Tag: Mindful Money

 

15 Quotes from Our Favorite Money Saving Experts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You never know when something unfortunate could happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Important Relationship You Shouldn’t Overlook

Less than one-third of Americans feel confident in banks, according to a Gallup poll. This is about the same level of confidence Americans have in the criminal justice system or the presidency. Yikes.

If you’re wondering what’s to blame for this, you might consider the 2008 financial crisis, which was engineered by Wall Street. Or the cascade of bank scandals, which have besieged stalwarts like Wells Fargo and Citibank. Or the abundance of banking fees, which cost the average American $329 per year.

Rather than looking backwards, however, we’d prefer to focus on the future. We’d like to zero in on how Americans can change their relationships with banks. So, we’d like to start with a simple question: If your bank was a person, would you remain in your relationship?

Indeed, just like a bad boyfriend, a negative relationship with your bank can damage your entire perspective — and a good relationship can make everything better. Here’s how (and why) to ensure you and your bank fall into the latter category.

How Your Finances Affect Your Mental Health

While there’s no denying your finances have an impact on your psyche, a recent survey from Northwestern Mutual revealed just how much:

  • 25% of people feel anxiety about money “all the time” or “often.”
  • 44% call money their main stressor — more than their personal relationships (25%) or job (18%).

These statistics are not surprising, according to financial planner and money coach Debbie Sassen.

“Money management skills are something a lot of us are missing,” says Sassen.

“We didn’t learn them from our parents — it was a totally taboo topic of conversation — and we didn’t learn them in school… So from the outset, as adults, we feel vulnerable and intimidated about money,” she says.

With high fees, scandals and impersonal customer service, many of the big banks exasperate these feelings. “Generally and broadly, there’s a lack of trust among millennials in the financial industry, and it’s deserved,” financial planner Ariel Anderson told Fast Company.

“We constantly read headlines about the missteps of banks like Wells Fargo; we lived through the financial crisis,” states Anderson.

One such millennial is Valerie Stimac, a travel writer for Space Tourism Guide. At her traditional bank, she paid an estimated $7.95 per month to maintain her checking account.

“It felt like they were taking advantage of me, rather than providing a service. “It was frustrating to have a bank I felt like I couldn’t trust,” says Stimac.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

One Gallup poll found that, at the least trusted bank, a mere 12% of customers strongly believed the company had their best interests at heart. At the most trusted bank, more than five times that number (64%) felt the same way.

Clearly, where you bank matters, and not all banks are built the same way. (Some never even charge fees.) Sassen, the financial coach, says a trustworthy bank “can be your friend” and “help you create a good safety cushion.”

In search of that “friend,” travel writer Stimac left her bank after more than a decade.

“Switching banks has been the best decision I’ve made,” she says.

“[Now] I trust my bank to look out for me as a customer — and to look out for my money, which is the foundation of my financial future.”

Stimac is far from alone when it comes to switching banks. Dan Pierson, founder of Bolt Travel, says he “got really tired of paying $12 a month for my checking account, then getting hit with $35 overdraft fees on $2.50 coffee purchases.”

So, after moving to a new city where his brick-and-mortar had no physical branches, Pierson switched to an online-only bank.

“My banking has been much simpler since moving online, and the customer service is significantly improved. It feels great to be backed by a bank that’s aligned with my financial goals,” he says.

Ready to Break Up With Your Bank?

Banking doesn’t have to be a miserable, fee-ridden chore. It can be free, and easy – and maybe even fun.

Obviously we’re biased, but we think Chime is all that — and more. By charging zero fees, offering early direct deposit, and encouraging automatic saving, we strive to overturn the negative experiences you may have had with other institutions.

We thrive off trust and transparency; on working with you, rather than against you. And we want you to like us as much as we like you.

In our opinion, that’s the way every relationship — whether it’s with a business or a human — should be. Don’t you agree?

 

How Much Do Millennials Spend on Sports?

When it comes to saving money — and spending it — it’s all about priorities. For many millennials, having stuff takes a backseat to having fun. In fact, half of millennials say they’d rather drop their cash on experiences, versus buying material things.

Riley Adams, founder of millennial finance site Young and the Invested, says experiences easily trump “things” in terms of emotional value.

“For me, the sense of fulfillment which comes from experiencing new things far outweighs the fleeting happiness which comes from buying physical possessions. In the end, I value the lasting memory as my reward more so than a physical possession,” says Adams.

And just what are millennials spending on? Travel and concerts are on the list but they’re also spending big on something else: sports. With Americans collectively spending $14.8 billion to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday, we thought we’d take a closer look at the millennial mindset when it comes to sports and other experiences.

How millennial sports spending adds up

Over the last few years, spending patterns in the U.S. have fueled the growth of the experience economy, which includes spending on sports. Millennials easily outstrip other generations for monthly spending on entertainment in general, as well as sports.

Check out these numbers measuring how much Americans spent on sports in 2016:

  • $56 billion attending sporting events
  • $33 billion on athletic equipment
  • $19 billion on gym memberships

A more recent study found that Americans spend $155 per month on personal health and fitness, including:

  • $33 on gym memberships
  • $56 on health supplements
  • $35 on workout clothing and accessories
  • $17 for healthy meal plans
  • $14 on personal trainers

The 2016 survey found that 36 percent of millennials spend money on monthly gym memberships. In fact, they’re twice as likely as any other generation to hit the gym regularly.

Millennials are also spending money on professional sporting events. In 2018, 25 to 34-year-olds spent an average of $118.43 to watch the Super Bowl. Thirty-four percent of millennials paid for mobile apps to watch the NCAA tournament from their smartphones in 2017, and one in four paid to increase a data plan to make streaming games easier.

What motivates millennial sports spending

Todd Weitzman, founder of MoneyHax, says accessibility is one way to explain millennials’ sports spending preferences.

While being a sports spectator has always been a popular activity, it’s now more possible to actually become an athlete or participant, and this makes sports more relatable, says Weitzman.

The FOMO factor may also have something to do with it. Nearly 40 percent of millennials say they’ve spent money they didn’t have to keep up with their friends. Adams says the FOMO effect can be chalked up in part to social media, which makes it easy for millennials to share their experiences with their followers. Seeing a steady stream of sports-themed photos in your Facebook or Instagram feed, for example, can make you more inclined to spend on sports yourself.

Personal health and fitness spending, on the other hand, may have a link to millennials’ interest in self-care and wellness. In a 2015 survey, 94 percent of millennials said they were committed to self-improvement and they were willing to spend $300 a month on average to meet their fitness and wellness goals.

Finding balance with sports and experience spending

Spending on sports and experiences can feel good in the moment and lead to lasting memories. But, your budget can feel the pain later. Drawing boundaries on sports spending and finding ways to save money can keep those experiences from breaking the bank.

First, review your regular expenses and income to figure out how much you can reasonably spend on sports and experiences each month. You can also go over your sports and experience spending for the last year and total up how much you spent. Use that number as a guide to decide how much you want to earmark for sports spending each month. Remember to budget extra if you’re planning to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event like the Super Bowl or World Series.

Next, consider opening a bank account just for sports spending. This can be a savings account if you want to earn interest or a checking account if you want easy access to the money. The idea is to have a separate place to park money you plan to spend on experiences.

“Setting aside a fixed amount in a dedicated savings account might be a smart way to enforce discipline on your spending habits if you have trouble controlling your spending on entertainment events,” Adams says.

Ben Huber, co-founder of DollarSprout, agrees.

“Be it a gym membership, sporting event or some other form of entertainment, millennials should consider setting up direct deposit to a new account solely reserved for events and their associated travel expenses,” he says.

Finally, look for ways to cut corners on sports spending without sacrificing fun. Weitzman, for example, has used eBay and StubHub to find deals on tickets to games. He and his wife also bring bottled water and snacks along whenever possible to save money on concessions.

If you live near a sporting venue and you’re comfortable taking a gamble, Huber suggests waiting until the day before to try and score tickets.

“Ticket prices may drop 25-50 percent in the last 12 hours leading up to events on nearly all of the major ticket exchanges. If your travel plans are flexible and it’s not a highly sought after event, there’s a good chance you can save hundreds on premium seating at most major sporting events,” he says.

There are also plenty of apps and websites you can use to save on sports and fitness. TopCashback.com and Ebates, for example, allow you to earn cash back when you shop online at partner retailers. That could come in handy if you’re shopping online for new workout gear or sports equipment. You can also use sites like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com to find promo codes and printable coupons for even more savings on fitness.

How much will you spend on sports this year?

In-between checking out the Super Bowl halftime show, gearing up for March Madness or waiting for baseball season to kick off, think about how much you’ll spend on sports in the year ahead. From there, create a budget and open a bank account for sports spending. This way you can cheer on your favorite team or go to the gym without money headaches getting in the way.

 

6 Best Dating Apps When You’re On a Budget

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

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

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

Saving Money With Dating Apps

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

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

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

Best Dating Apps

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

Match.com

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

Subscription cost: Starting from $20.99/month

Tinder

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

Plus subscription cost: Starting from $2.99/month

Gold subscription cost: Starting from $4.99/month

The League

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

Member subscription cost: Starting from $29/month

Owner subscription cost: Starting from $83/month

Hinge

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

Preferred subscription cost: Starting from $7/month

Bumble

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

Bumble Boost subscription cost: Starting from $24.99/month

OkCupid

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

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

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

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

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

 

The Psychology of Savings – Why It’s So Hard and 5 Things We Can Do About It

Nearly one-third of Americans (31%) have less than $5,000 saved for retirement.

Nearly half (40%) couldn’t cover a $400 emergency without borrowing money or selling something.

Since you’ve probably heard stats like this before, you may already know we humans are terrible at saving money. Why, though? For starters, there are a myriad of societal and economical factors like low wages, higher costs of living, insane student loans, and so on. But, what’s the real root cause of our inability to save? And how can we combat our natural tendencies to finally start investing in our future?

Here’s what psychology says — and how you can use it to get ahead with your own finances.

Why We’re So Bad at Saving Money

It all goes back to when we were living in tribes, according to Ted Klontz, a financial psychologist and professor at Creighton University.

Since tribes operated communally, keeping something you didn’t currently need made you look selfish — and could eventually get you kicked out. Which meant you didn’t pass on your DNA. Similarly, if you saved your food from one day to the next, you could get sick and die. Which, again, meant you didn’t pass on your DNA.

Even 100 years ago, humans were more communal, with several generations pooling resources under the same roof. We also only lived into our 40s, meaning we didn’t need to worry about surviving multiple decades without working.

While Klontz notes a small portion of humans — between 14% and 17% — are natural savers, it’s plain to see why the rest of us simply aren’t wired that way.

How Traditional Financial Institutions Exploit Us

Traditional banks and credit card companies are well aware of the statistics. In fact, their business models thrive on that knowledge.

Klontz says credit cards, in particular, have created an “artificial bottom.” When older generations didn’t have any money, they couldn’t buy anything. But today, you can put it on plastic. And when you do, the issuing bank will charge you an interest rate — often as high as 22%.

“They’re making money off you spending more than you have,” Klontz says.

Financial institutions also charge exorbitant fees for making small mistakes, essentially profiting off your sheer human-ness.

Although no-fee banks do exist, Chime’s Bank Fee Finder found the average American household pays $329 in bank fees annually. In 2016, the big banks earned $33 billion in overdraft fees alone.

Five Ways to Finally Start Saving Money

Ready to combat both your brain and the big banks to finally start saving?

Before you do that, you should know that your subconscious brain makes 90% of your decisions without you realizing it, according to Klontz. And that part of the brain, he says, hasn’t “received a programming update for 100,000 years.”

So, to bypass your subconscious brain, you’ll need to speak its language. It won’t respond to logic or equations or charts; it’ll only respond to fear and pleasure. That’s right: You literally need to scare or excite your subconscious brain into submission.

Here are five ways to do so.

1. Use all five of your senses

Did your third-grade teacher hang a goal chart in your classroom? Maybe it was a “good behavior thermometer.” When you reached the top, you had a pizza party. Or maybe it was a poster that showed how close you were to reaching your reading goals.

As it turns out, those visual depictions are very effective.

“Your subconscious brain doesn’t get abstract concepts,” explains Klontz. “It’s very literal — like a 6 or 7 year old.”

Translation? “Any work to change the subconscious has to be sensory. It has to go beyond words,” he says.

So, if you’re saving for a trip to Peru, you could sketch a picture of Machu Picchu. You could listen to some Peruvian flutes. You could visit a local ceviche restaurant. You could tell your co-workers the myriad reasons you’re dying to visit.

The more you can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste your goal, the more likely you are to pursue it, says Klontz. That’s because each new sensory experience reminds your subconscious why you’re saving money in the first place.

2. Scare yourself

While retirement might seem far away, the sooner you start saving, the better off you’ll be.

To spur yourself into action, think about what would happen if you don’t save a dime. Picture the worst-case scenario for the last three weeks of your life. Where are you? Who’s there (and who’s not)? What does it smell like?

It’s probably not pretty. And by imagining it, you’ll stimulate your subconscious brain into changing its behavior — especially if you also picture the decisions that led you there.

Taking it a step further, Klontz recommends using age progression software like the free AgingBooth app (iOS / Android).

“When you take a 30- or 40-year-old person and show them what they’re going to look like at 70 or 80, their savings rate increases dramatically — up to 200%,” he explains.

3. Automate your savings

Another way to trick your brain is to, well, not really involve it all. By turning your savings on auto-pilot, you’ll relieve your subconscious brain of its decision-making duties.

“If you don’t see it, you don’t feel it,” says Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert and author of Breaking Money Silence.

Research, for example, shows that when employers automatically enroll their workers in retirement plans — forcing them to opt out, rather than sign up — it significantly boosts participation rates.

We’ve found this with Chime customers, too. People who enrolled in both of our automatic savings programs save an average of 240% more than those who aren’t enrolled in either.

4. Find a buddy

Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, exercise more, or save money, accountability is a key factor in behavior change.

Kingsbury suggests finding a friend who is also trying to build better financial habits, and then challenging her to a saving contest. Whoever saves the most by the end of a certain period will be crowned the winner. This strategy transforms society’s current definition of “winning” (flashy car, bigger house) into a more fiscally responsible one (saving more money).

Experts also say the most effective rewards are intrinsic: Enjoying the feeling of saving money, for example, rather than rewarding yourself with something tangible.

5. Put your values on the line

Name an organization you truly loathe. Perhaps it’s the campaign fund for a politician you oppose, or an advocacy group for a cause you disagree with.

Whichever organization it is, sit down and write a $100 check to it. Then give that check to a trusted friend. Tell him if you don’t save, say, 10% of your paycheck this month, he has your permission to mail it. (If you don’t have a checkbook, you can use an app like stickK.)

Since Klontz says negative emotions have “twice the motivating effect” as positive ones, this “anti-charity” technique can be powerful.

Today’s the Best Day to Start Saving

While you can blame your struggles to save on your internal software, you can’t use your brain as an excuse forever.

It’s never too late for a fresh start, so use the tips above to circumnavigate your subconscious — and set yourself up for future financial success.

 

What to Do If the Stock Market Crashes

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

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

Don’t panic

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

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

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

Cut back on spending

How much do you really need to live off of?

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

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

Boost your savings rate

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

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

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

Assess your risk tolerance

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

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

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

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

Buy and hold

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

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

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

Think of it as a sale

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

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

Keep your options open if the worst should happen

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

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

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

Final word

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

 

9 Ways to Pay off Your Debt in 30 Days

Paying off large debts usually requires a long-term game plan. But just a couple of easy steps can help you pay off your smaller debts in a short time frame. Want to buckle down and eliminate debt quickly? Here are nine ways to pay off your debt in 30 days or less.

1. Set a realistic goal

Most people can’t reasonably expect to quickly pay off a mortgage or new car loan. To eliminate a debt in 30 days, you’ll need to pick one you can realistically pay off. Look for a small credit card balance or a loan that’s approaching a zero balance.

2. Use the ‘snowball method’

With the snowball method of debt repayment, you focus on paying off your smallest loans first, working in order of smallest to largest. You make minimum payments on your other debts, and make larger payments on the smallest debt until it’s paid off. Successfully paying off a smaller debt will provide you with a psychological boost and free up a little extra monthly cash to put toward the next smallest debt.

Another strategy is to focus on debts with the highest interest rates first, as that will save you more money in the long run — though this strategy is a longer-term debt repayment method.

3. Go on a 30 day spending diet

Just like extreme food diets, spending diets are tough to maintain for a long time. But slashing your spending for 30 days is achievable, and you’ll free up extra cash to put toward your debt.

Analyze your current budget and spending habits, and look for every opportunity to cut expenses. You could cook all your meals at home instead of dining out, watch Netflix instead of going to the movies or take public transportation instead of driving or hailing cabs. At the end of the 30 day period, all the money you saved should be put toward your debt.

4. Stop using your credit card

If you’re trying to pay off a credit card balance in 30 days, it’s common sense to temporarily stop using it. But you should avoid making too many purchases on any other credit cards you own, or you’ll end up with a different credit card balance to pay down. This philosophy applies to other debts, too.

Once your credit card is paid off, you may be tempted to close it. But unless you can’t trust yourself to responsibly manage your credit card, you’re better off leaving it open to boost your credit score. (Here are 7 other credit myths, debunked.)

Remember, the best way to use a credit card is to only make purchases you can afford to pay off in full each month.

5. Find extra sources of income

Finding an extra source of income for at least 30 days can help you earn cash for debt repayment. You could teach music lessons, tutor kids, mow lawns or drive for Uber. All the extra income you earn should go directly to your debt.

Looking for some extra income ideas? Check out our list of side hustles that cost nothing to start.

6. Redeem your cash back

If you have a stack of points or cash back rewards in your credit card account, now could be the right time to redeem them. You may be able to put your rewards directly toward your credit card balance, or cash out the rewards and use the funds for debt repayment.

7. Make extra payments

This may sound obvious, but you should consider making extra payments throughout the 30 day time period as cash flow allows. Saving up your extra cash for 30 days for a one-time payment leaves you at risk of spending it elsewhere. Instead, make payments as soon as extra cash comes in.

8. Get a debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans can help you roll multiple debts into a single, manageable loan with a potentially lower interest rate. It’s a good strategy if you have trouble keeping track of your payments, or have several high-interest debts. This may not help you pay off your debt in 30 days, but you could get a lower interest rate and zero out your balance with your current creditors.

9. Open a balance transfer card

If your current credit card’s interest rate is making it difficult to pay off, you may want to consider a balance transfer card. Balance transfer cards will let you transfer your existing credit card balances to a new card with a lower interest rate – many cards offer 0% APR for introductory periods of 12 months or more. This strategy also might not allow you to pay off your debt quickly, but you will eliminate the balance on your high-interest cards.

Want more ways to save up to pay off those debts? Here’s 25 ways you can start saving right now.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

A 12-Step Plan for a Better Career in the New Year

There are two types of people: the ones who make New Year’s resolutions and the ones who don’t. I’m firmly on the don’t side — I like to set goals instead, like fattening up my savings account.

If one of your goals for 2019 is kicking your career into high gear, you’ll need a plan to make it happen. And, breaking your career-boosting strategy down into monthly tasks can help you make big strides by year’s end.

To help you get going, take a look at this month-to-month guide.

January: Set career goals

As you start a new year, think about where you want to end it, career-wise, and plan it as a whole process, says Piotr Sosnowski, vice president and co-founder of career site Zety.

“Imagine yourself in a gym on the first week of January, packed with hyper-optimistic sports newbies that made going to the gym a New Year’s resolution,” he says.

“Two weeks in and the gym is nice and quiet again. It’s because some people tend to approach their goals in a very ambitious way, focusing on a goal itself and forgetting that getting into shape is a whole, sometimes even hard process.”

To stay motivated in your career pursuits for the long-haul, try SMART goals  This means you’ll make your goals specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound, while still keeping the big picture in sight.

February: Know your worth

Be ready to prove your value as an employee in the New Year.

“Hiring managers want to see upward mobility, awards and accomplishments on your resume and LinkedIn profile,” says executive career coach Jaime Chapman.

“On paper, it’s easy to distinguish a rising star from a clock puncher,” she says.

Make a detailed list of your career achievements, such as:

  • Major projects you’ve spearheaded
  • Ways you’ve saved your company time and increased efficiency
  • Monthly and annual sales numbers if you’re in a sales-based position
  • How much money you’ve helped the company save or how much you’ve helped to increase profits

Be specific, using hard numbers whenever possible so you can explain your value concisely.

“Create an elevator pitch and a punch line to quickly and clearly articulate what you do and why you’re good at it. At networking events and in casual introductions, the elevator pitch and punch line are a secret weapon—quickly weeding out irrelevant connections and engaging the right audience,” Chapman says.

March: Network

Speaking of networking, spend some time working on fostering connections.

“The best method to get a better job is using your number one asset – people,” Chapman says.

Some simple, but powerful ways to grow your network in 2019 include:

  • Attending industry-specific conferences or meet-ups in your area
  • Reaching out to hiring managers and influencers on LinkedIn
  • Regularly sending out notes to stay in touch with existing connections

“The goal is to be the first person that pops into the mind of your immediate circle of influence,” Chapman says.

April: Learn something new

If you want to get ahead at work, commit to becoming a lifelong learner.

“One of the best ways you can improve your career is to invest in your own learning,” says Jessica Hernandez, president of Great Resumes Fast, an executive resume writing service.

“If there’s something you want to learn about, resolve to invest in reading about it, studying it, taking an online course or earning a certification,” she says.

Don’t limit yourself to skills or knowledge that apply to your current job either. Learning how to code or master Photoshop, for example, are skills you can parlay into a lucrative side hustle or even a full-time business.

May: Refresh your resume

While you’re doing your spring cleaning, don’t forget to give your resume a thorough once-over.

“One of the best ways to improve your career is to have a great resume ready before you need it,” Hernandez says.

“Make it a point to update your resume at least every six months or sooner if there’s a major change in your position, responsibilities or accomplishments, and keep a master resume on file that you can add things to as they happen.”

Think outside the box in terms of formatting. Consider swapping out the standard vanilla format for an infographic, slideshow or video resume to show off your skills and your personality.

June: Build mentoring relationships

Jonathan H. Phillips, co-author of Living Your Best Career, says having a personal board of directors is essential for career advancement.

“The truth is, your career doesn’t live in a vacuum. It’s intimately tied to other personal and professional stakeholders,” Phillips says.

He recommends looking to your network and choosing a shortlist of influential contacts. Ideally, your mentors should help guide you through large and small career decisions.

July: Become an expert

If you’re not yet an expert or influencer in your field, consider making that a priority for 2019.

“Speak at conferences, publish articles or a book, teach a webinar or appear as a guest on a podcast. The opportunities are limitless to put yourself out there so don’t be afraid to brag a little bit,” Chapman says.

If you’ve got a sizable LinkedIn network, consider publishing a short article weekly on topics related to your industry. Or, you can try your hand at blogging if you have a lot to say about a particular topic.

“Building your expertise will create a demand for you,” Chapman says.

August: Improve your interview skills

Job-hopping can be rewarding if it leads to a better position or pay. But you’ll have to get through the interview process first.

“Interviewing is an art form and requires a lot of preparation,” Chapman says.

Try these tips for nailing interviews every time:

  • Get to know the company you’re interviewing for
  • Research the most commonly asked interview questions
  • Tell stories with your answers
  • Use concrete examples to showcase your skills and experience
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Let your “you” shine through

Most importantly, remember to follow up. In a Robert Half survey, 100% of hiring managers said they want to hear from job candidates after the initial interview is over.

September: Negotiate a better salary

Chapman raises a good point about getting ahead in 2019: “What’s the point of all this work if you don’t increase your salary as a result?”

To get paid what you’re worth, start by researching average salaries for someone with your experience and in your field. PayScale and Glassdoor are a couple of helpful resources to check out.

Hone in on your preferred salary number, then commit to broaching the subject of a pay raise with your employer.

“Have a conversation about total compensation, including salary, time off, insurance and retirement benefits,” Chapman says.

“Get them talking, try not to reveal your numbers first and be prepared to walk away if you don’t receive the salary you feel you deserve.”

October: Stay engaged

Career coach Mark Anthony Dyson says it’s critical to stay in career advancement mode and avoid developing tunnel vision in your current role.

“It takes so long to get traction in a job search when you’ve disengaged from your network, industry trends and being active in your industry’s organizations,” says Dyson.

So, remember to stay in touch with your network regularly. You can do that by:

  • Subscribing to trade magazines for your industry
  • Reading industry-specific blogs
  • Following industry bigwigs on social media

November: Ask for feedback

Rather than cringing away from criticism, use it to your advantage.

“One thing that’s often underrated but can have serious consequences for professional and personal development is learning how to take genuine feedback graciously,” says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of online performance software provider Mettl.

“When someone gives you feedback in their capacity as your colleague, friend, peer, manager, boss or associate, appreciate it, take in stride and filter it to get to the crux of what you need to improve — skills, attitude or personality,” says Kapoor.

December: Show your gratitude

As another year winds down, celebrate your wins and use career setbacks as learning tools. And remember to show your appreciation to the people who have helped you along your career path so far.

You don’t necessarily need to buy pricey gifts but sending out holiday cards or a personalized notes can close out the year on a positive note.

 

22% of This Age Group Thinks It’s Impossible to Get out of Debt

Debt can easily turn into a massive money problem — a problem millions of Americans struggle with. More than 80% of Americans consumers consider debt a financial priority. Debt can affect anyone, but there’s one age group that faces the biggest debt burden.

survey by LightStream found Gen Xers — those born between 1965 and 1979 — have accumulated the most debt. And as they head into what should be their highest earning years, they’re not feeling very optimistic of their ability to rid themselves of debt: 22% say they don’t see a way out.

While eliminating debt takes effort, patience and sometimes years of dedication, it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as impossible, say experts. Here are some quick tips to turn your debt around.

1. Take action

A person can wander into debt, but they can’t simply wander out, said financial author Dave Ramsey. You must become fed up enough with your situation that you decide to change.

Ramsey describes personal finance as “80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.” He said you need to start by getting to a point where you are mad enough to take action.

2. Cut back on credit cards

Break the credit card habit. If you want to get out of debt, you should work to stop accumulating more. Credit cards are only a convenience, says Michael Gerstman, CEO of Gerstman Financial Group.

“If you must use a credit card, then it needs to be treated like a debit card with all new purchases paid off weekly,” said Gerstman.

But the best way to cut out credit is by ditching it altogether. Here are some easy tips on going cash-only.

3. Track your expenses

At the beginning of each month, take five minutes to write down everything you are earning and spending, said Ramsey. In addition, go through all your credit card and bank statements to weed out unnecessary spending.

“This may sound difficult, but many people don’t realize how much they’re spending on things like cable television, landline phones, and coffee drinks,” says Marc Diana, CEO on MoneyTips.

Staying on top of your tracking will put you in control of how much you have left. Keeping a tight budget can help you pull in spending and understand where your money is going.

Here’s an easy budgeting spreadsheet to get you started.

4. Adopt a positive mindset

The human mind can be a very powerful thing, said Tiffany Welka, the vice president of VFG Associates. Having the positive mindset that you can tackle your debt often translates to real-life financial success.

“Cultivating a growth mindset will improve your ability to succeed in all areas of your life, not just your financial world,” she said.

Looking for more ways to get out of debt? Here are 9 ways to pay it off in 30 days (or less).


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Why Do Americans Overdraft?

Sad truth: Americans are spending more on overdraft fees than ever.

In fact, the 10 largest banks in the U.S. collected $11.45 billion in overdraft and non-sufficient fund (NSF) fees in 2017, according to recent data released by the FDIC. Staggering? You bet. So why are we overdrafting, and what types of expenses tend to cause the most overdraft fees?

Let’s dig in to see why you may incur overdraft fees in the first place, and how you can prevent these charges. Read on to learn more.

Bills, Bills, Bills

That’s right. You’re probably not overdrafting because you spent too much on a pair of YSL boots. (And if you are doing this, we need to talk.) Based on a survey conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts, three out of four overdrafters had trouble paying their monthly bills in the past year – everything from rent, to Internet service to other utilities. If this sounds like you and you’re short on funds, look out for overdraft fees.

Ideally, you should have enough money in your bank account to cover your bills each month. But if you’re falling short, consider calling your billing companies to explain your situation, and see what promos or discounts they can offer to you. I aim to do this at least once a year. You can also research competitor rates and put on your negotiating hat.

Eating Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2015 to 2016, Americans spent more moola on bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than on groceries ($52.503 billion). While there’s no direct evidence that this leads to overdraft fees, a night out bar-hopping or fine dining when your pocketbook can’t handle it can result in non-sufficient fees. Keep in mind: It’s much harder to control how much you’re spending when you’re enjoying a night of revelry than when you’re cooking at home.

If you’re dining out, set a limit on how much you want to spend. Take out cash as necessary, and spend only that much. You can also set alerts on your debit and credit cards. And, if you’re using credit to pay for dining out and you’ve gone overboard, you may be able to temporarily freeze your card. Of course, you can also consider eating out less frequently. Another option: a meal kit delivery service. These services often run introductory deals and can be a fun way to eat at home and save money on those expensive nights out.

Not Checking Your Balance

Sometimes you may get dinged with an overdraft fee simply because you’re not paying attention. I once overdrafted because I spent too much on my credit card in a given month, and forgot to transfer money to cover the higher-than-usual balance. Whoopsies.

If you’re treading financial hot water—or close to it—check your bank account balance religiously. I check mine every morning. This way I can keep close tabs, and if I’m running dangerously low on funds, I can tighten my spending or transfer funds. You can easily do this too with a bank or money management app. It takes only a couple of minutes to possibly prevent an expensive overdraft fee.

Not Saving for a Shortfall

You’ve heard the classic personal finance rule: You need an emergency fund. But easier said than done, right?

If anything, aim to save a couple hundos as a money cushion. According to research by EARN, a non-profit that helps low-income folks save, $250 to $500 was enough to cover a financial shortfall in a given month. That’s likely also enough to cover your bills when you’re having a lean month.

So, make it a priority to have a bit of padding. The easiest way is to auto-save. If you’re a Chime Bank member, you can set up a rule to auto-save a portion of your paycheck. So if your take home pay every two weeks is $1,500 and you commit to saving just two percent, that’s $30 every two weeks, $60 a month, or $720 a year. You can do this simply by brown-bagging it to work a couple days a week, or skipping a latte during your afternoon break.

You can also stash extra cash by saving a portion of your annual tax refund, a bonus from work, or “extra cash,” such as a gift from your Aunt Janet for your birthday or Christmas.

Not Having Enough Around Payday

Does this sound like you: You overdraft because you look at it as a way to borrow money when you’re short on cash. Yet, nothing can be further than the truth.

Overdrafting is not a loan. If you’re feeling financially pinched before payday, consider changing due dates for your bills so they coincide right after you get paid. This way you’ll be in the flush and can afford to cover your bills. Whatever is left over can be used for discretionary expenses—food, gas, personal items, clothing, entertainment and other costs.

If you’re a gig economy worker, you can even align your bills with payments from certain clients. So, if you rake in $500 a week as a rideshare driver, designate that particular paycheck toward your rent and main bills. Money you rake in from other gigs can go toward other spending. Get it?

Are You Ready to Stop Overdrafting?

Now that you have a better understanding of why so many people overdraft and how easy it is to repeat this cycle, it’s time to make a concerted effort to change your habits. Luckily for you, Chime has your back in helping prevent overdraft fees from even happening. Additionally, Chime provides real-time alerts for each transactions, so you always know where you stand with your account balance.

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