Tag: Guides

 

15 Quotes from Our Favorite Money Saving Experts

Like it or not, money makes the world go round. It provides you with basic necessities and helps you achieve your savings goals. Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees.

But here’s the good news: You can save and earn more money by turning to experts for tips, tricks and inspiration. To help motivate you, check out these 15 quotes from our favorite money experts:

1) “Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.” – Warren Buffett

No one knows the importance of seizing upon an opportunity better than billionaire Warren Buffett. Buffett made his fortune by purchasing millions in stocks during lulls in the market.

The takeaway: While you may not have millions of dollars sitting around, you can still invest and earn more money. Whether this means accepting a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, moving your money into a high-yield savings account, or taking advantage of swings in the market, be sure to put out your “bucket”…not your “thimble.”

2) “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin

Those little expenses add up – and no one says it better than inventor Benjamin Franklin. While it’s easy to keep your larger expenses in check, it’s not so easy to count all the small, every day expenses.

The takeaway: Those little expenses add up, and can rapidly ruin your budget. To keep yourself in check, evaluate your expenditures every month, and cut back on any miscellaneous, unbudgeted expenses.

3) “A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.” – William Feather

Perhaps no one explains the importance of budgeting better than publisher William Feather. A budget is a great tool to tell you where your money should go. But it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable.

The takeaway: Pay attention to your budget and don’t spend more than you have available.

 4) “Make sure you have financial intelligence… I don’t care if you have money or you don’t have money… you need to go and study finance no matter what.” – Daymond John

You don’t have to be a financial analyst in order to understand the basics of finance. And this quote from entrepreneur Daymond John proves just that. No matter who you are, it’s vital that you educate yourself on the basics of personal finance.

The takeaway: Educate yourself by making free simple moves like reading books from the library or personal finance blogs.

5) “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” – Robert H. Schuller

Everyone faces a difficult financial period at some point. But instead of panicking or becoming overwhelmed, it’s important to note that these times are only temporarily.

The takeaway: With a lot of hard work, smart planning and determination, any financial situation can be turned around over time, no matter how bad it is.

6)  “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

So, you want to take control of your finances? You want to switch jobs? Start your own business? Any financial decision is just a thought until you take action.

The takeaway: Turn your thoughts into actions. Take a leap and make your financial goals a reality.

7) “Personal finance is only 20% head knowledge. It’s 80% behavior!” –Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey, financial expert and author of Total Money Makeover, has a unique approach to finances. According to him, your finances are more a reflection of your behaviors than your financial knowledge.

The takeaway: Establish positive money habits like creating a budget or automating your savings. Celebrate your new behaviors, which can easily become money wins.

8) “A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life.” – Suze Orman

Financial guru Suze Orman is a huge proponent of saving money. And, saving for an emergency can save you oodles of stress.

The takeaway: Instead of worrying about how you’ll pay for unexpected expenses, consider starting an emergency fund.

9) Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track.” -Natasha Munson

Money isn’t the end-all, be-all, but it certainly is important. Just like you must keep your emotions in check, it’s important to keep your finances in check, according to Natasha Munson.

The takeaway: Take steps to improve your finances as this will give your some control over your life and decisions.

10) “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.” – Confucius

Even according to Confucius in ancient times, planning ahead was extremely important!

You never know when something unfortunate could happen.

The takeaway: Prepare for the unknown by saving money for a rainy day.

11) “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – Joe Biden

Unfortunately, simply creating a budget doesn’t mean you are on track financially. In order to keep yourself on track with your budget, check out these tips from EveryDollar.

The takeaway: Adhere to a reasonable budget so that you’ll be more apt to make strides with your financial situation.

12) “It’s simple arithmetic: Your income can grow only to the extent that you do.” — T. Harv Eker

T. Harv Elker, the author of “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind,” is an enormous proponent of personal development. In fact, he claims that your income is a direct reflection of your personal growth.

The takeaway: Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! Here are a few affordable ways you can invest in yourself while on a budget.

13) “Money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with oxygen.” – Zig Ziglar

Money truly isn’t everything. But it does afford you the lifestyle you want, according to businessman Zig Ziglar.

The takeaway: You can’t ignore money. Instead, it’s important to prioritize your money goals so that you can afford the lifestyle you want.

14) “You can have excuses or you can have success; you can’t have both.” ― Jen Sincero

According to Jen Sincero, author of “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth,” success takes a lot of work. So, instead of blaming your financial woes on your present situation, she proposes that you take control of your situation and turn it around.

The takeaway: Think of your financial situation as a reflection about your attitude about work. Hey, it’s worth a shot!

15) “In fact, what determines your wealth is not how much you make but how much you keep of what you make.” ― David Bach

According to David Bach, author of “Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams,” you can make all the money you have ever imagined…but if you can’t save that money, you have nothing. This is particularly liberating if you don’t earn a ton of money.

The takeaway: Whether you earn $30,000 a year or $100,000, your savings is what matters most! On that note, we’ll leave you with this pro tip: Don’t forget to save even more money by opening a Chime savings account!

 

14 Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Date Ideas That Don’t Suck

For the first few years of our relationship, my husband and I never thought twice about going out for a five-star meal on Valentine’s Day. It was just the thing to do. After all, the average American spends more than $140 on this holiday.

Yet, here was the problem: We couldn’t afford those dinners, especially with piling up credit card charges, burdensome student loans payments and hefty car notes. So, we started celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget and we actually enjoyed ourselves just as much (if not more) because we had to get creative.

Although we have now paid off our consumer debt, we decided to keep up our thrifty Valentine’s Day tradition. This way we can focus on our other money goals for this year and beyond.

If you’re also looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget, check out these 14 date ideas that won’t make you look like a cheapskate:

For the Romantics At Heart

Cook together.
This is a popular at-home date night recommendation but it can be stressful if you wait until the last minute to figure out your menu. Instead, consider testing out a meal delivery service or check out Instacart, which I find to be a huge time (and therefore money saver).

At-home spa night.
While you may not have the hands of a massage therapist, you can easily recreate a calming, spa-like atmosphere right in your own home. Budget-friendly tip: Shop your hall closet for candles, aromatherapy oils and other at-home spa essentials. In the end, you may only need to spend money on rose petals to turn this idea into the most romantic Valentine’s Day ever.

Create a scavenger hunt.
It’s time to put your Pinterest skills to good use with this Valentine’s Day activity. Showcase your thoughtfulness by including riddles that incorporate memories from milestone events like your first date. Your grand finale (final clue) doesn’t have to be expensive either. It can be home cooked dinner by the fireplace, picture of the two of you or a picnic lunch.

Bury a time capsule.
Fill a box with keepsakes that represent both you and your SO, write a sweet note to your future selves and bury it. Hint: You can repurpose almost anything such as a shoebox for your time capsule instead of going out and buying something new.

Scrapbook together.

Pour a glass of wine and get ready to enjoy a trip down memory lane with your person. I also love that this sweet date night idea can double as a great way to get rid of clutter and turn it into cash (not very romantic, I know, but it is a tip worth sharing).

Treat your SO to breakfast in bed.

When was the last time you made your partner breakfast in bed? Or maybe a better question is: Have you ever made your partner breakfast? Be sure to include a sweet handwritten note when you surprise your SO with this thoughtful gesture!

At-home movie night with a twist.
Borrow a projector or even use a large television screen to create a romantic outdoor or indoor movie theater experience without breaking the bank.

For the Outdoorsy Couple

Cozy bonfire date.

My husband recently spent five dollars on a fire pit at a garage sale and we can’t wait to test it out on Valentine’s Day. I already have the marshmallows and hot cocoa mix added to our grocery list!

Sledding.

If you want to have some real fun on Valentine’s Day then add this winter activity to your to-do list. Cuddle up with a warm beverage once you’re finished acting like a big kid with your favorite human.

Winter hike.

Yes, this is a thing! Just be sure to check out these safety tips before embarking on your adventure.

For the Couple Who Doesn’t Like At-Home Date Nights

Dessert-only date.

Fill up on dinner at home and save the spending for a delicious sweet treat. Scout out a nice ice cream parlor or a quaint bakery in a cute nearby town. End the night with a romantic walk.

Trivia night.

If you and your partner are competitive then this could be the perfect date night that costs less than $25. Plus, you may even win some money when all is said and done!

Choose lunch over dinner.
Eating lunch out is less expensive than dinner. Plain and simple. For instance, Money Crashers notes that at the Cheesecake Factory, “Dinner entrees range in price from $11 to $30 [while] lunch specials cost between $9 and $14.” If you skip dessert and take it easy on the beverages, you won’t have to spend more than $50.

For the Couple Who Thinks Outside of the Box

Don’t celebrate at all.

If your main reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day is that everyone else is, then it may be time to reconsider your approach. I spoke with one couple who doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.

Ellie from EllieMondelli.com says, “It’s very simple for us — we view this holiday as yet another excuse to spend money. It doesn’t fit in with any of our goals, so we don’t celebrate it.”

This type of discipline has enabled the Mondelli’s to pay off their mortgage before she turned 30!

 

6 Best Dating Apps When You’re On a Budget

Sometimes love doesn’t cost a thing, but that’s hardly the case these days. Even before you get to the pricey part of wining and dining a potential suitor, you can expect to run up big tabs on dating apps.

Subscriptions to these apps can come with a hefty price tag, which means less money in your savings account to actually win over your new paramour.

So, what to do? Take a look at the solid money-saving dating app strategy that we’ve put together. In addition, we rounded up some of the top dating apps to give you the lowdown on the costs involved and whether they are worth the money.

Saving Money With Dating Apps

Monthly subscription fees can cost as much as a good meal. But most dating apps offer a free “lite” version of the app. You still get a sense of the full functionality, ease of use, and size of the potential dating pool, but you won’t get access to the premium features.

So, before you commit to that pricey subscription, try this: Download a range of different dating apps. Only commit to the free version as a way to suss out the app’s usefulness. Only then, when you’ve narrowed it down to a favorite few, is it a good idea to spring for a paid subscription.

It’s also important to know what you get with the paid versions, and to really consider whether this is worth it. Does a paid subscription provide more access to potential partners, for example? Or is it just a dud feature that you probably won’t really use? Keeping a discerning eye on the value you get for your hard-earned cash can help keep those subscriptions trimmed to the bare essentials.

Best Dating Apps

Here are some of the most popular dating apps you’re likely to run across.

Match.com

Everyone has heard of Match.com, even your 95-year-old Nana. This website offers one of the largest user bases of any dating app, meaning the odds are good that you’ll meet people. Although you can see profiles as a free member, if you want to send and receive messages, see who saved your profile, and even attend in-person events, you’ll need to upgrade.

Subscription cost: Starting from $20.99/month

Tinder

Tinder – which revolutionized the terms “swipe right” and “swipe left” – is still one of the most popular dating apps out there. While the basic concept is simple to use, you’ll need to upgrade if you want to take the game to a new level. Plus, subscriptions allow you to change locations if you travel and undo swipe mistakes, among other things. The highest tier level, Gold, allows you to do everything in the Plus subscription while allowing you to “boost” your profile to the top of the line. You’ll also be able to see who has swiped right on your profile.

Plus subscription cost: Starting from $2.99/month

Gold subscription cost: Starting from $4.99/month

The League

If you’re a distinguishing dater and tired of all the scrubs, consider this app. It bills itself as an app for elite people who have done things like attended Ivy League schools, or at least have the conversation skills to match. You don’t join The League — you apply and hope you’re accepted — and the basic version is free. With the paid versions, you can get more “friend requests,” VIP passes, and custom-picked daily prospects.

Member subscription cost: Starting from $29/month

Owner subscription cost: Starting from $83/month

Hinge

If you like Tinder’s ease of use but aren’t looking for a short-term hookup, Hinge might be a better dating app for you. It’s also especially helpful if you’re active on Facebook, since the app will use your personal connections to find friends-of-friends to match you with. Preferred members get access to additional filters to find people, unlimited profile likes, and even access to Hinge Experts, a concierge dating service.

Preferred subscription cost: Starting from $7/month

Bumble

If you’re into flipping the script, Bumble is a great dating app to try. This app actually requires the woman to message the man first if they are a match. And not only that, there’s a time limit — she only gets 24 hours to make the first move, or it disappears. For same-sex matches, anyone can make the first move. Upgrading to Bumble Boost allows you to see who’s right-swiped your profile, find matches with expired connections, and extend your current matches longer than the 24-hour window.

Bumble Boost subscription cost: Starting from $24.99/month

OkCupid

If you consider yourself woke and are looking to meet up with other like-minded liberals, consider OkCupid. This app allows for dozens of combinations of gender identity and sexual orientations, and makes the profile-creation process a fun game of questions (If I were sent to jail, I’d be arrested for…) rather than your standard demographic listing. It offers two levels of premium subscriptions. A-List members get a wide range of features, such as seeing who has read your messages and changing your username periodically. A-List Premium members get access to a few more features, like having your profile boosted or your messages appearing in a prominent spot in your match’s mailbox.

A-List subscription cost: Starting from $9.95/month

A-List Premium subscription cost: Starting from $24.90/month

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

You’re a savvy user of money-saving apps and banking apps, so why not plan a smart dating app strategy as well? As we’ve shown you above, the world is full of options — and that applies to both dating apps and the people that use them. Planning a smart approach to your dating app strategy means you’ll have the best chances of finding love and keeping your wallet as full as possible. We call that a win-win.

 

How Chime Offers No Fee Checking Accounts

You’ve probably heard the adage Nothing in Life is Free. Well, we’re here to debunk this. Did you know that you can get a free Chime checking account with no fees?

Chime is a mobile-only bank account that helps you save money automatically and manage your finances from anywhere. Now one of the fastest growing bank accounts in the U.S., Chime offers members a Spending Account, an optional Savings Account, and a Chime Visa® Debit Card. Rated the “Best Free Checking Account of 2018” by NerdWallet, Chime is on a mission to eliminate bank fees while empowering you to take control of your finances and save money.

Those pesky fees add up – fast. Did you know that the average U.S. household pays over $329 in bank fees annually, and that most Americans haven’t switched to a checking account with no fees? Pretty remarkable, right? If you’re ready to make the switch and kiss those fees goodbye forever, take a look at 5 reasons why Chime offers a no fee checking account, and how you can benefit.

1. Chime is committed to helping you get ahead financially

When you have to pay monthly fees just for having a checking account, this doesn’t help you pocket your hard-earned cash. Instead, banks profit off of you and Chime would rather profit with you. So, instead of charging you fees – like most traditional banks – Chime has turned the banking industry on its head. It makes no money off your no fee Spending Account, allowing you to keep all of your cash. How does Chime make money? Good question. Here’s the answer: Every time you use your debit card, Chime earns a small amount from Visa (paid by the merchant.)

2. Chime offers an awesome banking alternative to big banks

Did you know that the five largest banks in the U.S made more than $34 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2017? Chime, along with other challenger banks, want to change this with no fee checking accounts and debit cards that empower you to save money. Yet, regardless of where you bank, here’s a tip from Chime: Be sure to learn about any fees you may have to pay, including overdraft fees, savings account fees, account maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees, and more. And if you want a bank that will never rely on unfair bank fees for profit, Chime is here for you.

3. Chime offers a Spending Account that suits your lifestyle

With a Chime no fee checking account, you can do all of your banking right from the modern and intuitive mobile app. This includes depositing checks on the go, paying friends, transferring funds, paying bills and even mailing checks. Here’s how these main features work:

  • Mobile Check Deposit

To deposit a check, all you need to do is snap a quick photo with Chime’s mobile banking app, and then sit back and watch your account balance grow. No need to fill out a deposit slip, go to a brick-and-mortar bank or ATM, wait in a bank teller line, and write out a paper check and put it in the mail. You can deposit checks from anywhere in the world. Easy peasy.

  • Pay Friends

With a Chime Spending Account, you can send money instantly to friends and family, even to those that aren’t yet Chime members! Using the Pay Friends feature, you can divide up rent payments or split the bill when out to dinner with friends. And, you’ll never pay fees.

  • Automatic Savings

Now that you love your Spending Account, it’s time to automatically grow your savings with the Save When I Get Paid or Save When I Spend features. Automatically save 10% of your paycheck into your Chime Saving Account with Save When I Get Paid. You can also automatically round-up your purchases and save the different into your Savings Account with Save When I Spend.

  • Pay Bills Electronically

Using Chime’s bill pay feature, you can pay your bills, track your expenses, and keep tabs on your balance from the mobile app on any device. You can even leave your wallet at home when you go shopping as Chime supports mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

  • Mail a Check

We know mailing checks is old school. But, sometimes you gotta do it and Chime makes this task simple. It even puts the check in the mail for you. That’s right. If you have to mail a check, you can do this through the mobile app. All you have to do is let Chime know who to send a check to and for how much. Chime will then make sure your check gets to where it needs to be. Now this is what we call the best kind of virtual personal assistant.

4. Chime offers easy access to your money

While Chime is a mobile-only bank with no brick-and-mortar locations, this doesn’t mean you’re limited when it comes to ATMs. In fact, just the opposite is true. You can use your debit card to withdraw money from your no fee checking account at over 38,000 fee-free ATMs. In addition, you can use 30,000 plus cash-back locations.

Chime is part of the MoneyPass® and Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks, with locations throughout the United States. You can use the mobile app to find an in-network free ATM and then use your debit card to withdraw cash without fees. Now that’s convenience to the max.

5. Chime helps you save automatically

Now that we’ve explained Chime’s mission to help you save money with no fee bank accounts, it’s time to break down some of the key ways in which you can keep more of your money, while boosting your savings. And, remember, these money-saving features from Chime cost you nothing in fees and will help you save money without even thinking about it. Take a look:

  • Save When I Spend

    With Chime, you can save money every time you make a purchase or pay a bill with your Chime debit card. The Save When I Spend feature automatically rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the round-up from your Spending Account into your Savings Account.

  •  Save When I Get Paid

     This automatic savings feature allows you to save money with every paycheck. This way you can reach your financial goals faster. If you’re a Chime member, you can automatically transfer 10% of every paycheck directly into your Savings Account.

  • Get paid up to two days early with early direct deposit 

    Getting your paycheck early means you’ll have two more days to do more with your money. When you open a no fee checking account with Chime, you can set up direct deposit two ways: you can request an email with a pre-filled direct deposit form that you can give to your employer, or set it up yourself using the Account and Routing numbers listed in your Chime app. No waiting for your money while it sits in some mysterious electronic limbo, and no more worrying about lost paper checks. You’ll get your cash two days before most other traditional banks make the funds available to you. The waiting game is over!

Are you ready to open a no fee checking account?

If you’re currently paying bank fees, this means you are paying your bank for the right to hold onto your money. Ridiculous, right?

Yet, you have a choice. You can switch to a no fee bank account. Signing up for a Chime account takes less than two minutes and there is no minimum balance required to open a no fee checking account. What are you waiting for?

 

What to Do If the Stock Market Crashes

If you’ve seen the recent headlines, it seems that the next stock market crash could be around the corner. The housing market has stalled and, in December 2018, the Dow had the worst December performance since the Great Depression. All of these signs can be disconcerting, especially when you’re considering the impact to your own finances.

While this doom and gloom may make you feel as uneasy as the recession of 2008, there are some ways you can prepare yourself for a worst case scenario. Check out this guide to help you out if the stock market crashes.

Don’t panic

First things first: Do not panic. While you may freak out and consider taking all of your money out of your bank and hiding it under your mattress, this likely isn’t the wisest idea. Likewise, neither is immediately selling off your investments to avoid the volatility of the market. Why? Because if the market can crash, it can go up again.

According CNBC, if you invested in 2008 — instead of panicking — you’d be doing fairly well right now. The CNBC article states:

“In the 10 years since the crisis got rolling, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has returned 7.8 percent, annualized, including dividends. That’s not far below the very long-term average yearly return of just under 10 percent. So a very unlucky investor who climbed into equities as they were about to careen off a cliff hasn’t been hurt too badly. A standard portfolio mix of stocks and bonds, as reflected in the Vanguard Balanced Index Fund, has returned a decent 6.8 percent over the same span, with roughly half the downside volatility experienced by the S&P 500. Clearly, the passage of time in the markets can help make up for bad timing.”

Cut back on spending

How much do you really need to live off of?

Look at your budget and evaluate areas where you can cut back. You can figure out where you can do this by looking at your bare-bones budget.

Why do this? Because if the stock market crashes, you may need to be a bit more frugal while you wait for a rebound. So, try not going out for coffee every day, but maybe only splurge for those lattes once a week. And, here’s a pro tip: Figure out how much money you need in order to pay all your bills. Once you have your budget set (rent/mortgage, food, transportation, etc.), you can look at the areas that aren’t essential and start to cut back. From there, you can figure out how much you’ve got to spend and how much you can save.

Boost your savings rate

A stock market crash can have a ripple effect on other areas of your life. For example, you may get laid off from your job, have limited access to credit or have a tough time getting clients for your side hustle. For these reasons and more, it’s important to be prepared and have cash saved up.

Experts recommend saving three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund, but you might want to boost that up to 12 months. While this may take some time, there’s no harm in starting to save more as soon as you can.

With beefed up savings, this will help you weather a storm if the stock market should crash.

Assess your risk tolerance

Investing is never a risk-free endeavor. When you’re just starting out, it’s important to determine your risk tolerance, as well as a strategy to grow your money over time.

What’s risk tolerance? Risk tolerance is how much risk you’re willing to deal with when investing. So, ask yourself this question: Are you an aggressive or conservative investor?

You may also want to consider any lifestyle changes that may affect the amount of risk you can take on. For example, are you preparing to have a baby, get married, go back to school or  going through a divorce? Perhaps you’re dealing with a layoff or you switched jobs and took a pay cut?

Your risk tolerance, as well as these lifestyle factors, should be considered and you can adjust your investing strategy accordingly. For example, perhaps you can move away from a stock-heavy portfolio if having too many stocks makes you skittish. Or, perhaps you can put more of your money into savings. The key is to be diversified in a way that makes sense for you – given your risk tolerance, lifestyles and goals.

Buy and hold

A good strategy in an uncertain market is to buy and hold.

So what exactly is that? Buy and hold is when you buy stocks and just hold onto them. You don’t try to play games or get into a situation you’re not well-equipped to deal with – such as trying to time the stock market.

The ultimate goal with investing is to build wealth, and this takes time. Think of your investments as a long-term play and this way you won’t be so stressed about the possible day-to-day volatility.

Think of it as a sale

Scarcity mindset, or a survival mindset — where you think resources are scarce — can be set off with a stock market crash. You might feel scared about your money, like there will never be enough.

Instead of living in fear and holding onto your money so tightly, you may benefit from a perspective shift. Consider a market crash as a ‘sale’ and invest more. If you feel comfortable, you can use this time to invest on the cheap and reap the benefits in the long term.

Keep your options open if the worst should happen

You’ll want to have a contingency plan if the sh*&^ hits the fan.

So, think about the skills you have in case you have to take a different type of job or start a new side hustle to earn extra income.

Here are some other tips: Check into whether your loans have better payment options available. For example, federal student loan borrowers can pay zero dollars on an income-driven repayment plan if your income is at a very low level.

Final word

The financial headlines can be scary. Yet, you can take steps now to be proactive if the stock market crashes. If it does take a tumble, remember not to panic and think long-term. This way your can stay the course and keep your finances in order during the short-term.

 

Money-Making Apps: What You Need to Know

Is boosting your income on your to-do list? If so, you can start a side hustle or angle for a better a job. But, there may be an easier way to make a few extra bucks: money-making apps.

“While money-making and cash back apps can’t replace your 9 to 5, they’re a great way to earn some change to tuck away for a rainy day,” says Joy Hearn, founder of deal site Cards and Clips.

Indeed, money-making apps can put cash in your wallet. That’s money you can use to pad your savings account or pay off debt. Yet, you may be confused about what these apps do or which ones you might want to try, right? Well, we’ve got the details here, along with tips on how to leverage money-making apps. To learn more, read on.

How Money-Making Apps Work

The basic premise of money-making apps is that they allow you to earn a percentage of what you spend as cash back. You link your debit or credit card to the app, spend at partner merchants and cash back rewards are credited to your app account.

You’re free to use the cash back you’ve earned however you want. And you can double up on rewards if you’re also earning cash back from your linked debit or credit card.

What makes each money-making app and website different is the amount of cash back you can earn, where you can earn it and how that cash is paid out. Some of the most popular money-making apps include:

With Dosh, you can earn up to 10% cash back automatically when you pay with a linked debit or credit card at more than 1,000 stores and restaurants. You can also snag an extra five dollars each time you refer a friend to Dosh and they sign up for an account using your referral link. You can transfer the money you’ve made to your bank account, PayPal account or donate it to charity.

Lushdollar founder Tom Nathaniel likes Dosh because it’s a set-it-and-forget-it way to earn cash back.

“While I could check out which merchants give me cash back, I just look at it as a bonus if my purchase triggers a reward. Since you just add your credit card, the app always knows what you’re buying,” says Nathaniel.

Marc Andre, personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com says Ebates is his money-making app of choice. Ebates offers up to 40% cash back at more than 2,500 partner retailers. Besides the app, you can also use the Ebates browser extension to make money from your desktop.

“When you’re visiting a website that participates with Ebates you’ll be notified and all you need to do is click on a button in the notification so Ebates can track your purchases. There have been many times when I wasn’t even thinking about getting cash back but the alert from the browser extension reminded me of it,” says Andre.

Another great feature: Ebates automatically searches for coupon codes to help you find even more savings when you shop.

Like Ebates, TopCashback.com is a money-making app that also has a downloadable browser extension. It also features one of the largest merchant networks, with over 4,400 partner businesses.

Hearn at Cards and Clips is partial to Shopkick and Checkpoints, both of which reward you with cash instantly just for walking into stores or browsing retailers online. The difference is that with these apps, you’re earning gift cards instead of cold hard cash. But, the gift card selection includes retailers like Target, Amazon and Starbucks – which can come in handy if you regularly spend with these brands.

Using Money-Making Apps Wisely

Cash back apps and websites can put money in your pocket fairly easily, but there are a few rules to keep in mind as you use them.

1. Set realistic expectations for what you can earn.

Don’t think of money-making apps as a way to get rich quick.

“I think some people download these apps expecting hundreds of dollars. As long as you go in knowing you’ll make a few bucks, they’re fun to use,” Nathaniel says.

2. Don’t try to game the system.

It sounds simple but pay attention to the rules set down by an app for making money. For example, Hearn says that in her experience, survey apps tend to have explicit rules about misuse.

“If they find you’ve created multiple accounts and can track it back to your specific IP address, you can be banned from using the app. Or, if they feel you deliberately raced through a survey to earn money, your account can be terminated,” says Hearn.

Bottom line? “It’s always best to follow instructions and do exactly what an app requires so you can earn your payout,” she says.

3. Be selective.

Deciding which money-making apps to use partly depends on your spending habits, says VitalDollar’s Andre.

Checkout51 and Ibotta, for instance, are designed for earning money on groceries while other money-making apps cover restaurants or major retail brands.

“There are so many different cash back apps that you really can’t use them all effectively. My best advice is to pick a few and stick with those,” says Andre.

4. Don’t let apps dictate buying decisions.

When using money-making apps, it’s easy to get caught up in earning cash. So easy, in fact, that you might end up overspending just to chase down a few extra dollars.

“You have to keep it in perspective,” says Andre.

“Getting 10% cash back on a purchase that you need to make anyway is great. But making a purchase that you don’t need just to get 10% cash back is not wise,” he says.

In other words, keep your spending habits firmly in sight. Getting cash back is great but not if it means blowing your budget.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

When you’re earning extra cash with these apps, think about what you plan to do with it. Money-making apps can turn into money-saving apps if you’re using those dollars and cents to grow your emergency fund or save up for other goals. Plus, it’s motivating to watch the cash from mobile payment apps pile into a savings account. Are you ready to give money-making apps a try?

 

Chime’s Ultimate Guide to Building Credit

Your financial health is like a puzzle, with different pieces that fit together to create a complete picture.

One of the most important pieces is your credit history and of course, your credit score. (That’s the three-digit number lenders use to determine how likely you are to repay your debts.) FICO scores, the most widely used credit scoring model in the U.S., range from 300 to 850. The average FICO score recently hit an all-time high of 704.

This in-depth guide breaks down everything you need to know about engineering a better credit rating.

Where credit scores come from

Before you can have a credit score, you first need to have a credit report. This is a collection of information about your credit accounts, including who you owe money to, how much you owe, your minimum payments and how long you’ve been using credit.

FICO scores focus on five specific factors to calculate your credit score:

  • 35% of your score is based on payment history
  • 30% is based on your amounts owed
  • 15% is based on the length of your credit history
  • 10% is based on inquiries for new credit
  • 10% is based on the types of credit you’re using (i.e. loans and credit cards)

Knowing what affects your score can help you adopt the habits that you’ll need to build good credit. But what if you’re one of the 62 million Americans with a thin credit file?

“A thin credit file just means that you don’t have an established credit history,” says personal finance expert and Money Crashers contributor David Bakke.

“Maybe you’re younger and just have never had a need for credit, or possibly in general you’ve never signed up for credit cards or taken out a car loan or a home mortgage,” says Bakke.

With a thin credit file, you may not have enough credit history to generate a credit score. Fortunately, that’s a situation you can remedy. Opening a bank account is a good first step. You can use your account to get a handle on your spending, keep track of bills and start growing your savings. Once you begin using credit, you’ll already be in the habit of keeping your spending in check and paying your bills on time. Both of these positive habits can help your score.

How to build credit from scratch

If you’re starting from square one with building credit, there are a few different routes you can take. Here’s a look at some of the most common ways you can build credit as a beginner:

Secured credit cards

Opening a secured credit card can be a great option to build credit for someone who’s new to credit or has a thin credit file, says Steven Millstein, a certified credit counselor and editor of CreditRepairExpert.

“Unlike other credit cards, a secured credit card requires that you make a cash deposit upfront. This deposit will usually be your credit card limit, which serves as collateral if you fail to make payments,” Millstein says.

The major pro of a secured credit card is that your payment history and spending can help to establish your credit history. That’s because many secured card issuers report your activity to the credit reporting bureaus. With a card limit of only a few hundred dollars, this can keep you from racking up debt.

Credit builder and savings secured loans

Credit builder and savings secured loans offer a slightly different take on building credit.

“These are basically small installment loans where the loan is secured by a certificate of deposit or a savings account,” says Jeff Smith, vice president of marketing for Self Lender, which offers credit builder loans.

“As the person repays the loan, the payments are reported to the credit bureaus so they can impact the credit history. At the end of the term, the CD or savings are unlocked and returned to the account-holder.”

Essentially, you’re repaying a loan to build credit, but you don’t get the proceeds of the loan until it’s paid in full. That’s a reversal from how loans usually work, where you get the money upfront.

There are also other drawbacks to credit builder loans. For example, you may not get immediate funds to make a purchase. On the other hand, this may not matter if your main objective is to build credit.

Become an authorized user

Instead of getting a credit card in your name, you can ask a friend or family member to add you to one of their cards as an authorized user.

“The implication is that their (the main card holders) good credit practices will start to build your credit,” Millstein says.

According to Equifax, being an authorized user allows you to make purchases with the card and have the account’s activity show up on your credit report. Yet, you’re not the one liable for the card’s balance. If the primary card holder practices good credit habits, those habits would be reflected in your credit report and score.

There’s a catch, however. If the primary card holder falls behind on payments or maxes the card out, this can hurt your credit.

Ask someone to co-sign a loan with you

Co-signing on a personal, student or auto loan is another way to build credit. Unlike being an authorized user, however, you share responsibility for the debt with your co-signer.

Asking someone to co-sign can help you qualify for a loan that you may not be able to obtain on your own. Once you’re approved, you can work on repaying the loan and building credit history.

But there is some risk involved. If you default on the loan, both your credit history and that of your co-signer can be damaged. And, this can potentially ruin your relationship, Millstein says.

How long will does it take to build credit?

“Building good credit is probably not going to happen overnight and getting a solid credit score as well isn’t going to happen immediately,” Bakke says.

So, just how soon can you expect to see results?

According to Experian, it can take between three and six months of activity to get enough history on your credit report to calculate a credit score. Millstein says it can take about 12 months to grow a fair credit score, which is in the 580 to 669 range for FICO scores. He says working towards a perfect 850 score, on the other hand, can take several years.

Bottom line? You’ll need to be patient and give your good credit habits time to pay off.

Check in with your credit regularly

If you’re hard at work on building credit, don’t forget to track your progress. You can get your credit report three times a year for free through AnnualCreditReport.com. Free credit monitoring services help you track your score month to month.

In the meantime, set up alerts for your bills and schedule automatic payments through your mobile banking app so you never miss a due date. When you make payments on time and keep your balances low, your credit will eventually improve!

 

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.

 

Amazing Resources for Successfully Managing Your Personal Finances

The new year is the perfect time to do some revamping of your finances, starting with the tools you use to manage your money.

Two-thirds of Americans have at least one personal finance app on their mobile devices. These apps are used for banking, budgeting, investing or sending and receiving money. But, perhaps you’re looking for new personal finance tools to add to your arsenal.

In addition to the Chime’s money transfer feature, here are 8 personal finance apps and go-to resources that you might fall in love with.

1. Personal Capital

If you need to get clarity on where you stand financially in the new year, Personal Capital is designed with you in mind. The software, which links all your bank and investment accounts, can help you become more financially aware of how you spend, save and invest. It’s great if you want to get a handle on your net worth, check in on how your investments are doing or see where each and every dollar you spend goes.

2. The Penny Hoarder

You love personal finance blogs, right? That’s probably because you’re looking for tips on how to make smarter decisions with your money. The Penny Hoarder delivers that and then some. This personal finance site offers a wealth of information on everything from paying down debt and saving for retirement, to earning more money with a side hustle and snagging deals on groceries. If you want to dig deeper, The Penny Hoarder Academy features in-depth tutorials on budgeting, improving your credit score and job hunting.

3. “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth”

Author Jen Sincero took a series of professional twists and turns before finding her calling as a success coach. Her newest book, “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth,” is all about how to chase after the income you want instead of settling for the paycheck you’re earning. You might be working your way up the corporate ladder, trying to get a fledgling freelancing business off the ground or somewhere in-between. If you need a road map (and a mental kick in the pants) to focus on leveling up your income, this book is a solid read.

4. You Need a Budget

There are lots of budgeting apps and programs out there and if you’re looking for something free that’s easy to use, the Mint app absolutely fits the bill. You Need a Budget (YNAB), however, offers a bit more. While it’s not free (you’ll need to cough up $6.99 a month to use it) it can be a financial game changer. If you’ve struggled with budgeting before, YNAB can help you stay accountable while getting down to the nitty-gritty of how you spend. Aside from budgeting, YNAB can also help you map out a debt payoff plan and track your big (and small) money goals.

5. So Money Podcast

Farnoosh Torabi knows money and she dishes out her best personal finance advice and tips on her weekly So Money Podcast. The podcast regularly features money, business and success experts, such as Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and Jim Cramer. Previous episodes have included discussions about money and marriage, managing finances in yours 20s, figuring out retirement and making the leap into entrepreneurship after a stint with a side hustle. The financial questions addressed are relatable and the advice tends to be practical and on-point.

6. Robinhood

Fees can eat into your returns when you’re trading stocks and trying to build a portfolio of investments. Yet, Robinhood is a mobile app that lets you buy and sell stocks for free from your mobile device or desktop. It may be a good pick for investing newbies who want to play the market but don’t want to shell out hefty fees to a financial advisor. And if you’re a savvy investor, you can also use the Robinhood app to trade options and cryptocurrencies.

7. Credit Karma

Getting your credit score in shape might be one of your top financial resolutions for the new year. The first step is knowing where you stand score-wise and what’s influencing your credit score calculations. This is where Credit Karma can help. This site offers free credit score monitoring and credit education. You can track your score progress each month and use that to improve your finances. For example, boosting your score may help you get approved for better credit card or loan offers. And, consolidating high-interest credit card debt to a single card or loan with a lower rate can save you money over the long-term, help you pay the balance off faster, and improve your finances.

8. Venmo

Splitting expenses can be a headache, especially if you’re constantly nagging your roommate to hand over her share of the rent or dealing with that one friend who never seems to carry enough cash to share the dinner tab. Venmo helps eliminate those kinds of hassles by allowing you to send and receive money with just an email or phone number. You can easily share payments for virtually any expense and get paid back through your smartphone. The app makes keeping track of money a breeze and it’s also a speedy way to receive payments. Just watch out for the fees. Venmo charges a three percent fee when you send money using a credit card. Pro tip: Chime also offers a Pay Friends feature that allows you to send fee-free mobile payments to other Chime members.

What’s your preferred money management tool?

These fintech apps and resources can help you get a better grip on saving, spending, debt repayment, investing, and your short-term and long-range money goals. We encourage you to check out all of these 8 resources to see which of them can help you improve your finances in the new year.

 

Good Credit Scores vs. Bad Credit Scores

Your credit score is a huge indication of your financial health. In fact, your credit is so important that lenders refer to it when you apply for a line of credit, a home mortgage, a car loan or even a new credit card.

But, in order to be approved for loans and credit cards you often need a “good” credit score. That begs the next question: What makes a good score vs. a bad score? Before we jump in, let’s go over the basics.

What is Credit and How is Your Score Calculated

Your credit score is a three digit number that helps lenders determine how credit worthy you really are. In other words, it’s a tool lenders use to determine if you are a good borrower and thus most likely to pay off your loans.

The three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – collect information on you to help determine your credit score. For instance, whenever you open a new account via a loan or line of credit, this information gets reported to the three bureaus.

The bureaus then use a credit scoring model to determine what your score is. The two most popular credit scoring models are FICO and Vantage. FICO is used widely by lenders, but you’ll want to aim for a high credit score no matter which scoring model is being used.

What Makes a Good Credit Score?

There are a few important factors that help contribute to your credit score. These factors include your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix (how many different types of account you have,) and new credit.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Good credit scores fall in the 670 to 850 range. Anything below 670 is either considered a fair or bad credit score, according to FICO.

If you want to raise your credit score, it’s important to prove that you’re a responsible borrower and not a risk to the lender. Why? Lenders don’t want to give money to people who won’t pay them back. This is why the most crucial things you can to do improve your credit are:

 

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Keep credit card balances low

To help you do this, you can create a detailed budget and set up reminders or automatic withdrawals to ensure you pay bills on time. The longer you keep up with this habit, the better your score will get. For example, say you have a student loan with a 10-year term. You’ve made on time payments for about eight years so far. Good for you! This will improve your credit and show lenders that you can be trusted to pay back a sum of money over time.

Here’s another pro tip: When it comes to credit cards, never spend more than 30% of your credit limit. Remember, credit is a tool, and it will not help your score if you max out your credit cards. So, if your limit is $2,000, only spend 30% of that limit, or $600. Then, pay the bill on time. If you continue this habit, your credit score should improve.

What Makes a Bad Credit Score

There are a few things you can do that will result in a bad credit score. They include:

  • Not paying your bills and loan payments on time
  • Not paying your loans at all
  • Keeping a high balance on your credit card
  • Applying for multiple credit accounts regularly

For example, let’s take a look at your bills. If you don’t pay your bills on time, companies can report you to the major credit bureaus and this will result in a negative mark on your credit report. Keep in mind that this can happen for medical bills, utility bills, and even your phone bill. If you just stop paying altogether, this is even worse. Your account will become delinquent and it will reflect poorly on your credit reports.

Keeping a high balance on your credit cards is another common mistake that indicates you may not be able to pay back what you borrowed. The takeaway: Borrow only what you can afford to repay in a timely manner.

Ways to Improve Your Credit

If you want to improve your credit, focus on improving your standing with each of the five factors that impact your credit score. Here’s a breakdown of those factors and how much each one contributes to your score:

Payment history: 35%

Amounts owed: 30%

Length of credit history: 15%

New credit: 10%

Credit mix: 10%

Ideally, you’ll want to focus on improving your finances in the two areas that hold the most weight. This means you should pay bills on time and keep your balances around 30% (or lower) of your overall limit.

You should also avoid applying for new credit too often. Each time you apply for credit, it adds an inquiry to your report. Too many inquiries can hurt your score.

Over time, your credit history length will increase as long as you keep accounts open. If you close an account, your credit history will die with it. This is why it’s better to keep credit card accounts open even if you aren’t using them regularly.

Here are some other tips: If you have existing debt, you can boost your credit by paying it off. You can also establish positive borrowing history by getting a secured credit card and paying off the balance in full each month. With this type of credit card, you have to put money down first to establish your credit limit. Then, you borrow against it and repay it responsibly.

Lastly, consider establishing a no-fee bank account and emergency fund so you won’t be tempted to use credit to help you cover unexpected expenses that you can’t afford.

Know the Difference and Protect Your Score

In order to improve your credit history, you’ve got to start somewhere. A good place to begin is to know what makes a good credit score and a bad credit score. Ultimately, improving your credit score boils down to your spending and money management habits.

Are you ready to develop better money habits? Follow this guide and over time you will watch your credit score move into the “good” range.

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