I don’t know about you, but one of my most exciting resolutions for this year is to travel more. In order to make this a reality, though, I need to be able to save money wherever I can on the trips that I plan for my family.
One of the biggest tools in my money-saving arsenal is to use an online travel agency site, like Priceline, anytime I’m ready to book. This can help me save tons whether I’m trying to find flights, hotels, rental cars, or even book a cruise or vacation package.
While Priceline is a pretty straightforward platform to use for travel booking, there are a few features that can save you even more money than you’d expect.
Express Deals show you star level and location, not the name of the hotel. Image source: Priceline.
Once upon a time, Priceline had a tool called Name Your Own Price. This allowed you to bid for flights, hotels, and rental cars, finding companies who would accept the offer(s) you were willing to make. It was a bit of a gamble and you were essentially “buying blind,” but the tool was a great opportunity to save.
Unfortunately, that tool was phased out a few years ago for flights and rental cars. It’s now only available for hotel stays and only accessible through the Priceline mobile app.
However, if you’re still itching to save money — and don’t mind buying blind — there’s another option. You can still save big using Priceline Express Deals … saving up to 60% off, in fact.
With Express Deals, you are able to pick up incredible prices on hotels, as long as you’re a little flexible (and trusting). All you need to do is choose your destination city and travel dates, and Priceline will help you find a great deal on a surprise booking.
While you won’t be able to choose the exact hotel you’ll get through Express Deals, you can choose the amenities you need and even the hotel quality you desire. You’ll see the price you’re paying as well as your overall savings. As soon as you book the room, you’ll be told where you’re staying (but, be careful because these are non-refundable purchases). And you can switch to the map view and see exactly where your hotel options are located.
Priceline lets you package airfare, hotel, and more. Image source: Priceline.
Trip Builder (new)
Sometimes, you just need a hotel room. If you’re planning a big trip or family vacation, though, you’ll need a lot more: hotel rooms, rental cars, and even flights.
Thanks to Priceline’s new Trip Builder feature, you can bundle all of those travel needs into one convenient package and save significant money.
With Trip Builder, you can combine any two or three needs from flights, hotels, and a car. If you’ll be bouncing around, you can add multiple hotel stays to the bundle and further boost your savings.
Your Trip Builder booking will all be listed under the same confirmation number, making it easier than ever to track all of your reservations in one place. You’ll also enjoy some of Priceline’s best deals in the process, leaving more jingle in your pocket for things like souvenirs and experiences.
Best Price Guarantee
Every once in a while, I’ll book a room or a flight for an upcoming trip, only to notice that the price goes even lower the very next day. Sometimes, that price continues to drop, reminding me of how much money I lost out on.
Luckily, you can learn from my mistakes. That’s because if you book a flight, hotel room, rental car, or cruise through Priceline, you’ll be covered by their Best Price Guarantee.
With this guarantee, you can receive a 100% price adjustment if the price of your reservation drops in the 24 hours after you book. If you booked an Express Deal, Priceline will not only give you double that — 200% of the difference! — but you’ll also have all the way until midnight the night before you travel to file your Best Price Guarantee claim.
There are some requirements, of course: the lower-price itinerary must be publicly accessible (no military discounts or special pricing platforms), the details must match exactly, and some airlines are excluded (Spirit, British Airways, and KLM, to name a few).
Even still, this guarantee means added peace of mind when you travel. And perhaps even extra savings in your pocket after you’ve already booked.
Double up on savings
Want to make your Priceline experience even more lucrative? Then double up on the savings.
There are a few ways to do this. You can:
Visit Priceline’s website through a shopping portal such as Rakuten (which is currently offering up to 5% back on your bookings)
Use a travel rewards credit card to earn extra miles or points on your reservations made through Priceline
Join Priceline’s membership program, giving you access to additional members-only discounts and easy trip management
Get the Priceline Rewards Visa credit card, which offers 5x bonus points back per $1 spent on priceline.com purchases
In fact, you can use more than one of these within the same booking, earning you maximum rewards, and saving as much as possible.
When booking a trip, sites like Priceline make it easy to shop around, compare prices, snag discounts, and manage reservations. You’ll have access to deals and promotions that you might not be able to find elsewhere, while also offering a best-price guarantee each time you book.
The more you save on your travel today, the more you can put toward additional trips in the future. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start seeing more of the world in 2020.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Buying discounted gift cards is one of my favorite ways to save money and stay on budget. You can hack your way into saving hundreds of dollars a year by buying cheap gift cards.
Discounted gift cards are gift cards that are sold for less than whatever the value on the card is.
Most people have gift cards they’ll never use sitting around their house just collecting dust. I mean, we all have that grandparent who thinks we love Applebees or an out of state friend who assumes every city has a Publix, right?
This means billions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused every single year!
Their loss can be your gain. Instead of collecting dust, these people choose to sell their unwanted and unused gift cards for cash online.
They sell you their $50 Applebees card for $30. They get cash for a gift card that would go to waste otherwise and you get a gift card to your favorite restaurant at a great discount. It’s a win-win for everyone.
How to Use Discounted Gift Cards
Discounted gift cards can be used just like a regular gift card you purchase at the store.
Ways to use discounted gift cards:
Shopping at your favorite stores
Baby shower gifts
How to Buy Discounted Gift Cards
The best place to buy discounted gift cards is online through a gift card deal site. These sites are 3rd party sites like Raise.com that connect the buyer and seller. You purchase the gift card through the gift card deal site and the buyer will send you the gift card.
Physical cards are mailed directly to you.
E-gift cards are emailed to you.
5 of the Best Sites to Purchase Cheap Gift Cards
You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of reselling sites but you run the risk of buying an empty card or getting scammed in some other way. When you go through reputable gift card resellers you may pay a little more but you’ll have the piece of mind that your card will work. And if for some reason it doesn’t, you’re protected.
Raise has a great selection of gift cards on their site. You can save an average of 12-15% on gift cards purchased through their site. You can even set up alerts to your favorite stores and restaurants. They will email you when a gift card you requested becomes available.
Raise offers a 1-year money-back guarantee to protect you from buying a gift card for less than the value stated at the time of the purchase.
Click here to get $5 when you make a purchase within 30 days of signing up. After you sign up, you can earn $5 for every friend you refer when they make a purchase within 30 days too. This is great savings hack to save even more money on gift cards.
While it doesn’t always have the biggest discounts, Cardpool does have the largest selection. I find cards here that I can’t always find on Raise. They have a wishlist feature that will email you when the card you want becomes available.
Cardpool also has a 100-day purchase guarantee if your gift card is less than the stated value at the time of purchase.
Giftcards.com is the most well-known gift card deal site and also has a huge selection. Be sure to navigate to the discount portion of its site because they mostly sell regular gift cards now (meaning at full face value without a discount).
Giftcards.com also has a rewards program known as G-Money Rewards. You can earn 8 points per dollar and redeem the points on future gift card purchases. Every 100 points are equivalent to $1 off your purchase. This is a great hack to save even more at your favorite restaurants and stores.
CardCash has the most sales and discount codes to use on its site. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get notified of deals every week. They also have a 45-day purchase guarantee if the gift card you purchase doesn’t add up to the value.
Gift Card Granny
Gift Card Granny is a website that allows you to buy gift cards for varying amounts. So some of the current value of the gift cards are less than face value.
Ex: $25 gift card with $19.29 left on the card.
They have a unique feature on their website that allows you to test the value of the gift card which limits the risks to you. Gift Card Granny offers you a referral credit of $5 for every friend who signs-up using your referral link.
Make Sure It’s Worth It
Using discounted gift cards isn’t for everyone. It’s a saving method that’s nice when you can use it but it shouldn’t be a primary part of your money saving strategy.
Before purchasing the gift card, make sure it’s worth your time and money. It may not be worth your time to get a gift card that’s only a 10% discount on a $20 card. You’re only saving $2.
Calculate the amount you’re saving before purchasing the gift card to make sure it’s a good deal for you.
Ex: You want to buy a laptop from Best Buy. You buy a $200 gift card from a gift card deal site. The savings is 25%. You will save $50 by purchasing the $200 gift card. So it’s worth the time and money to save $50.
You can expect to save an average of 10-35% on gift cards from these deal sites.
7 Ways to Maximize Your Savings
There are a 7 ways to maximize your savings without spending a ton of time. This isn’t a magic bullet for savings. I never spend more than 15 minutes a month looking for discounted gift cards, they’re just a nice “cherry on top” for savings.
You can still save a ton of money using discount gift cards as a savings hack to save even more money – especially on big-ticket items.
1. Look at the top discounts first
Always sort your view by the largest discount. This will help you not get distracted by the smaller discounts and save you a ton of time. After you figure out which gift cards you want to purchase, then plan out your date nights, grocery runs, etc. based on the best deals.
2. Look up coupons
See if they have any coupons you can stack to save even more money. Honey is a free Chrome browser extension that will figure out the applicable coupons for you. No more searching high and low to find a coupon that “might” work.
It automatically cycles through the coupons and figures out which one will save you the most money. Since it’s free, it’s definitely a no brainer!
3. Sign up for email alerts on gift cards
Most discount gift card sites have alerts set up for your account. You can go in and choose the parameters for your gift cards, like the dollar amount and store/restaurant names, and they will email you when a gift card with those parameters becomes available.
This can also save you a ton of time. For example, if you always grocery shop at Target, you can just have an alert set for Target. When you get the email, you can just go in and buy it without going in and searching for minutes on end for your gift card.
You just click the link in the email and it sends you right to the card you’re looking for.
4. Buy the gift cards through a cashback site called Rakuten
You can also get cashback from Rakuten so if you haven’t gotten your $10 bonus for spending $25, here’s your chance! Rakuten is simple and easy to use.
You just sign-up for your free account. When you’re ready to shop, you log into your Rakuten account and search for Raise (or the other gift card site you’re using), and click on the shop button.
Rakuten does the rest for you. They will calculate your rebate automatically and add it to your account. You will get paid when they do their next payout cycle. It doesn’t cost you any additional money and the best part, it’s totally free to use.
5. Stack the gift cards with in-store savings
Some stores have in-store coupons and customer loyalty programs. You can stack the savings from the in-store coupons, customer loyalty programs, in-store sales, and gift cards to really rack up on the savings.
You can use your Old Navy Cash and a gift card at the same time.
You can use your Target My Circle coupons with a Target gift card at the same time.
Use your phone number at Ulta (to get points), an in-store coupon, and a discounted gift card for maximum savings.
6. Search for your favorites on each website
All of the deal sites all have different cards at any given time and it doesn’t take long to search for your favorite stores/restaurants on the site. These are stores/restaurants you visit frequently and know you’ll visit to use the gift card.
7. Buy gift cards each month to save
You can buy gift cards each month to save for a big-ticket item. If you want to buy a $500 TV from Best Buy, you can buy a gift card every month to use towards the TV purchase.
This will also help you save a little bit of money too because you’re buying the gift cards for less than the value. You could buy a $100 gift card to Best Buy for 5 months and then pay with the gift card for your TV.
NOTE: Just make sure to verify the amount of your gift card as soon as you get it because you only have a window of time with each deal site to file a claim if for some reason the card doesn’t equal the value that the buyer stated in the description at the time of purchase.
What Not to Do When Buying Discounted Gift Cards
There are also a few things you shouldn’t do, or at least be aware of, before using discounted gift cards.
Make sure the store doesn’t have any exclusions on the maximum number of gift cards per single transaction
One time when I was purchasing airfare to Bali I bought ten $100 gift cards to save a little extra. I get to the website to buy my tickets and there’s a max of THREE slots for gift cards.
I was mortified.
I had to call the airline and thankfully I was able to use all the gift cards but I spent over an hour on the phone reading every 16 and 10 digit code for every card.
The moral of the story is, check gift card policies before you buy the gift cards. All the companies I mentioned offer guarantees on their cards for a period of time but it’s still your responsibility to check policies.
Don’t search discounted gift card sites on Google without doing your research
The gift card sites in this post are tried and trusted by me. I can’t speak for the other sites on Google. There are other sites I haven’t mentioned here that have tons of complaints against them from anything from customer service issues to not receiving their cards.
Don’t use these sites. Use the ones I’m telling you that I’ve tried. I have had great luck with them and will continue to use them month after month.
Buying cheap and discounted gift cards are a great money savings hack to save even more money each month. You can save hundreds over the course of a year using discounted gift cards.
Just buy the ones you know you’ll use. You won’t be saving any money if you buy a gift card that just sits around and collects dust.
If you want to save even more money, check out my free spending detox challenge. You can learn to save a ton of money and break bad money habits for good.
The spending challenge can also help you break the paycheck to paycheck cycle and gain control of your money. It’s a free 7-day money saving challenge. Go on and sign-up here.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.
Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?
Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.
So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.
Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.
Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.
You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.
Here’s just some of what you get:
Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
MAM newborn pacifier
Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.
Two: Sign Up for Amazon Family
Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member. Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions. You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.
Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.
Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.
Three: Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers
Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?
Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity. Here’s how it works.
Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games. Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.
Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.
TIP: Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go. You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.
InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.
Four: Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies
Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.
Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors. So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.
Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points. You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.
When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.
Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.
In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:
More Free Samples
Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.
Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.
Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.
Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.
Five: Smart Couponing for Free Diapers
Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores. By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.
Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.
Six: Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money
A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes.
Diapers.com gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site. Sign up for their referral program here.
If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program. Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.
Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.
Seven: Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.
The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers. The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.
This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers.
NeedHelpPayingBills.com aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs. Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.
Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers
Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.
They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.
Nine: Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies
Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat. Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.
Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples. They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.
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Transferring your debt to 0% interest balance transfer credit cards seems like a no-brainer right?
You’ll pay no interest for a promotional period of time so 100% of your payment will go to the principal.
Sounds like a win to me. And quite often it is a win.
But not always.
When you know all the pros and cons, you can accurately determine if transferring your debt to a balance transfer card makes sense for you.
With that in mind, I’ve put together this complete list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should transfer your balance.
Do your due diligence and weigh all the pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card to make sure it will really help you save money while paying off your debt faster.
Table of Contents
how you transfer your debt to a balance transfer credit card the right way.
A 0% balance transfer card can save you money
Clearly paying less interest on your credit card debt will save you money.
Just remember to run the numbers, taking into account the balance transfer fee and the promotional and standard interest rates. I recommend using a good credit card payoff calculator.
Here’s an example of good balance transfer numbers:
Say you have $5000 in credit card debt which requires you to pay 30% interest.
If you pay $300 a month, you will pay off that card in 22 months. It’ll cost you $1,549 in interest for a total of $6,549.
On the other hand, if you transfer that balance to an 18-month, 0% interest credit card your numbers would look like this:
You would pay the same $300 a month for only 17 months, paying $0 in interest for a total cost of $5,000.
Most credit card companies charge a 3% balance transfer fee, which in this example works out to $150.
That means you would save $1,549 dollars minus the $150 balance transfer fee for a total savings of 1,399 with the added benefit of paying off your debt 5 months sooner.
In the interest of balance, we’ll run the numbers on a balance transfer that doesn’t add up to such an obvious benefit once we take a look at the cons.
You can enjoy better terms and even get rewards
The credit card landscape is extremely competitive, and companies are trying harder than ever to capture your business.
Why does this matter?
If you have lousy terms with your current credit card, such as high fees or a short grace period, you can dump that credit card and enjoy better terms with someone else.
Shop for not only the best introductory interest rate but also for a better interest rate once the promotion period ends. Also look for credit card rewards on new purchases.
Here’s the thing:
If you’re going to go through with a balance transfer, make sure the new company treats you better than your current one.
Consolidate your credit card debt to make your finances simpler
Consolidating your credit card debt makes budgeting a little easier and more convenient. Just having all your debt in one place makes it easier to manage and pay down your debt. What’s more, transferring your balance to a 0% card can create space in your budget, which is ideal if you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
The Cons of Balance Transfer Credit Cards You Need To Know
The APR is only temporary
Never forget, the banks are making a bet on you.
They are willing to give you an attractive promotional rate and they are counting on you not paying off your balance on time.
If you don’t pay off your debt before the promotional rate expires, you’ll be hit with the considerably higher revert rate. Don’t be surprised if this rate is in the 25%-30% range.
But you don’t have to get stuck with this rate. Instead, do your homework ahead of time and make sure the revert rate is not excessive.
Even better, only get a balance transfer rate if you know you can pay off the balance during the promotional period.
Balance transfer accounts can be very expensive
Typically banks charge a balance transfer fee of 1% to 3% as well as the annual service fee.
In the “Pros” section above, we showed you an example of a balance transfer credit card which saved you money.
Now let’s take a look at a balance transfer that’s not quite a slam dunk like before.
Let’s say you have a credit card with a $3,000 balance in which you are paying 20% interest.
If you are paying $140 per month, you will pay off the debt in 27 months, including $742 in interest. In total, you will pay $3,780 in this scenario.
But what if you found a balance transfer credit card offering a 12-month promotional period with 0% interest and a standard 3% balance transfer fee.
You could transfer your balance for $90 and pay down $1,680 of your debt in the first 12 months.
Your balance (initial $3,000 plus the $90 transfer fee) of $3090 would be $1,320.
Now the bad news:
The promotional period ends and the bank pumps the interest up to 30%.
If you continued paying $140 per month, you would pay off the debt in a total of 23 months. Your total out-of-pocket expenses would be $3,320, including only $204 in interest fees.
To recap this scenario:
Current credit card: You would pay a total of $3,780 over 27 months with your current credit card at 20% interest.
Balance transfer credit card: Including the balance transfer fee, you would pay $3,320 over 23 months. You would save 4 months payments and save $460 dollars.
Don’t get me wrong, $460 is a nice sum and at first glance, and it may seem worth it to do the transfer.
But when you consider all the potential cons we’ve mentioned, $460 may not be enough of a benefit to outweigh the other factors.
The point is, run the numbers and make sure the risk/reward ratio works in your favor.
Balance transfers are not always included.
Don’t assume every 0% APR offer is good for balance transfers. Nearly all of these offers are good for new purchases made on the card. But the same is not always true for balance transfers.
In other words, sometimes the 0% APR offer applies to balance transfers, sometimes it doesn’t.
I can’t emphasize this enough;
Before you consolidate your debt on a new card, check the terms and conditions carefully to ensure balance transfers are also eligible for the promotional rate.
Balance transfers can potentially hurt your credit score
Your credit score can take a hit when you open a new card. Your score will drop if the balance of the new card is over 30% of the card’s limit. Not to worry, making your payments on time will negate this penalty soon enough.
Here is another credit score consideration:
In order to minimize the risk of running up debt, many people close their old account after the balance transfer is completed.
This is wise and it is what we usually recommend.
But there is one exception:
If you’re going to be applying for a home loan in the near future, it’s probably smarter to keep the old account open because closing accounts usually hurt your credit score.
Final credit score consideration:
Closing accounts with zero balance will actually raise your credit utilization percentage, the amount of balance you carry versus the amount of credit you have available to you.
The truth is, the lower your credit utilization – the better your credit score will be. So, closing your old card could hurt your credit score.
That’s not all.
Closing an old account may hurt your length of credit history, which can also negatively affect your score.
In other words, closing your first credit card account may hurt the length of credit history and, consequently, your score. Conversely, closing a more recent account would not affect your score in this way.
If you’re not getting a mortgage anytime soon, you probably shouldn’t worry about the credit hit too much.
Paying off debt, and staying out of debt, are the bigger, more important goals here.
Late payments can kill your APR
Sadly, that enticing 0% promotional interest rate can be lost in the blink of an eye. All it takes is one late payment.
Read the disclosures carefully to make sure you understand the terms of a credit card offer. The card issuers often have the sright, to not only end the introductory period but also to hit you with a hefty penalty APR, usually in the staggering neighborhood of 30%.
You are exposing yourself to potentially more debt
As I mentioned before, the banks are betting that you won’t be able to resist making more purchases and racking up more debt.
So if you’re going to do a balance transfer, vow to yourself that you are doing so strictly to help you pay off your debt.
Cut up your cards, or hide them in a safe place, so you won’t be tempted to use them for impulse buys.
Should you get a balance transfer credit card?
Transferring your debt to a 0% interest credit card only makes sense if the purpose is to pay down debt.
Even then, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding if you should or should not get a balance transfer credit card.
The Bottom Line About Balance Transfer Pros and Cons
The truth is, if you’re considering transferring a credit card balance for any other reasons besides saving money and getting out of debt faster, you probably should not do it.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the balance transfer is all that needs to be done to get your finances back on track. If you don’t have a plan to pay down debt and stay out of debt, a balance transfer card will probably be counter-productive and lead to more debt.
But the bottom line is this:
When it’s done the right way as part of a debt reduction plan, and only after you have run the numbers and read the terms and disclosures, a balance transfer credit card can be a very effective tool to save money and pay off debt faster.
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Related: Busted! The Myths of Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Pay Off Credit Cards Sooner With Bi-Weekly Payments (Saves $1000’s)
The top 5 budgeting methods turned into simple and easy printable budget planners. Just print & go!
I find that so many times, I read about a good idea, something I want to try, and I end up making it a lot harder than it needs to be! I see a recipe for the best bread to make with kiddos, and I go out and try to figure out how to get the grain to grind into flour to make the bread!
Drastic? Yes! Just plain silly? Yes! I make things a lot harder than I need to. Just buy the dang flour! We will get great results from using regular flour.
Do you ever make things harder than they need to be?
The same example could be used for budgeting, and specifically the actual budget planner. People grab spiral notebooks, scratch paper, napkins, or whatever to write it all down. They think it’s great and tell themselves budgeting is easy. Then they realize through the month that their budget is missing a bunch of things, and the layout doesn’t make sense, and before you know it…
“I hate budgeting! It doesn’t work for me!”
When in all actuality, you just had to go a bit deeper and find a printable budget planner (aka just buy the flour). These are already tried and tested forms from money nerds who might be slight perfectionists when it comes to their nerdom. Now that you found the budget templates, you need to find the best budget planner to get started on today!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
Why are there different budgeting methods?
Just as someone likes to read a book, others like to read magazines or in their kindle app. Some people like strict guidelines, and others like some wiggle room. It’s all personal preference and what works for your personal situation.
As a budgeting beginner, you may want to try a few different budgeting methods and see what you find to be the best.
The information you put on the form will be the same dollar amounts. Yet, it will be in a different layout with different budget planners, with importance placed on different elements.
For example, some budgets place saving money as a priority, and some don’t. With some, you spend your money in cash, and with others, you can use whatever you want.
Having options ensures that you will find the best fit for you!
What makes a monthly budgeting planner the “best”?
Some key things make a method the “best” for you. But remember, it may not be the best for your friend. So don’t try to force something that isn’t working for you!
Your budget planner should…
Be on one page so you can see everything at once (don’t overcomplicate it).
Have you come out to $0 at the end of the month or a positive number. Constantly overspending your budget isn’t good.
Be tweaked! Nothing is a perfect fit on the first try. It may take you a few months to get all the kinks smoothed out.
Not confuse you or be too complicated. If it takes you half a day to plan your budget, then something isn’t right.
Reflect your financial goals! If your goal is to save to buy a house, then why is your clothing budget $200 a month?
When should you switch budgeting methods?
It’s time to try a different method when…
You are hating your money life
You have no idea what’s going on with your money
You are constantly overspending
That will be the key with all of the budgets! That you come out at the end of the month with a $0 or a positive number! If you are continually overspending, it may not be a “budget problem,” but an “I want everything” issue that you’d need to dig in to.
Heck, it would be great to afford everything that we wanted, but that’s probably not possible for 99.9999998% of us! (dang it!)
Remember, almost every budget will need to be tweaked and adjusted. Nothing comes out perfect the first time! By month 3, you should have it down (if it’s a good method for you).
Sometimes you don’t need to switch budgeting methods, you just need to switch out your tools. A great tool can be a physical budget planner, like the mini books, or folios. These planners help guide down a path, and can be a great resource to help broaden your financial perspective!
Simple monthly printable budget planner
The simple monthly budget planner is as simple & easy as it gets in regards to a printable budget planner. You take income minus savings, minus debt repayments, minus the items you must spend, and then you have your discretionary spending.
There aren’t any preset spending categories to confuse you or add fluff. The main point being you lead the way with specific expenditures and savings buckets!
All you need to do is make sure that the bottom left-hand section, the Monthly Budget Snapshop, has a positive number (or $0) as the last number in the actual column.
Cash envelope printable budget planner
Earlier, I mentioned financial goals, and if you those, you most likely will need to be saving money. My very favorite way to save money is through sinking funds! One of the easiest ways to do this is through cash envelopes!
In a nutshell, you say, “I want to go on vacation.” So each payday, you portion out a set amount of money directly into your vacation fund (a separate bank account ideally). Then in a few months or a year, depending on where you want to go, you will have the money saved! Sinking Funds use a Pay Yourself First model, as you pay your sinking funds before paying any discretionary bills. Here, your goals are your most important financial obligation!
The cash envelope printable budget planner for sinking funds considers this. The very first section, after your income, are your SF’s! This is important, as you want your must spends at the top of the list (while there’s money left), and then the least important expenses are down at the bottom of the list.
I know this goes against traditional budgeting methods, where you pay your bills first. But honestly, if that were working so well, then 37% of Americans wouldn’t be in credit card debt (source).
If you want a different result, you need to try a new way of doing things!
The zero-based budget planner
The zero-based budget method is the method that I personally use for my family. I have combined a bunch of different practices into this one method, and it absolutely works! I have detailed the process out more in Part 4 of your Ultimate Guide on How to Budget – it’s a Better Budget.
**If you want the full step by step guide, the Better Budget is what you’ll want. But if you’re looking for just a zero-based budget form (with no step by step guide) then this works great!
With a zero-based budget, as the money guru, Dave Ramsey says, “You give every dollar a job!” Because each and every dollar could be earning you money or putting you closer to your goals! No sense in leaving money out there to do nothing!
This printable budget planner lays out the most common spending categories, which is great as then you don’t forget any of your bills (either regular or one-off bills, like an Amazon subscription or your gym annual fee).
You start with income and then work your way down the line until you have everything filled out. This form has the spending categories and line items set up in a very specific order. The items at the top are things you must spend money on. As you go down the list and get to the bottom, the items are more non-necessity expenses (aka things to cut if you don’t have enough money).
Then at the very bottom of the sheet, your total should be $0. If it’s negative, then check your math; if it’s not positive or zero a second time, then it’s time to trim the budget! If it’s a positive number, then putting extra in your savings is always a good idea! Especially if you don’t have a fully-funded emergency account.
Again, if you’re looking for the full meal deal of budgets (with all the bells & whistles) then go here to check out the Better Budget!
The 50/30/20 printable budget planner
The 50/30/20 Budget Planner is a great method to start with, especially if you’re just getting started with budgeting and want a general picture of where your money “should” be going. I say should because this is a framework that multiple experts agree upon.
Yes, it’s your money, you earned it, so you should be able to do what you want with it. Yet, you came here for guidance, so I’m going to give you the generally accepted norms for budgeting percentages.
With the 50/30/20 budget, you like a framework but still want flexibility.
You input your monthly take-home income at the top (not gross) and then dole out…
50% for needs
debt minimum payments
30% for wants
20% for savings
The budget by paycheck printable budget planner
The budget by paycheck planner method is simply dividing your month (the income, bills & expenses) in two. Instead of a full one month budget, you have two mini month budgets (approx 2 weeks).
Unlike the others, this method may mean that you call some of your credit cards and bill companies and ask them to move your bill “due by date.” Which is totally common! Don’t think that you are stuck with the exact date they gave you!
With this method, you would ideally take your total bill amount for the entire month and have 1/2 of them (by dollar amount, not by the number of bills) due at the beginning of the month and then half at the end of the month. This way, you always have money left over from paying bills, and you never have too much month left and not enough money.
I know it can sound confusing, but having a monthly calendar and writing in your bills can make it much easier to understand. Remember, we all learn in different ways! Be it auditory (reading this blog out loud so you can hear it), simply reading it, by watching someone else do it, or by actively doing it (kinesthetic learning).
Sometimes, if a concept is confusing at first, I will read it a few times. Then do something else for a few hours (or a few days) and let it marinate in my brain a bit. In the background of doing other things, my brain continues to process this info, and eventually (hopefully), when I come back to it, it makes more sense. OR, I think of a different way to ask my question, which pops up a new and different answer!
My best advice on which is the best budget planner
If you’re brand new to budgeting and don’t have an immediate need (aka bank collectors are at your door), then try the 50/30/20. It’s a great place to start because it gives good common-sense guidelines on spending amounts by a percentage of your income.
Yet, if you’ve tried budgeting before, and ended up frustrated and annoyed, then maybe it wasn’t a “you” problem. Maybe it was just the budgeting method you tried. Remember, even those that find the “right” way for them have to do it still do a decent amount of tweaking in the first three months, and then they find a rhythm and pattern.
An easy way to find the best budget planner is to try them all! Seriously, just grab the printable Budget Planner Sampler Pack, grab your financial numbers, fill out the printable budget planners, and see which form…
Makes the most sense to you
One that you will be likely to stick to in the long run
Isn’t too complicated for your lifestyle
Keeps your financial goals up in front
The printable Beginning Budgeter’s Planner Sampler Pack has each of these budget templates in there so you can try them out. I’ve made this pack so it would be super easy for you to experiment with budgeting and finally find the right fit. I fully believe in the corny saying…
“If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.” (ya, super corny, but it fits!)
For the DIY budgeters
I get it, I totally do. Sometimes you just need to put pen to paper and scratch it out on your own. Yet, you can still grab my free budgeting templates, which has 13 pages of free printable worksheets for you to get started!
At the end of the day
Budgeting can be hard initially, especially when you feel like you don’t “get it.” But I am living proof that anyone can learn about and master their money! (I used to buy shoes like they were tic tacs!) I found some ways that worked for me, Googled a bunch of stuff, I used available resources, and I practiced and practiced some more!
Again, there’s no need to make things harder than they need to be. Be smart and use things that others have already worked the kinks out of! Using a printable budget planner could mean that you get the hang of things 6 months sooner, and you reach your financial goals that much sooner! So do it! Buy the dang flour!
Posts related to Printable Budget Planner:
It doesn’t matter which printable monthly budget planner you try, just start! Start right now!
Kari is a total Money Nerd Mama, helping other Mamas to learn about all things money & personal finance, so they can execute money management strategies to make a secure future for their family!
You’ve always heard it’s important to save as much as you can, but what does that really mean? Realistically speaking, saving can be hard once your paycheck hits your bank account. Bills, necessities, and extra wants may slowly diminish your hard-earned check. If you struggle with paying into your savings first, you’re not alone. It turns out, 59 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 65 percent don’t know how much they spend on a monthly basis. Yet, for those who always preach the value of saving, how much of your paycheck should you save?
Setting your savings goals too high could deprive your emergency funds and other savings accounts, yet saving too little could hinder your investments. If you want to retire early, start your own business, or buy a house, your savings account is a key ingredient. To find your ideal savings goal, keep reading or skip to one of these sections:
How much should you save each month?
How much to save for every goal
Where should you put your savings?
What if you can’t save as much as you want to?
How Much Should You Save Each Month?
Based on the 50/30/20 rule, 20 percent of your income should go to savings and retirement. The remainder of your paycheck is then divvied up between necessities and wants, with 50 percent going towards necessities, like rent, and 30 percent towards your wants. While you should always put 20 percent of your income towards debts and savings, try saving upwards of 30 to 50 percent. You may never know when extra savings could come in handy.
How Much of Your Paycheck Should Go Where?
Minimum Debt Payments
Extra Debt Payments
How Much to Save for Every Goal
After putting 20 percent of your income towards savings each month, you may increase your payments to reach bigger financial goals. For instance, if you’re wanting to buy a house in the next year, you may want to save extra to meet that goal.
1. For Emergencies
If your tire blows out or your roof starts leaking, you may need some extra cash to get you back on your feet. Typically, you should have at least three to six times your monthly income stored in your emergency fund. If that seems like a lot, set a smaller goal at $400–1,000 to get you started. Keep in mind, this can fluctuate depending on your lifestyle and goals.
2. For Retirement
Years down the line, you’ll be grateful for your generous retirement savings. As a general rule of thumb, you should allocate 15 to 20 percent of your income for retirement. Retirement accounts include a 401k, Roth IRA, or an employer investment match account. Set up automatic payments each paycheck to ensure you’re setting your future up for success.
3. For Investing
If you have extra financial flexibility, consider upping your investments to reach 10 to 15 percent of your income. Low-risk investments, index funds, and bonds are a few investment options. Before making an investment, evaluate which purchase could benefit you and your bank account most in the long run. Keep your investment time horizon and risk tolerance in mind, too.
4. For a Big Purchase
When you’re saving for a big purchase, start by breaking down your savings goals. Sit down and write out your top savings goals and what steps you need to take to reach them. Are you wanting to save for college or buy a new car? Put those goals in motion by creating specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive (SMART) action plans to get you there.
Where Should You Put Your Savings?
Different savings goals may fit different savings accounts. Long-term savings (5–10+ years) typically benefit you the most in investment and retirement accounts. Short-term savings (0–5 years) may be better suited for general and high-yield savings accounts. Strategically planning out your savings goals can help you maximize your investments and avoid penalties.
Checking account: A checking account normally doesn’t have any growth opportunities. These accounts are used for everyday purchases like your rent, WiFi, and groceries.
General savings account: A general savings account has, on average, a 0.01 to 0.08 percent growth APY. These savings accounts are normally used for emergency funds and short-term savings goals. These accounts are easily accessible in case of an emergency and help grow money that’s not being used.
High yield savings account: These accounts are best for short-term savings. On average, high yield savings accounts have a one percent APY, one of the highest savings account APRs. This helps you maximize your contributions while remaining flexible for quick access.
Contribute to your 401K or investments: Investing in your 401K sets you up for retirement. 401K contributions have the potential to grow your investments by 14.2 percent and lower your monthly taxable income.
What If You Can’t Save as Much as You Want To?
You may wish to save your whole paycheck, but everyday expenses like rent and groceries are common necessities. Whether you’re saving for a house or your emergency fund, save what you’re able to. Below are a few ways to make room for your savings goals:
Budget for your lifestyle: Sit down and see where your money’s going. Highlight unnecessary expenses that could be cut out of your budget. Instead of getting takeout coffee every day, treat yourself to a weekend coffee to spare your budget.
Make a change jar: Dig for a jar or old cup in your kitchen. Set it on your counter and tape a paper “Savings” label to the front of it. Every time you have spare change or a five dollar bill, add it to the jar. Take your jar to the bank each month to see what extra savings you rounded up.
Practice a frugal mindset: Evaluate your life to see what you could do away with. Do you still have that extra chair taking up space in your living room? Post it online to see what extra money you could earn and what stress you could alleviate.
Pay savings, then yourself: Set up automatic payments to your savings on payday. After a while, you may treat this budget adjustment like a regular bill that needs to be paid each month.
Diversify your income: Creating different revenue streams provides a safety net for any money sources that dry up.If you have extra time to spare each month, consider starting a passive income project. Creating a YouTube channel or blog are just a few ways to invest time into your passion and diversify your income.
Even though saving can sometimes be hard to start, it’s one of the key factors of living a financially free lifestyle. Whether you’re wanting to leave your high-stress day job or retire early, your savings is what gets you there. The amount you should save each month should be no less than 20 percent of your income. Yet, if you have bigger goals, you may want to save more. Download our app to set your savings goals and ensure you stay in-tune with your progress.
Sources: United States Census Bureau | The Mortgage Reports | Business Insider
How to make smart financial decisions in a low interest rate environment.*
The Federal Reserve, a.k.a. the Fed, was in the news for more than a decade for raising the federal funds rate. But the headlines have changed. In July 2019 the Fed finally cut its benchmark interest rate. The Fed raises or lowers the federal funds rate to influence the direction of the U.S. economy toward strong employment and stable inflation.
Alright, this may all seem pretty high level. It’s just a bunch of news for policymakers, economists and investors playing the market. Right? Not so fast. While it may sound like a fancy finance term, the federal funds rate is the interest rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight. When that rate goes down (or up), the effects trickle down to you and the financial products you use every day—think credit cards, loans and savings accounts.
Even if you don’t typically follow financial headlines, understanding what happens when the Fed lowers rates can help you make smart financial decisions when it comes to borrowing, saving and spending. Read on to answer the question: What does a Fed rate cut mean for my finances?
What goes up and what comes down when the Fed cuts rates
What happens when the Fed lowers rates? One of the Fed’s goals with a rate cut is to make borrowing less costly. Translation: You could see lower interest rates on credit.
Economist and podcast host John Norris says that a Fed rate cut could actually be helpful to the average consumer. “If history serves as a guide, the prime rate will fall by the same amount as the Fed’s actions,” Norris says. “This means credit cards and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) will be a little cheaper for consumers moving forward.” The prime rate, which is based on the federal funds rate, is the interest rate lenders charge their most creditworthy customers.
Broken down simply, here’s how a lower Fed rate impacts you and the various types of credit you may already have or be considering:
Credit cards: “Credit cards are almost exclusively variable APR,” says Greg Mahnken, analyst at Credit Card Insider. “This means that as the prime rate goes up and down, the interest rate of the card will fluctuate as well. Your card issuer must tell you the margin rate—that’s the margin added to the prime rate to get your credit card’s APR,” Mahnken explains. If you’re wondering how a lower Fed rate impacts you and your cards, you could be charged less to carry a balance and may see smaller minimum payments.
Mortgages: What happens when the Fed lowers rates? For mortgages, it depends on the type of loan. The rate could drop on adjustable-rate mortgages, for example, meaning a reduced monthly payment. How a lower Fed rate impacts you could be different for a fixed-rate mortgage. This type of mortgage may not be as directly impacted by a Fed rate cut and is influenced by other factors.
Home equity lines of credit: If you have a HELOC or are in the market for one for home repairs, you could see a rate decrease following a Fed rate cut, lowering monthly payments.
Other loans: If you’re wondering how a lower Fed rate impacts you, know that it could influence lower rates on auto loans for car owners, but factors including industry sales and financing offers also come into play. If you have a private student loan and a regular payment schedule, you could see a lower monthly payment.
Now, what does a Fed rate cut mean for my finances when it comes to saving? Savers could see interest rates decline on deposit accounts like savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs). A lower interest rate here means you’ll earn less in interest on your savings balances.
“Banks make money by making a spread between what they pay for deposits and what they charge on loans,” Norris says. “When what they can charge on a loan goes down, it makes sense what they pay on deposits will eventually do so as well.”
How to manage a rate cut as a borrower, saver and spender
What does a Fed rate cut mean for my finances is only half of the puzzle. The other half is determining how to manage your finances in a lower rate environment so you can achieve your financial goals. Follow these tips when you consider how a lower Fed rate impacts you for borrowing, saving and spending:
If you’re borrowing:
Look for lower rates on new credit cards: “Credit card users should always be on the lookout for lower variable rate formulas, and a rate cut or two is a perfect time to do a little homework when looking for new cards,” Norris says.
Ask for lower rates on existing credit cards: When you’re learning what happens when the Fed lowers rates, consider that negotiating better rates on borrowed money could be easier in a lower interest rate environment. For example, you can check with your credit card issuers to see if you can get a lower interest rate on the credit cards you have already.
Refinance high-interest debt: “If your issuer/lender won’t lower your interest rate despite a cut to the Fed/prime rate, look into refinancing or consolidating your debt with a lower-interest loan,” Mahnken says.
If you’re saving:
Find a competitive savings account rate: Even though lower rates on savings is often what happens when the Fed lowers rates, banks could still offer competitive savings rates. For instance, online banks can often pass savings on in the form of higher interest rates on their deposit accounts because they save money by not maintaining brick-and-mortar locations. Discover, for instance, offers a high-yield savings account with an interest rate over 5x the National Savings Average.1 So while rates may go down on average, you can possibly earn a higher interest rate on your savings than you had in the past with a high-yield account.
You earned it. Now earn more with it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Lock in a higher fixed rate: If you anticipate more Fed rate cuts in the future, then explore savings vehicles with a rate that you can lock in. With a fixed-rate certificate of deposit, for example, the CD rate is fixed for the entire term. If you open a 5-year CD, your savings will continue to earn the same interest rate despite rate cuts. Note that CDs often come with an early withdrawal penalty if you withdraw your funds before the end of the account’s term, so they’re best used for savings you won’t need to touch for a set period of time.
If you’re spending:
Decide to buy, but do it wisely: Since one answer to “What does a Fed rate cut mean for my finances?” is that borrowing costs less, it could make sense to go ahead with that large purchase you’ve been planning for ages. “When it comes to spending, lower interest rates can encourage bigger purchases, such as home improvements, cars and homes,” Mahnken says. “But before making a big-ticket purchase, make sure you have a budget so you can see how the purchase will affect your monthly cash flow.”
Pursue a passion that requires capital: If you can get access to borrowed money at lower rates, some of your personal goals that require credit could be more achievable. Maybe you’ve been preparing to start a business endeavor or pursue higher education to advance your career. Now could be the time to set things in motion.
Fed rate cut or not, there’s always room for financial improvement
Even if financial news isn’t your thing, paying attention to trends like a Fed rate cut (or hike) can help you manage your money most effectively. Despite the interest rate climate, though, it’s still important to remain disciplined in your financial strategy. This includes setting financial goals, creating a plan to reach them and educating yourself on tools and methods that can help you in the process. Whether interest rates are low or high, you’ll always win with this approach.
* This should not be considered tax or investment advice. Please consult a financial or tax advisor if you have questions.
1 The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for the Online Savings Account as of 01/01/2021 is more than five times the national average APY for interest-bearing savings accounts with balances of $500 as reported by Informa Research Services, Inc. as of 01/01/2021. Interest rates and APYs are subject to change at any time. Although the information provided by Informa Research Services has been obtained from the various institutions, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
From chicken drumsticks to paper towels or even a trampoline, you can find just about anything at warehouse clubs like Sam’s. But what if you don’t have any use for a 10-lb bag of sugar or 32 rolls of paper towels?
If you drive a lot, a Sam’s Club membership may make sense just based on the gas savings alone. Let’s look at some numbers.
How Much Does a Sam’s Club Membership Save on Gas?
A basic Sam’s Club membership costs $45 per year and gives you access to the gas stations at all warehouse club locations. However, Sam’s Club has been running promotions to entice people to join so you may pay less than the membership sticker price. (And check to see if Groupon has a deal on membership as it often does.)
Depending on the membership savings you score, the following math may work even better for your situation.
To run this test, let’s assume that you drive a Toyota Camry and you fill-up the 14-gallon tank with gas once a week. This means you go through 728 gallons of gas a year. We will assume that Sam’s Club gas costs on average $0.10 less than other gas stations.
This means you will save around $73 per year if you fill up your car only at Sam’s Club gas stations. If you also get the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you will get an additional 5% back on gas purchases on the first $6,000 per year then 1% after.
For this calculation, we will assume that gas costs $2 a gallon. If you go through 728 gallons per year and you fill up on gas at Sam’s Club using their credit card to pay, you will save $145.60. Subtracting the cost of the membership ($45) gives you savings of $100.
If you don’t get the Sam’s Club Mastercard, your savings come out to a more modest $28 per year.
The difference between the price of gas at my local gas station and at the nearest Sam’s Club is even bigger in my neighborhood. My local gas station is charging $2.05 for a gallon of regular gas while the Sam’s Club gas station sells the same gallon for $1.89.
Here’s a screenshot from the GasBuddy app showing the most recent prices for both:
That’s a difference of $0.16, which would increase the savings. However, the nearest Sam’s Club gas station is almost three miles away, which would eat into my savings and make it more inconvenient. (You can mitigate that by getting gas when you actually shop at Sam’s, which should save you money compared to a regular grocery store.)
Does it Make Sense to Get a Sam’s Club Membership for Gas?
If you drive a big car such as a truck or an SUV, the $0.10 – $0.15 per gallon you can save with a Sam’s Club membership can make a difference. This is also the case if you drive a long way for work, so you need to fill up more often.
One thing to consider is the location of the nearest Sam’s Club gas station. If you have one on your way to work or close to your house, getting a membership to save on gas could make sense.
However, if you have to drive several miles each time to fill up on gas, this will cut into your savings. The inconvenience factor will also make it less likely that you will use the Sam’s Club gas stations.
Warehouse clubs can also be a great place to get deals on other items for your household. If you have a family, you can easily save more than the annual membership cost on staple foods and household goods.
Do you have a Sam’s Club membership? Have you found it worth it just on the gas savings alone? Share your experience in the comments.
A testimony from Jennifer who blogs at A Healthy Mix
My husband and I purchased our home in July, 2012.
We paid $21,000 for an 1800 square foot home and 2-acres of land. It needed a lot of work, but we made the decision to remodel our home debt-free. It has been a work in progress ever since.
At the beginning of the year my husband received a $1,000 bonus and we knew we wanted to use that money for our latest renovation project — our boys’ bathroom.
We weren’t sure how we were going to remodel an entire bathroom on less than $1,000, because normally, bathroom remodels are expensive. We began by searching Pinterest for a look we desired and set out to achieve it on a small budget.
We knew we would have to refurbish as many items as we could.
We were able to salvage:
a large mirror
the shower fixtures
other bathroom fixtures
We searched the internet for hidden treasures. We found a brand new pedestal sink ($25) on a yard sale page. Then we went to Lowe’s to match our wants with the right price.
We were able to totally transform the old shower by using CLR and a lot of elbow grease. We decided to change the look of the shower by adding sheets of galvanized tin ($12 each) for the walls.
We used wood trim ($3 each) to finish the look. We soaked the old shower fixtures in bleach overnight, and they looked brand new. We did purchase a replacement shower faucet ($10).
Floors and Walls:
We installed the tile floors ($0.62 each). We painted the walls ($25). We used floor molding for both the floor and ceiling. We purchased the contractor pack ($72) since it actually cost less per unit and the leftover pieces could be used elsewhere in our home.
We purchased a glass cutter and cut the large mirror in half. We used left over pieces of the shower trim to trim out the mirror that was placed over the pedestal sink.
We splurged on a curved shower curtain rod ($42) since our kids were not getting a new shower. This was an inexpensive way to make their shower feel larger. We also purchased a new shower curtain ($30).
Since our boys had a pedestal sink instead of a vanity, we made holders that attached to the walls out of wood and mason jars that would hold their toothbrushes, hand soap, etc. We used jars we already had and scrap wood so it only cost $2 to create extra storage.
We changed the light fixture in the bathroom by screwing in a Mason jar into the old fixture. It completed the country look and cost us nothing.
We were actually able to complete the project for less than $500! It was amazing to see what was once the worst room in our home be transformed into a nice space on such a small amount of money.
Jennifer is a wife, mother to three handsome boys, a lover of homesteading on a smaller scale, and an aspiring writer. She loves sharing what she learns with each passing day and encouraging others to chase their dreams while she is busy chasing her own. You are invited to come along on this journey with her at A Healthy Mix.
Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.