When my husband and I were first looking for a venue for our wedding, his family was very persistent that we marry in the local country club where his brother and sister were married to their spouses.

When I sat down with the wedding coordinator, my husband, and our families, the number came out to around $10-15K with the choice of a pasta bar for food. His family told me how affordable that was, while I was on the edge of crying because my entire wedding budget was only $8,000.

Wedding venues can eat up a huge part of your overall wedding budget. So if you’re in a similar situation that I was in, here are the tricks I used to save money on a wedding venue.

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With financial planning and a tighter budget comes stricter decisions on what to buy versus what to rent. Most experts will tell you to stay far away from furniture and appliance rental, because it could end up costing you more than three times the retail value of the item.

However, there are a few things that are still worth renting versus buying, depending on the situation. On the flip side, there are also things you can rent out to make some extra cash.

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Changing your habits and way of life takes time. Implementing a new fitness routine, diet, or spending pattern doesn’t happen overnight. In an attempt to change our shopping habits, my family and I have started buying in bulk (when it makes sense) as a way of saving money.

My wife, myself, and two kids, have been slowly buying things at Costco when they are cheaper to take advantage of the 2% cash back rewards program of our executive membership.

It’s taken almost a full year, but we finally have a system that results in saving time, money, and earning enough cash back to at least pay for our membership renewal each year.

Here are our bulk buying rules that actually work.

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Student loans are becoming the signature of our generation as droves of students are graduating with thousands of dollars in debt. At this point, the rising cost of tuition is making once affordable public schools hard to attend without taking on some form of assistance.

The numbers prove it, too. According to the Project on Student Debt, 69% of students who graduated in 2013, from public or non-profit schools, had an average of $28,400 in debt. That number is only increasing and is much larger for students who are attending private school, or going to school out-of-state.

As I can attest, when you graduate with student loan debt, you may be at the mercy of various lenders, various interest rates, and vastly different repayment terms.

So, what should you do if you have multiple lenders, multiple payments and various interest rates that cascade from high to low? Consider student loan refinancing.

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me trust others about money advice. Tony Robbins recently published a book about money, and millions of people follow established “money gurus.”

I’ve also been giving this thought since I received an email from a reader asking me for specific money advice. While I’m pretty comfortable offering general insights gleaned from my own financial processes, and reporting what I learn from people I consider experts, I was a bit thrown by the idea that someone would email me looking for specific direction about what to do with tens of thousands of dollars.

(I simply said that, while I knew what I would do with the money, my situation is likely different, and he should talk to a fee-only financial professional or a registered investment advisor for help with his situation.)

So, what makes you trust someone’s money advice? And what prompts people to trust complete strangers for help with their vital financial decisions?

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Aside from housing costs, the next biggest expense in our budget is food. Especially if you have a large household, food costs can eat up a big part of your weekly spending (no pun intended).

According to a survey conducted by Gallup, the average American household spends $151 a week on food. That’s over $600 a month for a family of four. Shamefully, I use to spend that much on groceries and eating out for just 2 people.

After realizing how much money I was throwing away needlessly, I cut back on take out and learned how to shop smarter at supermarkets. But the most popular advice for saving money at the grocery store is to use coupons. And while that’s a smart idea, it usually means cutting them out of the newspaper, checking expiration dates, and remembering to bring them with you to the store.

It can become too much of a hassle and it’s easy to miss out on savings. So here are my 5 favorite coupon-free, money-saving hacks for grocery shopping.

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