Tag Archives: Budget

Credit Unions = Saving $$$


Bank or Credit Union?

If you are using a bank, switching to a credit union could be a better alternative for your family. 

Here’s why…

On the outside banks and credit unions look very similar.  But, how they are created and function could not be more different.  

Banks, in general, are driven by profit.  The management “decision makers” of bank’s are pressured by their investors to make decisions based on the bottom line.  This causes the bank to not always have the best interest of the  customers at heart.  Customers sometimes experience this through fees, high loan rates and low dividends.    

Credit Unions are not-for-profit.  They are less concerned about the bottom line and are more concerned about how much of an asset they are to the community and its members.  Internally, they have no investors or stockholders, like banks.  When you join a credit union, you are actually becoming a member and buying a share into the company.  Each member has one vote in the election of the board of directors.   The board of directors are all volunteers, who unbiasedly approve credit union decisions on behalf of its members.  This enables credit unions to offer a banking service where any extra profits go back to the community through community service and sponsorships.  Members also benefit through free checking, cheaper overdraft fees, low minimum balance requirements, better loan and dividend rates.  

I know it could be a hassle to go through the process of switching banks.  But, you could be saving big if you are paying a monthly fee just to have a checking account or occasionally using your banks overdraft system.  Those same services are almost always cheaper or free, in some cases, at credit unions.  

I am not saying that credit union’s are for everyone but it might be something to consider.  I know our family has benefited financially by using a credit union. Who knows, yours could too.

Small ₵hanges that make big difference$



Saving Hundreds In Just 4 Phone Calls

PHONE CALL #1- Cable Provider

Just by picking up the phone and calling your cable provider could save hundreds a year.  If you have never called before, you will first need to check your current package and learn what packages your company offers.  Most companies do not advertise their cheapest package, so you will need to ask a live person. Most people are paying for channels that you are not watching.  Let the customer service representative know that you are looking to save money and see what they can offer you.  Believe me, these companies want to retain your business and will do there best to make you happy.  

If you already have the cheapest package that best fits your family don’t stop calling.  Call every few months just to check in and see if they have any new deals.   I always get promotional advertising in the mail from other companies trying to win my business.  Every time I get these, it reminds me to pick up the phone and call my current provider. I start the conversation by telling them about the advertisement I received from their competitor.  I usually say how happy I am and that I really would prefer to stay with my current company.  I ask them if there is anything they can do to lower my rate in order to keep my business.  To keep me from switching service providers, they almost always send me to a “Retention Specialist”.  This employee can offer deals that the normal customer service representative can’t.  The main goal is to get transferred to one of these representatives without flat out asking.  If you are lucky, the “Retention Specialist”  will offer $5-$10 off a month for six months up to an entire year without doing or changing anything.   Sometimes they throw in a few movie channels too.  Your thirty minute phone call could save you $120 per year.  If you are not able to get the employee to offer you any savings, just ask to talk to a manager and simply express your concern.  I have definitely found that being polite, and persistent, is the best way.  It really works.  My family has the “basic” channel package, two receivers, DVR, HD channels and Cinemax.  Our last bill was $17.64.   

PHONE CALL #2- Internet Provider

Most people bundle their cable and internet together, but I have found that having them separate is more economical.  It could be a option for you if you have never though of splitting the two services.  Wether you have them bundled, or separate, there are a few ways to save on your internet.  The easiest and quickest way is to just lower your speed.  Most companies have different speed options, and will offer you the higher speed, and higher cost, without you even knowing.  If your bill goes up, you could just wright it off as a rate increase, but really they are “upgrading” your package.  You also might not even realize you are paying for the highest speed they offer and not be using the internet often.   Ask the company to lower your speed and see if you can even tell a difference.  You have nothing to lose. If you notice, just increase the speed back.  It really is that simple.  I have also heard of some people splitting their internet service and bill with a neighbor.  This option is definitely not for everyone, but it may be something to consider.

PHONE CALL #3- Insurance Agent  

Call your insurance agent to review your coverage.  Make sure what you are paying for best fits your family and wallet.  You might be able to save by increasing your deductible.  Take the money you save and set it aside.  If you have an accident use the money set aside and if you are lucky then you get to keep it.  It also can’t hurt to shop around once every couple years to see if you are getting the best deal from your current company.  I called USAA six months ago and  they were not able to save me any money.  The time was well spent because now I know I am getting a good deal.  

PHONE CALL #4- Cell Phone Company 

Talk to your cell phone provider and review your usage and current plan.  There might be a plan that would better suit your needs, based on your last few months of use.  Your company can easy check your data usage, minutes, and text messages sent.  Just by asking, you could save you big.  We happen to use Verizon, and I sometimes prefer to talk to someone face to face.   So every once in awhile, I will go to the local Verizon store and have them review my plan.  Also, make sure you are getting the best deal possible when you upgrade.  The local stores are always in competition with the online service, and each other.  Sometimes one store will offer a significant savings over another, for the same phone.  Each store has quotes to meet, so use this to your advantage.  Ask the representative, “what is the benefit of upgrading here rather than online or over the phone”.   In the past, they have offered me free accessories just by upgrading in person.  It can’t hurt to ask.


A year ago I told my husband I wanted to quit my job and stay home to raise my daughter.  His response was, “lets do a budget”.  And that’s what we did.  Our budget helped us realize what our current financial situation looked like.  It helped us make a educated decision. We knew this was a big decision and it would significantly impact our finances.    Now, you don’t need to be in our situation to have a budget.  You just have to care about your finances.  You work so hard everyday to earn a paycheck.  Why not know were it is going?  Follow these five easy steps to save lots of $$$.

1.  HOW MUCH DO YOU MAKE?– Wether you are a one or two income household, calculate how much your total income is, AFTER taxes.  If your paycheck fluctuates a little, then use the least amount that you would ever get.

2. BACKTRACK–  Gather all your receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, and bill invoices for the last three months.  Make sure to keep each month separate.  If you do not have all of your past records, just start gathering now and work on the budget three months from now.

*** For the time consuming part.  But time is money and I promise you that the time you spend will save you money.

3.  WHERE IS YOUR MONEY GOING– Make an Excel spreadsheet or use one that you find online.  You can even be old fashion and just write on a piece of paper.  Fill it with every expense you could ever imagine having.  The more detailed you are the better it will help you. Then go through all three months and figure out how much you spent on each category.  The easy ones will be your fixed expenses, but include all your changing expenses as well.   You will probably be surprised with at least one category, if not all.

4. EVALUATE– How much did you spend on what?  What were your spending choices and habits?   Did you spend more than what you made? If the answer if yes, there is a big problem.  You are living outside your means, and are probably increasing your overall debt every month.  You need to figure out what you can live without, or cut down on.  Figuring out what is a necessity, and what is a luxury. (Future blog: How to save on common household expense)

5. GOALS– Create a goal budget and discuss your plan of action with your entire family.   You want your entire family on board.  Make sure you are budgeting an “emergency savings” contribution each paycheck.  I can’t stress how important it is for every family to have a savings account with money in it.  By having a savings account, you are able to borrow from yourself whenever you need to.  Plus, it will be interest free, and you will never be denied.

Good Luck!

Let me know how it goes!