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Being frugal this year can be simple – all you have to do is follow the top tips below on how to lead a frugal lifestyle that you can be happy with for the rest of your life.  No fax loans online is another way you can be good with money this year.  Our other frugal tips include:

1.  Buy generic food brands

While you may see Del Monte in the stores, it doesn’t mean that Del Monte juices are any better than supermarket brands. If you are looking to improve your frugality, you should start with food. Generic food brands especially when it comes to juices and water can give you the chance to make budget savings which allows you to stretch your cash further.

2.  Don’t shop at expensive clothes stores

Shopping at expensive clothes stores might be tempting because after all, we all want to look glossy and beautiful, but the price doesn’t justify the movements. In this regard, it’s important to go to pound shops and thrift stores where you can buy second hand clothes that look gorgeous but will not break the bank either. The upside to being budget with your clothes is you also save a lot of money in the long run on clothes that you can spend on other passion projects. Loans for bad credit are used by some people who need to buy clothing without breaking the bank.

3.  Look for energy savings

Most of us know that our finances could be sorted out if we would only just find the best energy savings for our gas, electricity and utility bills. Good ways of cutting down your energy bills is by using less energy and picking environmentally friendly ways. Instead of turning the heating up when it is cold, ensure that you have spare blankets and sheets that you can use in order to make savings on the energy bills that you need to cut down on. By using frugal techniques, you keep more money in your pocket.

There is no question that buying a gift for a man can be difficult. Whether it’s a significant other, a father, or other family member, there are times when you just never know what they really want. Often, men tend to internalize feelings and desires, so you may have to work harder to come up with quality gift ideas. However, there’s no reason to let this difficulty cause you to pull your hair out or waste money when buying a gift for a man.

1. Ask Him What He Wants
The best approach is to just ask what he wants. I don’t mean ask him a few days before his birthday – rather, ask him questions several months before when you are out window shopping or doing anything else together. Often, he’ll drop clues that you can use at a later date. If you buy him something he doesn’t need, he may not return it for fear of offending you, but he also won’t use it.

2. Plan and Research
Last-minute gift shopping is a great way to waste money. If possible, you should have a pretty good idea what you’re going to get him at least a month or so before his birthday or Christmas. Use this time to watch out for deals, both in retail flyers and on the Internet.

Signing up for a daily deal website is another great idea. These sites send their deals to your email inbox on a daily basis. Take a look at what they have to offer, and you just might find something truly unique for the man in your life.

3. Be Practical
Most guys will greatly appreciate something that doesn’t cost a lot if it’s something they’ll use on a day-to-day basis. You don’t have to break the bank on a luxury item, such as a smart phone or flat-screen TV – many guys are not very materialistic, and value practicality.

4. Give a Homemade Gift
If you think your guy has everything he needs in life, consider preparing a homemade gift. A gift basket packed with some of his favorite foods, a funny card, and a few other treats is always a good idea. Many items may be able to be found at your local dollar store.

5. Consider a Gift Card
If you just can’t figure out exactly what he wants, consider giving a gift card. That way, you know he can choose something he really wants. There are a variety of websites where you can get gift cards at a discount – just be sure to purchase one with no fees and no expiration date.

6. Give Your Time
If you want to give a gift that costs no money at all, consider giving the gift of time. You can offer to wash his car for the next three months, do the grocery shopping, clean the house, or any other chore he performs on a regular basis. If he leads a fast-paced lifestyle, this could be one of the best gifts of all.

Final Thoughts

It’s important that you don’t over-complicate the process. Many men are really just looking for something simple or practical that will make their lives easier. And, of course, you can never go wrong with clothes. Women tend to have a much better fashion sense than guys, so consider choosing out something that will look good on him. And if he’s the frugal type, consider upgrading a facet of his life where’s he’s too cheap to spend money, such as a nice shaving kit or an updated cell phone.

What ways can you think of to save money when buying gifts for a man? What great gift ideas would you suggest?

by ALMOST FRUGAL

Is it possible to make your own takeaway food for less than you’d pay for it readymade? In my new ‘make it or buy it’ challenge, I’ll be finding out this week.

Despite pursuing a more frugal lifestyle, I still occasionally have a weakness for a good takeaway. Sometimes there’s nothing better than kicking back on a Friday night, putting your feet up and leaving the cooking to somebody else. Every week I get at least ten leaflets pushed through my door for pizza delivery companies, Chinese and Indian takeaways. But are we paying too much? Is it possible to make your own ‘takeaway style’ food at home for less which might also be healthier or better quality too? Despite people cutting back on takeaways during the credit crunch, delivery pizzas have remained popular. This week, as part of my make it or buy it challenge, I thought I’d investigate by making my own homemade pizza and comparing the price and quality to the takeaway versions.

Making a pizza at home is so quick and simple that I’m surprised more of us don’t do it instead of ordering them in or buying them readymade from the supermarket. If you have a bread-maker then it’s even easier to do so because you can get the bread-maker to mix and knead the dough while you put your feet up and have a cup of tea. To make my pizza I mixed 300g (11 oz) of strong white bread flour with 1/2 a teaspoon of fast acting yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 15g (1/2 oz) of butter, 1 tablespoon of milk powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 210 ml of water.

When the dough was ready, I rolled it out on a floured surface and shaped it into a 10 inch (25 cm) circle – well, roughly so, as I was pretty hopeless at getting it into a pure round. Then I spread a few tablespoons of tomato puree across the pizza base with a knife. Next I cut up some vegetables, including our very first courgette of the season from our garden, and mushrooms.

To give it a meaty flavour, in place of pepperoni I threw in some slices of dried pork sausage that DJ likes to eat on top. Then, to prevent them from burning, I coated the vegetable and meat slices in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar before placing them on top of the pizza and sprinkling some grated cheese on top. Lastly, I put the pizza on a baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees C (gas mark 7) for about 20 minutes until it was ready. I served it with some mixed lettuce leaves from our garden and some fresh chopped basil – also grown by DJ.

I was a bit nervous when I took it out of the oven. Would it taste as delicious as the pizzas you can get delivered? Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t bad. The toppings were really fresh and tasty and it actually tasted like a pizza that you might buy. There also wasn’t that greasy sensation that you sometimes get from pizzas that have been delivered. I think this is probably a slightly healthier option, depending on how much of it you eat. However, it was a little bit doughy in the middle and took a bit longer to cook than I expected, so I think next time I’ll use half the amount of dough and make a thinner crust pizza.

However, how did it stack up price wise? Here’s a rough breakdown, dividing up the cost per kg of each item by the amount used. While our courgette was ‘free’, I’ve given it a nominal value due to the cost of maintaining our veg garden:

Flour – 22p
Yeast – 5p
Sugar – 1p
Butter – 7p
Milk powder – 2p
Courgettes – 20p
Mushrooms – 20p
Saucison sec – 50p
Tomato puree – 4p
Cheese – 42p
Olive oil – 25
Total: £1.98

To have a similar pizza delivered by my local delivery company would have cost me £13.99, so we definitely saved some money, even allowing for the energy cost of baking the pizza. The only downside was having to make it myself (and do the significant amount of washing up it created, too) – obviously the point of having a takeaway is not to have to cook – but it’s not a difficult meal to make.

Later in the week I’ll be investigating other takeaway options and whether it’s more cost effective to buy them in or make them ourselves. Hope you can join me then!

Do you make your own homemade pizzas? What are your favourite recipes and how much money do you save by making your own? Leave a message and let me know.

Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul
If you find yourself taking out new loans to pay back existing loans at expensive rates of interest because your credit rating is not as good as it once was, it may be time to stop and get help.

Don’t ignore calls & letters
When the letters asking for missed repayments start to arrive, they often fall thick and fast. You can often tell what they are before you open them, you may even leave the letter in the envelope.

However what you don’t know is you can get help to stop these letters and help negotiating with creditors to make repayments affordable. The number of times we hear the story of how a person has kicked themselves for waiting so long before getting help, and if they’d known how straightforward it was they would have acted ages ago.

The other side to this is the amount of money that is wasted on penalty fees – millions! If we all seeked help sooner rather than later we’d the banks would be really miserable as they miss out on all of your hard earned cash.

Don’t trade your way out of debt
We’ve all had a call asking for money we haven’t got and most of us have told them what they want to hear knowing full well that the money isn’t there to pay them or thinking the money will be there once you get paid, a deal comes off and other types of windfall.

The reality is that it’s really difficult to catch-up and it may be worth seeking help before too long.

Don’t go into denial
With debt you can find yourself in a dark place where you can convince yourself and possibly others that all is OK, whist deep inside knowing full well that all is not OK, and it’s actually things are getting progressively worse.

You do not need to suffer – this I promise you. There are people out there who can help – here’s a list.

Don’t be afraid to talk to a real person
The Internet is great. What would we do without it? You would not have found this site for a start. But don’t be fooled. For many subjects the internet can be less useful than you think. The last time I checked out my ailments on Google I was in serious trouble as the big ‘C’ was a real possibility. As you’ve guessed, I am alive and kicking.

The same is true of debt. You can’t find out which path you should take to get out of debt just by going online. You can find out about some of the options but you won’t know which one is really best for you, and you won’t know which one your creditors are likely to agree to unless you talk to a real person with the experience necessary to look at you and your finances, to work how you are going to beat debt with the least money and in the shortest time. Here’s a link to real people you’d want to talk to.

And finally, don’t believe everyone that calls himself or herself an expert
The UK is full of commercial debt advice organisations that get paid if you start solutions like commercial debt management plans and IVA’s, or take out a consolidation loan.

The first thing to point out is there are free debt management plans available so don’t start one that doesn’t involve every penny going to your creditors.

Secondly, there is nothing wrong with IVA’s and re-mortgaging as a way of getting out of debt if they are used in the right circumstances.

This is why we’ve made this list of debt charities we would talk to if we were you. They only offer free debt management and only offer IVA and loans if they’re right for you.

My top frugal tips

Before going on xmas holidays, I thought a fitting note to end on would be to put together a selection of some of the most useful frugal living tips I’ve come across during the past four years, so here goes:
11 Ways to Keep Money in Your Pocket in 2011
 

–  Take responsibility for your own finances.  Don’t be afraid of them. Get to know them and spend some time with them! Keep a regular eye on your bank accounts and statements – it’s easy these days with internet banking access – and put together a realistic monthly budget that you can keep to. If you don’t like spread-sheets, there are plenty of online budgeting tools that you can use to keep on top of your finances.

 

–  Learn to live within your means. It can be tough sometimes, especially in this difficult economic climate and within a culture which tries to make us buy things we don’t need and advertising which tries to make us aspire to ape the lifestyles of celebrities.  But there is more to life than spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need and comfort to be found from having a bank account which is in the black rather than in the red. As I get older, I appreciate simple things more such as the company of good friends or a walk in the countryside which come for free. If your hobbies are costing you too much money, there are plenty of low cost alternatives you can switch to if you only just give it some thought and research. Why not have a day each month during which you try not to spend any money at all? There’s a challenge for you!

 

–  Have a goal in mind.  Many of us are having to save money simply because we are facing bad times but you’ll be more successful if you’re saving towards something specific.  It could be a holiday, a course you want to go on or a special occasion you need to save for. Or it could just be that you want to work less and have more time to spend with your family. Whatever it is, make plans for the future and start saving towards them if you can. It will motivate you and make you feel more positive about living a more frugal lifestyle.

 

–   Learn to haggle and always ask for a discount on a major purchase if you can. It’s something that takes getting used to if it doesn’t come naturally, but it’s nearly always worth doing. If a clothing item you want to buy has a mark on it, show it to the sales assistant and ask for some money off. If there’s something wrong with your meal (I had a meal out a while ago and found a piece of plastic in it! There was nothing wrong with the food otherwise but I got my meal for free!) ask for a discount.  The worst thing that can happen is that you are unsuccessful but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you’re unhappy with the service you receive, always complain and ask for money back.

 

–  Got the Good Life bug? If it’s something that interests you anyway, why not grow some of your own food at home? You don’t have to be Monty Don – it’s easy to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and lettuce at home and if you don’t have a garden you can still grow them in hanging baskets, pots or grow bags. Seeds can be expensive but you can harvest your own seeds from supermarket tomatoes and peppers and exchange seeds with friends to save money. Compost can be pricey too but, if you’ve got the room, you can make your own at home by recycling grass clippings and kitchen waste.  As I’ve come to know it, learning from others, living the frugal life isn’t about eating rubbish but good quality food, and nothing much compares in the quality and health stakes to fresh, home-grown grub. And, when times are hard or you’ve forgotten to go shopping, for much of the year there will always be something in the garden or your grow bag that you can add to a meal.

 

–  Whatever people may tell you, it’s not worth skimping on everything.  There is always something that it’s just a false economy to save money on. It might be a small item like your teabags (I don’t like to compromise on a good brew myself) or something bigger, like your car, a good pair of shoes or your own health.  Whatever it is, don’t compromise on it.  Save money elsewhere instead.  Life is too short to be miserable or unsafe. Remember something which a blog user told me a while ago – living frugally isn’t just about living cheaply but living well.

Getting on to the property ladder is not an easy task in today’s tough economic climate. Once you have made it, ideally you would want to stay on it and even diversify your property portfolio in the future.

But life does not always go according to even the best laid plans. Job loss has become a very real threat due to the economic downturn. If the worst did happen, could you meet your financial commitments if you were out of work for six months?

Life’s unexpected challenges could mean losing your home. Loss of income due to involuntary redundancy, a prolonged illness or injury due to an accident could threaten your ability to keep up with your mortgage repayments.  Mortgage payment insurance offers financial protection against loss of income due to unemployment, illness or injury. It covers your mortgage repayments for a fixed period of time so that you can focus on getting your life back on track.  

Most insurance providers allow you to tailor your mortgage payment insurance policy to cover unemployment and sickness or accident and sickness or unemployment on its own.

What is important when considering mortgage payment insurance, is finding the right insurance product that you can afford and that provides the type of cover you need. From contents insurance to mortgage payment protection insurance, life insurance to buildings insurance, each product is tailored to provide financial security against specific events. Some insurance providers allow you to add additional insurance products on to an existing home insurance policy i.e. buildings insurance, contents insurance and mortgage protection insurance. It pays to do your homework and compare insurance quotes to ensure you are getting value for money and the level of cover you want.

Author Bio

Duncan Alexander has been employed in financial services for 14 years. He has worked for the Principality Building Society since 2005 and currently works in their eChannels Department. He is Welsh, a keen runner and currently lives in Cardiff.