7 Ways it Pays to Be an Early Bird

by Jessica Sommerfield · 1 comment


There’s a reason many people quote the saying “the early bird gets the worm”. In the world of personal finance, getting a jump on the day can mean saving money and time, which often saves you even more money. Let’s look today at how doing a few things in the morning rather than afternoon or evening could literally save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

1. Snag Discounted Groceries and Eat Out for Less

If you’ve ever bemoaned the empty shelves at 6 p.m. on a Friday night, you might be more willing to be the first in the door when the grocery store opens at 6 a.m. Not only will the shelves be freshly stocked and the aisles free of screaming children (well, mostly), but you’ll also find the best deals on fresh meat and baked goods. Stores with an over-abundance of fresh meat frequently discount certain cuts and sell-by dates, but these packages are the first to go. Yesterday’s baked goods will also be marked down, and still pretty fresh.

This also applies to eating out. The menu shows cheaper prices at some restaurants if you make it in time for brunch or lunch. Some places even charge more for the same exact dish in the evening hours than earlier in the day.
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creating wealth

I once wondered whether an investment property or a dividend yielding stock is better. The result was an unanimous vote for investing in stocks.

Since then, the environment drastically changed as we saw the financial crisis unfolded and our stock portfolios subsequently lost 40% of its value.

If I were to ask the same question again, would everyone still vote for stocks? What about years ago when we were seeing double digit declines every single day?

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teenager gifts
I’m a budget driven person. That personality trait kicks into high gear during the Christmas season as my wife and I decide what gifts will be wrapped and placed under the tree. The two criteria I have for the gifts for my two children are that they have an equal number of gifts, and that their cost come in under budget.

My wife, on the other hand, has other ideas. She has visions of the kids coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to find a tree with a pile of presents spilling out from under it. She has dreams of passing out gift after gift while our children futilely try to guess what is in each wrapped box.

My wife’s perfect Christmas is even harder to achieve when teenagers are involved. Both my kids are teenagers, who’s preferences seem to change daily. So how can a parent fill the space beneath the Christmas tree with a mountain of gifts for the hard to shop teenager and stay on budget?

If you are expecting this same problem this year, here’s a list of five last minute inexpensive gifts that any teenager would love to open on Christmas morning:
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entertaining on a budget

Regular get-togethers at various local restaurants with friends was killing our monthly budget. Not only was the price of gas rising, but restaurants were responding to the economic downturn by raising menu prices as well. And as a former waitress, I always felt compelled to leave a 20-30% tip whenever possible.

Soon, it was usual fare to drop $25 for a snack or dessert and $60 for a meal with the gang. I didn’t want to skip out on spending time with some of my favorite people, but this habit was making us all digestively miserable and soaking up all our funds.

Here’s how we solved the dilemma.

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high school graduation
The summer between high school and the freshman year of college is a summer of freedom before plunging back into another four or more years of intense study. That’s why it’s understandable that many teens just want to take some time to enjoy the good life.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some fun and relaxation. In fact, relaxing is vital to our physical and mental health. But the summer between high school and college is also a few months that can set the pace for a student’s finances and career outlook for years down the road.

While teens should seek to balance work and play in the summer months, it’s wise to use this time to think forward and take steps that improve their college applications, debt load, and career opportunities after they graduate.

I’m speaking directly to you, students, here are some ways to do that:
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If you’ve been bitten by the coffee bean bug, you know that your coffee habit can easily get out of hand and cost you a small fortune. While most financial experts would say it’s okay to splurge on a nice Cuppa Joe on occasion, it’s certainly one area you can cut back and save a bundle.

It seems that everyone is getting on the gourmet coffee fad. You can get your fix at McDonald’s, and my church even has a café open for breakfast that features a professional gourmet coffee machine that spits out frothy yummy caffeinated works of culinary art.

Brewing your own coffee can be quite an experience until you get the hang of it, but there are lots of helpful tips to be found when you’re just starting out. Here are a few of the most important ones to get your gourmet brewing started: [ continue reading… ]