Tag: Money Saving Tips

 

How to Plan the Perfect Staycation: 6 Tips for Affordable Relaxation

It’s no secret that travel can be expensive even if you’re able to take advantage of hacks to lower the costs.

In fact, according to one study, the average family of four spends $4,580 on a vacation. And, many of these families expect to put at least $1,000 of their travel costs on a credit card.

Yet, there is a way to take time off without leaving your hometown and spending oodles of cash: Take a staycation.

What is a staycation?

A staycation is just like a vacation only you stay home. This means you don’t have to spend money on travel and lodging. You’ll still take time off and seek out new experiences, but you’ll be spending time near your home exploring your own town or taking day trips.

You can save a lot of money with a staycation and still bond and make memories with your loved ones.

Here are 6 tips to help you plan the perfect staycation.

1. Explore your city

A staycation can be just as fun as a vacation because you’ll have the opportunity to explore your city like never before. To start, think about whether there are there restaurants or attractions you’ve never been to.

Perhaps you can visit a new neighborhood eatery or attend a local festival. Maybe you can swap out your online shopping to check out some local shops and support the businesses in your area. Or, visit local museums and wander through the exhibits.

If you live near a metropolitan city, you may be able to take advantage of tourist attraction passes that allow you to visit several landmarks or attractions for one flat fee. You usually have a few days to visit all the places included in the pass. This is also a great way to experience the best of what your city has to offer – on a budget.

For example, CityPASS offers a low-priced pass in many cities, including Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Seattle and New York City. For a $64 adult Boston CityPASS ($52 for kids), you get access to five major attractions, including the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Boston Harbor Cruises. You’ve got nine days to visit the attractions and your pass also gets you expedited entry into all sites. Not so shabby.

2. Play Catch Up

A staycation is a great way to catch up on errands, set up appointments, and organize different aspects of your life. Dentist appointment anyone?

Yes, this may sound like work, but you can schedule tasks on your own terms and check off a few things on your list, leaving you feeling refreshed.

Just think: You can accomplish things that have been on your to-do list for weeks, like getting routine maintenance checks on your car, going to a doctor’s appointment, and decluttering and organizing your home.

In true staycation fashion, you can even treat yourself to a nice lunch after you finish errands or visit a day spa for the afternoon.

3. Embrace the Outdoors

Ready to embrace the outdoors? Use your staycation to explore local trails. You can also plan an outdoor picnic with family, visit a park, go swimming if the weather permits, or ride a bike along a scenic path. If there’s a nearby state or national park, you can even take a day trip to feel as if you’re getting out of dodge.

Another option to consider: Take a trip to the local zoo. There are several free or low-cost zoos across the country. Most will even allow you to bring in your own food and snacks, cutting down on your costs even more.

4. Take on a New Hobby or Learn a New Skill

Part of the thrill of going on vacation involves going someplace new. Yet, you can still experience something new without traveling far from home. A good place to start: Try out a new hobby.

Think of something you’ve always wanted to do and plan to hone that new skill or passion during your staycation. Whether you want to start playing a new instrument, learn photography, fix cars, start sewing, or practice cake decorating, this is a great opportunity to give it a whirl. Perhaps you can even take a class in the area or check out free resources online. Skillshare, for example, is an online community that allows people to learn new things.

If you’re stumped for a new idea, try a paint and wine outing with friends. These are typically budget-friendly and you don’t need a lot of artistic skills.

5. Make Time For Friends

Take the initiative to reach out to friends you haven’t seen in a while and plan a get-together.

You can simply have a lunch date, invite your friends over, or go somewhere fun. To stay on budget, look for Groupon deals. For example, maybe you can check out a new coffee shop or restaurant in town.

You can also use your staycation as an opportunity to meet new friends. Sites like Meetup have tons of local groups that are designed to facilitate meetings of like-minded folks. There are groups for runners, parents, couples, board game lovers, creatives, pet owners, and more.

6. Relax, Just Do It

Staycations are perfect for relaxing.

Sleep in, take naps in the middle of the day, catch up on your Netflix shows, and take long walks. Before you staycation, you can deep clean your home and organize your space as if you were leaving town.

You can even plan your meals and prep dinners in advance – then freeze them so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Decide on which days you’ll dine out and which days you’ll pull a ready-made meal from the freezer.

If there are any beaches by your home, plan to spend a day there relaxing and swimming. Or, if you have a sauna or pool at your gym, this is the week to make use of it.

Determine how you want to relax during your staycation and make it happen!

Save Money and Refresh With a Staycation

A staycation can not only be a huge money-saver, but it can help you relax, enjoy time with friends and family, and return back to reality feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Most importantly, you don’t have to save up a ton of money to have a successful staycation. And, you also won’t spend as much as you would if you travel far away. Just think: These staycation ideas will help you have a memorable experience without airline fees, hotel costs, and high restaurant charges.

Are you ready to plan a staycation?

 

The Cliffs Notes Guide to Money 101

Have you ever hung out with a group of friends and the conversation veers toward money?

You may feel anxious as your peers discuss their savings and investment portfolios. As for you? You keep quiet as you’re completely overwhelmed.

Yet, you’re not alone when it comes to anxiety over money. In fact, many Americans feel uncomfortable talking about wealth and other financial topics. According to a global study on financial literacy conducted by the S&P Ratings Service in 2015, 43% of Americans are financially illiterate. This means that they didn’t have the basic financial knowledge required to make informed and sound decisions about their money.

The U.S. Government is also aware of this problem and designated April as National Financial Literacy Month – all with the hopes of raising financial knowledge. Luckily, gaining insight into your finances doesn’t require years of extensive study. Even a cursory understanding of money matters can have a significant impact upon your financial situation.

To help you become more financially literate, we’ve created a guide that breaks down some of the most important aspects of money management, including savings, budgeting, borrowing, and long-term financial planning. We’ve also included some financial terminology that can help you make informed decisions to boost your savings. Read on to learn more.

Savings 

If getting in shape was your No. 1 resolution for this year, saving more money may have been No. 2.

The majority of Americans desperately want to save more money, but unless you have developed consistent and actionable goals, it can seem daunting.

One simple way to effectively save more money is to enroll in an automatic savings program, like the one offered at Chime. This way, you can start saving money without even thinking about it. With a Chime account, every time you make a purchase with your Chime Visa® Debit Card, transactions are automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar and transferred into your Chime Savings Account. The program also allows you to automatically set aside 10% of each paycheck into your savings as soon as you get paid.

There are several ways to save more money and your options often depend on your personal situation and lifestyle. Yet, regardless of how much money you earn, if you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or a 401(k), it’s a wise idea to contribute as much money as you can – especially if you can save money directly from your paycheck. If a 401(k) plan isn’t an option for you, consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA) to start saving now for your future.

If you’re looking to pull money out of your savings before retirement and want a safe way to earn money, consider opening a money market account (MMA). According to Investopedia, money markets accounts pay interest rates that are typically higher than at savings accounts. Many banks, however, require higher minimum balances in money market accounts in order to avoid fees and earn higher interest.

Budgeting

Another crucial step to saving money is creating a budget. You can start by taking a close look at how much money is coming in and how much is going out. To further explain, your net income is essentially the money you take in each month from your job, minus taxes and deductions. Once you have that net income figure, you can make a list of all your fixed expenses, which are costs that do not change month to month. This may include your rent or mortgage, utility bills and loan payments.

With this information, you can build a budget and figure out how much you can effectively allocate to your savings account.

Bari Tessler, a financial coach and author of The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, subscribes to the 50/30/20 budgeting plan, initially developed by Senator Elizabeth Warren. The plan allocates 50% of your net income to fixed expenses, 30% to discretionary spending, and the remaining 20% to savings.

Tessler says that it’s not always possible to save twenty percent, and unexpected expenses may make it impossible to save at all. She emphasizes that your relationship with money will last your entire life, and ultimately, the amount you can save is very personal and can change over time.

Borrowing and Debt

Want to borrow money to buy a car or for a personal loan?

Oya Altınkılıç, a finance professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, recommends understanding the borrowing process and what will be expected of you.

For instance, getting approved for a loan depends heavily upon your creditworthiness. And this can be determined in part by your credit score, a three-digit number that gives lenders a snapshot look at how likely you are to repay your debt. Lenders will also look at your current assets, which are essentially anything of value that you own that can be converted into cash, such as real estate or cars. You should have a general idea of the value of your assets, including cash.

If you have a credit card, you may think it’s a good idea to buy expensive items on your card, perhaps instead of taking out a personal loan. However, credit card debt can pile up fast, especially if your annual percentage rate (APR) is high and you are paying hefty interest charges every month.

Just remember: Borrowing money typically has a cost, and it’s best to determine that cost upfront and evaluate it against your long-term financial goals before deciding whether to proceed.

Seek Professional Advice

Professor Altınkılıç says that if you don’t feel comfortable investing or managing your finances on your own, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a financial expert.

“You cannot beat the market on your own so don’t try. It is best to hire a financial professional who understands your short- and long-term investment goals, as well as your risk tolerance.”

“The financial industry is one of the most highly-regulated industries, and you have a higher chance of being successful if you choose someone who is reputable.”

To that end, you can begin your search for a financial advisor at the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA).

Start Saving More Money Today

Tessler at The Art of Money explains that many financial decisions are based on beliefs about security, abundance and fear that were developed during the childhood years.

People get paralyzed by money because of shame and guilt about not having enough saved or not investing earlier. Instead of dwelling on the past, however, it’s important to create sustainable practices around money – starting today.

Are you ready to level up your financial literacy and start saving more money? We thought so.

 

How Much do You Really Need in Your Emergency Fund?

Saving up an emergency fund is one of the best things you can do to prepare for unexpected expenses. Conventional wisdom says that you should save up at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

That’s a lot of money. If you don’t earn Silicon Valley wages or if you’re just starting out from scratch, that can seem like an impossible amount to save, so why even try? But, try this on for size: Maybe you don’t necessarily need to save that much. It all depends on your personal situation.

Luckily, we’ve broken things down to help you decide what’s the right amount for you to save in an emergency fund.

How Much Money Should I Save?

The answer to this question is: It depends.

As with all rules of thumb, the three-month minimum emergency fund rule is a one-size-fits all prospect. For most people, this is great advice, and it’s infinitely better than no advice at all. But there are certain factors about your specific lifestyle and personal situation that may make you lean towards more – or less – than a three-month or six-month emergency fund.

We’ll walk through some considerations here, but in general: The riskier your situation, the more you need to save. If your situation is a little less risky, you may be able to get away with saving less.

Take a look at four questions to ask yourself when determining how much money to save:

1. Is Your Job Secure?

One of the biggest factors to think about is how stable your job situation is. After all, one of the biggest uses of emergency funds is to help you cover your costs if you lose your job. So, consider both your specific job situation and your industry in general.

If you’ve been working at your job for a long time, you may be more immune to layoffs or other unfortunate events.

Also, take a look at how your employer is doing. Do you think the company will be in business six months from now? Lastly, if you’re a freelancer, you may also want to consider saving more money since this is one of the most shaky forms of employment of all.

As far as your industry goes, consider whether it runs on a cyclical cycle. After all, the construction industry is booming right now and you may be able to find a job as a carpenter fairly easy, but five years from now it may not be the same story. The same thing goes for automation — is your job at risk for robots taking it over? If so, consider a larger emergency fund.

2. Are Your Specialized Skills in High Demand?

If you went to college or trade school to learn a specific, specialized skill, that’s supposed to help you find a job. And if you live in an area where that skill is in high demand, chances are you can find employment quickly if you lose your job. But if you live in an area where it’s not in high demand — or if jobs in your field are scattered around the U.S. — consider saving a bit more than normal.

3. How Much do You Need to Feel Comfortable?

Another consideration is simply how much money will make you feel safe. Maybe you’ve been burned in the past with outrageous home repairs, or a lemon (car) to end all lemons. If you would feel more secure and sleep better with a larger emergency fund, then go for it. If you’re OK playing with a bit more risk, then consider cutting back a bit.

4. What Type of Lifestyle do You Lead?

If you lose your job, your emergency fund is meant to tide you over until you can find gainful employment again. Most people recommend cutting back your expenses so that you can stretch your emergency fund as far as possible in this case.

But, consider this: Do you want to live the lifestyle of an ascetic monk while you’re job hunting again? Maybe you still want to go out with friends, or more importantly, attend networking opportunities.

In this case, it might be wise to err on the side of saving more money so that you can still afford these things. Conversely, if these factors don’t matter to you as much, you can get away with saving less.

Needs vs Wants: A Lesson in Essentials Assessment

Even if you don’t want to bump up your savings target to include everyday lifestyle expenses, you at least need to save a minimum amount. And for everyone, this amount will be different, because everyone has different needs.

To figure out what your basic needs are, tally up all the things that you really need to be able to continue on living. Things to include are:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Necessary utilities (electricity, gas, water, cell phone, Internet, etc.)
  • Groceries
  • Transportation expenses

On the other hand, consider what you can cut out of your budget should you lose your job:

  • Restaurants
  • Unnecessary utilities (cable, HBO, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Fun money

Don’t Overfund Your Emergency Savings

We’ve given you some things to think about when deciding how much to save in your emergency fund. But also consider this: It is also possible to save too much money in your emergency fund.

For example, if your emergency fund is the only savings fund you have, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to save for other important things — namely, retirement. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re still saving money for your retirement, whether in a workplace 401(k) plan or an IRA. You may also have other goals you’re saving for, such as health care, vet bills, or a new car.

A Cash Reserve is Essential

Whether you choose a three-month or six-month emergency fund, one thing’s for sure: You do need a cash reserve of some sort and you can use this guide as a primer to help you figure out how much you need to save.

Also, keep in mind that no matter how much you decide to save, the most challenging thing is to get started. Once you get going, however, you can rest a bit easier. Just think: Even if you don’t have a fully-funded emergency savings account yet, every bit you save today will help keep you protected in the future.

 

This Millennial Saved $200K Before Turning 30 — Here’s How

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The majority of millennials have next to nothing in their bank accounts.

You’ve probably heard the stats: Millennials couldn’t cover a $1,000 emergency, and they have an average of $36,000 of debt. And when it comes to retirement — which, to most millennials, seems like a billion years away — 66% haven’t saved a cent.

The blogger behind Fiery Millennials, however, is tipping the scales. Gwen Merz is only 28 years old, and has already saved $200,000 for retirement. Want to know how she did it? Merz revealed her savings story to us — and also offered advice for fellow millennials who want to prepare for their futures. To learn more, keep reading.

Stumbling Upon Financial Independence

One day in college, Merz was using the 2000s relic known as StumbleUpon when an article about FIRE (financial independence, retire early) popped up in her browser. Merz, who had grown up poor, immediately became “hooked” on the ideals of frugal living and financial security.

“Here are these people who never have to worry about having enough money ever again,” she says.

“That was very appealing to me, as someone who internalized a lot of those lessons about poverty early in life.”

Though she couldn’t save much money as a college student, Merz says learning about FIRE gave her a “really good foundation” for her adult life. When she totaled her car, for example, she didn’t take out a loan, and instead bought a used vehicle with cash. And when she graduated debt-free, thanks to a full-ride scholarship and her service in the National Guard, Merz was “so ready” to put financial independence (FI)  into practice.

“I was super stoked that I got to put money in my 401(k) and open a Roth IRA,” she says. “So nerdy, but it’s true!”

The Road to $200K

After she graduated college in 2013, Merz landed a full-time information technology job at the Fortune 100 company at which she had interned.

Her base salary? A lucrative $65,000, plus bonuses that averaged $7,000 to $8,000 after taxes, and a 10% 401(k) match.

While her peers spent their paychecks on nights out and new clothes, Merz saved 60% to 80% of her income (which increased each year and eventually came close to six figures).

“It was really good that I got started so young because I didn’t have any set habits or lifestyle expectations,” she says.

Merz maxed out her 401(k) — the limit is now $19,000 per year — and her Roth IRA — the limit is now $6,000 per year — and put the rest into a health savings account (HSA) and other taxable accounts.

After six years of saving, her retirement accounts reached a balance of more than $200,000.

Cutting ‘The Big Three’

Despite her ample salary, Merz admits it wasn’t always easy to save so much.

“At the beginning, it was definitely harder. But that’s only because I was still trying to live a typical American life.”

As an example, she cites the fact that she was living in a three-bedroom house by herself — a decision she now deems “ridiculous.” So she got a roommate, and cut her monthly housing budget from $900 to $450.

She also kept the 2005 Pontiac Vibe she purchased in college. Whereas most of her peers have bought one or more new cars since graduating, her vehicle will soon hit the 200,000-mile mark.

“It’s the big three you have to watch out for: housing, cars, and food,” explains Merz.

“If you can keep those three to a manageable level — or figure out how to get rid of one — you’re going to be so much better off than the average American.”

Or, as she puts it: If “you make one or two different choices in life, that can make all the difference.”

How Millennials Can Save (No Matter Their Income)

Merz is the first to acknowledge that the FIRE movement is dripping in privilege.

“Some people say everyone can achieve FI — that’s just not true. It’s a lot easier to save half of your income if you’re earning a lot of money.” And, as she points out, it’s even easier if you don’t have student loans or dependents.

Still, Merz believes anyone can learn lessons about budgeting and consumption from the FI movement. Even if someone can’t save at high rates, for example, they can maybe build an emergency fund or open a Roth IRA.

If you want to start saving — regardless of your income — Merz says your first step should be automation.

When Merz received her first paycheck, she set up automatic withdrawals that funneled money into her savings and investment accounts.

“I never saw that money and didn’t miss it because I had never known what it was like to have that much,” she explains.

The good news with this automated saving approach is it can eliminate the need for budgeting. Since Merz covered her necessities and investment goals by paying herself first, she could then give herself “free reign” to spend whatever was left.

“There’s a lot of guilt and decision making that are involved with budgets. But if you artificially lower the amount of money that you have to spend… it’s easier to save.”

If your employer offers a 401(k) program, Merz also urges you to sign up. Not only will your contributions grow over the next several decades, potentially funding your retirement, but they will also lower your taxable income right now. For example:

  • Say you earn $50,000 per year and contribute $5,000 to your 401(k). You can deduct that $5,000 from your income, meaning you’ll only pay taxes on $45,000 of earnings.

 

  • Many employers match 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage. A “3% match,” for example, means your employee will  match every dollar you contribute, up to 3% of your paycheck.

“There’s no reason to not save up to the match,” says Merz. “They’re giving you free money — who does that?”

When This Fiery Millennial Will Retire

When Merz began her FIRE journey, her goal was to retire at 35 with $635,000. But in the years since, her outlook has shifted.

“I don’t really have a number or a date in mind anymore. It’s less about early retirement now — and more about how can I optimize my life so I’m at peak happiness,” she says.

Even if she doesn’t retire early, Merz has learned a lot from FIRE, saying: “It’s been interesting to see all the things society says we need that I am actually quite comfortable living without.”

She has also given herself a significant amount of financial freedom in the years to come. By frontloading her retirement savings — and giving her accounts decades to compound — Merz could stop saving for retirement now and still have a healthy nest egg at 65.

“I gave myself the gift of not having to worry and stress out about money in the future,” she says.

 

The 11 Best Money Lessons from Our Favorite Personal Finance Bloggers

Sometimes the best way to learn about money is through experience. How do you get this experience? One good way is to read personal finance blogs and listen to podcasts from money experts.

But, want to know how you can start learning more right now? We’ve hit up some of our favorite personal finance bloggers and asked for their top money lessons. Take a look:

Lesson #1: Changing your money mindset is everything

When you think about money, you may just think about the numbers. But what if you took it a step further and looked beyond the numbers?

For example, your mindset, behaviors, and spending patterns all affect your money management style.

“The best money lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that your money mindset is more important than the number in your bank account. If you fear money or think you’re terrible with money, that will become true,” says family finance expert Catherine Alford.

“If you have a positive money mindset, believe you deserve raises, and believe you can learn what you need to know about money, that will also become true. Personally, I prefer the latter,” says Alford.

Start by writing down your money beliefs and look at how they may be holding you back. If you try to re-write your money story, this may end up positively affecting your financial life.

Lesson #2: The money isn’t always worth it

Have you ever dreamed of earning more? Or have you ever thought “Once I earn more money, I’ll be happier?”

It’s easy to get into the trap of “I’ll be happy when…” But this can be a dead end road. Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100k learned that doing something just for the money isn’t always worth it.

“I took a job for the money after negotiating $20,000 more than they offered. There were serious red flags during the interview process that I choose to ignore because I thought the money would be worth it,” explains Dunlap.

“Long story short, it wasn’t. I ended up having to quit after only 10 weeks without another job lined up because it was so toxic. Money is important, but it will never make up for a horrible environment you spend 40 hours a week in.”

So next time you get lured by a paycheck, remember you still want to own your peace and happiness. Yes, we all have to do some jobs we don’t like, but money can’t fix all of your problems either.

Lesson #3 Pay yourself first

When you get paid, it seems like bills and life take every cent you earn. How can you start saving when it seems like you have nothing left over?

Although it can be tough, this requires action. And paying yourself first is something that you can do starting now, says K. Wright, personal finance freelance writer and founder of Money the Wright Way.

“My best money lesson: Pay. Yourself. First. This is a concept I still struggle with, as I am accustomed to paying bills first. It’s hard to practice when you have a million other financial obligations, but if you don’t set aside money for you, who will? Should you find yourself in a financial bind, you can bet the landlord, Sallie Mae, and the water company won’t be around to give back the money you paid them. Even if it’s a few dollars every payday, make yourself a priority,” she says.

Start by automating your savings and pay yourself with every paycheck. You can do this easily with Chime, and this way you can save effortlessly.

Lesson #4: Discipline leads to freedom

Money can be used to open up doors and be a tool of freedom. But in order to manage your money and unlock that freedom, you need discipline. That’s a lesson that Richmond Howard, founder of PF Geeks learned.

Howard realized that discipline isn’t something that has to feel restricting. Rather, it’s something that can help you get through hard times or support causes you’re passionate about.

“The discipline I have with my finances now has given me the chance to freely give to causes I support and to help family through hard times. The truth is that financial discipline leads to financial freedom. Sticking to our budget and finding ways to save money doesn’t constrict us,” he says.

To start, create a budget and track everything you spend. Write down your goals, and this way you’ll know what you’re working toward.

Lesson #5: Not all advice is worth it

Have you ever fallen down a personal finance rabbit hole and read 20 articles, each with conflicting advice and ideas? You don’t know what advice to take or where to go.

Blogger and accountant Eric J. Nisall learned how to be discerning and break through the noise.

“Not every piece of advice is meant for you. Not every person should be giving advice,” he says.

“It’s important to vet the source and see how you can adapt the information to fit your specific situation. It’s perfectly ok to pass on tips that others find helpful if it simply doesn’t fit with your personal preferences or situational needs,” says Nisall.

So next time you’re evaluating a piece of advice, understand how it can be used in your situation and take it with a grain of salt.

Lesson #6: Focus on your mental health, not just money

Money is important, but not at the expense of your mental health. If you’re pinching pennies and not taking care of your well-being, you’re doing it wrong. If you are working yourself to the bone to try to get ahead and avoiding your needs, money is meaningless.

“My #1 money lesson is that your mental health is more important than money. As important as it is to have your finances in order, there are limits to this,” says Bob, who only uses his first name at his blog, The Frugal Fellow.

“If you reach a point where you can no longer do what you’re doing, it’s okay to take a step back. That is actually what I’m doing right now, and I couldn’t be happier. You have to take care of yourself because if you don’t, money won’t do you any good.”

Lesson #7: Invest in yourself

Investing in yourself now can pay dividends later. You never know how a small action can compound and lead to future returns.

So, take the time, money and effort to invest in yourself now, says Martin Dasko of Studenomics.

“Invest in yourself whenever possible. You won’t always see immediate results. You’ll always be further ahead. A $20 investment into a book or a lunch meeting can go a long way. You never what action today will change the course of your future,” he says.

Say yes to that meeting, invest in your education or business, and know that you’re playing the long game.

Lesson #8: Automate your payments and savings

Getting your finances in order takes discipline and work. But you may not be good at staying accountable and doing the work to set money aside for a rainy day. That’s why automating your savings as well as your payments can help you get ahead.

“For me, automating my payments and savings was crucial to any success I’ve had to date. It removed much of the anxiety I was feeling when paying bills and frees up my energy to focus on positive things, like goals and gratitude,” says blogger Erica Henkel at The Lady in the Black.

To make automating easy, you can start by signing up for a Chime bank account.

Lesson #9: Do a mid-year check in with your money

Managing your money is a process and not something you set and forget. That’s especially true when managing your income and your taxes.

Doing a check-in mid-year, or even every quarter, can help you avoid tax trouble. The key is to track, review, and reassess.

“My wife and I once ended up owing a big tax bill. It was primarily due to one of us working a couple of part-time jobs that withheld little to no money for taxes, as well as it being the first year we had significant side hustle income,” explains David Carlson, founder of Young Adult Money.

“The lesson learned was to always do a mid-year checkup to see how much income we’ve made (both at our 9-to-5 jobs and through side hustles) and compare that to how much has been withheld. If you do this in the middle of the year, you still have time to make adjustments that can help you avoid a big tax bill, such as changing your allowances on your W-4, having additional money voluntarily withheld from your paycheck, or paying quarterly estimated taxes,” says Carlson.

Lesson #10: Save for emergencies

Life is full of the unexpected and money can be a lifeboat that helps you get through the tough times.

“My best money lesson was having an emergency fund. I’d read this in some personal finance books, and my parents urged me to save for one, so I did. I didn’t realize how important it was until I lost a job several years ago,” says Kristin Wong, author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford.

“I was relieved to have a cushion of savings to help me through it. It still felt awful to lose the job, but the financial burden wasn’t as heavy. That was everything,” says Wong.

Start saving for emergencies now by setting money aside each paycheck, even if it’s just $10. Ultimately, you should aim for three to six months worth of expenses saved.

Lesson #11: Boost your earnings

It’s easy to clip coupons and cut back as an initial strategy when working to save more money. But it’s not the only route, either, and there may be better ways to save more money.

Cutting back is just one part of the equation. Earning more is another.

“People with lower incomes might save as much as they can but still barely move the needle compared to high earners who save only a moderate percentage. Thus, my best money lesson is to strive to increase your earnings,” says Joyce Chou, personal finance writer at Financial Impulse.

You can do this by asking for a raise at work, picking up a side hustle on the weekends, or selling some of your items for cash.

Bottom line

Getting your money in order is tough work and can be a process of trial and error. Yet, heeding advice from these 11 lessons, you can learn how to make your money work for you. Are you ready to start saving more money today?

 

How to Handle No Spend Sundays Like a Boss

Fun fact: Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Yes, I know it’s dangerously close to Monday. But, I still look forward to it because it’s a chance to treat myself after working for five days and then side hustling on Saturdays.

Yet, while I love Sundays, it’s easy to get caught up in my favorite day off and blow right through my budget. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario of how quickly spending can add up on a typical Sunday:

Coffee – $5

Brunch – $50

Groceries – $75
Gas for the week – $30

Total: $160

When multiplied by four, this adds up to $640 a month or $7,680 a year. Yikes.

If this type of spending looks familiar to you, then a No Spend Sunday may be just what you need in order to boost your savings goals. If you’ve never tried one of these challenges before, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn how to navigate a No Spend Sunday in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Separate Wants From Needs

First, it’s important to understand the definition of a No Spend Day.

Think of it like going on a diet but for your finances. It means that you eliminate (or scale back on) anything that’s non-essential to your budget. For me, based on the above hypothetical list, I would cut out coffee, brunch and challenge myself to lower the amount I spend on groceries. Gas would remain on the list as a “need.”

Now it’s your turn: Take a step back and write down all the activities you normally do on a Sunday that cost money. Place a checkmark next to the ones that are essential and an “x” next to the spending you can do without.

Step 2: Get Creative

Kristy Runzer, CFP® and Founder of OnRoute Financial, says that the key to surviving a money challenge like a No Spend Sunday is to get creative and find things to do that will bring you happiness without the price-tag.

“So, for example, let’s say that you typically enjoy going out to eat with girlfriends to fill the need of wanting to spend time with those closest to you and simply have fun. On a (No Spend Sunday), instead of spending money at a restaurant, you could meet up with your girlfriends at the park or hang out at someone’s house. The end result is the same – you fulfill the underlying need to connect, without feeling guilty about your spending,” says Runzer.

Sami Womack, Founder of A Sunny Side Up Life, also agrees that “having fun doesn’t have to cost money.”

Some of Womack’s favorite free activities include:

  • An at-home spa day
  • Hiking
  • Reading a book
  • A movie night at home
  • Subscribing to a new podcast
  • Spring cleaning your closet
  • Doing a pantry/freezer cleanout

Step 3: Get an Accountability Partner

It’s so much easier to stay the course with just about anything when you have extra support.

If you can’t find a friend or family member who wants to hop aboard the no spend train with you, then look no further than social media. Many money coaches and personal finance bloggers host money challenges throughout the year that you can participate in. All you have to do is search #NoSpendDay or #NoSpendWeek, etc.

Step 4: Give Your Savings a Purpose

When saving money, it’s important that you save for a specific purpose. Yet, oftentimes folks miss this when they survive a savings challenge.

So, let’s say you decide not to eat out or go to the mall during your No Spend Sunday. Estimate your savings by looking at how much you would normally spend on each of these activities.

Let’s say the total is $100. At the end of the No Spend Sunday, transfer $100 into a separate savings account until you figure out what to do with it (pay down debt, put it in your summer vacay fund, etc.) This way the money isn’t just floating around in your checking accounting, tempting you to spend it on things you probably don’t need come Monday.

Step 5: Keep Building Those Healthy Money Habits

The benefit of a spending challenge is that it teaches you money mindfulness.

“Every day, but especially on weekends, it’s easy to spend money without thinking twice. You don’t realize (the damage) until the credit card bill comes and you’re left with a spending hangover,” says Runzer.

“Putting even a little bit of thought into what you’re spending or wanting to spend on and why really goes a long way. This is truly empowering because it puts the choice and the control back in your hands. You get to make money decisions from a place of knowing where things are going and what they’re doing for you,” she says.

From here, you can make incremental changes that positively affect your finances over time, rather than trying to make a drastic overnight change. This is exactly what Lauren Tucker, Founder of An Organized Life has done. She started out with a No Spend Friday, then a No Spend Week, until she worked her way up to a No Spend Month.

“It’s definitely been a process,” says Tucker.

“But starting small is the best way to introduce a new habit,” she says.

“Everyone’s definition of a no spend (challenge) can vary, but for me, it means that I refrain from purchasing anything that’s not in the budget or that I have already identified to spend in my miscellaneous spending category.”

Tucker plans out her month using a Google Keep Note where she outlines what she intends to spend with any discretionary income. She also tracks her success each day and shares her monthly results on her social media feed.

Bonus Tip: Pay Yourself First

After my husband and I completed our first no spend challenge, we realized that one of the reasons we would overspend is that we had too much money left-over in our checking account after paying our bills. That money was just hanging out, waiting to be spent.

That’s around the time I learned about the importance of paying yourself first. This means that we save first before doing anything else. By doing this, it reduces the amount of “extra money” we have left in our checking account and forces us to be more conscious of how we spend – especially on the weekends.

We still incorporate no spend challenges every now and again, especially when we have a specific money goal, like saving for a vacation.

We challenge you to try out your own No Spend Sunday for yourself and see how much money you can save!

 

3 Ways to March Madness Your Budget

Can you smell it in the air? It’s almost here.

That time of year when brackets flutter around the office like confetti, when bars fill with rowdy fans, and when people who don’t know the difference between a bucket and a block crowd around the TV to cheer on their picks. I’m talking, of course, about March Madness. Not only is this annual event a lot of fun, but it’s also a good opportunity to examine your money — taking into account everything from your budget to your banking app.

That’s because, if the year were divided into basketball quarters, we’d only have a few minutes left of the first quarter. This leaves you with enough time to forget about your financial resolutions — yet plenty of time to recover before the December buzzer.

So, using this month’s tourney as inspiration, here are three ways to apply the March Madness frenzy to your finances.

1. Write It Out

No one records their brackets in their head. First off, there would be no way for anyone else to tell how well (or, in my case, how badly) they’re doing.

And second, it would get insanely confusing to track the swirl of teams, games, and picks without having it on paper.

If this sounds obvious, then what makes you think you can get away with keeping your budget in your head? While it probably has fewer than 64 line items, your budget is way more important than a silly sports bet.

So, taking a cue from your bracket, write out your entire budget. If you’re not a fan of traditional budgeting, then at least create a visual layout of where your money’s going. This way, you’ll ensure you’re paying yourself first by funneling money toward your goals.

This flowchart from Ramit Sethi, for example, shows how you can prioritize your future and automate your finances without a line-by-line budget.

2. Look at the Records

While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and pick teams without any background or knowledge, this usually won’t nab you the first place trophy.

There are always going to be people who have never watched basketball who somehow win it all. Similarly, there are always those people who invested in Netflix when it was $15 a share and made a small fortune. But, most of us need to rely on research.

Case in point: Investing in your friend’s new organic dog biscuit company might be tempting, but it’s probably not the safest bet. To give your nest egg the best chance of growing over time, do what’s worked before — and invest in low-cost index funds.

Over the past 50 years, the S&P 500, for example, has offered a 5.78% annualized return (after adjusting for inflation). This means that if you invested $5,000 back in 1969, it would now be worth almost $350,000. I’d call that a pretty good bet.

3. Prepare for the Unexpected

When it comes to March Madness, there’s only one thing you can count on: upsets. Some top-ranked team will fall to some underdog. That, after all, is what makes March Madness so much fun.

Though you can’t call many of life’s surprises “fun,” they are, as in the Big Dance, guaranteed. Yet only 39% of Americans could cover a $1,000 emergency. What about you? What would happen if your car broke down or you received a large medical bill? Would you lose your ability to get to work, and therefore to cover your rent?

You don’t want one financial surprise — one March-Madness-like upset — to topple your entire life. So, start putting money into an emergency fund today. Eventually, you’ll want to get to the point where you can cover at least three months of expenses.

At Chime, we make it easy with our automatic savings program. You can quickly funnel up to 10% of every paycheck toward your savings account. By saving just $100 per week, you could accrue $5,200 over the next year.

Let March Madness Inspire Your Finances

Even for a college basketball greenhorn like myself, March Madness is a blast. I always look forward to the mayhem, the upsets, and the friendly competition.

From now on, though, I’m not only going to think about basketball when March rolls around — I’m also going to think of it as an opportunity to make sure my bank account is ready for anything.

 

Stop These Six Bad Money Habits and Save More Money

It’s hard to resist meeting up with friends after work for drinks, or buying that new pair of shoes right after you get paid.

But, if you want to save more money, you may have to do something to curb your spending habits. For example, do you buy a sandwich five days a week at the local bodega next to your office? Do you grab a latte every day on your way to work? Indeed, these purchases add up – fast.

Here are six habits you can easily change in order to save more money.

1. Buying coffee every day

Did you know that buying coffee Monday through Friday – especially cappuccinos and other fancy coffee drinks – can run you $25 a week or more? That’s more than $100 a month and $1,300 a year!

Instead, try brewing coffee at home and taking it with you to work. If you don’t have a coffee maker at home, purchase one on sale. Heck, you can even splurge on a fancy Nespresso machine. I bought one on sale for $199 last Christmas and absolutely love it. Yes, it was expensive. But, I now make my own lattes at home every day instead of spending five dollars a day for these drinks (yes, that’s $35 a week!)

Think of it this way: Less than six weeks of coffee runs paid for that fancy machine, which included a starter pack of 24 coffee pods. Each pod now costs around 90 cents. This leaves $4.10 a day on the table – or almost $1,500 a year to put into a bank account.

2. Purchasing lunch at work

Buying lunch every day while you’re at work will run you a pretty penny. According to CNBC, if you eat lunch out, you’ll spend an average of $10 per lunch, or about $2,500 a year.

Yet, if you make your own lunch, you’ll spend only about five to six dollars per lunch, leaving you with an extra $20-$25 a week or $1,000-$1,300 that could go into your savings account.

3. Paying full price

We get it: Not everyone likes to shop for deals or make use of those reams of CVS coupons like I do. But, you don’t have to be an expert coupon clipper to make a few small money-saving moves.

For starters, you can use shopping apps that will give you coupons, provide you with cash back or find you the best deals. Some top apps in this category include Honey, Ebates, Ibotta, and RetailMeNot.

Looking for local restaurants, activities or even a new gym? Before plunking down full price, search for neighborhood businesses on Groupon. For example, I wanted to try barre classes but I also know that boutique barre studios are expensive. So, I purchased a 10-class pass for about $79 on Groupon (or less than eight bucks a class) to a popular barre franchise. I used those classes but also discovered that I would prefer cardio classes to barre. That was a good thing as the regular price for a 10-class pack is $230! All told, using Groupon meant I saved $151.

4. Not sticking to your budget

A budget helps you stop overspending and get ahead financially.

If you haven’t created a budget yet, now is the time to do so. And, if you have a budget and still overspend, now is the time to buckle down. Why? Because if you don’t stick to your budget, it’s difficult to reach your financial goals and save money.

For example, if your budget only allows for $100 a month of “fun money” and you spend $200, that extra money has got to come from somewhere. It may mean you’re not paying off as much of your credit card debt, or you’re not saving $100 a month. Instead, commit to staying within your budget and perhaps figuring out ways to earn a bit more money each month. For instance, you can start a side hustle like driving for Uber or Lyft, walking dogs, or even teaching Pretzel Kids yoga classes.

Pick something that you can do around your schedule with little to no start-up costs. Most importantly, remember that you’ve got to live within your means if you’re going to save money.

5. Overspending on credit cards

It’s easy to spend too much with credit cards, yet this can cause you to go into debt and lead to a never-ending cycle of racking up interest. This, in turn, makes it hard to save money as any extra money you have may be going toward paying down high credit card balances.

To avoid this, try taking a break from your credit cards. Instead, use your debit card or cash. This way you’ll be more likely to buy things you can afford. Better yet, if you’re a Chime member, you can save when you spend by using your Chime Visa Debit Card. Each time you make a purchase, Chime will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and deposit this extra change into your Chime Savings Account.

6. Not automating

Automating is our No. 1 money-saving hack. Chime helps you do this by rounding up your debit purchases. But did you also know that you can automatically save money with every paycheck?

This hack helps you save as you won’t have to manually transfer money to your savings on your own. Better yet, you won’t blow that cash on the day you get paid on a purchase you’ll later regret. Chime members, for example, can automatically save 10% of each paycheck into their Savings Account. This way your hard-earned money hits your savings automatically. Out of sight, out of mind.

Are you ready to save more money?

Even if saving money is a struggle, there are ways you can start saving right now, simply by changing a few habits. For starters, try brewing coffee and making lunches at home, shopping for deals, and sticking to your budget. From there you can take a break from your credit cards and use your debit card or cash instead. Lastly, make savings automatic.

If you follow these six simple tips, you’ll be on your way to changing your financial habits and saving more money. Are you ready to give it a try?

 

101 Ways to Save Money

Looking for savings tips but don’t know where to start?

Well, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up 101 savings tips all in one place. Whether you’re looking for ways to save money on housing, food, travel or even pets, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide on ways to save money, broken down into nine categories.

Easy Ways to Save Money Today

1. Go on a cash diet

Put a pause on your credit card use and go on a cash diet. Using only cash will ensure you spend only what you have. This can help you save money and avoid debt.

2. Pay off high interest debt first

If you have multiple loans, pay off your high interest debt first. This is commonly referred to as the “avalanche method”. You put extra money toward your high interest loans while paying the minimum toward your other loans. This can help you save money on interest.

3. Avoid fees

Fees can pop up everywhere. Avoid overdraft fees and monthly maintenance fees by switching to a no-fee bank. Pro tip: Chime has no fees at all.

4. Know your spending triggers

We all have spending triggers. Spending triggers can be certain emotions or places that encourage you to spend. For example, if you can’t go by a Starbucks without spending money there, that’s a trigger. If you indulge in retail therapy after a crappy day, that’s a trigger. Knowing your spending triggers can help you avoid spending when you don’t need to.

5. Refinance student loans

If you feel like you’re paying too much in student loan interest, you might want to consider student loan refinancing. This can be a smart move but it’s important to note that not everyone will qualify. You need to have good credit and consistent income. Additionally, you will give up important and lucrative federal protections like income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness. Here’s a good place to learn about refinancing options for student loans.

6. Use autopay on your student loans

Many student loan servicers offer a .25% interest rate reduction if you sign up for autopay. Autopay automatically withdraws your student loan payment each month. So, if you time it right and have money in your account, this can save you money on interest.

7. Make bi-weekly student loan payments

Your student loan interest accrues daily. In order to combat this, you can make bi-weekly student loan payments. Instead of making one monthly payment, cut that in half and pay it every two weeks. You’ll save money on interest this way.

8. Pay your credit card balance in full

Interest rates on credit cards can be high. Paying off your credit card balance in full each month can help you avoid paying interest charges.

9. Start investing

One way to build wealth in the long-term and beat the cost of inflation is to start investing. You can invest in the stock market with exchange-traded funds, index funds, or other investment vehicles. The point is to put money aside and let the magic of compounding help it grow.

10. Switch banks

Does your bank charge fees for everything? Say G-O-O-D-B-Y-E. You can switch to a bank like Chime that has no fees. Your financial institution should have your back and not tack on fees everywhere you look.

11. Dispute errors on your credit report

Your credit report has information on it that affects your credit score. Your credit score, in turn,  can determine what interest rates you get on auto loans, credit cards and more. You can check your credit score on Credit Sesame or Credit Karma and check your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you see any errors, dispute them right away to make sure you aren’t getting locked into higher rates due to mistakes or inaccuracies.

12. Use credit card rewards

Do you have a credit card that has rewards? If you have a cash-back credit card, use your cash-back to fund your savings or help offset your budget. If you get miles, use them to save money on travel. Just be sure to read about any restrictions or limitations.

13. Take advantage of balance transfer cards

If you’re in credit card debt and have decent credit, taking advantage of a balance transfer credit card can help you save money. A balance transfer card offers zero percent APR for a period of time on balances that you transfer. So, if you can pay off your debt within the promotional period and don’t accrue more debt, you can save money on interest. Just be aware of potential balance transfer fees.

14. Adjust your tax withholding

If you get a big tax refund every year, you might want to consider adjusting your tax withholding. Adjusting your tax withholding could score you more money now and boost your paycheck. You can also put extra money into your savings.

15. Pay bills on time

Sounds simple, but pay your bills on time. Late fees can add up and catch you off-guard if you’re not careful. Keep track of due dates in your calendar and sign up for alerts.

16. Borrow only what you need

If you take out a student loan or other type of loan, try to only borrow what you need. Sometimes you get approved for much more but don’t let that tempt you. This can help you save money on your debt repayment.

17. Track expenses

A key to mastering your finances is tracking your expenses. You can track your spending using Mint or some other budgeting app. You can also do it manually with pen and paper for at least 30 days. Tracking your expenses can help you save money by making you more aware of where your money is going.

18. Sign up for bank and credit alerts

Signing up for bank and credit alerts can help you stay on top of your finances. If there are any fraudulent charges, you’ll get notified right away. If someone opens a new credit account in your name, it can trigger an alert. You can also sign up for alerts with your bank.

19. Automatically save 10 percent with every paycheck

Pay yourself first is a common adage in personal finance. If you have a Chime bank account, this is super easy. You can start now by automatically saving 10 percent every payday.

20. Create a budget

A budget can help save you money because you know where every dollar is going. Look at your after-tax income and create a budget for all your needs and wants. You can use apps like Mint or Tiller to help you get started.

21. Check your insurance deductible

If you want to save money on your insurance, you might consider boosting your deductible. High deductible insurance plans can save you money in the long run, especially if you don’t use your insurance often.

22. Write off charitable donations

Do you make any charitable donations? Save your receipts as you may be able to take a tax deduction. And always check with a tax advisor if you’re unsure about how you can benefit financially from your donations.

23. Save with a Traditional IRA

Want to save for retirement and save money on taxes? You may qualify for a tax deduction by saving for retirement with a Traditional IRA. Contributions to a Traditional IRA are tax deductible, which can lead to some tax savings.

How to Save Money on Shopping

24. Have a no-spend day

Commit to having at least one no-spend day each week. A no-spend day is when you spend absolutely no money. Make sure you have food and toiletries on hand and plan ahead. Having one, or several no-spend days can help you lower your spending and thus save you money.

25. Use paper coupons

You can still get some savings by looking at the paper coupons you get in the mail. Give it a quick look to see if you can score some savings. And, here’s another tip: If you shop at CVS, make sure you use the reams of coupons you get with your receipts.

26. Use Ebates or Honey

Shopping online? Use Ebates which offers cash back on certain stores when you buy online. You can also use Honey, which is an extension that automatically applies discount codes to your online purchases.

27. Buy generic

You don’t have to buy name-brand products all the time. You can buy generic prescriptions, generic dish soap, etc. This can save you money and in many cases, these products are exactly the same as the brand name counterparts.

28. Use free shipping codes

Look for free shipping codes or free shipping altogether. You can check out RetailMeNot for free shipping codes. You can also sign up for a free Amazon Prime trial and get free shipping (just make sure you cancel after the trial if you are no longer interested in Prime).

29. Buy in bulk

There are certain staples like toilet paper or rice that just make sense to buy in bulk. If you know that you always use a certain product or item, consider buying it in bulk at Costco or another wholesale club.

30. Shop off-season

The best time to shop for a specific holiday is after the specific holiday. I just saw 70% off Valentine’s Day items. I remember seeing the same thing for Christmas and Halloween. If you have room to stock up on items ahead of time, shopping off-season can score you huge savings.

31. Buy used

There’s no need to buy everything new. You can buy used clothing, used electronics and more. You can go to Goodwill or check out OfferUp or Craigslist for used deals.

32. Comparison shop

Always comparison shop! It’s easy to be lazy if you find something you like, but check two other places to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

33. Make gifts

Do you have a knack for making things? Make gifts instead of buying them. This can help you save money and give the recipient something special and unique.

34. Repair items

In today’s disposable culture, if something is broken, it’s easy to throw it away and buy a new one. If possible, however, repair your items. Sew your clothing, repair your lamp, etc. You can check out YouTube tutorials and try to fix it yourself before throwing down some extra cash for something new.

35. Read the fine print

Always read the fine print. You don’t want to have a “gotcha” moment and be caught off guard. For example, if a travel rewards credit card has a spending minimum before a certain amount of time, you’ll want to reach that before the time is up. If you cancel your gym membership, you might be hit with a cancelation fee. So, read the fine print to avoid extra costs.

36. Buy discounted gift cards

You don’t have to pay full price for gift cards. You can check out sites like CardPool and Raise to score gift cards at a lower price.

37. Create a spending delay

Are you dying to buy some new amazing thing that you’re convinced will change your life? Put a 48 hour hold on any big purchases. Wait to see if you’re still as pumped about it in two days. Delayed gratification can help you save money and spend less.

38. Ask for hand-me-down clothes for kids

Save money with hand-me-down clothes for your kids. Instead of buying new items every couple of months, ask friends and family if their kids have outgrown clothes or even toys. If they can pass them down to you, you’ll save big bucks.

39. Get money from recycling

Save money on your purchases and recycle them to get some cash back.

40. Don’t save your credit card info on websites

Saving your credit card info on websites can seem like a great convenience. But it can be a trap and a slippery slope to spending more. Entering in your credit card number manually every time you want to buy something can create a delay and make you think twice about spending.

41. Block tempting websites

There may be some tempting websites that entice you to spend more. You can block those websites when you’re online so you can’t access them. How? Try the Block Site website blocker for Chrome to get started.

42. Sign up for rewards programs

Do you shop at a specific place all the time? Or use a particular product or service? See if there is a loyalty or rewards program. You may be able to score free items or earn points by signing up.

43. Limit your laundry

We’re not encouraging you to wear dirty clothes, but really ask yourself how often you need to wash your clothes. Limiting laundry can save you money and may help keep your clothes in better shape, too.

44. Read instructions on special garments

Before you do laundry, read the care instructions on any special garments. You don’t want to ruin a cashmere sweater or wash something that should be dry clean only. Keeping your clothes in good shape will save you money as you won’t have to shop as frequently for new threads.

45. Shop at the dollar store

Nearly everywhere has some sort of dollar store. Check out the dollar store in your area and see if you can find deals on items you buy anyway.

46. Cut down on vices

We all have our vices. Whether you drink or smoke, eat too much sugar or drink too much soda, cut down on your vices. Vices can be expensive and bad for your health! You don’t have to give things up completely, but make an effort to cut down so you can curb your costs.

47. Do a clothing swap

Organize a clothing swap in your neighborhood. Each person brings clothes they no longer want and you can swap with other people. It’s a great way to reuse clothes and get something fresh, without spending money buying clothes.

48. Do a toy exchange

If you’re friends with other families with kids, arrange a toy exchange. There may be a toy that your child no longer uses but would be a good fit for a family nearby. Or perhaps your kids can gain new toys without you having to go out and buy them.

49. Get alerts for price-drops

Want to know when the right time to buy is? Use Price Tracker and Price Drop extension by Chrome to notify you when there’s been a price drop on a product you have your eye on.

50. Unsubscribe from sales emails

If you’re like most people, you’re getting sales emails every day. Unsubscribe from sales emails to get rid of temptation. Sometimes sales can encourage you to spend, even though you had no plans on buying anything.

How to Save Money on Your Car

51. Use GasBuddy

To save money on gas, use GasBuddy.com to see which gas stations have the most affordable prices near you.

52. Walk

If possible, save money on gas altogether by walking! Walking instead of driving is also good for your health.

53. Take public transportation

Consider taking public transportation if your destination is not in walking distance. Public transportation in your area may be more cost-effective than driving. It can help you save money on gas, parking and tolls.

54. Get your oil changed

To avoid any major mishaps with your car, it’s important to keep it in good shape. Get your oil changed on a regular basis so you can save money by avoiding much more costly mechanical issues.

55. Put air in your tires

Having the right amount of air in your tires can help your car be more gas efficient. Be sure to check the air pressure and fill up your tires as needed.

56. Clean out your car

Does your car feel like a closet and trash can in one? If so, it’s time to clean it out. First off, extra weight in your car can make your gas usage inefficient. On top of that, having a lot of items in your car can be a signal for thieves to roam through your stuff. I once left a nice-looking bag in my car and the next morning my window was bashed in and the bag was gone. I had to pay to get the window repaired.

57. Look for free parking

Parking fees can really add up. Before you head to your destination, do some research and look for free parking spots. You may be able to find free parking spots using the parking app SpotAngels.

58. Carpool

Reduce your transportation costs by carpooling. You can do this with co-workers, friends or even take a Lyft Line or Uber Pool when using a ride-sharing service.

How to Save Money on Your House or Apartment

59. Negotiate your rent

Many people think that your rent can’t be negotiated. Not true. If there’s a rental increase and you’ve been a good tenant, consider negotiating your rent. Tell your landlord why you’ve been a good tenant and explain your case. It’s expensive for apartment managers to find new tenants so don’t be afraid to attempt to negotiate your rent.

60. Limit heat/AC use

In the dead of winter and heat of summer, heat and AC costs can be brutal. So, consider only using heaters and AC when you’re home or setting the heat down a few degrees and scheduling the AC to only go on when the room temp reaches a certain degree.

61. Pay yearly instead of monthly

Some types of insurance can be more cost-effective if you pay annually instead of monthly. For example, I save money paying for my rental insurance in one annual payment.

62. Switch cell carriers

If you’re not in a contractor can get out of your current agreement, consider switching cell carriers. Sometimes cell carriers offer new customer specials so you can save money by switching.

63. Downsize

Do you have much more apartment or home than you need? Is your car way too big for your needs? Downsize! You are paying for that extra space and if you don’t need it, you can save money by downsizing.

64. Get rental insurance

Rental insurance can save you money if your apartment is damaged due to some types of disasters or burglary. It can also help you recover costs if one of your items is stolen, even if it’s not at your apartment. For example, if a laptop was stolen at a coffee shop, your renters insurance may cover the replacement cost.

65. Keep the lights off

Be mindful of your electricity use and only use the lights when you really need them. Keeping lights off more often may help reduce your electricity expenses.

66. Get a roommate

Housing can be a major cost. If you have extra space but don’t want to downsize, consider getting a roommate. A roommate can help offset some of your rent or mortgage payments.

How to Save Money on Food

67. Meal plan

Map out your meals a week in advance so you know what you’re cooking and can avoid the “What are we having for dinner tonight?” discussion and the temptations of take-out.

68. Avoid packaged foods

Packaged food may be convenient but it comes at a price. Save money by buying whole foods and not processed or packaged foods.

69. Use Ibotta

Use coupon app Ibotta to help you save money on groceries. You can get cash-back on purchases on specific food items. Just be sure to only buy things you actually need.

70. Use Groupon for restaurant deals

Want to go out to eat but not spend a fortune? Look on deal site Groupon first. You can find meal deals for a fraction of the cost.

71. Eat less meat

Meat can be more expensive than other types of foods, so to save money, limit your meat consumption. You don’t need to go full on vegan but cutting down even a little can reduce your grocery expenses.

72. Make coffee at home

Instead of a daily Starbucks run, make coffee at home. Doing so can save you $2-$5 per day, depending on the type of drink you usually get. You can even invest in coffee beans and creamer and it will still be more cost-effective than going out for coffee.

73. Host a potluck

Want to get together with friends but also save money? Host a potluck. Ask everyone to bring a different dish and enjoy many different foods, while saving money by avoiding eating out.

74. Grow herbs

You can grow some of your own herbs, spice up your cooking and save money. To start, you can buy inexpensive seeds or herb plants at Trader Joe’s or Home Depot.

75. Don’t shop hungry

The cardinal rule for grocery shopping is don’t shop hungry! You are likely to spend more because your eyes and stomach will be doing the shopping, not your brain.

76. Buy wine at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has a great affordable wine selection. You don’t have to go without good wine while trying to save money and going to TJ’s is a good savings hack. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, try Costco. Yes, you’ll buy in bulk but the amount you’ll spend per bottle works out to be lower than a singular bottle of the same brand at a liquor store.

77. Ditch sugary drinks

Swap out your soda or frappuccino for some ice water. Ditching sugary drinks can cut down on unnecessary expenses, plus drinking more water keeps you hydrated.

78. Always have snacks

Keep a granola bar in your purse or car at all times. Having snacks on hand can help you avoid spending extra money when you’re super hungry.

Save Money on Your Pets

79. Do a pet sitting swap

Hiring pet sitters can add up fast. See if there’s a neighbor that you can do a pet sitting swap with. They will watch your pets when you’re gone and you’ll do the same when they’re gone.

80. Buy pet items in bulk

If you know you need items like cat litter or cat food, why not buy in bulk? You can score some additional savings by buying your must-have items in bulk at wholesale clubs like Costco.

81. Get regular check ups for your pets

Vet visits don’t come cheap but prevention is a great way to save money and lower costs. Getting regular check ups for your pets can keep them healthy and hopefully help you avoid major issues and expenses down the line.

Save Money on Beauty and Health

82. Get a haircut at a beauty school

You can save money on a haircut by going to a beauty school. It may take a bit longer but the savings can be significant.

83. Trim your own hair

Need just a quick trim? If you have a steady hand and good eye, consider doing it yourself. I’ve been trimming my own hair for the past two years. I just cut off the ends and it’s worked out pretty well for me.

84. Get your exercise in

Exercising can help you stay healthy and avoid additional medical costs down the line. Bonus: when you’re exercising, there’s less time to spend money.

85. Manage your stress

Stress can lead to a lot of additional expenses related to medical costs, stress-spending, stress-eating and more. So, manage your stress and this way you can keep your expenses in check.

Save Money on Entertainment

86. Cancel unused subscriptions

If there are subscriptions you don’t use anymore or ones that you don’t use often, cancel them. No need to spend money each month unnecessarily.

87. Use Goldstar for entertainment deals

You can score entertainment for a fraction of the cost using a site like Goldstar. You can buy tickets to concerts, sports games, theater shows and more at a discount. You can also find similar deals on Groupon.

88. Go to museums on free days

Many museums have free days certain times of year. Some have “by donation” days as well. So, get your museum fix by going on the free or pay-what-you-can days.

89. Borrow books from the library

Yes, buying new books on Amazon Prime can be addicting. But you can save money by borrowing books from the library for free!

90. Go to free cultural events

Many cities offer cultural activities that are free and open to the public. These can range from parades to concerts, speaker series to celebrations. Check your local community calendar to see what might be coming up.

91. Streamline entertainment

Do you have cable, Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video? It may be time to cut back and stick with one. Having multiple streaming services and packages can add up, so cut down and streamline your entertainment.

92. Take free classes online

You don’t have to take on student loan debt or pay an arm or a leg to take some classes. You can take free classes online. You can also watch how-tos on YouTube or practice your language skills on DuoLingo.

93. Volunteer as an usher

One way to cut entertainment costs is to become an usher at a theater. Volunteer and see the show for free!

94. Volunteer to work at events

If there’s a retreat, conference, talk or festival coming to your city, inquire about volunteering. This is a great way to meet new people and save money on admission.

Save Money on Travel

95. Buy flights on Tuesday

Ready to book a flight for your next trip? Book on a Tuesday, the most affordable day to purchase a flight from the United States.

96. Stay in affordable accommodations

When traveling, accommodations can add up. Consider couchsurfing, staying in a hostel, a cheap AirBnB, or staying with a friend. Hotels can cost hundreds per night so opting for one of these options can score you some savings.

97. Avoid foreign transaction fees

Traveling abroad? You could get hit with foreign transaction fees when you spend money. Get a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees so you can save your hard-earned dough.

98. Use Skype and WhatsApp

Traveling internationally can result in hefty call charges and international roaming. When communicating from a palazzo in Florence or the beaches of Bali, use Skype and WhatsApp to communicate for free.

99. Go camping

Looking for some peace and quiet? Go camping! It’s an affordable way to travel and can get you back to being one with nature.

100. Book holiday flights in advance

Many people make the mistake of booking holiday travel at the last-minute. That’s a big no-no if you’re trying to save money! Book far in advance, preferably no later than September for holiday travel in November and December.

101. Fly on a holiday

You can score additional savings by actually flying on a holiday. If you don’t mind this, you can save money by flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’ve used this tactic to save over $100 on my flight.

Start saving now

Using these 101 savings tips, you can start to reduce your expenses in nearly all aspects of your life.

Focusing on your top expenses like housing, food and transportation can give you the biggest wins. The biggest perk: These tips can pad your savings account so you can save for your future and have money set aside for a rainy day.

 

Chime’s Automatic Savings Features

When it comes financial wellness, saving money can feel like an uphill battle.

Just like how overdoing it with carbs and sweets can sabotage your health, spending more than you can afford can be disastrous to your money.

Okay, duh. Knowing what’s good for you is one thing. Actually doing it is another. If it were easy, we’d all be rock stars with money. But changing habits and shifting mindsets can take a ton of work. The good news is that there are a few simple, no-brainer tactics to save more money. My favorite one? Automatic Savings.

Here’s why auto-saving is so awesome, and how Chime’s two features, Save When You Spend and Save When You Get Paid, can help your money situation.

Why Auto-Saving Is King

As a finance nerd who has been obsessed with money since I was young (weird but true), I’ve found that the less I have to think about managing my money, the better. Granted, I do spend more time than the average person looking at my spending plan and poking around money apps. But on the day-to-day, I don’t quibble over every purchase, or fret over whether I’m saving enough.

That’s because I’ve put as much as I can on auto-pilot. I’ve set up auto payment for most of my bills, and I auto-save for my goals. This includes tucking away funds for a trip to Vietnam, a splurge fund, and a birthday bash for my mom’s milestone birthday next year. I can enjoy guilt-free spending and feel good that my money is being squared away for things that are important to me.

If you’re concerned that auto-saving might mean a greater chance that a fishy transaction might slip past you, set up alerts. I check my main checking account every few days and get alerts for major transactions through a money-saving app.

So how can you get started auto-saving? If you’re a Chime member, here are two top ways:

Save When You Spend

How it works: Every time you pay a bill or make a purchase with your Chime Visa® Debit Card, the Save When You Spend feature automatically rounds up transactions to the nearest dollar. These round up amounts are transferred from your Spending Account into your Savings Account.

For example, if you spend $1.50 on a cup of coffee in the morning, the feature will round up your transaction to two dollars, and you’ll save 50 cents. Did you throw down $8.25 for lunch at the neighborhood sandwich shop? Save When You Spend will round it up to nine dollars, and 75 cents will go toward your Savings Account.

How to make the most of it: The more you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card, the faster you’ll build your savings. So, use it to pay for everyday purchases and bills, and watch your savings grow.

You’ll also want to determine how to best use the money in your Savings Account. It can be used for when you’re having a slow month workwise and barely scraping by. Or, you can use it to cover bills. Or, maybe you can use the funds to pay for unexpected expenses or minor emergencies.

The beauty of it is that you access funds in the account immediately. So there’s no lag time between when you need the funds and when they are available to you.

Save When You Get Paid

How it works: With Chime’s Save When You Get Paid, you can opt to automatically save 10 percent of each paycheck, with a minimum amount of $500. So, if you earn $500 one week from an employer, $50 of that will go into your savings.

If you get a steady paycheck, and your take-home amount for each paycheck is $1,500, then you’ll be stashing away $150 each pay period.


How to make the most of it:
If you are a freelancer like me and aren’t sure how much you can reasonably save each month, start by linking your direct deposit with the employer that makes up the least amount of your income.

On the flip side, if you’d like to get aggressive with your saving, set up direct deposit with your employer that makes up the lion’s share of your monthly earnings. And, like with the Save When You Spend feature, you’ll want to decide how to use your saved up cash.

If you need to pay taxes every quarter, perhaps you can use that money for this purpose. Or, maybe those funds can be set away for another reason. By saving with intention, you can make the most of that 10 percent of each paycheck.

Science to Back It Up 

You don’t have to take my word for it. There are actually studies that prove how auto-saving can make things easier. For example, The Center for Advanced Hindsight, a behavioral science lab, conducted an experiment on getting people to spend less – and budget wisely – right after they get a paycheck. The study found two major barriers to get people to spend less:

1. Cognitive load. Having to check your balance regularly to figure out if you can afford daily purchases is a royal brain drain. This led to a never-ending process of weighing different opportunity costs, and then being blindsided by changing or unexpected expenses.

2. Friction to saving. Those surveyed revealed that committing to an automated direct deposit is tough if the amount they can save changes from month to month. What’s more, there was too much friction to make manually saving small, incremental amounts worth the trouble.

With Save When You Spend, however, you’ll be spared the mental exhaustion. You won’t be quibbling about whether you can afford a given purchase. And, committing to saving a percentage of your paycheck each payday with Save When You Get Paid serves a similar function. If you’re a gig economy worker and are juggling a handful of different jobs with fluctuating income, it’s a lot easier to save a small percentage of each paycheck.

Start With the Easy Stuff

Financial wellness is a muscle, and forming the habits and behaviors so you can grow wealth is a long and hard journey. Starting with something as simple as automatic savings can give you a push in the right direction, as well as help you build momentum. Onward!

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.