The Art of Couponing

Coupon usage has become a way of life for most modern consumers. The practice is necessary for every family that is living in this crumbling economy. The Internet has a vast number of coupons that patrons can use to obtain everything from food to clothing to electronics and more.  With the soaring popularity of coupons, though, many sites have sprung up to meet the need and the vast majority of them are worthless.  We’ve sorted through all of the big ones and left you with a list of the most useful and up-to-date coupon sites.

The promotion code site has a user interface that is attractive and easy to use. Visitors can find promotional codes by viewing the “hot list” of codes to the left of the page or by viewing the various categories.

The key code site is another site that has a “hot button” with codes that consumers can use. The user interface is vibrant with colors and an easy-to-use menu.

Coupon Cabin

Coupon Cabin is a large contributor that connects consumers with more than 30,000 different retailers in various categories. Some of the retail establishments on the websites are retailers such as Auto Zone, Petco, Nike, Lids, Tanga, PetSmart, Walgreens and more.

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Young and Restless: Why money and saving it matters in your 20s

When was the last time a 20 year old cared about the future, more so as it relates to money, saving it and, heaven forbid, have a budget in mind if they’re finishing up college for example and embarking on the real world.

The truth is saving money and being financial smart with your cash starts before you even reach college, perhaps as young as when mom and dad doled out allowance on a weekly basis, and you had to make that five dollars last for the next two weeks.

Of course as a kid, that little bit of money might be easier to manage than a first paycheck or initial job out of college. The 20 something year old might still live at home, not have a car payment (you still have that car mom and dad gave you), and have very few if any bills.

What you don’t realize is that from a money standpoint, you are the ideal position, one that you want to hang on to and keep as simple and straightforward as it is at the moment.

The only debt you might be in the midst of accruing is your college tuition and any loans you’ll have. That interest rate, however, is remarkably low and shouldn’t be viewed as an albatross of debt but rather a necessity that helps you land a job out of school.

But in your 20s, fresh out of school and having that first job, now is the time for you to start saving your money, while you’re still nestled in your old room and mom and dad still have a fridge full of food.

For starters, you’ll want to put extra money toward your loans, rather than defer them. Skip a few nights out with your friends and stay in for a weekend here and there, and double up on those school loan payments. That is going to cut the customary 10 year loan for schooling in half, leaving you debt free by the time you’re in your mid 20s.

Even though the average college student accumulates up to $5,000 in credit card debt while in school (this typically is due to needing money while in school and not having a job as part of the equation), you have to understand in your 20s, debt and credit is a necessary evil to build up the latter. That isn’t to suggest that you should be taking on thousands of dollars in debt, but opening up a card and starting to charge and subsequently pay off the card makes sense financially to start showing your credit and paying back loans is credible and capable.

Those in their 20s who start thinking about money right away tend to be the success stories, the ones you hear about retiring in their 50s. If your 20s is a backdrop for excess and wasting cash, you’ll consider that time period a failure when 30 rolls around.

Selection Process: What debt is most important to pay?

Nothing is more of a head scratcher in some ways than credit card, but for a number of reasons you might not believe.

Almost 70% of the population in the United States battles back and forth with some sort of credit card debt, and that debt is the kind that builds quickly, particularly when you’re using credit cards to make every day purchases on things like groceries and gas or for emergency buys like repair on the roof, car problems or anything else that has some price point to it that you can’t afford at the moment.

In times of convenience and crisis, and everything in between, we turn to credit cards. Good or bad, that is the hand we’re dealt.

But that debt, the kind from credit, isn’t exactly going away and your struggle continues as you attempt to pay it off in a timely fashion and refute efforts to want to use the card again and thus only compound the issue at hand.

So with credit card debt not going away any time soon, what exactly is your game plan for getting rid of the debt or at least attempting to pay on the right credit card bill at the perfect time?

The most important element of credit card debt is focusing on two aspects: interest rates and closing accounts. The latter is quite simple: you don’t want to close accounts per say, because it will take a chunk out of your credit score but if your card isn’t carrying a balance and you’re paying a annual fee for no reason, then you’re wasting, not saving, money. So in that instance, canceling is the better option.

Obviously, if you’re debating between the 10% interest rate on your Visa or MasterCard bill versus the department store card at Target that is carrying triple that rate, you want to take care of the latter.

Those tricky department store cards also spell trouble in the instance where you use them, you get some sort of introductory rate, usually 0% interest for a certain number of months. The key is not getting hit with backlogged interest rates on those credit cards and thus make those priorities so that 12 months or 24 month no interest plans don’t creep up on you at month 11 or 23, respectively, and you’re suddenly on the hook for thousands in extra money on that so called perks card.

Credit card debt is frustrating and can be avoided in most instances, but if you have it, combat that debt with decisions that don’t put you in a non-winning situation where you’ll never climb out of owing money somewhere.

Why that department store credit card is killing your credit

We’ve all been in that situation, the one where the department store credit card becomes too irresistible to ignore.

You know that moment, when you’re in the midst of pushing around a full cart, which wasn’t your plan at the moment, or carrying around enough clothes to fill more than just one closet or how about that trip to Target that led to a complete overhaul of your living room with new end tables, blinds, drapes and TV stand.

In that instance, you simply can’t say no when that cashier or sales representative asks you if you want to open up that store credit card to save a certain percentage off today’s purchase. You gladly take that 10 or 20 percent discount in exchange for opening up a new card. In your mind, you’ve scored the better end of the bargain; you get all the items you wanted for less.

While that thinking isn’t untrue, what happens after that card is opened and used tells the true story if the decision ultimately is one that benefits your financial future.

Credit cards given out by stores aren’t quite as difficult to secure versus the traditional Visa or MasterCard, but that said they come with equal parts benefits and drawbacks as their counterparts.

Naturally, you save money when you open the card and in some instances every time you use it. That incentive only really stands as a positive if you’re paying off that balance on the first try, when that bill first comes in the mail. Those cards have tremendous upside on personal interest rates initially, but once that period come to a close, rates can balloon up to 20 to 30 percent.

Simply put, if you’re not using the store card and then paying them off to to avoid high rates yet still get the benefits of the special deal, then you’re not using them correctly. Those cards need closed quickly, particularly if you’re not using them as well. Having them sit isn’t going to do you any favors both from a temptation standpoint but also your credit as a whole.

As inviting as those retail cards can be, and despite all the rewards (which incidentally only mean something when you actually use them), you have to be selective with the ones you open and use. Furthermore, you absolutely must pay them off right away or before you start to incur interest charges. Those extra charges are going to mean your payment goes up and hopes dashed of ever saving money while still paying your credit card bill on time.

Are you having trouble staying on course with budget?

Everyone says they have a budget, which certainly means that you’re at least trying to save money and spend less. The question remains, however, isn’t so much how good is your budget but are you actually sticking with it the way you planned?

The point of having a budget is implementing it in a way so you can stick to it, plan accordingly and ultimately save money and pad your finances for whatever reason you’re thinking of this week: savings account, nest egg, financial future and retirement.

What tends to happen, however, is budgeting becomes more about saying you have one and less about actual execution. Budgeting is like joining a gym; just because you did one, doesn’t necessarily translate into the other.

Joining a gym doesn’t mean you’re going to go, much the same way having a budget doesn’t mean you’re going to stick with that, either.

So how exactly can you train your brain to stay on course as it relates to your budget and not falling off course?

If you’re overlooking your spending habits, that’s a first sign indicator that you really haven’t fully grasped the idea of a budget. Yes, we know you have your bills and the larger debt that you have to account for on a daily basis. That being said, when was the last time you put putting gas in your car, meals eaten out in restaurants, coffee and clothing on your budget as being worthwhile to track?

Those items and others of that ilk tend to get lost behind car payments, house mortgages, rent on that townhouse or apartment and your cable and phone bills. You have to make sure you’ve planned to add to that budget to include things you spend money on daily, since those add up quickly into thousands spent yearly and you wondering aloud why you aren’t able to save with the budget as it stands.

You also want to look closely at your budget at it pertains to credit cards, specifically how much you’re paying on them. If you’re only paying the minimum payment, you might want to rethink your repayment options. The minimum payment can suffice if your goal is ultimately to build more into your savings account and you have a fixed payment in mind. That minimum might be part of your budget if that’s all you can afford, but checking your budget to increase the minimum means less high interest paid over time, but also the ability decrease overall debt faster.

Budgeting bites the dust typically when you don’t account for all facets of it, or take money saving as being too topical and typical than it really is. The more specific you can make your budget, along with adhering to it, the better chance you have of success.

How to Save Money on Your Next Hotel

Nothing is quite as exciting as going on a trip to a new unexplored land. Americans usually travel during the summertime when they have the right to take their vacation time. Sometimes they travel for business trips at random times of the year, or they have some other business they have to conduct. Hotel accommodations are sometimes the most expensive part the trip, and they are probably so expensive because people know that travelers cannot go without sleeping. The following are some tips for reducing the cost of a hotel stay during a trip:

Conduct an Online Search for Price Goodies

Price goodies are all those sweet deals that save consumers a lot of money. Price goodies include things like coupons and discount codes. Coupons are valuable because they can save a person 20 percent or more. Patience is a virtue, and coupon users need to remember that they have every right to take their time and claim their discounts. Consumers can print coupons. Promotional codes are numeric codes that a person punches in during the checkout process. Anyone can find coupon codes and coupons by typing keyword phrases.

Stay for an Extended Period

Clients who stay for extended periods tend to receive discounts from the hotels. Customers can reserve rooms at certain hotels for a week. The price goes down significantly from the daily price added seven times.

Catch Time-Sensitive Deals

Time sensitive deals are always an amazing way to save money on hotel stays. For example, some Super 8 motels are currently offering sales prices that give their customers as much as 20 percent off the price of their reservations.

Earn Credit Card Rewards

Some credit cards have rewards programs that customers can use to receive hotel discounts. They earn the rewards by buying certain things with their credit cards. Some people earn their rewards when they first sign up for their credit cards. The rewards can help them to get a wonderful deal on hotel tickets.


Finally, the negotiation tactic may not work with the larger establishments, but it can certainly work for smaller hotels. The person can try to “work a deal” with the hotel owner for a cheaper rate. All previously mentioned tips have a high level of possibility. The consumer can try several of them to ensure that he or she receives optimum pricing.

Five Types of Retirement Plans to Consider

Retirement plans are savings plans that help workers and individual consumers to save for when they get older and can no longer work. Several types of retirement plans exist, and they each have a unique quality. The following are some common types of retirement plans and some information on how they can assist a worker or consumer:

The 401K Plan

The 401K plan is an extremely popular plan for employees. The plan works by employer contribution and employee contribution. The employee can contribute up to 6 percent of his or her paycheck on a weekly or biweekly basis. The employer can then contribute up to a match of the employee contribution.

The IRA Plan

IRA is an acronym for individual retirement plan, and many variations of such plans exist. For example, as SIMPLE IRA is one that stands for savings incentive match plan for employees. Employees and employers can both contribute to a SIMPLE IRA plan. A Roth IRA is an example of another plan. A Roth IRA is a tax-deductible plan that people can place money into to build their futures. A Roth IRA is different from a traditional IRA in that it allows people to withdraw funds at any time without charging them penalties.

The Profit-Sharing Plan

A profit-sharing plan is a special incentive plan for employees. Employees are allowed to share the profits that the company earns based on a specific formula. New employees are usually eligible for profit sharing plans after a certain amount of time.

Stock Ownership Plan

A stock ownership plan is similar to a profit-sharing plan in that it uses something from the company. A stock ownership plan is a partial ownership of the company’s stock. The employee earns a small portion of cash when the company stocks go up and so forth.

Cash Balance Plans

Cash balance plans are special plans to which employers contribute to their employees. The employers usually make contributions to such plans at least once per year. Cash balance plans are amazing for employees on the young end of the spectrum because they grow immensely over time.

A new employee will want to ask the HR department or the benefits department about any retirement plans they offer. The new employee can start contributing to the plan as quickly as possible. The 401K plan is one of the most popular because some employers offer high contributions.

How to Save Money on Auto Insurance

The monthly auto insurance bill can be a headache, especially when a consumer has more than three big bills to pay each month. The good news is that a consumer can use several strategies to cut the bill down as much as possible. Several circumstances and consumer decisions can change the outcome of a monthly insurance premium. The following are some tips on cutting the cost of the bill. Drivers and policyholders can try these tips today:

Go Through a Broker

A consumer can get the best deal on auto insurance if he or she goes through a broker. A broker is not partial to any single insurance provider. A broker’s job is to connect a driver to the best auto insurance option available. Therefore, the broker will search for the cheapest insurance if the cost is the most important factor to the consumer. Another benefit of letting a broker handle the search is that the broker can help the consumer to obtain all the discounts.

Buy a Car Outright

Buying a used car outright is better than buying a newly financed vehicle is in terms of auto insurance. Many finance companies require their customers to obtain full coverage insurance for the duration of the loan agreement. Full coverage insurance is quite expensive. A person who owns and an older vehicle may only have to pay for liability coverage. It would be in the consumer’s best interest to find a reliable used vehicle that has a low price tag.

Choose a Vehicle With Many Safety Features

Insurance companies give policyholders special discounts for purchasing vehicles with safety features. Drivers can get discounts for alarm systems, airbags, anti-lock brakes and more. The insurance premium can lessen with each safety feature.

Drive Safely

Some insurance companies such as Geico offer generous discounts to their customers who drive safely for a certain amount of time. One of the best ways a consumer can cut down a premium is to obey the traffic rules and avoid accidents.

Increase the Deductible

Finally, a consumer can decrease the monthly premium by increasing the deductible. The deductible is the amount of the money the driver has to invest before the insurance company covers any part of an accident. A frugal driver can adjust the deductible, which will adjust the premium. The person can change the information back at a later date.

How to NOT Spend the Cash Burning in your Pocket

Saving money is a task that is challenging to all consumers whether they are rich or utterly destitute. The presence of cash entices the consumer to shop regardless of that person’s need to pay the bills. Many consumers start out with strict savings plans, but they end up getting frustrated with savings failures and spending the money they have. Clever savings strategies can be fun and fruitful. Sometimes consumers need to plant their funds in a difficult place for it to grow like it should. The following are three clever money saving ideas:

Give It to a Relative

A consumer can give his or her savings money to a close relative each time the paycheck arrives. The person will have to be absolutely sure that he or she can trust the relative in question. The consumer may want to have that person open a savings account in his or her name and then set up work direct deposits into the relative’s savings account. The relative could act as a protector who can stop the consumer from withdrawing the funds prematurely. However, the relative needs to be a person of integrity so that the consumer does not lose any of his or her funds.

Get a Brokerage CD Account

Two kinds of certificates of deposits exist: regular and brokerage CDS. A consumer can save money by purchasing regular certificates of deposits from the bank. Technically, the individual is not supposed to cash in the CD until it matures. Doing so will result in a penalty. The CD cash-out penalties are usually enough to deter people from cashing them early. However, brokerage CD accounts have much tougher stipulations and larger penalties. Therefore, the consumer may want to obtain a brokerage CD for an ironclad protection strategy.

Open a Secured Credit Card

Obtaining a secured credit card is a roundabout way to save money, but it could work. The logic is that a consumer will have to put the money back into the “savings” fund if he or she uses it to avoid bad credit. The person may be less tempted to use a secured credit card than he or she would be with an open wad of money in hand. The consumer could keep the money on the secured credit card until the time comes to cash out. A simple ATM withdrawal will provide the funds from the special “savings account.”

Consumers can think of a variety of clever ways to save money in a way that minimizes the spending desire. The previously mentioned ideas are a great place to start.

Profitable Spring Cleaning

All home and apartment dwellers find themselves ready for spring cleaning at one point or another. Spring cleaning is a process that involves purging oneself of unnecessary household items. Over the years, material items tend to accumulate because of poor organizational skills, impulsive buying, hoarding tendencies and more. Spring cleaning is necessary to bring the number of household items down to a nominal level. Additionally, spring cleaning can be an excellent way to earn extra cash. The following are some tips on conducting profitable spring cleaning:

Choose a Strong Day for Spring Cleaning

A consumer should conduct his or her spring cleaning on a day that will be convenient for everyone involved. Weekends are perfect for people who have traditional 9-5 jobs. The person will want to have a day free of obligations and distractions to conduct the spring cleaning in an organized fashion.

Recruit Friends and Family Members

Recruiting friends and family members is important for simplifying one’s spring cleaning efforts. Not all family members will be thrilled about cleaning, but some of them may be motivated by monetary incentives.

Have a “Trash Doesn’t Exist” Mindset

Spring cleaners must carry a “trash doesn’t exist” mindset. The TDE mindset is one that forces the participants to find a purpose for every item in the house that needs to leave the premises. One man’s trash is always someone else’s treasure. Any item can serve a person an important purpose, and consumers will buy just about anything for a discount.

Offer Electronics, Furniture and Household Appliances for Sale

Cell phones, televisions, microwaves, radios and the like are the most valuable material items in the house. Someone is always looking for such items for a reasonable price. The consumer can offer the items on an online site such as Craigslist or eBay. Someone will respond to the ad quickly, and the seller can use the funds for the good of the household.

See the Value of Used Clothing and Bedding

Sometimes people do not realize the value of old clothing. Clothing that cannot fit one person might fit another person perfectly. Homeless persons, single parents, and struggling residents will appreciate an offer of such clothing. Spring cleaners can sell their mounds of clothes for extremely low prices and still earn a substantial amount of money. Some yard sale sellers offer their clothing items for as little as $.25 per garment. Bedding is equally useful.

Any household can conduct a profitable spring cleaning event. Motivation, organization and creativity are the keys to success.