Category Archives: Personal Finance

Amazon to open Pantry, online shopping for bulk consumer goods

In 2014, Amazon is set to open Pantry, a new consumer bulk good division of the company for online shoppers, USA Today reported earlier this week. Amazon, an e-commerce giant, with total revenue about $61 billion in per year, is looking to grab a share of the $470 billion per year consumer packaged goods market. While details have not formally been released by the company, the basic premise of Pantry will provide consumers with the option to buy consumer products online, such as cleaning supplies, paper towel rolls, dry grocery items like cereal, and some beverages. The idea is to have shoppers put as many of these items into a set sized box, up to a specific weight limit.

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How to Get Debt Free: 5 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt



If you are among the average American household, you probably have around $7100 in credit card debt. Credit card debt can be overwhelming because no matter how much you pay, it seems like the debt just never goes down. Credit cards are a revolving type of debt, which means that the interest compounds daily. So when you wake up tomorrow, you will have a higher balance than when you went to bed last night. Credit cards also typically have high rates of interest, with the average credit card rate being around 12%; however, many credit cards have rates well over 20%.

While the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or CARD Act, does limit interest rates and fees that companies can charge, it still may not be as easy as you would think to pay off those balances.
There are a few things that you can do, within your current budget to work toward getting debt free:

Pay your bills on time.  Even if you are only a day late, credit card companies will charge you a $25-35 late fee, which will be added on to your bill total.  Remember, anything that goes onto your account, whether a new purchase or a late fee, interest is accruing daily.

Pay more than the minimum payment amount.  If you are just making the minimum payment, many times, you are only paying the interest that accrued that month.  Anything extra that you can pay goes toward the principle balance and will reduce the compounding effects of the interest.

Pay down higher interest rate cards first.  Getting rid of the higher interest rate cards first will free up more of you money each month to pay down other debts.  Keep in mind that store credit cards usually have higher interest rates.  Using a store card to take advantage of a discount or coupon can actually be a great way to save money, but make sure you are paying off those higher rate store cards each month.

Pay off cards with low balances and higher payments first.  If you have a credit card that has a $1000 balance and a $50 per month minimum payment and a card with a $2000 balance and a $50 per month payment, make sure to pay off the one with the $1000 balance first.  In the first scenario, the payment to balance ratio is 5% and the second scenario, the ratio is 2.5%, so getting rid of the smaller balance, with the relatively higher payment will free up more money to put towards paying off another debt.

Limit credit card use.  If you truly want to get out of under the pile of debt that is on your credit cards currently, you need to limit credit card use, or stop using them altogether.  It is much easier to overspend each month if you are using credit cards because you don’t feel the pinch of how much was spent until the credit card statement shows up and it’s time to pay your bill.  Try to use cash as much as possible because you can’t overspend when you only have so much money set aside for groceries, gas, or other household items.

Getting debt free: paying off credit cards

Money savvy grocery shopping: Stick to your list

money savvy shopping

Grocery shopping is something that we all do. Such a basic task, it wouldn’t seem that much explanation is necessary, or even possible. However, there are two types of grocery shoppers: the Impluse Buyer and the Money Savvy Shopper.

The Impulse Buyer has no list, they buy whatever they see that looks good, has no coupons, has not looked at any weekly advertisements for sales, and has done no menu planning ahead of time. This type of shopper will walk out of the grocery store, with possibly hundreds of dollars of groceries, and get home and feel like they have nothing with which to make a meal. Don’t be this kind of shopper… and if this describes you, take heart, there are grocery shopping strategies that you can implement to save you lots of $$$ at the checkout.

Become a Money Savvy Shopper. This type of grocery shopper has a detailed list, buying ingredients to create planned meals. They have looked through weekly ads to know which stores to shop in that week and which items are on sale.

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping... and save money

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping… and save money

Some money savvy shopping strategies include:

Make a list— and stick to this list. Don’t buy a bunch of items that are not on your list. You will over-spend each visit you make to the grocery store when you stray from your list. I found a great shopping list on pinterest which plans out meals for a week and the corresponding grocery list. You might want to try something similar to this to kick-start organized grocery shopping.

Look at weekly store advertisements— Some things really don’t matter when you buy them, but some grocery items, such as meat, can be very expensive if they are not an advertised special. So when steak or roast are on sale, stock up. Buy a few extra to put in the freezer so that next time you want to cook a roast, you don’t overspend because they aren’t on sale that week.

Use coupons— clip only the coupons of products that you use (sounds obvious, right? But “saving” money on an item that you don’t normally use is actually costing you money!)… and then make sure you use them. File them in a wallet size expandable file by expiration date so that it is easy to see when they need to be used by.

Money Savvy Beach Vacations

Hilton Head Beach

Planning your summer vacation? Here are some great money-saving deals for beach vacations! Click the following link for
Great Beach Destination Deals!

Beach vacations can be a lot of fun and you can plan a great trip relatively inexpensively too. The best part, though, is the focal point of the vacation– the beach– is free to enjoy! Hotels on the beach can get a little pricey, so here are some tips to get the best deals:

* Take your vacation early or late in the season. Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.

* Know the cancellation policies. Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

* Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.

Crested Butte Lodging Ski Vacations

Vacationers looking for an off-the-beaten-path Colorado getaway with all the frills of a major resort should head to Crested Butte, an historic town tucked away in the Colorado Rockies Elk Mountain Range. With its affordable accommodations, gourmet restaurants, cozy pubs, and eclectic shops, Crested Butte attracts a devoted legion of repeat visitors year-round!

Feel cozy in this beautiful resort.

Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management Inc. offers a large selection of quality lodging in Mt. Crested Butte. Choose from studio condominiums to 4 bedroom condominiums in prime locations including ski-in/ski-out or walking distance to the slopes.

Relax in the heated pool.

At Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management, we understand the quality of lodging can make or break your vacation. We have carefully evaluated and inspected each property and have categorized our accommodations to further help you make your lodging selection. We want you to come to Crested Butte, Colorado to relax and have fun – not hassle with your accommodations. We promise a vacation you’ll never forget!

Enjoy skiing with the family!

30% off the following properties for the rest of the season (now – 4/7/13):
• The Buttes Neighborhood (Ski-in/Ski-out!)
o Properties include Columbine, Buttes, and Crested Mountain
• Three Seasons
• Crested Butte Lodge & Hostel
All other properties are 15% off! Hurry and book now before availability runs out! Or, call 888.412.7492 for personalized service.

The Porches of Steamboat

The Porches offers 4 and 5 bedroom luxury homes that range from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet. This really is the only place to stay with a group, our homes sleep between 8- 14 people. The only place in Steamboat where you can get a luxury home with all the amenities you could ever want. We have a great year round outdoor pool, a couple of hot tubs as well as an exquisite club house. Our club house has a kid’s game room, pool table, and so much more for you and your family to enjoy! Our private shuttle service allows for everyone in your group to relax, we will take you to and from the ski area as well as everywhere in town. At the slopes we have a complimentary valet tent so you can store your skis , snowboards and poles, no need to haul them back and forth with you. Our concierge can help you book every detail of your trip. See our reviews on trip advisor, #2 in specialty lodging in Steamboat!!

Save up to 30% on a stay of 3 nights or more this winter at The Porches Or call 866-992-0600 Must book by 2/28/13. Use promo code: DISC

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken

Meke money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Make money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Cooking on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t make savory, delicious meals. Sometimes, you have to be willing to plan your meals around the weekly grocery store sales though. I bought thin-sliced chicken breast when they were on sale, so instead of paying over $5 for the package of chicken, I only paid $3.80. A package of thin-sliced chicken breast usually gives you six pieces of chicken, rather than three regular sized chicken breasts. I like using thin-sliced chicken or chicken tenderloins because they cook much quicker and it is also a good form of portion control. You can also create your own healthy version of your favorite foods.

Crispy, Baked ChickenOur family loves fried chicken, so this crispy, baked chicken is a perfect, healthy substitute.

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken Recipe
(This recipe has been adapted from the Bisquick Ultimate Chicken Fingers recipe)
Crispy Chicken coating
6 thinly sliced chicken breasts
2/3 c. Bisquick mix
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. crushed corn flakes
salt and pepper to taste (I use Morton Seasoned Salt because it has other seasonings already in it)
steak seasoning to taste (Weber Chicago Steak seasoning is pretty much good on any meat!)
Egg Wash
1 egg
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. honey mustard

Chicken in egg
Dip each piece of chicken in the egg wash.

Make sure both sides are drenched.

Crispy coating

Coat the chicken with your crispy coating mixture.

You will need to turn chicken several times to make sure it is thoroughly coated.

arrange in greased pan

Arrange in a glass pan, greased with olive oil. (Olive oil is a healthier alternative to using cooking spray)

Bake for 17-20 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn over halfway through bake time. Depending on how thinly sliced your chicken is, you may need to adjust bake time.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.

I bought two large sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts to go along with the chicken. Altogether, this meal for four cost less than $8! You can’t even buy fast food for a family of four that inexpensively!

Birthday Party Fun

Cupcakes make for a fun and festive kid birthday party… and they will save you a lot of money too! I made 24 cupcakes for less than $5. To buy a cake (or decorated cupcakes) for that many people would cost around $20. Use food coloring in white frosting to make several different colors and decorate with any sprinkles you like for cupcakes that match any birthday party theme!

Derek's 1st Birthday 003

I love to buy decorations to match the birthday party theme, but that can get expensive. A pack of 8 count charachter plates is usually around $2. I can get a pack of 60 solid color red plates, which will compliment the theme, for about $3. By mixing the the red plates, every-other-one, it becomes part of the theme, and saves money! Do the same with napkins to save even more.

Curious George Theme

Curious George Theme

When having a party in a smaller space or at home, it is a lot of fun to hang decorations from the ceiling. Instead of paying to have helium balloons floating near the ceiling, I use ribbon to hand balloon and theme decorations. The balloons are only a few cents each, while the theme ceiling decorations are nearly $1 each. Adding in the balloons gives nice color, makes the room festive, and again, saves money!

Decorative, fun parties don’t have to break the bank. Happy, savvy birthday party planning!

Store Rewards Cards

rewards cards

Many stores offer savings or rewards for their members. They are free to join, you simply have to present the member card at the time of purchase. Some savings are instant, with money off of certain sale items or points are earned toward a savings certificate for the future. Either way, you can literally save hundreds of dollars per year by participating in these rewards clubs. Here are some of my favorites:

Grocery stores: Giant Eagle, Buehler’s, Kroger

Drug Stores: Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens

Stores: Babies ‘R’ Us/ Toys ‘R’ Us, Children’s Place, Van Huesen Outlet, Hallmark, Maurice’s

Restuarants: Panera Bread, Starbucks

Happy, savvy shopping and saving!

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