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How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Every State

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.

For the first time nationally, independent contractors and gig workers can receive unemployment benefits — through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Millions of Americans have relied on this program since it was created by the first stimulus package in March 2020.

Depending on your state, PUA effectively expired on Dec. 26 or 27. At the 11th hour, lawmakers rallied to pass a second stimulus package, extending the program for 11 weeks. However, some states had to pause making PUA payments as they implemented the new rules.

The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

  • How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA
  • A 50-State Interactive Map to Help You Apply for PUA
  • Documents Needed to File for PUA
  • This $300 boost is known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

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    How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA

    Initially, the CARES Act authorized PUA payments for a maximum of 39 weeks. The second stimulus package extended PUA to 50 weeks total — or 11 extra weeks.

    PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who haven’t exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.

    One new and notable limitation: PUA used to be available retroactively as far back as January 2020. The new stimulus law tightens the window for retroactive PUA payments to Dec. 1, 2020, through March 14, 2021.

    All PUA recipients should be expecting to file more paperwork, too. To curb fraud, the second stimulus deal forces current and new PUA recipients to submit documents related to employment or self-employment, according to the DOL.

    The exact documents needed will be determined by your state agency, which is required to notify you. The deadline to file those documents is March 27, 2021. Defer to your state’s deadline if different.

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    How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, State by State

    Our interactive map includes PUA filing instructions for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    Based on The Penny Hoarder’s analysis, 35 states and D.C. process PUA applicants using the same application for general unemployment. Only 15 states have separate PUA applications.

    Here’s how we broke it down on the map.

    General Unemployment

    To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.

    In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.

    For simplicity — and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim — both methods are categorized as “general unemployment (UI)” on the map, in dark  blue.

    To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.

    PUA

    States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

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    Documents Needed to File for PUA

    If you’re ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you’ll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.

    Your state may require a few additional documents, but here’s an overview:

    • State-issued ID card.
    • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number.
    • Mailing and residential address (if different).
    • Bank account information for direct deposit, otherwise your benefits will arrive via a prepaid debit card or check.
    • Tax return: Form 1040, Schedule C, F and/or SE.
    • As many income statements as possible: bank receipts with deposit information, 1099 forms, W-2s, paycheck stubs, income summaries and business ledgers.

    Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.

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    Pro Tip

    Depending on which gig app you use and how much you earned, you may not have received any 1099 income forms in the mail. In that case, log on to the app and download your income statements.

    Expect Delays

    Due to new rules outlined in the second stimulus package, state labor departments are once again scrambling. Hiccups should be expected while applying for, asking about or submitting documents related to PUA. Many gig workers and independent contractors warn of website crashes, unavailable customer service, confusing questionnaires and more.

    Perseverance is key.

    Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

    This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    What is a Foreign Transaction Fee and How Can You Avoid It?

    Foreign transaction fees are irritating little charges that every traveler has faced, and most credit card users have questioned. They are the bane of a frequent flyer’s life and if not managed carefully, could result in some serious charges. But what are these charges, why do they exist, what’s the average fee, and how can you avoid them?

    What is a Foreign Transaction Fee?

    A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge levied every time you make a payment in a foreign currency or transfer money through a foreign bank. These fees are charged by credit card networks and issuers, often totaling around 3%.

    For example, imagine that you’re on holiday in the United Kingdom, where all transactions occur in Pound Sterling. You go out for a meal and use your credit card to pay a bill of £150. Your credit card issuer first converts this sum into US Dollars and then charges a foreign transaction fee, after which the network (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) will do the same.

    If we assume that £150 equates to exactly $200, this will show on your credit card statement first followed by a separate foreign transaction fee of $6.

    When Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees?

    If you’re moving money from a US bank account to an international account in a different currency, there’s a good chance you will be hit with foreign transaction fees and may also be charged additional transfer fees. More commonly, these fees are charged every time you make a payment in a foreign currency.

    Many years ago, foreign transaction fees were limited to purchases made in other currencies, but they are now charged for online purchases as well. If the site you’re using is based in another country, there’s a good chance you’ll face these charges.

    It isn’t always easy to know in advance whether these fees will be charged or not. Many foreign based sites use software that automatically detects your location and changes the currency as soon as you visit. To you, it seems like everything is listed in dollars, but you may actually be paying in a foreign currency.

    Other Issues that American Travelers Face 

    Foreign transaction fees aren’t the only issue you will encounter when trying to use American reward credit cards abroad. If we return to the previous example of a holiday in the UK, you may discover that the restaurant doesn’t accept your credit card at all.

    In the UK, as in the US, Visa and MasterCard are the two most common credit card networks and are accepted anywhere you can use a credit or debit card. However, while Discover is the third most common network in the US, it’s all but non-existent in the UK. 

    Discover has claimed that the card has “moderate” acceptance in the UK, but this is a generous description and unless you’re shopping in locations that tailor for many tourists and American tourists in particular, it likely won’t be accepted.

    There are similar issues with American Express, albeit to a lesser extent. AMEX is the third most common provider in the UK, but finding a retailer that actually accepts this card is very hit and miss.

    Do Foreign Transaction Fees Count Towards Credit Card Rewards?

    Foreign transaction fees, and all other bank and credit card fees, do not count towards your rewards total but the initial charge does. If we return to the previous example of a $200 restaurant payment, you will earn reward points on that $200 but not on the additional $6 that you pay in fees.

    How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

    The easiest way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a credit card that doesn’t charge them. Some premium cards and reward cards will absorb the fee charged for these transactions, which means you can take your credit card with you when you travel and don’t have to worry about extra charges.

    This is key, because simply converting your dollars to your target currency isn’t the best way to avoid foreign transaction fees. A currency conversion will come with its own fees and it’s also very risky to carry large sums of cash with you when you’re on vacation. 

    Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees

    All credit card offers are required to clearly state a host of basic features, including interest rates, reward schemes, and annual fees. However, you may need to do a little digging to learn about foreign transaction fees. These fees can be found in the credit card’s terms and conditions, which should be listed in full on the provider’s website.

    To get you started, here are a few credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees:

    1. Bank of America Travel Rewards Card: A high-reward and low-fee credit card backed by the Bank of America.
    2. Capital One: All Capital One cards are free of foreign transaction fees, including their reward cards, such as the Venture card.
    3. Chase Sapphire Preferred: A premium rewards card aimed at big spenders. There is an annual fee, but not foreign transaction fees.
    4. Citi Prestige: One of several Citi cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, and the best one in terms of rewards. 
    5. Discover It: A solid all-round credit card with no foreign transaction fees. However, as noted above, the Discover network is rare outside of the United States.
    6. Wells Fargo Propel World: An American Express credit card with good rewards and low fees, including no foreign transaction fees.

    Summary: One of Many Fees

    Foreign transaction fees are just some of the many fees you could be paying every month. Credit cards work on a system of rewards and penalties; you’re rewarded when you make qualifying purchases and penalized when you make payments in foreign currencies and in casinos, and when you use your card to withdraw cash.

    Many of these fees are fixed as a percentage of your total spend, but some also charge interest and you will pay this even if you clear your balance in full every month. To avoid being hit with these fees, pay attention to the terms and conditions and look for cards that won’t punish you for the things you do regularly.

    What is a Foreign Transaction Fee and How Can You Avoid It? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

    Source: pocketyourdollars.com

    A Complete Guide To Paying Your Federal Taxes With A Credit Card, Updated For 2021

    Updated for 2021. The major change was Pay1040 increasing fees from 1.86% to 1.99% for credit card payments, making it no longer the cheapest option.

    It’s that time of the year again, time to pay taxes! For a lot of people, this is their biggest expense of the year and wouldn’t it be great if you could pay your taxes with a credit card? Well as the IRS website clearly states, you can.

    Disclaimer: We’re not accountants, this does not constitute tax advice. Please consult a tax professional.

    The Basics

    The Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 allowed the IRS to accept credit & debit card payments (under section 6311(a)) and payments were able to made from January 1st, 1999 onwards due to this temporary act. The IRS has authorized three third party providers to process tax federal taxes on their behalf: Pay1040, PayUSAtax & ACI Payments (formerly Official Payments). The reason why the IRS doesn’t process credit cards directly is they are forbidden from charging fees directly for these services due to other federal laws. None of the money these providers collects goes to the IRS and some of these providers can also be used to pay State taxes (we’ll cover this in another separate post).

    In this guide we’re going to assume you have the cash to pay your credit card in full, if you don’t have the ability to do this then paying with a credit card is a terrible idea due to the high interest rates credit cards charge. If you can’t pay in full then you’ll most likely be better off with a payment plan/installment agreement with the IRS, more information on this can be found here.

    Obviously all these third party providers charge fees (ranging from 1.9% to 2%), those fees are what we look at first.

    Another option is to use the Plastiq bill payment service. Plastiq allows paying any bill, including tax payments, with a credit or debit card.

    Fees

    Obviously all these third party providers charge fees (ranging from 1.96% to 1.99%), those fees are what we look at first. We’ve also included the fees for debit card payments and digital wallet payments.  According to Way Back Machine, the fees have been very similar for awhile now (actually mostly getting slightly cheaper since 2012).

      Debit Cards Credit Cards Digital Wallet
    Pay1040.com $2.58 flat fee for consumer/personal cards and 1.99% for all other debit cards (minimum $2.58) 1.99% (minimum $2.58) See debit/credit card fees
    PayUSAtax.com $2.55 flat fee 1.96% (minimum fee $2.69) See debit/credit card fees
    ACI Payments (formerly OfficialPayments.com/Fed) $2.00 flat fee ($3.95 for payments over $1,000) 1.99% (minimum $2.50). AmEx over $100,000 is 1.9% See debit/credit card fees


    There are higher fees if you use any tax preparation software, those can be viewed here.

    As for Plastiq, the standard fee is 2.85% for Visa, Mastercard, Discover or Amex.

    Making It Worth It

    High Cash Back/Rewards Cards

    As you can see, PayUSA is the cheapest option at 1.96%. Even if you used a credit card that earned 2% (e.g Fidelity Visa or Citi Doublecash) you’d only be making 0.04% profit. Even if you had to pay $10,000 in taxes, you’d be earning $200 in rewards but having to pay $196 in fees for a profit of $4. Not exactly worth it. Now if we could reduce our fees, then we might be onto something.

    Claiming The Fees On Tax

    On the IRS page you’ll notice the following (emphasis mine):

    The fees vary by service provider and may be tax deductible

    Personal Taxes

    Update 2018/2019: Looks like 2%+ miscellaneous deduction option is gone effective 2018.

    Nothing like something vague and ambiguous to give to confidence that you can claim these fees as a deduction. In 2009, the IRS introduced a new law that allows some people to deduct these expenses when you file electronically. You can view their statement on this on the official IRS website. Here is what you need to be aware of:

    • Convenience fees associated with payment of federal tax can be included as a miscellaneous itemized deduction
    • Only those miscellaneous expenses that exceed 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income can be deducted

    You can view what the IRS considers a miscellaneous expense here. But for most people I doubt they will exceed 2% of their adjusted gross income. So there goes that idea.

    Business Taxes

    Things are a little clearer for business taxes, they state:

    • For business tax types, the fee is a deductible business expense.

    Meeting Minimum Spend Requirements

    As easy manufactured spending methods dry up, more and more people are happy to pay a fee to meet minimum spend requirements. That’s because they usually have large sign up bonuses relative to the minimum spend requirements.

    Splitting Payments

    If you owe $10,000 in taxes, then chances are you don’t want to be paying $187 in fees just to meet one minimum spend requirement (especially since most of them only require ~$3,000 or less in spending). Thankfully the IRS allow you to split your payments up, how many times you can do this depends on what sort of tax you’re paying. They provide a full table here.

    If you use Plastiq, there is no limit to the amount of payments you can make. You’ll pay with a card, but each payment will be sent to the IRS via mailed check. The limits given by the IRS are only for card payments, not check payments.

    Our Verdict

    I think paying your taxes with a credit card is generally not worth the effort involved, unless you want to meet a minimum spend requirement and are happy to pay the fees involved. Even using a 2% card doesn’t net much profit unless you have a massive tax bill. Liquidating prepaid gift cards could still be worthwhile for some.

    Feel free to ask other questions below and I’ll update the F.A.Q as we go along. Also remember that we’re not tax professionals, please consult with one of them relating to anything tax related.

    F.A.Q’s

    Do Any Credit Cards Code Any Of These Sites In A Bonus Category?

    Your payment will be broken down into two different payments:

    • Your actual tax payment will show as “United States Treasury Tax Payment”
    • The convenience fee charged will show as ” Tax Payment Convenience Fee”

    As far as I know no credit cards will earn a category bonus on this purchase. It’s possible that they do.

    Can I Use Visa/Mastercard/American Express Gift Cards To Make A Payment?

    Some people have had success in doing this in the past, apparently Official Payments allows you to use more than two debit cards when paying over the phone. Just keep in mind you’ll be paying a $2.25 fee per card. I have no idea if this still works or not.

    Will I Be Charged A Cash Advance Fee?

    As far as I’m aware, no major credit card issuers charge a cash advance fee. This is confirmed by the websites of each of the payment processors:

    • Pay1040
    • PayUSAtax
    • Official Payments
    • Plastiq

    Post history:

    Update: We’ve updated this post to make it relevant for 2020, hope you enjoy! One thing to note is that the IRS is no longer prevented from fees for processing credit/debit cards directly under 26 U.S. Code § 6311(d)(2) as amended. This won’t make a difference for this tax year, but might make things interesting for 2021. Hat tip to reader Superman

     

    Source: doctorofcredit.com

    How to Figure Out Your Family’s Grocery Budget (and Stick to It!)

    The post How to Figure Out Your Family’s Grocery Budget (and Stick to It!) appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

    One question I see time and again is “How much should I spend on groceries for my family of four ?” — or three, five, etc.

    When you’re making a household budget, it’s easy to know how much you need to include for most of your living expenses, like utilities, student loans, and even fuel. But when it comes to your average grocery bill, how much should you expect?

    As much as I wish there were a simple answer, a family’s grocery budget will be different for every household. There’s no right or wrong number, but finding yours is key to keeping your grocery spending in check.

    Here’s a guide to help you figure out how much you should spend on food each month.

    Calculator and receipt in shopping cart for grocery budget

    WHY YOU NEED A GROCERY BUDGET

    It may sound like it should go without saying, but you need a food budget because it will force you to think about money when you’re grocery shopping. After all, your income is a certain amount, and that means you only have a certain amount of money you can spend on food for your family.

    The other reason you need a frugal food budget is to make sure you don’t spend too much money for the food your family needs (and to save money by not buying food you don’t need). You become smarter about your spending and think twice before adding impulse purchases to your shopping cart.

    HOW MUCH TO BUDGET FOR FOOD

    It can be tough to figure out how much you *should* budget for food vs. what you’re currently spending on your meals. There is not a right or a wrong number, but you must find the right amount so you don’t overspend.

    Here are some tricks you can try to help you figure out exactly how much to spend on food per month.

    Budgeting Hack 1: Use the National Average

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average household spends about 6% of its income on groceries each month. However, the study also shows that the average American also spends 5% of his or her disposable income on dining out. That makes your food budget 11% of your overall income — a significant expense!

    If you want to keep things simple and use the national average to calculate your monthly grocery budget, then plan on spending 6% for groceries and an additional 5% for dining out.

    Here is an example: If your take-home pay is $3,000 a month, you will budget around $180 for groceries and $150 for dining out. Of course, if $180 won’t cover your needs, then you need to commit to a more thrifty plan: Scale back on eating out and use any additional money toward your grocery needs.

    Budgeting Hack 2: Use Your Actual Spending

    A more realistic way to figure out how much to budget for groceries is to look at your current grocery spending. An easy way to do this is by completing a spending form.

    Here’s how it works. Review all your purchases over several pay periods. You should include food spending, fuel, dining out, entertainment — everything. Having all the numbers in front of you will help you calculate the average of how much you’re spending on groceries (and all your other budget categories!) every week.

    If you think your expenses for food add up to too much money, you can try to reduce your spending. Just keep in mind that your family will have to adjust the way you eat.

    Budgeting Hack 3: Use a Grocery Calculator

    Sometimes, you want to get specific help when figuring out how much to budget for food. There is a simple to use, online grocery budget calculator; you can use it for free.

    Fill out the information for all of your family members, then hit calculate. It will return an average you should plan on budgeting for your family.

    I ran this report for my family, and the result said we should plan on $219.35 for an average grocery budget for our family of five. That is more than we spend. On average, I spend $125 – $150 per week on everything our family needs.

    While using a budget calculator can be helpful, it might end up doing the same thing for you: Suggest an amount that is higher than what you know you spend — or is higher than what you can afford. Use this calculator as a guide, but not the only factor when determining your budget.

    Budgeting Hack 4: Look at the U.S. Average

    Another way to reach a grocery budget amount is to look at the plans created by the USDA. The most recent plans are on their website. They provide the weekly cost for a thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost and liberal plan on a weekly and monthly basis. The amounts are broken down by gender and age. You will need to total the numbers listed for the people in your family.

    For example, the average grocery budget for a family of four is about $871, per this report. The amounts will be lower, of course for a family of three or higher if you need to budget for a family of five.

    Once again, these numbers should be a guide. Once you start grocery shopping for your family, you may find that you spend much less – or even more – than what the average family spends on groceries.

    Don’t Forget Special Dietary Needs

    If you have a family member who cannot eat gluten or who has other dietary restrictions, these can affect your budget. Make sure you keep these foods in mind when developing your budget as they can cost much more than average foods or require trips to a specialty grocery store.

    TRICKS TO MAKING A MONTHLY FOOD BUDGET

    There is no magic formula or grocery budget app that will pull the numbers together for you. The key is to make sure that you put forth the effort in the right manner to make it work for you. Keep the following in mind when figuring your monthly food budget:

    1. Consider Your Current Spending

    Before you can make any changes, you have to know where you are starting. That way, you can see what you currently spend on your groceries so you can start cutting back.

    Need help figuring our your average grocery bill?

    You can use the Spending Worksheet and go back to find your spending on food over the past 8 weeks. Look at every transaction in your bank statement and total it. Then, divide that amount by two. You know have an average your family spends on food every month.

    The next step is going to be finding a way to not only spend that amount going forward but try to find ways to spend even less if you can.

    2. Put It in Writing

    The next things you need to when creating your budget for food is to put it in writing. Once written down, you are more willing to commit to the process. Make sure your spouse or partner is also on board so you can work together to ensure you don’t overspend.

    3. Start Using Cash

    If you really want to stick to a tight budget, you need to use cash. Each payday, get cash from your bank for the amount you’ll need at the grocery store. That is all you have to spend until the next payday. No cheating! That means you can’t whip out your debit card if you run out of money.

    You’ll quickly learn better ways to be smart and strategic when figuring your budget and sticking to it. (Read more about how to start using a cash envelope budget ).

    4. Commit to Using Your Budget

    You can have the greatest intent to use a budget, but if you aren’t ready to do so, it will never work. It is just like dieting. You may know you want to shed pounds, but if you are not willing to put in the effort, the weight will never come off.

    Once you know the amount you have to spend at the grocery store, you need to stick to it (this is another reason to use cash). You have to make the conscious decision that you want to budget and then do all you can to make it work.

    Your spouse or partner needs to be on board, too. It will never work if one of you is committed to making your grocery budget work and the other is not. Have a long heart to heart talk and make sure you are on the same page.

    Read more: How to talk to your spouse about money

    GROCERY SHOPPING ON A BUDGET

    If you’ve tried all these ideas and still need to save money on groceries, here are some simple tricks you can try.

    Reduce Your Dining Out Budget

    Stop eating as many restaurant meals. That’s an easy way to find money to add to your grocery shopping budget, especially if this means you’re cutting back on alcohol spending at restaurants.

    Use Coupons

    While they are not for everyone, coupons are the simplest way to save money on the items you need. Even if coupons aren’t available for the grocery items you need, you can find them for household products you use, like toilet paper and laundry detergent, thereby reducing your spending and increasing the money you can spend on the foods you want.

    Stick to Your List

    Never shop without a list and only purchase the items on your list. Put in writing or use a grocery list app and don’t be tempted to add extra items to the cart.

    Make a Meal Plan

    Create a meal plan before you grocery shop. That way, you have a plan for the week not only to know what you will eat but also to make sure the ingredients will be on hand when it’s time for meal prep (reducing those frequent drive-thru meals). Meal planning saves you time, money, and the stress of figuring out “Mom, what’s for dinner?” without resorting to frozen pizza.

    Keep a Price Book

    Start watching the sales cycles at your grocery store and you’ll learn when it is time to stock up on your pantry staples, so you always pay the lowest price. Keep track of the prices in a price book for every item your family needs. (Bonus: When you get good at identifying your store’s food cost cycles, you can plan a meal or two around the fresh foods on sale in any given week.)

    Add a Meatless Meal

    One item that can quickly increase your grocery bill is meat. Try having a meal without meat every week (like Meatless Mondays), and you’ll find that you spend less.

    Vegetables are cheaper than meat and can be just as filling. Having vegetables for your main course at dinner is not only healthy but can also help with saving money. Try loaded sweet potatoes, pasta with veggie sauce, or cheese and vegetable pizza for a delicious meal.

    If veggies are a hard sell for your family, try fruit salads or breakfast for dinner — pancakes and French toast are cheap and fast!

    Buying fresh fruit and vegetables that are in-season can help you save even more on your monthly grocery bill. And frozen vegetables and fruit are often cheaper (and tastier) than “fresh” produce that’s not in-season.

    • Pro tip: When you’re buying meat, remember that cuts like chicken thighs are often significantly cheaper than chicken breasts, and they have more flavor. Get more tips on saving money on meat, produce, and dairy products.

    There’s an App for That

    There are many grocery savings apps that can help you keep tabs on food prices and create a smarter shopping list. What is great about an app is that you always have it with you on your phone, so no worry that you left a coupon at home or in your car.

    Steer Clear of Mistakes at the Grocery Store

    When you grocery shop, there are temptations around every corner (and I don’t just mean the ice cream and chocolate chip cookies). There are sales on the end caps, fancy signs and different tricks stores use to make you spend more money. Learn about the ways grocery stores get you to spend more money so you can avoid them.

    Avoid Haste and Waste

    One of the biggest ways people waste money when it comes to food is through waste. People often buy food that goes bad before they get around to eating it.

    You might also waste money buying convenience foods. (That frozen meal might seem like a deal when you’re running low on time, but you’ll save more if you prepare big batches of homemade, healthy food and freeze some leftover portions for later.)

    These are two ways you are killing your grocery budget. Study your habits and find ways to make changes so you aren’t wasting money on food.

    • Pro tip: One convenience food I occasionally give into is a rotisserie chicken. It’s ready to eat when I get home from the store, and you can use it in a few other meals during the week.

    NOW GO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR GROCERIES!

    Take the time to create a grocery budget that is both frugal and feasible for your family. Don’t try to make the dollar amount so low that it is unrealistic, or it will fail month after month. But if you pay attention while you’re shopping and keep an eye on how long the food lasts your family, you’ll soon discover that having a realistic grocery budget is the tastiest way to save money!

    The post How to Figure Out Your Family’s Grocery Budget (and Stick to It!) appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

    Source: pennypinchinmom.com