Maximize the Value of your Holiday Gifts

It’s the day after Christmas. You’re all shopped out and you’ve got a pile of opened presents by the tree that you have no idea what to do with! The financial strain of the holidays probably has you looking for ways to conserve — especially on December 26. Speedy Cash has your back with valuable tips to get the most out of your unwanted holiday gifts!

Re-Gift
Did you get something really nice, but you have no use for it? Save it for someone else! Simply tuck it away and make a note of who gave it to you (so you don’t accidentally give it back to them) and remember where it is the next time you need a gift.
Gifts that are great to re-gift:

  • Picture frames
  • Bath and body sets
  • Gift cards

Return
As long as you know where the un-wanted gift came from, you may be able to return it without the receipt. Many large retailers become more lenient after the holidays with their return policies, although you may only end up getting store credit back.

  • Retailers who have lenient return policies: Macy’s, Target and Walmart
  • Retailers who have strict return policies: Toys R’ Us, Best Buy and Home Depot

Re-Purpose
If the gift you received isn’t exactly your style — don’t trash it! Try re-purposing it for your taste. Here are a few common gifts and ways to re-invent them into something you can cherish.

Need more ideas for getting more out of this year’s presents? Visit us on Pinterest!

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Discover the Benefits of Prepaid Debit Cards

As a cost-effective alternative to traditional bank cards, prepaid debit cards have many advantages. They’re safer to carry than cash, you can use them anywhere most cards are accepted and they’re prepaid — so there’s no balance to pay off.

So, what are the specific features you can enjoy from a prepaid card? Speedy Cash is here to give you the 411 on the pros of a prepaid debit card.

Prepaid cards vary in usefulness depending on your personal needs. To access your individual benefits, think about how you will use the card. Here are a few of the valuable features that can come with prepaid cards:

Direct Deposit - Use your card like a bank account by depositing your paycheck directly onto it.

Bill Payments - Transfer funds to make your utility, phone payment and more from your card.

PIN Transactions - Debit funds from your card by swiping it at a store and entering your PIN (Personal Identification Number) to verify the purchase.

Signature Transactions - Use your card without entering your PIN to complete a transaction with just your signature.

ATM Usage - Withdraw cash conveniently at an ATM.

Live Customer Support - Access support and alerts for your card account online or over the phone with live help.

Before you decide on a prepaid card, be sure to research fees associated with the card’s transactions. It’s important to find a prepaid card that charges the least amount of fees for actions you’re more likely to make. For example, if you want to deposit your paycheck directly, look for a card with little to no direct deposit fees.

Read more on the growing popularity and benefits of prepaid debit cards.

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7 Ways to Trim Food Costs and Eat Healthy

Rising food and gas costs are a major concern for families on a budget. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a moderate food plan for a family of four averages $1,030 a month[1].

Speedy Cash knows how important it is to feed your family nutritious foods. We’ve gathered 7 tips for you to cut costs and still eat healthy!

1. Plan Ahead

Before you head to the grocery store, plan your menu for at least a week — then make a grocery list and stick to it.

2. Make Smart Choices

Avoid sugary, processed foods like soda, pastries, chips and cookies. It’s also a savings to limit your spending on pre-packaged food. It may be convenient to buy that bag of salad instead of a head of lettuce, but you pay for the packaging.

3. Buy In Season

Produce items are especially expensive at times they’re not abundant. Only buy items that are in-season and readily available. Plan your menus accordingly.

4. Use Coupons & Sales

Taking the time to clip coupons can save you a bundle. Make sure you only clip those with products you’ll actually use. Same with large quantity buys — stock up on items that won’t spoil quickly like peanut butter, honey, rice and sugar.

5. Remember Leftovers

Is the raw chicken in your fridge about to expire? Cook it all at once and you can add it to your meals throughout the week.

6. Choose Generic

Grocery stores all have their own brand that’s usually cheaper than others. Who cares if the packaging isn’t fancy? Buying generic brand cereal can reduce the price up to 50% a box.

7. Grow your Own

Depending on the climate of your home, you could grow your very own veggies, fruit and herbs. The cost of a vegetable garden varies widely, but compared to the prices of fresh produce in a grocery store? You conserve cash and know that you’re serving your family pesticide-free food.

Have your own way to cut costs on healthy foods? Share it on Facebook!

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DIY Done Right

Couple improving home themselvesHave a project you’d like to do yourself this summer? DIY projects can save a lot of money in the long run, but are you prepared for the risk if it doesn’t work out? One mistake can end up costing you way more than necessary. Speedy Cash has your guide to successful do-it-yourself jobs with these savings tips.

7 Tips to Cut Spending on DIY Projects

1. Get Advice

Before you start any project, use all available resources. YouTube has thousands of how-to videos and hardware stores such as Home Depot® or Lowe’s® offer complimentary workshops.

2. Start Small

Begin with a simple job and work your way up to more complicated projects. You’ll learn as you go.

3. Pass on Purchasing Tools

Borrow or rent the tools you need initially. Don’t splurge on pricey tools until you know you’ll get your money’s worth out of them.

4. Use Professionals When Necessary

For potentially dangerous jobs, like electrical and plumbing, use a professional. Invest in an account on Angie’s List ($17 for a year) to get reviews and pick a professional who will get the job done right the first time.

5. Prep Your Space

Take time to prep your DIY space (like covering your furniture and floor when painting) so you don’t end up making a costly error.

6. Don’t Skimp on Materials

Pick quality material that will last. You don’t want to do the same job over again in a year or two.

7. Shop Sales

Hardware stores can have great off-season pricing — or — check out scrap yards for a deal on left-over material.

Want more DIY advice? Check out these money saving resources:

http://www.pinterest.com

http://www.youtube.com/user/Howcast

http://www.instructables.com/

http://www.ehow.com/

Share your own money saving DIY tips on the Speedy Cash Facebook page!

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Fun Facts About Gold

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some fun facts about gold:

1. Gold is so rare that the world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history.

2. Gold has been discovered on every continent on earth.

3. It’s thought that 80% of the world’s gold is still in the ground.

4. 75% of all gold in circulation has been extracted since 1910.

5. An ounce of gold can be stretched over 50 miles.

Visit Speedy Cash on Facebook to find more fun facts!

*Information found at http://facts.randomhistory.com/2009/03/09_gold.html

 

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Spring Clean Your Financial Clutter

It’s that time of year when houses get scrubbed from top to bottom, but why should you limit cleaning just to your house? It’s time for your finances to get a good scrub! Cleaning up financial clutter can save you money, prevent identity theft and get you on your way out of debt. Speedy Cash is here to open a window and help you begin shaking off the dust that’s been lying over your finances.

Organize Payments
Consolidate your payment due dates to around the same time each month. It may seem intimidating to pay all bills at the same time, but it’s easier to keep track of payments and know how much you’ll have left after everything’s paid.

Dust Off Accounts
Examine your finance accounts: Checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, credit union accounts, etc. Once you have a comprehensive view of your accounts, find ways to make things simpler. Can you get rid of any credit cards? Can you consolidate bank accounts? More accounts mean more fees and a higher risk for identity theft.

Wipe Away Debt
Start small by identifying the accounts you can pay off quickly. Even if they’re lower interest accounts, start by paying them off all the way to simplify your debt. Once you’ve paid off a few accounts completely you’ll keep the motivation to pay off those larger amounts!

Start cleaning your finances every spring and you’ll see the difference in your wallet size!

 

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Transparent Tax Talk

Tax season is finally here! With the filing date pushed back to Jan. 30 this year, refunds will arrive a little later and wallets will be running on empty a little longer. Speedy Cash keeps you updated with filing tips, a refund guide and what to do if you owe money to the IRS.

Tips for Filing
There are many ways to file taxes, the most convenient being e-filing or electronic filing. Check out Free File, the IRS’s software that helps you prep and e-file your taxes at no charge if your annual income is $57,000 or less. There are more no-cost options for any range of income such as Fillable Forms which are electronic versions of paper forms.

Refund Guide
What’s the quickest way to receive your refund? The IRS is making no promises this year on when you’ll receive your refund, but does give a timeframe of less than 21 calendar days after they receive your tax return*. With that in mind, depositing your refund directly into your checking account is the fastest option to receive your refund.

Speedy Tip: You can check the status of your refund at http://www.irs.gov/Refunds with the “Where’s my refund?” tool.

*Information found at http://www.irs.gov/Refunds Last updated Jan 18, 2013.

Owe Money?
Owing taxes can be scary, but don’t put off payment for long! One option to pay a large sum is to set up an installment agreement and pay over time. If you don’t start paying on your debt, the IRS can file a tax lien against your property, seize your bank accounts through a tax levy and charge you fines up to $135.

Don’t let taxes stress you out this year. Whether you’re struggling with filing, waiting for your refund, or have to pay taxes, there are free resources to help you get the most value out of the season.

 

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Roo’s Financial Tips: Buying the Perfect Valentine’s Gift

The average person will spend $126.03 on their loved oneValentine’s Day is just around the corner, are you panicking because you’re broke? There’s no need to worry! I’ve compiled some cheap Valentine’s gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

Feeling Flush?
Want to take your loved one to a nice restaurant? Why not make it a lunch instead of dinner? Lunch prices are usually much cheaper, not to mention lunch reservations are much easier to book! Is jewelry more your thing? Try finding some cool vintage jewelry (trendy and reasonable!)

Got a Tight Pouch?
A nice meal together is always special – even if it’s at home. Instead of stressing about reservations and over-priced food, cook a tasty meal in your own kitchen. Don’t forget to cheese it up with a tablecloth, a few candles and a music playlist your partner will enjoy.

Can’t Spend a Dime?
You want to show your significant other how much they mean to you but you just can’t afford to spend any money right now – I get it! This is the time to let your creative juices flow. Get your hands dirty and do a chore your partner hates, leave fun sticky notes around the house, or do it up old-school style and create a playlist of songs that remind you of them.

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Financial Tips for a Fresh Start to the New Year

Did you go overboard for the holidays? If you spent too much on gifts, decorations and entertaining for the season, holiday bills can put a damper on the New Year. Resolve to get out of debt and save more money this year. Speedy Cash has financial tips to help you ring in the New Year with a fresh start!

 

Start a new budget January 1.
If you’re in debt, last years’ budget did not work. Find a different way to manage your money. If you’ve been tracking expenses in your head, try writing them down in a special book or monitoring them on a worksheet software program such as Microsoft Excel or a free alternative, OpenOffice. Find alternate ways to budget.

Plan ahead for the year.
Your expenses and income are probably going to change in the year ahead, but it doesn’t hurt to look forward and plan where you’re going to be spending money. Have an old car? Plan to spend money on it. Is your child interested in sports or music? Put aside money to spend for those activities as well.

Only spend what you NEED.
January sales can be tempting, but resisting discounts will give you more money to pay off bills from the last year. Make January your saving month and live as frugally as you can by eating leftovers, returning gifts you won’t use and staying inside!

These tips are just the beginning to a healthier wallet. Don’t let your debt build up over the next year. Read Speedy Roo’s tips for paying off those extra holiday expenses.

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Roo’s Financial Tips: Pay Off Holiday Expenses

Roo holding cash with a thumb upStockings have been emptied, presents have been unwrapped and the tree is coming down. Yep, that’s right – Christmas is over. Now comes the part that all of us dread; it’s time to pay the bills. But don’t panic! I’ve got some tips for you to pay off all of those holiday expenses.

Know What You Owe
First and foremost, you need to know the total amount you owe for all of those wonderful Christmas gifts. Gather all of your credit card statements and bills, add up the balance – remember to calculate the interest rate for each balance.

Make a Plan
Once you have the total amount that you owe, make yourself a game plan. Depending on your situation, you may choose to: Tackle paying off your credit card debt one at a time, pay more than the minimum payment, cash in your credit card perks, call your credit card company to negotiate your interest rate, transfer balances to one card, or even return gifts that you don’t want.

Stop Using Your Credit Card
Now that you know the damage and you’ve got a game plan, stop using your credit card until the balance is paid. You will thank yourself for this one!

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