Couponing is a great way to cut costs on groceries, and by arming yourself with as much information as possible, you can maximize your savings. Here are the essential tips you need to know when it comes to extreme couponing:
1. Stack Coupons
The idea here is to make the most of the coupons you have. An example of stacking involves using a cents-off coupon combined with a grocer's doubling offer or a mailed coupon for $5 off your total purchase. Some grocers let you stack coupons, some do not. Ask the customer service rep at your grocer - or better yet, just try it.
2. "Expired" Doesn't Always Mean Expired
Back in the day, nobody even noticed if a coupon had passed its use-by date. Alas, those days are gone - largely. Ask the managers at your favorite markets if they will honor expired coupons, and you might be surprised. The worst they can tell you is no.
3. Some Grocers Don't Accept Online Coupons
Internet-based printable coupons, like those you find at Coupon Clippers, are everywhere nowadays. But whether you can use them remains to be seen. If you already do your shopping at discounted grocers, it's probably a no-go, though most major supermarket chains will welcome them.
4. Some Coupons Aren't Good Deals
If you're perusing the Sunday paper and see big discounts on things you don't use, don't clip. When you buy something you're not likely to use because you think it's a good deal, there's a good chance it will just grow moldy in your fridge - which means you've lost money. Limit your coupon use only to those items you regularly buy.
5. There Are Ceilings to Doubling Coupons
The time of no-limit double coupons is behind us. Some markets draw the line at 50-cent-off coupons. But you never know unless you ask.
The first step to effectively managing your finances is to see what kind of financial shape you're currently in. And the first step to determining that is to get organized. Financial organization means, in part, that every bill, policy, statement, and receipt has its place.
Where to File
The place you keep your financial documents could be in many folders in a file cabinet, or in folders on your computer or online. Pick what you feel most comfortable with. But if you choose to file online or on your hard drive, be prepared to either upload paper documents or have a physical file location for documents you can't access online. For example, you may choose to save receipts in an accordion folder labeled by month or category if you don't want to bother scanning them to your hard drive or snapping a photo and uploading to the cloud. Also, if the system you implement isn't working, it's okay to be flexible. After all, in order to get the most out of your organizational system, you need to find one you can stick to.
What happens when you don't take care of your finances? Just look at our country -- you spend irresponsibly, get in debt up to your eyeballs, and stress about how you're going to make ends meet. The difference is that you don't have a glut of taxpayers to bail you out of your bad decisions.
But if that's not enough motivation to make managing your finances a top priority, consider the following reasons to do so:
1. Because You're the Only One Who Will
The harsh reality is that it's up to you to improve your financial situation now and prepare for your future. Not all debt is so easily wiped out by bankruptcy and it's not likely you can look forward to a company pension when you retire. If you don't start dealing with your financial problems, you'll suffer for it now and into the future.
Did you know that a four year degree at a public university may cost upwards of $100,000 in 18 years? That's bad news for new parents who expect their kids to go to school, but fortunately it isn't that hard to save up the money needed for college if you start early. Time is on your site if you start early, but it becomes your enemy if you wait too long. So, here's how to finance your child's education.
Credit card debt is one of the biggest problems most people face when trying to get a handle on their finances. Credit cards make it easy to spend more money than you have, and then the crippling interest rates and fees make it seem impossible to get out from under. While there isn't an instant cure for credit card debt, there are steps you can take to put yourself on a path to becoming debt free.
It takes a little planning, a little budgeting, and some time, but if you keep at it you'll find that you're getting out of debt faster than you had imagined. Here's the process to help you eliminate your credit card debt.
Mortgage rates continue to sit at historic lows, and it's a good time to buy a home if you're in the market for one. One of the most difficult aspects of buying a home is dealing with the mortgage process. There are countless loan options and lenders, and finding the best deal can ultimately save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Thankfully, the government steps in to help make the process a little easier for military personnel and veterans by offering a VA home mortgage. Those who qualify are: Veterans, active duty personnel, certain reservists and National Guard members, surviving spouses of persons who die on active duty or die as a result of service-connected disabilities, certain spouses of active duty personnel who are (a) missing in action, (b) captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or (c) forcibly detained by a foreign government or power.
The VA loan program is relatively simple. You simply shop around through private lenders and once you provide eligibility, VA steps in to back the loan. What this means is if something happens and you find you are unable to make the payments, the lender can then turn to the VA for any losses that may occur. This type of insurance is what makes banks more willing to lend money since they know they are protected.
There are also a number of other benefits of a VA mortgage. You can often buy a home without a down payment as long as the appraised value doesn't come in below the sales price. This can be quite a help to those who might be returning home from deployment but may not have set aside the funds for a down payment yet. In addition, because these loans are "insured" by the VA you won't need to pay private mortgage insurance, which can be a costly addition to any mortgage. Finally, there are also limits as to how much you can be charged for closing costs, and in some cases closing costs may be paid entirely by the seller.
As you can see, there are a number of benefits available through a VA loan program. While the basics of buying a home still apply, there are certainly some added features and benefits that make buying a home with a VA mortgage a little more attractive.
If you work and earn income, you are probably aware of the Social Security taxes that come out of your paycheck. Social Security Taxes, otherwise known as FICA Tax (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) is paid by employees and employers to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs. Since a fairly large portion of your income goes towards this tax, it is important to understand where it actually goes, and what benefit it may provide to you.
The bulk of your FICA Tax money goes into the Social Security program. To be exact, roughly 85 cents of each dollar goes toward Social Security. The money that current wage earners put into the program goes into various trust funds that pay the monthly benefits to current retirees, families, and surviving spouses and children of workers who have died. Costs associated with administering the plan come directly from the trusts.
The administration claims that for each Social Security tax dollar you pay, less than one cent goes toward administration costs.
The remainder of the FICA Tax money you pay, roughly 15 cents of each dollar, goes into the Medicare program. Like Social Security, the money paid by current wage earners goes into trust funds that pay for some hospital and medical care costs incurred by current Medicare beneficiaries.
Plan Ahead so You Don't Need to Rely Solely on Social Security
When you take a look at all of the money that you pay into Social Security to hopefully provide for old age retirement benefits and medical coverage, you better hope that you get every penny back and more. Well, if you still have some time yet until retirement, it is impossible to know what the future holds for these programs. The best thing you can do is to put some money aside for the future to supplement any benefits that you may receive. One way to do this is to open a Traditional IRA. Not only will you save some money on taxes right now, but you'll have a nice stash of money to supplement your government benefits.
This is that time of year when you may be anticipating a beefy tax refund that could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The next question you may be asking is what to do with the money you get back from the IRS. You have a lot of options, and some are better than others. Here are a few ideas on how to spend your tax refund.
You may have heard that your credit score is important, but what is a FICO score? FICO is short for Fair Isaac and Co. The Fair Isaac Company developed custom software back in the 1980s that helped other companies determine a credit risk based on a number derived from a person's credit history. This number soon became a standard that was adopted by the three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The FICO score ranges between 300 and 850.
If your credit score is suffering, there are things you can do to help improve your score. While there's no silver bullet that can give you a good score overnight, just a few changes in your behavior can go a long way in improving it. Learn more about your credit score today.
What three letters spell bad news for your tax situation? AMT. The Alternative Minimum Tax was created back in 1969 as a means for making sure that even the wealthiest individuals paid their fair share in taxes. Fairness is good, but there's a problem with the AMT. Over the years it has started to snag even more people, even those who aren't terribly wealthy.
As it stands now, even with a modest income you could find yourself in a situation where you owe the AMT. Trust me, qualifying for this tax isn't something to be proud of! Wondering if you might get hit with the AMT? Here's some information to help you calculate the AMT for your own situation. Think of it this way -- if you catch it now you have ten months to prepare for it. That's a far better alternative than getting hit with a surprise in April.