Tag: Money Mindset

 

How to Invest Small Amounts of Money

When you think of investing, you might think of wealthy finance types or people straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street.

But, in reality, everyone can invest for the future, and you don’t have to have a ton of money to do so. We’ve scoured the web for some great resources and found these 10 best ways to invest small amounts of money. Read on to learn more.

1. Invest with a robo-advisor: $10

If you’re not sure how to start investing, try a robo-advisor. A robo-advisor is an online investing platform that can help manage your money.

For example, you can try investing with Betterment, one of the bigger robo-advisors out there. There is a minimum deposit of $10 and the annual fee is 0.25 percent. Other fees are based on your account balance.

When you get started, Betterment will ask you what you’re investing for — such as retirement or a down payment on a house. After that, based on your goals and risk tolerance, Betterment will create a custom portfolio for you. You can get started at Betterment.com.

2. Invest your spare change: $0.01+

When you make a purchase, it can feel like your spare change isn’t that important. But we know that small amounts of money can add up fast. That’s why Chime offers a round up savings program.

Applying this same philosophy to investing, you can invest your spare change with Acorns, a micro-investing platform that takes your change and builds a portfolio for you. And, investing your spare change with Acorns will only cost you one dollar per month.

Through Acorns, you invest with exchange-traded funds and the company will build a portfolio based on your financial goals.

3. Invest in certificate of deposits (CDs): $0-1,000

One way to invest small amounts of money with not-so-much risk is through certificates of deposit (CDs). According to Investor.gov, “A certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings account that holds a fixed amount of money for a fixed period of time, such as six months, one year, or five years, and in exchange, the issuing bank pays interest. When you cash in or redeem your CD, you receive the money you originally invested plus any interest. Certificates of deposit are considered to be one of the safest savings options.”

You can typically get certificates of deposit from a bank or financial institution. The minimum investment may vary but could be between $0-$1,000. Though CDs are considered safer and less risky, it also means they don’t have as high returns as other investment vehicles.

4. Invest with Prosper: $25+

Online loan marketplaces bring borrowers and lenders together. One such marketplace is Prosper. Through Prosper, you can invest $25 as a minimum per loan. These personal loans are offered to creditworthy borrowers and you can earn around 5.4 percent, according to the historical average. The best part is that you can get your earnings deposited into your account each month. While this comes with a moderate level of risk, it may not be as volatile as the stock market. Get started on Prosper.com.

5. Invest in social good: $50

What if you could invest money to support causes you care about? Well, you can do this through impact investing. Impact investing, aka socially responsible investing, allows investors to support causes like green energy, clean water, gender equality and more.

Using Swell Investing, you can begin growing your money and supporting causes you love with an initial deposit of $50. There’s a 0.75 percent annual fee and there are no trading fees or expense ratios. While there is risk with any type of investing, at least this way you know your money is supporting something you care about.

6. Invest based on themes: $250

Investing can be confusing, but it becomes simpler when you focus on a specific theme that you care about. Motif Investing offers you a way to invest in specific thematic portfolios such as technology or sports. You do need a bit more money than some of the other options here, with an initial investment of $250.

Once you select a theme, Motif builds a custom thematic portfolio. Find out more information on Motif.com.

7. Invest in fractional shares: $5

Investing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! That’s certainly true with Stockpile, where you can start investing with just five dollars. You can buy fractional shares of stocks and exchange-traded funds. There are no fees or minimums and it’s 99 cents per trade. There are also mini-lessons, so you can learn as you go instead of waiting to invest when you have everything figured out. Get started at Stockpile.com.

8. Invest in low-cost index funds: no minimum

Low-cost index funds are Warren Buffett’s secret weapon. Index funds track different securities on an index, like the S&P 500.

Index funds can have lower costs and can offer more diversification. While investing in the stock market can be risky, diversification of index funds can help manage risk. Fidelity, for example, offers the ability to invest in index funds with no minimums and no account fees.

You can get started with Fidelity or Vanguard.

9. Invest in your retirement with a IRA: no minimum

You may or may not have a 401(k) with your employer. But anyone can invest for their retirement with a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

Using a brokerage firm, you can set up a retirement account and begin investing in your retirement immediately.

As of 2019, the contribution limit for IRAs is $6,000 per year. While the main tax difference is paying taxes now (Roth) or paying later (Traditional), there are income limits with a Roth IRA. To invest the full amount in a Roth IRA, your income must be less than $122,000 for single filers.

10. Invest in a 529 College Savings Plan: $25

If you have children, you can invest in a 529 College Savings Plan to help save for their education. Using an app like U-Nest, you can open an account with just $25. U-Nest costs three dollars a month and takes five minutes to set up on your phone. You can get started at U-nest.com.

Additional resources: How to invest small amounts of money

Using these 10 ways to invest small amounts of money, you can start growing your money today. Here are some additional resources you may want to check out:

  • Fidelity:  Fidelity is a brokerage offering various investment products and education resources.
  • Vanguard: Vanguard is another brokerage offering varying products and education material.
 

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 to Be Financially Productive in the Winter

If you live in many parts of the country, the winter seems to drag on. Instead of weekends at the beach or picnics in the park, you may be stuck inside, huddled in front of a fire and binging on yet another Netflix series.

But why not use these cold days to be financially productive? To help you figure out ways to improve your finances during the winter, take a look at these four tried-and-true tips.

1. Organize your taxes

Before you let out a long groan, we’re right there with you: Preparing your taxes is no fun. But, wouldn’t you rather be doing this now – when it’s dark by 6 pm and freezing outside – than in April when you could be having fun in the sun?

So, take the time now to organize your necessary tax forms, fill out a tax organizer, itemize any tax deductions, and figure out how much you can contribute to a retirement plan. If you have a salaried job and received a W-2 form, your tax prep may be pretty straightforward. But if you have a side hustle or are self-employed, your tax organization may take a bit longer. The key here is: Don’t wait until April 14 to file your taxes by the April 15 deadline. Besides, if you get ahead of the game, you can get your refund sooner.

Pro tip: Open a Chime bank account and get your tax refund via direct deposit. All you have to do is select “direct deposit” on your online tax return software and fill in your Chime Spending Account and routing number. As soon as your refund is automatically deposited into your account, you’ll receive a text alert and email from Chime. Cha-ching!

2. Audit your bank account and find ways to save

I don’t know about you, but I am much more eager to be out of the house when the weather is warm. So, what to do on a day when you just don’t feel like braving the harsh weather? Audit your bank account and see where you can save money. This way you’ll have more cash for a summer road trip, your emergency fund or your other savings goals.

Start by spending an hour on a cold winter day and looking through your monthly spending for the past three months (or elect to audit just the past month or some other time frame.) Take a close look at what you’re spending money on and where you’re spending it. Even if you think you know exactly how you spend your cash, you’ll be surprised by what you discover.

Here are a couple of examples of what I found on a recent bank account audit: My cable bill had crept up for the past three months, my spending on groceries seemed out of whack, and I still had my husband on my gym membership even though he never goes.

It was time to do something about this. So, I ended up switching from my cable provider to a fiber-optic network (long story short: we can’t cut the cable or fiber optic cord entirely because my husband won’t give up his local sports channels.) This will save us $50 a month right off the bat. Not only that but the new provider threw in a free year of Amazon Prime, Amazon Echo and two $50 Visa gift cards. Score!

As for the high grocery bills, I decided to try a meal delivery service with a discount code for $80 off the first month. I loved it so much much that I’m now paying the regular $55 a week for three meals a week. But, get this: I was spending $600 a month on groceries for my husband and I. That is now reduced to $250 a month. Add to that $220 per month for the meal service. This means our monthly grocery nut is now $470 a month, a $130 savings each month! Plus, cooking at home is now easier and more convenient, so we don’t order takeout or go out to dinner nearly as frequently. And you guessed it: This saves us even more money.

Lastly, I called my gym and removed my husband from my membership, saving me $30 a month. That’s what I call easy money in the bank.

The takeaway: You can find ways to save money on a cold winter day – simply by spending an hour auditing your bank account.

3. Budget better

Is your budget working for you? If not, don’t give up. There are lots of budgeting methods and the one you’re using now may not be a good fit for you.

What to do? Spend an afternoon researching different types of budgeting methods, including the 50/30/20 budget, the envelope method, and the zero-based budget. Figure out whether a different kind of budget would work better for your spending and savings habits. Factor in whether you need to save more money into an emergency fund or free up cash to pay down your debt. Think of this time of year as a great opportunity to dive in and make any necessary changes to your budgeting method.

4. Automate your savings

By now you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the benefits of automating. But are you taking advantage of this?

If not, sit down and implement simple financial changes that will allow you to automate your money, enabling you to save more cash without even thinking about it. For example, now may be a good time to switch to a bank that will help you level up your savings account. If you’re a Chime member, for instance, all of your purchases on your debit card can be rounded up to the nearest dollar. And this round up amount is then automatically deposited into your Savings account. On top of this, Chime will automatically deposit 10% of your paycheck into your Chime Savings account.

Chill out

We get it: Winter can be miserable. But instead of complaining about the weather, you can turn those cold, snowy days into financial opportunities. By following the four tips here, you’ll be able to get your tax refund sooner, create a budget that works, and find new ways to save money. And just think: Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the spring with less financial stress!

 

5 Money Lessons from Cardi B Lyrics

If there’s one musical artist that has taken the world by storm, it’s Cardi B. Cardi is well-known for her brash, unapologetic personality and her signature “Okurrr.”

The ex-stripper and current mega-star’s lyrics are provocative. But there’s one valuable theme that is consistent in many of her songs: Her love of cash.

And, believe it or not, you can actually learn a thing or two from Cardi. Check out these five money lessons from Cardi B.

1. You can love money

It may seem impolite to openly say you love money and that you unabashedly go after it. Why? Because although you have to earn money to pay your bills, saying you love money can cause others to think you’re greedy or money-hungry.

Unfortunately, the term ‘money-hungry’ doesn’t have a positive connotation, yet Cardi’s song “Money” is an anthem about making money and loving money.

“I was born to flex (Yes)

Diamonds on my neck

I like boardin‘ jets, I like mornin‘ sex (Woo!)

But nothing in this world that I like more than checks (Money)

All I really wanna see is the (Money)”

In the above song, Cardi talks about all the great luxuries in her life, like beautiful diamonds and jet-setting. But, she still admits that at the end of the day she loves nothing more than checks.

The takeaway: Part of handling your money is your money mindset. Despite what you’re told, you can love money and not be a terrible person.

2. Make money moves

In Cardi B’s song “Bodak Yellow,” she sings about making money moves.

“Look, I don’t dance now

I make money moves”

Cardi references her past as a stripper and says she doesn’t need to dance anymore because she is making money moves. Money moves can also be about making and managing money – allowing you to have more financial freedom.

She goes on to say:

“I be in and out them banks so much

I know they’re tired of me”

The takeaway: You can make money moves to ditch your old life and go after the life you want. You can also aim to get paid more and take steps to save more (which you can do automatically with Chime). This way, you too can “make money moves” in the right direction.

3. Ask for what you’re worth and get paid more

One of the more vulnerable yet empowering songs by Cardi B is “Get Up 10”. She raps about some of the troubles she’s gone through, but in the end says:

“Man, I said we gon’ win

Knock me down nine times but I get up ten”

Cardi is here for the long haul and isn’t going anywhere. And this song is about not giving up. But included here is also a lyric that just screams about asking for what you’re worth and getting paid.

“I walked into the label, “Where the check at?” (where the check?)”

Cardi is all about getting paid. I can just imagine her sauntering into the label demanding her pay.

The takeaway: Have the confidence to ask for what you’re worth and get paid more. Ask for that raise. Raise your rates. Don’t shy away. You deserve it.

4. You can save money on your purchases

It’s clear that Cardi is “rich, rich, rich”. But one line in the explicit song “She Bad” states:

“I could buy designer, but this Fashion Nova fit”

Although Cardi can buy expensive designer items, she knows that something more affordable found at a retailer like Fashion Nova does the job just as well. (In the same song, by the way, she mentions designer bags like Gucci and Prada.)

The takeaway: While you may want to go after nice things, you should also look for more affordable options. This way you can save money to buy things that really matter. There’s no shame in wanting the finer things in life, as long as you can continue to save money.

5. You can be a boss and earn your own money

Whenever I listen to Cardi B, I am motivated to work. She just embodies being a boss and earning your own money. This is inspiring to me as I’m self-employed.

One of the lyrics in “I Do” is:

“Now I’m a boss, I write my own name on the checks (Cardi)”

The takeaway: Whether you’re self-employed or not, I think the sentiment remains. You can be a boss especially when it comes to making money. You can get your side hustle on, start your business, and be the CEO of your finances. You have the power to transform your finances, do work you love, and get paid what you deserve.

Let Cardi B inspire you to improve your money sitch

Let Cardi B’s love of money and making cash rub off on you and inspire you to earn more, save more, and achieve your financial goals.

 

YouTube Stars Who Make Frugality Cool—and What We Can Learn from Them

Life without YouTube is like a morning without your cup of joe.

You can spend countless hours stumbling across everything from baby goat videos to makeup tutorials to the adventures of mink trainers. And, it’s far too easy to fall down a rabbit hole, engrossed in clips that speak to your curiosities – even if your interests include videos about saving money.

So, we’ve rounded up our favorite YouTube stars who make frugality cool. Chances are, you can learn a thing or two from these Internet sensations and their interesting views on money.

Tabasko Sweet

My favorite YouTube celebrity, hands-down, is Tabasko Sweet (real name: Nate Contreras) of Super Deluxe’s Cheap Thrills. The Martha Stewart of crafty homies on a budget, Tabasko has charm and a unique lexicon that instantly makes you feel like you’re part of his “fam.” Plus, you’ll learn clever hacks to replicate designer fashions for a fraction of the price. DIY Gucci belt? Or perhaps a counterfeit Louis Vuitton coin purse? Tabasko’s got you covered.

Takeaways: Tabasko has it right in my book: Frugality is the ultimate act of creativity, resourcefulness and self-expression. He’s superb at advocating just how cool it is to be frugal. His main message: You don’t have to spend a small fortune to look like a baller.

Budget Girl

We all love a good story with trials and tribulations. The Budget Girl’s YouTube channel reveals how she crushed $33,000 of debt in three years. A crowning achievement, no doubt, and The Budget Girl recounts her success with humility. From her bare-all videos that break down her budget sheets to how-tos, she offers engrossing content if you want to improve your finances.

Takeaways: Per a Federal Reserve Study, the U.S. household debt is almost $13.3 trillion. It’s safe to say that many people carry a debt load.

An advocate of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, the Budget Girl’s ascetic ways can be a bit extreme for some. That being said, you can glean pearls of wisdom. For example, paying off debt requires focus, diligence and making trade-offs. And, after you’ve conquered your debt, guess what? You’ll develop solid habits to be judicious in your spending and grow your money.

Matt D’Avella

Documentary filmmaker and podcaster Matt D’Avella shares philosophies on being a modern-day minimalist. His hugely popular video “A Minimalist Approach to Personal Finance” details the basic tenets of personal wellness: Avoid lifestyle inflation, kill debt so you can take more risks and have more options, develop a positive relationship with money, and openly talk about your finances. His simple, no-frills videos are easy to understand and info-packed.

Takeaway: The beauty of D’Avella’s minimalist approach is that it humanizes financial wellness. D’Avella once was drowning in nearly $100,000 of student debt. What’s more, he gets why you should make the effort to care about your money in the first place: To live a life based on what makes you happy.

Personal finance goes beyond crunching numbers and information. By learning how to track, spend, save, earn, and invest your money, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals.

Joanne the Scammer

Joanne the Scammer has amassed a huge following, and rightly so. Honored as being one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Most Influential People on the Internet,” Joanne the Scammer, aka Joanne Prada, boasts over 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and has provided inspo for some of the most iconic, viral memes the world has seen. (For example, scam today, before today scams you.)

Donning a luxe fur coat and bedraggled wigs, she speaks with a “caucasian” accent and brags about her acts of money crimes: credit card fraud, identity theft, and stealing from unsuspecting rich men. Joanne’s money mottos include “When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When a man hands you his wallet, you scam him.”

Takeaways: If only wealth-building was as easy as grifting rich dudes. But growing your money takes planning and discipline. You’ll need to drum up a spending and savings plan to make sure you’re on track.

One simple thing you can do today that will help you big-time down the line? You can start auto-saving. Set up auto transfers so you can pay yourself first.

And sure, you don’t want Joanne near your passwords, but there are also more serious threats to your finances: credit card fraud and identity theft.

Sorry to be a downer, but identity theft is at an all-time high. According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in 2017. As for credit card fraud, $905 million in total fraud losses were reported in 2017, which was a 21.6% bump from 2016, according to a report from Experian.

To prevent yourself from getting scammed, set security measures in place. For instance, opt to receive phone alerts for any suspicious activity. And be sure to check your credit score. There are a handful of money apps and credit cards that offer free credit scores. Or you can order one from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Beyond Entertainment

The YouTube stars listed here are engrossing and fun to watch. But more importantly, if you dig a little deeper, there are also some important money messages and lessons you can take away from your YouTube fix.

 

Daily, Weekly, Monthly Habits to Help Your Finances

Just like dirty laundry that tends to pile up if left unintended, keeping your financial house organized can feel like a gargantuan task. As my former boss used to say before we tackled a huge project: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

As you step into the new year, boosting your finances will come down to creating manageable tasks.

Here are a handful of simple habits you can form, in both in the short- and long-term, to improve your financial situation on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Read on to learn more.

Daily: Check Your Balance

Checking your bank balance achieves several goals: You can check for fishy transactions, make sure your transactions are accurate, and glean insights on your spending patterns and habits. More importantly, keeping tabs on your bank account balance can help you see if you’re in financial hot water or if you’re in danger of incurring overdraft fees. No bueno.

I check my bank balance through a bank app every morning. It takes all but five seconds, and gives me an idea of how much I have left to spend until the end of the month.

Daily: Auto-Save

While you technically only need to set up recurring transfers once, setting your savings to auto-pilot is something that will help you with both short- and long-term goals. I auto-save for pretty much everything: vacations, musical instruments, writing retreats, a down payment for a car, and so forth. I even auto-save into a splurge fund that I use to spend on whatever I darn please. Setting this up is easy and only takes a few minutes. Even five dollars a week adds up to $260 a year. And trust me, that money can certainly come in handy down the line.

Speaking of this: If you’re a Chime member and set up direct deposit, you can even auto-save a percentage of your paycheck.

Weekly: Create a Weekly Spending Plan

Behavioral economics have shown that you’ll gain greater control over your finances if you review your budget weekly. Because you’re dealing with fewer transactions, it’s more manageable to see what is coming in and out of your accounts. And even though a lot of bills are paid monthly, breaking up your budget into weekly increments will help you anticipate and predict your expenses. What’s more, if you get paid bi-weekly, you may have less money the second week than the first.

I budget for everything the week ahead. If I know I’ll be going out for dinner or out with friends for happy hour, I’ll factor this in and scale back on, say, how much I spend on groceries that week.

Here’s another idea: Set aside a certain amount for your recurring, predictable bills. Then divvy up the remainder for your discretionary spending. Over time, you’ll be able to gauge how much you roughly spend each month for groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment, personal items, and so forth.

Weekly: Commit to Changing One Small Thing

What’s one minor adjustment you can make to improve your finances? It might be brown-bagging it to work a few days out of the week, or perhaps taking public transit. Spend a tad too much time on Instagram following your favorite influencers and brands? Try unfollowing for a month and see if you can rein in your purchases.

Small changes I’ve made include creating a “want” list of items I’d like but don’t necessarily need. Then I wait about a month to see if I’m still feeling the urge to splurge. I’ve also stopped eating out while I’m out and about on my own. Instead, I’ll typically dine out with company.

Monthly: Do a Budget Check-In 

While it’s best to create a spending plan every week, check in at least once a month to see what tweaks you can make it the coming months. For instance, last year I realized I’m far better off paying for a series of yoga classes than joining a gym. And because I rarely used my Deskpass subscription, which is the ClassPass equivalent of co-working, I canceled my membership.

Monthly budget check-ins also help you plan for one-off expenses, like insurance premiums and spending over the holidays.

Monthly: Go on a Money Date

Carve out some dedicated time each month to go on a money date—either with yourself or with a partner or friend. It’s a great time to check on the progress of your goals and envision what you ultimately want. You can even populate a vision board with what you want to achieve with your money. For example, maybe you want to take time off to work on a passion project, manifest a magical vacation to Bora Bora, or purchase your first house.

Money dates are also a great time to iron out challenges. If you anticipate a rough financial patch, drum up solutions on how you can get through the coming months. Or, if you and your partner disagree about your financial goals, a money date is a good time to hash things out.

Monthly: Autopay Your Bills

If you can swing it, set up autopay on as many bills as possible. Of course, that’s far easier if you have a steady paycheck. If you’re a freelancer or gig economy worker, and get different income at varying times, consider syncing up your bills to retainer clients. For instance, let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer. You have one client who pays you a certain amount each month, and the money typically drops into your bank account on the 15th of the month.

Because that’s money you can count on, assign that paycheck to your “big rock” bills (aka rent or credit card bill).

Another tactic? Get ahead one month on your bills. This means that by the end of any given month, you’ll have enough cash in your account to cover the next month’s bills. While this seems like a tall order, you can get started by saving up a month’s worth of living expenses to get the ball rolling.

Break It Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces 

Tending to financial well-being is definitely more feasible if you chunk things down. By following these tips and committing to an hour or two a month to organize your finances, you’ll be on your way to forming better money habits.

 

Should You Take a Pay Cut?

Do you always have the Sunday Scaries before the work week starts? Do you dread Monday morning or let’s face it, every morning during the work week?

Perhaps this means you’re sick of your job and ready to jump ship. Or, maybe you’ve already found what could be a pretty awesome next job. There’s just one catch — the prospective job pays less. You really want to move on but is it a good idea to take a pay cut?

Read on for more information to help you decide whether you should stay or go.

Be honest

First things first: Be honest with yourself. Is this just a rough patch at your job or is it really a bad fit? Everyone has stressful periods at work that can wreak havoc on their lives. Yet, there’s a difference between a rough patch and a bad fit. So which one is it? To find out, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How long have you been unhappy?
  • Have you spoken up about your needs?
  • Is what (or who) you’re unhappy with fixable?

If you’ve been miserable for more than a few months, your needs are likely not being met and the situation may be unfixable. In this case, it may be best to leave your current job. If you’ve only been unhappy for mere days or a couple of weeks, try having a pow-wow with your boss to see if you can smooth over the situation.

Remember, every job has its own set of issues. It’s all about figuring out what you can handle.

Look at your current expenses

If you’re considering taking a pay cut, it’s key to take a look at your current expenses. Why? Because earning a lower salary will require some changes to your budget.

How much do you spend each month? What expenses can you cut back on or eliminate completely? For example, if your new net salary will be $3,000 per month but your expenses every month are $3,500, you’ve got an issue. You will either need to find a way to cut back by $500 or you just won’t be able to swing it on this new lower salary.

Pro tip: When you review your expenses, look at everything with a fine tooth comb. If you don’t need to spend the money, don’t.

What other perks are on the table?

If you have another offer lined up or are just poking around, see what other perks are on the table. In some cases, these benefits can help offset other costs in your budget.

For example, maybe a new job comes with a free monthly transportation pass which will help you cut down on gas or eliminate the need for you to buy a public transit card. Some companies offer a health and wellness stipend that will cover a gym membership. If you’re lucky, you may even score a student loan reimbursement.

So, take a look at what extra benefits you are offered that can help you stay on budget. From there, you can truly figure out how much your bottom line will be affected by a lower salary.

Look at your health and happiness

In some severe cases, your job is not just miserable or boring, but is wreaking havoc on your health and happiness. If you feel like the stress is too much to bear, maybe a pay cut isn’t so bad. For example, if you can barely get out of bed or are resorting to destructive behaviors just to survive work, take the pay cut.

You only live one life. Being severely unhappy will hurt your mental and physical health. So, take care of yourself!

How to make up for the shortfall

What if you’re determined to make the job leap but you’re still faced with a small shortfall of cash?

Here’s an idea: If there’s a little gap that needs to be covered, take on a side hustle for a couple hours a week. You can do a variety of tasks like babysitting, driving for Uber or Lyft, pet sitting, etc. You can even check out sites like TaskRabbit to do various tasks that align with your skillset. Here’s another thought: You can try raising money by downsizing some of your stuff and selling your items on OfferUp, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.

In addition, here’s our best pro tip: You can use Chime’s get paid early feature to help cover some cash flow issues. And, you can save money automatically by taking advantage of Chime’s round up program. Every time you use your Chime debit card, your transaction amount will be rounded up and that extra cash will be deposited right into your Savings Account.

Just think: Automatically saving, getting paid early, side hustling, and selling your stuff can help you make enough money to take that job you want – pay cut and all. Better yet, these solutions can help free up some mental, physical and emotional energy to pour into your new job and side hustle.

Final word

If you are entertaining a job with lower pay than you currently make, take a look at the big picture. Crunch the numbers, assess your current situation and evaluate your health and happiness.

After you look at all of these factors, you are then in a position to make a responsible and informed decision.

 

4 Career Moves You Should Make This Year

New year. New career moves.

Think of this year as a new opportunity to take your career to the next level. Yup, there’s no time like the present to make sure you’re happy with your job and career path. It’s also the perfect time to learn new skills or consider a career move.

Leveling up in your career often goes hand-in-hand with your financial goals. This may mean increasing your savings, paying down your debt, and earning more money. If you’re looking to take your professional life to the next level, here are the best career moves you can make this year.

Learn a New Skill

How often do you learn new skills? Well, it’s time to do this. Why? Learning new skills will help you evolve with your career and make you more marketable in your industry.

When I worked at a web design company as a content writer, I made it a point to learn new skills. The industry was often changing and I had to keep up. Plus, I knew that I could make more money by advancing my skills. So, I learned how to do light website coding and SEO (search engine optimization). I wasn’t the only one. One of my coworkers got certified in SEO and in turn, he created a whole new position for himself. Mind you, this company was a start-up so things were flexible. But, you can advance your skills regardless of where you work.

There are plenty of courses available and you don’t have to go back to school for a degree. You can use sites like Udemy and Coursera to search for online courses that interest you. For example, perhaps you can take an affordable social media course online during your spare time. And just think: the courses you take can help you at your current job, or maybe even lead you to start a new side hustle to make extra money. The opportunities are endless.

Ask For a Raise

This is one of the best times of the year to ask your employer for a raise. Companies usually have new budgets set in January and are already considering things like wages, expenses, and goals for the year.

If you haven’t done so already, schedule a sit down with your employer so you can discuss your role over the past year and then broach the subject of getting a raise or promotion. If you have focused on gaining new skills, discuss this with your boss as you can now bring more to the table.

Sometimes it can be intimidating to ask for a raise but it’s worth it. And just think: Most people don’t get raises simply because they don’t ask for them.

Remember: Earning more money each year is a crucial part of advancing your career – not to mention that it helps you keep up with cost of living increases and pay your bills.

Look For a Full-Time Job With Benefits

When looking for a new job, most people focus on the salary as the top factor. While it’s important to make sure you’re getting paid well and on time, it’s also important to consider the benefits package. If your current job doesn’t offer a benefits package, it may be time to start looking for a new job.

Vacation days, medical insurance, and a 401(k) plan can help you get ahead financially. If your employer offers a great health plan, that’s a major win. The same goes with an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

So, if you’re working part-time or don’t have benefits at your current job, consider seeking a full-time job and negotiating for a benefits package that will help support your lifestyle and protect your family.

Establish an Extra Income Stream

How many income streams do you have? The average self-made millionaire has seven.

Think about it: If you’re looking to make extra money during your spare time, you can monetize one of your hobbies and earn money doing something you enjoy. Or, perhaps you can leverage a skill to create a new side hustle and generate an entirely new income stream.

For example, consider writing e-books, selling items online, walking dogs, investing in real estate, selling homemade products on Etsy, or even running errands. If you don’t want to start a business from scratch, you can even take advantage of the gig economy and drive for Uber or Lyft on the side. The extra money you earn can be added back into your budget or used to accelerate debt payoff. You can also earmark your extra cash toward a large purchase or upcoming vacation.

Who knows, you may even launch a side business that will eventually replace your main job!

Take Your Career to the Next Level

Whether you’re gunning for a promotion or want to start a side hustle, make 2019 the year that you take your career to the next level.

Start by determining what you want your career to look like in one year, five years or 10 years. Then, focus on learning at least one new skill and exploring other options to make extra money. This may lead to a lucrative side hustle, a new job, or a raise or promotion at your current job.

One final tip: The more secure you make your career, the more secure your finances will be over time.

 

How to Change Your Money Mindset Next Year, According to Science

This year you’re going to do things differently. That fancy cappuccino you buy every day? You’ll make coffee at home. That no-fee bank account you said you’d sign up for? This is the year you’re going to open it.

If all goes according to plan, you’ll accomplish these financial goals, as well as all the others you’ve set over and over, year after year. Yet, have you ever wondered why, despite your good intentions, you haven’t accomplished them already?

Perhaps it’s because you haven’t addressed the roots of your financial behavior: your money mindset. That’s right: What you believe about money has a powerful effect on what you do with your money. With that in mind, here’s how to make changes that last in the upcoming new year.

Accept Your Starting Point

Your money mindset has been brewing for a long, long time.

“We all develop and suffer from certain money beliefs, biases, and behaviors that are developed based on our family history and how we approach money decisions,” says Victor Ricciardi, a finance professor at Goucher College and co-editor of “Investor Behavior” and “Financial Behavior.”

It should come as no surprise that if you’ve had positive experiences with money, you’re more likely to have better money habits, says Ricciardo. And if you’ve had negative experiences, chances are you have poor habits.

So, consider how the past may have shaped your current mindset, then release yourself from blame — and accept that the only thing you can control now is the present. That, in turn, will help shape your future.

Recognize Your Biases

Cognitive biases are a core part of your beliefs, and Ricciardi says behavioral finance research has revealed several common ones. Take a look at these two beliefs that may affect your biases:

  • Representativeness: This theory, according to Ricciardi, posits we have an “automatic inclination to make judgments based on the similarity of items, or predict future uncertain events by taking a small portion of data and drawing a holistic conclusion.” When it comes to your money, that might mean assuming one tech stock is a good investment because other tech stocks have performed well. Or it might mean avoiding stocks entirely because the market crashed in 2008.
  • Anchoring: Ricciardi says this involves “selecting an initial reference point and slowly adjusting to arrive at a final judgment.” Say you see a pair of jeans for $300, and then later find those same pants marked down to $150. Whether or not $150 is a good price for jeans, you might think they’re a bargain simply because of the original (anchor) price.

“We need to make an individual effort to understand our biases and how these mistakes might result in poor investment outcomes,” explains Ricciardi.

Are you scared of the market? Are you addicted to the sales rack? Analyze the biases that might be contributing to those behaviors, and then do your best to address them.

Explore Your Beliefs

When determining which biases you hold, it also helps to reflect on the past. Ricciardi recommends recording how you’ve responded to previous financial events, and then considering which biases might have shaped your reaction.

You should also write down your current money beliefs by answering questions like:

  • What did your childhood teach you about money?
  • How does spending money make you feel? How about earning money?
  • What do you think about being “rich”? What about being “poor”?
  • How do you wish you felt about money?

If you want to keep going, financial planner and success coach Natalie Bacon offers more thought-provoking suggestions on her blog, including this one from life coach Brooke Castillo: “How would you spend $1,000,000… if you received it right now? Would you tell people? Why or why not? What would you make this money mean? What would other people make it mean?”

Before changing your money mindset, you’ll need to fully understand it — and these questions will help you uncover the truth.

Choose Abundance Over Scarcity

What did your beliefs reveal? If you’re like many people who struggle with money, you may discover that you focus on scarcity rather than abundance.

“A person with a scarcity mindset believes there is a finite amount of money to go around. A person with an abundance mindset believes there is plenty for everyone,” explains financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin.

To change your mindset from scarcity to abundance, you’ll need to consciously reframe your everyday thoughts. Here are some examples of how to do this, according to Bryan-Podvin:

  • “$50 isn’t going to save me in a crisis, so there’s no point in starting an emergency fund” → “While $50 probably won’t help a ton in a crisis, by starting to save I’m investing in my future safety.”
  • “I could die tomorrow, so why wouldn’t I book this weeklong excursion through South America?” → “That South American trip has been on my bucket list forever! I bet I can start saving money and stocking up on airline miles now, so I’ll be able to go in a year or two.”

You can also practice money affirmations. A few of Bryan-Podvin’s favorites are: “I release all negative energy over money,” “I am aligned with the energy of abundance,” and “Money expands my life’s opportunities and experiences.”

Educate Yourself

Regardless of what you may think right now, you are not doomed to be “bad with money.”

Vicki Bogan, who teaches finance at Cornell University and directs The Institute for Behavioral and Household Finance, says this all-too-common belief can usually be attributed to insufficient education.

“People who lack financial literacy often become scared or emotional about financial decisions and as a result do not do anything to actively manage their finances,” she says.

To combat this, she recommends learning about common topics like budgeting, money management, and financial planning.

Bryan-Podvin agrees. Rather than making a blanket statement about your financial ability, she suggests getting specific about what you’re struggling with — whether it’s investing in retirement or understanding your taxes — and then educating yourself in those areas.

“We aren’t taught about money, and yet we’re expected to know how to create a spending plan, set aside money for retirement, and save for children’s futures. Often, going over personal finance definitions and concepts can help,” she says.

Determine Your Values

Even with all the education in the world, you’ll never stick to your goals unless you figure out why you’re working toward them in the first place.

“Saying ‘I want to save’ because a blogger said it was important doesn’t do much,” explains Bryan-Podvin. Likewise, “Thinking about opening up a Roth IRA is meaningless if you don’t have a why behind it,” she says.

So, before taking the next steps toward financial freedom, ask yourself what you value. If it’s health, for example, you’d probably be fulfilled by buying fresh produce instead of fast food, or rock climbing shoes instead of high heels. If you value adventure, you’ll feel more fulfilled saving for a big trip than racking up big bar tabs.

“Once a person has their values figured out, creating a plan that sticks becomes so much easier,” says Bryan-Podvin.

Create a Financial Plan

One essential part of being human is making mistakes. And when you inevitably slip up, having a financial plan will help you stay on track. So think about  how you want your life to look, and how money plays a role.

Because you’ve taken the time to understand your biases, beliefs, and values, you’ll be able to develop a plan that isn’t like everyone else’s — a plan that makes sense for you. Maybe you want to become a homeowner, retire early, or stop living paycheck to paycheck. Whatever it is, Ricciardi says creating a long-term plan will help you make better financial judgments.

The Future Depends on You

If you want to change your future, you’ll need to change your mindset first.

“Making money a positive force is best done by reminding yourself that money is powerful,” says Bryan-Podvin.

“If you don’t control it, it will control you. Finding a healthy, empowered view with money can make a huge difference,” she says.

And that, right there, is the key: empowerment. By combining thoughtful reflection with ample education, you can gain financial confidence and control – once and for all.

 

6 Budgeting Habits to Ditch In the New Year

Are you planning to make any New Year’s resolutions once January rolls around?

The most popular resolutions for 2018 revolved around getting fit, falling in love and making better financial decisions, according to financial news site 24/7 Wall St. If improving your finances is on your to-do list, it’s a great time to start fresh, complete with new set of budgeting habits. In fact, even if you think you’ve got budgeting nailed down, there’s likely at least one thing you can improve on.

Take a look at 6 budget behaviors that you may want to reset in the new year.

1. Not keeping a budget at all

A budget can only work for you if you actually have one. According to a survey by Debt.com, 30 percent of Americans don’t keep a budget, even though 92 percent of people surveyed agreed that everyone needs one.

“A big budgeting mistake is not creating one,” says financial coach and author Karen Beth Ford.

Making a budget for the new year simply means adding up your monthly expenses, then subtracting the total from your monthly income. You can easily track spending through the Chime mobile banking app. You’ll even get an alert each time there’s a new debit transaction.

Making your first budget can help you get a better grip on where your money is going. Once you do that, you can begin fine-tuning where and how you spend. And when making your first budget, be thorough and include every expense.

“Another budgeting mistake is forgetting to put something in the budget,” Ford says.

2. Using the wrong budgeting system

There are lots of ways to keep a budget. You can write it out by hand, record your expenses in a spreadsheet, buy a fancy budgeting software program, keep a budget calendar, try the cash envelope system or use a free budgeting app. Each one has pros and cons but what matters most is finding a budgeting method that works for you.

If you’ve been using the same budget for a while, ask yourself if it’s still meeting your needs. If not, consider taking another budget system for a test drive in the new year. You may want to try more than one budgeting system. This way, you can learn what you like or don’t like about each one.

3. Ignoring lifestyle creep

Lifestyle creep can blow a big hole in your budget if you’re not paying attention. If you aren’t in the habit of checking your budget regularly, “review the past year’s budget and make sure it still fits with your current cash flow,” says Beverly Harzog, a consumer finance analyst and credit card expert at U.S. News & World Report.

Consider how big changes – such as a pay raise at work or a move to a more expensive neighborhood – have impacted how much money you have coming in and going out each month. And look at the smaller changes too. Something like switching to a more expensive shampoo brand can affect your spending and overall budget.

“Life circumstances sometimes change fast, so every quarter, review your budget and see if you can find any expenses you can eliminate or downsize,” Harzog says.

4. Setting unrealistic budget expectations

Not being realistic with your spending or your money goals can backfire, says Olga Kirshenbaum, financial coach and owner of Rags to Riches Consulting.

“Setting aggressive goals for paying down debt or building savings can leave you with less cash than you actually need to get by until the next paycheck,” Kirshenbaum says. “You’re going to feel like you’re failing by not meeting your expectations and needing to borrow from yourself to get by.”

If your expectations don’t line up with what you can actually achieve with your budget, you may just be setting yourself up for failure, Kirshenbaum says. She says that if you fail because your goals aren’t realistic, you may be more likely to abandon your budget altogether.

Review your goals for the past year to see how much progress you’ve made, then think about how you can shape them in the new year. Your financial goals should be a motivator to take action, not a source of stress.

5. Not building savings into your budget

Sometimes, life throws you a curveball and when that happens, your budget may need to roll with your punches. Not leaving room in your budget for the occasional blip is another bad habit to abandon in the new year.

“If your budget has no wiggle room, you’re going to be in deep trouble the first time your car breaks down or you have an unexpected medical bill,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.

Skirboll says there’s an easy solution: Add a line item for savings into your budget. You can simplify your saving efforts further by setting up an automatic transfer from checking to savings each payday to build your emergency cushion.

You can also set up automatic savings deposits with the Chime banking app. Each time you use your Chime Visa Debit card to make a purchase, the transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is transferred to your Chime savings account.

6. Missing your bill due dates

Paying your bills past the due date can hurt your budget if this triggers a late fee. Even worse, this can damage your credit score, especially if you’re paying credit cards or loans late.

“If you have a habit of being sloppy with credit card payments, then be sure you get a grip on this in the new year,” Harzog says.

When you’re paying on time each month, you can dodge costly late fees and keep your credit score intact. Harzog says a good credit score can help you rack up savings in the new year on loans, car insurance and health insurance, all of which can funnel money back into your budget.

Budgeting Practice Makes Perfect

Getting used to new budgeting habits isn’t always easy, especially if you’re making big changes. On average, it takes 66 days for a new habit to become fully formed. So, as you start working on new budget habits to ring in the new year, remember to give them time to sink in and become part of your normal budget routine.

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