5 Ways To Keep Your Utility Bills Low During Winter

Wasting-Heating-MoneyAs the temperature continues to plunge, our utility bills tend to start rising. If you’re like us you try to fight the cold until you can no longer bear it. From throwing on an extra sweater to breaking out those comfy slippers; we will do just about anything to keep from cranking up that thermostat. But before you turn up your heat, use these winter tips to help keep your utility bill’s down and your buns from freezing off.

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8 Crazy Holiday Shopping Tips To Keep You Sane

Holiday-ShoppingHoliday shopping can be fun and exhausting; joyful yet stressful. Throw in the added hassle of arguing over parking spaces, fender benders, vehicle break-ins, and even car theft can turn any holiday shopping outing into a nightmarish event. Check out these tips for a safe, happy theft preventing holiday season.

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8 Tips To Avoid The Holiday Financial Blues

178077515The holiday season is often marked by over-indulgence—and not just when it comes to the second helpings of that holiday feast. Between all the merrymaking and gift giving, it’s easy to over-spend, leading to the post-holiday financial blues. A little financial planning, however, can keep your holiday budget in check and help prevent buyer’s remorse come January.

1. Make a list and check it twice.
Make a “must-buy” list and then check it carefully. Remember, even small $15 or $20 gifts can really add up. Rather than purchasing a gift for co-workers and friends, consider sending holiday cards, baking cookies or treating them to coffee at a local coffeeshop.

2. Set a holiday budget.
Before you begin shopping, determine exactly how much money you have to spend. Next, set a price limit on gift giving for each recipient on your list. Whether that limit is $25 or $200, remember that it’s not the amount of money we spend on gifts that is important—it’s the memories we make together that truly matter.

3. Budget for non-gift expenses. Many holiday costs are associated with non-gift items, such as decorations, wrapping paper, or hosting family get togethers. When setting your holiday budget, be sure to include these items so there are no post-shopping financial surprises.

4. Keep track of your spending.
A good budget is always evolving. Keep track of your spending as you make purchases so you can determine whether you are over or under on your budget. You don’t have to keep track in a fancy excel spreadsheet, a simple paper and pencil to track your spending will work. If you overspent on decorations, cut back on entertaining. Making adjustments now to correct your spending is far less painful than shifting money around in January to cover those holiday bills.

5. Use cash.
It seems that everyone uses plastic to make purchases whether it be credit cards that give you sky miles or a simple check card. This make the budgeting easy to overspend on that budget. Try taking only cash to the store. This will force you to stick to your budget, and the act of handing over all those bills will also make you more cognizant of what an item actually costs.

6. Start saving early.
Frustrated by holiday shopping this season? Next year, a little pre-planning can help you avoid the shopping blues. Starting this January, put $25 or $50 aside each month in a high-yield savings account. You’ll save more (without feeling the pinch) and build your gift-giving fund.

7. Skip the mall.
Shopping malls and mega stores are designed to provoke impulse spending. It’s easy to go in for one item —and thanks to all those special “buy now” offers—come out with more than you planned and breaking that budget. Shopping online promotes logical spending and smart purchasing decisions. Plus, it makes price comparison easier and saves you time.

8.Shop local.
Instead of heading to another Super Store this holiday season, visit the locally owned businesses in your community. Many communities even offer incentives for shopping at local small businesses. Plus, buying local directly supports jobs in your hometown. Now that’s some gift-giving you can feel good about!
How are you doing with your holiday budget this year? We’d love to know your financial planning tips for staying within your budget and avoiding the post-holiday financial blues!

Saving money is all about make good decisions. You can still have the things you want, in time if properly planned for. Contact an Insurance Architect to see how you can save tons of green without turning blue.