Tag: How To

 

How To Spend $100 On Back-To-School This Year

The average parent will spend around $500 per child of their hard-earned money on back-to-school supplies.

For many parents, this price-tag seems daunting. But here’s the good news: you can still get your kids the school supplies they need without spending anywhere near $500. In fact, with careful planning, you can spend $100 (or less) on back-to-school necessities this year. Take a look at our 5 tips below and start saving money right now.

1. Shop Your Home

Before you even set foot inside a store, take inventory of what you have at home. Do you have binders that are in good shape? Do you have boxes of crayons, markers, or pencils that your child can use instead of new ones? Shop your home first by seeing what supplies you already have available. Then, cross off the items, gather them together, and make a list of all the remaining school supplies that you still need to buy.

2. Buy Only What’s Needed

If you’ve received a list from your school district stating what you need to buy for your child this year, only buy the items on the list. And, unless the list states a specific brand or size, choose the cheapest option available. As long as the particular item will serve its purpose and get your child through the school year, there’s no need to pay extra for the brand name. For example, in the Midwest, Crayola Crayons cost about $4.98 for a pack of 24 crayons. Yet, store brands from Target or Walmart only cost $2.98 for the same 24-pack.

Remember, you only have a $100 budget. If you want to make sure you don’t go over that amount and you’re only buying what you absolutely need, go shopping with only $100 in your checking account (you can always move money to your savings account and then back to your checking account later.). While some banks may charge you for dipping below a certain amount, in your checking account, you can always switch to a no fee bank to avoid that.

If your child needs more crayons (or any other school supplies) throughout the year, purchase them when the time comes. And remember: if you purchase extra items that aren’t on the list provided by your school, they may sit around your house all year. Wasted money.

3. Buy Online

Along with only buying what you need, you can receive significant savings on back-to-school supplies by shopping online. Not only does this save you time, but different stores will typically offer online only deals on school supplies.

Popular stores like Staples, Walmart, Target, and even Amazon will send out emails about back-to-school deals. If you haven’t signed up for these email lists, now is a great time to do this. This way you can get deals delivered right to your email in-box.

Another great reason to shop online for back-to-school supplies is that you’ll often qualify for free shipping straight to your home, or even to your local store if you’d rather pick up there. The items you find and pay for online are still eligible for returns, so there is no risk to you if you choose to shop online for back-to-school supplies. Instead, it’s just another way to save money, time and energy.

4. Use Coupons

If you have to buy brand name items, or if you want to save even more money, coupons, price matching deals, and savings found on apps can shave even more dollars off your back-to-school shopping bill. Almost all major retailers offer price matching, so if you find a product cheaper somewhere else, you can alert the store you’re purchasing from and they will match the price. The major retailers want your business, so don’t be shy. Take advantage of price matching to get the best deal for you.

If you decide to use coupons, remember to read and understand the store’s policy on how you can use your coupons. Each store is different, and it’s better to know the policy up front so you aren’t wasting time later. For example, some stores will not accept a store coupon on top of a manufacturer’s coupon. So, if you have a store coupon and manufacturer coupon for the same item, you may only be able to use one. The bottom line: read the policy, get your coupons in order, and make sure you have everything squared away before using them.

Even if you don’t use price matching or coupons, you can still save money or earn money back through your purchases. Apps and websites such as Ebates, Ibotta, and Checkout 51 all give you cash back for purchasing certain items or shopping at particular retailers. All you have to do is submit your receipt and the cash back or savings is then added to your account.

Also, if you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card, your purchases will round up with each transaction, thus adding more money into your savings account without having to think about it..

5. Check Out Discount Stores

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to check out discount stores or thrift stores. These stores aren’t just for cheap clothing or household items. You can find a plethora of back-to-school supplies for $1 or less. Plus, if your local thrift store offers discount days or extra coupons, you can use those to save even more.

If you decide to shop at a discount store, it’s important to remember that you may not find name brand items. However, if that’s not important to you, a discount store like the Dollar Tree can help you spend just one dollar or less on each item you buy. In other words, if you buy 40 items you may get away with spending only $40, which is well under your new $100 budget for back-to-school supplies.

Don’t Bust Your Back-To-School Budget

While the average parent may spend $500 on back-to-school supplies, you don’t have to spend anywhere close to this much money. It is possible to stick to a $100 budget for your child’s school supplies. All it takes is a little planning and willingness to shop around for the best deals.

 

How to Negotiate Your Way to a Better Budget

Ever wish you could pay less for a car or a couch? Make more money? Negotiation skills can help.

The ability to negotiate is a powerful personal finance tool. We talked to experts to learn the basic skills that can help your budget.

1. Ask questions

“Information in a negotiation is power,” said George Siedel, professor of business administration at the University of Michigan.

You can negotiate better when you know what the other side wants. If you can learn the interests of the person on the other side and match them with your own, you can get to a deal that benefits both sides, Siedel said.

2. Have alternatives

“If you have good alternatives you are in a much more powerful position in a negotiation,” Siedel said.

If you’re negotiating for a raise and another company has offered you a job at a higher salary, you can push harder because you have a good alternative if the negotiation fails, Siedel said. Or if you’re buying or selling a car, having options gives you more power to walk away from any single negotiation. Even if you’re set on a particular car, having an alternative can help get you a better price on your first option.

3. Make an offer

You may have an ideal price in mind when you’re buying a car. But don’t start there when negotiating, Siedel said. If you want the car for $10,000, say you’d like to buy it for $7,000 and see where the negotiation takes you. You may end up paying less than you expect.

Deals tend to be anchored around the opening offer, said John Lowry, president of the Lowry Group, a negotiation training firm. In a situation where there isn’t a set price, like work on your home or car purchase, it can be a good idea to throw out a price to see if someone will accept it.

When would you use these skills?

Negotiation and haggling aren’t huge part of our culture, Lowry said. But it never hurts for consumers to ask if they can get something for less.

“The question is not ‘Where can you use negotiation,’ the better question is, if you’re not negotiating, then why aren’t you in all aspects of your life?” Lowry said.

For example, Lowry teaches negotiation at the Pepperdine University School of Law. Many parents and students call the school and haggle over how much scholarship money they receive or how much tuition the school charges. Any in-home services like contractors, repairmen or cleaners are also subject to negotiation.

Negotiating may be harder in a retail environment, Lowry said. The person checking you out at Target probably lacks the authority to lower prices for you. But if you’re spending $10,000 at a furniture store, you can push the sales staff on prices.

Siedel teaches negotiation both at the University of Michigan and through an online Coursera course. Many students tell him they have found success renegotiating their cable bills by getting alternative prices from other cable providers. (The same strategy is particularly effective when you’re trying to get a better deal on car insurance.)

He also asks students to try to negotiate a discount at a restaurant as part of his course. The majority are successful.

“With about 40 students in the class, they usually save a couple thousand dollars in total,” Siedel said.

Success can depend on how comfortable people are with negotiating. While many students get a discount, half of them find the experience terrifying, Siedel said. Siedel will often negotiate for a discount when staying at a hotel, but his wife refuses to accompany him to the front desk.

What should you avoid when negotiating?

Don’t do all the talking. You can’t argue your way into a good deal. You have to find out what the other side wants and reach a compromise.

Don’t go into a negotiation unprepared. Without good alternatives and an idea of your goal, your negotiation is less likely to be successful, Siedel said.

Don’t waste your time. A discount is great, but if it’s going to take forever to get to a deal, it may not be worth it.

“If you’re having fun with it, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if there are other things you’d rather be doing, don’t become obsessed with saving a few dollars,” Siedel said.

Don’t lie. Exaggerating is one thing, but it can be dangerous to slip into committing fraud, Lowry said. Not only could you face legal ramifications, but misleading people is simply unethical.

How do you get better at negotiating?

The best way to improve is by doing it, even if you fail, Lowry said. Failure might be lead to some temporary embarrassment, but success can have a big impact on your budget. Plus, you may get more enjoyment around everyday transactions.

“If people do it, what they will find is that if they intellectually engage in the process, they’ll find what is typically mundane becomes kind of fun,” Lowry said.

Are you one of those people who hates haggling? You can outsource negotiating your bills to one of these four apps instead.

 

How to Determine the Budget for Your House

Saving up for a down payment on a house is one of the most important things you can do before starting your house hunt. But even a 20% down payment won’t help you much if your monthly payments on a new house stretch your budget too thin.

This is what is often referred to as house poor and it’s a wise idea to avoid this. So, how do you really know how much house you can comfortably afford to buy? You can start by estimating all of your eventual monthly housing costs, including your mortgage, insurance, taxes, repairs and more.

Read on to learn about the costs involved in buying a house. From there you can best determine what you’ll actually be spending every month.

Principal and interest

This is the basic monthly cost of your mortgage loan, which you pay directly to the lender. This includes your monthly principal as well as any interest that you pay on the life of your loan.

Keep in mind that if you’re making a down payment or have closing costs, the loan amount will be different than the sales price of the home. As an example, let’s say you have your eye on a home with a sales price of $250,000 and can afford a $25,000 down payment.

The closing costs, which are fees and expenses you pay to complete the sale of the home, will be three percent of the sales price or $7,500. You’ll be expected to pay this amount when you close on the sale of your house.

Getting back to the actual mortgage, in this scenario your total loan amount is $225,000. Let’s say you choose a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate. Using a simple loan calculator, your monthly principal and interest payment would be $1,140.04.

Mortgage insurance

Depending on the type of loan you apply for and the size of your down payment, you may be required to pay mortgage insurance. The beneficiary of the insurance policy is the mortgage lender and this coverage protects the lender if you default on your loan.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s how much mortgage insurance typically costs by loan type and your loan-to-value ratio, which is calculated by taking your total loan amount and dividing it by the value of the home.

 

Loan type Loan to value Mortgage insurance cost
Conventional loan 0% to 19.99% $30 to $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed
FHA loan All loans Upfront cost at closing of 1.75%; annual cost of 0.45% to 1.05%
USDA loan All loans Upfront cost at closing of 1%; annual cost of 0.35%
VA loan All loans Upfront cost of 1.25% to 3.3%; no annual cost

So, let’s take our previous example to calculate your monthly mortgage insurance costs. You opt for a conventional mortgage, and your loan-to-value ratio is 90%, so you’ll need to pay what’s called private mortgage insurance (PMI). The lender’s insurance company charges $50 per $100,000 borrowed. So, with a $225,000 loan, your monthly PMI bill would be $112.50. This premium will be added to your monthly mortgage payment.

With conventional loans, your PMI requirement will “fall off” your loan automatically once your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78%. That said, you can request to have it removed once your loan to value is 80%.

Homeowners insurance

Once you buy a house, it will likely be the most valuable asset you’ve ever had. As such, you’ll want to insure it against damage, loss and other hazards.

In addition, if you have a mortgage, the lender will require an adequate homeowners insurance policy because it technically owns the property until you pay off the loan. Homeowners insurance costs can vary depending on where you live and other factors. But the average annual premium in the U.S. is $1,083 or $90.25 per month.

Depending on your mortgage lender and situation, you will either pay this directly to the insurance company or to the mortgage company into an escrow account. In an escrow account, your lender collects your monthly insurance premiums and then pays for the insurance on your behalf. By tacking your homeowners insurance premium onto your monthly mortgage payment, it ensures that you don’t accidentally miss a payment and lose your coverage.

Property taxes

State and local government agencies collect property taxes every year based on the value of your home and the property upon which it stands.

Property tax rates not only depend on the state where you live but also your county, township or school district. So, let’s say you live in Arizona, where the average property tax rate is 0.77%. With a home value of $250,000, your property tax bill would be $1,925 annually or $160.42 per month.

Maintenance and repairs

Whether your home is brand new or 100 years old, you can expect to pay for regular maintenance and unexpected repairs. The worst part about this is that there’s no way to know for sure how much these expenses will cost.

For this reason, it’s wise to have an emergency fund with enough money in reserves. Consider opening a separate bank account to keep the money away from your everyday spending. As for how much you should have saved up, experts recommend that you save between one to three percent of the home’s purchase price. If you split the difference and save two percent on a home worth $250,000, that’s $5,000 a year or $416.67 per month.

Calculating your monthly payment

Once you determine the budget for your new home, you’ll have an idea of whether or not you can afford the house you’ve got your eye on.

For that $250,000 home, here’s how the costs add up:

  • Principal and interest: $1,140.04
  • Mortgage insurance: $112.50
  • Homeowners insurance: $90.25
  • Property taxes: $160.42
  • Maintenance and repairs: $416.67

All told, the total monthly budget to afford that house is $1,919.88 — or $1,503.21 if you already have the $400 plus a month saved up in your emergency fund.

So, take a look at your budget before you decide whether you can comfortably afford to buy a particular house – without becoming house poor. If you discover that it’s just too expensive, no worries. You can either keep looking for another other house that fits your budget or continue to save more money for a bigger down payment.

 

How to Avoid Regrets About How You Spend Your Money

How you spend your money is a loaded subject. Nearly half of Americans deem finances a hard subject to address with others. They rate it more difficult to navigate than politics or religion. Sixty-eight percentwould rather disclose their weight than talk about finances. More than 40 percent don’t even broach the subject with the person they marry before entering into holy matrimony. Even to yourself, how y0u spend your money is a topic you most likely avoid thinking about.

However, treating money as a taboo subject hurts people. Families tend to feel chronically anxious due to a lack of clear conversations about money. Many times, with little discussion about goals and expectations, people end up following some financial gurus’ guidelines to the letter. This can actually be damaging to their personal finances. Plus, it can make them feel like “financial sinners” for making different choices. That”s why it’s time to think differently about how you spend your money.

Rules About How You Spend Your Money Can Lead to Regret

James Lenhoff, CFP, the president of Wealthquest and the author of “Living a Rich Life,” has seen dozens of clients who’ve accumulated a lot of money in their later years — and a lot of regrets. “Many of them get to a stage where they realize they didn’t create many memories with their money,” Lenhoff says. “They’re watching their kids have families and regretting all the things they didn’t do — they’re seeing the breaks or weaknesses in the logic.”

These clients often see their own kids are reluctant to take vacation time or splurge on a family excursion, yet many of these behaviors have been “inherited.” However, it’s hard to lay all the blame at their feet in a society that champions short-term “good” feelings over long-term satisfaction. “Society reinforces this mistake of thinking that status symbols and things are worth more, encouraging us to buy the bigger house, the newer car. The messaging is all geared toward making us feel better about ourselves,” Lenhoff explains. “In the end, we all want experiences, but society has confused us into thinking products areexperiences.”

In order to combat that messaging, most personal finance books give us rules to follow that keep us from splurging. But, it’s a Catch-22 because the money “rules” teaches us to grit our teeth and “do the right thing.” This is always assumed to mean saving more. “There’s an assumption among some financial experts that we need to treat people like children, give them harsh black-and-white boundaries,” Lenhoff says. “Like kids, they develop a sense of shame for disappointing Mom and Dad. The behavior is so deeply ingrained that even when they have saved enough, they are paralyzed by the ‘rules,’ and they can’t let go and use some of their money to enjoy themselves.”

Forces That Impact How You Spend Your Money

These two forces are always fighting within us. That means many people end up being filled with money-driven regret for one of two reasons. First, they spent their money on products, which didn’t fulfill them. Second, they hoarded their money, waiting for the right time to spend it.

However, they could never relax enough to do so when it was time. The good news is that those outcomes aren’t inevitable. There are steps you can take to avoid financial regret.

As Lenhoff says, “Nobody lived beyond their means because they couldn’t do math; they were emotionally motivated to do something.” He recommends that younger savers and spenders approach their relationship to money in a way that may be antithetical to the “rules.”

Find out where you stand

Because of the taboos surrounding money discussions, most people don’t actually know where they fall on the financial spectrum. Are they in a healthy position or not? Many couples, Lenhoff explains, contain a “Go” and a “Whoa”: The “Whoa” is the self-controlled saver, while the “Go” is the free-spirited spender. “Go” assumes they’re fine, but “Whoa” assumes they’re not. The problem is that neither one really knows who is right.

To overcome this, you must have a clear-headed conversation to lay out what you have and where you’re going. What does it take to make your life work right now? And, what are your non-negotiable goals for your family? A financial planner can help you outline how far ahead or behind you are on hitting those targets. Then, once you’re confident that you’re saving what you need to save each month to fund your goals, you can spend the rest as you like.

Don’t be fooled by others’ exteriors

In a world where we’re constantly cajoled to keep up with the Joneses, people often look around and feel their neighbors, friends, and family members are doing better.

But, the secrecy surrounding money — and the prevalence of living on credit cards — has erroneously led us to assume others are killing it. In reality, they could simply be swimming in debt. Don’t make decisions on how you spend your money based on how well you believe others are doing.

Use your net worth as your golden rule

Many people are overly focused on their income as a measure of progress. However, your income doesn’t matter if you aren’t using it to grow your net worth. If your net worth didn’t go up last year, that’s a problem no matter how much income you had. Your net worth changes only through saving or paying down debt.

You should be doing both. Don’t focus so much on paying down low-cost debt that you miss opportunities to save for future goals. Make sure you’re using your income to grow your assets over time. A growing net worth is the clearest indication of financial health.

Avoid budgets

Budgets are very restrictive, and they start from made-up numbers. Lenhoff says, “Most people approach budgets with ‘What can I squeeze myself into?’ They should start with ‘What’s my current reality?’” Just because you could eat freeze-dried Ramen for six months doesn’t mean it’s likely you will.

And, a shoestring budget that’s a far cry from your usual existence will feel overly prohibitive. Also, it’s impossible to stick to. Instead, create a spending plan that focuses on how you’ll spend your money rather than on how you’ll avoid spending your money. Acknowledge that you will be spending money so you can plan to spend it wisely.

Think not just about how the money will serve you in the future

There’s truth in the saying, “You can’t take it with you.” Therefore, you need to celebrate milestones along the route to your biggest goals. Enjoying the money you’ve earned while meeting your financial obligations and saving for your long-term goals shouldn’t be considered taboo but smart. It’s giving you pleasure now and later. This is what money that exceeds your necessities is intended to do.

While money may often be treated like a dirty secret, it doesn’t have to be a source of pain and regret. By shifting your mindset about how you spend your money now, you can ensure you use it in a way that brings you peace today and security tomorrow.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

America’s Most Expensive Cities: How to Save on Rent in Atlanta

Welcome to Expensive Cities, a new series designed to help renters find affordable apartments in the nation’s most unaffordable metros.

If you’re mulling a move to the Atlanta, you might find a quick perusal of its apartment listings disheartening. Luxury-priced listings abound, thanks to the hordes of construction crews putting up new complexes all over the city. But where are the reasonably-priced apartments for average working Joes and Janes?

The sad fact is, there is indeed a dearth of affordable apartments in booming Atlanta.

“Atlanta’s rents are quickly on the rise,” Joshua Clark, an economist at HotPads, an apartment search site that is part of Zillow Group, says. “While the area is still more affordable than San Francisco or San Jose, rents are appreciating faster in Atlanta right now than in either of those notoriously competitive, expensive markets.”

How much does renting cost in Atlanta?

Median rent in Atlanta climbed 8.1% in the past year to $1,460 for a one-bedroom apartment, and the city ranks No. 15 among the most expensive U.S. markets for renters, according to Zumper, an apartment search site.

In Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood, where large swaths of Peachtree Street have been transformed by large residential and office developments in the past three years, apartments rent for substantially more, around $1,800 to $2,200 a month. Old Fourth Ward in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic District — where you can sample South African-style beef jerky and 1960s craft cocktails in the food hall at Ponce City Market — costs renters about $1,500 to $1,800 per month for a one-bedroom unit, according to Danny Sirikoun, Zumper’s Atlanta market specialist.

Why is the rent in Atlanta so high?

Rapid job growth in the nation’s third-fastest growing metro helped attract nearly 90,000 new people to Atlanta, causing furious demand for apartments. Many came for entertainment industry jobs. Atlanta has become the third-biggest hub for the film industry, after Los Angeles and New York, producing blockbusters like “Avengers: Infinity War” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things”.

“Given that so many new rental listings have become available in the past year, and rent growth still hasn’t let up, it’s clear that the city is still seeing high demand,” Clark says.

How to find affordable rent in Atlanta

Despite the general upward price trend, budget-minded renters can still find some relatively well-priced apartments, both inside the perimeter (ITP) of Interstate-285 and outside (OTP). Check out these up-and-coming neighborhoods with lots of exposure to the ATL’s most exciting offerings that still tout affordable rents.

1. For proximity to everything, look at West Midtown

Love the museums and fancy shops of Midtown, but found the area too pricey? Consider bustling West Midtown, the neighborhood right next door to Georgia Tech. Average rents around there are $200 to $300 dollars cheaper than rents for comparable apartments in Midtown proper. You can find a studio for around $1,100 and for a one-bedroom you’ll pay around $1,300 to $1,500.

“That’s pretty cheap, considering its proximity to everything,” says Sirikoun.

In recent years, this former industrial neighborhood has seen its old warehouses rapidly converted to trendy urban lofts, galleries and live music venues. It is also easily accessible to the Westside BeltLine, a new walking and biking trail that showcases public art exhibits and links intown neighborhoods.

“People are starting to flock to Westside Provisions and Marietta Street for nightlife, restaurants and boutiques,” Sirikoun says.

2. An alternative booming area? Smyrna

An OTP alternative that offers a good lifestyle on a budget is Smyrna, or “Jonquil City,” which is about ten miles northwest of Atlanta and considered an integral part to its metro area. Smyrna is best for those who want a family-friendly community with a village-within-a-city feeling, along with easy access to downtown Atlanta.

Smyrna has boomed recently after the Atlanta Braves built their new stadium, SunTrust Park, in the area. The project included the development of a new entertainment district The Battery Atlanta, with shopping, restaurants and bars.

“It’s only a ten-minute drive into the city, which makes it popular with out-of-towners looking for a place that is affordable,” says Sirikoun.

One-bedroom apartments in older buildings start at around $900 a month, while those in new developments go all the way up to $1,500.

“The average is more on the low end of the spectrum, around $1,000 to $1,100 for a one-bedroom,” says Sirikoun.

3. Bonus tip: Budget for higher rents if you own a pet

Atlanta is famously dog-friendly. You’re fine to bring your animal companion along on your Home Depot errands or to brunch al fresco at many Atlanta restaurants. When it comes to renting an apartment, most Atlanta landlords happily welcome your furry friends — albeit for a price. (Note: You might pay more renters insurance, too. We can help you compare renters insurance quotes here.)

“Most, if not all, landlords allow dogs, with a certain pet fee, plus ‘pet rent’ per month,” Sirikoun says. “Aggressive breeds are not allowed in most, and weight restrictions are imposed as well. As a financially-responsible mom or dad, you’d be wise to budget an additional $300 to $500 per pet at move-in time, plus about $10 to $15 a month extra in pet rent.”

What cities have the savviest renters? Check out the Policygenius Renters Index to find out.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com

 

How to Make Money With Your Car This Summer

If you have a car, you likely use it to get from one place to the next. And, while you may feel lucky to have your own wheels, that car may cost you a pretty penny to maintain and insure.

But, what if you used your car to actually help you make more money on the side and pay for your gas and maintenance bills? This would turn your car into more of an investment and a solid income stream, right? Well, you’re in luck. You can now make money with your car. Here are a few ways you can do so – starting this summer.

Drive for Uber or Lyft

Becoming an Uber or Lyft driver is a popular side hustle opportunity. The demand for rideshare drivers is high and will remain so as long as people keep using rideshare apps to get around. I should know – my husband is an Uber and Lyft driver.

I love that you can choose your own hours and earn a flexible income. In my husband’s case, he works long and varying hours at his full-time job so he could not commit to a second job with fixed hours. Initially, he stayed up late a few nights a week driving for Uber. After a while, he started driving for Lyft too and the extra income has helped him pay off his car loan early. It has also helped us save for vacations and pay off other debts.

How much you earn driving for Uber or Lyft will depend on which city you’re driving in, the time of day you operate (drivers tend to make a little more during rush hour times), and how often you drive. Uber and Lyft pay via direct deposit weekly so it’s ideal to have a bank account that makes it easy and painless to set up direct deposit payments.

Uber Eats

If driving people around makes you a little nervous, you can try driving for Uber Eats. Uber Eats partners with local restaurants so customers can order food on the app and drivers like you can use your car to deliver the food order.

While the average Uber driver can expect to make $20+ per hour, Uber Eats drivers make around eight to $12 per hour after factoring in vehicle expenses. They earn less than Uber drivers because Uber Eats trips are generally shorter. Also, Uber is more popular than Uber Eats currently, so Uber drivers have a greater opportunity to increase earnings. Regardless, both are great ways to make money simply by driving around in your car.

Make Deliveries with Amazon and Other Sites

With Amazon being the biggest online retailer to date, it’s no surprise that the company ships a ton of packages each day.

You can cash in on this by delivering Amazon packages in your local area. The program is called Amazon Flex and delivery drivers can make $18 to $24 per hour. Like Uber, you can set your own schedule by working as little or as much as you want. Amazon Flex is available in over 50 cities so far and they are adding more all the time.

Another delivery option you may want to consider is delivering food orders with Postmates (very similar to Uber Eats) or becoming a tasker for TaskRabbit.

TaskRabbit allows you to find small odds jobs you enjoy at the pay rate you choose. Taskers are paid to deliver items, run errands, help move furniture, perform handyman work, and more. What I love about this option is that you can decide how much you get paid per task. You just need to register online, attend an orientation in your city and start making money.

Advertise

If you drive your car a lot, you can make money by placing ads on it. Some companies will pay you hundreds per month to drive around with their ads on your car.

Carvertise is one of the best sites to use to place ads on your car for extra money. Another good site is Wrapify. How much you earn depends on whether you wrap your entire car or showcase a partial ad. According to Wrapify, you can earn around $84 to $140 per month just by wrapping a panel around your car, and $264 to $452 by wrapping your full car with an ad.

Some brands will require you to drive a certain number of miles during the ad campaign. This makes it a great opportunity for someone who already drives a lot or commutes to work daily. What I love about this opportunity is that the ads are easy to remove when the campaign is over. This way you can keep making money with other ads.

Rent Out Your Car

Say you don’t drive your car a lot but still want to make money with it. Consider renting your car out to others for some quick and extra cash. This is a good idea if you work from home and don’t use your car much or have a two-car household.

Turo is a car sharing company that lets you rent out your car while you’re not using it. Turo makes it easy and even offers liability insurance. Better yet, you can choose which days you want to make your car available and set your own daily price.

Owning a Car Has Its Perks

While some may say it’s cheaper to go without a car, there are tons of extra income opportunities when you do have a vehicle. By using the options above, you can use your car to make extra money to help you pay off debt, boost your savings, start investing or fund a large purchase in cash.

Wondering if any of these extra income ideas are worth it? Try one out for a week or so and see for yourself. You may find a low-effort way to make extra money for the long-term.

 

How to Bring Up Money With Someone You’re Dating Casually

So you’re doing the whole Tinder thing.

It’s sort of a given that a “Netflix and chill” situation doesn’t necessarily dictate a deep dive into personal money matters. However, depending on the circumstances, you may still want to bring up finances with the person you’re dating.

And we get it. No matter the dynamic of the relationship, talking about money is no easy feat.

Here are some pointers on how to dredge up—er, bring up—the topic of money with someone you’re dating casually. This way you’ll better gauge how much you want to reveal about your financial situation.

Scenario #1: Someone You’re Just “Hanging Out With”

This is the person that you may hit up to get a round of happy hour drinks at your local watering hole. Or, maybe you need a date for that summer wedding, and you’re *this close* to renting a friend. (Yes, this is an actual thing.)

In this situation, you can approach the money talk in the same way that you’d approach it with a new friend. For example, you can get to know each other by commiserating about shared money woes, or how much ATM fees suck. While you’re at it, this is a good time to work out who is paying for what, or how you want to handle the bar tab.

This may lead to the next conversation: are you going splitsies or who will treat the other to those drinks? In this case, this opens the door to discuss money-saving apps. And that’s totally cool. Perhaps you’ll end up swapping some useful knowledge. Beyond that, keep it low-key and light.

Scenario #2: Friends With Benefits

So, this could get complicated. Besides worrying whether the other person has serious feelings for you, you may wonder if you should pay for the meal, or go Dutch? What would that signify? Fair warning: things can get a bit tricky. If you want to play it safe, ask yourself, “What would friends do?” From there, proceed accordingly.

Another thing: Venmo with caution. Sure, this popular app is essentially a fun way to go splitsies with pals when out on the town. It’s also a great way to share the rent. Yet, it can also offer a revealing peek into someone else’s friend network, activities, and social interactions. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets FOMO when I see my pals’ transactions for brunches and poolside parties. So, be prepared. You may learn more about the other’s social life than you should—or want to.

Scenario #3: Booty Calls

If you’re an inveterate booty-caller or are just going through a phase, you may want to keep things as non-intrusive as possible with hook-up partners.

To be honest, there really isn’t a compelling reason to talk money with this person, unless you’re a money nerd like me (I’m only half-kidding.) Take it from me, keep topics as light and easy-peasy as possible.

Scenario #4: Netflix and Chill

Are the two of you keeping it super casual? If all you want is to get cozy on the couch and binge-watch on Netflix, then splitting the costs of GrubHub and a bottle of two-buck chuck may be the extent of your money talk. The deepest it may go is engaging in light banter over how you’re saving up for that summer vacay or went a little crazy with the spending last weekend.

If you ever need to chat about something more serious, just be sure to do so when you’re both awake and sober. Otherwise, it’ll prove unproductive or just plain disastrous.

Scenario #5: New Date With Potential

Maybe things are moving beyond merely FWB or the Netflix and chill stage, and you’re both experiencing mutual feels. How do you get “financially naked” and bring up more serious, sensitive money matters?

Try sussing things out, says Jodi Scott Elliott, a 36-year-old LA-based freelance writer who once ran a blog about her experiences as a serial dater.

“If you feel like money is something that is important to the person you’re dating, you need to bring it up,” says Scott Elliott.

As it’s a touchy subject, coming at it from a calm matter-of-fact way is best, she says.

“Any relationship worth having, you should be able to communicate needs and issues,” she says. “Acknowledge that it’s an awkward conversation and address only what is necessary, but I think the sooner you do address it, the better.”

Talking About Money? Handle With Care

Why make the casual dating game more difficult than it needs to be? No matter what the arrangement, handling money talks with kid gloves is the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll just lead to awkwardness or frustration.

 

How to Work Together as a Couple to Get Out Of Debt

They say two heads are better than one. Well, not if those heads are butting over financial decisions like when and how to pay off debt.

Indeed, being on the same financial page as your partner is crucial. But when it comes to paying off your debt, this isn’t so easy. Take it from me. When my husband and I first started our financial journey, we had different ideas about how to approach debt. This created frustration on both ends and slowed down our progress. Eventually, we started working together and paying down debt aggressively.

To help you get on the same page as your partner right away, take a look at these 5 tried-and-true tips. Hopefully, this will save you time, money and frustration.

Be Open About Money

If you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important to talk openly and honestly about money. Plain and simple.

If you have skeletons in the closet when it comes to your finances or debt, it’s time to come clean. Financial infidelity and miscommunication can lead to money fights and often make the situation worse. Instead, plan money dates and lay it all out on the table. What accounts do you have? How much do you owe independently and as a couple? Although you don’t have to combine debt totals, this is recommended if you’re married or already living together.

It’s also important to discuss how your debt makes each of you feel. From there, you can work on steps to get out of debt and develop better money habits.

Work Together to Make Lifestyle Changes

When you work together as a couple to pay off debt, you shouldn’t view it as his debt or her issue that is hindering you from making progress. Remember: you’re in this together.

If you feel like your partner is a spender, talk to him or her respectfully and suggest some changes you can make as a couple. Maybe you can encourage him or her to start packing lunches to take to work, and you can do the same. Or, instead of going out to dinner and a movie every Friday night, maybe you can get into the habit of cooking dinner at home and going for a bike ride or to a free concert in the park. Odds are, you both may need to improve your money management habits. Why not work on it as a team and support each other?

Jen Hayes, who runs the blog Frugal-Millennial, says it takes teamwork and dedication to pay off debt as a couple. Hayes and her husband started out with $117,000 of debt in 2013 and they’ve already paid off $88,000.

“We both reduced our expenses and increased our income. We cut back on expenses by renting a room from my parents, driving an 18-year-old car, and finding free things to do for fun,” she says.

Hold Each Other Accountable

Paying off debt often takes time and requires sacrifice.

To this end, knowing that you’re not alone can be motivating. For this reason, think of each other as an accountability partner. My husband and I, for example, commit to weekly finance dates. This is a time when we talk about money in our household and discuss our debt repayment progress report. Checking in often reminds us that we need to stay on top of our goals – together.

Find Flexible Ways to Make More Money

When you put your debt balances together, you may be in for sticker shock. But, here’s the good news: your double income can help you pay off this debt faster.

You can also boost your earnings and improve your financial habits. For starters, if you and your partner both work, you’ll already have two incomes to consider when budgeting for debt payments. Then, if one or both of you start bringing in extra money on the side, you’ll likely be able to pay off your accounts even faster. Case in point: both my husband and I have side hustles to generate more money. You can do this too! Whether it’s babysitting, walking dogs, freelancing, or driving for a rideshare company, you just need a few hours each week to earn extra money on the side. You can then throw all of this toward paying off your collective debt.

Do What Works Best for You as a Couple

When asked how she and her husband paid off so much debt in just a few years, Hayes answered with this: “Do what works best for you as a couple.”

For some couples, this may mean moving back in with parents to save money. For others, it may mean cutting out gym memberships or swapping out expensive hobbies for more frugal ones.

While some people insist that all couples have joint bank accounts or weekly budget meetings, every couple is different. At the end of the day, you and your partner have to come up with a money action plan that you can both stick to.

 

How to Plan a Wedding Without Your Bridal Party Going Broke

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

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

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

Here’s how we made it happen.

Dresses: $60

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

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

Bachelorette Party: $75 to $250

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

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

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

Registry gifts: $6 to $100

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

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

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


This article originally appeared on Policygenius

 

How to Go on a No-Spend Weekend

You probably already know this: it’s a cardinal rule to make a budget and stick to it. During the summer months, however, it’s almost as if the money gods are setting booby traps, divisive schemes, and other prickly obstacles to make it super hard for you stay on course.

Common culprits include getting bitten hard by the FOMO bug, not tracking your spending as closely as you should, or reaching for your credit card for willy-nilly spends. Whatever the reason, summer can bust your budget. This happened to me last summer while taking on a side hustle as a pet sitter in Chicago. While I was saving on big essentials, like housing and transit, I was spending way too much eating out and cavorting around the Windy City. To get back on track with my finances, I went on a no-spend weekend diet.

Here’s how to set yourself straight on a weekend spending fast:

Set Rules Beforehand

Like all challenges, you’ll need to provide some parameters and set rules beforehand. Besides not being able to use any cash, I couldn’t put any charges on my debit or credit cards. Scary, I know. What I could do was stock up on groceries ahead of time, and load up my public transit card to get me through the weekend. I was also allowed to use any gift cards I had lying around.

Exceptions included a true emergency that required tapping in to my emergency fund – such as a trip to the ER, urgent dental work, or a family member who desperately needed a helping hand. If something urgent and unexpected popped up during my spending fast, I could certainly take money out of my bank account.

Check Past Spending Habits

When setting rules for your no-spend weekend, carefully review your transactions from the last few weekends to see what has been gobbling up your money. I noticed that I had been spending more on restaurants and nights out reveling in booze and pinball at the local barcade. My Chicago pals also turned me on to a few killer thrift shops. While it certainly wasn’t an ‘80s style, full-blown shopping spree on Rodeo Drive, all those little purchases were adding up. My frugal self was starting to suffer the consequences.

Prepare to Decline Social Outings

This is probably the toughest part when you’re cutting back on spending: curbing those FOMO feels and the YOLO philosophy to spare your pocketbook. During my no-spend weekend, I skirted going to dinner with pals. Instead, I checked out art shows, where I enjoyed free drinks and snacks, and went to the Farmer’s Market and sampled goodies. When I did decide to go to a bar to meet friends, I first trolled the perimeter of the Pokemon Go Fest grounds for free fun (yes, I’m that person). Once I was inside, I drank water and made it clear that I was on a spending fast. For the most part, my pals understood.

However, after a bit of tugging on my friend Greg Slade’s part, I agreed to join him for dinner. Sitting at a restaurant while my friend noshed on a burger was A-W-K-W-A-R-D. He did insist I have his hot tea and share of fries. That being said, I still felt a bit shameful for mooching.

Be Resourceful

My gut reaction was to stay home and minimize interactions with friends. But, I made a point not to be a hermit during the weekend. I wanted to get out and be my regular social self. In planning my weekend, I scoured listings for art show openings, movies and concerts at the park, readings at jazz nights at the local coffee shop, and free street festivals.

And those gift cards that had sunk to the bottom of my purse finally got some love. I used movie passes, and gift cards to Target and Buffalo Exchange. I did a little happy dance to be rid of those gift cards, at long last.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to live in a major city to have a social life during your spending fast. You can enjoy some nature by way of a hike or bike ride. Or check your city’s calendar of events for some options for free fun.

Try It During the Week First

If attempting a spending fast during the weekend is a bit intimidating, try it during the week. Trying it out midweek is far easier than the weekend for a number or reasons. If you’re a worker bee, you have a routine and structure. Because you’re busier and your schedule is more predictable, it’ll be easier to plan to eat in and refrain from shopping. Plus, you’ll be less tempted to hang out late with friends and spend money.

Know Your Intention

Before committing to a spending fast, it’s also important to know your “why.” In my situation, I wanted to curb my purchases and cut back on eating out. After my no-spend weekend, I committed to dining in more frequently and I quit shopping for the time being. I bought groceries for the week and used up everything I had before heading back to the market. I actually found the challenge to be fun while discovering new ways to get out and about without spending a dime.

Are you ready to try out a spending fast? Just think: by becoming more mindful of your spending, you’ll save money. In my book, that’s a win!

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