The SmartyPig Blog

Labor Day Challenge

I generally find myself spending more money in the summer months. We opt for convenient meals, use more energy around our home, and enjoy expensive entertainment like weekend getaways and concerts. So when I saw Mint’s “Save $1,000 by Labor Day” challenge I was intrigued. Saving $1,000 would be a nice start towards a warm-weather getaway next winter, so I gladly accepted the test.

Mint suggests upgrading your home’s efficiency – mainly using fans instead of air conditioning, investing in a $5 clothesline in lieu of a dryer, and unplugging and shutting off unused appliances. Seems easy enough. And more obvious suggestions: avoid summer shopping, use deal sites and cook at home instead of grabbing on the go. You can also opt for two wheels instead of four to save a few bucks a day. And lastly, just plain and simple, cut your spending by 10%. Trim a few corners here and there and you’ll reap the rewards in a big way. And when the going gets hot and the fan doesn’t seem to be cutting it, remember how much closer you’re getting to reaching a goal or rewarding yourself with something you’ve been dying to have!

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman

SmartyPig Got the Ring

Today’s guest post by user, Danny Ready.

Mary and I started dating on November 1st, 2011. I was a junior in college and she was a freshman. We met on a retreat at school and quickly took a liking to each other. We started dating less than a week after we met for the first time.

Fast forward to November of 2012. I had just gotten a full-time job for when I graduated that upcoming January in the same town so I could remain there while Mary finished school. I lived in my college apartment until May, then moved home.

I started saving on July 10th, 2013 for a ring fund that would be done when Mary graduated in May of 2015. It was a long way away, but twice a month, that ring fund was getting pulled out of my account. I had a good feeling that this would be the girl that I married, but I promised I would never marry a girl if she was still in school. You have to keep priorities separate. But I knew it wouldn’t be long after she graduated.
Fast forward to now. Mary has an internship that will be a job in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (We went to college at Loras in Dubuque, Iowa) This past weekend, I just moved here to start a new job so that we can be in the same town. I moved into a condo that she plans to move into as well.
I’m getting an engagement ring designed by a lady on the East Coast, which Mary will definitely love. She custom designed it, and it should be ready in a few weeks. From there, I plan on taking Mary down to Memphis to visit my brother and sister-in-law where there is a music festival with some of her favorite song artists. It should be a fun weekend, and she’s begging me to go.
Little does she know that my plan is to have my brother and sister-in-law film an engagement! It’s quite funny because I helped my brother trick his wife into being on camera for his (video here: I was in school as a media major and pretended that I needed to interview Lauren (brother’s wife) for a news story that I had to do. I got her and my brother mic’d up, and the rest you can see in the video above! Those two have started a video production company as well, so they make videos all the time, so I’m hoping Mary won’t suspect a thing!
So with some luck in a few weeks, I’ll have a nice little video of mine own!

SmartyPig made it pretty easy. When I set up my account, I just calculated how much I wanted and when, and it figured out the payments for me. It’s been ticking away for almost 2 years! When I went to get the engagement ring, it was just a matter of spending what I already had. No financing, I just bought it straight up!

Thanks for sharing your story, Danny. And Congratulations!

Summertime and How’s Your Living?

We hope it’s easy. And there’s a vacation goal in your SmartyPig account. Most of our SmartyPig savers have had a vacation goal at some point in their tenure with us. Saving for vacations with the pig is easy (automatic deductions!) and rewarding (cash back providers!) We invite you to save for something this summer – maybe it’s a beach in February, a camping trip in July or back to school shopping in August. The pig is the place to do it!

Furnishing Your Home on a Budget

Doors can seem mundane, but they are actually have a major impact on the look and feel of your home, simply because of how common they are. Making changes to your doors can really make a difference in your decor. There are a lot of ways to decide on which kinds of doors to use in a home, and using SmartyPig can help you save for whatever door you ultimately decide to go with. In this article, we will talk about how to let your personal touch and style come through in your door choices.

The first thing to consider is your goal for the house. Decide on what kind of mood you want to set, and take into consideration the location and architectural style of your home. For example, in the suburbs, it doesn’t take much to stand out and show a little sophistication if you have a standard home, but if you have something more elaborate like a Victorian, then you should probably conform to the house’s overall style in order to avoid an abrupt difference between the doors and the rest of the house.

The next thing to consider is the home warranty. Home warranties typically cover things that are considered essential for the home, like appliances, but not cosmetic changes like doors. So do not expect that your warranty will cover the cost of installing new doors or the risks of damage from such a renovation. It is unfortunate, but true. If you really think that your warranty will cover doors, then it might be worth checking, but the vast majority of them have no door coverage.

There are several styles that really stand out well and are very trendy. For example, barn doors are becoming very big. They bring a rustic feel into a home, but they are not intrusively rural, so they fit into just about any style home. If the rest of your furniture is rustic, you have exposed stone, brick, and hardwood floors, and you are wondering about where to do next for your design choice, then a barn door is an excellent choice. You can get them painted in any color, so that is another way you can customize them to fit your style. Barn doors fit in a variety of places and they are always eye-catching.

This leads into the next point. Be sure to consider the existing furniture and appliances before settling on a door. Doors can look very good when they fit well into the decor, but if they do not jive with the other furniture, then they can stick out oddly. If you plan to bring in new furniture, it might be a good idea to do that first before tackling the doors, so you can see what the rest of the interior looks like before settling on a door. Choosing a door should fall in with the overall theme of each room and the house itself.
Choosing a new door is something that a lot of people overlook when it comes to interior design, but the effect can be quite significant if done right. Sure, it can be expensive, but don’t forget to create your specific financial goals with SmartyPig to help out with that. All it takes is some care and planning to make sure the new doors go well with the style of the home. As long as you are comfortable with the look and you feel that it reflects your personality, then adding in new doors can make just as big a difference as new furniture. Changing your doors at the same time as the other design elements is a great way to complete the look in a way that most people wouldn’t expect. Look into the possibilities of adding new doors- you will be impressed by what you find.

BIO: David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about real estate tips, home maintenance and DIY home repair.


Gift Your Favorite Graduate With SmartyPig

Weekends are starting to fill up with high school graduation parties. And college students will soon take flight into the “real world.” As announcements arrive in the mail, you’ll want to provide these graduates with something to acknowledge their accomplishments. High school students don’t need a plethora of towels or laundry baskets to take with them to college, and college graduates might enjoy cash, but the morning after a big night out may leave them with empty pockets.

Help get high school and college graduates started out on the right foot with a SmartyPig gift card. Maybe it’s a goal for the deposit on their first apartment, a trip to Europe, or even their first home. Whatever it is, the first step is a crucial one. And if it is in the direction of good financial habits, that’s really a gift that will keep on giving. Available in $25, $50, $100 and $500 denominations.

Gift your favorite grad the gift of savings this spring. The SmartyPig way.

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman

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