Broke and barely paying their bills, most Americans have to ignore pleas to save more. No wonder the US savings rate has plunged to historic lows, experts say.
Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and with their long-term financial future assured, according to Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
“I can’t even consider saving,” Shelly Selin, an 80-year-old retiree who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told The Post. The former HR executive and his wife, who pay a $2,500 monthly mortgage, finance their retirement mostly from investments, annuities and Social Security. That’s before living expenses, including food and electricity, are factored in.
As a volunteer tax preparer with an active social life, Selin is alarmed at talk of saving. “Bank interest rates are at less than 1 percent, and I’ve heard stories of people saying, ‘I thought I had enough money in CDs, and now I don’t.’ They forget these CDs don’t pay any interest.”
These struggling savers are not alone. The United Way of Northern New Jersey charity has coined a new term, ALICE, for the vast population of low- and moderate-income households that are now sometimes a paycheck away from financial disaster.
For ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed consumers), saving is often the last thing on their minds.
“They are barely getting by,” said Laura Bruno of the United Way of Northern New Jersey. “They are not able to put any more aside for savings, so if they have one emergency — [for example, if] the car breaks down — they can find themselves in real trouble.”
Despite today’s bank come-ons for new savers — $200 cash bonuses are one recent incentive — hard-core savers are scarce.
As shoppers rushed to the mall this past Christmas, the savings rate (the percentage of disposable income households are putting aside) declined to an 11-month low of 3.9 percent.
Analysts are not surprised. “The American government strongly believes that people should spend as much money as they get,” said bank analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets.
You can save money by clipping coupons but it can be exhausting. This is especially so when you’re not sure what you are doing. However, when you save $32 here and $18 there, the effort is well worth it. Saving becomes challenging and rewarding.
A few tips to follow will help keep your savings going up and arm you with techniques even a beginner couponer can follow. Like everything else in life, it will take time and effort (all good things do).
In no time, it will become a part of your normal routine. Of course to start however, you will need to find room on your plate to fit it in. It will be worth the time if you can shave $200 – $500 on your groceries and household items. You’ll be a happy camper. Clipping coupons can easily yield these results when you make it a habit.
Step 1: Organize your coupons.
You can get all your coupons from the Sunday paper, from your stores sales ads and from the internet. It won’t take long to have a large stack which of course will need organizing. I use The Couponizer to organize my coupons.
Without a system to sort your coupons you will likely become frustrated. Figure out what works best for you and start clipping.
Step 2: Limit your shopping trips and track what you need.
If you find a particular day or evening is less hectic, use this time to clip your coupons. Also, it is best to choose 1-2 days each week for your actual shopping trips. Limit it as much as you can to save more money.
Keep track of items in need of stocking up with a free download that you can post on the refrigerator. Track this during the week and pull coupons you have. If you can match the coupons up with in store sales items, you’ll save big.
3. Meal planning for the week.
If you’ve never planned that far ahead you’ll be in for a surprise. Sitting down to organize the weeks meals will, in the end, save you time (and money).
There are sites you can pay to have them make out a plan for you. Like E-Mealz. It costs roughly $1.25 per week. But, planning meals yourself isn’t that difficult. It’s your choice of course, you decide.
Check out 5 Weekly Meal Planning Tips to help organize your week. And use the free Weekly Meal Plan download to hang on the fridge.
Have fun saving!
How do you save money with coupons? Please share some of your tips and tricks in the comments below.
Coupons have always been a way to save, but increasingly, clipping newspaper coupons is a futile act. You’ll spend time cutting and sorting, just to have the majority of them will expire before you even get to use them; and even if you had valid coupons, you’d likely forget them at home until they expire anyway. But after years of coupon fails, technology has finally caught up with money-saving tactics. These smart phone apps take this process into the 21st century:
SnipSnap’s slogan says it all: “Never leave a coupon at home again!” There’s no forgetting your coupons when they’re in your smartphone, which for most people is practically the very thing that’s with them 24/7. Users take pictures of retail and restaurant coupons with their smartphones, a process deemed “snipping,” and the coupons are stored digitally in the app. While shopping, users then simply locate their desired coupon in SnipSnap, select “Tap to Redeem,” and show it to a store clerk at check-out. One awesome feature of Snip Snap is that users can access not only their snipped coupons, but also those of other users through the app’s “Discovery” feature; this creates more savings opportunities for everyone using SnipSnap. The app’s only con is that it only supports iOS, leaving Android users in the dark.
Android (and iOS) users have Coupon Sherpa, which is essentially the same concept as SnipSnap, with a few differences. Coupon Sherpa provides its users with coupon organization and a grocery coupon feature, while SnipSnap has neither. Nevertheless, these features are overshadowed by Coupon Sherpa’s shortage of coupon options, which is due to it lacking the snip feature that SnipSnap possesses. Still, Coupon Sherpa provides Android users with an easy-to-use interface that gives them in-store savings opportunities.
Looking for a grocery shopping app that is both organized and loaded with savings opportunities? Grocery IQ is the answer. It not only enables users to create grocery lists that are organized by category, but also allows them to save money through its coupon feature, powered by Coupons.com. When users begin typing an item to add to their list, coupons that match their query show up automatically; they can then save coupons digitally or print them out. Saving them digitally, however, is the best part about Grocery IQ. When users set up an account, they have the option to add their store rewards cards to it, thus enabling them to add coupons they want to their grocery store rewards cards. Then, all they have to do is click “add to card” and when checking out, for example, users swipe the rewards card and all of the coupons they’ve added to it are applied towards their purchase.
SavingStar is a unique coupon app. Users create an account, digitally store their rewards cards, such as CVS, and then add coupons for their favorite stores to their SavingStar account; these coupons are automatically applied to users’ appropriate rewards cards. When they check out at a participating store, they save money by using their rewards cards, though the savings are not seen immediately. Instead, the monetary value of their savings are added to their SavingStar account within 30 days, at which time users can opt to transfer their coupon savings to a bank account, PayPal account, an Amazon gift card, or to the non-profit American Forests.
The primary purpose of Tabbedout is to avoid the annoying process of paying your tab at a jam-packed bar. Through the app, users simply add their credit card, check into a bar, and pay their tab when they wish to leave; the entire process is paperless and hassle-free. “Tabbedout’s system seems incredibly well thought out and the company seems to be pretty aggressive about getting its systems in place nationwide, which could make a staple option of the mobile payments,” says Ryan Faas of CultOfMac.com.
If you’re a coupon clipper and you own a smartphone, these free apps will provide ample savings for you and your family.
Article Source: Consumer Media network