Tag: Friends

 

How to Host a Super Bowl Party on a Budget

The Super Bowl is right around the corner. It’s the one time of year where friends and family can gather together and watch the most exciting football game of the year.

While you may be heading to a bar or restaurant to watch the game, you may also decide to attend or host a super bowl party. If you’re going to a Super Bowl party, this can be cheaper than going to a bar, yet hosting your own party can cost a pretty penny – even if you’ve been saving up for the big event.

Luckily, we’ve come up with some tried-and-true ways to save money. So, if you’re having a Super Bowl party, check out these six tips to entertain your friends on a budget.

Buy Drinks in Bulk

Drinks can be just as expensive as food if you’re not careful. So, to save money, you’ll want to keep your drink selection limited. For example, perhaps you only offer one or two types of soda or serve lemonade, punch or iced tea.

From there, consider generic brands and buy drinks in bulk at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco.

Getting a Costco membership is one of the best decisions I made last year. The wholesale warehouse offers two membership cards, so I split the membership fee with my mom. Now, we are both able to buy all kinds of foods and other items in bulk. When we have events at our house, I love to go there and pick up drinks and water bottles. We can easily find a 40-pack case of water for just three or four bucks.

Do BYOB For Alcohol

Offering non-alcoholic drinks at your Super Bowl party is a given, and you don’t have to provide the beer and other alcoholic drinks.

Instead, you can have everyone BYOB to save money. Alcohol is expensive and you’ll cut your costs significantly just by making this one simple decision.

Prepare Foods that Stretch

Pinterest-worthy football-shaped party foods look great and all, but if you’re trying to host a Super Bowl on a budget you’ll need to think about preparing more practical foods.

Consider serving food that you can make in large batches to stretch your servings. These meal and snack ideas are all easy to prepare in bulk and won’t cost you much at all.

  • Crockpot pulled pork or chicken
  • Loaded baked potato station
  • Meatball sliders
  • Nachos
  • Grilled hot dogs
  • Lemon pepper roasted chicken wings

For finger foods, you can serve popcorn, generic chips and pretzels. You can also bake your own sweets instead of buying them at the store. Keep in mind that supermarkets sell overpriced cookie platters and cupcake trays for the Super Bowl.

Instead of spending extra money on these desserts, make your own cupcakes or cookies with boxed mixes and decorate them however you wish. Get the whole family involved with this if you’re not a big fan of baking.

Have a Potluck

Another way to save money on your Super Bowl party is to have a potluck. You can prepare the main dish but ask guests to bring other foods and snacks to the party.

For instance, one person can bring drinks while another brings chips or dessert. This is a much better option than buying prepared fruit and vegetable trays, which will easily run you anywhere from $10 to $20 a platter. This isn’t so bad when you’re buying just one, but if you’re also paying for other party food, your out-of-pocket costs can quickly triple.

So, start divvying up items and ask guests to bring a few things so you can save money and still have great food on game day.

Buy Used Apparel or Borrow

You don’t have to buy new sports apparel for your Super Bowl party. Even if your team isn’t playing in the game, you can still wear football clothing you already have.

Or, check thrift stores for second-hand jerseys and shirts. You can also check with friends and see if they have anything extra that you can borrow.

Avoid Splurging on Decor

Decor can often be a hidden cost for Super Bowl parties because the main focus is the food and the game, of course. If you want to decorate your home for the big game, do it wisely and don’t splurge.

You don’t have to decorate with official NFL branded items for the team you’re rooting for. You can find general sports-themed decorations at your local dollar store and you can even decorate in your team’s colors as an alternative.

Feel free to also DIY some decor yourself. Want to create a photo booth with a nice backdrop? What to display a huge sign that guest will see right as they walk in?

Head to the craft store for materials or use what you have at home to do some DIY decorating. If you have kids, get them involved as well so they can take on some of the work.

Enjoy the Game and Don’t Overthink It

At the end of the day, the highlight of any Super Bowl party is the game itself. So long as you’ve got space for everyone to watch the game and you’re offering some decent food, your party will be a success.

Just remember to set a budget for the party to determine how much you’ll spend on expenses and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to ask other guests to pitch in as needed. And, of course, have a great time at your Super Bowl party!

 

21 Fun Things To Do In The Winter That Won’t Break The Bank

Winter can drag on – but you don’t have to let it get you down. In fact, even if you’re daydreaming about a tropical vacation, backyard barbeques, and other summertime activities, you don’t have to stay stuck inside.

There are plenty of ways to get out of the house and enjoy the winter – all while spending very little cash. Here are 21 fun activities you can do this winter that won’t bust your budget.

1. Go museum hopping

Museums are a great escape for the whole family. Whether you’re into art, music, history, or science, you can find a museum for almost everything.

Better yet, going to museums can be affordable. For instance, in Seattle, you can get free access to many of the city’s local museums through your city library card, which is also free. And you can always check out deal sites like Groupon to see if there are any discounted rates available in your area.

2. Find an indoor pool

Dreaming of summertime? A trip to the local indoor pool may be just what you need.

Check out your local school, gym, or YMCA to see if there is an indoor pool near you. While gyms often require a monthly membership in order to join and use the facilities, you may find other local pools that offer an open swim hour for a small fee.

3. Go sledding

Instead of avoiding the snow and the cold, dive right into it with some old fashioned sledding! What could be better?

You can find sleds at your local hardware store or supermarket, but you can also find cheaper DIY alternatives. For instance, pool toys, such as a tube floatie, or even a trash can lid often work just as well.

4. Volunteer

Perhaps the best way to get over your winter woes is to dedicate your time and energy to helping others. Plus, volunteering is free, and it’s a great way to get involved with your community.

To find charitable organizations near you, check out VolunteerMatch.org, which will evaluate your interests and help you find opportunities that interest you.

5. Bake some sweet treats

Baking is the perfect cozy-day activity when the weather is indeed frightful. So, stay inside and warm your home with a good, old-fashioned baking day.

To find inspiration for your baking adventures, check out this list of classic baking recipes from Taste of Home.

6. Take an art class

Take advantage of the abundance of indoor time by focusing on hobbies you’ve always dreamed about starting. Why not take an art class?

You can either sign up for local, in-person classes or you can find free options online. One great way to start learning the basics of any skill is to find lessons on YouTube. Nothing is better than free!

7. Read books

Is there anything more comfy than curling up with a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book on a cold winter’s day?

Dust off those old books you have laying around and crack them open. Of course, you can always hit up your local library as well. Or, you can check out ThriftBooks, which sells deeply discounted, gently used books.

8. Do household projects

Have a long household to-do list? Use the winter season to get caught up on indoor projects.

Whether you want to paint a room, or tackle a kitchen remodeling project, take the time to do it this winter. Not only can you stay warm inside, but you can cross these items off your to-do list before the weather changes and you want to spend more time outside.

9. Try painting

Do you have an artistic gift? Even if you don’t, painting is an excellent hobby to test out. Anything can be considered art – all you have to do is start.

Painting canvases is an affordable and fun hobby. Plus, you can use the finished product to decorate your house, saving big bucks on home decor. To stock up on supplies, you can hit up your local art store, or shop at discounted supply stores online, such as JerrysArtarama.com.

10. Get organized

Have clutter hanging around your household? Dedicate some time this winter to organizing.

If you only have a few minutes, start by organizing a single drawer or cupboard. If you have more time, commit to organizing an entire room. Toss any old documents or broken objects and donate the rest. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel when you don’t have to stare into cluttered kitchen cabinets!

11. Attend a fitness class

Winter blues have you feeling a bit down? Blast away the wintertime sadness by boosting your endorphins. A workout class is an excellent way to meet people, try a new activity, and boost your mood.

Not sure which class is right for you? Try using ClassPass, which is available in major cities. With ClassPass, you pay a monthly fee which allows you to try out classes in various fitness studios. If you aren’t sure whether to do yoga, cycle, or weightlift, ClassPass is an ideal solution.

12. Plan a summer vacation

Well, there’s no shame in admitting that winter just isn’t your favorite season. If you’re more of a summer-lovin’ kind of individual, then take this time to plan your dream vacation.

Whether you prefer to escape to a tropical island or backpack across Europe, planning a trip when it’s cold outside can be just the escape you need.

13. Bust out the board games

Board games may be old school, but they are reliable – and fun. Games are also a cheap way to kill some time.

Even if you don’t have classic board games in your house, you can always borrow them or download free game apps on your smartphone or tablet. Need some ideas to get started? Check out this huge list of iPhone games from TechRadar.

14. Go ice skating

Enjoy the winter with some family-friendly ice skating. Whether you are an expert skater or can barely stand up on your blades, you can surely have a good laugh and a memorable time. To rent skates, you can expect to pay around $15 to $20.

15. Clean out your home

Bored and stuck inside? Take advantage of the slower season and clean your house.

Host a neighborhood garage sale to get rid of the items you no longer need. Anything else can either be donated or sold online through sites like OfferUp and LetGo.

16. Visit friend and relatives

Most of us are guilty of not visiting family or friends often enough. So, if you have relatives or friends nearby, take time this winter to schedule a visit and catch up.

17. Take a winter hike

Hiking isn’t just for summer. There are plenty of winter hikes to take advantage of – if you have the right gear, that is.

Check out your local area to see if there are any winter-friendly hikes near you. The key is to find a hike in a lower elevation (where it isn’t super cold) that is well maintained and not too steep. Make sure you gear up with your hiking boots, winter coat, hats and gloves.

18. Plan a movie day

When the weather takes a turn for the worst, stay put and enjoy a movie day inside.

You can pick a winter classic or another movie of your choice. Whether you prefer action, romantic-comedies or another genre, a movie day is a great way to enjoy a day inside this winter.

19. Start your side gig

This winter season is an excellent time to start earning some extra cash on the side. Take this time to think about what you want to do for your side gig. Whether you’re dreaming of starting a blog, an online retail business, or something else, it’s time to get your creative juices flowing.

20. Try winter photography

Photography isn’t just a summertime activity. The snow and long winter days can make for some ideal photos.

So take your camera, trek out into the snow, and shoot some cool nature photos. For some inspiration, check out these tips from Outdoor Photographer.

21. Relax

There’s no shame in simply relaxing. Enjoy the darker days by spending ample time relaxing and recharging. Take plenty of time for self-care, too. Now is a great time to get in shape, eat right, and start other healthy habits.

Chime has your back this winter

Winter can feel endless, but with some frugal planning, you don’t have to fret. One easy way to kick off your budget-friendly winter activities is to open a no-fee savings account. For example, an online Chime account will help you save money easily – and automatically.

Are you ready to enjoy the winter season and save big bucks at the same time? We thought so.

 

How to Throw Your First New Year’s Eve Party on a Budget

As the year winds down, you may be ready to ring in the new one with a bangin’ celebration. What better way to do that than by hosting a party at your place? Except there’s one little wrinkle in your plans: You don’t have a lot of cash to spend.

Not to worry. You can still throw an amazing New Year’s Eve party, even with a tiny budget. Take a look at these 6 tips to help you pull off a successful soireé.

Create a Dedicated Party Account

Keeping track of your spending over the holidays can get crazy and having a separate bank account just for party purchases can make it easier.

“If you know you’re going to be hosting a party for the new year, start a party fund as soon as possible,” says Jacob Lunduski, financial industry analyst for Credit Card Insider.

You can easily do that with a Chime Spending or Savings Account. It takes less than 5 minutes to open a free bank account with Chime. You can fund your account by setting up a direct deposit through your employer or transferring money from an existing bank account. From there, you can manage your account through the Chime mobile app.

Once your account is open, you’ll need to add something to it.

“Consider putting aside a small amount from each paycheck towards your party,” Lunduski says.

He says budgeting $20 to $50 per payday is a good rule of thumb to follow, depending on how big of an event you’re planning.

Nail Down the Guest List Early

A party isn’t a party without guests and as you plan your New Year’s Eve blowout, think about who you’d like to invite. You might want to call up everyone you know but that can add to the cost. On the other hand, capping the guest list at a certain number can help you manage your costs.

Another tip: Clue in your invitees and tell them you’re planning a party. “Ask them to tentatively RSVP whether they can make it or not,” Lunduski says.

“This will give you a general idea of how much food, seating and alcohol people will need, and the cost associated.”

This step is important for planning your budget. For example, if you have $300 to spend and you want to invite 30 people, that breaks down to $10 you can spend per person. Paring the guest list back to 20 people bumps your per-person spend up to $15. You can then decide how that $15 should be divvied up between food, alcohol and other party supplies.

Buy in Bulk (and Ask for a Deal)

If you’re planning to hit a party supply store or shop online for cups, plates, napkins or even wine, buying in bulk can be a money saver. Finance expert and founder of Fiscal Nerd Stacy Caprio says getting to know your local party suppliers can work in your favor if you’re able to negotiate a bulk discount.

“Often, the owner of a small shop or business will be happy to accommodate a loyal customer as well as encourage bulk purchases, since that can be the bread and butter of their business,” she says.

“This makes them more willing to give you a discount when you ask.”

Consider BYOB or Potluck to Save on Food and Drinks

Food and alcohol can eat up a big chunk of your party budget. Greg Jenkins, partner and co-founder of event planning company Bravo Productions, says you can make party planning less stressful — and less expensive — by asking guests to contribute something for dinner and drinks.

For example, you might supply beer and cocktail mixers but ask attendees to bring a dish or a bottle of wine for everyone to share. If you’re planning to prepare food, Jenkins says it’s always better to keep it simple.

“Sit down dinners cost more to host,” he says. Even with just appetizers, you could overspend if you let the menu get away from you. So, stick with basic, inexpensive choices like ham sliders and mini desserts. Most importantly, “don’t waste money on things guests won’t eat,” Jenkins says.

Repurpose and Reuse Party Items Whenever Possible

Your first New Year’s Eve party is a big deal and while you may be tempted to go all out, your wallet will thank you if you think practically instead. Repurposing things you have around the house for your party or thinking about how the items you’re purchasing can be useful beyond New Year’s Eve can help you make smarter buying decisions.

For instance, say your favorite grocery store is running a sale on wine. If you drink wine year-round or if wine is something you can gift to friends and family, stocking up on it while it’s on sale might be a good move.

Also, consider what you plan to do for decorations to make the party complete. Jenkins says you can save money by using things you already have around the house. Fitted sheets, for example, can double as tablecloths. Or, you can leave up holiday decorations and lights and think about adding in some inexpensive paper streamers or confetti to capture the party mood. If you don’t have any twinkle lights handy, candles can create a similar effect.

If you’re planning to buy plastic or paper plates, cups, party hats, whistles or similar items, you can scoop those up at a dollar store. Stick with solid colors instead of ones that have “New Year’s Eve” printed on them and stash away any extras to reuse for your next party. If you need an extra table or chairs for seating, check your local thrift stores for low-cost finds.

Serve Up Affordable Entertainment

While you’re waiting for the clock to countdown to midnight, you’ll need to keep your guests entertained. Since it’s your first New Year’s Eve party, hiring a band may not be feasible, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy yourself as the hours tick by.

For example, you could set up a DIY photo booth for your guests. You just need a plain sheet or a curtain for the backdrop, some party props and a camera. The props may be things you’ve already purchased — think silly glasses, paper top hats, bead necklaces and noisemakers. Toss everything in a shoebox or a plastic bin and let your guests snap away.

Other low-key, low-cost options include board games, cards, charades or taking turns sharing your New Year’s resolutions. If you’re stumped for suggestions, poll your guests to see what inexpensive ideas they have for the big night.

All the New Year’s Eve Fun, Without the Financial Hangover

While you still may need to spend something on your first New Year’s Eve party, you don’t need to spend everything.

The more you plan your spending ahead of time and follow these 6 tips, the easier it is to keep your budget locked down. And when the ball drops, you can enjoy the moment knowing that you won’t be starting the new year off with money regrets.

 

6 Money Lessons Your Parents Taught You That Were Plain Wrong

Earlier this year, my partner and I were at the tide pools at a beach in Southern California. As we peered into the shallow pools with burgeoning ocean flora and fauna, we were joined by a mom and her two kids.

“Look at the clams!” she said, examining a cluster of shelled sea creatures on the side of a rock. “They’re mussels, not clams!” my partner said, correcting her.

The point of this story: Parents try to educate their kids, yet sometimes they inadvertently steer them wrong. And, whether you like it or not, your parents served as your first role models when it came to life and money lessons. As a result, you may have picked up some incorrect money messages from your parents and other family members. As you grew up, these money lessons became ingrained in you and may have turned into not-so-healthy money habits.

Take a look at some common money lessons that you may have learned from your parents – and why they need to be debunked right now.

Talking About Money Is Taboo

Growing up, Alex Whitehouse learned that money is private and personal, and therefore considered to be a taboo topic.

Reality Check: By all means it’s important to discuss money matters. That’s how we learn how to make better decisions.

“I had to learn about money through trial and error,” says Whitehouse, the founder of FinHealthy.com. “I made mistakes and had to dig myself out of debt, repair my credit, and learn to save.”

Talking about money helps you develop a better relationship with your money. It also helps foster honest communication with those you love.

“Discussing personal finance with friends, relatives, and colleagues can help you learn and avoid mistakes. It helps you become comfortable and confident in your finances, and it can inspire others to do the same.” says Whitehouse.

We Were Poor, and You Will Be Too

Maybe your parents had the attitude that they were never rich, and this means you’ll never be wealthy either. Perhaps they think life is an endless grind, and it’s pointless to dream about wealth and financial independence.

For Jaime Donovan, this came as a surprise because her parents taught her a lot of things about money —how to write a check, open a savings account and save for emergencies. They also taught her how to pay for used or new cars with cash, and how to avoid debt.

Reality Check: Donovan wishes her parents went beyond the basics and taught her that it’s absolutely possible to build wealth.

“For some reason, in their minds, they thought that it was impossible to become wealthy,” says Donovan, a blogger at Young Modern Money.

“I’m happy to say that they’ve changed their attitude about this, but it took years for them to come to an understanding that normal people can build wealth.”

Yes, normal people can certainly build wealth. It starts with understanding what wealth is and that building wealth is about growing your net worth, not accumulating material possessions. More importantly, financial independence is not just about how much money you earn, but what you do with that money.

Money Is a Source of Pain

Perhaps your mom told you that nobody likes their job, and that earning money would be a grind.

This was the case for Evan Sutherland. “With all the bills and all the expenses that come up, my parents taught me that it’s going to feel as though you can never make enough money,” says Sutherland, co-founder of Budgeting Couple.

Reality Check: When Sutherland and his wife started out together and began earning an income, they were pleasantly surprised by how simple money was to manage.

“We always had enough money to pay the bills and buy the things we wanted,” says Sutherland. “How? We used a budget to spend less than we earned, every month. By spending less than we earned, we never experienced money stress, we were happy to pay our bills, and we loved spending money!”

I experienced the same thing. When I started making my own money and learned to create a spending plan, I turned frugality into a fun game. I also used apps to help me track and save money, experiencing very few problems saving a portion of my paychecks.

Never Spend More Than You Need To

My father is the ultimate cheapster. And while he definitely has no problem socking away money, he still buys the absolute cheapest item on the list. No matter what it is. No matter how much joy a fancier option might bring him.

Reality Check: “Sometimes it makes sense to spend the least,” says Jim Wang, the founder of Wallet Hacks. On the other hand: “Sometimes it makes sense to pay more for higher quality, better service, or some other reason outside the item itself.”

I would gladly pay more for a set of tires, and this past year I splurged in a pricey pair of leather boots, trench coat, and so forth. But these are items I value, use a lot, and really enjoy. And I was able to afford each of them.

Talking About Money Is Impolite

It’s imperative to talk about money. You talk about money when you ask for a discount, or when you ask for a raise at work. And you talk about it when you budget with your spouse.

You can also do this when you set financial goals by sharing those goals with others – maybe even asking people you care about to hold you accountable.

Reality Check: You know what is impolite? When you don’t talk about money. Because when you don’t learn about financial problems that your friends and family are dealing with, how can you help them? And, if you’re a freelancer or work for yourself, how do you know what’s considered a competitive rate from clients if you don’t discuss this with colleagues in the same field?

No Need to Worry About Your Credit Score

Maybe your parents were cash-focused and told you to pay your bills on time and everything will be fine. Or, perhaps they told you to keep a balance on your credit cards in order to build credit, or that closing a card won’t impact your score (the truth: it really depends).

Reality Check: Yikes. Sure you won’t have to worry about your credit score if you pay for everything in cash. Otherwise, your credit score is a huge part of your life as a consumer. You’ll need a solid score to finance a car or house, get the best terms and rates on credit cards, or to get financing for a new business endeavor.

Be Your Own Money Teacher

While your parents had the best intentions, it’s important to be your own money teacher. By understanding these money myths, you can start to form healthy money habits and reach your financial goals. Remember: It’s your life, not your parents’. Are you ready to create your own successful money story?

 

How to Host a Frugal (But Fabulous) Friendsgiving

Family time is a given when celebrating Thanksgiving. Yet, while it can be great to see your relatives, Thanksgiving is all about togetherness and being grateful for everyone and everything in your life.

This means your friends, too. Make way for the rise of “Friendsgiving,” a Thanksgiving celebration with your chosen family – your close friends. If this is the year for you to host a Friendsgiving celebration, take a look at our tips for how to host a frugal but fabulous dinner fit for a king.

Make It a Potluck

The easiest way to save on your Friendsgiving dinner is to have everyone bring a dish to pass around. This way you won’t have to go through the trouble and expense of buying and preparing everything yourself.

Instead, send out a guest list and when people confirm, ask them to bring a particular type of dish. Tia Chambers, a blogger at Financially Fit and Fab loves potluck-style Friendsgiving dinners because it helps everyone save money by splitting costs with money transfer apps.

“I’ve participated in a few Friendsgivings before and they’ve all been potluck style where the host provides the main dish,” says Chambers.

Take Advantage of Food Discounts

Depending on how many people you’re having at your Friendsgiving dinner, food costs can still add up – even if you split your menu items with other people.

One thing you can do to stay within budget is take advantage of food discounts and deals around Thanksgiving. Start by saving coupons and comparing deals found in the local store circulars that come in the mail. You can also use apps like Flipp and GroceryIQ to find the best deals at stores in your neighborhood. Keep in mind that some grocery stores even offer BOGO deals on turkey and ham.

One year for Thanksgiving, for example, I was able to buy a turkey and get a whole ham for free. Of course, there were some weight and brand restrictions, but it was still a decent-sized turkey for the price (with a free ham to boot).

Another tip: If you are enrolled in a rewards program through your grocery store, see if you can get a free or discounted turkey or ham for Friendsgiving. For example, Weis Markets offers holiday rewards for Thanksgiving foods.

Send E-vites Instead of Printed Invitations

Unless it’s a wedding or baby shower, there’s really no reason to wow your friends with fancy paper invites. It takes time to design them, and money to print and ship them.

Instead, opt for free digital invitations that you can send via email or through social media This way, friends can easily respond or RSVP for the event. Facebook, for example, has a great events feature where you can create a custom private or public event and invite others.

Another thing you might want to do with your e-vite is include a sign-up sheet so guests can know which foods and items to bring to the potluck. This can help people avoid overspending or buying too much of the same thing.

“For my first Friendsgiving, we didn’t have a sign-up sheet so we ended up with four variations of mac and cheese,” Chambers cautions.

DIY Your Decor Using What You Have

If you want to decorate your home for the occasion, consider going the DIY route or just making use of items you already have on hand.

Financial writer Lindsay VanSomeren recalls when a friend of hers did this for her frugal Friendsgiving.

“My friend invited us to a Friendsgiving when I lived in Colorado. We were all students (or recent grads) who were broke, so we didn’t have much to spend. My friend got decorations from outside like pine needles, cool twigs, pine cones, etc. and used them to decorate the space. It was nice and festive for the gathering,” says VanSomeren.

For some decoration ideas, just look outside. Pine cones, for example, can be used to create beautiful table centerpieces and other decor for your Friendsgiving event.

Keep It Simple and Delegate

When it comes to your Friendsgiving, you don’t want to be the party host who is so overwhelmed that you can’t even enjoy your own event. So, keep things simple so that you can pull off a frugal Friendsgiving.

Cut yourself a break by delegating tasks to your friends (it is Friendsgiving, afterall). If each person has one dish to bring and one additional task to handle, you can focus on being the host with the most (or hostess with the mostess).

Final Word

After you have a solid plan and budget set, focus on enjoying the evening with good food and great company. And just think: The money you’ve saved on your Friendsgiving feast can be added to your savings account for your Christmas spending. Now that’s worthy of a celebration!

 

Want to Give Back? Here Are Some Ideas for Giving Tuesday

You’ve probably found yourself in this predicament: You want to do more to give back in your community, but the holidays can swallow up your time and savings.

Luckily, you can take advantage of the upcoming Giving Tuesday on November 27 to shake off some of that holiday guilt.  What, exactly, is Giving Tuesday? It’s a global movement, now in its seventh year, that encourages individuals and companies to donate their time and money to worthy causes and organizations.

The #GivingTuesday movement raised $274 million online with more than 150 countries participating in 2017. While this day may only come around once a year, the positive effects last a lot longer. Chime, for example, is participating in the Pledge 1% movement whereby businesses pledge to give back 1% of equity, profit, product, and/or employee time for their communities. Case in point: Chime volunteers assembled 1,300 boxes of non-perishables for the senior community in San Francisco.

Will you join us in making a difference? Take a look at 7 ways you can give back in honor of Giving Tuesday.

1. Shop Smarter

Torn between using your bank account to help humanity and buy gifts for your family? Good news! You don’t have to choose. You can purchase gifts that kick a portion of the price back to charities. For example, Uncommon Goods sells unique gifts from local artisans and gives one dollar of each purchase back to charity. For affordable options, just search the “under $25” gift section for gifts ranging from coffee blends to herb gardens to unusual toys.

2. Donate Money

Interested in giving money to local charities but not sure where to give? To start, think about how you’d best like to make a difference. For example, if you love books and want to spread literacy, a contribution to Worldreader helps fund digital book distribution. Or, if you want your hard-earned dough to help Hurricane Florence victims, The American Red Cross makes donating effortless.

Try forgoing a daily latte or fast food runs and instead donate the money. Your waistline will thank you too.

3. Volunteer

If you don’t have extra money to donate at this time, no worries. You can still make an impact by giving your time. Check your city’s website, the local library or community center to find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Another pro tip: Search VolunteerMatch to find volunteer opportunities that fit your interests and talents. For example, computer pros can discover ways to put their tech skills to use, while animal lovers can volunteer to care for Fido while he waits for adoption.

4. Give Blood

While needles may make you squeamish, donating blood is an easy and impactful way to give back. The whole process takes less than an hour.

The American Red Cross reports that the U.S. needs blood every two seconds. One donation can potentially save three lives.

5. Be a Good Neighbor

Look around. Sometimes the greatest needs are right in front of you. For example, perhaps you can bring in trash cans for busy families or elderly neighbors. Or, ask a new mom in your apartment building if you can bring her a meal or babysit.

Don’t know your neighbors? Now might be a good time to become acquainted. Make a goal to bring a plate or package of cookies to one neighbor’s home and introduce yourself.

6. Small Acts of Kindness

This is an easy and inexpensive way to give back.

If your day starts with a morning coffee run, pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line. Here are a couple of other ideas: Leave a simple note saying, “You are amazing. Have a good day!” on someone’s car, or buy lunch for your co-worker who is too busy to eat.

While you’re at it, remember to look up from your routine to notice life around you and think about how you can make a small difference in someone’s day.

7. Be the Motivator

You don’t need to do #GivingTuesday alone. Recruit your friends, family, or co-workers to make the day more fun. Run a marathon for charity together. Serve food in a group at a local shelter. 

Helping out is contagious. When you motivate others to participate, you stay encouraged too. By getting together with friends or colleagues, you also get to catch up during the busy season and connect on a deeper level.

Why not chat about what’s new in your life while assembling necessities for those in need? Or get to know a co-worker better while wrapping presents for underprivileged children.

Why #GivingTuesday?

We get it: You are busy and stressed about the upcoming the holidays. How in the world are you supposed to find the extra time or funds to participate in #GivingTuesday? It’s not easy, but it will be worth it. Think of this globally-celebrated day as a way to take a breather from your to-do list.

And remember: Helping someone else is not only good for the community. It’s good for you. It allows you to take a pause in your daily life and experience the joy of a more connected world.

 

8 Things to Do in the Fall That Don’t Cost Money

After a summer filled with fun activities like concerts, festivals, and travel, you may be looking for ways to lower your spending and get back on a budget this fall.

While you may have less temptation to spend money after the summer, the drop in temperature also means it’s getting closer to Christmas and the end of the year. Yup, it’s time to start automating your savings so you can have enough money set aside to enjoy the holiday season while going into debt.

With an eye toward saving money, you’ll also have to keep a close watch on your spending habits during the fall season. To help you get a jump-start, here are 8 things to do this autumn that won’t bust your budget.

1. Attend a Fall Festival

Some fall festivals have entry fees, but many are free, especially if they are hosted by a community organization. Plus, vendors know that you will often buy food once inside – making it worth it to waive a hefty admission cost.

You can stretch your dollar even more by packing lunches. From there, you can enjoy a low-cost or free day filled with live music, crafts, games, and activities for the kids.

2. Go For a Scenic Hike

Fall foliage can be breathtaking in many parts of the United States. Why not go for a hike, enjoy the crisp air and take in the scenery – all at the same time?

Hiking is free and also helps you and your family stay active. To start, choose a hiking trail that is easily accessible, perhaps in a forest preserve or state park. You may even want to try riding your bike or inline skating on a smooth trail to switch things up.

3. Watch a Parade

Halloween is right around the corner, and many municipalities offer parades and other Halloween-themed events for the whole family to enjoy. Check to see if your town or neighboring city is hosting a Halloween parade, hayrides, corn mazes and other fall favorite activities.

4. Roast Pumpkin Seeds and Watch Scary Movies

Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious and cheap fall snack. Plus, you can make roast the seeds right at home. All you need is a fresh pumpkin.

You can cut the pumpkin open and also use the filling to make blended pumpkin puree for pies and other treats. Once that’s done, you can remove all the seeds, clean them, season them and throw them on a baking pan to roast in the oven.

Spend a lazy Saturday with the family snacking on the roasted seeds while watching your favorite scary or Halloween-themed movies.

5. Collect Colorful Leaves

This is a fun activity to do with kids. Go outside and pick up different colorful leaves and then categorize them by type. You can also teach kids the names of the different trees that the leaves have fallen from.

Then, take the leaves inside and paste them on a piece of paper. You can also trace them on colored construction paper. And, voila! You’ve got yourself some beautiful fall decorations to adorn your refrigerator.

6. Attend a Halloween Party

Attending a Halloween party can be a great way to catch up with friends and meet new people. You can also make your own costume by using materials you already have at home and borrowing anything else you may need.

7. Have a Bonfire

If it’s not that cold yet in your area, host an evening bonfire in your yard. Fix up your outdoor space and invite friends over for a relaxing evening by the fire. You can even turn it into a potluck, make s’mores and play games. If you can play guitar, even better. Have a sing-along!

8. Tailgate at a Football Game

Don’t forget it’s tailgating season. This may cost a little money if you’re not in college, but you can still make it a frugal activity if everyone pitches in with the food and drinks. If you’re a student going to a game at your college or university, keep in mind that your ticket to the game may even be free.

Fall Fun Can Be Affordable

No matter what your financial goals are for the remainder of the year, you can always curb your spending while saving more money. The fall season is the perfect time of year to start spending less as there are so many different ways to have fun on a budget. So, take some time to revamp your fall budget and commit to it.

And, we’ll leave you with this pro tip: When it comes to monitoring your spending and savings right before the holidays, you’ll need a flexible way to manage your money. With Chime, you can bank with no fees and manage your cash flow easily.

 

Pay Friends. Pay Anyone. Chime’s Pay Friends Just Got Friendlier

Today, we’re excited to announce that you can now use our Pay Friends feature to instantly send money to anyone, even if they’re not a Chime Member! Now it’s even easier to square up the rent with your roomie or split that last round of drinks with your BFF. All you need is their phone number or email address. 

At Chime, we work every day to find more ways to simplify your finances so that you can manage all of your expenses in one place. We hope this new peer-to-peer payment feature makes your life a little bit easier by eliminating the hassle of dealing with cash or checks. 

Why Choose Chime Pay Friends vs. Other P2P Payment Apps

Nowadays, splitting the bill is as easy as sending money through your phone. In fact, 49% of millennials and 44% of Gen Xers now prefer digital payments to cash, which has given rise to many very popular peer-to-peer payment apps (P2P). Here at Chime, we’ve processed over 3.2 million Pay Friends transactions to date. That’s approximately $237 million dollars sent back and forth between friends and family; $30 million of those were just in the last month. It probably makes you wonder, what makes Chime’s Pay Friends so different?

The main difference between Pay Friends and other P2P apps is that Pay Friends is connected to your Chime Spending Account so you’ll have instant access to spend it with your Chime Visa® Debit Card. 

Here are 3 reasons to use Pay Friends vs. other P2P apps:

  • Money is deposited into your account instantly for transfers between Chime Members.
  • No need to cash out or wait for days for funds to arrive in your bank account.
  • Chime will never charge you hidden fees to make a mobile P2P transfer or to access the funds from the transfer. Many P2P platforms charge a fee to get your money instantly. Fees can range from a flat fee of .25 cents to 1.5% of the total amount. 
  • If you pay a friend who is not a Chime member already, you are both eligible to receive a $50 referral bonus when they set up and receive a direct deposit of $200 or more within 45 days of opening a Spending Account.* 

How to Start Paying More Friends

  1. Just log in to your Chime app and tap ‘Pay Friends’.
  2. Input your friend’s information or select them from your contacts.
  3. Send them the amount you owe.

A piece of cake, right? 🍰 Your friend will receive a message with directions on how to sign up for a Chime Spending Account and claim their cash if they don’t have a Chime Spending Account**.

Who knows, you just might become better friends afterward.

 


*In order for both parties (the referred friend and the referring Chime member) to qualify for and receive the $50.00 referral reward, the following conditions must be met: the referred friend must open a new Chime Spending Account using the referring Chime member’s unique referral link after June 1, 2008 and receive a payroll direct deposit of $200.00 or within 45 days from when the Chime Spending Account was opened. The payroll direct deposit of the referred friends must be made by their employer, payroll provider or payer by an ACH deposit.  Bank ACH transfer, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, transfers from PayPal or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits do not qualify as a payroll direct deposit. Referring Chime member must be part of the $50.00 for Payroll Direct Deposit referral reward campaign in order for both parties to be eligible for the $50.00 referral reward. The referral reward per the calendar year (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018). Referred friend acknowledges that payment of the referral reward may result in the referring Chime member’s knowledge of you establishing an account with us. Chime reserves the right to cancel or modify the referral reward terms or terminate the member’s eligibility, at any time with or without prior notice.  This offer is neither sponsored nor endorsed by The Bancorp Bank. Credits of $10 or more must be reported on tax form 1099-INT. Each eligible referring Chime member may earn no more than $500.00 in referral rewards per the calendar year (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018).
**In order to complete the payment, the non-Chime member must apply and be approved for a Chime Spending Account within fourteen (14) days to complete the transfer and access the transferred funds. If the non-Chime member does not apply and get approved for a Chime Spending Account within fourteen (14) days of initiating the payment, then the payment will be canceled, and the Friend Transfer dollar amount will be returned to the existing Chime member’s Chime Spending Account.
Pay Friends and any transfers made with Pay Friends are subject to the Deposit Account Agreement.

 

Budgeting for Summer Vacation

School bells are ringing for the last time this school year. Kids and their families are looking forward to a great summer season filled with warm weather, fun activities, and maybe even a vacation. But that summer vacation may be more expensive than many can afford.

Recent data from Bankrate shows that nearly one-quarter of Americans will skip a vacation this summer due to financial reasons, while roughly another quarter are skipping out due to a demanding work schedule and other family obligations. If you do want to make a summer vacation a reality, it is important to focus on your budget to make it happen.

The cost of a summer vacation

Vacations are not cheap, but they don’t have to cost so much they are not attainable. If you want to take your family of four on a vacation, you’ll spend around $1,000 to $5,000 depending on your accommodations, travel, meals, and activities. But keep in mind you have a lot of control here.

A summer road trip is one of the cheaper ways to get out of town. If you bring a cooler and plan out meals, camp some of the time, only pick hotels with free breakfast, and stick with lower cost attractions, you can enjoy a trip filled with wonderful memories on a tight budget. Depending on your destination and planning, this could easily come in below a $1,000 total cost.

Taking the family to Hawaii or Europe, on the other hand, is rarely an inexpensive proposition. You can expect expensive airfare, hotels, and food to easily surpass $1,000 per traveler depending on how long you travel and the quality of accommodations.

If you live paycheck to paycheck, coming up with even $100 for a home repair is a struggle, let alone $4,000 to take the family to Europe. But money isn’t the only thing holding people back from vacations.

Competing priorities

The Bankrate data said that among those skipping the summer vacation, half said money is the main factor. But for 25%, family responsibilities were the contributing factor. Another 22% can’t take time off from work.

While many employers offer paid time off, a huge number of employees skip taking those days or leave a large number unused. A study from Glassdoor found that half of vacation days go unused and two-thirds of Americans work while on vacation anyway.

For entrepreneurs like us, getting away may be a pipedream. Do as much as possible ahead of time so you can avoid plugging in while away. And putting a vacation auto-away message on can help you avoid the guilt of not responding to emails quickly while away.

Create an automatic vacation savings fund

If you do want to take a vacation but find money is holding you back, consider creating a dedicated vacation savings account. You can put cash in from your direct deposit or a recurring transfer from checking without even thinking about it!

To take it a step further, consider apps like Qapital that can help you put money away on a schedule or based on some fun, automated actions. A few months ago I put $1 into my savings fund every time Donald Trump put out a new message on Twitter, as an example of what is possible for automatic savings.

This can be a simple setup or something more complex. It’s up to you to decide the best path to success.

Don’t forget travel hacking

If you want to supercharge your travel opportunities without going crazy on costs, remember that you can earn valuable miles and points for travel rewards from your credit cards and other sources.

I started travel hacking nearly a decade ago, and it has brought me huge rewards. I’ve been able to visit England, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Canada, Israel, and destinations all over the United States for pennies on the dollar. For example, a few years ago I took my then girlfriend (now wife) to my cousin’s wedding near Tel Aviv. We paid about $150 each round-trip for our flights.

I just booked a July 4th trip to visit my family in Denver, also with miles and points. Flights for three of us plus a lap child cost about $33 out-of-pocket. About two weeks later I’m off on a solo trip to Chicago and Philadelphia for an all-in cash cost of less than $20.

Make your dream vacation a reality

Vacations are an amazing way to see the world and spend time with the people you love most, but don’t let the cost keep you from going or send you into debt. By using smart budgeting, mobile wallets and travel hacking techniques, your affordable vacation may be just around the corner.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

How to Plan a Wedding Without Your Bridal Party Going Broke

When I got engaged in 2016, I knew I didn’t want our best friends’ budgets to suffer as a result. I decided to get creative and keep costs as low as possible for my bridal party. Here’s what I learned: With a little bit of research and the ability to think outside the box, the costs for a bridal party member can significantly shrink.

It’s expensive to plan a wedding. It’s also expensive to attend one. Millennials spend an average of $1,532 per destination bachelor party and $1,106 per bachelorette, according to a study by The Knot, a wedding website, and that’s not even for their own wedding — it’s for their friends’ big days. The worst part? Even if the bride and groom plan to keep the party local, bachelor and bachelorette parties are only the beginning. With gifts, wedding day travel expenses, attire and lodging, most bridesmaids spend close to $1,200 per wedding.

As a result of careful and creative planning, most of our bridesmaids and groomsmen spent less than $400 each.

Here’s how we made it happen.

Dresses: $60

Bridesmaid dresses can vary in price, but they typically cost between $100 and $300. To avoid the hefty price tag normally associated with bridesmaids attire, I got creative. I knew I wanted my bridesmaids in long, flowing dresses, but I also knew I didn’t feel comfortable asking my friends to pay $100 or more for a dress for my wedding. The solution? Amazon. I found the exact dresses I wanted on Amazon for a fraction of the price. I selected the color and had my bridesmaids choose the style. The dresses ranged from $40 to $100, and most of my bridesmaids selected dresses that rang in at $60. With free shipping and free returns, the process was simple and quick.

Genius tip: If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Amazon, experiment with bridesmaid dress rentals. Websites like Rent the Runway and Union Station offer dress rentals that start at $50.

Bachelorette Party: $75 to $250

Instead of hopping on a plane or partying for an entire weekend, I decided to keep the bachelorette local and short. Here’s what the day entailed and how much it cost each person: bottomless mimosa brunch ($25), poolside cabana at a local casino resort ($25), downtown dinner ($25). We didn’t splurge on a hotel room or rent a house for the weekend. Instead, we spent the day by the pool at a local casino. The best part? It had a lazy river, three pools and a delicious bottomless mimosa brunch. After the day ended, we drove home, got ready and went to our favorite local restaurant for dinner. It was the perfect end to a fun-filled day with my favorite people.

Three friends traveled from out of town. Only two of those friends had to get on a plane. The price of their flight was $100 round-trip. Once they arrived, they spent the night at our apartment to keep costs down.

Genius tip: Change your perspective and get creative. There’s a good chance brides and grooms from other cities in America travel to your city for their parties. Instead of daydreaming about an expensive and time-consuming trip to a new city, come up with locations for a local party. When I first thought of my bachelorette, I wanted to spend a weekend in Las Vegas, but once I got clear about the parts of Las Vegas I love — bottomless brunches, pool parties, lazy rivers and good food — I realized I didn’t have to travel to a different state to experience them.

Registry gifts: $6 to $100

Wedding registries are fun to create. You walk around the store and scan items you like. The most exciting part? There’s no limit. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of putting together your wedding registry, but it’s more exciting to choose items you’ll actually use.

Before you make your registry and get caught up in the excitement of scanning items or clicking “add” on a website, look at what you already have in your home. When my fiance and I looked at what we had, we realized we needed to replace some basic items we had purchased when we were broke college students. We didn’t need super fancy skillets. We needed plates that weren’t chipped. But even if you do need or want expensive items, it’s important to have less expensive items on your registry as well. The cheapest item on our registry was also one of my favorites: a kitchen towel with a cat on it. The cost? $6.

Despite our best efforts, some wedding costs, like flights and lodging, couldn’t be lowered. Here’s the truth: If members of your wedding party have to travel for the wedding, it’s going to significantly increase their costs. Though we couldn’t help our out-of-town bridal party members secure lower plane tickets or hotel rates, it was nice to know we had done everything we could to be respectful of their time and money.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius

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.