5 Fast Ways to Save Money in February

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Can you believe that it’s already February? 2019 is well underway, and February is the shortest month of the entire year. So, if you find yourself with a full to-do list, you may find yourself very busy this month, as February has the smallest number of working days.

The good news is that when it comes to money, lots of tiny little steps can add up to a BIG difference. Whether you’re dealing with a job loss, or celebrating a promotion at work, or just holding steady with the same-old-same-old, consider five fast ways to save money this month:

Check Your Payroll Deductions

In this new year, your take-home pay may be different due to personal circumstances. Your tax situation or your relationship status may have changed. Maybe now you’re a parent with a new baby! Maybe you’ve gained income from a side hustle or maybe you’ve lost income from the only job you’ve ever had in your entire life. Regardless of the changes, check all your pay stubs and make sure there are no mistakes. If you’re receiving unemployment income, verify that the amount you’re receiving matches the amount the state has awarded to you. Human error happens, so make sure you’re not losing out on anything!

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Buy Some Candy- After Valentine’s Day

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying wait until February 15th to buy a sweet for your sweetie! What I am saying is that I personally can never have too much chocolate, so I will be watching the stores for the post-Valentine’s Day sales to stock up on extra chocolate. I don’t care what kind of packaging it comes in – chocolate is chocolate to me! If you have a sweet tooth, the day after Valentine’s Day can be a clearance paradise, so you too can stock up (unless your significant other has loaded you down with so much chocolate that you have no room for more).

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Love-Themed, Heart-Themed, I-Love-You, I-Like-You, Anything Sales

Going hand-in-hand with the candy that gets marked down on February 15, you might see other items marked down after Valentine’s Day. Think items like cups, napkins, paper plates, guest towels, hand towels, candles, coffee mugs, pencils, pens, random things like that. Anything seasonal in the Valentine’s Day area will probably be marked down the day after. These types of things could be great to pick up and you could score a great deal on them. If it’s a cute hand towel with a heart on it, you could potentially use it year round in your bathroom (if it’s a good quality and it holds up). If you’re planning a wedding or an anniversary party, you might even get lucky and find supplies you can use (that are cheaper than items marketed as “wedding”).

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Saving Money on Energy Costs

Another area to really think about with savings is your energy bill. If you live in a part of the country that’s impacted by extreme cold this time of year, you know how much of a connection there is between the weather and the energy bill. If you can just do a quick walk-through of your home, you may be able to assess the opportunities to save energy. Are your windows, doors, or other parts of your home allowing cold air to pour in? Are there unfinished rooms of your home that you might be able to insulate? Would a space heater make you more comfortable when it gets really cold? Just thinking about a problem won’t fix it, but it’s a starting step.

Use Your Christmas Gift Cards

Do you still have gift cards left over from Christmas? If so, now is the perfect time to use them. A lot of brick and mortar stores are doing their final markdowns – clearing out the winter stock to make room for spring items – which can give you some nice deals to start with. Combine that with a gift card, and you can get an even better deal. Thinking through a list of items you need or want in advance can help you make the most of it.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

6 Things to Buy When You’re Almost Out of Grocery Money

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What would you do if you were almost out of money to buy groceries? It’s understandable if that would cause you to go into a panic mode.

But it’s not just a hypothetical scenario – some people are actually facing that question now. Due to the government shut down, some people are actually having to ask themselves: What bill will I pay first? How will I pay my rent? How will I pay my light and water bills? How much can I really spend on groceries? These folks have jobs, but their employer – the government – isn’t open for business. So, no work = no pay.

It’s a tough spot to be in. I’ve been without work before and the process of a job search that will go on indefinitely was, for me, an anxious time of waiting and wondering.  But wondering where your next meal is going to come from doesn’t have to be part of a time of unemployment if you can do some planning in advance, as much as you can.

I like to keep a list of grocery staples for when times are lean. This might help you if you’re trying to trim your grocery budget when times are good also. Each item has a specific reason for why you should buy it when your funds are running low. This isn’t a comprehensive list that will keep you fed, but it is a starting point for how to start planning if you’re running out of grocery money.

Coffee

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Unless you don’t drink coffee, this would be at the top of my list in a budget crisis. Although it’s not a food, coffee is highly addictive and running out of it could not only cause headaches but a cranky mood! If you drink coffee every day, having that first cup in the morning can give you energy and motivation to start your day. Pick it up at the grocery store – get the grocery’s store off-brand – that way you avoid any morning trips to the cafeteria at work, fast food restaurants, or gas stations to get your fix. These little purchases add up when you charge it on a credit card.

Tea

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If you don’t like coffee, you might want to pick up some tea. And even if you do drink coffee, there are some added benefits to hot tea. If you’re in truly desperate times, hot tea can distract you if you have nothing to eat. Peppermint tea can assist with mental clarity and alertness. Chamomile tea can help with relaxation and alleviating stress. Because I’m trying to lose weight, I also find that hot tea distracts me from food. You can pick up a box of 10 or 20 tea packets as cheap as $1 at a dollar store. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that.

Bread

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What you want to do is look for bread that is marked down, buy some extra, and freeze it. Get your extra loaf of bread, wrap it in a plastic bag, tie it down, and freeze it to prevent freezer burn. Don’t be discouraged by the “sell by” date- be smart about it! The “sell by” date is NOT the expiration date – it’s the date the product must be sold by, not the date it must be consumed by. I would not serve to guests bread that has been frozen because yes, there is a difference in quality. However, it is still safe and will meet your needs when you’re looking at potentially going without.

Butter

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Butter is an item I love to pick up and freeze; it has so many uses. If you’re doing the ketogenic diet, you may have heard of putting butter in your coffee to get sustained energy. I haven’t tried this, but it’s a possibility. I like to buy butter (not margarine) in stick form and freeze it, and for my purposes, freezing doesn’t compromise the taste or quality.  Butter on toast will keep you from going hungry; put butter and pancake syrup on toast and you’ll have a gloriously unsophisticated breakfast.

Corn

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I love that corn is a stand-alone item: you can serve it by itself without any addition and it’s just fine. But, you can also try to make salsa if you dare, or serve it in a salad, or place it in some Southwest Mexican burrito bowls, or serve it alongside steak. Corn is versatile like that. For lean times, corn is great because it’s so cheap and it is healthy.

Pasta – Noodles – Spaghetti – Macaroni Shells

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Pasta, spaghetti, bowtie shells, noodles, call them what you will. The final flavored product is pasta and that  is my final item, the item that could keep you afloat for a very long time. It’s been a while since I cooked any of this because there was a long, long spell of time when I cooked it and practically lived off it. I’m pretty sure I gained some weight as a result. This broad category of food I call pasta (a dressed up noodle) can keep you from starving and keep you full. You can buy a box for about a dollar and I recommend this over the ramen noodles that come with the flavoring that is loaded with MSGs that are so harmful to our health.

And there you have it, six items to help you with your planning of  what to buy when you run out of money for groceries. I hope this is helpful to you if you’re experiencing a job loss, a layoff, a budget crisis, or if you just want to save money! Feel free to share your comments in the comments below, and good luck!

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

EASY Last minute Christmas gifts

Today is December 17 – Christmas is roughly one week away! And believe me, I do enjoy my plotting and planning when it comes to gift giving for the holidays.

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Photo courtesy MBisanz via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

It’s all in good fun, of course, planning what to buy and what to give, and maybe even sneaking in a gag gift here or there.

But sometimes the days just sneak up on you and before you know it, you’re in a position where you’re trying to figure out what to buy at the last minute. Maybe you’re not even buying a last-minute Christmas gift – maybe you’re celebrating Hanukkah a week or so late – pushing out a get together after the actual celebration has passed, and you STILL haven’t bought your gifts!

So, if you’re in a pinch trying to figure out what to buy, check out these easy last minute Christmas gifts that could work for several people on your list.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

A Few of My Favorite Dollar Store Things

It’s Christmastime and your days may be filled with various festivities. Whatever you’re doing, hopefully you’re feeling some holiday cheer. Perhaps you’re decking your halls, or making preparations to entertain guests. Maybe you’re doing some Christmas shopping to give gifts for an office party or family get-together.

With all this hustle and bustle that’s bound to be on your calendar, I’d love to share with you a few of my favorite dollar store things. This might help you save a little bit of money while you’re out and about doing your standard holiday shopping.

Dollar Store Cough Drops/Throat Lozenges

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These are truly a must-have given the beginning of brutally cold weather and the inevitable cold and flu season it brings. I personally prefer a Vitamin C throat lozenge rather than the traditional “cough drop” that has the expected medicated taste. Regardless of what you use, you can stock up on a few bags of cough drops or Vitamin C throat lozenges at the dollar store for around a dollar a bag before anyone in your house gets sick, saving you a trip and the added cost the grocery store will charge you.

Dollar Store Tissues

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Again, not a “fun” item, but fighting a cold or flu is never fun, and these things tend to circulate during the colder months. While you’re out and about doing your normal shopping, it doesn’t hurt to stock up on a box or two, especially if you’re having visitors over who may need them. Tissues are another item that the dollar store beats out the grocery store on – for one box, you can normally pay about a dollar or $1.25, without having to watch for sales.

Gift Bags for Christmas Gifts

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I haven’t done as much early Christmas shopping as I usually do, but I lucked out at the dollar store with cheap Christmas bags – 50 cents each! Look for gift bags in solid red or green or even plain brown, as these are “plainer” and they don’t have the embellishments found on Christmas bags – you probably won’t pay as much because you won’t be paying for a logo, glitter, writing, etc. Depending on the size, unless it’s a large bag, you can get gift bags at the dollar store for $1 each. And, after the holidays, you can start stocking up for next year! After the holidays, I watch for prices on gift bags and wrapping paper to drop so I can put some aside for the next year – so I’m shopping in January for NEXT Christmas because the prices are so good. I can pick up some gift bags or wrapping paper, put them in a storage container, and forget about it until next year!

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

How to Pay Less for Christmas gifts

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For all the pretty packages under the Christmas tree, there can be quite a price to be paid. When you’re trying to live within your means, Christmas can be a unique challenge. Christmas is lots of fun but from a financial point of view, it can lead to lots of spending because many of us are trying to show our loved ones how much we love them by spending lots of money on them.

So, in order to snag some deals, you have to be intentional. Retailers know that lots of us love this time of year and we’ll throw in extra purchases like socks, hot cocoa, wrapping paper… anything really if it’s got a snowman slapped on it.

You don’t have to get in over your head this Christmas… You can pay less for Christmas gifts this year, enjoy yourself, treat your family to some gifts they will enjoy, all while coming out with your wallet still intact.