Living on a budget but trying to be healthy? Oatmeal is the way to go. It’s full of antioxidants, it reduces cholesterol, and it can boost your immune system, along with a myriad of other health benefits. Plus, it’s almost obnoxiously cheap, especially if you buy the pre-measured instant packets.

Of course, the instant stuff isn’t nearly as good for you as the old-fashioned kind, but it has benefits of its own: It’s low-priced, it’s (relatively) nutritious, and it keeps you full for a long time. I should know--I lived off of it for one long, broke summer in my twenties.

While oatmeal is economical and good for you, at the end of the day, it’s still…oatmeal. Bland, average consistency, and nothing too special. However, with a little creativity, you can spice up your inexpensive meal without cleaning out your wallet.

Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to make oatmeal taste less like oatmeal.

Milk and honey. These two things are found in just about any kitchen, and you’d be surprised how much flavor they add to plain old oatmeal. Either make the oatmeal with water as usual and add milk after to make it creamier, or make it with milk to begin. Afterward, stir in a little honey.

Peanut butter and bananas. Also staples found in most kitchens, peanut butter and bananas go great with oatmeal. Prepare the oatmeal normally and stir in a tablespoon or two of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy is fine). Peel a banana, chop in slices, and add to the mixture.

Blueberries. Keep it simple and add a handful of blueberries to your oatmeal. They add texture and flavor, and blueberries are also full of antioxidants. Paired with oatmeal, they’re the ultimate breakfast power couple.

A little bit of ice cream. Looking for something sweet? Add a small amount of ice cream to your morning oatmeal. It’s a little more costly (and yes, it removes some of the health benefits), but it taste good and adds diversity to your oatmeal routine.

Chocolate chips. Chocolate chips are another way to sweeten up your oatmeal (but without the added calories of ice cream). They’re a tad more expensive than fruit, but a small bag will last for many delicious bowls. Trying to keep it healthy? Add dark chocolate chips instead.

Also keep in mind all of the different varieties of instant oatmeal on the market. There are fruits with cream, maple and brown sugar, extra protein and fiber, weight-loss options, and dessert varieties. With all the different flavor options available, the combinations are limitless--and the math can’t be beat. A 10-pack of instant oatmeal is less than $3, making all of these options meals under $2 total.

Can you say breakfast for a week and a half?

 Photo by Megan via cc

You’re done with college and trying to make a name for yourself. You’re trying to do all the right things--working hard, paying off student loans, and saving for a future that seems so far off. There are so many financial decisions to make: savings accounts, investment options, and retirement savings. With all you’re juggling, how can you possibly do it all?

The good news is you don’t have to do everything yourself. There are financial advisors trained to help young investors just starting out. The key is finding the right advisor to help your money grow along with you. Follow these tips to find an advisor you trust.

Where to look
Referrals. Ask family and friends for two or three referrals. These referrals are usually the result of a positive experience with an advisor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the same experience. Choose someone you connect with and who will listen to your ideas, values, and financial goals.

Objective, third-party periodicals. If you don’t have reliable sources for referrals or if you don’t think any of the referrals are a good fit for you, check out periodicals offered by reputable organizations like Barrons, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, or J.D. Power and Associates. These objective, third-party resources rank advisors each year.

Check credentials
Once you’ve selected two or three advisors to interview, check their history through finra.org, the organization that regulates financial service firms, and use their BrokerCheck feature. It’s a free tool that will tell you an advisor or firm’s licensing status and history, employment history, and any regulatory, customer or criminal disputes. Your state may also offer resources to confirm an advisor’s license status. Check your state attorney general’s website and the department of financial institutions.

Not all investment firms will require an advisor to have a college education, but the more reputable ones do. Though firms will conduct their own training and advisors must have a Series 7 license, a business education is also helpful, specifically an MBA or a BA or BS in economics, finance, or accounting.

Interview finalists
Narrow your choices down to advisors you want to interview, virtually or in person, and ask these questions:

  •  What experience and education do you have?
  • What credentials do you have? The Certified Financial Planner is the preferred designation among financial advisors, but only about 20% of advisors have this designation. Additional designations include Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Chartered Life Underwriter.
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What products and services do you offer?
  • What is the size of the asset portfolio you manage?
  • Does your firm clear its own trades? To buy or sell an investment, and clear a trade, a firm must be a member or associated with a member of FINRA and the New York Stock Exchange. Firms who members are able to provide better service at a lower cost than non-member firms.
  • Have you received any complaints? These are public record and available at FINRA.
  • Do your clients have online access to view their accounts?
  • What investments do you focus on?

Making the decision

In addition to this information, consider what type of a rapport you had with each candidate. Choose the advisor with the credentials and background you want and who respects your values. This is the right advisor for you!

Photo by Simon Cunningham via cc.

Simplifying my life and taking control of my budget was difficult, but it enabled me to travel all over the country, seeing the sights, tasting the local delicacies, and truly living life the way I wanted. If you have a dream you're saving for, check your budget for these dos and don'ts to save money.

Do cut your cable. Cable-cutting is the best decision you'll ever make. There's nothing on paid cable you can't watch over-the-air or online, completely free. Streaming news services like HuffPost Live, RT, and The Young Turks provide the same news that's on television, and both lag behind Twitter and RSS feeds. Live sports can be streamed via SopCast or Ace Player (or watched in a restaurant if you're not afraid to go out in public). There are too many entertainment options available to spend $50+ per month for cable.

Don't cut your car/home insurance. The financial impact of health insurance is still debatable, but if you have a bank lien on your home or automobile, you need to keep up with insurance payments. If you don't, the contract you signed for your loan allows the loan servicer to saddle you with an expensive force-placed insurance policy, which can cost up to 10 times as much.

Do stop purchasing music. I love music, and I wholeheartedly support musicians. I also understand the point system provides an artist with 5¬-12 cents from the $10 you spend on their album. Musicians make more money from touring, sponsorship deals, and licensing their work in video games, and movies than they'll ever make from consumer album purchases. Ignore the industry hype and only listen to free music using sites like Pandora or Spotify.

Don't ignore maintenance. How many appliances and pieces of furniture in your home are broken? When was the last time you serviced your vehicle? Keeping your home, vehicle, and gadgets running smoothly saves you money in the long run. If you let an issue linger, it'll only become more expensive. Fix problems as they come up, and proactively prevent them by treating your property with respect.

Do evaluate your food budget. Food is where people tend to overspend the most. It's OK to stockpile food, but make sure you're stockpiling food you actually use--otherwise you're wasting money. Also stop eating at restaurants and fast food joints regularly. Once a week is the most you should be eating out if you’re living lean, and even then, choose places you actually enjoy.

Don't starve yourself. On the flip side, it's important to remember you are what you eat--literally. Many money-saving sites will tell you to eat nothing but oats, honey, and peanut butter. I may live in a van on the road, but I'm a foodie, and nutrition is important.

Do renegotiate debt. From student loans to credit cards, by the time you hit 25, odds are you're buried in debt. Whatever bills you have, call the company to renegotiate the debt terms. Ask for lower interest rates, lower payments, and even a low payoff balance. If you let yourself go delinquent long enough, they'll sell your debt to a collection agency for 20 cents on the dollar. Offer to pay half, and everyone wins.

Don't borrow money. Whatever you do, avoid borrowing money, whether from a financial institution, collateral loan business (i.e. pawn shops and auto title loans), or even friends and family. When you borrow money, you're simply rearranging your debt, which makes you feel better about having the same amount of debt (or more).

When I analyzed my budget, I was amazed at how many unnecessary bills I managed to accumulate. From cell phone insurance I've never used to multiple content streaming subscriptions, I would've been better off just burning my paycheck and flushing the ashes. I'm far from rich--I earn below the poverty line--but I can still afford to live the life I want thanks to an honest budget assessment and some savvy savings decisions.

Photo by 401(K) 2012 via cc.

 

Remember your first piggy bank? Maybe it was an actual piggy, or maybe it was one of those “change” organizers that stacked and separated your coins. Maybe it was something modern that motivates your savings into different categories like the Money Savvy Pig. Whatever it was, the idea was simple: Keep dumping cash in and someday you’ll have a pile of it.

Anyone with a piggy bank, savings account or an IRA knows savings is probably a good thing. But let’s face it: It’s not that exciting. We save simply because we’re supposed to.

But why is this one aspect of our financial plan often so narrowly focused? In an age of diversity, a similar, targeted, active, involved effort to save in specific categories with specific goals not only makes saving more effective but more useful--with plenty of gratification built in. Turns out the Money Savvy Pig makers were on to something. Here are some categories you should consider as you diversify your savings.

Save it and forget it. Right off the top each month, the first bill you should pay is your obligation savings. Sign up at work for the retirements that are offered and/or put a payment into long-term steady growers that will provide for you much later in life, be they 401Ks, IRAs, or mutual funds. Rip it off the top each month and forget you have it.

Save it and USE it. Once the obligation is out of the way, your savings diversification can get to work. Start savings for things you want, like a new house or a vacation. Put specified money into each account, even if it’s all in one account but different line items on your ledger. For example, use all the round-up change for the new house, or pay yourself to stay in one night a month and put the money in the vacation fund. Put off buying a new car for one year but start making the payments to yourself.

Save it and grow it. Figure out what you can afford to lose each month and invest it in more aggressive savings that could bring high rewards. Invest it, risk it, and have fun with it. Get engaged with online resources that will help you make your decisions like, Online Trading Academy, and Trading Markets or the mainstays like Etrade and Ameritrade. If money gets tight, spend less. If you have some extra, invest a bit more. Your interest and involvement will make it enjoyable as well as profitable.

Save it and rely on it. The biggest financial plan killer is adversity. When bad things happen like losing a job or facing an illness or a blown engine, we often have to rely on credit to survive, which delays the pain and hinders our ability to bounce back quickly. Most financial advisers recommend an emergency fund of three to six month of total expenditures. Once it’s in place, leave it until it’s needed and then use it with peace of mind.

Savings doesn’t have to be the drudgery of simply sliding cash into a place where we “can’t touch it” as the old saying goes. Instead put your fingerprints all over it to grow it, use it, forget it, and rely on it, all of which will collectively become the foundation for your financial success. Even if the amounts are small at first, the practice will build over time.

Photo by ginza_line via cc.

If someone told you that for the cost of a new car, you could buy a house, would you believe them? Not only is this true, but it’s actually a growing trend. The catch? Your house will only be slightly larger than the size of that new car.

Tiny homes are sprouting up around the world. Whether you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, save money on mortgage and energy, or take your home along on adventures, the tiny home movement can be an unconventional--yet satisfying--solution to your needs.

The nitty gritty: How much does it cost to build?
It depends. Your building materials and if you outsource the labor to someone else both affect costs. Tiny homes can cost as little as $2,000 and as much as $30,000 or more. To cut costs, can build your home with recycled materials found at the ReStore Habitat for Humanity store, local thrift stores, salvage yards, or on Craigslist.

Why tiny houses?
At first blush, tiny homes may seem like a glorified playhouse, but tiny homes can be sophisticated and contribute to your self-sufficiency. Tiny homes have a smaller drain on your wallet--not just for building but for sustaining.

Average electric bills for a tiny home run between $10 to $25 per month. Compare that with a traditional house that can easily costs 10 to 15 times that amount.

Another reason to choose tiny home is the portability. Many tiny homeowners build on wheels, which allows them to move the home around, similar to a trailer. Portable tiny homes are especially convenient if your job requires you to move or travel to different locations. It will be just the same size as a hotel room and much more comfortable to sleep in your own bed.

A third reason for tiny homes is simplicity. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes living simply can provide the greatest benefits. By necessity, you’ll only buy or use the things that you need or love. There’s simply not enough space to buy extra items you’ll likely never use “just in case.”

Is a tiny home for you?
If you’re a packrat, tiny homes are probably not for you. Tiny homes require fearless purging. Similarly, if you’re prone to claustrophobia, tiny homes may not be your cup of tea. That said, if you can live in the average New York apartment, you can definitely live in a tiny home. Ranging in size from 65 to 400 square feet, tiny homes can actually feel roomy and accommodate a family of four--well, a very close family of four.

If you’ve just graduated from college and have hefty student loans to pay back, a tiny home is the perfect remedy for your living situation. Although it won’t pay back student loans for you, it will allow you to live independently and free up your finances so you can pay back your loans quicker.

What about plumbing and electricity?
Although a home is tiny, it doesn’t mean you won’t have access to all modern conveniences, including indoor plumbing and electricity. Due to the mobile nature of tiny homes, these spaces are generally not connected to electricity grids, but there are plenty of ways to wire your home for electricity from traditional sources. Depending on the size of your home, you may consider solar panels because of their affordability and sustainability.

As for plumbing, you can get plans for tiny homes with plumbing. For these homes, it simply requires that you plug into the sewage line, and you’re in business. However, many tiny homeowners choose to use compost toilets, which are a lot less icky than they sound.

To learn more, visit Tiny House Build, Tiny House Living, and The Tiny House.

Photo by Tammy Strobel via cc.

Are you a diligent saver? Penny pincher? You probably have your own tips and tricks for saving a chunk of cash here or squeezing the last bit out of a dollar there. While saving money is a noble pursuit, the ways you save could cost you. Do you abide by any of these four bad “saving” habits?

Buying more of an item because it’s on sale
Especially at the grocery store, it may be tempting to stock up on an item just because it’s on sale. While you may be taking advantage of the store price, you might be overspending on the amount of items you buy. You may not use the extra items you buy before they expire or become outdated, which means you wasted that extra money you spent, regardless of how much you saved on the individual item. Even if you end up using all of the items in the right amount of time, you may find you’re forcing yourself to use those last items on dishes or for other uses you don’t need or are wasteful.

Always going for the cheapest option
While buying the cheapest option may mean upfront savings, you end up spending more money over time on repairing or replacing those cheaper products. Cheaper usually means lower quality parts, and these products are sometimes more likely to break or be made with harmful chemicals. Plan to invest a little more into a higher quality product if it’s something you’ll use a lot or something that would be more expensive to repair than it would be to just pay more for upfront.

Buying more online to qualify for free shipping
How many times have you gone to check out online only to find that’s you’re just $20 away from free shipping? Chances are, you’ve gone ahead and found an extra item(s) to purchase to save yourself a few bucks on shipping. You may not realize you’re spending more on the extra item and free shipping than you would if you just paid for the shipping outright. Plus, you might be purchasing items you don’t actually need or use.

Signing up for a store credit card or rewards credit card solely for the discount
Signing up for credit cards you don’t need is never a good practice, even if you end up getting a store discount or other rewards for using the card. You end up spending more money at the store or on a particular category of products just to get the discount or rewards points when you may not actually need the items you’re buying. You may benefit from the discount or rewards upfront, but you end up driving up the amount of debt and credit you owe, which could generate interest and waste your money in the long run.

While you may go into saving money with good intentions, some of your saving strategies can cost you more money instead. Beware these four “saving” tactics to ensure you make the most of your hard-earned cash.

Photo by Alan Cleaver via cc.

College and debt often go hand-in-hand. Before you add to those student loans or draining checking account, however, read these tips to save money packing for college.

Dorm and apartment

Find out what's already provided
Sometimes dorm rooms already come with furniture, lamps, refrigerator, freezer, and microwave. Find out what furnishings come with the room so you know what you'll need to bring and what you can save on not buying. Check to see if there is a shared area with access to a toaster, microwave, hot plate, etc.

Use what you already have
After you make your college living checklist, take inventory of what you already have. You don't have to buy new items. Scour the garage, attic, and closets to find items you may be able to use.

Coordinate with your roommates
If you're sharing a dorm or apartment with someone, be sure to communicate with them about what they're bringing. Share your items, and see what they can offer.

Ask family and friends
Let your family and friends know what household items you're on the hunt for, such as furniture or kitchenware. You never know what people have on hand, and people are usually eager to help out college-bound friends.

Shop for used furniture
Head to thrift stores, secondhand stores, flea markets, garage sales, and yard sales to score used furniture. Be sure to inspect and thoroughly wash items to eliminate mold, bed bugs, or bacteria.

Shop at the dollar store
The dollar store is a great place to stock up on kitchenware, bath items, and household supplies. You'll also find inexpensive decorating items, such as artificial flowers, picture frames, and vases.

Textbooks and supplies

Find out what you actually need and what you already have
If you're going away to college, you may automatically think you need a new laptop or printer. However, many colleges offer computer labs with free access to computers, internet, and printers. Before you purchase books on the syllabus, check the library, see if your school has a textbook trading program, or reach out to your professor to see if the books are required or suggested reading.

Shop secondhand
For books, hit the used section first in your college bookstore. You can also find used books online at Amazon or eBay. Used bookstores may have the book you need, as well. Also consider purchasing a refurbished computer or tablet instead of a brand new one.

Keep supplies in good shape.
Try to keep your books and supplies in the best possible shape. Limit note-taking in textbooks, highlighting, underlining, and wear and tear like water damage. This way, if you do not have a need for them after the class you're taking, you can sell them back to your book store or online. You’ll also want to keep any accompanying CD or course material in good condition as well.

Use coupons and search for deals.
For items such as pens, notebooks, book bags, and other supplies, sign up for e-mail alerts from stores such as Office Max, Office Depot, Target, and Walmart to scope for sales and get discounts.

General tips

Create a budget
Build a budget when gearing up for college. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on all of your gear and allot how much you want to spend on each item. You may need to do some juggling to make the figures work, but this way you aren't spending more than you can afford.

Find the deals
Whether it is furniture, books, or clothing, shop the deals. Follow stores on Facebook and Twitter to learn about promotions, sales, and coupons. Join their e-mail list for deals and coupons. Call the stores to find out when specific items will go on sale. Always keep your receipts in case you find a better price elsewhere or something you like even more.

There's no getting around it: College is spendy. With a little planning and thriftiness, however, you can prepare for a great college experience on a budget.

Photo by Jirka Matousek via cc.

You're in love! Finally, you've updated your profile to "In a Relationship." No more attending your friend's wedding solo or showing up to Grandma's birthday as the "single one." The benefits of having that special someone are countless, and one of those benefits should be financial stability. Whether you have a steady live-in partner, a fiancé, or a spouse, your finances should be a topic of daily conversations--not daily arguments. If you're new to living with two incomes, you're probably surprised by how nice it is! Two heads are better than one, they say, and so are two salaries. But how do you merge those salaries effortlessly? Here are a few strategies to keep your pennies pinched and your minds at ease.

The "CFO" Approach
In this approach, one person would be designated as the Chief Financial Officer of the relationship. Just like any successful business, a successful relationship needs an appointed financial advisor. This strategy is great for those "opposites attract" couples, in which one person is a penny-pincher and the other an impulsive spender. It would be wise to allow the penny-pincher of the relationship to be the CFO and take charge of monitoring statements, establishing a budget, paying bills, and distributing their other half a reasonable allowance each month--reasonable being the key word to success.

The "Yours and Mine" Approach
This financial strategy works great for couples who have separate career lives and enjoy separate checking accounts. Especially for couples living together without a legally binding relationship, keeping separate finances could be beneficial later if your relationship were ever to end; benefits include less paperwork to cancel joint accounts, avoiding financial disputes, and protection from a vengeful ex. Even married couples or couples in civil unions might prefer separate accounts. This allows each person to maintain their financial independence and keep track of where their money goes.

For couples that choose to keep their funds separate, make sure to talk about who is responsible for what bills or how expenses will be shared. It's also a good idea to establish an agreement or goal for savings and spending, so nobody gets out of control and affects the other's finances.

The "Rotating Finance Advisor" Approach
This strategy is my personal favorite and the method my husband and I use to handle our finances. In this model, each person is allowed to be in charge of finances on a rotating basis. How you rotate is up to you: try each month, each yearly quarter, or even every year. This rotation allows both people to be responsible for bill-paying, budget-setting, savings goals, and spending amounts, but at different times. It would be wise to compare how each person's approach is different, and how it affects your wallet. When my husband is in charge, for example, we tend to save more money. When I am in charge, we have a lot more fun.

The "Couldn't Be Bothered" Approach
This approach to handling finances is great for those couples with a certain amount of disposable income and who are both fairly poor at budgeting. It's an easy approach: Hire a financial advisor. If your partner and you have the means but not the interest, it might be wise to hire some help. This is also a good option if it's time to look at investment ideas and retirement plans.

Of course, these are only a few ideas for merging two incomes. Each couple should create their own strategy that works best for them. No matter what your approach is, remember communication is vital, and sticking to an agreed budget is necessary for success. Most importantly, be open about your finances to protect your relationship and your financial future.

Photo by Thomas Berg via cc

 

Having a baby can be a shock to your financial system. It was most definitely a shock to ours! As our precious baby girl turns a year old, her college savings account is in the four figures. The saving success we experienced was due in large part to the generosity of others. There are financial institutions and non-profit organizations that assist in direct gift-giving into your baby's college fund. Our friends and family were able to give directly to her 529 college savings plan account ("529"). A 529 is an education savings plan designed to help families save for future college costs. Skip the noisy toys and fancy outfits on your baby shower registry, and advocate people give a gift that will grow with your little one.

Why 529?
There are many saving vehicles that parents can use to save for college, but 529 plans are normally a better deal for most savers. While both 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have non-deductible contributions with the benefit of tax-free growth for future qualified educational expenses, Coverdell has a yearly contribution limit, and there are income restrictions to owning a Coverdell. Qualifying U.S. Savings Bonds contributions are tax-deferred, but there are also income restrictions, and the only qualifying expenses are tuition and related fees. Unlike Coverdell, 529 plans, do not have income or age restrictions. With 529, the owner isn’t limited to how much money they make, and they can contribute a large amount per beneficially comparatively. Custodial Accounts, known as UGMAs (for the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act), are certainly another option with no contribution limits, but the beneficiary will own the account at 18 or 21 (depending on the state).

Resources
Once you've decided to open a 529 and know what plan works best for you, there are online resources to help the money start rolling in.

Savingforcollege.com is a great resource for choosing the right savings plan for your future high achiever. It has a variety of information on methods to college saving to understanding financial aid packages. For the best and worst performing 529 plans, for example, you will be able to find that information at savingforcollege.com.

Collegesavings.org also gives great information on college savings methods, such as college cost calculators and comparing 529 plans by state.

Gradsavegifts.org is a non-profit online college savings registry. It also has a free gift-giving service that links your already existing 529 college savings plan account. It also has an easy-to-use social media to help spread the news. A big pro to this registry is that givers can use their debit or credit card, as well as input their bank account information to make a donation. A con is that if a giver uses a credit card, the registry takes the credit or debit card transaction fee out of the donation and leave the child will get the remaining balance. All deposits are processed once a month.

Once you chose a financial institution to contribute to a 529 plan, the plans inherently make it easy for friends and family to contribute directly to the beneficiary’s account. Ask your financial institution for more information.

Even if chronic child care costs are taking much, if not all, of your discretionary funds the first year, there are always ways to start preparing for their future. At an 8% college inflation rate, the cost of college doubles every nine years. For us, that means college expenses will be more than three times current rates by her high school graduation year. Save often and early will be the key to providing a bright future for the next generation.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 college savings plan.

Photo by AngryJulie Monday via cc.

When I graduated in 2012, I landed an incredible job. It was 2,496 miles away, but it was an amazing opportunity, so I packed my car. Moving across the country can be a great, fun-filled adventure full of pretty mountains, deep valleys, and loads of singing in the car, despite the inconvenience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind though so everything turns out as easy-peasy and stress-free as possible.

Junk it or trunk it?
Chances are you’re moving to take your first job or start college. If this is the case, you may not have much stuff. Excellent! If you can fit everything in your car, you’ve just saved yourself a massive headache. If you have just a little too much to fit in your car and your move is short-term or indefinite, consider leaving what won’t fit with friends or family or selling it. Whatever you can’t sell, you can donate and use a tax deduction. Make sure and get a receipt.

If renting a truck is your only option, first determine how big of a truck you’ll need, then shop around to check rates so you get the best deal. Typically, trailers rent for much less than trucks. If that’s an option, it may save you some money.

A little love
Your car will need a little love before you pack up and leave. You’re about to put thousands of miles on your car, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road with a car full of stuff and a flat tire. No fun. Take your tires in to get checked, and if you’re due for an oil change, now if a good time to check that off the list. You’ll also want to check all of your fluid levels: windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and power steering. Check out this handy-dandy guide for doing so yourself if you don’t have money to spend on a mechanic.

On the road
This is where it’s going to add up. Before you leave, check online for gas prices. Sites like FuelMyRoute.com, will show you gas prices along your route so you can find the cheapest places to stop. You may have already checked an online gas mileage calculator to get an idea of how much gas money you’ll be spending, but whatever number it told you, it’s wrong. Your gas mileage is going to drop like a watermelon on a soufflé. Same goes if you’re towing something behind you or driving a rental truck. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100 pounds of weight added to your car can reduce your mileage per gallon by 2%. When it comes to hotels, you may be tempted to book them ahead of time. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re refundable. You never know how your trip is going to go. You may unexpectedly stop to see a waterfall, get tied up at lunch, or have car trouble. The last thing you want to worry about is losing money on a hotel room you'll never use.

Grab bag

  • Save even more money by remembering a few tips:
  • As soon as you know you’re moving, start saving boxes. Check with local restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers or ask a friend that works at one. Purchasing boxes can be super spendy.
  • Keep your donation receipts in a folder that can easily be found on tax day.
  • Speaking of taxes, if you’ve relocated and have expenses beyond what your new company reimbursed you for, you can write off those expenses too!
  • Don’t forget to fill out a change of address with the USPS and snap valuable coupons.

Moving isn't cheap, but with a little planning and careful budgeting, it can be manageable – and set you up for a fresh start without dipping into the red.

 Photo by Jessica Spengler via cc.