Question: How can I shop only once a month if I don’t have the storage space? I would like to be able to do this, but only have one refrigerator/freezer.
Answer: It’s time to get creative and “invent” storage space.
Some ideas include:
In our first apartment, we had a small 9 cubic-foot chest freezer that also provided extra counter space.
If efficiency isn’t one of your strengths, ask an organized friend to come over and evaluate options with you.
If these ideas don’t provide enough space, you may need to make a mid-month supplemental shopping trip for perishable items. With some planning, you’ll be stocking your pantry from floor to ceiling and saving “big time” at the grocery store.
If you want to take your grocery savings to a whole new level check out these two resources:
1) Our #2 Amazon Best Seller - "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half" - With so many money saving ideas you won't have to clip coupons.
2) Our Audio Seminar CD or Download Stretching Your Grocery Dollars Without Becoming a Coupon Queen
Filing taxes is an annual ritual that most of us look forward to as much as having a root canal . . . although, after having one, we think that filing taxes is a little less stressful.
Filing your income tax return doesn't have to be a taxing (or expensive) proposition. We've helped our kids with this and filed our own taxes a number of ways.
- on Paper and mailed
- on the internet through Turbo Tax
- with a friend at H&R Block
- with an expensive accountant (because we had to file taxes for our business also)
- with a less expensive investment / tax consultant (still because of the business technicalities)
For most wage earners who have relatively simple returns there are several free options:
Turbo Tax Online:
A couple of years ago we paid a tax professional (a friend of ours) to help us with our taxes. Bill at H&R Block did a great job and got us a maximum refund. It was at that same time that we heard about the FREE with the Federal Free Edition. If you meet certain criteria (lower income, military service or you qualify for the Earned Income Credit) you can use Turbo Tax for free. We ran our numbers through Turbo Tax and got the same result as the paid professional. Since that time we’ve been using Turbo Tax for our own taxes and for our kids too. And the best part is we it's so thorough that we know we're doing it right . . . and we know we're getting the best refund possible.
This is really important to know. If you earn less than $35,000 (or get the Earned Income Credit) you can use the TurboTax website to file your taxes and pay nothing. The program is called Tax Freedom.
Even if you don’t qualify for the Tax Freedom deal, turbo tax is pretty inexpensive. Normal usage fees are $15 to $30 for Federal Personal Tax Return.
H&R Block - free Federal Return filing
We've never used H&R Block's online interface, but our experience several years ago with their representative and their software, proved they know what they're doing and it's definitely an option that should be researched and considered.
IRS - Free File Resource
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a resource page that lists and links to a number of organizations that offer free tax filing. Check out IRS Free File here:
AARP Tax Aide
People of any age can receive free help preparing their taxes through the AARP Tax Aide Service. Steve's dad AJ volunteered with this organization for several years helping people file their taxes for free. Here's what he wrote, "I have Read More...
VetTix is A great way to show appreciation to our Veterans and their families.
A few months ago a friend of ours sat with his wife in the audience at Symphony Hall in Phoenix to enjoy hearing the orchestra who was accompanied by Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Tickets to the symphony usually cost between $25 and $120, but for our friend Aaron and his wife, who were sitting in some of the best seats in the house, there was no charge.
Aaron served for 4 years in the Air Force and as a veteran is participating in a program called VetTix where he is given tickets to cultural and sporting events at no charge.
What is Vet Tix?
VetTix.com is the website for the Veteran Tickets Foundation (VTF) which is a nationwide non-profit, 501c(3) organization based in Phoenix AZ. VTF was established in 2009 by Michael Focareto, who is a disabled US Navy veteran. The concept for VetTix came to Michael when he was given a ticket to attend the 2008 Super Bowl between the Giants and the Patriots which was held in Phoenix, AZ. As he sat watching the game he noticed that the seat next to him was vacant the entire time—a Super Bowl seat went unused! He thought, “Someone gave me a ticket, why couldn’t this seat next to me have been given to another veteran?” The vision was sparked and Michael was the man to make it happen – he started procuring and giving away event tickets to veterans in 2008.
In 2009 the Arizona Diamondbacks professional baseball team donated 40 tickets to be given to veterans to attend. VetTix received a good amount of publicity and since then more than 1.9 million tickets have been distributed to more than 400,000 military families. The retail value of the tickets exceeds $66 million dollars.
How to sign up for VetTix?
If you or a friend are: currently serving in the military; primary next of kin or spouse of a service person who was Killed in Action’ or are an honorably discharged veteran, you are eligible to participate in VetTix. Just go to VetTix.org and sign up for the program. You’ll need to read the instructions about how to verify your status. It’s a relatively simple process that our future son-in-law, Nolan completed it in about 15 minutes.
How does VetTix work?
Once you sign up, you earn 2 appreciation coins each month just for being part of VetTix. The coins are used to buy chances to win tickets for events. I coin per chance to win a ticket in the initial lottery draw. You can earn 15 more appreciation coins by referring friends, or by wearing VetTix gear to events and sharing photos on social media (10 appreciation coins).
When you want to attend an event, you simply search the site, find an event you want to attend, then submit your name and coins for the event. There are events listed in all 50 states for all kinds of event including concerts, ballet and symphony performances, football, baseball, basketball and even roller derby events. Tickets are awarded through a lottery system so there is some lag time from when you submit your request to the time you find out if you’re going to the event.
The system is very fair and organized. Once you create your account on the website you can read all of the rules, additional ways to win appreciation coins and about other services that VetTix offers.
What can civilians do to participate in VetTix?
A million dollars sure sounds like a hefty sum, but this number is actually within reach for many Americans. With the right saving tactics, financial strategy, and foresight, you too could retire with the lovely sum of $1 million sitting pretty in your bank account, so read on for the money-saving tips you need to make this a reality.
Start Saving Early
If you’re fresh out of college, the last thing you’re thinking about while handling housing, car, and insurance payments—on top of astronomical student loans—is putting money away for retirement. However, it’s in your twenties that you lay the proper foundation for a million dollar retirement. Making a million dollars by retirement is a marathon not a sprint, and those people who successfully save this money do so over a long period of time, often spanning multiple decades. The right return rates could see your money expanding exponentially over the years, so the sooner, the better.
Making the Right Investments
Stocks are one of the best ways to build long term savings, and can do more things for your wallet that a regular savings account or deposit could never. Some financial experts wager that of your million dollars reached by retirement, half should be the result of dividends, capital gains or various other returns. If you need help trying to decide where to invest your money, consider employing the help of a financial advisor, at least for a consultation to get some idea of where you should begin.
Want more money to put away? Spend less. If you can budget with the help of a site like Mvelopes.com or a tool like our budgeting system, to live marginally below your actual means, you can set aside money even if you never earn more. Live comfortably, but avoid unnecessary lavish purchases. Saving for retirement isn’t a one and done process, it’s a lifelong commitment to putting money aside and looking at the big picture. You might go through some hard times, and have to spend some money, but it’s essential that you continue to save after you’re through the storm.
Don’t Withdraw Early
If you want to retire with a million dollars in your pocket, then do everything in your power to avoid the temptation of pulling out retirement money early. When you withdraw early, whether that be from an IRA or 401(k) account, you’ll be penalized or taxed—either way, you’re spending more to get your own money. When you input money into a retirement account, consider it gone; that is, until you reach retirement age. The biggest mistake individuals make is regarding their retirement account as emergency savings. As you change jobs throughout your life, it might be enticing to cash out your 401(k) before moving onto another company, but it’s in your best interest to put that money into an individual retirement account or rolling it into your new employer’s plan.
Get Rid of Debt
If you’re living under a pile of debt, you’re throwing away money each year to interest. It’s essential that you get rid of debt before retirement, of course, but it’s also important to unbury yourself from crippling accounts as you start to save. Sometimes it’s worth it to put saving on hold simply to dig yourself out of debt. Once you have cleared your accounts, it’s important to avoid landing yourself in the same situation. Don’t fall into the trap of accruing credit card debt Read More...
We believe that family roots and preserving a family heritage is critical to the success of families and of a nation. A native tongue is lost by the 3rd generation - so are cooking, sewing and frugality skills. Because of this commitment we are sharing a different kind of blog post today.
We were speaking at a couple of conferences in Orlando last year and had taken a couple of days to visit the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. During our Epcot’s World Showcase we visited the American Adventure Pavilion we stumbled upon a wonderful book being sold there–My Heritage Book.
An Idea that Preserves Families. We met the author and struck up a conversation about the uniqueness of her product. It’s a customizable book that is designed to give children a knowledge and appreciation of their unique heritage. The way Deanna Bufo Novak designed the book, it can incorporate up to 6 different nationalities. The information and illustrations are detailed enough to give a good sense of the country, but concise enough to keep a child’s attention.
Because these books are custom made to your child’s ethnicity, and because they are very affordable, we think they make a great addition to holiday gift giving and to any family’s library.
And, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can get a special discount that Deanna created just for our readers.
We asked Deanna to tell us a little about the creation of the My Heritage Book.
I have had a love of heritage for as long as I can remember. I am of Italian descent and have always been proud of it. As a child, I would ask my great-grandfather countless questions: about life in Italy, what it was like coming to America, and why we ate macaroni every Sunday. I adored his broken-English answers.
Fortunately, I was constantly surrounded by family, including my great-grandfather, grandparents, parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Little did I know as a 6-year-old girl asking those questions that I was embarking on the same journey that millions embark upon today.
Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I felt a need for her to learn about being Italian and to be proud of it, as I am, but also wanted her to learn about and be proud of her Polish and Czech heritage from her dad. I knew it would be a balancing act, but one well worth the effort.
Our Heritage became important. At the same time, I noticed that my mom suddenly seemed even more Italian and my mother-in-law seemed even more Polish. I realized they had the same feelings I did and were trying to “teach” their newborn granddaughter something very dear to them. They wanted our daughter to know about her family’s history and traditions—I thought she was a very lucky little girl. I also thought every child should be so fortunate, and the idea for My Heritage Book was born.
As I searched Read More...