shopping trip. Stick to your plan and your shopping list, and don’t blow your budget.