We are three months into the year. How are you doing with your resolutions? You know the ones: to save money, lose weight, exercise more often.
Let’s tackle that first resolution. We make a lot of excuses, but the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found that 39 percent of Americans couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they had an emergency. It might seem like a lot of money, but break it down by thinking of it as saving $500 every four months, or $167 a month for a year. That might be a more obtainable goal.
Start by deciding what you can save each week. If you give up that morning coffee or go out to dinner less frequently, you easily could save up to $200 a month. A family of four can spend up to $1,500 a month on groceries, but you can reduce that by getting out the Sunday newspaper, checking the ads and cutting out coupons.
As a family, plan meals that include grocery items that are on sale. Don’t forget to check your pantry to see what you have on hand. Cutting the grocery bill by just 10 percent can save a family of four about $150 a month, or $1,800 a year.
Here’s an easy way to save money: Reevaluate your car insurance. We spend an average of $1200 a year on auto insurance, according to AAA, yet costs vary from company to company. So shop around for better prices. Increase your deduction from $500 to $1,000, which can help trim 30 percent to 40 percent off your premium. Save up to 25 percent by bundling your home and auto under the same policy or insuring multiple automobiles.
If you are 50 or older, take the AARP Smart Driver Safety Course at the Fayette County Cooperative Extension Service, 1140 Red Mile Place, Lexington, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 16. Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate that many insurance agencies honor with a discount. The cost is $15 for AARP members, $20 for others. Register by calling 859-257-5582.
You also can save money on your cable bill. Call your provider and threaten to cancel your service. A sales representative often will be willing to lower your bill.
Other ways to save
▪ Target Cartwheel is offering 50 percent off daily toy deals this week. Save big on a different toy each day. Cartwheel.target.com.
▪ If you have never had photos developed at Wal-Mart, sign up for its photo services to receive 25 free one-hour 4-by-6 photos. Wal-Mart will email you a code to use at the kiosk.
▪ Get a free one night DVD rental (or $1.50 off a Blu-ray or game) from Redbox when you text PUSH to 727272. Good through March 31.
▪ To get another free rental, download the free Redbox app, turn on the push notifications, and you will get a text message with a code for a free DVD rental that’s valid for a month.
▪ My Starbucks Rewards members can get a Happy Mondays offer every Monday in March, plus even more member benefits. Each offer is valid on specific date from 2 p.m. to close at participating stores. You must pay using your registered Starbucks Card.
▪ Try Zantac for free with a mail-in rebate offer. Purchase any Zantac 50- or 60-count package through April 15 and get a Visa prepaid card by mail worth up to $20. All requests must be postmarked by April 30. Zantacotc.com/freebate.
▪ Get $3 toward a movie ticket to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 when you buy one participating Windex product. Windexmovieticket.com.
▪ This week only, Domino’s is offering 50 percent off all pizzas ordered online at menu prices. This March madness special expires March 20. Dominos.com/en.
▪ On March 18, load a digital coupon to your Kroger or Kroger affiliate store card for a free Welch’s Essence Flavored Sparkling Water (any variety, 17 ounces). Redeem by April 3. Kroger.com.
▪ Teach your child how to become president of the United States with a free colorful and informational poster from USA Publication. Publications.usa.gov/USAPubs.php?PubID=6099.
▪ While supplies last, Petco is offering a free collar charm to inform about secondhand smoke dangers to your animals.
▪ Get a free ticket to any movie with the purchase of a $25 Red Robin burgers and a movie gift card. Redrobin.com/giftcards.
▪ Swipe your Caniac Club card at a local participating Raising Cane’s for a free 22-ounce green lemonade. Offer expires March 17.
Freebies for kids
▪ Sign up your child for Lowes Build and Grow clinic at 7 p.m. March 24. The kids will build a Jimmy Johnson Pullback Car. Lowesbuildandgrow.com/clinics.
▪ Visit Barnes & Noble at 11 a.m. March 19 for story time and free activities featuring the book When Spring Comes.
▪ Kids may join Barnes & Noble for Batman vs. Superman Day to celebrate the upcoming movie. A children’s event will follow story time March 19. A trivia event for teens and adults trivia will be at 7 p.m. the same day.
▪ Kmart will be giving away Peeps to children 12 and younger March 19 while supplies last at participating stores.
▪ Search for thousands of treat-filled eggs at Buffalo Trace Distillery, 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, at 1 p.m. March 19. Enjoy refreshments and pictures with the Easter Bunny. All activities are free.
▪ Visit Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, 3885 Raven Run Way, to celebrate Earth Hour while searching for the elusive woodcock at 7:30 p.m. March 19. Ravenrun.org/home.html.
▪ Sign up for Keeneland’s Easter egg hunt at Keeneland.com/kids-club-easter-egg-hunt. The event is 1 to 4 p.m. March 26, with the actual hunt starting at 2:30, at Keeneland Entertainment Center off Versailles Road.
▪ The Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt at Fort Harrods State Park, 100 South College Street, Harrodsburg will take be at noon March 26. Bit.ly/1pq8zpk.
▪ Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington Green will celebrated spring with an indoor Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. March 26. There will be stories, songs and hidden eggs.
Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.