Showing you how to save money in your everyday life.
I am the geek behind sites like Penny Hacker, Global Geek News and Fanboy Fashion. I have a love for all things geeky from video games and science fiction to science and gadgets. I also have a passion for saving money wherever possible!
Its that time of year again when school starts back up and my morning commute time doubles due to the resulting increase of traffic. While that means more traffic headaches for me, for many others that can mean all sorts of things ranging from crippling debt to experiencing the freedom of being on their own for the first time.
In hopes of helping with that school related debt problem and in hopes of helping students maximize their first experience of living on their own, I have compiled a list of apps that will help them save money and make life easier on things ranging from text books to cell phone data plans. If you are a student looking to get the most out of what little money you have, these apps are certain to help you!
Make sure to share this with any students you may know because there is no reason they should be wasting their money either!
11 Money Saving Apps for Students.
TUN stands for The University Network. Just what is The University Network? With the help of Google Maps, TUN points students to the best discounts and deals near them. TUN pinpoints deals at places like restaurants, retail businesses, gyms and more. Perhaps the best part is that as you take advantage of these deals, you earn points for things like free fitness lessons, meals and even haircuts! TUN is available for both iOS and Android.
Titto is an app for iOS users that allows students to rent textbooks for just $19.99/mo. Why pay the outrageous cost of textbooks these days when you can just rent them at a fraction of the cost? When I was in college, it was not unusual for books to run between $100-200 and they would often rarely if ever be used over the two months the class took. If a textbook rental service like Titto existed when I was in school, I could have payed maybe $40 a book per quarter instead of $100+ and hope that at the end of the quarter, I could sell them back to the school’s store for pennies on the dollar. Seriously, especially for the expensive books that you will probably never touch again after the class is over, you should consider using a service like Titto instead of spending a fortune to own the books.
Chegg is somewhat similar to Titto except that not only can you rent textbooks, but you can also buy new and used textbooks and use the app to sell them when you are done using them. They also have many books available in a digital format which would be great for those looking to not have to carry around a bunch of heavy books from class to class. Also, unlike Titto, Chegg is available for both iOS and Android and while the textbooks aren’t free, the app is.
SavedPlus is a clever app to help you save money by taking a percentage of each purchase you make with a checking account and putting it into a savings account. You just need to define a goal such as what you are saving for (down payment on a car, rainy day fund, spring break, ect) and what percentage of your purchases to save and you can track your progress. The app is free on both iOS and Android.
Are you worried about accidentally using an ATM that is out of your banks network which will end up hitting you with several dollars worth of fees when you need to make a withdrawal? With ATM Hunter, there is no need to worry anymore! Mastercard’s ATM Hunter will take the address you put in or just use your phones GPS to show you nearby ATMs and which banks they are affiliated with so you know which ATMs you can use without getting charged a fee. The app is free for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
If you are a smartphone user (if you aren’t, why are you even reading this?), one of your costly monthly expenses (especially for students) is how much data you use every month. Carriers vary on how much data each plan includes (1GB, 5GB, unlimited, ect) but the one constant is that the more you use, the more you are going to be paying. By using Opera Max and Opera’s amazing data compression technology, you can save not only a lot of data on your web browsing but with your apps too! They advertise a savings of around 50% but in my personal experience with just their Opera Mini browser and the compression technology it uses, I tend to save closer to 80%. Between using Opera Mini and using wifi as much as possible (make sure to use a VPN if you use public hotspots like Starbucks), I find that not only can I get by fine on my $45 smartphone plan which includes 1GB of data but on average, I only use about 40% of that 1GB. That is with web browsing and using a lot of online apps like weather apps and games like The Sims Freeplay which depend on the internet connection. Opera Max is available for free on Android.
Unsplurge takes the idea of saving money toward a goal and makes it social. This free iOS app lets you set a savings goal and graphically shows you just how much you have saved. It also shows it to your friends and you can see their goals which may come in handy if you and your friends are all saving up for a big group expense like a vacation. The social feature is also a good motivator to save since your friends can see how much you are saving and motivate you to do better.
Mint is a fantastic way of tracking all of your finances including your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and more. It really is a bit of a one stop shop for all things money because not only does it monitor things like your bank accounts and credit cards, it categorizes your purchases to give you an idea of how much you are spending on different things. It also gives you suggestions on how to save money by doing things like changing credit cards to something more suited to your usage. There are a ton of other features I don’t have time to really talk about like bill reminders and low balance alerts so I will just say you definitely need to check it out. The service is free and there are apps available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8. Just a bit of a heads up, this service doesn’t work with all banks (last I checked it wouldn’t work with my credit union) but if you use the bigger national banks, you should be fine.
If you can be forgetful when it comes to paying your bills on time, this app is for you! BillMinder is for reminding you to pay your bills on time so you don’t get hit with late fees or a ding on your credit score. The app costs $1.99 but if it saves you from just one late fee or hit to your credit score, it has paid for itself. It is available on both iOS and Android.
For those that want to consume alcohol while away at college and want to do it as cheaply as possible, this app is going to come in very handy. DrinkOwl lets you know about different nearby drink specials by city or college campus and by whether you are looking for beer, wine or liquor. You can also see upcoming specials so you can plan your wild night out ahead of time. DrinkOwl is available for free on both iOS and Android.
If you ever find yourself picking up the tab for somebody who left their wallet back in the dorms or if you forgot yours, Venmo is a handy way of transferring money between friends to pay the person back who picked up the check. Just hook the app up to your bank account or debit card and let the person know what they owe you and they can use the app to pay you back. Venmo is free on both iOS and Android.
With temperatures in the mid 90s expected for this weekend, I can’t say it really feels like summer is over where I live but the increased traffic during the morning and evening commutes is always my indicator that the summer is pretty much over. While that can be a major bummer for some people (especially students), its not so bad for those of us who like to save money!
While back to school sales can save you a bundle on everything from laptops to furniture even if you aren’t going back to school, I found an end of summer sale that can score you some major savings on video games!
Below is the massive list of games and DLC that is part of the sale including the sale price and percentage off of the normal price so you get an idea of just how good of a deal you are getting. There are tons of great games that stand out to me that I would recommend picking up like Command & Conquer: The Ultimate Collection, Battlefield 4, The Batman Arkham games, Supreme Commander 2 and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum just to name a few.
Let me know in the comments below which games/DLC you pick up in this great sale!
Share this with any PC gamers you know! Also, if you are a Kindle owner like I am and want to make sure you never miss a PennyHacker post, please help support us and subscribe to PennyHacker on the Kindle and sign up for our newsletter with the form on the right!
I came across the news of some excellent PlayStation related sales this weekend that I thought I needed to share since there are some great bargains here and I plan on taking advantage of them myself!
First, for those interested in getting a PS4 (like me!), this weekend Amazon has not only the PlayStation 4 console for $399 (normal price) but it comes with a code to get inFAMOUS Second Son for free as well as 3 months of PlayStation Plus which also gets you a bunch of free games every month and amazing discounts on other games and content so to say this is a steal would be an understatement! Here is the product page if you are interested in picking up a new PS4 and some great games at a great price!
Speaking of great PlayStation games at great prices, Sony is also doing one of their flash sales this weekend which means there are a bunch of games for just $9.99, some of which regularly go for $50! There are a ton of great games in this sale ranging from Bioshock Infinite to the God of War collection so if you are worried they just reduced the price on garbage games, there is no need to fear! The entire list of games that are on sale can be found below with the listing of which system they are for (PS3 or PS Vita), the sale price of $9.99 and what the regular price is.
At the minimum, I plan on picking up the God of War Collection for the Vita (I already have it on the PS3 but it would be nice to have a copy I can play on the go) and XCOM: Enemy Unknown which I tried for the PC a while back and it seems like a pretty good game. If there are any games you suggest I pick up in this sale (I already have Bioshock Infinite for PC), let me know as I am always looking for good games to play!
Let me know which games you plan on getting or if you plan on taking advantage of this great PS4 console deal in the comments below! And don’t forget, these sales last for only this weekend so if you want to load up on games, you need to act soon!
Share this with any gamers and Sony PlayStation fans you know! Also, if you are a Kindle owner like I am and want to make sure you never miss a PennyHacker post, please help support us and subscribe to PennyHacker on the Kindle!
It has been far too long since I have written a post with a number of great ways for you to save money so I thought since I had some new ideas, now would be the perfect time to share them! Like some previous posts, these ideas for saving money all revolve around food. While these ideas can potentially save you thousands, if you want to save even more on what you eat, I suggest checking out the previous food related posts that I have done such as 16 Secrets to Saving Boatloads of Cash When Eating Fast Food and 18 Tips to Stop Wasting Money at the Grocery Store and Still Eat Well. Anyway, without further delay, here are 5 tricks I have come up with for saving money on food.
5 Clever tricks to save a wad of cash on food.
Take your lunch to work.
Eating the lunch they sell at work or going out to lunch every day can get expensive. Where I work, we usually pick up lunch from somewhere, typically a fast food joint or local restaurant. The cost of that per person usually ranges between $5-10 per meal. With some crafty grocery shopping, you could bring your lunch to work and probably only spend $2-3 a day. After a year of doing that, you could easily have an extra $500 or more sitting in your bank account just from taking your lunch to work. Also, bringing your lunch makes it a lot easier to eat healthy because lets face it, most fast food places you may pick up lunch from don’t really have much in the way of healthy options.
Drink regular coffee.
One of the nice things about not being a coffee drinker is that I don’t spend like $5 a day if not more at Starbucks or somewhere similar. However, I know that pretty much everybody else has an addiction to it so this particular one is for those people. If you want to save money and still get that caffeine to wake you up in the morning, try drinking just a plane cup of coffee. Whether you make it yourself or get it at the gas station, regular coffee (you can still get various flavors and creamers and stuff of course) is a lot cheaper than getting all of your fancy cappuccino drinks with the soy and the foam and all of the other things you can get thrown in there for a small charge. Doing this can easily cut what you spend on your morning pick-me-up in half and if you do that every day, by the end of the year you will probably have saved $700 if not perhaps more!
Eat out one less time each month.
One of the most expensive habits I have is that I eat out a LOT. Not only do I go out to lunch every day at work (luckily work covers that expense), but I typically bring home dinner or go out to eat 6 nights a week. Depending on where I eat, that can get quite expensive! While most of the places I eat are fairly cheap like Little Caesars with their $5 pizzas (I eat there twice a week), there are some places I like to eat on occasion that have been known to cost me up to $45 for a single meal! If you eat out a lot like I do and want to save a little money, just eat out one less time a month. Especially if you eliminate one of the more expensive nights out, this can save you quite a bit of money since you can still eat quite well at home for less than $10 and that includes desert!
Take extra condiments home.
Do you ever go to a fast food restaurant and they bring you more packets of ketchup, mustard, salt, ect than you need? Instead of leaving them on the table and hoping somebody else gets some use out of them, take them home and use them yourself! Why buy bottles of those things for home if you can get all you need from fast food places for free? I know people that go to places like Wendy’s where they have big things of plastic wear just sitting out that take a handfull of them home with them so they don’t have to buy plastic utensils themselves when they need them. You probably aren’t going to save a ton of money this way like you can with the previous tips ideas but a few dollars is still a few dollars!
Don’t shop for groceries after work.
In the previous post I mentioned earlier about 18 ways to save money at the grocery store, I mentioned not shopping while you are hungry but I recently found out this applies to when you are tired too. Apparently, when your body and brain is tired (like it tends to be after a hard day at work), it craves fatty and sugary foods similar to how when you brain is hungry, it craves carbs. So if you want to stay away from those cookies and crackers that are adding on the pounds and making your wallet a little smaller, don’t go grocery shopping on your way home from work or any other time you are tired. From my personal experience, I find it is best to go grocery shopping in the morning when I’m not really hungry (I always go after breakfast) and have lots of energy. Not only does it cut down on those impulse buys of Goldfish crackers, but there are usually a lot fewer people shopping at that time so it is easier to get in and out of there quickly.
Do you have any suggestions for how to save money on food that I haven’t covered here or in those two previous posts? Let me know in the comments below!
Share this with anybody you know who could be spending less on food!
If you are a big fan of The Sims like I am and don’t already have The Sims 2 and all of its expansion packs, I have an incredible deal for you!
Between now and the end of July, you can get The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection (The Sims 2 and all of its expansions) for FREE from EA. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal doesn’t it? So just how do you get it?
To score yourself a copy of The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection, you have to have EA’s Origin software installed (their knockoff of Valve’s Steam software) which is free if you don’t already have it. Once you have Origin up and running, go to the menu option to redeem a product code and enter the code ‘I-LOVE-THE-SIMS’ and you are done! Now all you have to do is go to your my games tab and install it! Once it is associated with your account (which is what happens when you enter the code in), it is yours and will always be associated with this account.
While I am not sure if this ultimate collection includes the ‘stuff packs’, it does include all of the expansion packs which include University, Nightlife, Open for Business, Pets, Seasons, Bon Voyage, FreeTime, and Apartment Life. Normally I think each of those used to cost like $20-30 each so this is a heck of a deal!
I have The Sims 2 myself as well as the University expansion pack and I enjoyed playing them years ago but never felt like spending the money on any of the other expansion packs but now I don’t have to since I can get them all for free! The game may seem a little old at this point, especially with The Sims 4 coming out this fall but it is still a really fun game and you can’t beat the incredible price of FREE.
Are you a big fan of The Sims? Let us know in the comments below!
Are you looking to renew or perhaps get a PlayStation Plus subscription? If so, I have found the deal for you!
I don’t know how long it will last but right now, Best Buy has 1 Year PlayStation Plus membership cards on sale for just $39.99 which is 20% off of the normal $49.99. Even at full price, it is probably the best deal in console gaming when you get 2 free games every month for each of Sony’s major platforms (PS4, PS3 and the PS Vita), plus a ton of members only discounts on games, DLC and other content.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I really want to think about how much money I have spent on video games over the last 24 years. I’d say tens of thousands of dollars would not be an unreasonable guess but I really don’t have a clue. I own nearly every console and handheld made in the last 24 years not to mention more games for each of them than I can even think of! That’s not even counting my addiction to PC gaming which is where most of my gaming takes place these days. Not counting games that I have on CDs and various digital downloads, I have 141 games on Steam alone!
While I am quite proud of my collection of video games, there is something I am even more proud of, the fact that I am buying games than ever these days but paying less than I ever have!
How am I managing that when its not uncommon for games to cost $60 these days and that’s not even counting cool collectors editions that and easily push the price over $100?
Well, I am going to share with you all of the tips and tricks I have picked up over the years on how I save a lot of money on video games while having more fun than ever!
Check local circulars
When there is a game you have been waiting for that you must have the moment it comes out, you are usually going to end up paying full price but that isn’t always the case. The week of a game’s release, check out the circulars for all of the big box stores near you that are likely to carry it like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and others. I often find that the week a game goes on sale, there will be at least one store that has the game for $5 or even $10 cheaper than everywhere else. Sometimes rather than just knocking a few bucks off of the price, they will give you like a $10 gift card with the purchase of the game which is basically as good as cash and you can use that card for your next gaming purchase. Some retailers, even online like Amazon will offer discounts or gift cards like that when you pre-order a game so make sure to look for those deals too!
Steam is my personal favorite method of picking up a ton of pc games for very little money. Valve usually runs several major sales throughout the year like the Steam Summer Sale (during the summer) and the Steam Holiday Sale (end of December into early January) where you can pick of single games or entire collections of games from publishers or franchises for as much as 95% off! These aren’t just old titles either, these tend to be the big new titles that are often major game of the year contenders. While most games are discounted to some extent throughout the entire sale which usually lasts a couple of weeks, there are daily deals which tend to cut those discounts a lot lower and flash sales which happen every 8 hours which are often just as good so make sure to check back often when they have a sale going!
Of course you don’t have to wait for a major sale to pick up a good bargain on Steam because they also have daily deals, weekend deals, mid-week deals and others that are running all the time and they are a great way to pick up some fantastic games on the cheap! Also, they occasionally have weekends where you can play a game for free (usually the multiplayer part of the game) and then it is also on sale if you like it enough that you decide to buy it. If you are a pc gamer, Steam is like heaven!
The Humble Bundle
The popular Humble Bundle is another fantastic way to pick up a bunch of games for an incredibly cheap price. The Humble Bundle is unique in that it lets you name your own price, get some great games and help out various charities all at the same time. To give you an example, right now they are selling 4 Android games for whatever you want to pay for them. If you pay more than the average of what people are paying for them ($3.69 as of the time that I wrote this), you get an additional 2 games. Also, you get to decide how your money is split up between the developers, Humble Bundle and whatever charities they happen to be donating to at the time (for the sale as of the time of this writing that would be the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Child’s Play charity, both fantastic organizations). The games range from PC games to mobile games so there should be something for everybody at some point. So, if you are looking to score some cool games for cheap and want that warm and fuzzy feeling you get you when you help out great charities, then you should definitely check out Humble Bundle!
Reddit’s Game Deals Subreddit
One of the best ways to find out about great deals on video games is to check out Reddit’s Game Deals subreddit. The members there are usually on top of great sales all over the internet and in big box stores for great gaming deals that can range from free shipping to free games! I highly recommend checking out that subreddit at least once a day because you never know what kind of crazy deals those guys are going to post and I have picked up some fantastic games based on the sales they highlight and the recommendations of the people posting in the comments.
Xbox Gold and Playstation Plus deals
There are some people that balk at the idea of paying a subscription fee of $50 every year for things like Xbox Gold and PlayStation Plus but in the long run, they are more than worth in terms of what they will save you. Each premium subscriptions offers discounts for various titles (which changes all the time) that can be quite substantial. For example, as of the time of this writing, if you are an Xbox Live Gold member, you can get the digital download of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for $40 instead of the usual $60. I don’t pay as much attention to Xbox so I’m not sure how often their sales change, but with PlayStation, their sales change weekly. Often the sales will be available for non-premium members too but the discounts won’t be near as good. However, that is not the best part of getting one of these subscriptions (which you can occasionally find on sale for as low as $30 from various big box stores and online retailers), the best part is the free games! Both services let you download various free games every month which is where subscriptions to these services really show their value. For $50 a year, you can end up with probably around $1000 worth of free games!
I’m generally not one to recommend buying games on Ebay as I have had bad experiences with broken stuff and bad sellers in the past, however, if you are looking for deals on retro games, this is exactly the place to look! While I love shopping in used video game stores because you never know what old NES or SNES gem you my find in them, if they are a more sought after game, they tend to ask prices close to their original retail price which is crazy. You would be amazed at what kind of deals you can score on Ebay in comparison! For example, a few years ago, my local used game store had a copy of the original Final Fantasy on the NES which I really wanted because I loved the game as a kid and no longer have it. Well, they wanted $45 for it which I thought was a little crazy considering there was no box or maps or other paperwork with it. Had they had all of that and it had been in good condition, I would have definitely paid that but no way would I pay that for just the cartridge. So, I went home on and got on Ebay and found the game, with the box and paperwork (kind of falling apart and laminated so not mint but still ok) for just $20. So don’t be afraid to search Ebay as you can score some great deals on there too!
Speaking of old games, don’t be afraid of buying a used game to save a few bucks so long as the place you buy it from has some sort of return policy in case it doesn’t work. I can’t say I do much of this myself as I generally don’t trust how previous owners take care of things however you can save a few bucks off of retail if you don’t mind going used. Personally, I would recommend going used for cartridge games like NES, SNES, Genesis and handheld games because those tend to be stronger and can take abuse a whole lot better than disks (I’d give anything for consoles to go back to cartridges but that is a post for a different blog at a different time) so there is a little less risk involved in my opinion. Just keep in mind that somebody may have sold a game for reasons other than they just didn’t like it so be careful.
Wait until the price drops
Finally, another great way to save a few bucks is to just wait a while for the price of a game to drop. The prices of games always drop as time goes on, some more than others so depending on the type of game, it can really be worth it to wait. Perhaps the best example I can think of is sports games like Madden where they come out with a new version every year. Instead of buying it the day it comes out, buy it around the time of the following year’s release and instead of paying $60 for the game, you are likely to end up paying $20 or $30. You may be a year behind but other than fully updated rosters, you won’t be missing much as those games don’t tend to change much over the years which is why I only buy them like once every 4 or 5 years. However, there is one thing to beware of, especially with EA games like Madden in that they have the customer infuriating habit of killing off the multiplayer servers after just a year or two (I’ve been bit by this several times myself which is why I generally avoid games from EA whenever possible) so that is something to keep in mind if you decide to wait and buy a game when it gets cheaper.
If you have any other tips for saving money on video games, share them in the comments below so everybody else can take advantage of them! Also, make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!
One of the biggest expenses we face these days is filling the gas tanks on our precious automobiles. Eventually, most of us may move to electric vehicles at some point once things like range, cost and the availability of charging stations allows them to become more practical for the average person, but until then, most of us are stuck giving a considerable percentage of our income to the big bad oil companies.
Over the past month or so, gas prices where I live have spiked at least $.50/gallon (I haven’t kept real good track but it did jump another 7 cents this morning alone) so I thought now would be the perfect time to share some tips on how you can save fuel and money! These tips should help at least take some of the sting out of the rising gas prices.
Here are 10 tips on how you can stop wasting gas and throwing money at oil companies.
Watch your speed!
High speeds are one of the quickest ways to use a lot of gas. Once you go above 55 or 60 mph (I’ve heard both cited), for every 5 mph faster you drive, you lose around 10% of your fuel efficiency because of the increased wind resistance. I’m not saying you should impede traffic and drive 60 mph on a 75 mph interstate but I wouldn’t recommend doing more than the speed limit. If you are worried about getting somewhere on time, just make sure to leave a little early and you will save yourself money on gas and speeding tickets.
Don’t idle if you don’t have to
Idling is one of the quickest ways to kill your fuel efficiency. If you know you are going to be sitting still for a considerable amount of time like when you are waiting in the drive thru at the bank or fast food joint, turn your engine off. You can save up to 19% on your fuel efficiency by turning your engine off when you know you wont be moving for at least a minute (my rule of thumb is 20 seconds). Your A/C or heater will likely stop working when you turn the engine off but you can always roll down your windows or put a jacket on for a little bit.
This is probably the biggest way you can save on fuel and one of the things I probably struggle with the most. If you floor it every time the light turns green (what I do on occasion) or slam on the breaks every time it turns red (I rarely do this), it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. Smooth, gradual starts and stops will save you big bucks and in most cases you still still get where you are going just as quick as you would have otherwise. I will admit that flooring it on green is a lot of fun but it is an expensive habit.
Know when to cruise.
Cruising and knowing when to cruise can net you a 10% savings on fuel. Using cruise control on the highway is a good way to keep yourself from accidentally accelerating and using that extra bit of gas that you don’t need to use. However, while this is good advice for flat highways, when you are driving in an area with a lot of hills or mountains, forget the cruise control and focus on accelerating uphill smoothly and letting off of the gas and coasting down the other side. Coasting is a great way to save on fuel so do it whenever possible!
Use higher gears
Cars are typically more fuel efficient in higher gears so once you get to the speed you need to go, pick the gear that runs at the lowest RPM and you will be saving yet more money!
Streamline your car
Anything extra on the outside of your car is going to kill your aerodynamics and in turn, your fuel efficiency. So, unless you are in the process of transporting that bike, luggage or canoe on top of or on the back of your vehicle, leave them at home until you are ready to use them. And take off your luggage and ski racks too because that will also make a difference.
Why should multiple people going to the same place at the same time driver different cars, each using a bunch of gas if its not necessary? Whenever possible, try to carpool with co-workers and friends to work, dinner or even random errands. If you get them to pitch in on gas, your running around will be cheaper for all of you and while the extra weight in your car will make it less fuel efficient, running one car instead of 4 is still cheaper overall and running one car instead of four will be much better on the environment.
Lighten your load
You should always try to drive your vehicle with as little stuff in it as possible. Generally speaking, for every extra 100 pounds of junk in your car, it will reduce your gas mileage by 2%. Not only is having an uncluttered car more fuel efficient, it is also a lot more presentable and less to stress out about when you have to give somebody else a ride. So don’t be like me and carry around various game consoles, telescopes, tons of clothes and other things in your car unless you have a pressing need for it.
Keep your windows closed and A/C off
Similar to the streamlining point, keeping your windows closed will make your car more aerodynamic and thus more fuel efficient. Opening the windows creates enough drag on your car that it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 10% so if the temperature in your car is comfortable with it closed, keep them closed! This effect isn’t really noticeable until you hit around 45 mph so if you are just driving around town, you should be ok to roll your windows down and let everybody around you know just how good your taste in music is. Also, if you don’t need to be running your A/C or heater, leave it off! I’m sure it varies from vehicle to vehicle but Consumer Reports found that running the air conditioner in a Honda Accord going 65 mph killed the gas mileage by 3 mpg which is quite a drop!
Keep your tires inflated
Finally, keep your tires inflated to their recommended air pressure. When you are driving in the snow, it is a good idea to let a little (not a lot) bit of air pressure out of your tires because it will make them grip better so you are less likely to slide. However, when the road conditions are good, that extra contact with the road will only make you use up more gas so make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and you could see a 3% or more increase in your gas mileage.
Do you have any tips for how people can save even more on fuel? Share them in the comments below! Also, make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!
How often are you involved in a conversation about how much you hate your cable or satellite provider because they are charging you an insane amount of money?
Thanks to the cable monopoly in my town and in many cities, this is a topic that comes up at least a couple times a week.
Did you know there are tricks to cut your bill without cutting the cord?
Are you paying more than you should for what you watch? Are you the village idiot that is throwing away money on your cable and satellite bill when you don’t need to be?
Even if you think you are getting a great deal, there is a good chance you can get an even better one!
How do you find out if you are spending more money than you should on your television entertainment?
Below I have compiled a list of some tips and tricks you can use to save pockets full of money on your cable or satellite bill. Some of these tricks have saved my family hundreds of dollars a year without sacrificing a single channel!
9 Ways to Stop Throwing Away Money Like an Idiot on Cable
Bundle with other services when you can:
Do you have your TV, phone and internet through different companies? Many providers of those services offer two or even all three of those services if not more! To encourage you to give them all of your business, many companies like Comcast will bundle those services and save you money compared to if you had them separately or with different companies. It might save you money to have them under different companies but that is most likely not the case. It is also worth keeping in mind that writing a check every month to one company will save you checks and postage compared to sending checks to multiple companies.
Compare plans on your current provider:
Whether you have cable or satellite, I don’t know of a single provider that doesn’t offer multiple plans of service. Some are outrageously expensive and others can be quite cheap. Take some time and compare the plans your current provider offers to see if you can get away with a cheaper package. When comparing packages, think more about your must have channels that you watch all the time instead of all of those channels that would be nice to have. If you already have a set schedule of shows that you watch, when are you going to fit in watching all of those other shows on those channels you think you would like to have? Never. So find the smallest package that has your must have shows and go with it.
Downgrade your service:
This one goes hand in hand with the previous point. There are many times when you get a higher tier TV package just to watch a show and then when the show gets cancelled or goes down hill to the point that you lose interest, many people never think about downgrading back to their previous package. Are you paying for premium channels you once watched but don’t watch anymore? If you find yourself not watching those premium channels or higher tier channels that you used to, stop paying for them and downgrade to only what you watch!
Compare with other providers but beware of contracts:
If you are tired of dealing with the crap your current provider gives you or you are just looking to save some money, check out what other providers have to offer. Even in areas like where I live where there is only one cable company, you often still have options with satellite television providers and even some companies you would think are only phone companies. Make sure to use the advice above about looking for what you need instead of what you think sounds nice to make sure you are looking at an appropriate package for you. Also, ask friends or family that use other companies to get a feel for what they are like and find out if you are going to enjoy changing or cause yourself a world of hurt. There are two things to beware of here, contracts and hidden fees. The prices you typically see when you look at other providers are often introductory prices that are only good for 12 months or less but you are required to sign up for a 2 year contract with the rest of the contract going up to a rather crazy price that might make it a bad idea to change. Also, the advertised price for most of the major providers is for a single tv. If you have multiple TVs, you are going to need multiple boxes each usually comes with its own rental fee unless you decide to buy it outright. Whenever I have looked into making the jump from cable to satellite, this has always been a deal killer for me as I have 3 TVs that are used daily.
Use apps and online services like Netflix and Hulu:
Speaking of getting only the channels that you need, keep in mind that the channels or shows you want to watch are available on other services or devices. Many channels have their own apps on mobile devices that allow you to watch their shows on your phone or tablet whenever you want. This can be a nice substitute but beware as many cable channel apps still require you to have a cable subscription before you can watch their shows. However, there are other alternatives like Netflix and Hulu that have plenty of tv shows and movies you will love to watch for far less every month than your cable bill and with Hulu, you can still watch new episodes of your favorite shows, just a little later than they normally air and with a few less commercials.
Ask for credit for service outages:
Have you recently experienced an outage with your cable provider? It happens to all of us eventually whether the cable company has issues at their office or a squirrel chews threw the lines up on the poll (don’t laugh, this has happened to me once), sometimes your cable is going to go out. There isn’t much you can do about these outages but you can ask to be compensated for the outage. Any decent cable company will acknowledge the outage and not charge you for the time you didn’t have service. Unfortunately, you are going to have to ask for your bill to be adjusted because they aren’t going to lower it if you don’t complain about it. If you can’t use it, you shouldn’t be paying for it!
Only subscribe during certain times of the year:
Are you one of those people (like me) who could easily cut the cord completely if it wasn’t for live sports or just certain shows that air only a couple months out of the year? Consider only subscribing to your service on those months where you need the subscription. I know a number of people that only have a subscription during the seasons of certain sports and they save a ton of money that way. Of course if you sign up for a contract you really don’t have that option but if you have a provider that doesn’t require a contract, this could be a great way to save a ton of money!
Threaten to quit:
This is my personal favorite way to save money on your cable bill. If you see that your cable company is offering a fantastic price to new customers or just some other special, call them up and rant and rave about your problems with them and tell them you want your service disconnected. You will typically be sent to their customer retention people who will offer you a much better deal than you currently have to keep you. They may or may not be able to give you the new customer price but they should be able to reduce your bill quite a bit for 6 or 12 months if not more. Sometimes they will even throw in a better package or premium channels to keep you. I have personally saved hundreds a year this way but there is one thing to beware of. Some companies track people that do this and will only let you do this like 3 times in a row before you have to suffer through the full price for a couple of months before you can do this again. From personal experience, I have found I can do this 3 times in a row on Comcast before they catch on and make me pay full price for a while but your mileage may vary. This trick is a great way to lower your bill and let the company know what you really think of their service but don’t be too much of a jerk because the guy on the other end of phone isn’t responsible for your problems and doesn’t deserve your rage.
Cut the cord completely
Finally, if you really want to stop paying for cable, then stop! With options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Roku and many other services, it has never been easier to tell the cable company to shove it and not give up watching your favorite shows. There are tons of legal options for watching the shows you like for a lot less such as Netflix and Hulu which are $8/mo and Amazon Instant Video which is included with your Amazon Prime account that will let you watch all or at least most of your favorite shows for a fraction of what you are paying for cable. Of course there are less than legal means of watching the shows you want but you really should pay for what you want to watch. If it is worth your time, it is worth your money too!
Do you have any advice for how people can save money on their cable or satellite service? Share them in the comments below!
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Are you tired of feeling guilty after eating fast food? Do you hate the feeling of regret you have whenever swing by a fast food joint to grab something to eat and try to justify it by telling yourself you just don’t have the time to eat like you should?
Its bad enough you aren’t able to eat as healthy as you want to or should, but you shouldn’t feel guilty for spending more than you should when you eat fast food.
Everybody always says it is cheaper to eat at home than it is to eat at a fast food place (and those people aren’t wrong), but there are ways to leave your favorite fast food joint without spending a ton of money. The best part is that not only can you spend a lot less than you are spending now, you can still leave feeling full!
To help you make sure you aren’t spending a penny more than you have to on fast food, I have compiled a list of 16 of my favorite tips and tricks to spend less and get the most bang for your buck when grabbing a quick bite to eat. If you have any that I have missed, please share them in the comments so we can all benefit from them!
16 Ways to save money on fast food:
Perhaps the easiest way to save money is with coupons. Whether you cut them out of the ads from your local newspaper or take them from the websites of your favorite fast food restaurants, you can score some amazing deals with coupons. Many times you can even score free food with coupons which is a great way to get the best bang for your buck.
Subscribe to e-mail newsletters.
Speaking of getting coupons from the websites of your favorite places to grab a quick bite, sign up for their e-mail newsletters too! Many restaurants send out coupons exclusively to their e-mail lists so if you want in on those deals, make sure to sign up! Also, many of the major restaurant chains will send you special deals for your birthday like a free desert, so if you want a free slice of cheesecake or something, that is also a great reason (and my personal favorite) for signing up to restaurant e-mail newsletters. Most places won’t flood your inbox so that shouldn’t be to much of a concern and you can always unsubscribe if they do.
Buy promotional items like calenders and coupon books.
Some companies such as Chick-Fil-A sell special promotional items like calenders that feature coupons for each month which are a great way to save on the things you like to eat. Not only are you getting a calender (which you would probably be buying anyway), but you can score some free food and drinks or at least a discount on the stuff you normally eat. I have also seen some restaurants sell coupon books that are a fantastic deal. For example, my local Little Caesars pizza place sells coupon books for $1 with the proceeds going to the local Crime Stoppers (a program the police around here run to let people give tips on crimes anonymously while still offering them a reward). Not only do I get great deals on their food valued at more than I spent on the coupon booklet, but I am also helping out a very good community initiative designed to help fight crime in my city.
Take surveys to get free food!
When you buy food at a fast food joint and they give you your receipt and ask you to take an online survey, do you do it? Most people don’t and those people are throwing their money away. Not only is it your opportunity to give valuable feedback to the restaurant on how it can better serve you, but many offer free food just to do it! My local Burger King is always asking me to fill out their online survey and as a thank you, I get a coupon for a free Whopper. If you are bored and just surfing the web, why not take a minute and earn yourself some free food? You would be foolish not to!
Take advantage of special offers!
If you watch commercials on TV or check out the in-store displays for your favorite food quickie joints, you will notice that they are often running some sort of limited time special offer. Paying attention to these special offers is a great way to spend less and get some real bang for your buck. For example, I have seen fast food giants like Burger King and Carl’s Jr. do some great buy one get one free specials with some of their sandwiches. I have taken advantage of such a special at Burger King twice in the past week myself! You may not need two sandwiches for yourself but you can always feed a friend, family member or homeless person (they seem to gather around fast food places like flies where I live) with the second one.
Play the promotional games!
Speaking of promotions that can score you some free food (among other prizes), keep an eye out for the times when restaurants have games that can win you stuff when you buy certain items. McDonald’s is perhaps the most well known for this with their annual Monopoly game where you can collect Monopoly properties to win cool prizes or even win some free fries or a drink. It can pay to play!
Eat from the dollar menu!
One of the best ways to fill your tummy on the cheap when you don’t have any coupons with you is with the dollar menu. Sure, you don’t get all of the fancy ingredients on your burger like you do with the burgers that cost $6, but if you don’t mind plain old cheeseburgers and smaller portion sizes, make your eyes wander over to the dollar or value menu. Its a much cheaper way to eat than just ordering one of the big combo meals.
Take a limited amount of cash.
Speaking of spending as little as possible on your food, one of the best ways to do that is to carry small amounts of cash on you. The less you carry on you, the less you have to spend which will force you to buy cheaper items. Of course this trick doesn’t really work if you use plastic for all of your purchases instead of cash but if you are a cash guy like I am, this trick works great! Also, the less you money you have on you, the less the muggers can steal which is an important thing to keep in mind if you live in a bad neighborhood.
Drink free water or take your own!
Another great way to save money when you eat is by just drinking water. If you dine in, just ask for one of their courtesy cups for water rather than buying a giant fountain drink that will set you back a couple bucks and send your sugar levels through the roof. I have known a number of people that have lost significant weight just by cutting the soda fountain out of their diet so if you are looking shed a couple of pounds, this is an easy way to do it. If you don’t go inside, and prefer to use the drive through, bring a bottle of water with you from home so you aren’t tempted to buy one of their drinks or bottles of water.
Know what you want before you get there!
One of the worst things to do when you stop to get food is to not know what you want before you get there. They always say to never go to the grocery store hungry (one of the things I mentioned in my guide to saving money at the grocery store) and to make a list so you don’t buy what you don’t need when you get there. Well, that advice applies pretty well to the fast food joints too. If you get to the cash register or drive though without knowing what you want ahead of time, you will usually end up buying more food than you need and picking more expensive items because they often sound the best. Whether you are looking to save money or just cut back on how much you eat, this is a very important piece of advice!
Buy dinner or desert but never both!
Along the lines of the last point about knowing what you want before you get to the restaurant, one of the things you need to decide is if you are there for dinner or desert. If you do both, you will end up spending more than you wanted to and consume far more calories than you should. Personally, I would just stick with dinner as most restaurant deserts are ridiculously overpriced although there are times when I would gladly skip dinner and go straight to the cheesecake. Just remember, if you don’t want to feel guilty or like you have overeaten when you leave, stick to one or the other.
Always count the calories!
A couple of years ago, I let my weight go as high as 235 lbs. I was terrified that my pants were going to pop a button at the worst possible time and that is when I decided it was time to start paying attention to what I eat (my previous philosophy for watching what I eat was to look at it before I shoved it in my mouth). I still eat fast food almost every day like I did back then, but I was able to lose 25 lbs that year just by eating lower calorie items at those same fast food restaurants. I never did any exorcise or anything, I just found lower calorie items on the menus that I enjoyed and switched to eating them. One of the things I also noticed when I started paying attention to my calorie consumption was that the higher calorie items almost always cost more so not only did I lose weight, I started saving quite a bit of money!
Choose the cheapest item you enjoy!
Along the same lines as the previous point, try to stick with buying the cheapest item you enjoy. It is fine to splurge on occasion and get one of the fancy $7 burgers but but if there are cheaper items you like, stick to those and that will save you a ton of money in the long run. It is also likely to save you from eating a lot more calories than you need too! In addition, there often isn’t a huge difference between the sizes of the meals so stick with a small or medium instead of a large. If you eat inside, most places offer free refills too so you can easily get the value of a large drink by just refilling a medium drink once.
Buy the kids meals even if you are an adult.
It may feel a little awkward buying a kids meal for yourself but it is a cheap way to get a complete meal that would cost you a lot more if you ordered off the adult menu. You may not get as much food but at least it can save you money and score you a toy at the same time! I’d suggest comparing this to the value menu as there might be little if any difference other than the toy (which you can always find a kid to give it to).
Split large orders up family style.
Speaking of kids, another great way to save money is to split up large orders among several people. Whether it is a big bucket of chicken or a pizza, splitting a meal up with others can save you money. Whether you are splitting a pizza or just a large order of fries, it makes sense to just get one order and split it instead of each getting their own and feeling fat from over eating afterwards. We do this often where I work with pizza as it is much cheaper to buy 2 pizzas for 4 people (which works out to around $3.25 per person) than to buy each person their own big order anywhere else and nobody walks away hungry.
Avoid the drive-thru like the plague!
Finally, one if the biggest ways to save money is by not going through the drive-thru. This seems a little odd at first because the menu prices are still the same but this time I am not talking about saving money on the food directly. I am talking about how much you are wasting in gas while you spend what seems like an eternity in the long line for the drive-thru window. I have found myself sitting in drive-thru for 15 minutes for just one car in the line in front of me to move and I am sitting there with my engine idling the entire time. Doing that is a huge waste of gas (it will kill gas mileage your vehicle gets) and it does nasty things to the environment at the same time. However, if you do decide to go through the drive thru for some reason (perhaps the line inside is all the way out the door), don’t be afraid to turn your engine off while waiting for your order or for the cars in front of you. As memory serves, as long as you are sitting there for at least 10 seconds, you will save fuel by turning your engine off.
If you follow these tips, you can easily save thousands of dollars a year on fast food!
If you found these tips and tricks on how to save money and get more bang for your buck at fast food restaurants useful, please share this article with everybody you know who could benefit from it!