Tag: Guides

 

The Ultimate Back-to-School Budgeting Guide

Back to school season is right around the corner. That happened fast! 

While kids are probably not ready to give up on summer fun, it’s important that parents start planning for back-to-school expenses and consider creating a budget. Indeed, as it gets closer to crunch time, every paycheck counts. 

According to a recent survey, families plan to spend around $685 per child during the back-to-school season. In order to help you figure out how to manage these costs, we came up with the ultimate back-to-school budgeting guide.

Get started by prioritizing your expenses and planning out your spending. Take a look:

Narrow Down Your Back-to-School List

If back-to-school shopping is overwhelming, you’re not alone. You probably have tons of school supplies and more on your list and if you’re not organized, you can easily overspend or forget something. 

So, before you head to the store or start shopping online, narrow down which expenses are your priorities. Some of the most popular categories are:

  • School supplies
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Backpacks and lunch boxes
  • Books
  • Technology

For starters, set a recommended spending amount for each category and notate this in your budget. This way you have something to shoot for. For example, if you only want to spend $120 on clothes, include this in your budget to help you plan your spending strategy more effectively.

Factor in Any Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about hidden back-to-school costs, like after-school activity fees, band equipment fees, setting up a school lunch account and the likes. Identify these costs early so they don’t bust your budget. 

Take Inventory Around the House

Before you start doing any shopping whatsoever, take a look around your house to see what you already have. I do this each year and it saves me a ton of money

When my son comes home on his last day of school, I unload his backpack, remove all of his leftover school supplies, and store them away. I often find unused pencils, packaged notebook paper, markers, crayons, and folders that are in pretty good shape. 

When August rolls around, I take the stash of school supplies I saved and use that to determine what items I actually need to buy. 

You can do this with clothes as well. Go through your child’s closet before shopping and start to piece together existing outfits that still fit and are in good condition. 

Determine Your Savings Timeline

Once you know how much you have to spend and what you need to buy, start developing a timeline for your shopping so you can save up in advance.

For example, if you find that you’ll need to spend $400 on back-to school items this year, break out that amount over your next few paychecks and start saving. You can make it even easier by setting up automatic transfers every time you get paid. 

Also, see if you can spread out any purchases. For example, school starts a week later for us this year so I plan to use the extra time to spread out my spending. I’ll buy school supplies first, and then take my time purchasing clothes and anything else.  

Follow the Deals

When shopping, make sure you take advantage of deals and coupons to save money. Stores like Target and Walmart, and office supply outlets tend to have competitive back-to-school offers. 

One year, we took advantage of Office Depot’s penny sale and scored several items for a single penny. 

You can also shop in spurts as some stores may give you a coupon to use when you come back. In this case, it makes sense to do one round of back-to-school shopping and then return a few days later with the coupon. 

Thanks to the Internet, you can also save money shopping from your living room. Sites like Rakuten are great for earning cash back on your purchases without having to use a credit card. You can also use sites like Flipp and Hollar to scan for deals from your phone. 

Shop Used or Find Free Items

Another great way to help you stick to your back- to-school budget is to shop for used items. Clothes can be expensive and sometimes I wait around for the Labor Day sales, but I also like to mix in some used clothing.

Thrift stores like Goodwill and local resale shops allow you to get more bang for your buck and you can often find great name brand items. 

If you need specific supplies, you can also ask around to see if family or friends can help. For example, an older child may need a special calculator for math. Before you run out and buy one, see if anyone you know has that calculator and will let you borrow it for the year. Perhaps they’ll even give it to you if they no longer need it! 

Avoid Overspending 

Try to use some of these savings strategies to help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Odds are, you have other expenses to consider during the fall and winter months so remember not to drain your finances with back-to-school shopping.  

A good tip is to set realistic expectations with your kids and plan to mix in used items. With the proper planning and budgeting strategy, you can still get everything you need for the school year! 

 

Recommended Budget Category Percentages

We all know how beneficial a budget can be. 

For starters: A budget outlines your spending plan so you know exactly how much money goes toward each expense. Budgets are also extremely helpful when trying to decide how much you have available to save and how much money you can put toward paying off your debt. 

At the same time, there are many different ways to budget. One of the most common budgeting strategies I recommend is to set up budget category percentages. For example, a common rule of thumb is that housing costs shouldn’t exceed 30% of your income. What about the rest of your budget categories? Luckily, they can be broken down by percentages as well. 

Read on to learn more about creating percentage categories for your budget. 

Start with the Basics

If you’re new to budgeting, using the 50/30/20 approach is a great starting point. 

With the 50/30/20 budget, you allocate 50% of your income toward living expenses and necessities, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward debt and savings. 

Here’s how this would look. Say you bring home $3,000 each month. Under the 50/30/20 budgeting method, you’d put $1,500 toward living expenses and necessities, $900 to wants and variable expenses, and $600 toward debt and savings. 

While this method is super easy to use, it may not fit in with your particular goals. For example, you may want more wiggle room for your savings account

Get a Little More Specific

If you want to venture beyond the 50/30/20 budgeting method, you can get more specific and add additional percentages while breaking up your spending into more categories. 

Think about your goals and lifestyle. What do you value spending money on? How much are your core necessities? Do you have debt? What are your savings goals? 

Start tracking your spending to see what your current budget categories are. It can be eye-opening to see the percentage of your income that you spend on things like dining out, transportation, and even bills and insurance. 

So, think about setting your own budget percentages based on your preferred spending patterns and goals. With that in mind, here are our recommended budget category percentages that can help you get ahead. 

Basic Recommended Budget Category Percentages

Housing (mortgage and rent costs): 25% 

Utilities: 5%

Food: 10%

Transportation: 5%

Insurance (includes medical, auto, renter’s etc.): 15%

Personal (+ household expenses): 5%

Entertainment/Recreation: 10%

Charitable Giving: 10%

Savings/Debt: 15%

Here’s how this budget would break down if you bring home $3,000 each month:

Housing (mortgage and rent costs): $750

Utilities: $150

Food: $300

Transportation: $150

Insurance (includes medical, auto, renter’s etc.): $450

Personal (+ household expenses): $150

Entertainment/Recreation: $300

Charitable Giving: $300

Savings/Debt: $450

Keep in mind that these are pretty standard budget percentages if you want to have enough money to afford your needs and wants. As you can see from the example above, you still can’t afford to splurge on housing costs, but you’ll have plenty of money for groceries, dining out, giving, savings, and debt payments. 

Once you have your ideal budget in place, you can start allocating money to different expenses when you get paid

Aggressive Recommended Budget Category Percentages

While the basic recommended budget category percentages may work well, you may want to take it up a notch if you have some aggressive savings goals and are willing to live frugally. 

If you are looking to pay off debt quickly or save to meet an important goal, here are some budget category percentages you can try.

Housing (mortgage and rent costs): 20% 

Utilities: 5%

Food: 7%

Transportation: 3%

Insurance (includes medical, auto, renter’s etc.): 10%

Personal (+ household expenses): 5%

Entertainment/Recreation: 5%

Charitable Giving: 5-10%

Savings/Debt: 40%

Here’s how this budget would break down if you bring home $3,000 each month:

Housing: $600

For this amount, you’d likely have a roommate or rent a smaller apartment to keep housing costs low. If you own a home, you may also rent out a few rooms to offset your mortgage costs. 

Utilities: $150

If you have roommates, you can split the cost of utilities to save money. Perhaps you can use Chime’s Pay Friends to send fee-free mobile payments if you’re splitting bills. You can also limit your use of electricity during the day by turning off lights as well as reducing heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat.

Food: $210

Although the amount is quite low, this may be enough for one or two people. If you cook most meals at home, take advantage of sales, and buy ingredients and whole foods instead of packaged food, you can make this budget work. 

Transportation: $90

While this amount is also low, perhaps you work close to home and can keep your fuel costs down. Or, maybe you can use alternative transportation like walking or cycling. 

Insurance: $300

For this amount, you likely shop around for the best insurance rates and drive an older car that doesn’t cost much to insure. You also receive benefits from your job which helps keep this category low.

Personal (+ household expenses): $150

This amount is just enough to buy basic needs and supplies for the house as well as some affordable personal care once or twice a month. 

Entertainment/Recreation: $150

Your dollars can be stretched with free local activities and experiences along with using coupons and deal sites to dine out. 

Charitable Giving: $150-$300

Although you’re determined to save and/or pay off more debt, this budget still allows for you give back to others in need. 

Savings/Debt: $1,200

Accelerated debt payments and savings contributions will allow you to hit your financial goals faster, even if you don’t have a large income. 

The Power of Budgeting

It’s quite possible to save more than $14,000 annually on a $40,000 salary with the aggressive recommended budget percentages above. 

Yet, regardless of whether you prefer an aggressive, basic or other type of budget, breaking up your spending categories by percentages is powerful. It shows you exactly where your money is going and how much of your income is used for certain expenses.  

Feel free to use this new perspective and play around with your own budget category percentages. This will help you determine where you spend and how much you can save. Are you ready to give it a try?

 

How to Pay Off Debt in Collection: A Guide to Saying Goodbye to Credit Collectors

You’re in debt and you have no idea how you’re going to pay it off. 

The due date passes by. You want to pretend your debt doesn’t exist. As the days and months go on, you’re delinquent on your loans and they end up in collections. Your credit is shot. The menacing calls begin and all you want is for them to stop. 

Yet, while this is indeed a difficult situation, it’s one you can take control of and fix with the right actions. In this guide, we offer up ways you can pay off debt in collections. Take a look.

What is a Collection Agency and Why are Debt Collectors Calling?

First, let’s discuss the cast of characters involved with debt collections. 

There is the collection agency or credit collection service, which is a third-party company hired by a lender to collect an outstanding balance from a borrower. The collection agency then hires debt collectors, who are the actual people doing the dirty work and calling borrowers to get the money back

Credit card debt, student loans, medical bills, utility bills and more can all go to collections. Business debt isn’t eligible for debt collections. 

While debt collectors can take certain actions like call you at work, there are restrictions so that the hounding doesn’t become an abusive practice. For example, debt collectors can only call you during certain hours, in many cases between 8am-9pm.

How to Find out Which Debt Collection Agency You Owe Money to 

If you want to get out of debt collections, you need to pay money to the credit collection services agency. 

But how do you know exactly who to pay and who the debt collection agency is? In some cases it might be clear but if not, here are ways to find out which debt collection agency you owe money to: 

  • Contact the Original Creditor 

If you know what bill is in collections, contact the original creditor for more information about your collections account. You can then ask which debt collection agency they are using and get the contact information. Then, contact the debt collection agency and ask how to proceed to get your payment in good standing. 

  • Check Your Credit Report 

If you know you’re in debt collections but are unsure of which loans are not in good standing, you’ll want to get your credit report. Your credit report is a document that contains your full credit history, including outstanding loans that may be in debt collections. 

Many debt collection agencies report to the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can access all three of your credit reports once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com

Make sure you check all three as some debt collection agencies only report to one credit bureau, not all of them. 

  • Answer the Phone When Bill Collectors Call You

In some cases, your debt collection fees won’t appear on your credit report. And sometimes, the debt can be passed onto other debt collection agencies, leaving you wondering who to contact.

In this case, you will likely have to wait until the debt collector calls you to get more information. It’s not fun and no one wants to deal with debt collectors on the phone. But if you’re unsure of who the debt collection agency is, answer the phone, get the information and ask how to get your loan in good standing. You’ll also want to get a debt verification letter and check your records to make sure you’re not overpaying as debt collectors can make mistakes too.

Three Ways to Pay Off Debt Collectors 

If you want to get out of collections and repay your debt, there are a number of routes you can take. Some of them may require negotiation and whatever you do, get everything in writing. Here are three ways to pay off debt collectors:

1. Negotiate a Settlement With Your Debt Collector

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with your debt collector. A settlement is typically less than the amount owed and is used in exchange for deleting the account from your credit report. 

You’ll need to get a letter in writing about the settlement terms before making your first payment. Make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities, and that you know the terms of the settlement. 

2. Pay Off the Debt In Full 

If you have a small bill that is outstanding and in collections, you can choose to pay off the debt in full. Under this option, the good news is that your debt will be paid off. The bad news is that the collection account will remain on your credit report. 

3. Create a Debt Repayment Plan

If you can’t negotiate a settlement or pay the debt in full, you can talk to the debt collection agency about a debt repayment plan. 

In this case, it’s important to make all of your payments on time and in full to get your loan in good standing. 

What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Collections Agency?

If you have debt collectors hounding you, you might want to bury your head in the sand. Unfortunately, if you aren’t paying off collections, your problems will only get worse. Here’s why:

  • Your Credit Score Will Take a Hit 

The debt collection agencies report to the major credit bureaus. So, if you ignore them, your credit score may go down. This can make it more difficult to get approved for loans and may result in higher interest rates if you do get approved. 

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate the mark off your credit report. If not, the negative entry will remain on your credit report for seven years. And remember: This can have a sweeping impact on every area of your financial life. 

  • You May Have Late Fees, Making the Debt Harder to Pay Off

If your debt is in collections, it’s not just the outstanding balance you have to worry about. There could be additional late fees tacked onto your balance. All of the extra fees can add to the total cost of your loan, making it even harder to pay back. 

Deal with Your Debt

Debt collectors have one job — to collect your debt. In order to do that, they will call you many times until they reach you. This can be stressful and annoying.

So, answer the phone and face the issue head on. Talk to your debt collector about your options, whether that’s a settlement, payment plan or paying it off in full. Make sure you get everything in writing.

It’s not fun and can be tough to deal with, but getting out of collections will help you breathe easier and free up stress. Once you do this, you’ll be able to focus on other financial goals like saving money and investing. 

 

Credit 101: The Basics You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard the term credit. You may already know that this is an important part of building a solid financial future. But no one ever seems to talk about the specifics. For starters, what exactly is credit and why is it so important?

In a nutshell, building a healthy and solid credit history is an important part of your financial health. Just like it’s important to save a portion of your income, improving your credit can help you rent an apartment and get approved for a loan.

Are you ready to learn more about credit? We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to begin understanding credit.

What exactly is credit?

When you buy something with credit, this essentially means you’re purchasing it now with the promise to pay for it later. Two common types of credit include installment loans and revolving credit. Take a look at what these credit types mean here:

Installment loans

This is when you borrow a set amount of money and use it for a specific purpose, like a car loan, a student loan, or a mortgage. When you pay for something with installment credit, you’ll make equal monthly payments that include interest.

Revolving credit

This is when a lender gives you a line of credit – up to a certain limit – and you then borrow from that amount and pay it off over time or even in one lump sum if you can. A common type of credit line comes in the form of money you spend on your credit card. In this instance, a credit company will extend to you a certain amount of credit and you can spend up to that amount. Your payments each month will fluctuate based on how much you’ve borrowed.

How does a lender decide whether to loan you money?

Let’s say you decide that it’s time to buy a car. You don’t have the cash to pay for it, so you apply for a loan. Easy peasy, right?

Not so fast. Before you can typically borrow that money, a lender needs to feel comfortable that you’re actually going to repay the money. To do this, the lender will look at a number of factors. The most important criteria is your credit history.

Credit history, credit report, credit score. What do these all mean?

Your credit history reflects how you’ve spent money over a length of time.

This may include how many credit cards and loans you have and whether you’ve paid your bills on time. If you’ve been paying for almost everything in cash and you’ve never borrowed any money, you probably won’t have much of a credit history. If you do, it will be summarized on a credit report.

There are three credit reporting companies that keep tabs on your credit history: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Lastly, a credit score is a number that is calculated based on your credit history. This three-digit figure indicates to a lender how likely you are to repay your debts. A higher credit score means you have a better credit history. A lower credit score means you have a bad credit history. Most of the time a lender will use your FICO credit score when deciding whether to lend to you. These scores range from 300-850.

If you don’t plan on borrowing money, should you really care about credit?

If you ever want to rent an apartment, get a cell phone plan, or buy a car, you’ll likely need good credit. Your landlord, utility company, or mobile phone carrier might check your credit. Your future employer might even check your credit.

Even if you don’t plan on borrowing money anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to build up your credit. You never know when you’re going to need it. For example, you might decide someday that you’d like to buy a house. If you have a solid credit history already in place, you’ll have a much easier time qualifying for a mortgage or any other type of loan.

Your credit history doesn’t only impact whether a lender will loan you money. It also impacts how much you pay in interest. Borrowers with a good credit history are considered less risky so lenders will usually offer them lower interest rates. And, lower rates can potentially save you thousands of dollars over time.

How does someone get a good credit score?

At a basic level, good credit comes from paying your bills and making your loan payments on time. But there are a few more things that go into it:

  • Don’t max out your credit. Lenders will want to see that you haven’t borrowed too much money. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, it’s a good idea to keep that balance as close to zero as possible. Experts advise keeping your balance below 30% of your credit limit. In this case, that would be $3,000.
  • Apply for credit only when you need it. Applying for multiple loans at once can signal to lenders that you’re having trouble with your money. So, try not to rush out and get a lot of credit cards at the same time.
  • Work on improving your credit history. The longer you’ve been building your credit, the better your score will be. Years of making on-time payments will show that you’re a trustworthy borrower.

How can I start building credit?

There’s a famous quote that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. If you haven’t started building your credit history yet, now’s the time to begin.

Start by getting a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You can also request a free credit report each year by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you have the report, start by checking the information and making sure it’s all correct. The report will also include recommendations on how to begin improving your credit.

If you don’t have any credit history and you need to begin building it, there are a few easy ways to get started:

  • Get a secured credit card: With a secured credit card, you make an upfront deposit, which is usually your credit limit. If you make a deposit of $1,000, for example, you’ll have a credit limit of $1,000. After that, it works like a regular credit card. You use it to make purchases and then make on-time payments to build your credit score.
  • Become an authorized user. Do you have a friend or family member that has good credit? He can add you to his credit card as an authorized user. The catch is that your friend will be on the hook to pay for anything you charge and if his credit declines, this can also negatively affect your credit score.
  •  Apply for a store card. It might be easier for you to qualify for a store credit card, one that you are only able to use while shopping at that particular company. Just be aware: Store credit cards often come with higher interest rates, so be sure to pay off your balance each month.

Understand Your Credit and Improve Your Financial Future

As you can see, building good credit is a long game. Yet, if you play the game right, you’ll be on your way to a healthy financial future.

 

Women and Money: Financial Wellness Advice From Women

In March, we celebrated Women’s History Month and now that it’s April, we’re bringing awareness to Financial Literacy Month.

We wanted to celebrate both occasions by gathering the best money tips from a cross-section of women — from successful female entrepreneurs to women working in male-dominated industries

Here are 6 women who offered up their best tips on women and money, women-owned businesses and more. Take a look.

1. Sandi Knight, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for HealthMarkets

Sandi Knight knows how important protecting yourself is. As the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for HealthMarkets, an insurance marketplace, she works to help consumers get the health coverage they need.

“I think it is important that women start young in their careers understanding finances, the need for insurance and what creates wealth – and on the opposite end, debt. Insurance, especially life insurance, is critical if they have young children and even more so if they are single parents. If something were to happen to them, how would their children be taken care of?” says Knight.

Knowing the type of coverage you need in terms of life insurance, disability insurance and more can protect you from the unthinkable. While many of us don’t want to think anything will happen to us, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Mira Violet, CEO of digital agency Amethyst Design

Mira Violet is the CEO of digital agency Amethyst Design. The agency helps companies with SEO, web design and more. As a woman owned business, she is all about getting paid what you’re worth.

Many women are underpaid with the gender pay gap and it’s key to boost your pay, says Violet.

“Make sure you’re being paid fairly. Ask male co-workers in the same position and experience level what they’re being paid. Look at sites like GlassDoor to compare your income to others in your job position. The culture of not talking about our finances only serves those who seek to underpay and undervalue us,” she says.

So, it’s key to talk to your colleagues about pay. Look up salaries in your area and compare what you’re earning. At the right time, negotiate your pay so that you get paid what you deserve.

3. Deborah Sweeney, CEO at MyCorporation.com

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, a company that helps other businesses form an LLC or corporation. Her top women and money tip for female owned businesses is to know just how you will fund your business. Funding is the bloodline of any business and you want to be clear how you will get your money.

“Starting a business is not easy, especially if you don’t have the funds,” says Sweeney.

According to Sweeney, here are seven ways women can access funding:

1.   Angel investors

2.   Pitch your business idea to venture capitalists

3.   Apply for grants with the Small Business Administration

4.   Crowdfunding

5.   Donations from friends and family

6.   Open several credit cards and increase the limits on each one. (Remember, you’ll have to pay everything back, plus interest)

7.   Ask your bank for a business loan. (Most business loan applications get rejected. You’ll need to have a high credit score to increase your chances of acceptance. Also, you’ll need a detailed business loan plan. You need to give your loan provider an exact plan on how you will spend the money. Without this information, you will likely be rejected.)

4. Gemma Roberts, Chartered Accountant for a large non-profit organization

Gemma Roberts is an accountant and also founder of TheWorkLifeBlend.com, where she helps others build flexible lifestyles and businesses. The crux of getting your money right starts with seeing where your money goes, says Roberts.

“Carry out a full audit of your spending habits. Do you have any savings? If you had an unexpected expense, could you cover it? Do you have any loans or an overdraft?”

“Once you have a good understanding of your current situation, you can set yourself specific financial goals. It might be to pay off your debt, retire early or save for a house. This can seem like a lot of work, but it’s never been easier to improve your financial wellbeing. There are a variety of apps available that help you to budget, save money and set financial goals. Many of them can access your bank account and assess your spending habits.”

In order to improve your financial well-being, knowing where your money is actually going is the first step. Then you can adjust and set goals that work for you. You can even use a bank like Chime that helps you automatically save.

5. Danielle Kunkle Roberts, Co-Founder, Boomer Benefits

Danielle Kunkle Roberts is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits, an insurance agency that helps people with Medicare. She knows first-hand what it’s like to make mistakes in business. One of her top tips for female entrepreneurs is to be wise about partnering up with others.

“Don’t partner with someone you don’t know very well just because you are nervous about starting a business. I made this mistake in 2005 and it took me two years to buy out my other two partners,” saus Kunkle Roberts.

“It’s vital that you know the work ethic of anyone that you get involved with and that all parties have the same money philosophy,” she explains.

“In my scenario, I wanted to invest all the profits back into the business but my other partners wanted to take it all home every month. This left me doing the bulk of the work to generate sales while having only one-third of the profits – my own – to invest back in. Believe in yourself or partner with someone whose work ethic you are very sure about.”

It can be enticing to want to work with others but don’t use it as a crutch. Going into business with someone is like a marriage and you want to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your business goals and financial habits.

6. Daniella Flores, senior software engineer

Daniella Flores is a senior software engineer who works on an all-male team for a credit company. As a 20-something Hispanic and creator of blog ILikeToDabble.com, she believes that when it comes to women and money, it’s all about paying yourself first.

“Pay yourself first every time you get a paycheck and by that I mean, automate transfers into savings accounts and investment accounts so you can grow your money,” says Flores.

“Make payments towards debt every two weeks instead of every month. Automate as much as you can, but always track where your money is going.”

With a Chime bank account, for example, you can automate your savings through our round-up program and also save 10 percent with every paycheck. Putting money away for yourself first is a great way to ensure your financial wellness.

Bottom line

When it comes to women and money, it’s all about advocating for what you’re worth and going after what you deserve.

If you’re a female entrepreneur, you’ll also want to make sure your business is financially healthy, too. Just remember: Financial wellness can provide the foundation you need to weather the storms both personally and in your business life.

 

The Cliffs Notes Guide to Money 101

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

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

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

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

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

Savings 

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

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

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

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

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

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

Borrowing and Debt

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

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

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

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

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

Seek Professional Advice

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

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

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

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

Start Saving More Money Today

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

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

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

 

10 Best Money Books to Improve Your Financial Literacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Overdraft Protection: What to Know & How to Avoid Fees

Have you ever swiped your debit card and worried that you might not have enough money in your account? If this sounds like you, you might consider overdraft protection to save you from such a predicament.

But is it worth it? Read on to learn all about overdraft protection and overdraft fees.

What is overdraft protection and how does it work?

In general, if you make a purchase with your debit card and don’t have enough funds in your account, the purchase won’t go through. This is typically called an overdraft — which is when you go below your account balance and dip into the negative territory. This situation can be awkward for you and the person behind the cash register. It also can be highly inconvenient if you need whatever you’re purchasing like now.

This is where overdraft protection comes in. Overdraft protection essentially protects you from overdrafting. So, instead of getting your card declined and leading to an uncomfortable situation, your card will go through like normal – even if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover that purchase.

But overdraft protection comes at a price, in the form of overdraft fees which can add up (more on that later). So, while overdraft protection, on the surface, can seem like a great solution to a temporary problem, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

So, what does overdraft protection do?

Overdraft protection is a safety net that helps you avoid overdrawing your account. In short, it’s a type of financial protection that will help float you money if you have insufficient funds. So if you swipe your debit card or try to get cash out of an ATM, you may be able to do so even if you technically don’t have enough money in your account.

If interested in this protection, you’d want to talk to your bank and enroll in the program. Additionally, it’s important to know all the upfront costs such as overdraft fees, credit line limits, etc.

Pros of overdraft protection

The main pro of overdraft protection is convenience. Overdraft protection allows purchases to go through, even if you don’t have enough funds in your account. This can save you embarrassment, inconvenience and time. You don’t have to deal with your card getting declined in public or being unable to access cash when you really need it.

How do I use my overdraft protection?

If you want to use overdraft protection, first make sure it’s something you’re signed up for. As noted above, your bank must get consent from you first to enroll you in overdraft protection.

Once you are enrolled, see if you have to link another account or a credit card to complete the process. Each bank may have different policies and procedures.

When it’s set up, overdraft protection will be in place if you overdraw your account. But remember: The hope is that you never have to use it! If you do, this means you’ve run out of money in your account, which is no fun.

Cons of overdraft protection

Overdraft protection seems good in theory but it can cost you in the long run. The fees can vary from bank to bank and your financial institution can decide what to charge. And it’s not just one charge either. You can continue getting hit with overdraft fees if your account is overdrawn.

We found that consumers can get hit with four to six overdraft fees per day. In some cases, that number can be as high as 12. What’s more: Consumers who frequently overdraft end up paying more fees than those who do not opt into overdraft protection. In fact, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that frequent overdrafters who opt into this coverage pay nearly $450 more in fees.

On top of that, if you accrue enough overdraft fees and stay in the negative, you’re at risk of your account being closed. Having your account closed by your bank is more than just a pain, but a major inconvenience on your financial life. Just think about all the bills that are connected to that account, or not having access to your money for a period of time.

All of these are major cons of overdraft protection and should be considered carefully.

The reality of overdraft fees

Overdraft fees – by and large – are big business for many banks. In fact, the average overdraft fee is around $35. In 2017, consumers paid 34.3 billion dollars in overdraft fees in 2017, a number which has been on the rise since the Great Recession.

Even credit unions, which are often thought of as more community-minded and consumer friendly have jumped on the overdraft fee bandwagon. Overdraft fees at credit unions have nearly doubled from $15 in 2000 to $29 in 2017.

In short, overdraft fees are the bread and butter for many financial institutions. They give banks a way to make money off consumers by positioning overdraft protection as a useful service.

What does overdraft protection mean for your credit?

As noted above, in some cases your bank may offer you a line of credit or link your overdraft protection to a credit card. If linked to a credit card, you could end up paying more. Why? Because some card issuers might consider the overdraft a form of “cash advance,” which has its own set of fees, not to mention higher interest rates.

Can you overdraft if you have no money?

To get overdraft protection, your bank will typically connect a savings account and move over funds to cover the overdraft. If you don’t have any money in savings, the protection may not work.

However, other banks have overdraft lines of credit. If eligible, the bank will loan you a line of credit so that your purchases are covered, even if you don’t have enough money in your account. Of course, you will still have to pay it back, with interest, like any other line of credit.

Can you withdraw money from an ATM if you have a negative balance?

If you’re headed to the ATM to get cash, and end up taking out more than you have in your account, you will overdraft. The overdraft definition means that you “overdraw” on your account, which means taking more than you have available.

If you have overdraft protection, you will likely be able to withdraw money from your account and you’d have a negative balance.

But of course, there will be an overdraft fee attached. So while you may get the cash you need, if you don’t have the funds in your account, it will cost more in the long-run.

How can I avoid overdraft protection?

Before 2010, many consumers were unaware that they were being “opted in” to overdraft protection programs. However, starting in 2010, federal regulations shifted and required that banks get consumers’ consent to opt into overdraft protection.

To make things simple, however, you can avoid overdraft protection by not signing up for it with your bank. If you’re currently enrolled in this service, you can cancel it. This way, if you don’t have enough in your account, your purchase or transaction will get declined. While you won’t be able to make the purchase, you also won’t be hit you with an overdraft fee.

Another option is to open a bank account at Chime, which has no overdraft fees.

Lastly, to avoid this problem altogether, keep a buffer of money in your checking account. This can help you avoid dipping into the negative. Check your account balances daily and monitor your bill due dates and auto-drafts. This way you’ll know when money is coming out of your account.

Final word

There are certainly pros and cons with overdraft protection.

It can be convenient, yet costly. It can save you embarrassment and time, but also take a bite out of your hard-earned money. So, weigh these pros and cons carefully.

Final tip: If you never want to worry about an overdraft fee again, consider switching to a no-fee bank account.

 

6 Seasonal Side Hustle Jobs You Can Do in the Spring

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Today marks the first day of spring, a time to renew yourself personally and financially.

For starters, spring is a good time to assess how well you’ve been doing with those financial resolutions. It’s also a perfect time to give your money a good spring cleaning.

While there are many ways to improve your finances, here’s a tried-and-true way to earn extra cash: Pick up a new side hustle.

To get you started, here are six ideas for jumping on a new springtime side gig.

Gardening/Landscaping

The spring season means flowers are in bloom and the grass starts to grow.

This is also when folks need to tend to their lawns and gardens. Many of these people have zero time. That’s where your landscape side hustle comes in.

“It’s a great side hustle that is vibrant during the spring, as everyone starts getting their yards and gardens back up and running to look great for the summertime,” says Dustyn Ferguson of Dime Will Tell.

“People are willing to pay to do a lot of this work, especially for laborious work like placing mulch, creating pathways, picking weeds, and even designing a garden,” he says.

Even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs, don’t count yourself out; there are always other yard care jobs to be had, like lawn mowing or trimming trees.

Pet Sitting/Dog Walking

Spring begins the vacation season – the time of year when your neighbors and local pet owners will need someone to care for their pets while they’re away.

Pet-sitting can include feeding cats, caring for a pet in your home, and most of all, dog walking.

You can advertise your animal loving, pet whisperer skills by hanging flyers around the neighborhood, but your best bet is to join a dedicated pet-sitting app like Rover.com.

Tutoring and Teaching

The school year is almost halfway over, precisely the time students need tutoring help to boost their grades, and start preparing and studying for SATs and other exams.

“The second semester is often the busiest time as students who struggled in the first part of the year seek additional support to earn passing grades, or to boost skills and confidence,” says educational therapist Ruth Wilson.

“Tutors get the satisfaction of helping a young person achieve success, which makes tutoring as personally rewarding as it is financially beneficial,” she says.

To get started, you can market your own skills or sign up on a site like Chegg.com to find in-person or online tutoring opportunities in a variety of subjects.

Another side hustle in the teaching-related family is to teach something that you have a passion for. For example, you can perhaps teach group exercise classes at a local gym or even teach children’s yoga classes. Whereas you can promote yourself, you can also connect with companies that provide you with all the necessary tools and branding to launch your own side hustle. For example, Boston-based Pretzel Kids trains you to teach yoga and mindfulness to kids via an affordable weekend or online certification course. Once you’ve taken the course, you can then join the licensing program for only $19 a month. This gives you the rights to use all of the company’s branding to launch your own Pretzel Kids business. Pretzel Kids Founder Robyn Parets calls it a “kids yoga business-in-a-box.”

“Teaching Pretzel Kids classes using all of our tools and resources is a great way to do something meaningful, while earning money around your own schedule,” says Parets.

Here’s yet another way to earn money teaching something you love: If you’re musically inclined, how about offering guitar, piano or drum lessons? Or, are you a sports lover? Perhaps you can coach or referee in local youth sports leagues.

Become a Tour Guide

Do you know your hometown like the back of your hand? Do you live in an area with a rich cultural history? Consider becoming a tour guide or docent for a local historical society or museum.

“People want to travel, and as a tour guide, you can give them best views of your city. (It’s a) great gig if you are someone who loves exploring and sharing your love for your hometown,” says career blogger Sireesha Narumanchi.

Narumanchi recommends signing up with sites like Vayable to advertise your availability.

Sell Your Stuff

Decluttering your life has a host of mental and emotional benefits, and spring cleaning is the perfect way to get rid of all that extra stuff in your house, apartment, attic or garage.

So, think about selling appliances, electronics, books, toys, bikes, clothing or other unwanted items — either at a local flea market, garage sale or online.

But how do you make it a consistent side gig instead of a one-off sale? One way is to visit thrift shops or department stores, buy items on discount or sale, and “flip” them for sale online at a higher price on sites like eBay or Craigslist.

Of course, the one thing you shouldn’t discount is selling your own creations. If you’ve got artistic skills, you can sell your wares on sites like Etsy.

Ridesharing

Rideshare services like Uber or Lyft have transformed the way we take public transportation, allowing motorists to earn cash using their own cars as a taxi service.

One reason this makes such a good spring side hustle is that the snow, ice, sleet and otherwise treacherous, wintry driving conditions are gone. You can share a scenic, springtime drive with others and get paid to do it.

Driving for a rideshare service also means you can set your own hours, drive when you want to, and get compensated quickly and easily. In fact, enrolling in direct deposit through Chime can get you paid two days early. Score!

Springing for a Side Gig

If you’re looking to rake in some extra income as the warmer weather approaches, this list should give you lots of ideas.

One more tip: Whether your side gig leads to a modest windfall or becomes something more lucrative, downloading the Chime banking app is simply the best way to manage your newfound earnings. In fact, the Chime app includes an automatic savings feature that helps you save money every time you’re paid. Are you ready to get a jump on spring with your new seasonal side hustle?

 

7 Ways to Recommit to Your Financial Resolutions Today

Did you set a New Year’s resolution? How’s it going for you so far?

If you have already fallen off the bandwagon, you’re not alone. In fact, 80 percent of New Year’s resolution fail by February.

But, what if there was a way to revive your resolve and recommit to your financial goals in a way that increased your chances of success? What if we told you that we had a few ways to help you achieve your money goals?

You’re in luck. Keep reading to learn our top seven tips for creating a brand new financial blueprint for the rest of your year.

Make Sure Your Resolutions Are Personal To You

Sometimes we choose certain financial resolutions simply because they look good on paper. But it’s hard to have ownership over your goals if you aren’t personally motivated by them. So, before you recommit to your financial resolutions, first double check that they make sense for you and that they reflect the needs of your future self.

In other words, revisit your “why.” Do you want to have enough money for a downpayment on your first home in eight years? Do you want to save money to create a work optional lifestyle for yourself 10 years down the road?

If you find that you need to get rid of some of your original resolutions, that’s okay. The point is: Be true to yourself during this process of introspection.

Choose Monthly Resolutions Instead of Annual Ones

Trying to do too much all at once is a common reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. Instead, focusing on small wins month to month makes it easier to stick to your plan. This way you’ll also gain the motivation you need to keep going and create lasting financial habits.

In addition to setting monthly financial goals, I have also found that creating monthly “financial willpower challenges” has been an effective way to work my way up to accomplishing even bigger goals. Your monthly resolutions could look something like this for the next few months of the year:

  • March – cut out unchecked expenses
  • April – switch to a new bank
  • May – ask for a raise
  • June – find a new side hustle

Write Down Your Action Steps

Kumiko Love, an accredited financial counselor and founder of The Budget Mom, says that “a goal will not become a reality until you create action steps on how you’re going to get there.” In other words, you have to plan in order to make your dreams a reality.

Last year, Love’s biggest financial resolution was to get out of debt, and she achieved this in eight  short months. Her action steps were as follows:

  • Step 1: Pay off student loans 
  • Highest interest first
  • $500 a month using income from side hustle
  • Step 2: Tackle car loan next
  • $1,000 per month using income side hustle

As a rule of thumb, the more granular the action steps, the more likely you are to follow through on them.

Get Some Better Visual Aids

If tracking your progress with a boring old spreadsheet isn’t getting you fired up about creating better financial habits, then it may be time to try something new. Mint is one of several apps that uses graphs and charts. This helps you see how much money is coming in, how much is being spent and how much goes into savings each week. Once you set specific goals within the app, you can easily see how close you are to your goals – with the touch of a button.

Using a “Debt Free Chart” is another great way to keep your eye on the prize. My husband and I decided to try this approach with a printable chart created by Heidi Ifland Nash. This helped motivate us to save more money for our vacation fund this year. And so far, it’s working well. We pinned the chart to our refrigerator, and each day it serves as a constant reminder that we need to keep our eye on our savings goal. Plus, we actually enjoy coloring in the lines each time we hit a savings milestone. This helps us feel more in control of our financial future.

Build in Some Accountability

One of the best things you can do to stay on track for the remainder of the year is to develop a system of accountability for your goals. This can be done by finding an accountability buddy or creating a rewards system.

“Rewarding yourself is an important part of any financial journey. But remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be meaningful,” says Love.

A reward can be as simple as treating yourself to lunch on Fridays – if you stuck to your goal of bringing a packed lunch Monday through Thursday.

Take the Guesswork Out of Sticking to Your Financial Resolutions

One of the best ways to build healthy financial habits is to take an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” approach. In other words, create a system that takes you out of day-to-day decisions about your finances – so that you don’t have to think about them. This method is also known as financial automation. You can’t spend money you never see, which makes automated savings one of the best ways to reach your savings goals year after year.

For instance, Chime has an excellent feature that automates 10% of your paycheck directly into your savings.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Remember: Even when you recommit to your financial resolutions, setbacks are still likely to happen. They are a part of life and we are only human.

“Once you recognize that habits don’t change overnight, it takes the pressure off of expecting perfect results right out of the gate,” says Alli Rosenblum, founder of FinancialliFocused.com

It took Rosenblum, for example, almost five months to fully break her habit of spending $60 per month on lattes.

So, cut yourself some slack and start changing your habits now. Just think: You too can reach your money goals by hitting the reset button on your financial resolutions!

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