Tips to Save on Groceries and Dining Out

Many people find themselves repeatedly shocked by the price of their groceries at the checkout line. The price of food seems to go up every week and most people feel like there’s little they can do about it but cut corners in other places. There are, however, many frugal eating habits you can build that will save you a ton of money on food, whether it’s on groceries or eating out. Follow these frugal eating tips to start saving this week.

Set down ground rules on eating out

You don’t have to totally deprive yourself of the luxury of eating out to save money. But there are many ways you can cut back on spending. Start tracking your spending by using a budgeting app, by checking your bank account, or just by using a pad of paper. Keep track of every quick stop for a sandwich, every trip to a fast food restaurant, and even every coffee you buy during the week. Many people are shocked to find that they spend up to $100 a month just on their daily caffeinated beverages.

Now that you know the damage you’ll be more motivated to make a change. Switch to making your own coffee. Buy yourself a nice travel mug and make it your best friend.

When it comes to dining out at restaurants, make them special occasions. Decide with your significant other on two or three days of the month (every other Saturday maybe) when you’ll go on a date night together. If you’re flying solo, treat yourself to the same two nights out, whether it’s just you or you’re with friends.

Save on groceries

There are a number of ways to spend less at the checkout line that won’t require you to eat any less or sacrifice nutrition. In fact, many of these tips will actually be healthier for you depending on your own eating habits and nutritional needs.

  • Buy in bulk. Certain staple items are much less expensive when bought in bulk. Rice and dried beans come in huge bags that will last months and there are an unlimited number of recipes you can make with these two items. Other great items to buy in bulk: frozen vegetables, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, toilet paper, and trash bags.
  • Cut back on meat. Americans eat a lot of meat. It isn’t uncommon for some families to have meat every night of the week. If that’s the case for you, try having one meat-free meal day. That alone will save you up to $15 per month. Vegetarian and vegan food options are endless and delicious, so you might soon find yourself spending less and less on meat at the grocery store.
  • Cook your lunches in advance. Rather than starving at lunch or suffering the same peanut putter sandwiches every day, make all of your lunches for the week on Sunday afternoon. There are a ton of bulk lunch recipes around the internet. Some suggestions: burritos, personal pizzas, crock pot meals, and stir-fry recipes are all easy to package for the week and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Make a menu and a shopping list. Most people jot down a few things they need and then choose other items at random at the grocery store. Instead, make a menu for the week and buy only what you need.
  • Research frugal recipes. There are several books and websites devoted to frugal recipe ideas. How frugal? Some recipes are filling, nutritious, and cost as little as $1.00 per person to make.

Mortgage Rates: To Lock or Not

To lock or not to lock that is always the question. If you are shopping for a home loan or refinancing a mortgage, your mortgage lender will require you to lock your rate on the amount borrowed no later than five days prior to closing. Locking a rate guarantees the interest rate for a set period of time. The decision to lock or not is a question of timing your purchase or refinance with the market.

Consumers can get in trouble with a rate lock because there is a deadline on when escrow needs to close. Borrowers should comparison shop loans considering the mortgage rate locks vary in time length. If you are unable to meet the deadline the costs can accumulate.

Here are some common options:

15-day lock: Is the “lowest-cost rate” available. The loan needs to be approved by underwriting to take advantage of this lock.
30-day lock: This is the fair market rate and is most commonly used for interest rate locking upfront before loan approval.

45-day lock: Used for transactions taking longer, whether the loan is approved or not.

60-day lock: Can be used in circumstances where the loan is prolonged. This option does not usually offer the best interest rate for the consumer.

Interest rates can vary by as much as 0.25 percent on the longer rate locks compared against 30-day and 15-day rate locks. The bottom line, the longer the lock, the more risk the lender takes and the slightly more costly the loan.

 

 

How To Keep More Of Your Paycheck Without Moving

Move into a house that has a smaller price tag on it and you could keep more of your paycheck, perhaps as much as ten percent or more of your paycheck. But, moving has unique expenses like shipping, transportation and labor. You’d also have to shop for a new home, play closing costs and inspection and mortgage fees.

Lower housing costs without leaving the home you love

And if you love where you currently live, moving may be the last thing that you want to do. Yet, you still need more money. Look over these tips to learn how you could keep more of your paycheck without moving,

  • Roll credit card balances into lower interest accounts. Pay attention to the fine print. Some cards start low then jump as high as 23% a year after you open the account.
  • Combine student loans into one low interest account. Check with your bank to see if they offer this service. If not,consider getting the service from another lender. If you choose this route,make sure that the total monthly payments and total interest that you will pay on the combined loans is lower than what you would have had to pay had you not combined the loans.
  • Rent out a portion of your home. You could receive several hundred dollars a month if you rent out one floor of your house.
  • Take on part-time freelance work. By working as a freelancer, you could work from home and increase your overall income. Set your own hours, deciding if you’re only going to work three, five or ten hours a week as a freelancer.
  • Conduct a monthly yard sale. A good yard sale can bring in a thousand dollars or more. Organizing a yard sale is also a good way to keep your house clear of clutter.
  • Create and stick to a budget. This is a habit that can pay off for years. Identify how much you are going to spend on food,clothing, entertainment, home upgrades and travel. See if you can cut back $100 a month on unnecessary spending.
  • Pay yourself first. Invest in an IRA or another savings plan before you go shopping.
  • Switch to lower cable, telephone and Internet plans. Are you paying for cable channels that you hardly ever watch? Consider switching to a lower priced plan. You may also find a better rate with a competitor.
  • Avoid giving into your children’s whims to buy them more toys or electronic gadgets. Steer clear of emotional spending to keep more of your paycheck without moving.

It doesn’t take a major repair to send you dipping into your savings to maintain your home. Routine lawn, roofing or wiring care can add up. Let your home owners association raise its fees or your local municipality raise property taxes and you’ll have less of your paycheck to keep. Fortunately, there are choices that you could make that allow you to enjoy keeping a larger portion of your income,without you having to move or log more hours at work.