Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Frugal Forum August 20, 2013

I am always the bearer of the hard facts of budgeting. Now that we are heading into our holiday seasons be prepared. Let’s spend some time focusing on getting your finances in order to be ready for your holiday purchases. If you think it is too early to be ready you will be spending more than you expected this season. Take the time now to get credit in order by digging yourself out of debt fast. Start off by knowing what you owe. Although the idea for seeing those numbers in black and white might make you sick knowledge is only power when it comes to tackling your problems. Gather your bills by pulling out your most recent statements for your car loans, student loans, mortgage, rent and any other debt you might owe. Make a simple chart by writing down each company you owe money to in a column on the left side and put these headings across the top: balance, interest rate and minimum monthly payment. You can also use spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or search for “debt repayment plan worksheet” at frugaliving.about.com to download a form. Then fill it in. Now is the time to negotiate any lower payments. Call you credit card companies for a lower interest rate or cable, phone, TV service to get a better plan. Remember all they can say is “No” which leaves you the option to change companies. To eliminate your balances on your credit card you can use the snowball method or the top-down approach. The snowball method means you pay off the smaller balances first, and then direct your extra money to your bigger debts. This method restores your sense of control helping you build momentum along with the confidence you need to reduce your debt. The top-down approach focuses on the credit cards with the highest interest rate first. If you look at your bank credit card bills they now are required to tell you how long it will take to pay off your card by paying the minimum payment plus how much interest you pay. This method makes financial sense but requires discipline and organization. If you have lots of small debts, you’ll need to stay on top of all your minimum payments. If you need help find a low-cost credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org) or consolidatedcredit.org. They can help you create a repayment plan. An agency might be able to arrange lower interest rates or maybe even wipe out interest payments completely where you just need to pay down the principal. Find out up front what the fee will be and whether the agency will handle your monthly payments for you (a good agency will charge no more than $50 for this service). When you get control of your finances continue to focus on saving money. Put away your credit cards and use cash. If you don’t have the cash for the item you don’t get it. Pat yourself on the back and buy yourself a little treat to celebrate getting your finances under control.

Start a trust for your kids with as little as $1. You can open an account for free at TrustEgg.com: the money is invested in a mutual fund. Share the link with relatives so they can make deposits over the years.

Saveup.com provides an incentive for being fiscally responsible. Join the free site, which has benk-level security and enter your account information. Then every time you make a deposit or pay off a bill you’ll get cyber credits you can use to play instant-win games or enter drawings for big-ticket prizes such as cars, college tuition or a monthly $2 million jackpot.

You can get three credit reports every year at annualcreditreport.com. If you’re working to improve your credit score and want to keep tabs on your numbers, bookmark these websites: creditkarma.com and quizzle.com. Each gives one of your three credit scores for free, regardless of whether you’ve already accessed your annual credit report.

Sign up for EcoBonus reward program now to receive a free $80 coupon booklet when you purchase just one participating Organic product and send a picture of your receipt. Earn points for purchasing natural, eco-conscious or socially responsible products then visit their online store to collect your rewards. https://www.ecobonus.com/

Head on over to Scholastic.com and sign up for an account (or sign-in if you already have one) to earn 2 FREE Scholastic books and a FREE Storybook download. Just complete the August Mini Mission by eating breakfast as a family for 5 days, incorporating something nutritious every time. For your submission, list the foods your family ate for each of the 5 meals and how you are making breakfast part of your morning routine. After the 5 days, you’ll be able to receive your 2 FREE Scholastic books!  Keep in mind you’ll need to allow 4-6 weeks for your Scholastic books to arrive at your home. These books have a retail value of $11.98!http://minimissions.scholastic.com/#

On August 29 at 1pm central time register an active-duty member of the military to receive a free gift card from Sears to purchase holiday gifts for their loved ones. http://www.sears.com/shc/s/dap_10153_12605_DAP_Heroes%20at%20Home?sid=I0084400010000100600&aff=Y&PID=6146943&AID=11042411

Don’t forget free pie on Wednesday’s at O’Charley’s restaurant no coupon required. http://www.ocharleys.com/freepiewednesday/

Purchase $30 of P&G participating products and receive $10 prepaid VISA card by mail rebate. Expires September 30, 2013. http://pgsmartsavings.com/

Buy one 4 pack of Frusion C-Charged drink until October 15, 2013, mail in your receipt with mail-in-rebate offer to be refunded up to $3.99. https://www.facebook.com/FrusionSmoothies/app_599788450050788

The USTA and Nickelodeon are bringing tennis to more kids to get the whole family active. Get playing at a FREE event near you this September. These events are open to all ages and skill levels. http://www.youthtennis.com/find_an_event/

Receive $5 back when you spend $25 on any Nature’s Bounty product at Kroger when you use your Kroger Plus Card at time of purchase. Expires September 21, 2013.

Buy one get one free Photo Book from Kodak. Just like them on their facebook page for coupon to use at any Kodak Picture Kiosk https://www.facebook.com/kodak/app_1401711796717141

First time HSN shoppers can get $20 off an item of $40 or more through September 30 with coupon code 135235. www.hsn.com

Receive $5 off your school uniform order of $25 or more at Staples just enter coupon code 51337. Order online at www.staples.com/backtoschool or by phone at 1-800-333-3330.
Earn supercash from Old Navy when you make a purchase through September 4. You will earn $10 in supercash when you spend $25 or $20 supercash when you spend $50. Use your supercash September 12 through September 18 for purchases at Old Navy. http://oldnavy.gap.com/

Like’ the Beneful Facebook page to request a FREE sample pack containing Healthy Smile Adult Dog Food, Dental Dog Treats in Twists or Ridges and coupons. This offer will be available through 12/31/13 or while supplies last. https://www.facebook.com/beneful/app_355827794445303
Free K-cup Brew Over Ice when you like them on their facebook page

Through August 22nd, head on over to Shutterfly where you can snag a FREE 12 month Personalized Desk or Wall Calendar ($21.99 value!) with promo code FBFREECAL at checkout – just pay shipping! Keep in mind that shipping appears to start at $5.99.www.shutterfly.com

Two year subscription to Bazaar magazine - if you qualify (I always do)

Black & Decker LE750 Edge Hog 2-¼ Electric Edger was $168.29 now $63.26

$8 off two entrees at Outback Steakhouse

Free one year subscription to SELF magazine

Free sample of Zamboost Immune Supplement