Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: saving money

Make Sure You’re Not Overspending This Christmas

(contributed post)

The festive period is many people’s favorite time of year; the family get-togethers, thoughtful gift giving, and the chance to unwind a little and enjoy delicious food, fun movies, and everything that Christmas brings. However big or small your family is, if you celebrate the holiday season, you’ll end up spending more around this month than you normally would. It can be challenging to cut back on expenses, especially when you see all those special presents that you can’t resist buying for the kids, your partner, or the rest of your loved ones.

Many people have enough other things to save for throughout the year, and the holidays will creep up and take you by surprise. Therefore, it’s worth having some ideas in mind about how you can cut back a little over Christmas and make smart financial decisions for your household, so that you don’t enter the new year worrying about cash. It’s never too late to start making better money choices and switching up the way you go about doing things. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and tips for those who want to be more mindful of their money this festive season, so that 2018 is something to look forward to.

How You Spend

Obviously, the best thing you can do regarding your festive spending is to plan as many months in advance as possible and begin saving in the new year. However, it’s already December, so you can put those plans into motion come January, and focus on the changes to make now. For large expenses, like specific gifts or the food shop, it might be worth popping them on a no or low-interest card. You can utilize a website to validate your card quickly and efficiently, and work out your weekly or monthly repayments before you’ve spent anything on interest. Make sure that you can afford your repayments and will be able to clear what you’ve paid for early on next year, so that you can better prepare for next Christmas. Paying for more expensive items in installments, before the no-interest period is up, is the best way to stop them impacting your bank balance.

How You Save

There are a variety of areas and ways to save at Christmas; you just need a little imagination and creativity. Think about the areas you could improve your festive period and save in the meantime. Home-baking and cooking from scratch are always a great way to show people that you care and are willing to put the effort in. Utilizing your own kitchen space might take a little more time; however, it’ll be far more affordable than buying everything ready-made from the store.

Handmade gifts and decorations are other ways to give your Christmas festive and unique touches without breaking the bank, so spend a festive afternoon crafting. Get the whole family involved, and see what they’d like to make for one another; you’ll end up spending less than you would heading out for Christmas shopping, so it’s well worth the effort.

Being wise with your money and time will ensure that you’re not worrying as you head into 2018 and can still have a fun and fulfilling festive period ahead.

Share

Improving Your Finances at the End of the Week

Raising a kid is expensive. Being a single parent can also be challenging, even when both parents are working together to pay for kids’ doctors bills, child care, and activities. I’ll admit it–my strong suit is NOT budgeting, and I like to provide fun experiences for Katie and myself. I also want her involved in sports and other activities, so I have been trying hard to stop eating out so much and THINK before we spend money. When this contributed article came in to me, I thought it had some good tips, especially during the holiday season and when personal property tax is due in Missouri! Here you go: 

Finances are a big part of our lives: they dictate what we can and can’t do; and despite plenty of people declaring that “money isn’t happiness,” it is stability! Everyone can understand how good a little bit of leftover cash at the end of the week can feel.

It can often feel like you’re spiraling out of control when it comes to keeping your money in line, but it doesn’t have to. We could all do with a helping hand from time to time, so here’s some tips for you to consider when it comes to making ends meet.

Rethink Your Goals

Maybe you’ve been thinking  over your fiances over for a while, strategizing and planning in the spare minutes you have, but your money situation still doesn’t make any sense. However, setting yourself some good money goals is the first step in making sure you can improve on your current standing, as you immediately have something to work toward instead of floundering blindly.

Add up all your expenses for every week, including groceries and bills and any extraneous prices you’ll have to fork out for, just to give yourself more of a realistic view. Then, budget accordingly! Write down a budget that you think you can stick to with your finance goals included. 

Contact Your Service Providers

So your internet bill has raised again, and it’s the most useful asset in your modern household; you’re tearing your hair out. It’s time to contact the broadband man and make sure you have the best package to fit your family’s current needs and internet use. 

If your area has more than one gas or electric company, you could very well find a better rate or deal with another company; there could always be another option when it comes to your utilities! This is something people don’t often think about and just accept the bill they have to pay as is. These packages often aren’t advertised, and companies never want to lose a customer to a competitor, so they’re likely to accommodate you if you query it.  Your current provider can also give you some options on budget and consistent billing as well as ways to save on the power you use.  It doesn’t hurt to call and find out your options. 

Get Yourself a Piggy Bank

Yes, it sounds a little childish, but this is often a key component to getting a little extra cash when you need it. Save up all the pennies you have, and drop them in the slot, and then open it up at the end of the month. We’re often surprised at how much spare change can turn into real money that can go towards us and our families.

Even the idea of a piggy bank makes us unlikely to go spending money that we don’t really have. When the pennies are out of sight and thus out of mind, we’re more likely to save.

Buy Off the Bottom Shelf

We can’t always wait for deals or coupons to come for all products we need; and a lot of the time, companies get us to buy things we don’t want or need. That means it’s bottom shelf buying time. It’s not quite a well-known fact, but stores put the stuff they want us to buy at eye height, meaning the most expensive stuff goes there. That means we need to be aware of their crafty ways and work around them.

Search both the top and bottom shelves in the aisles for the best deals and the store’s own brands, as they’re so much cheaper. There really isn’t much difference between the ingredients and quality in the store’s brand than in the bigger food companies. It also means you can bulk buy and not feel guilty about it.

Look into Loan Options

So if you have some experience with having a lack of money, then you’re probably looking at this option with a quizzical eyebrow. Yet, this is an option if you really need the extra help to get yourself out of a bad financial situation in the short-term, and you think you could manage the payment at the end of the loaning period.

You’ll need to check your credit report before securing a loan and making sure any paid debts aren’t still lingering around on there, as that can pull down your score; often, they aren’t removed automatically.

You can find bad credit secured loans all over the place; you just need to know what to look and ask for. First place to start your research is the internet, as that has a lot of the information you will need for your task. Whilst it can be quicker to just find a lender and apply online after this, you don’t want to be too hasty and make sure you understand what the terms are. Take the idea to your bank if you’re looking for a more traditional loaning method; they too often have advice that’s invaluable and on a more personal level. It’s always worth a try after all!

Do you have a tip for budgeting or saving money? 

Share