Save and Make Money with . . . Bamboo?

Bamboo trees

With so many ways to save money, using bamboo might not be the first thing you think of. Yet, it is such an amazing resource that provides so many benefits. Not only is it one of the sturdiest materials in the world, it can go very far when it comes to saving you some money. Everything from making your own backyard bamboo farm to using it to cut down on utilities, bamboo is a product that is both multi-faceted and versatile. Read below to find new ways that bamboo can help you make and save money.

Start a Bamboo Farm

One way to make supplemental income is to start a bamboo farm. You can start a small bamboo business for only $800. Bamboo is one of the most commonly utilized plants on the planet. Over half of the world’s population use bamboo in one way or another. Bamboo is also the fastest growing plant, with the record for one plant growing 47.6 inches in one day. You can buy different types of bamboo to sell to different customers. It has thousands of uses. You should grow what sells. It is possible to make $72,000 with a quarter an acre of space.

Use Bamboo Products

One of the best ways to save money is to use bamboo products. There are plenty of products made with bamboo that will save you in specific ways. The company Seek Bamboo is a zero waste store that has products like bamboo toothbrushes that can help you save money over time. The company also manufactures non-bamboo products that will help you save money and time. For example their wool dryer balls provide a way to shorten the time it takes for you to dry your clothes, offering a natural way to soften them and get rid of static.

Another product is bamboo cutlery, which is a great alternative to plastic. Not only is bamboo biodegradable, it will last longer than single-use plastic cutlery. It is also affordable, durable, as well as stain and odor resistant. Furthermore bamboo paper products last much longer than, for example, your average paper towels. Bamboo paper products can be washed and used over and over again. This will cut down on your paper product expenses around the house.

With so many products like bamboo straws, toothbrushes, soap, and even bamboo bedding options, there is no reason to waste your money on cheap, tenuous products. Instead invest in reusable bamboo that will last a lot longer than the others.

Eat Bamboo

Bamboo is also a healthy ingredient used in cooking. It isn’t just cheap, it is hearty and good for you. While it is widely consumed across Asia, few people in the West eat bamboo. Bamboo is filling and delicious when prepared correctly. You can put it in a stir fry or, if you are really ambitious, make bamboo noodles and other products. Bamboo doesn’t typically go bad and can be stored for a very long time. It may sound wacky to suggest eating bamboo as a way to save money, but the benefits are endless. It is non-perishable, healthy, cheap, and delicious.

Bamboo & Society

Bamboo doesn’t just help individuals save money, it can be used on a much wider scale to facilitate civilization. It is a renewable resource that can be harvested in one to five years while other trees like oak take around forty years. Bamboo will help combat deforestation. It doesn’t just absorb greenhouse gases, it releases 35 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere than hardwood trees.

As mentioned above, they have an incredible growth rate. No other plant grows as fast, some species can even grow more than three feet in a day. You can also use every part of the bamboo plant in some way, making waste very low. It is as versatile as it gets. It requires no pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Bamboo protects the soil and can provide all kinds of economic development.

Bamboo is a miracle plant of sorts. It is useful and eco-friendly, growing in a wide variety of environments. You might think that bamboo is a weird way to save money, make money, and forge new opportunities to live in a more sustainable and cleaner world. But in fact it is very fitting. 

Tips for Saving Money by Troubleshooting Appliance Repair

Appliances in need of repair

From subscription services for coffee and tea, meats, and even movies, people are constantly trying to save money on the things they use and love. However, when it comes to household appliances such as the fridge, dishwasher, stove, or washer and dryer, instead of trying to troubleshoot what’s wrong with their appliances, they either call in the professionals or simply replace them instead. 

In reality, you’ll save a lot more money by downloading appliance troubleshooting guides, such as DIY refrigerator repair manuals, than you will by replacing the appliance instead. In this blog, you’ll find some of the ways you can save money by troubleshooting and DIY repairing instead of calling a repair service or replacing the appliance. 

Repairs Cost Less/Add Years of Use

Think about it, spending a little bit of money on parts and tools for an appliance beats spending hundreds for a repairman or thousands to replace the appliance. Not only does the troubleshooting guide work you through what could be wrong with your appliance, once you fix it, it’ll add years to the life of the appliance as well. What’s not to love about that? Less money and extended years of use make it a win-win for sure. 

Older Is Usually Better Made

While newer is sometimes considered to be better, in reality, older appliances are just made better and are much sturdier. While older appliances aren’t as energy-efficient, they do have better parts than newer appliances do. The appliances of yesterday were made with quality metal parts, today’s appliances are apt to be made cheaper with a lot of plastic that breaks easily involved. If possible, it’s better to repair than replace, even with the energy-efficient models on the market, if you want the appliances to last you for years to come. 

Newer Appliances Use Complicated Computer Technology

While everyone has to eventually be dragged into this highly tech-driven world, you can prevent that with your appliances by repairing them yourself instead of calling someone or replacing them. Technology tends to break easily and you’re stuck with an appliance that you don’t know how to repair, so why not stick with what you know as long as you can and save money at the same time? Modern kitchen appliances have their place in the world, but not while your old ones are still useful. 

Motherboards Are at Risk

Many consumers don’t realize that today’s high-tech operated appliances are at risk just because they are tech motivated. A power surge or a storm can easily fry your new appliances even if they aren’t being used, just because of the motherboards that operate them. This will end up costing you more money than it would have to download an appliance repair manual and fix your old appliance DIY style. This isn’t to say that an appliance can always be fixed, but you should do what you can to fix the one you have until you can’t. 

Helps to Protect the Environment

Finally, though it won’t save you much money, repairing your appliances means that you’re doing your part to save the environment. So many old appliances end up in landfills, which pollute the earth to no end. While eventually you will have to replace every appliance, no matter how good you are at your DIY repairs, you can put this off by downloading troubleshooting manuals and at least giving it a try. 

These are just a few of the ways that you can save money by downloading troubleshooting manuals to repair your own appliances instead of replacing them, or calling in outside help. While they will eventually have to be replaced, it won’t be today.  

How to Pay Off Your Debt with a Zero-Sum Budget

Credit cards, student loans, car payments, mortgage — the average American now owes $137,063, including mortgage debt. Younger people are more likely to carry higher credit card and student loan balances, but even though you’re more likely to owe much more on your mortgage as you grow older, retired Americans still carry an average of $2,500 on credit cards.

What financial goals could you achieve if you didn’t have to pay on credit cards, student loans, and car payments every month? You could pay off your mortgage earlier, put more away for retirement, or save more for a house downpayment. Even if it’s not your goal to become completely debt-free, paying off high-interest credit card debt and difficult-to-discharge student loans can only improve your finances. Zero-sum budgeting — a budgeting method by which every dollar you make is accounted for in some way — can help you get there.

Zero-Sum Budgeting Explained

The goal of zero-sum budgeting is to use every single dollar you make, either by spending it, saving it, investing it, or using it to repay debt. You can use a spreadsheet or a pen and paper to add up your income and expenses, then allocate each dollar to a purpose. At the end of each month, your budget should balance out to zero. At the very least, you should have a small amount of cash left over at the end of the month, but you should never overspend and go into the red.

Applying the Zero-Sum Method to Your Finances

Zero-sum budgeting is a fairly straightforward method to put into practice. Use your previous month’s income and expenses to get a realistic picture of how much you’re making and how much you spend. If you’re completely new to budgeting and haven’t been using any budgeting software to track your expenses and spending so far, you’ll need to carefully go over your previous month’s bank statements and credit card statements. Figure out how much you took home last month after taxes (remembering to add back in any amounts deducted from your paycheck for retirement, health insurance, and other benefits).

Next, add up all your spending for the month and divide it into categories: housing, utilities, groceries and eating out, insurance, car payments, phone bills, and so forth. Remember to include minimum payments on credit cards, student loans, mortgage debt, and car payments, even though you may pay more than the minimum on those debts in months to come. For the first month, at least, leave yourself wiggle room — add another 15 percent to the amount to cover expenses you may have forgotten.

Once you’ve brainstormed all your essential expenses — things you can’t live without, including clothes, gas, personal care items, and grooming — don’t forget to leave yourself from room for fun. While you might well be able to cut back on frivolous spending like eating out, going out drinking or to other entertainment, and miscellaneous shopping for nonessentials, you still need to give yourself some money to enjoy the things you enjoy. Otherwise, you’ll start to feel deprived and struggle to maintain your budget and reach your financial goals.

As you go over your spending for the previous month and put it into categories, you’ll begin to see areas where you can cut back. Maybe you have more streaming subscriptions than you need, or you’re still making monthly Patreon donations to that podcast you lost interest in months ago. Maybe you’re spending hundreds a month on restaurant meals or buying stuff you don’t need. By taking a look at your spending and setting some achievable goals, you can free up lots of money for debt repayment, and you can start an emergency fund that can keep you out of debt in the future.

Pay Yourself — and Your Creditors — First

It’s all-too-easy to sabotage a zero-sum budget by deciding to “wait and see” how the month pans out and pay “what you have left” towards debt. If you do that, you’re already setting yourself up to fail. Instead, commit to the budget and use the pay yourself first method to save and pay off debt.

Figure out how much you have to pay toward debt and pay it right away from each paycheck. Set up an automatic transfer to send funds to your emergency fund in your savings account. Then you don’t have to run the risk of spending it when you go over budget in one of your other categories.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck and racking up credit card debt, despite having a healthy income? A zero-sum budget can help you find the extra funds to knock out debt, fast, so you can focus on achieving your financial goals.

Three FAQs About Financial Assistance

When people imagine dealing with banks, they picture a messy business. It revolves around endless paperwork and causes headaches all around. It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’re considering taking out a loan, whether a short-term or a long-term one, you must have plenty of questions regarding every step of the way. In that case, doing extensive research will save you a lot of legwork.

What you’re reading now is far from a full guide, though. Exploring our favorite banking blogs, we noticed some questions showing up over and over again.

Here are the answers.

What Are Alternatives to Bank Loans?

If you’re considering taking out a personal loan, it would be smart to take a look at other options besides your bank. After all, you should stay completely loyal only if they provide the best conditions. So, what are other possibilities?

  • Online Loans are the best options for those situations when you need money quickly. Plus, you’re likely to find better interest rates. Online lenders don’t have overheads to pay, and they are dealing with competition – which delights the borrower.
  • Credit Unions are organizations which consider the full picture of your finances. Thus, if you have bad credit scores, they are more likely to approve your loan than a bank.
  • Home Equity Loans come at a lower cost, which is their most significant benefit. However, be sure you will be able to repay this one, or you’re risking losing your home.

What Are Prepayment Penalties?

Sometimes, you get a windfall or a raise, and you’re able to repay the loan to your bank before it’s due. To your surprise, then you have to pay an additional amount of money in the form of a prepayment penalty.

To prevent this from happening, you should check the contract you signed with your bank. Look for a section on prepayments. It determines a set of circumstances resulting in a penalty if you pay off your loan prematurely.

When Can I Get Title Loans?

Title loans are of great help when you find yourself strapped for resources. All you need is personal information and a vehicle with a title. You give your car as collateral and get money in return.

But can I get a title loan while still making payments, you ask? The short answer is yes. Nevertheless, not every lender is willing to bear such a risk, so you will need to look for the right one a bit longer.

Once you’ve found a lender not refusing to make a deal with you, it all comes down to the assessment they make. In essence, they will grant you a loan if they estimate you’re capable of repaying it – even if you’re still paying off your vehicle.

If you’re considering giving it a shot, remember this; your chances will be that much higher if your car was financed through a bank when you first purchased it. Nowadays, the same goes for car dealerships.

Final Thoughts

These are just bits of knowledge representing the tip of the iceberg called loan making activities. Yet, every piece of information you can get your hands on is crucial. It could save you from potential expenses and guide you towards a more profitable deal. We hope you’ve learned something useful today.

New Years and Money

The beginning of the year can be tough for some families. The holidays usually lead to excessive spending so you often feel the monetary effects after the holidays pass. A brand new year also means preparations for tax time as well. Depending on your lifestyle and business choices, you may owe money for taxes. The New Year also means New Years Resolutions for most families causing for some changes in family spending. For all of these reasons, New Years is often a popular time to think about your spending and savings and ways to improve your family’s financial situation. Below are a few tips to aid in your family’s quest to a money makeover.

Lower Bills

The first and most obvious source of a budget killer are utilities and monthly bills. So a key to saving money is to evaluate what you are spending your money on and if you can lower it. Lower your costs and you will have more money available to save. Keep a list of all of your monthly bills and utilities to see if there is anyway to eliminate any. Do you belong to gym but never use it? Cancel the membership! Do you have multiple cable boxes in the house? Do you use them all? Can any of them be eliminated to save money on your cable bill? You can also call your cable, cell phone, car insurance, etc. to see if you are getting the best deal. It’s possible that just by calling you may be able to save some major cash. It’s better to be saving money than uselessly spending it.

Coupons

An easy way to save money and an easy way to be frugal is by using coupons. Coupons can be used basically everywhere. You can use coupons on groceries, clothing, gas, travel, etc. There are so many places to find coupons. One way they come is through the mail. People often find advertisements, flyers and coupons from their favorite stores in the mail. Most stores ask you to provide your email so that they can send you coupons via email as well. Another popular source now a days are discount sites. Popular sites available are Groupon, Couponcabin.com or Retailmenot.com . Just by going to the site you can find any coupons available for a particular store or service. Depending on how serious you are with using coupons, you can save some major cash.

Stash Away Money

Your everyday spending is something to be evaluated as well. Spending money on little things can add up to major cash per month. The biggest culprit is coffee. If you get your coffee out than it could add up to $50-$100 a month. That could be your water bill, or even go towards your child’s education. It is best to try to put off on purchasing these novelties on a normal basis. If you can’t, then a trick that is good for saving is to stash away money  each time you go and spend money on these type of purchases. You spend $2.47 on coffee in the morning? Put the 0.53 in a savings account. Over time it will accumulate to substantial cash.

Loan

If you dug yourself a hole and are having a hard time getting yourself out, than a loan may be something to consider to pay off your debt. There are many sources of funding, like norskkreditt.no, that can help you research what is best for you and your family.

These quick tips are just a way to get you started on your way to saving. Obviously there are extremes for each of these but even doing a little bit at a time will help and eventually add up to something. It is important to be disciplined, than you will be able to save for you and your family. Let the new year be a new start for your family when it comes to saving and spending.

Paying Online: How Much Does it Cost You?

Taking your wallet out of your pocket and handing over the cash to the merchant is by far the cheapest way to pay today – and it has been ever since the invention of money. Today, we have many other – more convenient – forms of payment at hand that allows us to walk around with no cash at hand, pay for stuff over the internet or even order the next revolutionary thing from a TV shop. But all these cost us money – and, depending on the form of payment chosen, this cost can add up to a nice sum at the end of the year. Today, let us take a look at what payment solutions are the most common and how much they cost the payer – you.

E-Wallet services

E-Wallets have seen a rise in the last decade, becoming a widespread payment method online. No wonder – they are an instant and quite convenient way to send and receive money to and from people all over the world. One of the many reasons for their spread was the emergence of online casinos, services that were made possible by the introduction of secure online payment services.

Depending on the service you use, there might be no charge for you sending money to someone else (or a business) or there might be a small fee deducted on your side. Besides, there may be currency exchange fees applied to your payment, too. Make sure to check them before committing to one or another. Yet there is no maintenance fee applied to your account ever, which makes this method perhaps the cheapest way to pay online.

Credit / debit card payments online

Another method that won’t cost you a thing – in short term. By using any payment gateway online, you will be able to pay for the products and services you order online with no further costs to you. The costs of handling such payments fall on the payee, the merchant or service provider accepting your payment. Well, most of the times.

When using a debit card, which only allows you to pay as much money you have in your account, this is where it all stops – aside from the monthly fee you pay for the card and the bank account it is attached to (usually not a very large amount). When it comes to credit cards, though, going into credit can be pretty costly – that if you don’t top up your card quickly. In that case, you may have to take out quick loans to get you through. Usually, you have a varied amount of time at hand – anywhere from two weeks to two months – to return the cash you borrowed without paying any fees. But after that, you’ll likely have to pay interest and various other fees on the amount, which makes this method a relatively expensive way to pay online.

Fast money transfer methods

Western Union, Moneygram, and their likes – these money transfer services have the massive advantage of being fast, but at a cost. They do provide a service that allows you to put cash into the funnel on one side of the world and have it end up in the hands of another person half a world away, but they do have fees that can be prohibitive in some cases.

These services represent the fastest way to get money from your hand to another – literally. But with great speed come great costs, too, so only use such a method to pay for your internet purchases if you have no other option.

Budgeting Advice: Ways to Keep your Finances in Check

There’s the old saying that ‘money makes the world go around’, but in reality, it should be ‘money makes your world go around’ as ultimately this resource is what makes our existence more enjoyable. For many of us it’s also something that can be quite scarce or not as plentiful as we’d like and as such it means we need to manage our money as best we can.

Trying to fit this around your day-to-day schedule can be a challenge though, but fortunately for you there are some simple steps you can take to get your finances in order. What follows are a number of approaches for you to consider:

Review your Expenditure

The first thing you can do is review your expenditure and create a chart or list of everything you need to pay for each month. Use estimations on things like utilities and your food bills and see how much this costs against your typical income on a monthly basis.

Implement Cost-Cutting Strategies

With this list of expenses, you can then look at areas where you could cut costs and make savings. Whether this is through being more efficient with your energy and installing a Smart meter to monitor this, or simply cutting down on how much you spend on groceries and treats, you could hopefully start to see an improvement in your finances.

Budget for Different Things

That’s not to say you shouldn’t cut down on everything enjoyable in your life. Make sure you can still budget for social and leisure time, as you should still treat yourself when you can. Just factor this into your budgeting each month and spend money if you feel there are special purchases you can afford.

Seek Professional Advice

There’s also nothing to stop you from looking to external support with your money. If you feel you’ve already tried a number of approaches to save but they aren’t working, then you could turn to wealth management companies such as Sanlam. These firms can assess your situation and help you create strategies and plans to safeguard the future of your finances.

While not all the above will apply to you and your money, the wise move is to start putting at least a few of these approaches into place now to help improve your situation. Eventually, you should start to see a healthier bank balance at the end of each month and hopefully a happier existence for you and any loved ones.