Tag: Chime to Table

 

How To Get Paid Two Days Early Than Others

Doesn’t everybody get tired of waiting for days for their paychecks? Or getting frustrated when they are late paying the bills because of delayed paychecks? If so, how do the words ‘get paid up to 2 days faster’ sound?!

It’s safe to say that most employees don’t like the feeling of waiting too long for their hard-earned money to come in. Sometimes paychecks are even lost in the mail or stolen. It only adds to their waiting time if the employer has to replace the paycheck, adding to frustration. So how could hardworking employees avoid this? Get paid fast and early, that’s how.

Direct deposit is a solution to cut the waiting time for a paycheck. These are some of the reasons why a direct deposit is better than a regular paycheck:

  1. It is faster. Once the employer deposits the pay of the employees, it will be electronically transferred immediately to their bank accounts.
  2. It is convenient. Employees who choose to use this method do not need to wait for their paychecks to come in the mail, then get in line at the bank to deposit it. With early direct deposit, the money is already cleared and ready to withdraw.
  3. It is accessible and efficient. People can access and control their accounts with the use of their mobile banking apps whenever and wherever they are.
  4. It is safe. People do not have to worry about paychecks getting lost. Every transaction is electronically-generated.
  5. It’s basically free with many bank accounts.

Everyone should be reminded that to take advantage  of the direct deposit feature, one should have a bank account. Before opening an account, the consumer should also think about the different banking fees. Major banks impose different rates for these fees. For those consumers who do not have extra money to pay for them, they could just open an account with Chime, an online banking account. Chime does not charge monthly fees and there are no hidden charges, so it’s a great alternative to traditional banks.

How does direct deposit work exactly?

When the Federal Reserve accepts the payroll submitted by the employer, it notifies the banks regarding employee salary. It is then up to the banks whether to release it earlier or exactly on payday. Most major banks wait for the actual payday but Chime is one of the fastest banking accounts, making the deposit of pay up to 2 days faster.

This is possible because of Chime’s Early Direct Deposit feature. If a payday falls on a Friday, employees with a Chime account usually receive their pay on Wednesday.  Account holders can make saving more money possible with the Automatic Savings program which allows users to automatically transfer 10% of their paycheck to their savings account every time they get paid.

Consumers should seriously consider receiving pay through direct deposit. Overall, it is convenient, safe, and fast; especially for Chime account holders who get paid faster with their account than others who bank elsewhere.

 

10 Years After the Financial Crisis – How Fintech Is Helping

“Too big to fail.” If reading that brings a little bit of red to your eyes, you’re not alone.

Though originally popularized in the 1980s during the bailout of Continental Illinois National Bank, this phrase once again became common parlance during the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, this saying became synonymous with the unwillingness of regulators to close a large troubled bank because they believed the short-term costs of a bank failure were too high.

So, it’s no surprise that nearly half (49 percent) of Americans still have negative associations with the term “too big to fail,” according to a recent Chime survey. The generations who had the strongest negative connotations included boomers (55 percent), many of whom lost their retirement savings in 2008, and millennials (50 percent), who graduated to a nonexistent job market.

In the decade since that phrase was splashed across newspapers and discussed at every dinner table, the United States has slowly clawed its way back from the financial crisis. This brings up the question: Has anything really changed?

How banks are doing

Following the Great Recession, the American people bailed out banks, investors, and shareholders. The Federal Reserve slashed interest rates and pumped trillions of dollars into the American economy.

Ten years later, the same big banks are still at the top of the game: JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and US Bank. Across the U.S., banks had record profits of $56 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Although CEOs earn less than before, they’re still killing it. The stock market has sustained one of its longest bull runs in history, with the S&P 500 growing more than 300 percent since the crisis.

“This is not an industry that has examined itself and remade itself in the wake of the crisis,” stated Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in The Wall Street Journal.

That’s despite Dodd-Frank, a 2010 bill that aimed to protect consumers by placing more controls on banks, including their lending requirements. While the bill did result in increased accountability and oversight, the current administration has begun to roll back some of its provisions. Even if the remainder of the consumer protections stay intact, the WSJ points out that many of the regulators have backgrounds in the very industry they’re supposed to be monitoring.

In other words, banks are doing well, executives and stocks are flying high…but how about the American people?

How Americans are doing

Every year since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has asked 12,000 adults about their financial lives for the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED).

According to the 2017 report, only 7 percent of adults say it’s “difficult to get by financially” —  about half the number who said so in 2013. And nearly three-quarters say they’re either “living comfortably” (33 percent) or “doing okay” (40 percent).

Although things have improved, that doesn’t mean everything is OK. Here’s a deeper look at the numbers.

Unemployment and income

Unemployment has dropped to 3.9 percent, lower than it was before the recession. Even the “real” unemployment rate — which includes people who’ve stopped looking for work and people working part-time because they haven’t found full-time opportunities — is only 7.4 percent.

Not counted in that percentage, though, are the people who aren’t looking for work because they can’t find childcare, are addicted to opiates, or are turned off by low wages. Of the Americans who are employed, more than one-fifth (23.3 percent) are in jobs where the median wages fall below the federal poverty line, reports the WSJ. Nearly 40 percent of adults, according to SHED, have family incomes of less than $40,000. Overall, the WSJ says median household income has only risen 5.3 percent since 2008.

Chime’s survey underscores this: 54 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

More people, SHED learned, are working on the side, too: 31 percent of adults engaged in gig work in 2017, up from 28 percent in 2016.

Wealth and inequality

Chime’s survey asked people how the recession had affected their financial habits. This is what we found:

  • 72 percent became more inclined to save money
  • 62 percent feel their savings are “in a better place” compared to 10 years ago

Despite these promising signs, the wealth gap continues to grow. One report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis went so far as to say millennials may become a “lost generation” for wealth accumulation.

“Wealth in 2016 of the median family headed by someone born in the 1980s remained 34 percent below the level we predicted based on the experience of earlier generations at the same age,” stated the report.

Those with exposure to the stock market — just half of the American population — have bounded ahead, while everyone else has been left behind. In the New York Times, Nelson D. Schwartz reports the “proportion of family income from wages” has fallen from 70 percent to just under 61 percent. The rest, he says, is largely from investments.

“The people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see,” wrote Schwartz in the New York Times. “Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.”

When the recession hit, Americans lost $16 trillion in net worth. Today, the wealth of the median American household is still 34 percent lower than it was in 2007, according to the New York Times. Why? Because for families without large investments, their wealth was wrapped up in home value.

Housing

Although housing prices have fully recovered — with the average house price 1 percent higher than the peak in 2006 — there aren’t as many homeowners as there were before the recession.

In what The Penny Hoarder calls “The American Nightmare,” 9 million people lost their homes during the housing crash. According to CNN, the overall homeownership rate dropped from 69.4 percent in 2004 to 63.1 percent in 2016. And, of the Americans who rent, nearly half of them are cost-burdened, according to Harvard University. This means they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

Debt and savings

Debt also remains a common struggle. In fact, Chime’s survey found that 65 percent of Americans have some sort of debt, with 40 percent carrying more than $10,000 and 14 percent carrying more than $50,000.

Here are some staggering stats:

  • Student debt, in particular, has crippled millennials. Today’s students graduate with nearly $40,000 of loans, according to Student Loan Hero.
  • When faced with an unexpected expense of $400, 40 percent of adults can’t pay for it, reports SHED. While that figure has decreased from 50 percent in 2013, it still isn’t good.
  • Twenty percent of Americans are behind on their debt payments, according to SHED; a slight increase from 18 percent in 2015.

In addition, SHED found 22 percent of adults expected to forgo payment on some of their bills in November or December 2017 — mostly credit cards. (That may be why 64 percent of the people we surveyed prefer debit cards over credit cards.)

When it comes to retirement, the picture is also bleak. SHED reports less than two-fifths of non-retired adults think their retirement savings are on track. One-fourth have no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

The rise of fintech

Though the traditional financial industry may not have learned much from the Great Recession, entrepreneurs did.

They immediately saw a need for a new breed of financial businesses. They realized banking and financial services should no longer be exclusive, confusing and predatorial. Instead, entrepreneurs thought financial institutions should be helpful, transparent and free.

So, in the years after the crash, fintech companies started sprouting up left and right.

While the streak of new companies began to slow in 2015 — perhaps, Deloitte posits, because other technologies like bots and blockchain have attracted entrepreneurs — investments into fintech are still robust.

In 2017, according to SHED:

  • 62 percent of adults auto-paid some bills
  • 52 percent received electronic account alerts
  • 46 percent used automatic saving

And, when it comes to mobile banking, those customers are more satisfied. Fifty-nine percent of the millennials we surveyed would recommend their online or mobile bank to a friend. Of those who used national banks, only 22 percent would do the same.

How fintech is helping

Although the financial crisis has had a lasting impact on Americans, it’s also created a landscape in which fintech can thrive.

So, if there’s been one benefit of the Great Recession, it’s the growth of new financial companies that value transparency and put consumers first.

New fintech startups are indeed helping today’s consumers close tomorrow’s wealth gap. For example, Chime offers comprehensive, modern banking with zero fees. With services like Early Direct Deposit, you can avoid predatory payday lenders. And, with automatic savings features, you can build your emergency fund without thinking about it.

In other words: we’ve got your back as you achieve your financial goals.

 

The Joys of Early Direct Deposit

Nowadays, employers are utilizing direct deposits rather than mailing paychecks for their employees’ salaries. Not only is it cost-efficient for the company, it also greatly benefits the employees. Direct deposit means the money is transferred automatically to the employees’ bank accounts as soon as their employers put their salaries in.

In a survey done by NACHA in 2016, polling showed that 82% of employees are paid through direct deposit, with 87% of them satisfied with the service because of its safety and better money management. With direct deposits, people save time by avoiding the chore of visiting the bank or ATM  just to deposit their pay. They don’t have to endure long lines and waiting times. This is definitely a plus for employees who do not have the luxury of free time.

What are the advantages of direct deposit?

First of all, employees have the upper hand in direct deposit because it makes it possible for them to get their pay early. It is faster than having paychecks delivered to their home. It is hassle-free and worry-free since it provides a safer way for people to get paid. There is no  issue with the cost of depositing checks, since direct deposits are basically free. Second, it’s not just the employees that benefit from direct deposit. Companies save a lot of money by going paperless and don’t have the concern of potential lost paychecks. With direct deposits, check frauds can also be avoided.  Lastly, having direct deposit can help with money management, as the money goes straight to the account.  This can help with controlling spending and keeping finances under control.

Overall, this payroll system is win-win situation for both the employers and employees.

How to get paid early with direct deposit?

Direct deposit can only be utilized by employees who have bank accounts. If a person is newly-hired and doesn’t have one, he or she should open an account in order to receive their pay early through direct deposit. When everything has been set up successfully, employees can get their paychecks sent directly to their bank accounts, provided that the company supports this payroll system. If it does, an employee can arrange with the employer’s HR department by giving his bank account details. Then all an employee has to do is wait for their employers to distribute their pay and the money will automatically be transferred to their account.

Start getting that paycheck sent directly to bank account

Employees who are signed up for direct deposit have the advantage of getting their pay 2 days before the usual payday. One of the online banking systems that offers this option is Chime. Chime Account users can get their money 2 days earlier making it easier for them to handle their money effectively. When employers deposit the money, it will be automatically transferred to the employee’s bank account and Chime will send a notification, alerting the employee that his or her money is already received.

Don’t wait for that paycheck to get lost or stolen- sign up for direct deposit and get paid early.

 

How Does Chime Make Money?

You may have heard about bank accounts that charge no fees. At the same time, you probably thought: how can this be true? Banks have to make money and without charging fees, how can they stay in business?

Let’s take a deeper dive so that you can truly grasp how Chime differentiates itself from traditional banks. Once you understand how Chime makes money without charging you unnecessary fees, you’ll be switching banks in no time.


Open a bank account online for free

Banking like it should be.

No hidden fees and get paid up to 2 days early.

Free to sign up and takes less than 2-minutes!

Apply Now


Traditional Banks Rake in Big Bucks in Fees

Before we go any further, it’s important for you to understand that traditional banks make big bucks by charging you fees. These come in the form of overdraft fees, ATM charges, account maintenance and monthly fees, transfer fees, international fees and non-sufficient fund (NSF) fees. That’s a whole lotta fees.

In fact, those charges add up, big time. According to Bank Fee Finder, American households pay $329 a year, on average, in bank fees. What’s worse: traditional banks raked in $33 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2016.

In essence, you may be paying for the privilege of parking your hard-earned money at a traditional bank. This just doesn’t seem right, however, many consumers have grown accustomed to paying bank fees. Some banking customers even consider this the cost of doing business with a bank. But, here’s the silver lining. You are not stuck with your bank, and you don’t have to pay these endless fees. You do have a better option: open a Chime bank account.

Chime Makes Money Without Charging You Fees

Unlike traditional banks that charge consumers fees left, right and center, Chime makes its money from Visa. Here’s how:

  • Whenever you make a purchase using your Chime Visa®️ Debit Card, Visa collects what’s called an interchange fee from the merchant for processing your payment.
  • A portion of this interchange fee is then paid out to Chime.
  • These Visa interchange fees add up as Chime gets a small portion every time you use your Chime card to pay for bills and make purchases.

And there you have it. This is how Chime makes money.

Using Your Chime Card is a Win-Win

Each time you use your Chime card, both you and Chime win. Chime makes money from Visa, while you save money. What?

About now you’re probably thinking: How can I save money when I spend money?

Here’s how:

  • Enable Chime’s automatic savings features. When you enable Save When You Spend, every time you use your Chime Visa Debit Card, Chime will round up your transaction amount and transfer this round up from your Spending into your Savings Account.
  • Besides saving money when you use your debit card, Chime helps you save in other ways as well. For example, with Chime’s Save When I Get Paid feature, you’ll save money by paying yourself first. You don’t even have to think about it as Chime transfers 10% of every paycheck over $500 directly into your Savings Account.

Are you ready to stop paying fees, save more cash and reach your money goals faster? We thought so. Make the switch to Chime today and you can bank on a brighter financial future.


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.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank (“Bank”).  Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

 

9 Ways to Host While On a Holiday Budget

Growing up in a family where we hosted everything from birthday parties to Christmas gatherings to Fourth of July barbecues, it’s just in my DNA to host parties.

The problem? Hosting a party can get ridiculously expensive – particularly when you’re trying to budget and for an upcoming holiday.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned how you can host a party on the cheap that’s still top-notch.

Find out how by following these 9 tips.

1. Create your budget.

Thanks to this handy party budget estimator from Evite, you can calculate the cost of food, drinks, decorations, venue, and entertainment for your upcoming party so that you don’t overspend.

If you do go over budget, then think about whittling down your guest list or looking for cheaper food, drink, and decoration alternatives so that you can reduce the cost of the party.

As with any budget you create, make sure that you stick to it.

2. Pick a theme.

Before you start buying food, drinks, and decorations, settle on a theme. This will help guide you in setting the budget I just mentioned since you’ll know exactly what you need to purchase for the party.

If the theme is too expensive to pull-off, then look for another theme that’s not as pricey.

Another perk of picking a theme is that you may find a ton of DIY ideas on Pinterest or Instagram, which could potentially save you a ton of money in decorations or entertainment.

3. Go green.

Unless it’s for a more formal event, like a wedding, there’s really no reason to send out paper invitations – especially when you can send out invites digitally on Facebook or Evite for free.

The same is true with paper and plastic plates, silverware, and glasses. Washing them may be a hassle, but using the dinnerware that you already own cuts out this unnecessary expense. Besides, real dinnerware makes you party seem a bit more eloquent.

4. Skip the big meal.

I honestly enjoy dinner parties. But, they can get real expensive. Instead of having a traditional sit-down dinner, just offer hors d’oeuvres or appetizers, such as cheese/charcuterie plates, veggies, and bread bowls. Usually, these ingredients are inexpensive or can be bought in bulk.

Just remember, make your presentation unique and appealing based on your theme, as opposed to the ordinary and humdrum. If the presentation looks amazing, your guests won’t even know that you didn’t spend a whole lot dough on food.

5. Stick with a signature drink.

Just like food, you have to provide your guests with drinks. The problem is that having a full bar is extremely expensive. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a variety of alcohol. Instead, come up with a signature cocktail that matches your theme. This way you’re only purchasing one or two types of alcohol.

If you do want to have more of selection, then buy your alcohol in bulk or at places like Trader Joe’s where decent bottles of wine can be found for under $10. Of course, there’s also the classic BYOB option.

6. Keep entertainment and decorations simple.

You can’t host a party without entertainment. Thankfully, you can entertain your guests on the cheap thanks to music apps like Apple Radio, Spotify, and Pandora where can make playlists for the theme or holiday.

Besides background music, you can play cards or board games, have dance-offs, or have a pool party. You can even purchase or rent a karaoke machine for under $200 if that’s your thing.

For smaller gatherings, you could have a movie marathon, video game challenge, or under $20 gift exchanges.

If there are kids at the party, set up an area where they can color and do simple crafts. You can even hire a neighborhood babysitter to help with this — and they usually have great ideas of their own. It also wouldn’t hurt if there are kid-friendly movies and games available.

Besides entertainment, keep your decorations simple. Look for DIY decoration ideas on Pinterest, shop at dollar stores, and keep the bulk of your decorations in areas where there’s going to be the most amount of traffic.

7. Ask your guests to pitch in.

Most quests don’t have the nerve to show-up empty-handed – even if you tell them not to bring anything. To make life easier, and keep your expenses low, ask your specific friends to bring their favorite drinks or signature dishes.

If planned correctly, and planned ahead, this should take care of at least some of the appetizers, snacks, desserts, and drinks from your budget.

You can also throw a potluck dinner. If you’re not a fan of that term, then call it a “recipe exchange” party.

8. Party during the day.

Nighttime parties are the norm. But, they can get pretty expensive when guests expect plenty of food and drinks – which sometimes can extend into the wee hours of the morning.

Instead, consider throwing a party during the day, like a brunch, barbecue, pool party, or game day gathering.

While you still have to provide food and drinks, these items are often less expensive, you can make a ton of pancakes relatively cheap, for instance. Also, since it’s during the day, your guests are less likely to drink as much,

9. Throw a progressive dinner party.

If you do want to have a dinner party, then ask your friends, family, or neighbors if they would be interested in throwing a progressive party dinner together. Instead of one person playing host, the dinner party is divided by 3 to 5 different people.

For example, guests would first come to your home for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. After about 45 minutes or so, everyone would go to your best friend’s house for appetizers, followed by their neighbor for a dinner course, and then another friend’s home for dessert and after dinner drinks.

This is also a great, “get to know the new neighbors,” party.

The logistics can sometimes be a problem, so this only works if everyone is in close proximity, but it’s a unique party idea for your inner circle where the expense and responsibility of hosting doesn’t fall just on you.

 

How to Tastefully Bring Up Money at Thanksgiving Dinner (and Why You Should)

Sex, religion, and politics are among some of the most commonly avoided topics at the dinner table because, well, they tend to make people feel uncomfortable. Here’s another topic that can be just as taboo: money.

Yet, contrary to what you may believe, you may actually want to talk about money at one of the most prominent dinner tables of all: the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Sure, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, making memories and spending time with family and friends. But, while you’re all together at the table, why not make the conversation about money? Here are a few reasons why this may prove to be a good idea:

  • Money shouldn’t be taboo. Money should never be a taboo topic in your household. Yet, according to Reuters, Americans would rather talk about death than money. As a result, more than half of the country admits to not having enough money saved to cover a $500 unexpected expense, and a vast majority of Americans can’t afford to retire. To avoid going down this road, it’s important to talk about money openly in your household. Another added bonus: this is a good way for your kids or other children at the table to learn about financial literacy.
  • All your family will be together. Another great reason to bring up money at Thanksgiving table is that this way you can have an open conversation with all your relatives at the same time.
  • It’s a good way to discuss your holiday spending plans.  People spend the most money during the last two months of the year on holiday-related expenses, including gifts and travel. In fact, consumers spend an average of $1,000 extra during the holiday season. If you are trying to budget or simply can’t afford to spend the extra dough, having an open discussion with your family about your finances may be a smart money move. This way you’ll be more apt to eliminate stress and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones.

While there’s no doubt that money is an important subject to discuss during the holidays, talking about finances can still be awkward. Here are 5 easy ways to talk about money at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

1. Ask Everyone About Their Short and Long-Term Goals

An easy way to bring up money at the Thanksgiving dinner table is to ask everyone about their short and long-term goals for the future. This way, no one feels singled out and everyone gets to share where they see themselves going financially, professionally and personally.

Trust me, money will come up during this conversation and it’s a great way to discuss how everyone will make their goals a reality right before it’s time to start setting New Year’s resolutions.

For starters, you can discuss what type of legacy you want to leave and how finances can help you get there. You can also ease into the topic of medical and financial needs for older family members or your aging parents.

2. Answer the Famous, “How Have You Been?” Question with Financial Flair

It’s almost guaranteed that a relative is going to ask you for a life update at the Thanksgiving gathering. This is the perfect opportunity to launch an indirect conversation about money.

For example, instead of disclosing details about your job or your relationship, share some financial successes or failures instead. Maybe you’ve been doing a great job with sticking to your budget, saving up for a big purchase, or finding new ways to make some extra money on the side. My husband has been driving for Uber and Lyft for about a year and it always prompts some great conversations about side hustles and extra income at family gatherings.

3. Play a Family-Friendly Game About Money

Adults love games just as much as kids and since most places are closed during Thanksgiving day, my family and I like to relax after dinner and play board games or watch movies.

If your Thanksgiving gathering often turns into a family game night as well, choose a fun game that promotes financial literacy and wellness. Some of the best games that teach people about money include:

  • CashFlow
  • Game of Life
  • MoneyWise
  • Payday
  • Easy Money

4. Talk About Financial News and Current Events

Current news and events are commonly discussed at the dinner table. You could flip the script by bringing up some personal finance news instead by mentioning a study or article you recently read. You could also discuss a recent financial news story you saw on TV. Typically stories abound about Black Friday and consumerism during Thanksgiving week.

5. Share Information About a Charity Event

Being able to give back and help those in need is important to your overall financial wellness.

As you go around the table and reveal everything you’re thankful for, you can share information about an upcoming charity event your family can volunteer for. Whether it’s passing out meals, donating gifts, or providing a service, this can be an impactful way to discuss the giving aspect of money and money management.

Be Inclusive and Steer the Conversation

Using the tips above, you can turn an uncomfortable holiday conversation into a productive discussion about money.

Just remember this final tip: if you’re going to bring up money at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year, focus on being inclusive and addressing everyone. This way no one feels targeted or left out.

 

Friendsgiving Ideas on Any Budget

You’re not alone if you won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with your own family.

Maybe you can’t afford to travel to be with your parents. Or, perhaps you have to work over the holiday. If you are flying solo without local family around, you may even decide to host the holiday at your house and create your own Friendsgiving tradition.

Being the host allows you to set the menu and invite who you want. You can spend as much as you’d like on your Friendsgiving dinner. At the same time, you may be limited by budgetary constraints. Fortunately for you, there are tons of Friendsgiving ideas for every budget that can make your event a memorable one. Take a look.

Low Budget ($20-40)

Unfortunately, it’s tough to have a free Friendsgiving dinner – unless, of course, you provide no food yourself. As the host with the most, this probably won’t go over well with your friends. But, you can host Friendsgiving for as little as $20 to $40. Here are some Friendgivings ideas for a low-cost event:

Food

Why not make it a budget meal and ask your friends to pitch in? For example, ask one person to bring the stuffing, another to make the potatoes, and so on. In fact, if you supply only the turkey, gravy, and beverages, you can probably keep your costs to around $30 to $40, depending on how many people you invite.

Invitations

Invite your friends by word of mouth, social media, or free e-invitations found on the Internet.

Decorations

You can make your own Friendsgiving decorations using supplies you have at home or ask to borrow stuff from your friends. For example, use paper sacks to create placemats. Twigs and bits of greenery can also spruce things up, and a single pumpkin in the center of the table makes for a great centerpiece.

Entertainment

Play music you already have, or put a friend in charge of this. You can also forego music and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Moderate Budget ($40-100)

For those who have a little more to spend on Friendsgiving, you may be able to pay for everything yourself – if you budget wisely. Check out our suggestions:

Food

With a little planning, you can buy a turkey on sale at your local grocery store. Do the same with the stuffing, potatoes, and other foods you plan to serve.

If any of your menu items are canned or boxed, you can also stock up ahead of time by purchasing these on sale or using coupons. You may also want to consider serving only flavored waters and other low-cost beverages instead of wine and beer, as alcohol can get expensive.

Invitations

You can still use social media and free e-invites if you wish. However, you can also print them up from your home computer and mail them. Assuming you aren’t having a gathering of the masses, postage shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars and your guests will enjoy receiving mail that isn’t junk.

Decorations

To create a festive Friendsgiving table while keeping costs down, try picking up a couple of yards of burlap to make placemats and a table runner. For a centerpiece, buy a pumpkin and some small gourds, and add some votives or other candles you have on hand. You can also collect and use pinecones from your yard or a nearby park. Artistically arrange everything and you will have a beautiful table your friends will admire.

Entertainment

You can sign up for the commercial-free version of Pandora for $5 to have some background music for your Friendsgiving. Or, you can place a friend in charge for free.

Go All Out ($100 and up)

Of course, when you have plenty of money, you can host Friendsgiving without having to worry about the cost. Here are some options:

Food

You can relax and let someone else do the work if you choose. Have your meal catered or order all the fixings ahead of time from your local supermarket. All you’ll have to do is pick the meal up and set everything up before your guests arrive. Of course, if money is absolutely no issue, you can always take all your friends out for dinner and foot the bill for everyone. Just make sure you check ahead of time to ensure the eating establishment of your choice will be open and available. Many restaurants offer set price menus and seating times for Thanksgiving, so you may be better off making a reservation ahead of time.

Invitations

Have fancy invitations printed from a local print shop, or design them yourself and have them shipped to you ahead of time. You can then mail them out and await the responses from your appreciative friends.

Decorations

To decorate your home and dining room, you can buy decorations at a local craft store or even order a fancy centerpiece. Or, if you’re planning to eat out, talk to the restaurant ahead of time to plan for your ideal Friendsgiving table decorations.

Entertainment

If you want to go all out, you can hire a DJ. For a more low-key option, you can purchase special music that you can play on your laptop or home entertainment system.

If you’re dining out with your group of friends, ask the restaurant manager if the staff can arrange to play music while you all eat, drink, and share the holiday meal.

Give Thanks

As you can see, hosting a Friendsgiving celebration is a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving. Whether you have a lot of money or just a little, you can refer to our Friendsgiving ideas for plenty of options to fit every budget.

 

Do Meal Delivery Services Save You Money?

One of my personal goals this year is to learn how to cook. However, since my progress has been slow, a friend of mine suggested looking into Blue Apron and their meal-in-a-box concept because it takes the “guesswork out of cooking.” It all sounded great except for one dilemma: Will meal services wreck my budget or are they worth it?

Pros of Using a Meal Delivery Service

Before we get into the numbers, let’s look at some of the reasons why you might consider using a meal delivery service:

  • You’ll save time if you have a busy work schedule (my friend is a nurse who works 12-hour shifts).
  • Recipes are easy-to-follow for novices like myself.
  • Fresh ingredients are delivered to your door. For example, Blue Apron markets, “farm-fresh, seasonal produce; meat with no added hormones and sustainably-sourced seafood.”
  • It’s cheaper than going to a restaurant.
  • It’s healthier than ordering pizza.
  • There are many options to choose from such as Sun BasketPlated, PeachDish, Chef’D, Purple Carrot and HelloFresh.

Know the Cost per Meal

Going back to Blue Apron’s offering for the sake of consistency, their cheapest option works out to $9.99 per serving. Based on my zip code, the total minimum order would be $59.94 since they offered me free shipping. Right off the bat, that’s 15% of my total $400 grocery budget per month for just six meals. Not looking good.

However, I decided to take a look at how much my most expensive home-cooked meal costs: steak. I realized that I actually spend slightly more than $59 on steak each month (not including side dishes). So, in that regard, Blue Apron might be something worth looking into. But, I certainly can’t justify a weekly delivery as the rest of my meals cost a heck of lot less than steak.

Are Meal Delivery Services Worth it For You?

Meal delivery services may or may not fit into your budget depending on your personal circumstances. However, asking this question may lead you to take another look at the way you spend your food dollars in order to get into the best (financial) shape of your life. Read on to learn about other ways to save money on your grocery bill.

How You Can Save Money and Eat Healthily

If you’ve decided to stick with cooking your own meals and shopping for the ingredients (at least most of the time), here are some tips for creating a grocery budget that won’t leave you broke or craving nutrient-rich foods:

  • Keep track of how much you spend at the grocery store every week. This is a great first step to reveal habits that you might not be aware of. Use your findings as a springboard to fine-tune your food budget. If you sometimes use a meal delivery service then be sure to include this in your tracker as well.
  • Remember to include eating out. According to Forbes, the average millennial spends almost $3,000 a year on eating out. When was the last time you added up your “girls’ night out” expenses?
  • Limit your trips to the grocery store. Small trips to the grocery store can add up – big time. Going from two trips a week to two trips per month helped me save about $100 on my monthly food bill.
  • Designate a meal prep day. Most people choose Sundays as the day to cook and portion out their meals for the week. Checking this off your to-do list before the work week starts will save you loads of time and of course, money.
  • Avoid the junk food aisle. A Harvard study showed that on average it costs an extra $1.50 per day to eat healthier. However, “this price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.” At the same time, there may be several frugal or creative options available such as backyard farming or shopping at an ethnic market for cheap produce.
  • Compare your spending to the national average. USDA’s most recent food estimates place the average spending for a couple under the age of 50 at about $384 per month for the “thrifty” plan whereas the “liberal plan” totals $765 per month.

Keeping Your Food Budget in Shape

This point needs a whole section! While reviewing the national average can be a helpful tool, sometimes we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. It’s important to remember that personal finances should be just that — your own personal game plan for building a life you can be proud of.

A great way to get a handle on just how much you should spend on food (including eating out and meal delivery services) is to take a look at how your food budget stacks up against your other expense categories. More specifically, if your number-crunching exercise reveals that you currently spend 30% of your income on food, it might be time to go on a spending diet. In short, going on a financial detox could help tighten up your finances as well.

Looking for another great way to save? Try automating your savings by setting up a Chime bank account. Chime rounds up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar and places this amount in your savings account. Small savings like these may add up to hundreds of dollars throughout the year. This can go a long way if you’re hoping to become a HelloFresh member.

Or better yet, creating healthy financial habits can help you achieve the debt-free dream or even move out of your parent’s home.

 

How to Host an Epic Friendsgiving on a Budget

Friends are the family you choose, and celebrating with friends around Thanksgiving has become a holiday of its own. Friendsgiving isn’t just a backup plan for those of us who can’t travel due to the expense or a busy work schedule. For many, it’s just another way to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition among friends. According to Facebook, last year over 75,000 Friendsgiving events were created on the social network alone, and mentions of Friendsgiving doubled on Venmo.

If you’re taking the helm as host for Friendsgiving this year, you’ll need to do a little planning and budgeting. Otherwise, your ambitions for an epic feast may turn as sour as old cranberry sauce. Consider these tips to put a memorable meal on the table without making a huge dent in your bank account.

Make It a Potluck

Unless you grew up with a huge family, you probably don’t know what it’s like to cook for a dozen people. Why start now? Host a potluck Friendsgiving and ask everyone who attends to pitch in with a dish.

Let guests choose from a list of food categories to ensure that the staples are covered—we’re guessing you don’t want to end up with six different kinds of green-bean casserole. Solidify the potluck menu ahead of time and confirm that everyone knows what they’re bringing. For those friends who don’t like to cook, there are plenty of other essentials to cover, such as tableware, napkins, and beverages.

The obvious question remains: who cooks the turkey? It’s the most labor-intensive and pricey dish—for a party of 10, the turkey can cost as much as half of the total price of a Thanksgiving meal.

In most cases, the host takes on the task of cooking the turkey and making the gravy. You don’t want a friend lugging a 20-pound bird around town in a tray of hot liquid. That said, getting a friend to help with this portion is invaluable. It’s a greasy, day-long event, but it’s worth the time.

Use DIY Decorations

A tasteful Thanksgiving centerpiece can go a long way toward creating a festive atmosphere for your guests and only requires a few seasonal pieces that you can find on the cheap. Shop for colorful gourds, such as pumpkins and squash—you can use them for a future meal. Snag a few holiday-scented candles from the dollar store. Grab a handful of fall leaves from the backyard or swing by a local florist and grab some fresh greenery then scatter it artfully on the table.

Try substituting pine cones and cinnamon sticks for flowers—they last longer and maintain their decorative relevance throughout all the winter holidays

Plan for Leftovers

Wasting food costs American families thousands of dollars per year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for 28% of all garbage that is sent to landfills in terms of weight. At the same time, millions of Americans are. It’s a shame to let Thanksgiving food go to waste.

Since everyone has ostensibly brought a dish and paid up to defray costs, they’re also entitled to Friendsgiving leftovers. Ask people to bring storage containers so they can take food with them when they leave.

You can freeze some of the staple Friendsgiving dishes, such as turkey and stuffing. Keep in mind that pies and cooked vegetables don’t freeze well—eat these as soon as possible.

Chip In; Give Back

Potlucks are cost-effective, but you don’t want a few people stuck paying way more than everyone else. And what about that pricey turkey and red burgundy? If one person picks up the majority of the food or beverages, figure out a donation amount and try to settle up before the dinner if possible. It’ll help everyone avoid any awkward nagging emails or texts. For Chime members settling up is instant when you use Pay Friends.

While you’re deciding how to divvy up the costs of the event, why not consider pooling money together for a donation to a local food bank? It will amplify the feelings of goodwill long after the leftovers are gone and address a troubling need among millions of Americans who struggle with food insecurity.

Once the turkey hits the table, be sure to take some time to actively appreciate being in the company of good friends and food. A little gratitude goes a long way to not only strengthen your personal relationships but to also make you more mindful of the forces and people that helped you get where you are.

Happy Friendsgiving!

 

Chime To Table: Surprising Ways To Save 25% On Your Grocery Bill

Sketch & Banana Bread Recipe by Gretchen Röehrs

Imagine your next trip to the grocery store, carting out eight bags brimming with fresh produce, meats, dairy and staples for the pantry. You’re rushing to beat traffic so you can catch the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and on the way to the car, your shopping cart hits a bump and swerves uncontrollably. During this chaotic scene, two of your bags tumble out, scattering across the jammed parking lot. You gasp at your groceries strewn about on the cement, rolling under cars before disappearing beyond your sight. In utter dismay but with sheer urgency, you proceed to the car, securely pack the remaining bags into the trunk, and head home, less 25% of your purchases.

Sounds like an incredibly crazy and wasteful thing to do, right? But the equivalent is happening in American households on a regular basis. In the United States alone, 25 percent of purchased groceries end up in the garbage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for 28% of all garbage that is sent to landfills in terms of weight. Once it decomposes, these scraps produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more potent that carbon dioxide.

Food waste is of epidemic proportions and in recent years has increased concern for environmental and economic costs, food insecurity, and resource conservation. The implications of this also impact your bottom line. For most people, food is the third largest household expense. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, conducted in 2013, the average American family spent $4,000 on groceries annually, signifying that around $640 of that figure was unconsumed.

In order to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle as well as save a significant amount of money instead of throwing it in the garbage, eliminating food waste is incredibly important (and remarkably easy). Here are some creative ideas to help get you started.

Plan your meals.

Create menus for the week before you go shopping, and no, Top Ramen does not count as meal planning. By being prepared you will avoid getting baited into taking home a selection of foods that won’t go together and may be out of date by the time you want to consume them.

Don’t get duped at the grocery store.

It’s easy to get suckered into buying stuff you don’t need, especially when grocery stores strategically put the essentials (ahem, milk & bread) in the back so you have to zigzag through all the aisles, overflowing with delectable goods, just to arrive at the necessities. Two for one sales or short-term promotions are also marketing tactics aimed at getting you to over purchase. Stick to your list and try not to stray away from it, even if there’s an unbeatable deal on perishable items. In order to prevent a mass spoiling, buy produce that’s varied in ripeness.

Think twice about expiration dates.

Although “consume by”, “sell by”, or “best by” dates appear on everything from packaged produce to bread, they don’t mean much. According to WebMD, some basic rules apply when determining if certain foods are okay to eat past their expiry date. A lot of food is wasted due to these arbitrary labels that are not even regulated by the FDA.

Get the most out of your freezer.

Freeze any fruits and veggies if they tend to spoil before consumption so you can save for a future meal. Also, utilize your freezer for bread, or other perishable items that are about to go stale. Even milk and cheese can be frozen before going rancid.

Eat on smaller plates.

Did you know that the size of the American dinner plate has increased by 36% since 1960? This leads to either stuffing your face with extra calories (which leads to more time on the treadmill) or piling your plate with food that you have no intention of finishing. Switch to eating off of a salad plate come dinnertime.

Donate unwanted food.

There are close to 49 million Americans living in food-insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Do you have cans of beans and bags of rice that have been collecting dust in your pantry? Don’t throw away these non-perishable goods. Instead, donate any surplus to those in need.

Compost, when all else fails.

Food waste accounts for 28%, in terms of weight, of all garbage that is sent to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Once it decomposes, methane is created, a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide. An alternative is composting. Locate a corner of your yard and start a compost heap or if you live in an apartment building purchase a container, where unconsumed scraps can break down without producing environmentally harmful gasses.

Cook with produce past its prime.

An ingenious and absolutely delicious way to use excess perishable goods is to incorporate them into a recipe. Bananas, spinach, peaches, avocados, and tomatoes all have a short expiry date and can taste quite unpleasant once past their best. However, these foods are still perfectly usable when incorporated in a cooked recipe, like the one for drool-inducing banana bread, below. The bread can be served warm or cold, or even made into muffins for a tasty breakfast snack or packed lunch treat.

Cutting back on food waste is incredibly easy. With a little ingenuity and planning, you are helping to preserve environmental resources and padding your pockets with a little extra cash.

Banana Bread With Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients:

⅓ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup honey or maple syrup

2 fresh eggs, room temperature

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2½ medium or 2 large bananas)

¼ cup milk of choice or water, room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top

1¾ cups whole wheat flour or almond flour

Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, large chocolate chips, raisins, or chopped dried fruit

Baking Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk.

Step 3: Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.

Step 4: Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Step 5: Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

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