Finances

Save Money at the Supermarket

Have you ever looked at how much money you spend each week at the supermarket? It’s hundreds of dollars each month and adds up to alot over the year. I think I’ll stop eating, that will solve it. Who’s with me?

I know I need to eat and it can be less expensive in the long run to cook my own food, rather than going to a restaurant. So if you must buy at the supermarket, buy smart! Just an example of one item that we like to eat is Kashi Go Lean Cereal. Each box is 14.1 ounces, has 13 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of fat (or as they say “1g of lowfat”).

Kashi Go Lean

I like the cereal and decided to do a price comparison between different places selling the cereal. I looked at Target, Lowes Foods and Bloom (Food Lion offshoot). I could have also included Harris Teeter, BiLo and a few more in the area (Charlotte, NC). The results are:

Target– $3.34 per box

Lowes– $3.69 per box

Bloom– $3.71 per box

The clear winner is Target that is 35 to 37 cents lower than the other two. Is this a good metric to decide all of my food buying? I would say not. This Target is farther away than the other supermarkets, so there is a gas cost. (Soon I’ll have a Super Target near me 🙂 )

Here’s my plan and homework-

  1. I am putting all of my food receipts on top of my microwave for a month.
  2. Then I will determine the top 20-30 items my family buys during the month. Milk, orange juice, eggs, cereals, pasta, etc.
  3. I will do a total price comparison with this frequently bought list to figure out where to but our groceries. In it I will include mileage to determine that cost.
  4. I’ll post the results here. If there is enough interest I’ll create a spreadsheet to help you save money on your grocery shopping.

Supermarket Savings,
Sam Carrara

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote this cereal or any of the companies listed, nor do I earn any affiliate commissions off this post.

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Friday, April 4th, 2008 Finances 8 Comments

Remember to File Taxes

It’s that time of year again to file for taxes, at least in the United States. Have you filed yet? The deadline is April 15th, unless you file for an extension. The date is coming very soon.

You have a few ways to file:

  1. Use the IRS Free File service at: (http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html) This applies if your adjusted gross income was $54,000 or less in 2007.
  2. Use H&R Block (http://www.hrblock.com/ – not an affiliate link) both in person at an office or by using one of their software packages. Can be limited due to the software might not include all of the special deductions you may want to take.
  3. Use a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) to prepare your return. They are more knowledgeable than someone that does taxes a few months out of the year and only had a four hour training class.
  4. There are other ways to file including a paper return done yourself, Liberty Tax Service, Jackson Hewitt and a myriad of online websites.

Why file? When Jesus was asked if it is right to pay taxes, he said “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s.” And because the taxes help pay for:

  • The roads you drive on
  • Police and law enforcement (to include the judicial system).
  • Firefighters and medics
  • Recreation areas and national parks
  • Military– even if you don’t agree with everything they are ordered to do.
  • And a lot of other services- I don’t agree with them all either, but I vote to try and have my voice heard. You should vote too.

Remember to include all your methods of income:

  • W2s from jobs you worked
  • 1099s or K1s from being an independent contractor or any business entities (affiliate income included)
  • Interest income on savings and checking accounts
  • Any other income- Ebay, etc.

List of common deductions:

  • Charity– Church, Boy Scouts, Red Cross and all the other tax deductible organizations that you donated to during the year. I don’t give to the charities to get a tax deduction; I do it because it’s right. Some people would say it is socially responsible.
  • Education– Right from the IRS webpage at: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc605.htmlThere are two education tax credits available, the Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. The credits are based on education expenses paid for you, your spouse, or your dependents. During any particular year, you can claim only one of the credits for each student.
  • House Interest– Most of the money you pay each month to the mortgage company is going toward interest, not principal. Get this big deduction; just make sure you have the statement showing how much the interest was for the year from them.
  • Medical costs– This only affects you if it becomes over 7.5% of your income. (http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#d0e294) Otherwise it is smart to use a healthcare savings account during the year if your employer has one.
  • There’s a lot more, some will apply and others won’t.

For more information visit the IRS website at:
http://www.irs.gov/index.html

In Spanish or Español:
http://www.irs.gov/espanol/index.html

Taxes Due Soon,
Sam Carrara

Disclaimer: I do not work for the IRS, so refer to their website for rules and regulations. I wanted to post the above information to help people be more knowledgeable about options available. I don’t recommend or dis-recommend any of the services above due to not having recent experiences with them (I prefer to use a CPA).

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 Finances 2 Comments

Wallet Based Values

What does your spending say about your values? Where do your dollars, euros, pounds or other currency go?

Make a list of where your money goes each month. Some common items can include:

  • Mortgage or rent payment
  • Food- groceries, snacks, restaurants
  • Cars- loans, gas, maintenance
  • Church, charities, organizations
  • Medical & dental care
  • Knick knacks, etc.

Now put an average dollars spent with each category. Which is your highest? Where can you cut costs if necessary? I hope it doesn’t show that your values are all about you. Invest in other both time and money. Someday you will need help from others. Ask yourself the question– If someone were to see my expenses without taking with me, would that reflect what I want them to think about me?

This can also reveal if you can manage your money (or moving deeper into debt). Do you have a plan to get out of debt? Here are a few things to looks at to reduce expenses, increase income and help with debt:

  • Try to make a little more money at your job. Hourly wage earners ask to work a few more hours. Salary personnel should ask their supervisor how they can move up the ranks to earn more.
  • Get a second job. Be careful with your time, don’t let this take away from your relationship and quality time with your family.
  • What can you get rid of? Sell it on Ebay, Craigslist, at a yard sale. This generates a little income and can clear a little clutter in your house.
  • How many cars do you need? Family of two adults and 2-3 kids; do you really need three cars? Sell the extra one to save on the monthly payment, insurance and maintenance.
  • Wait for the movie to come out on video. Renting it ($4, someplaces $1) versus in the theatre with popcorn for two adults ($25-$30 plus babysitter).
  • What about your favorite possession- TV. What channels do you normally watch? Can you get by with the basic package instead of the Digital Premium Pack? (I have a bunny ears antenna that I bought for $30 a couple of years ago. We get the main networks and thats all we need.) If you miss a show, now most of them are available for online viewing for free, at least for the major networks.
  • Learn an in demand hobby or skill. Then sell your services as a freelancer locally or sites like Elance or Guru.com.
  • Cook dinner at home more instead of going out to eat.
  • What can you do without for a few months?
  • Do you have any reoccurring monthly bills/charges that aren’t needed?

For more tips check out: http://www.danburrell.com/?p=502

Improve your finances and let it speak your real values,
Sam Carrara

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Thursday, January 31st, 2008 Finances 4 Comments

Check This Out- Debt

Getting started you may be desperate to get traffic and get out of debt. Just a word of advice- "Be Real."

More can be found about being real at: http://www.mydebtfreegoal.com/2008/01/always-stand-behind-your-beliefs.html

Be Real,
Sam Carrara

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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 Finances 2 Comments

Check This Out- Debt

Need a debt calculator for paying off your credit cards, check this out:

http://www.somewhereoverthedebt.com/managing-debt-and-finance-tips/pay-off-your-credit-card-debt-faster/

Get Out of Debt,
Sam Carrara

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Monday, January 21st, 2008 Finances No Comments