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I switched over my banking when I was going through a divorce. Still to this day, I am using it. Now I have transferred all my accounts to KeyBank. This bank has been so kind and amazing; they have truly provided amazing customer service. 

I think I have about 10 different accounts with them and I LOVE all the rewards and perks that come with this bank. It is also makes transferring money between accounts easier instead of writing checks or wire transfers. 

With the credit cards that I have now, I get cashback so that is a win-win. I have a local bank about five minutes from my house and they know me; I can rely on them and ask questions. 

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Susie Liberatore is the owner, and Art Director, of Visions2images Creative Services. She helps established businesses grow their brand awareness by using digital marketing and professional branding techniques. With over a decade of agency and corporate experience, she brings businesses’ visions to life, while watching their return on investment increase.

Susie helps businesses grow their brand presence and connect with their target audience.

The Ultimate Branding Guide to Win New Clients in 7 Days

Top 8 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

The winter months can be tough to pinch pennies; I get it. But, know that there are some great tips for you to save money by merely reducing some simple electricity draining activities.

Here are great ways to save money this winter:

  1. Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs With LEDs LEDs are much more energy efficient. These bulbs will not only save more power, but they’ll also last longer. Check out these LED bulbs.
  2. Unplug Electronics After Use. You might not be charging your phone, etc., but the chargers could still be drawing energy at home. Try using a smart power strip that shuts off the current when the electronics are not in use.
  3. Use Cold Water For Laundry. Using hot water will consume more electricity simply because the water heater will need to run. You can merely try not to use super hot water, but something that isn’t too cold either.
  4. Take Shorter Showers. By taking shorter showers, it will reduce how much water you use, which will limit the amount of time that your electric water heater needs. Sounds simple enough, right? Just use a timer and take a shorter shower.
  5. Energy Efficient Showerhead. You can save 2,000+ gallons of water every year by using a more efficient showerhead. This measure will save you tons of money on your electric bill, for sure.
  6. Adjust Your Thermostat. We keep our thermostat at a certain temperature and keep it there all winter long. We do not touch it unless absolutely necessary.
  7. Use Solar Lights Outside. We love having these lights outside. They’re relatively cheap and don’t need energy due to being solar powered, so it’s a win-win!
  8. Motion Sensors. All of our outside lights have these detectors, etc. Motion sensors can significantly help you when someone might forget to turn off the lights.

These suggestions are just some simple tricks that we have done to reduce our electric bill in the winter time. They have really and truly helped us. What have you done that has cut your electric bill?

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New Ways to Save Money This Year

A New Year calls for new ways to save money and set goals. Am I right? I feel like it happens more often than not. I try not to make a ton of changes, but I know I need to make some. I put together a list for you to enjoy. Pick one or two of them and kick some butt this year!

  1. Cashback Rewards Cards

I love these perks!! You can make easy money by having a credit card and using it on your daily purchases. With the right rewards card, you can save money on anything from your regular bills to your household expenses; you name it, you can earn back from it.

  1. Switch Bank Accounts

I am in the process of doing this now. Some banks have started charging if it dips below a certain amount, etc. Look into this, and make changes. Those little fees can add up over a year.

  1. Use Coupon Apps

You can find some of my favorite choices here. I get money back just by shopping… at a ton of places. Here’s a quick recap: Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Ebates.

  1. Prepare Meal Plans

All you need to do is plan. This step will also make sure that you don’t have the same food every other night. Allow for quick meals, too, because there will be times when you need something fast after a long day… because mom life.

5. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It

I actually started doing all of my grocery shopping online. It is a lifesaver; it is the best way. I can reorder and stay focused. And, seriously, time saver y’all.

   6. Buy in Bulk, but Be Careful

We don’t buy items in bulk that we don’t think we will use swiftly enough. We buy pantry products in bulk because those don’t expire, but if you are going to purchase perishable items, ensure you can use them in a timely manner.

7. Brown Bag Your Lunch

We try to pack our lunches more often than not. I love being able to bring my meal and have limited take-out foods. It makes us more appreciative when eating out.

8. Learn to Use Up Leftovers

I am a huge fan of this action even though my husband might not be. I like to use the remaining food and cook something else from it. Whenever we have ham leftover, we create a ham and cheese noodle casserole. MMM soo yummy.

We will add more options in as time goes on, these are just some super simple ways for you to take charge of your savings now. What are some ways you save money?

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Five Simple Ways to Save Money Right NOW

We all want to save money, especially at the beginning of the year, every single year. We set these goals, and we do good for a day or two, then fall off the wagon. The truth is that you can save a few simple ways.

Here are FIVE simple ways to save money right NOW:

  1. Set Savings Goals

The first step is to think about what and why you are putting money aside. It can be for a vacation, retirement, or just for a savings account. You need to really break down the purpose you are saving. The objective depends on where you are and where you want to be. Set yourself milestones and goals. Check in once a month or bi-weekly and see where you are and how far away you are from your goals. 

  1. Pay Yourself First

Set up an auto debit from your checking account to your savings account each time you get paid. This action is something referred to as “set it and forget it.” The number doesn’t need to be much, but take a look back at step one and see how much you need to save each month.  

  1. Stop Smoking

My husband smokes, eh. I hate it, but it has been SO hard for him to quit. We have tried so many different options. I often think about how much we could save if he stopped smoking. If you smoke a pack and a half every day, that amounts to nearly $3,000 a year. Imagine a nice vacation you could have with that money; that is a considerable chunk of change!

  1. Take a “Staycation”

The place doesn’t even need to be anywhere close or far away, but somewhere with a bit of distance so you can truly enjoy the trip. Not traveling too out-of-the-way will save you money, while you are still able to have a little fun. 

  1. Pack Your Lunch

I am pretty adamant when it comes to taking your lunch. To prevent spending $10+ a day on a meal, I pack my own and snacks. I do manage to treat myself at least once a week or bi-weekly. By saving that money, I can put it aside into a separate bank account to see exactly how much I saved from not eating out. 

One more quick way to save: Create an Interest-Bearing Account. Many banks have different interest rates or rewards. Invest in the one that will bring the most bang for your buck. When you have a savings account, you certainly want to ensure to get a high interest rate.

Once you get a savings account built up, open a CD or emergency fund with a larger investment rate so that you can let it sit and build cash. What are some ways that you save money? Prepare for your future by always setting aside a little bit at a time over a longer period!

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Make Easy Money From Grocery Shopping

Did you know that you can make money back from buying your groceries?? UM yes, in fact, there are several ways to get money back from your groceries right from your phone.  But the one that I currently love is Check out 51.

There are Five Easy Steps for you to make money. It is super easy I promise.

  1. Download the app You can download the app for free in the App Store and Play Store. Create an account to start saving!
  2. Browse and buy. Every Thursday morning your list updates with new offers. Pick the offers you like and purchase them at any store
  3. Upload your receipt: Use the app to take clear, readable photos of your receipt.
  4. Select your claims: After photographing your sales slip, check off the items you purchased and indicate how many times you’re claiming each offer. This step tells our system what to look for to be redeemed
  5. Earn Cash Back: When the app processes your items, they credit your account with Cash Back. When your account reaches $20, you can request a check!

BAM that is super easy! Make that money back from your everyday groceries.
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Easy Green Home Projects

By Christine H. The more you read, the more you learn our modern habits disrupt natural processes. From the energy you consume in your home to your driving habits to what you buy at the grocery store, there are a hundred different ways that you can better limit your environmental impact. Many of these changes feel like large undertakings–changing to solar energy, for example. However, there are also a lot of little changes that you can make in your home–just once–to reduce the amount of energy that you use each day without changing anything at all in your daily habits.

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So if you have a moment to check a few simple items off of your to-do list, read through the article below and pick one or two things that you can do today to go a little greener at home.

  1. Bottle in the Toilet Tank: Each person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, and the vast majority of that water usage is in toilet flushes. That’s why reducing the amount of water used with each flush going to be such a significant way to reduce your water bill. And a quick way to do that is to add a bottle in your toilet tank. This simply makes it so that your tank registers as full when it has about a liter less. To do this, fill an old soda bottle with water, twist the lid back on, and stick it in the tank. Note that this is especially useful for old toilets that use excess water. However, if you have a new tank (that uses 1.6 gallons or less per flush) then you won’t want to use this method. It could interrupt the functionality. However, you can still increase how efficient your water usage is by making sure that the flapper and float are working properly. (See here for tips.)
  2. Weather-Strip the Doors: The vast majority of a home’s energy usage goes to temperature regulation. Whether you’re countering winter’s chill, or creating a cool haven from the summer sun, your home is constantly working to keep your home a comfortable temperature to eat, sleep, and play. However, if you don’t have measures in place to retain the proper temperature, you could be wasting up to 50% of your energy usage. Insulation in the walls and roof are important. But one of biggest ways that heat and cool escape your home is through the cracks under and around doors. The good news is that it’s an easy under-an-hour project to weather-proof your door. Just buy some weather-stripping at the hardware store. Installing it is as easy as placing a (really long) sticker. If your door has a bit of a gap at the bottom, you should also think about installing a bottom sweep, which will also reduce the amount of pests that can get into your home.
  3. Eliminate Phantom Energy Drain: Did you know that phantom energy drain costs up to 100$ per year in energy bills? This is the term used for energy drain that happens when electrical appliances and machines are plugged in, even though they’re currently off and just on standby mode. That means that even when your microwave isn’t in use, it’s still draining a little bit of electricity out of the walls as long as it’s plugged in. Each minute, the amount of electricity used is negligible, but between all the things plugged in in your home, day after day, it adds up. You can reduce phantom energy drain each day by unplugging things when they’re not in use (especially laptop and phone chargers.) However, you can also institute a one-time solution, if you have a hard time remembering to unplug. Install a couple of power strips in your home–especially around the entertainment center, the desktop computer, and in the kitchen. Turn off the whole power strip when it’s not in use, and you’ve suddenly cut phantom drain in half, at least. Power strips aren’t all that expensive, and if you use some zip ties or sticky velcro, you can usually find an unobtrusive spot for them. Again, this project will take you under an hour.
  4. Garden Greener: If you like to garden, that’s wonderful! However, it can also use a lot of extra water and chemicals, if you’re not mindful about it. Set up a compost pile to fertilize your garden with, install a rain barrel to use for watering the garden, and research organic pest control methods like these. You can usually install a rain barrel easily in a day. Just make sure that your downspout funnels in properly, and that the barrel is covered to avoid debris and pests getting in.
  5. Change the Lightbulbs: At least 5% of your energy budget goes towards lighting. You can save almost $100/year by switching to more energy-efficient bulbs. It might be more money up front, but more energy-efficient bulbs will also last longer, which reduces waste and pays for itself after a few years. So, take some time to buy CFL or LED lights for your home and replace those old incandescent ones when they burn out. Old incandescent lights waste a lot of energy by converting it into heat, which is useless for your home.
  6. Learn a Few Vegetarian Recipes: Whether or not you have moral standards about eating meat, you should know that meat production industries take more energy and contribute more to environmental pollution than just about any other food. That’s why you can greatly reduce your environmental impact simply by opting for meatless days once or twice a week. So, if it feels like dinner is incomplete without an animal-product protein on the plate, then maybe it’s time to explore some alternatives. Look up vegetarian curries, explore the possibilities inherent in different legumes, and find ways to eat just as heartily, and with just as much protein, without animal products. Again, you don’t have to make a cold-turkey commitment in order to reduce your impact.
  7. Opt Out of Unsolicited Mail: How much paper waste do you end up with each time you get the mail? It’s annoying, but few of us take the time to make it stop. However, if you just decide that you’re going to sit down for an hour and make a few calls, you can greatly reduce this nuisance (not to mention reduce the amount of waste in your home.) You can opt out of pre-approved credit offers simply by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). You can contact Dex and Valpack online or by phone to prevent them from giving you mail. If you donate to charities that keep sending you mail for more, you can call them and ask for reminders via email instead.

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Where is Your Paycheck Money Really Going?

I am all about spending money, making money, and saving money. It stresses me out sometimes. I want to be able to save and be secured but it seems like we are often stuck. There isn’t one real reason why we are stuck but I would say it is because of spending.. Right?

Things come up because life happens. It sucks! We can save, but then we have to take it back out because something happened. I know you are nodding your head reading this just because we have all been there. This isn’t a secret, but often times we are ashamed.. We are ashamed because we can’t go out to dinner with our friends that night, or get those new shoes we want, etc.

The question comes up, where does our money really go?! I took a close look at where our money was going and I am happy to share it with you!

  1. 15% food – this is all food, groceries, eating out, etc.
  2. 35% housing – this is our biggest one and includes utilities for the house.
  3. 15% transportation – car loan and even gas or car problems.
  4. 10% cell phone and internet, and also our home security.
  5. 12% other – this includes any savings and retirement, etc (we are working hard on this).
  6. 7% entertainment – this is cable, netflix, etc.

What do you spend your money on? Take a look at your bank and really monitor things over the next month and see where all your money goes! I look at all of these items and wonder if there is a way to save money and where to really save it?

Yours might be different, but we take pride in a lot of debt free items (no student loans or credit cards). We say no to every debt option we can so we can keep our flow low.

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4 Ways to stay on budget

It is important to understand where your money is going in order to save money, and stay on budget. I like something called the “40/20/30 system” I will break it down for you in this blog post and hope that you can benefit from using it.

  • 50% of your salary for monthly payments such as rent, bills, health, cell phone, internet, etc. You know those monthly bills that you hate to pay but are essential.
  • 20% towards savings. This is meant for your savings or emergency account and isn’t meant to be spent unless it is an emergency.
  • 30% for leisure savings such as restaurants, shopping, movies, etc. This is the stuff that might not be a monthly payment, but often times comes back around. This can be flexible spending since you might not go out each month, and would rather spend it on something else.

The first thing you need to do is write down every amount of money you spend. Your bank account overview doesn’t count, because it doesn’t show what you are buying. I hate looking at my bank account because I am be surprised at the end of the month. I get depressed seeing how much I spent, then I go back through the bank statement wondering where it all went and what was purchased and what was a necessary. I mean honestly, do we even know where our money goes?

I like the Envelope System

This is for you to have a different envelope for each spending category. You just need to add the cash in the envelopes in the beginning of each month. This is a great way to reduce your spending and know how much you can spend. You will be forced to not purchase anything on your card.Once the cash is gone, it is gone and you can’t spend it elsewhere.

I know this might not seem realistic or can seem overwhelming to many so here are seven Baby Steps to think about for spending:

  • Emergency fund
  • Pay off all debt but the house
  • Have 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Save 15% of income for retirement
  • College funding for children
  • Pay off mortgage loan
  • Build wealth and give to others.

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FRUGAL LIVING WINTER PREPARATION TIPS FOR YOUR HOME

With the winter months here, people can be anxious with their money. We have to stay warm and the bills tend to go up more in these months than in the summer, for most people anyway. Here are some quick and easy tips to help you live frugal during the winter months. 

ENERGY EFFICINECY TIP # 1

  1. DRAFT DOORS AND WINDOWS? Seal up those Cracks!
  2. Seal gaps of less than 1.2 inch Select grade (interior, Exterior, high temperature).
  3. Spray foam by filling in large cracks and small holes. DO NOT USE near flammable applications( e.g. flue, vents).
  4. Weather stripping used to seal movable components, such as doors, windows, and attic accesses

2 ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIP # 2

  1. Covering your windows curtains can help reduce heat loss by 10%!
  2. Open the curtains during the day to let the sun warm the room. At night close them to keep the cold air out.

Energy efficiency tip # 3

  1. Do you feel cold air around the outlets? There could be a hole somewhere allowing the air to get through examine it and find out where the source is.

 

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3 ways to save money in the New Year

I am making it a goal to save money this year. I know that I always say I will save, and I even set goals, but I never seem to make it work. I think we get too caught up in superficial items. We have the desire to have the newest and the best, what we think everyone else is easily affording.

When someone asks what our family wants, I usually respond with money. It may seem impersonal, but I can easily put money in an account and not feel the need to buy something that I don’t need.

If we’re honest, we all have received gifts we don’t want, and at times I feel like it was a waste of money. Then the item sits in my closet or drawer because I didn’t really like it. Maybe it’s because, as we get older, we are able to provide for ourselves. Gift cards and money are the way to go, but this isnt about that right now.

I also don’t like for my son to have all these toys! I’d rather have the memories created together as a family that we can look back on. I would much rather have money in his account instead of getting more gifts that just sit in his closet. I am sure that as he gets older and understands things more, he will want gifts, but for now let’s enjoy these moments and give him memories or cash. I am glad that I am able to save money for his account, for our vacations, and just to have for emergencies.

Here are my personal saving goals for the New Year:

  1. If we cancel our cable, will save $1600 a year.
  2. Once we successful potty train Antonio, not buying diapers will save us $500 a year.
  3. Cutting out a few extra also helps. For example, if we stop impulse buying at gas stations, we could potentially save $500.

If we are able to cut out these three things and stick with them all year, we could add $2600 to our savings this year. That is a lot! Putting a number on a goal helps it become more achievable, as you have something to aim for.

What things can you cut from your regular life this year? Maybe it’s the coffee you buy on the way to work or the extra snacks you get at the grocery store. Consider cutting them out, even for just a month and see what you can save. Join me on this journey and lets save some money together this year! Every little bit does help!

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