4 Tips to save your finances before Hurricane strikes

Hey, guys! What’s up? Sorry! I couldn’t catch up with you all in the last few weeks. I was extremely busy. My cousin sister lost her everything – thanks to Hurricane Irma. Her house is completely destroyed. Her husband’s office is broken down. They have a new member to look after – their daughter Alice who was born a month back. The situation is a complete mess.

Liza (my cousin sister) is shattered. They are living in my house till everything gets sorted out. Brad has incurred a huge loss too.

Initially, I was little annoyed with Liza because everyone knew about Hurricane Irma. She could have taken some precautionary steps to save her finances before Hurricane ravaged Florida and Caribbean islands. Then my rational mind intervened. Liza was not well. She was heavily pregnant. Brad was not in this country. What could have Liza done?

Liza is slightly better now. Alice is also getting accustomed to us. Things are gradually improving. Yes. Money is lost and this is why I thought to write a blog on the tips to financially prepare for a Hurricane. Liza and Brad suffered a lot since they couldn’t be financially prepared. I don’t want that my readers also walk on the same path.

Here goes my list of tips to be financially prepared for a Hurricane.

  1. 1. Take a digital copy of your financial documents: Hurricane can’t destroy your email. Gather all your important financial documents and scan them. Send the digital copy of your financial papers in your email. You can access those papers later. You can use these papers for insurance claims. Click pictures of your home, furniture, and other items. You’ll need these pictures later.
  2. 2. Withdraw some money from the ATM: Liza was pregnant. She couldn’t go to the ATM and withdraw money. Please don’t do this mistake. Keep some cash with you in different denominations. Keep one or two credit cards with you. If you have to leave home, then you’ll need this cash for basic travel expenses.
  3. 3. Stuff essential things in a bag: This is your emergency bag. Keep a pair of spare clothes, a flashlight, a first aid kit, water bottle, nonperishable food, batteries, medicines, and insurance policies in the bag. This bag will be extremely useful when you evacuate the home in under 5 minutes. If you have a pet, then don’t forget to keep pet foods in the bag.
  4. 4. Read your insurance policy again: Most people don’t read their insurance policies properly. Half people don’t understand their insurance policy, which is extremely bad. Read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy properly. Is your insurance policy covering you against hurricane-level winds and floods? The most serious consequence of a hurricane is flood. If your insurance policy doesn’t cover you against floods, then it’s better to buy a flood insurance policy.

    Most insurance policies go into effect after 30 days. So a wise decision is to buy the flood insurance policy one month in advance.

Conclusion

A natural disaster is something that is beyond our control. You can’t stop it. You can only take steps to save yourself and your belongings. Take the aforementioned steps in the hurricane season. At least, your condition will be better than my sister.

Do you need to save money when ditching debts?

save and pay off debt

Simple mathematics suggests that we should pay off debt before saving money. In general, paying off debt is a long battle. For instance, it takes 10-25 years to pay off student loans. Should you focus all of your energy only on paying off debt for so many years, or should you save money and pay off debt simultaneously?

The simple answer is – it depends.

Why you should save money and pay off debt simultaneously

The reasons are simple and clear.

First, you need money to pay off your debts fast. If you opt for debt settlement, you have to save money before the negotiation process starts. If you opt for debt management, then you need to save money for making the monthly payments.

Secondly, you need to set aside money for building an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a must when you’re in debt since it can help you cover unforeseen expenses. You can’t depend on credit cards anymore since that will only increase your debt problems.

Your mini emergency fund should be between $1000 and $2000. This would help you cover your short-term emergency expenses.

Examples of short-term emergency expenses

  1. Unemployment
  2. Car repair
  3. Special days like birthdays and anniversaries

Set a goal to create an emergency fund that is enough to cover your living expenses for 3-6 months.

Fresh debts are a menace when you’re already in a financial crisis. When you have money in your savings account, you can easily cover your immediate expenses, avoid high-interest payday loans, and credit card debts.

Do you want to pay off debts as soon as possible? If so, then you have to make additional payments on your debts. And, it’s only possible to make those extra payments when you have savings. In debt avalanche method, you need to make extra payments on the high-interest debt. Likewise in debt snowball method, you need to make additional payments on the smallest debt till it is paid off. It will be tough to make those extra payments without saving money.

Lead a frugal life when you’re in debt since this will help you save money gradually. Cut off cable, cook at home, move to a smaller apartment, get rid of your second car, use CFL bulbs, host potluck parties, buy in bulk, avoid late fees, insulate your walls, adopt a minimalist wardrobe, borrow books from a library, stay healthy, find free entertainment, sell your unnecessary goods, drink water, travel frugally, save gas, sun-dry clothes, and quit smoking.

Retirement planning and debt repayments – both are equally important. So you need to save money to build your nest-egg too. Save money and contribute more toward tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts like 401(k), IRA and Roth IRA. You shouldn’t ruin your financial future just to pay off your debts. Try to increase your contribution rate by 1% every year since this will increase your retirement savings considerably.

How to save more and pay off debt fast

Have you saved an adequate amount already? If so, then you can invest to earn a higher return on your money. Consult a financial adviser and invest wisely since one wrong financial move can ruin you.

The stock market can earn you 4%-5% return on your investment after deducting taxes and fees. Calculate the interest-rate you’re paying on your debts. If it is less than 4%, then focus on investments over debt payoff. For example, auto loans and home loans. These are low-interest loans.

When you should give 100% focus on repaying debts

Forget about saving money when you have high-interest and non-tax deductible debts. Pay off your debts as quickly as possible to save on interest.

What if the interest-rate on your debt is between 5% and 7%? In this case, you can invest your savings and pay off debts simultaneously.

It is better to get rid of payday loans and credit card debts fast since these are high-interest debts. Some lenders charge 600% interest-rate on payday loans and push borrowers toward a deep ‘debt pool’. Try to get rid of payday loans quickly. Check out your state payday loan laws. Find out if payday loans are legal in your state. If your lender doesn’t have a license, then pay only the principal amount. Join debt forums to know about the strategies to pay off debt.

The final verdict

The final verdict is loud and clear. You have to watch out for the ways to save money while you’re paying off debts. You have to save money for buying a home, giving good education to your kids, building your nest-egg, and so on.

Try to strike a balance between saving money, investing and paying off debts. For instance, if you have transferred your outstanding balance to a 0% interest card for a short period of time, then it’s a golden opportunity to invest and pay off debt. Make sure you earn an amount that will help you pay off the debt before the new interest-rate kicks in.

You can pay off your low-interest debts fast and increase your contributions toward retirement savings plans. Once you pay off your low-interest debts, you can pay down your high-interest debts. You can use other strategies as well. It’s your choice. As long as you’re progressing financially, it’s fine.

What do you feel? Do you feel that it’s a horrible idea to save money while you’re paying off debts? What’s your opinion? Think and let us know.

8 Cheap fun activities to make your kids giggle this summer

cheap fun activities

Summer vacation is a time
When parents realize that teachers are grossly underpaid

“Oh! I’m bored! There’s nothing fun to do here mom! – Could there be anything more irritating than this annoying summer anthem for stay-at-home or working moms? What happened to the days of creating a nuisance in the neighborhood and reluctantly coming for lunch and then again joining the tiny troops in the lazy afternoons?

Most kids are just glued to video games, online games and TV nowadays. But you can’t possibly keep your kids busy throughout the day during summer through video games or cartoon shows. You’ve to think about something to entertain your kids during summer vacation without breaking your budget.

Wondering how can you nurture your kids beautifully and manage household expenses? Well, Managing household expenses is a bit different from handling kids and their expenses. Household expenses are in your hands. But kids belong to a different world and handling their expenses is not less than a Herculean task, especially during summer vacation. This is the time when they want to be thoroughly entertained and that usually means splurging well.

Lost in thoughts? Here is a list of 8 frugal fun ideas for your kids in this summer.

1. Say “Let’s make a theater at home”

Oh! Kids love this too much. Just take a simple tension rod and drape a nice a bed cover over it. Your puppet theater is ready. Now write a comic skit for your kids and ask them to enact it. Each kid will play a character in the play. Ask them to learn the dialogues with proper expression and then put up a nice show in the evening.

Kids would be super busy in grabbing their favorite role in the play and then giving their best performance. Your house would be filled with laughter, songs and witty dialogues.

2. Say “Common! Let’s celebrate Christmas Eve during summer”

Don’t pop out your eyeballs because you’ve read it correctly. All I’m saying is invite your kid’s friends for an afternoon sleepover. Pull out all the soft pillows and tiny blankets of your kids. Keep these things in your living room. Ask them to pretend as if it is the Christmas eve. They should act as if they’re getting nice presents after waking up. The best actor would get 3 home baked cookies. Yum!

3. Say “It’s time for photosession. Wanna become photographers?”

Kids are tech-savvy. They’re smart kids who know A to Z about smartphones. So, give them a smartphone and ask them to get decked up for a cool photo session. You can even give a theme to make the photo session more interesting. For instance, the theme can be kids’ favorite cartoon characters.

Don’t forget to tell them that they would be get access to your smartphone throughout the day. They can click pictures and share them in Facebook. This would make them more excited.

4. Say “Up for a drink? Let’s make a yummy fruit shake”

Kids love to sip fruit shakes and so do I. So, why don’t you ask them to make some refreshing fruit shakes? Ask them to help you choose the best fruits in the market. After you guys reach home, assign the task of spooning out the mangoes with care. Once you get the juicy ripe mango cubes, take out your mixer grinder and smash them. Let your kids serve the fruit shake in a nice glass with ice cubes and sugar.

5. Say “Hey! It’s time to visit our ancestors”

You can’t keep kids inside home all the time. They need some fresh air and obviously a nice outing. Take your kids to local museums that organize special summer programs for kids. Get your kids enrolled into those programs where the admission cost is low. Watch out for those credit cards wherein you can get special museum admission deals for kids.

6. Say “Wanna make some creative stuffs?”

Let the creative juices of your kids flow like a river this summer. Just give them some nice craft ideas. They’ll be busy in making a cute snowman with paper plates, puppets with socks, painted pots, etc. Just give them the core items. They’ll be busy in surprising themselves with their own craftwork.

7. Say “ Let’s have a summer camp in the weekends”

Take sleeping bags, yummy foods, flashlights to the backyard of your house. Make a tent there. Have your dinner there and then tell them some really scary stories. Count the stars in the sky and then sleep inside the tent throughout the night.

8. Say “Who wants to find out the hidden treasure?”

Adventure, thrill and adrenaline gush – kids love these things. A smartly conceptualized indoor treasure hunt can keep your kids on their toes throughout the summer vacation. Just write some clues in a few pieces of paper and then hide them at various parts of your house. Make sure one clue gives a hint to another clue. The final clue will give a hint to the ‘ultimate treasure’. You can write those clues in the form of rhymes too.

Some safety tips for kids

1. Ask kids to walk carefully on the street.
2. Ask them to use sidewalks when you’re taking your kids to museum.
3. Apply sunscreen lotion liberally on their exposed parts of their bodies before going out in the sun.
4. Keep a first aid kit at home.
5. Make sure you use an insect repellent when your kids are camping
6. Never ever leave your kids in the pool alone. Be there with them.
7. Don’t let kids grill fish or chicken. It’s completely unsafe.
8. Keep your kids hydrated throughout the day.
9. Ask your kids not to play with matches and lights when cooking.
10. Make sure your kids wear light-colored clothes.
11. Try to schedule outdoor activities during evening.
12. Check your kids at frequent intervals. Make sure they are fine.

Conclusion

Don’t let your tight budget ruin the summer vacation of your kids. Use the aforementioned tips to keep them busy in fun activities. Let them play, enjoy and learn through various activities instead of watching TV throughout the day.

Last but not the least, don’t forget to give a notebook to your kids. Ask them to write about their exciting summer activities in that notebook before going to sleep. It will act as a memoir. They can show that notebook to their friends and have a good laugh later.

Mother’s Day – What I am planning to give my mom without paying a penny

mother's day

Is there any special significance of the Mother’s Day? I don’t think so. For me, everyday is Mother’s day since she is the one who works round the clock every day. She is the one who takes care of the family and her professional life with a smile on her face. But, since there is one day (May 8) designated to acknowledge the painstaking contribution of mothers around the world and my mom loves to celebrate it, so I’m not complaining. Here I am with a list of gifts that I’m planning to give my mom this year. And, the best part of these gifts is that I don’t have to spend a penny to give these gifts to mom.

  1. Treat her like a queen: Usually, mom does all the household chores. This year, I’ll take a day off from my office and spend the day with mom. I will do all the household work – cleaning all the rooms including the bathroom, washing all the dishes, cooking food and washing clothes. Plus, I will serve a nice breakfast in her bed followed by a sumptuous lunch at noon. In the evening, I will go for a walk with her and then serve her favorite meal at dinner.
  2. I’m planning to spend the weekend with mom. So, I’ll get more time to spend with her. I’ll pamper her like a princess and do all her work on Saturday and Sunday.

  3. Give her digitalized pictures: I grew up in the 90s. Like most families, I have a huge collection of printed photos of my mom’s pre-motherhood life, her wedding and my childhood. These photos are pretty old now. I have decided to scan all the photos and save them in a cd. She can revisit our old memories during her free time and enjoy.
  4. Make her smart: My mom is hopeless when it comes to using a smartphone. This year, I have decided to teach her the tricks of using a smartphone. It will test my patience, but I am ready to do it for the sake of my mom. I will download all the required apps, organize them and then teach her how to use them.
  5. Words straight from my heart: Mom has done a lot for me. Since I am a writer and know how to play with words, so I have decided to write something for her in a notebook. I have already started writing about her. Every evening, I am writing that is coming to my mind – our memories, things I love and hate about her most, her place in my life, and so on. I plan to finish it this Thursday. Let’s see.
  6. Give her a DVD: I have downloaded all her favorite movies and saved in a DVD. If we get time, I will watch a few movies with her during the weekend. Rest, she can watch in her free time. I will save some of the movies on her laptop and smartphone. She can at least watch those movies while traveling.

Conclusion

Words are not enough to appreciate mom’s contribution in my life. No matter what I do, it won’t be enough for my mother. Still, I will try my best to make mom happy this weekend. Perhaps, the time I get to spend with her would be a precious gift for both of us.

What have you planned to do this Mother’s Day? Share your ideas and thoughts with us.

Ever wondered why your spending freeze didn’t work?

‘Spending freeze’ is not for everyone. It is definitely not for the people who live in an imaginary world. And, it is certainly not for the people who can’t control their habits of spending unnecessarily.

Every month, I receive loads of messages and emails with the subject – “I tried Spending Freeze but it failed miserably – Do you know why?”. Now, there are essentially 2 reasons why spending freeze fail – (a) not having a proper plan (b) not working on the problems that make you overspend.

  1. Not having a proper plan – You would never be successful without a realistic plan. You need to have a plan to survive. If you have decided to not purchase groceries, then the first thing you need to do is take a survey of your pantry. Make meal plans on the basis of what is there in your pantry. Decide when you have to visit the supermarket and the amount you need to spend.
  2. Not working on the problem areas – See, it is not easy to endure a spending freeze. If you have a habit of overspending, then you’ll have the urge to buy things that are not necessary. And, if you start buying things that are not necessary, then ‘spending freeze’ would never be successful.

Find out why you tend to overspend. Think seriously about your spending triggers and focus on the ways to control them before a spending freeze. This would help you go through the spending freeze successfully.

Some tips to have a successful spending freeze

  1. Decide what you intend to do with the money saved during spending freeze.
  2. Decide the tenure of the spending freeze
  3. Scan your pantry and plan your meals to survive
  4. Find out if you have all the essential items during the spending freeze
  5. Be prepared to spend some money on necessary items like gas
  6. Come up with creative ideas to survive with what you have
  7. Distinguish between your wants and needs

Don’t for a shopping spree after the no spend period ends. You have saved a lot of money. Congrats! Now, is the time to use the saved money wisely. You can keep the money in your savings account. You can even use the money to repay your debts. The choice is absolutely yours. But, don’t misuse the money. Otherwise, your hard work would be a complete waste.

Have you tried spending freeze? Did it work? Do you want to go for a spending freeze? Share your comments.

5 Tips you can use to shop just one week before Christmas

Sorry guys for being so late. It’s almost a month since I posted anything here. I was too busy with my work. Trust me, I planned to post this blog last week. But again, I am late. Sorry again.

Okay. It’s vacation time. It’s time to be jolly and sing ‘jingle bells’ once again. Finally, I can wrap my work and spend quality time with my family. Yeppie!

Unlike me, most of you must have already completed your Christmas shopping by this time. My busy working schedule didn’t leave me much time for shopping. But, I’m not complaining because Christmas is not over yet. I still have time to shop and shower gifts of love to my family.

Here are a few tips you all can use to shop just one week before Christmas arrives.

  1. Don’t be too desperate: I know you don’t have much time in your hand. But, don’t be too desperate. Retailers understand this psychology of consumers very well and this is why they keep a higher price tag for all the items. So, don’t pay a huge price for anything that is not worth it. Try to avoid malls. Most consumers rush to malls and then pay a big price on something they could have got at a less price elsewhere.
  2. Bargain and negotiate: You don’t always have to pay the exact price the store owner asks for. You can negotiate with the store owner and get some lucrative deals. Just make sure you take 2 steps: pay cash and then walk away. I do this a lot of time and trust me this has helped me to bag great deals.
  3. Browse online portals: Online shopping is in trend right now. You can shop goodies at some good websites such as coolsavings.com and eBay. All you need to do is browse these shopping portals carefully and buy the items on which good discounts are available.
  4. Be patient and confident: Eat something, take rest and drink lots of water before rushing to a store. There’s no need to panic. Yes, you have limited time. But, if you get nervous, then chances are higher you’ll overspend or buy gifts that are not good.
  5. Use your hand to make gifts: Who told that you have to rush to different stores for buying gifts? You can make your own gifts at home too. Internet has plethora of information on how to make nice gifts at home. You can make scented candles, bake cakes and cookies for your loved ones. Keep them in a gift basket and give it to your friends. They would appreciate the effort you’ve put in.
  6. As far as your parents are concerned, you can take them to a nice movie. You can cook food for them and have a yummy dinner at home.

Christmas is incomplete without shopping, gifts and decorations. Mom has already started decorating every part of our house. Dad is busy in making special plans for the big day with friends and cousins. Now, it’s my turn. This Christmas, I will enjoy as much as possible. Once I am done with Christmas shopping, I will party hard, laugh loud and dance crazily.

7 Magical ways to pay less for anything and save

Ten years back, retailers used to give a discount on 15 percent to 20 percent items. Today, 40 percent to 45 percent items are sold at a discount to entice consumers.

Never ever buy anything by paying the full amount. Back off if the retailer is ready to sell the item at less than 30 percent discount.

A good buy is when you can get 50 percent off on an item. Here’s a list of tips that may help you get anything you want without paying the full price.

1. Negotiate for a better price:

You may grab an excellent deal simply by negotiating for a better price. Have a talk with the employees in the departmental store as they know all kinds of promotional offers. They can alert you about all the current offers and give you a better deal than the displayed price.

When you’re shopping online, just check out the retailer’s website very carefully. Find out if there’s any chat window. If you find it, then ask for a good discount on the product you’re willing to buy. This is how I got an extra $50 off on a smartphone that was already on a discount.

2. Show the bill to the retailer:

Did you buy a smartphone only to find that it’s price has dropped considerably? Have you kept the receipt with you? Good. Go back to the retailer with the bill and ask to refund you the difference. This means if you paid $20 for the smartphone and it’s price has dropped to $16, then ask the retailer to refund you $4. If he refuses, then return the item and buy it from another retailer.

3. Follow top retailers on social media:

You know what’s the best part of following retailers on social media? You can keep getting alerts on the discount offers and coupons. You may come to know about lucrative deals before anyone.

4. Go for the email sign-up option:

Find out if there’s an email-sign up in your favorite retailer websites. If you do get this option, then subscribe for it. Your favorite retailer will keep you updated about the promotional offers.

The email subscriber option helped me to to save 60 percent on L’oreal lipstick – a great deal that I would have otherwise missed out.

If you’re afraid that there would be too many mails in your Inbox, then create a filter in Gmail. It will help to redirect all the mails from retailer to one folder instead of the inbox.

5. Check how much you can save and where:

Price comparison is a must both for online and offline shopping. Take out your smartphone and go to a price comparison website such as Nextag and Google shopping.

6. Have a look at the advertisements:

Just open your newspaper and check out the fresh ads from retailers. Do this atleast once a week and stay updated about the discount offers.

7. Ignore your shopping cart:

Do you have an account with Amazon or other online shopping website? If yes, check out all the products and then add them to your cart. Once done, log out from the website. Don’t press your finger on the ‘buy now’ option. The company might give an additional discount via email to lure you. Who knows, you can get a good discount by this way.

Last but not the least, try cash-back websites for shopping, It’ll return you a certain percentage of the cost through PayPal or check. Some of the popular cash-back websites are FatWallet.com, QuickRewards, Ebates, etc.

5 Cheap yet clever gift ideas from daddy’s girl – All under $50

“You’re a completely a daddy’s girl, Stacy” – This is what my mom says whenever my parents are in between a heated argument and I’m called upon to declare the person who is at fault. Usually, I always take the side of my dad since he is a softie and utterly gullible. My mom is a fighter and usually is correct. So, naturally her temper rises and breaks down into tears:(. Sorry mom!!! I love you too.

Well, enough of my family drama. Now, let us go straight to the topic and that is Father’s Day that comes a month after Mother’s Day. Frankly speaking, I have no problem in buying the perfect gift for my mom. But when it comes to buying a gift for my dad, hell breaks loose on me. Really! Every year I wonder what to buy for my dad. I mean the choice is so limited for guys!!! 🙁

This year I’m all set. I have done my homework and come up with a list of cool yet budget-friendly gifts for my dad. I am sharing the list with you guys. If you like any gift, then buy it and surprise your dad on June 21, 2015.

Cool yet budget-friendly gifts for dad

Here goes my list. Just check it out guys.

1. 3-in-1 barbeque tool: My dad loves to eat grilled chicken or fish during the warm summer nights. So, I’m planning to gift a 3-in-1 barbecue tool. He can use this tool as spatula, tongs and a fork at the same time. A nice gift for a foodie. What do you say?

Price: $24.99

2. Shaving kit: Shaving is a huge botheration for my dad. After his retirement, he shaves only twice a week. So, this year I have decided to do something to change his routine. I’ll give him a shaving kit which will have pre-shave oil, after-shave lotion, shaving cream, shaving brush, etc.

Price: $25

3. Spice rubs: This works like a miracle. It enhances the taste of grilled dishes with minimum effort. All you need to do is rub the spices in fish or steak before grilling it. The result will be a plate of yummy grilled dishes. Oh god! My mouth is already salivating.

Price: $27.95

4. Beer making kit: I know my dad will love me even more after receiving this gift. The kit will have everything that is required to make a gallon of beer. The only thing my dad will need is a few bottles. I will buy those things too. There won’t be any scope of complaint.

Price: $40

5. Beer scented soap bars: Who said beer is only for drinking? Beer is like water. You can use it for variety of purposes: for cleaning your hair (beer shampoo), for washing your body (beer soaps), etc. This year, you can upgrade your dad’s bathing kit with a beer scented soap. The anti-inflammatory powers will make his skin glow.

Price: $42

Last but not the least,

If you’re ready to splurge a little bit, then you can gift a Kindle Paperwhite. This gift will be perfect if your dad loves to read. Paperwhite is basically for the e-readers with a built-in backlight that helps them to easily read in darkness also. The no-glare e-ink display makes it very easy to read the text without any effort during day too. It’ll cost you around $119.

A few words for my dad

I don’t know if you’d have time for read this blog. But, if you’d do, then just let me tell that you’re the best dad in the world. You’re my Superman, chef and unofficial bug-killer. I love you. Keep tolerating me like you do and please give me a nice present on my birthday. 😛 Oops!!!

So, this was my cheat sheet for the Father’s Day. Do you have any other idea? If yes, then please do share it with me guys. May be I can find a better gift for my dad.

Strictly for couples: 7 Penny-pinching ideas when true love blossoms

True love means huge expenses. Oops! This must be the most unromantic way to start an article but seriously I can’t help it. Most of my friends (who are in serious relationships) are either planning for a romantic vacation or intending to buy a house. And those whom I don’t find planning for a vacation or a new home, are busy in making wedding plans.

Vacation, wedding and home-buying process are truly very costly affair. You need to pinch pennies wherever you can in order to make your dreams come true. If you aren’t sure where to start, then check out these 7 ideas to get started.

1. Evaluate your debts and create a repayment plan

If both of you have debt issues in life, then the very first thing that needs to be done is a comprehensive analysis of the overall financial situation. Find out how much both of you owe to your creditors. Your next task will be to calculate total income (your and your partner’s) and then devise a repayment strategy that will work. Create a strategy wherein you can cut down interest rate and get rid of debts quickly.

2. Come up with cheap yet romantic dating ideas

Stop going out to classy restaurants and music concerts. They can make your bank account dry within a month. If you’re really interested in saving money, then think about the cheap yet fun date ideas. For example, you can have a picnic at the beach. Or, you can enjoy a happy hour dinner at your favorite restaurant. That’s not all. You can take a pedal boat ride in a local lake and spend a beautiful day too.

3. Create a joint account and a budget for bills

Do you guys live together? If yes, then create one joint account. Both of you keep a certain amount of money there. Use it to pay monthly bills. Create a budget based on that amount and then pay together for all the bills. This will help to accelerate the saving process as well.

4. Move in together instead of living separately

This will help you share rents, living expenses, manage utility bills easily. This will help to save a huge amount of money. Most importantly, it will help you decide if both are really made for each other. Here are a few tips that may come handy before moving together:

  • Buy used furniture instead of new ones
  • Give a coat of spray paint to give a new look to used furniture
  • Create cleaning solutions with natural ingredients and use them
  • Buy necessary and non-perishable items on sale and in bulk
  • Cook together instead of ordering out

5. Handle your insurance policies carefully

High insurance premiums can affect your finances. Yet, this is something you can’t ignore. Neither can you opt out of insurance policy. So, take care of your health and adjust your insurance policy. Find out why you’re paying a high premium first and then take a constructive step.

6. Both of you start using cash instead of credit cards

Stop your habit of swiping credit cards for shopping or paying your bills. Your partner may squirm a little bit but at the end of month both of you’ll save money. Always remember that this plastic card can harm your money seriously. So, it’s better to depend on cash.

7. Get rid of student loans to save more

Try to consolidate both of your student loans. Always remember, if you’re planning to buy a new home, your credit score and debt-to-income ratio will play a big part in it. The sooner you get rid of this loan, the better for your financial life. Both of you can save the origination fees and other penalties.

Last but not the least,

Respect your differences. Both of you are separate human beings with different thoughts and perspectives. So, it is but quite natural that both of you’ll have different financial outlook. In that case, sit together and try to find out a midway. If your spouse loves to spend, then make sure you save money. You can even think about a strategy. If your spouse really can’t save money, then ask him/her to pay all the bills. You on the other hand will save money for the wedding or the vacation or for the down payment of a new home. At least, your spouse will spending money for the necessary expenses only.

5 Spicy tips to be the Masterchef at your home without scratching your pocket

Cooking is my second love. It is my second home where I relax and feel comfortable. Like writing, it’s something which comes out of me naturally and spontaneously. And I love to experiment and explore it whenever I can. Just love the whole experience of creating sumptuous dishes and surprising friends with my culinary skills.

Now before I go on and on about my love for cooking, let’s talk about the topic on which this post is all about.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the theme of my blog is money. In my last post, I have talked about the tricks to become a good financial writer and this post I’m going to share my take on how to save money on cooking. And in my next post also, I’ll be covering a new topic related to money but with a twist. Hopefully, you won’t be bored and can save some bucks as well.

5 Spicy tips to save money while cooking

Here are some spicy tips that can help you save money while cooking

1. Cook at low flame

No one loves to eat overcooked beef or burnt veggies. So whenever you’re frying anything, cook at low flame. Food will be cooked evenly and you can also save money. Cook beef (especially tougher cuts which are available at less) low and slow till it becomes medium rare. It will be moist in the inside and crisp in the outside.

2. Use easily available ingredients

You don’t have follow a recipe line by line and you don’t necessarily need to use all the ingredients. Substitute pricey ingredients with the alternate ones. For instance, there are some delicacies wherein saffron is added to enhance the color. You can skip this ingredient altogether and follow the other steps of the recipe.It would hardly make much difference unless you’re participating in Masterchef USA.

3. Use noodles to turn your leftover into a meal

Have a bowl of soup from your last night’s party? Don’t know what to do with it? Just chop some veggies, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Sauté them with noodles and add them into soup. You can even added boiled chicken cubes into it. You’ll have a yummy meal within 15-20 minutes.

4. Don’t throw away dried lemons

Lime is a great cooking ingredient. It can add a new life to your otherwise tasteless dish. But what if your lemons have dried? Should you throw it away? Nopes. Squeeze the juice and keep it in a container. Store it in the refrigerator. You can use the juice later.

5. Use leftovers for your lunch

Okay, I use this trick a lot. Whenever, I’m cooking dinner, I cook a little extra. I keep this extra food in a container and take it to office the next day. For instance, whenever I’m making salad, I make it little extra for lunch. Usually, I toss this salad with chicken and make a nice sandwich. And, let me tell you, it really tastes nice. Besides, I don’t have to wake up early in the morning to make my lunch.

If your meal is incomplete without a dessert, then always have a fruit in your refrigerator. My money saving tip will be to buy seasonal fruits. Just take it out after you’ve finished your meal. Sprinkle some sugar and add a dollop of cream on top of it. This is much healthier and cheaper than what you get at popular restaurants.

Have any more ideas in your creative mind? Share it with me and my readers. Would love to use tips to be a better Masterchef at my home.