Tag: Saving money

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Life Events, Strategies to Save

6 New Year’s Resolutions that Won’t Hurt Your Finances

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Resolutions that Won’t Hurt Your Finances

The New Year is around the corner! Dust off those champagne glasses, bring out your funny hats, and start writing your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Don’t be afraid to pursue those goals and resolutions that you want to tackle in the coming year for fear that they’ll cost too much. You can cross items off your bucket list, go on an adventure, and tackle personal goals all while staying within the bounds of your budget.

Here are six New Year’s resolutions that won’t hurt your finances, and some of these resolutions will even improve your financial situation.

1. Get in Shape

Don’t feel cliché about wanting to get in shape in the New Year. January 1 is as great a time as any. Just don’t feel compelled to pay for pricey gym memberships. You don’t need them. The pavement outside is free if you first invest in a good pair of walking or running shoes. Calisthenics are free and don’t take much more space than the area of your living room carpet. YouTube has millions of free workout videos that you can follow along to, just perch your computer at eye level where you have space in your home to work out.

If you have a friend who wants to get in shape too, ask them to be your running buddy or accountability partner. If you’re feeling confident, you might even be able to make some money off of your weight loss by enlisting in a DietBet challenge. You’ll lose weight, transform your body, and earn some money in the process.

2. Eat right

If your goal is to eat right, go into the New Year knowing that you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money, as well as doing great things for your health. Don’t fall for the common misconception that healthy food costs more. Eating right goes hand in hand with saving money.

Buying ingredients to cook healthy meals at home and cooking from scratch will save you a lot of money over the course of the year. Go to your local farmer’s market right at closing time when you’ll be able to get produce at a discounted rate. Also, if you need chopped vegetables for dishes, sometimes the frozen version is cheaper than the fresh version, so remember always to compare the price per unit when you do your food shopping at the grocery store. Healthy eating apps are also a great way to help you stay on track and eat right.

3. Get organized

Don’t pay thousands of dollars for custom organizational compartments and closet organizers. You don’t need them to become more organized in the New Year. Start with the storage spaces that you do have and thin out your belongings. Clear out your closet by getting rid of any clothes you haven’t worn in a year, and clear your bookshelves by donating any books you never plan to read again.

After you’ve gone through, tried to minimalize as much as possible, and kept only the things you find valuable, beautiful, or useful, and then you can start thinking about building organizational aids. Don’t go running off to Ikea just yet, though, you can build some amazingly sturdy furniture with free pallets.

4. Be more charitable

You don’t have to be as rich as Bill Gates to be more charitable. Start by donating all those things in your closet that you no longer use. The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Samaritan House, and children’s hospital thrift stores all accept used clothes and household goods. If you like making a habit of donating a portion of every paycheck to a 501 (c) tax exempt organization, remember to keep good records. That way you can claim your charitable contributions as a write-off at tax time in the following year.

[How to make charitable contributions that count and are tax deductible]

5. Visit somewhere new

Visiting somewhere that you have never been before is always a fun resolution. Don’t feel compelled to pay $3000 for a round trip to Australia to check this goal of your New Year’s list. How many times have you passed by that interesting exit on the highway or bypassed the museum you’ve always wanted to go to. Take a free weekend and visit the local towns and tourist attractions you never seem to get around to visiting.

If you do want to travel out of state to visit somewhere new, save a percentage of each paycheck throughout the year, and use that money to take a trip to celebrate the next New Year.

[How I saved enough to travel for 3 months]

6. Do something daring

Adventures and daring experiences aren’t in far off places. After all, everywhere is someone’s back yard. Look around yours and see what daring experiences you could sign up for. You could hike to the top of the nearest mountain or rent a kayak for the day and take a white water rapids tour of your local river. Find a base jumping company in your state or find the nearest bungee jumping opportunity.

Most of these activities don’t cost more than you can budget for in your monthly entertainment budget. So instead of wasting money on eating out, going to the movies, and spending money on drinks, set the whole of your entertainment budget aside to plan your next adventure and experience something crazy, daring, and new.

Don’t let money hold you back

Look at the past year and see what went wrong that you hope to fix in the coming year. Did you eat out too much? Save money on your food budget and get healthy at the same time by cooking and eating at home. Did you feel boring and stuck in one place? Get out into your city and explore all of the free sights and attractions. If you’re willing to think outside the box, you’ll be able to accomplish any of the New Year’s resolutions on your list without hurting your finances.

Kristi Muse |

Kristi Muse is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kristi at kristi@magnifymoney.com

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Eliminating Fees, Strategies to Save

8 Savings Solutions for Dynamic Pricing

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Pretty Young Multiethnic Woman Holding Phone and Credit Card Using Laptop.

This article comes to us from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

One of the most powerful tools retailers use to trick you into spending money is dynamic pricing. This refers to the practice of fluctuating prices on products throughout the month, week or even day. Both online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores use analytical tools to manipulate prices based on demand, time of day, weather and even zip code with the ultimate goal of maximizing profits. For example, a study tracking Amazon found the online giant changed the price on a GE microwave nine times in just one day.

By adjusting prices based on consumer and market behavior, retailers can capture more customers while getting the most money from each sale. That means the price you viewed on a product in the morning could change by the time you get home from work at night. These analytical tools may also identify an IP address for repeat searches and subsequently send a price soaring.

With such advanced technology working against you, dynamic pricing may seem unbeatable. However, the following tactics can put you back in control of your spending and help you snag the best price on a purchase.

Clear Your Cookies

Cookies (in Internet-speak) are what help you avoid entering your login information every time you check your bank statement, but they’re also responsible for tracking your buying patterns across the web. This creates a digital profile of your purchasing behavior and sites adjust pricing and search results accordingly. Erase your cookies before your next online shopping task to receive unbiased results.

Shop Covertly

A study about price discrimination from Northeastern University in Boston revealed registered users to sites like Orbitz were sometimes presented with better deals than non-registered users. Clearing your cookies as advised above could impact member pricing, so in these cases it’s best to browse covertly. If you’re a repeat customer with a login, use Chrome’s Incognito mode or Firefox’s Private tab to search for prices and compare them to traditional browsing to determine any price differences.

Compare and Track Prices

The biggest weapon against dynamic pricing is price tracking. Knowing the history of a product’s price can show you how high or low it’s been, and during what times. CamelCamelCamel offers price history and tracking for Amazon products, while TrackIf.com helps you track products from other retail websites. You can also use price comparison search engines like PriceGrabber to find out who has the best price at the moment. Finally, browser add-ons like Invisible Hand alert you when a product you’re looking at is better priced elsewhere.

Set Sale Alerts

When you’re short on time, setting sale alerts is helpful to learn when a product’s price drops due to a promotion or available coupon. Pinterest actually has a setting to alert you when something you’ve saved (or “pinned”) from a retail website drops in price. You can also use SnapUp, an app that organizes your mobile screenshots of products into a database and lets you organize by category (“clothing” or “John’s birthday”), and sends you an email when product prices drop. PoachIt offers similar price-tracking features but highlights specific coupon codes that help you offset the cost of your purchase.

Apply a Coupon

Obvious, yes, but oh-so-important! If a checkout page has a field for a promo code, take a moment to look for one before you proceed. Search for coupon codes on deal sites like CouponSherpa.com to easily find deals from specific stores or within product categories. If you’d rather not search through coupon sites, install the Honey browser extension and have available codes automatically pop up during checkout.

Price Match

To compete for your business, several major retailers are willing to match one another’s prices, making your pursuit of savings much easier. Plus, if you have perks with one retailer (like rewards cash), you don’t have to sacrifice those rewards to get a better price. Review the retailer’s price-match policy or open up a live chat session with an online rep. You’ll have to provide proof of the better price but it should be as simple as copying and pasting a link from the other store.

Name Your Own Price

Ideally, you could always pay the price you think something is worth, but in retail it doesn’t typically work that way. However, when it comes to gadgets, electronics and, um, baby gear, Greentoe gets us to that point. Search for your desired product and Greentoe shows you the lowest and average online price, plus gives you an idea of how well your offer will be received. Submit an offer and the first retailer to accept it gets the sale, and you get the product at the price you want. You also have the power to name your own price through portals like Craigslist or Facebook Groups, where you can negotiate your preferred price with the seller.

Call Customer Service

When in doubt, give customer service a call and speak to someone. You’d be amazed what you can get by simply asking. A friend of mine was disappointed with part of a purchase she made over Black Friday weekend, and was torn about whether to keep it anyway because the return-shipping fees would be outlandish. I encouraged her to call customer service and let them know she wasn’t satisfied with the product. She did, and the company sent her a return-shipping label, no questions asked. I’ve also used this tactic countless times and have had expired coupons honored or been granted free overnight shipping.

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erin@magnifymoney.com

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Pay Down My Debt, Strategies to Save

Busting The Myth: Breastfeeding is Not Free

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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It’s time to unearth the long-held belief that breastfeeding is free. I hear this time and time again, and it’s just not true. If you are pregnant and creating a budget, do not put “$0” next to the “Feeding My Baby” category if you plan on breastfeeding. There are many costs associated with breastfeeding, and it’s important to be aware of them.

Breastfeeding is definitely less expensive than formula feeding. I know from personal experience because I’ve done both. I breastfed my twins for almost five months and then I switched them to 100% formula. They are almost 11 months old now, and the last few months were definitely more expensive than the first few. However, I still incurred costs while breastfeeding. Many mothers do. The reason is that there are so many products out there today that exist to help new mothers ease discomfort and make the experience better. Here are a few examples:

1. Nursing Tanks

I lived in nursing tanks for those five months, and when I was finished breastfeeding, I packaged them up and sent them to my sister so she didn’t have to incur the cost. I bought inexpensive nursing tanks for around $15-$20 at Target. By the time I was finished I had five of them. Breastfeeding can get a little messy, and you’re constantly changing your clothes because as a new mom, you just run around smelling like spit up and breast milk. Yes, it’s beautiful let me tell you. Having five of these shirts was helpful because I could do laundry less frequently. It was a pain to get caught wearing anything else! Sure you can breastfeed without them, but it’s easier with them.

2. Breastfeeding Pillow

When your babies are really small, it helps to have a breastfeeding pillow. I had one that was made especially for twins so that I could place one baby on each side of me. These pillows can cost up to $50.00. You can use the pillows from your bed and prop them all around, but for me, they didn’t work quite as well. I tried everything I could before succumbing to using the twin breastfeeding pillow. Once your babies get bigger and you get more comfortable with breastfeeding, you can sort of prop them up any way that works, but in those early days, it helps to have a specific breastfeeding pillow to make your life easier. 

3. Breast Pump

Many breastfeeding mothers purchase breast pumps so that they can make extra milk and store it in their freezer. Many insurance policies now provide these, but since I had an international health insurance policy at the time, it did not cover it. I purchased a high-end breast pump that retails at $400.00. I could have purchased a cheap handheld one, but another twin mom encouraged me to get the best one. With twins, milk is even more sacred because you’re feeding two babies at once, and I wanted a breast pump that worked extremely well. Not everyone has to go this route. Some moms never pump at all. It really is a personal choice but for me, this was a big expense.

4. Pain Relief

I never really thought that I would have to talk about nipple shields in my blogging career, but here we are. There are a lot of different products that mothers use to ease the discomfort in early breastfeeding days. There are nipple shields, as mentioned, which can run around $10.00 a piece. I used a really nice, organic cream that worked extremely well but was very expensive at $15 for a small jar. There is also cream to help with stretch marks since your body changes a lot when you breastfeed. Really, there’s a product for just about everything for those early days.

Many people might also have to pay to visit their physician if they get a clogged duct or get an infection, which is all very common. This takes time and often requires a co-pay as well. Essentially, it can cost time and money to manage breastfeeding pain. Not every mother has pain, but if you do, it’s good to take the steps to remedy it. I personally did just about anything I could to make sure that I stuck with breastfeeding as long as possible, but I always asked a lot of questions and got a lot of support when I needed it.

5. Lactation Consultants

I was in the hospital for longer than most moms, so I was able to use the services of several in-house lactation consultants. However, when I moved to a different state, and I wanted some advice, I called a private lactation consultant who helped me immensely.

She took the time to speak with me on the phone for about an hour to answer some questions. She was so encouraging. She offered to come to my home and physically help me with any issues I was having. Her fee was $100 for an hour visit. I did not take her up on it, mostly because her phone call was all I needed to push me along to keep trying, but if I needed to, I would have taken her up on the offer.

Again, many insurance companies do include the services of lactation consultants, so you’ll want to check with your individual policy. If they don’t or if you like one in particular who is private, you will have to pay out of pocket for their help.

It May Be Cheaper, But Breastfeeding Isn’t Free

As evidenced, breastfeeding is quite a journey, and there are a huge variety of experiences from mothers who had zero issues to moms who really have to fight through the first few months to get it just right. Regardless of your experience, you will incur some costs along the way whether through clothing, products, equipment, or medical help. It is cheaper than formula feeding, but it is by no means free.

Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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How to Find Big Savings in Small Places

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Save $450

At MagnifyMoney, we believe that Americans can find big savings in boring places.

Consider putting more money into your pocket in one of the following ways:

  1. If you have credit card debt, move the debt to a balance transfer (if you have excellent credit) or a personal loan (if you have good credit). You can cut the interest rate you pay on that debt.
  2. If you have a savings account, move your savings from a low interest rate savings account at a traditional bank (paying 0.01%) to a high-yield internet savings account that could pay up to 1.05%.
  3. Earn cash-back on your everyday spend with a cash-back credit card (you can earn at least 2% on your purchases).
  4. Stop paying overdraft fees by opening an Internet-only bank account that does not charge overdraft fees

 We have run the numbers, and:

  • 30% of the population keeps $29,000 in a bank savings account, which pays close to $0. They could earn $300 from an Internet savings account. In addition, they spend $1,269 per month that could earn cash back of $450. So, in total, they could earn up to $750 from savings and cash-back
  • 17% of the population has credit card debt (average of $9,500) and excellent credit scores. They could save up to $900 over the next 12 months in balance transfers.
  • 13% of the population has credit card debt, a decent credit score (650-700) and pays overdraft fees. They could save an average of $300 over the next 12 months by switching to a personal loan and another $150 by opening an overdraft-free account
  • 5% of the country (not counted in the numbers above) heavily uses overdraft and check-cash companies. They could cut $500+ by switching to a branch-free account and eliminating fees.

So, we see at least $450 for 65% of Americans.

We also like to think about it in a slightly different way. Right now, Bank of America has about $500 billion of deposits from consumers, and they pay close to 0%. If Americans moved $100 billion from Bank of America to Internet-only banks, they would receive an extra $1 billion of interest from banks over the next 12 months. And moving money to an Internet-only bank savings account is easy and FDIC insured.

We can put a ton of money back in our pockets, instead of lining the banks’ coffers. Hopefully MagnifyMoney can help you get even a little bit extra, because every little bit helps.

Want regular updates about the best financial products out there? Then sign up for our Price Checker Newsletter. Twice a month, we’ll deliver the best-of-the-best right to your inbox.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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