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Posted by Debra & John Blanchet on 5/23/2018

Whether you call it a "rainy day fund" or a "financial cushion", having some money set aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses can help keep life on an even keel.

Although health insurance and a homeowners' policy can provide a measure of protection, insurance deductibles can take a large bite out of your bank account.

In addition to all the predictable expenses that accompany home ownership, mechanical systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioning units have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times. Another crisis that many people aren't prepared for is the potential loss of a job. When families don't have money set aside to weather the storm of an unplanned income loss, then there's no "safety net" to cushion the fall.

Strategies For Saving Money

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to build up financial reserves, but it often requires self discipline, a new set of habits, and the intention to make it happen. One of the first steps to putting some money aside for a rainy day is to open up a separate bank account. If you put extra money in your regular account -- or (even worse) keep it around the house -- chances are it will get spent pretty quickly. However, if it's deposited into a separate account that's designated for emergencies, unexpected household expenses, or even a college fund, then it'll stand a greater chance of being left alone until it's needed. Putting money aside does take some doing, but it can contribute to your family's financial security and ability to do things that are important to you.

If you have a tight budget, you're probably wondering where this extra money is going to come from! Sometimes, the very act of developing a written budget can provide you with clues and ideas for reducing your expenses. You'd also be amazed at how much the savings can add up when you comparison shop, buy in bulk, use coupons, negotiate lower interest charges on your credit cards, quit smoking, car pool to work, cut back on restaurant food, and make up your mind to live just a little more frugally.

Depending on how committed you are to creating a financial cushion, you could also make the fund grow faster by depositing a percentage of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, manufacturer rebates, salary increases (raises), and other sources of extra income. Additional ways to beef up your financial safety net could include getting a part-time job, doing freelance work, holding a garage sale, or selling unwanted items through ads or flyers. When you pay off credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you could also redirect some or all of those monthly payments into your "future needs fund."

Whatever you decide to call it, it's nice to know that there's some extra money on hand for unexpected expenses, emergencies, potential job losses, college tuition, weddings, family vacations, home renovations, nursing home costs, or even retirement.






Posted by Debra & John Blanchet on 1/25/2017

When times are tough you look to cut back anywhere you can. The price at the pump can be a real budget buster. There are ways to save on gas and get better mileage from your dollar. Slow down Speed is the biggest factor on fuel economy. Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 or 75 will save on gas. Tests have shown increasing speed from 55 mph to just 65 mph dropped fuel economy from 40 mpg to 35. While driving at 75 mph can cost the car another 5 mpg. Go smooth Keep a steady pace; avoid hard acceleration and braking if possible. Frequent acceleration and braking can reduce mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Driving with smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking will also extend the life of the automobile. Don't be a drag When driving on the highway, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Carrying large items such as luggage racks and top-carriers reduce fuel economy. Warm Up Take the time to warm up the engine before taking off. Cars run most efficiently when they're warm. Stopping and starting the car several times is a big factor, try to combine several short trips into one so that the engine stays warm. Pump up Check your tires. Underinflated tires compromise handling and braking which in turn can reduce fuel economy. Check the pressure of your vehicle's tires to make sure they are correct. Keep moving Idling is one of the worst things your car can do, when idling your car is getting zero miles per gallon. Turn off your engine if you expect to sit for more than about 30 seconds. Practicing these simple tips should have you putting less money in your gas tank in more in your wallet in no time.




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Posted by Debra & John Blanchet on 8/3/2016

Choosing between satelllite television or a local provider in today's world is a lot more complicated than it was a decade ago. Cable TV has made a concentrated effort in the last decade to offer the channel variety of a satellite television service, while satellite television has tried to offer the same kind of bundle deals to their customers that make cable subscriptions so appealing to people who like the idea of an all-inclusive bill for their at-home entertainment. While both services can be very rewarding in terms of quality of service and variety, your family's entertainment needs will have to be ultimately considered if you want to make the best decision possible. In this guide, I will attempt to highlight the best features of each service, how they stack up to each other in terms of quality, and illuminate the potential drawbacks for each. Cable TV Cable television offers you an easy opportunity to condense all of your digital services into one package (Phone, tv, and internet.) While some satellite television companies offer similar packages, they usually have to hire a third-party company in order to be able to do so. And with cable television moving into the digital realm a little more every year, they are now finally providing picture quality that you could only previously get with satellite television. Additionally, you never have to worry about bad weather affecting your reception like you would if you were to chose a dish network. Also, many cable companies now offer DVR as part of their digital packages, which allows you to pause, record, and rewind any program you'd like, a service only previously available to satellite customers. If your family's home entertainment needs center around fast, high-quality internet service, and your television requirements can be satisfied without needing hundreds of channels, a cable television package will definitely suit your needs. Satellite TV While it may sound like Cable TV is the more appealing option at this point, you must consider a few things; namely, Satellite TV absolutely trumps cable in terms of the sheer variety of programs and content. Dish TV boasts a roster of 250+ channels, and the number is always growing. That includes over 80 PPV channels, whereas cable can only manage about 40. In addition, satellite television offers you a slew of international programming that a cable service simply cannot compete with. Dish TV also consistently outperforms Cable in terms of customer service ratings. But while Dish TV currently has the edge in terms of variety, your access to local programming is pretty limited. And, as mentioned previously, reception can be an issue during inclement weather. Your property will also need to have an unobstructed view of the sky in order to receive optimal reception, which can be a problem for some homeowners. As far as pricing is concerned, your television needs may be the determining factor. If having television in every room is a must for you, then opting for a cable package may suit your needs better. Satellite companies tend to offer per room fees, which can be expensive in the event that you would like the service to extend beyond one or two televisions. There is also the equipment cost to consider. While opting for a satellite package may cost you more money up front, your monthy bill will more often than not be lower than a cable package, as maintainance costs tend to be lower. For additional information on cable television, please visit www.comcast.com or www.verizon.com/fios For additional information on satellite television, please visit www.directstartv.com or www.dish.com    




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Posted by Debra & John Blanchet on 2/10/2016

Who doesn't love a bargain? You can negotiate a deal for just about anything. Here is how to try your hand at bargain hunting at flea markets, yard sales, junk stores, antique malls, and thrift stores. Some helpful tips on how to haggle: Dress the part. If you are looking for a deal don't flaunt your designer handbag and shoes. You want the seller to believe you when you say youíre only willing or able to pay less. Be friendly. A smile and kind hello can go a long way when asking for a discount. Ask for the discount. You can't get what you don't ask for. Make a fair offer. If you offer too little you can insult the seller and they will be less willing to offer you a deal. Start your offer at a little more than half the asking price and expect to meet somewhere in the middle. Inspect the merchandise. If the item has a flaw nicely point it out to the seller. Make a group offer. Gather a group of items and offer one price for all of them together. This benefits the seller and they are typically more willing to make a deal. Pay in cash. Always buy in cash, sellers love cash (who doesn't). You may even want to take the money out of your wallet to show the seller you are serious.  




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