Super Saving Tips https://supersavingtips.com/ Stretching your money further Mon, 15 Aug 2022 23:40:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://supersavingtips.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cropped-Favicon-32x32.png Super Saving Tips https://supersavingtips.com/ 32 32 A Sad Announcement https://supersavingtips.com/sad-announcement/ https://supersavingtips.com/sad-announcement/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12985 Dear Readers, This is Gary’s wife, Suzanne. I have some sad news to share. Gary passed away Sunday morning at the age of 73. Although he was not in good health, it was an unexpected shock. We will miss him terribly. Gary loved writing this blog for you and hoped …

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Dear Readers,

This is Gary’s wife, Suzanne. I have some sad news to share. Gary passed away Sunday morning at the age of 73. Although he was not in good health, it was an unexpected shock. We will miss him terribly.

Gary Weiner

Gary loved writing this blog for you and hoped you enjoyed reading it. I know it would please him greatly if you were to still find some helpful knowledge in his 780+ existing posts.

I will be leaving the blog live for some time to come. At this point, I do not know if I will be adding to the posts, but I’m sure the existing posts will help you to save money, make money, and invest money.

Thank you.

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Inflation Has Peaked (Maybe)? But What About Prices on Food? https://supersavingtips.com/inflation-prices-on-food/ https://supersavingtips.com/inflation-prices-on-food/#respond Fri, 12 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12976 Some pretty good news hit the books this week. The inflation numbers we’ve been dreading to hear every month seem to have peaked for the first time in over a year. We can’t be sure, but it seems that fuel prices are downward trending, going under $4.00 a gallon for …

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Some pretty good news hit the books this week. The inflation numbers we’ve been dreading to hear every month seem to have peaked for the first time in over a year. We can’t be sure, but it seems that fuel prices are downward trending, going under $4.00 a gallon for gasoline on average in the U.S. and used car prices are down as well.

Frozen foods in supermarket representing prices on food

Airfares are also finally declining and then there’s the new jobs report that shows they are growing. All these are indicators that better times may be around the corner. But what about prices on food? Where are we now and is that good news too?

Prices on Food Are in a State of Chaos

Inflation has been strangling just about all of us for so long that last year now seems like “the good old days”! The biggest battleground in the middle of inflation has been gas, rent, and food—just the three biggest basics that we deal with and cause us the most grief and worry when it comes to prices.

Kitchen-table food cost budgets across the United States have climbed every month this year. Groceries in total are 12.2% higher now than they were just last summer, the biggest year-over-year spike in 43 years.

Federal data shows that fruits and vegetables now cost 8% more and staples such as bread and cereal jumped 14%. Do you need butter or margarine? They are up a whopping 26%.

Despite the good news this week, if you were grocery shopping, you didn’t feel better, did you? Buying the things you and your family needs and wants has been akin to going to war. You’re bleeding money and that’s forced many consumers to make different choices in the grocery aisles.

News Reports Tell the Story

The Washington Post asked its readers to share how they’ve adjusted to the runaway prices on food specifically while the cost of everything else was climbing too.

The goal was to find out what, if anything, shoppers are doing to fight inflation and feed their family. Whether they’re going with store brands, cutting back, or simply doing without, all are making it clear that there are real changes in the way they shop for food.

It’s kind of funny to say this (in a warped way, that is), but just last week I heard an interview being conducted on CNBC with the president of Kroger, one of the largest supermarkets in America. What he said shocked me. Kroger is surprised that people are changing their shopping habits!

It seems that Kroger saw a major increase in people buying store and generic brands rather than traditional name-brand favorites over the past two quarters. It surprised them, but not me and I am guessing not you either. How could it?

Under normal circumstances, any smart shopper would try store brands just to see the differences and try to save at least a small amount of money when they do. Bonanza time if you actually find something you like and make it a part of your regular shopping list!

There are some items that it may make no difference at all to switch from brand to generic or store brand. Bacon, cheese, bread, canned items, the list could reach from here in New Jersey to Cleveland, Ohio really.

I myself have never been brand loyal. I was just raised that way. But now, due to inflation, it’s become a big deal for way more of us and that is changing shopping habits for reasons we all understand!

What Are Real People Saying About Prices on Food?

Getting back to The Washington Post’s survey, real people are saying what they are doing about food prices. Since it’s not advisable to just stop eating, the only recourse we have is to shop smarter and change our shopping habits.

Here are just a few of the general comments The Washington Post gathered:

  • “I don’t buy cottage cheese anymore. I used to be able to find the brand I like on sale, two for $5. Now, it’s always $4.39 a piece.”
  • “I’d like to think that the free market is a believable concept. I don’t want to think that other entities along the food chain are taking advantage of the situation, but it just kind of seems that there is no other explanation that fits.”
  • “I shop now at Walmart and Sam’s Club because they are 10% to 15% cheaper.”
  • “We do without a lot of things that we used to buy.”
  • “Typically now I buy a lot of ground beef and chicken breast because it’s less expensive.”
  • “Now I don’t buy all of the wants. It’s more of what we need.”
  • “I used to buy whatever I felt like buying and now I am not eating as much. I’ve cut down on the size of the meals.”

Smart Shopping During Inflationary Times Can Teach You Big Lessons

I guess I have stood on my soapbox numerous times over the past 8+ years talking about being a better shopper and the best ways to save on your food budget. Assuming you have a budget (why do I have to ask that question?), food shopping is more of a challenge than ever.

What I used to call “tricks” are not really that at all. They are just the tools you need to use to save money. In fact, I have written posts on every angle of that many times, but I am not certain that it always gets through. I think now it may have at least started to take root.

A Quick List of 9 Tools You Need to Save Money on your Food Bill

  1. Make a food budget. Make food a realistic percentage of your budget (typically averages 10% for most folks) and track those expenses regularly (at least monthly) and adjust when necessary.
  2. Shop your pantry first. You will surprise yourself when you find you already have what you need.
  3. Meal plan in advance. Planning helps you buy the needs and use what you buy.
  4. Always buy needs and limit wants. Think nutrition and practicality and stay away from costly treats the best you can.
  5. Get a loyalty discount card. Free cards are ways to get automatic coupons and discounts as well as “specials” not available to everyone else. Put it on your key chain or your smart phone so you always have it with you.
  6. Clip coupons. Cut paper and online coupons and get digital coupons to save money. Don’t be lazy, just find them.
  7. Shop at different stores. Shop around and find the best deals every time you shop. Every store has specials and you will save if you change your habits and shop another store when it makes sense.
  8. Stock up when you see a deal. Self-explanatory, just don’t do that with perishable items unless you can use or freeze them.
  9. No brand loyalty. Try store brand and generics which are mostly made at the brand-name vendor factories and find a good cheaper substitute to save.

Final Thoughts

Inflation may have begun to slow, and in some areas gone lower, but prices on food? They seem to be going nowhere right now and that is a huge problem. You can sit and moan, but that isn’t going to help.

What you need to do is change the way you shop, go to school when you look at the weekly ads, and learn where the deals are best. There are very few things that you just can’t wait for and numerous substitutes (lower priced alternatives) are available.

Shop locally for fruits and veggies, especially in season. Support your local farmer and save money that way too.

It is a challenge today, but you can get really good at food shopping now that can benefit you for a lifetime! Oh, and bring the kids along so they can understand and learn all about it too!

How are you dealing with food inflation? Are you shopping differently now? What are your best money-saving tricks to save on food?

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OMG I Can’t Pay My Bills: Getting Help When You’re In Trouble https://supersavingtips.com/i-cant-pay-my-bills/ https://supersavingtips.com/i-cant-pay-my-bills/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000 http://supersavingtips.com/?p=1293 The subject of financial need and the stress it brings may be a topic that some personal finance blogs shy away from. It seems that many PF bloggers are concerned more about the folks that have money now and want even more of it (doesn’t everyone really?). The idea is …

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The subject of financial need and the stress it brings may be a topic that some personal finance blogs shy away from. It seems that many PF bloggers are concerned more about the folks that have money now and want even more of it (doesn’t everyone really?). The idea is that if you take some specific action(s), you can get rich fairly quickly and retire at age 30 or 40…and maybe you can do that. But what about the other side of life? What if you’re thinking “I can’t pay my bills!”? So you can’t pay your bills…what can you do?

Man with empty pockets thinking of money representing I can’t pay my bills

Many people have been financially crushed and even more so during and after the pandemic. What about those who just need help when they can’t pay their basic bills?

Where Can You Turn to Get Help with Money?

Assuming you have exhausted the simple resources, like you asked your Mom and Dad and your Uncle Fred in Cleveland for help and it just wasn’t in the cards, what do you do next?

If you can find a great blog like Super Saving Tips (he said modestly), that may be a start.

But really, there is some other good news about getting help with financial issues around. Putting aside the time frame and urgency/emergency issue, you can begin by looking on the internet for local resources. The answers you need are there and the internet helps in so many ways. But before you go there, here is where to start when you can’t pay your bills.

Don’t Ignore Your Creditors

Often when people don’t have the money to pay their bills, they stop opening their mail. They just can’t bear to look at all the balance they owe, but it’s important to know where you stand. Ignoring your bills and your creditors will just make things worse when your services are shut off or your debts go to collections.

Instead, contact your creditors and explain your situation. If there are extenuating circumstances like you’re temporarily unemployed, had unexpected medical bills, or something similar, let them know. Tell them that you want to pay your bills but you need a little flexibility right now, like a lower minimum payment, an extended due date, or a lower interest rate. Creditors would rather have some of what you owe rather than none at all, so they may be willing to negotiate the terms. This is true whether it’s student loans, credit cards, or other types of debt.

Find Some Additional Income

Sell your junk. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Your old music CDs, video games, books, clothes, etc. can get you some fast cash. Even items that don’t work can have value…I sold an inoperative PlayStation3 on Ebay years ago so that someone else can repair and resell it.

Ask your boss for a raise if you think you really deserve one. Make sure you review with them all the contributions you’ve made and the reasons you’re worth more. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it will give you at least some feedback as to whether you’re progressing at work and will see more money in the near future.

Get a second job or a side hustle to earn additional money. Even a part time gig at a fast food outlet 10 hours a week will earn you several hundred a month and maybe some free food. Or work for yourself by babysitting, dog walking, selling crafts, or one of hundreds of other ways you can make a little extra dough.

When you find that additional income, make sure it goes towards paying off your bills and doesn’t get squandered.

Track Expenses and Start Budgeting

Do you know where your money goes? Do you have a budget? If not, start tracking your expenses to see what you’re really spending each month. If you already have a budget, it’s probably just not managed well. Your income can only go so far and when overdoing the credit cards or other things like car loans, disaster approaches. You may find upon examination that you’re spending all or even more than you’re making. Perhaps your income is irregular, like earned on commission, tips, bonuses, or overtime. Whatever it is, it can make your finances difficult to manage. This in turn can damage your credit rating, which you are going to need more than you may even realize. Your credit score can affect many areas of your life including your employment chances.

Right now you may not be in the right job and are not getting paid what you think you deserve. Or you may have run up debt on things that aren’t necessities in life and now you’re paying it off at something like 23% interest. The first step is to make a real budget. Reduce your expenses wherever you can. Be aggressive to give yourself a chance to get back on track.

Cut Your Expenses

If you can’t pay your bills, you need to cut your expenses to save money for those critical payments. It may be time for a roommate to share your basic household expenses. That can save you hundreds a month and be put towards your debt.

Eliminate use of all credit cards until you can pay them off in full. After that, only use credit cards when it figures into your monthly income plan or don’t use them at all. (If you do wind up using a credit card, make sure it has no annual fee, some kind of reward program, and an interest rate that’s as low as can be.)

Save on your utilities: wear a sweater in winter and open the windows in summer to save on energy costs if you’re paying for them.

That car you drive at $300-$400+ per month may have to go as well. Look at a used car and see if you can save money with it. Right now, reliable transportation is more important than fancy. And while you’re at it, shop around on your car insurance to see where you can save.

Find ways to reduce your grocery bill. Shop the sales, use coupons, plan your meals, and make smart choices to reduce your food budget while still eating healthy.

Get Some Help With Your Critical Expenses

Whether you have hit hard times during the pandemic or are in between jobs and need help, paying for your monthly expenses like food and utilities are often the first and biggest concerns you have. Learn more about which programs you are eligible for.

For utilities, programs work like loans, which you will at some point have to repay. But there are many others that are gifted as a charity through various organizations.

All states in the U.S. offer some form of utility relief programs as well as food programs such as food banks and of course there is the federal SNAP program formerly known as food stamps.

Low income resources

There are local, state, and federal resources that can help eligible low-income individuals avoid a monetary crisis. If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, then the government (both state and federal) is there and offers multiple programs. Most of these assistance programs are only temporary, to help you get out of a tough situation and back onto solid financial footing, but some of the programs are offered as grants which means they never have to be repaid and are indefinite!

There are wide ranges of trusted financial opportunities including assistance for personal bills, transportation, and medical needs offered as benefits and/or grants.

LIHEAP

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and provides two basic types of services.

Eligible low-income people, via local governmental and nonprofit organizations, receive financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings and/or have their dwellings weatherized to make them more energy efficient. The information on LIHEAP is listed by state.

The LIHEAP funds can be expedited to households that are faced with immediate shut off of their electric or utility service. It may even provide grants within 24 business hours in some cases.

Other assistance programs

Many states offer additional assistance programs, in addition to LIHEAP, that can help you and your family. They also help you save energy and reduce your electric bill through easy and sometimes totally free energy saving methods. Contact your state websites to find where help is offered.

HARRP (Heating Repair & Replacement Program) is another federal government funded program that is offered in your local community. It may be called slightly different names in each state, but it works the same in most parts of the country. It is often used in conjunction with the weatherization program.

The Weatherization Assistance Program offers weather stripping, wall and attic insulation, minor home repairs, and furnace tune-ups. There may be other related energy-saving measures that will help people lower their electric bills and save money. It can provide for the repair or replacement of heating units, appliances, furnaces, and other home upgrades.

Free air conditioning units and window fans are available during the summer months. The assistance is usually provided as part of LIHEAP or charities such as the Salvation Army provide them to low-income families. The free air conditioning units are often combined with emergency utility bill assistance to help keep a struggling family cool. Many states, in particular those in the south and west, provide financial assistance during the summer for paying cooling and electric bills. Emergency cash assistance, grants, and more may be offered, such as free box fans or air conditioning units.

Help to turn on your electricity back on

If your electricity has been shut off, it can be difficult for you to reconnect in a timely manner. There are assistance programs you can use to turn on power, whether it is lights, electricity, or heat. The programs are offered at the federal and state level for aid with electric, utility, water or heating bills.

You can even get grant money to pay electric or energy bills, apply for emergency hardship funds, and get assistance paying any deposit to reconnect utility service.

If you use oil for heating you can also get free or low-cost fuel. The same is true for homes that are heated by firewood. Government programs as well as charities will help low-income households that use this as a source of heat.

Finally, it’s fairly common when difficulty arises, to get a utility company to offer you a payment plan to prevent shutting off service to you.

Balanced payment plans

These are offered by many utility companies as a way to help pay as well as manage your bills. These plans provide the customer a way of paying their electric bill at a flat rate per month so families can budget for the seasonal spikes in their heating or cooling costs.

The payments you need to make do not dramatically increase during the winter or summer months. For example, if your annual electric bill is $1,800 per year, you may pay a flat fee of $150 per month, rather than paying a higher amount in the summer or winter.

Who do you contact?

A struggling customer should always contact their utility company to find out about any programs they offer. Call the number for customer service on your bill. They even may cancel the charges you owe if you are income qualified!

Other utility company assistance programs

Home energy audits

Utility companies will offer HEAs as a free service or provide it for a very low fee. These audits will help a homeowner identify where your home needs to be improved or updated in order to help reduce your energy usage. Some utility companies will even contribute towards the expense to fix the home, if you meet their income criteria.

LIHWAP (Low Income Household Water Assistance Program)

Many companies offer payment plans, rebates, or financial help with your water bill. There are also grants for them from charities. Companies also provide free audits that can help reducing your usage.

Dollar Energy Fund

Check out the Dollar Energy Fund if you live in WV, TN, PA, OH, MD, CA, TN, CT, TX, KY, or VA. They participate in this charitable program that has been in existence for almost 30 years and relies on donations. Hundreds of thousands of people have received grants for paying their utility as well as heating bills from the Dollar Energy Fund.

Operation Roundup

This is an assistance program offered by many utility companies that can provide cash grants to help pay utility, heating, and other bills. Your can even get help with rent, medical expenses, or food. Operation Round Up is also provided by many small utility company cooperatives.

Your telephone and internet

Low income families can receive discounts on their monthly phone bills from Lifeline, free cellular phones, or even savings on their high speed cable internet connection. Some of these services are combined with other electric bill programs as well.

Free legal assistance about your utility payment problems

Most states have non-profit law firms that can advise low- to moderate-income individuals, the elderly, and disabled on their legal rights when it comes to utility service disconnections. There is priority given to people with a medical condition or that are elderly. Lawyers can provide free legal advice and will do what they can to help the individual keep their power on.

Solve the Long Term Problem

To make sure you can pay your bills in the future, and even start to set aside some savings (especially that all-important emergency fund!), you need to live within your means. Simply enough, you either need to earn more, spend less, or most likely do both.

If your earnings and career are falling short, then you must look at yourself and see what you need to do to improve. Do you need more education? What about training that will supplement your job skills at work? If you have settled for a dead-end job, then it may be time to start looking for another opportunity while you’re still employed. It’s always easier to find work when you’ve still got a job.

But don’t ignore the other half of the equation. Reducing your expenses should be an ongoing effort. The lower your spending, the more flexibility and security you will have.

Final Thoughts

Emergency funding, loan options, and financial management, these are big issues for many people. If could happen to you and in a blog post like this, there just isn’t enough time here to list every option you can find that will help you.

But if you need help, you can’t just sit there and moan nor depend on your uncle for help. The point here is that there is help for basic bill paying and it’s not something to be ashamed of if and when you need help.

Whether it’s your local food bank, utility, a government agency or even your local bank where you can borrow (perhaps from equity in your home), there are places to turn to.

The financial worries you have may lighten as inflation eases, but that’s not just a few months down the road as the talk about a recession continues to be part of the news these days. That may mean further hard times and financial worries.

My call to action this time is to get ready and in fact always be ready for financial hard times. Build your emergency funds before they are needed, find out where you can get help before you need it, and be someone who is smart with your money all the time. Not being able to pay your bills is a terrible feeling. But with some effort and some help, you can balance out your income and expenses to be sure you’ll be able to pay in the future.

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Becoming a Vegetarian Has Many Benefits and Could Actually Save You Money https://supersavingtips.com/becoming-a-vegetarian/ https://supersavingtips.com/becoming-a-vegetarian/#respond Fri, 05 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12946 Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about trying to eat healthier, and eating veggies and fruit is often touted as one surefire way to do that. But let’s be honest here. Living in the good old U.S.A, eating meat is the primary way that we dine and that starts …

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Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about trying to eat healthier, and eating veggies and fruit is often touted as one surefire way to do that. But let’s be honest here. Living in the good old U.S.A, eating meat is the primary way that we dine and that starts when you are just a child. Perhaps you remember the old commercials…“Beef, it’s what’s for dinner”. Hamburgers and hot dogs are our go-to foods and red meat is our primary preferred way to dine. At least that has been my observation over the last 70 years.

Spring salad representing becoming a vegetarian

But these days, during high inflation, vegetarianism is growing particularly among non-whites, and there may be some good reasons for everyone to at least consider it. One of those reasons is this: becoming a vegetarian can actually save you money!

How Many Vegetarians Are There in the U.S.?

The numbers of Americans who are vegetarians is not a big number, particularly among older whites. That’s fairly obvious when you take a good look at it.

According to a Gallup Poll from back in 2018, non-white Americans (9%) are three times as likely as white Americans (3%) to describe themselves as vegetarian. Younger Americans are more likely than older ones to follow a plant-based diet.

People Make the Vegetarian Switch for Different Reasons

There are lots of reasons to try eating a vegetarian diet. Some people just don’t want to harm animals, while others simply want to live a healthier lifestyle that we’d all like to have.

It can be cultural tradition, that people are raised that way or just a taste preference. Some feel that eating this way puts less strain on the environment. There are simply lots of good reasons.

But when we consider how hard the past couple of years have been financially and the ridiculous rise in the cost of food (particularly meat prices) there now appears to be another good reason to switch: saving money.

Is It More Expensive to Eat Vegetarian?

Becoming a vegetarian is often thought to be an expensive lifestyle choice, but that is a common misconception. Not only are vegetarians often healthier, but their wallets are healthier and happier too. That sounds pretty good about now, doesn’t it?

The quick answer to the above question is that vegetarians save money because they simply don’t eat meat, the most expensive component of the American diet.

What Is a Vegetarian Anyway?

There are two kinds of vegetarians I am most familiar with, the first of which is the vegan diet. Those are the ones who do not eat any animal products whatsoever. No eggs, no dairy, no fish oils. Vegans will also refrain from eating things like honey, gelatin, collagen, and even white sugar, as well as using animal products in other parts of their lives, such as wearing leather.

Then there are the true vegetarians, defined officially as people who do not eat meat, but may be flexible in terms of eating eggs, milk, cheese, and other products that may be derived from animals. There are actually eight different kinds of vegetarians that vary in their eating habits.

The bottom line is that there is room to customize your choices here.

The Cost of Eating Meat in 2022

The average American consumes a lot of meat, around 144 pounds each year. You already know that for months and months, during the pandemic, the cost of all kinds of groceries—especially meats—has been going up. The price of beef, pork, and chicken are at all-time highs.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 11.9%, with the index for beef rising 20.1% and the index for pork rising 14.1%, its largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1990.

Can you just imagine saving more that 10% each time you shop for groceries just by cutting back on or eliminating meat? It is easy to see that cutting back on or eliminating meats from your diet will greatly impact your food budget. But will you be able to do it?

Fear of Change

The thing that most people fear about becoming a vegetarian (in any form) is that they won’t get enough sustenance on such a diet. But that isn’t true.

A common grocery list for a vegetarian consists of things like beans, rice, almond mill oats, and an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. But you don’t always have to spend tons of money on the most expensive produce items.

Most importantly, fresh fruits and veggies vary in price from week to week, so smart shopping can apply here easily. And the best part is that they are full of essential nutrients that you need.

And if you’re still reluctant to make the switch, just try to incorporate more plant-based dishes into your diet, while still eating meat for some meals. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

The Best Ways to Save

The best way to save money on a vegetarian diet is to buy produce and veggies that are in season. In season means abundance, and abundance lowers prices.

Another way to save money is to use all of the food you buy at the grocery store. Don’t let that produce go to waste!

Americans in particular waste tons and tons of fresh food, so buy only what you need and use all of it. An easy way to do this is to meal prep in advance for the week. Vegetarian meals will keep fresh longer!

Another option is to get a CSA farm share (community supported agriculture). You purchase a share from a farmer and receive a box of seasonal produce each week during the farming season.

Planning and executing a vegetarian diet will cut your food bill now and allow you to manage inflation too as well as your health.

Final Thoughts

Just consider how you can control your food costs better with an adjustment like trying out vegetarianism.

Assuming a couple consumes a pound of meat combined per meal and eats meat just five days a week and then made the switch to the same amount of beans or some other low cost vegetable, grain, or legume as a substitute, they could potentially save several thousand dollars a year. But here’s an even more tempting way to think.

Just making that switch away from meat to a vegetarian meal plan just three or four times a week would save you money, perhaps $1,500 or more a year. And even better, you can be a “cheap” vegetarian. Buy on sale and try new things that cost less!

Making this change when you live with others is a big decision, so it’s something you need to talk about before any changes are made. This is a joint decision. It’s very difficult, even impossible, when one person wants to eat vegetarian or vegan and the other prefers a meat diet.

Since food is such a big part of a healthy relationship, try to win them over by working in a just one or two meals a week to start.

For someone in a financial pinch, perhaps it is a strong enough reason in itself to switch. When you add in all of the other benefits, it seems like a great choice for someone trying to save money.

Have you considered becoming a vegetarian? What are you afraid of and can you at least attempt to try it and save money too? Can this change work for you?

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5 Pet Peeves About Finance & Money: Do They Annoy You Too? https://supersavingtips.com/pet-peeves-about-finance-money/ https://supersavingtips.com/pet-peeves-about-finance-money/#respond Tue, 02 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12925 Sometimes I just get stuck on a subject and can’t get it out of my head. My wife often says that when I get like that I over-react; I grumble, mumble, and repeat my source of aggravation over and over again. I admit that it is true. But all of …

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Sometimes I just get stuck on a subject and can’t get it out of my head. My wife often says that when I get like that I over-react; I grumble, mumble, and repeat my source of aggravation over and over again. I admit that it is true. But all of us have some pet peeves that bother us from time to time. When it does happen it’s bad, but when it happens repeatedly, it’s even worse.

Frustrated man representing pet peeves

Since this blog is in effect my financial journal, the subject of discomfort and annoyance that are relevant here are those financial pet peeves in my life that actually warrant a post. So here goes, and please don’t agree with my wife after you read them!

My Pet Peeves About Finance & Money

1. People who have never heard the word “budget”

Unless you are a zillionaire (and by the way, even they have budgets), the people who spend and spend and then wind up in a financial mess make me crazy. People who do not use a budget rarely gain a firm control over their finances.

Unless you use one and know where your money is coming from and going, you will, at some point soon, find financial disaster. When you do, who can you really blame?

2. Restaurants whose deals and discounts have a zillion qualifiers

I sometimes go to restaurants (usually part of a nationwide chain) because of the great deals and coupons that they offer.

Now I admit that my eyesight isn’t as good as it once was, especially when it comes to reading the fine print on all the offers. Maybe I should use a magnifying glass before I set foot out the door.

But truthfully, the exclusions, times honored, not in conjunction with, and must wear “blue socks only to qualify” are enough to make me scream!

In this day and age, if you’re going to invite me in to save money when I dine, please make it easy for me or don’t bother. I’ll open a can of tuna and make a tuna sandwich rather that choke on my missed discount at full price!

3. The “big income tax refund

This one I not only grumble and mumble about at home, I also do it here on the blog.

I will never understand why someone plans to have their own money withheld on purpose by the government and then rejoices in getting it all back with no interest after a whole year! It’s just not very financially smart to do that.

If you think you can’t handle saving that money for a vacation or emergency fund, then give it to me and I will gladly use it.

To put it simply, it’s smarter to get the extra money every paycheck and then save it while you are earning some interest every week or month. Do I really have to tell you that and still listen to you complain about not having enough money?

4. The “auto-renewal”

I get it. Businesses need to make money. And what better way to retain customers than making the payment and renewal process effortless for them through automation?

I can count on my fingers the number of services we subscribe to with an auto-renewal process and for good reason. I guess I am sort of a control freak about my money and I really want to be the one who decides when/whether to renew a service, convenience be damned.

The red flag here is that they always ask for my credit card number and I can guess where that is going to go!

Often it’s all tied in to a free trial of something that is very tempting and then—whammo! One free month of trial and then they charge me the next month when the trial is over.

Now I know part of it is my own fault because I should pay more attention to the trial end date and cancel my subscription prior to that renewal. But sometimes I just forget (hey, I am a very busy guy!). But they tend to rub it right in my face with a special email telling me that I have successfully paid for something I don’t intend to keep any longer.

The final straw is the 6-8 weeks that the credit to my account takes for me to see that money again, if ever!

5. Sports gambling and the lottery

Don’t call me a party pooper; sure I’d like to win millions (or even a billion!) by buying a lottery ticket. The truth is, I haven’t purchased one of those in decades. The odds are so long against winning and it’s money that you might as well just toss in the trash. Now some people do win, I know that. But how much did they spend and how long did it take? And how long did they keep their money?

One way to wean yourself off lottery tickets is to play online sweepstakes instead. It may take you time to enter, but you’ll save money on lottery tickets and you’ll probably have better odds of winning, even if the prizes aren’t as grandiose.

My even bigger pet peeve is the sports betting and gambling wave that is sweeping the nation these days. It’s particularly offensive to me when it comes to sports.

I literally cannot watch a ball game without the odds being shown on screen for every kind of possibility in the game and it’s ugly.

Even baseball, my favorite sport, is guilty. MLB has endorsed it and the MLB TV channel even has a show called “Pre-Game Spread” (a play on words that makes me want to barf) promoting it.

I know that illegal betting has been around forever, but legal sports betting? Yes, he was an active employee at the time but it is the reason why Pete Rose has been banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ironically, now he can bet all day long and no one cares at all!

It reminds me of the days of the Roman Empire just before it fell. What does it teach children about betting and sports? Let sports betting be limited to horse racing where it actually belongs.

Final Thoughts

In the interest of your sanity, I’ll stop right here. Actually, I could list another four dozen pet peeves, but then you’d never read my blog again and may even have me committed. I think that thought has crossed my wife’s mind a few times.

What pet peeves make you grumble when it comes to money and finances? I’d be curious about your comments, or am I just a lone voice crying in the wind?

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Corporate Greed Is Now a Big Part of Inflation and You’re Paying for It https://supersavingtips.com/corporate-greed-inflation/ https://supersavingtips.com/corporate-greed-inflation/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12900 Last November, while I was having a Thanksgiving meal with my family, a discussion came up about inflation and what the reasons were that it has run wild for months. I have been talking about inflation now for over 18 months and that was long before the Fed or most …

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Last November, while I was having a Thanksgiving meal with my family, a discussion came up about inflation and what the reasons were that it has run wild for months. I have been talking about inflation now for over 18 months and that was long before the Fed or most people gave it a second thought, but last November it was a big topic. My opinion then (as it is now) is that inflation has several causes but that price gouging and corporate greed (profiteering) is a real part of it. I was met with skepticism, denial, and an actual argument over it.

Vulture with money, gold, and coins representing corporate greed

It’s Not a Pretty Thought…

…but corporate greed is now driving inflation way more than you ever dreamed. Perhaps you still doubt it or want to doubt it because you think “hey, this is America and they wouldn’t ever do that” or “gee, we live in a country where business is free to charge whatever they want and make money, right?”

Technically, you may be right. We are free to charge whatever the market will allow. But as far as the part that says that businesses would never do that: think again. They do it now and have always done it. Corporate greed is and always has been a part of our system and now it’s a big part of inflation!

The Inflation Factor Is Killing Some People—Are You Next?

The unemployed, disabled, and seniors in America are hurting more now due to what we are blaming inflation on every day. They suffer because usually their income levels don’t ever increase with rising costs, but you know that.

But more so, now even working people are paying higher prices to purchase just the basic necessities (from gas to groceries to prescription drugs). You are feeling it more than ever. That’s the reason that inflation has become such a big noise. It’s affecting everyone who consumes anything.

How You Doin’, Mr. Corporate Giant?

Meanwhile, corporations are taking advantage of this inflation and the pandemic to jack up prices and rake in record profits. Do you still doubt this fact? If you do, you are in the minority these days. In some polls recently, as many as 80% of all Americans now think that inflation is being driven by corporate greed.

In their press release, accountable.us stated “Big industries—including big oil, meat packing, shipping, retail, clothing, food, trucking, and railroad—have reported massive new profits over the previous year, paid their CEOs huge bonuses, or rewarded shareholders with millions of dollars in new handouts after raising their consumer prices and service rates.”

Supply Chain Issues Exist, But What About Greed?

If you listen casually to the daily news, you hear about the shortages of this and that and why prices and this inflation are here. It is true that ships are still backing up on the docks and that transporting goods around the country has created shortages. It’s also true that prices will go up when demand does because the goods just aren’t there to buy. I’m not saying that isn’t true here. But let’s look at some facts along with that “supply chain” reporting.

An analysis by the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that in filings for 100 U.S. corporations they found “net profits up by a median of 49%, and in one case by as much as 111,000%! Those increases came as companies saddled customers with higher prices and all but ten executed massive stock buyback programs or bumped dividends to enrich their investors”.

Let’s dig a bit deeper. In a new report for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit American think tank based in Washington, D.C., researchers analyzed pricing data to better understand what’s really driving inflation. What they found was absolutely shocking.

“Over half (53.9%) of the increase in consumer prices is attributable to fatter corporate profits. Higher labor costs, on the other hand, explain just 7.9% of recent inflation. This throws out the mainstream economist blame game for inflation.” – Josh Bivens of the EPI

Corporations Are Actually Bragging About Price Gouging Now!

You might think that corporations would shy away from saying that they are proud and pleased to raise prices for no reason except that they simply can, wouldn’t you? But that is what’s happening today. The fact is that they are using the cover of inflation to engage in profiteering.

The Groundwork Collaborative, a group that monitors economic issues here in the U.S., listened in on hundreds of corporate earnings calls between companies and their shareholders and found that executives are openly bragging about their price-gouging strategies. They use the supply chain issue as hype to explain inflation publicly, but they have been raising their prices over what is needed so it’s no wonder that corporate profits are at a 70-year high!

If You Don’t Believe Me, Maybe You’ll Believe the President of the United States!

With inflation numbers at a 41-year high, even Joe Biden has been looking for explanations. What he has said backs up the fact that corporations are driving more of it than ever! He called for investigations into the price of oil and gas for one major source (in fact it is the highest single facet) of inflation and basically said that gouging was real. He stated that “it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging. I want to be clear about what we will not tolerate.

Additionally, many elected officials such as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have commented. Warren said: “Corporate executives are happy to help drive inflation and fatten their profit margins by price gouging Americans,” last January.

Warren’s argument, echoed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), is that wealthy corporations are taking advantage of the underlying causes of inflation to raise their prices far beyond what would be needed to offset their increased costs.

Profits Are Up Because of Higher Prices

Just yesterday, I was watching CNBC (I’m bored sometimes) and I was hearing about the company that makes Oreos and Trident gum (Mondelez International) and their quarterly profit after closing hour report saying that there was “no consumer price resistance”. I guess people don’t notice when a pack of gum goes from $0.99 to $1.39 a pack overnight (a 40% increase).

For 2022, the company now expects more than 8% in net revenue growth, reflecting “the strength of its first half and higher pricing” it said. It had expected a 5% net revenue growth when it reported first-quarter earnings in April.

As another example, Chipotle reported weaker-than-expected sales for its second quarter, although higher prices drove stronger profit growth. These stories are being repeated over and over again.

Chevron’s profit has more than quadrupled in the first quarter of 2022 reporting $6.3 billion in earnings during the period up from $1.37 billion during the same quarter in 2021.

In Q1 of this year, Kellogg’s reported a profit of $424 million or $1.23 a share. During their earnings call, Chairman of the Board and CEO Steven Cahillane said: “We grew our net sales faster than we had anticipated, and we delivered more operating profit than we had projected.”

Land O’Lakes is one of the many companies accused of profiting off of the pandemic and blaming it on inflation. At the close of Q1, Land O’Lakes, Inc. reported net sales totaling $5 billion with net earnings of $179 million for the first quarter ending March 31, 2022.

And the beat goes on.

So What Can You Do About It?

You want to combat corporate greed so that prices return to the pre-pandemic era, don’t you? Well, you can kiss that baby goodbye as they say at the old ballpark! Prices never return to old levels after they go up this much. But there are things you can do to slow down the pace of inflation and cause some businesses to lower prices at least a little. What are they?

1. Become a smarter shopper

If you shop smart as a habit, eventually it will cause the stores and the manufacturers to make changes too.

  • Use cheaper stores—change to discount supermarkets
  • Change what you eat—eating less meat is good for your health, good for the planet, and can also cost less
  • Always make a shopping list and stick to it to avoid wasteful impulse buying
  • Dump expensive brands—often the branded items are made at the same factory as the non-branded goods, so breaking this buying habit could save you money with little real pain
  • Buy in bulk, sign up for wholesalers when it makes sense for your situation (like Costco)
  • Make use of loyalty cards and coupons

If you are one of those consumers that sneer at loyalty cards, vouchers, and sale promotions and coupons, change that! Today there are plenty of sites that will enable you to find the best promo deals and vouchers on anything from restaurants to cosmetics.

Look out for deals and make the most of sales. Why buy stuff in the run up to Christmas when you can get the same items often much cheaper at sales during the year?

2. Check Your Budget

It’s always wise to audit your budget periodically, as your goals and spending habits change over time. And when drastic price increases from corporate greed squeeze your budget tighter, evaluating your spending and building saving into your budget becomes all the more critical.

If you’re already tracking your spending in a budgeting app or spreadsheet, look over how you are spending and see if that measures up against your goals. If you’ve set limits for certain categories, are you sticking to your budget? Re-adjust your spending goals to ensure you’re allocating enough to each category, or commit to reducing spending if you find you’re living beyond your means. If you aren’t already using a budget, you should start one now.

Final Thoughts

The chief reason corporations feel so emboldened about raising prices and bragging about increasing the prices is because of us. If and when we start to resist them and find alternate ways to buy and shop, they will change their greedy strategies. Are you up to the challenge?

As long as you don’t pressure business to stop overcharging you, they simply never will. Energy surcharges? Changing a contract because the business costs went up and now they want to charge you more? If that happens, never agree to it. A contract is a contract.

Where are you on price gouging these days? Do you see the corporate greed? Do you wonder about it? Are you oblivious to it? What are you going to do to get a better grip on inflation now?

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A Spoonful of Savings Helps the Medicine Go Down: How to Save Money on Medications https://supersavingtips.com/save-money-on-medications/ https://supersavingtips.com/save-money-on-medications/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0000 http://supersavingtips.com/?p=927 When you don’t feel well, whether it’s a random headache, a temporary infection, or a chronic illness getting you down, the last thing you want is to spend more and more money to feel better. The cost of medicines and prescriptions has been going through the roof, but what choice …

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When you don’t feel well, whether it’s a random headache, a temporary infection, or a chronic illness getting you down, the last thing you want is to spend more and more money to feel better. The cost of medicines and prescriptions has been going through the roof, but what choice do you have but to spend on them? Here’s how to save money on medications you need.

Pile of pills representing how to save money on medications

The Good News

The good news is that there are several ways to help save money on medications. As I’ve gotten older and accumulated more health issues, taking medications has become a daily routine for me. It can really eat up a lot of your budget even when you are being careful. In my case, I spend about triple what the average person spends a year, running into several thousands. Here are some of the ways you and I both can help control costs, even if you need meds every day.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

OTC medications are those that you can buy without a prescription. They include pain relievers, allergy medicine, cold & flu remedies, cough treatments, and first aid products too.

Because these are non-prescription medications, you don’t have to wait to have a prescription filled by the pharmacist. Most OTC medications are easily accessible to consumers and can help with treating symptoms of common ailments quickly, reducing the cost compared to prescriptions.

Saving Money on OTC Medications

When you need them, you can and should always compare the retail prices among all of the major drug chains and even supermarkets that you shop. There are differences in the prices and you may even be shocked at how big they are. The regular prices are one thing, but the sales prices, loyalty card discounts, coupons, and other discounts are sometimes dramatic here.

I always look online at the websites to check the prices before I shop and in many cases I can save 50% or more on basic OTC drugs when I do. It is worth the few minutes I spend to save money, especially if it’s something I need to use regularly.

Save Even More If Your Insurance Gives You an OTC Allowance

Depending on your insurance plan, Medicare and Medicaid members (and even others) may receive an allowance to help them save money on OTC products like vitamins, pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, first-aid supplies, and more. To see if this allowance is included with your plan, go to the “Coverage and Benefits” section of your plan. Some plans can give you actual money or credits to spend every quarter, even hundreds of dollars. That is true even if your supplemental plan has no premium cost to you at all.

Remember that every year you should review your plan even if you currently love the plan you have now. That’s because they can change each year and if you check, you may find that those changes are to your advantage when the annual open enrollment arrives (in October) for the next year’s coverage.

Read the Labels

When you’re buying OTC medicines, always read the labels to find out what the active ingredients in it are and how much are included (both dosage and number of pills). This will let you compare prices on various remedies that accomplish the same thing.

Consider the Generic

Generics, or store brands, are typically less expensive than brand name products, but with the same active ingredients. Always do the math to determine which product will save you the most (surprisingly, the brand name medicine with a coupon can cost less than the generic).

Check the Expiration Dates

If you have any medication in your medicine cabinet, check the dates before use. You may need to replace it before using it.

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Prescription Medications

When the doctor has written you a prescription, whether you have health insurance or not, you are likely to pay more than you would for an OTC medicine. Sometimes it’s a one-time prescription, such as an antibiotic to cure an infection, but other times it is a maintenance medication used for a chronic condition. Obviously maintenance medications impact your budget and thus you have a greater opportunity to save money on medications since you purchase them over and over.

Again, Consider the Generic

Unless your doctor has specified the brand-name medicine only, you may have the opportunity to take a generic drug after the patent for the brand name drug has expired. These medications are chemically identical, but at a much lower cost. To find out if there is a generic equivalent for your medication, consult your pharmacist or Drugs@FDA for a catalog of FDA-approved drug products, including their drug labeling.

Check Manufacturers’ Programs

If there is no generic available for your medication, look on the manufacturer’s website (or check RxAssist or NiceRx) to see if there are any assistance or co-pay programs you may qualify for. For expensive medications, the manufacturer will often contribute to reduce your co-pay, or in the case of government-insured patients, offer a limited amount of medication for free, such as one month’s dosage.

Free Prescription Discount Programs

You have probably seen many ads for discount prescription deals such as GoodRx, WellRx, and SingleCare where you can check to find discount deals on your medications at no cost or fees, with no memberships and no commitments!

Savings are used at your pharmacy with a discount card or a coupon that you can get online and save as much as 80% on your prescription. You can even use any of these discounts if you are on a Medicare plan (note they are not used in conjunction with your Medicare plan, but instead of your Medicare plan for a particular prescription)!

The only negative is that if you use your special discount, that cost will not be counted towards your Medicare plan medication expense coverage which affects what is known as the “donut hole”. That’s the time during the year when coverage is less and you have to bear through that expense to reach what is known as “catastrophic coverage” which makes the medicines very low cost. Most people will never have to concern themselves with that, unless they are chronically ill and spend many thousands on medicines every year.

Saving the money with these discounts may be way more valuable to you than escaping the donut hole, which may never actually be needed!

Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs

Shark Tank celebrity investor Mark Cuban has recently launched a new pharmaceutical drug company that provides affordable medicine to uninsured Americans, as well as those who may be underinsured.

The service, called Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, is continually adding generic medications to its mail-order pharmacy website and currently has over 700 different kinds of prescription medications.

Their mission statement “We will provide low-cost, high-quality pharmaceuticals to the consumer…by any means possible” is music to the ears of anyone who needs to save money!

While they don’t have generics for every medication, they are adding new ones all the time. Search for your medication and it will tell you the exact price you pay plus shipping. They do not accept insurance, you simply pay the cash price shown.

Low-Cost Prescriptions

Check out Walmart’s $4 prescription list and other pharmacies (particularly supermarket chains) where they offer low-cost (and sometimes even no-cost) prescriptions.

Split Pills

Try splitting pills! With certain medications, you can safely split pills in half to save money. How does this save you money? When you take a lower dosage (let’s say 10 mg) of your medication, which is also available in a higher dosage (let’s say 20 mg), there is generally little or even no difference in the price of the two dosages. So buying 20 mg pills and splitting them in half would save you half the cost of your prescription.

If you split pills, use a pill splitter that is made for doing so and don’t do it without one, otherwise you may not divide the dosage properly (some pills are scored to show you exactly where to divide them).

However, not all medications can be safely split, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if this is an option.

Ask for Samples

When you are starting a new medication, always ask the doctor if they have samples available for you to try. It is a waste of money to buy a month’s prescription only to find out after a week that the medicine doesn’t work for you or causes unbearable side effects. By trying the samples first, you don’t need to spend your money until you’re confident that you’ve found the right medication.

Ask for Alternatives

Keep this in mind: You know those pharmaceutical sales reps you see at the doctor’s office? Those reps try to influence your doctor. That may be why sometimes the doctor would like you to try the newest and greatest innovation to treat your condition, without realizing how much it will cost. In these cases, ask the doctor if alternatives are available. An older (and cheaper) medication may sufficiently treat your condition without emptying your wallet.

Check for Benefits

Some manufacturers have special programs for reduced cost from them directly if you are financially qualified. Find their website online and see about these programs if you need the help.

Use NeedyMeds to find more financial assistance programs, or if you’re a senior or disabled, look on the Medicare or Social Security websites for help and information.

Final Thoughts

If you find your prescription medication costs overwhelming, make the effort to find ways to save. Never skip meds or just do without because that is a very high risk way to save now and pay later.

Prevention is always the best medicine when it comes to your health, so take care of your health before you need any drugs. But if you do need medication, be sure to follow these tips, and enlist the help of your doctor and pharmacist as needed. When you save money on medications, it will help keep you and your budget healthy in the long run.

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True or False? Your Best Financial Decisions Are Still Ahead of You https://supersavingtips.com/best-financial-decisions/ https://supersavingtips.com/best-financial-decisions/#respond Fri, 22 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12867 You constantly make financial decisions. That’s just a fact. Some of them are seemingly simple and unimportant like where you’re having lunch today when you are out and about. Or whether you should buy that new pair of shoes you saw online today or just wait until the next big …

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You constantly make financial decisions. That’s just a fact. Some of them are seemingly simple and unimportant like where you’re having lunch today when you are out and about. Or whether you should buy that new pair of shoes you saw online today or just wait until the next big sale.

Two college students studying representing your best financial decisions

But then there are the other decisions you make: the really significant ones like taking on a new job or buying an expensive car. Those decisions can have a major impact on your financial future.

And here’s the problem with all of that: You can’t always tell how your decisions will work out and affect you in the long run. You just don’t know if any decision you make will mean more success for you or looming failure because of it. So then the question is: “Are your best financial decisions still ahead of you?”

Looking Backwards May Help You Know Your Future

As you grow up, financially speaking, it’s only later on in your life that you can actually tell when looking back at your past which choices and decisions you have made were the good ones. Unfortunately, by the time you get to that point in life, it’s usually too late to change what has happened. If you’re stuck with a financial mistake that you’ve made, then try to at least learn a lesson from it. That also means learn it and never make that mistake again!

But if you ask yourself the tough questions about decisions you have made in your life, you may not like some of the answers you will find.

It’s practically a given that when you are younger and making big decisions on your own, there’s a more likely chance you will make a mistake. You tend to be waaaaay more optimistic with money decisions when you are young, thinking that your finances are bound to improve as you move along in your life and career. That has been the case for many people. It’s also the “great dream” for just about everyone. So even when you discover that a mistake was made, you might just brush it off as a one-off.

What Are Some of the “Bad” Financial Decisions We Make?

Not every bad decision you make means you can’t ever improve on it or recover from it. What seems like a disaster at age 18 or 21 may just be a financial bump in the road you look back on at age 25 or 30.

However, there is one way to learn how any of your choices and decisions could turn out: You look at what happened to other people who made those same choices and see what happened.

The worst financial decisions people have made are things like not saving enough money, racking up huge debt, simply wasting money in their twenties, and not investing enough for wealth building. Use this information to know what to avoid when you’re making the same kinds of decisions in your life.

When you look at your younger self, you can identify and answer the basic questions about your decisions and the “why did I do it?” answers that go with it. If you are still in that younger age group, then look at others and evaluate what you see before you make your choices.

What Are the “Best” Financial Decisions You Can and Should Make?

Whenever people are asked the magic question about good decisions they have made, some of the answers given run along the same thread. When you look at it, don’t eliminate their choices without some careful evaluations.

It’s important to consider how it can affect you in the long run and can help aid in your making better financial decisions. There are decisions you will want to think about to get to financial security. One of these is the decision to pursue a higher education.

Get an Education

No matter what kind of education you get, it can help build your financial future. You can get it in a classroom, on the job itself, or just learn from “street smarts”, whichever way works best for you.

Is college a possibility for you? Is a trade school a better choice? How about an internship? The point here is that learning is important and makes a difference when it comes to building a good financial future.

It doesn’t have to be at age 18, but the sooner you begin a regimen of educating yourself, the better off you will be.

Of all the financial choices, the one most people were happy about was the decision to get a college degree according to a 2016 Claris Finance study. More than 40% of those people who went said they were. But that’s not 100% so college is not for everyone.

Costs and Alternatives

The problem is that college is just so damn expensive (unless it’s a community college) that the years spent getting a degree costs many thousands of dollars. Tuition and fees for four years of college can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars! And that doesn’t even include the cost of room, board, and books.

The result of getting that education will probably mean starting off post-graduate life in major debt. Hopefully, the investment in your education will pay dividends in the income made in your career.

Student loan debt is a major problem and it can take years before you get out from under it. Those years, despite improving your chances of earning more, may be the most difficult financial years of your life. But there are other educational opportunities.

Some fields, trades such as plumbing or automotive repair, don’t require a college degree, yet can provide a high income. If you’re interested in this type of career, determine if there’s an alternate path of education such as a trade school before you apply to college.

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Final Thoughts

In the end, every person is different and any financial decision that you make could be a winner or a loser, you just don’t know. Things like going to college, buying a big house, and traveling all over the world are all great choices for some people, but only you can decide whether those financial decisions are the right ones for you.

It makes sense whenever you make any big financial decisions to do so carefully and cautiously. If you weigh the decision out and look all of the possibilities from it before you commit yourself, you will more than likely have a leg up on a good decision.

You can learn from others’ experiences, but your gut feelings count as well. Do you feel your best days financially speaking are still ahead of you? What are you doing to make that happen?

Have you learned from past mistakes and are you on course for the financial future you want now? What’s the best financial decision you’ve ever made?

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The Must-Know Money Tips to Take Your Finances to the Next Level https://supersavingtips.com/must-know-money-tips/ https://supersavingtips.com/must-know-money-tips/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12852 It occurred to me, after being on the planet for almost 73 years, that what I and most of us call good money habits are unknown to millions among us who just haven’t any clue about that. After all, if they did, then the need for me or anyone to …

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It occurred to me, after being on the planet for almost 73 years, that what I and most of us call good money habits are unknown to millions among us who just haven’t any clue about that. After all, if they did, then the need for me or anyone to write about it would be a totally moot point, wouldn’t it?

Figure climbing stairs representing money tips taking your finances to the next level

If you don’t understand anything about personal finance, I’m not here to scold you or mock you. It’s not your fault because you probably either had no practical education in the field or worse, you may have had some really bad examples of how to manage money demonstrated to you as a child or young adult. In any case, you will eventually find out the truth about you and your money. The question is only when and how much damage it might inflict upon you. That’s why it’s never too early or too late to learn these “must-know” money tips you need to take your finances to the next level.

The Horrible Money Mantra I Once Heard

Back when I was relatively young, I worked for an entrepreneur who was a millionaire and had a very dim view of people and their money habits. Yes, it’s true he made his fortune selling goods to these “dummies” as he put it, he didn’t ever look back and try to figure out why people did what they did with their money that was so foolish.

The only thing I ever heard him say about it (and he repeated it over and over again) was this:

I’m so glad that there are so many stupid people around because it makes it so much easier for me to get rich!

I suppose he classified me in that group since I worked for him and he was the one accumulating the big money, not me. I didn’t last long there mainly because I just couldn’t tolerate his negative, selfish attitude.

The Must-Know Money Tips You Need

You don’t need to rely on other people’s ignorance to get ahead. Instead, rely on yourself and follow these money tips.

1. Have some real personal finance goals in life

You can and should start thinking about some basic goals that can help you make better money decisions, even when you are young and don’t have much money experience.

Try to keep your goals in mind when you make any money decisions…without a clear set of goals, it can be difficult to do the hard work of sticking to a budget and saving your money.

Defining a few specific goals, whether it’s buying a new car now or a home in five years or even being able to retire at 50, it can give you a picture of what personal financial success looks like to you, and can keep you motivated.

2. Learn the huge differences between wants and needs, and be able to distinguish one from the other

Do I need to say it again? Yes, I do and that’s because we don’t listen or remember any of this in the beginning. It’s only after you make a really big mistake that anyone actually learns the difference, and then it may take a long recovery period when a mistake occurs.

The merging of wants and needs can wreak havoc on your personal finances. Your needs generally include food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and reliable basic transportation. Everything else is most likely a want. This doesn’t mean you don’t have wants, but it is important not to trade your financial security in pursuit of these things.

3. Use your money for you – first!

Perhaps you have heard this expressed as “pay yourself first”? This means taking some money out of each paycheck right off the bat and putting it towards your future goals. Setting aside money in a savings account, IRA, or 401(k) plan via automatic payroll deductions helps reduce the temptation to spend first and save later (if there’s anything left).

You literally have no idea, when you are 18, 21, or even at age 30, how much your future self is depending on you to do this seemingly unimportant action.

I tell everyone I know that whenever you get your very first real job, as soon as you are eligible, you need to start saving money for retirement. It seems so strange to your younger self to think that way, but if you do it makes the path to getting to it so much easier. Time is one of your best friends when it comes to retirement planning.

Putting money away as early as possible means you’ll have more years to save, spreading the savings across your life rather than racing to catch up as almost everyone eventually has to do. Perhaps the biggest reason to start as early as you can, however, is the power of compound interest.

That is something they actually teach in school. Did you learn that and how it applies to your personal finances and retirement?

4. Budgeting is another good friend

Budgeting can be key to making sure what’s going out of your account each month isn’t exceeding what’s coming in. Winging it and simply hoping it all works out at the end of the month can lead to debt which could keep you from achieving your savings goals and create a financial mess.

It can be helpful to break spending down into categories that include your basic needs (rent, utilities, and groceries) and your discretionary spending (shopping for new clothes, travel, even your Netflix bills). To get a real handle on where your money is going every day, you may want to track your spending for a month or so, either with a diary or an app on your phone.

Once you know everything that typically comes in and where it goes each month, you can see if you’re going backward, staying even, or ideally, getting ahead by putting money into savings and retirement each month.

If you aren’t living within your means, or you’d like to free up more cash for saving, a good first step is to go through your budget and look for ways to cut back on discretionary spending. Can you cook more instead of going out? Buy less clothing? Cut out cable? Quit the gym and work out at home? You have that power, but only if you know and understand what you have and where it goes!

5. 9-1-1, What’s your emergency?

You can’t predict when your car will break down or when you’ll have to make an emergency trip to the dentist. If you don’t have money saved up for what life throws at you, you risk racking up high interest credit card debt or defaulting on your bills. It can be even worse if and when something like a pandemic or other natural disaster strikes.

To avoid going into debt, start putting some money aside every month to build an emergency fund. A common rule of thumb is to keep three to six months of basic living expenses set aside in a separate savings account that you only touch when an emergency actually happens.

Choose an account where the money can earn interest, but you can easily access it if you need it. Good options include: a high-yield savings account, online savings account, or any no-fee bank account.

Just remember, if you need to use some or all of your emergency fund, start rebuilding it as soon as you are able.

Final Thoughts

None of these money tips are new or revolutionary. The amazing thing about them is how often they are ignored and become a problem for folks, regular people just like you and me.

Being good with money requires a set of basic skills that many of us were never actually taught in school. If you never learned them from your parents and didn’t learn them from a mentor, you may be on the cusp of a financial disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to educate yourself about personal money management. Learning personal finance basics, including these money tips, will help you to choose a bank, set up a budget, save for retirement, monitor your credit, avoid (and deal with) high-interest debt, and invest your money. That’s how you can sleep peacefully at night and reach your personal finance goals to build wealth.

Have you planned for your personal finance success? Are you ahead of the curve on reaching for your goals like retirement? If not, today is the best time to start doing just that!

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5 Reasons Why Buying a New Car Now Is a Terrible Idea https://supersavingtips.com/buying-a-new-car-now-terrible-idea/ https://supersavingtips.com/buying-a-new-car-now-terrible-idea/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0000 https://supersavingtips.com/?p=12842 Have you been thinking about buying a new car these days and drooling over them every time you see one or get bombarded by them on commercials? Well, get a grip on yourself and your wallet right about now before you begin heading out to the car dealership. That feeling …

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Have you been thinking about buying a new car these days and drooling over them every time you see one or get bombarded by them on commercials? Well, get a grip on yourself and your wallet right about now before you begin heading out to the car dealership.

Woman getting new car keys representing why buying a new car now is a terrible idea

That feeling that comes the moment a dealership hands over the keys to the brand new car is unforgettable. But a brand new car is not the right option for you right now. In fact, it is a terrible idea.

That New Car Thing Is So Tempting

I used to be a guy who loved getting a new car every three years or so (how stupid that seems to me now). I actually enjoyed planning, shopping, and hunting for one each time. I’m not sure whether it was a macho thing or just that I liked the idea that a new car gave me a better chance that each day when I stuck the key in it would actually start!

As a teenager, I always had an “old junker” and I’d say I would have had better odds in Vegas than in getting my ’62 Rambler to turn over when I went to college. (Keep in mind that was in the late 60s/early 70s.)

Of course that car cost me all of $300 so that made it a little bit easier to bear. Even at $1.25 an hour, I could pay for that (in about 6 months or so) and not the 72 months that it would take me to do today even with a really hefty down payment. Yes price is definitely a huge deterrent to buying a new car right now, but let’s get real—don’t expect prices to be any cheaper in 2023, 2024, 2025, or ever. That just never happens. But there are some real reasons that now is not the right time for buying a new car.

5 Reasons Why Buying a New Car Now Is a Terrible Idea

Reason #1 – Price (ridiculous MSRPs for 2023)

MSRP, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price has increased ever since the beginning of the global pandemic. That’s because car production is one of the many sectors that were affected by the pandemic, from labor shortage to low inventory, from microchip scarcity to the availability of raw materials. This drove car prices through the roof and has led to the dramatic increases of the MSRP.

The prices of cars are expected to skyrocket even more in 2023. The effects of the pandemic are still with us, so we must expect rough times when thinking about new cars. But to make things worse, car dealerships have now taken this opportunity to increase their profit margins on new cars.

There’s a reason that car salesmen have been the brunt of jokes about their honesty ever since Henry Ford produced the Model T. That’s because we just don’t trust them, or at least we shouldn’t. They’re in business to make money like everyone else —a lot of money—so like everyone else, they think of new ways to do it and a pandemic has opened up the door for them.

Now you may not want to believe me, but when you see a Jeep Grand Wagoneer with an MSRP of over $100,000 and then the selling price is even higher, do you think it’s all because of shortages? I don’t think so. But if you want to buy one, is anyone going to stop you? Certainly they wouldn’t.

Reason #2 – Ridiculous interest rates when you finance your new car

It’s not a secret that interest rates are going nowhere but up right now. The latest inflation news just out this week shows that inflation hasn’t peaked yet and that the Fed is right at the beginning of driving up rates to slow it down. Already those 0% rates have disappeared and so have the 1%, 2%, and 3% deals.

These days, the rates are going to be higher and when the Fed takes its next rate hikes this month and September, they will be even more so.

The average new car’s interest rate in 2021 was 4.12% according to Experian and now it’s higher. But even worse, you could be seeing interest rates at 5%, 6%, or even higher for your car loan in 2023 and beyond. How much can that really mean towards your payments? Here’s an example:

Buying in 2021Buying in 2023
Cost of car$35,000$40,000 (prices will go up)
Credit score680680
Loan terms60 months at 4.12%60 months at 6.00%
Down payment10% or $3,50010% or $4,000 (more needed)
Monthly payment$581.33 (without taxes & licensing)$695.98 (without taxes & licensing)

That’s an extra $114.65 a month for 5 years ($6,879.00 in total).

Reason #3 – Credit disapprovals

With the increase in used and new car prices, most people are now looking for financial options beyond what their credit score can handle. That’s why when you’re buying a new car now, there’s a very high chance that you will be disappointed in some of the credit companies. Checking multiple times on your credit impacts your credit score. Just another reason to wait and delay any car purchase until things are much better and prices are lower.

If you know for sure that your credit score is not good, it’s not worth your time looking for a new car because it’s most likely that credit companies have even higher strict approval standards than before. Spend this time improving your credit score instead.

Reason #4 – No incentives

In the past, many automakers would offer you some incentives to convince you to purchase the vehicle. Many of us enjoyed these incentives that provided us with tons of benefits. But unfortunately, with the current car shortages and increased demand, automakers are no longer providing many, if any, new incentives.

If you’re planning to purchase a new car, you won’t get any benefits, and you will end up with a very high price to boot. Waiting means they will return and then you will get the advantages of a rebate or incentive.

Reason #5 – The increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs)

You literally can’t miss the ads for electric vehicles we are currently being bombarded with on TV and the internet these days.

With the price of gas and the shortage in the used car market plus the prices of brand-new gasoline cars, many people are now switching to purchasing electric vehicles. But, unfortunately, those electric cars have their issues, and they’re generally not cheap. This means that you might be forced to select a car that you’re not convinced of just because things are not working out with the other types of vehicles.

Don’t get me wrong, EVs are definitely the coming wave and by 2030 the expectation is that as many as 50% of all new cars sold will be electric. Millennials and Gen Z are most interested, but you will be soon if you are not at the moment.

Right now, about 6% of new sales are electric and that is more than double what it was last year.

There are also the concerns about recharging your car right now (eventually that will be your problem when looking for a gasoline station) and the high cost of the electric battery if it needs to be replaced (expected to come down in price as the popularity increases).

So What Are My Options?

There is one option remaining if you are in the car market. First ask yourself, “Do I really need a car now?” Need is the key word here, because even a used car will be priced higher than you ever remember they were.

If the answer is yes, get a certified used car and then take really good care of it. Yes, used cars might not seem to be a good option, but it may be the only option.

There has been a surge in the prices of used cars, but if you are thinking of getting one, then do not think too much because prices are going up rapidly so just do it if you need to.

Note: A used car extended warranty comes in handy too when you get yourself one. Used cars sometimes come with an extended warranty that can be transferable to the new owner. Always ask if the car has one of those before you buy.

Final Thoughts

Buying a new car now is a risk and pricing is obscene. My best advice is to take a good hard look right now at what you are driving and try to rationalize to yourself why maintaining it well and avoiding another huge debt like a new car makes real sense—especially in this very high inflation cycle.

Eventually, the inflation will peak and shrink, but when? It could take years to return to the 2% level that the Fed loves so much and where does that leave you? Driving your car or driving your car debt into the ground?

What do you drive now (we’ve got a 2013 Honda Civic with less than 60k miles) and do you maintain it well? Is it a purchase you need to make or one that you want? Is an electric vehicle in your plan and is now the best tine to make that purchase?

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