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  • Good-Bye Cable: Save Money with These Alternatives to Cable Subscriptions

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Being a busy mom, I find that my family watches about an hour of television on the weekdays, and maybe 4 hours a day or less on the weekends. However, I found myself paying hundreds of dollars on my cable subscription services.

    As I’ve been trying to save money and build an emergency savings fund, I’ve ultimately been looking for ways to cut back. In looking at my monthly bills, I found that I was giving away a great deal of money for cable services – which we barely watched.

    Don’t get me wrong, we certainly enjoy our weekly shows and an occasional movie or two, but for the most part, it seemed like paying for cable was allowing money to slip down the drain. So, I decided to cut my cable services.

    But I knew we couldn’t go without watching television at all because watching the same DVDs over and over again would get tiring eventually. So I had to come up with some realistic, yet inexpensive alternatives. After talking to several friends and family members, I found that there were several free and affordable options to keeping up with current movies, shows, and news. Below are some of those options:

    Free Digital Television

    I wasn’t aware that I was able to get a lot of the local channels for free! Channels like FOX, ABC, and CBS could all be watched from my television set without me having to pay a cent. All I needed to invest in was the appropriate antenna for my television set which ran me about $15.

    Now, before you start having flashbacks to when you were children and had to keep the antenna just so to get clear reception, times have changed and so has the technology. The antenna works fairly well and gave a pretty clear view. I was able to catch up on some of my weekly shows and watch the news every morning without fail.

    The Internet

    Another alternative for watching some of the most current television shows, news, and movies was the internet. I was completely unaware of how many networks have websites that will showcase full episodes of television series that both I and my family enjoy.

    I was able to simply find a network I was interested in, search for the show, and begin watching it right from my computer or mobile device. I will say that sometimes the current shows took several days from their actual air date to show up online, but when something is this affordable, who’s going to complain?

    Streaming Set-Top Boxes

    There are various service providers that offer affordable methods for watching the latest shows, movies, and news directly on your television set. Set-top boxes are connected to your television and have a predetermined amount of networks for you to choose from. These shows will stream directly to your television. Most of the popular shows and movies are available for viewing instantly or the next day. Of course the cost of these set-top boxes and monthly subscription services can vary, but it isn’t a large investment and is certainly a lot cheaper than paying for cable services each month.

    Television/Movie Streaming Services

    Another affordable alternative to cable television is with a subscription to a television and/or moving streaming service provider. Such subscriptions give you access to television series and movies (old and new) to watch instantly. The great thing about these services is that you can utilize them anywhere you have an internet connection.

    Many of these subscription services can be viewed online, from your cell phone, and even through your gaming console. In fact, the other day, my children and I were able to watch Rainbow Brite online, which was one of my favorite cartoon characters growing up. It was great being able to share such an experience with them at our leisure. We even have a weekly family movie night and I allow the kids to take turns choosing which movie we’ll watch.

    HDMI Cable

    As I stated before, a lot of television shows, news broadcasts, sporting events, and more can be found online free of charge. So, if you really want to save additional money without having to pay for too many subscription services, you could always opt to invest in an HDMI cable. These cables make it possible for you to hook up your laptop, desktop, or mobile device directly to the television set. Often these cords can be found cheap online for a minimal investment (in fact, we got one for about $20).

    Each of these options provided our household with the means to stay in the loop with current events, shows, and movies, without having to pay the cost of cable services. Over the course of a three-month period, I was about to save approximately $300, which was put towards our emergency savings fund! Enter for a chance to win one of twenty $50 Macy’s gift cards

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! All opinions are honest and my own. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Macy's HotTicket Giveaway

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    Your Family Finances: What’s Necessary vs. What’s Not

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Raising a family is expensive. That’s why it’s important for you to be able to manage your finances. If you find that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or you’re regularly dipping into your savings to cover the cost of things, you need to take a look at your finances.

    The first step is to take a hard look at what you’re spending money on. Track your expenses for one month. Once you see what you’ve spent money on, you’ll know where you need to cut back.

    Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking something is necessary when it’s actually not. There is a fine line between two, but that line is still distinguishable. Here are some clear rules for five categories families tend to spend the most money in:

    Saving Money on Food

    You can cut down on your grocery bills significantly by examining the way you grocery shop. Sometimes using coupons to shop isn’t enough. You may need to switch where you shop. There are many stores that offer brand name items for less than their competitors. Perhaps you can shop at one of those stores.

    Money magazine offers 29 other ways that you can save on groceries. One of their suggestions is to look for substitutes. Instead of buying the name brand product, see if the store brand is comparable. Often times, the store brand will have the exact same ingredients as the name brand item, but it will be far cheaper. Most of the time the taste is similar to their competitor’s product, so you shouldn’t hear any complaints from your family.

    Another suggestion is to eat before you shop. Studies have shown that people buy more food when they’re hungry. This is because they’re in an irrational state, so they are more likely to spend money on items that aren’t on their list.

    Save on Clothes

    Name brand clothes and shoes are not cheap. You can save money on both by shopping at thrift stores or outlets. Outlets usually take their overstock and sell them at discounted prices. Almost all name brands have an outlet, so if there is one near you, take advantage of it.

    You can find nice quality clothing and unique pieces for a steal at thrift stores. It is not unusual to find an expensive item for pennies on the dollar. You can also find your basics, like t-shirts, tights and socks, for cheap in thrift stores too.

    The most important rule, though, is don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Not unless you absolutely need it. This may be a hard habit to break, but sticking to your needs can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

    Downsize If You Can

    How much are you spending on rent or a mortgage? Can you possibly move to a smaller place and still be comfortable?

    I know it’s a touchy subject for a lot of families. We want our children to grow up in big houses with nice yards that they can play in. But if we can’t afford those things, or they are becoming too difficult to pay for, it may be time to downsize.

    It may be completely out of the question for some, but if you can consider it, you should, especially if your family doesn’t need that much room in the first place. You can literally save thousands a year if you move into a smaller place.

    Of course, that shouldn’t be the only reason you move, and moving is a family decision. Discuss it first. Make sure it’s a viable option before you commit to it.

    Bundle Your Insurance

    Insurance is necessary for every family, but the type of insurance you have may need to be re-examined. If you have several different insurance providers, see if you can bundle your insurance. Most providers will give you discounts if you get multiple types of insurance from them.

    This applies to medical, dental and vision as much as home, renters and vehicle insurance. Even less-common packages like motorcycle insurance can easily be combined with car and house insurance to create discounts in the hundreds. It’s also easier to go through one provider for your insurance than it is to go through two or three.

    Following these guidelines should help you save a significant amount of money a month. Even if it’s only $50, that’s an extra $600 a year.

    Be sure to spend your saved money wisely. Remember, the goal is to manage your finances responsibly. Extra money shouldn’t be spent frivolously. You have to stick with your new financial habits in order to be successful.

    Planning Your Move Ahead of Time

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    The time between the decision to move and actually moving is a sort of crazy limbo. The urge to just start tossing your stuff into boxes as soon as you make the final decision to relocate is strong. At the same time, you don’t want to get stuck having to unpack the kitchen every time you need to use a frying pan. You can’t decide if you should save up a bunch of money first and then, when you can’t stand it anymore, flee to the best place your savings can afford, or if you should choose your new place (at least vaguely) first and save up to make sure you can build a real life there. All of this uncertainty means you spend a lot of time standing still, too scared to move until it’s too late and you’re in panic mode.

    Let’s break that cycle. Here is how to organize your move so that you don’t spend too much money, risk living in a tomb of boxes, accidentally pack all of the things you meant to donate to Goodwill, etc.

    1. Pick Your Neighborhood, Do Your Research

    Figure out the neighborhood in which you most want to live and then get to work. What is the cost of living there? What is the average rental price (we’re just going to assume that you’re not ready to buy a house yet) for the size of the home you need? How much are groceries? How much will parking cost? Is there transit, and if so, is it reasonably priced and reliable?

    2. Build Your Budget

    Figure out how much it will cost you to live in your new neighborhood, in the apartment you want, for at least six months with no income. Yes, you might already be gainfully employed and planning on keeping your job but moving is expensive! And, in this economy, it’s better to save up just in case, right?

    Add to that the cost of packing materials, movers, utility and rental deposits, rental application and holding fees.

    Tack on an extra 15% to account for hikes in rental prices, and other unforeseen expenses (there are always a few).

    This number? This is the number that you need to reach before you can start looking at apartments and planning out your move.

    3. Start Sorting

    Even if you aren’t ready to apartment hunt just yet, you can start sorting through your house now. The sooner you start sorting and decluttering your kitchen and other rooms, the easier the process will be. You’ll also have a much easier time making informed decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have massive sentimental value and that you do not use at least once a year. Pack up anything that you don’t foresee needing until after your move (off season clothing, decorations, attics, basements, etc).

    4. Sell Your Stuff

    Yes, I said “sell” instead of donate. Right now, you’re trying to save up for your move and looking for ways to offset your moving costs. Selling the stuff you were going to be getting rid of is a fantastic way to do that. You can list the items on Craigslist or eBay or hold a yard sale. It is amazing what people will buy. The sooner you start doing this, the more time you have to sell things.

    5. Hunt for Housing

    When you’ve got your “moving nest-egg” it’s time to start looking for housing in your chosen neighborhood (or one close by). If you can at all help it, do not give notice on your current rental until you have a new rental lined up. It’s better to let your rents overlap for a week or so than to have to rush and choose a less-than-worthy place.

    6. Pack and Move

    Once you have a definite date for moving in to your new rental, you can start packing up the rest of your home and hire some movers. Yes, you read that right. It’s true that, on the surface DIY moving looks cheaper, but consider this: you’re charged through the nose for gas, mileage and time on rental vans, and if you’re injured over the course of your move you have to pay your own money for medical care. When you hire movers, though, all of that is insured. According to, insurance helps protect you for the full value of your belongings (sometimes more) if anything happens to them during the move. Plus, directing movers is much less stressful than trying to carry all of those boxes of books that you packed!

    By stretching out the moving and packing process, you can save yourself a lot of stress and a ton of money!

    Midday Coffee: Cyber Monday, Round 2 – Victoria’s Secret freebies, Cheap Lysol wipes & More

    This roundup includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    And … Cyber Monday continues with even more deals:

    ~ Today only at Victoria’s Secret: Make a $10+ purchase and use code SECRETBONUS to get TWO FREE Secret Reward Cards {worth a minimum of $10 each, valid 12/4-12/9; there are lots of cheap items around $10 like ornaments and Fantasies gift sets – they’ll be FREE or cheap after Secret Rewards!}

    ~ Today only at 3-pack of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes for just $2.99 {limit 3; Staples Rewards members get 5% back + FREE shipping; $1 per canister is a GREAT price – I bought the max!}

    ~ 3 new Beauty Boxes for $5-$10 shipped! {$20-$50 value + coupons}

    ~ UGG shoes for as much as 70% off + FREE shipping and extended returns

    ~ 50% off on everything + FREE shipping

    ~ Target Cartwheel: 50% off “Hot Gifts for Cool Kids” {one toy per day through 12/24}

    ~ Coupon Geek: Free Redbox rental code via text

    ~ Good Cheap Eats: Freezer-friendly homemade enchilada sauce

    ~ Sprinkle Bakes: Lollipop sugar cookies

    Banner ad via Escalate Media Network