Friday, December 31, 2010

finance friday - use cloth

Happy New Year (almost)!

With a new year comes new resolutions.  For some, it is working out.  Which my husband will start reminding me tomorrow as the gym will be full of people and he will have to wait for the equipment he uses, but I always remind him that by mid-January, it will be back to normal.  What's your resolution?

My resolution this year is to provide 52 tips for saving money in my Finance Friday post.  My hope is that this will allow you to implement the change, if you desire.  I think a large part of why individuals do not do more about saving money is because they believe it takes time.  I have been in this situation and know that more time isn't easy to find in a busy life.  However, these tips will be quick ideas to save money over and over.

Tip #1:
Use cloth napkins everyday.

This may seem fancy.  If your dinner table is anything like mine, there is usually food all over, so you may think that cloth napkins won't work for your family.  However, think about how many napkins you use every night.  Let's say you have four people in your family and you use four disposal napkins per meal.  Depending on what napkins you buy, you could be going through a package of cheap napkins in just a few weeks.  So you are having to buy napkins every few weeks at around $3 a package that can add up fast.  About a year ago, I bought eight cloth napkins for everyday.  I believe each set of four was around $8.  So for around $16, I purchased napkins for years.  I bought white so I could throw them in with a white load because we never have a completely full white load, so I am not wasting more water and energy washing these.  I don't bleach them because I don't care if the napkins have stains.  However, if you don't want your napkins to have spaghetti stains, I would suggest buying darker colored napkins.  As an added benefit to saving money, you would be reducing garbage going to the landfill.

Enjoy cutting the crust off your budget. 

If you implement this change, comment and let me know how it is going.

Friday, December 17, 2010

finance friday - upromise

upromise logo
This post reminded me of another way to pay off some student loan debt.  I have seen Upromise all over the place the last couple of years, but I never looked into it because I thought it was just a credit card that earned money rewards.  I realize now that I missed out on lots of money by not signing up earlier.  There is a credit card available and you would earn money if you signed up for it, but there are many ways to earn money without signing up for the credit card.
About two months ago, I read a post on Upromise and decided to look into it.  I signed up that day, used a promotional code that I found using Google, and starting earning money that we will use to pay off our student loans faster.  If you don't have student loans, you can start saving for your child's college tuition, paying your tuition (if you are in school), or any number of other things related to higher education.

Learn more about Upromise.  Here is what we are doing to earn more money through Upromise.
  • We signed-up for dining rewards, so we earn money at participating restaurants using our credit or debit cards that are registered.
  • We registered our credit cards and debit card with Upromise, so we earn money through the dining rewards, as mentioned above.
  • We sign in to Upromise and link to our online shopping sites to earn more money (like,, etc.).  You will earn a different percentage of total sale depending on the retailer.
  • We registered our store card from Rainbow and log in once a month to "clip" eCoupons, in which the savings go directly into our Upromise account.  For example, if you "clip" a eCoupon for $.50 off salad dressing, buy that item, swipe your store card, you will earn $.50 off in your Upromise account.  Each month the eCoupons change and you need to log in to clip the eCoupons.
Because we are using the money to pay for our student loans, we need to wait until we have $25 in our account to request a distribution.  After only two months, we have earned $14.37.  My goal in 2011 is to earn a total of $100 to put toward our student loan payments.

Here's to finding more ways to pay down debt.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


After living in our place for almost three years, we decided earlier this year, that we want this to be our permanent home.  Until now, we really debated moving to the suburbs versus staying downtown.  There are some things that we know would be easier in the suburbs (think schools), but overall, we are committed to living and raising our family downtown.

With this new level of commitment, we decided that we needed to make a few changes to make this space work for us long term.  Obviously, we can't add square footage to our condo unit, but we can increase storage, better utilize our space, etc.  In deciding this, we started and finished decorating the kids' room.  Next, we started looking at ways to reduce our energy bills, so we started with insulated curtains.  In doing this, we decided that we needed to update the master bedroom.  Join us over the next couple of months as we finish the master bedroom.  We have big plans and ideas, but we will need to save up some money before completing the project, so we'll document step-by-step our projects until the end.

Monday, December 13, 2010

free yogurt

Yoplait Million Cup GiveawayYoplait yogurt is giving away a million free yogurt cups.  Sign up here to receive a coupon for one.

Continuing to cut your grocery budget.

Friday, December 10, 2010

finance friday - bills on a budget

Your Heating Bills!Our heating system is electric as opposed to gas.  Electricity is generally higher in cost than gas, so our bills in the winter tend to be pretty high.  Some of this is due to heat loss because of the large windows throughout our home (read next week to find out what we are doing to stop this heat loss).  However, to avoid the unexpectedly high bills in the winter, we are on a budget plan with Xcel Energy.  Every month, our bill is the same, even if our electric usage fluctuates.  I believe gas companies offer the same plan, but we don't have a budget plan for our gas usage because the bill is so small.  Call your electric and gas company to see if they offer a similar plan.  It makes budgeting and planning much easy when you know exactly what your bills will be each month.  Oh and be sure to confirm that there are no additional fees for this plan.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

give a blanket, get a sub

Bring A Blanket

Tomorrow, December 5, Subway is giving away a free 6" sub for a clean, gently used or new blanket.  Here is the link for more information:

Friday, December 3, 2010

finance friday - bill pay

Bill pay is a great way to save a little money.  With the increasing postage rates, free bill bay reduces each bill by $.44 each plus the expense of an envelope if one isn't included with the bill.  If your current bank doesn't offer free bill pay, look at smaller banks.  We currently bank at a small bank about two hours from where we live because of the great interest rates and free bill pay.

Never missing a payment is another added benefit of bill pay.  Once we receive a bill in the mail, I log onto our bill pay system and enter it immediately to pay at or around the date that the bill is due.  Then I enter it into our Quicken program, file the bill away, and forget about it.  Quicken allows me to see that we have the money to pay the bill and future dating the payment allows me to forget about my bills because they are all entered and will be paid on time.

Here's to minimizing spending...