Tag: How To

 

How to Manage Your Money in your 20s and 30s Like a Boss

When I moved out of my mom’s house when I was 23, my greatest fear was having to move back home – again.

In turn, I did everything I could to stretch my $1,800 a month take-home pay. By being frugal, taking on side hustles, and saving as much as possible, I was able to both squeak by and sock away a bit of cash each month. It was no easy feat, but it was doable. Remember: You don’t have to live in a van to save. Even small steps can help, like switching to a bank that doesn’t charge fees and negotiating for a lower Internet bill.

Fast forward to the present. Now that I’m in my 30s, I know that my frugality and hard-core money-saving ways paid off. Yet, there are quite a few things I wish I told my 20-something self about money.

To up your money game, here are a few pointers on how to manage your finances during your 20s versus your 30s.

In your 20s: Focus on career potential

You might not be raking in as much as you would like right out of college. But salary isn’t the only thing you should consider when evaluating job offers.

Take a look at the entire compensation package. This includes insurance benefits, employee perks, and whether your employer offers a match on a 401(k). Plus, consider this: Will there be opportunities to learn skills, work with a mentor, or move up the ladder?

I considered learning on the job as an added benefit. For instance, when I worked in the communications department for an entertainment labor union, my boss subsidized courses I took in graphic design and copyediting. That’s because those were useful skills for my current role.

And, while I was fortunate to have steady jobs that offered robust benefits, I worked in niche industries without much room for growth. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time focused on a host of job opportunities, both monetary and non-monetary.

In your 20s: Automate, automate, automate

In your 20s, it’s not surprising that you may be stressed out about your money situation. That’s why one of my favorite money-saving hacks is to automate your finances.

You can automate your savings for an emergency fund, for a car, or invest in your retirement fund. If you’re a Chime Member, consider opting into the Save When I Get Paid feature.

And yes, while you have decades before you retire, the earlier you begin to save for this goal, the better. Why is that? Two things: time in the market and the magic of compound interest. Let’s say you begin socking away $250 a month starting at the age of 25. You keep it up for 40 years until you’re 65. According to Investor.gov, if you earn an average of seven percent interest, you’ll have earned just shy of $600,000.

While I opened an IRA in my early 20s, I put in $100 and then stopped. Imagine how much I would have if I had continued putting money into it! And during one of my jobs, I failed to opt into the matching 401(k) plan until a year after I started. That’s money I left on the table.

In your 20s: Develop the discipline to cut back on spending

My friend Dave Fried, who is 39 and lives in Chicago, would tell me he treats his money as a business: You should always have more coming in than out. Fried kept this general rule of thumb in mind when he was earning minimum wage working at a screen printing shop, and when he was raking in cash selling pay-per-demand videos online.

The takeaway: It doesn’t matter how much you earn, you can always get into the habit of saving. To start, try cutting back. Try a no-spend Sunday. Or use a money management app to track your spending to see what your vices are. After having a few spend-happy months this year, I’m focusing on two major problem areas for a month: food and clothes.

When it comes to food, instead of overstocking my fridge, I’m checking my pantry before I head to the market. This helps me plan out my meals, stick to a weekly food budget, and cook in batches. As for clothes, I’ll wait 30 days before purchasing something I have my eye on.

In your 20s: Manage your debt

Sure, you wish your debt could just disappear yesterday. And while it’s tempting to conveniently forget you’re carrying a debt load, you’re going to have to pay it off eventually. Whether it’s credit card debt, student loans, or a car loan, know exactly how much you owe, and what the interest rates are.

Next, come up with a repayment plan. Figure out how much you can reasonably afford to pay off each month. It’s important to stay on top of your debt payments. Otherwise, your credit can get dinged.

In your 30s: Focus on earning potential

While your 20s is all about focusing on stepping-stones that lead to career opportunities, your 30s is prime time to make more money.

Although you can only cut so much of your living expenses, you can increase your earning potential. For example, it wasn’t until I job-hopped that I boosted my savings significantly. Another major wealth-building move for me was when I turned my side hustle of freelance writing and copyediting into a full-time gig.

In your 30s: Pay off your student loans and credit card debt

“Good debt” is loosely defined as debt for valuable assets that can grow over time. Traditional examples of good debt include a mortgage on a home or a business loan. “Bad debt” is anything that loses value over time, or has a high-interest rate, which can eat into your savings. “Bad debt” is normally thought of as credit card debt, student loans, and personal loans.

However, there are a lot of gray areas. Credit card debt can be a good thing. If you have a balance, but pay it off in full each pay cycle, this can boost your credit.

In your 30s: Continue to build your wealth

While in your 20s, you were laying the groundwork to save and invest. In your 30s, however, you’ll want to start thinking about growing your money.

There’s no single way to approach this. It depends on your personal situation, existing resources, and lifestyle preferences. For example, perhaps you want to buy your first home, or get serious about investing in the stock market. This is your time to make decisions to grow your money.

Live the life you want

As my friend Kristin Wong, author of “Get Money” likes to say, there’s a difference between living the life you can afford, and living the life you want.

And the perks of financial wellness are many — freedom from money stress, the resources and knowledge to grow your money, and the ability to live your best life.

 

How to Turn Your Side Hustle into a Full-time Gig

Fifty percent of millennials have a side gig, according to a study by Experian.

This is often the perfect way to jumpstart your financial goals, including debt freedom, moving into your own apartment, or funding that dream vacation. A side hustle can also be a big motivator to launching a full-time business and achieving financial freedom.

To help you learn more, take a look at seven tips to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig.

1. Be Realistic

The truth is: Not every side job can be turned into a full-time hustle. For example, mowing your neighbors’ lawns every weekend probably works really well as a side gig, generating a few hundred dollars a month. But you would need to put in a lot more effort to transform this concept into a full-fledged business. For example, you’d need to consider advertising costs, the seasonality of a lawncare business, and the existing competition in the market.

Putting together a financial forecast to determine your total revenues and expenses is another important part of your research at this stage.

2. Stop Treating Your Side Business Like a Hobby

Leah Gervais, founder of Urban 20 Something, says that if you want to scale your side hustle into a full-time gig, you need to treat your side business “like your job, because it is.”

“This means scheduling out your time to work on it and making those meetings unbreakable. Be honest with yourself; this will be an intense time period with long hours and lots of sacrifices. But it’s just a chapter. The more dedicated you are, the faster you’ll be able to make your side hustle your full-time hustle,” says Gervais.

Another way to up your commitment level is to formalize your business structure. Tasha Cochran, one half of the YouTube channel One Big Happy Life, recently quit her job to pursue her blogging hustle full-time. As she noted on her website: “We became an LLC, signed a partnership agreement and started to be more strategic about what we were doing.”

3. Look for Ways to Work Smarter

A side hustle can be hard to scale but it’s not impossible. One way to grow your side hustle is to transition from a one-to-one business model to a one-to-many business model. Translation: Figure out how to earn money while you sleep!

One booming market for doing this is the e-learning industry. According to Reuters, global e-learning grew to $165.21 billion in 2015 and is expected to skyrocket to $275.10 billion by 2022.

Just be aware: In order to scale an e-learning business with a host of online courses, you do have to hustle.

For example, Robyn Parets migrated online with her branded Pretzel Kids Yoga Teacher Certification Course in 2016. Pretzel Kids still offers live trainings and kids yoga classes, but the online school allows the company to grow its reach globally. Pretzel Kids nows sells a host of courses via its online kids yoga training school, such as How to Teach Mindfulness to Kids and Yoga for Kids with Special Needs. In addition, Pretzel Kids instructors can join a membership community where they can access branded materials, download teaching resources, get booked for teaching gigs, and more, says Parets.

“The ability to offer online trainings and a membership community has been pivotal to the growth of Pretzel Kids. We also offer our trained teachers a way to immediately start their own side hustles using our curriculum,” she says.

4. Invest in Yourself

Have you ever heard the saying the best investment you can make is in yourself? This is especially applicable to scaling your side hustle because you are your biggest asset.

As a full-time entrepreneur to-be, the learning process should be a continuous one. In the early days of scaling your hustle, you might have to invest in tools and courses to beef up your skill set. For example, you may need to learn more about email marketing or social media. Yet, in the long-run, this will save you time and money.

You can also fast-track your success by finding a mentor and connecting with other like-minded people who can help your business thrive.

5. Wait Until Your Side Hustle Earnings are Consistent

Before you make the leap from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur, your side hustle earnings should either equal your current income or be sufficient enough to cover your living expenses.

Don’t forget to include a line item in your new budget for those intangible benefits that your current job provides, including health insurance, 401(k) contributions and the like. For example, if you have to say goodbye to free lunch on Fridays or free daily coffee, make sure to add these as new expenses each week.

Another tip is to wait at least a few months in order to determine whether your side business will produce consistent earnings. This is exactly what Gervais did. Once her side business started regularly bringing in more money than she made at her 9 to 5 job, she had the confidence to turn it into her full-time job. Today, her online business generates more than $10k in sales per month.

6. Boost Your Emergency Fund Before Taking the Plunge

If you have a healthy savings account, then you’ll have peace of mind to go all-in on your side business. To help you boost your emergency fund faster, you can try automating your finances.

With a Chime bank account, for example, you can save when you get paid and automatically direct 10% of every paycheck into your Chime Savings Account. This way you can put your savings on autopilot and reach full-time entrepreneur status sooner. As a bonus, if you use your Chime Visa Debit Card to make purchases, Chime will round up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar, and transfer the round up amount right into your Savings Account.

7. Schedule in Self-Care

When you’re working to scale your side hustle into a full-time business, it’s easy to put health and wellness on the back-burner. But taking care of your physical and emotional well-being is more important than ever at this stage. The good news is: Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as scheduling in a 30-minute walk each day to get some fresh air and mental clarity, reading a book or enjoying a long bath.

Ready, Set, Go!

If transitioning your side hustle into a full-time gig is something that you’ve been on the fence about, we hope these seven tips will give you the push you need to start living your dream!

 

How to Ball on a Budget When You Go Out

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


Let’s say you get a call from a close friend. She just got a promotion at work, and she’s inviting you to a trendy Thai restaurant to celebrate. You love Thai food and want to go, but there’s one problem: Your budget’s looking pretty tight this month.

Thankfully, you can still go out without compromising your savings. For example, you can decide how much you can spend and then adjust your budget accordingly.

“If you know that in the summer, you tend to go out more and spend more money, then make room for that in your budget and cut back in other areas to accommodate that,” says Jamila Souffrant, certified financial education instructor and founder of the blog and podcast Journey to Launch.

For instance, you can cut the cable cord and ditch your meal box subscription, leaving more wiggle room for nights out, concerts and movies. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some tips for saving money on just about any outing. Take a look.

At a Sporting Event

If you’re dying to see the Chicago Bulls (or your own favorite team), you can make it happen without breaking the bank. Souffrant recommends buying your tickets in-person from the box office to avoid service fees from online ticketers.

You can also pick games that aren’t super expensive. For example, maybe go on a work night when it’s less crowded and you can more easily score cheaper tickets. Typically, games during the week are less costly than Friday, Saturday, or Sunday games.

On the day of the big game, be sure to eat before you leave home to avoid paying the markup at the snack counter. Your belly and your bank account will feel fuller.

At a Movie

Sometimes, it’s good to catch a summer blockbuster on the big screen and swoon over your favorite actors. Just be sure to steer clear of the overpriced movie theater concession stand.

“Definitely do not buy any of the snacks or drinks in the movie theater. I know it’s tempting, but eat before you go and/or bring your own snacks,” says Souffrant.

Souffrant also recommends looking for discounted tickets or deals on sites like Groupon or the theaters’ own website. You can also go to a weekend matinee and head out to dinner afterwards – instead of the other way around.

By planning in advance, you can enjoy buzzworthy movies and save money at the same time.

At a Concert

Hanging out with friends at concerts is part of summer fun. But to save money, it’s important that you try to buy tickets at the box office in advance, says Souffrant.

Why? You’ll typically get the lowest price, she says.

Even if you can’t manage to score inexpensive tickets (some of us are Beyoncé fans), you can find other ways to save when you consider the costs of the whole night. Souffrant suggests carpooling or even taking public transportation to the event.

If your concert-going night involves multiple destinations, you may want to turn on push notifications from your bank. You’ll get an alert each time you use your debit card, which may be the reality check you need to curb your spending.

Lastly, look for free concerts in your city. While you might not be able to attend a Beyonce concert for free, there are plenty of other bands and music festivals that offer free concerts.

At a Restaurant

Back to the friends-at-a-Thai-restaurant example: When you’re going out to eat, it can help to speak up about your financial goals.

“If you’re on a budget or you’re trying to save money, don’t keep it to yourself,” says Souffrant.

When you explain your intentions at the start of a night out or before you arrive at the restaurant, your friends will be more likely to understand when you choose to pay only for what you ate and drank.

“I would avoid splitting (the check) equally. That can get expensive if you’re trying to be conscious but they’re not,” says Souffrant.

If you do decide to split the bill, try using Chime’s Pay Friends feature.

At a Bar or Nightclub

If you can avoid a cover charge by getting to your favorite spot before a certain time, then do it, Souffrant says.

You and your friends can also do research in advance to see which local watering holes have special offers or discount nights. Lastly, consider nursing one drink or sticking to water to save money on the bar tab. This way you can still enjoy a night out with friends without overspending.

At an Exercise Class

If your friends are veteran yogis or distance runners, they may have guest passes to a gym or fitness studio that they can share with you, Souffrant suggests.

“You can also just try out the good old park,” she says.

Besides being healthy, workouts at the park are totally free.

“Go together, take a run, take a walk. Use the environment for your own workouts and outside activities.”

Save Money and Have Fun

The tips above make one thing clear: You can meet your savings goals without becoming a hermit.

One final pro tip: Try automating your savings. If you use a Chime Visa Debit Card, for example, every time you use it to purchase concert or movie tickets, or pay your restaurant bill, your transaction will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. And, that round up amount will be automatically deposited into your Chime Savings Account. This way, you’ll save money while you’re out enjoying yourself!

 

How to Plan for Your Car Maintenance on a Budget

If you’ve ever owned a car, chances are you’re pretty familiar with the sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when your car starts acting funny.

Since most of us aren’t auto mechanics, that weird sound or odd behavior could mean a fix that costs anywhere from just a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. Sometimes it even seems like you’re taking one step forward with your bank account only to take two steps back when a car repair derails your budget.

Thus, it’s no wonder car maintenance is especially stressful. But, there’s also good news: You can save up for these events. You don’t need to let them catch you by surprise. Read on to learn more.

How much should you budget for car maintenance?

Here’s the thing. You know car maintenance and repair expenses are going to happen. So, why not save up for them in advance?

First, though, it’s a good idea to know how much to save. Aside from all of the other expenses of owning a car (insurance, registration, etc.), you’ll need to plan for two big things: regular car maintenance and car repairs.

Regular car maintenance includes getting things done like oil changes, new tires, batteries, brake pads, etc. Car repairs include replacing things as your car ages, such as CV joints and head gaskets. This also includes the unexpected repairs that can result from things like your transmission kicking the bucket.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average single person spent $794 on car maintenance and repairs in 2017. This means that it’s a good idea to save up at least $66 per month — ideally more, so that you’re prepared in case a big repair is needed, such as rebuilding your car’s engine or transmission.

Of course, it’s a good idea to consider other factors as well. If you have an older car, for example, you might want to consider saving more. If you live in a snowy area that requires you to put on snow tires in the winter and all-season tires in the spring, summer and fall, that can increase your costs as well.

Another good place to check out is Edmunds’ Cost of Car Ownership, which allows you to look up average estimated yearly costs for repairs and maintenance for your specific vehicle.

How to Save for Car Maintenance

Now that you understand how much you need to save, how do you actually do it? Here are two top tips.

  • Set Up Chime’s Automatic Savings

Did you know that you can set up your savings automatically with Chime? You can round up each of your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into your Savings Account.

But for our purposes here, Chime’s automatic savings payday feature is probably the best. Each time you get paid, you can set up an automatic deposit for a specific amount. You can even set up a separate savings account just for car maintenance and repair costs, and withdraw money as you need it.

So, for example, if you want to save $100 per month for car maintenance and repairs and you get paid bi-weekly, you can set it up so that you deposit $50 into your savings account each time you get paid. This way, you don’t even need to think about it — it just happens automatically.

  • Set Up a Sinking Fund Line Item in Your Budget

Another option is to keep a separate line item in your budget as a sinking fund. In this case you set aside however much you want to save per month ($100 for example) on paper, in your budget.

The actual money can stay in your checking account if you wish, or you can move it over to your savings account. Either way, the idea is to have a certain dollar amount in your bank account reserved just for car maintenance and repairs.

Don’t Let Car Maintenance Catch You By Surprise

You’re already familiar with the scary feeling when your car breaks down.

Now, picture this: You can set aside money each month so that the next time your car needs maintenance or repairs, you have plenty of money just ready and waiting to be spent for that exact purpose. It’s like an extra layer of security. It’s an amazing feeling to feel ready and prepared to spend money, rather than be stressed out about it.

So, are you ready to start saving money for car maintenance and working toward that happier feeling? We’ll help you get there!

 

How to Buy Groceries for One Person

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


Grocery shopping for one is a struggle.

I should know. Some weeks I’d buy too much food – only to throw away 70% of it at the end of the week. Other weeks I’d make one meal and begrudgingly eat it every single day. Not ideal. Yup, it took me years to master the art of buying food when I was a household of one.

Yet, wasting money on groceries isn’t just a problem that plagues the solo shopper. The average family of four wastes $1,600 per year on uneaten food. And, Americans waste nearly one pound of food per person, per day. That adds up to $165 billion of food that goes uneaten.

While food waste is a problem for a number of reasons, it can be a big problem for your bank account. Ever wonder how much money you could you be saving?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered with some easy ways to shop smarter and avoid food waste.

Get into the planning

You’ve heard this before, for good reason. Meal planning is the key to not buying more than you need.

But meal planning can also be more difficult when you’re planning meals for one. That’s because recipes rarely have a serving size of one. You’ll typically see recipes for family meals serving upwards of four people.

So, when you’re meal planning, opt for food items that you know will freeze well. And, if you you don’t want to be stuck eating the same thing all week, make sure it’s something that you can easily pop into the freezer and enjoy eating later. For ideas, take a look at this list of 33 meals that freeze well.

Another clever idea is to pick two or more recipes that use the same core ingredients. Brianne Bell, a registered dietician and food blogger, suggests doing this to avoid eating the same meal all week. For example, she buys a whole chicken and roasts it. For her first meal, she’ll eat roast chicken. Next, she’ll shred the remaining chicken to use in salads and sandwiches for the rest of the week. Planning meals around the main ingredient of chicken ensures nothing is wasted.

Utilize your freezer

Before you head to the fresh produce section of your grocery store, take a stroll down the frozen food aisle. The produce you’ll find there contains roughly the same level of vitamins and minerals as fresh fruits and veggies, making this a healthy and smart option for the solo shopper. Relying on frozen produce also means you’ll never have to throw away a sad carrot again.

If you do end up with fresh food that you’re not going to eat before it spoils, Bell suggests freezing it before it goes bad. And you know how frustrating it is when you just need a few basil leaves for a recipe but you have to buy a large bunch? Bell advises throwing those in the freezer as well. Just chop them up, put them into an ice cube tray, cover with oil and freeze.

While freezing is a great option for the times when you do end up with more than you need, not everything freezes well. The Kitchn breaks down the foods that don’t freeze well. So, if you’ve stocked up on cucumbers and lettuce, don’t plan on relying on your freezer to help you with the excess.

Shop differently

I used to steer clear of the salad bar in a grocery store, assuming that it’s always going to be the most expensive option. But more often than not I’d get to the end of the week and find a half-eaten bag of spinach that I needed to throw away.

Turns out, the salad bar and bulk food aisle may hold the keys to your shopping for one success, says Mary Weidner co-founder of meal planning app Strongr Fastr. Rather than picking up a bag of spinach when you only need a little, the salad bar and the bulk food aisle may be your best bet.

“Just last week, I bought some spinach, quinoa, spices, dried berries, olives, and sliced nuts- all in the exact quantities I needed for about $3.50. And had no food waste for the week,” says Weidner.

But don’t stop there. If you need some meat, food blogger and recipe writer Jim Mumford suggests that you head to the butcher counter to get the exact amount you need, rather than picking up the family-sized pre-packaged meat.

“Most pre-packaged meat is well over a pound, and not ideal for one or two meals. The butcher at the counter is willing and happy to cut something down, even a roast or a tenderloin,” says Mumford.

If you want to skip the hassle of the store altogether, Bell advises that fruit and vegetable deliveries can be a smart option. Oftentimes, you can get just get what you need delivered straight to your door.

Make it social

Need to buy something that you definitely won’t eat all on your own (like that loaf of bread)? Get a little help from a friend. Figure out the things you both need to buy and split it. As a bonus, you can use this strategy to take advantage of the buy one, get one offers you see in some grocery stores.

If you’re really feeling social — and have a friend with similar food preferences — why not split groceries and cook some main meals together? If you’re making a recipe that serves four, you won’t have to worry about whether it freezes well or whether you’ll be able to handle eating it all week. You’ll each end up with two servings and have some fun while cooking.

Are you ready to solo shop?

Shopping for one can be a little tricky. But, by following these tried-and-true tips, you’ll be on your way to saving money without wasting food. Are you ready to take a new approach to shopping for groceries?

 

8 Creative Ways to Save Money When You Move

Let’s face it: Moving can be exciting but it can also be a hassle. Sometimes you’re on a strict timeline when you move and other times, you can spend months planning for the big day.

Either way, you’ll likely have to deal with a slew of out-of-pocket costs, including paying for movers, renting a truck, purchasing packing materials, and even paying for hidden expenses like food or tips for the moving crew.

We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to overspend. Here are eight creative ways to save money when you move.

1. Declutter Your Home First

Minimizing what you own can make the move much smoother.

If you’re overwhelmed with packing, it may be because you have a ton of stuff. So, take some time to declutter your home during the weeks leading up to your move.

Instead of just throwing everything in a box, actually go through each section of your home and sort through items to see what you need to keep and what you can get rid of. If you find an item you haven’t seen in a while as you’re cleaning up, you may not need to take it with you unless, of course, it’s valuable to you.

2. Get Boxes From Local Businesses

This is one of my favorite ways to save money on moving. Why pay for boxes when there are so many ways to get them for free?

If a store tries to charge you for empty boxes, move on. There are plenty of grocery stores and restaurants that will give you boxes for free. They receive a ton of inventory each day and once everything is unpacked, the boxes are usually just thrown away or recycled.

Be sure to coordinate with the store to see what time of day you can come by to pick up boxes so they have them ready for you.

3. Sell Items Online First

Once you declutter your home, you may find that you have quite a few items that can be sold to help you pay for your move. While you may not have time to set up a garage sale before you move, you can list some things on Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp.

4. Use What You Have on Hand to Pack Delicate Items

Keep your spending on packing materials to a minimum. Once you have your free boxes, you probably won’t need special protective moving blankets and stretch wrapper.

Instead, wrap dishes in old newspaper. Disassemble large furniture and place the screws and bolts in plastic bags. Use clean trash bags to transport clothing. Wrap your mirrors and glass items in spare blankets. You get the point.

Also, be sure to mark fragile boxes or transport them yourself in your car to ensure everything remains in good shape.

5. Track Your Spending

Preparing for a move can make your life super busy. And, when you’re busy, it’s easy to overspend.

While tracking your spending isn’t the most creative idea, it’s necessary if you want to control your moving costs and stick to a budget.

For starters, track every moving-related purchase you make and figure out how much you’re spending. This can help you determine when you’re nearing your spending limit so you can plan your cash flow more efficiently.

If you use Chime, you can take advantage of daily bank account balance notifications and you’ll receive an alert each time your debit card is used to make a transaction.

6. Avoid Moving on Weekends

Believe it or not, the timing of your move can play a big role in how much you spend on truck rentals, moving companies, and other related purchases. So, try to avoid moving on peak days and during busy times when costs are inflated.

If you have the availability, it’s definitely worth it to schedule your move on a random weekday and just request time off from work. You’ll avoid traffic and unnecessary costs.

7. Incentivize Friends and Family to Help You Move

If you’re moving locally, you can expect to spend around $450 or more. If you’re hiring movers for a relocation, your costs could run you well over $1,000.

Why not save the money and ask friends and family to help you move? Offer to provide drinks and meals in exchange for their help. Or, consider paying them a small fee. You can send money easily and quickly with Chime Bank’s Pay Friends app feature.

8. Plan Meals and Snacks

It’s common to get overwhelmed with the whole moving process and either forget to eat or splurge on a ton of bad takeout food. So, plan out your meals and snacks in advance so you don’t overspend on food when moving.

Brainstorm some easy meals that you can prep and store in your fridge or freezer. Even if you’ve packed up most of your cooking supplies and utensils, you can keep a single pan out and prepare a few one-pan meals in bulk.

Or, consider buying snacks at your local warehouse club just in case you or your movers get hungry throughout the day. And, if you’re going to order food, make sure you compare different options and save up in advance.

Lastly, create a moving budget that includes food, and set up automatic transfers to your savings account to make sure you can comfortably cover all your expenses when moving day arrives.

Plan Your Move Without Overspending

While things may seem hectic when you plan a move, your budget doesn’t have to go out the window.

If you follow these guidelines, you can control your spending, track your transactions, and use some of our other suggestion to save money on your move.

 

How to Save on Child Care

Raising a child is becoming increasingly expensive, making it difficult for parents who need to work, run errands or enjoy a date night once in a while. Between nanny salaries, day care center fees and other forms of care, annual child care costs are putting severe financial strain on many families.

Two-parent households are paying an average 10.6% of their median income for just one child’s care, according to a 2018 report from Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit advocacy group. For single parents, it’s more dire: care costs consumed between 27% and 91% of their median income, according to the report. That’s way over the benchmark for affordability set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of 7%.

Costs average between $9,000 and $9,600 a year for all types of child care, but many families pay much more, according to the Child Care Aware of America report. If you are looking for ways to save, here are 10 ideas to help you lower the high cost of care for your little ones.

Want to learn more about financially preparing for a baby? Check out our guide.

1. Claim your child & dependent care tax credit

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit allows you to deduct child care expenses for children under age 13 while you are working or looking for work. You can deduct up to $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for multiple children. You’ll get a percentage of the amount paid back as a tax credit, with the percentage based on your income.

You may be able to deduct the cost of some kids’ activities, like day camp, if they enabled you to go to work, according to the IRS.

2. Contribute to a dependent care FSA

“There’s no question that one of the best tools out there for parents to utilize is dependent care flexible spending plans,” says Robert Greenman, lead advisor at Vista Capital Partners.

Check to see if your job offers a dependent care flexible spending arrangement. You can stock up to $5,000 a year pretax to use for child care expenses. That’s like getting a discount equal to your marginal tax rate.

“[H]aving $5,000 a year to pay for child care pre-tax is better than nothing at all,” says Greenman.

3. Apply for state child care vouchers

Low-income families may be eligible for assistance from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. These funds are distributed through state programs. To qualify, you generally must be a parent or caregiver for a child under 13 and be using child care services to go to work, job training or school.

Look for programs in your state using ChildCare.gov’s online state resource locator.

4. Use military family subsidies

Military families often have particular child care needs, due to deployments and the need to accommodate parents’ service duties. Military bases typically have day care centers that charge according to the family’s total income.

There are also a variety of federal child care subsidies for each branch of military service and the Department of Defence. For example, the Army provides income-based subsidies to cover the difference in cost between civilian child care and on-base care, when on-base care isn’t available. Find information specific to your branch of service at Child Care Aware of America.

5. Consider a nanny share

Nannies are the most expensive form of child care, costing an average of $580 a week or more than $30,000 a year, according to Care.com.

But there are ways to get a better deal. One solution is a nanny-share, when two or more families pool their kids together and chip in for a single nanny to watch them all.

“It’s simple and extremely cost effective,” says Randy Bruns, senior financial planner at Model Wealth.

Bruns said he knows a family that cut their costs by 25% by teaming up with a neighboring family with a baby of about the same age. They share a nanny for around $18 an hour, while the usual rate was $12 for a single child, he said. This type of situation can be a win-win if you find a compatible family.

6. Host an au pair

If you want live-in child care, consider the advantages of hosting an au pair — particularly for families with several kids. An au pair is a young person from another country who comes to the U.S. through a government-regulated cultural exchange program, to live with a family and care for their children.

Average fees for au pairs run $390 a week, according to Care.com, about 30% less than for the average for nannies. In addition, an au pair can expand the horizons of the whole family in intangible ways, exposing children to foreign language and culture. You can be matched with an au pair through an agency that vets applicants and provides child care training.

Curious about which states are the best for raising a family? Check out our Family Friendly Index.

7. Get a jump-start on day care

Day care costs an average of $211 per week for one infant about $10,000 a year, according to Care.com, though prices range widely. Chances are the good, affordable day cares in your area will fill up quickly.

To get a spot in a desirable day care, particularly in big cities where demand is high, start researching and signing up for waitlists before your baby is even born.

In competitive markets, like Seattle and Washington, D.C., parents have reported paying “wait-list fees” of $50 to $100. With thousands of dollars at stake, it might be worth it to save your place in line for an affordable day care as early as possible.

8. Consider church-based day cares

A local church might run a top-notch day care that is considerably less expensive than commercial options. Some churches have reported surging demand for their well-established nursery schools and preschool programs, with even non-religious parents signing up.

Secular families may find a church-based day care to be a feasible option, especially in the case of a program that has been well-respected in the community for decades.

9. Research in-home day cares

Some children and parents really enjoy the cozy setting of home-based day cares, which are often smaller and less expensive than day care centers. Family care centers charge an average of $195 a week to look after your child in the professional care provider’s home. That’s about 8% less than for day care centers, but your savings could be even greater.

Before you visit a provider, you can look up the licensing requirements for home care in your state at ChildCare.gov, so you’ll have a better idea what questions to ask. Recommendations from other parents who have used the service can be valuable in helping you make your decision.

10. Start or join a babysitting co-op

Babysitters charge a national average of $16 an hour, according to Care.com. Going out for dinner and a show could easily mean $80 spent on child care. If your friends are experiencing similar pains, consider organizing an informal babysitting co-op. Get a group of willing parents together, large or small, and set up some ground rules.

It could be that all the kids gather in one family’s house each Friday night on a rotating schedule, while the other parents get a night off. Or each time you babysit for four hours you receive a credit for four hours of babysitting at a later date. Choose your co-op partners wisely and communicate with them clearly, so each member gets to enjoy some free babysitting.

No matter how you manage child care, you need to stay on top of your finances. The easiest way is with a budget — we’ve got an downloadable one for parents here.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

How to Save Money on a Nurse’s Salary

Nurses perform a valuable service in hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools and other places where on-site medical care is needed.

Being a nurse often means long hours in a high stress job. In return, registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $71,730, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That sounds good, right? After all, it’s more than the median household income of $61,372.

But, there’s more to the story. Namely, 76% of nurses owe undergraduate student loans, while 69% owe graduate school loans. Among nurses who attended graduate school and used loans to finance their education, the majority owe between $40,000 and $54,999.

When you couple this student debt with other bills that go along with a nurse’s daily life, saving money can be a struggle.

So, in honor of National Nurses Day, we’ve put together a how-to guide to saving more money on a nurse’s salary. Take a look.

Set up direct deposit into a savings account

Your employer might offer direct deposit for your paycheck, which is great for convenience. But if you’re dumping all your money into your checking account, consider funneling some of that into a separate savings account each payday.

“Savings accounts are good for nurses because unexpected expenses can really obstruct financial plans,” says Sandy Griffin, a licensed practical nurse and quality assurance coordinator at Hospice of South Louisiana.

“Money set aside in a savings account can cover these expenses, plus provide for your future,” she says.

Griffin says saving money in a retirement account through your job is also a no-brainer. At the very least, you should be contributing enough to get the company match. Otherwise, you could miss out on free money. That’s a mistake 25% of workers make.

Pro tip: Setting up direct deposit into your savings account can keep you on track so you don’t spend the money right away. To determine how much to save, go over your monthly expenses to see if there’s anything you can trim down. Also, pick a set percentage or dollar amount you’d like to save regularly. It doesn’t have to be much to start. The key is to commit to saving consistently.

Be savvy about shopping for nursing supplies

As a nurse, there are certain things you need. Scrubs and quality footwear, for instance, can be big out of pocket costs if your employer doesn’t offer any reimbursement.

Griffin offers some tips for saving money on these items:

  • Comparison shop to find the best prices
  • Wait for sales to buy
  • Buy in bulk as much as possible

You can also look for coupons and promo codes online through sites like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com. Using a cash rewards credit card to pay for uniforms can also save you money. The trick is to pay your balance in full to avoid interest charges.

Ben Huber, BSN, RN and co-founder of finance blog DollarSprout, says you should plan for these costs and save throughout the year.

“Employers generally won’t provide a subsidy or stipend for uniforms or other healthcare-related clothing,” Huber says.

Pro tip: If you’re going through a pair of scrubs and/or shoes every few months, “it may be wise to consider stashing away a few hundred dollars each year in a fund specifically for uniform replacement.”

Meal plan on the job (and off)

When you’re working crazy hours as a nurse, fitting in regular meal breaks isn’t always easy. Huber says it’s tempting to hit the vending machines when you get a craving, especially if you work in a high-stress environment. He has a simple solution for curbing impulse eating while you’re at work.

“Sit down for meals prior to coming on shift and pre-pack the meals you plan to eat,” Huber says.

Pro tip: You can save more money by planning out meals and snacks for the week or the month. Base your meals around what’s on sale each week at the grocery store. Shop with a list and stick to it. And consider using money-saving apps like Ibotta to earn cash back on your supermarket trips.

Consider whether grad school is worth the investment

Getting an advanced degree can mean landing a job with a higher salary, which can help you save more money. The downside is that it can mean more student loans, so you need to weigh the financial pros and cons first.

“If you’re a nurse considering an advanced degree, think about the specific ways higher education will actually pad your pockets,” Huber says.

“Aimlessly pursuing a BSN, MSN or other advanced nursing degree is the recipe for a lot of debt without the potential payday down the road to justify the expense.”

Before you make a decision on grad school, spend time researching median nursing salaries in your state. Then, consider how you’ll pay for a degree.

Pro tip: Ask if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or student loan forgiveness as this can really help.

Start a side hustle to save more money

A side hustle can boost your income, giving you more money to save. And it’s an alternative to piling up more student loan debt if you’re considering going back to school to earn an advanced nursing degree.

“Starting a business takes less discipline than nursing school,” says David Sanchez, a registered nurse who runs two side businesses. But, he says, running a side gig requires more passion, personal sacrifice and willingness to take risks.

If you’re thinking about launching a side hustle to supplement your nursing salary, first ask yourself how much time you can put into it. You may only be able to dedicate a few hours a week if you’re working long rotations.

Then, brainstorm ideas for things you can do in your spare time to make extra money. For example, if you’re a good writer you can try freelancing for medical blogs or websites. Or you might want to do something that’s not nursing-related, like dog-sitting or selling on Etsy.

Pro tip: Pick something you can make time for, something you’ll enjoy and something that will help you earn more money.

You can indeed save money on a nurse’s salary

If you’re a nurse, finding ways to save money can be challenging but it’s not impossible.

These tips can give you a good starting place to help you increase your savings. Are you ready to give saving more money a try?

 

How to Plan a Getaway With Friends That Works for Everyone’s Budget

Summer is right around the corner. This means vacation may be on your mind.

For many, a vacation entails traveling with a group, perhaps family or friends. As you may already know, group travel can be tricky, especially when people have their own  preferences and budgets. At the same time, a successful group vacation can be filled with fun memories and experiences.

If you’re ready to plan a getaway with friends, here are five tips to help you save money, create a budget for everyone, and make your summer vacation a positive experience.

1. Consider Your Travel and Destination Options

The first step when planning a group trip involves choosing where you want to go and how you’ll get there.

So, include everyone in a brainstorming session to gather opinions and vote on a destination. Consider factors like the cost of accommodations in the area and the types of tourist attractions you’d all like to visit. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll get there. Will you fly, take a train or bus, or perhaps drive?

2. Create a Budget that Works for Everyone

Once you’ve narrowed down where you’ll go and how you’ll get there, start to develop a budget that works for everyone.

Decide which expenses will need to be split among the group, along with how much you can individually afford to pay. For example, if you plan to drive, you may want to include an estimate of how much the fuel will cost, along with the price of a rental car.

If you’re flying, everyone can cover the price of their own plane ticket, but maybe you can search for airline deals so the airfare doesn’t exceed a certain amount.

Don’t forget to include budget categories for meals and lodging. Also, take into account hidden expenses like transportation during the trip and foreign transaction fees. What’s that? If you’re going to a different country, you may be hit with foreign transaction fees when you use your debit or credit card to make purchases.

Pro tip: You can avoid foreign transaction fees with a Chime bank account. Chime doesn’t charge any fees. This means you’ll have more vacay spending money.

3. Start Saving in Advance

Once you have a good idea of how much the trip will cost, you can start saving up for it. Figure out how far away your trip is and then break up the amount you need so you can make bi-weekly or monthly transfers to a specific savings account.

For example, if you’re taking a group trip in four months and need $1,500, you can plan to save $400 a month or $200 each paycheck if you get paid bi-weekly. You can even automate your savings so that the money is out of sight, out of mind. When it comes time for your vacation, the money will be ready and waiting for you.

Keep in mind that unexpected costs can come up during your trip, so it may be wise to save a little extra if you can.

4. Look for Fun and Affordable Things to Do

You don’t have to plan your group trip out by the hour, but it can be helpful to gather a list of activities and attractions to enjoy while you’re away.

You can also check to see if there are any deals available for specific activities. For instance, maybe you can catch a free museum or discounted boat ride on a certain day of the week. Or, perhaps a local restaurant has good ratings and provides bigger portions for less money. Some cities even have tourist packages where you can bundle a few popular activities together for one price.

Make sure you let everyone know about these options ahead of time so no one feels stretched financially during the trip.

5. Split Costs and Responsibilities

The great thing about traveling with a group is that you can split costs and responsibilities. Definitely take advantage of this when planning your group getaway.

For example, you can split Uber rides through the app, split up the cost of groceries, and use group discounts or Groupons for activities and outings. Depending on the size of your group, you may be able to spend less by renting a villa for the week instead of separate hotel rooms. You can also transfer money to pay each other easily with the Pay Friends payment app feature connected to your Chime Spending Account.

For supplies, be sure to ask around to see if anyone in the group has the item before you purchase it. For example, someone can bring a cooler if you’re planning a road trip or camping getaway, whereas you can all bring some snacks to share.

Stretch Your Dollar While Enjoying a Group Getaway

Budgeting for travel doesn’t mean you have to penny-pinch or forego having memorable experiences with your besties.

It all comes down to researching your trip ahead of time and working together to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the costs. From there, you can start saving early, take advantage of group deals, and split costs. Are you ready to plan your summer vacation?

 

How to Break Into a New Career Field in Your 30s

Some say that 30 is the magic age when it comes to getting serious about your life and career.

This is when you start to level up your savings for retirement, think about buying a home, and climb the career ladder. In fact, turning 30 will likely get you thinking about whether you’re happy in your current career. If not, it may be time for a change.

With these 6 steps, you can overcome intimidation and start a new career as you move into your 30s. Welcome to adulting.

Step 1: Figure Out Why You Want to Switch Careers

You may know you want to switch careers, but it’s important to narrow down why you feel this way. Is the work you do no longer fulfilling? Have you changed your interests or gained a desire to advance your skillset? Do you no longer enjoy your industry for different reasons?

Figuring out why you want to change careers will help you determine what you’re looking for in your new career. Ideally, what you lack currently should be placed on the priority list when it comes to choosing a new career.

Step 2: Be Honest About What’s Holding You Back

Have you been wanting to switch careers for some time now? Sometimes, we get so comfortable in our jobs that we tend to suppress any thoughts or feelings about moving on to something different.

In other words, the idea of switching careers after you turn 30 may seem risky or like too much work. Yet, if you want to explore a new field, you need to get past this step and identify the barriers that are holding you back.

Sometimes the idea of starting over or going back to school can be the biggest barrier. It’s up to you to break down these obstacles. Instead, think about what life would be like if you were able to start an entirely new profession.

Step 3: Assess Your New Career Path

Now that you know why you want to switch careers and what’s holding you back, it’s time to decide what you want to do.

To start, determine what type of education or experience you’ll need and how much it would cost to obtain the right credentials. Also, research current and future job prospects, along with expected pay and benefits. Depending on the type of new job, you may need to make some drastic changes. For example, going from a copywriter to an article editor may not be that big of a shift. But transitioning from an accountant to a nurse would require some significant changes, including additional education and training.

Always make sure that you keep your return on investment in mind. For example, if you’re going to go back to school to get a new license or certification, develop a specific career plan that will help you earn back that investment shortly after you land a new position and start getting paid.

Step 4: Update Your Resume

One of the most intimidating things about breaking into a new career in your 30s is that you’ll need to update your resume so that it’s relevant to job prospects in your new field.

I’d advise keeping all your past job history on your resume because this may be valuable experience. However, you can also make changes that will highlight specific responsibilities you had or accomplishments you made that will be relevant to your new career.

Skills like customer service, effective communication, organization and problem-solving are all generally valuable no matter what career field you choose.

You can also start rebuilding your experience by picking up volunteer or contract positions in your new desired field.

Step 5: Lean on Your Network

All the years you spent networking will certainly pay off when it’s time to change careers. Sure, you probably built your professional network based on your current career but you never know who other people know and how these contacts can help you.

Tell friends, family, and colleagues about your career shift and ask if they have any leads or can keep an eye out for opportunities they may come across. Start attending local networking events or meetups geared toward people in your new career field. And, update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your past and present skills and education.

Step 6: Prepare for a Financial Shift

Finally, it’s crucial that you be mindful of the financial changes you may experience during this transition phase. You may have to take a pay cut when you switch careers.

If you have to go back to school, you’ll have to determine how you’ll pay for tuition and make your loan payments. In the worst case scenario, where a lay-off prompts you to switch careers, you’ll have to figure out how to make ends meet for the time being. This may entail cutting expenses or picking up a side hustle.

In addition, it’s best not to make any hasty moves when you’re switching careers. Continue to work at your current job and build up a solid savings cushion on the side. If you have to go back to school, consider taking online or night classes so you can still work during the day.

Break Into a New Career Field by Going in with a Plan

When you first pursued your current career, you likely had a plan in place. Do the same thing this time around – except with a more detailed plan.

At the end of the day, it will be worth it when you start a new and exciting career that you truly enjoy and find fulfilling.

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