25 Home Depot Shopping Tips & Tricks to Save Money

Since purchasing my first fixer-upper home a few years back, I’ve set foot inside the Home Depot at least 100 times, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many visits I’ve made to the home improvement giant’s website.

I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I’ve saved many thousands of dollars too.

If you’re planning a home improvement project to reduce homeownership costs, improve your home’s energy efficiency, or increase your home’s value — or if you’re just taking care of a few DIY projects — check out these tips and tricks.

How to Save Money Shopping at Home Depot

These are the most reliable tips to save money at Home Depot. They range from little-known discounts to well-worn advice on shopping trip timing.

1. Find Home Depot Coupons

Home Depot’s coupon page is a goldmine for discounts and deals in-store and online. If you’re planning a store visit, scroll to the bottom to search for your local ad, which contains time-limited sales not advertised elsewhere on Home Depot’s website.

2. Sign Up for Text Alerts

Sign up for Home Depot’s text alerts if your mobile provider doesn’t charge for inbound SMS messages. You’ll receive at least several messages per week.

Home Depot’s text alerts aren’t particularly well targeted. I’ve received countless offers from departments I’ve never purchased anything in.

But enough alerts are relevant to justify signing up, especially if you’re in the early stages of a big project that will require multiple trips to Home Depot. You can always unsubscribe when you complete the project.

3. Join the Email List for a One-Time Discount

Sign up for Home Depot’s free email list to earn $5 off your next purchase online or in-store. The discount comes as an emailed coupon.

After signing up, you receive Home Depot’s occasional promotion emails, which offer:

  • In-store and online discounts and savings opportunities
  • How-to guides for DIYers
  • Home improvement project ideas and tips

If you’re worried about the extra emails, popular email suites like Gmail divert promotional emails into a separate inbox (labeled “Promotions”) to keep users’ primary inboxes clear. Or you can set up a filter of your own. You’ll barely notice the additional message volume.

4. Search HomeDepot.com for Product-Specific Rebates

Home Depot’s rebate center advertises thousands of rebates on specific products. Part of the reason it has so many is because Home Depot rebates apply at the SKU (unique stock number) level.

That means products that come in different configurations or sizes are likely to have multiple rebates associated with them — different rebate amounts for different sizes, for example.

Many individual SKUs are also eligible for more than one rebate. For instance, an energy-efficient appliance might qualify for a green energy tax credit, a utility company rebate, and a manufacturer rebate.

You must apply for each rebate separately online or by mail, but it’s worth the trouble when you stand to save hundreds on a major purchase.

5. Check for Overstock Deals

Home Depot’s special values include hundreds of overstock products in your local store, either in stock or eligible for ship-to-store. Many are deeply discounted — over 50% in some cases.

It can be hard to find the exact color or specifications you’d like. But if you’re not picky, it’s a fantastic place to find deals on the home goods you need.

If you’re already in your Home Depot store or planning to venture in anyway, check the back for heavily discounted overstock and damaged merchandise. In the rear of the lumber department, old boards sell for up to 70% off, and store staff will cut up to two lengths for free.

Nearby, there’s often a cart or two of miscellaneous discounted products with cosmetic dings or dents that don’t impact function.

6. Look for Daily Deals

Home Depot runs enticing daily deals every day. The category-specific Special Buy of the Day rotates through fairly broad product categories, such as residential water treatment systems and whole-home cooling systems.

7. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card With Rotating Categories

Using a cash-back rewards card with rotating cash-back categories is a must every time you patronize a home improvement retailer.

Your best bet is the Chase Freedom Flex credit card (read our Chase Freedom Flex review) and its quarterly rotating 5% categories. Home improvement stores enter the rotation every year or two. However, Chase makes no guarantees about what’s in store for the future (and typically doesn’t reveal 5% categories until a few weeks before the start of a new quarter).

8. Take Advantage of Temporary Credit Card Offers

Chase Freedom isn’t the only credit card that promises above-average rewards on Home Depot purchases.

Other Chase credit cards have been known to extend time-limited bonus opportunities to cardholders. Examples include the Chase Freedom® Unlimited credit card (read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card (read our Sapphire Preferred review).

Amex Offers, a members-only discount database for American Express cardholders, usually includes home improvement stores as well.

9. Wait for Promotions to Make Major Purchases

Whether you’re planning a major DIY or contracted home improvement project, it always pays to wait for the right time to purchase your supplies. Once you’ve finished your shopping list, visit or call to ask about upcoming promotions.

You probably won’t have to wait long.

For example, before a major kitchen renovation, my wife and I purchased cabinets and countertops in two separate orders. We bagged the countertops as soon as we decided on the material and pattern to avoid missing a 20%-off sale. But we waited two weeks after settling on cabinets to make the purchase. That was just long enough to snag 30% off that part of the order.

Our design tech told us we probably wouldn’t have to wait longer than two more months for the next cabinets promotion.

10. Be the Squeaky Wheel

Don’t hesitate to escalate. This trick is near-universal in the retail world, but I’ve had excellent luck with it at Home Depot. Department and store managers have tremendous leeway on pricing.

Even rank-and-file department employees are authorized to knock up to $50 off merchandise if the customer isn’t satisfied.

I thought I’d gotten a good deal on new interior French doors during a 15% off sale, but when it took longer than promised to receive them, I politely complained and got another $50 off on the spot.

11. Take Advantage of Special Financing on Major Purchases

Home Depot offers interest-free financing on large purchases for credit-qualified customers.

Chain-wide, the standard deal is a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for six months on purchases of $299 or more. Individual stores may offer longer interest-free deals on larger purchases.

I’ve taken advantage of a 24-month 0%-APR financing period on a four-figure purchase (the threshold was $1,999 in that instance). That’s the longest interest-free financing period I’ve seen at Home Depot.

But applying for Home Depot’s 0%-APR financing offers means submitting to a hard credit pull that temporarily lowers your credit score by a few points. If approved, you receive a credit card with a credit limit determined by things like your credit score and income.

The larger the purchase amount, the higher your initial credit utilization ratio. And on substantial purchases, your credit limit could be just a little higher than the purchase price. That also negatively affects your credit score, with the effects lingering until you mostly pay off your balance.

Make up for the hit by keeping your credit card account open and unused after paying off the initial balance. I keep my Home Depot credit card in the bottom of a secure filing cabinet, where it’s remained untouched since it arrived.

There’s another perk to using a Home Depot credit card or credit line: an extended return window.

You can return most merchandise (except those listed as uncovered by Home Depot’s return policy) purchased with qualifying Home Depot credit products for up to one year (365 days) from the purchase date.

12. Capitalize on Home Depot’s Expansive Price-Match Policy

Home Depot’s low-price guarantee includes a generous price-match policy that covers in-store and online purchases.

If you find a lower advertised price on an identical product to one you purchased from Home Depot, Home Depot will match that price and the competitor’s shipping rate (if any) and reimburse the difference.

13. Rent a Truck at Your Local Home Depot

Are you moving across town? Or planning to haul the results of your DIY demolition project to the dump?

Before overpaying for a U-Haul or calling in a favor from that one friend with a pickup truck, check your local Home Depot. Though selection varies by store, many have flatbeds (essentially heavy-duty pickups) and box trucks (large moving vans) available for rent by the hour or day.

Home Depot’s truck and tool rental page has more details. For flatbeds, the ideal rental window is two hours or less, after which hourly pricing rises steeply.

14. Rent Tools Before You Buy

Home Depot rents a slew of tools that are too expensive, bulky, or specialized for most people to invest in, especially if you’re only using them occasionally or for one project.

After confirming the tool you need isn’t in stock at your neighborhood tool lending library or hardware store, both of which will probably be cheaper to rent on an hourly basis, stop by your local Home Depot warehouse.

Not all locations offer tools for rent, so check online beforehand.

15. Look for Prices Ending in 6 and 3

It’s easy to spot in-store discounts at Home Depot. Just find the yellow price tags and look at the last numeral. If it’s a 6, it’s a good deal. If it’s a 3, it’s a great deal. It’s the lowest the department is willing to go on that particular merchandise.

Discounted prices ending in 6 typically last for six weeks. Then, the price drops to one ending in 3, where it remains until the product sells out or Home Depot removes unsold inventory to make room for higher-margin stock.

16. Return Dead or Unproductive Plants Within One Year for a Full Refund

The Home Depot garden center’s return policy is better than any other department’s. Perennials, trees, and shrubs all carry a one-year (365-day) guarantee.

If they die or fail to bear flowers or fruit (when applicable) during that period, you can return them for a full refund.

17. Take Advantage of Recurring Annual or Seasonal Sales

Home Depot excels at seasonal sales. At any given time, at least one department is holding a blockbuster clearance event. Examples include:

  • Plants. The garden center typically offers the most enticing deals in April, or whenever spring comes to your neck of the woods. In colder climates, fall sales on perennials, including trees and shrubs, typically feature massive markdowns. Members of the Home Depot Garden Club may qualify for additional discounts and sales not available to the general public as part of their free membership.
  • Holiday Decor and Accessories. Holiday decorations like wreaths, natural and artificial Christmas trees, and serving ware first go on sale during Black Friday week. The home improvement giant marks them down even further in January.
  • Grills. The week of July Fourth is the best time to buy grills at Home Depot.
  • Paint. Paint discounts peak on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, with savings up to 40%.
  • Kitchen and Bath. The first quarter of the year is the best time to make significant kitchen and bath purchases at Home Depot.
  • Patio Furniture. Take advantage of clearance items in Home Depot’s patio furniture department during the waning days of patio season, which can vary by geography.

18. Set Up Subscriptions for Recurring Purchases

Home Depot Subscriptions is a recurring home delivery program that promises 5% savings across the board on household staples like coffee, cleaning supplies, air filters, and pet food.

The program also touts contractor staples, such as job site safety equipment, painting supplies, and power tool accessories.

But Home Depot Subscriptions isn’t the only subscription service. So confirm it’s cost-competitive with alternatives like Amazon Subscribe & Save before enrolling.

19. Leverage Your Military Status

Home Depot treats service members well. Active-duty and retired career personnel get 10% military discounts on every order.

But Home Depot doesn’t leave out veterans entirely. It also offers the same 10% discount to veterans, including honorably discharged enlistees and reservists, during select holiday periods, such as the days leading up to Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

20. Buy Floor Models

If you’re in the market for a major appliance and don’t mind one other people have touched and ogled, buy the floor model. It isn’t always apparent whether floor models are for sale, so ask the department manager if you’re unsure.

And while haggling isn’t common elsewhere at Home Depot, managers are authorized to move older display inventory to make room for newer stock. Discounts of up to 30% off aren’t out of the question.

21. Buy Oops Paint

When you’re doing a project that doesn’t involved finding the perfect hue, such as painting the inside of your garage, turn to the Home Depot paint department’s “oops paint,” the term it uses for paints that are the result of mixing mistakes.

For color-flexible customers, the standard oops discount is about 70% per gallon.

22. Buy From the Pro Desk for Deeper Discounts

The Home Depot Pro Desk primarily deals with professional contractors, but it’s willing to make an exception for high-rolling DIYers too.

If your purchase list adds up to more than $1,500, you qualify for Home Depot’s Volume Pricing Program, which promises up to 30% off materials and supplies.

Technically, you need to join the free Pro Xtras club to get the discount, but it’s often possible to work out a one-time deal with whomever’s on staff at the Pro Desk.

If you’re not planning to spend $1,500 or more on your DIY project, you can still take advantage of bulk pricing on raw materials like tile, lumber, and plumbing.

When available, the bulk price appears on the same price tag as the regular price along with the minimum qualifying quantity.

23. Ask for Recent or Forthcoming Sale Pricing

Home Depot department heads have leeway to extend sale pricing upon request. Asking for a deal that ended last week (or isn’t scheduled to begin until next week) won’t pan out every time.

If you can, waiting for the next sale is a better bet. Still, asking for sale pricing outside sale periods is worth a shot.

24. Get Warrantied Tools Repaired In-Store

If the tool or appliance you bought at Home Depot malfunctions before its manufacturer’s warranty period expires, bring it into your local store for repair. As long as the warranty is valid and the problem arose from regular use, Home Depot doesn’t charge for repairs.

Better yet, it files the warranty claim on your behalf, saving you time and eliminating the suspense of waiting for approval.

25. Use Third-Party Resources to Save Even More

These resources aren’t directly affiliated with Home Depot, but that doesn’t mean they can’t significantly reduce your net spending with the home improvement giant:

  • Paribus. Sometimes, we don’t realize we’ve overspent until days or weeks after the fact. Capital One’s Paribus crawls the Internet for price declines, automatically notifies the user when it finds a lower price on a purchased product, and helps them recover the difference. Paribus is free for Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards credit card users, among others. (Read our Capital One Venture and Capital One Quicksilver reviews.)
  • Gift Card Resellers. Buy discounted Home Depot gift cards through resellers like Raise.
  • Cash-Back Apps. Find unique coupon codes or cash-back opportunities from popular cash-back apps like Ibotta, Honey, and BeFrugal. For best results, install the apps’ browser plug-in and shop online to get a reminder to activate them while shopping.

Final Word

Finding what you’re after in a mammoth Home Depot store isn’t always easy.

Paying less after locating it than you would at another home improvement superstore? Comparatively, that’s a snap.

With so many reliable ways to save money at America’s largest home improvement superstore, it’s a wonder DIYers shop anywhere else. As you plan your next home remodel project or seasonal appliance purchase, don’t forget to look for the savings opportunities.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I’d Change)

Dave Ramsey has helped thousands of people around the world through the 7 Baby Steps for financial peace and freedom.

The process works.

His book titled the Total Money Makeover has had some impressive sales numbers. The book has sold over 5 million copies and has been on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling list for over 500 weeks. (That data is from August 2017, over 4 years ago, so it’s sold more by now.)

So, we know that the 7 Baby Steps work. There’s a lot to love above the process, and we will address 4 of those attributes here. We will also cover 4 things that we think could be updated this year (as it has been almost 30 years since the Baby Steps were created).

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7 Baby Steps really do work. There are three great reasons why the plan actual works:

a. The Baby Steps Force You To Get Gazelle Intense When It Comes To Paying Off Debt

I’ll mention this later, but I really appreciate that Dave Ramsey keeps the emergency fund smaller to force you to be gazelle intense. Having such a small emergency fund of $1000 really does force you to get out of debt faster because having too much money in the bank can cause you to stagnate. 

b. Dave Strongly Encourages Your Behavior Modification

Too many financial gurus don’t give it to you straight. They may tell you that you need to invest in real estate or cryptocurrency.  It often feels like a lie that you can achieve financial freedom without putting in a lot of work.

Dave Ramsey comes off as blunt many times, but he forces people to confront that the debt is often our fault (with some exceptions). His bluntness, along with the Baby Steps, forces you to self-reflect.

c. The Plan Is Simple And Shows How You Need To Focus On One Step At A Time

I’ll mention this more below, but it’s evident that his focused intensity on the Baby Steps plan helps you stay focused on the task. You complete the first 3 steps consecutively and the following 4 steps concurrently in a prioritized order. 

You don’t have to multitask. Also, you don’t need to think about another step. You just need to focus on the step at hand.

2) Dave Ramsey Is Right That You Need A Plan

Dave Ramsey has many helpful quotes. One of my favorite of Dave Ramsey’s quotes is, “You must plan your work and then work your plan”. 

Too often we go through life without a plan, but we expect that everything is going to work out just fine. I remember the first time I budgeted.  I thought that I spent a certain amount of money on eating out each month, only to realize that number was much higher.

We need plans. It could be a debt payoff plan to stay on top of your debt. It could also be a budget to understand your income and expenses. Or it could be a plan to pay off your home early as per Baby Step 6.

Dave Ramsey understood that which is why the Baby Steps plan is so useful. You stick to the plan and you get out of debt. Voila.

3) The Baby Steps Get Progressively More Challenging

One thing I noticed early was that the Baby Steps seems to get progressively more challenging. This helps build momentum. It is much easier to save $1000 than to pay off your house early. By starting and taking baby steps, the baby steps themselves actually don’t feel very babyish. 

Paying off your home early per Baby Step 6 feels much more like a big kid step, but it’s still just a Baby Step like the others. It’s impressive how Dave structured these baby steps.

4) The Community Around Dave Ramsey Baby Steps Is Incredible

You don’t have to look far to realize that the community around Dave Ramsey is incredible. You can take a Financial Peace University class at your local church. These classes are excellent to encourage you and help keep you accountable while you eliminate debt. You’ll learn the baby steps inside and out with others in your community. 

You can also be a part of a vibrant Dave Ramsey Facebook Community. Personally, I am a part of many of these communities where I receive a ton of encouragement when sharing wins and losses in the process of debt elimination.

There’s a lot to love about the Dave Ramsey Baby Step method.

Now, let’s cover a few things that could use a refresh.

1) Can Creating A Budget Be Baby Step #1?

I am a budget fanatic. I would love to see a Baby Step dedicated to budgeting. Why? Because budgeting helps you understand where every dollar goes. I used “every dollar” like that on purpose because Dave Ramsey himself created a budget app called EveryDollar for that very purpose.

What better way to understand how much money you have to put towards your emergency fund than starting with a budget.

I am not sure why Dave doesn’t start with a budget, but I would be keen to start the Baby Steps with creating one.

2) Dave Ramsey’s Emergency Fund May Need A Refresh

Dave Ramsey’s emergency fund calls you to save $1,000 in Baby Step 1. Is $1,000 enough? It really depends. 

First, adjusted for inflation, $1,000 in 1990 is now worth $2,043.26 per the US Inflation Calculator.

Dave Ramsey's emergency fund needs to be larger due to inflation

There’s a plethora of questions you can ask yourself when considering whether the emergency fund is big enough, such as:

  1. How much debt do you have to pay off?
  2. Do you own a home?
  3. How old is your car?
  4. How many kids do you have?
  5. Do you have insurance?

Another question I like to ask is, “where do you live?”. Personally, my family and I live in the Bay Area, California where the cost of living tends to be quite high. $1,000 wouldn’t get us very far.

3) Is The Snowball Method The Best Way To Pay Off Debt?

As a refresh, the debt snowball method means that you line up your debts from smallest to largest and pay your monthly extra to your smallest debt first then snowball into higher debts. The debt avalanche method is where you line up your debts from the highest interest rate and use your monthly extra to pay off the highest interest first. The savvy debt method is where you pay off 1-2 of your smallest balances first via snowball before reverting to the avalanche method to save the most in interest.

Dave Ramsey loves the debt snowball method. It has worked for many people, so why wouldn’t he? He feels the opposite for the debt avalanche where he mentions that it doesn’t work.

The challenge is that you could lose thousands in interest if your smallest debts also have the smallest interest rates. This can be possible because higher debt amounts carry a higher risk to the lenders, meaning potentially higher interest rates.

You can see how much the snowball method loses in comparison through this debt payoff calculator which compares interest paid from snowball to savvy methods. For reference, we are comparing 4 debts: $23,000 at 22%, $18,000 at 19%, $12,000 at 9% and $8,000 at 7% interest rate. The monthly payment is $1,825.00

debt snowball versus other debt payoff methods

In this example, you would lose over $3,500 in interest by choosing the snowball method.

Does that mean that the snowball method is always worse? Absolutely not. The snowball method may provide the psychological benefit that you need to exterminate your debt.

You choose the debt payoff app and debt payoff method that is best for you.

4) Should You Follow Dave Ramsey’s Advice And Pay Off Your House Early Or Invest?

Dave Ramsey loves mutual funds and paying off your home early. My question is what if your mutual funds are making so much more in interest than paying off your home would save you?

Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to continue to pay off your home and then get the higher interest from investing in mutual funds?  It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it is something to consider.

There are also often benefits of not paying off your home early such as interest paid being tax-deductible. That said, you would really need to determine whether you would make more money from mutual funds than saving from interest payments to determine what’s best for you.

What Do You Think About The Baby Steps?

The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps have helped thousands around the globe. What do you like about the Baby Steps? Do you agree or disagree with what we would change in 2021?

4 things I love about Dave Ramsey's baby steps and 4 things I'd change

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I'd Change)

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Which Bills to Pay Off First (or Cancel) When Money Runs Tight

Whether it’s from job loss due to a recession, a drop in income, or an unexpected major expense, there may come a time when you struggle to pay your bills. What can you do when your income and expenses don’t match up?

It’s essential you prioritize your bill payments and what you owe, paying the most important bills first.

Bills to Prioritize When You’re Low on Money

The most important bills are those that cover the necessities: shelter, food, water, and heat, for example.

The next most important are bills that cover things that make it possible for you to get where you need to go, such as your vehicle expenses.

Last on the list are bills that can ding your credit history, but not much else, if you fall behind on them.

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining.

1. Mortgage or Rent

If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you.

Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening. Keeping up with your housing payments is a must if you want to stay in your home.

When money is really tight and you’re not sure you can pull together enough to make a payment one month, the best thing to do is talk to your landlord or lender.

Many mortgage lenders have programs in place to help homeowners who are facing financial hardship. Your lender can review your options, such as forbearance or loan modification, with you.

During forbearance, you stop making payments on your loan, but interest continues to accrue. If a lender agrees to modify your loan, they adjust your interest rate or otherwise make changes to lower your monthly payment.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has programs available to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. You can contact HUD to connect with an approved counseling agency. The counselor can work with you to create a plan to help you avoid foreclosure.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord as soon as you know you’ll have difficulty paying rent. Explain the situation to them in detail, including whether you think you’ll be late with payment, won’t be able to pay all your monthly rent, or won’t be able to pay at all.

Many landlords are willing to work with you to come up with a solution. You can help the situation by suggesting solutions.

For example, if you’re going to pay late, tell the landlord when you plan to make the payment. If you can’t pay the full amount this month, tell the landlord how you’ll make up the difference. For example, you can add an extra $100 or so to subsequent payments until you pay off the balance.

If you’re renting and your landlord can’t or won’t be flexible about payments, you might have more wiggle room than a homeowner.

Depending on how much time you have left on the lease, you can simply wait it out, then look for a less expensive place to live. Another option is to try to find someone to take over your lease so you can move somewhere that costs less.

2. Utilities

After your mortgage or rent payment, the next most important bills are your utility bills: gas, water and sewage, and electricity. Although some people count TV and the Internet as utilities, those services aren’t essential for everyone.

Fortunately, many programs exist to help people who need emergency financial assistance paying bills. The first place to look is your local utility provider. Many utility companies have programs to help people pay their bills.

Another option is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to help people pay energy bills. LIHEAP has specific income requirements and is grant-funded, meaning only a set amount of money is available each year.

If you think you qualify for LIHEAP, the sooner you apply for it, the better your chances of receiving aid.

3. Insurance Premiums

Having insurance is always a good idea, as it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move. Without insurance, medical bills can easily add up.

If you’re struggling to afford your premiums, you do have some options, particularly when it comes to health insurance.

If you purchased a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve recently lost your job and associated coverage, if you’ve had a change in income, if you’ve gotten divorced, and for a few other reasons.

During the special enrollment period, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is below the threshold or a credit on your insurance premiums based on your income. Doing so can lower the cost of your health insurance considerably.

4. Food & Household Necessities

Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials.

Luckily, you have more wiggle room when it comes to adapting your food and household supply costs compared to your mortgage or rent payments and utility bills.

When money’s tight, there are many ways you can trim your food and supplies bill:

  • Limit Shopping Trips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you need, and go to the store once. The more you go to the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
  • Buy Store-Brand Items. Store-brand products usually taste the same as or similar to their brand-name counterparts, but they cost a lot less. If you typically purchase branded foods and supplies, try switching to the store brand. It’s likely the only place you’ll notice a difference is in your wallet.
  • Limit Packaged Products. Packaged foods, such as grated cheese, bagged salads, and prechopped vegetables are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. You can save a lot if you buy whole, unprocessed foods and prepare them at home.
  • Skip Bottled Water. If you live in the U.S., it’s highly likely your tap water is safe to drink. According to the CDC, the U.S.’s water supply is among the safest in the world. Bottled water is expensive and terrible for the environment and is often little more than repackaged municipal water.
  • Buy In-Season Produce. Pay attention to seasons when shopping for fresh produce. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries are usually in season and inexpensive during the summer but cost more in the winter. You can cut your grocery costs if you buy what’s in season.
  • Grow Your Own. Another way to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Herbs and green vegetables are usually the most cost-effective edible plants to grow, as you can get an entire plant for the price of a handful of herbs or greens at the grocery store. You don’t need a ton of outdoor space to start a garden. You can grow plants in containers on a small balcony or patio.
  • Use Your Freezer. Frozen vegetables and fruit often cost less than fresh, so it pays to purchase those when money is tight. You can also prep double batches of meals to freeze for later. That way, if you run out of money before the end of the month, you have a supply of ready-to-eat meals waiting for you.

Note too that depending on your income, you can qualify for financial assistance with groceries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, helps to cover the cost of groceries for people with income below certain thresholds.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re saving as much money as possible on your grocery trip. Apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to save money on purchases by simply scanning and uploading your receipts.

5. Car Loan & Other Expenses

Your car gets you to and from work and other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a monthly car payment, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it.

Just as you can call your mortgage company to work out a deal, you can call the lender behind your car loan to see if you can come to an agreement. Like mortgage companies, these lenders can also offer you loan modifications, refinancing, or forbearance.

Loan modification or refinance can lower the amount of your monthly payments, making it easier for you to afford the car. Forbearance means you don’t make payments for a set period.

Another option is to sell your current vehicle, use the proceeds to pay off the loan, then purchase a less expensive model. If you decide to sell, look for a replacement car that has a low cost of ownership to keep your expenses low. Some vehicles are more reliable than others, meaning you don’t have to worry about expensive repair or maintenance bills.

6. Unsecured Debts

Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life.

You don’t go hungry if you miss a credit card payment, nor can your credit card company take your home or car if you pay late.

That said, it’s still best to pay what you can toward unsecured debts, such as the minimum due on a credit card. If even that is too much for you right now, contact the card company or lender. Sometimes, credit card companies are willing to work with you to create a debt repayment plan or let you temporarily pause payments.

7. Student Loans

While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans.

If you have federal student loans and you’re struggling to keep up with payments, you have multiple options. You can request a deferment or forbearance from your loan servicer, or you can switch to an income-driven repayment plan, which adjusts the amount you pay each month based on your income.

The situation with private student loans is a bit different, as they don’t have the same protections as the federal student loan program.

If you’re having trouble affording private student loan payments, your best option is to contact the lender to see if it offers forbearance, repayment plans, or loan modification.


What to Cancel When Money Is Tight

While some monthly bills are essential, others are considerably less so. Budgeting often involves deciding what you need to spend money on and what you can live without.

When it’s a struggle to make ends meet, here’s what you can consider cutting:

Subscription Services

Netflix, print or digital newspapers, and meal kits are all things that can go. In many cases, you can find free alternatives to the subscriptions you were paying for. For example, some local libraries give you access to streaming movies and local or national newspapers for free.

Make sure you don’t miss any subscriptions that you might have forgotten about. Services like Truebill will find subscriptions and either cancel them or negotiate lower rates for you.

Cable and Internet Service

You may not want to disconnect your Internet completely, but see if you can switch to a slower, less expensive plan.

If you have data on your phone, some providers, like Xfinity Mobile, let you use your phone as a hotspot to get online. In this case, you wouldn’t need a separate home Internet plan.

Phone Service

While you do need your phone to stay connected, you most likely don’t need both a landline and a cellphone. You probably don’t need the most expensive cellphone plan, either.

Shop around with companies like Mint Mobile or Ting to see if you can get a better deal.

Gym Memberships and Wellness Services

Maintaining your well-being is important, especially when money is tight. But if you’re worried about having enough money to pay your most important bills, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a monthly gym membership or studio pass.

There are plenty of ways to work out for free from the comfort of your home. For example, you can find workouts available for free on YouTube.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s vital you focus on paying for the things that can help you sustain your life and well-being, such as food and shelter, when times are tight.

While a missed payment can affect your credit history, in desperate situations, your health and safety are more important than your credit score.

Along with prioritizing your monthly bills, talk to your lenders and service providers. Many companies have programs in place to keep you from sinking deeper into debt and to help you avoid repossession of your home or vehicle. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember you’ll get through it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Pros and Cons of using Gas Credit Cards

The choice on whether to go for gas credit cards or use other financial tools at the pump is not an easy one. This cashless system is marketed as a convenient and easy way to fuel your car. That said; there are high rates and other limitations to contend with. To help you make an informed decision, here are the pros and cons of using gas credit cards.

Pros

Discounts on Purchases

Gas Credit CardsGas Credit CardsOne of the driving factors of having a gas credit card is the discounts associated with their use. With most of these cards you get to pay less per gallon than the fuel pump price. Considering the ever increasing gas prices, this cash backs can go a long way in saving you money which can go towards other purchases.

These programs are structured in a way that you get larger discounts during the first few months after card issuance. For example, the ExxonMobil fuel card offers 12 cents off per gallon for the first 2 months and 6 cents off thereafter.

Accumulating Reward Points

Another incentive to using a fuel card is the reward program. These are points per gallon that you accumulate with each gas purchase. A typical reward of 1 point per gallon gives the average American driver about 540 points yearly. This calculation is based on an estimate of 25 Miles/Gallon and 13,476mi which is the average annual miles per driver. Reward points can be redeemed once they accumulate to 100 and over. These can be used for gas or other needs like snacks and carwashes at select businesses.

A Hassle-free and Convenient Payment System

When using cash, one has to line up at the till to pay for gas. This can lose you precious time from your busy life. However with a gas card, all you need is to pull up at the gas station, fuel and swipe at the pump and in a few minutes you are back on the road.

Another plus on using a gas card is the convenience that it offers. This comes in handy because you may not always have cash to fuel your car. Just like other credit cards, you get billed at the end of the month for your purchases. This helps you in keeping track of your gas bill; essentially making you stick to your budget.

Cons

High Interest Rates

One of the major disadvantages of using a gas credit card is the high interest rates that they attract. On average they charge 24% on interest. That is 9 percentages points more than the average rate for all credit cards which is currently at 15% APR. A card whose balance is not cleared at the end of the month can end up accruing a sizable debt. This may be much more than the discounts and rewards can make up for.

Simply put, continued misuse of the card can lower your credit score. One of way to mitigate this is going for cards with a 0% introductory offer. This will at least cushion you for a few months as you get your gas budget in order.

Ease of Spending

When using cash, you can’t gas your car with more than what is in your wallet. A gas card on the other hand eliminates this ‘inconvenience’. However the card can lead to uncontrollable spending with total disregard to your budget.

Think of it this way; without gas money, you will probably have to do with public transport. This will unconsciously save you money when you are cash-strapped. But why would you go through the hassle if that small plastic card can fill up your tank?

Usage Limitations

If you depend on your credit card for all your fueling, you may find yourself with fewer options on where to buy. This is because the cards are mostly issued by gas stations to be used in their own branded outlets. This puts you at a disadvantage if you move or drive to a state where the brand doesn’t operate, or has few outlets.

Bottom Line

Gas credit cards are a convenient way of fueling your car. They come with reward points and can save you money via their discount programs. The advantages can however be diminished by high interest rates and the danger of overspending. It is therefore advisable to weigh both the pros and cons before you make your decision.

Source: creditabsolute.com

7 Tips for a Successful Transition After High School

High school graduation is a huge accomplishment. It’s the culmination of 12 dedicated years in the classroom, but it’s only the beginning of adulthood. Mighty Mommy shares seven tips to help your graduate transition to a fulfilling adult life.

By

Cheryl Butler
June 14, 2021

to-do list.”

Learning to manage your time is one of the most critical skills for leading a productive life. But it’s also one of the most difficult to learn. I assumed that my kids would follow suit with my organizational skillset, but I quickly learned that most of them had no concept of managing their time. 

We practiced this skill a lot in our household. We made lists, figured out how much time every task needed, and worked backwards to understand when something needed to start in order to finish on time. It takes practice, but once they hone in on the concept of being in control of their time, they will master the rest of their goals much more quickly.  

Check out the episode Time Management Tips for College Students to prepare your high school grad for adult life.

Tip #2: Understanding personal finances is critical

When I was in high school (many moons ago), the emphasis was on algebra, calculus, and geometry. I don’t recall one class that focused on personal finance. That has changed a bit now, but if there is one critical skill I’d wish for every high school graduate to take seriously, it’s getting a handle on personal finance. 

Learning to manage your money means understanding how to keep track of your income and expenses. This includes managing a debit and credit card, setting a budget, saving money, and investing.

Quick and Dirty Tips’ financial expert, Laura Adams, has lots of practical advice for all stages of life. Her popular episode, How to Create a Personal Finance System for Money Success, has tangible steps to understand and navigate your finances. 

Tip #3: Communication skills are key

Financial know-how is essential, but another winning skill for all high school graduates is the art of communication. Good communication skills include speaking, listening, writing, and non-verbally using body language, eye contact, and even posture. 

Effective communication takes practice, but now is the time for your young adult to pay attention to how he/she interacts with others so that this skill can be groomed and perfected. It will be critical for their professional and personal success.

Check out this helpful video, 5 Conversation and Communications Tips (With Exercises), that can help anyone kick their communication skills up a notch or two!  

Tip #4: Don’t let stuff manage your life

It’s easy to get swept away with the novelty of having the latest electronics, smartphones, sports equipment, trendy clothes, and other accessories. But at what cost? In my episode Here’s What Happened When I Became a Minimalist Mom, I share the down-to-earth benefits of not letting material possessions rule your life. If your student can grasp this now rather than later, he/she will live a well-intentioned life.  

It’s easy to get swept away with the novelty of having the latest electronics, smartphones, sports equipment, trendy clothes, and other accessories. But at what cost?

Tip #5: Your health is not optional

I remember how alive and free I felt after graduating high school. I was active, healthy, and full of energy. Because I was young and wasn’t sick often, I know I didn’t prioritize my health. 

I consider myself lucky to have sustained good health with such a carefree attitude, but I remind my eight kids never to take their health for granted. As young adults start venturing into the world independently, they need to recognize the importance of maintaining good health, in both body and mind. Have open and candid health conversations with your kids, including recognizing the risks of substance abuse and sexual health and safety.

For more excellent health and fitness advice, check out the Get-Fit Guy and Nutrition Diva podcasts.  

Tip #6: Never stop learning

When we graduate from high school or college, many of us are ready for a learning break. It’s normal to want to walk away from textbooks, structured curriculums, and course deadlines, but we all soon realize that life is a learning journey. 

Quick and Dirty Tips’ workplace expert Rachel Cooke (aka the Modern Mentor), shared some excellent advice on how to stay hungry in the quest to learn more in her episode The 2021 Career Wisdom You Need from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She shared a great quote from the late Supreme Court Justice in response to a letter from an eight-year-old girl: 

“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.” 

There are endless ways to fill your mind with new information. Listen to podcasts, find topics that interest you on YouTube, explore your local library, visit museums, attend free talks at nearby universities. The only limits are the ones created by you. 

Tip #7: Cultivate meaningful relationships

High school is usually a time when kids bond and make some of their best friends. Once graduation happens, however, kids head off to different colleges or paths in life. New friendships will blossom after graduation, along with romantic partners, work relationships, and professional interests. 

Those of us who have had lifelong besties are truly blessed. In addition, having a close relationship with siblings, cousins, and other family members is also essential. 

Encourage your young adult to nurture quality friendships and special relationships as part of his/her’s transition into the world of adulthood. The Mayo Clinic’s article, “Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health,” explains that solid friendships play a significant role in promoting our overall health and offer suggestions on cultivating these relationships.