7 Ideas that Will Help You Save on Valentine’s Day

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Saving money and showing your Valentine you care don’t always go hand-in-hand. Never fear! We’ve found several ways for you to show your special someone a good time without breaking the bank.

Go for a Stroll

A romantic stroll through the park or your neighborhood is a great way for you and your Valentine to delight in each other’s company and save money. If you’re looking for something a bit more strenuous, try going for a hike at a local trail or nature preserve.

Ride Your Bike

A romantic bike ride is yet another way to log some exercise time while spending quality time with your love. If you don’t own a bike, you should be able to rent one from a local bike shop or through a bike sharing service.

Game Time

Unleash your competitive side with some bowling, laser tag, or mini golf this year. Select mini golf courses even offer a BYOB option for their customers who are over 21. A glass of bubbly and putt putt sound like a winning combination, right?

Support the Arts

One way to impress your date and save a little cash is to check your local art scene. Look for museums that offer reduced or free admission, as well as shows performed by local musicians to show off your artistic tastes.

Stay In

Avoid the crowds and a hefty bill at the end of the night by staying in this Valentine’s Day. Try out a new recipe and fire up Netflix for a date everyone can enjoy.

Go Early

Save money on your meal by making it a lunch date this year. If a movie is on the agenda, make it a matinée. By moving up your timeline, you’re sure to keep a some extra cash in your wallet.

Groupon

Check out Groupon to save on dinner or Valentine’s activity. Groupon provides you with seemingly endless savings opportunities, as well as a chance to try something new if you’re feeling adventurous.

Have Fun

Don’t let planning a romantic day take away from the fun you’re supposed to have! The most important thing to remember is that you and your date should enjoy yourselves.

Share your tips for saving on Valentine’s Day in the comments section below.

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8 Ways to Save Money On Your Super Bowl Party

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With the Super Bowl just around the corner, you’re probably looking for a few ways to save money on your Super Bowl party. While it may seem impossible, there are a variety of ways to save money and have fun.

Go Potluck

One tried and true method for saving on any party is to go potluck. Enlist the help of your guests to ensure that you have enough refreshments for everyone. Just be sure to keep track of who’s bringing what so that there’s no overlap!

Build Your Own

Cut down on prep time and the need to waste money on party platters by letting your guests build their own tacos or sandwiches. They’ll probably prefer to make some of their own snacks anyways.

What’s On Sale

Build your grocery list around what’s on sale at your local grocery store so that you can save a little extra cash on the party. Most grocery stores design their sales to accommodate shoppers’ desire for snacks worthy of a Super Bowl party this time of year.

Buy in Bulk

Save money on alcohol and snacks when you buy them in bulk. Sam’s Club and Costco are great places to stock up on food and beverages for this year’s shindig.

Bust Out the Slowcooker

Keep your food warm and delicious throughout the game by making food in your slow cooker. If you’re lucky, you’ll have leftovers for lunch, as well!

Avoid Paper

Paper plates can be both costly and wasteful, so try to use real dishes if you have enough. Also, you should make sure all of your washcloths and hand towels are clean just in case someone makes a mess.

Hit Up the Dollar Store

You don’t need to spend much on decorations, but if you can’t help yourself, go to your local dollar store for a few inexpensive decorations.

Find a Co-Host

If you can find someone to help you co-host your party, that will allow you to split the cost of the party and cut down on prep work, giving you a bit more time to enjoy your party.

Enjoy Yourself

Time before kickoff may be dwindling, but there’s still time for you to throw a fun and wallet-friendly Super Bowl party this year! How are you planning to save money on the big event?

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5 Ways to Evaluate Your Auto Insurance Policy

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Knowing what to consider when evaluating your auto insurance policy can be tricky. Here are a few things to remember the next time you’re looking over yours.

Liability Insurance

While each state has their own liability insurance requirements, it’s likely that you need more than the minimum in order to protect yourself financially. Having more than the required minimum will help prevent you from getting sued or having your assets seized should your liability insurance not cover all of the damages. A tip for figuring how much you need is to make sure your liability coverage is more than the dollar amount of your liquid assets so that someone is less likely to go after your assets following an accident.

Deductibles and Premiums

A high deductible equals a low monthly payment, which does mean that you’ll pay more out of pocket when you file a claim. When looking into auto insurance policies, you should choose one with the highest deductible you can afford so that you’re not paying more than you have to each month. Ideally, you won’t need to file too many claims since you should only do so when your vehicle experiences major damage.

Risk

If you live in or travel to areas where your car is more likely to suffer damage—such as the city—you’ll certainly need more coverage because your car will probably experience more damage. Street parking may be your only option, but it does come with more opportunities for other drivers to hit your car!

No-Fault Insurance

Some states require no-fault insurance in order to reduce the number of lawsuits between motorists. These policies can be pricey, so be sure to shop around for the best price.

How to Shop Around

It’s not easy to find the best policy for your needs. If you need help finding the best one, use a broker such as the rateGenius Insurance Agency to help you get the best deal.

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7 Ways to Keep Your Finances on Track

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Developing and maintaining the right habits are essential to keeping your finances in order. If you’re looking for ways to keep your finances on track, try these tips and you’re sure to see some positive results.

Adjust Expectations

If you’re not where you want to be financially, you may need to adjust your expectations. While changing your spending and saving habits can help you achieve your goals, you should also evaluate whether or not your goals are realistic in both the short and long term. Figuring out what’s important and manageable will help you develop realistic goals.

Analyze Expenses

Spending money on unnecessary expenses is a surefire way to derail your plans to get your finances in order. Look over your monthly expenses to determine whether or not there are any expenses you can eliminate or reduce.

Bills. Bills. Bills.

One way to make sure that you never miss a bill is to create a checklist of the bills you pay each month so that you don’t forget to pay them. Additionally, you should pay your bills as you receive them so that you have one less thing to remember. Another way to avoid missing a payment is to set up automatic bill pay. Be sure to stay on top of when payments will be deducted so that you can make sure that you have enough money in the account.

Finally, you should adjust your budget if your bills end up being higher than you expected one month. It might be necessary to forego your entertainment expenses so that you have enough money to last until your next check.

Accounts

If you’re enrolled in direct deposit with your employer, always verify that the funds are in your account before you start spending money. You should also close inactive accounts so that you don’t experience any adverse effects on your credit report.

You might consider keeping separate accounts for bills and spending so that you’ll always know how much you have available to spend after your bills are paid.

Pay for Everything with Your Credit Card

As long as you pay off the balance each month, you should try paying for everything with your credit card. This will allow you to earn rewards or monthly discounts on purchases you already plan on making.

Review Insurance Policies

Once a year, you should review your insurance policies to make sure that you have the coverage you need. You don’t want to spend money on coverage you don’t need and you also want to avoid not having the right coverage in the event that an accident occurs.

Set Goals

Staying on top of your finances is manageable as long as you set realistic goals and are committed to achieving them. What has helped you keep your finances in order?

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5 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes Early

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Now that we’re well into the new year, it’s time to get everything together and file your taxes. While it may sound like a boring task, there are a variety of benefits to filing your taxes early. Read on to learn more.

Are You Missing Something?

One benefit to filing your taxes early is that you have ample time to gather all of the documents you need to file your taxes. You can avoid needing to file an extension (and possibly paying interest and penalty fees) by making sure you have everything you need ahead of time. You’ll also find out whether or not you need to enlist the help of a professional by getting organized as soon as possible.

Don’t forget that if you or your children are in college, you should file early so that you have everything you need to submit your financial aid application to the government.

More Time to Pay Up

If you know that you owe the government, it’s best to find out exactly how much early on. While you may find out how much you owe early, that does not mean that you have to pay early. You can wait until April to pay any taxes you may owe.

Get Your Refund Sooner

The earlier you file your taxes, the earlier you should receive your refund. In doing so, you’ll have some extra cash for bills or to throw in your savings.

Avoid Being a Victim of Tax Fraud

By putting off filing your taxes, you are giving criminals more chances to steal your tax documents, which they will then use to steal your refund. If you file your taxes earlier, you are less likely to fall victim to this scam.

Additionally, you should sign up to receive your refund through direct deposit so that thieves cannot steal your refund check from your mailbox.

Get It Over With

Instead of dreading the process, you should file your taxes and move on to more enjoyable pursuits. If you’re not sure where to start, try using TurboTax so that you can get your taxes done right.

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8 Financial Resolutions for the New Year

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The holidays are over and the new year has arrived. If you’re like most of us, then you’re probably looking for ways to improve your finances this year. Here are just a few ways to get your finances in shape in 2016.

Review Your Finances

In order to get your finances in shape, you must first know where you stand. To do this, you should review your credit report, all of your accounts, as well as your income and expenses. You should also take this time to review your budget and update it if necessary.

Pay Down Debt

Don’t let your debt continue to hold you down. Now is the time to start chipping away at any debt that you may have. The sooner you eliminate your debt, the sooner you can achieve your other financial goals. Not sure where to start? There are a variety of ways to pay down debt that will work for you.

Save More

Saving is a key component of reaching your financial goals. In 2016, you should start saving more for retirement, a new house or car, and even your kids’ college expenses and weddings. By saving now, you can take the burden off your future self. You’ll thank yourself for having the foresight later.

Keep Building Your Emergency Fund

It may not be pleasant, but preparing for the worst is essential when it comes to your finances. Continue to build your emergency fund so that you won’t have to worry about how you’ll cover your expenses if you lose your job or have a major medical emergency.

Sign Up for Autopay

Forgetting to pay a bill can lead to a lot of frustration. You can avoid this and reduce stress by setting up automatic bill pay. Remember, you still need to review your bills for accuracy so that you’re not being overcharged.

Teach Your Kids Financial Responsibility

Start teaching your kids about financial responsibility now so that they are prepared to make sound financial decisions as they get older. There are a variety of age-appropriate ways to teach your kids how to manage money. They’ll be grateful for the help as they get older.

Stay Healthy

Staying in good physical shape will help your finances stay in shape, too. By staying healthy, you can reduce your health care expenses and save a little extra cash for yourself.

Review and Update Your Will

Make sure that your loved ones and property will be taken care of in the event that something happens to you by updating your will and other estate planning documents. It may sound morbid, but it’s not something you want to put off.

Time to Get Started

Getting your finances in shape is something you should not wait to do. Now is the perfect time to start improving your financial situation.

What are your financial resolutions for 2016?

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6 Inexpensive Holiday Activities

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Now that the kids are out of school and your extended family is in town, you are probably desperate to find a few affordable activities that everyone will enjoy. Luckily, we’ve found several that will keep everyone occupied and happy over the holidays.

Local Events

Your community may have a variety of free and inexpensive events that are sure to keep everyone entertained for a few hours. You can find information about local events online, in the paper, or even posted on the bulletin board of your local coffee shop

Check Out the Lights

Christmas lights are a staple of the holiday season, which is why checking out area Christmas light displays should be on your list. Your city may host a fun show that you can attend, or you could walk or drive around your neighborhood to see some beautiful displays.

Bake Cookies

Baking at the holidays is a time-honored tradition. Gather everyone in the kitchen to bake some delicious cookies—you can make it a low-key affair or host a cookie party that your friends can attend, as well.

Time to Get Crafty

Another way to keep everyone occupied is to make your own holiday decorations and ornaments that will add a personal touch to the festivities. Try some of these DIY holiday crafts if you’re not sure where to start.

Go to the Museum

If you’re looking to get out of the house while staying warm, you and your family should visit some area museums for a change of pace. With a little work, you should be able to find a museum that has something for everyone.

Give Back

You and your family can spread some holiday cheer by giving back to your community. If you have some gently used toys around the house, consider donating them to a charity that provides toys for area kids. You could also volunteer at a local shelter to help those in your community who need it most.

Enjoy Yourself

The holidays can be a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some fun activities that everyone can enjoy!

What activities do you and your family enjoy doing at the holidays?

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7 Ways to Stay Sane at the Airport During the Holidays

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Maintaining your sanity at the holidays is not easy. Adding air travel to your holiday agenda can be even more maddening. If you’re looking for ways to make your time at the airport less stressful, check out these tips that we have put together for you.

Packing

Remember to pack as light as you can for your trip. You may be tempted to overpack, but you’ll be grateful that you didn’t while you’re hauling less luggage across the airport and when you don’t have to check more bags than is necessary.

In order to avoid bringing more than you need, create a list of the essentials and stick to it. You should also evaluate whether or not your suitcase is sturdy enough for the trip and upgrade if necessary.

Ship Gifts Ahead of Time

Lighten your load at the airport by shipping wrapped gifts and large items ahead of your trip. If you bring your gifts with you to the airport you won’t be able to wrap them and you’ll have to carry them with you in addition to your luggage.

Check Your Flight Status

Before rushing off to the airport make sure that you check the status of your flight so that you do not encounter any surprises when you get to the airport. There are a variety of useful apps available that can help you stay on top of your flight status.

Keep Electronics Charged

Make sure that you fully charge all of your devices prior to leaving for the airport, as you don’t want your phone or tablet to die mid-flight.

You should also bring extra charging cables and a portable cellphone charger so that you can rest easy knowing that you’ll have battery life for as long as possible.

Bring a Small Blanket

Do not count on the airline providing small blankets for you on domestic flights or while you’re waiting to board your plane. Remember to bring a small blanket with you so that you can be cozy throughout your travels.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential to making it through a long day of travel, which is why you should bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Once you have passed through security, you will be able to refill it and avoid paying for expensive bottles of water.

Enjoy the Trip

The thought of flying at the holidays may sound scary, but you can get through it unscathed with the proper planning.

What do you do to make your trips to the airport more manageable?

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8 Ways to Get Your Car Holiday Road Trip Ready

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Is your holiday road trip right around the corner? Then, it’s time to get your car in shape for the big trip. If you need some guidance on where to start, use these tips and you won’t go wrong.

Inspection Time

To find out if there are any problems with your car before you hit the road, you should take your car to the mechanic a few weeks before your trip. It’s better to find out if there are any problems with your car before you’re a few hundred miles away from home.

Replace Fluids

Among the various components that you’ll probably need to replace, don’t forget your fluids, including the oil, radiator fluid, antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Replace Windshield Wipers

While we’re on the topic of windshield washer fluid, don’t forget to replace your windshield wipers before your trip. If it has been awhile since you replaced your windshield wipers, err on the side of caution and get a new set for your car.

Tires

Check your tire pressure before your trip and add the appropriate amount of air if necessary. You should also look into getting winter tires depending on where you are traveling for the holidays. Winter tires are a good idea because they are designed to grip icy and snowy roads better than your standard tires.

Lights

Take a walk around your car to see if any of its lights are out, such as the low and high beams, emergency flashers, directional signals, brake lights, as well as the license plate light.

Hoses

Don’t forget to check the radiator and heater hoses for cracks and leaks—have them replaced if they are not in good shape.

Battery

You should also ensure that your battery can sustain a long road trip. Your car’s battery is significantly less powerful the lower the temperature drops, which is why you need a battery that is in great condition before you leave town.

Be Prepared

Even if you make all of the necessary preparations, you might run into some car trouble. You should be prepared just in case this does happen, so bring the following items along with you on your trip:

  • cell phone charger,
  • paper atlas in case you lose cell service,
  • jumper cables,
  • first aid kit,
  • blankets and warm clothes,
  • energy bars,
  • emergency flares, and
  • a flashlight.

Have Fun!

Don’t forget to enjoy the ride by bringing DVDs, games, books, and CDs to make the trip a bit more fun. What have you done to keep your winter road trip more enjoyable for the whole family?

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How to Save Money During the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is in full swing! Whether you enjoy holiday shopping or would rather get it over with, there are many ways to make the season less painful and more affordable. Use these tips to make the best of the holidays this year.

Know Your Limits

Between all of the gifts, trips, outings, and meals, the holidays get expensive quickly. Set a limit for how much you can spend on everything ahead of time and stick to it. If you need some help budgeting for the holidays, use this holiday budget calculator.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should pay off the balance of your credit cards if you plan to use them for holiday shopping.

Comparison Shop from the Comfort of Your Home

If going to the mall or those big box stores sounds like torture, then shopping online was made for you. Not only will you be able to wear your pajamas while shopping, you’ll be able to compare prices on those must-have items with the press of a button.

Another option that you should consider while comparison shopping is to find low-cost alternatives for items on your list that will make the recipient just as happy.

Get Crafty

If you’re the crafty kind, then put those skills to good use and create some custom-made gifts for your friends and family. Check out Pinterest for some inspiration and then get to work.

Secret Santa

Buying meaningful gifts for all of the adults in your family can be expensive. Enter Secret Santa. Getting everyone involved in Secret Santa will make the gift-giving process fun while saving you a little extra money.

Spend Money on Experiences with Your Significant Other

Make the holiday season more memorable by planning a fun date with that special person in your life instead of buying them something that they may not want or need. Things that you can do together include:

  • go out to dinner,
  • check out a concert, or
  • go to a play or musical.

The night may be over within a few hours, but the memories will last much longer.

Give Home-Baked Goods

Instead of giving small trinkets and knick-knacks to your coworkers and kids’ teachers, bake some delicious goodies that they’re sure to enjoy. You’ll save money and make the recipients like you even more.

Holiday Meals

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, ask your guests to contribute a side dish, dessert, or drink to the mix. Not only will you cut down on cooking time, but you’ll save money, as well.

Don’t Overextend Yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed at the holidays considering how much you have to accomplish in such a short period of time. Make time for yourself by prioritizing which activities you should go to and say no to invites when you can.

Gear Up for Next Year

It’s no secret that the holidays can take a major toll on your bank account. Once you have finished all of your shopping for this year, start saving for next year. Setting aside a small amount of money every month will make holiday shopping less of a financial burden next year.

How have you saved money during the holiday season?

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