Scatty.com

Category: Finance

Designing a Backyard Garden That Could Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half

The war in Ukraine, the rising cost of gas, and even the avian flu are leaving shopping carts, wallets, and purses emptier than they’ve been in a long time. And it’s unlikely to ease up anytime soon. According to CNN, the cost of groceries is up a whopping 10.8 percent across the board for the year. With so many prices going up so quickly, how can the average American family keep food on the table?

One solution is to grow your own from seed. Even if you have the smallest backyard on the block, there are ways to optimize your space to grow foods such as tomatoes, squash, zuchinni, onions, pumpkins, and eggplants. It may take you a season or two to polish your skills, but within one to two years, you could easily be growing enough produce to slash your weekly grocery bill in half. Here’s how others are doing it. 

Grow What Your Family Enjoys Eating

Before you buy your first bag of seed starter or invest in your first raised bed, think about the types of produce you most frequently buy. Is it lettuce for salads, carrots for snacking, or broccoli for stir-frying? Do you regularly buy pounds of apples or pears? Or are berries more your family’s style? You can easily grow each of these nutritious foods right in your own backyard, but they should be ones everyone enjoys eating. 

Top 5 Ways to Make Money on Facebook
Top 5 Ways to Make Money on Facebook

Make Good Use of Your Vertical Space

Your garden doesn’t have to be taken over by sprawling pumpkin vines or unruly tomato plants. By training your plants to grow vertically up a trellis or other type of support, you can keep your new backyard garden looking neat and tidy. 

Concentrate on Growing Nutrient-Rich Foods

Grow foods that are satisfying and filling. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, and peas top this list. They also store well. So if you grow enough of them, your family can have healthy sides to eat all winter. 

Learn How to Compost

Good soil is pricey, and you’ll need lots of it to make a go at gardening. So learn how to turn your existing food scraps into rich, dark compost. You don’t need any pricey equipment to begin, just a clear spot on the ground and a working knowledge of the green-to-brown ratio. 

Be Frugal at First

Container gardening is a good way to get started in growing, especially if space is limited. Scour your local yard sales for buckets, baskets, and washtubs to use as planters. You can also score big at the local home improvement stores if you stop by as one season ends and another begins. 

Go online and order a few free seed catalogs to help you in your planning. These are wonderfully inspiring resources for new gardeners. And get outside and walk the area you plan to garden in. Visualize it before you begin digging, and learn all you can about succession planting, and which crops are cold-weather and which are warm-weather. Before you know it, your backyard will have new purpose, and your family will have fresh, healthy food choices freely available — all at a fraction of what they cost at the grocery store. 

Is Crypto A Good Investment Idea?

Investing is a key part of reaching your retirement goals. The problem is deciding where to invest. Should you invest in cryptocurrencies? What percentage of your savings should you invest? While cryptocurrencies are an option for investment, it may not always be a good choice for your goals.

Short Term Vs. Long Term Investing

Investing in crypto differs from traditional investment strategies. It is a type of currency exchange rather than a brick and mortar business that has specific products or services. Since you are investing in a currency exchange, you may notice that the fluctuations in the market are significant in comparison to other types of investments.

If you are looking for a long-term investment solution, then you may want to avoid cryptocurrencies. Since crypto is a relatively new type of investment, it does not have much long-term data. That makes it difficult to determine the risks associated with holding onto the currency.

Furthermore, the fluctuations in price make it a good choice for short-term investments when you plan to trade at a fast pace. For example, if you are planning for a few months, a year or for similar short-term goals, then it may assist with your plans. If you are planning for 30 years, then opt for safer investments.

High Risk and High Reward

Cryptocurrencies are considered a high risk and high reward investment. That means you are taking a gamble with your money. You may make a high return on your investment; however, you also face a high level of risk. 

Generally, a crypto investment will either rise quickly and make a high return, or it will fall quickly. If you have a high risk tolerance, then it may be a good choice for your investment plans. If your risk tolerance is low, then avoid cryptocurrencies.

Limiting the Investment

Crypto is a good investment idea if you have a high risk tolerance and plan to keep an eye on the market. The key is ensuring that you limit your investment to an amount you feel comfortable losing.

Set a clear percentage of your savings to invest in cryptocurrencies. For example, invest one percent or five percent of your savings. Consider it a part of your overall investment plan, but not a critical part of the overall plan. You want to add it to your portfolio, but continue investing in traditional stocks, bonds, and real estate for a comprehensive long-term strategy.

Keep in mind that crypto is not a good investment if you have a low risk tolerance or do not have time to pay attention to your investments. It requires active trading and attention for the best impact on your investments.

Investing in cryptocurrencies may offer opportunities for high returns. The key is finding the right balance to ensure you feel comfortable with your long-term strategies. By using caution with cryptocurrencies, you will see positive results in your investments. The key is recognizing the risks and taking measures to limit the potential downsides of the investment.

Top 5 Tips To Manage Your Finances Better

 

Money management is a significant hurdle for millions of Americans. This is especially true of those who find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck.

 

But still, whether you need to totally overhaul or financial life or are just looking for ways to free up extra cash, there are a number of important steps you can take.

 

1. Track Your Spending

 

The first tip involves being proactive about tracking your spending. The more you understand about where your money is actually going, the better the chance you’ll have at improving your finances moving forward. Look for things to cut like streaming services or other expenses that you may like but don’t need. Once you have a complete picture of your spending, you’d be surprised by what you’re able to free up.

 

2. Create a Monthly Budget

 

The second tip involves creating a monthly budget that is every bit as accurate as it is realistic. Take a long, hard look at all of your firm expenses. These include things like your mortgage or rent, your utilities and more. Find out how much money you absolutely need every month. Then, you’ll know what you have in terms of disposable income.

 

3. Pay Down Debt

 

Third, make an effort to pay down any debt that you may have – but try to do so in a strategic way. If you have multiple credit cards, focus on the ones with the highest interest rates first. You could even potentially take out a debt consolidation loan to combine all of those balances into one monthly fee that is more manageable with a smaller interest rate as well. 

 

4. Pay Bills On-time

 

Fourth, make sure that you’re paying all of those bills on-time and in full every single month. Make a chart of all your due dates and outstanding balances and do whatever it takes to help pay them when the bill itself comes due. Not only will this help improve your credit, but it will also avoid costly fees and other penalties for late payments as well. There’s nothing worse than having a $200 bill turn into a $250 bill just because you missed a payment.

 

5. Save For Large Purchases 

 

Finally, you should always make an attempt to save up cash to make those large purchases. Yes, those credit cards in your wallet may be enticing and instant gratification is a wonderful thing. But if you save up cash and purchase items that way, you accomplish a few key things all at once.

 

First, you avoid costly interest charges that will make those large purchases far more expensive than you probably realize. Next, you’ll avoid the possibility that you miss a payment on those cards. That could not just again land you with a late fee or penalty, but increase your interest rate as well.

 

In the end, taking control over your finances can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, yes. But it is also more than worth the effort, especially once you consider the types of hassles and stress that it is helping you avoid. This is truly one of those situations where a little bit of effort goes a long way.

Top 5 Easiest Ways To Save Money

When it comes to saving money, it’s not tricky. Yet many people find it almost impossible to build up savings. The key to building savings is to reduce spending. If you make saving money easy, then it won’t be difficult to build up a little nest egg.  Based on our findings, here are the top five easiest ways to save money by reducing spending.

1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

Everyone has areas in life where they waste money. The key is to find your weak spots. Common areas of unnecessary spending include buying lottery tickets, overpaying for designer coffee to go, splurging on luxury food items and more. An easy way to check your unnecessary spending is to review last month’s bank statement.

2. Lower Car Insurance Premiums

Another easy way to save money is to lower your car insurance premiums. First, review your declarations statement from your car insurance policy. See if you can reduce coverage in certain categories that might reduce your premium. Next, contact two other reputable car insurance companies and see if you can get a better rate. Be sure to compare apples with apples, using that declarations statement as your coverage comparison sheet.

3. Cancel Subscriptions

If you’re like most folks, you have at least one subscription to a service you barely use, or don’t need. Many people are re-thinking their subscription services to things like streaming accounts. After all, how much TV can you possibly watch in a day? You can cancel things like magazines, food delivery subscriptions and more. Calculate how much you just saved and transfer that amount into your savings account each month.

4. Buy Used

When you buy used, you can save a ton of money. The only thing you should never buy used is food. That would be gross. But other than that, you can buy used clothing, used office equipment, used fashion accessories, etc. So where do you access all this great used stuff? Online, of course. Check out eBay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace for starters. Factor how much you save on each used purchase and then put the difference right into your savings account.

5. Use Cash Not Credit

There’s something about swiping or tapping a card that doesn’t feel like spending money. You can’t physically see your balance going down, for one thing. An easy way to save money is to pay cash not credit and not debit. Take out however much cash you think you’ll need for a week. Consult your budget to calculate the amount. Whenever you buy something, you’ll see that clump of cash dwindling down. It will make you think twice about how much you’re spending. It may even keep you from buying things, especially when there are only a few bills left.

These are the easiest ways to save money with practically no effort on your part. If you do these things, you’ll find that the next time you look at your savings account balance it’s actually got some money in it!

Top 5 Ways People Waste Money Without Realising It

If you’re like many people, you often wonder why your money seems to disappear. Chances are that your money is going down several drains rather than just one source. Most of us waste money without even realizing it. Following are the top five ways people waste their money. 

Failure to Plan Ahead

Advance planning saves money in a variety of ways, ranging from morning coffees and weekday lunches to international travel. Making coffee at home and packing a lunch instead of grabbing these items at local retailers may seem like small savings, but they add up over the course of time. When planning a trip, the sooner you book your airline and hotel reservations, the more you save on travel costs.  

Subscription Services

Subscription services have a way of sneaking up on people. At first they seem convenient, and many offer an introductory price. After the introductory period is over, subscribers are often shocked when their credit cards are charged the full amount. Always read the fine print when you subscribe, and make sure it’s something you’ll actually use. Set aside some time to weed out subscriptions that are no longer useful to you. 

Grocery Shopping While Hungry

Whether you do your grocery shopping online through a delivery app or visit your supermarket in person, always enjoy a good meal prior to stocking your cart. If you shop while you are hungry, you will end up buying more than you need. You will also be likely to make poor decisions based on what appeals to your taste buds instead of thinking about nutritional content. 

Using Third Party ATMs

Despite the popularity of digital payment systems, cash still has its uses in today’s society. However, running to the ATM every time you need a bit of cash means running up unnecessary transaction fees that add up over time. You can avoid these fees by either using a local branch of your own bank or by using the "cash back" option during checkout at your local supermarket. If neither is possible, determine how much cash you will need at the beginning of the month and withdraw that amount instead of visiting a third party ATM every time you need some cash. 

Gym Memberships 

Most people don’t use their gym memberships the way they planned to when they enrolled. If you fall into this category, you’ve probably thought about canceling your membership. Staff at these places are trained to discourage members from canceling using a number of tactics, including playing on your guilt about not working out as often as you planned. You can bypass this pressure by sending your cancelation request to the company’s headquarters in writing. 

How To Set Clear Financial Goals And Move Towards Them

Do you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels but never getting where you want to go financially? You’re not alone. Millions of people just don’t know how to set clear financial goals and move towards them. It’s like they’re on a hamster wheel watching others succeed. Here are the secrets to getting off the hamster wheel and making real strides toward your financial goals.

1. Write down your goals

Get a notebook and write down your financial goals. Put the date on it so you can look back and see how long it took you to reach them. When you have your goals written down in black and white, they become more real. They will also feel more achievable when you’ve laid them out to look at again and again. Hang up the paper on the fridge or on a bulletin board. This way, you’ll see it everyday. It will be a reminder to keep moving towards them.

2. Make Goals Specific

Vague goals won’t motivate you. Make each of your financial goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying I will save $5,000, say, I will save $416 a month for 12 months. The more specific your goals, the better.

3. Make a Vision Board

A vision board is a visual representation of your goals. It helps to have pictures of what you hope to achieve. Many people are surprised by how their dreams become reality when they use a vision board. Cut pictures from magazines or print pictures from online of what you want. If your dream is to be a homeowner, use pictures of home similar to what you want. Hang the vision board where you can see it even day.

4. Take Action

Writing down goals and cutting out pictures won’t make your financial goals a reality. You need to take actions that will move you toward your goals. Examples might be getting a second job. You could drive for a ride-share company or make deliveries. You could open a savings account and make regular deposits. Don’t sit back and wait to win the lottery. Moving toward your financial goals requires action.

5. Be Honest With Yourself

Never try to lie to yourself or fudge the truth when it comes to your money. Don’t think that you’ve put $20 in savings when you only put in $18. The truth is always best. Take a good hard look at your finances. Are you spending too much on non-essentials? Do you have a bad habit that’s costing you hundreds of dollars every month? Take a long look in the mirror and promise to yourself that you will be honest about finances.

6. Keep Track

Have you ever wondered where all your money’s gone to? You need to keep track of where your money goes, every day. Use whatever tool you want. Accounting software, phone apps or just a piece of paper. Be like a miser and track every penny.

These are tips that you can use right now to set clear financial goals and move towards them. Now that you know, there’s no reason not to start right now!

Save Time And Money: 5 Meals To Bulk Cook And Freeze

Save Time And Money: 5 Meals To Bulk Cook And Freeze

If you’re looking to save money and don’t have much time to spare in your evenings, bulk cooking could be the answer for you. Buy cooking meals in larger quantities and then freezing them into individual portions, you can have instant ready meals during your week, save cooking time, and even take advantage of bulk discounts. Here are some examples of meals that lend themselves to bulk cooking and freezing.

Crockpot Meals

You can freeze just about anything you make in a crockpot, including chicken and dumplings, American Chop Suey (goulash), beef stew and more. Make your favorite for dinner, except fill a six-quart crockpot. After the meal cools, pack enough for the family or individual servings in airtight containers, vacuum-sealed bags or zippered freezer bags.

Casseroles

You can also freeze your favorite casserole. If you do not make casseroles that often because you can’t eat them in one sitting, you can make them to your heart’s content – just freeze the leftovers in meal-size packages. You can freeze baked macaroni, shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese and even meat casseroles, such as pork, beef and chicken pot pies.

Stir Fry

It’s more difficult to freeze stir fry and have it come out good when you reheat it, but you can still freeze part of it to save time and money. Stir fry a bulk portion of the meat you are using. Divide the meat and broth into meal-sized containers. When you’re ready to use them, thaw them out, cook the veggies, and then add the meat. You can also purchase stir fry vegetables and keep them in the freezer – that will save you a lot of prep time. Buy a few large bags and divide them up into meals size portions. Vacuum seal the veggies and meat separately, then put one meat and one veggie in a zippered freezer bag. You’ll only need to pull one bag out of the freezer for the whole meal.

Turkey

If you’ve ever had a taste for turkey at some point other than Thanksgiving, you know that buying turkey breast costs much more per pound than it does to buy a whole turkey. When turkeys are on sale, pick up two or three of them. Put the extra turkeys in the freezer.

When you’re ready for turkey again, cook a turkey. Cut all of the meat off the bones. Divide it up into meal-sized portions for the whole family or individually. Put the leftover turkey in the freezer – you won’t have to go through the thawing and cooking process for a whole turkey later in the year.

Fried Chicken

You love fried chicken, but it’s a hassle to make. It makes a big mess, so you don’t make it that often. Between work and taking care of the family, you just don’t have the time to make it and clean up after. Instead, when chicken goes on sale, buy it in bulk. You can freeze some for later. Pick a day when you have a few hours. Fry enough chicken for several meals, then freeze it in airtight containers. You only have to heat it up in the microwave or the oven when you have a taste for fried chicken.

Top 5 Student Finance Hacks

College is expensive. Pretty much everything about college costs a lot of money, so instead of getting nickeled and dimed, you’re probably getting ten’d and twenty’d. A lot of young adults are overwhelmed financially when they depart for college, but that doesn’t have to be you. If you’re concerned about student debt, paying for groceries or credit cards, there are some hacks that you should know about. Here are five tips to help you financially for the next two, four or however many years you’ll be spending in school.

5. Small Balances Come First

When you’re a student, the likelihood of you having to take out a massive six figure loan over the course of four years almost seems inevitable these days. It won’t all be in one lump sum, though, so it’s important to look at all of your loans (which also includes credit cards). The smaller a balance is, the quicker you’ll want to pay it off before you start looking at the big ones. Interest rates vary so consolidation isn’t always the answer, and hitting one loan at a time to a $0 balance will work wonders.

4. Pay More Than Minimum

A lot of us want to pay the bare minimum that’s due while we work toward a future where we’re getting paid enough to just zero out a student loan or credit card balance. Instead, you should be paying as much as you can now to make things easier for you in the future. If you’re able to pay toward your principal balance right from the get go, you won’t have to worry about high interest payments. Start early and start often. If you have extra cash that you’re not using, put it toward your balances.

3. Pick Your Books Wisely

Let’s just get it out there, college textbooks for the most part are a scam. Every semester a new copy of what’s practically the same book comes out and costs students an arm and a leg. Instead, do your best with an older secondhand copy that you can get from a local bookstore and save yourself hundreds of dollars in the process. The newest version might be required, but the internet is here to help you get around that peskiness.

2. Don’t Go With Name Brands

Of course you have to eat when you’re a student. It’s not like your appetite suddenly vanishes. With that said, be mindful when you’re at the grocery store. You don’t need the name brand of everything, and don’t be too proud to shop at a dollar store for snacks and other small items like utensils. Grocery stores like Aldi are a lifesaver when you’re a college student (or anyone with a budget, really).

1. Use Those Student Discounts

When you think of discounts, you probably tend to think about those that are in the military or senior citizens. College students, however, have a slew of discounts that they can pick from. Always browse online to see if there’s a student discount available for you as even the biggest companies provide them. Amazon, State Farm, Best Buy, you name it. Even if you’re a sports fan you can get discounts as the NFL television package is much cheaper and doesn’t require a satellite television subscription.

Five Tips To Save Money When Travelling

Want to see places but not spend a fortune? While travel always includes some expenses, you can keep costs low with these tips on how to save money while traveling. Keep more in your wallet, so you can travel farther and do more.

1. Schedule Trips for the Offseason

The offseason is when people don’t go to an area as much, and the lower demand results in lower prices for everything. Secure lower rates on lodging, find deals at restaurants, and pay less for activities. This one tip could save you more than any other.

Sometimes traveling during the offseason means a lot is closed while you’re at a destination. If you want to ensure things are open, travel during the shoulder season. It’s between the peak season and offseason, when things are still open but tend to cost a bit less. You’ll still save, and you’ll be able to do almost everything.

2. Be Flexible With Your Dates

Changing your travel schedule by just a few days can sometimes lead to vastly reduced costs. Hotel rooms and flights are usually cheaper during weekdays, and you might also find lower prices at attractions.

The specific days that are cheapest can vary. You could save on major expenses if you have a flexible schedule that makes it possible to travel on these days, though.

As an added bonus, most attractions will be less crowded on the low-demand days that are cheaper.

3. Open a Travel-Friendly Bank Account

You’ll need to access money when traveling, but make sure you don’t pay to use your own money. Depending on where you go, your bank may charge ATM withdrawal fees, foreign transaction fees, and above-market exchange rates.

Find a bank account that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees and reimburses ATM withdrawals, and get a credit card that also has minimal or no foreign transaction fees. Cards with these features will likely also have competitive exchange rates.

4. Find Lodging With a Kitchen

Eating at restaurants is part of the travel experience, but having every meal out quickly becomes expensive.

Find lodging that has a kitchen or kitchenette, and you won’t have to eat out every meal. You can cook up a meal each day, before you leave or when you come back to the room. You also could heat up leftovers for a meal or snack.

This savings is especially significant if you have a family to feed, although it still makes a difference even when traveling alone.

5. Avoid Using a Vehicle

If you’re traveling to a city and are able to, leave your vehicle in the driveway at home. You’ll not only save on fuel, but you also won’t have to pay for tolls or parking. Parking in major cities can cost more than a meal.

Instead, take mass transit wherever you need to go. Most cities have a bus system, and some have a subway. You can also rent cost-efficient electric bikes or scooters in many tourist areas. All of these options are apt to be less than the cost of diving a car.