Sunday, August 19, 2018

10 Financial Checks

Here are 10 things that everyone should check regularly to ensure their financial well being:

  1. Pull your free annual credit report and make sure all of the info is correct.
  2. Ensure your insurance coverages (like, health, auto, home, long term care) meet your current needs.
  3. For bills where you have options for providers (not water because most places only have one water service provider, for this I mean things like internet, insurance, etc. where you can shop around for the best deal) call around to the competition at least once a year to make sure you are getting the best deal.
  4. Make sure you are getting the best banking deal (often credit unions are better because they charge no fee for their services).
  5. If you do use credit cards, make sure you are getting the best deal as far at interest rates/terms go.
  6. Check to see if you are getting the best deal on your mortgage.  I never recommend refinancing your home to pull money out (you want to pay it off ASAP!) but if interest rates drop or you want to switch your term from 30 to 15 years, refinancing may make financial sense.
  7. Review your utility bills and see if there is anything you can do to reduce these.  Many utility companies offer things like free devices (low flow shower heads, etc), free home energy audits, and rebates for high efficiency appliances to help you save money.  This along with conservation efforts can go a long way towards reducing your utility bills.
  8. Check your monthly bank/credit card statements for any sort of money drains that you need to fix.  You may want to cancel things such as auto-pay for a gym membership you never use or subscription services billed automatically to your credit card that you rarely use.
  9. Get rid of any big financial problems hanging over your head if possible.  People often pay to get rid of their time shares, for example.  They may encourage someone to refi a loan to get them off the loan as a cosigner if they had previously co-signed for someone.  One guy I know worked 90 hours a week for a few months to get rid of a debt that had been teetering on the edge of collections.
  10. Revisit your financial situation to make sure you are on track including your budget, your investments, your retirement accounts, your net worth, etc.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bulk Cooking

I saw this post on reddit today and the person made a whole bunch of burritos to throw in the freezer and take for lunch in the following weeks instead of going out for lunch.  What a brilliant idea!

Whenever I cook I tend to make extra for leftovers but I've never done a "mega" cooking that could carry us through weeks of meals.  With a bit of Googling, I found that people do all kinds of bulk cooking (and lots of the stuff they make and freeze looks much better than what you can get in a restaurant!).  Usually when I make waffles or pancakes I will freeze the leftovers for future breakfasts but researching this topic has inspired me to do even more.  I think my project for tomorrow will be to make and freeze some sort of WFPB vegan/nutritarian "grab and go" meals.  Not only will this save us money but it will be much healthier than anything we can find in a restaurant!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Going Nutritarian

My diet/eating habits need a serious reset so starting tomorrow I am going to do the Nutritarian 6 week reset plan.  Created by Dr Fuhrman, his "reset plan" is designed to detox your body from poor eating while resetting your palette so you regain a taste for natural foods (instead of stuff loaded with salt, sugar, and fats).  Summer is a great time to do this because there is such a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in season. Needless to say, I need to stock up at the produce store tomorrow (fortunately we have many 99 Cent stores here which have all sorts of product for only 99 cents!).

I'm only hoping my willpower holds up since Las Vegas has So. Much. Food.  There are thousands and thousands of restaurants here, hubby's poker comps provide free food at nearly every casino in town, and hubby likes his fancy food.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Car Maintenance

My car told me it needed an oil change so off I went to the dealership today.  I know I could save money doing the oil change myself but...ick.  I did this when I was a poor college student, now I just want to pay someone else to do it.  I did call around to oil change places when I first got the car because it needs synthetic oil and those cheap oil change places charge an arm and a leg for special oil so I take it to the dealership which has the cheapest price for my required oil change. 

Fortunately, after each oil change at the dealership they email me a survey which gives me $10 off on my next oil change so it was only $30 with a coupon.  When I checked in, the girl popped off the engine air filter and said it looked kind of dirty and asked if I wanted to have them change it but when they told me it would be $95(!) I declined and immediately ordered the filer from Amazon when I got home for $18.  I can definitely pop in an air filter and save $75 in the process!

tldr; when it comes to car maintenance, call around for the best prices, DIY the maintenance that you are able to, and use Google/YouTube--there's info and videos on all kinds of car topics there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cheap Airline Tickets

For some reason I tend to be the family's travel agent when it comes to getting great travel discounts (probably because I'm online all the time and like to research things to death).  Here are a bunch of places I always check to get the best deals on airline tickets:

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

School Shopping

This article on the news today caught my attention--school supplies could cost as much as a mortgage payment.  Wow!  Apparently school supplies for elementary school students cost $662, for middle school students the cost is $1001, and for high school students the cost is $1489.  For one year of stuff!  When I was in school, supplies consisted of paper, some pencils, and 10 cent folders.  We got one pair of shoes and most of our clothes were hand-me-downs.

I have no idea how parents afford this must-have stuff as well as day care for kids.  And have you seen the price of diapers and formula lately?  No wonder people are having fewer kids--they simply can't afford them!

The places I have seen the most parents and kids shopping for school stuff over the past couple weeks include the Goodwill, Target/Walmart/Office Depot for sale school supplies, as well as the Dollar Tree and 99 cent store for supplies.

Fortunately the internet can be really helpful for parents looking to save money when buying all of the stuff their kids need for school.  Here's some great resources:

Monday, August 13, 2018

My Financial "To Do" List

From now until December, there are several financial things I (we) need to do:

  • Pay off my credit card.  I'm almost there and my main client that I do a lot of work for just told me I would be getting a bigger raise than I expected to get so that will help!
  • Pay for hubby's bowling leagues.  He bowls two leagues which start in September and we like to pay for the entire nine month season the first week of bowling.
  • Pay for the next six months of our car insurance which is due in September (there is a significant difference when paying in full versus paying monthly).
  • Plan something for hubby's 70th birthday in February.
  • Get a box of gifts to send to the Philippines for Christmas (it takes two months to arrive so we need to send the box by early October).
  • Put aside money for Christmas.  We give the kids (5) and grandkids (14) cash for Christmas.  According to my Facebook feed, people are already getting ready for Christmas and it is still August!  eekkk
  • Towards the end of the year I always pull our free annual credit reports to make sure all is correct on them and I also look at all of our bills and determine if there is any way to reduce them.
  • Move!  We have still been talking about this and with the latest shoot out in our neighborhood a few days ago (this is the fifth shootout between cops and criminals in our neighborhood in the past year or so and we live in a nice neighborhood!), it's back as a hot topic.