Tag: Budgeting

 

How to Plan the Perfect Staycation: 6 Tips for Affordable Relaxation

It’s no secret that travel can be expensive even if you’re able to take advantage of hacks to lower the costs.

In fact, according to one study, the average family of four spends $4,580 on a vacation. And, many of these families expect to put at least $1,000 of their travel costs on a credit card.

Yet, there is a way to take time off without leaving your hometown and spending oodles of cash: Take a staycation.

What is a staycation?

A staycation is just like a vacation only you stay home. This means you don’t have to spend money on travel and lodging. You’ll still take time off and seek out new experiences, but you’ll be spending time near your home exploring your own town or taking day trips.

You can save a lot of money with a staycation and still bond and make memories with your loved ones.

Here are 6 tips to help you plan the perfect staycation.

1. Explore your city

A staycation can be just as fun as a vacation because you’ll have the opportunity to explore your city like never before. To start, think about whether there are there restaurants or attractions you’ve never been to.

Perhaps you can visit a new neighborhood eatery or attend a local festival. Maybe you can swap out your online shopping to check out some local shops and support the businesses in your area. Or, visit local museums and wander through the exhibits.

If you live near a metropolitan city, you may be able to take advantage of tourist attraction passes that allow you to visit several landmarks or attractions for one flat fee. You usually have a few days to visit all the places included in the pass. This is also a great way to experience the best of what your city has to offer – on a budget.

For example, CityPASS offers a low-priced pass in many cities, including Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Seattle and New York City. For a $64 adult Boston CityPASS ($52 for kids), you get access to five major attractions, including the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Boston Harbor Cruises. You’ve got nine days to visit the attractions and your pass also gets you expedited entry into all sites. Not so shabby.

2. Play Catch Up

A staycation is a great way to catch up on errands, set up appointments, and organize different aspects of your life. Dentist appointment anyone?

Yes, this may sound like work, but you can schedule tasks on your own terms and check off a few things on your list, leaving you feeling refreshed.

Just think: You can accomplish things that have been on your to-do list for weeks, like getting routine maintenance checks on your car, going to a doctor’s appointment, and decluttering and organizing your home.

In true staycation fashion, you can even treat yourself to a nice lunch after you finish errands or visit a day spa for the afternoon.

3. Embrace the Outdoors

Ready to embrace the outdoors? Use your staycation to explore local trails. You can also plan an outdoor picnic with family, visit a park, go swimming if the weather permits, or ride a bike along a scenic path. If there’s a nearby state or national park, you can even take a day trip to feel as if you’re getting out of dodge.

Another option to consider: Take a trip to the local zoo. There are several free or low-cost zoos across the country. Most will even allow you to bring in your own food and snacks, cutting down on your costs even more.

4. Take on a New Hobby or Learn a New Skill

Part of the thrill of going on vacation involves going someplace new. Yet, you can still experience something new without traveling far from home. A good place to start: Try out a new hobby.

Think of something you’ve always wanted to do and plan to hone that new skill or passion during your staycation. Whether you want to start playing a new instrument, learn photography, fix cars, start sewing, or practice cake decorating, this is a great opportunity to give it a whirl. Perhaps you can even take a class in the area or check out free resources online. Skillshare, for example, is an online community that allows people to learn new things.

If you’re stumped for a new idea, try a paint and wine outing with friends. These are typically budget-friendly and you don’t need a lot of artistic skills.

5. Make Time For Friends

Take the initiative to reach out to friends you haven’t seen in a while and plan a get-together.

You can simply have a lunch date, invite your friends over, or go somewhere fun. To stay on budget, look for Groupon deals. For example, maybe you can check out a new coffee shop or restaurant in town.

You can also use your staycation as an opportunity to meet new friends. Sites like Meetup have tons of local groups that are designed to facilitate meetings of like-minded folks. There are groups for runners, parents, couples, board game lovers, creatives, pet owners, and more.

6. Relax, Just Do It

Staycations are perfect for relaxing.

Sleep in, take naps in the middle of the day, catch up on your Netflix shows, and take long walks. Before you staycation, you can deep clean your home and organize your space as if you were leaving town.

You can even plan your meals and prep dinners in advance – then freeze them so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Decide on which days you’ll dine out and which days you’ll pull a ready-made meal from the freezer.

If there are any beaches by your home, plan to spend a day there relaxing and swimming. Or, if you have a sauna or pool at your gym, this is the week to make use of it.

Determine how you want to relax during your staycation and make it happen!

Save Money and Refresh With a Staycation

A staycation can not only be a huge money-saver, but it can help you relax, enjoy time with friends and family, and return back to reality feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Most importantly, you don’t have to save up a ton of money to have a successful staycation. And, you also won’t spend as much as you would if you travel far away. Just think: These staycation ideas will help you have a memorable experience without airline fees, hotel costs, and high restaurant charges.

Are you ready to plan a staycation?

 

The Cliffs Notes Guide to Money 101

Have you ever hung out with a group of friends and the conversation veers toward money?

You may feel anxious as your peers discuss their savings and investment portfolios. As for you? You keep quiet as you’re completely overwhelmed.

Yet, you’re not alone when it comes to anxiety over money. In fact, many Americans feel uncomfortable talking about wealth and other financial topics. According to a global study on financial literacy conducted by the S&P Ratings Service in 2015, 43% of Americans are financially illiterate. This means that they didn’t have the basic financial knowledge required to make informed and sound decisions about their money.

The U.S. Government is also aware of this problem and designated April as National Financial Literacy Month – all with the hopes of raising financial knowledge. Luckily, gaining insight into your finances doesn’t require years of extensive study. Even a cursory understanding of money matters can have a significant impact upon your financial situation.

To help you become more financially literate, we’ve created a guide that breaks down some of the most important aspects of money management, including savings, budgeting, borrowing, and long-term financial planning. We’ve also included some financial terminology that can help you make informed decisions to boost your savings. Read on to learn more.

Savings 

If getting in shape was your No. 1 resolution for this year, saving more money may have been No. 2.

The majority of Americans desperately want to save more money, but unless you have developed consistent and actionable goals, it can seem daunting.

One simple way to effectively save more money is to enroll in an automatic savings program, like the one offered at Chime. This way, you can start saving money without even thinking about it. With a Chime account, every time you make a purchase with your Chime Visa® Debit Card, transactions are automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar and transferred into your Chime Savings Account. The program also allows you to automatically set aside 10% of each paycheck into your savings as soon as you get paid.

There are several ways to save more money and your options often depend on your personal situation and lifestyle. Yet, regardless of how much money you earn, if you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or a 401(k), it’s a wise idea to contribute as much money as you can – especially if you can save money directly from your paycheck. If a 401(k) plan isn’t an option for you, consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA) to start saving now for your future.

If you’re looking to pull money out of your savings before retirement and want a safe way to earn money, consider opening a money market account (MMA). According to Investopedia, money markets accounts pay interest rates that are typically higher than at savings accounts. Many banks, however, require higher minimum balances in money market accounts in order to avoid fees and earn higher interest.

Budgeting

Another crucial step to saving money is creating a budget. You can start by taking a close look at how much money is coming in and how much is going out. To further explain, your net income is essentially the money you take in each month from your job, minus taxes and deductions. Once you have that net income figure, you can make a list of all your fixed expenses, which are costs that do not change month to month. This may include your rent or mortgage, utility bills and loan payments.

With this information, you can build a budget and figure out how much you can effectively allocate to your savings account.

Bari Tessler, a financial coach and author of The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, subscribes to the 50/30/20 budgeting plan, initially developed by Senator Elizabeth Warren. The plan allocates 50% of your net income to fixed expenses, 30% to discretionary spending, and the remaining 20% to savings.

Tessler says that it’s not always possible to save twenty percent, and unexpected expenses may make it impossible to save at all. She emphasizes that your relationship with money will last your entire life, and ultimately, the amount you can save is very personal and can change over time.

Borrowing and Debt

Want to borrow money to buy a car or for a personal loan?

Oya Altınkılıç, a finance professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, recommends understanding the borrowing process and what will be expected of you.

For instance, getting approved for a loan depends heavily upon your creditworthiness. And this can be determined in part by your credit score, a three-digit number that gives lenders a snapshot look at how likely you are to repay your debt. Lenders will also look at your current assets, which are essentially anything of value that you own that can be converted into cash, such as real estate or cars. You should have a general idea of the value of your assets, including cash.

If you have a credit card, you may think it’s a good idea to buy expensive items on your card, perhaps instead of taking out a personal loan. However, credit card debt can pile up fast, especially if your annual percentage rate (APR) is high and you are paying hefty interest charges every month.

Just remember: Borrowing money typically has a cost, and it’s best to determine that cost upfront and evaluate it against your long-term financial goals before deciding whether to proceed.

Seek Professional Advice

Professor Altınkılıç says that if you don’t feel comfortable investing or managing your finances on your own, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a financial expert.

“You cannot beat the market on your own so don’t try. It is best to hire a financial professional who understands your short- and long-term investment goals, as well as your risk tolerance.”

“The financial industry is one of the most highly-regulated industries, and you have a higher chance of being successful if you choose someone who is reputable.”

To that end, you can begin your search for a financial advisor at the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA).

Start Saving More Money Today

Tessler at The Art of Money explains that many financial decisions are based on beliefs about security, abundance and fear that were developed during the childhood years.

People get paralyzed by money because of shame and guilt about not having enough saved or not investing earlier. Instead of dwelling on the past, however, it’s important to create sustainable practices around money – starting today.

Are you ready to level up your financial literacy and start saving more money? We thought so.

 

How Much do You Really Need in Your Emergency Fund?

Saving up an emergency fund is one of the best things you can do to prepare for unexpected expenses. Conventional wisdom says that you should save up at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

That’s a lot of money. If you don’t earn Silicon Valley wages or if you’re just starting out from scratch, that can seem like an impossible amount to save, so why even try? But, try this on for size: Maybe you don’t necessarily need to save that much. It all depends on your personal situation.

Luckily, we’ve broken things down to help you decide what’s the right amount for you to save in an emergency fund.

How Much Money Should I Save?

The answer to this question is: It depends.

As with all rules of thumb, the three-month minimum emergency fund rule is a one-size-fits all prospect. For most people, this is great advice, and it’s infinitely better than no advice at all. But there are certain factors about your specific lifestyle and personal situation that may make you lean towards more – or less – than a three-month or six-month emergency fund.

We’ll walk through some considerations here, but in general: The riskier your situation, the more you need to save. If your situation is a little less risky, you may be able to get away with saving less.

Take a look at four questions to ask yourself when determining how much money to save:

1. Is Your Job Secure?

One of the biggest factors to think about is how stable your job situation is. After all, one of the biggest uses of emergency funds is to help you cover your costs if you lose your job. So, consider both your specific job situation and your industry in general.

If you’ve been working at your job for a long time, you may be more immune to layoffs or other unfortunate events.

Also, take a look at how your employer is doing. Do you think the company will be in business six months from now? Lastly, if you’re a freelancer, you may also want to consider saving more money since this is one of the most shaky forms of employment of all.

As far as your industry goes, consider whether it runs on a cyclical cycle. After all, the construction industry is booming right now and you may be able to find a job as a carpenter fairly easy, but five years from now it may not be the same story. The same thing goes for automation — is your job at risk for robots taking it over? If so, consider a larger emergency fund.

2. Are Your Specialized Skills in High Demand?

If you went to college or trade school to learn a specific, specialized skill, that’s supposed to help you find a job. And if you live in an area where that skill is in high demand, chances are you can find employment quickly if you lose your job. But if you live in an area where it’s not in high demand — or if jobs in your field are scattered around the U.S. — consider saving a bit more than normal.

3. How Much do You Need to Feel Comfortable?

Another consideration is simply how much money will make you feel safe. Maybe you’ve been burned in the past with outrageous home repairs, or a lemon (car) to end all lemons. If you would feel more secure and sleep better with a larger emergency fund, then go for it. If you’re OK playing with a bit more risk, then consider cutting back a bit.

4. What Type of Lifestyle do You Lead?

If you lose your job, your emergency fund is meant to tide you over until you can find gainful employment again. Most people recommend cutting back your expenses so that you can stretch your emergency fund as far as possible in this case.

But, consider this: Do you want to live the lifestyle of an ascetic monk while you’re job hunting again? Maybe you still want to go out with friends, or more importantly, attend networking opportunities.

In this case, it might be wise to err on the side of saving more money so that you can still afford these things. Conversely, if these factors don’t matter to you as much, you can get away with saving less.

Needs vs Wants: A Lesson in Essentials Assessment

Even if you don’t want to bump up your savings target to include everyday lifestyle expenses, you at least need to save a minimum amount. And for everyone, this amount will be different, because everyone has different needs.

To figure out what your basic needs are, tally up all the things that you really need to be able to continue on living. Things to include are:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Necessary utilities (electricity, gas, water, cell phone, Internet, etc.)
  • Groceries
  • Transportation expenses

On the other hand, consider what you can cut out of your budget should you lose your job:

  • Restaurants
  • Unnecessary utilities (cable, HBO, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Fun money

Don’t Overfund Your Emergency Savings

We’ve given you some things to think about when deciding how much to save in your emergency fund. But also consider this: It is also possible to save too much money in your emergency fund.

For example, if your emergency fund is the only savings fund you have, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to save for other important things — namely, retirement. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re still saving money for your retirement, whether in a workplace 401(k) plan or an IRA. You may also have other goals you’re saving for, such as health care, vet bills, or a new car.

A Cash Reserve is Essential

Whether you choose a three-month or six-month emergency fund, one thing’s for sure: You do need a cash reserve of some sort and you can use this guide as a primer to help you figure out how much you need to save.

Also, keep in mind that no matter how much you decide to save, the most challenging thing is to get started. Once you get going, however, you can rest a bit easier. Just think: Even if you don’t have a fully-funded emergency savings account yet, every bit you save today will help keep you protected in the future.

 

4 Things Daenerys Stormborn Could Teach You About Money

Links to external websites are not managed by Chime or The Bancorp Bank.


She walks through fire. She frees entire cities of slaves. She has dragons at her beck and call.

Without a doubt, Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons is the fiercest character on Game of Thrones.

She’s also one of the most complicated, and one of the most admirable. While I don’t agree with her every decision, I do believe she can teach us something about life — and about how to get paid, even when it requires some blood, sweat, and tears.

Here are four ways to rule your money like the Mother of Dragons.

Believe in Yourself

So many of us have self-doubts when it comes to our finances. We think that we’re doomed to be “bad with money.” Or that being “comfortable” — wealthy, even — is for other people, but not for us.

If you’re nodding along in agreement, take a page from Dany’s book. “So many men have tried to kill me, I don’t remember all their names,” she told Jon Snow. “Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself.”

Unless you believe in yourself and your abilities, you’ll never find financial success. The best way to empower yourself is through education. By devouring podcasts, newsletters, and articles, you’ll eventually develop the financial confidence you need.

To fast-track your knowledge, I recommend the books Get Money and Broke Millennial. Since both were penned by kickass women authors, I’m pretty sure Queen D would approve.

Build a Team

Although Daenerys exudes confidence, she’s also smart enough to know she doesn’t know it all. Along her journey to power, she’s amassed a slew of advisors to help guide her decisions.

As she once said, “It takes courage to admit fear… and to admit a mistake.”

The same goes for your finances. While it’s essential to build confidence, it’s also essential to create a strong financial team as backup. You don’t need to be rich to do so, either. Here are some potential members of a 21st-century financial team:

  • Apps, apps, apps: All of us have a team of financial advisors in our pocket. Between apps for budgeting, paying and trimming bills, and managing money with a partner, embrace the wealth of technology available.
  • A trustworthy bank: Make sure your bank’s got your back. The Breaker of Chains would never stay with a bank that nickeled and dimed her — in fact, she’d probably burn it the ground. So choose banking with no hidden fees that prioritizes you as a customer.
  • A robo- or human financial advisor: This one’s not as vital as the others, but it can certainly help. Get robo-advising for your investments through apps like Wealthfront or Personal Capital, or seek human assistance with a fee-only advisor through the XY Planning Network.

When you surround yourself with high-quality people and products, you’ll find the support you need to achieve financial success. (Even if nobody on your team loves you quite as much as Ser Jorah loves Khaleesi.)

Listen to Your Values

“Our fathers were evil men,” Dany told Yara and Theon Greyjoy. “They left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it.”

Daenerys lets this sense of justice guide all of her decisions — even if it means slaying thousands of slave masters. While I’m not suggesting you follow those specific footsteps, I do think you can consider your values when making financial decisions.

One way is through “sustainable investing,” which encompasses a range of different strategies, including:

  • Divesting: Pulling your investments out of companies you don’t support, such as those in the fossil fuel or firearms industries.
  • ESG monitoring: Investing in companies with high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores, or in ESG-focused index funds.
  • Impact investing: Funneling your money toward specific causes like renewable energy.

Just like the woman who would become “Mhysa” to many, you can also let your moral compass drive your financial moves.

Don’t Let Anything Stand In Your Way

Throughout Game of Thrones, people have scoffed at Daenerys and her lofty goals. The Dothraki warlords laughed when she said she would rule them all. Then she burned them down. Others said the Dothraki would never cross the sea. Then they did.

Khaleesi never let the haters get to her. “I am not your little princess,” she declared. “I am Daenerys Stormborn of the blood of old Valyria and I will take what is mine, with fire and blood I will take it.”

Using that as inspiration, think about your money goals. How can you Mother-of-Dragons them by making dramatic changes?

If you want to retire early, for example, move to a new, more affordable city. If you want to accrue a six-month emergency fund, calculate how much to set aside each week, and set up an automatic savings contribution right now. If you want to earn more money, walk into your boss’ office and ask what you need to do to get a raise.

The bottom line: If you have a financial goal, don’t make any excuses. O.K., maybe don’t burn down an entire city with your dragons (#dracarys), but you know what I mean.

How the Mother of Dragons Can Help Your Finances

While Daenerys’ strategies may be a little, well, unconventional, we can still learn a lot from this powerful character.

By sticking to your values, educating yourself, and creating a solid financial team, you’ll gain the confidence to crush all of your money goals — no dragons required.

 

What To Do Now That You’re Broke From Coachella

Links to external websites are not managed by Chime or The Bancorp Bank.


It was worth it.

You paid a steep price to make all of your Childish Gambino-Grande-Solange dreams come true. And witnessing Idris Elba fulfill his lifelong dream of scoring the Coachella DJ gig. Well, that was priceless!

Yes, the three-day music festival event may have drained your bank account – at least that’s how you felt in the moment.

Now, however, the music has faded away and it’s time to start saving money again and get your finances back on track. But how do you do this?

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a four step guide to shoring up your financial situation. And, if you play your budgeting cards right, you may even have enough cash for your 2020 Coachella trip. Read on to learn more.

1. Assess the Damage

It’s time to look reality in the face. How much debt did you rack up to pay for Coachella? How much money do you have left in your bank account?

To get started, calculate all the expenses you will need to cover from now until payday. Get real about your financial situation. You may have to cancel after work drinks or eat dinner at your parents’ house three times this week. But, whatever you do, don’t get behind on your bills.

The faster you get back on track, the better.

2. Create a Bare-Bones Budget

A bare-bones budget is your old budget with all of the extra perks stripped away.

Basically, you can include money for groceries, but don’t you dare think about that Cloud Macchiato from Starbucks. You had your fun, now it’s time to get back to adulting. Plus, you only have to live with a minimalistic budget until your bank account is back in the black.

Make a list of essential, non-negotiable expenses, such as your rent/mortgage, car payment and insurance. These bills get priority. Next, write down all of your other expenses. What can you cut out temporarily, like eating out or your Hulu subscription?

Get creative with flexible expenses like groceries. Make a game of it. What new meals can you come up with from leftover food in your pantry? Adjusting your meal plan to feature cheap staples like rice and beans can cut your food bill for the month as well. Other quick ways to save over the next month or two include:

  • No shopping other than groceries
  • Use cash for groceries. No backup payments to save you at check-out
  • Cut or pause all subscriptions, like Netflix, your gym membership and Prime
  • Carpool or rely on public transportation to save on gas
  • No eating out
  • Minimize utility usage – i.e. shorter showers and shutting lights off
  • Return anything you recently bought that is still returnable

3. Get Extra Money Fast

Now is the time to sell anything and everything that you no longer need. You can list small, valuable items on eBay to make shipping easier. Large items can be sold through local marketplaces, like Craigslist and OfferUp. You can sell the rest of your stuff by holding a yard sale.

Here’s another idea to raise cash fast: See if you can put in a few extra hours at work or pick up more shifts. Try offering babysitting, dog walking or cleaning services to family, friends and neighbors.

Devote every penny you earn towards debt payoff and balancing your budget. This is not the time to reward yourself with extra splurges.

4. Save for Next Time

Already making future Coachella plans? Money.com estimates that festival costs about $2,347. Start saving now by putting $200 into savings each month if possible. Automatic savings makes this part a cinch.

If you’re a Chime member, you can take advantage of automated savings in two ways. First, you can choose to have 10 percent of your paycheck automatically transferred on to your Chime Savings Account. Secondly, you can have every purchase you make on your Chime Visa® Debit Card rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round up amounts are automatically transferred to your Chime Savings Account. Cha-ching.

Plan Before You Splurge

Life without trips and adventures is kind of blah. And, while Coachella may have put you in a tough spot financially, hopefully it was a wonderful experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

You can have the best of both worlds, though. Every new adventure or splurge doesn’t need to derail your budget. By following the guide above, you can effectively plan and save for Coachella, as well as other fun experiences.

Are you ready to start saving and budgeting so that you can achieve your financial goals and treat yourself to special events?

 

8 Incorrect Ways You Might Be Managing Your Money

It’s easy to understand why we fall into habits.

We don’t have the mental bandwidth to make conscious choices about every little aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to money. So, we revert to our habits and save the big decisions in life for things like whether to watch Game of Thrones or The Good Place.

Habits can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the habit. If you fall into good habits, you’ll essentially set yourself up on autopilot for a bright financial future. But bad financial habits? Over time, these can push you further away from your money goals.

Here are eight bad financial habits to stay away from.

1. Allowing Entertainment to Drive Your Spending

There are just so many entertaining ways to spend your money. Whether you go out for drinks with friends every Friday or purchase outdoor recreation gear on the regular, your paycheck can be entirely swallowed before you can say the word budget.

Yet, while spending on what makes you happy is important (it’s not an entirely unnecessary expense, after all), you do run the risk of overspending. This can bleed money away from your long-term goals, like saving for retirement. After all, you still want to be able to afford drinks with friends once you’re retired, right?

2. Living the “High Life” Without the Means

Ah, keeping up with the Joneses. This one is especially hard to resist as you start moving up in your career. As you get each new pay raise, it’s easy to upgrade your lifestyle. After all, you worked hard and you deserve it, right?

But it’s easy to get out of control if you don’t watch things. Sure, that BMW might be nice today and you may even be able to afford it, no problem. But what about when you also upgrade your lifestyle with a fancy new apartment, HBO, and yearly exotic vacations? Before you know it, you could end up in a mountain of debt.

3. Emotional Spending

There’s a lot of weird psychological science going on when it comes to shopping. It’s a hobby, for sure. Many people spend a lot of time and money on it, especially when they’re stressed-out, feeling down, or celebrating a lot of wins.

The unfortunate thing about emotional spending is that while it does lead to quick little boosts of happiness, in the long term it’ll dump you like a bad ex. That’s because it makes you more likely to spend past your limits, sucking money away from other goals and potentially putting you further in debt.

4. Not Saving for Emergencies

This is one of the biggest mistakes of all. If you’ve gotten this far in your life, you know that it’s not a question of if something bad will happen, it’s a question of when. An emergency fund is your best protection against a future bad event, whether it’s a job loss, a pet getting sick, a car breaking down, or an infestation of bees.

The biggest threat from not having an emergency fund is that you may go into debt to pay for whatever bad thing happens. But, by saving money in advance, not only can you gain some peace of mind, but you’ll also be able to afford those unexpected expenses without going into credit card debt.

5. Not Paying Off Your Credit Card Bill Each Month

Did you know that paying off your credit card bill in full each month means that you won’t have to pay any interest? It’s true. This is especially helpful when it comes to playing the credit card rewards game, because then you can truly earn your rewards without turning it into a losing proposition.

Furthermore, if you don’t pay off your credit card bill in full each month, it’s easy to put it off and rack up even more charges on your card. After all, you’re already in debt, so what’s a few more dollars? Over time, though, this mentality can land you in a whopping pile of credit card debt — not a fun prospect.

6. Not Saving for Smaller Goals

Sure, everyone is always stressing the importance of saving for emergencies and for retirement. They are two of the most important savings goals for most people.

But another mistake is not saving up for all of your other micro-goals. We’re talking about things like saving up for a new car, summer vacation costs, health care expenses, a down payment on a house, or holiday gifts. You know these expenses may be coming up (for better or worse), so why not start saving now?

7. Not Tracking Your Expenses

One way to guarantee that your dollars fly out of your wallet faster than Flash Gordon is to not track them.

You don’t necessarily need to create an elaborate budget or enter in every last purchase by hand each day. But it is a good idea to at least sign up for spending alerts through various apps like Mint or Personal Capital. This way, you’ll at least be warned when you’re spending too much money.

8. Letting Autopilot Run for Too Long

When it comes to your finances, it’s best to reassess your goals every six to 12 months and take a good, honest look at your financial goals. Then, you can dial into your expenses to see if your spending is matching up with your priorities.

It’s a good idea to shop around for new products at this time too. Can you get cheaper car insurance rates elsewhere? Are you still using your Amazon Prime subscription? Can you lower your dining out budget by just a tad, or are you happy with where it’s currently at? Should you shop for a new bank account if you’re currently paying fees?

Are You Ready to Drop Those Bad Habits?

If you’re ready to change your money habits, you can start by referring to this list of risky habits that aren’t doing you any favors. Then, re-evaluate your goals and adjust them accordingly. From here, you can tweak your bad financial habits and drop them like…well…a bad habit.

 

10 Best Money Books to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Some people seem to be naturally good at managing their money – they’ve always had cash in the bank and they actually enjoy budgeting.

On the other hand, there are those people who struggle with money. Maybe it’s due to a lack of financial knowledge, a drastic amount of debt, or simply feeling overwhelmed.

If you identify with the latter, you are not alone. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Student Loan Hero, just 43 percent of respondents stated they feel like they are financially successful. This means that a whopping 57 percent said they’re not financially confident. Yikes.

But here’s the good news: There are plenty of educational resources available, including excellent books that can help you gain more insight on your finances. Whether you’re looking to pay off debt, save more money, or start investing, there is a book for you.

Not sure where to start? Check out these 10 books that can help you improve your financial literacy.

1. Best book for millennials: Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together by Erin Lowry

Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you’re relatively new to the financial scene, there are tons of quality books to help teach you everything you need to know. Yet, Erin Lowry’s book, Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, stands apart from the rest.

Lowry’s simple, conversational tone is certainly helpful, as she walks you through the basics of budgeting, picking the best bank for you, dealing with debt, preparing for retirement, and more.

2. Best book about student loans: Bye Student Loan Debt: Learn How to Empower Yourself by Eliminating Your Student Loans by Daniel J. Mendelson

Author Daniel J. Mendelson and his wife once had nearly $150,000 of student loan debt due to many years of graduate school and hefty interest rates. By creating and sticking to a simple repayment process, the couple became debt-free within five years.

In Bye Student Loan Debt, Mendelson walks you through his simple debt repayment system. And more importantly, the book will give you hope if you are feeling like you’ll never pay off your student loans.

3. Best book on frugality: 365 Ways to Live Cheap: Your Everyday Guide to Saving Money by Trent Hamm

Frugality is one way to fix your financial situation. By living on the cheap, you have more money for the things that are truly important to you.

Trent Hamm, founder of the blog The Simple Dollar, knows how to be frugal. Hamm credits frugality and mindfulness for overhauling his formerly dire financial situation. And, his book, 365 Ways to Live Cheap: Your Everyday Guide to Saving Money, offers some easy ways to save money in your day-to-day spending.

4. Best book for investing: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is the classic guide to getting started with the stock market. And, while you may not recognize the author by name, you certainly know of him – John C. Bogle is the founder of the investment company Vanguard. Bogle believes investing is for everyone, regardless of your education, income or experience.

While the stock market has its ups and downs, Bogle’s book has withstood the test of time. It is now on its tenth anniversary edition.

5. Best book for increasing your income: Hustle Away Debt: Eliminate Your Debt by Making More Money by David Carlson

While most financial books focus on saving, Hustle Away Debt offers a fresh perspective by teaching you about the importance of increasing your income.

Author David Carlson is also the founder of the popular millenial financial blog Young Adult Money. In his book, he details his secrets to getting out of debt by increasing his income through side hustles. If you’ve ever wanted to increase your income while learning new skills, then this book is a must-read.

6. Best book on budgeting: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

Suze Orman is one of the original financial gurus. She has seven New York Times best sellers, but you may recognize her most from her television show, The Suze Orman Show.

Orman provides to-the-point, no frills financial advice. For those just learning to budget (or learning to stick to a budget), look no further than The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. Orman walks you through everything you need to know.

7. Best book for couples: Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide to Communicating About Money by Talaat and Tai McNeely

Relationships and money are often a neglected topic. In fact, in a study by CreditLoan.com, over 30 percent of men and women hid a financial secret from their partners.

To say there is room for improvement is an understatement. That’s where Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide to Communicating About Money comes in. This book hits on a sometimes sensitive topic. Not only does it provide valuable communication tips, but it teaches you how to set and achieve financial goals as a couple.

8. Best book for general financial advice: Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is one of the top financial writers out there. His book, Total Money Makeover, shows you how to take control of your finances in a simple 10 “baby-step” process, which includes paying off debt, saving for an emergency fund, starting to invest, and other financial goals.

Total Money Makeover provides foolproof, no-nonsense advice for anyone looking to improve their financial situation.

9. Best book for saving: Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki

In the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, author Robert Kiyosaki outlines the lives of two men: his father, who was constantly broke, and his father’s friend, a wealthy entrepreneur. He believes “street smarts” can often be more valuable than a more traditional education.

Rich Dad Poor Dad challenges the conventional ideas of saving by providing information on how your current view of money can affect your future finances.

10. Best book for early retirement: How to Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less by Robert and Robin Charlton

At the age of just 43, Robert and Robin Charlton were able to retire from their full-time jobs. They had worked a collective total of just 15 years. They now run a website, WhereWeBe.com while traveling the world.

Their book, How to Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less, is designed to help others do the same thing they did. They outline repeatable steps that anyone with a full-time job can implement. Overall, they aim to communicate that retirement is not just a dream. It’s achievable.

 

This Millennial Saved $200K Before Turning 30 — Here’s How

Links to external websites are not managed by Chime or The Bancorp Bank.


The majority of millennials have next to nothing in their bank accounts.

You’ve probably heard the stats: Millennials couldn’t cover a $1,000 emergency, and they have an average of $36,000 of debt. And when it comes to retirement — which, to most millennials, seems like a billion years away — 66% haven’t saved a cent.

The blogger behind Fiery Millennials, however, is tipping the scales. Gwen Merz is only 28 years old, and has already saved $200,000 for retirement. Want to know how she did it? Merz revealed her savings story to us — and also offered advice for fellow millennials who want to prepare for their futures. To learn more, keep reading.

Stumbling Upon Financial Independence

One day in college, Merz was using the 2000s relic known as StumbleUpon when an article about FIRE (financial independence, retire early) popped up in her browser. Merz, who had grown up poor, immediately became “hooked” on the ideals of frugal living and financial security.

“Here are these people who never have to worry about having enough money ever again,” she says.

“That was very appealing to me, as someone who internalized a lot of those lessons about poverty early in life.”

Though she couldn’t save much money as a college student, Merz says learning about FIRE gave her a “really good foundation” for her adult life. When she totaled her car, for example, she didn’t take out a loan, and instead bought a used vehicle with cash. And when she graduated debt-free, thanks to a full-ride scholarship and her service in the National Guard, Merz was “so ready” to put financial independence (FI)  into practice.

“I was super stoked that I got to put money in my 401(k) and open a Roth IRA,” she says. “So nerdy, but it’s true!”

The Road to $200K

After she graduated college in 2013, Merz landed a full-time information technology job at the Fortune 100 company at which she had interned.

Her base salary? A lucrative $65,000, plus bonuses that averaged $7,000 to $8,000 after taxes, and a 10% 401(k) match.

While her peers spent their paychecks on nights out and new clothes, Merz saved 60% to 80% of her income (which increased each year and eventually came close to six figures).

“It was really good that I got started so young because I didn’t have any set habits or lifestyle expectations,” she says.

Merz maxed out her 401(k) — the limit is now $19,000 per year — and her Roth IRA — the limit is now $6,000 per year — and put the rest into a health savings account (HSA) and other taxable accounts.

After six years of saving, her retirement accounts reached a balance of more than $200,000.

Cutting ‘The Big Three’

Despite her ample salary, Merz admits it wasn’t always easy to save so much.

“At the beginning, it was definitely harder. But that’s only because I was still trying to live a typical American life.”

As an example, she cites the fact that she was living in a three-bedroom house by herself — a decision she now deems “ridiculous.” So she got a roommate, and cut her monthly housing budget from $900 to $450.

She also kept the 2005 Pontiac Vibe she purchased in college. Whereas most of her peers have bought one or more new cars since graduating, her vehicle will soon hit the 200,000-mile mark.

“It’s the big three you have to watch out for: housing, cars, and food,” explains Merz.

“If you can keep those three to a manageable level — or figure out how to get rid of one — you’re going to be so much better off than the average American.”

Or, as she puts it: If “you make one or two different choices in life, that can make all the difference.”

How Millennials Can Save (No Matter Their Income)

Merz is the first to acknowledge that the FIRE movement is dripping in privilege.

“Some people say everyone can achieve FI — that’s just not true. It’s a lot easier to save half of your income if you’re earning a lot of money.” And, as she points out, it’s even easier if you don’t have student loans or dependents.

Still, Merz believes anyone can learn lessons about budgeting and consumption from the FI movement. Even if someone can’t save at high rates, for example, they can maybe build an emergency fund or open a Roth IRA.

If you want to start saving — regardless of your income — Merz says your first step should be automation.

When Merz received her first paycheck, she set up automatic withdrawals that funneled money into her savings and investment accounts.

“I never saw that money and didn’t miss it because I had never known what it was like to have that much,” she explains.

The good news with this automated saving approach is it can eliminate the need for budgeting. Since Merz covered her necessities and investment goals by paying herself first, she could then give herself “free reign” to spend whatever was left.

“There’s a lot of guilt and decision making that are involved with budgets. But if you artificially lower the amount of money that you have to spend… it’s easier to save.”

If your employer offers a 401(k) program, Merz also urges you to sign up. Not only will your contributions grow over the next several decades, potentially funding your retirement, but they will also lower your taxable income right now. For example:

  • Say you earn $50,000 per year and contribute $5,000 to your 401(k). You can deduct that $5,000 from your income, meaning you’ll only pay taxes on $45,000 of earnings.

 

  • Many employers match 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage. A “3% match,” for example, means your employee will  match every dollar you contribute, up to 3% of your paycheck.

“There’s no reason to not save up to the match,” says Merz. “They’re giving you free money — who does that?”

When This Fiery Millennial Will Retire

When Merz began her FIRE journey, her goal was to retire at 35 with $635,000. But in the years since, her outlook has shifted.

“I don’t really have a number or a date in mind anymore. It’s less about early retirement now — and more about how can I optimize my life so I’m at peak happiness,” she says.

Even if she doesn’t retire early, Merz has learned a lot from FIRE, saying: “It’s been interesting to see all the things society says we need that I am actually quite comfortable living without.”

She has also given herself a significant amount of financial freedom in the years to come. By frontloading her retirement savings — and giving her accounts decades to compound — Merz could stop saving for retirement now and still have a healthy nest egg at 65.

“I gave myself the gift of not having to worry and stress out about money in the future,” she says.

 

The 11 Best Money Lessons from Our Favorite Personal Finance Bloggers

Sometimes the best way to learn about money is through experience. How do you get this experience? One good way is to read personal finance blogs and listen to podcasts from money experts.

But, want to know how you can start learning more right now? We’ve hit up some of our favorite personal finance bloggers and asked for their top money lessons. Take a look:

Lesson #1: Changing your money mindset is everything

When you think about money, you may just think about the numbers. But what if you took it a step further and looked beyond the numbers?

For example, your mindset, behaviors, and spending patterns all affect your money management style.

“The best money lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that your money mindset is more important than the number in your bank account. If you fear money or think you’re terrible with money, that will become true,” says family finance expert Catherine Alford.

“If you have a positive money mindset, believe you deserve raises, and believe you can learn what you need to know about money, that will also become true. Personally, I prefer the latter,” says Alford.

Start by writing down your money beliefs and look at how they may be holding you back. If you try to re-write your money story, this may end up positively affecting your financial life.

Lesson #2: The money isn’t always worth it

Have you ever dreamed of earning more? Or have you ever thought “Once I earn more money, I’ll be happier?”

It’s easy to get into the trap of “I’ll be happy when…” But this can be a dead end road. Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100k learned that doing something just for the money isn’t always worth it.

“I took a job for the money after negotiating $20,000 more than they offered. There were serious red flags during the interview process that I choose to ignore because I thought the money would be worth it,” explains Dunlap.

“Long story short, it wasn’t. I ended up having to quit after only 10 weeks without another job lined up because it was so toxic. Money is important, but it will never make up for a horrible environment you spend 40 hours a week in.”

So next time you get lured by a paycheck, remember you still want to own your peace and happiness. Yes, we all have to do some jobs we don’t like, but money can’t fix all of your problems either.

Lesson #3 Pay yourself first

When you get paid, it seems like bills and life take every cent you earn. How can you start saving when it seems like you have nothing left over?

Although it can be tough, this requires action. And paying yourself first is something that you can do starting now, says K. Wright, personal finance freelance writer and founder of Money the Wright Way.

“My best money lesson: Pay. Yourself. First. This is a concept I still struggle with, as I am accustomed to paying bills first. It’s hard to practice when you have a million other financial obligations, but if you don’t set aside money for you, who will? Should you find yourself in a financial bind, you can bet the landlord, Sallie Mae, and the water company won’t be around to give back the money you paid them. Even if it’s a few dollars every payday, make yourself a priority,” she says.

Start by automating your savings and pay yourself with every paycheck. You can do this easily with Chime, and this way you can save effortlessly.

Lesson #4: Discipline leads to freedom

Money can be used to open up doors and be a tool of freedom. But in order to manage your money and unlock that freedom, you need discipline. That’s a lesson that Richmond Howard, founder of PF Geeks learned.

Howard realized that discipline isn’t something that has to feel restricting. Rather, it’s something that can help you get through hard times or support causes you’re passionate about.

“The discipline I have with my finances now has given me the chance to freely give to causes I support and to help family through hard times. The truth is that financial discipline leads to financial freedom. Sticking to our budget and finding ways to save money doesn’t constrict us,” he says.

To start, create a budget and track everything you spend. Write down your goals, and this way you’ll know what you’re working toward.

Lesson #5: Not all advice is worth it

Have you ever fallen down a personal finance rabbit hole and read 20 articles, each with conflicting advice and ideas? You don’t know what advice to take or where to go.

Blogger and accountant Eric J. Nisall learned how to be discerning and break through the noise.

“Not every piece of advice is meant for you. Not every person should be giving advice,” he says.

“It’s important to vet the source and see how you can adapt the information to fit your specific situation. It’s perfectly ok to pass on tips that others find helpful if it simply doesn’t fit with your personal preferences or situational needs,” says Nisall.

So next time you’re evaluating a piece of advice, understand how it can be used in your situation and take it with a grain of salt.

Lesson #6: Focus on your mental health, not just money

Money is important, but not at the expense of your mental health. If you’re pinching pennies and not taking care of your well-being, you’re doing it wrong. If you are working yourself to the bone to try to get ahead and avoiding your needs, money is meaningless.

“My #1 money lesson is that your mental health is more important than money. As important as it is to have your finances in order, there are limits to this,” says Bob, who only uses his first name at his blog, The Frugal Fellow.

“If you reach a point where you can no longer do what you’re doing, it’s okay to take a step back. That is actually what I’m doing right now, and I couldn’t be happier. You have to take care of yourself because if you don’t, money won’t do you any good.”

Lesson #7: Invest in yourself

Investing in yourself now can pay dividends later. You never know how a small action can compound and lead to future returns.

So, take the time, money and effort to invest in yourself now, says Martin Dasko of Studenomics.

“Invest in yourself whenever possible. You won’t always see immediate results. You’ll always be further ahead. A $20 investment into a book or a lunch meeting can go a long way. You never what action today will change the course of your future,” he says.

Say yes to that meeting, invest in your education or business, and know that you’re playing the long game.

Lesson #8: Automate your payments and savings

Getting your finances in order takes discipline and work. But you may not be good at staying accountable and doing the work to set money aside for a rainy day. That’s why automating your savings as well as your payments can help you get ahead.

“For me, automating my payments and savings was crucial to any success I’ve had to date. It removed much of the anxiety I was feeling when paying bills and frees up my energy to focus on positive things, like goals and gratitude,” says blogger Erica Henkel at The Lady in the Black.

To make automating easy, you can start by signing up for a Chime bank account.

Lesson #9: Do a mid-year check in with your money

Managing your money is a process and not something you set and forget. That’s especially true when managing your income and your taxes.

Doing a check-in mid-year, or even every quarter, can help you avoid tax trouble. The key is to track, review, and reassess.

“My wife and I once ended up owing a big tax bill. It was primarily due to one of us working a couple of part-time jobs that withheld little to no money for taxes, as well as it being the first year we had significant side hustle income,” explains David Carlson, founder of Young Adult Money.

“The lesson learned was to always do a mid-year checkup to see how much income we’ve made (both at our 9-to-5 jobs and through side hustles) and compare that to how much has been withheld. If you do this in the middle of the year, you still have time to make adjustments that can help you avoid a big tax bill, such as changing your allowances on your W-4, having additional money voluntarily withheld from your paycheck, or paying quarterly estimated taxes,” says Carlson.

Lesson #10: Save for emergencies

Life is full of the unexpected and money can be a lifeboat that helps you get through the tough times.

“My best money lesson was having an emergency fund. I’d read this in some personal finance books, and my parents urged me to save for one, so I did. I didn’t realize how important it was until I lost a job several years ago,” says Kristin Wong, author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford.

“I was relieved to have a cushion of savings to help me through it. It still felt awful to lose the job, but the financial burden wasn’t as heavy. That was everything,” says Wong.

Start saving for emergencies now by setting money aside each paycheck, even if it’s just $10. Ultimately, you should aim for three to six months worth of expenses saved.

Lesson #11: Boost your earnings

It’s easy to clip coupons and cut back as an initial strategy when working to save more money. But it’s not the only route, either, and there may be better ways to save more money.

Cutting back is just one part of the equation. Earning more is another.

“People with lower incomes might save as much as they can but still barely move the needle compared to high earners who save only a moderate percentage. Thus, my best money lesson is to strive to increase your earnings,” says Joyce Chou, personal finance writer at Financial Impulse.

You can do this by asking for a raise at work, picking up a side hustle on the weekends, or selling some of your items for cash.

Bottom line

Getting your money in order is tough work and can be a process of trial and error. Yet, heeding advice from these 11 lessons, you can learn how to make your money work for you. Are you ready to start saving more money today?

 

How to Handle No Spend Sundays Like a Boss

Fun fact: Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Yes, I know it’s dangerously close to Monday. But, I still look forward to it because it’s a chance to treat myself after working for five days and then side hustling on Saturdays.

Yet, while I love Sundays, it’s easy to get caught up in my favorite day off and blow right through my budget. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario of how quickly spending can add up on a typical Sunday:

Coffee – $5

Brunch – $50

Groceries – $75
Gas for the week – $30

Total: $160

When multiplied by four, this adds up to $640 a month or $7,680 a year. Yikes.

If this type of spending looks familiar to you, then a No Spend Sunday may be just what you need in order to boost your savings goals. If you’ve never tried one of these challenges before, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn how to navigate a No Spend Sunday in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Separate Wants From Needs

First, it’s important to understand the definition of a No Spend Day.

Think of it like going on a diet but for your finances. It means that you eliminate (or scale back on) anything that’s non-essential to your budget. For me, based on the above hypothetical list, I would cut out coffee, brunch and challenge myself to lower the amount I spend on groceries. Gas would remain on the list as a “need.”

Now it’s your turn: Take a step back and write down all the activities you normally do on a Sunday that cost money. Place a checkmark next to the ones that are essential and an “x” next to the spending you can do without.

Step 2: Get Creative

Kristy Runzer, CFP® and Founder of OnRoute Financial, says that the key to surviving a money challenge like a No Spend Sunday is to get creative and find things to do that will bring you happiness without the price-tag.

“So, for example, let’s say that you typically enjoy going out to eat with girlfriends to fill the need of wanting to spend time with those closest to you and simply have fun. On a (No Spend Sunday), instead of spending money at a restaurant, you could meet up with your girlfriends at the park or hang out at someone’s house. The end result is the same – you fulfill the underlying need to connect, without feeling guilty about your spending,” says Runzer.

Sami Womack, Founder of A Sunny Side Up Life, also agrees that “having fun doesn’t have to cost money.”

Some of Womack’s favorite free activities include:

  • An at-home spa day
  • Hiking
  • Reading a book
  • A movie night at home
  • Subscribing to a new podcast
  • Spring cleaning your closet
  • Doing a pantry/freezer cleanout

Step 3: Get an Accountability Partner

It’s so much easier to stay the course with just about anything when you have extra support.

If you can’t find a friend or family member who wants to hop aboard the no spend train with you, then look no further than social media. Many money coaches and personal finance bloggers host money challenges throughout the year that you can participate in. All you have to do is search #NoSpendDay or #NoSpendWeek, etc.

Step 4: Give Your Savings a Purpose

When saving money, it’s important that you save for a specific purpose. Yet, oftentimes folks miss this when they survive a savings challenge.

So, let’s say you decide not to eat out or go to the mall during your No Spend Sunday. Estimate your savings by looking at how much you would normally spend on each of these activities.

Let’s say the total is $100. At the end of the No Spend Sunday, transfer $100 into a separate savings account until you figure out what to do with it (pay down debt, put it in your summer vacay fund, etc.) This way the money isn’t just floating around in your checking accounting, tempting you to spend it on things you probably don’t need come Monday.

Step 5: Keep Building Those Healthy Money Habits

The benefit of a spending challenge is that it teaches you money mindfulness.

“Every day, but especially on weekends, it’s easy to spend money without thinking twice. You don’t realize (the damage) until the credit card bill comes and you’re left with a spending hangover,” says Runzer.

“Putting even a little bit of thought into what you’re spending or wanting to spend on and why really goes a long way. This is truly empowering because it puts the choice and the control back in your hands. You get to make money decisions from a place of knowing where things are going and what they’re doing for you,” she says.

From here, you can make incremental changes that positively affect your finances over time, rather than trying to make a drastic overnight change. This is exactly what Lauren Tucker, Founder of An Organized Life has done. She started out with a No Spend Friday, then a No Spend Week, until she worked her way up to a No Spend Month.

“It’s definitely been a process,” says Tucker.

“But starting small is the best way to introduce a new habit,” she says.

“Everyone’s definition of a no spend (challenge) can vary, but for me, it means that I refrain from purchasing anything that’s not in the budget or that I have already identified to spend in my miscellaneous spending category.”

Tucker plans out her month using a Google Keep Note where she outlines what she intends to spend with any discretionary income. She also tracks her success each day and shares her monthly results on her social media feed.

Bonus Tip: Pay Yourself First

After my husband and I completed our first no spend challenge, we realized that one of the reasons we would overspend is that we had too much money left-over in our checking account after paying our bills. That money was just hanging out, waiting to be spent.

That’s around the time I learned about the importance of paying yourself first. This means that we save first before doing anything else. By doing this, it reduces the amount of “extra money” we have left in our checking account and forces us to be more conscious of how we spend – especially on the weekends.

We still incorporate no spend challenges every now and again, especially when we have a specific money goal, like saving for a vacation.

We challenge you to try out your own No Spend Sunday for yourself and see how much money you can save!

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.