Author: Little House

By Train, by Plane, by Automobile…Ways to Save on Travel

The post was originally published on The Centsible Life. With the holidays approaching and winter right around the corner, I’ve been letting my imagination run away from me. The idea of taking a vacation, or at least leaving my living room, is making me drool over each and every sunset-on-the-beach photo I come across. Yet, traveling on a budget calls for creativity, research, and gumption. Lately I’ve been scoping out the best modes of transportation for quick weekend get-aways, longer holidays, and family vacations that are frugal and can fit within any budget. Quick Weekend Get-Aways….on the rail A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to a nearby city on Amtrak. It was my first experience on a train and I absolutely loved it. The roomy seats, the ability to walk around the cars, and the experience as a whole was incredibly comfortable compared to driving the short distance in a car. I decided from that point on that I would travel by train to cities within a couple hundred miles of me, as long as there was a direct Amtrak route. Here is a breakdown of some sample excursions for west coast, mid-west, and east coast residents including prices via Amtrak: Los Angeles (Union Station) to Santa Barbara – Pacific Surfliner: $24 each way, travel time 2 hours and 48 minutes. Santa Barbara is...

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Savings Strategies for Non-Savers

This post was originally published on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff as a guest contributor. Growing up in a frugal family that saved a small fortune on a conservative fireman’s salary, one would think I’d follow in these similar footsteps and end up the ultimate uber-saver. Not so; as life would present too many tantalizing baubles and opportunities to spend my hard-earned money on. I could blame my deprived childhood, due to extreme frugality, on my poor savings habits and psycho-analyze my behavior as trying to make up for things I missed out on as a child. But let me be realistic and honest; I let spur of the moment opportunities seize my usually money-conscious brain and talk myself into freak lapses of budget-blowing insanity. Instead of sticking to my guns and meeting my saving goals, at the end of year I look at the paltry amount I’ve accumulated, and vow to do better. This year I’ve come up with a plan to meet those goals through some extreme, at least for me, strategies. Some of these ideas I’ve gleaned from reading personal finance blogs, others I’m making up as I go and I’ll review their effectiveness at the end of the year based on if they saved me money or just wasted my time. Savings “Bins” I currently have 3 different savings accounts with small amounts in each...

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Creating More Income for a Balanced Budget

This is a 3-part series about creating a budget. Part one covered the basics of creating a budget and part two looked at ways to reduce expenses to make a budget more flexible. Today I’ll be examining ways to increase income to help pad a budget, giving a person more money to work with. Since I use Quickbooks, I can easily use my annual reports to see if my income is increasing, decreasing, or staying consistent from year to year. A couple of years ago, I saw an increase in my income and I was thrilled. However, the following year my income decreased and has stayed consistent for the most part. Yet, because I am a fairly flexible and resourceful person when it comes to working and creating income sources, I decided to share some tips on increasing income. Tip 1 – Community Work As a teacher, I often am requested for tutoring services. Because I am not currently contracted with a district, I’m able to provide tutoring for a fee without getting reprimanded from my employer. This past year, I’ve been able to increase my monthly income through tutoring. But there are plenty of other community options out there that could generate a little extra income. Gardening – Does you neighbor need help mowing their lawn? Could you start a weekend lawn maintenance service? For a minimal starting...

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Energy Hogs Link Round-Up Edition

I was so excited when I first received my water and trash bill for my new apartment because it was such a small bill, $11.99 to be exact. This was a huge difference from what I was paying at our rental house each month. Of course,  a few months have now gone by and our water bill has gone up a little, so the elation has faded a bit. However, I received our first electric bill a couple of weeks ago hoping to be just as pleasantly surprised since apartment utilities are usually less than house utilities. Yet that was not the case. Our electric bill actually seemed a bit higher. To remedy and reduce this cost, I’ve become much more diligent in turning off fans at night, shutting down unnecessary appliances, and trying out the different power saver options on our computers. What I’ve found through trial and error is that one of the largest energy hogs in our apartment is our laser printer. Apparently it “spools” itself every few minutes causing huge power surges. Since we don’t use the printer every minute of the day, we’ve decided to keep that energy sucker off until we need it. Hopefully we’ll see a significant reduction in our next electric bill, especially since I’ve been much better at completely turning off my computer at night as well. I really want...

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Happy Budgeting; Reduce Your Expenses

The other day I posted about the importance of creating a budget, especially after a major financial melt down. I organized the methods to do so and included worksheets to help a person get started. The next logical step after forming a budget is to figure out how to reduce some of your expenses and/or increase your income. Most often when I hear someone complaining about not having enough money, they immediately blame their income for their financial woes. Usually they say something to the effect of, “If only I made X amount more, things would be easier.” But most people can live on their income comfortably, they just need to make some adjustments to their expenses. Ways to Reduce Your Expenses The first thing to look at in a budget is your fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and groceries. Is there any way to reduce those? I’ve listed some strategies below which may or not be effective depending on your current carriers and where you live, but it’s a good place to start: Land line telephones – Do you still have a land line? Do you need one? If you find you do need a land land for business purposes or your cell phone reception isn’t great, call your phone company and ask them if they have any special rates they can apply...

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Creating a Budget After a Melt Down

This past week I wrote two articles about how in the past I made horrible decisions with my money; I took out payday loans that took me 2 years to pay off that debt and I completely mucked up my credit by neglecting my credit accounts. I seriously needed financial guidance, but instead had to learn the hard way. I wouldn’t recommend following in my footsteps on either topic. However, I’ve realized, through my own experiences, that the number one reason most people get themselves into so much trouble is that they don’t have a budget. They have no...

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