Ten Small Ways to Save Money

Imagine finding a $20 bill in your pocket. Regardless of how it got there, it feels like free money.

Although not as easy as simply finding money in your pocket, the following tips can help you save money in small ways over time. By being mindful about where your money is going and what you really want to spend it on, you’ll be surprised how easy – and painless – it is to save.

  • Pack your lunch. Packing a lunch instead of eating out could save you upwards of $1,800.00 per year. On top of that, packing your lunch can also be a much healthier option.
  • Make your own coffee. Spending just $2 on a cup of coffee each work day adds up to $500 per year, therefore even if it costs you one dollar to make your own coffee, you’ll still save around $250 per year.
  • Give yourself an allowance. This can be difficult, but if you give yourself a limit of what you want to spend in a certain amount of time, it will be a guide when making the tough spending decisions.
  • Buy your groceries in bulk. This isn’t always possible, but can save you money in two ways. First, the unit cost of buying a larger size of something (cereal, peanut butter, toilet paper, etc.) is typically cheaper. Second, if you stock up on essentials, you’ll likely make fewer trips to the store and therefore have fewer chances to be tempted to purchase non-essentials while you are there.
  • Buy generic items. The generic or store brand versions of items are significantly cheaper. Sometimes buying a brand name product is necessary, but when you can, buy the generic store brand and save.
  • Don’t carry excess cash or credit cards. Impulse spending is less of a temptation when you need to go to the bank or ATM to get money.
  • Pay off your credit card Don’t carry a balance. If, for instance, you carry a balance of $5,000.00 on a charge card at 19 percent interest, you’re giving away $1000.00 per year in interest.
  • Take advantage of “end of the season” sales. Holiday decorations are always on sale after the holidays. The price of candy is reduced the morning after Halloween. Cars of a previous model go on sale in September when the new models roll in.
  • Make your own greeting cards. Greeting cards can be expensive, and as beautiful and thoughtful as they are, they are likely to end up in a trash can after they’ve been read. Instead, make your own personalized card for less than $1.
  • Save your change. Put your loose change into a jar at the end of each day. These coins will add up little by little over the course of a year or more.

 

Make Eating Healthy Easy with These 5 Tips

Whether you’re working from home, on the road, or in the office, eating healthy during the work week can be tough. It often seems easier, and cheaper, to grab a bag of chips or order fast food. But with a few small adjustments to your routine eating healthy during the work week will be easier than you think. Here are five simple tips to get you on the right track toward making healthy choices:

Prep your meals at home the night before. Prepping meals allows you to plan and control what you pack. Stock your fridge with individual-serving size yogurts, chopped veggies, or fruit for some simple side dishes. Make extra salad at dinner and throw it in a container with some protein like grilled chicken or tuna. It may take a few extra minutes to prep and pack your food the night before, but it’s worth it.

Keep healthy snacks in the office. Stock your drawers and office fridge with healthy snacks like veggies and hummus, fresh fruit, protein shakes, nuts, or trail mix. If you have easy access to the healthy stuff, you won’t be as inclined to dig into the candy jar sitting on the front office desk.

Pay a little extra for convenience. Our first tip, prepping your meals for the week, can be time consuming. If you don’t have the time to follow that tip, try picking up some prepared salads, wraps, fruits and vegetables, etc. at your favorite grocery store. It costs a little bit more, but it’s your next best option to have the healthy stuff on hand.

Choose healthier options at restaurants. Depending on your job, there may be times when you must eat out. The key to eating healthier when eating out is to stay away from fried foods and steer yourself towards fresh produce and lean protein. Most fast food restaurants these days have at least a few healthy options, such as a salad with grilled chicken. Just be wary of the extra items like nacho strips or loads of dressing that negate the healthy aspect of the salad.

Drink water. Always have a water bottle at your fingertips. Staying hydrated during the day is important for your overall health and keeps hunger cravings at bay.

Ultimately, the secret to eating healthy during the work week is to tweak your thought process by establishing healthy habits, and once you’ve done that, you’re on your way to a healthy life! By making wise choices about what you eat, and planning ahead, you’ll fuel your tank to power through your work day.

Five Reasons Why You Should Write a Cover Letter

Many people view writing a cover letter as a chore. You draft your resume, translating your skills into marketable bullet points, and feel accomplished. Then, you realize the job opportunity you are scoping out requires a cover letter. What? More writing?

Yes. It’s worth it. There are several reasons why you should include a cover letter with your resume when you apply for any job. Below we’ve outlined five of them.

  1. It provides an opportunity to present your position-related skillsets. In your cover letter, you can highlight your previous accomplishments and how they align with aspects of the position you’re applying for. Make sure you reference the position description to show your unique qualifications and keep your cover letter from feeling generic.
  1. It includes information that might be out of place on a resume. Resumes usually follow a standard format and often there are points you may wish to make about yourself that won’t fit neatly into the template. As career expert Heather Huhman notes, “Cover letters allow you – in narrative form – to tell the employer exactly why hiring you, instead of the numerous other candidates, is a good decision.”
  1. Its demonstrates an additional level of effort that you didn’t necessarily have to make. Although it may seem insignificant, the fact that you took the time to write a unique cover letter shows you care about getting a job just a bit more than someone who doesn’t write one. It shows you’re willing to take that extra step to succeed.
  1. It adds a personal touch. Your cover letter helps set your resume apart from others by giving an employer a better sense of who you are and what your personality is. It can give some life to your resume.
  1. It demonstrates your writing ability. Almost all employers want employees to be able to write. A cover letter is written in a personal, narrative form instead of a series of short phrases and bullets like a resume, so it provides an added dimension to your writing ability.

Ultimately, a well-written cover letter will strengthen your resume and increase your chances of getting an interview and eventually a job. It’s worth the time and effort it takes.

Fuel Happiness with Random Acts of Kindness

We all want to be happy. According to the wise ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Sometimes the smallest things can brighten your day: the sales clerk that gives you a warm smile and asks how your day is going; the kind driver who lets you into a long line of cars; or the fresh bouquet of flowers you find on your front doorstep, just because.

Being the recipient of kindness is wonderful, but what’s even more satisfying is being responsible for it. Aristotle had a word for this too. When he described the four levels of happiness that humans seek to achieve, the first two, Laetus and Felix, are self-centered; the third level, Beatitudo, is the happiness one feels from doing good for others and making the world a better place.

We recently experienced this third level of happiness at Three Wire when we celebrated our own “Random Acts of Kindness Week” in each of our offices. Each day, for five days, we challenged employees to carry out five “nice” things that would benefit someone else.

If you want to try it, and spread happiness, look at our list of “random act” recommendations below. For about fifteen minutes out of your day, you can make an incredible impact on someone else in this world and hope that they too decide to pay it forward.

Day One: Leave a nice note for a friend, loved one, co-worker, or even a stranger.

Day Two: Write a letter of encouragement to a stranger who needs it.

Day Three: Register to become a bone marrow donor at https://www.giftoflife.org/page/content/steps-to-donation. If you are already registered, or can’t/don’t want to become a donor, donate to this or another cause that you feel connected to.

Day Four: Go to Free Rice and spend 10 minutes answering questions. This is a United Nations Food Program that will donate rice to hungry people for every question you get right.

Day Five: Purchase a five dollar gift card to a store or restaurant and give it to someone who could use a bit of a perk.

Five Things to Consider When Buying a New Vehicle

Whether you’re shopping for a new vehicle because you want to or because you must, shop in a smart and efficient way. You want to feel good about your investment. Feel confident that you got the best deal possible and that your new vehicle will get you safely from point A to point B.

The process of buying a vehicle can be daunting because there are so many things to consider. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide what you want, let alone the price you want to pay; but the following five important tips will help you feel more confident about the purchase you make.

Shop Around. Take time to shop around at various banks for your loan. In addition to finding the most competitive rates and fees, shopping around will give you a more balanced idea about how much of a loan you qualify for. Understanding what you can afford is a great place to start.

Completing a “prequalification” with a lender is different than a “pre-approval.” Both refer to an assessment that precedes a loan application and neither one guarantees a loan, but prequalification requires less information from you, is a fairly quick and simple process, doesn’t cost anything, and gives you a good idea of how much of a loan you will qualify for.

Research Prices. Once you know your price range, research prices on at least two different vehicles that you are interested in, considering the year and amount of mileage on the vehicle. Knowledge is power and comes in handy when you’re negotiating with the salesperson.

Read Reviews. Take time to read reviews and watch YouTube videos that evaluate the vehicles you’re considering. This will give you a better idea of what to pay attention to during your test drive and what questions to ask the salesperson.

Never Buy on Impulse. Don’t allow your emotions to cloud your decisions, especially when you see something you want. Use the strongest power you have for a great deal: the power to walk away and leave the dealership! You might be surprised at how much they are willing to negotiate when they see a sale slipping away.

Use Car-Buying Services. Take advantage of car-buying services that are offered by companies such as USAA. These can take some of the stress out of buying a car— use their corporate knowledge and experience to steer you in the right direction and give you confidence in the decision you make.