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Cheap Alternatives for the Must Haves in your Life Pt. 1 of 3

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on September 8, 2010

Admit it. Being frugal isn’t something that you look forward to, after all it means that you’ll be giving up or cutting back on some or all of your favorite activities. What if you found a way to cut back without giving up those things completely? And best of all save money? I’ve compiled a list of [tag]cheap[/tag] alternatives for the must haves in our lives and its pretty good if I do say so myself!

Retail Therapy Shopping

Gather a list of websites that put together the [tag]look for less[/tag], here are a few of my favorites:

Also, try out this list from Fashion Under $100. These stores provide trendy options without breaking the bank:

Tip: Check out annual and semi-annual sales and buy clothes at certain times of the year. For example, after Christmas/New Year’s and at the end of every season many department stores seek to unload their inventory so we benefit because of the deep discounts.

Cable TV

[tag]Apple[/tag]/[tag]iTunes[/tag] is your friend. If you’re always on the go and never at home to watch your favorite episode anyway, dump the Tivo and your cable company then plug in to iTunes. iTunes allows you to watch your favorite television shows online for a small fee, $1.99. For example, Lost, Greys Anatomy and Boston Legal can be bought per episode for $1.99 which equals $24 per month. A benefit for you is that you get to watch them sans commercials and on your own time. Apple also now offers movie rentals from $2.99-$3.99 and HD for a dollar more.

If that doesnt work for you then hang out at a friend’s house, go to your local sports bar, or join a meetup.com group that gets together to hang out and watch popular network shows. This option really appeals to me as I am moving towards not scheduling my life around entertainment in an effort to become more productive.

Tip: Most major network shows can be watched FREE on their respective sites such as ABC, NBC and the like. Youre able to catch up on all the episodes you missed without paying hefty cable access fees.

Automobile

One thing I love about living in a major metropolitan area is that we have so many options for getting around town. Zip Car is an option for those of us who only need a car infrequently which doesnt warrant taking on a car payment, insurance, gas and maintenance which can be costly. Makes sense right? [tag]Zip Car[/tag] rates start at $50 per month for the extra value plan, 9/hr or $66/day for occasional driving.

Here’s a map with their current locations:

This way you’re able to have the convenience of a car without the monetary commitment. The access fees pay for gas, parking and insurance! You can’t beat that!

Other options include biking to work, using public transportation and carpooling. The latter brings to mind an awesome service facilitated by Erideshare.com. Just pull up your state and connect with others [tag]carpooling[/tag] in your area. From the website: “you’ll find this service a good way to commute or travel inexpensively, and maybe even make a few friends.” I think it’s a neat idea, especially if you’re new to town and looking to save money, this is a great option.

Now if you must have a car, then buy it used or another kind of used car becoming popular amongst the frugal, [tag]Beater Car[/tag]s. Why? According to Beater Review, buying new is for suckers! Love that! But with a new car depreciating 20-30% in the first year it makes perfect sense. Check out this review of the Mazda Miata, the ultimate chick car, or not. This saves you extra money on insurance and in most cases won’t have a car payment. Also, check out this article on MSN Money-20 ways you waste money on your car.

Tip: Make the best choice for you and your situation. Everyone doesn’t live hear a major metropolitan city with the benefits of a Zip Car but buying a car that won’t have much out of pocket expense or carpooling may be another option suitable for you.

Eating Out

We’re guilty of this especially with our favorite restaurant and when we hang out in a new part of town. Cutting back in this area takes discipline and maintaining your perspective: saving money. A few alternatives include:

  • [tag]Potluck[/tag] with friends
    • This is a great way to hang out with friends and try out new dishes. If there are leftovers you can bring on the Tupperware to pick up some leftovers for work or dinner the next day.
    • For the uber frugal-I know a couple who potlucks with friends every other weekend. They get together on Sunday and bring large portions of eat least 3 meals. Of course the larger the group the better the selection. They get together eat, laugh, get merry and help each other save money by cooking in bulk and using it for their lunch and dinners during the week. Some get even more creative by turning leftovers into [tag]planned-overs[/tag].
  • Make your favorite restaurant meal at home
    • There was a time when I was obsessed with anything Jack Daniels at T.G.I Fridays. I would go for a long lunch at work and later during the week for happy hour. It got expensive until I got the recipe and made it from scratch at home. Bingo! Money saved

Tip: Check out J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly, he has great tips on how to save while eating out here.

About the Author

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds is for the woman that wants to take charge of her personal finances. We value budgeting, investing, frugality and remain mindful of our spending habits. Move over and make way for women who are in control of their financial destinies and not afraid to say it. We’re armed with a positive net worth and not afraid to flaunt it while breaking financial ceilings one stiletto at a time!

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10 Tips for a better budget by Bob Lotich

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on July 31, 2010

The first thing you need to learn before making a better budget is how to make a budget in the first place. Then go get a free budget spreadsheet or some free budgeting software. Once you have your budget started, these 10 tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape!

Make a better budget!make a better budget - coins.jpg

1. Know your budget-busters and stay away!

If this is the mall don’t go, if it is QVC, turn it off, if is buying stuff online – throw your computer out the window! (Well, not really ;) ).

2. Wait before purchasing.

Never buy large purchase items with out waiting a week to really be sure that it is the best use of your money.

3. Budget for Giving.

It makes it a whole heckuva lot more fun to give if you have the money sitting there waiting to be spent.

4. Make budgeting fun.

It is not a diet. Quit telling yourself that budgeting is just like a diet for you checkbook. In my opinion, the reasons that most budgets fail is because they are out of balance. Fun should be budgeted for. Going out to dinner, vacation, date night, etc.

5. Snowball it.

Once a debt is paid off, take that amount and either apply it to another debt (aka Debt Snowball) or to something fun (vacation fund, etc.)

6. Create a misc. budgeting category.

No matter how many categories you create, you can bet that you will have expenses come up that won’t fall into any of them. This is why it is a great idea to have a backup called miscellaneous.

7. Have fun money.

Have some money given to each family member that doesn’t need to be tracked and can be used for whatever he/she wants.

8. Combine budgeting categories.

Try combining categories to simplify the system. For example if you have money budgeted for car maintenance and car insurance, try putting them together in the same category.

9. Set money aside monthly for infrequent bills.

Just because a bill isn’t paid monthly doesn’t mean that it can’t be budgeted for monthly. If you pay car insurance every 6 months, just take that bill and divide by 6, viola! Now add that amount to your monthly budget, and when the next bill comes due, the money will be sitting there waiting!

10. Try budgeting with ING or another online bank.

This way you are earning interest on each one of your budgeting categories. Small amounts add up quick.

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Bible Money Matters.

Article by Bob

Bob enjoys dark chocolate, paying off debt, giving, Foosball, loose-leaf tea, helping people succeed, learning, anything God created, playing guitar, doing things the “long” way, Philippians, excellence, Chick-Fil-A, and making his wife smile. He started ChristianPF in 2007 and has been having a blast ever since. Find him on Facebook & Twitter.

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