Showing posts with label money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money. Show all posts

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quick Tip Thursday: Your Next Reward Card...Citi Double Cash

One of our blog's original posts was entitled: "The Plastic Debate". This article is a little controversial because I advocate for the use of a reward credit card. We historically have used, and have been happy with the Chase Freedom Card. This card is great because it offers 1% cash back on all purchases, and 5% cash back (on up to $1,500) on purchases in promotional categories quarterly such as gas, groceries, Amazon, etc. It's pretty good! (A trend you may see in the financial posts is that I am big on playing the "Percentage Game". That is also why we decided to ditch our savings account for high interest checking accounts.)

However, it is just that...pretty good. You are potentially limited by the rewards you can incur with the $1,500 limit and the 1% is pretty standard. We still have the card and use it for the quarterly promotions but have stopped using it to pay our bills and everyday purchases that we usually use a credit card for, and here's why.

The Citi Double Cash is our new GO TO credit card. This card gives 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay your bill, resulting in 2% cash back. In effect, doubling your cash back that you would get for non-promotional purchases with Chase. DOUBLE! (I guess that is why it is called Double Cash

The application process was easy to do online and the card came quickly. (Disclaimer: please be advised that canceling and opening credit cards does affect your credit score.We have great credit scores and don't plan on buying anything that needs a credit score in the near future so we were fine with potentially lower our scores)

It took some time but we changed all of our automatic online bills to pay with the Citi Double Cash card. Although it initially takes some time and energy it pays off because we effortlessly make double the money by paying the same bills we would have paid with the Chase card, aka FREE MONEY!

So now we use the Citi Double Cash credit card for everyday purchases and for paying bills and only use our Chase card when the promotional quarter works for us. For example, last quarter it was groceries so we still used our Chase card for all of our grocery shopping. 

Of course, all of this goes with your ability to spend with a credit card as if it is cash. A lot of  time research shows that a lot of people over spend when using credit cards, which would defeat the whole purpose of getting cash back.

On an slightly different note, I encourage you not to use credit cards when supporting small local businesses because they get charged service fees, thus reducing their profit.

HUGE SIDE NOTE: I finally found an alternative to my bulky wallet for carrying my money and credit  cards. It is the EZGO wallet. It floats, holds up to 15 bills, 8 cards, 2 micro sd cards, and an sd card. It is light, thin and durable. My Chiropractor also approves!

My final recommendation for those who use credit cards appropriately would be to ONLY use Chase Freedom for promotional category purchases and use your Citi Double Cash for everything else.

Feel free to comment with what reward cards you are using and what you like/dislike. 

Have a great day and thanks for reading. Please make sure if you've been enjoying the blog to put your email in the right column and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Save at Least $80 a Year...Grow a Beard

So I got this suggestion from a friend of mine and I wanted to look further into the prospect of saving money by growing a beard.

First of all, I myself have a beard. I am a fan of the relatively short and trimmed look, but it does venture toward Duck Dynasty messiness from time to time. Last November I decided to do No Shave November, and I have rocked the beard ever since. Here are the benefits I find to the beard other than saving money which we will get to in a moment.

1) It is low maintenance - I seriously just trim it when I get a haircut so it is the same length as the sides of my fade.

2) Weather Buffer - In the Winter it definitely helps keep the wind off of the face and really helps to keep the cheeks warm. In the Summer I was worried it was going to make me too hot because I am already warm most of the time. I found that it would not make me feel any warmer, but it did help keep my pasty cheeks not to burn. An unintentional money saver was that I did not have to use sunscreen for much of my face. Another side note is that it feels cool to swim with a just does.

3) It is in style - Whether you are a hipster, lumberjack or businessman there is a beard trend happening right now so it is time to get on board.

4) It makes me look older - I am blessed with quite the baby face and already kept some chin hair to help look more my age. Since I have grown the beard I have noticed that I do not get carded nearly as much. This is definitely a time saver.

5) It gives the wife something extra to run her hands through - Maybe I'm off point here, but I believe one of the best feelings in the world is having your wife run her fingers through your hair. Now put that hair on your face! Yes, it is that great!!!

6) Your kids will play with it - My beard has become an extra toy for my son. He can grab it with both hands and easily tell my face where to go. In addition, when he is tired he will regularly pet my beard for comfort. I can't take that away from him!

7) It make you feel more manly - It just explanation needed.

Alright, enough with the fringe on to the money savings.

I'll break down the cost by what I myself was using. These numbers would vary of course depending on a man's shaving habits.

Razor - Bic Comfort 3. I liked these because they worked well and they were cheaper than other brands. They cost  $5.08 for a four pack on Amazon and I would use 2 a month. That means that razors along were costing me $2.54 a month or around $60 a year.

Shaving Cream - I was already saving some money in shaving cream by using Mug Soap instead of traditional shaving cream. This soap costs $3.46 on Amazon right now and with regular shaving I would use about 2 a year totaling almost $7 a year.

Mug - This is like $1 at a dollar store and it is good forever. You definitely need one for your mug soap thought. I'm not going to even count this in the budget.

Brush - These again are a little pricey but they are good for life. This one is made with badger hair with is pretty stinking cool  They cost about $10, since they are good for life we will just count $1 toward our annual shaving budget.

Aftershave - I'm not into the aftershave my grandfather wore that had that horrible awesome and envious smell. I used a product to moisturize after I ran sharp metal across my fragile face skin. I really liked the Nivea one that ran about $5 a bottle and I'd use about 2 a year totaling $10 a year.

Time - This is priceless. I probably spent 5 min a morning every morning or every other day depending on how motivated I was. That's 5 more minutes of sleep or spending time with your family.

In total this adds up  to be roughly  $80 a year!!!!


And this is using products that are already cheaper than some that are commonly used. I never realized that it was so expensive to keep a shaved face until I went through that budget.

In order to keep that beard in order you are definitely going to want a beard trimmer like the on in the ad above (the one I own is the same brand and very similar). I have had it for almost five years and it does the trick. You can adjust the length of your beard and I get the neck area a couple of times a week with just the guard removed so it almost gets as close as an electric razor. 

How do you save money with shaving? Any beard experiences good or bad? Please leave a comment in the comment section. 

Have a great day and thanks for reading. Please make sure if you've been enjoying the blog to put your email in the right column and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

As a parent the best way to save money is to... used. It is easy to buy used at mom to mom sales, garage sales, consignment shops,  Goodwill, or Craigslist. For our local readers in West Michigan, there is a great opportunity to save a ton of money by buying used at the Just Between Friends Sale. Unlike shopping at mom to mom sales or garage sales which can be stressful and overwhelming at JBF sales all of the items are pre sorted and organized which make easy to find the gender, size, quality and price you want. 

And the best part...during the last two days of the sale all items (except those with an *) are ½ off!!!! So tomorrow, Friday, March 13th from 9am-8pm and Saturday, March 12th 9am-3pm plan to save some dough by buying used! (28th Street Showplace, 1256 28th St SW Wyoming, MI) Click here for more details. (Just realize that all of the super cute stuff will be gone because someone like me already bought it :p )

Again, for our local readers, Grand Rapids holds a JBF sale every 6 months so you only need to figure out what items and clothes you need for the next 6 months and then plan to come to another JBF sale in the fall.

Just Between Friends Sales are held throughout the US so go to their website to find a sale near you!

If you want to save even more money you can sell your items at the sale as well. Those that sell at the sale get to shop before the general public AND if you volunteer at the sale you get to shop early. I volunteered 4 hours organizing shoes for the sale. (Check out the picture below of all of the shoes I organized).


So I got to shop on Tuesday and I am proud to say I got over 30 pieces of clothing, 3 hats, 2 swimsuits, a bike helmet, infant sled, baby swing, wooden gate, laundry soap, cloth diapers, car mirror, sling, 2 puzzles, and 5 pairs of shoes for only $212! Yes, I know that sounds like a lot of money but I would have easily spent three times that much if I bought new. 

just between friends purchases.jpg

Also as a volunteer I get to shop today (Thursday) and get ½ off starting at 5pm. I cannot wait to see what other treasures I can find and it should be extra fun because I can bring two friends who also get ½ off!

A way to keep yourself in check when going on a spending outing like this is by making a list! I like to make a spreadsheet of what I already have and what I need. IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU USE THE LIST….cough cough, I may have overspent myself. You can find more pointers about what is needed for a new baby (without breaking the bank) by checking out our previous post about having, The Ultimate Baby Registry.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't throw away your MONEY!

Don't throw away stale cookies, donuts, cake I mean MONEY! Throwing away dried out baked goods is the same thing as throwing away your money. If you paid to buy those baked goods or paid to buy the ingredients to make those baked goods then you should eat every last bite. Even throwing away just one cookie is wasting 4% of your money (that you spent on those cookies)!

Let's put that into perspective...pretend you make $50,000 a year and you throw away that last cookie (4%) in every area of your life. It may seem like nothing but with that mentality in one year you would have throw away $2,000! Now that will make you think twice next time you decide to just throw away something that you paid good money for!

So what do you do with stale baked goods? them by placing a piece of bread with the stale baked goods in an air tight container. Wait a couple of hours and you will have a soft cookie again! And if you don't think you will eat all 24 cookies (which never happens for me unless I make a double or triple batch) put the extras in the freezer for later. Or make extra on purpose and plan to freeze some. I usually have extra muffins, loaves of bread, banana bread, cookies, and other goodies stocked up in my freezer. You can also re purpose a lot of those goods into crusts and crumbles to be used in new recipes (think Chopped Leftover Edition)!

Once you are done using the slice of bread, which has now become stale, make sure not to waste it! You can use it as panko, bread crumbs, or bake into croutons.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Steps to Get the Best Mortgage

5 Ways to Get the Best Mortgage

1) Do Your Research - Before you even step into a house you should have an idea what current interest rates are. Do a little internet research and ask friends and family what types of interest rates they got. You can use this to inform yourself as to what to expect when walking into an appointment with a mortgage broker. It will help you to know if a rate you are offered is good, bad or average from what you have seen with your research. Be mindful that these rates are always changing as well.

2) Get lower rates by having a larger down payment. This also may influence the price of house you are seeking.

3) Get pre approved for a loan at a place that is close, easy and accessible. You do not need to end up using that pre approved loan for your mortgage; it just gets you in the door to view houses. (We chose Chase Bank because it was easy and you can even do it over the phone!)

4) Shop around!!! When we secured our mortgage I went to at least five different places to get quotes. I paired this with research I had done and knew what offers were good and which weren't. Also, by accident I found that bringing all of the folders from potential lenders with me as I went place to place really caught the attention of the lenders. They knew I was shopping around and I felt as though they knew they needed to be more competitive to get my business. I ended up having a couple of places get into a little bit of a bidding war to get my business and I came out on the better end of that!

5) Refinance for a lower rate. Depending on the time left on your loan it is a great idea to refinance. A lot of people I talk to hate all of the "work" they have to do in order to do so. There are fees so you really need to look at whether or not you end up saving money. When refinancing we ended up saving $3,000 over the life of a loan. It doesn't sound like a lot when you look at the monthly change, however, it was the easiest $3,000 I have ever made/saved.

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