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Being Frugal

14 Tips to Save Big on Holiday Shopping

Don’t risk your life and sanity during Black Friday. Get great deals and save before and after the shopping craze with these easy tips! You’ll be sure to save big this holiday season.

1. Eye on the Prize save big, holiday, lady at desk, computer

The prices of items you want are always fluctuating online. You might be able to snag the best deal if you are constantly checking your favorite websites like Amazon and Bestbuy, but you could still miss it.

Camelcamelcamel.com helps you track the price of the items you want so you can get the most savings. Search a product, and a graph will pop up showing you the item’s price history. If the price is at a low, now’s the time to buy!

2. Let the Invisible Hand Give You a Hand

Love to shop online? So do we! If you want to get the best prices then install Get Invisible Hand onto your computer or phone. This extension will let you know if there are better deals at another retailer for the items you are browsing.

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17 Thanksgiving Savings Tips

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? A typical Thanksgiving dinner can cost $50 or more. Although that’s not a massive chunk of change, and still cheaper than going out, you can cut the price even more! Take a look at some of our Thanksgiving savings ideas!

Thanksgiving Savings ideas!

1. Who’s Coming Over?

thanksgiving savings, family party table

If you know how many people to expect for dinner, you can plan your shopping and cooking and avoid overspending. So, make sure to prepare enough food for a couple of extra people in case a few show up last minute. Even if they don’t come, you have some leftovers!

Also, make sure to check if anyone has any food allergies before you begin cooking!

2. Collect Your Freebies

At some stores during November, if you spend a certain amount (about $200-$400) you can get a free turkey! Ask your local supermarket for details!

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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Budgeting Apps

budgeting apps

Alright friends, so you’d love to save more money. And you could certainly use a little extra cash in your pocket or some more cushion in your account, right? Right.

Picture it– going on a little weekend getaway with your friends, throwing a nice birthday party for your kids, buying help buttonyourself some new clothes, or just not having to stress about scraping money together for rent or groceries. But, how do you save money when you have all the bills and debt?

Well, budgeting is the simple answer. Then why not do it? Many of you downloaded the free budget booklet, so what’s stopping you?

Turns out, not everyone likes paper budgets. For many, a budgeting app is so much easier to deal with. If that’s how you are, then great! Because I’m going to compare and contrast the top 7 budgeting apps out there so you can decide which is best for you.

Pros and Cons of the Top 7 Budgeting Apps

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Which Hurricane Relief Fund is Legit?

hurricane

I’m sure we all want to donate to the hurricane relief efforts for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, but which one will use your money properly? There are so many ways to donate, but some of the hurricane relief money is actually going straight into people’s pockets instead of to the victims. What if you donate to the wrong relief effort?

Which Relief Funds Have Wasted Donations in the Past

I have relatives that live in Houston and were affected by the recent hurricane. And after seeing some of the terrible images of the flooding, I desperately wanted to help.

hurricane harvey

Picture from abcnews.go.com

I donated through my church, but I also looked into some other hurricane relief funds to see what was out there. What I found out will completely blow your mind. Did you know that many of the relief efforts are basically stealing your money? They aren’t giving your donations to the victims at all. In fact, they are just pocketing the money.

How’s this possible? Some charities spend up to half of the donations on internal costs, overhead, and HUGE manager salaries and benefits. Your donations cover these costs in addition to the relief services they provide. So charities with the lowest overhead costs are the best.

Another way to help is to provide food to local foods banks near the disaster site. That way, your whole donation is sure to help.

Steer Clear of These Charities:

  1. The Red Cross – What? Yes, it’s true. The Red Cross has been accused in several cases recently of mismanaging the money they receive in donations. See NPR notes that Red Cross wasted $125 million in Haiti donations on internal costs,
  2. Charities Named After the hurricane – Be careful of new charities that pop up with the name of the disaster. After Hurricane Sandy, a couple opened up a fake charity, raised $600,000 and spent the money on themselves.
  3. Phishing Email Scams – You might receive emails asking for donations after the disaster, but DON’T CLICK! These are usually just ways to steal your private info or infect your computer with malware. Also, be careful of similar text messages.

Which Relief Funds That Help

These relief funds are among the most efficient at providing the biggest portion of your money directly to the victims of the hurricanes. (All these suggestions are based on my research. I’m not being paid at all to suggest these.)

  1. United Methodist Committee on Relief – This charity received an A+ rating from Charity Watch. Overhead costs are only 6% of donations. Pretty amazing!
  2. The LDS Church – This is the only charitable organization in the country where every single penny donated goes to the relief effort. There are no paid employees. Every person involved is a volunteer, and so there is no way to waste money on paying people. The overhead costs are paid from the LDS church and not from the donations. So that means 100% of the money is used to help people. They usually bring semi truck loads of food, water, and hygiene kits to the scene within the first day after every natural disaster that the country experiences.
  3. Catholic Relief Services – They received an A+ rating from Charity Watch, and most of the donations go directly to relief. Only about 8% of the funds are needed to cover overhead costs.
  4. Partners in Health – This organization also received an A+ and likewise on use 8% for overhead costs.
  5. Disaster Philanthropy – Facebook ditched The Red Cross in support of Disaster Philanthropy. Find out why in this article.

How to Decide if a Charity is Right For You

1. Check their website.
Always check the charity’s website to see what kind of projects they focus on. Make sure that you agree with the way they are doing things.

2. Check their grade on charity watch sites.
Charity watch sites grade charities based on how well they are using your funds. They can also tell you if the charity is legitimate. Here are three options: GuideStarCharityNavigator, Better Business Business Wise Giving Alliance, and CharityWatch.

Most charities spend about 15% of funds on admin costs and 10% on fundraising efforts. This means that 25% of your donation doesn’t go to help the victims. So if you want your donation to be used only for the victims, try to find charities with lower costs.

3. Check the news

See if there are any recent news stories on Google about your selected charity. Sometimes you will find useful info about a breaking story that steers you away from one charity or another.

Final Thought

hurricaneDon’t let this discourage you from charitable giving. There are many wonderful organizations out there that are currently helping recent hurricane victims. If you don’t have enough money to donate, you can keep in your thoughts and prayers. Setting up a budget and learning to manage your money better can help you be able to donate in the future.

If you know of a good charity for disaster relief, share its name in the comments below for other readers. Thanks! We love comments!

If You Are New To This Site:

If you are looking for help to set up a budget, learn to budget in just 5 easy steps. Come back soon for more money management advice from a professional accountant, entrepreneur, and college instructor. I can teach you to prepare your own taxes, start a business, budget, be frugal, make more money, save money, and so much more! Sign up below for your free copy of The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting.

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Save Hundreds Per Week at Grocery Budget Makeover

Grocery Makeover

Do you struggle to keep your grocery spending in check? Do you wish you could cut back your food spending and save hundreds per week?

Keeping grocery costs down can be tough. I used to waste so much money on grocery shopping. I tried everything, even extreme couponing, but it never worked. Then, I discovered the secret to saving money on groceries. 

Save Hundreds a Week on Groceries

Everything changed when I discovered The Grocery Budget Makeover. It’s an online class that completely changes the way you approach grocery shopping. The class was fantastic. Not only did it change the way I managed my grocery shopping experience, but it cut our grocery bill in half. 

The class is $49, but I made up for that quickly by reducing my grocery spending by hundreds of dollars each week. There are also payment plans available.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to help you with your money situation. I know this class will make a huge difference in your life. 

What You Get With the Class

This class is very thorough. The classic edition has 10 video lessons, 10 lesson worksheets, and access to a Facebook support group. The extreme edition includes all of that plus 3 Accountability & Group Coaching Calls with Erin, Bonus Video & Worksheet: Store Hopping, and Bonus Video & Worksheet: Deep Dive Couponing. It’s worth it! you will never shop the same again.

How to Register

The Grocery Budget Makeover is taught by Erin Chase.  First, you can take her free introductory workshop here.  Registration for the actual class is only open for a week starting September 6th. If you click over to her site right now and register for her waiting list, then you will be the first to get in when it’s time. If you are reading this post between Sept. 6th to Sept. 11th then you can register here, but if you go before or after those dates then the link won’t work. Be sure to sign up for the waiting list until the link goes live.

It’s worth every penny, plus she has a payment plan if you need it. I’m so grateful that I took her class and cut my grocery bill in half!

Save Hundreds per week with grocery budget makeover

If you are looking for help to set up a budget, click here. Come back soon for more money management advice from a professional accountant, entrepreneur, and college instructor. I can teach you to prepare your taxes, start a business, budget, be frugal, make more money, save money, and so much more!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small referral credit at no cost to you while still providing you the best offer I’m aware of.  Please read my disclosure page for more information.

How to Save $1,000 Emergency Money

Are You Prepared For a Financial Emergency?

Do you feel like you have enough set aside for an emergency? If your car breaks down or you have unexpected medical expenses, what will you do?

Everyone should have an emergency savings account. The first step down the road to financial freedom is living within a budget. The 2nd step is to prepare for financial emergencies. 

So Easy to Start

It is so easy to start a savings account. Usually, all you need to open one is $5. Capital One offers completely free online checking and savings accounts. I have a bank account with Capital One, and I love how it lets me deposit checks just by taking a picture of the check.

How Much Should I Save?

Set a goal to save $1,000. If you can tuck away a little each month until you have $1,000, then you will have the peace of mind you need.

You could save $1,000 in 10 months if you put $100 aside every month. But if possible, you should try to do it sooner by saving more per month. What if your money is tight and you can’t spare $100 per month? Get started on a budget so you can find ways to cut back your expenses. For 87 ideas on how to reduce costs, click here.

Ways to Save

There are lots of strategies to make it easier to save.

  1. You can have the money transferred directly from one account to the other on a monthly basis.
  2. Many employers have the option to deposit part of your paycheck directly into your savings account.
  3. Us a savings app like Acorn that takes a little out of your account here and there and invests it in the stock market to earn interest. If you sign up for Acorns using this link, you can get $5 free to start your account.
  4. Do a Cash Savings Challenge. Learn more below.

Cash Savings Challenge

Another method to save is to do a cash saving challenge. There is a cash savings worksheet in The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting, and it is completely FREE! The Cash Savings Challenge is where you put aside a little cash each day until you reach your goal of $1,000. You could keep the cash in a safe place at home and then when you reach your goal, you might want to deposit it into your emergency account.

Whatever method you choose, it’s important to get that emergency fund started ASAP. It will provide you with peace of mind and the freedom to pay for an emergency if it happens.

Get your FREE copy of The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting. The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting! 28 Page Workbook with 87 ideas to reduce expenses, 14 beautiful worksheets, 7 bonus lessons, and easy-to-follow instructions. Download below!

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Is Your House TOO EXPENSIVE For You?

Is your house too expensive

Is Your House Too Expensive For You?

Here’s a crazy fact: I once worked for Washington Mutual Bank as a mortgage underwriter. Washington Mutual Washington Mutualwas the country’s largest savings and loan bank, until 2008 when it completely went out of business in just one day. (Just like in the Great Depression.)

But one thing I learned about mortgages while I worked there was that most borrowers were buying too much house for their budget. They were buying impressive houses, but they really couldn’t afford them.

Back then, lenders had lax requirements on income qualification and debt-to-income ratios. In fact, most of the mortgage files I saw had buyers that shouldn’t be buying a house. As a result, when the financial crisis hit, many people lost their homes.

huge houseNow, banks are more strict, but people are still buying houses out of their price range.  Financial experts agree that your total housing cost should only be about 25%-35% of your income. This includes your mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, mortgage insurance, and any association dues.

Why It Matters

If you are paying too much for housing, then the rest of your budget will suffer. You won’t have enough for the remaining categories.

Your budgeted income should be spread like this:

  • Charity 10%large house
  • Savings 10%
  • Housing 25%
  • Utilities 5%
  • Food 10 %
  • Transportation 5%
  • Clothing 5%
  • Medical Costs 10%
  • Insurance 10%
  • Recreation 5%
  • Personal 5%
  • Total 100% (of Take-Home Pay)

Notice that there is no room for consumer debt payments in this formula. That is because no one should have consumer debt. If you are dying to get out of debt, see this post to learn how to get out of debt quickly. Click here to set up a budget for free.

What to Do About Your Expensive Mortgage

There are a few options you can try to reduce your housing costs. If you rent, you could shop around for a new place once your lease is up. If you own your house, try one of these options:

  1. Refinance. If the mortgage rates are currently lower than your mortgage interest rate, you might benefit from refinancing. Lowering your interest rate can reduce your payment and make it easier to afford your house. 
  2. Downsize. If you are open to the idea of downsizing, now might be a good time. The price of houses are risinghouse and you might be able to make a nice profit on the sale of your home. You could use this money to put a down payment on another home that is more affordable. 
  3. Rent Out a Portion. If you have a spare room, rent to a relative or friend. This would reduce the burden of your housing cost.
  4. Use Airbnb. If you are planning to take a trip, rent out your home while you are gone. You can earn quite a bit per night through online home rental sites like Airbnb and Home Away. This can help bring in more income to pay for your mortgage.
  5. Get a Modification. This option is very difficult. You have to contact your mortgage company and ask for an application to get a modification. They will require lots of paperwork to be submitted to apply. Then they still might decline your application. Some homeowners have been able to get approved, but it is an uphill battle. It’s worth it if it helps you reduce your costs. It doesn’t negatively affect your credit.
  6. Earn More Income. Getting a second job or doing things from home to help earn money will really help get your financial situation under control. Starting a side business is often very rewarding. 
  7. Get Rid of Your PMI. Some mortgages have what is called Mortgage Insurance. This is required by the lender. Only some borrowers have to get this insurance. But usually, you can get rid of it after a certain amount of time. If you have this, contact your mortgage company to see if you can get rid of it soon. It will save you a nice chunk of cash.

is your house too expensive

Other Options

If you can’t do any of the above strategies to reduce your housing cost, another option is to just reduce your other living expenses. For 87 ideas on how to reduce your expenses, click here.

If you are looking for help to set up a budget, click here. Come back soon for more money management advice from a professional accountant, entrepreneur, and college instructor. I can teach you to prepare your own taxes, start a business, budget, be frugal, make more money, save money, and so much more!

Debt Free School Year Challenge (Plus Printable Planner and Budget)

For those of you with kids, it’s time to start thinking about buying school supplies and clothes. But school shopping can really put a dent in your budget, especially if you have more than one child. The best strategy is to set a budget for your back to school expenses and try to stick to it.

Debt Free School Year Challenge

I want to challenge you to the Debt Free School Year Challenge. This is where you try to avoid putting any school supplies or clothes purchases on credit.  I’m going to take the challenge and I hope you will too. If you stay within your budget then you won’t have to go into debt this school year. You shouldn’t use debt to pay for these items, especially when there are so many sales available this time of year.

Free Printable Planner

I have created an entire 12-page Back-to-School Planner that includes a Back-to-School Budget, Monthly Calendar, Weekly Planner, Back-to-School Checklist, Shopping List, School Info Sheet, Before and After School Checklist, Family Chore Chart, Week Scheduler, Lunch Menu, School Lunch Idea Sheet and Homework To Do List. It has everything you need to organize your school year. It will also help you set a budget for school shopping.  Get your FREE copy in the Free Printables page or at the bottom of this post.

Meal Planner

Back-to-school also gives you the perfect opportunity to get back on track with meal planning and keeping your food budget under control. There is a Meal Planner listed on the Free Printables page if you need that. Also, I will be doing a post in the next couple of weeks about a 10-minute Emergency Meal Plan. It will help you have a backup plan when you are tired, running late, or out of ingredients. This will keep you from going out to eat and spending too much.

Back-to-School Shopping Strategy

After you set up a budget and shopping list for your school shopping, it’s time to start looking for deals. Make sure to check your weekly circulars that come in the mail. Stores will be advertising deals heavily this time of year. Lastly, use an online shopping strategy that involves using a rebate app (Ebates: get $10 sign up bonus here,  Mr. Rebates: $5 sign up bonus here, or Swag Bucks), online coupon sites (BeFrugal.com: get $10 sign up bonus here, InboxDollars, or TopCashBack), and discounted gift cards (Raise.com, Cardpool.com).

There are also quite a few ways to save on food for school lunches. For really cheap meat, go to Zaycon Fresh. For deals at grocery stores, download coupons from coupons.com or RedPlum. You can also get rebates on groceries at Ibotta.

Will You Take the Challenge?

Are you willing to set up a school shopping budget and try to stick to it? Are you willing to take the Debt Free School Year Challenge where you don’t use debt to pay for any of your school shopping? Let me know how it goes. I love to hear how things are going for you. Budgeting is so important and is the way to get back on track with your spending and get on the road to financial freedom.

Don’t Forget Your Free Download

Get your FREE copy of the Back-to-School Planner with 13 helpful worksheets including a Back-to-School Budget, Monthly Calendar, Weekly Planner, Back-to-School Checklist, Shopping List, School Info Sheet, Before and After School Checklist, Family Chore Chart, Week Scheduler, Lunch Menu, School Lunch Idea Sheet and Homework To Do List. 

 

Download File !!!!!!!

 

If you need help setting up a budget, click here. For a copy of The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting! 28 Page Workbook with 87 ideas to reduce expenses, 14 beautiful worksheets, 7 bonus lessons, and full, easy-to-follow instructions, including top advice from a professional accountant and university instructor, click here.

Enter for your chance to win a FREE $150 Amazon Gift Card.

 

 

 

New Giveaway: Win $150 Amazon Gift Card!

Signup to win a FREE $150 AMAZON GIFT CARD!

Hi, Friends!  Welcome to Momma Money Sense where you can get FREE advice from a professional Julieaccountant. I’m Julie Tronsen, founder of this blog, and my goal in life is to help as many people as possible to achieve their financial dreams!

I am so excited to announce our next big giveaway!  Our last winner was Autumn G. of Ortonville, MI and she received a $125 Amazon Gift Card. Who will be the next winner of $150 Amazon Gift Card?

The reason we are doing these giveaways is to get more people to subscribe to Momma Money Sense. The purpose of this blog is to help people achieve financial freedom! I want to help as many people as possible to get their finances under control, get out of debt, and build wealth. As a professional accountant, entrepreneur, and college instructor, I have the answers to your money questions! And it’s all FREE. You can Ask the Accountant or get help with a variety of money management topics by reading the blog posts.

Sign up below for your chance to win.

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 and over. There is no purchase necessary to win. There are multiple ways to increase your likelihood of winning. The contest is being hosted by Gleam. The winner will be randomly selected by Gleam at the end of the contest. You must enter by August 25th to be eligible. The entries require tasks to be done in order to be valid. If selected, your task will be verified. Make sure to tell your friends. Each time you refer someone to the contest that signs up, you get another chance to win. Scroll down to enter.

(Please don’t enter the giveaway unless you are planning on remaining a subscriber after entering. Becoming a subscriber means you will receive weekly email updates from the blog with new blog articles, links for coupons and deals, and the latest news from the blog. The purpose of the giveaway is to get more subscribers to Momma Money Sense so that I can provide useful financial advice to people who need it. If you don’t need or want money management and wealth building advice, please don’t subscribe or enter. Thanks.)

Here’s Where You Enter to Win:
MommaMoneySense.com $150 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Lots of Freebies

If you like freebies,  click below for a free printable budget workbook. Also, check out my FREE Printables page for many more items that can help organize your life and save you money. I will be adding more freebies each month. Plus, I will send out weekly newsletters to subscribers with lots of useful money management tips, deals, coupons, and freebies!

Topics Covered on Momma Money Sense:

  1. Money making ideas
  2. Tips on reducing your expenses
  3. Budgeting help
  4. Ways to get out of debt quickly
  5. Online deals and coupons
  6. Meal planning on a budget
  7. Frugal family activity ideas and tips
  8. Tax advice
  9. Home business advice
  10. Do-it-yourself ideas
  11. Tips to increase your income
  12. Ways to build wealth

MommaMoneySense.com $150 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Posts you might be interested in:

Come back soon for more money tips and don’t forget to enter above for your chance to win the $150 Amazon Gift Card!

How to Get Rid of Your Debt Forever

How to Get Rid of Your Debt Forever (Using the Snowball Method)

Let’s face it. Debt sucks! If you carry high balances on credit cards, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Paying out all that money every month to high payments that are mostly covering interest just makes you feel like you will never get out of debt. But you CAN get out of debt! I once used the snowball method to pay off over $60,000 in debt. You can too!

The Snowball Method

The Snowball Method helps you get out of debt much faster than if you just paid the minimum each month. The way it works is you accelerate your payments by putting extra money toward your debt with the smallest balance first. Once you pay off that debt, you start working on the next smallest debt.

The kind of debt this works for is credit card debt, car loans, consumer loans, etc. But for paying off your mortgage early, you would use a different method which I will cover in a later post on MommaMoneySense.com. For now, let’s try to get your credit cards and loans paid off quickly.

There are 4 easy steps to the Snowball Method

  1. List out all your debts on the Debt Snapshot Worksheet. List all your debts from smallest to largest balance.
  2. Determine how much extra you can put towards your debt. If you have a lot of debt, like $20,000 or more, then you should try to pay an extra $500 per month if possible. But if this isn’t in your budget, then do what you can. (If you are living paycheck to paycheck then you will need to make some changes before you can pay down your debt. Start with the basics of making a budget and cutting back expenses before tackling your debt.)
  3. Fill out the Debt Snowball Worksheet. Put your extra payment amount in and calculate how soon you will pay off your first debt. Then continue with each one after that.
  4. Start making payments for quick progress. Pay just the minimum payment on all the debts except the smallest. Pay the extra amount on the smallest debt. When that one is paid off, you take all the money you were paying on it and put it towards the next smallest debt. Once you pay off the first debt, you will be so excited about your progress that you will easily continue to stick with the Snowball Method.

You Could Be Debt Free

The average household in America owes over $16,000 in credit card debt. This can be paralyzing. Debt keeps you from having the flexibility to do the things you want and to enjoy your life. If you have a debt problem and you lose a job or have unexpected medical bills, things could quickly spiral out of control. If you have credit card debt, I challenge you to use the Snowball Method and get your financial freedom back. Download the Snowball Method sheets below.

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