Tag: Just For Fun

 

Halloween Costumes From Your Favorite Books

Do store-bought Halloween costume prices send you screaming in fear? If so, the DIY route might be for you.

By now you may be thinking: How can you scare up a unique and affordable costume? Luckily, we’ve got a bright idea for you: Dress up as your favorite literary figure. This will make you look smart and boost your savings – double win!

Here are 14 affordable, literary-inspired costume ideas, broken down by categories. Book lovers everywhere can now rejoice!

Well-Loved Children’s Books

An excellent children’s book never goes out of style. These kid-lit faves make perfect costume choices:

1. The mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

This one is easy as the main thing you need to imitate the lovable mouse from Numeroff’s series is a pair of overalls. You can then make mouse ears by gluing grey paper or felt semi-circles to a headband. If you have long hair you can also put your hair into two top buns for ears. Then, make a giant cookie with construction paper or carry around a bag of cookies.

You can also make it a family affair by dressing up as characters from the author’s other books. For example, you can dress as a pig and take along a box of pancake mix, or dress up as a dog carrying donuts.

2. Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

Camilla Cream is plagued with rainbow stripes after trying too hard to fit in with her peers. To create your own Camilla Cream, you’ll need to cover your face, neck, and arms with different colored paint stripes (make sure you get body paint!) From there, wear a black dress or shirt to make your rainbow skin pop.

3. Amelia Bedelia from Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish.

If you don’t have a maid’s costume hanging around, a black dress and rectangle-shaped piece of white lace will do. Adorn a black hat with faux daisies and then seal the deal by carrying around a fake chicken or a string of green beans.

4. Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

For this easy costume, all you need to do is draw a creative scene with purple marker on a white shirt. Then, walk around holding the purple crayon. Nailed it!

5. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole.

Ah, Ms. Frizzle: The science teacher we all wish we had! To transform into Ms. Frizzle, all you need to do is tease your hair or wear a big, bright orange wig. Then, pick a science theme and tape pictures relating to that theme to a dress and leggings.

YA Favorites

Young adult books may be promoted as a teenage category, but let’s be honest. You probably geek out on the following characters more than your younger cousins. Take a look:

6. Harry Potter from the namesake Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Did you really think we could put this list together and leave off Harry Potter? The classic circle glasses, lightning scar, and stick wand can all be yours for an affordable price. You can even use a black graduation robe (check the thrift store or borrow one from a recent grad). Voila! You’re Harry Potter!

7. Count Olaf and others from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

You can expect more love for your Lemony Snicket-inspired costumes this year thanks to the Netflix mini-series. There are so many interesting characters to choose from. For example, slap on a mustache and wrap a stuffed snake around your shoulders to become Uncle Monty.

Of course, Count Olaf provides enough costume ideas himself. For bonus points, don’t forget to sing out: “I’m handsome and I’m talented and love your bank account.”

8. Characters from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

Yes, you can become Katniss by rocking a bow and arrow as well as a dress that looks like fire. However, dressing up as Effie Trinket is where the real fun is at. From her ever-changing wigs and outlandish outfits, there are many looks to choose from. May the odds be ever in your favor.

9. Become an Ugly from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

For this costume idea, focus your efforts on your makeup with a flash tattoo from the Uglies trilogy. Tally Youngblood’s tattoo may be the most fun to replicate. She has Celtic swirls above her eye.

Adult Books

Love to read? Take a look at a few of our favorite literary costume ideas – inspired by popular adult books.

10. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Can you be any cooler than Lisbeth Salander? Luckily you can become her by coloring your hair black (if it’s not already black naturally) and slicking it back. Then, dress in black skinnies and a black jacket, and don’t go light on the fake tattoos, piercings, and metal jewelry.

11. Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Can’t choose between awesome period clothing and zombie makeup? You can have both if you dress as the undead Jane Bennet. Splatter red paint over a white regent-style dress, pin up your hair, and paint on your zombie face. You’re good to go!

12. Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another classic series with so much costume inspiration to draw from. Frodo Baggins may be the easiest and cheapest to pull off. You’ll need a brown cape, a ring on a chain, and furry feet. For the cape, you can tie brown cloth or a brown towel over your shoulders. For furry feet, glue sections of a wig to flip-flops.

13. Fifty Shades of Grey from the namesake book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

This costume is always good for a laugh. All you have to do is dress in grey tones and attach grey paint swatches to your outfit. Handcuffs are optional.

14. The old man from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

For this literary-inspired costume, you can take a trip into your dad or grandfather’s closet for some fashion choices. Add a white wig, facial hair and cane. You are now a literary genius. You’re welcome.

Be Inspired by Your Favorite Books

If none of these ideas suit your fancy, then be inspired by your favorite book. Look for ways to dress up as the title character. Or, if the book’s main characters have been overdone, try going for another character. Whatever you do, have fun with it. And, remember: By being a little creative, you’ll save a lot of money. What’s not to like about that? Happy Halloween!

 

The Best Halloween Costumes That Cost $20 Or Less

Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, many adults love the spooky, candy-filled holiday.

Besides getting your fill of your favorite candy, you may have your sights set on hosting or attending a Halloween party this year. If this is the case, you’ll need to scare up a costume. But, of course, you probably want to come up with a costume that won’t break the bank and blow through your hard-earned savings.

Take a look at 10 costume ideas that will give you the best boo for your buck:

Pumpkin Pie

For this costume, you’ll start with a simple orange shirt. From there, you can draw a pie on felt, cut it out and glue it onto your orange shirt. To top it off, create a whipped cream topping by adding cotton balls or fluff to a regular black headband. Voila, pumpkin pie has arrived!

50 Shades of Grey

This idea is also easy peasy – and cheap to make. You’ll need a black or grey shirt, and a bunch of grey paint samples swatches from your local hardware store. To attach the paint samples to your shirt, use glue or double-sided tape. Aim to glue on 50 shades of grey. Get it?

A Target Employee

Here’s yet another costume that starts off with a simple shirt. You’ll need a red-collared shirt, a pair of khakis, a black belt and black boots. Create a name tag and write your name on it. Clip on either a fake or real walkie-talkie, and your outfit is good to go.

An Emoji

There are many variations of this costume. A few of the cheaper options would be the dancer emoji (just wear a red dress and a flower in your hair) or the person with bunny ears (you’ll need a blue or purple T-shirt and bunny ears). You can even create the dancing duo (black shorts and a T-shirt with black bunny ears) if you’re coordinating costumes with someone else.

A Nerd

You most likely have the makings for this costume in your home somewhere – meaning you may not have to spend any money at all. For a few ideas: Wear a plaid or collared shirt with pants and suspenders (or a bowtie), throw on a pair of glasses, and carry around a calculator.

If you don’t have a pair of glasses or if you don’t want to ruin your good pair, wear some cheapo glasses that you can purchase at your local dollar store. To take things up a notch, break the glasses in half and tape them together with white masking tape.

Aerobics Trainer

This is yet another outfit idea that you may have sitting around your house. To transform into an 80s aerobics trainer, you’ll need some crazy print leggings, a bodysuit to layer over them, and leg warmers. You’ll also need either a big ponytail holder or an extra wide pink headband. Finish the look off with some wild and crazy blue eyeshadow, bright pink or orange blush, and a bubblegum pink lip color.

If you don’t have these items, they can easily be found at a thrift store, keeping your cost under $20. And, if you don’t like makeup or don’t want to buy it, you don’t have to wear it. It just adds a little more pizzazz to the costume.

An Extreme Couponer

If you get the weekly newspaper, or if you can get your hands on some expired coupons, an extreme couponer is a great (and almost free) halloween costume. Some ideas include carrying around the coupons in your hand or taping them to your clothes. You can also carry grocery bags of empty food boxes for good measure. Why not show off the deals you scored?

A Shopaholic

If you want to be the opposite of an extreme couponer, become a shopaholic. All you need for this costume is a lot of random shopping bags. You can either use old ones that you have lying around in the house, or start collecting them while out shopping.

Or, if you’re willing to get a little more creative, you can always go to a mall and ask the local store employees for extra bags. Some won’t care and will gladly help you out, but others may require you to buy something. If this is the case, move onto the next store.

Rosie the Riveter

An oldie but goodie, Rosie the Riveter is a DIY woman’s dream costume. All you need is a chambray top, a red bandana, red lipstick, and red heels or flats. If you can fit them in your budget, you can also throw in some temporary tattoos for your “flashin’ the guns” arm.

If you don’t own a chambray top, the best and cheapest option would be to grab one at the thrift store or borrow one. If you don’t have red shoes, it’s also fine to wear your regular shoes. People will be staring at the lipstick and bandana so they may not even notice your footwear.

A Jellyfish

This is a unique and inexpensive crowd-pleaser. To create a jellyfish costume, start with a white umbrella. Then, glue white ribbon or string to the bottom of the umbrella, making sure that it’s long enough to float all the way to the ground when you’re standing under the umbrella. From there, you can wear all white, gold or silver. Neon colors also work well if you’ll be partying throughout the night.

Go as Whatever You Want

At the end of the day, Halloween is supposed to be fun. If these costumes don’t interest you, there are hundreds of DIY and cheap costumes that you can make or buy. The most important thing to remember is that Halloween doesn’t have to break your bank.

 

Is an iPhone Worth Going into Debt?

An iPhone is a common purchase for people all over the world. Around 223 million Americans have a smartphone, and 43% (around 96 million) have an iPhone, according to Statista. The fall 2018 iPhone lineup includes a flagship iPhone XS Max with a top $1,449 price tag. That is a ton of money for a phone! But a recent study found that a large percentage of Americans would happily go into debt for a new iPhone. Do you think an iPhone is worth going into debt for? Let’s take a look at the hard numbers to decide.

The cost of an annual new iPhone

Apple fanatics line up every time a new iPhone comes out to get the latest and greatest from their favorite phone manufacturer. Many consumers are excited about the new iPhone XR with a $749 price tag, giving it a better price point for the average consumer. If you were to buy one of these every fall for ten years, you would pay $7,490 for phones in a decade.

If you were to invest that $749 every year at a 5% rate of return, you would have about $10,000 at the end of ten years. The full opportunity cost of a new iPhone is a lot bigger than the price tag. That is why it is important to keep in mind that a phone can last more than 12 months. Your phone should last at least two years. I’m getting ready to upgrade my 35-month-old Android phone (which cost a lot less than an iPhone) when it turns 3 next month. (My phone is the same age as my oldest child!)

Who would go into debt for a phone?

Just to be clear for iPeople out there: both in the US and worldwide, Android phones are more popular and generally more affordable. You don’t have to buy a $1,000 phone. You certainly should not buy an expensive phone on a credit card. If buying a new phone would put you into debt (or greater debt), you have more important things to spend your money on.

In its 2018 Credit Score survey, WalletHub asked a lot of questions about phones. For someone who lives a relatively thrifty lifestyle, I was shocked to see how many people think it is worthwhile to go into a debt for an iPhone. Nearly 28 million people say an iPhone is worth going into debt. 5x more millennials felt this way than Baby Boomers.

Even more shocking, 19% would rather have an unlimited data phone plan than an excellent credit score and 44% of millennials think their phone has a bigger impact on their life than their credit score. It looks like millennials have a lot to learn about credit and money!

Good credit and well-managed finances make a smartphone more affordable. But in no way is one particular model of phone a need. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses, friends, or Kardashians. Just focus on costs, features, and needs. That should lead you to make the right financial decision when it comes time to replace your mini pocket computer that also makes phone calls.

Make smart money choices with an iPhone and beyond

Whether you are in the market for a new smartphone or something else, let your budget be your guide. Your personal finances are too important to let any one purchase or want, particularly a luxury or a vice, dictate how you spend.

On the flip side, many people can afford an iPhone within their means without worry. If that sounds like you, and you would rather have an iPhone, you can certainly buy one. Just don’t put this type of purchase on a credit card unless you can pay it off in full before your next statement is due. If you put a $1,000 purchase on a credit card with 20% interest and pay $50 per month toward the debt, you’ll pay $226 in interest, about 25% of the cost of the phone, in interest expense.

The moral of the story: focus on your budget and long-term goals first. Phones are not as important as your financial well being.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

Hygge Hacks for Healthy Finances

Have you ever heard of hygge?

The concept of hygge has been around for centuries, but it has recently resurfaced as a popular lifestyle trend. In fact, the word hygge was on the short-list for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016.

So, what does hygge mean? While it can’t be directly translated into English, this well-known word in Denmark loosely means “coziness.” It’s the practice of slowing down and prioritizing time spent with the ones you care about and doing more of the things you love the most. Incorporating hygge into your life can help you find more joy, but it can also improve your finances.

Read on to learn more about how practicing hygge can help you can spend less, save more, and prioritize your financial future.

Does hygge lead to happiness?

Hygge is a Danish concept (pronounced hoo-ga). According to Visit Denmark’s website, hygge is described as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Visit Denmark goes on to say: “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.”

And they must be onto something. Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world for the last four years, according to studies done by the World Happiness report.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate some hygge into your daily life.

What does hygge have to do with your finances?

The concept of hygge means trying to find joy in the little things in life – and usually those things are cheap or even free.

You don’t need a fancy lifestyle in order to be happy. You don’t need an enormous house, expensive cars, or luxury vacations to find joy or peace. You can find hygge by slowing down, taking in the moment, and spending more time doing the things you truly love.

How to embrace the concept of hygge this year

There are dozens of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life – for free. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay in instead of going out

You can have just as much fun spending an evening at home as you can going out to a fancy and expensive restaurant. So, try having a hygge-ful evening by lighting the fireplace, baking some cookies and reading a book.

By staying in, you won’t just sneak in your fill of hygge, but you could save a good chunk of change simply by not going out on the town.

  • Give hygge-related gifts

Gifts can not only be expensive, but can often be forgotten after a year or two. Maybe it’s time for you to give the folks you care about the gift of hygge.

Gifts like candles, cozy socks, books, and gourmet coffee make great gifts and these presents also give the gift of well, presence. These gifts won’t break your budget and your loved ones will also get the chance to incorporate hygge into their lives.

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal

What could be more hygge than a home-cooked meal? By cooking at home more often, you’ll get to regularly enjoy the benefits of hygge.

Not only can you eat dinner in your favorite and most comfortable clothing, but you can create a warm and inviting ambiance by lighting candles and dimming the lights. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll save a boatload of cash.

So, instead of going out, invite your friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Or, lower the cost and increase the hygge even more by hosting a potluck, where everyone can bring over their favorite, home-cooked dishes to share.

  • Decorate with frugal, hygge decor

With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to invoke a sense of coziness in your home and practice hygge while you’re at it. Fortunately, home decor doesn’t have to be pricey – there are plenty of frugal ways to liven up your home.

You can decorate with candles, family photos and plants. From there, get creative. These items are easy to find, don’t cost much money, and up the hygge level of your home.

Prioritize time with family and friends

The bottom line: the idea behind hygge is to spend time doing more of the things that are truly important to you.

As you can see by the examples here, you don’t have to plan extravagant get-togethers or even leave the house in order to enjoy time with your loved ones. In fact, most people can claim that the best memories spent with family or friends are the times spent just sitting around, catching up at home.

Now it’s your turn to up your hygge ante. So, invite guests over, crack open a bottle, and enjoy shared plates around the fireplace this winter. By doing so, you’ll save money while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

20 Awesome Ways to ‘Treat Yourself’: A Chime Guide

You work hard. You want to do the right thing and save money. But you also want to treat yourself and enjoy life a little. All work and no play sucks. Right?

The good news is that when you use Chime, you can save money and treat yourself at the same time. How does this magic happen? Using Chime’s
Save When I Spend feature, your purchases can be rounded up to the nearest dollar and your spare change is then automatically deposited into an optional (and free!) Chime Savings Account.

To celebrate you and encourage you to YOLO-on-the-cheap, we’ve come up with this guide on how to treat yourself. Take a look.

1. Get your Pumpkin Spice Latte

I hereby give you permission to get yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte this fall #nojudgement. In the personal finance world, conversations about lattes run about ad nauseum. We’d like to just stop that conversation in its tracks and say go ahead. Get your latte and brighten your day.

2. Take a local dance class

One way to treat yourself is to get moving and take a dance class. Try something new. You can check out Groupon for sweet deals. I bought a Groupon for belly dancing classes and it comes out to about $5 per class. Now this is what we call an inexpensive and fun way to get your groove on.

3. Go gourmet

Learning how to save money means sacrificing some things, like eating at home more and going out to dinner less. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge at a lower price point. One way to have a fancy gourmet dinner for two is to get a baguette, some brie (or other fancy cheese), some meats, and a bottle of wine. I used to do this and it costs about $20 for two people. At $10 per person, including alcohol, it can’t be beat. Also, it requires little effort and feels fancy.

4. Write a thank you note

Writing a thank you note is a dying art. While it’s always good to write a thank you note to someone you appreciate, I’m going to switch it up a bit and encourage you to write a thank you note to your future self. What will you be thankful about in 10 or perhaps 20 years from now? This can put you in a positive mindset and get you thinking about where you want to go in life.

5. Get some new skivvies

Want to feel like a bold and brave new person? Do you want to treat yourself with something fun and not break the bank so you can still save for a rainy day? Get some new underwear. Seriously. You can get something lacy and fun. Or perhaps it’s time for rock some new comfy granny panties. Do whatever floats your boat and makes you feel like a secret superhero under your clothes.

6. Buy some herbs

Want to spice up your life? Buy some herbs…ahem, not that kind. You know, the kind you can cook with or add to drinks. You can go to Trader Joe’s and buy some fresh mint or basil. Add that to a jar of water and boom — infused water.

7. Ditch technology (for now)

If you are honest with yourself, you know that the majority of your day is likely spent in front of a screen. A computer screen, a TV screen, your phone. Sure, these devices can give you some enjoyment and entertainment, but it can be a lot. Give your brain a break from being a constant consumer of information and let it just be. Ditch technology for at least two hours each day (and this doesn’t include your sleeping hours or when you’re in the shower!) If you can do the whole day, do that.

8. Read for pleasure

After ditching the technology, commit to reading for pleasure. Not for work. Not for self-improvement. Read something for FUN! Something that can take you away for a bit. Better yet: read a real book where you have to turn actual pages.

9. Get a new phone case

If you want to save money and treat yourself, look for a new fun phone case. Let’s be real. You spend a lot of time on your phone and have probably dropped it a few times. Protect it and enjoy what you’re looking at with a new phone case. Need inspiration? Check out this Faux Mink case in the delicious color of Golden Apricot.

10. Get a massage (at a discount)

Wondering how to save money on self-care and relaxation? Go to a school! You can get a massage at a huge discount by going to a local massage school. The same goes for haircuts, facials, and more. Go to a local beauty school and rack up the savings.

11. A mug just for you

Mornings can be rough. But having a special mug that is just for you can help you start the day off right with a little dose of inspiration. Consider this “Not Today Satan” coffee mug on Etsy.

12.  Buy a mug warmer

Now that you have your favorite mug, invest in a mug warmer. We’ve all been there: you get carried away with work and go back to your tea or coffee…and it’s luke warm, or worse, cold. Keep it hot and fresh with a mug warmer.

13. Get a reel viewer

If you’re a nostalgic toy lover, getting your own reel viewer can be the perfect way to treat yourself and a fun way to preserve your memories. You can add your own favorite photos too. Not only is this fun for you but a great conversation starter and an awesome and unique way to share your favorite memories with others.

14. Act it out

When you want to learn how to save money fast, you may have to cut back on entertainment and going out with your friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Invite your friends over and ask them to bring their favorite piece of text — a poem, an article, a play — and have everyone read aloud to each other. At the core, many of us are storytellers and hearing your friends read their favorite text aloud can be a special thing.

15. Make it hot

If you like things hot and love a robust flavor, indulge in a special hot sauce. It can take your meal from boring and bland to straight fire. We’re pretty sure that hot sauce sales went up when Beyoncé crooned “got hot sauce in my bag, swag”. If it’s good enough for Queen Bey, it’s good enough for you.

16. Do whatever you want

As adults we get stuck in to-do lists and “shoulds”. It’s hard to hear your own voice sometimes and know what you really want. So, let go of responsibilities for one night. The dishes will be there tomorrow, I promise. If you want to nap, do that. Want to watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before a 3rd time? Do that. Want to work on the next great American novel? Do that, no self-judgement. Do whatever makes you feel good.

17. Go down memory lane

A great way to save money and spend nothing is to take a trip down memory lane and look at old photos. Look at your old vacation pics. Pictures of you and your SO when you first started dating. Look at that crazy photo from childhood and remember who you used to be. Looking at old photos can bring a feeling of joy and take you back to a fun time.

18. Try a new recipe

Cooking is a process of trial and error and following directions on a recipe can lead to a great new meal. You don’t have to be a master chef to make something that tastes good. Consider trying a new recipe. The process of cooking can help you slow down, stay in the moment, and experiment.

19. Party for one

Get your favorite food, a favorite glass of wine or cocktail and put on your favorite music. Dance in your living room and enjoy everything just how you like it. Throw yourself a party for you and only you.

20. Play hooky

Some days you just don’t want to go to work. And maybe sometimes you shouldn’t. Now, we don’t recommend this strategy often, but once in a blue moon you should play hooky. Do something fun during the week or stay in your PJs all day.

It’s All About You

There you have it: 20 fabulous ways to treat yourself. Better yet, all of the ideas here are affordable and some of them cost no money at all. We invite you to slow down, enjoy life and give yourself a break once in a while. You deserve it.

 

What is Paid Off?

You know the student loan debt crisis has reached a new level of insanity when a new television game show is designed to help borrowers pay off their college debt.

TruTV’s “Paid Off,” airing on Tuesdays at 10/9 central, aims to help contestants win money to pay down their student loan debt faster. Perhaps this is a good time for the new game show as, according to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan balance for Class of 2017 graduates hit $39,400.

Read on to learn more about the show and find out how you can better manage your own student debt.

How “Paid Off” Works

The trailer for the first season of “Paid Off” includes hopeful contestants sharing their student loan balances and answering Family Feud-style questions. Other episodes feature other questions of different styles.

There are four total rounds, three of which pit contestants against each other. The final round offers one contestant a chance to eliminate his student loan debt entirely. In that round, the contestant must answer eight questions correctly in under a minute. However, it isn’t an all-or-nothing prize. Instead, the contestant gets credit for each correct answer.

Those who don’t make it to the final round don’t leave empty-handed, though. The first and second contestant eliminated receives $1,000 and $2,000, respectively. According to Forbes, the makers of the game show hope to give away roughly $500,000 during its inaugural season to over 60 student loan borrowers.

As with any game show, contestants are required to pay taxes on their winnings, even if they use the earnings to repay debt.

How Effective Will “Paid Off” Be?

Handing out half a million dollars to help student loan borrowers will undoubtedly make a difference for each person who wins money on the show.

But, unfortunately, that amount barely scratches the surface. Americans carry more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to March 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. So, while the game show does some good, college students and graduates need other solutions to fix the growing problem.

What’s more, incoming freshmen typically don’t get a crash course in student loans or how to use them wisely. The idea of getting what they need today and putting off payment for later is appealing. And, once you graduate, it’s not always easy to get relief. For instance, it’s virtually impossible to discharge student loans in a bankruptcy.

Three Smart Tips on Taking out Student Loans

When planning for college, it’s important to reduce your reliance on student debt. You can do this by looking at ways to graduate without borrowing a ton of money. Read on for three smart options.

Reconsider Your School Choice

You don’t need to attend a college with a household name to enjoy a long and lucrative career. Once you’re a few years into your career, your work record will likely speak louder than your degree. As such, you may be better off attending a less expensive school with a good track record than spending more for a degree that might not offer much more value in the long-run.

Learn About How Student Loans Work

There’s no college class that explores the ins and outs of student loans, but you can find out more about them on your own.

There’s a wealth of information online about student loans, including federal and private student loan options. If you still have questions, set up an appointment with a school’s financial aid office to get the answers you need.

Remember, you may be making student loan payments for as long as 30 years after you graduate, so it’s imperative that you understand what you’re getting yourself into from the start.

Consider Student Loans as a Last Resort

Instead of looking to student loans first, consider other ways you can pay for college. Here are just a few ideas:

Scholarships: Websites like Scholarships.com and Cappex.com can match you with thousands of scholarship opportunities. If you apply for a bunch of scholarships, you may get some cash that you won’t have to pay back.

Grants: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year before the school year starts. This form helps the U.S. Department of Education determine how much financial aid your family is eligible for.

Also, check to see if the schools you’re interested in offer grants for your major.

Part- or full-time work: By working just 15 hours a week and earning nine dollars an hour, you can earn more than $28,000 in a four year period.

Even after taxes, this can make a huge difference in your need for student loans. If you can manage to work more hours or get a better-paying job, you could reduce your dependence on student loans even more.

Paying Off Your Student Loans Without the Help of a Game Show

If you’ve already graduated and are trying to figure out how to pay down your student loans, winning a game show sounds like an easy solution. But unless you’re fortunate enough to get on the show and win the cash, you’re on your own. Here are some ideas to pay off your loans faster:

Look Into Loan Forgiveness Programs

If you have federal student loans, you may qualify for one or more loan forgiveness programs. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, for example, requires you to work for 10 years for a government agency or eligible nonprofit organization.

Keep in mind that these programs have strict requirements and you typically need to commit to a specific number of years of service. But if that’s already part of your career plan, you could be well on your way.

Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans

The lower your interest rate, the more you can save on interest over the life of your loans. Several student loan refinancing companies offer low fixed and variable interest rates that can make it easier to pay down your debt.

Just keep in mind that if you refinance federal student loans, you lose access to income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options.

Boost Your Cash Flow

Whether or not you choose one of the other options we’ve discussed, cutting back on other expenses and earning more income is a straightforward way to save money to eliminate your student loan debt.

If you have a hard time saving, consider getting help from an app or savings tool. Chime’s automatic savings program works by rounding up every transaction you make with your Chime Visa debit card to the nearest dollar. The round up amount is transferred to your Chime savings account. This kind of savings tool can help you set aside more money for debt repayment without even thinking about it.

Next Steps

Depending on where you are in your student journey, there are ways to reduce how much student loan debt you take on or to eliminate that debt more quickly.

As you consider these tips, the important thing is that you have a plan. The sooner you get rid of student loan debt in your life, the easier it will be to achieve your other financial goals. That’s what we call winning the game.

 

What Crazy Rich Asians Gets Right About Money

If you haven’t noticed the buzz surrounding the new movie Crazy Rich Asians, you must be living under a rock. The rom-com, which topped the box office in its opening weekend August 17-19, earned a cool $25.3 million.

While the film is more about social status and class than wealth, there are a handful of money lessons that can be gleaned. Sure, most of us don’t have Chinese boyfriends who are secretly part of the one percent in Singapore. And you may not be competing against women who want to wed your beau just because he’s Mr. Money Bags.

That being said, here are some golden lessons about wealth and money from Crazy Rich Asians:

1. Wealth is Glamorized

Across the board, wealth seems to be presented in a similar fashion: high living, fine clothes, expensive getaways, and socialite dinners. Sure, never having to check your balance with your bank app and worry about paying your rent on time must be nice.

While the Youngs are part of Chinese old money, anyone who has amassed a certain amount of wealth is expected to show it off.

Here’s the thing: this espouses an outdated notion of what it means to be wealthy. Notions of what it means to be rich tends to fall along the lines of what we see on Beverly Hills Housewives and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

But modern-day billionaires may be sporting hoodies and jeans (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg), living in humble abodes (i.e. Warren Buffet), and using money for humanitarian efforts (i.e. Bill and Melinda Gates). And let’s not forget that mo’ money does equate to mo’ problems. And yes, while money issues may be preferred problems, they are challenges nonetheless.

2. It Can Be Hard to Detect Wealth

While the lead character Nick Young (Henry Golding) is part of the ultra-wealthy set, he was raised to keep a low profile and not flaunt his money. It’s funny, because, as I mentioned above, we tend to equate wealth as something that’s obvious and external: flashy cars, nightly dinners at five-star restaurants, and eye candy at yacht parties.

But all flashiness aside, there are a lot of people who choose not to show off their wealth. In fact, your neighbor may be a “millionaire next door.” In other words, your neighbor may be someone who has tons of money in the bank (maybe in an account that has low or no fees), but lives in middle-class neighborhood and cavorts around town in a minivan instead of a Porsche.

3. What True Wealth Means

While the one percent can certainly afford to live a lavish lifestyle and have gobs of money stashed away in the bank, wealth can be boiled down to one thing: your net worth. In essence, this is the amount of money you have in assets, investments, and in cash in the bank.

So while there are those who live a seemingly “wealthy lifestyle,” others may be house poor or have a negative bank balance.

If you want to truly be wealthy, work on paying off your debt, save where you can, focus on earning more, and most important—save those beans! (Auto-transfer your savings, anyone?) And when you see a positive balance, that’s when you know you’re on track to growing your money.

4. Money Can’t Buy You Love… But…

The film’s tagline is as follows: “Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely complicate things.” Nick loves Rachel regardless of her social status. And while money can’t buy you affection, commitment, and all those warm fuzzy moments we humans crave and cherish, it can afford you a lot of things. It can give you a sense of security, options, and above all else: the ability to live your best life.

5. Money Can Complicate Things

While CRA depicts how social status and wealth can complicate personal matters, money can certainly complicate things for any relationship. In the film, there are many ways money complicates the relationship between Rachel, Nick and their respective families. For starters, Nick’s mom disapproves of Rachel, primarily because she doesn’t come from money. Rachel also finds herself up against a bevy of socialites who would love to marry Nick.

Having more money means you’ll need to spend more time making decisions about your money. Sure, it’s a champagne problem to have, but it will require time and mental energy to allocate your resources accordingly.

6. It Helps to Be Honest With Your Money Situation

While Nick remained humble and did a great job not flashing his wealth, when the #truthbomb did drop that he was ultra-wealthy, he put Rachel in a bit of tailspin. Once again, while most of us probably won’t be faced with this problem, it’s important to be honest with your significant other about your money matters. How much debt do you have? What are your spending patterns? What are your spending vices? What would you like your future to look like, and how will you get there?

Financial infidelity, which is when you hide a huge money secret, is a form of betrayal. This is when you hide a money secret, such as a bank account, major debt, or made a mondo purchase behind your partner’s back.

Be Crazy Rich About Financial Knowledge

Crazy Rich Asians is a moving and fun film that delves deep into notions of wealth and social class. And while you may not relate to being ultra wealthy, you can certainly drum up your own definition of what it means to be rich, and carve your own path toward wealth.

 

5 Frugal Celebrities—and What We Can Learn From Them

Sure, you may know that rap songs and the baller lifestyle can send the wrong message about money. On the other hand, what about beloved celebs who live frugal-fabulous existences?

We’ve rounded up our top 5 sweet money-minded celebrities. Take a look at some financial tips we can glean from their penny-pinching ways:

1. Dave Grohl

Ah, yes, the Frugal Gods look quite fondly at my hubby in a future life (swoon.) The drummer of Nirvana and frontman of The Foo Fighters is known to deposit his paychecks straight into his bank account. He also drives a family car. (Note: he also splurged on a $140,000 Tesla.)

Grohl’s money mindset was formed at an early age when his mom suffered a stroke while working on her taxes. Grohl has been reported to say, “And it left this indelible mark on me that was ‘Money will kill you’, that people spend their lives dying inside because of money.”

What we can learn: Your early experiences with money will shape your relationship with it. The memories and emotions you felt in your younger years may help you understand why you behave the way you do.

Are you a big ole miser, like Scrooge McDuck? Are you prone to overspending when you’re feeling bored or anxious? Or, if you’re like Grohl, did the association between “money” and “death” become deeply ingrained in you from an early age? To get to the root of your money story, look toward your past.

And of course, pay yourself first. While you may not be uber wealthy, commit to stashing away a percentage of your income with every pay cycle. If you can auto-save a portion of each paycheck, that’s even better.

2. Lady Gaga

The pop singer may be worth a cool $275 million. But, even though she bought an estate in Malibu for $23 million, she still loves a good deal. She cuts coupons while out shopping, goes bargain hunting for clothes, and has even tweeted about her frugal finds.

What we can learn: Spending money is all about what you value. If it makes you happy, drop a ton of money on luxurious digs—but only if you can afford it.

Plus, it never hurts to save where and when you can. But only do it if it’s something you naturally enjoy. If you like couponing and scouring swap meets, more power to you. If bargaining for lower rates on your cable subscriptions is more your speed, then let that be your mode for slashing expenses.

3. Sarah Jessica Parker

The actress and Sex and the City star dresses her son in only hand-me downs from relatives. The reason? She refuses to spoil her kids, and believes that they shouldn’t be entitled to the fruits of her labor and immense success.

What we can learn: A dollar earned is a dollar cherished. There’s value in working hard for your money. And, maintaining consistent cash flow can be challenging. That’s why you should start saving money right away. It also doesn’t hurt to get access to your cash as soon as you can. Pro tip: if you’re a Chime member, when you sign up for direct deposit, you can get paid up to two days early.

4. Zooey Deschanel

Besides recently getting rid of her bangs (which caused a stir on the interwebs), Zooey Deschanel got divorced in 2012 and her financials were revealed. While she was worth three million at the time, she spends $2,000 a month on clothing, $1,500 to charity, $800 in utilities, and $300 on her phone bill.

What we can learn: Okay, so having a money spend of 2,000 buckaroos on clothes isn’t exactly the norm. But relatively speaking, this girl lives within her means. Only buy things you can afford, and don’t go over budget. On top of that, spend in accordance with your values. If you are big on reducing your carbon footprint, then shop second-hand or buy from eco-friendly companies.

5. Jay Leno

 Apparently the classic car collector and former talk show host only spends money from his comedy routines. In other words, he saves all the money he raked in from The Tonight Show. He started doing this back when he worked two jobs: one at a Ford Dealership and at McDonald’s. He spent the money he earned from one job and stashed the rest.

What we can learn: There is a great lesson on money management tip for artists, freelancers, and other members of the gig economy. If you’re juggling different gigs or clients, use the paychecks from several clients on your living expenses. The rest can go toward discretionary spending or savings.

Having trouble figuring out which paychecks should go toward your expenses? Choose the gigs that are more consistent where you’re raking in more dough. That way you’ll be sure you can pay your bills on time.

Final Word

Just because you’re rich and famous doesn’t mean you need to spend your dough like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, the more money you have, the more financial decisions you’ll be tasked with making. The key is to make the most of what you have, and to manage it well.

 

10 Quotes to Remember if You Want to Achieve Financial Freedom

Do you ever dream of spending your days doing what you want? Do you visualize spending your money how you please, without stress or worry?

Indeed, achieving financial freedom is a dream for many of us, but getting there can seem out of reach. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

If your goal is to achieve financial independence, you’ve got to start taking steps to achieve your goal – right now. Here are 10 quotes to inspire you. Take a look:

1. “Rich people believe ‘I create my life.’ Poor people believe ‘Life happens to me.’” — T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

Financial freedom starts with having the right mindset to pursue wealth and all of your audacious goals. This quote reminds us that people who are rich have an active role in designing their dream life. They’re not passive players in the game of life or building wealth.

2. “Your assets are your employees. Invest more on those performing well. Let the non performers go.” ― Manoj Arora, From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom

Let your money work as hard as you do. Your assets include your hard-earned dough and you’ll want to invest that money in a place with high returns, like index funds. Don’t store all your cash in a savings account or in other assets that ultimately don’t serve your goal of financial freedom. Imagine you are the CEO of your money — your assets are your employees. Who should be fired? And who should be promoted?

3. “Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.” ― Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

Have you ever been at work and just wished you were at home with your kids or on the beach somewhere? The process of working and making money is something we trade for our life energy — energy that we want to use elsewhere. When we save money and pursue financial freedom, we can have some of our life energy back and choose to live life as we want, not as we have to.

4. “The secret to wealth is simple: Find a way to do more for others than anyone else does. Become more valuable. Do more. Give more. Be more. Serve more.” ― Tony Robbins, Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Pursuing financial freedom means breaking the status quo. You can no longer live in the ‘average’ but you have to go beyond. This quote reminds us that to build wealth and be successful we must give, serve, and be a cut above everyone else.

5. “Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” — Margaret Bonnano

Money is an important part of financial freedom. But it’s simply a vehicle to pursue living your best life. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Knowing this distinction can help you build wealth in a way that frees up your time so you can be truly wealthy.

6. “To get rich, you have to be making money while you’re asleep.”  — David Bailey

I hate to break it to you but if you limit your money-earning abilities to eight hours a day, you’re not going to find financial freedom. In order to build wealth, you must make money when you’re sleeping. This means earning interest on your savings in a high-yield savings account. This means investing in retirement vehicles and the stock market. This means finding new passive income streams. The bottom line: figure out how to earn money ‘round the clock.

7. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” — Warren Buffett

There’s some level of risk with almost everything we do, especially when it comes to the stock market and your money. You might be afraid to invest because it’s risky. But, if you understand how the stock market works, you will have more confidence to pursue financial freedom.

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

The ‘what ifs’ of life can plague your mind. What if I get sick? What if I lose my job? It can be paralyzing. Financial freedom offers the ultimate antidote to life’s worries: peace of mind.

9. “Financial freedom is freedom from fear.” — Robert Kiyosaki

Have you ever felt stifled or stuck because you were fearful? You were scared to quit your job because of money. You were afraid to move because you weren’t sure about the opportunities you’d have in a new place. Fear can consume us and keep us stagnant. Financial freedom helps alleviate those fears so we can pursue action.

10. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” —Seneca

When we think of people that are wealthy, we may think of people with nice houses and fancy cars. But that’s not necessarily what truly wealthy people look like. In fact, if we keep wanting more and more, we will be stuck in a limitless cycle that keeps us poor. But if we take an inventory of what we already have — and stay grateful — we can enjoy what we have and build a wealthy life around what is truly important.

 

Couples on FIRE: 3 Tips from 3 Millennial Couples on How to Achieve Early Retirement When Dating

Financial independence, or the ability to retire early and work when you want, is the latest craze in the finance world. But here’s the truth: if your partner isn’t on board with saving large percentages of your salary, then it’s nearly impossible to achieve this goal.

Here’s how Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) works. You save enough money to never have to work again. This can be done through a variety of tactics, like passive income or investments. But most people pursuing financial independence tend to have a few things in common: high savings rates, automated finances and optimized earnings.

Financial independence doesn’t happen overnight. For most people, it’s a process that takes years. That’s why it’s important for FIRE millennials to find a frugal money match. Take a look at 3 tips from 3 red hot millennial couples who are dating while handling FIRE.

#1: Know your individual financial goals

Here’s the deal—it’s hard to find your perfect money match if you’re unclear about your own money goals. This is especially true for people who are pursuing FIRE. The concept of early retirement is becoming more well-known, but it’s not the norm, and that’s why it’s important to clearly define and articulate your own money goals.

Years before 27-year-old Gwen Merz met her boyfriend Erik Tozier, she started working towards financial independence. For Merz, it was about personal freedom.

“Financial independence allows me to make decisions I wouldn’t otherwise have the luxury to make. I saved for five years and accumulated $200,000. That money allowed me to quit my job and move to Minneapolis to live with my boyfriend, and also allowed me to take a chance at becoming an entrepreneur,” says Merz.

For Stephanie Kibler, a 31-year-old living in Fairfax, Virginia, pursuing financial independence began as a way to become “rich” in the traditional sense—fancy cars, expensive clothes and big houses. Now, it means much more than that.

“The more I learned about money and financial independence, the more I realized that what I wanted was not so much the stuff that I thought rich people had. I wanted the freedom to buy things that brought value to my life without using debt to do it,” says Kibler.

“It’s not necessarily about buying anything fancy or expensive for me, but knowing that I can buy things that I want or need without relying on an employer or my next paycheck to supply that purchasing power,” she says.

#2: Be honest about your dating deal-breakers

Pursuing financial independence and early retirement is not for the faint of heart. It requires that both partners work together to make short-term sacrifices. Sometimes this means cutting expenses and earning more through additional hours at work. Because of this, most people who pursue financial independence have some sort of dating deal-breaker when it comes to a partner’s money habits.

“A large amount of consumer debt was a deal breaker,” says Merz.

“If they lived beyond their means and had a lot of debt from over-consumption, that would signal to me that we weren’t going to be compatible. I was prepared to deal with student loan debt as that’s at least necessary in some situations. I also looked at their attitude toward debt. If it was normal to have debt and they weren’t inspired to pay it down quickly, I knew we wouldn’t be compatible,” Merz says.

For some millennials pursuing FIRE, similar money beliefs are key when it comes to a romantic partner.

“If my girlfriend were a big spender, it would have made our relationship much more difficult,” says Cody Berman, a 22-year-old in Massachusetts.

“Given my inherent frugality, we would have surely ended up arguing about a purchase or spending decision,” says Berman.

For Kibler, it took personal experience to figure out her financial deal breaker before she met her husband, Grant Kibler.

“I once dated a guy who very literally didn’t believe that he would live to retirement age. He didn’t see the point in saving for retirement, but more importantly he was generally reckless with things like credit cards and health insurance…It ultimately did not make sense to date someone who couldn’t picture himself growing old—someone who believed that I would outlive him by several decades and wasn’t making financial plans for that.”

#3: Be comfortable growing together, not apart

When it comes to maintaining a successful long-term relationship, it’s crucial that you and your partner grow together. For couples pursuing FIRE, this often means growing jointly-held investments and savings. It also may mean growing together in terms of lifestyle dreams and goals.

Even if you and your partner begin the relationship with different money interests, it’s still important to find common ground.

“At first, I was a full-blown finance nerd. I am all about the numbers and could look at spreadsheets all day,” says Berman.

“My girlfriend, however, couldn’t care less about the math, tax hacks, or technical side of financial independence. She eventually got on board when she realized we could live a life of absolute freedom. She could pursue her dream projects and we could travel the world,” he says.

If you’re in a happy relationship, but your partner is reluctant to seek financial independence, Berman says that it’s important to “figure out what your partner wants and use that ‘want’ to pitch the FIRE lifestyle.”

Another way to ensure that you and your partner are growing together instead of apart is to plan finance dates. For Kibler and her husband, money dates are monthly occurrences where they discuss finances to help keep them on the same page.

“We sit down once a month at the kitchen table with my laptop. I show him our numbers, and we discuss what we’re going to do with our savings for the month,” says Kibler.

“We have a lot of little conversations about money throughout the month, but we don’t worry about it too much because the course is usually set during those monthly meetings. The little conversations throughout the month are course corrections, like piloting a plane, to keep us on the flight path we agreed to already.”

Bottom line

Pursuing FIRE requires a lot of dedication and planning, but for these couples, working together towards a shared goal of financial independence has made all the difference. Whether you’re single, married, dating or somewhere in between, talking about money with your other half is always a wise idea.

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