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4 Reasons I’m Obsessed with Groupon

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I’m a girl who loves a good deal.  I am telling the truth when I say I really really love saving money.  It makes me feel like a million bucks.  I’m all about high quality experiences and goods at low prices.  That’s why I love shopping at places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  I’m also a huge fan of Groupon.

Why try something new if you love what you have

I know there are some other discount websites out there that offer goods, services and vacations for less than market value, but I really love Groupon.  Part of that is because Groupon was the first deal website I ever signed up for and I don’t really like change.  Another part of my obsession is just because everything about Groupon, from the easy experience to the quality of goods is awesome.

I first joined the site because my co-worker purchased a $20 restaurant gift card for only $10.  I wanted to have lunch with her so I joined too.  I was immediately in love with getting 50% off essentials, like food.  Then I started receiving daily deals emails showcasing new discounts on a variety of products.  Obsessed!

It’s all good now, but it wasn’t always all good

At the beginning my experience with Groupon was a love/hate relationship.  I purchased a few deals that weren’t worth the money, meaning even the discounted price was a waste.  When I tell you that saving money makes me happy, wasting money makes me sick – physically ill. I had a couple bad experiences but for some reason I kept coming back.  Ah the things a girl will do for a good deal.

I purchased a few cheap haircuts and ending up going to see my regular hairstylist afterwards.  Oh well I guess we live and learn, right?  Now that I’m older and wiser I use Groupon to buy discounts at places I already know and love.  That way I can avoid being disappointed when trying new things and I save money on  my regular purchases.  It’s a win-win.

If you haven’t tried Groupon yet here are four reasons you should get on it:

It’s easy to use.  You can join/login using Facebook or your email address.  It’s really that easy all you do is enter your email address and a password and you’ll start getting deals in your area.

Mega discounts.  I’ve purchased deals at restaurants, spas and even at stores I love.  I once got $40 of products at The Body Shop for only $20.  How amazing is that!

Vendors love it.  I thought the process at the actual vendor would be complicated, but it’s really not.  A purchased deal only includes the price of the actual services.  Taxes and tips are at your own cost, but even then it’s still a good deal.

You can buy gifts.  There are usually no restrictions on deals.  You can buy them for yourself or for a friend.  That way you can enjoy the deal with someone else.

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3 Foods That Are Always a Waste of Money

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Good morning Loves. Take a minute and think about your money last week.  What did you spend money on, or better yet what did you waste money on?  Every Saturday I do weekly chores which includes cleaning, dusting, washing the floors and emptying out the refrigerator.  Trust me it’s amazing what I find.

We don’t waste a lot of food – or anything for that matter – because BF and I live alone.  After 15 years of living together we pretty much know exactly what we need to live and how much we consume each week when it comes to things like food.  But for some reason this week I discovered that we threw out a lot of spoiled food and it’s still bothering me because it’s unlike us to over consume and I really hate wasting money.

So here’s my question, how much money are you wasting on food?

I will be the first to admit that my money habits could be a little bit tighter, but they have made great strides over the years and I’m very proud of that.  Is there still work to be done? Yes of course I think we can all spend a little less to save a little more but there’s a fine line between enjoying our money now and saving every penny we earn for later.

These are three things I always waste money on, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Spoiled food

This doesn’t happen often in our household but when it does I get really upset.  When I throw out a bag of moldy tomatoes all I can think about is all the other ways I could have spent that money – other than throwing it in the garbage.

This really comes down to our grocery store habits.  Sometimes I feel like eating something when I see it in the grocery store but by the time I get home I don’t feel like having it anymore.  Then it sits in the fridge while I try to convince myself to cook it and by the end of the week it is untouched and I have to throw it out.

Restaurant bills

I agree that sometimes eating out in restaurants is justified in times like a friend’s birthday or other type of celebration.  However eating out every day can just be attributed to being lazy.  I could personally make up a hundred reasons as to why I need to eat out every day – some are true and others are literally just excuses.  I’m busy, I’m tired and I don’t like to clean dishes are a few of my favorites.

When you add in the cost of the actual meal, plus drinks, plus tax and tip a sit down meal at a restaurant can be very expensive. It’s a lot cheaper to grab take out.

Over consumption and indulgences

The truth is humans don’t need that much food to live.  Very often our minds are bigger than our bellies and therefore we over consume food and in turn costs.  Think about the last time you ate a meal at a restaurant – did you get an appetizer, a main course and dessert?  That’s a lot of food and money.

Ah the desserts.  This is my absolute weakness when it comes to food. I could justify spending $15 on three cupcakes all. day. long!  My trick is to order an appetizer for my main course and order a dessert. It cuts the cost down substantially so I feel less guilty for spending the money.

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How I Increased My Net Worth by $30,000

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OK I know this is going to sound like I’m bragging, but that’s not the intention.  I spent a lot of my years, actually the majority of my adult life in debt.  This is the first year I will actually have a positive net worth in my entire life.

In my teens I had money, but no savings.  I lived at home, worked two jobs and spent absolutely every cent I made.  In my 20s when I moved out of my parent’s house I had no idea how to budget so I started applying for credit cards.  My financial life just spiraled downhill from there.  My little $1000 credit card from when I was 18 years old turned into over $50,000 of debt by the time I was 28.  YIKES! Yes I know.

I’ve spent the last few years paying off my debt and now for the very first time I have a positive net worth!

Pay Off Debt

After I made the final payment on my last credit card my net worth suddenly jumped into a positive position.  That’s the thing about your net worth, it doesn’t equal your savings.  Your net worth is calculated by subtracting your debts from your  assets.  If you have $10k in savings but $40k in debt you still have a  negative net worth.  This used to be my situation.

When clients ask me (I’m a financial planner) whether they should pay off debt or save I always tell them to pay off debt.  First of all debt costs so much more than just what you borrow, monthly interest payments can sometimes be more than your capital payments. I know mine were.  Secondly saving money doesn’t help increase your net worth if you aren’t paying off your debt.

Don’t Touch Your Bonus and Tax Refund

This gave my net worth a nice big boost this year.  When I found out the amount of my yearly performance bonus I was so tempted to take it in cash, until I realized I would lose over half in taxes. I decided to put it into my retirement account, invest it and watch my net worth grow.

In past years I would always take my bonus in cash because I needed it to pay off debt, but losing half in tax is just not worth it.  This is the first year I have the freedom to choose what I want to do with my windfall of cash (both my bonus and tax refund) and I’ve decided to save them both.  Hello Net Worth!

Save Regularly

This is where I have the most difficulty when it comes to growing my net worth.  I hate commitment of any kind so even though I advise people to set up regular savings I don’t actually do it myself.  Yep that’s right,  I don’t have an automatic transfer from my checking account to my savings with every pay. Can you believe it?!

I try to manually transfer money every month, but that also rarely happens.  I save regularly by allocating a particular income towards savings.  I have a 9 to 5 job plus several gigs on the side and when that extra money comes in at the end of the month I don’t touch it.  I don’t actually save any money from my regular job.  I used to use my freelance income to pay off debt, now I allocate half of it towards savings and the other half towards travelling. That’s how I roll.

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2015 Savings Goal Update: March

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Good morning Loves.  Remember back in January when I set some pretty aggressive goals for myself this year?  Honestly I had good intentions when I set them, but never in a million years did I think I would stick with them.  Why?  Because I have commitment issues.  I rarely finish anything I start when it comes to goals because I hate living with restrictions.  That’s just who I am.

Saving for retirement: Check

I excited to tell you that my goals, on all fronts, are on track.  Even as I’m writing this I can’t believe it, but it’s true.  I have actually already met my savings goal for the year.  How? By being a stellar employee in 2014.

Instead of taking my bonus in cash and loosing over half of it in tax I decided to put it directly into my retirement account.  This way I boost my savings and don’t give any away to the tax man.  The downside to this is now it’s in my retirement account and I can’t touch it without penalties.  But oh well.

The thought of losing any of the money, whether it’s on withdrawal fees or withholding tax, just makes me cringe.  So despite my original plans to take it in cash I am going to transfer it directly to my retirement account, invest it and hopefully watch it grow for the next 25 years until I retire.

Cash savings: Epic Fail

Taking a lump sum of cash from my annual bonus and saving it for retirement seems almost too easy doesn’t it?  Although I’m proud of my achievement because I did work for the money, I don’t really feel like I saved it.  So in an effort to keep myself focused on good money habits I’m still trying to save my actual earned money on a monthly basis.

Remember last month when I told you I saved $1000?  Well with my little trip to New York City at the beginning of March those savings went out the window.  Actually I should say the money went to the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Chinatown and to the lovely people at Greyhound.

Spending the money was worth it because I was going crazy and needed to get away, but it’s not helping me achieve my cash savings goal of $7000 in 2015.  That’s my new goal.  Since I already met my original savings goal, now I’ve redefined it to be cash savings, meaning non registered, meaning outside my retirement accounts.

Isn’t money funny?

That’s the thing about money; it takes a long time to earn, but it gets spent very quickly.  I hope to make up the $1000 loss (if you can call a trip to NYC a loss) this month and get back on track towards my savings goals.  I’m not sure what I’m saving for, I think I just want to prove to myself that I can do it, since I rarely stick to any personal goal strategies.

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