Tag: Money Saving Tips

 

15 Quotes from Our Favorite Money Saving Experts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You never know when something unfortunate could happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to KonMari Your Money

For a 4’ 7” human, Marie Kondo is huge.

More than 11 million people have bought her books, and still others are binge-watching her Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” People are drawn to Kondo’s philosophy: You can change your life by getting rid of all the things that don’t “spark joy.”

Want to give it a try? You don’t need to limit yourself to clothing or books or Beanie Babies. In fact, nearly all of us could stand to tidy up our finances, too. Here’s how to “KonMari” your bank accounts, credit card purchases, and investments — and maybe even spark financial joy.

Envision Your Ideal Lifestyle

As Kondo wrote in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”: “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

So, take a moment to reflect. Do your expenditures and money habits reflect your ideal lifestyle? Or, are you, say, spending your money on bar tabs when you actually want to travel the world? Or living in an expensive city, even though you dream of retiring early?

Think about how you can align your finances with your ideal lifestyle.

“Start with the vision of your best financial life to help you shift your mindset and shape your criteria for what sparks joy,” says Kristyn Ivey, a KonMari Consultant who co-hosts the Spark Joy podcast.

Make a Money Mountain

If you were organizing your wardrobe, Kondo would tell you to make a “clothing mountain” by removing everything from your closet and piling it on the bed. This way, you’d get a full picture of what you own — and can therefore make better decisions about what you do or don’t need.

The same goes for your finances. While the results won’t be as physically impressive, collecting a mountain of data about your money habits will hopefully have an even greater long-term impact.

The most accurate way to assemble this information would be to track your spending and income for a few months. (That’s especially true if you often use cash to make purchases.) If you’re in a hurry to KonMari, however, you can get a decent overview by compiling your credit card, bank, and investment account statements from the past year.

“The reason we ask you to gather everything in one category all together is so that you see all that you have at the same time,” says Jane Grodem, a KonMari Consultant in the Bay Area.

“This is an opportunity to consider the state of your finances with clarity, and ultimately the goal is to let go of those [expenses] that do not serve you in your current or future life.”

Decide What Sparks Joy

Once you’ve created your money mountain, analyze the information.

  • Are you spending more than you earn?
  • Where are you spending the most money? Did those purchases spark joy?
  • Do you have enough saved to cover at least three months of expenses?
  • What have you saved for your future goals?

Unlike physical objects, finances are tricky because saving money often doesn’t spark joy in the moment. So, to help you feel that joy in your bones, visualize your financially secure future — whether it’s holding the keys to your first home or treating your grandkids to all the ice cream they desire.

You can also note the financial data points that definitely don’t spark joy, like an ATM fee from your bank, a spartan retirement account, or an expensive takeout meal.

Now that you know which financial behaviors do and don’t spark joy, you can look for ways to augment or disrupt them. For instance, you can spend more money on plane tickets instead of shoes, or you switch to a fee-free bank.

According to Liv Cloud, who blogs at Funding Cloud Nine, viewing her life and finances through the KonMari lens has saved her “thousands” of dollars.

“I no longer mindlessly spend money on unnecessary things,” says Cloud.

“I have become more intentional with my spending and with the items that I bring into my home. If it isn’t something that I really love, then I simply leave it at the store,” she says.

View Your Budget as Plentiful

Kondo is all about what your woo-woo friend might call an “abundance mindset.”

“The biggest mistake people make is to focus on what to discard instead of what to keep,” Kondo told Mic. “If you focus on this, you look for flaws… and cannot appreciate the things you own. The correct mindset is to keep what you love instead of throwing out what you don’t like.”

Although she’s talking about physical items, that’s the perfect way to look at your budget, too.

When you’re deciding which expenditures spark joy, don’t agonize over what you’re cutting out. Instead, delight in what you get to keep: rent for your (hopefully tidy!) apartment, groceries for next week’s potluck with friends, a splurge-y fancy coffee every Friday.

Organize Your Financial Paperwork

Being overwhelmed by paperwork is totally normal. In fact, Kondo devotes an entire clutter category to it, with her baseline rule being “discard everything.” (What a relief!)

Of course, some paperwork, like the past three years of tax returns, must be kept. Which is why Kondo recommends three folders, each with a different purpose: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or kept indefinitely.

You should also make a “pending” folder for papers you haven’t had time to organize yet. And then get in the habit of recycling paper as soon as you get it, so it doesn’t ever have the chance to — horror of horrors — pile up.

Be Grateful for What You Have

Before Kondo embarks on any decluttering mission, she sits on the floor and thanks the house. Before discarding an item, she thanks it for its service. Although it might sound loony, numerous studies have suggested that gratitude can vastly improve your outlook.

So, while you’re in the midst of KonMari-ing your finances, take a step back — and be grateful for what you have. Maybe you don’t have the latest designer handbag, but you have enough to eat. Maybe you don’t have enough money to take a vacation this year, but you have a job.

“I now surround myself with things, people, and experiences that bring joy to my life. Instead of focusing on what other people have, I focus on what is going to make me happy and make me the best person I can be,” says Cloud.

 

20 Reddit Personal Finance Tips We Love

When it comes to personal finance advice, there’s so much information out there. It can be dizzying to sort through personal finance podcasts, books and blog posts. I mean, which personal finance experts should you trust? And where do you go for some easy-to-understand personal finance tips?

In comes Reddit.

Reddit’s user-generated content is free and can be a good source of information if you want to improve your financial situation.

The Best Financial Advice from Personal Finance Redditors

We’ve selected awesome financial advice from the Reddit subreddit r/personalfinance. We even scoured through posts and comments to find some gems to help you take action with your money. Are you ready? Take a look at these 20 financial tips from selected Redditors.

1. Save or pay off debt based on your situation – by Zambenis

Should you save or pay off debt? It’s an age-old question and the answer can vary. This Reddit user shares the nuance of the situation. If your job is secure and you have strong relationships, an emergency fund of up to three months can be a good start. This way you can  focus on repaying debt. If your employment situation is less stable, saving a larger emergency fund is a better option before going beast mode on your debt. So, build your emergency fund based on your situation and work toward getting out of debt.

2. Save and invest automatically – by flat_top

We love this post because we also believe in paying yourself first. Most people spend first and then feel like they have nothing to save. Here we are reminded that we should save and invest first, and then see how much we can spend on everything else. Automatically saving can help you do this. Using Chime, you can automatically save 10 percent every time you get paid. You can also round up your purchases so you’re saving every time you spend.

3. Budgeting can help you avoid credit card debt – by dajesus77

Have you ever checked your bank account and winced? Have you ever wondered just how much you charged on your credit card? Keeping yourself in the dark about spending can lead to debt. That’s why a budget is a perfect antidote to keep your spending in check and avoid credit card debt. To start, create a budget, track your expenses, and check your bank and credit card balances every day.

4. Not investing can cost you money due to inflation – by  GivemetheDetails

Let’s face it, investing is scary. There’s risk involved and so many factors outside of our control. But keeping all your money in cash and not investing anything is not the wisest choice. So, start by figuring out your risk tolerance and investing some of your money, while also keeping some of your money liquid in cash savings.

5. How to get a credit card with limited credit by BrunedockSaint

It’s a catch 22. To get approved for a credit card, you need to have credit history. But how can you build credit history if you’ve never had a credit card and no one will give you one with no credit? Here, the Reddit user shares his or her experience in banking and getting a credit card with limited credit. For starters, get a card from your bank, use a co-signer, get a store card, or even a secured card. The key is to repay your balance in full and on-time.

6. Advice on getting out of debt by PacificNorthLeft

Ready to get out of debt? It’s time to ditch those extra expenses (for now) and budget. Pick a debt repayment method, like the debt avalanche method where you focus on eliminating your high interest debt first. While paying off debt, you can still save for retirement, even if it’s a small amount. It all starts with saying goodbye to some expenses and having a plan.

7. Saving is only one part of the equation, focus on earning more too by – gregaustex

Personal finance advice tends to favor frugality. Save money! Ditch lattes! We dig frugality too, but it has a plateau. There’s a limit to how much you can cut back. This post reminds us of that and advises us to maximize our earnings too. So that means asking for that raise, earning more through side hustling, and starting that business. Saving is just one part of the equation — earning more is another part.

8. Best way to pay extra on a car loan by hrds21198

Do you have a car loan and want to pay it off fast? It’s best to call the company first. This Reddit post notes that sometimes extra payments are applied to interest and not the principal. To make sure your extra payments are going where you want them to, give the company a call and say you want to pay more toward your auto loan and you want it to go toward the principal balance.

9. Simple student loan advice by article4freeman

There’s so much student loan advice out there. Here we have simple advice. Save up a few months of expenses as a cushion, then pay off your student loans fast. After that, take the amount you put toward debt and save and invest it.

10. Start Investing in a 401(k) by KermitMadMan

You know you should be saving for retirement and one easy way to do that is through your 401(k). But how do you get started? First, make sure your emergency savings is covered. If your company has a 401(k) match, contribute enough to get the match. The key is to start somewhere and keep building.

11. Best financial tips to manage money and move out by mormengil

When you’re just getting started with adulting, managing your money can seem hard. How do you get started? How can you manage your money to move out of your parents house? This post gives a step-by-step guide on where to put extra savings and how you can manage your money and prepare to move out.

12. Fixed or variable interest rates by DaTower75

If you’re about to take out a loan, you probably will choose from a variable or fixed rate. Which one is better? Although variable rates may be lower, interest rates are likely to go up, so locking in a fixed rate can be a good option.

13. Create a “fun” savings account by Jrlutz31

Here’s some advice we can get behind. Create a “fun money” savings account! No more guilt about having fun. It’s in the budget. You have the cash. Start by saving automatically and setting some money aside specifically for F-U-N. Having fun with your money can help you enjoy life and may even help you stay on top of your other financial goals because you don’t feel deprived.

14. Getting out of overdraft fees by clearwaterrev

Overdraft fees suck. This post helps share how you can waive those pesky fees and get rid of them if you’re in this situation. You can also choose a bank like Chime which has absolutely no fees.

15. Know where your money goes and how to budget by tracking by xaradevir

Many of us have thought, “Where the heck did my money go?” It happens. This post reminds us to track, track, track. Track everything. Start by going through all your expenses over the past month. Write down ‘need’ or ‘want’ and evaluate where you can cut back. You can’t improve your financial situation unless you really know what’s going on with your money.

16.  Don’t try to time the stock market by KCPilot17

In this environment, people are starting to lose their minds over the stock market. Is another recession coming? What should you do? Keep it simple. Stay on course and don’t try to game the market. Think long-term, not short-term, and stick with the plan. Avoid emotional reactions to the market and know that the stock market can recover in time.

17. Building credit with credit cards the right way by owari69

Credit cards and building credit can be confusing. Yet, it’s fairly simple. Get a card and pay it back on time. Over time, your credit score will improve. It all starts with using credit responsibly. Pay off your balance in full by the due date. Keep your balances low. Only borrow what you need.

18.  Don’t take on debt just to build credit by JsLadder

So, you may need some type of credit to build credit. But you should never take on debt and pay interest just to build your credit. You don’t need to take out a car loan just to improve your credit. There are other ways to do this. For example, you can start with a secured credit card or only use your credit card for groceries and pay it in full.

19.  Max out retirement by the end of the year by acosmichippo

By the end of the year, there are ways to maximize your money. It’s the best time to max out your 401(k) contributions and HSA. This advice is simple and to the point.

20. Tips on how to get a raise by buyabighouse

As noted in another one of these Reddit tips, earning more is part of the financial equation. This can be done by asking for a raise. But, how do you that? Start by doing research on Glassdoor or Payscale to see what the market rate is for your position and your area. Keep tabs on your accomplishments and at the right time, talk to your supervisor about a raise. It can be uncomfortable but growth always is!

Get started

Read to improve your finances? You can start by checking out these 20 Reddit personal finance tips on everything from paying off your student loans, building your credit score and asking for a raise. What financial tips would you add?

 

 

Take Action: These 7 Budgeting Tips Will Change Your Life

“It’s complicated” might be the best way to describe the relationship many millennials have with money.

Here’s why: While young adults transition to financial responsibility, it can be a struggle to stay ahead, especially if you’re early in your career and aren’t earning enough to keep up with the rising cost of living. In fact, you may even be living paycheck to paycheck or be saddled with student loan debt. If this sounds like you, you probably aren’t in any place to save for a house or retirement.

If you can relate, here are seven budgeting tips to help you start saving money.

Ignore the Joneses

Before making any tangible budgeting moves, think about your financial state of mind. Are you spending too much or living beyond your means just to impress friends or strangers?

“Comparing yourself to what others have, constantly upgrading your lifestyle just to keep up with friends, family, or trends on social media can hurt your pockets and put you in unnecessary debt,” says Todd Kunsman, a millennial personal finance expert and founder of Invested Wallet.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is just another way of covering insecurities with wasteful spending. Adopting a new mindset will help you spend smartly and avoid succumbing to lifestyle inflation. This way you’ll have more cash on hand to invest and save.

Start that budget

Before you can start determining how much to save, how much to spend or anything in between, you’ll need to create a budget. How else will you know how much money you’re bringing in, and how much you’re letting go?

There are a host of budgeting apps to help you out, like MintYou Need a Budget, and Mvelopes — and of course, you can use the mobile banking option with the Chime app. Tap into technology with these budgeting tools and you can create custom categories (i.e. rent, eating out, groceries, utilities, entertainment, student loans and other expenses), and create a monthly budget based on your income and expenses.

Connect with your Credit

Don’t let student loan debt discourage you from opening a credit card. And if you have no credit history, not to worry; there are credit cards designed for people looking to create and build credit.

College students, new grads and those early in their careers can look for a secured credit card. Unlike an unsecured credit card – where your card provider gives you a credit limit to borrow against – a secured credit card is, like its name says, “secured” by a refundable cash deposit. You’ll need to deposit a designated amount in order to set your credit allowance. Once you start establishing a positive credit history, you’ll be able to qualify for an unsecured credit card at higher credit limits and lower interest rates.

Once you’ve got your card, it’s time to check your credit. Signing up for a site like CreditKarma.com allows you to view and monitor your credit score and credit history. You can also access a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Cut back on unnecessary dining out expenses

It’s hard to resist the temptation to eat out every night or give up those daily Starbucks runs. But this can really eat into your budget.

Cutting back on some of these expenses and making your own meals, however, can make a huge difference.

Lori Cheek, who runs mobile app Cheekd, tried this approach living in a big city and saved more money than she expected.

“I’ve stopped getting a cup of coffee a day and instead I carry instant coffee singles and on the go creamer and I just find a cup of hot water. When I do the math, my singles and creamer cost about $80 a year and my Grande Blonde at Starbucks a day would cost me $876. That’s a savings of almost $800,” says Cheek.

One of the best ways to save money on eating out is to make your own meals.

“There are so many avenues to learn how to cook — through reading a cookbook, visiting food blogs, and watching YouTube videos — and it will save you a lot of money in the long run,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com.

Embrace frugality

If you must spend on necessities, do it smartly and frugally.

“Thrift shops and couponing can be your best friends,” says Kunsman of Invested Wallet.

Kunsman advises using coupons whenever possible. “Groceries can get expensive, but they don’t have to be with smart shopping. This should be a no-brainer, but so many people in my generation or younger don’t take the time.”

Steven Sinatra is a millennial who runs a pawn shop named World Pawn Exchange with his father, and advocates buying things second-hand when possible.

“If you simply must have something, look around for it used before buying new. You can find basically anything on eBay used,” says Sinatra.

Get a side gig

A balanced financial plan doesn’t just mean scaling back or scrounging for discounts. It should also include new ways to make money. That’s where side hustles come in.

If you have a 9 to 5 job already, find a side gig that you can fit into your schedule, or one that complements your talents. You might try tutoring or driving for a rideshare company. You can even get paid for signing up for clinical studies or being a mystery shopper. And if you’re creative or crafty, sell baked goods. The opportunities for earning cash are limitless.

Set savings goals

It can be hard to stick with a budget, but if you identify financial goals, you’ll have an idea of where you’d like to be in a few months, next year, or even in a decade.

“Life and your budget is all about priorities,” says Ashley Patrick, a financial coach and founder of the site Budgets Made Easy.

“You can still have fun on a budget, you just have to set money aside for it. It doesn’t have to be super restrictive where you work all the time and don’t do anything. It’s just about prioritizing. If being debt-free is important, then make it a priority in your budget,” says Patrick.

How Chime can help

Another tip to keep in mind: Automate your savings. An online bank account with Chime automatically deposits money into a savings account. This way you can save money without thinking about it. The Chime app is intuitive, and tracks your spending and savings as you go.

Remember that once you start budgeting, you’ll see what works for you and your money. And, by following these seven tips — plus using the Chime app — you’ll be on your way to successful budgeting. You may even find yourself giving helpful advice to your friends and family.

 

14 Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Date Ideas That Don’t Suck

For the first few years of our relationship, my husband and I never thought twice about going out for a five-star meal on Valentine’s Day. It was just the thing to do. After all, the average American spends more than $140 on this holiday.

Yet, here was the problem: We couldn’t afford those dinners, especially with piling up credit card charges, burdensome student loans payments and hefty car notes. So, we started celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget and we actually enjoyed ourselves just as much (if not more) because we had to get creative.

Although we have now paid off our consumer debt, we decided to keep up our thrifty Valentine’s Day tradition. This way we can focus on our other money goals for this year and beyond.

If you’re also looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget, check out these 14 date ideas that won’t make you look like a cheapskate:

For the Romantics At Heart

Cook together.
This is a popular at-home date night recommendation but it can be stressful if you wait until the last minute to figure out your menu. Instead, consider testing out a meal delivery service or check out Instacart, which I find to be a huge time (and therefore money saver).

At-home spa night.
While you may not have the hands of a massage therapist, you can easily recreate a calming, spa-like atmosphere right in your own home. Budget-friendly tip: Shop your hall closet for candles, aromatherapy oils and other at-home spa essentials. In the end, you may only need to spend money on rose petals to turn this idea into the most romantic Valentine’s Day ever.

Create a scavenger hunt.
It’s time to put your Pinterest skills to good use with this Valentine’s Day activity. Showcase your thoughtfulness by including riddles that incorporate memories from milestone events like your first date. Your grand finale (final clue) doesn’t have to be expensive either. It can be home cooked dinner by the fireplace, picture of the two of you or a picnic lunch.

Bury a time capsule.
Fill a box with keepsakes that represent both you and your SO, write a sweet note to your future selves and bury it. Hint: You can repurpose almost anything such as a shoebox for your time capsule instead of going out and buying something new.

Scrapbook together.

Pour a glass of wine and get ready to enjoy a trip down memory lane with your person. I also love that this sweet date night idea can double as a great way to get rid of clutter and turn it into cash (not very romantic, I know, but it is a tip worth sharing).

Treat your SO to breakfast in bed.

When was the last time you made your partner breakfast in bed? Or maybe a better question is: Have you ever made your partner breakfast? Be sure to include a sweet handwritten note when you surprise your SO with this thoughtful gesture!

At-home movie night with a twist.
Borrow a projector or even use a large television screen to create a romantic outdoor or indoor movie theater experience without breaking the bank.

For the Outdoorsy Couple

Cozy bonfire date.

My husband recently spent five dollars on a fire pit at a garage sale and we can’t wait to test it out on Valentine’s Day. I already have the marshmallows and hot cocoa mix added to our grocery list!

Sledding.

If you want to have some real fun on Valentine’s Day then add this winter activity to your to-do list. Cuddle up with a warm beverage once you’re finished acting like a big kid with your favorite human.

Winter hike.

Yes, this is a thing! Just be sure to check out these safety tips before embarking on your adventure.

For the Couple Who Doesn’t Like At-Home Date Nights

Dessert-only date.

Fill up on dinner at home and save the spending for a delicious sweet treat. Scout out a nice ice cream parlor or a quaint bakery in a cute nearby town. End the night with a romantic walk.

Trivia night.

If you and your partner are competitive then this could be the perfect date night that costs less than $25. Plus, you may even win some money when all is said and done!

Choose lunch over dinner.
Eating lunch out is less expensive than dinner. Plain and simple. For instance, Money Crashers notes that at the Cheesecake Factory, “Dinner entrees range in price from $11 to $30 [while] lunch specials cost between $9 and $14.” If you skip dessert and take it easy on the beverages, you won’t have to spend more than $50.

For the Couple Who Thinks Outside of the Box

Don’t celebrate at all.

If your main reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day is that everyone else is, then it may be time to reconsider your approach. I spoke with one couple who doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.

Ellie from EllieMondelli.com says, “It’s very simple for us — we view this holiday as yet another excuse to spend money. It doesn’t fit in with any of our goals, so we don’t celebrate it.”

This type of discipline has enabled the Mondelli’s to pay off their mortgage before she turned 30!

 

How To Budget for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Regardless of whether you spend it with your long-time love, a new acquaintance or close friends, Valentine’s Day is a holiday designed to celebrate love.

Unfortunately, this holiday comes at a high price. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American consumer spent $143.56 on Valentine’s Day celebrations last year alone. That’s a whole lot of dough.

Yet, you don’t have to spend a ton of cash to enjoy Valentine’s Day. With some wise planning, budgeting, and saving in advance, you can make this Valentine’s Day one for the books – without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Set your budget

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make Valentine’s Day fun and special, but then again, it is only one day out of the year. It’s not worth going broke over.

So, determine what your budget will be, and stick to it. To figure out your budget, it’s best to plan according to the stage of your relationship. For example, if you have a significant other, you may want to do something special that may require saving money ahead of time. And, if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, there is no need to go all out for the big holiday. A  simple, quiet get-together is probably fine.

Plan your activities

Now it’s time to plan your realistic celebrations. Whether you dream about going to a fancy, romantic restaurant, cooking at home, or something else, you may need to plan for your activities.

Check out these 10 fun Valentine’s Day activities for both kids and couples by Money Crashers. They are proof that you don’t have to spend a ton in order to express your love.

Don’t forget about additional costs

Now that you have your Valentine’s Day celebration planned, the bulk of the work is finished. But don’t forget – there are often quite a few last minute costs associated with Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to budget for them!

Whether you want to pick up some chocolates, flowers, or even just a card, these all cost money. If you plan to purchase any additional gifts, be sure to add them into your initial budget.

Tips for an affordable Valentine’s Day

No matter what your budget is, you can make your Valentine’s Day special and memorable without breaking the bank. Take a look:

1. Don’t go overboard

Valentine’s Day can be special without going completely overboard. Who says you have to go out to a fancy, expensive dinner or buy lavish gifts?

You can have a memorable Valentine’s Day by thinking outside the box. Go hiking, enjoy a picnic, or go to a museum for a day date. Think about ways to save money, avoid crowds and create a day you and your significant other will remember for years to come.

2. Celebrate after the holiday

Valentine’s Day gets busy quickly. Restaurants get full, floral shops are overrun, and even the chocolate is overpriced. So why not make it a point to celebrate after the fact, when you can both get more bang for your buck?

Not only will you have more options available after the holiday, but you will fight fewer crowds. So, see if your significant other is on board for staying in on February 14, but willing to celebrate over the next weekend. This gives you more wiggle room in your budget, plus you can avoid the Valentine’s Day rush.

3. Get creative with gifts

Who says you have to gift a dozen roses and a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Walk into any store or flower shop and you can see how much these traditional Valentine’s Day gifts cost.

Instead of buying the typical Valentine’s Day gifts, try getting creative. For instance, instead of buying chocolate and flowers, buy tickets to a movie – maybe even a matinee.

To lower the cost even more, you can make your own DIY gifts.

4. Enjoy quality time together

Some of the best times are spent staying in with your loved ones.

Instead of going out for a pricey date night, cook a homemade meal together and stream a movie or play a game. You can’t get much cheaper than that!

5. Go outdoors

We get it: February isn’t the nicest month weather-wise. But if it is semi-decent outside, you can take your holiday celebrations outdoors.

Check out some of these romantic and adventurous date ideas from Two Drifters. Not only are they memorable date ideas, but most of them can be done for dirt cheap.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day by saving in advance

No matter how you decide to spend your Valentine’s Day, you can always be prepared by saving in advance. The easiest way to start saving for Valentine’s Day is to set a little bit aside at a time into a separate savings account. So go on and enjoy your holiday guilt-free!

 

6 Best Dating Apps When You’re On a Budget

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

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

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

Saving Money With Dating Apps

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

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

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

Best Dating Apps

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

Match.com

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

Subscription cost: Starting from $20.99/month

Tinder

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

Plus subscription cost: Starting from $2.99/month

Gold subscription cost: Starting from $4.99/month

The League

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

Member subscription cost: Starting from $29/month

Owner subscription cost: Starting from $83/month

Hinge

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

Preferred subscription cost: Starting from $7/month

Bumble

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

Bumble Boost subscription cost: Starting from $24.99/month

OkCupid

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

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

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

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

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

 

9 Ways to Pay off Your Debt in 30 Days

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

1. Set a realistic goal

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

2. Use the ‘snowball method’

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

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

3. Go on a 30 day spending diet

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

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

4. Stop using your credit card

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

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

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

5. Find extra sources of income

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

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

6. Redeem your cash back

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

7. Make extra payments

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

8. Get a debt consolidation loan

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

9. Open a balance transfer card

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

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


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Amazing Resources for Successfully Managing Your Personal Finances

The new year is the perfect time to do some revamping of your finances, starting with the tools you use to manage your money.

Two-thirds of Americans have at least one personal finance app on their mobile devices. These apps are used for banking, budgeting, investing or sending and receiving money. But, perhaps you’re looking for new personal finance tools to add to your arsenal.

In addition to the Chime’s money transfer feature, here are 8 personal finance apps and go-to resources that you might fall in love with.

1. Personal Capital

If you need to get clarity on where you stand financially in the new year, Personal Capital is designed with you in mind. The software, which links all your bank and investment accounts, can help you become more financially aware of how you spend, save and invest. It’s great if you want to get a handle on your net worth, check in on how your investments are doing or see where each and every dollar you spend goes.

2. The Penny Hoarder

You love personal finance blogs, right? That’s probably because you’re looking for tips on how to make smarter decisions with your money. The Penny Hoarder delivers that and then some. This personal finance site offers a wealth of information on everything from paying down debt and saving for retirement, to earning more money with a side hustle and snagging deals on groceries. If you want to dig deeper, The Penny Hoarder Academy features in-depth tutorials on budgeting, improving your credit score and job hunting.

3. “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth”

Author Jen Sincero took a series of professional twists and turns before finding her calling as a success coach. Her newest book, “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth,” is all about how to chase after the income you want instead of settling for the paycheck you’re earning. You might be working your way up the corporate ladder, trying to get a fledgling freelancing business off the ground or somewhere in-between. If you need a road map (and a mental kick in the pants) to focus on leveling up your income, this book is a solid read.

4. You Need a Budget

There are lots of budgeting apps and programs out there and if you’re looking for something free that’s easy to use, the Mint app absolutely fits the bill. You Need a Budget (YNAB), however, offers a bit more. While it’s not free (you’ll need to cough up $6.99 a month to use it) it can be a financial game changer. If you’ve struggled with budgeting before, YNAB can help you stay accountable while getting down to the nitty-gritty of how you spend. Aside from budgeting, YNAB can also help you map out a debt payoff plan and track your big (and small) money goals.

5. So Money Podcast

Farnoosh Torabi knows money and she dishes out her best personal finance advice and tips on her weekly So Money Podcast. The podcast regularly features money, business and success experts, such as Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and Jim Cramer. Previous episodes have included discussions about money and marriage, managing finances in yours 20s, figuring out retirement and making the leap into entrepreneurship after a stint with a side hustle. The financial questions addressed are relatable and the advice tends to be practical and on-point.

6. Robinhood

Fees can eat into your returns when you’re trading stocks and trying to build a portfolio of investments. Yet, Robinhood is a mobile app that lets you buy and sell stocks for free from your mobile device or desktop. It may be a good pick for investing newbies who want to play the market but don’t want to shell out hefty fees to a financial advisor. And if you’re a savvy investor, you can also use the Robinhood app to trade options and cryptocurrencies.

7. Credit Karma

Getting your credit score in shape might be one of your top financial resolutions for the new year. The first step is knowing where you stand score-wise and what’s influencing your credit score calculations. This is where Credit Karma can help. This site offers free credit score monitoring and credit education. You can track your score progress each month and use that to improve your finances. For example, boosting your score may help you get approved for better credit card or loan offers. And, consolidating high-interest credit card debt to a single card or loan with a lower rate can save you money over the long-term, help you pay the balance off faster, and improve your finances.

8. Venmo

Splitting expenses can be a headache, especially if you’re constantly nagging your roommate to hand over her share of the rent or dealing with that one friend who never seems to carry enough cash to share the dinner tab. Venmo helps eliminate those kinds of hassles by allowing you to send and receive money with just an email or phone number. You can easily share payments for virtually any expense and get paid back through your smartphone. The app makes keeping track of money a breeze and it’s also a speedy way to receive payments. Just watch out for the fees. Venmo charges a three percent fee when you send money using a credit card. Pro tip: Chime also offers a Pay Friends feature that allows you to send fee-free mobile payments to other Chime members.

What’s your preferred money management tool?

These fintech apps and resources can help you get a better grip on saving, spending, debt repayment, investing, and your short-term and long-range money goals. We encourage you to check out all of these 8 resources to see which of them can help you improve your finances in the new year.

 

How to Set Money Goals You Can Achieve

Are you planning on growing your savings account, paying down debt, or taking some other action to better your money situation in 2019? If so, you’re not alone.

Believe it or not, a whopping 94% of millennials are planning on making financial resolutions in 2019, according to one survey. But as we all know, most New Year’s resolutions are just passing whims.

So, how do you make yours stick — for good? Take a look at these four tried-and-true tips.

Set SMART money goals

You’ve heard of SMART goals, right? This is a great way to set any type of goal, and it’s especially good for money goals. In short, SMART is an acronym that means: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Here’s a more detailed break-down:

  • Specific

“Be better with money” is a vague, wishy-washy goal. How do you want to be better with money? Do you want to pay off your credit cards? How about save money in an emergency fund? Or, perhaps you want to switch to a better bank?

The options are endless, but you need to specify your specific money goal in order to actually achieve it.

  • Measurable

Similarly, your money goal needs to be measurable. Otherwise, how do you know if you’ve actually succeeded, or are making any progress at all?

To continue with the goals we just mentioned, you could say you want to pay off all of your credit cards. Or save $5,000 in an emergency fund. Or have a new bank account open by the end of January. You see?

  • Achievable

We all want to get out of debt and have a million dollars tucked away in the bank some day. But for most of us, that won’t be happen so quickly.

That’s why it’s important to pick a goal that you can achieve within the time frame of a year. Otherwise, you’ll probably get frustrated and give up.

  • Relevant

Maybe a million dollars in a retirement savings account isn’t quite relevant to you yet. Instead, why not pick something that will help your situation in 2019?

For example, if you don’t yet have an emergency fund, starting to save up for one is a relevant goal. Or, maybe if you’re still in debt, getting rid of your high-interest credit card debt will be most relevant to you. Pick whatever will help you move forward in the New Year.

  • Timely

You also want to set a goal that you can achieve within a set time period — i.e., before the end of 2019. This requires you to know your financial situation very well, so that you can pick a goal that you can realistically achieve before 2020.

Automate Your Finances

Ask computer programmers what the biggest source of error is in their line of work, and they’ll tell you it’s people.

The same thing is true for your finances. Humans are the biggest source of error in money management. But, there’s also good news: You can remove a lot of human error by automating your finances.

Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Set up automatic savings
  • Set up your bills on auto-pay
  • Set reminders on your phone or email to pay other bills (like utility bills that may vary each month)
  • Sign up for automatic budget updates through a service like Mint or Tiller
  • Set low-balance notifications on your bank accounts so you don’t overdraw your account (or use a bank like Chime that doesn’t charge overdraft fees)

Find Accountability Buddies

It can be challenging to follow through with your money goals if you’re the only one holding you accountable. After all, it can be a little embarrassing to admit your money failures to close friends and family.

But that’s exactly why you need an accountability partner. If failure is embarrassing for you to admit, then you’re more likely to succeed. And if you do succeed, you’ll have someone there to help celebrate with you. This makes it even more likely you’ll stay the course.

It’s best to find an accountability partner who’s working on the same goal as you – this way you have someone who’s speaks your language. You can also consider hiring a money coach who can help guide you.

Picture What Success Looks Like

Our last tip is to picture what success looks like for you. This will help guide you through all the smaller decisions you’ll need to make throughout the upcoming year.

For example, let’s say you want a fully-funded emergency fund. But to do that, you need to stop impulse spending. So, every time you head to a store and put a tempting item in your cart, stop and take a second to think. Are you willing to take money away that can instead go into your emergency fund?

If you picture what success looks like — not having to worry about money all the time and less stress — you might be more likely to put that item back and stick to your savings goal.

You Can Achieve Your Money Goals…If You Set Them Right

Let’s be honest — no matter which money goal you set, this is going to be difficult. If it were easy, you’d have done it already.

But, we also know that you can reach your money goals in the upcoming year. It just takes a little bit of SMART goal setting, automating your finances, finding accountability partners, and visualizing success.

If you follow these four tips, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals. You can do it.

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