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.

Saving on the Monthly Grocery Budget

The grocery budget is one of the most important items within a family budget. Shoppers must be able to buy enough food for the entire family while staying within a feasible price range. The price of food keeps rising, which makes staying within a budget increasingly difficult. The following tips can help the average consumer to save on grocery items:

Cutting Down the Restaurant Trips

This first tip can increase the amount of money in the family budget rather than cut down on the actual grocery expenses. Frugal shoppers must stop eating out at restaurants when they can cook delicious meals at home. Lowering the number of restaurant trips can increase the monthly funds so that families can have an abundance of foods at home.

Coupons, Coupons and More Coupons

Shoppers sometimes get annoyed with the person who stands in line and uses a ton of coupons. However, the dreaded coupon user may be the smartest shopper in the store. The reason is that he or she takes advantage of discount opportunities that every shopper has. A consumer can find coupons online and offline. Grocery stores place them in their circulars every week. Additionally, hundreds of websites offer printable coupons that shoppers can print to take to the store. Why miss a money-saving opportunity?

Grocery Store Cards

Most grocery stores offer discount cards to their shoppers at no additional charge. Many shoppers do not take the time to obtain the very cards that can save them money on their grocery store purchases. Why miss a money-saving opportunity? Shoppers with cards have access to all the special sale prices.

Cash Back Credit Cards

Another way that a person can save on the monthly grocery budget is by using cash back credit cards. Certain credit cards offer 1 to 6 percent returns on grocery expenses. The shoppers may not get the money back right away, but most of them can receive their returns within 30 days.

Do Bulk Shopping as Much as Possible

Bulk shopping or wholesale shopping is an amazing way to save money on grocery expenses. Wholesale clubs such as Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco offer huge savings to people who buy their monthly groceries in bulk. The clubs do have a membership fee, but the savings they can obtain are well worth the expense.

Modern shoppers have to take every step possible to decrease their expenses while keeping their refrigerators full. The aforementioned tips should help. 

SPOT ON(LINE): Saving money starts with buying right items online

Pinpointing shopping as the root of all your financial misgivings might be a bit of a shortsighted comment if you consider not so much what you’re buying but where you’re getting it.
Shopping online is convenient, but also carries with it a sense of saving more money by using this particular medium, at least when it comes to certain products.
Whether you’re buying in bulk or taking advantage of online only promotions, fulfilling your product wants and needs online often means not only shopping from the comfort of your couch but counting all the extra cash you’ll be saving.
Take for instance if you have a pet.
Between the cost of food, flea medicine, snacks, leashes, litter and anything else associated with these cute and cuddly creates, you might spend far too much time and money tending to their needs for the sake of forgetting about yours.
Buying those items online saves you not only the time and effort of buying one can of food at a time but also stocking up and saving in one fell swoop. Plenty of online pet stores put prices at bare minimums, including free shipping, that it is easy to ignore those retail powerhouses and brick and mortar stores with relative ease.
It’s also incredibly easy to skip buying books or magazines within the confines of a physical store. That $4 or $5 magazine or $20 hardback book could easily be found online for more 50% off the retail price. Magazines especially come remarkably cheaper online with a plethora of subscription based sites that are practically giving these periodicals away to the tune of less than a $1 per issue.
Knowing that, why would you continue to spend five times that much while waiting in line at the grocery store?
Those small dollar figures might not seem like much, but over the course of a calendar year could equate to easily a few hundred dollars.
And as long as you’re online deciding between ordering Sports Illustrated or Good Housekeeping, you may want to take a look at buying your electronics there, too. Maybe you feel more comfortable buying the big ticket items like tablets, laptops or computers in person, which makes sense given the nature of the purchase. But what about the ancillary products associated with those larger items?
Cell phone cases or screen protectors are two perfect examples of things that you’ll find much less expensive online than in person, without sacrificing buying a lesser brand or an item devoid of quality or durability.
Satiating your shopping needs might be a little smoother sailing, with just a simple change of venue

Promotion Codes

Coupons, coupons everywhere.  Without the hard copy of the paper anymore, I was not sure what I was going to do.  I diligently went through all the ads to stores I shop at on Sundays and clipped coupons which might help me pay the bills or get things cheaper at the mall.  I never said that being frugal was fun and it definitely is not easy, but I think that more and more people are moving in that direction.  I was watching MSNBC one day and I saw this segment on coupon and promotion code websites that have been helping people save money.  I was really impressed with one offering promotion codes.  It is great and seems like it is run by real people instead of just an aloof figure.

 

The site is really easy to use too, which makes life easier.  I told my mom about the site too and she is not a very technically savvy individual and yet she did not have any complaints, other than wondering why I had not told her about it sooner.  Wish I could have mom, but I only saw the TV spot recently.  You type in the name of the stores or website you want, it has both print out coupons for the supermarket and promo codes for Amazon and many other sites.  One of the best parts is that up in the corner there is a ticker that tracks down how much money the site has saved people.  It is almost at $500,000 and it has jumped up so much in just the short time I have been using it.

 

You get all the details about the coupons and promotion codes: amount, when it expires, and it lets you enter your own coupons if you happen to have some lying around your house and want to share.  It is almost like a little community, which in times like this is actually a pretty special thing to be able to admit.  As long as it keeps saving me money, I plan to keep using the site.  I try to enter promo codes, too, since I feel like it is my way of giving back to help out others.

 

So far the best I found was a Macy’s promotion code for $100 off.  While it was only a one time coupon, it worked out great during the holiday season.  I bought my mom this really nice white and red sweater and I think it goes great with the necklace my sister purchased for her.  It was originally $170 and way out of my budget, but with the coupon, I was able to get it down into the $78 range, after taxes, which did not break the bank.  My mom loved it and I felt good knowing that I finally was able to pick out a gift which she really likes.  At least I assume she does.  She wore it twice while she was in town and that was only for eight days!

Office Max Sale

Days like today make me so happy. I checked the paper last night and found out that my local Office Max was having a great sale today. Now, I don’t need any new office furniture or anything like that. My apartment is pretty well full and I don’t think that I will ever have enough books that I need a fifth bookshelf. Who knows though, Law School really just keeps piling them on. I’ve already gotten my book list for next semester, but that’s a problem for a whole different entry. Back to the good news about the sale.

Despite having the copier code, I still burn through a ton of toner every year. I thought it was bad when I was an undergraduate, but it has gotten substantially worse. The only people I know who have it worse than law students are history graduate students. I met my friend Stephen at George Washington the other day and he had what looked like a 1,000 pages of research printed off in his pack. He informed me that it was actually 1,122 pages of research for his seminar class. But I digress. I went to Office Max because I wanted to get some cheap toner. Now when I say “cheap” I don’t mean it is really inexpensive. Even on sale, each cartridge cost me $34. But that is down from $54 on any other day. The worst part is that I go through about one every two weeks. How that is possible, I don’t really know.

Also while I was at Office Max, I stocked up on paper. I love going in to that section of the story. I stand as far back from the shelves as possible and scan for sales tags. Today it wasn’t as important as it has been in the past, but it was still interesting. I was able to buy a ream of paper for $1.47. Usually I end up going with the $2.99 “any type of copier” paper that always looks white in the store, but has some off-shade color when I get home. Don’t ask me why. I’m not a color specialist. Neither is the guy I asked to help me carry everything to the checkout counter. There were no carts available at the store when I went, if that gives you any indication of how busy the place was.

My only other purchase involved pens. I wrote everything in pencil until I got to law school. Once here, I was told to write in pen so that no one would change any of my work and make my clients lose money. Whatever works. But I really hate the fancy pens and they seem way too over priced for me. Despite most of the stuff I work on being electronic, I still go through a lot of pens. Some are destroyed in disgust while other just run out of ink. I ended up getting the Bic 25 packs. They were .79 a pack. I think those will keep me in business for a while. I love sales so much!

Canvas Bag in Action

Well that stylish and cool bag that I bought to carry my groceries and other purchased goods in came out of the closet today.  I strolled to the store today, because it was surprisingly nice outside, and bought a nice little amount of food.  Nothing too expensive, but enough to keep me fed during the summer months.  I figured I need to get supplies for making my lunch each day as I go to work because the cafeteria at work is insanely expensive and I want nothing to do with that.  I could hardly call myself Ms. Frugal if I indulged on their high priced foods on a frequent basis.  Buy a canvas bag to tote your goods.  It is good exercise too!

Canvas Bags

I have made a step toward helping the environment.  I bought two giant canvas bags from the store the other day.  Granted, between the two of them I spent $23, but I feel better about what I’m doing.  I never have to worry about getting all those plastic bags from the supermarket or when I just do regular shopping.  I also know that this thing is never going to tear on me or anything like that.  It is really nice to have that knowledge.  Not only can I carry my groceries, but I can carry my law books.  Which I’d better go back to studying…

Giant Savings at Giant

Loyal readers, get your shopping carts ready.  I was flipping through the paper from the weekend and saw that the grocery store Giant is having a huge sale.  Nearly all of the products in the store have additional markdowns.  I’d never heard of this type of advertising for food.  The flyer I looked at seemed like it had originally been for a clothing store and changed at the last minute to deal with food.  Oh well, I’m excited.  Although I made a small stockup trip last month, I’m already desperate for new food.  These last few weeks of class are hectic and I know it is only going to get worse.

Cheap Candy

Well the holiday is over.  The work/school week is back in full swing and I have a craving for candy.  I’ve never been a huge fan of mints, but I love chocolate.  I also really enjoy the Easter sweet tarts.  Although they taste exactly the same as non-shape ones, there is just something amazing about them.  Knowing that I get this craving every year, I am well-prepared for how to not break the bank.  I head to the grocery store and look for the discount aisle.  I know that CVS and Walgreens also have these aisles.  Anyway, if you happen to stroll down it, you’ll find all the candy and chocolate you want at a fraction of the price it was selling for four days ago.  Go and enjoy.  I’m sure going to!

Carpool!

In my current situation, I am carless. I walk or take public transportation everywhere. The nearest Target is about an hour away by Metro. I have made the trek a few times, but I realize that it just isn’t worth my time. And I never realized how often I actually went to Target. All of these problems were resolved today though. I found a signup sheet outside one of my classrooms for this exact purpose. People in my cohort who have a car are signed up go make multiple trips to Target a month. Us “riders” pay some gas money and we can get there in style and in only about 20 minutes. This is perfect! The amount of money I’m going to pay in gas is less than it costs for the subway. Yay!