Give The Gift Of Saving Money This Holiday.

I just finished reading an article over at Kiplingers called 12 Gift Ideas That Save Money for the Recipient and was pleasantly surprised that it actually was what it proclaimed to be rather than just another list of “stuff” we don’t really need. It’s nice when a mainstream article gives people info about actually helping others to save money rather than just spending it! So if you are looking for last minute gifts to give to those you love, check out some of the things on this list – you would be doing them a huge favor by getting them any of these as presents. I put my thoughts on each next to them, just in case anyone in my family is reading this!

1. Movie-rental subscription – I am a big fan of Netflix and cannot imagine having to do into a video store ever again.

2. Espresso machine for an at-home coffee shop – While I don’t need an espresso machine, making coffee at home saves a ton of money over buying it in a store every morning.

3. A smarter power strip – I have these all over my house and they save a ton on energy costs.

4. Cooking classes – Seriously, this would be the best gift ever. I wish someone would give these to me.

5. AAA membership – A good gift, but I don’t need it as my car came with roadside assistance.

6. At-home fitness equipment – Much cheaper than a gym, but most people don’t have room for a full-sized exercise room in their house!

7. National Park visitor’s pass – Again, would love this.

8. Warehouse-club membership – For families, sure, but a single guy definitely doesn’t need a membership to a place where he can buy 32 gallons of milk at once.

9. A savings or investment account – Great gift for kids, but make sure you also give them something cool.

10. The perfect carry-on bag – If you fly, you know that airlines now charge you to check a bag, which is ridiculous. Yet another reason I Amtrak it.

11. A home-energy monitor – Thinking of getting one of these, but not sure I need it. I imagine it would do a lot of people some good though!

12. Subscription to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine – I already have one!

Happy Holidays!


Money Quote Friday – Weather Forecasts & Economists Edition.

Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?” — Kelvin Throop III

So very, very true. Like either of them really know what is gonna happen! Anyway, I hope you guys have a great weekend and holiday. Posting will be light and sporadic over the holidays as I take some much needed time off and away. 🙂


Save Hundreds Of Dollars (Every Year) By Drinking Filtered Tap Water.

Let’s say you currently buy water in plastic bottles for your everyday water consumption. And let’s say you consume three .5 liter bottles per day, give or take. That’s 90 .5 liter bottles per month, or 1,080 per year. (An average day could be more or less depending on your situation, so I just picked a number). To see how much that would cost you per year, I wandered over to the Staples website and saw a 24 pack of .5 liter plastic bottles on sale for $7.00. At $7 for 24 bottles, it would cost you at least $315 for a year’s worth of water in little plastic bottles. Wanna know how much it costs me for water at my house? $1.91 per every 1,000 gallons – meaning I would have to DRINK over 500 gallons of water a day, for a year, to spend as much as some people do on the plastic bottles filled with it. That’s insane. In fact, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap the stuff costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000. Yes, you read that right – $9,000 per month. And there is no way I am spending my hard earned cash on filtered tap water in plastic bottles! In fact, I carry my Klean Kanteen reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go so I never have to. And did you know that:

– American tap water is among the safest in the world?
– As much as 40% of the water sold in the U.S. is just filtered tap water anyway? Thanks but no thanks, I already have that at home.
– Plastic bottles can leach chemicals into the water if left in the sun, heated up, or reused several times?
– It can take nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle to actually make the plastic bottle itself?


Most people don’t know facts like these because they have been convinced by manufacturers that they NEED this water in order to be safe, when in fact you can avoid the fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and other chemicals that studies have found in bottled water.

So get yourself a $20 stainless steel or a lined-aluminum reusable bottle and start saving a ton on your water costs – your wallet AND the environment will thank you!


Cut Your Grocery Bill With A Cookbook And Some Real Food.

Looking for a real way to cut that grocery bill? Tired of spending hours every weekend cutting coupons for frozen, pre-packaged, processed food? I know of a much easier way – buy yourself a good cookbook and learn to cook. Don’t believe me? In the last 3 weeks I have bought only fresh fruits and vegetables to cook with and have significantly cut my grocery bill. And that is with buying from Whole Foods! For years I always bought a ton of organic prepared foods and then some raw vegetables to do some cooking with, but now that I have switched away from that entirely and am buying “raw” food every week, my bill has really gone down by quote a bit. Plus, the colors look nice:


I am now under $200 for a month, and at this rate I should be able to get it down to about $150 once I really learn to buy only what I need for the week without anything going to waste. Prepackaged and processed “food” might seem cheaper, but when you really do the math they are anything but…especially if you are buying the stuff filled with all sorts of crap. Poor eating habits can lead to higher doctor bills! Most everything I cook is veggie only and occasionally I get the hankering for some chicken or turkey, which does add a little to the bill, but mostly my grocery cart is a sea of greens and yellows and reds, which leaves more money in my bank account every week.


Once I decided I was going to cook food for myself from scratch every night, I picked up a couple decent cookbooks from Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Gordon Ramsay is one of my favorites, and his book Fast Food has become my cooking bible here at home. The food is amazing, easy to make, and easy on the wallet – and healthy!


If you don’t believe me, try it for a few weeks. Go to the library, get some good cookbooks, and start writing down the ingredients you need to make some of the dishes. Head over to the grocery store and buy only what you need to make those meals for the week – no packaged/pre-made foods at all – and see what your bills start to look like. I never really thought I could get my grocery bill lower than it has been for the last few years, but now I know that raw and fresh fruits and veggies with an occasional piece of meat is a LOT cheaper than buying food that only needs to be heated up. I think that if you give it a shot you will also be pleasantly surprised. And come summertime I plan on saving even more money once the local Farmers Market opens up!


That all being said, I ALWAYS have a frozen pizza in the freezer…just in case. 😉


Three Savings Tips For A ‘Less-Stress’ Family Holiday.

Shops are buzzing, bells are jingling, and halls are being decked. The energy of the holiday season is palpable, but what is the best way to make merry without fretting over incoming January bills? Get the whole family involved with three simple activities to create a holiday celebration that will save you money, teach your kids financial literacy and let you get back to enjoying time with your family.

  • Choose your traditions wisely: This year don’t just carefully analyze your shopping list, take a hard look at the holiday traditions your family enjoys. Get your family together and write down all of your holiday activities””opening presents, shopping, decorating, eating out””anything you like to do. Rate them based on how much happiness they bring you. Then rate their cost. You’ll be surprised how many activities make your family happy that cost very little, or that cost a ton and bring very little enjoyment. Institute family traditions accordingly and help your children understand how to spend their money sensibly.
  • Host a hand-made holiday: One rule: gifts have to be hand-made. Help your kids understand the value of creating something themselves. If your kids want to bake holiday treats, for instance, have them add up the cost of all the ingredients and compare the cost to that of store-bought cookies. Having a hand-made holiday will save money and fill up your winter days with novel and exciting family fun.
  • Shop for the holidays in January: Holiday decorations can be needlessly expensive. How much do twinkling lights cost, anyway? Wait until January to buy your decorations for a fraction of the price, and then pack them away with the rest of your stash. Take your kids with you to the store and show them that by waiting two weeks you can sometimes save up to 90 percent. A little delayed gratification goes a long way. They’ll be as excited as you are when they open up next year’s boxes and find all the purchases they had forgotten about. After all, holiday decorations rarely go out of style.

Not only will you be helping your finances this season by including your children in these decisions””you’ll also be teaching financial literacy lessons they will use their entire life. To help talk to your kids about savings year-round, explore the free online resource for parents called Junior Achievement $ave, USA. The lessons are sponsored by The Allstate Foundation and can help establish a solid financial literacy foundation for which your children will be grateful.

Guest post from Dr. John Box, Senior Vice President of Education, JA WorldwideAbout Junior Achievement® (JA). Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 137 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.ja.org.

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