Top Ten Money Saving Tips for Healthier Living

Cut coffee out of your budget (or at least brew it at home!)

If you have a daily caffeine habit you’d like to kick, let all the money you’ll save by cutting it out of your daily routine serve as an extra incentive to help you achieve that goal! However, if you are among the lucky folks who can enjoy coffee in moderation, there’s no need to deprive yourself even from a daily coffee habit. Just try to avoid coffee stands and restaurants where coffee is costly. Instead, consider investing in a home coffee machine like a cartridge coffee maker or an espresso maker, a reusable travel mug and even a milk frother if you prefer more gourmet-style drinks. These fancy gadgets can be more affordable than you think and will easily pay for themselves within a month or two if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Home coffee makers are convenient and easy to use, and reusing your own mug everyday also has a positive impact on reducing your carbon footprint to help protect the environment.

 

Clip online coupons from the convenience of your home computer

When people think about clipping coupons, it often sounds tedious to go through the newspaper and find relevant coupons each week. However, there are dozens of reputable websites online that offer both printable coupons that can be used in-store and coupon codes that can be used at online retailers. Anytime you’re about to make an online purchase, be sure to search your favorite coupon sites like Retail Me Not or Coupons.com to make sure you’re not eligible for any additional savings, a free gift or free shipping before committing to a purchase.

 

Seek out deep discounts at the grocery store

Did you know that every grocery store puts items on sale that aren’t even advertised in their weekly circular? That’s right! By knowing where to look you can save yourself even more money on your weekly grocery bill. If you’re looking for a dinner to cook the same night you shop, check out the butcher’s counter or the deli counter for discounted items that are close to their expiration date. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the reduced price food items, but they need to be prepared and consumed within a day or two in order to be guaranteed fresh. Many grocery stores also have a clearance section filled with pre-packaged, non-perishable and often seasonal items (think organic Easter candy!) they are closing out.

 

Cook and meal prep at home more to avoid buying lunches out

While eating out can be a fun experience to occasionally treat yourself to, eating out regularly can really dent your budget and your health! Even cheap fast food meals add up quickly, not to mention they aren’t the healthiest options with which to fuel your body. By always bringing a lunch and/or snacks to school or work you will be less likely to succumb to the temptation of eating out or pulling up to the drive-through window when hunger hits. Bringing lunch from home will save you a ton of money over the course of a year and even over the course of a month.

 

Cut back on trips to the salon by DIY

While treating yourself to an occasional trip to the salon should not be forbidden, try to limit the number of times you go to the salon every year. By purchasing a couple bottles of nail polish in your favorite colors and investing in a good quality nail file, with a little practice you can often achieve a salon-quality result at home. Recruit your best friend or significant other to trim your hair between salon haircuts. You can also successfully deep condition your own hair at home and even color your own hair at home for a fraction of the cost if you have a willing helper and a little patience.

 

Call your cable, internet and phone service providers to negotiate a discounted rate—whether you’re a new customer or not!

If you’re in the market to switch companies, now is the time to capitalize on the new customer discounts! Make sure to always inquire about their new customer rates any time you switch service providers. However, even if you’re an existing customer, it’s always worthwhile to call your providers periodically and ask them about any current promotions in your area and customer loyalty specials. You’d be surprised by the amount of money you can save just by asking.

 

Review your insurance policies

Call your insurance company to find out if you’re eligible for any multi-policy or multi-car discounts, non-commuter policies and safe driver discounts. If you have teenagers behind the wheel, ask if your insurance company offers a discounted rate for good grades. Your insurance company may also offer a discount for having extra safety features on your vehicle.

 

DIY your own all-natural cleaning products

Chemical cleaning products are not only expensive, they are also bad for your health! There are several inexpensive and effective alternatives that are much safer than most pre-made cleaning products you can buy at the store. Baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are all extremely affordable cleaning staples that you likely already have on hand in your pantry or medicine cabinet that can be used as key ingredients to make multiple cleaning products (think window cleaner, dishwasher tablets, toilet cleaner, etc.) easily and at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay to purchase each product individually. There are many informative video tutorials available online that will walk you through how to make your own all-natural cleaning products from scratch. After you’re done making your own products, you will have a powerful, safe and effective arsenal of cleaning products at your disposal.

 

Use apps to find the lowest gas prices

There are so many free and inexpensive apps that can help consumers uncover extra savings nowadays, even on necessities like gas! Special gas tracker apps find the lowest prices in real time and even show you where the gas stations are located on a map. This is a great option if you live in or nearby a city with multiple gas stations to choose from. Prices are always changing, so be sure to check before you fill up your tank each time.

 

Try consignment shops for clothing—buy, sell and trade!

Consignment shops are a great way to save on high-quality, gently used and sometimes even never-been-worn clothing. Even if you’re not in the market to purchase any new clothes, consider consigning, trading or selling your gently used clothes to a consignment shop to earn some extra cash and clear some clutter out of your closet while you’re at it!

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When to Break Up With Your Financial Advisor

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An important indicator of your overall financial wellness is how well you balance spending with saving and investing. You should always keep the end game (retirement) in view while simultaneously being able to enjoy life while saving for your children’s college education, if applicable. In order to coordinate all of the pieces of your financial puzzle most effectively, many people choose to work with a financial advisor.

Unlike many other professional partnerships you may form, your relationship with your financial advisor or financial planner can become more like a friendship. Because many people stay with the same financial planner for years, you can easily feel connected on more than a professional level. This feeling increases if you are also in the same circle of friends or live in the same town.

No matter how much you enjoy the company of your financial planner, if your needs simply aren’t being met, you have some decisions to make. You’ll either have to explain to your advisor exactly how he’s letting you down and what he can change to retain your business, or you can start looking around for someone new.

Reasons to consider leaving your financial planner:

  • Distrust – Being able to trust your financial advisor with your money is extremely important. If you’re asking questions and not getting answers that feel authentic, that’s a red flag.
  • Poor communication – While it’s true that financial planners are often very busy, if your phone calls and emails go unanswered for lengthy time periods, you’re paying for a service that’s sub-par.
  • Unclear expectations – The best financial advisors will lay out a plan when you first team up with them. The plan should include input from you regarding your specific goals for your assets and what you’d like to see happen. If your advisor never created an investment policy statement for you – it could signal that he’s skimping on his other duties as well.
  • No contract – As with any professional who provides you with a service that you will be paying for, your financial planner should present you with a clear contract at the beginning of your relationship that outlines his duties to you and what he needs from you as well. Without a contract, you have no way of knowing what to expect.
  • Distance – If you’ve been working with a financial advisor from afar and have recently decided to take a more active role in your finances, letting go may be your only option.
  • No fiduciary standard of care – In other words, if your advisor (or his firm) doesn’t put your interests ahead of their own, you have a very good reason for finding a new firm.
  • Fees – If you’re currently unhappy with your advisor’s fee structure and this is set by his firm, you may not be able to get the arrangement you’re looking for without finding someone new.
  • Additional services – Many people today are interested in working with a financial advisor who goes above and beyond making sound investments for them. Tax planning and basic budgeting advice are two services cited by clients who were unhappy with their current financial planning firm.

At Veitengruber Law, we pride ourselves on our vast network of professionals and we attend networking meetings every month to stay immersed in the financial, legal and real estate markets. We are more than happy to assist you in finding the NJ financial advisor that meets your needs. Give us a quick call [(732) 852-7295], or fill out the contact request form on our website. We’re always here to help!

Image credit: Nicolas Raymond

If You Live to be 100, Will You Run Out of Money?

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With constant advances in medicine, the human race is outliving its life-expectancy and then some. While most of us would likely choose to live forever if given the chance, the fountain of youth (unfortunately) doesn’t exist. Therefore, just as we’re celebrating living longer, we’re also faced with the hard actualities that come with life at older and older ages.

Yes, modern medicine is keeping hearts pumping and lungs breathing while also strengthening bones to hold us up for an extra decade or two. However, simply being alive doesn’t equal being able-bodied enough to earn a living, and that’s where we encounter a significant wrinkle (pun intended).

The retirement years used to be called ‘the golden years,’ because workers put a significant amount of money toward their retirement savings (many via 401Ks) and steadily paid down their mortgages until their homes were paid off.

Even now, many people are able to enter retirement rather comfortably. Typically, though, many retirees soon realize that their monthly expenditures are dipping a little too far into their savings each month. At first, this isn’t a problem, and it may never become an issue for those retirees who live to a “normal” age.

For those older Americans defying their expected life span, however, planning for several extra decades of living wasn’t on their radar when they were young and generating income. Pensions that were calculated during their working years simply isn’t enough to last as long as they’re living.

If you have aging parents who are pushing the odds and living longer than you ever dreamed – consider yourself lucky to have your loved one(s) around! You may become responsible for their care – or at least their finances – if they live well into their 90s or even to 100 and beyond.

You may have to contend with independent-minded adults who want to continue living on their own and caring for themselves. The problem, of course, becomes how to financially make that happen. At this late stage in the game, it’s difficult to fix the fact that your parents simply didn’t plan on living so long. You may have to move one or both of your parents into your home if a retirement home is not desired and/or feasible.

The important takeaway from the fact that people are living longer and running out of money is this: YOU still have time to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you and your spouse.

While it may seem impossible to pack away any more money for retirement than you already are, you might be surprised. Talk to a financial planner now, while you’re still smack dab in the middle of your money-making years. You likely still have time to advance your career upwards in order to increase your income.

You can also consider taking a second job, even if only temporarily, or during summers, in order to pad your retirement account substantially. Your financial advisor will be able to put you on a course to save as much money as possible with the assumption that you, too, will be living a long (and now prosperous) life.

Image credit: Gwenn Seemel

Self-Discipline: The Key to Controlling Your Overspending

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Whether your most pressing financial goal is to pay off money you owe or to increase your savings and investments – the most important skill you’ll need is self-discipline.

Self-discipline can feel inaccessible for some people, and a lack of self-control can leave you feeling disappointed and defeated.

It’s important to note that self-control is one of the most challenging behaviors to master. Mastery of self-control and self-discipline is so tough to achieve because it involves changing behaviors that occur in high-emotion or even addictive situations like:

  • eating
  • losing weight
  • arguing with someone
  • smoking
  • playing video games
  • drinking alcohol
  • spending money

Some people are born with more than their fair share of self-discipline, while others struggle with self-control from a young age. If you fall into the latter group, don’t be alarmed! Self-discipline is a skill that can be learned. It’s not an easy skill to develop, but with the proper dedication, you can train yourself to be more self-controlled.

Spending money is fun and can feel rewarding and emotionally satisfying, which is why many people go shopping to relieve stress, boredom, anxiety or depression. Thus, it is easy to begin associating spending money with a feeling of happiness. As this behavior and response become habitual, it will lead to more and more spending in order to continue feeling happy.

Replacing a Bad Habit With a Good Habit

To gain discipline when it comes to over-spending, you’ll need to start practicing the responses you want to have regarding money. Over time, you’ll notice a shift in how you feel about spending as your new responses begin to replace the bad habits you have currently. Some tips to help you:

  • Set up a budget. You’ve heard this before, but we’re going to say it again. A good budget is a necessary building block on the way toward financial freedom. You need to start practicing spending only the amount of money that’s in your budget each month in order to make it into a habit.
  • Stop using credit cards. Cut them up or put them in a shoe box at the back of your closet. Do whatever it takes to get them out of sight and, most importantly, out of your wallet.
  • Question every purchase. Shop mindfully, asking yourself if you really need each item that’s made its way into your shopping cart.
  • Treat yourself. Once you’ve stuck to your budget for an entire month (or longer), reinforce this behavior by rewarding yourself with something you’ve been wanting (within reason).
  • Punish negative behavior. If you go out-of-bounds budget-wise, deny yourself something you enjoy until you get back on track with your spending.
  • Open a separate bank account. If you don’t already have one, a savings account is great idea. Every time you have an urge to make an unnecessary purchase, instead: put the equivalent amount of money into this account. Also, set aside a set dollar amount to go directly to this account from every paycheck.
  • Be accountable to someone. If your finances are really dire, you may need to be accountable to a debt relief professional at first. They can help you find additional ways to reduce your debt if you need more help. You can also have a close friend, spouse or sibling keep you accountable as you work to turn your new money choices into habits.

Studies have shown that developing self-discipline is possible at any age. It’s also been shown that you can get better and better at honing your self-control the more you practice your new habits. By changing your behavior from overspending to living within a budget, you’ll be able to pay down any debts you’ve accrued and build up your savings account!

 

Image credit: Luke Hayfield