The SmartyPig Blog

April Freeze

The rising cost of food is the hot topic gracing personal finance pages this month. While my gas bills have gone down, but grocery spending has gone up. And up. And up. Initially I attributed this budget breaker to my two growing children, or my husband’s penchant for steak and seafood, but after really paying attention to the cost of normal items in my grocery cart the last couple weeks, I realize it’s not just me.

At first glance of Lifehacker’s grocery spending chart, I thought there was no way this was on par with my family’s spending. Sadly, it’s very close. And while I don’t clip coupons, I do buy generic and shop at specific stores for the best prices (and quality) for the food my family needs, and enjoys. After the holidays, and a couple months of overspending I decided to treat my family to an “April Freeze.” Meaning, no none essential buying. And I’ve set a reasonable amount for food spending. So far so good! I’d love to hear your tried and true grocery saving tips on our social media pages.

Wishing you successful saving,

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman,

6 Wise Ways To Furnish Your Home On A Budget

Furnishing your home is crucial for your quality of life, but it can also become an expensive endeavor. Fortunately, there are nifty ways for you to save money while you outfit your home, such as the ones below:

Resist The Urge To Buy Expensive Pieces

If you’re like most apartment dwellers, then you’re not going to stay at your current residence for an extended period of time. Moving around places your furniture in harm’s way for damage. Think about all of those narrow spaces and sharp turns you’ll have to make as your move your furniture out of the unit!

It’s financially wise to purchase economical furniture, or buy someone’s gently-used furniture while you rent an apartment unit. Wait until you’ve moved into a long-term housing situation to buy investment pieces of furniture.

Check The Online Classifieds

Do you want to know how many people score great deals on inexpensive furniture? They bargain hunt for furniture via the online classifieds. Look at photos of furniture on Craigslist, or some of the other publications such as Penny Saver.

Also, keep in mind that many organizations such as credit unions publish a classifieds newsletter for their members. This can be a great place to score furniture and appliances that are in great condition. And, in some cases, the previous owner will deliver their unwanted furniture to your home. Some will charge you a small fee for the deliver, while others will make the deliver for free!

Shop At Mark-Down Stores

Mark-down stores sell over-stocked and gently-damaged inventory. For example, there are stores that sell slightly scratched or dented appliances at deeply discounted prices. There’s nothing wrong with the appliances, but their physical defects prevent retailers from selling the items at their full retail price.

Are you really concerned about a cosmetic scratch or dent on your appliances when you could possibly save hundreds of dollars on the purchase? If the answer is yes, just remember you can always refinish.

Start A Savings Fund

In many cases, it’s easy to spend too much money on a purchase, because you don’t shop with a budget in mind. You can maintain control of your spending when you start a saving account that allows you to reach your financial goals.

SmartyPig is an example of an online savings account. Membership is free, and members simply need to sign up for an account. Then, they’ll assign a financial goal to their account, and they’re able to start saving money. In some cases, a member’s friends and family are able to make contributions that allow the member to reach their financial goals.

Rent A Moving Van

When you purchase furniture and appliances, you’ll have the option of paying for the store to deliver your items to your home. But, if you’ve made purchases from multiple stores, then you’re going to have to pay a deliver fee to each store. This can become expensive very easily!

Instead, rent a moving truck (or van), and ask some friends to help you with your haul. You’ll be able to hit separate stores all on the same day, and you’ll only have to pay one fee for your transportation.

Purchase A Warranty For Your Home

Although you can hope for the best, the worst often happens. If a an accident or a disaster took place that demolished your appliances and your furniture, you’re not going to be able to recover financially unless you’ve pre-purchased a home warranty.

Each warranty policy offers different levels of coverage, but at the end of the day, you’ll be able to receive financial coverage that allows you to purchase your essential household items.

Outfitting your home doesn’t have to break your budget. Simply implement tips that are designed to help you to maximize your cash flow.

David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about home maintenance and DIY home repair. He’s also knowledgeable about topics like how to improve social presence and building a reputation online. 

Spring Cleaning Those Financials

imagesIt’s my favorite time of year; the flowers are blooming, the days are getting longer and it feels like a new start. In so many ways. A few years ago I started doing a spring financial assessment of my own bills, savings, and in turn, goals. I won’t lie, at first it wasn’t pretty. In the end, I swept out from under the rugs, I cleaned up what I could, and most important, I moved on.

Are you ready to do your own? It may seem to daunting at first, but I promise if you reserve yourself the time and lay it all out there you are going to finish what you started. You may need to outline a simple (or perhaps more specific) budget. And maybe it’s time to cut a few things out. Lastly, it’s time to set goals. Do you want to be on a beach next February? Set a goal and start saving. The former part of this process may be tough, but I promise the latter is totally worth it.

Wishing you a clean sweep!

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman,

How Are You Using Your SmartyPig?

I’m paying off student loans – BB

I’m saving for a new tattoo – @iotapup

I put my tax return into SmartyPig for a new laptop – @booksyarnandtea

I’m saving for a VACATION! Man, I need one. – Robert

I’m saving for a trip to Italy. I’ve been saving for 3 years and have a ways to go. I put $5 in here and there. I’ll get there one day. – Jenni

New to SmartyPig? You Must Know This…

Starting small is ok: ) – Davina

Divide your emergency fund into 3-5 goals. – Grant

When you sell stuff on craigslist/ebay/etc immediately put the money in your smart pig account. Don’t spend that $5! – Sarah

Pay homeowners and car insurance all at once by saving the monthly cost throughout the year (autosave monthly with SmartyPig).

Treat your smarty pig contributions like a payment rather than savings. You’ll be more committed to pay a bill than save. Set up bi weekly payments to be taken 2 days before your paycheck. The money will come out the same day your paycheck hits. – Stephanie

Save up for larger payments like a Roth contribution by paying yourself in smaller increments throughout the year. It makes the larger payments less daunting! – Victoria

Save every dollar you can spare. It’s worth it. Make goals and keep them. – Iramis

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