Posts Tagged ‘Save Money’

Cars, Trains, Bikes, and Feet: How to Get Around for Less

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

Transportation costs are often the second largest expense after our homes. For cars, the cost of ownership goes beyond the sticker price and includes everything from oil changes to replacing tires and wiper blades regularly. Train and bus passes may save you big bucks, but they can also add up to lots of time (especially if you encounter delays). Walking is by far the cheapest way to get around, but it also takes the most time and may not make sense more suburban and rural areas.

In the end it doesn’t matter much how you travel- by train, by car, or by your own two feet -they all cost time and money. So, let’s dig into how to get around for less.

How to Get Around for Less

Location, location, location:

They say it’s true for real estate, but it’s also true when it comes to public transportation. If you live in an area that’s far away from work, school, and activities you will spend more time behind the wheel. If you live somewhere that has decent public transportation you may be able to rely on it for commuting. In suburban areas you may be able to do a combo of using both trains and buses and relying on your car for things like errands. While we can’t always pack up and move it’s worth a second look at what your community offers in terms of transportation.

What to look for: Look for bike routes, walking paths, bus stations, trains, and car sharing options in your local area. Try using Google Maps to create your route and look at what public transportation options are available. While biking and walking directions should be examined closely in street view (as they are in beta in many areas) you may be pleasantly surprised to find new ways to travel.

Do the math: If moving is an option look at what you could save on transportation costs. If it’s not an option consider what you’d save by using public transportation, carpooling, walking, or biking 3 days a week. Challenge yourself to see what you can save. Consider monthly passes for public transportation as well. Many locations offer monthly passes at a steep discount if you’re a regular commuter.

Consider Going Carless

For many families, but especially those in the suburbs or country, a two car way of life is the only way that their family can meet all their obligations. Mom and Dad may work in different directions while the kids need to go to after school programs. Even if one parent stays at home it may be inconvenient to spend an hour or more dropping off and picking up their spouse to work with kids in tow.

What to consider: Look at the family obligations as a whole and see if you could juggle having one car. Consider parking one for a few days or a week as a trial. You could always keep it around if it’s not costing much in insurance money for times when it is needed. This will work especially well for families with an at-home parent who either stays at home or works from home. The office worker in the family can drive in most days, look at public transportation options for a few days a week, or even consider carpooling with a local co-worker.

My one car experience: We were a one car family for several months after my husband’s car needed repairs that cost more than the car was worth. We sold the car, paid down some debt, and worked out our schedules to make one car work. It wasn’t easy but it allowed us some time to save up for our next car purchase, and definitely challenged us to be more thoughtful about our driving. You can read more about it here.

Do the math: A car payment + maintenance + gas can add up to $100s each month. If you have a car that’s paid in full you’re still looking at thousands of dollars in maintenance cost. If you could commit to going car-free or cutting back to one car for a year you could easily save upwards of $3,000-$5,000.

Save on Buying your Next Car:

Buying a car can be an intimidating prospect. Considering that most of us only do it a few times in our lives it’s not something that’s easy to ‘practice.’ The buying process can trick you into thinking you’re saving big money, but the truth is most often the dealer will always do well since it’s a process they go through regularly. But there is good news. The internet makes it easier to find out what people are actually paying for cars (both new and used) and you can use it to your advantage to source the exact car you want at a price you want to pay.

Do the math: While it’s fun to consider snazzy features and brand names that include jaw-dropping sticker prices you should really look at function over form. You want a car that has a low cost of ownership, has the features you need (and okay maybe a few you want), and holds its’ value well.

When it’s time to buy you should put everything you can reasonably afford into the purchase so you have low or no car payments. While the old adage is that used is always better and a new car loses 20-40% of its value the second you drive it off the lot that’s not always the case. For cars that hold their value well you may even find that a newly used car (like 1-2 model years old) will be just as expensive as a brand new car.

Whether you get around on foot, by bike, train, bus or car, you’re sure to have ideas on additional ways to save. Share in the comments.

 

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Earn More Money to Help Save More and Pay off Debt Faster

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

Saving and cutting back are not the only way to get your finances in order – in our series we’ve discussed reducing expenseshow to deal with unexpected expenses, and 5 easy steps to a budget that works. But slashing spending is only half the battle. The other half is earning more money so that you can save more, pay off debt, and reach your financial goals faster. Today I’m sharing some ways you could potentially earn more as well as some ways to make sure that extra money doesn’t end up in extra spending.

Earn More Money

Earn More Money

Earning more money is essential if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Here are some ideas to get you started on the path to earning more:

  • Ask for a Raise or more Responsibility at Work. There are many reasons to ask for a raise including being underpaid, having extra responsibilities, and being responsible for generating new income or cutting costs for your company. There are lots of tips for negotiating but the best way to get your boss to say “yes,” is to show your value.
  • Time to Job Hunt. If you are in a position where there’s no room for growth it’s time to look at new jobs. Your skills could be more valuable elsewhere. People often see a jump in income when they make a lateral move from one company to another.
  • Start a Side Gig. Whether you have an idea for a small home business or can tutor kids from home in the evenings’ it’s likely you have skills or hobbies that could be used to earn you some extra money.
  • Get a Second Job. Getting a second job may not sound ideal but look for work that fits your schedule. You don’t have to work two 40 hour a week jobs. You may find a part-time or job you can do online or at home when your regular work day is done. Use your network, friends, and family to find something that is a good fit. This could be anything from a part-time barista job to being a virtual assistant from your computer at home.
  • Improve your Education or Training. If you’ve reached as far as you can go with your current role it may be time to look at more education or training. For some industries it makes sense to go back to school for an advanced degree while for others a certification course will help improve their skill set. If you’re short on cash to pay for further education look for training, programs, or degrees that will be covered by your current employer.
  • Add New Skills to your Resumé. For many people they have a set of skills that they work with each day. Look at related skills to help improve your value to your current or future employers. For ideas on things you might consider search LinkedIn for colleagues or those with similar titles at other companies.
  • Start a Blog. Read some great advice from Amy on long-term tips for bloggers. Blogging is definitely not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ but it can be helpful for reaching new clients for your day job or be a creative outlet that’s totally different from what you do from 9 to 5. And yes it can eventually earn you some extra dough.

Temporary Boosts in Income

While the following ideas won’t get you out of debt entirely or help you save every year they can be a great way to jumpstart your financial goals:

  • Sell Off Items. Whether it is baby gear you no longer need or housewares that aren’t getting use daily you can earn some extra cash by selling items you no longer need or want. Using Craig’s List or other services works well for local only items (like the play kitchen your kids outgrew) while eBay works well for items like collectibles, designer clothes, and electronics.
  • Take Surveys. There are multiple sites that will allow you to earn cash for answering a few questions. Some are based on your fit for the survey while others offer to pay for your feedback no matter your personal fit.
  • Use Apps that help you Earn. Apps are available to help you earn now. The Ibotta app allows you to earn cash for shopping after answering a question or two, liking on Facebook, or even watching a short video. GigWalk is another app that allows users to take photos, submit surveys, and share info with companies that are looking for ‘on the ground’ help.

In the end earning more only helps you reach your goals if you stick to your budget. While it can be tempting to spend a little more on things since you’re earning more-don’t. It’s pretty easy to get yourself right back into living paycheck to paycheck if you aren’t careful. A simple way to manage the extra funds is to have them deposited into a separate account that you use to save, pay off your debt, or reach your other financial goals.

These are just a few ways to earn more. What are some ways you’ve earned more?

 

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