5 Ways to be Better at Conscious Consumption

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

We’ve all been there. You walk into your favorite store, the one with the amazing branding and the conveniently set up dollar bins and somehow walk out with $100 worth of stuff when you just went in for conditioner. Or is it just me?

I have accumulated stuff over the years sitting in drawers and boxes, cluttering up my closet and I have no idea how it got there or why it is there.

Since taking a closer look at my finances and being more aware of my purchases, I was embarrassed by the number of foods from the grocery store that went uneaten and scented candles gone unlit. I’m not against candles, I love candles! But I’m starting to realize that I don’t need every scent just because they’re $3.

And I also care about the story of my purchases. Where did it come from, how did it get here, and is it beneficial for the future if I buy it? It’s a common trait in millennials; we want to be good stewards of the earth’s resources and ethical to people around the world. It’s transformed the way I look at shopping.

So now, I pay attention to what I buy.

It didn’t start out so well. Thinking about my purchases looked more like just staring at the bottle of wine a little harder as I put it in my cart. But I’ve developed 5 habits that make me more confident that what I’m consuming is good for me and good for the rest of the world.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

We’ve all heard the phrase before. But did you ever think there’s a reason they’re put in that order? Recycling gets a lot of hype but priority #1 is actually to reduce as much of our consumption as possible. Priority #2 is to reuse what you already have for as long as you can. I’m not talking kids crafts with leftover egg cartons. I mean repurposing and upcycling. Then as a last resort recycle whatever’s left.

Buy Secondhand

I’m known for being a big proponent for gently used fashion but my love for all things secondhand goes far beyond wearing it. Buying secondhand cars, home décor, and furniture can not only save you money but also reduce the quantity of items that have to be made to keep up with demand.

My logic is most definitely flawed but regardless I think of it like this: even if that Forever 21 top was made in a sweatshop, buying it secondhand instead of new, saves someone from having to produce one more top. It gives me more freedom in the thrift stores and my favorite online consignment shops like ThredUp.

Shop Local

I live in a city where local is a way of life. Big box stores and restaurants can’t touch our downtown because the city is committed to shopping at independent businesses. And for produce, the Saturday Morning Market is always packed.

Buying local means you can help more people without spending more money. Each dollar you spend returns 3 times more money into the local economy than one spent at a chain and almost 50 more than one at an online mega-retailer.

Pro tip: Be cautious at farmer’s markets to make sure the produce is actually local. Big agriculture farms will often outsource to dealers meaning you’ll buy from a 3rd party vs. buying from an actual local farm.

Buy Quality

Ask yourself: How long will this last? Will I still want to wear it in 3 years? A classic shirt that costs $35 but will last you twice as long as a $19.99 fast fashion shirt is actually a better deal. Things that can break easily or you know you replace often are worth the extra money for better quality.

Minimize Waste

I’m bringin it full circle for this last one, just to emphasize: use less, waste less. This trick not only saves your money from thoughtless buys but is the easiest way to be better to the environment. After all, you don’t have to think about the quality and source of your purchase if you just don’t purchase it.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the steps you need to take and money you need to spend to become the ultimate conscious consumer. Make small changes day to day and you’ll see that the more you ask yourself these questions, the more they’ll become a way of life. And your wallet and the earth will thank you.

5 Ways to be Better at Conscious Consumption

5 Ways to be Better at Conscious Consumption

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If you’re looking for easy ways to be a conscious consumer, read this. Tips and tricks to help you spend your money better. #consciousconsumer #consciousconsumption #spendbetter #wisespending

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

9 Simple Ways To Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?

Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.

So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.

Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.

Table of Contents

Target-Baby-Registry

Target-Baby-Registry

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.

Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.

You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.

Here’s just some of what you get:

  • Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
  • Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
  • MAM newborn pacifier
  • Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
  • A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
  • Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
  • Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
  • Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
  • Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
  • Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
  • Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
  • 10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.

Two:  Sign Up for Amazon Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member.  Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions.   You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.

Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.

Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.

Three:  Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers

Swagbucks

Swagbucks

Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?

Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity.  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games.  Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.

Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.

TIP:  Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go.  You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.

InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.

Four:  Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies

Huggies Rewards Program

Huggies Rewards Program

Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.

Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors.  So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.

Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points.  You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.

When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.

Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.

In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:

Pampers

Luvs

GoodNights

More Free Samples

Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.

Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.

Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.

Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.

Five:  Smart Couponing for Free Diapers

Clipping Coupons

Clipping Coupons

Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores.  By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.

Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.

Huggies coupons

Luvs coupons

Pampers coupons

Six:  Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money

baby diapers

baby diapers

A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes.

Diapers.com gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site.  Sign up for their referral program here.

If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program.  Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.

Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.

Seven:  Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.

Free baby diapers

Free baby diapers

The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers.  The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.

This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers.

NeedHelpPayingBills.com aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs.   Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.

Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers

Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.

They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.

Nine:  Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat.  Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.

Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples.  They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.

Like It?  Share It!

If this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it too.  Thanks!

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Source: incomist.com

Pros and Cons of 0% Interest Balance Transfer Credit Cards

sWoman credit card

Woman credit card

Transferring your debt to 0% interest balance transfer credit cards seems like a no-brainer right?

You’ll pay no interest for a promotional period of time so 100% of your payment will go to the principal.

Sounds like a win to me.  And quite often it is a win.

But not always.

When you know all the pros and cons, you can accurately determine if transferring your debt to a balance transfer card makes sense for you.

With that in mind, I’ve put together this complete list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should transfer your balance.

Do your due diligence and weigh all the pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card to make sure it will really help you save money while paying off your debt faster.

Table of Contents

how you transfer your debt to a balance transfer credit card the right way.

A 0% balance transfer card can save you money

Clearly paying less interest on your credit card debt will save you money.

Just remember to run the numbers, taking into account the balance transfer fee and the promotional and standard interest rates.  I recommend using a good credit card payoff calculator.

Here’s an example of good balance transfer numbers:

Say you have $5000 in credit card debt which requires you to pay 30% interest.

If you pay $300 a month, you will pay off that card in 22 months.  It’ll cost you $1,549 in interest for a total of $6,549.

On the other hand, if you transfer that balance to an 18-month, 0% interest credit card your numbers would look like this:

You would pay the same $300 a month for only 17 months, paying $0 in interest for a total cost of $5,000.

Most credit card companies charge a 3% balance transfer fee, which in this example works out to $150.

That means you would save $1,549 dollars minus the $150 balance transfer fee for a total savings of 1,399 with the added benefit of paying off your debt 5 months sooner.

In the interest of balance, we’ll run the numbers on a balance transfer that doesn’t add up to such an obvious benefit once we take a look at the cons.

You can enjoy better terms and even get rewards

The credit card landscape is extremely competitive, and companies are trying harder than ever to capture your business.

Why does this matter?

If you have lousy terms with your current credit card, such as high fees or a short grace period, you can dump that credit card and enjoy better terms with someone else.

Shop for not only the best introductory interest rate but also for a better interest rate once the promotion period ends.  Also look for credit card rewards on new purchases.

Here’s the thing:

If you’re going to go through with a balance transfer, make sure the new company treats you better than your current one.

Consolidate your credit card debt to make your finances simpler

Consolidating your credit card debt makes budgeting a little easier and more convenient.  Just having all your debt in one place makes it easier to manage and pay down your debt. What’s more, transferring your balance to a 0% card can create space in your budget, which is ideal if you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

The Cons of Balance Transfer Credit Cards You Need To Know

The APR is only temporary

Never forget, the banks are making a bet on you.

They are willing to give you an attractive promotional rate and they are counting on you not paying off your balance on time.

If you don’t pay off your debt before the promotional rate expires, you’ll be hit with the considerably higher revert rate.  Don’t be surprised if this rate is in the 25%-30% range.

But you don’t have to get stuck with this rate.  Instead, do your homework ahead of time and make sure the revert rate is not excessive.

Even better, only get a balance transfer rate if you know you can pay off the balance during the promotional period.

Balance transfer accounts can be very expensive

Typically banks charge a balance transfer fee of 1% to 3% as well as the annual service fee.

In the “Pros” section above, we showed you an example of a balance transfer credit card which saved you money.

Now let’s take a look at a balance transfer that’s not quite a slam dunk like before.

Let’s say you have a credit card with a $3,000 balance in which you are paying 20% interest.

If you are paying $140 per month, you will pay off the debt in 27 months, including $742 in interest.  In total, you will pay $3,780 in this scenario.

But what if you found a balance transfer credit card offering a 12-month promotional period with 0% interest and a standard 3% balance transfer fee.

You could transfer your balance for $90 and pay down $1,680 of your debt in the first 12 months.

Your balance (initial $3,000 plus the $90 transfer fee) of $3090 would be $1,320.

Now the bad news:

The promotional period ends and the bank pumps the interest up to 30%.

If you continued paying $140 per month, you would pay off the debt in a total of 23 months.  Your total out-of-pocket expenses would be $3,320, including only $204 in interest fees.

To recap this scenario:

Current credit card: You would pay a total of $3,780 over 27 months with your current credit card at 20% interest.

Balance transfer credit card:  Including the balance transfer fee, you would pay $3,320 over 23 months.  You would save 4 months payments and save $460 dollars.

Don’t get me wrong, $460 is a nice sum and at first glance, and it may seem worth it to do the transfer.

But when you consider all the potential cons we’ve mentioned, $460 may not be enough of a benefit to outweigh the other factors.

The point is, run the numbers and make sure the risk/reward ratio works in your favor.

Balance transfers are not always included.

Don’t assume every 0% APR offer is good for balance transfers.  Nearly all of these offers are good for new purchases made on the card.  But the same is not always true for balance transfers.

In other words, sometimes the 0% APR offer applies to balance transfers, sometimes it doesn’t.

I can’t emphasize this enough;

Before you consolidate your debt on a new card, check the terms and conditions carefully to ensure balance transfers are also eligible for the promotional rate.

Balance transfers can potentially hurt your credit score

Your credit score can take a hit when you open a new card.  Your score will drop if the balance of the new card is over 30% of the card’s limit.  Not to worry, making your payments on time will negate this penalty soon enough.

Here is another credit score consideration:

In order to minimize the risk of running up debt, many people close their old account after the balance transfer is completed.

This is wise and it is what we usually recommend.

But there is one exception:

If you’re going to be applying for a home loan in the near future, it’s probably smarter to keep the old account open because closing accounts usually hurt your credit score.

Final credit score consideration:

Closing accounts with zero balance will actually raise your credit utilization percentage, the amount of balance you carry versus the amount of credit you have available to you.

The truth is, the lower your credit utilization – the better your credit score will be.  So, closing your old card could hurt your credit score.

That’s not all.

Closing an old account may hurt your length of credit history, which can also negatively affect your score.

In other words, closing your first credit card account may hurt the length of credit history and, consequently, your score.  Conversely, closing a more recent account would not affect your score in this way.

Bottom line?

If you’re not getting a mortgage anytime soon, you probably shouldn’t worry about the credit hit too much.

Paying off debt, and staying out of debt, are the bigger, more important goals here.

Late payments can kill your APR

Sadly, that enticing 0% promotional interest rate can be lost in the blink of an eye.  All it takes is one late payment.

Read the disclosures carefully to make sure you understand the terms of a credit card offer.  The card issuers often have the sright, to not only end the introductory period but also to hit you with a hefty penalty APR, usually in the staggering neighborhood of 30%.

You are exposing yourself to potentially more debt

As I mentioned before, the banks are betting that you won’t be able to resist making more purchases and racking up more debt.

So if you’re going to do a balance transfer, vow to yourself that you are doing so strictly to help you pay off your debt.

Cut up your cards, or hide them in a safe place, so you won’t be tempted to use them for impulse buys.

Should you get a balance transfer credit card?

Transferring your debt to a 0% interest credit card only makes sense if the purpose is to pay down debt.

Even then, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding if you should or should not get a balance transfer credit card.

The Bottom Line About Balance Transfer Pros and Cons

The truth is, if you’re considering transferring a credit card balance for any other reasons besides saving money and getting out of debt faster, you probably should not do it.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the balance transfer is all that needs to be done to get your finances back on track.  If you don’t have a plan to pay down debt and stay out of debt, a balance transfer card will probably be counter-productive and lead to more debt.

But the bottom line is this:

When it’s done the right way as part of a debt reduction plan, and only after you have run the numbers and read the terms and disclosures, a balance transfer credit card can be a very effective tool to save money and pay off debt faster.

Like it?  Share it!

Was this article helpful?  If so, please consider sharing it so that others can benefit from it too.  Thanks!

Related: Busted! The Myths of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Pay Off Credit Cards Sooner With Bi-Weekly Payments (Saves $1000’s)

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Source: incomist.com

The Cash Envelope Template That Every Budgeter Needs

how to use cash envelope templates to start saving money today
simple cash envelopes that anyone can make
simple cash envelopes that anyone can make

Grab your free printable cash envelope templates (or make your own) and start organizing your money today!

One of the best kinds of hobbies are the ones that you get giddy thinking about! The ones that you can’t wait to get home to try out your latest idea, you just know it’s going to be amazing!

It’s even better if this hobby helps you accomplish your big goals, like getting a better hold of your personal finances. (#nerdmuch) ?

That’s exactly what we’re digging into today, and I have some great cash envelope templates so you can get crafty and make your own. That’s the best part; you can make them exactly how you want them! Yes, your crafting skills may stink (don’t worry, you’ll get better). You can make them in your favorite color, design, add stickers, washi tape, whatever “it” is, you can do it! (hmmm… do people still bedazzle things?)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info

How to make your own cash envelopes

You’ll need just a few things…

  • paper
  • scissors
  • tape or glue
  • ruler or instead of measuring yourself, you can just use a cash envelope printable template, and I have one right here for you, and it’s free! Just enter your name & email address, and you’ll get the Better Budget template pack that includes both a vertical cash envelope and a horizontal cash envelope. Just print, cut it out and then trace it on your favorite paper!

DIY cash envelope template

If you still want to measure out your own envelope, then no worries, I got you covered. Here are your cash envelope measurements…

Vertical cash envelope template

  • a long rectangle: 6 1/2″
  • a small flap at the bottom & top: 3/4″ and 1″
  • 2 side flaps: 1 3/4″ and 2″ 
vertical cash envelope template

Horizontal cash envelope template

  • a long rectangle: 6 1/2″
  • 2 side flaps: 1/4″ and 3 1/4″
  • small bottom & top flap: 1″
horizontal cash envelope template

Which cash envelope design is best?

Well, it depends on how you will use them and store them. If you’re going to carry them around in your wallet, then it needs to fit inside. Room for punch holes?  

Or if you’re going to keep them at home then it doesn’t matter. Personally, I like horizontal envelopes the best. Sometimes with vertical, it gets hard to slide bills into it easily (especially if it’s an old soft bill). But maybe I am just impatient and try and jam it in ? Quite possible.

Making your cash envelopes yours

As I said above, you can design your cash envelopes any way you want. Here are some of my favorite supplies…

These are just a few options for you to think about, but there are thousands of designs and ways to accessorize your cash envelopes. You just need to sort through your options and see what fits your personal style.

I don’t know about you, but I love getting crafty; it’s fun. And at the beginning of every month, I get excited to sit down and make some new ones (if I am not reusing ones from previous months). This is one of the hands-on fun parts of budgeting with cash envelopes!

But as I mentioned, you can reuse your envelopes; you just need to be sure to use sturdy cardstock so they hold up. Or you can do some good old fashioned ghetto laminating (use packing tape to cover it). And you will need a cash envelope template insert to use to log your purchases. Print this on heavy card stock, so it slides in the envelope easily.

Cash envelope tracker & planner

Another useful item is a cash envelope planner, this is a form where you write out which denominations you need for your envelopes, and then you take this to the bank to get the correct bills for your envelopes. It just makes the process go much smoother & faster, and it’s formatted so that the math is double-checked, so you know it’s correct.

You may also want a budget form designed specifically for cash envelope budgeting. It just makes it so much easier when all your things line up and match. For example, you wouldn’t wear your running shoes with your little black dress, would you?

saving money free templates

What categories of cash envelopes should I make?

You can turn any budgeting category you want to into a cash envelope. Or you can shift their purpose and make sinking fund category cash envelopes.  

Some of the more common categories are…

  • groceries
  • restaurants
  • gas
  • fun money
  • clothing
  • kid stuff
  • hobby stuff
  • pet
  • gifting
  • date night
  • miscellaneous 

Sometimes you pay bills online, things like your water, electricity, cable, etc. You don’t need to make envelopes for those, but you do need to account for that money. Sometimes if your electric bill is higher one month, you may need to go back to one of your cash envelopes and pull back some money from it to deposit back into the bank.

Cash envelopes for teaching kids about money

If you have an older child, say tweens, you can give them a cash envelope for their school clothes, school supplies, and such. It’s a great way for them to get a feel for what budgeting is like.  

Just write out a master list of everything they need, and then the cash envelope and the money. Then they are responsible for making sure they “afford” everything on their list. BUT, you may need to be prepared if they don’t as wisely as they should, and for some reason, don’t have enough to buy their binders, etc. Either way, it will be a great learning lesson and experience for them.

dave rasmsey quote on kids and money

Cash envelopes for gifting

Once you get into your groove of making cash envelopes, you can use them for gift giving. Any place you’d normally give cash, you can make a fun cash envelope and write a note on it, just like you would with a greeting card. It makes giving cash more personable and unique. This would be good for graduation, weddings, baby showers, etc.

Cash envelopes help you stay organized

I would love to think that I have an amazing memory, but I don’t. That being said, I have mixed up my money now and then when I had it in just a single bank account. How much was for the car tune up? How much was for new running clothes? How much was for bills?

When you use cash envelopes all of that confusion gets taken away, everything is labeled! Nice huh!

Download your free cash envelope templates

If you want some basic cash envelopes for saving money then you can get a vertical cash envelope template and a horizontal cash envelope template right here. It comes with a bunch of other free printable worksheets to help you save money!

If you’re looking for something that is bright & fun then check out the printables cash envelopes in the Shop!

At the end of the day

Using cash envelope templates can be a great way to get started with this method of budgeting. Or even better to use for your short term sinking funds. No matter what you use them for, you should have fun with them!

One of the unexpected bonuses with making your own CE’s is the emotional tie to it. You’re like, “I made that!” You are more careful with it, and hopefully the money inside too!

free saving money printables

Which money envelope style are you going to use?

Source: moneyforthemamas.com

What Size Storage Unit Do I Need? And Other Questions to Ask When Picking a Facility

If you need a storage unit, there are many questions you should ask before you pick one. For example: What size unit do you need? How much does a storage unit cost?

Choosing a storage unit may seem daunting at first, but if you’ve reached that point where you’ve run out of space in your home for all of your belongings, it’s time to dive in. Here are some questions to ask to ensure you find the right storage unit for you.

What size storage unit do I need?

Before you begin your search for the right unit, make a list of all the items you’ll be storing. This way you can save time by focusing only on storage facilities that meet your needs in terms of size.

Storage units generally range in size from 5-by-5 to 10-by-25 feet, and some may be even larger. Wondering which size is best for you? Picture these:

  • A 5-by-5 unit is the size of a small closet and could hold several small- to medium-size boxes, a dresser, or a single bed.
  • A 5-by-10 unit is comparable to a walk-in closet, which could hold larger furnishings such as a queen-size bed or couch.
  • A 10-by-10 unit could hold two bedrooms’ worth of furnishings.
  • A 10-by-20 unit is equal to a standard one-car garage, and could hold the contents of a multiple-bedroom house.

Prefer not to climb over mountains of tubs and boxes to track down something stashed at the far reaches of that space? Choose a unit that allows entry on either side.

“How many times do you put something in the back of a closet only to find that you need it? The same thing happens with a storage unit,” explains Willie Dvorak, owner of AAA Storage in Mellette, SD. “Ensuring you can access your goodies from both sides of the unit makes it that much easier to find what you need quickly and safely.”

How much does a storage unit cost?

Unless you’re filthy rich (and then you probably have a big house with ample storage), you’ll want to know how much this unit will set you back each month. CostHelper.com breaks down how much you can expect to pay on average:

  • A 5-by-5 unit costs about $40 to $50 a month.
  • A 10-by-20 unit costs about $95 to $155 a month.
  • A 20-by-20 unit costs about $225 a month.

Is this storage unit easily accessible?

What good is having a storage unit if it’s hard to access, both in terms of its location and its design? Dvorak outlines what to look for when selecting a facility.

“If you can’t get your vehicle close enough to the unit, you’ll be lugging your stuff feet—even yards—in both directions,” he says. “While it may not seem like a long walk as you look at the unit, imagine carrying all of your stuff back and forth all of that way. When you’re storing stuff, every step is a nuisance. And, when you are stressed, you’re more prone to accidents. Turning that rental truck around just adds to the stress. Be sure you can pull up the unit and get your vehicle turned around without any trouble.”

What are the storage facility’s hours?

Once you’ve unloaded your belongings, you still want to know that you can reach them in a hurry should you have the desire.

“It’s hard to predict when you’ll need that hiking gear you haven’t used for years, Grandma’s scrapbook, or that special award you want to show off,” Dvorak notes. “Don’t miss out because you think of it after they’ve locked things up for the night (or weekend). Make sure you can access your stuff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

What’s the payment policy?

Fred Levine, founder of Little Hard Hats, recommends reading all of the fine print of the contract to determine how long the price is guaranteed.

“They routinely get you in, then shortly thereafter, once you’ve moved all your stuff in, they sometimes raise the rates,” he cautions.

“Understanding the payment policy can also help you make decisions about a storage facility,” says Caitlin Hoff of consumersafety.org. “What is the late fee or policy? Some facilities will auction your storage unit if rent is not paid after a certain amount of time. Does your facility allow for online payments? If it doesn’t, do you have to pay in person? Knowing the full extent of the policy can narrow down a list of facilities.”

What type of security is used?

Ask how the storage unit facility is secured. Is there a guard? Video surveillance? Alarms? Is the area well-lit? Also, don’t assume the facility is going to cover damages to your possessions inside the storage unit in case of an accident. Check your homeowners policy, and purchase a rider if necessary.

Is it climate-controlled?

Depending on the items you are looking to store, you might debate whether or not you want a climate-controlled storage unit. A climate-controlled unit is better for items such as appliances or antiques that might be damaged in extreme temperatures.

How are pests handled?

No one wants to find that a family of critters has turned your family heirlooms into their home.

“If you are looking at an outdoor storage unit, you want to ask about pest control,” says Hoff. “Ask if they have had issues with any insects or critters, and find out how they handle these situations.”

Eric Hoffer, president of Hoffer Pest Solutions, suggests doing your own detective work when you preview the facility.

“Overgrown bushes, unkempt landscaping brushing up against the side of the building, and overflowing trash cans are not only a sign that maintenance may not be a priority for a storage facility, but these can be things that attract pests like rodents and roaches close to the building,” he says. “All it takes is a small crack or gap in the wall to allow pests inside.”

If you’re going to the trouble of storing your items for later use, you want to know they’ll be in the best shape possible when you want them. Finding the right facility can make all the difference.

Source: realtor.com

7 Ways to Make Frugality a Joyful Choice, Not a Burden

If you equate being frugal with leading a life of deprivation, think again! Frugality is a lifestyle, and it involves making smart choices so you can grow your wealth.

By

Julie Moss
November 30, 2020

Great Depression, and it has the power to improve our homes and lives today.

While circumstances can force us into frugality, and that’s not much fun, you can also enjoy life while being frugal. Here are some great ways to make a thrifty lifestyle a joyful choice and not a burden.

First, clarify your why

Why do you want to be a frugal person? What benefits will a frugal lifestyle bring that you can’t find any other way? To make your frugality a joyful choice, you need to have a solid reason for it.

Most of us don’t live frugally for the sheer fun of it—at least not at first. You probably have a reason to be frugal. Perhaps you’re saving for a downpayment on a home, paying off student loan debt, or reducing your budget to enjoy greater career freedom.

You must have a reason for being frugal that is greater than your desire to spend money.

Clarify why you’re planning to be more frugal. (You might have several reasons). Every time you struggle with forgoing a purchase to save money, remind yourself of the purpose behind it. You must have a reason for being frugal that is greater than your desire to spend money.

Your reasons are likely things that will add to your happiness one day. Buying a home, becoming debt-free, or cutting back on work hours may significantly improve your life, so those goals are worth the effort to be frugal.

7 strategies to make frugal living more enjoyable

1. Try a frugality challenge

Join a no-spend challenge where you only spend money on essentials for a month to see how much money you might save. This kind of thing isn’t meant to be a long-term change in habits, although some people might continue after the challenge is over.

The point of a frugality challenge or no-spend month (or year) is to reset your baseline. Change the default of how much money you spend each month. You may struggle at first, but it gets easier the longer you avoid spending.

When the month of extreme frugality is over, don’t automatically resume spending at your former levels.

When the month of extreme frugality is over, don’t automatically resume spending at your former levels. Take some time to evaluate how you felt, what triggers tempted you, and what things you discovered you don’t really need or want anymore.

It’s OK if you start spending a bit more again, but be mindful about what you purchase. It’s like the Konmari method of decluttering your house, except with your finances: Let go of what is no longer serving you, and joyfully spend on the things that matter.

2. Focus on gratitude

Gratitude can make you a happier person. When you think about what you’re grateful for, it’s pretty hard to dwell on what you don’t have. Research has shown people who regularly express gratitude often feel more positive emotions, savor good experiences, and improve their health.

It’s much easier to save your money when you focus on your blessings. Writing a list of things you’re grateful for daily can help you feel more content and less likely to crave the temporary high of buying something new.

You can still have so much without spending a lot.

Frugality doesn’t take away things you enjoy. Yes, it often means shopping around to get a lower price or doing without something you didn’t need. But you can still have so much without spending a lot.

Examples of things that might be on your gratitude list:

  • Running water
  • Internet service
  • Virtual connectivity to friends and family across the globe
  • Food and drink
  • Modern conveniences (electricity, dishwashers, lawnmowers, etc.)
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Nature

3. Notice the benefits of frugality

The longer you follow a frugal lifestyle, the more benefits you’ll observe. As you forgo spending on things that perhaps were luxuries, pay attention to the benefits you experience, whether expected or unexpected. Some of the common benefits you might see include:

  • Feelings of joy for the small things
  • Preferring homemade meals to dining out
  • Appreciation for what you have
  • No more temptation to buy to impress people
  • Learning a new skill
  • Adopting other, healthier habits

The more you appreciate the benefits of your frugality, the easier it will become to keep following frugal principles.

4. Make bargain-hunting a game

When you need or want something, look for low- or no-cost ways to get it. Buy Nothing groups, Facebook Marketplace, local garage sales, or thrift stores may have the item you’re seeking for much less (or even free).

Frugality often means spending a little more time researching the item you need before rushing out and buying it. But you usually don’t need something instantly and can afford to wait a few days, weeks, or months. That time can save you a great deal of money. Plus, you get to enjoy the satisfaction of snagging a great deal.

5. Enjoy learning to DIY

If you’re just starting with frugal living, you may find yourself trying to fix something you usually would have replaced. Do-it-yourself tasks are an opportunity to learn.

Look at frugality as a part of your identity rather than a difficult phase.

When you choose to repair or reuse something rather than replacing it with a new one, think about how cool it is to learn something new. My husband loves YouTube for teaching him a ton of valuable skills, such as how to replace car brakes. Yes, this takes more of his time in a hands-on way, but he enjoys the challenge, saves money, and guess what? Now he knows how to do the same job in the future, saving us money for years to come.6. Make frugality your identity, not a phase

Look at frugality as a part of your identity rather than a difficult phase. Habits expert James Clear writes about this in his bestselling book Atomic Habits: “To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.”

For instance, rather than stating your goal as “I want to save $200 this month,” try identifying yourself as someone who is joyfully frugal. Reframing your identity by saying, “I’m a frugal person” can be more effective than thinking, “I can’t wait until I can start spending money again.” All those little spending decisions are more manageable when you view everything as a means of honoring your values rather than temporarily denying yourself something.

7. Cultivate an abundance mindset

Consider how you talk about money in your day-to-day life. Try to pay attention to what you think and say about money throughout a typical week.

You’re making an intentional choice to prioritize what matters.

If you often say things like “I can’t afford that,” you’re negatively framing your frugality. But if you say something like “I choose not to spend money on that,” you put the power in your hands. You’re making an intentional choice to prioritize what matters.

There’s a subtle yet essential difference in these perspectives. If you have a scarcity mindset where you don’t have enough and you always want more, it won’t get you anywhere. But if you cultivate an abundance mindset, you’ll see opportunities for the future and believe in your ability to realize those opportunities.

Frugality is fun … for real!

Honestly, frugality is a fantastic lifestyle that brings me endless joy every day. It’s exciting to look for ways to save money without sacrificing any of the things you love to do. I hope you’ll start finding the joy in frugality too.


About the Author

Julie Moss

Julie Moss is a Colorado mother of five children. She’s learned over the last decade to be quite frugal while still offering up creative, fun activities for her family.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

6 Surprising Household Uses for Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap! When you get a huge box of it, it’s one of those things you don’t want to throw away. But besides stashing it away for future packages or just throwing it on the floor and getting some satisfying stomping done, what can else you use bubble wrap for? Check out these second uses for bubble wrap for all around your home.

By

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
August 29, 2016

make DIY padded hangers: Simply wrap a sheet around the shoulders of the hanger and tape to secure. They won’t look fancy, but they’ll work just as well as the expensive kind you’d buy at the store.

Necklaces on the Go

Packing for a trip? Keep your necklaces safe and tangle-free by laying them out on bubble wrap, then taping the ends to the bubble wrap with some Scotch or masking tape. Then simply roll the bubble wrap up and pack safely in your suitcase!

DIY Lumbar Cushion

Instead of buying an expensive lumbar cushion, make your own with bubble wrap! Using a roll of bubble wrap, tightly roll up a portion lengthwise until you reach a thickness that will rest comfortably in the small of your back (a few inches thick). Next, thread a length of kitchen twine through the center and tape the roll shut. Fasten to the lumbar region of chair with the twine, and when you sit make sure it supports your lower back, so you improve posture and reduce pain.

Save on Energy Costs

Cut down on heating costs and keep your loved ones warm this winter by insulating your windows with bubble wrap. It’s free, and works even better than the plastic window insulations you can buy at the store. All you’ll need is the bubble wrap, a scissor or utility knife, and a spray bottle filled with water. First, cut the wrap to fit the size of your windows. Spray a layer of water on the windowpane, and press the bubble wrap against it so the bubble-side is against the glass. The wrap will stick to your windows all winter long, just like that! If your bubble wrap needs extra adhesive help, use double-sided tape to keep it in place.

For more second uses for everyday items from all around the internet, check out our Clever 2nd Uses board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Image courtesy of Who Knew?


About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends’ refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

The 6 Best Things to Buy in February — and 3 to Avoid

Valentine's couple kissing

February might not seem like a good month to shop, but it does bring at least a few opportunities to save. We routinely see February sales branded around the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day, and some retailers offer sales that have nothing to do with those holidays, as well.

But not everything will be on sale in February, and not every deal will be a good one. Check out our February buying guide below to learn what items should see excellent discounts this month, and what products you should hold off on for now.

What to Buy in February

TVs for the Big Game

If you’re wondering, “When is the best time to buy a TV?”, it’s always going to be Black Friday. But if you missed out in November and can’t wait another nine months, keep an eye out during February. Of course, there’s a chance that a random excellent TV deal could drop at any time during the year. But February often has a decent number of TV offers overall, and some of the best ones appear during the first week of the month.

Some of the best February deals on TVs appear during the first few days of the month.

For instance, during the first few days of February 2020, we saw plenty of Staff Pick-worthy deals, meaning we considered them as some of our “best of the best” offers. These included a refurbished Vizio 55″ set for only $272 in-cart on eBay, and a refurbished Samsung 55″ for $500 at Walmart.

But it’s not only refurbs you’ll find — there will be plenty of new units among the great deals, too. Last year, Dell Home offered a new Vizio 65″ Quantum X TV for $1,270. That’s a definite investment, but the good news is it was also bundled with a $300 Dell gift card, which made it the best deal we’d seen on the set.

You’ll find new units for sale at stores like Walmart, as well. The retailer offered a Samsung 65″ set for $478 last February, which was the lowest price we could find at the time.

Don’t forget about the general TV sales in February either. Keep an eye out for Dell Home and eBay to take up to 50% off TVs, and for stores like Target to knock up to 30% off select sets.

Valentine’s Day Sales

The first Valentine’s Day sales we saw last year appeared in early to mid-January, around one month before the holiday itself. Retailer 1-800-Flowers, for example, knocked up to 40% off Valentine’s Day gifts and flowers during that time. But if you’ve missed out on the early Valentine’s sales, don’t fret! There will be plenty of February sales to take advantage of in the days leading up to the holiday.

SEE ALSO: What to Expect From Valentine’s Day Sales

Watch for retailers to take anywhere from 20% to 30% off jewelry, though some may cut even more. And while February 1 tends to brings a jump in flower prices, you can still save by opting for “less romantic” arrangements — namely, avoid roses if you can. If you’re not opposed to fake flowers, keep an eye out for retailers like Wayfair to knock up to 70% off gorgeous displays that’ll last long beyond Valentine’s Day.

Don’t miss out on the Valentine’s Day candy either. Expect retailers like Amazon and Target to offer discounts of up to 25% on all kinds of chocolatey treats, from Valentine’s-themed M&M’s to huge packages of Dove Hearts and Reese’s Hearts. But if you want something more sophisticated, Godiva will likely offer up at least 20% off.

Presidents’ Day Sales

Presidents’ Day sales are excellent opportunities to save on electronics, clothing, mattresses, home goods and furniture, and large appliances.

You can expect to save up to 70% on laptops and desktops during these February sales at stores like Dell Home, Lenovo, and HP. But retailers like Best Buy and Walmart will probably offer Presidents’ Day sales that are even bigger. Shop those stores if you’re hoping for Presidents’ Day savings on other electronics, including tablets and smartphones.

Expect to get up to 75% off clothing, up to 70% off computers, and up to 60% off mattresses during Presidents’ Day sales.

Historically, we’ve seen more than a third of all Presidents’ Day sales feature clothing in some capacity. If you’re hoping it’ll be a good time to stock up on discounted spring apparel before the weather warms up, though, you’re out of luck. We expect most items in these sales to be winter clothing, as retailers try to clear out stock to make room for those new spring items. Watch for stores to knock between 20% and 50% off clothing, though some could cut up to 75% off. Last year, Macy’s, PUMA, and J.Crew Factory all boasted discounts in this range.

If you’re in need of a new mattress, be sure to check out sales advertising furniture. Even though you might not think of mattresses in the same way you’d think of a sofa, they’re often included in the same sales. Expect to save as much as 60% at stores like Macy’s, while Home Depot could knock up to 40% off. Online mattress retailers will likely have their own sales in February, but odds are the discounts will be smaller.

Looking for large appliances? Historically, we’ve seen stores take up to 40% off refrigerators, washing machines, and more for the holiday weekend. Be ready to shop at retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s if you’re in the market for these deals.

Winter Clothing

Spring may be so close we can almost smell it, but this month is an excellent time to shop for cozy clothing. Last February we listed more than 1,500 clothing deals, and 27% of those received our Staff Pick designation. For instance, we saw waffle thermal underwear bottoms for as little as $3, and long-sleeved henley shirts and thermal socks for $4. We also saw sweatshirts for as little as $5, beanies for $6, and gloves for $7.

SEE ALSO: What to Buy Every Month of the Year in 2021

Watch for clothing sales, too. Men’s Wearhouse knocked an extra 50% off cold weather accessories last year, while Original Penguin took an extra 50% off, plus an extra 20% off via a coupon code in what was the best discount we’d seen all year from them. Old Navy cut an extra 40% off its clearance items, and Hanes took up to 70% off. Additionally, look for boot sales in February from retailers like Converse, which knocked 50% off last year. Ecco, meanwhile, cut an extra 50% off.

Gardening Items

It might be too early to plant anything in much of the country, but you can still stock up on garden tools and other items for less. In February 2020, we listed 88 garden deals. While that might not sound like much, nearly a quarter of those earned our Staff Pick designation.

We saw fertilizer spikes for as little as $2 for a 50-pack, an AeroGarden 6-pod kit for only $9, and a 3-pound bag of Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix for $9. But you can find more than garden items like these. We also saw deals on grilling accessories last February, like a thermometer for $11 and a 20-pound steel propane tank cylinder for $26.

Look for top-notch deals on fertilizer spikes, grass seed, and garden tools in February.

Count on garden tools also being among the best offers we see. For instance, last year a Worx blower/mulcher/vacuum combo was $40, which was the lowest price we could find by $21.

Winter might be wrapping up, but we also expect to see items like patio heaters at notable lows. In 2020, Sam’s Club had a Westinghouse patio heater for $80 for members; the retailer also featured a Masterbuilt 24″ pellet grill and smoker for $149 for members. Even if it’s too cold to spend much time in your backyard right now, you can certainly get ready for the warmer temperatures ahead!

Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

If you’re still holding strong on your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, buying seasonal produce is a budget-friendly way to do so. In February, that means you can shop things like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips. Looking for fruit? Grapefruit, lemons, oranges, and tangelos will all be in season, and their bright flavors could help lighten up the lingering grey days of winter.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s in season and local, be sure to check the Seasonal Food Guide website. Choose your state and time frame, and you’ll see what kinds of fresh produce you should keep an eye out for.

Don’t Buy These Things in February

You’ll find better deals and a greater selection if you wait until later in the year to shop these items.

Item Don’t Buy Buy Why?
Cruises In February In March (at the earliest) The travel industry is still experiencing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, so there’s no guarantee we’ll even see any cruise deals in March. If we do, we recommend booking them only if you can book far in advance.
Luggage In February In March March usually brings decent luggage deals, and we’re expecting the same this year. Watch for prices to be as low as $6.
Android Phones In February From July to November Mobile World Congress is running in Barcelona from June 28 to July 1 this year, which is later than normal. That’s typically when Android companies announce their latest flagships, so we don’t expect notable discounts before then.

Readers, what do you think are the best things to buy in February? Let us know in the comments below!


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DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).

Source: dealnews.com