Category Archives: Finances

Extra Discounts for EBT Cardholders

Extra Discounts for EBT Cardholders (you've got to read this!)

 

EBT benefits can be a lifesaver.  For some it is a helping hand to get you by in a tough time, and for others it could be a matter of whether they eat dinner or not every night.  Regardless of the situation, it means money is tight.  Your family may be missing out on opportunities others have, but you shouldn’t have to.  As someone who has been through these circumstances, I want to share with you some of the great discounts and freebies I have found for EBT cardholders to help you save money! 

 

EBT Cardholder Discounts

  • Museums
  • Amazon Prime
  • Zoos
    • Some zoos even offer discounted admission – check the zoo’s website or give them a call
  • School Fees and Lunches
    • Discounted lunches and reduced or waived fees for school – most states have programs to ensure low income families can still afford to send their children to school.  This includes discounted or free lunches, reduced or waived fees for school, and even a summer lunch program.  Call your school or stop into the office to inquire.  You may also be able to find out more information from the USDA School Meals website.
  • Home Internet

Remember to show your card to verify eligibility for all of the above mentioned discounts!

 

Free bowling for kids (during summer months)

 

Other discounts to keep an eye out for (not EBT card required)

  • Program discounts through your employer
    • cell service, fitness center memberships, local discounts
  • Grocery store loyalty cards and programs
    • Walmart Savings Catcher – scan your receipt with the app and they will compare the grocery prices to other local stores and give you the difference back!
    • Meijer Mperks (for those of you in the Midwest!)
    • Price Matching
  • Check brand, store, and event websites for coupons and discounts
    • Before shopping online or visiting a store, check websites for coupons and discounts
    • Visit the brand or store website for exclusive coupons
    • Apps like Shopular and Retailmenot for store coupons
    • Restaurant and fast food apps often offer additional discounts
    • Redbox App for free/discounted movie rentals
  • Coupons.com website and app
    • Check for product or brand specific coupons
  • Current memberships
    • Investigate your current memberships.  They may get you discounts at other locations (i.e. partnering museums, library, etc)
  • Seasonal Discounts
    • Some events or memberships will offer discounts if you sign up during a certain time frame
    • Check for off season discounts
  • KidsBowlFree.com
    • Great opportunity for summer months
    • Sign up online for 2 free bowling games per day for each child (up to age 15) at qualifying locations
    • Shoe rental is not covered, however you can pick a pair of low-cost light soled shoes from a store like Walmart to wear only for bowling and not have to pay for shoes.  I spent $10 a pair for my boys and would have paid that in 3 visits alone.  Plus, after school starts and the free bowling ends, they can keep them as bowling shoes or they can have a spare pair of shoes for school! 
  • Birthday Offers
    • Sign up for savings at various places and receive free/discounted offers for your birthday

 

Ways to Save Money on Your Monthly Expenses

Save money on your monthly expenses

 

The cost of living these days is hard on everyone. Your expenses increase but your paycheck doesn’t do the same (or at least as often). Even if you have enough to cover your bills, it may not be enough for you to budget for things like savings, future planning, and entertainment. The stress of not having enough money to live life is stressful and, quite frankly, no way to live. The truth is, it is possible to save on things you need and use all the time. You just have to know where to look.

 

Mortgage or Rent

Your monthly mortgage or rental payments are likely your biggest expenses. Depending on where you live, this expense alone could take up more than a quarter of your income. There are a number of ways you could free up cash or find ways to save on housing costs.

Refinance – for homeowners who feel they’re paying too much for their mortgage each month, there is an option to refinance to find savings. If you qualify, you could receive a lower mortgage payment, shorter loan terms, or lower interest rates – all of which can save you money in the end.

Negotiate – renters may feel they don’t have any options when it comes to housing costs, but they often do. Do some comparative research to see what other tenants are paying in your area. You can use this information to negotiate a lower payment with your landlord. You might also offer to complete your own repairs (of a certain dollar amount) in exchange for a lower rate.

Sublet – both renters and homeowners may have another option to save money on their housing costs – subletting. This is where you allow someone else to move into the home to help cover some of the expenses. You can rent out a room and use the payments to cover all or part of your rent or mortgage. If you’re a renter, make sure subletting isn’t a violation of your lease.

 

Utilities

Another monthly expense that can’t be avoided but can also be very costly is the utilities. Paying for gas, water, and electricity can really add up, especially during seasons where it’s extremely hot or cold (as the heater and air conditioner are in constant use). There are, fortunately, a few ways you can save on utilities as well.

Energy audits – hire an electrician to complete an energy audit of your home. This assessment will give you a clear picture of how much energy you’re using and what areas could use improvement.

Solar energy – if you’d like long-term savings on your energy costs, consider solar energy options. You can consult with some of the best solar companies in Utah or wherever you live to find out about installation rates. Though a hefty initial investment, the reduction in energy use will save you money each month on your energy bills.

Weatherizing – if the electrician told you that your home wasn’t efficient, it could mean that you need to weatherize your home. Sealing up holes and cracks, adding insulation in the basement and attic, and potentially investing in better windows and doors for the property can reduce energy waste which saves you money.

Water conservation – to slash the costs of your water bill you’ll need to practice conservation. Installing timers for the shower, and using a low-flow toilet can decrease the amount of water used every month.

 

Groceries

Your family has to eat, but paying for groceries each week can be taxing on your budget. Here are a few ways to save on food for your family:

Use coupons – coupons are just like cash and should be used as such. Clip coupons from your local newspapers, hold onto coupons received in the mail and check for printable coupons online to save hundreds of dollars on your groceries each month.

Buy store brand – name brand food products may be what you’re used to, but they generally cost more than generic brands. The truth is, the store brands taste just as great. To save money on your groceries start buying store brand items. 

 

There’s no denying that it’s getting more challenging to raise a family on a budget. There are so many things that your family needs, but finances are often limited. If you can’t change your financial circumstances (like getting a higher paid job), the next best option would be to learn how to find savings. Whether it’s your healthcare, car maintenance, mortgage, rent, or utilities, there are ways around paying full price. Before making a purchase do some research to determine the best ways to slash those prices.

Embracing the Budget Lifestyle: Living Big through Little Actions

Embracing the budget lifestyle

More than ever, people need to create and stick to a budget.

You’ve likely caught one or two articles talking how the average American has less than $400 in savings. Or, how most people are one accident or financial mishap away from ruin. This is all very scary stuff when you’re aimless with your financial security and well-being. 

It’s certainly hard to live by a budget when you’re having trouble saving… but it’s not impossible.

 

Here are some of the best ways to find extra finances in your day-to-day and what to do with it:

 

  1. Simplifying and Planning Your Groceries

A Gallup poll found most people’s grocery budget is about $151 a week… a week! 

This can’t be, right? Can it? Apparently so.

Here are a few tips to cut that in half:

  1. Shop at the “cheap” grocery stores like Aldi, Trader Joe’s, or a local ethnic market
  2. Ditch name brands (usually in the middle of the shelf and endcaps) for generic brands (down low)
  3. Keep an eye out for coupons
  4. Keep a well-stocked pantry giving you plenty of options to mix and match — build this during sales
  5. Cut out meats and try one or two “meatless” days — even shop ‘clearance’ meats and cook that day
  6. Cook for yourself, more, and reinforce it remembering money and time saved

 

  1. Do Preventative Maintenance and Fix Things

What is it about something not working 100% and going straight to the trash? Or, having to have the latest and greatest because that’s what everyone else has? Consumerism will quickly drain your budget and a lot of this comes from buying low-quality goods, to begin with — and not trying to fix things when they start breaking.

When shopping:

  • Look for quality brands offering lifetime guarantees (and make sure to use those guarantees!)
  • Do your research and consider older items with better builds vs newer, cheaper productions
  • Try buying items through swaps, thrift stores, or directly from others at a discount

There are many ways to save around the home, too, by keeping up with it and fixing things especially if you’re in a dynamic environment like Utah. This could include fixing cracks in the foundation before it goes bad, or inquiring about pest control Salt Lake City services that can prevent pests like termites from ruining the foundation or woodwork in your home. Replacing wood framing eaten by termites could cost a lot of money so pest control is well worth the investment. 

 

  1. Set and Manage Expectations

Sure, it would be nice to go catch the latest flicks or grab up some nice, new piece of fashion. There’s always something new and flashy catching our attention — so much so that we’ll disregard our budget to have it. This goes the same with what we expect from others and how they influence our decisions.

Did you know your friends can influence you to spend more

That’s not telling you to ditch people close to you… just set and manage expectations and emotions. You’ve got to adult your money management. This includes tracking what’s coming in and what’s going out. It also includes letting a desirable purchase “dwell” for a few days often resulting in you no longer wanting it.

A lot of people are in financial trouble because they live beyond their means. They have trouble seeing the reality of their situation and how deep they’re digging.

You Can Live Big on a Small Budget!

A few extra bucks here and there does add up — and a lot of this funding happens when you apply value to your time and energy. A budget will help you understand whether it’s worthwhile. So, find cheap or free alternatives, aim for quality, maintain what you own, and get real with what you’ve got.

These are the things that’ll help you live big on a small (real) budget hopefully leading you out of this dangerous edge of savings and ruin.

Image Map
Copyright 2014 Family Centsability