A New Year often ignites an urge for people to save money. Whether it’s from overspending during the holidays or a determination to finally make this year the year to get out of debt, Americans are making budgets and pledging to stick to it.

Groceries and household products are often one of the largest expenses each month for a family. The following is a list of 6 apps that will help you save money on these products.

Save money on groceries

Apps to Help You Save Money

KeyRing – Probably one of my favorite organization apps. In lieu of toting around all of those loyalty cards, I use Key Ring to store all of my card info in one place. And at the store? I pull up the card, and the clerk scans the barcode. Easy peasy.

Berry Cart – Select a deal, but it in the store, and submit a photo of your receipt. Berry Cart will pay you cash (via PayPal or gift cards) for purchasing healthy food, such as organic or vegan.

Red Laser – Simply scan an item’s barcode and this app will compare prices for you at other nearby stores or website.

Retale – Receive coupons and circulars from stores in your area to your phone with this app. Retale includes deals from Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, CVS, JCPenney, Best Buy, Ace Hardware, Toys R Us, Staples, and many more.

Favado – This app from Savings.com has grown quite popular. Use this app to search and compare your favorite stores to find the best deals. Favado has the tools to turn a casual saver into an expert saver.*

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Using one or more of these apps for a short time each week will help you to save big on your grocery bill.

Are you familiar with any of these apps? Do you use apps to help you save money?

“Use a strong password” is a constant reminder we all receive when setting up new accounts.

If I had a $1 for every time I have had to click RESET PASSWORD in my life because I couldn’t remember my password, I could buy WalMart.

Seriously.

I know I should update them more often, but the turning of a New Year is what always prompts me to change and update all of my passwords. And every year I tell myself I will remember them.

Well, 2016 is my year.

Who is with me?

While it may be tempting for us to choose something easy to remember, unfortunately, hackers use programs to scan passwords with dictionary words and numbers, or a combination of both. Therefore common (read: EASY) words or phrases make your account more vulnerable.

How to Create a Strong Password

Tips for Choosing a Strong Password

  • Choose a word or phrase you would easily remember and spell it in upper and lower-case letters and add a unique character as well as a significant (read: EASY TO REMEMBER) series of numbers at the end, such as a birthday or anniversary.
  • Use a password generator such as this one and let the system generate a hacker-safe password for you.

In 2013 and 2014, many of my passwords were variations of I WILL SURVIVE 2013 or I WILL SURVIVE 2014. A simple phrase and reminder that I needed daily. And imagine that – it worked!

How to Store Passwords

Once you’ve drummed up passwords for your accounts, keeping track of them can be the painful task.

4 Places to Store Passwords

  • Password Managers – These let you easily store your passwords in a secure place in the cloud. Some of these services are free or you can opt for upgrading with one such as Dashlane (which I would recommend) for a minimal fee.
  • Google Docs – Also in the Cloud, Google Docs can be another convenient location. Simply create a new private spreadsheet or document and enter your information. Here is one for you to copy to get you started.
  • Hard Drive – For those of you who don’t trust the Cloud (as many don’t), you can store your passwords on an external hard drive. Just remember that a hard drive, like a computer, can sporadically quit on you. Or your file can get corrupted.
  • Piece of Paper – Taking it back to the old school ….. While I keep my passwords elsewhere, I love my paper and pens. If you use this method, be sure to keep it in a secure place just as you would any other important document. If you are also a fan of paper and pen, here is a Printable Password Keeper for you to use.

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Do you have a suggestion for creating strong passwords? Where do you store yours? Or are you just like me and tell yourself you will remember them? Tell me in the comments.

As a blogger, there are a few tools that are mandatory. A site name (preferably a personalized domain), hosting, a will to write – and photos. In today’s visual time – photos are a must. Good photos. And sometimes that means using stock photos.

And as my friend, Darcy, said many years ago – the best camera to use is the one in your hand.

While I dream of purchasing a few fancier lenses, I know that my camera or even my phone are all I need. (and what I use)

So whether you have a point and shoot or a Canon EOS 5D Mark III(swoon!), start where you are and use what you have.

Just use good, clear photos. Ones that tell the story you are writing. Format your photo for each social media platform. And use your imagination. It’s not required to use the same photo across the board on all platforms. I would actually recommend to use a few variations.

Looking to improve your photography skills in 2016? You can receive $20 off your order of $99+ with BorrowLenses here >> http://iamjenn.net/1MNWsWg

And if you don’t have that oh-so-perfect photo in your stock for your post? There are plenty of sites that offer images just for you. Some are free. Some cost a minimal fee. And others require a package membership. Some require attribution, others do not. (your responsibility as a blogger –> always read the fine print and under each term of service and follow the guidelines for each site)

Choose the option for photos that works best for you and your blog.

Free stock photos for bloggers

10 sources for stock photos for bloggers

  1. Shutterstock – Probably one of the most well-known sites, Shutterstock offers high-quality photos, but are on the pricier end for a start-up blogger. You can pay as you go or subscribe for a monthly fee ($199 and up/month). They currently also offer free image each week for subscribers.
  2. iStock Photo – Free stock photo downloads are offered each week, or you have the option of buying credits for photos. The larger the photo, the more credits are required. A monthly subscription plan is also offered.
  3. BigStockPhoto – This is another site that offers a free image of the week to subscribers. I consider the plans with BigStockPhoto more affordable – at $79/month. At that rate, you can download 5 images a day which equates to almost $0.50 per image. Next to free, that is a really good deal for a blogger’s budget. If you have a good editorial calendar laid out, you could spend a month and stock up on photos for a while.
  4. Blog Chicka Blog – Hello, beautiful! Whether you ever use any of these photos from Jill or not, subscribe to her site. She is generous with sharing her photography tips. And is uber-talented.
  5. Dollar Photo Club – I haven’t personally used this site yet. It’s been all the rave with many friends. The photos I have perused look great, and there seems to be quite the collection from which to choose. The name says it all. They are $1 each.
  6. Canva – This is a great tool for bloggers of all sizes – to purchase and/or edit photos. Templates for multiple social media platforms are offered, and you have the option of using your own photos. #WIN
  7. UnSplash – Next to using my own photos, this is my new fave. Completely free, high resolution, gorgeous photos! The subject matter varies, so you may have to search. But you can search and save your favorites to come back to when needed.
  8. PicJumbo – Totally free, high quality photos you may use for commercial or personal work.
  9. Pixabay – Browse by category or using their search feature, (which heads up – will also display sponsored ads on the first row). Over half-a-million free photos, vectors, and art illustrations are offered on this site, and most allow for commercial use.
  10. Dreamstime – This is a paid stock photo site, but they also offer free stock images. Registration and attribution are required.

 

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These are just a sample of 100s of popular sites offering stock photos for bloggers.

Do you use any of these sites listed above? If you ever use stock photo, tell me your go-to site in the comments.

*affiliate link

The New Year always brings a desire to simplify – to eliminate. An attitude of cleaning out. And while many think of just cleaning out drawers and closets, there are so many other areas in life to take into consideration for a fresh start.

5 Things to Eliminate This Year

5 things to eliminate in the New Year

1. Clutter. I know, I know. It’s a buzz word these days. Start the new year organized. Get rid of what you don’t need or use. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

I saw a post on Instagram (are we connected over there?) over the holidays where Lisa posted she had added reorganizing furniture in her home to the holiday madness surrounding her. She’s not alone. I found myself re-arranging furniture in my head the week before Christmas. As I told her, I think it’s because I start to feel so overwhelmed and cluttered with all the extra “stuff” … this time of year. I crave a change.

And I do. I think the turning of the calendar, coming out of the season full of STUFF, STUFF, STUFF – leaves us yearning for LESS, LESS, LESS.

So, as you are still recovering from the mayhem, think of what you can eliminate around your home. Extra linens, dishes, clothes, sit-arounds and knick-knacks (AKA dust collectors). And toys. Y’all. The T.O.Y.S. (Who else could open their own toy store these days?)

2. Less than stellar habits. I hesitate to call them “bad habits” because let’s face it – they aren’t all B.A.D. But less than great? Yes. Maybe you want to have a healthier sleep schedule. Or avoid the junk food binges that we all know at different times. Or maybe eliminate caffeine from your day. Maybe you want to give more to a cause or quit smoking. Whatever it is – write it down. Write down all the reasons why you want to kick that less than stellar habit and what you will replace it with. Carrots versus chips. A regular nighttime routine that leads to a healthy bed time versus losing track of time and falling into bed. You get the picture. And then write the benefits you know you will reap from it. Truly understand why you want to make such changes – and when you are tempted to fall back into your old ways? Read that list and remember the WHY in the decision you made.

The magic key to kick a bad habit is the WANT. You can have cheerleaders lining the block cheering you on, but only you can make the decision to make it happen. (If you are on a journey to making a change in your life, tell me in the comments or shoot me an email. I want to be one of your cheerleaders.)

3. Unnecessary expenses. This time of year also brings about the I am going to get out of debt once and for all mentality. Hello? Isn’t it funny that it’s always on the heels of the season when people spend more than they should because it’s what is “expected”? Call it buyer’s remorse or whatever you will. But (overall) Americans have proved over the years that’s it’s all about the moment. It’s all about the right now. It’s all about what is expected and about what looks good. (Or we think does.) It’s too often of times about keeping up with the Jones’. When truth be told – the Jones’ are (or should be) living on a budget too.

So, if you are serious about getting financially right in 2016? Cut unnecessary expenses. Whatever that looks like for your family. It may be reducing your grocery budget 25%. It may be cancelling cable. It may be becoming friends with public transportation. It may be simply shopping new car insurance for lower rates. Somewhere – there is money for your family to save.

4. People. What?! I know, I know. You can’t purge all people in your life. Some of them live with you. (wink) I am referring to toxic people. People who don’t push you to be more. People who suck the energy right out of you. People whose lives don’t align with your spiritual walk. Can you still love on them? You better believe it. I don’t at all think we should just “hang around” people who are just like us. But rather love them from a distance. But people whose morals and core beliefs don’t align with yours? They should never be who is speaking into your life.

I am also not referring to purging people whom you may just disagree with on an issue. I disagree most with some of my strongest accountability partners sometimes.  Hello? Don’t they know I AM RIGHT? (I jest.) But I need them. We need each other. Iron sharpens iron, my friends.

True friendships take work. They take time and energy. And let’s face it – we all only have so much to give. For me, my pecking order for my time and energy is to The Lord, to my immediate family, and to my business and my closest friends. The rest of it will just come as it may. Some of it may eventually come – and some of it won’t. And that’s ok.

5. Commitments. This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with #4. Re-evaluate where your time is spent. Are you running from here to there and never home at night because you are “helping others”? At the end of the day – how much is that helping you? Are you worn out and ragged? Are you taking too much time away from your family to serve on another committee at church or community event? Think about it. We all need to be involved in something. But not everything. And if getting more quality sleep is on your to-do list, you may need to be doing even less.

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This list isn’t by any means comprehensive. There are so many more areas of life that should be considered – that I should consider for my own life.

What would you add?