Tag Archive for: cheap meals

Healthy Food- Grand Slam Grill

Eat Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

Healthy Food- Grand Slam Grill

We know the struggle is real. You have great intentions of eating healthy, but the convenience and price of fast food reels you in every time. And let’s face it; a greasy hamburger is a lot more satisfying than a kale salad. Positives aside, eating that McDonalds burger and fries isn’t getting you any closer to a healthier you. Price can be a big contributing factor to losing the battle against fast food, as many healthier food options are actually more expensive. To help guide you toward budget friendly, healthier eating, we have compiled a list of money saving tips.

Meal plan

So this is the part where convenience goes out the window (sorry). Eating healthy needs to be looked at as part of your lifestyle, which means you have to be dedicated to preparing your meals instead of racing through a drive-thru window. Planning your meals ahead of time makes budgeting a lot easier as you have more control over what you’re spending per meal. Plan to make foods like stews, casseroles, or stir-fries, which stretch more expensive items like meat into more portions.

Buy in season

Not only are the prices for fruits and vegetables cheaper when bought in season, but also fresher, adding to a better taste. An issue of concern with buying fruits and vegetables for a lot of shoppers is that the items will ruin. If you think that you won’t be using certain fruits or vegetables right away, buy ones that aren’t fully ripened yet. You can also freeze any leftover fruits and use them later for a smoothie.

Cut out the snacks

We don’t mean all snacks, just those unhealthy vending machine snacks that catch your eye between lunch and dinner. Sodas and sugar filled treats not only are extremely unhealthy for you, they also add up in cost. Instead, try making your own healthy snacks. Items like nuts and yogurt are great to hold you over till the next meal and are super cheap when buying in bulk.

Bulk buy

It’s going to hit your bank account hard at first, but in the long run you will spend less on groceries leading to savings. Items like chicken, steak or fish, as well as large bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables will almost always be cheaper to buy in bulk. Even if you don’t think you’ll use them all in a week’s time, you can always freeze these items and use for the next week.

Start a garden

It’s a lot easier than you might think to grow your own food, and the savings are big for this one. If you’re going to eat healthy, fruits and vegetables are a must for your diet, so you can expect to spend money on these items. So let’s break it down. The average cost for a pound of organic tomatoes is $4.00. The cost to buy a potted tomato plant at Home Depot that will produce 8 pounds of tomatoes costs $4.98. Yep, that’s a lot of savings. And don’t think you need a back yard to have a garden. You can find multiple tutorials online on how to create window vegetable gardens for those living in an apartment or condo.

Insurance Policy Benefits

Purchases That Should Be Practical

Practical

Self control. It can be one of the hardest rules to abide by when it comes to your purchasing behavior, but also the key to saving money and being better off financially. At a time when a newer version of a product is introduced on a constant basis, this can definitely be a difficult task to undertake. Marketers are working their magic to make you feel like you need the best of the best and the newest version of everything. But really, you don’t. You don’t have to have the newest version, the best version, or the most enhanced version of anything. Practicality is key, and we have created a list of the top items where the most expensive and best version is not always necessary.

  1. Smart Phone

    Face it. That thin, electric box we all carry around has become the one item that many of us can’t live without. This of course is going to make it harder to resist a flashy new version of what you already have. In a lot of cases, the new version isn’t really all that new. Take the IPhone 7 for example. The difference from the 6 and 7 really came down to a slightly better camera. Being practical in the case of a smart phone is being happy with what you have and resisting the urge to do an expensive upgrade every time a newer version comes out. If your current phone serves its purpose, then the practical thing to do would not be getting a new one. Stay happy with what you have and try to make it to the 2-year mark before upgrading to a newer version.

  2. Vehicle

    There is one question that you need to ask yourself when purchasing a vehicle. What is going to be the purpose of this purchase? Do you run a handyman business and need to haul equipment to jobs? Is it to transport your kids to the many practices and school events they are involved in? Looking at a vehicle as a means of transportation is the practical way to buy one. Getting a brand new, expensive truck with all the bells and whistles yet never intending to actually use it to haul anything is probably not spending your money wisely. Of course, everyone has his or her personal preference when it comes to the size of a vehicle, but a vehicle is a major expense that can put you in a mound of debt. No matter which way you breakdown buying a vehicle, it is simply something to transport you from A to B. So save yourself a lot of money, and buy a vehicle, not a prized toy. It’s the practical thing to do.

  3. Appliances

    Here is a little secret about most appliance brands. The exact same companies that manufacture the expensive brands usually manufacture the “off” brands as well. That means the warranties are usually just as good as well, so there really is nothing to fear with the cheaper options. You may not get the little extra add-ons that come with some of the more expensive fridges, stoves, and dishwashers, but remember the key word for this article – practical. Do you really need a fridge with an LCD screen that shows a slideshow of family pictures? The answer is no.

  4. TV Subscriptions

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, its pretty oblivious that streaming services like Netflix have been all the rage the last couple of years. So much so that a lot of people are ditching cable because of it. But if you really think about it, most of us don’t even watch the majority of the channels with cable or satellite. Instead of paying 100+ a month, switch over to a streaming service like Sling TV. The basic Sling TV package will allow you to stream roughly 20 channels, including ESPN, TBS and TNT, for a flat $20 a month. What’s even better is you get to choose the channels you want.

  5. Groceries

    Let us preface this with saying that there are some brands you are going to be completely loyal to and can’t live without- JIF Peanut Butter for example. But for the majority of the groceries you buy, it’s a lot more practical and easier on your wallet to get the off brand products. Brands like Great Value from Wal-Mart, or Kroger Brand usually have all the same options, while tasting almost the same. And just like appliances, a lot of the “off” brands are actually manufactured by the exact same companies, so you’re not compromising on quality.

Save Money On Your Next Vacation

Tips to Save More While Sacrificing Less

SavingSacrificing

Everyone’s trying it and most fail at it. Why is saving money so hard to do? Along with the day-to-day expenses we all fall slave to, it’s easy to overindulge on things that bring you enjoyment. Although saving money is important to being financially stable, it shouldn’t make life dry and boring. Below we have outlined some ways to still be able to save, while also not having to sacrifice every enjoyable aspect of life.

Plan for The Fun

Making a weekly budget for groceries, gas, and bills is a given when trying to save money, but have you thought about making a budget for the fun stuff? Try budgeting an amount of money each week for extracurricular activities. Going out with friends, having a date night at the movies, or a shopping spree. Giving yourself an amount you are allowed to spend will keep your spending habits contained while also letting yourself partake in some fun.

Balance Your Wants and Needs

Most aspects in life are some form of give and take. When it comes to your finances, there are things you will need to spend money on and things you will want to spend money on. The key is to breakdown those expenses. Make a list of the things that you absolutely need and a list of the items you just want, that you can reasonably affordable. When making your “wants” list, put them in order of importance. Once all of your needs are taken care of put all money left over that was budgeted for those needs into a separate savings towards the item at the top of your wants list.

Save it for the Good Stuff

When making a budget for the “fun stuff” be picky what you spend that money on. Don’t blow it on something that won’t bring you as much happiness as something else. The key is to start planning out your activities for the week. Having a set schedule for fun, will also aid in keeping a set budget for it as well. Obviously, you can be flexible with this schedule, but making more conscience decisions about spending money on things you enjoy the most will help with spending less on those you don’t.

Change Some Habits

Yes, money can buy you a lot of things that can bring you happiness, but fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If the things you enjoy cost an arm and a leg, then switch it out with something else. Exploring all those free options that can bring you enjoyment will tremendously help with putting more money away for your savings. You might even find new hobbies and activities you never realized you would enjoy.

New Way Of Shopping

Apps That Help You Save While You Shop

New Way Of Shopping

Is the age-old tradition of coupon clipping still part of our weekly routine? Put down the scissors and walk away from the weekly store ads cause there is a better way to save. Stop the tedious searching for coupons and promo codes and download apps that find the deals for you. Not only will you save time but you will also find deals you might not have even realize existed. Here are some of the best apps to start using while shopping.

1. Jet

With the goal to build a better shopping experience for their customers, you can save tons by using the Jet app. With their real-time savings engine, the prices drop as you shop. You can get everything from toilet paper to bed sheets on Jet and the more items you add to your cart that have a tag symbol beside them, the lower the price will drop for each item. So buying in bulk for items like toilet paper, toothpaste and granola bars will save you more. The price per item also drops when you opt out for free returns, and pay with a debit card instead of a credit card.

2. Retail Me Not

Score deals at your favorite stores and restaurants with the award-winning app that makes it easy to save with thousands of deals from over 50,000 retailers. The app syncs with your map to notify you of the best deals near you. Whether you’re on vacation in a new city or just driving through your neighborhood, the app will alert you when a deal is near.

3. Shop Advisor

The Shop Advisor app does just what its name suggests, it advises you when the price is just right to purchase. You simply create a list of items you are interested in purchasing and the system watches that item and alerts you when the price drops the lowest online.

4. PriceGrabber

This app scans the prices on all sites that carry a specific item you’re shopping for and gives a full comparison report. The app gives you the bottom-line price, taking into consideration the shipping cost for an item. You can also simply scan a bar code of a product to get a quick, real-time view of where to purchase an item at the cheapest price.

5. Wallaby

If you take advantage of reward programs on credit cards, then you can double your rewards with the Wallaby app. When shopping for items online, the Wallaby system will scan your shopping cart and compare them with your credit card reward programs and tell you which card to use for what items, getting you the highest reward points possible. You can also set up notifications for when you’re getting close to your credit limit or when it’s time to pay a bill.

Security Deposit For Loan

How to Make Sure You Get Back Your Security Deposit

Security Deposit For Cash

If you have ever rented an apartment, condo, or house, chances are you had to give your landlord a security deposit before moving in. For some this can be a substantial amount of money, ranging from a half or a full months rent sometimes. A security deposit is intended to pay for damages that a renter may have left after moving out, so if you’re a well behaved tenant you should have no issues getting that money back. Unfortunately, according to multiple studies, the majority of renters do not receive any of their security deposit back. To ensure you get all or most of your deposit, make sure and follow these simple tips.

Document all existing defects before moving in

Moving into a new place can be exciting, but don’t let that excitement get in the way of noticing any defects with the property. Most apartment complexes give you a form to fill out before move in that outlines any existing damages. Go through the property with a fine tooth-comb and find every defect imaginable. If your landlord doesn’t give you a form to fill out, create your own list to give to them before moving in. This will protect you from being charged a crazy amount for that tiny chipped piece of trim that was already there.

Read your contract and abide by the rules

Make sure you know all the rules set in place by your landlord and follow them. Things like installing new light fixtures, painting rooms, or having multiple pets can sometimes cause you to break the terms of the lease. Read the entire contract and know exactly what you can and cannot do. If your landlord gives you verbal permission to do something that is not outlined in the contract, make sure to get it in writing with their signature.

Keep it clean

Leaving your apartment smelling like old pizza is just asking for the landlord to start his inspection with a negative attitude. Clean that place better than you have ever cleaned it before. A lot of contracts have a mandatory cleaning fee that comes out of your deposit. Even if this is the case, clean it anyways. You do not want to give your landlord any excuse to take more than they should. After cleaning, ask to be present during the inspection and bring the list you created of existing defects before moving in.

Be informed of your rights as a renter

Did you know as a tenant of a rental property, you are awarded certain rights by the government? As a renter, you are protected by unjust practices such as, the actual amount asked for a security deposit, charges for ordinary wear and tear to the property, and not supplying a written list of charges to be taken out of a security deposit. In 47 states it is against the law for a landlord to take any amount of money out of your deposit without an itemized list of the damages and the cost to repair them. To find out about all your rights as a renter visit www.tn.gov/health/article/renters.

Thermostat- Energy Cost

How to Reduce Home Cooling Cost

Programmable Thermostat- Energy Cost

The Summer heat is in full force which means so is your AC system. If it feels like your vents are literally sucking money out of your pockets, then it’s time to make a few changes to save on your energy bill. Below you will find five easy ways to reduce your cooling expense so you can stay cool the rest of the Summer and not spend an arm and leg.

1. Use It Where It Counts

If you have a guest room or bonus room that is never used, don’t waste energy cooling it. Most thermostats are in the living room and the AC is regulated based on the temperature in that room. If you close the vents in unused rooms more cold air will blow into rooms with vents opened, causing the temperature to regulate faster and use less energy.

2. Use It When It Counts

If no one is home, then don’t waste energy keeping the temperature at a comfortable degree. It is recommended you set your AC  5 degrees higher when you leave and immediately set it back to the desired degree once you are home. So, if you like your home set at 72 degrees, set it at 77 degrees when you leave each day.

3. Shut Your Doors

Just like closing vents in unused rooms, make sure to always keep all interior doors closed. This will cut down the amount of square footage the AC is heating and cause your house to cool down quicker. Your system will turn on less, which will have a positive effect on your energy bill.

4. Change Out Your Filter

A dirty air-return filter can significantly increase the cost to keep your home cool this summer. Dirt and grime in the filter restricts airflow causing your AC unit to work extra hard to cool your space, which drives up your electric bill. Make sure to check all air filters and replace them regularly to ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible.

5. Run Ceiling Fans Forward

If you didn’t already know, you can set your ceiling fans to either spin clockwise or counter clockwise. When set clockwise, or reverse, the fan pulls air up and redistributes it, which is recommended for winter, since heat rises. When your fan is set to run counter clockwise, or forward, it pushes air down creating a cooling effect. This is recommended for summer. It’s a good idea to always adjust the direction of your fan based on the season to use it the most efficiently.

Summer Vacation

Great Vacations for Cheap

Summer Vacation

Need to get away but your financial situation won’t allow it? For a lot of families, a vacation can really set them back financially. You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to a great vacation, so we put together a list of the best vacation packages and deals going on right now. Check out our list below!

Island Drive Lodge – Pigeon Forge, TN

Relax in the beautiful Tennessee mountains at a resort located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. There is tons to do locally with attractions like Dollywood , the Titanic Museum  and all the shops and restaurants of The Island entertainment complex being a stone’s throw away. Right now, you can book a room as low as $42 a night!

Click here to get this deal

4 Night Western Caribbean Cruise

Get aboard the Carnival Victory Ship and enjoy a 4 night vacation with destinations to Key west, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico. This deal starts as low as $179 per person.

Click here to get this deal

Maui Sands Resort Waterpark – Sandusky, OH

With an amazing indoor water park, you and the kids can zoom down slides, float on a lazy river, and play in a treehouse with a dumping bucket. Rooms at this resort are spacious so you don’t have to worry about feeling cramped when it’s time to relax. Originally listed at $159 a night , right now you can book a room as low as $119 a night.

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Ocean Dunes Resort & Villas – Myrtle Beach, SC

Recently renovated, this resort offers a pool deck with beach access as well as a pass to the resort waterpark. Originally listed at $99 a night you can book now as low as $68 a night.

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Atlantic Palace Suites – Atlantic City, NJ

Sitting right along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, guests have access to casinos, restaurants, and the sandy beaches right across the board walk. Right now you can book a room at $99 a night.

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Newport Beachside Resort – Sunny Isles Beach, FL

restaurants, and the sandy beaches right across the board walk. Book a room now as low as $76 a night!

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Bay Palms Waterfront Resort – Saint Pete Beach, FL

Dolphins are almost a daily occurrence at this resort’s private ocean deck. With an amazing view and tons of restaurants and activities around you, this is bound to be a vacation spot to remember.

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Landmark Resort Hotel – Myrtle Beach, SC

Take a dip in the newly renovated indoor pool complex or walk out to the beach and stick your toes in the sand. This resort hotel is a steal starting as low as $41 a night.

Click here to get this deal

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

How to Save Money at the Farmers Market

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

So there is a myth about shopping at farmers markets that we would like to bust. Produce at your local farmers market has gained the title of “expensive “when compared to produce at a chain grocery store, and we definitely do not think this is always the case. Along with being good for the local economy, organic, fresher, and better tasting, local produce can also beat out the price of grocery store produce. You just have to know how to shop. To guide you on your next adventure to the local farmers market, here are some tips to follow to save some money.

Go for less than perfect

Let’s get real. Do your apples really need to be the exact shade of red and shaped to perfection? Well for a lot of people, yes they do, but you’re a savvy shopper and your spending habits aren’t affected by fruit vanity. Because the not so pretty items don’t sell as well, a lot of times they are actually discounted in price. And even if the seller isn’t advertising the items are discounted, just ask. Give a concerned look at that deformed peach and simple say, “Is this one full price?”

Don’t make a list

Yes, in most cases making a list when grocery shopping is a must if you’re trying to save, and especially if you’re on a tight budget until the next payday. If you make a list when going to the farmers market, however, then you might not be as cognizant of the lesser expensive items. Instead of going in with a list of specific items, try showing up open minded without any ideas of what fruits and vegetables you need. Plan out meals based on cheaper produce once you are there and can see your options.

Timing is everything

So it’s pouring the rain outside. Pull up your rain boots, grab an umbrella, and head out to the market to score some deals. Supply and demand drive prices in the sense that if there are less people in attendance, then there is less likely of a chance that farmers will be able to sell all items easily. Going to a market when the crowds are low will give you more options with more say so on prices. Going 30 minutes before the market closes is also a good time to get leftovers that vendors will be trying to get rid of by selling cheaper.

Buy in season

A bowl of cherries in the dead of winter may be exactly what you want, but when it comes to budget friendly eating, it’s probably not the best idea. The beauty of a farmers market is that cherries will not even be an option in the middle of January.   Shopping locally will in-fact force you to buy what is in season, and those fruits and vegetables dramatically decrease in price.

Negotiate

It’s a market, not a grocery store. Don’t hesitate to do a little haggling. Remember that produce has an expiration date and these farmers want to get rid of their crops. Try to build a relationship with the regular farmers and show you’re a loyal customer. Chances are they just might cut you a deal on items if you get in good enough.

Food Truck- Burger

Best Mom and Pop Businesses in TN

CoverMOMANDPOP

As a family owned and operated company, we at Advance Financial understand the importance of supporting and giving back to communities you live and work in. There are tons of great places to support local businesses here in the state of TN and we have created a list of some of our favorites. Building a strong community starts with supporting local businesses, so get out and buy local.

Cootie Browns- Johnson City

Just might be the best sandwich place in JC and the cool and colorful atmosphere of the restaurant is definitely something to experience.

Cootie_Yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Mize Farm and Garden Supply – Johnson City

Family owned and operated, the employees here ensure that your shopping experience will be great with their knowledge of agriculture/gardening.

MIz_dexnows

Image Credit – DexKnows

OverMountain Outdoors – Johnson City

This place is owned locally and stocked full of all the necessities for spending time in the great outdoors.

OverMnt

Image Credit –Johsoncitypress

Bea’s Restaurant – Chattanooga

Great all-you-can-eat style southern restaurant with some of the best fried chicken around.

Beas_yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Moon Pie General Store – Chattanooga

You’ll definitely be able to find just about every flavor of Moon Pies that exists at this place, as well as old timey candy and other great souvenirs.

MoonPie_yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

All Things Groovy – Chattanooga

All Things Groovy is your go to place for anything that’s psychedelic and tie-dye. For some hippy vibes and great local souvenirs make sure and stop by.

groovy-Yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Elliston Place Soda Shop – Nashville

Serving up homespun milkshakes and homemade pies for 75 years, this is the local restaurant you’ve got to try at least once.

Elliston_yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Batch Nashville-Nashville

You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to shop local with Batch. They provide gift boxes with goodies that are all made locally.

Batch_yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Project 615 – Nashville

If you looking for the coolest Nashville t-shirt around, then you need to stop by Project 615. They also carry all sorts of Nashville inspired décor and souvenirs

615yelp

Image Credit – Yelp

Mast General Store- Knoxville

Decked out with an old timey vibe, this is the place to get everything from Appalachian toys to glass bottle coke and ice cream.

 mast

 Image Credit – Yelp

Nick & J’s Café – Knoxville

Named after the owner’s children, Nicholas & Jordan, this place has become a staple restaurant for the Nashville area.

NIckandJ

Image Credit – Yelp

Three Rivers Market- Knoxville

This is a great local grocery store that does tons to give back to the community while also supporting local farmers.

3rivers_ylep 

Image Credit – Yelp

Promo Cartoon

How to Save Money On Prom Expenses

Promo Cartoon

It’s prom season, and if you are a parent with a child who will be attending, you’re about to feel the financial sting that comes with this annual high school event. Between the outfits, tickets, and dinner, the cost for this one night can be significantly high. Frugality is the answer to making sure you don’t completely break the bank, and we have complied a list of the best ways to save money on expenses associated with prom night.

Dress2

It’s number one on this list because lets face it, it’s the most important. To make sure that she gets the perfect dress without paying a ton of money, there are a couple of things you can do. There are multiple second hand dress sites like thedresslist.com where you can get a dress for up to 70% off the original price and most of the time these dresses have only been worn once. Another route to go is renting a dress. Renttherunway.com is a great online site to rent multiple designer dresses cheap. They will actually send you two sizes to make sure the fit is perfect.

tux2

When it comes to a tuxedo, it’s really not necessary and can be a major waste of money to rent. Some tux places charge up to $250 just for one night. The simpler and cheaper option is to buy a suit. Companies like H&M, Target, and JcPenny offer affordable black suits as cheap as $100. And if he has to have a tux, there are also deals at Men’s Wearhouse where you can purchase a regular tux as low as $99.

accessories2

Thrift stores are where it’s at when it comes to jewelry. Not only will you be able to find some unique vintage pieces, but you will also pay a fraction of the cost that boutiques charge. Just like buying a used dress, you can also get used formal shoes online as well from sites like Tradsey.com.

flowers2

The average price paid for a corsage is $35-$40, with a boutonniere being $15-$20. Both are extremely overpriced and the cost of supplies to make your own is substantially lower. Not only can you save big time with a DIY corsage and boutonniere, but you can also make it custom and unique. There are multiple DIY articles out there to help with this project, but one of our favorites is from Seventeen Magazine’s online blog. Click here to find out how to make your own unique and affordable corsage or boutonniere.

Dinner2

Part of the prom tradition is the dinner before the dance. A good way to save money for the dinner is to call local restaurants and ask if they have any prom deals or specials. Just like Valentines Day, a lot of places will have dinner deals for those attending prom. Another affordable option is to cook the meal yourself for your kid. You can find a romantic destination, and set the mood with candles and rose peddles.

afterparty2

The after party fun is what most high school kids look forward to the most. A lot of times bowling, roller skating or going to a house party is on the list of activities. To keep your kids safe, while also cutting down on cost, try organizing a party or renting out a place and splitting the cost with other parents. If you get a good size group to pitch in, the cost could be as low as $20.e offer products similar to a Payday loans, loans, flex loans, title loans, and installment loans, at  Advance Financial. If you need cash fast we got you covered. We offer flexibility with our Flex Loan.