How To Save on Little League

Little League Savings

It’s Springtime, and it’s finally starting to feel like it!  Spring brings warm days, rain, flowers, and, of course, baseball season.

Anyone that’s ever had a kid in little league can tell you that not only is it a time commitment, but the upfront costs can be quite the commitment, as well.  You need uniforms, mits, gloves, bats, and balls.  Beyond gear you have to get everyone to their practices and games, which can add a little more spending to the “gas” line item on your budget.  There are snacks to provide, and victory dinners to buy.

But you can’t put a price on all of the life skills sports teach your children.  Baseball teaches little ones how to work hard, how to handle defeat, how to handle victory graciously, and how to work with a team.  We have some savings tips for you so you can focus on all the positives this little league season will bring instead of the hurting it will put on your pocketbook.

Saving on Baseball Gear

Gear is probably the biggest expense you’ll incur this season, unless your child has played before, and their old stuff still fits.  When you’re shopping for baseball gear, coupons will be your best friend.  In addition to promo codes, sometimes big chains will partner with local teams to bring you even more coupons.  Check out places like Dick’s and Sports Authority to see if your local store has any great promotions specific to your league.  They may even be stackable.

Saving on Gasoline

Think about all those minivans that show up to each and every practice.  I’m willing to bet that more than 50% of them are not filled to capacity, and that if they don’t come from the same neighborhoods, they come from the same general area.  Talk to some of the other moms and see if you can set up a carpool.  You’ll want to be at those practices and games, though, so make sure to reserve a seat for yourself, too!

Saving on Snacks, Dinners, and Other Obligations

Some teams will have parents rotate who brings snacks to games.  When you’re buying for a large group of kids, it only makes sense to buy in bulk.  Buying in bulk for one game is going to leave you with too much food, though, so see if you can team up with some of the other moms to buy all of your snacks at once, splitting the costs equally.  You’ll probably have many eager to sign up; everyone likes saving money.

Sometimes teams will go out after a big victory to have a group dinner together.  These things can be spur of the moment, and that’s part of what makes them so fun.  If you don’t have them budgeted for, however, those spur of the moment dinners for your entire family can really mess up your budget.  Make sure you have an app on your phone ready-to-go to bring you savings at the restaurant.  Or, if there’s a particular establishment your team likes to frequent, search the Sunday paper or their website for more savings on your next trip.

 

How to Buy a Car

Spring is the time of year to make a big purchase. Nobody is buying houses or cars in the winter, unless dictated by necessity. If you’re lucky, the weather is warmer where you are, and you’re having visions of driving down the highway with the top down and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to actually do that by May. But before you venture out on your car buying journey, heed this important advice (modified from USAA).

When to Shop?

Of course, the easiest time to shop is on weekends for most people–but that’s just it. It’s the best time for MOST PEOPLE! Dealerships are swamped on the weekends and this has some consequences for you. First, you don’t get the attention you deserve and the last thing you want to feel when making a big purchase is rushed. On a slower day, when there’s not a customer waiting in the wings, you are more likely to get a better deal, especially if hours of attention are spent on you–the salesperson does not want to spend time for naught. If you’re able, take a day off from work in the beginning of the week and take advantage of a slow day.

Always shop at the end of a month or quarter (March, June, October, December). Dealers and salespeople have monthly and/or quarterly goals they have to meet in order to qualify for bonuses. Of course, there is always the case that the salesperson has already met their goals. Sometimes, mid-month is the best time to buy for this reason. Feel them out and bide your time.

Shopping on holidays during “sales” is not worth it. Most dealerships will tell you that they offer the same prices throughout the year, or at least you can get that price. Advertised sales is nothing more than clever and flashy marketing.

When to Make an Offer?

Visit your first choice dealership in the morning and leave. You want to browse early in the day, while salespeople are fresh. Explain that you have more dealerships to visit. Come back late in the day and make your offer then. Salespeople are not going to want to spend hours in negotiations. Helping the bottom line for the day is always good and you might be more apt to get a better deal from an anxious manager.

Get the Best Deal

Manufacturers roll out new models in August and September, which means they will need to make room for new inventory. The selection of your older models will be fewer, but if you should be able to score a better deal. If the car is essentially unchanged from last year, even better.

Winter tends to be slow to begin with and if you’ve waited that long, you’ve also waited until the dealership is trying to make year end quotas. Fees and taxes could be reduced on existing inventory, and new models may be in great supply, which makes their pricing flexible. The worst time to buy a new model is in the fall.

However, the fall is the best time to buy utility vehicle, wagon or coupes, when summer vacations have gone by. Convertibles are a best buy in the winter, for obvious reasons. Consumers really want to show off their shiny new drop tops in the summer, and they’re a pain for dealers to have on the lot in the winter.

 

Making Money from a Website for Small Businesses

Small Business Website Creation

 

Have a small business?  Or have you been dreaming of starting one?  Regardless of where you are in your journey, the 21st century demands that you have a website.  You may be surprised at how easy it’s become to get your business online, and how affordable it can be.

 

Starting Your Business

Do you make really awesome crafts or prints that you’d like to sell, but don’t know how?  Etsy may be right up your alley.  Opening up a shop on Etsy is super easy.  It’s free to set up, and then you pay $0.20 per listing.  Once your item sells, Etsy takes a 3.5% cut of the sale price.  But for the convenience and potential market you can reach, that’s a small price to pay.

Maybe you’re a thrift store goddess and want to resell a bunch of stellar finds.  While Craigslist is great for local sales, setting up a business on eBay can help you reach buyers at a scale larger than regional.  When setting up your store, eBay’s interface is extremely user friendly, holding your hand through each step of the process.  A basic store costs $19.95/month to run, or $15.95 if you get a year’s subscription.  There are a couple other nominal fees, but if you’re good at finding and marketing great items at a great price, there’s little holding you back from turning a profit.

If you want to make or sell products that don’t fit into either of those niches, Yahoo Small Business can help you set up a store that fits your individual needs.  You can set up a basic store for $26/month plus a 1.5% transaction fee, all without the hassle of setting up a website one your own.

 

Getting Your Established Business Online

If what you’re selling is a service, you may not need a store, per se.  But websites are an almost necessary way to advertise your business, and more customers will come back to you if they can visit you online.

The first step in getting your business into the twenty-first century is registering a domain name and getting hosting.  You don’t have to do both at the same place, but many providers, like GoDaddy, do offer both services.  If you look at promo codes and special offers, you can score the first year for as low as $30.  Much like cable packages, subsequent years will never be as cheap as those initial sign-up offers.  But they can still be made affordable by keeping an eye out for deals.

After you have your domain name and hosting, you’ll need to set up and design your website.  This can seem like a daunting task, but there are many website builders out there today, such as Weebly, that make it as simple as click and drag.  WordPress is a great website creation tool if you’re going to have a content heavy website or a blog section to connect with customers on a regular basis.

If the thought of setting up your own website is too daunting for you, there is an entire workforce out there dedicated to doing it for you.  While their fees may initially feel like a big investment, hiring a freelancer to design and set up your website for you can save you time, research, and frustration.  If computers aren’t your forte, hiring someone else to produce a professional-looking product may be worth the added cost.

 

Spruce Up Your Home for Spring

It’s Springtime! Dark decor and heavy curtains can really put a damper on your springtime happiness. Here are a few ideas to spruce up your decor without breaking the bank.

Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. Before your flowers bloom and before we are free from the dangers of frost, start with a wreath for your door. Brightly colored flowers will help you adjust your mood before walking through your front door. Better yet, make your own. Stores like Michaels have blanks wreaths and lots of ideas and accessories.

Grocery store flower bunches can be bought for $5 at Stop & Shop! Small bunches of roses and tulips, or any greenery give life and freshness to any space. Save money by getting tiny vases and putting a single flower in each. Line them up or spread them about your home. Keeping flowers on your kitchen island will also remind you to keep it uncluttered, because nothing ruins the effect of fresh flowers like mails, keyfobs, empty dishes and other random objects that adorn your counter. It’s also a great time to shop for indoor plants, if you’re not ready to garden outside. You’ll have them for winter and any greenery in the home is improvement to your health. Faux flowers and grass work, too! You won’t get increased amounts of oxygen, but bright colors are always a good idea.

Open the curtains. Get curtain ties–they don’t even to match. Pattern mixing is very trendy right now. Another way to do this is to buy a wide ribbon (burlap is a great choice to help bring the outside in!). Pin them to your wall if you can stomach the holes.

Change your throw pillows. This is so easy, especially when Walmart or Target has such inexpensive options. Brighten up with colorful or patterned pillows. Do the same with throw blankets! Put away the heavy ones and opt for lightweight fabrics in neutral colors (like white and creme).

Change your photos. Make sure your frames are filled with fun, colorful photos. Landscape photos are a great idea, if just for the time being. Think of last year’s vacation pictures to remind you what fun in the sun feels like!

Make a bowl of fruit, like all oranges, or all lemons as a centerpiece. It’s bright and functional.

Spring cocktails are your friend. Ditch the red wine and create a signature spring cocktail. For ingredients, think cucumbers, orange slices, fruit juices and pink lemonade! Check out Martha Stewart’s awesome ideas!