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Money Coach

July 2011 - Posts

  • You don't have to be extreme to save money with coupons

    We've all seen the show on television that touts the benefits of the extreme use of coupons. People have been featured on that show that regularly save 70 percent or more on their grocery bill. 


    Not everyone is going to go to the extreme that those folks do, but there's no doubt that using coupons is an easy way to save money at various retailers. You can see some significant savings if you use even a few basic tips. 


    First of all, get your hands on all the coupons you can. They are just about everywhere. You can find them in your local Sunday newspaper, in your mailbox in circulars and direct advertising flyers, tear sheets on products in the stores, attached to products, on your receipts and online. The more coupons you have in hand, the greater your chance of matching them up to products you use or to really good sales. Be sure to check the websites of your favorite stores for printable coupons as well.


    Next, you've got to get organized. The old method of sticking your coupons in an envelop will not work for long. Some people put them in binders, some use accordion folders, and some use card files. However you do it, make sure to set up your system so that you can find them in a hurry, and view the expiration dates.


    You're going to want to get familiar with the coupon policies at your favorite stores. You will be better equipped to get the lowest price once you know their policies, since some stores allow you to "stack" coupons, while others don't. Check to see if your favorite stores have loyalty cards. These will allow you to get special deals, accumulated savings or coupons, just for presenting the card at checkout.


    Make sure your take your coupons with you everywhere. You never know when you'll find a deal. Purge your expired coupons frequently. Don't purchase something just because you have a coupon. You can stock up on items that you will use and that won't go bad, but you won't want to stock up on things you aren't going to use up just because they were a good deal. 


    Last of all, remember that couponing should be fun. If it is becoming a drag for you, cut back and take it slow and easy until you reach a level that you enjoy. You don't have to be extreme to get a good deal.

    Posted Jul 28 2011, 11:09 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • It's hot outside – Should I get a pool?

    Temperatures are up throughout the country, and with higher temperatures comes the need to cool off. Many people head to nearby lakes and rivers, but some are fortunate enough to have their own pool at home. 


    Although a pool is a great convenience and certainly a welcome relief in the hot summer months, maintaining your pool can be costly – in more ways than one. It can also be a lot of work, since you have to prevent and treat algae and check the chemical balance of the water. There's also a safety issue, not only for your own children, but for children in your neighborhood. 


    There's also an increased cost that you don't think about – until you get your first electric bill after your pool is up and running. Pool pumps use a lot of electricity and can cause a spike in your energy bill. After your air conditioning, pool pumps use the most electricity out of all household appliances. But you can purchase an energy-efficient model, which will help save up to 30 percent of your energy costs. 


    Pool maintenance is also more than just checking the chemicals. If you have a concrete pool, you'll have to resurface it at some point, which can cost somewhere around $6 to $10 per square foot.


    Maintenance of your pool, whether you do it yourself or hire someone else, can also be costly. If you do it yourself, you'll need to plan to spend about $60 on pool chemicals and about $100 for a professional cleaning. 


    You can hire a pool service to take care of your pool, and experts suggest that you have your pool serviced weekly. But you shouldn't choose a service on price alone.   Cheaper doesn't always mean better. Look carefully at what's offered, and ask for references. 


    Safety concerns should be at the top of your list as a pool owner, particularly if you have small children of your own or as neighbors. Make sure your own children know how to swim. Purchase and install a safety fence, and do not allow your pool to be used by children without adult supervision. Keep lifesaving equipment, like a life ring and first aid kit, nearby.


    It may be hot outside, but consider all these costs when deciding whether to install a pool, whether above- or in-ground. Make sure you can afford it so that this luxury doesn't turn into heartache.

    Posted Jul 21 2011, 11:13 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Save money on your electric bill this summer by following these simple tips

    It's the middle of summer and if you live in a warmer part of the country, you're very likely still in shock over your most recent electric bill. 


    Higher temperatures mean your air conditioning will work harder. But there are some things you can do to reduce your cost.


    1. Don't set your thermostat any lower than 78 degrees. This may seem too hot for the summertime, but remember, the lower you go, the more you'll pay. Consider getting a programmable thermostat that will set the temperature higher while you're away. 


    2. Change your AC filter. A dirty filter can restrict air flow, and your AC unit will have to work harder to pump cool air through your home. The end result is that you'll have a higher bill. 


    3. Keep the windows in your home that get the most sun covered. This will reflect some of the heat away, instead of allowing it into your home.


    4. Consider an attic exhaust fan. These fans will suck the hot air out through the attic, and help keep your home much cooler.


    5. Although it's a future benefit, consider planting some trees around your home. A tree that casts shade onto your AC unit will help it run more efficiently. Your windows will also keep the heat on the outside if they're shaded.


    6. If you have a basement, spend most of your time there during the hotter months. 


    The weather is heating up, and unless you just enjoy paying higher electric bills, consider following these tips. They'll help you cut your cost and save money – and you can use the money for a super summer vacation.

    Posted Jul 07 2011, 10:56 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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