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Why You Might Not Need a New Budget for the New Year

So, we’re a month into 2023, and the sheen might’ve dulled from all your shiny New Year’s resolutions. Though diet and exercise are the top things you might want to change, there’s one you might not need to touch – your budget. Here’s a discussion about who does and doesn’t need to revamp their finances.

Who Needs a New Budget?

Budgets are always a good idea. They help you save money and pay off debt. But only a few folks need to create a new one. According to Annette Harris, founder of Harris Financial Coaching, you need a new budget if you are:

  • Unable to keep up with expenses
  • Falling behind on debt payments
  • Borrowing money from others
  • Relying on credit cards
  • Using payday lenders

But on the flipside, some positive life events may also call for a fresh look at your budget:

  • Buying a house
  • Planning home improvements
  • Sending a child to college

Now, if you’re debt-free, saving, and investing, then a new budget probably won’t provide much value. Further, Harris says that if you don’t have children that you’re putting through college, don’t have any upcoming big purchases, continue to spend wisely and build your net worth, don’t bother changing what you’re already doing. In other words, of it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

The Stigma Around the ‘B’ Word

That would be “budget.” Jesse Mecham, founder of the app You Need a Budget aka YNAB, has a good explanation about why this is so. He says that this very term (budget) is among the reasons that people don’t follow through with setting one – and sticking with it. He says that generally, people think it means restriction, deprivation, or diet. What you need, he says, is a shift in perspective. If you think about a budget being a plan for intentional spending, no matter what year it is, you always want to be intentional. Makes good sense, right?

Some Budgets Might Even Cause Harm

Dana Miranda, founder of the “budget-free” financial ed website Healthy Rich, believes that budgets can do more harm than good. She says that people inevitably feel like they’re failing and aim for a fresh start at the beginning of the year, but no amount of recommitting to budgeting can make the realities of your life fit into the unrealistic restriction of a budget. Miranda says when people are stressed about money, they budget. When they succeed, it’s great. But when they fail, they feel like a failure and, consequently, are even more stressed, much like dieting.

Alternatives to Budgeting

Here are three other ways to get a handle on your finances in the New Year.

Track Your Goals

We’re not talking about counting every dollar but focusing on goals. Instead of not overspending, eating out less, or avoiding online shopping, find areas in your budget that can help you accomplish your goals – one at a time. For instance, if you want to save for college for your kids, buy an investment property, or create a vacation fund, set up a tracker with a defined timeline and work toward that. It’s easier to narrowly focus on one important goal than on everything all at once.

Create an Annual Budget

This is in contrast to a monthly budget. This helps you accommodate for variables – life stuff – that inevitably come your way and knock you off course. According to Harris, take time to map out monthly costs, travel plans, and home renovations, along with any one-time and variable recurring costs. The bills you pay regularly are easy to anticipate; it’s the ones you don’t that will throw you a curveball.

Look at Your Relationship With Money

Ask yourself things like:

  • Do I find joy in the way I make money?
  • Are the commitments I made (like a monthly savings amount) still working for me?
  • Am I achieving what I want?
  • Am I at peace with the way I spend?

Harris says self-awareness found through journaling, meditation, yoga, and prayer are great ways to harness conscious spending. They contribute, she says, to helping you become more intentional with the way you spend.

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. However, with a few helpful hints like these, you can get better and better every day.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/new-budget-new-years-resolution/

2022 Consumer Saving & Spending Behaviors (bankofamerica.com)

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5 Financial Resolutions You Can Live With

For the most part, New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep because many times you either list too many things or ones that aren’t manageable for the long haul – especially those that involve money. Here are a few simple tricks to help you make changes that are bite-sized, easy to implement, and more likely to stick.

Do a five-minute daily money check-in. Life is so busy that sometimes it’s easy to just spend money, then move on to the next task at hand. You might think, “I’ll check my bank balance later,” and then you never do. But if you’re serious about getting a handle on your finances, you might want to try this one thing: give yourself a “money minute.” Select a time of day, maybe after dinner, to log into your bank account. Take stock of what you spent money on. Did you really need that bottled water? That designer coffee? This way, you can nip those small (perhaps unnecessary) expenditures in the bud and make smarter choices in the coming days.

Get a money-saving app. One of the best ones to help you achieve financial goals is Ibotta. Let’s say you want to buy a new pair of running shoes; a good brand that’ll really last. With this app, you’ll save on everyday purchases and when you’ve earned enough cash back, you can cash it in for a gift card from your selected store and get what you really want.

Consider micro savings goals. This technique is actually about rewarding yourself financially for changing your behavior. For instance, every time you go to yoga or Pilates, stash away $5. Or if you wake up early or finish a difficult task, stash away $10. When you’ve saved enough money to buy whatever it is you’ve decided on beforehand, you’ve not only avoided the trap of putting your goodie on credit (and paying interest), but also most likely started a new, healthy habit.

Set up an automatic savings plan. After you’ve paid taxes, insurance premiums and perhaps even your retirement account, you might consider tucking away money for yourself that you’ll never miss. Every. Single. Paycheck. That’s right. When you automatically have a set amount deducted every time you get paid, over time you’ll accumulate a bucket of money to use in whatever way you deem important – it could be saving for a vacation or a new car. It could also be a fund for emergencies. The point is, it’s an easy, failsafe way to save and achieve your goals.

Do one frugal thing a day. This is all about a little bit of forethought and then just taking action. And when you adapt this mindset, you’ll be working daily toward your financial goals like paying off debt, saving money to quit a job you hate, or even having enough extra cash to invest in real estate or whatever strikes your fancy. Here are a few things to consider: drink more water than soda. Eat at home. Use public transportation instead of driving when you can. But this just scratches the surface. For more smart ways to start living frugally, check out this super helpful article. You’ll be surprised at all the ways you can cut back and save.

All of these tricks are easy and, in some cases, no-brainers. When you take a few minutes, set your mind on what you want, anything’s possible. Here’s to fulfilling your dreams in the New Year!

Sources

11 Financial Resolutions That Will Stick in 2023

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Your Year-End Financial Checklist

2022 Your Year-End Financial ChecklistBelieve it or not, the year is coming to a close. If you want to finish strong and set attainable goals for 2023, here’s a handy, actionable checklist to help you navigate upcoming expenditures.

Review Your Spending and Create a Budget

This might seem like Finance 101, but it’s a tried and true method that works. Take a look back to see where your money went. When you’ve evaluated your patterns of spending, you can reset priorities for the New Year, assuming you want to make changes. If you do, sit down and create a budget. Your tax professional will probably have a downloadable tax planning guild so ask them first, but here’s an example of a family-friendly free, downloadable template to get you started on your 2023 plan. 

Rethink Your Savings

If you already have a healthy amount in savings, congrats. Make sure it’s an account that’s interest-bearing and you have the best rate. However, if you had to dip into your emergency savings, then chart a course to replenish it. If you don’t have an emergency fund, it makes good sense to start one. A smart rule to consider is having six months of income saved up, should your heater go out, you experience a sudden job loss, or suffer unforeseen medical expenses that your insurance doesn’t cover. A no-nonsense way to begin is to automate a certain amount each month that will be deducted from your paycheck. You’ll begin to accumulate money in no time. Best of all, you’ll never miss it.

Evaluate Your Debt

Have you made progress in paying it down? Or have you gone the other way?  If you’ve eliminated your debt, once again, congrats. If you’ve increased your debt, don’t despair because there are some easy ways to cut expenses. Slow down on eating out. Review your subscriptions and see which ones you really need. Here’s a list of more areas to consider. Another way to get rid of the shackles of debt is to apply for a consolidation loan. You might also use the debt snowball method—starting with the smallest debt and working your way up to the largest. Or the inverse, the debt avalanche, where you pay off high-interest rate balances first.

Contribute to Your 401(k) by Dec. 31

You still have time to do this, but make sure it happens before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a year-end bonus, you might want to put as much of it as you can toward your 401(k) plan. For the New Year, increase the amount you’re contributing. Just one or more percentage points higher can make a big difference. Finally, if your company offers a match that you have yet to take advantage of (read: max out), do so before it’s too late.

Consider a Roth Conversion

If you’ve experienced a loss of income this year, you may be in a lower tax bracket. This means you can take advantage of your situation by converting some of your pre-tax assets like a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. If you’ve earned too much to convert to a Roth IRA, a back-door Roth IRA contribution might be the way to go. Here’s how you do it: Deposit money into a non-deductible Traditional IRA, then convert that IRA into a Roth IRA. But before you do anything at all, consult your tax advisor, as there are potential costs and tax liabilities that might come up.

Check your FSA Balance

An FSA (Flexible Spending Account) is a great benefit if your employer offers it. However, check your balance to see how much you have left because the rule is: Use it or lose it. That said, many companies offer a grace period until mid-March to spend what you have left, though not all do. Make sure to inquire about the rules of your account before the New Year.

Get a Free Credit Report

When was the last time you checked your credit? If you haven’t done so, now’s a good time because looking back can help you plan ahead. Here’s a great place to get a free report. If you notice any errors or discover any identity theft, you can immediately take steps to correct them and start with a clean slate for 2023.

While taking care of financial matters at the end of the year can be a love/hate kind of thing to do, if you spend a little time now, the coming days might be substantially merrier and bright.

Sources

https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/end-of-year-financial-checklist/

The First 10 Things to Cut from your Budget

https://www.bankrate.com/retirement/what-is-a-backdoor-roth-ira/

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How to Write Great Happy Holiday Emails

How to Write Holiday Email newslettersThere’s no better time than the holidays to show your employees and your clients how much you appreciate them. Here are five simple steps to help you craft the perfect email in no time.

Decide on the Audience and Purpose

Before you begin, determine who will be your recipients. For instance, if you’re writing to your team, it will be a bit different than writing to your clients. However, no matter who you are addressing, you’ll probably want to start by expressing your gratitude. After that, you can further refine your message. If it’s to your employees, acknowledging their hard work and dedication is a great place to start. After that, you might tout the many wins you’ve all experienced over the year. If you’re writing to your clients, you might want to share how great your partnership has been recently and that you’re hoping for an even better year ahead.

Keep it Brief

When expressing a seasonal message, less is more. Take time to think through exactly what you want to say. A good way to begin is to write what you want to say imperfectly. Get the thoughts out – it’s okay if it’s too long. Then come back and refine and cut. But be sure to give yourself enough time to do so. Few things are as challenging as trying to write a great message in a hurry.

Personalize Your Message

Craft your message as if you were talking to an individual, as opposed to a group. You don’t want it to be stuffy or overly corporate. Think about what you’d like to hear. Put yourself in the recipient’s place. Even if you feel your audience is more on the formal side, the holidays are the right time to be transparent and real. No one wants to receive a message that feels forced or fake.

Proofread Your Text

This is critical. Read every single word; and do it out loud. This works. Why? When you don’t do this, your brains fills in missing words. When you speak the words you wrote, you’ll instantly discover your mistakes. Imagine sending a holiday message that says, “Season’s Gratings!” Of course, you’d never do this, but this is hyperbole to make a point.

Choose a Clear Subject Line

Straightforward, concise and professional is what you want to aim for. A few simple examples are:

  • Sending You Warm Holiday Wishes
  • Season’s Greeting From [Company Name]
  • Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season

However, you can always be more creative and weave in something that happened over the year that will resonate with the audience, something that is specific either to your company’s culture or the culture of your client.

At the end of the year, as crazy as things can get with schedules, parties and shopping, it’s always nice to open your inbox and receive a message that warms the heart. These days, with everything that’s going on around us, it can make a world of difference.

Sources

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/happy-holidays-email

 

 

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How to Host Awesome Holiday Office Parties

Fall is here and so are many of the holidays we love. Whether it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving or December holidays, here are some fail-safe things you can do to make sure everyone shows up and has a good time.

Throw a Potluck

One of the easiest ways to lure people away from their desks is – you guessed it – food. Create a sign-up sheet with different categories to make sure you have enough savory and sweet dishes, and provide options for those with dietary restrictions. If you’re the organizer, you might supply the drinks and utensils, maybe even some appetizers or snacks. Depending on the holiday, you might also suggest a theme. If it’s Halloween, you could ask folks to bring their spookiest fare.

Have a Raffle

This is yet another way to get people out of their offices. Everyone who shows up gets a ticket and on the back they’ll sign their name. At different times during the party, have a drawing. Maybe leave the big prize to the end. You could even stipulate that people must be present to win. Some of the prizes you could offer are: gift cards, smart watches, paid time off (PTO) or tickets to an event (a sporting event, a concert, etc.). A weekend at a local hotel (think staycation) or airline tickets are also attractive options. If resources allow, the sky’s the limit.

Designate Secret Santas

During December, this is always a big hit. Employees draw random names and get paired up with someone. The Secret Santa is given a wish list to choose from to give to their giftee. A smart idea is to set a monetary limit, such as gifts for under $25. After opening the present, the giftee has to guess who gave them the gift.

Set Up Games

Think giant Jenga. Pin the carrot nose on the snowman. Cornhole. These can be scheduled or ongoing. And best of all, it’s easy and uncomplicated. Employees can come and go as they wish. A little competition while everyone is noshing is a surefire way to foster employee bonding.

Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange

This is another classic. Everyone brings a wrapped gift and then you draw numbers. People sit in a circle with the presents in the middle, select their gifts in numerical order and unwrap them for all to see. But here’s the fun part: You can steal a gift that someone before you has unwrapped, which causes that person to either select a gift from the pile or steal from someone else. After three steals, the gift is frozen with whoever has it.

Volunteer Together

Working side by side with your colleagues for a purpose greater than yourself always cultivates a sense of community. For example, you could print off blank cards with your company logo on them, then ask employees to send a note of thanks to deployed military members. Another thing you could do with the cards is send a word of encouragement to those who live at places like The Salvation Army. The holidays can bring up lots of emotions, and sending positive messages to others is always a reward in and of itself. After all, when you give, you receive.

If you try one or all of these ideas, taking a break from the grind and enjoying a little non-work fun is not just necessary, it’s critical. When employees can cut loose, as well as feel appreciated and cared for, it’s highly likely you’ll have a happier, healthier workplace.

Sources

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/office-holiday-party

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Top Side Hustles

Top Side HustlesIn our current economy, or anytime actually, it can’t hurt to have a side hustle to bring in extra cash. Some of these options can be quite lucrative, but like everything, it takes a little work to create a steady income stream. However, with a little pre-planning, you can do it. Let’s take a look.

Become a Tutor

Are you a math whiz? A wordsmith? History nut? Whatever your specialty, you can earn between $10 and $75 an hour. You might vary your price based on whether you’re tutoring high school, college or adult education classes. You can conduct your sessions online or in-person –totally up to you and your comfort level. All you have to do is create a lesson plan, then spread the word on social media, contact your local high schools and universities, or tack a notice near a central location such as a local coffee shop. When you’re sharing your knowledge and helping others, it might not feel like work at all.

Deliver Groceries with Instacart

If you haven’t heard of this, you might have seen people in grocery stores with their carts stuffed with brown paper bags full of items, list in hand – these are most likely Instacart workers. In sum, this gig is a same-day grocery delivery app. You shop for other folks; you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket when you’re at the store; and you can start earning money the very first week. Oh, and you get tips. According to ridester.com, you can make anywhere from $200 to $1,000 a week. Pretty easy and cool, right?

Rent an Extra Room Through Airbnb

While this might require some prep like buying extra towels and toiletries, as well as communicating with customers, you can make a lot in the long run. It might take a couple of months to get up and running, but you can bring in around 7 percent to 12 percent of your property value per year.

Help with Finances

If you have a background in accounting or finances, you might start up a business doing someone’s books, taxes or other services that have to do with money and/or budgeting. You can make from $20 to $100 an hour. Be sure to check with your city and state to find out what licenses and certifications you need.

Walk Dogs

Yes, dog walking can bring in more than you think. And you’ve probably seen these hearty souls on the sidewalks, sometimes with more than one furry friend in tow. If you live in a big city, there’s ample opportunity to make this work: you can make between $10 and $100 per day. And this is just a ballpark estimate. Plus, you’ll get your steps in. It’s healthy both fiscally and physically.

Write Resumes and Cover Letters

With all the job seekers out there, you could make a good chunk of change doing this. And you don’t necessarily need to be a writer. If you have a background in HR, recruitment or you’ve worked as a hiring manager, you’ll be ready to go. Hesitant about all that punctuation? One word: grammarly.com. This app will help you navigate all those writing questions you might have that inevitably come up when you’re composing. The average you might earn is somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or more.

One Thing to Note

If you make more than $600, you must report it to the IRS. If you see that your side hustle is booming, if you start making thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year, you might want to start a business. You could enjoy additional tax write-off opportunities so you can keep more of what you earn.

So start exploring, hang those shingles and watch the extra dough come rolling in.

Sources

https://careersidekick.com/side-hustle-ideas/

https://time.com/nextadvisor/financial-independence/best-side-hustles/

How Much Can You Make A Week With Instacart In 2022?

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8 Ways to Save on School Supplies

8 Ways to Save on School SuppliesEven though summer is still somewhat in full swing, school will be starting soon. Yes, you heard that right. This means that you probably need to get prepared for the inevitable cash outlay ahead. But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Here are some ways to navigate the upcoming expenditures and save a penny or two.

Start Early

We’re talking a few weeks ahead, if possible. If you wait until the last minute, supplies might run out. You may have to spend time online searching and/or driving from store to store – and paying the premium both in terms of products and gas. If you spread out purchases a little at a time, you won’t feel the financial hit so severely. Dive in early and you’ll thank yourself when it’s all over.

Conduct a Supply Audit

Dig into those drawers, closets and storage bins for school supplies from last year. Chances are, you bought a set of, say, pencils and all are not used. When you’re done, put what you’ve found in a central location and make your shopping list. Be sure to keep this list handy (on your phone, or in your bag if you’ve handwritten it). Another way to keep track of what you already have is to snap a pic of it.

Swap With Friends

Do this before you spend any money. Organize a small gathering with other parents, trade your wares, figure out what you need, then get going.

Head to the Dollar Store

After you’ve audited and swapped, check out these bargain basement stores. Here, you’ll find big savings on basics like notebooks, pencils, plus hand sanitizer and facial tissues.

Scour Thrift Stores

While thrift stores might not have supplies in terms of schoolwork, they’ll definitely have back-to-school clothes you can buy for a song – aka pretty darn cheap. You might look for backpacks here, too, which are a must-have. Tip: Don’t let your kiddos wear their new duds immediately. Save them for the first day (and days after) so they’ll feel like they’re starting the new year with a 100 percent fresh start.

Shop on a Sales Tax Holiday

Lots of states have these and during this time (or day or weekend), you can buy computers, clothing and school supplies without paying sales tax. Here’s a state sales tax holiday list for you.

Follow Popular Stores on Social Media

Many companies send their followers coupon links and advance notice about juicy sales. Several to watch on Facebook and Twitter are Staples, Office Depot, Target, Best Buy, as well as Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.

Make One Trek Solo

While taking the kiddos along can be fun and a great bonding experience, chances are they’ll plop things in your cart you might not want – and run up the bill. By yourself, you can get in and out quickly and control the cost.

Going back to school can be a challenging transition, both for kids and parents. However, if you plan ahead and stay on track, you can give yourself an A+ for all you’ve accomplished.

Sources

16 Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies & Shopping List

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How to Drive and Get the Best Fuel Efficiency

How to Get the Best Fuel EfficiencyWe’re all feeling the pain at the pump. Unless you decide to walk, bike or take public transportation, you might feel stuck. But all is not lost. Here are some fuel-efficient driving techniques that can help you save hundreds of dollars in fuel each year.

Don’t Drive Too Fast

Of course, when you’re on the highway, you must maintain a certain speed. However, cars, vans and pickups are typically the most fuel-efficient when driving between 50 and 80 mph. If you go any faster, you’ll use more gas. Consider this: When you’re driving roughly 75 miles per hour, you use 20 percent more fuel than you would if you were going around 60 mph. On a 15-mile trip, if you’re driving faster, you’ll only save two minutes. Only you know if shaving two minutes and gulping extra gas from your tank is worth it.

Maintain a Steady Speed

When you drive in bursts, slowing down and then accelerating, your fuel consumption increases. Specifically, tests have shown that varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 mph every 18 seconds can bump up fuel usage by 20 percent. If your car has cruise control, use that. Word from the wise: Slow and steady wins the race.

Accelerate Gently

The heavier your foot is when putting the pedal to the metal, the more gas you use. Here’s how to accelerate and save gas: From a stop, take five seconds to get to 12 mph. You’ll speed on up after that, but the point is to pay attention to when you’re just starting and ease into your journey.

Coast to Decelerate

If you tend to have a heavy brake foot, you’re thwarting your forward momentum. Granted, you want to control your car if you’re in rain or snow. But here’s the trick: Look ahead to see what traffic is like and, if you have some room when you’re headed down that hill, take your foot off the gas and the brake, and enjoy the ride – you’ll conserve fuel and save money.

Try Not to Idle

Except when you’re in traffic, if you’re stopped longer than a minute, turn off your engine. The average vehicle with a three-liter engine drinks in over a cup of fuel for every 10 minutes it idles. Ouch!

Measure Tire Pressure

Do this every month. If your tires are under-inflated by 56 kilopascals (aka 8 pounds per square inch), fuel consumption rises by up to 4 percent. If you don’t know the right tire pressure for your car, look on the edge of the driver’s side door. If your tires are low, it also can reduce the life of them. Make it a habit to check your tires.

Use Credit Cards with Gas Rewards

These cards are usually issued in partnership with a bank and offer a discount on gas, like saving five or six cents off a gallon. Yes, mere pennies; but when you add it up, it makes a difference. A few of the top cards to check out are Citi Custom CashSM Card, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, and Discover it® Cash Back. Here are a few more. Another smart way to save is to get an app like GasBuddy that shows you the cheapest gas near you.

No one knows when gas prices will go down. In the meantime, the only thing you can do is try to work around the situation as best you can. The good news is that nothing lasts forever.

Sources

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/transportation-alternative-fuels/personal-vehicles/fuel-efficient-driving-techniques/21038

https://money.com/people-combatting-high-gas-prices/

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Tips to Save on A/C This Summer

You love summer, don’t you? School’s out and BBQs are on. But what you probably don’t love are those higher air conditioning bills. Here are some tried-and-true ways to help lower the cost of keeping cool.

Change Air Filters

Make sure you switch out your filters before those sizzling summer temps arrive, then once a month after that. When filters are dirty, they block the airflow, which causes your air conditioner to work harder when cooling your home. You’ll not only lower your bills by five to 15 percent, but you will also extend the life of your entire A/C system. If you don’t change those clogged filters, it could create a malfunction and you’ll have to get your unit repaired.

Turn Up Your Thermostat

Set it to 78 degrees and shed a few layers. Yes, this might not be preferable to your icy 72 degrees, but you know what will feel good? Seeing your electricity bill go down 18 percent.

Run the Ceiling Fan

This works in tandem with turning your thermostat to 78 degrees. If you’ve been running your fan clockwise during the previous months, be sure to change the direction so the air moves down into the room.

Invest In a Smart Thermostat

With these babies, you can regulate the temps when you’re not home from an app on your phone or via voice commands. For instance, you can set the A/C to a toasty 80 degrees when you’re not home to save money. Two good brands to check into are Nest and Ecobee, but here’s a list of others. They’re well worth the cost.

Close Your Curtains and Blinds

When the sun’s rays enter your home, they not only heat up the room, but also your thermostat. The best time to shut your curtains and blinds is during the warmest part of the day, between (roughly) 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This will help insulate your windows and stop the cool air from escaping.

Consider the Placement of Your Thermostat

Where do you have this? If it’s next to a hot window, your poor A/C will work harder than it needs to because it will think the room’s hotter than it is. Other places not to put it are near doors that could let in drafts. Or by bathrooms that are usually warm and steamy. In fact, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy advises to avoid placing thermostats near lamps or TVs. Why? They release heat that could confuse the sensors of your poor, struggling device.

Avoid Activities that Heat Up the House

Try to refrain from using the oven, dishwasher or dryer during the middle of the day. This heats up the house. Instead, use the microwave, grill outside or – if you can stand it – wash your dishes by hand. If you need to dry clothes, wait until after sundown.

Check Your Air-Conditioner

If you had some issues with it last summer, get someone (a professional) to take a look at it before the high temps descend upon you. If you make a few small repairs, you’ll save mightily in the long run.

If you implement one or all of these tips, you’ll be in a much better, cooler place come full-on summer, the time of year when you most want to chill.

Sources

8 Best Practices For Saving Money On Air Conditioning This Summer

https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/lower-your-electric-bill-this-summer-with-these-air-conditioni

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How to Save When You’re Broke

If you think saving money is a waste of time, think again. It all comes down to having the right mindset and strategy – even if you don’t have a penny to spare. Here are some ground rules that have proven effective for many. All you have to do is be willing to dive in, change your choices, and revisit the way you approach your finances.

Create a budget and track your expenses. Yes, you’ve probably heard this a million times and you might be thinking: how can I save money if I don’t have any? Here’s what you do. For the next 30 days, try this experiment: track every dollar that’s coming in and going out. Here are things to consider:

  • Except for the basics, where did you spend?
  • Were there items that were wants instead of needs that you might cut?
  • Did you buy name brands or lower-cost options?
  • How can you reduce your spending by 5 percent or 10 percent?

After you’ve digested all this, you’ll have a better picture of what’s going on. A good next step is to consider the zero-sum budget. This method gives every dollar a job and keeps money from slipping through the cracks. Yes, this is pretty micro – but it works.

Grow your income. This might sound like a beat-down since you’re already burning the midnight oil, but remember that this is temporary and a means to an end. If you have an extra room, you might think of renting it out for a few months. If this is outside your comfort zone, find a side hustle that’s fun like dog walking or pet sitting. Or think about jobs you can do on your computer like answering paid surveys. Part-time weekend jobs also are an option. Greeters at Costco make around $24 an hour!

Automate your savings. Again, you’ve heard this, but taking this money off the top before you even see it is key. You never see the money so you don’t ever miss it. And any amount saved can add up over time. Even $5 a paycheck can make a difference.

Have no-spend days. Of course, you have necessary expenses like food and shelter. But what about those days when you don’t want to cook and grab some drive-through grub? Or you see a Starbucks, your car turns around and suddenly, you’re there ordering a Double Mocha Frappuccino? Certainly, we all want – and need – treats every now and then. But be judicious about them because if you’re already broke, these spontaneous splurges can derail your savings dreams.

Sell things you no longer need. Start by cleaning out your closets and your garage. You’ll most likely find things you no longer have any use for, or want. Host a yard sale. Or even better, snap pics of your items and put them up on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist or Nextdoor. For more pricey things like clothes or jewelry, try Thred Up or Poshmark. You’ll be surprised how quickly this all adds up. Then put this money toward your savings or your debt. Slow and steady always wins the race.

Write down your 10-year lookahead. How do you want to be living a decade from now? On the beach? In a townhouse in a European city? Completely out of debt? All of your dreams, no matter how crazy, can absolutely be achieved. All you have to do is take the long view. Have tunnel vision about your destiny. What this all comes down to is daily financial decisions.

So now that you have a few ways to get ahead, it all comes down to you. Take a deep breath and be intentional – embrace this new way of living. When you see yourself making new choices and realizing what you can achieve by tweaking how you spend, there’s no stopping you.

Sources

How To Save Money When You’re Broke: 15 Smart Strategies