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iMoneyCoach on February 20th, 2013

Gas prices fluctuate, but they are never as low as we would all like them to be. The good news is that no matter what gas prices are at today there are ways you can save money. One easy way is to check the gas prices near you before you even head out. That way you don’t have to guess which station might have the cheapest gas or drive past that one in hopes of finding one slightly lower.

Save money on gasoline

GasBuddy is a community effort to help everyone save money on their gas. You can locate the cheapest gas prices near your home or work. And you can help others by adding the prices you see to the site.


gaspricewatch.com
has an interactive map that you can use to find cheap gas near you. You can also see the current national average price for gas compared to your local average, high and low prices. This may help make you feel better if you happen to live in an area where gas costs less than the national average. This site, although a nice alternative to GasBuddy, does not seem to be updated as much, so you can’t be as sure that the prices on there are what they actually are at the pump.rs by updating the gas prices that you see along your route. The great thing is that it shows when the gas prices were last updated so you know that when John saw that Costco had gas at $2.60 it was just an hour ago and not 3 days ago. Check out this map and zoom in or out to see the gas prices near  you posted in the last 24 hours.

Here are a few more tips to help you save money on gas by conserving your gas usage:

  • Take it easy. Instead of constantly hitting the brakes or pushing hard on the gas pedal to accelerate faster, ease into your speeding up and slowing down. Be aware of what is going on ahead of you so you are prepared and can adjust your speed without using precious gas by braking and hitting the accelerator again right away.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. This may be a bit of a bummer, but if you can run the air or even the heat less, you will save some gas. Dress appropriately so you will not get too hot or too cold in your car (i.e. on a cool day wear a coat instead of turning on the heat).
  • Make sure your tires are inflated. If your tires are low, then more of their surface area will hit the ground as they roll. This causes friction, which in turn makes your car work harder and use more gas to keep moving. Inflating your tires reduces that surface area, eases the friction, and saves gas. Do be sure that your tires are not over-inflated though, as that will cause them to wear out faster, and then you have the cost of new tires to figure in!

What are some ways you have saved money on gas? Leave a comment below to let us know. And happy savings!

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iMoneyCoach on February 13th, 2013

happy_birthday

Celebrating your birthday can be a lot of fun, but it is even better when you get free birthday treats! Ok, some people aren’t quite so excited about their birthdays, and in that case, these free birthday goodies might be able to help lift your mood.

Here is a compilation of several different places that offer birthday goodies for you to enjoy. Pretty much all of these involve signing up for an email club, so you might want to set up another email that you check regularly or near your birthday. Or set up rules in your current email to filter these emails to one folder so they don’t overtake your inbox. And remember, eating out is fun, but make sure that you stick to your spending plan/budget and what you can afford. You don’t have to use all the coupons and specials that these places send.

 

Free Food

Baskin Robbins – free birthday ice cream and discounted cake when you sign up. You can add additional family members to your account, which is easier than signing everyone up separately.

Beau Jo’s – usually sends a $10 gift coupon on birthdays which is good for pizza for you. It can also be used with about $5 more to feed a family with a bigger pizza.

Benihana – get a $30 gift certificate to use for your birthday. This one is only good for the birthday person’s food and excludes tax, tips, and alcohol.

Blue Bell – Some of the best ice cream ever! It is rumored that you get a coupon for a free half gallon of ice cream during your birthday month.

Buca di Beppo – Get a FREE appetizer just for signing up, a FREE brownie of your
your birthday and a FREE dessert of your choice on your anniversary.

Buffalo Wild Wings – free dessert for your birthday when you sign up online.

Burger King – when you sign up for the BK Crown Club, they will send you a coupon via email for a free hamburger kids’ meal for the birthdays of your children under 13.

Dunkin’ Donuts – free medium beverage on your birthday plus email updates

Furr’s – coupons fairly often, including a free birthday meal

Good Times – “great deals and free birthday stuff” when you sign up.

Krispy Kreme – sign up at their site, but different locations offer different birthday specials (though some offer a free dozen donuts on your birthday!), and you can add a spouse and kids to your account to get birthday offers for them via email

Jack in the Box – free dessert the week of your birthday with a valid ID and the printable coupon, no sign-up required!

Macaroni Grill – free dessert on your birthday plus a great song! No need to sign up for a birthday treat, but they have a newsletter and you get $5 when you do sign up.

Moe’s – free Queso for signing up and a free burrito on your birthday (here is wishful thinking that they will open a Moe’s in Denver sometime soon!)

Qdoba – special birthday gift and free entree everytime you reach 1,000 points with the Qdoba Rewards club

Red Lobster – join the club and get a surprise birthday gift (must join at least 7 days before your birthday)
Red Robin – get a free burger on your birthday

Ruby Tuesday – get a birthday freebie for joining (a little birdie told me it’s a free burger)

Texas Roadhouse – free appetizer or dessert on your birthday, plus you can sign up your kids to get their birthday freebies delivered to your email address

 

Food Specials (maybe not so free, but cheaper)

Applebees – sign up for their email list and get a birthday special

Chili’s – get emailed specials (they tend to send a LOT of emails) and a birthday coupon

Chuck E. Cheese’s – coupons and possibly free tokens for the kids’ birthdays when you sign up.

Dairy Queen – monthly emails and special coupons for your birthday and anniversary (mostly BOGO)

Jose O’Sheas – sign up for the eClub to get discounts and a birthday coupon.

Mimi’s Cafe – free entree with purchase of an entree and $10 off of $20 for your birthday when you sign up

 

Other Goodies

KMart – birthday club for kids sends $5 birthday bucks to your child for their birthday plus a surprise birthday pack

Sephora – gives you a free birthday goodie when you sign up as a Beauty Insider

Toys R’ Us – sign up for the birthday club, head to the store on or near your child’s birthday to get a birthday crown, balloon, and special announcement broadcast to the whole store

 

If you want to do a little more digging, you can find more birthday freebies at freebirthdaytreats.com. They have discounts and freebies for your birthday divided into categories by location, age, and type of retailer, restaurant, entertainment, and travel.

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iMoneyCoach on February 6th, 2013

This post is a little bit different in that it is more designed to share some news and goings-on at iMoneyCoach instead of our usual tips and advice. But I am really excited and want to get the word out about something exciting that is coming up!

 

Denver Home Show Coupon

March 15-17 (that’s a Friday through Sunday), iMoneyCoach is going to have a booth at the Denver Home Show at the National Western Complex. This is a fantastic expo to help you with remodeling and decor projects, windows, roofing, floors, gardening and more. The show is highlighting gardens this year that will inspire you with the latest gardening techniques from local area experts.

 

The show will also feature Ahmed Hassan of the DIY Network’s show Yard Crashers. If you have not ever seen the show, check it out. You may just start hanging out at your local hardware store hoping to meet Ahmed or any of the hosts from the other “Crashers” shows, hoping to get a professional home makeover!

 

So what is a financial company doing at a home and garden show? At iMoneyCoach we want to help you afford the things that matter to you and to help you love your life. Part of that includes making your house “home.” House projects can tend to eat up a lot of a family budget, and we want to share information with you that will help you make the most of your money and decide what types of projects your family can afford, as well as how and when you can afford them. We are about helping you successfully manage your finances so that you can afford the things that truly matter to you.

 

If you are thinking of doing a home project, stop by our booth so we can give you some tips on how to budget for the project. We can give you ideas on decision-making and how to get good deals so that you know you are spending your hard-earned money on the things that are truly important to you and in a wise way.

 
So first, check out our listing on the Denver Home Show website.

 

Then get FREE tickets! On the Home and Garden Events Facebook page there is a special for 2-for-1 tickets!! They are normally $11, so this makes each ticket only $5.50. Be sure to get your tickets today, bring a friend, and stop by our booth while you are at the Denver Home Show! We are looking forward to seeing you there.

 

If you don’t Facebook, you can still save $3 by using promo code SAVINGS at the Denver Home Show website.

 

 

Denver Home Show Promo

iMoneyCoach on January 30th, 2013

At a time when grocery shopping costs an average of $1245.60 for a 4-person family for one month, many are looking for ways to save on their grocery bill. Food is a necessity, so there will always be a “grocery” category in your monthly spending plan, but we want to share a few ways that you might be able to use to cut spending on groceries.

The Rising Cost of Food in America

Price Comparison List

One way to cut costs is to know how much you are spending on the items you buy. If you know the cost of different items at different places, you will know the best time to buy a particular item.

Use this Price Comparison Tracking chart to keep track of prices of items you commonly buy. If you are at another store, be sure to check out the same items and jot down the prices so you can make a comparison. When you see a sale, you will immediately know if that is truly a good deal or if you would be better off buying the store brand or heading to a different store.

 

Cheap Meals

Intentional planning for less expensive meals is another way to save some money, and there are inexpensive recipes that taste great!

My local WalMart ad has recently started including cheap recipes. Although they do not always look delicious or all that nutritious, sometimes there is a winner. Here is one that my family has enjoyed several times that only costs $1.64 per serving:

 

Easy Red Beans and Rice

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 package (12-16 oz.) smoked sausage, sliced

1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained

2 Tbsp chili powder (I bought a packet of powdered chili mix instead, and it tasted great!)

2 cups Minute White Rice, uncooked

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese.

Instructions

1. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

2. Add beans, tomatoes, and chili powder; mix well. Stir in 2 cups water. Bring to boil.

3. Stir in rice and shredded cheddar cheese, cover. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Stir until cheese is completely melted.

 

Grocery Store Coupons

You can easily print or store coupons for items that you buy regularly or that would be a good deal for your family.

  • King Soopers – digitally download coupons to your Soopercard or use the print at home option. When you swipe your Soopercard at the store, it automatically applies all the coupons you have loaded. The nice thing is that when you load coupons, it gives you an option to print a list of them, and the printed list has lines for a shopping list so you can keep everything in the same place.
  • Safeway – offers coupons via email and the Just for U app
  • Albertsons – has a money-saving app for your phone
  • Target printable coupons
  • Walmart printable coupons

 

If you have ideas or easy ways for others to save money on their grocery bill, please leave a comment and share them!

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iMoneyCoach on January 23rd, 2013

Losing money is never fun, but losing money through identity theft is particularly unpleasant. At iMoneyCoach we are not doomsdayers, nor do we want to scare anybody into action. But we do feel responsible to encourage you to be alert and to be aware of things you can do to protect your finances.

How identity is stolen and ways to protect yourself:

  • Skimming – You are probably aware that thieves occasionally manage to put card readers on ATMs and gas station pumps to electronically grab your credit card information when you swipe your card there. But there is also technology out there that allows thieves to steal the information while your card is still in your wallet if it is the type of card you can use for “express pay” or holding near a reader to pay without actually swiping it. This video explores the danger of this type of skimming and shares how you can protect yourself.
  • Phishing – This type of identity theft can occur via the computer or phone. Phishing scams are those where thieves pretend to be a reputable company asking for your personal information or trying to get you to click links that will give them access to personal information on your computer. Here is a more in-depth look at phishing from Google.

How to find out if your identity has been compromised:

  • Credit report – You are eligible for one free credit report with information from all 3 credit bureaus each year. On your credit report you should look for any suspicious activity or accounts that may be listed that you did not open. Should you see anything out of the ordinary, be sure to call the credit reporting company to talk about the activity and find out what to do next. You can get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com (*please note that this is the only government-authorized site that the three credit bureaus are using, and there are imposter sites out there to avoid – more info here.

The underlying theme in identity theft and protection is to be aware. Know what the risks are and keep yourself informed. Do not freely give out your personal information. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Being conscious and informed about identity theft can help you keep yours safe.

The Federal Trade Commission has a site dedicated to sharing information about what identity theft is and what to do if your personal information has been stolen. You can read more on the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage about identity theft.

Remember, we don’t want to scare you into action or make you think the sky is falling. We are about being alert and being proactive in your life and finances. If you have any questions about identity theft or want to share any other tips and ideas you may have experience with, please leave a comment below.

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