I say it every month but I still can’t believe it’s almost August.
How Much Should I Pay for That?
The main goal of every Budget Smart Girl is obviously to save money. But sometimes buying the cheapest brand or make isn’t always the best option for your pocketbook. I’ve found that for each item I buy it’s smart to look at all the features as well as cost. Here are some of the checklists I use for doing that.
How Long Do You Plan to Use It?
If it’s an item I’ll be using on daily basis and something that’s going to get a lot of wear and tear for many years to come, then I’ll usually feel okay about spending a bit more money. These days you have to factor in the cost of replacement parts, and if it goes into the repair shop, labor costs too. Just those two things alone can add up to more than you actually pay for a bargain brand.
How Much Are You Really Saving?
I always write down all the brands I’m interested in buying and the prices, and make sure I’m comparing apples to apples, etc. Sometimes what looks like a bargain in the store isn’t always that great a deal when you write down aspects like features and warranties.
When I’m in the market for a big-ticket item I’ll often ask friends and family for their recommendations. I know some people do have bad experiences with certain items that aren’t always the manufacturer’s fault. And yes, some people are particularly picky, but if everyone tells me they’ve had a bad experience with a company or product, I’ll cross it off my list. On the other hand, if most tell me they’re pleased with their purchase; I’ll feel happy about handing over a bit more money.
Ask About Warranties
Someone told me you can tell how reliable a product is by the length of the warranty. The longer, the more reliable. Also, look at how much service will cost you once the warranty expires. And how about refills and parts, are they easy to get? And can you just pop down to the local store and buy them? Is the company who manufactures the product likely to go out of business? This can sometimes make warranties obsolete and replacement parts impossible to find.
Your Money Back
Also, does the manufacturer feel so confident about their product that they’re willing to give you a money back guarantee? And how long is this good for…two months, three? When we first moved into our house I realized gardening would be a lot easier if I bought a tiller. I visited several DIY stores but then saw an ad for a mail order tiller manufactured by a company that had been around for a long time. It was about $50 more than the ones I’d seen in the store, but what caught my attention was the machine came with a guarantee of free lifetime blade replacement. However, the thing that really convinced me to buy it was I could use it for a whole year and if I wasn’t happy (even after 365 days and maybe using it every day) I could get a full refund. I’m happy to say I loved it so much I never had to take them up on their offer. But it’s nice to know it was an option, and made me feel more at ease about handing over my money.
Purchases for Your House
If you plan to live in your home for many years to come, I think it’s much more budget savvy to go with the higher end brands with items like water heaters, furnaces. It’s never fun waking up to a cold house or a cold shower when it’s 30 below. Plus, you’ve got to wait for the repair guy to stop by and as we all know some of these service calls can be around $100 an hour… and that’s before any work’s done. About five years ago we decided to replace our sump pump. Now as the pump in our house seems to be in continual use because we have underground streams running under the yard, we opted to go for a more expensive brand. This particular one gives us a lifetime replacement warranty. You don’t even have to deal with the manufacturer. You just take it to the store and get a new one. We’ve used their offer twice already, so it’s nice to have that extra peace of mind.
Ways to Save Money in August
So far it’s been a hot and humid summer and sometimes I hate to say it but by the time August rolls around I’m longing for the cooler days of fall. However, there still are reasons to love August.
Make the Most of the Season
August is a great time to make the most of summer’s bounty. Prices are generally low and you can pick up some good buys at places like farmer’s markets.
Plan Ahead for Next Year
Seeing all the fresh produce in the supermarket might have you thinking about ways to save even more money next year. August is a great time to look into joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme. And it’s not too early to sign up for next year. You pay a certain amount of money to a farm and throughout the season you get a share of their produce. Many farms in these programs are organic ones, so it’s also a great way to save money on pesticide free fruits and veggies. Visit this Web site for more information, and to find the farm nearest you.
Get Some Exercise
Okay, you might want to try this one when the temperatures cool down. Head to a nearby farm or orchard where you can pick your own produce. With apple season starting as early as August, it’s a good time to head to the great outdoors and gather up some apples. An added plus is the whole family can pick fruit together, get some fresh air, and exercise. Check out this site for a farm or orchard near you.
Make Some Jams and Jellies
With the abundance of produce, August is a great month to start making jams, jellies, and chutneys. I think it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the taste of summer all year long. It’s also a good way to cut down on sugar, and not to mention a great idea for a housewarming, hostess or holiday gift. This Web site will give you some ideas for making jams and jellies.
Canning is a great way to preserve food and if you’re not sure what to do with all the fruits and vegetables, this site has some great ideas.
Quick Recipes of the Month
Okay, this one really isn’t a recipe but who wants to be in a hot kitchen? When the temperature soars, cool down with some frozen fruit kabobs. Put pieces of watermelon, grapes and mango on skewers and freeze. Frozen cubed fruit also makes idea ice cubes for ice tea and lemonades. And the best thing is you can eat them after you’ve finished the drink. And just today I was at the supermarket and bought strawberries and cream cheese that were on sale. When I got home I thought about those flavored cream cheeses and how easy they are to make yourself. Just put the cream cheese and about a cup of strawberries in the food processor and puree together. Add either powdered sugar or honey to sweeten it and it’s ideal for toast, muffins and bagels.
I Wish I had That Recipe
I sometimes leave a restaurant wishing I had the recipe for something I’ve just eaten. Check out if your favorites are on this site
Saving Water, Saving Money
One thing I notice more in summer is just how much water we use. Washing the car, watering the lawn…saving water is not only good for the environment, it helps your wallet too. I found this site with tips on saving water www.americanwater.com Click on ‘save water’
Looking for Great Deals
A couple of people have recommended this site when you’re looking for deals www.dealigg.com
We all know restaurants offering happy hours offer some great deals not only on drinks but food too. Here’s a site that lets you know where to find a one in your neighborhood. www.happy-hour.com
Thinking About Being An Entrepreneur
During bad economic times more people think about starting their own business. If you have questions and not sure where to go for help on anything related to launching a business, there’s a service called SCORE, where retired business people can offer advice www.score.org You’ll also find workshops, some are online and some are even free.
Articles to Check Out
There wasn’t a shortage of great articles on the Web this month, here are some to definitely check out-
Every Budget Smart Girl wants to eat healthy while still staying on budget, this article tells you about 10 Best Foods for your Buck www.tinyurl.com/2ab6vjd
Perfect for August, check out summer thirst quenchers www.tinyurl.com/232pgby
One of the best comfort foods, it’s cheap and kids love it but it can get boring, so check out
20 ways to get creative with mac and cheese www.tinyurl.com/2c3zn8g
And find out if you share any traits with these super savers www.tinyurl.com/27qnk9r
I love smoothies but sometimes overindulging can pack on the pounds so give these a try, slimming summer smoothies http://www.tinyurl.com/37hetmm
The saying is patience is a virtue and it can also save you a ton of money too. Shopping for a new car, lawnmower? You’ll want to check out the best months to shop for deals www.tinyurl.com/37hetmm
The Budget Smart Girl newsletter will be back in September with some new features.
Enjoy the rest of summer.