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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Health Insurance: What to look for

When it comes to health insurance, knowing what to questions to ask can make a huge difference to your bill. Like many of us, we are surprised at the charges that occurred during a doctors or hospital visit. To avoid this, make sure you know what exactly your health insurance does and does not cover. Assistant director for business and information systems Marleen Reynolds has a couple of tips to get you started.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Prepare yourself for holiday travels

Distance crossed in 1 second by cars moving in...Image via Wikipedia
Before heading out this holiday season, make sure you prepare yourself and your car.  Emergencies happen all the time.  Being prepared only makes the hassle that much easier.  Here are some things I recommend trying.

 ALWAYS keep an emergency kit in your car.  This should contain things like blankets, flashlights, water, band aids, flares, jumper cables, etc.  If your car should break down in the middle of winter, having these things handy will help ease some of the stress.

Make sure all your fluids are topped off.  This will only take up a small amount of your time and will protect your car from having any of them freezing.  The same things go for your gas tank.  My mom has this rule that keeping your gas tank below 1/4 is a no no.  This can freeze your gas line, which could end up costing you an arm and a leg to fix.

Make sure your tires have the correct amount of air in them.  This will help prevent slipping and sliding on those ice filled roads.  Having the proper amount of pressure will also deter your tires from becoming flat when hitting pot holes.  More importantly, it will save you gas.      

These of course are just a few of the many tips that are out there.  I recommend doing a little research on your car to see what exactly you can do to make your holiday travels safer.  But more importantly, don't forget a snow scrapper and shovel.  Nothings worse than being stuck on the road with no one to help you.  These to items can help in the most stressful situations, so make sure you always have them handy.   

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Friday, December 10, 2010

True Life: I survived Black Friday

     Thanksgiving is over and now the real holiday shopping begins. Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Listen to different experiences for Black Friday including what Black Friday was like for a retailer and for a shopper.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple ways to spend less this winter

Windbeeches on the Schauinsland in Germany (Bl...Image via Wikipedia

Well its official winter is upon us. With holidays just around the corner and our heating bills rising it may seem impossible to save even a penny this winter. However, there are a few, quick and easy things to spend less during this winter.

Bundle Up
            It winter, its cold and its going to be like this for the next 3 months. It may seem tempting to crank up the heat in your place but that is going to cost you. So pull out all of your comfy blankets, put on an extra layer of clothes and wear socks or slippers. By doing this you will be able to stay a little warmer in your place without turning up the thermostat.

Go Homemade
            Finding the perfect Christmas gift for everyone on your list cannot only be challenging but it can also be costly. However you will be surprised of how thoughtful homemade gifts can be.
Some ideas that will be budget friendly are making a calendar or personal picture frame. There are many free sites online where you can upload your personal photos and put them into a calendar. This way your friends and family can enjoy their gift the whole year.
Also look around your place for objects to make picture frames. It can be something simple from Popsicle sticks to foil and cardboard. The main thing to keep in mind is just be creative.

Although this time of season and can hectic for many if you try to take a step back and think outside of the box and you will be surprised how much money is left in your wallet. 
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Decorate for the seasons for less

a red blown glass Christmas tree ornament, a t...Image via Wikipedia

            One of my favorite things to do for the holidays is decorate my house. I hit every corner from windows, to ornaments for the tree and little nic-nacks on tables. But here’s the thing Christmas decorations are always cheap. Below I have included a cheap and easy ways to decorate your tree for the holidays without empting your wallet.

Personal Ornaments

            What you will need for this little craft is clear Christmas ornaments (JoAnn Fabrics sells a set of 4 for 4.99) and your favorite pictures cut down to approximately 2 1/4" high x 1 3/4" wide.  Take off the top of the ornament and insert your photo inside the ornament to create your personal photo ornament

            **Tip: Attach a long, skinny piece of paper to the picture to help position your photo in the ornament.

            Another tip is for stocking up on holiday decorations is waiting till after Christmas. Most stores will discount holiday items up to 80% after the holiday has past. Although it may be hard to wait till after the holidays to get your decorations you will find amazing deals, just make sure keep it in a safe place where you will remember it for next year. 
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Push Play For Less

As the months are getting colder, a lot of us like to stay in and wrap ourselves in comfy blankets while watching a good movie. And as you may want to watch a lot of new releases, sometimes when renting from the video store things can get a little costly. If not wanting to take a trip to red box for a movie $1/day, but you love to watch a lot of DVDs then I suggest you get an online DVD store membership. A membership to online movie stores like Netflix or Blockbuster Online can save you a lot of money compared to buying DVDs or renting it from a local store. A video store in IowaImage via Wikipedia
The very minor downfall: Unfortunately there is a little wait once you order the movie, but if you watch a lot of movies at home, then you can easily get into the habit of ordering ahead of time so you always have something at home.

But if not wanting to get a membership, then you can even go to your local library and pick up a movie. Its free.I used to do this a lot, especially when I was in high school and when having to check out books I would just pick up a free movie. You won't really get anything new, but like I said...the movies are FREE. Another thing you can do is find a movie site that allows you to watch movies for free as well…sometimes there are hard to find. And you won’t be able to watch it on T.V. only on your laptop/computer, but once again its another FREE movie option.





Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great deals are still out there

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...Image via Wikipedia
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, great deals are still out there.  Items that didn't sell as well as retailers had hoped will have the same great deals bigger items had.  Whether you're shopping for gifts, groceries or yourself, great deals are all around you.

If you're looking for items that will make your holiday party a hit, make sure you buy at the right time.  Like myself, I assumed that champagne would be more expensive to buy this time of year.  However, that is completely false.  With New Years Eve around the corner, champagne is cheaper to buy in December, when liquor stores are competing against each other for sales.  Not sure what type to buy, check out  store websites, such as Meijer or The Andersons for great tips.

Looking for the perfect meal to serve, you can never go wrong with a Honey Baked Ham.  Coupons and promotions are always offered during the holidays.  Besides, who doesn't love ham?!  I found a coupon for $7 off an 8lb ham or larger.  Check out this link: http://www.honeybakedonline.com/HBOnline/promotions/offers.asp

I also found a Hallmark coupon for $5 off your total purchase.  Since this coupon doesn't have a spending limit, you can purchase $5 worth of items for FREE!  If you feel guilty for getting free goods (and why would you) just spend a dollar or two more.  This coupon is only valid 12/3-12/5 so use it fast.    
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday

Photographed by Daniel Case 2006-11-25 (Black ...Image via Wikipedia
If you couldn't resist hitting your snooze button Friday morning and missed all of the Black Friday deals don’t worry because today is a chance to score some of the same deals again today.

         On Cyber Monday avoid the long lines and crowded stores by going to your stores favorite store and get deep discounts and free shipping on most purchases.

         However, like Black Friday you need to know how and where to get the best deals online. Also you need to be aware of online scammers.


One thing that you should refuse to pay for on Cyber Monday is shipping. If you favorite store is not offering free shipping already then check out these websites for discount codes.  Many of these websites also offer other discounts too. So always check these websites before completing your checkout online.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Inexpensive Pizzazz

huge DIY clothing lotImage by no-frills marilyn. via FlickrOnce again I was looking through one of my other favorite magazines, InStyle magazine and found some fabulous ways to dress up that plain T-shirt in your closet. The best part is you can even go to the thrift store find an inexpensive jacket (especially since the suit jacket/blazer look is really in right now) and add your own pizzazz to it. Two examples that really stood out to me in the magazine included a plain black dress and a plain T-shirt. The dress looked like it could as expensive as $200 and at the same time as inexpensive as $20. To add a pretty crystal look rhinestones were added to the neckline. The rhinestones could simply be purchased at a Jo-Ann Fabrics or even Hobby Lobby. An inexpensive dress that looks like its worth hundreds of dollars was created.

The shirt that was displayed could be purchased at an Old Navy, Wet Seal or even Forever21 for about $7. Then gold safety pins that cost about $3 were added to the shirt. The safety pins were placed on the shoulders of the shirt in a beautiful design. Once again a look that looks more than it cost was created.

I was sooooo…excited when reading about some of these simply creative and inexpensive tips! It even inspired me on ideas for my birthday outfit. :)



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Money down the drain

Money Down the Drain; Day 22/365Image by dimiqueen via Flickr
Cutting cost can be difficult, but there are some things that you can be doing or something you shouldn’t be doing that can instantly save you more money.  The following simple tricks will prevent you from throwing money down the drain.
Drive smarter
                First off, if it’s not already cleaned and organized remove all unnecessary items from your car. Extra weight in the car weighs the car down making you have to use more gas then you need to.    
                Another obvious hint that I tend to forget is go the speed limit. Not only are traffic tickets expensive but by remaining at a constant speed will prevent you from pushing down on the gas pedal. If you have a “lead foot” use your cruise control to prevent you from speeding.    
Take advantage of rewards
                Almost all reward cards are free and if you have been swiping your grocery savings card every time you go through the check out or have been racking up points with your gas rewards card, don’t forget to use it. Many rewards cards can help you save money on gas or help you earn gift cards to other stores.
                You can also check with the bank to see what kind of reward points you can earn with a debit or credit cards. However, make sure you read the fine print before signing up. Some rewards cards charge an annual fee to earn the rewards or require you to log your points every month.
Returning or reselling unused items
                Buying something you realize you will never use more than once never feels good. So check with store return policies to see if you can get cash back for items you bought and make sure you return within the restricted time limit. If the stores cannot refund you for your purchase check out stores that buy used items or try selling on the internet.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Find it quicker with Google maps

To help you find the best deals in town, we've put together a map of some of the BEST places to save BIG.  Have a couple shops that aren't listed, share them with us.


View Money saving shops in a larger map

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preparing your Thanksgiving Day meal

Place cards for Thanksgiving dinner 2008.Image via Wikipedia
Saving money on your Thanksgiving meal is pretty easy.  With a couple of quick steps, you too can take advantage of the great savings stores are offering.


First you will want to plan ahead. Know what are you going to serve, how many people are coming, and who is bringing what dish, if any.  If you are  responsible for the entire meal, you'll want to be as savvy as possible when it comes to shopping.


Look to multiple stores for savings.  Store fliers may seem like a great deal, but you can sometimes end up spending more than you bargained for.  Look through the ads of all your local grocers and compare prices.  If one store is having a better sale than the others, see if they match competitors prices.  This way, you will save time and gas with one stop shopping.  


If farmer markets in your area are still open, now is the time to buy your squash and cabbage. The cabbage will last a while, but the squash will need to be cooked and freeze ahead of time. Any other vegetables you may want to use can be done the same way.  If you have a little extra, freeze em and use em in a later dish.


For meats, buy your turkey frozen.  This will allow you to feed more and save a little extra too.  If your looking at have a variety of meats available, such as ham or kielbasa, look for companies such as Honey Baked Ham which may offer coupons or specials during the holiday season.  Don't forget to use coupons in the grocery store too for extra savings.


And of course, don't forget to reuse some of your old Halloween decorations.  Pumpkins and hay are always a great look in the fall and will allow you to get one extra use out of them.    


  
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Small Items, Big Pennys

I was recently reading Cosmopolitan magazine and after reading about another money-saving trick I just had to share this with you. Of course we’ve all heard about eBay and craiglists.com, Image representing Gazelle as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBasebut there is also another website that allows you to sale things to them for cash. Gazelle.com. The site pays for you to ship any of your unwanted gadgets to them then they recycle the parts. So your getting money for recycled parts you thought were trash.
How Does It Work?
When visiting the site you will be asked to type in your “products specs” then answer a few questions about its condition and whether you have accessories like chargers, adapters or earpieces. Gazelle will then give you in instant quote. If you accept, the company will send you a pre-paid envelope or box, which you use to ship them your item. Gazelle will inspect it, and if everything checks out, send you payment via check or PayPal within several weeks. If Gazelle does not agree with your assessment of the product and a counter-offer cannot be reached, the company will return your item free of charge.

Can I Sell Anything?
Gazelle will purchase items in nine categories: cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, GPS devices, laptops, camcorders, gaming consoles, satellite radios, and portable hard drives. The site currently has a catalogue of more than 18,000 products. If someone makes an offer on a product not in the database, Gazelle will research it and provide an offer.

How Is This Different From Other Sites such as Ebay?
Ebay does not provide an instant quote, and as a consumer, you run the risk of paying to list an item that might not sell.

I know after reading about this I will be shipping my old iPod to them. It doesn’t work anymore, but I may be able to get a pretty little penny for it. Cosmopolitan magazine said it spoke to a subscriber that got $102 for an old Blackberry. I don’t know about you, but that screams at least two weeks worth of groceries…or even a new pair of nice fall boots!




Friday, November 12, 2010

Bottled Water

This is a picture of a spilled water bottle.Image via Wikipedia It’s so convenient to buy a big bulk of 24 bottles water bottles, so every time before you head out the door, all you have to do is grab a bottle. And not to mention, it taste so much better than faucet (we’ll this is what most people say). But you don’t have to keep buying water bottle after water bottle.


To keep a little change in your pocket it would be smart to:
-refill the water bottle that you already bought with faucet water once you are finished.
-Purchase a water jug/bottle that you can use again
-Purchase a Brita Filter

Doing at least one of these three things will not only help to money in your pocket, but it is also a great benefit to the environment. Instead of buying so many plastic water bottles you can just keep refilling the one you bought at the beginning of the week or the plastic jug that you already have hidden in you kitchen cabinet. Then this helps to keep you from running to the vending machine when you need another bottle of water.



Design on a dime

Picture of a Sitcom Furniture bedroom set that...Image via Wikipedia
Creating the perfect ambiance for your home can be challenging.  For many people like myself, we like a variety of pieces from different styles.  Its knowing how to make all of our favorite pieces work that can be challenging.  Here's my advice:

1.  Stick with what you like.  If you have pieces of furniture that clash, find a way to make them work.  Something as simple as sanding or repainting a piece can make a world of a difference.
2.  Add an accent piece.  This can give your focus pieces a little more color, adding more attention to them.  Accent pieces can be fun, so go crazy!  They don't have to necessarily match as long as they fit the flow of your room.
3.  Add an area rug.  Area rugs can change the entire flow of your room.  It can be loud, allowing you to use simple, quiet and 'clean' furniture or it can be simple, allowing you to use bold pieces in your home.
4.  Change your lighting.  By reducing the wattage of your light bulb, you will be able to create a softer, more romantic atmosphere.  If you don't like the lamps you have, simple redecorate your lamp shade with lace, buttons or anything else you have around the house. 

To find furniture pieces that wont break the bank, shop at places such as Hobby Lobby, IKEA, flea markets or clearance racks.  You can find the same items that are listed in high end stores for a fraction of the price.  This is allow you to get the most of your dollar while creating a great look that is sure to impress all of your friends and family.   



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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jazz up your Ramen

A package of Nissin Chikin Ramen, the first in...Image via Wikipedia
As if you haven’t noticed already the only groceries you can afford come in a box, are under a dollar and the cooking instructions include you opening up a microwave. While mac and cheese and Ramen Noodles are an okay meal every now and then, they get very boring night after night. However, there are a few simple and most importantly cheap ways you can add a little more flavor to your food.
Alfredo Ramen Noodles
                Add a different taste to the same old package of Ramen Noodle. This works with any flavor. All you need is your favorite flavor of Ramen Noodles, roughly 2 tablespoons of butter and milk and about a cup of grated parmesan cheese. Cook your noodle as you normally would then mix in the remaining ingredients.
Starbucks quality coffee
                If you are still stopping at Starbucks everyday and wonder why your wallet is always empty then shame on you.  You can simply recreate your favorite cappy- frappy- cino for less. All you need for this simple trick is some black coffee and flavored creamer. It’s really that easy.  Many grocery stores carry a variety of different creamer flavors, by mixing the right amount of coffee, creamer and sugar your can become your own café barista. Also for the month of November, Burger King is giving away free coffee every Friday, so now you can really save some money on this deal.
Baked potato
If you haven’t tried it already to make a twiced-baked potato try it! It’s easy, cheap and DELICIOUS  All you need besides your potato is a tablespoon sour cream and milk and shredded cheese (I also sometimes include bacon if I have it already). Bake a potato until it is soft on the inside.  Slice the potato open on one side and scoop out all of white stuff, leaving just the potato skin. Mix together the potato, milk and sour cream and then place back inside the potato skin. Top if off with cheese and place into the oven until cheese is melted.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Spend your night in

After a whole day neither eating nor drinking ...Image via Wikipedia
As the end of the week soon approaches, many of us are making plans on where to meet our friends out.  Whether it's grabbing a bite to eat or having a couple of drinks, most of us need that time with our best buds to unwind from our busy work week.

But think about this.  A simple dinner with one of your fiends can costs anywhere from $50-$100.  Drinks can cost just as much, depending on what you're drinking.  So why not call your closest friends and spend the night in?  Suggest to your friends that some of them bring items to cook and some of them bring drinks (bottle of wine, liquor, beer, etc.).   You can recreate a dinner night out for half the price and have twice as much fun and much needed bonding time.

To trim the cost of food and liquor, avoid shopping at grocery stores.  For meats, shop at your local meat market.  The price of meat is much cheaper than those at your local grocer.  For alcohol, go to a winery.  Wine is usually a couple of dollars cheaper and alcohol is cheaper too!  You can still have the best of the best while staying in.  Don't let this do it yourself task fool you.  


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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Coupons...Not For College Students?

Grocery Coupons - Tearpad shelf display of cou...Image by Hotcouponworld.com via FlickrBowling Green, OH—Cutting out all of the little pieces of paper may just be too time consuming or it could be a little embarrassing to pull out a lot of coupons at the grocery store. But when knowing how much money coupons can keep in your pocket, why aren’t more people taking the time to collect these “miracle money savers?”
I spoke to a few college students about saving money with coupons. Tara Weis, Bowling Green State University student, is very money conscious. As she is always looking for more tips on how to save money, especially in the grocery store, she admits that she still isn’t an ad vet coupon user.
“Most of the time when I go to the grocery store, I just usually buy the off brand products, I rarely think to collect coupons,” said Weis.
Collecting coupons is not just about saving money, it takes a lot of time, patience and organization to collect coupons. Sometimes it is more simple to find the best store deals.
“Collecting coupons is a little time consuming, but to be honest…I just never really think to collect them. I always think to just get some of the least expensive food items in the store,” said Weis.
A few other college students from the community commented on why they are not using coupons, the reasons include:
-Coupons can only be collected in the Sunday newspaper.
-There are coupons on the internet, but you have to print them…and ink cartridges are not cheap.
-Coupons are not cool.
-It’s too time consuming to cut out coupons.
-Can save very little to no money with coupons.
-Do not always think to use them.
-Coupons are unnecessary
Tony Hunter, marketing and promotions assistant director for Bowling Green State University, was not surprised to hear the reasons of why college students do not use coupons. When Hunter was in college he rarely used coupons, however he strongly advises students to use them whenever possible.
“Looking back, I would have used coupons a lot more frequently while in college. We have a free coupon book here on campus. I would advise students to take full advantage of it,” said Hunter.
The coupon books are available throughout BGSU’s campus, filled with coupons for restaurants, local stores and even tattoo parlors. There is at least $150 dollars worth of savings in each book. However not every student uses the book. BGSU student, Autumn Dettmann picks up at least two of the free coupon books at the beginning of every semester but doesn’t utilize them very much.
“Sometimes I’ll use four to five coupons then I forget to use the book for the rest of the semester. A lot of times I accidentally leave it at home. Carrying around a book of coupons is not always convenient” said Dettmann.
As its not always easy to remember a coupon book when running out the door, technology has made it a little bit easier for people to use coupons. Due to a report from NPR, some companies are sending out text-message coupons that arrive to your cell phone. And sites like AOL's shortcuts.com make it possible to load coupons on customer loyalty cards, which means going paperless.
Dettmann said she would use coupons a lot more frequently if they were sent to her via text message: “it would be like ‘icoupons’ just for you, sent directly to your phone. Wow…that would be really cool.”
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Investigate your lost money

It is amazing how fast a pay check can go. By the time you have you tank filled, your rent paid and you have the groceries for the week you bank account gets pretty close to zero.  Managing your money and still finding some cash to save can be difficult  However, by using the resources around it can be a little easier to keep money in your pocket.
HIALEAH, FL - OCTOBER 30:  Pedro Linares uses ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
            I think some people forget, including myself, forget how many free services the University offers to help students. Student Money Management Service (SMMS) offers counseling, advice and tools to help student properly manage their money. Interim Director of SMMS, Patricia Donnelly says, “We listen to help students identify their financial education needs.  Then, we help students develop a plan to meet those needs.  We also assist students as they begin to create a personal spending plan.”
Ø  Schedule appointments with a finance counselor
Ø  Go to a group discussion on managing money
Ø  Track your daily and monthly spending habits
Ø  Use financial calculators
Tracking where your money goes helps you understand where you need to stick to a budget. This helps you see where the bulk of your money is going and avoid making unnecessary purchases. As with any problem you may have there is a solution online. At Kiplinger.com you can keep track of your purchases and visually see where your money is going.
            Clarky Davis, author of “Debt Diva's 2008 Financial Guide”, says it’s not only important to track where you money goes but to also make plans for where it’s going to go. For example:


Budget
Actual
Groceries
$30
$ 32
Gas
$50
$ 47
Entertainment
$15
$18
Miscellaneous (Birthday present, dining out)
$ 0
$0


By keeping track of what you want to spend you can see what you are doing right and wrong when it comes to spending your money.
            From a student’s perspective keeping track of finances does help, “Too often have a got my credit card statement and realized that I should have been keeping a tighter budget on myself,” says senior Jason Brown. After spending more than what he thinks is a responsible amount to be spending, Brown made some adjustments on his spending habits. “Instead of eating out a couple times a week, I only went out to eat a couple times a month.”  Brown also says that he thought more carefully before making purchases, “I had to decide what I needed and what I wanted. And for the things that I really wanted I had to decide if this was the best time to buy it.”
            Deciding between your wants and need isn’t always an easy decision. You need the basics at the grocery store, however you do not need name- brand items and 8 different types of cookies, just get what you really need. After slowly building up information on what you spent and then analyzing, saving money won’t seem so difficult.
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