This is our 4th summer in our home & we’ve never had to turn on our air conditioning once. With a few tricks and some helpful shade trees, our home stays comfortable inside even though it’s usually in the high 90s here all summer. Here are some of my favorite ways to keep your home cool without AC.
If you’re looking to obtain a graduate degree, taking out more student loans to pay for it probably doesn’t sound very appealing. I decided to go a different route and instead of adding to my student loan debt to get my master’s degree, I took a job with a local university that offered employees 100% tuition waivers. This is a very common perk at most universities, but one that is often overlooked. If you’re looking to advance your education, working at a university in exchange for a free master’s degree can be a great set up.
Investing can be intimidating, so it might seem like using a financial advisor or a wealth management firm like Edward Jones or Merrill Lynch is your only option. What these advisors probably won’t tell you is that the fees they charge will end up costing you a huge portion of your life savings (around 25-30%) and will essentially halve the amount of money you can live on in retirement.
How much savings you can accumulate is one of the biggest factors to achieving financial independence. But where do you keep your savings to get the best bang for your buck? Keeping everything in a regular savings account that barely earns any interest will add years to your journey of achieving your financial goals. I’ll share where we stash our cash to maximize our savings and get to financial independence sooner.
Here’s a secret I wish I knew about years ago: There is no reason to ever pay full price for anything.
With a few simple tricks, I can save money on everything I buy! I recently began implementing these methods, and oh how I wish I knew about them years ago. These tricks can be easily combined to save even more, and I have already saved nearly $1,000 over the course of a few months (and I’m not even a big shopper!). I’ve also included some bonuses to help you guys save too!
These are a few of my favorite secrets to help you save hundreds each month. They’re easy to implement, they don’t require drastic lifestyle changes, and they’re a great way to get into a more money conscience state of mind.
It’s hard to know where to start when you want to get a handle on your finances. I’ve boiled down the 7 simple financial guidelines that have worked wonders for the health of my finances.
Here’s a little secret: There’s no reason to ever pay full price for anything on Amazon. In fact, I haven’t paid full price for anything there in years. There are multiple ways to save, and you can combine them all together so your deals are even better! Here are my favorite ways to save money on Amazon.
Contains affiliate links. See my full disclaimer.
1. Use Cash Back Programs
Ebates is an amazing little service that gives you a percentage of your purchase back in cash! You can use it at tons of online retailers including Amazon. You’ll even get a $10 bonus when you sign up through this link. Who doesn’t love free cash?
Already have Ebates? I recommend checking out TopCashBack as well because they often have higher cash back rates for certain online stores. I use both services & always check which one has the best rate for the site I’m shopping with.
On top of cash back sites like Ebates, I use my Discover cash back card to get even more cash back. They usually give 5% cash back on Amazon several months out of the year (in addition to 5% back on other rotating categories and 1% back on everything else). Plus, they double your cash back total at the end of your first year! They’ll also give you a $50 free cash bonus for signing up through this link. Other perks that come with this card include return guarantees, price protection (they’ll refund you the difference if the item you bought just went on sale), extended product warrantees, and refunds for purchased products that get broken or stolen.
2. Use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save
Amazon’s Subscribe & Save option is great for things you regularly purchase like household supplies. This is an easy way to snag 5-15% off each item. All you do is purchase your supplies and let Amazon know how often they should deliver them (don’t worry, you can cancel and add items any time before your month’s box ships!). You’ll automatically be given a discount on most items (usually 5%), and if you have five or more items being shipped in a month Amazon will bump your discounts up to the next savings tier (usually 15%).
As an example, you can see how I need to add one more item to August to get the higher discount on everything. I’ve already achieved that with October’s order.
3. Get discounted Amazon gift cards
I use Raise & Gift Card Granny to find discounted gift cards for my Amazon shopping trips. These are sites where people can sell their unwanted gift cards, and you can purchase them at less than their face value. These sites have excellent refund policies and money back guarantees, so you’ll never need to worry about purchasing a bad card. P.S. Use these referral links to get a $5 bonus to both Raise & Gift Card Granny!
4. Shop Amazon Outlet
Amazon’s Outlet section is full of overstock and heavily discounted items. I didn’t know about this section until recently, and now it’s the first place I check when I’m shopping. I regularly find items up to 90% off, and it’s one of my favorite ways to save money on Amazon.
5. Choose no rush shipping
If you have a Prime account and you don’t need your item right away, you can trade in your 2-day shipping for regular shipping and get a reward. The rewards I’ve seen are $5 towards an Amazon Pantry purchase (my favorite!) or $1 towards a digital purchase (ebooks, music, movies, or shows).
Here’s a peek at my rewards balance that can be used towards my future purchases.
6. Track big items with Camelcamelcamel to save even more money on Amazon
Amazon prices tend to fluctuate, and the site Camelcamelcamel tracks these prices and lets you know when is the best time to purchase items from your wishlist. For big ticket items, this little trick can save you hundreds! It even charts out previous prices changes and sends you alerts if one of your watched items gets discounted.
According to Investopedia, opportunity cost refers to a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action. We often hear of the opportunity costs of things like cable subscriptions, gym memberships, and buying a latte every day, but what about the opportunity cost of having children?
What if you’re on the fence about having a second or third child, or any children at all for that matter?I’m on the fence myself (full disclaimer: I’m leaning heavily towards the no kids camp), so I decided to run the numbers. People rarely anticipate the full cost of having children. And although I don’t believe this should stop someone having a child if they want to be a parent, opportunity cost should probably be part of the decision making process for anyone is on undecided about having children.
So let’s do a thought experiment. I took the average annual costs of a single child in a middle class family directly from this recent USDA study and assumed that instead of spending that money to take care of a child, someone instead invested that amount in low cost index funds with an average annual return of 8% (an amount that is just under the average S&P 500 return including years with market crashes). After 18 years of contributions and returns, this non-parent would have $661,009 (in 2015 dollars) which is more than double the often state “price tag” of having a child if you simply added the yearly costs without factoring in how much return you missed out on.
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Let’s go a step further. The average age a parent at the first of their first child in the US is 25 years old, so let’s assume that’s when this non-parent begins investing the amount they aren’t spending on a child. Like we just mentioned, their account would have $661,009 after 18 years assuming an average annual return of 8%. If this is a retirement account, this non-parent probably won’t touch that money until they are age 65. So how much would they find in their account when they’re 65? A lot. Over $4.1 million to be exact.
And that’s in 2015 dollars. If you have a baby in 2018 and raise them until they are age 18 in 2036, you’ll be paying more per year due to inflation. Let’s use the 2.2% inflation rate mentioned in the study.
The 2015 total cost of raising a child (not including the opportunity cost of lost returns) is $298,220, but when a baby born in 2018 is 18 years old in 2036, the parents would have paid $463,507 thanks to inflation. If we factor in those 8% returns, the non-parent’s account would total $1,027,371 in 2036, 18 years after they began contributing. And when they open that account at retirement, they’re looking at a sweet sum of $6,467,581.
A few things to mention. Child costs do not include the cost of college, life insurance premiums for children or parents, or any lost wages a parent might suffer due to having children. Factoring these in would make the final totals even larger.
I calculated this using a return each year of 8% (slightly under the market’s average annual return). As you probably know, past performance does not guarantee future performance, so the actual opportunity cost could be a bit larger or smaller depending on how the markets behave during the years you are raising your child. And I assumed the costs/contributions were spread out evenly throughout the year instead of dropping a lump sum in at the beginning or end of the year.
Also, I calculated the opportunity cost for a single child. According to the USDA, since children share certain costs, the costs for two siblings won’t be exactly 2x what a single child would cost. Their calculations for multiple children depend on the age difference between the children. You can read about the estimated expenditures for multiple children in the full USDA report.