The Library Saves You Money

28 07 2010

Toss those gradeschool stereotypes that the library is for nerds and geeks.  We declare that visiting the library does not mean you are a geek!  The library is abundant with learning materials and we love using it.  Not only does the library lend the common book, you can also check-out DVDs, VHS tapes and audio books and many libraries have computers, printers and photocopiers.  There is also a good-sized amount of exam books that range from general study guides to civil service/government exam guides.  In fact, we were able to process our Passports at one branch!

Let’s move on to the savings though…..

Last week I checked out seven books which retailed $143.56 (not including tax!).  The savings are absolutely remarkable!  I was giddy knowing I did not have to pay a dime!

Fix It Tip:  In need of cash?  Sell your books online using websites like cash4books, Powells and Blue Rectangle.  Just plug in the book’s ISBN number (usually printed near the book’s barcode) and the website calculates how much they’re willing to pay you for your books.  Some companies will even provide free shipping labels when you sell your books to them!

We want to hear from you, drop us a comment.  What services are available in your neighborhood library?

Save Money Planning Your Wedding

27 07 2010

Before “Here Comes the Bride…,” you have to plan your wedding!  The first step should be to sit down with your spouse-to-be and discuss (1) your money situation and (2) the guest list.  Your answers will reveal the scale/size of the wedding afforded to you.  From there decide which corners to cut in order to save money by using smart shopping techniques and a little do-it-yourself work!  There’s nothing more special than working hard at planning your wedding!

Rolist Financial Group would like to share our wedding planning tips with you!  Here are just a few ways we saved money planning our $5,400 wedding:

  1. Print Invitations at Home.  What a savings vehicle!  We purchased two boxes of blank invitations at the craft store for $23 (total) and printed them on our home printer.  Not only was it cheap but it was also fun!  Seeing all 120 hand-printed invitations made us proud!  The quality of the invitation was quite impressive.  Another affordable option is visiting Vistaprint for those of you without a home printer.
  2. Have Guests RSVP via Telephone and/or Email.  Do the math, you mail 100 invitations along with the postage-paid RSVP cards = $88.  Eliminate that extra $44 that it would cost for your guests to RSVP via the mail.  Have them respond via the telephone or email!  Remember, every little bit helps.
  3. Improvise.  Since our guests responded via email and telephone, we used the blank RSVP cards that came with our boxed invitation kit as our Thank You cards.  Seeing as the cards were blank, we used this opportunity to hand-write our heart-felt thank you’s.  Plus, we didn’t have to purchase separate Thank You cards.
  4. All-In-One Caterer.  Choose a caterer that will provide full food service, including cleaning services.  This was important to us when choosing our caterer.  Our caterer not only provided food, serving, cleanup and coffee, she made our four-tiered cake for just under $100.  It was cheaper than any bakery we visited.
  5. Choose an Affordable Venue Site.  This area accounts for half of your budget.  For those that are on a tight budget, look into your local VFW, American Legion or Firehouse.
  6. Shop Sales.  This is pretty much self-explanatory.  It pays to hold off purchasing items until you find a great deal.  Take our ceramic wedding cake topper for example.  We found it on clearance at the craft store for a whopping $8.  The neighborhood bakeries sold cake toppers for around $20 and they weren’t up our alley.
  7. Separate Wants From Needs.  We are sure the ice sculpture sounds magnificent, but you really should separate your wants from your needs.  If you are planning an outdoor wedding, a need might be renting a “just-in-case-it-rains” tent.  If, by the end of your planning, you have extra cash at hand, we don’t see anything wrong with getting that ice sculpture!  Or, you could just keep that money in your savings  account for it to grow.
  8. Referrals.  You want to make certain you are getting your money’s worth for a specific service, so ask friends whom they would recommend for catering services, DJ, venue location, etc. 
  9. Make Your Own Floral Arrangements.  We hadn’t entertained the thought of paying a florist to put floral arrangements together since there was a farmer’s market in town that sold flowers!  With that said, we paid $20 for our lavender-colored flowers – enough for my bouquet and twenty vases!  Our vases were purchased from AC Moore, along with a few rolls of ribbon (total cost $19).
  10. Get the Warranty on Your Wedding Bands.  Our rings are very modest (each were under $120).  Rob’s is made of titanium (not only is it light-weight, it will never bend or tarnish) and my ring was purchased from the Zales Outlet Center.  We decided to pay the $30 warranty on my ring since it holds small diamonds.  Every six months I am entitled to a free cleaning and diamond inspection!  Have I mentioned the normal price of a cleaning is $30?
  11. Stay Organized.  Keeping record of things will allow the planning to run smoothly.  Hold a running list of things paid for and to be paid (we used a handy website called The Knot.  The worst thing that can happen is paying someone twice and not realizing it!  Or purchasing items you already have on hand.
  12. Wedding Favors.  We found great deals on wedding favors on Ebay.  At under $1 per favor, we chose heart-shaped cookie cutters that were individually wrapped in tiny silk bags, along with a tag that read “Cut out for Eachother“.  Our advice is to purchase the favors after you receive all RSVPs.  We purchased the favors beforehand, based on the number of invitees, and not on the actual attendees.  In the end, we were stuck with 33 extra favors.
  13. Bridal Gown.  Future brides please keep alterations, veil, shoes and accessories in mind when purchasing your gown.  These little things add up quickly!  My alterations cost half the price of my David’s Bridal $299 gown.  Just recently have I noticed that Payless sells bridal shoes.  If you shop during their BOGO (buy one, get one half off) event you will find a great deal on shoes and the second pair could be sneakers for your honeymoon!

In the end, a reception is nice but isn’t the actual marriage part the most important?  When you think this way it could limit a lot of wasted spending.

Fix-It Tip:  Do not pay for wedding items with your credit card.  Your first month of newlywed bliss will be interrupted with that pesky credit card bill.

Red White Blue Tip:  Always ask for a military discount on goods and services.

Red White Blue Tip:  Visit your installation’s MWR office.  They may have some of your party planning needs (chair/table rentals, etc.).

Fixed It Friday: 07-23-10

23 07 2010

Let’s put our hands together for Amelia because she recently took the first step towards Fixing It!  Below is Amelia’s email submission:

“I fixed it by stopping to buy iced coffee outside because I can get it inside for free.  It was a two-step process:  first I was getting coffee at Starbucks, then I went to get it at McDonald’s, then I realized that I can make it the way I want at work or at home, and it costs much less. “

It doesn’t end there!  With our advice on hand, Amelia began jotting her daily spending on a calendar page.  Amelia is working towards Fixing her spending by tracking more days on her calendar.

Amelia’s first step was realization – she knew she wanted to save more.  Her second step was awareness – writing her daily expenses reveals where she is overspending. 

Way to go Amelia!  You are on the road towards Fixing your financial future!  Keep up the good work!!!

We want to hear from you.  Email us your “Fixed It Fridays” story.  Visit our Contact Page for submissions.

What is an Accredited Financial Counselor?

22 07 2010

What is an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC)?

Accredited Financial Counselors have certified skills to assist families and individuals in the complex process of financial decision-making, including the ability to:

  • educate clients in sound financial principles
  • assist clients in the process of overcoming their financial indebtedness
  • help clients identify and modify ineffective money management behaviors
  • guide clients in developing successful strategies for achieving their financial goals
  • support clients as they work through their financial challenges and opportunities
  • help clients develop new perspective on the dynamics of money in relation to family, friends and individual self-esteem

What does the AFC Designation Mean to a Client?

An individual who seeks the services of an Accredited Financial Counselor will know that:

  • the Financial Counselor has passed comprehensive examinations on personal finance and financial counseling
  • the Financial Counselor has signed a code of ethics and agrees to abide by the highest ethical standards
  • the Financial Counselor maintains the most current knowledge in the fields of personal finances and financial counseling through continuing education

What Does an Emergency Fund Mean for You?

21 07 2010

We’ve all heard the expression before, “save your money for a rainy day“.  This couldn’t be more true because sometimes when it rains it pours.  We cannot avoid emergencies, but we can definitely be prepared for when they come.

Typically an emergency fund is a place where money is held in the expectations of an emergency.  That “place” should be in a savings or checking account.  The money should be readily accessible for immediate withdrawal, hassle-free.  We suggest setting aside three to six months of expenses in this account.

Calculating three to six months of expenses is fairly simple.  Jot down your expenses on your Monthly Budget Form and round-up all numbers to the nearest dollar (i.e. $23.92 turns to $24.00).

What counts as an emergency?  Medical bills, veterinary bills, house maintenance, car repairs, and job loss are to name a few.

If the unthinkable happens – Job Loss – your Emergency Fund will immediately kick in.  Expenses such as cable television probably should be dropped and anything else that is “extra” like eating out, or the gym membership.  Stretching your Emergency Fund to last three to six months will help you avoid any debt. 

Speaking of debt, unforeseen emergency expenses, more often than not, leave  those households without  an Emergency Fund, in debt.  The money simply isn’t there and credit cards take the place of cash.  Simply put, you cannot win when you have debt piled on your back.

C’mon, start your Emergency Fund today!  You can add as little as $5 to get the ball rolling!

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