Review Your Credit Card Statement
By Melissa Tosetti
 
One of the most important money saving habits you can adopt is to review your credit card statement each month.  

Back in July, I was charged $95 to renew a subscription for anti-virus protection on a computer I know longer own.  I immediately called the company and asked them to reverse the charge. 

Had I not noticed the charge, I would have blindly paid it, quite possibly for years to come as it was an annual subscription. I can think of many more things I would prefer to spend that $95 on! 

A much more impactful example of how crucial it is to review your credit card statements came at the expense of one of my clients in Virginia.  When we started working together, she discovered that she had been paying $200 a month for a personal trainer that she hadn't seen in two years.  That mistake cost her $4,800!

When your credit card bill arrives, invest the two minutes it takes to review the statement and make sure you're getting billed appropriately.
 
 
 
Back to School Savings - No Kids Required
By Melissa Tosetti

Just about everyone can benefit from back to school sales.  So, what is out there ripe for the picking?

1. Purchase a year's worth of office supplies for half of what you would pay any other time of year.

2. Check out the juniors department and pick up trendy clothes and accessories to add a little spice to your wardrobe staples.

3. Now is the perfect time to stock up on athletic socks and underwear.

4.Dig past the purple and pink backpacks and you can find sophisticated bags that are worthy of taking to the office.

5. Now is also a great time to pick up a perfect lunch container.  It will inspire you to take your lunch to work – saving you even more!

In an effort to reach out to college students, just about anything that can fit in a dorm room is on sale:
 
6. Pick up bedding and towels at good prices.

7. Not surprisingly, futons and desks are also on sale.

8. Mini fridges and microwaves won't get much cheaper than they are right now.

9. Storage containers and closet organizers can be found at bargain prices.

10. If you have been waiting for the right time to buy a new computer or laptop, now is that time.

 Just because it is advertised as a back to school sale doesn't mean you have to be enrolled in class to take advantage of the savings!
 
 
Best and Worst Deals at Costco

By Melissa Tosetti

A membership to Costco can be one of the greatest money saving tools in your repetoire.  As a family of three, we purchase approximately 1/3 of our groceries at the big box store. 

The key to places like Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club is to know what to buy and what to leave at the store.

MSN put together a fantastic article on that very topic titled: 10 Best and Worst Deals at Costco.  It's worth the read!

 
The More You Own...

 
When To Buy Used?
By Melissa Tosetti
 
We all know that on average, new cars lose value 60 seconds after they drive off the lot. According to Edmunds, in that one minute, a $29,873 car drops in value by $2,559.  That's a vacation to Disneyland for a family of four!
 
But cars aren't the only thing worth buying used.  The San Francisco Chronicle's article 15 Things You're Better Off Buying Used, offers a valuable rule of thumb for used purchases. 
 
I'm especially a fan of purchasing used... 
  • Kid's Clothes
  • DVDs and Video Games
  • Books 

The article specifies text books, but buying used books overall is my rule of thumb.  I say that even though I'm an author who receives royalties on just the first purchase of Living The Savvy Life

Another item I've become fond of purchasing used is jewelry.  I love antique jewelry and have found gorgeous pieces at antique stores for a fraction of what I can purchase new.  To qualify, I do still buy new pieces if I really fall in love with them, but the hunt for affordable antique items is half the fun! 

 

 
Pantry Challenge Helper

By Melissa Tosetti

You may love the idea of taking The Pantry Challenge, but you have no idea what to do with the...

  • 6 cans of tuna
  • 8 cans of corn
  • 3 bags of rice 

...staring at you from the cupboard.  If that's the case, SuperCook is your answer.  Supercook was  created to help consumers save money by coming up with ideas for how to use what they already have on hand.  To use the free website, simply type in an ingredient and it will list dozens of recipe ideas based on that ingredient plus staple items just about any kitchen has on hand.

 
It's Time For A Pantry Challenge

The 4th of July is over and the next major BBQ holiday is more than six weeks away.  Now is a perfect time for a Pantry Challenge!
 
By taking on the Pantry Challenge, you see how long you can eat using only the food you already have on hand - with the exception of purchasing fresh products like milk, eggs and produce. 
 
The Pantry Challenge was started as a way to encourage you to rotate through everything in your pantry and freezer within a three month period. The food in your kitchen should be consumed. Often, we get into the mode that a well stocked pantry needs to be static. If you see something sitting there for three months, either eat it or donate it to a shelter and don’t buy it again.

In addition to saving money, an added benefit of the Pantry Challenge is that it forces you to get creative. You’ll look at canned soup and dried pasta a little differently as you figure out how to make a meal from what you have on hand. Over the years I’ve received feedback from readers who have come up with new family favorites based on the need to get imaginative durng the challenge.

The longest any Savvy Life reader has gone without having to buy groceries (outside of milk, eggs and fresh produce) was three months!
 
Let me know how your Pantry Challenge goes. Drop me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Note: This challenge does not include the food in your emergency kit. You should always have enough non-perishable food and water set aside to sustain you and your family for 3 – 7 days. Keep your emergency food and water supply in a waterproof bin along with your other emergency items.

.

 

 
Savvy Fourth of July Celebrations

By Kevin Gibbons
 
The Fourth of July is one of the least commercial holidays in America. You don’t need fancy clothes, food or gifts to celebrate. All you have to do is find a parade, a night-time fireworks show and some simple All-American barbeque. I’ve always enjoyed the Fourth, because, no matter where I am, in a big city or a small town, I can find a neighborhood celebration that makes me feel like part of an extended family. You can make your Independence Day celebrations as fancy or simple as you want. Here are some of our favorite ways to spend a glorious summer day.
 
Find a Small-Town Parade and Party 
Watching the spectacle of a New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco parade can be impressive, but if you have not attended a small town parade in a few years, give it a try. There is something very “American” about seeing the local school bands, celebrities and political figures marching or riding down the street and hearing spectators calling out to the participants. Everybody is much more interested in having a good time than perfectly executing that turn at the corner of Broadway and demonstrating the winning choreography in front of the television cameras. Many towns follow up their parade with a party in the main park or downtown block.
 
Look in your local newspaper, or on your community’s Chamber of Commerce or event website for a small town parade near you.
 
Attend an “Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration”
One of my most memorable 4ths was at the Ardenwood Historical Farm in Fremont, California. This county-run working 19th century farm is a trip back in time. For the Fourth, they had old-time bands, games, docents in period costumes, homemade ice cream, a petting zoo and lots of enthusiastic patrons. We packed a picnic lunch to save a little money and enjoyed the ambiance for $8 per person.
 
These events can be a little trickier to find. In addition to checking your local newspapers and community sites, go directly to the websites of any historical parks or buildings to see if they have such events scheduled.
 
Throw Your Own Celebration
Decorations are cheap – just red, white and blue bunting, flowers, material or balloons. Make it a potluck with everybody bringing their favorite summer food – salad or barbeque. Instead of holding it at your house, where people may gravitate in the kitchen or den, think about doing it at a local park. Clean-up will be easier and everyone will be much more in the spirit of the holiday surrounded by other celebrants.
 
Fireworks Show
Wrap up the evening by watching a local fireworks show. Grab a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate and “ooh and aah” with all your neighbors. Many municipalities put on shows free of charge. If your town does not, look for a nearby amusement park or baseball stadium. The beauty of fireworks is that you can watch from outside the venue and see the same show as the paying customers.
 
You can find listings for municipal events in the local paper or community websites. Go directly to the athletic teams’ sites and look up the details on the games being played the weekend of the Fourth. They will indicate if there are fireworks scheduled and what time (usually immediately after the game). Likewise, a visit to the amusement parks’ websites will tell you their event schedules.
 
However you decide to celebrate, remember that planning ahead will give you enough time to enjoy the preparations for the holiday, as well as save you money.  Don’t wait until the last minute which will not only be more stressful but will also likely cost you more money by having to buy everything at once. So start planning and shopping early and have a happy Fourth!
 
 
 
Declutter Philosophy

 

 
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