5 Ways to Save on Appliances

March 5, 2015 Permalink 0

9783571046_c80aa157f5_zOne of the worst things you can have happen when you are living on a tight budget is having one of your major household appliances go out. We all know it’ll have eventually, but most of us are ill prepared when these things do finally happen.

The average lifespan of most major household appliances is between 11 and 15 years. But since this is an average, you should be hopeful for the best and prepared for the worst. You might have a great set of appliances that works for 20 years, but you might also end up with a lemon that quits after 8-10 years. Here are 5 ways you can save money on new appliances when the time comes to replace them.

Price Compare

One simple way to save on any household purchase, including appliances, is to compare prices at a few different retailers to see which stores carry items the cheapest. Sometimes there can be a big price difference between a bargain-based store and a store that considers itself to be “high-end”. Most stores have websites that make price comparisons easy, but sometimes it’s worth it to price shop in person to see if store have any special deals going on.

Are Mail In Rebates Worth It?

March 4, 2015 Permalink 0

rebateI’m a pretty good shopper. By that I mean I usually take the time to look for a good price on things I have to purchase anyway. To find the best prices and save the most money, I use a combination of price comparison and price matching, shopping store sales, using manufacturer and store coupons, and even sending in mail in rebates.

Yes, I do actually fill out and mail in my rebate forms.

Mail in rebates are a form of advertising and promotion used by manufacturers, and some retailers, and they can be kind of tricky.

Rebates are most often offered on big-ticket items, like new pieces of technology, home appliances, car tires, and other major purchases that are not everyday items. Occasionally rebates are also available for smaller purchases and grocery or baby items, but generally speaking those are not quite as common.

How Does a Rebate Program Work?

Usually, a manufacturer rebate program requires you to purchase a certain product, or a certain dollar’s worth of products, in order to quality for a cash back by mail rebate program. Most stores participating in the rebate program will have the forms available on a tear pad by the checkout, so you can easily grab one as you walk by.

But most manufacturers bank on you forgetting to take a form during checkout, forgetting to fill it out and mail it in (or not taking the time to do it), filling out a form incorrectly or forgetting a minor detail from the fine print, and forgetting about your checking coming the mail and never following up on it. When you make one of these mistakes, the manufacturer doesn’t have to spend as much money fulfilling the rebate program and their profit is higher. Manufacturers also hope that seeing a rebate offer will get you to do one of following:

  • buy something you weren’t planning on buying in the first place
  • buy more of something than you were planning on buying
  • buy a more expensive version of something than you were planning on buying

What to Do With an Extra $1,000

February 26, 2015 Permalink 0

Analysis colorful stock chart on monitor. finance concept.Having an extra $1,000 in your bank account can seem like a small windfall that can easily be spent. A quick vacation, expanded wardrobe or a few fancy dinners out can deplete that extra $1,000 in a few months.

But long-term savings can turn that extra $1,000 into thousands more, protecting you in retirement, as an emergency fund or as a down payment on a car or house.

I’m focusing on this extra $1,000 figure because it’s roughly the amount I wrote about recently that could be saved by making coffee at home. The annual savings was $1,077.12, to be exact, for one person, and $2,154.24 per couple.

I asked financial experts, mostly financial planners, for their ideas on what to do with that extra $1,000 to $2,000 other than spend it.

Try automatic transfers

The trick, however, is to put aside that extra $1,000 or so saved each month by making coffee at home. As anyone who has tried to save money probably realizes, any savings from eliminating an expense can easily get lost in your checking account and be spent elsewhere. But automatically transferring $90 a month to a savings account or some other account will easily get you to that extra $1,000 annual total.

And $1,000 can be just the start. For a couple, saving $167 per month will add up to $2,000 in a year.

If you have a federal tax refund coming, you could put it all into savings and start earning money on it immediately. The average tax refund is around $2,500, according to the IRS.

What to do first

Each person’s financial situation differs, but there are some first steps to take with that extra $1,000-$2,000 before saving it, says Kate Holmes, a certified financial planner:

  • Pay off credit card debt first, and put the extra money you’re saving toward the principal.
  • Boost your 401(k) retirement plan savings if you’re not already taking full advantage of your 401(k) match. Then you won’t have that money in your take-home pay to tempt you as you pass coffee shops!
  • If you’re saving for a big trip or fun adventure, set up automatic transfers to savings each month to supercharge that account.
  • Look at each line item in your expenses and ask how much happiness it brings, Holmes says. You may find other areas to easily cut back, freeing up more money for your “maximum happiness” items.

Here are some ways to save that extra $1,000 or more: