The Advantages of a Per Diem Food Budget

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My employers have used a per diem system for reimbursement for meals for travel.  I decided to use that system at home. Continue reading The Advantages of a Per Diem Food Budget

Is Couponing Worth the Effort?

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We regularly get Red Plum and Smart Source coupons in our Sunday newspaper. We don’t use coupons much.  We tend to buy house brands.  We’re in a small city and don’t get as many coupons in these inserts as they do in a larger city.  We tried buying the Sunday paper from a nearby major city to get the coupons.  We found more deals, but the paper cost more than what we were saving.  Most of the coupons we get in our inserts aren’t for food products. Continue reading Is Couponing Worth the Effort?

Saving on Food by Stocking Up or Avoiding Brand Names

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In my undergraduate marketing class, we talked about how to try to get consumers to have brand insistence, or, at least, brand loyalty.  In my capstone class for my MBA, the professor said that it wasn’t quality that mattered, but perception of quality.  The marketers are out to get you by having you pay more for a brand than you would otherwise for a product. Continue reading Saving on Food by Stocking Up or Avoiding Brand Names

Going Out Too Much to Eat? Stop It!

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The average American household spends 5.2% of its income on meals out, according to the recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditures Survey.  That is 41% of their total food spending, which averages 12.6% of income. Continue reading Going Out Too Much to Eat? Stop It!

Setting and Following a Food Budget

image (2)The USDA has put together four food plans at different budget levels: thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal.  Age, gender, and the number of family members all effect the recommended food budget. Continue reading Setting and Following a Food Budget

Reducing Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Costs

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  • Don’t mention mileage related service.  They will charge you more.
  • For mileage related service do the inspection part yourself.  List the items that need to be done.  Other than that, have the mechanic look it over and tell you if you need anything done.
  • Shop around for the service you need done and check for specials or find a reputable shop (AAA approved?) and be loyal.
  • Do it yourself.  There are many “how to” videos on YouTube.
  • Be careful agreeing to any maintenance that isn’t in the owner’s manual.  Get a second opinion.
  • Stick with independent shops.
  • Consider checking out your local vocational school for doing the repair.
  • Get educated and ask questions
  • Use RepairPal.com and AutoMD.com to know average charges for repairs.
  • Heed the warning signs (engine light, oil light, strange sounds).  We had an engine destroyed by a family member driving when the oil light was on.
  • Get it fixed for free.  You can plug in your VIN to SaferCar.gov to find recalls and service bulletins.

Continue reading Reducing Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Costs

Reducing Vehicle Fuel Costs

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Drive Less Miles

  • Walk or bike instead (Walking distance is considered to be half a mile.  My experience it is more like a mile.  Biking distance is considered to be two miles.)
  • Telecommute
  • Don’t go, if it isn’t necessary
  • Don’t waste a trip (are they open?, do they have what you want?, do they deliver?, shop around online or by phone)
  • Use public transportation
  • Use GPS to find the fastest route
  • Combine trips (this also saves gas because your engine is more efficient when running warm)

Continue reading Reducing Vehicle Fuel Costs

Five Ways to Reduce Automobile and Homeowners Insurance Costs

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I remember one of the main concepts I was taught in an undergraduate risk and insurance class is that you should self-insure if you can.  Remember that your insurance company has administrative costs and does not pay out what it collects in premiums and the return on investing your premiums.  The ideal relationship with your insurance company is that you don’t pay them much money and you never file a claim.  Insurance should only be for potential financial disasters that you can’t afford.  The best way to self-insure is to have an emergency fund, which you can use for a variety of bad things that can happen to you. Continue reading Five Ways to Reduce Automobile and Homeowners Insurance Costs

Reducing Vehicle Depreciation, Finance Costs, Taxes, and Fees

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The easiest way to avoid these costs is not to buy a vehicle.  As retirees, we did some soul searching recently about whether we should keep a second vehicle.  We budget $800 a month for transportation.  We could almost cut it in half if we got rid of one vehicle.  We decided to keep both vehicles for the convenience. Continue reading Reducing Vehicle Depreciation, Finance Costs, Taxes, and Fees